Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Splish, Splash it’s Launch Day

20th March 2018


Not only is the sun shinning and we go back in the water today, but it’s also Liam’s birthday. Yes, he got to have yet another birthday in an exotic place. Last year it was the Bahamas and this year French Polynesia. What a lucky old boy he is.

But first things first and that was putting GWTW back into that beautiful aqua coloured water. Rather than bore you with a load of diatribe and photos, I'll just say that it was the reverse of when we were hauled out back in December last year. And it went without a hitch. The sky was blue, the sun was shinning and there was just a zephyr of breeze. We ticked all the boxes on that one.



Once we were back in the wobbly stuff we took our girl for a bit of a sprint around the lagoon just to let her stretch her legs so to speak. It had been a while and boats generally don’t enjoy living on the land. Our Yanmar engines purred along and all was quiet on the bilge alarm front, which meant there was no water rushing in, big sigh. Call us strange but we do like to keep the salt water on the outside of the hulls, it makes for a lot less stress in our lives.

PB210102Once the anchor was down we partook in a celebratory adult beverage, and we fired up Genny the generator. Now young Gen has had her fair share of problems over the years and today she had a little “moment” there for a few minutes, but then she saw the light and came to the party. For that she got a big fat gold star.

Then it was Wally the watermaker turn, and Wal didn’t miss a beat. Once again he was doing his magic tuning salt water in pure drinking water. Thank heavens there is an endless supply of the stuff out here.

P3200464Come sunset we headed into the dock for a birthday sundowner with the crews from Kalea, Heaven’s Door and Boju.

Liam was a bit overwhelmed when he was sung happy birthday in three different languages and the popcorn to accompany the drinks went down a treat.

Once the sun went down  we headed back out to GWTW for a BBQ dinner and for his nibs to sample his birthday prezzies from yours truly. A nicely chilled bottle of NZ Matua Sav Blanc and a dram of Aussie Yellowtail Cab Sav.


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We toasted to our continuing good health and to the start of our 2018 cruising season.  Let the next adventure begin!

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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Apataki : It’s great to be back home.

23rd February – 18th March 2018

DSCN2549Our stay in New Zealand and Australia seem  like distant memories since arriving back to GWTW. The flight back with Air New Zealand was once again wonderful. We had a single night stay in Papette at the Fare Swiss guesthouse and then it was off to the airport bright and early to catch the Air Tahiti flight back to Apataki .


DSCN2886After a super quick dash into the village grocery store to pick up some very basic supplies it was into the boatyard tender for the 10 mile run back across the lagoon. GWTW was in great shape after being home alone for a few months. All that hard work before we left her had really paid off.

We were hoping that we’d be able to launch within a week or so of our return but the man upstairs had other plans. The antifoul painting and the polishing was all finished and then of course there were a few things that needed fixing that were kind of our X –Factor. But no big deal really. Then when it came time to put us back into the water the weather gods stepped in and threw us a few days of strong NE winds which meant that we had to delay our launch date. As of today we are still on terra firma.


In the meanwhile we've been for walks to the ocean side of the atoll, spent lots of time in the water cooling off and had a few trips back over to the village a couple more times to stock up on provisions. Mind you the yard’s boat only  goes over on Fridays if there is someone flying in who needs a ride back  here to their boat.





Liam has been spearfishing on the reefs just out the front and has brought home a couple of very nice sized Groupers, we’ve listened to coconut after coconut fall to the ground with a startling thud just behind our boat and watched the nightly parade of hermit crabs crawl up the path towards the huge pile of leftover coconut shells after the copra harvest has finished each day.


DSCN2911And as for me, well I’ve been writing posts for the blog, reading, washing anything that doesn’t move, culling out of date supplies and doing lots of “Domestic Goddess” jobs. The intensity of the tropical sun, and that has registered 50c on our thermometer but usually hangs around 40c, takes its toll on us each day if we are working outside, and we fall into bed not long after 8.30 each night. Tonight will be no different.

Here’s hoping we get a window to launch this coming week.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Dinner, Bed and Breakfast in New Zealand

21st & 22nd February 2018

We were really looking forward to having seven days aboard our long-time cruising friends Mark and Amanda’s boat “Balvenie”.


The plan was to see the sights on both land and water in the surrounds of Auckland, however ex-tropical cyclone Gita, which had just devastated parts of Tonga, well and truly squashed that idea.

Gita was barreling south east through the Tasman Sea towards New Zealand, with the high probability of slamming into Auckland. So two days before we were due to fly out of Sydney we made the eleventh hour decision not to go and re booked our flight to arrive some 5 days later than initially planned. Arriving into Auckland the weather was patchy, cloudy with some heavy rain and strong winds. Not at all contusive for our former cruising plans

Mark and Amanda picked us up from the airport just in time for the peak hour traffic clogging the road from the airport to the centre of town. It was a tight squeeze in their car with all our luggage, but with us all having superior packing skills we worked around that little hurdle.

IMG_20180221_175145Our first stop was at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. It was most definitely time for a sundowner by the time we got there and we enjoyed a chilled glass of bubbly on the deck overlooking the harbour and some tasty nibbles, compliments of the club.


