Friday, November 26, 2010

news from New Zealand

Long time and many miles but at last we have landed (in New Zealand that is). It really is quite lovely here and I especially am happy to be a bit more on terra firma. Still doing some cruising but it is now in coastal water and much more like cruising in Maine. It is very beautiful here...very rural and pastoral. The hills are green and full of sheep grazing, the roads in all but Auckland just 2 lanes winding thru the hills and valleys. People exceedingly friendly and pretty laid back. They definitely only work 8 hr (or less) days and use every weekend to recreate either sailing or trekking. Seems like a really healthy lifestyle. It is very nice being back in a first world country with supermarkets and phones and clean facilities (not that I wish we hadn't had the explorations of all the places we have visited along the way that were not what we are used to).

We are currently in Opua but have spent a bunch of nites out in the Bay of Islands. The islands out here are magnificent..pretty much uninhabited with great hiking paths and some nice beaches. Water is too cold for swimming but we did go in ankle deep and harvest some yummy green lipped mussels for one nite's worth of appetizers. Thanksgiving was shared with our friends Bruce and Alene that we met in Tonga. We had a roasted chicken rather that turkey as boat ovens are way too small for turkeys but managed all the other "normal" Thanksgiving accompaniments. Some New Zealand champagne for starts with shrimp sushi was novel for this holiday but may have to be entered into the Tday menu in the future. A feast for sure with lots and lots to be thankful for not the least of which is having made it these close to 20,000. miles aboard Visions of Johanna!!!

One of our most exciting days was being treated to a dolphin performance right off the beqam of the boat. We were anchored in a bay here and right after lunch this pod of bottle nosed dolphins (they are a really large variety of dolphins) came over and started doing flips and jumps that were unbelievable. A few hours later at the next bay over where we had just moved to about 6 Orca whales did a swim thru and again seemed to be playing with us. They even swam under the boat! See Gram's blog post( for photos of these 2 marvelous sea events. We have been doing lots of hiking and gone to a few towns to look around...they are small and quaint and it feels like in some ways we are in the good ole 50's. I like it here alot!!! Will continue our way down the coast needing to get Gram to Auckland by mid Dec for his return to the US for Xmas with his other family(Schweikerts). Bill and I will spend another few weeks before bringing the boat into Gulf Harbor the marina where she will stay for the next year. I meet Sierra in NYC Jan 8 for a trade show. The weather will probably kill me (we are freezing here and it's in the 60's) but the prospect of Sierra shortly followed by Emma and Rob and Zak a few weeks thereafter will keep me going at least.

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