Archive for March, 2011

Pinned Down in Coromandel

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Remarkably, we had visitors while we were hunkered down at Motui.

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Mike was out on Daruma with his daughter Karla and her boyfriend Daniel, and they stopped by to see who was crazy enough to be anchored there in such weather.  Mike’s made several trips between New Zealand and Fiji, and we shared sea stories over turkish coffee onboard Khamseen before he and his crew continued on their way.

We finally got tired of listening to our anchor snubbers groan as we were batted back and forth by the cats paws reaching around both sides of the tiny island and into our  mouse hole like a Tom and Jerry cartoon.  So we headed back south to the quieter anchorages off the village of Coromandel.

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As it happened, the weather eased the next day so we decided to take a Sunday stroll in town.  We headed out as the rising tide filled the shallow but well-marked channel up the river into town.

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Veteran vessels lined the way.

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The bridge made a handy place to tie the dinghy.

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Most of the stores in town were closed, but we did get to see the mining museum, which was full of cool rock specimens and mining equipment, and lots of photos and odds and ends from Coromandel’s history.

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The road out of town was peppered with super-cute old houses behind roses and white picket fences and sheep eyeing us suspiciously from under persimmon trees.

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We didn’t score any persimmons, but we did pick up a bag of  Coromandel’s finest fejoias.

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These spoon-sized little gems have a grainy texture like guavas (or pears), a sweet tangy flavor a little like strawberries, and a wonderful flowery fragrance.

We ended our day in town with huge supper at the Admiral’s Arms.  K’s steak and S’s fish and chips both came with the traditional (and curious but highly nutritious) side of beets and fried eggs.

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36°46.00′S 175°29.90′E 28-Mar-11 00:00 UTC

Biding Our Time

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

We’re waiting out our last few days here on the Coromandel Peninsula as the wind whips around little Motui island and lashes at us in our hidey hole.  We’d like to be moving on by now, but it’s been feast or famine wind-wise lately and right now it’s dishing out more than we care to stomach.  But we have a thin trickle of internet connection here behind our rock, so here are some more pics of our recent Coromandel activities.

When we came to Motui Island the first time, the weather was much more tranquil.  We arrived in fine form after finally enjoying the first sail of the season.

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We found a picturesque anchorage with many piebald shags, young and old, standing sentry.

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When the winds threatened to back around to the west we moseyed over to the other side of the island.

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We’ve been putting our time at anchor to good use tackling a number of the items on the to-do list:

like unstopping the stopped up fridge sump pump

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greasing the jib furler…

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doing some sail mending,

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kluging up a spinnaker sprit from a boatyard dumpster mast,

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making some respectable sheet bags (that will also fit a sheet head, if needed),

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putting eye splices in our parachute anchor lines (in case the kaka hits the fan some day)

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and improving our offshore harness accessories, including our very own individual locator beacons (we used to share one and swap it at the beginning of each watch), a pocket for the light, leg straps, and mini air horns (Nicole and Aaron’s idea, thanks guys!).

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Though we’re eager to move on we’ve learned we have to go with the flow out here, so we’re not too impatient.  We feel the pressure building for the big trip home but for now life’s pretty relaxing and we’re trying to savor it.

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36°40.50′S 175°24.00′E 24-Mar-11 05:08 UTC

Coromandel Village

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

The weather has had us running up and down the Coromandel Peninsula as the wind swings around the clock to the tune of 20-35 kts (twice a week). At one point we went back south and anchored in front of Coromandel Village in 8 ft of water but still 3/4 of a mile from the beach. Coromandel is at the head of a very shallow and sticky bay. The local boats are tucked into the mangroves.

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The village is a sleepy place with a strange hold on tourists. Lap dogs yawn.

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Sharing an ice cream cone brightens their day.

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People grow flowers on the sidewalks and trim their cottages in lace.

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Weathered agrarians purposefully go about the business of extracting livelihoods from the green hills.

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Their livestock add weight until it’s too dark to find the grass.

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36°45.90′S 175°30.25′E 19-Mar-11 19:02 UTC

The Evolution of Jocasta

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

We are always on the look out for signs of evolution among the more perplexing organisms in our world.  The sweet little cutter Jocasta was sadly mired in the tidal mud for much of the day in the Coromandel village marina until she was naturally selected for an upgrade.

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In an evolutionary wink of the eye she grew appendages.

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And slowly crawled into the pasture.

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36°45.90′S 175°29.70′E 17-Mar-11 19:02 UTC

The Wednesday Night Races of Waiheke

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

One measure of coastal civilization is whether their sailboats race every Wednesday night. New Zealand is very civilized by this measure and we had front row seats when we anchored next to the subtle windward mark in Putiki Bay, after the boys in the boatyard put us back in the water.

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There was a random mix of classes. We like this wishbone trimaran with a peace dove on it.

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Conditions were favoring two well matched sloops on this night.

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Red Rum and Free Willey were leading the pack into the evening light.

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No one seemed too concerned that they were sailing towards a budding waterspout.

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One could ask what the prudent mariner would have done, but in the end the twister went away and the fleet raced home.  Khamseen would have run the other way but she was already well upwind of that beastie.

