Monday, April 13, 2009

The first few days out...

Our departure from NZ was easy as...

Will will miss all of our cruising buddies who are continuing their sailing adventures. Thanks everyone for making this the trip of a lifetime for us!

After leaving the town basin marina and an emotional farewell to our fellow cruising buddies we motored to Marsden Cove at the mouth of the river. It was very nice to spend the night in a very quiet atmosphere prior to our departure. NZ customs arrived at 8:30 am on Saturday and as soon as Malachi and Orca III were cleared, we set sail for the east. We are traveling in very close proximity to Orca III and Candine (from Victoria) is not too far away.

Beautiful Whangarei heads at the mouth of the river.

Our first day was pleasant, partly cloudy, with very light winds so we motored for about 7 hours before there were sufficient winds to sail through the night. Day two, we spent motoring on calm seas but sailed through the night. we've had a mix of wavy and calm seas, sailing and motoring, but so far, this trip has favored sailing. The high pressure systems are still quite far south, so, while our destination is north east, we are sailing south east into the highs with the more favorable south west winds. Everyone is feeling well, aside from a cold that seems to be making its rounds.

We've had some excellent wildlife encounters, starting with penguins just as we left the river....yes, that's right, penguins! We've had dolphins join us on a couple of occasions too - bringing all of their friends over to play in our bow wave. One of the more excellent surprises was the escort Malachi was given by a flock of Albatross! These birds are huge! We had a little sparrow land on us a couple of times to rest, but 'Hitch' didn't stay long.

Our last view of New Zealand, a memorable sunset.

We've been fishing, but with no success. Poor Albert (Ross) didn't realize the squid that was following us was a fishing lure and when he tried to get it for lunch, it tangled in his beak. This upsetting episode, both for Albert and the crew of Malachi, was resolved after reeling the bird in and Jay hanging over the edge with a pair of pliers to free the hook from his mouth. I'm sure his beak and wings were very sore, but he'll be just fine. We haven't tried fishing since.

Poor Albert! but he was so cooperative as Jay removed the hook from his beak. The wingspan is between six and eight feet! a huge bird!

On Monday morning, Orca III and Malachi's courses converged just around sunrise. Orca III caught four albacore tuna and since we were so close to one another, they maneuvered along side us to give us some fish. This is a very unusual thing to do but the seas were calm and they had done it once before. They tied a line with a weight at one end and tied two tuna fish to the other end. As they came beside us, they tossed the weighted end of the line then once I had caught it, they placed the other end, with the fish on, into the water and I pulled the fish aboard Malachi. Then with the omission of the fish on the line, we reversed the process to return their line so that we're good to go for the next time!

At 5:40pm yesterday, we crossed the dateline and are now back in the western hemisphere so we celebrated with a cheer and a call on the radio to Orca III to brag. Steve said it's the first time ever that he's been ahead of someone and behind someone at the same time!

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