We also sneaked a peak at the recently acquired  Old Mug, aka The America’s Cup Trophy.

And what a beauty the old lady is.

We last saw this trophy at the Royal Perth Yacht Club not long after our our boys  had wrestled  it from the clutches of the sailing world and brought it home to Australia.

IMG_20180221_201628Dinner that night had been pre-arranged. We were meeting up with more boating friends, George and Merima, at the rather trendy HQ restaurant down on the Auckland waterfront. It was just like old times catching up even though we hadn’t seen them since 2010 in the Canary Islands.

The cool summer evening lingered on as did we, but eventually we parted ways and made our way back to the good ship Balvenie for a night cap and a good night’s sleep. It was actually the best night’s sleep since leaving GWTW. There’s just something about hearing the water lapping on the hull as you drift off to the land of nod.

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Next morning Amanda cooked up a feast for breakfast and then amid the rain we headed off for more sightseeing. We took in the area  where they have bought some land digs and stopped off for coffee in the trendy waterside village.

Then it was a little bit of shopping at a couple of chandleries followed by a stroll around the Viaduct and the Volvo Village where the around the world Volvo fleet  would be berthing in the coming days.

Our farewell dinner was not as flash or as expensive as the evening before but the venue at the Ponsonby Yacht club  overlooking the twilight racing fleet on the harbour fitted the bill nicely.

To cut to the chase, our stay with the “Balvenies” although short, was great fun. We spent many moments reminiscing our times together cruising the coast of Yemen, the Mediterranean and our adventures touring the inland of countries bordering the Red Sea.

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Oceans may keep us apart but our friendship will never fade. Thanks M&A we’ll see you again soon.

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Sunday, March 11, 2018

A quick visit to Oz

December 8th to February 21st 2018.

Once again with the close of the cruising season it was time to jump a plane back to see friends and family living back in our alternate home. Our journey started when we arrived at Apataki airport. The news of the plane being quite a few hours late coming from Tahiti didn’t really make us smile given that there is only one flight a week into this small atoll.

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We were pretty concerned about the follow-on effect if our flight got cancelled. All our ducks had been lined up for the next two days, both flights and hotel bookings to get us to Sydney, and at this point our ducks felt like they had big red bullseyes on them. And it sure didn’t look good for Annie’s swank birthday dinner in Papeete either.


Finally at 2pm, several hours late the twin engine Otter landed. The eleven passengers, the full payload for the flight piled on and off we went just as a huge squall approached.




By the time we landed in Tahiti and arrived at the hotel the fancy dinner plans had well and truly been squashed.

We did meet up for a drink with our friends on Lumiel who were also staying in town, so that was nice.

IMG_20171208_205050       Twenty four hours later Air New Zealand whisked us away to Auckland in the comfort of their premium economy class. That certainly made up for the debacle the day before and a few glasses of chilled bubbly along with the fantastic inflight service had the lack of a “propper” birthday dinner pale into insignificance, well sort of.

A coffee catchup with cruising friends Mark and Amanda from “Balvenie” at Auckland airport the next morning  was just the ticket after not having seen them for such a long time. We made plans to visit for a little longer on our stopover back In Auckland in a couple of months time.

As always our time in Oz is always hectic. Liam becomes the social secretary, teeing up breakfasts, lunches and dinners whenever there is a calendar date with no firm plans. There were visits with his kids, grandkids, cousins, life-long friends, cruising friends from overseas and the list went on.

IMG_20180118_140704IMG_20180106_193537Christmas and New Year came in a flurry and disappeared just as quick.

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Sailing on the  harbour is always high on the list if the invite arises and this year we got out there three times. We watched the Sydney to Hobart race start with my friends Pam and Ross, plus managed two more times out with them as well.They were fun days.


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Leaving Liam to his own devices I snuck a few days in, staying with my sister and niece and had an early morning coffee with my nephew. I wish I’d had more time with them. 

We bought a pre-loved car and set out on a ten day road trip to Queensland and back, spending a few days on the Sunshine Coast with former cruising friends Bruce and Toni. Then it was back tracking to the Gold Coast to catch up for a night with Sandy and Julian. Next morning we were off  to Mermaid Waters  to have a few days with Susan, Nick and their family for the Australia Day celebrations. There was lamb on the BBQ, truckloads of salads and more food than you could jump over, and ditto for the laughs as well. It was a fun day.



DSCN2698Along the way we attended Liam’s Aunt’s funeral, a very sad affair as Liam  had spent much of his time with her while he was growing up. By the time we got back Sydney we felt we needed a holiday.

February 5th was the start of the school term and  we went along to our granddaughter Oliva’s first day of Kindergarten. She looked so cute in her school uniform and not a tear was shed  by her or her mum on the big day.

We also took up the grandparent role a few times picking the kids up from school and preschool. Then of course there was duck feeding in the park, bike rides around the lake, attending swimming lessons to see if any of the three girls were shaping up to be budding Olympians, plus the odd weekend fun day with Grandad and Grandma at the local pool.



It was a busy and exhausting time to say the least and before we knew it we really were packing up to leave and heading for the airport. 

So that’s the wrap on the Sydney trip. Short and sweet as it was.