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36°48.50′S 175°02.20′E 14-Mar-11 19:02 UTC

The Ugandan Child Soldiers of Waiheke

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

There is a woman in Waiheke named Emily who, through a program called Watoto, is well acquainted with the child soldiers and victims of Uganda’s decades-long civil war. She is also known on the island as “Miss Fruit and Veg.” When her friends from the Ugandan village of Gulu took their stories on a world tour of Child Soldier No More, Emily made sure they stopped in Waiheke.

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She wanted them to meet the people of her own village. Cable Bay Vineyards donated their art garden for the evening, a who’s who of NZ corporations paid the bills, and the Waihetians turned out en masse.

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There are few things as festive and relaxing as vineyard theater in a small village on a summer night.

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Village high school kids managed the crowd and multiple generations sat together on the grass.

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We all shared the same sense of security and well being as the villagers of Gulu before the war started and this was where the story began.

Before the war Gulu was “a vibrant community where the residents worked together to meet each others needs.” There may also have been lots of singing and dancing.

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Then the maniacs in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) showed up. They butchered, tortured, enslaved, and raped their way to regional power.

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The LRA left kids in their wake who had been forced to murder their own friends and elders, orphaned, raped, mutilated, infected with HIV/AIDS and subjected to unimaginable abuse. We heard many of their stories. 

 

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There was a sudden change in the atmosphere at Cable Bay Vineyards as the focus shifted from Sauvignon Blanc and toddlers playing in the grass before a perfect view of the Hauraki Gulf and the Auckland skyline to the horror of these Gulu kids living their daily nightmares. And perhaps the discomfort grew as the Ugandans gave us their greatest lesson, that they had forgiven their oppressors by the example of Christ on the cross. They now stand together as former soldiers and victims with no malice towards anyone, and feel free to move on with the rest of their lives.

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The girl in the red dress was actually orphaned by the father of the girl in polka dots. Heavy stuff.

36°48.20′S 174°59.30′E 13-Mar-11 07:45 UTC

No Tsunami Here

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

Just a quick note to say we’ve had no Tsunami events here on Waiheke Island. There were reports of some unusual currents in the far north but we’ve not noticed anything here.

Afloat in Auckland

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

We kind of lost track of TJ’s count down timer on svbintalkhamseen.org but be assured that we met all of our schedule goals for the 2011 shipyard period.

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“Bint” translates as “Girl” (or “daughter”) contrary to what you may have heard from your forefathers in the Arab corners of the British Empire. And the Girl was looking Hollywood good after a professional (!) topsides buffing and a couple of coats of Mexican bottom paint. She also got a new backstay and a new 550-amp house bank of batteries, and a thorough fuel polishing.  It was a very efficient and unusually comfortable yard period, to the point that we stayed an extra day after the boat was ready to splash just to catch the nearby ferry to the Auckland central business district for a day of fun and shopping.  That, and the free unlimited hot water in the boatyard shower rooms were hard to give up.

Auckland is a marvelous pedestrian city, at least within the central district. We missed a few good pictures for being rusty and then swung the long lens into action for a final round of Auckland candids… in the marina district where fancy ladies surf their devices. 

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High on buildings where window washers race each other UP…

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Outside the Vodaphone building where deals are brokered …

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In Victoria Park where a busty Victoria, Empress of India…

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still frowns across multiple generations of Indians…

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who don’t really notice…

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possibly because they are checking out the skin.

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There was quite a lot of pink in the park and it was good to be a place where the sun still shines.

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But after several hours of packing new boat gear and groceries up and down the city hills K was identifying with this stony character who saw too much in “The South African War” and we turned our tired feet to the ferry dock.

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The ferry was under the command of our old friend and Seattle sailor Captain Dennis, and he wasted no time dodging the evening Hobiecats in the channel

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to bring us back to Half Moon Bay with our fellow commuters.

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36°51.20′S 174°45.20′E 09-MAR-10 20:21 UTC

America

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

We had fun in America. In summary, we spent every waking moment either working or eating with our awesome friends. You might never fully realize how good your friends are until you spend a year or so away and then roll back into town. As childless rovers with no local family we’ve always downplayed our regional attachments, but we’ve learned that our Seattle people are like extended family and they make up most of the value in our workday lives. We were also surprised to discover how hard it is to get to see all our friends in the space of two months while working full time. We got to see most (but not all) of them.

And so it was that we squatted with kp for two months, and got down to some serious brewing.

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We kicked off the culinary season with some typically elegant spreads by our favorite culinars in Magnolia, Beacon Hill, Ballard, and Edmonds. There was a full-on Chinese New Year dinner…

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and Jordanian night …

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Actually, there were so many fantastic meals that we completely lost track of the documentation and descended into irresponsible gluttony.

It was mostly eating, but there was a relaxing overnight at Noah Stables,

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and a new research vessel to work on.

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Clearly the best way to start a 4-month trip is to overdose on your mother country so we scheduled a couple of days in LA with Z&K, our well-connected Santa Monica connections. Before we could say “fishnets and high-heel boots,” S was in (borrowed) fishnets and high-heel boots and we were booked into a taping of the Late Late Show, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and a concert (Local  Natives) at the incredible Disney Concert Hall in downtown LA.

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But K’s favorite part was rolling with the posse on Z’s fat tire, cruising the streets of Santa Monica

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and Venice Beach (where the four wheelers roll).

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With our hosts exhausted, our waistbands straining, and our heads spinning with American culture, we packed our gear and headed for LAX.

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34°00.00′N 118°28.00′W 09-Mar-11 01:55 UTC