We have added a link to our position report. This is a slightly different reporting view of our position than we had shown on our old website. This position report view shows a track of the places we have been. It looks very strange though because between 20 April 2008 and 17 August 2008 there were no positions reported for us. So the track looks like we just jumped across thousands of miles of the South Pacific. In reality, from mid-way during our passage between Panama and the Galapagos Islands on 20 April until our passage from Bora Bora to Niue on 17 August we were unable to send any position reports because we could not connect with HAM radio during that entire time. The position reports can only be reported using our HAM radio email and we could not connect via HAM during those 4 months. We could connect via Sailmail, but not with HAM.
In various geographic areas HAM works better than Sailmail. In other geographic areas Sailmail works better than HAM. This is true regardless of what time of day you try to connect or which stations you are trying to connect. Our advice to all cruisers is that it is best to have both HAM and Sailmail if possible.
The photo with this posting is from the Kawakawa public toilets.Bill helped me finally figure out how to make the photos appear within a blog posting where I want to put them, or at least somewhere near where I would like the photos to appear. The small town of Kawakawa boasts some grass-roofed public toilets which were the last piece of artful architecture designed by Friedensreich Hunderwasser. The celebrated eccentric Austrian architect and painter artist chose the sleepy town of Kawakawa as his retirement home. The artistic toilets quickly became a tourist attraction. This caused some of the shop fronts on the main street to also adopt his trademark colorful style. Frankly, I never even noticed that these toilets were grass-roofed, but our travel guide claims that they are. Each toilet stall is different. I didn't get photos of the more elaborate stalls and did not go into the men's toilets to see if those were different from the ladies. Must say that the cleanliness level of these public toilets was exceptional, like you would expect when they are the main tourist attraction of this little village.
Weather today is exceptionally nasty. There are gale warnings for this area today and tomorrow. So no boats will be heading out of Opua at least for a few days. I have heard 2 helicopters going out to ships to remove people for medical reasons. One guy received injuries during rough weather. And now the New Zealand Air Force Orion is en route to a sailing vessel in distress. Today is defnitely a day that we are glad to be safe in port.
Clearing out of New Zealand is somewhat of a hassle now. We are required to fax a 4-page form to Customs at least 4 days prior to our intended departure. Then we must telephone Customs the night before our requested departure to verify that we really are leaving the next day. Providing 4 days advance notice is extremely difficult. Weather really cannot be forecast accurately more than 4 or 5 days in advance. We will be leaving here for a 7 to 9 day passage. Figure the best we can do is get a rough estimate of when we think we will be leaving and fax in the required 4-day advance departure notice. Then continue to watch the weather forecast and if it looks bad then we call Customs and verbally notify them of our new intended departure date. That way we will have provided the 4-day advance notice, even if it ends up being 10 days before we finally leave. Just means a lot of phone calls. Quite frankly, I cannot understand the reasoning of them needing to know 4 days in advance of our departure. Once they sign our departure papers they are finished with us, so why do they need to know so far in advance? Makes no sense to me.
Late this afternoon we are going to a meeting at the Island Cruising Association. We are not participating in any of their rallies; but this meeting is open to everyone, not just rally participants. They will discuss Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia and provide information about places to see and clearing in processes. I'm sure a hot topic of conversation will be this latest coup in Fiji. We still have not heard if our grandson Zahcary is definitely coming to sail the Queensland coast of Australia with us or not. Until we have a definite date on his arrival in Australia then we cannot make any plans as to where we will go next. Maybe to Vanuatu or maybe to New Caledonia or maybe even straight to Australia. We need to know Zachary's plans before we can make our plans. Main reason to go to this informational meeting this afternoon is simply to get off the boat for a couple of hours on this dreary rainy cold day.