Sunday, May 3, 2009

Leaving Opua tomorrow morning

Well, the time has finally arrived for cruisers to depart New Zealand. The Island Cruising Association sponsors the Opua to All Points Rally each year. They held a party at the yacht club Friday evening for the rally participants. We are not part of the rally; but the club was also open to the public for dinner so we joined in the festivities. It provided a fun evening to say goodbye to some of our friends.

The rally participants cleared out with Customs on Friday and were supposed to depart New Zealand on Saturday morning. But yet another LOW system was passing across the area and the sea conditions were pretty nasty and rough. So Customs sort of turned their heads and allowed the rally participants to wait until Sunday morning to depart. There are been several mayday calls over the past few weeks and 2 boats have gone down. Thank goodness all persons have been rescued thanks to the excellent response of the New Zealand medi-copter. So everyone is especially sensitive right now about boats venturing out in bad weather.

Luckily, Sunday morning dawned sunny and clear and gentle winds. A perfect day to sail away. Bill downloaded the latest grib files and used Maxsea to run the polar for our boat over the gribs. The results indicated that it would make no difference if we left Sunday morning or Monday morning; we would arrive at the same time. So we are waiting until Monday morning to clear out and depart.

Sunday morning we helped several of our friends with the dock lines as they headed off for Fiji. Some were in the rally and some were going on their own. We were a bit sad to say goodbye to so many friends because this is probably the last time we would see them. These boats will arrive in Australia in November or December. We will be in Thailand by then. So it is highly unlikely that any of them will catch up with us later. Safe voyage, everyone.

Curtis & Heather on S/V Halo --------------------------------Mike & Sheila on S/V Ere We Go

Alan & Kristin on S/V Charisma ----------- Don & Anne on S/V Harmonie, an Amel just like ours

--------------------------------Frank & Barbara on S/V DestinyBill and I will clear out with Customs at 0830 tomorrow morning and set sail for Tanna Island of Vanuatu. We made a sudden change in plans a few days ago and decided that we would rather visit Vanuatu than New Caledonia. We will only have time to visit the one island of Tanna because we must arrive in Mackay, Australia by Friday, June 5. Our 8-yr-old grandson Zachary is flying to Australia to sail with us for several months. We are proud of him for being brave enough to make this long flight by himself. Bill will fly from Mackay to Brisbane on Monday, June 8, in order to be at the airport to meet Zachary at 0600 on Tuesday, June 9. So it is absolutely imperative that we arrive in Mackay and clear in on June 5. Everyone tells us not to clear into Australia on a weekend because they charge a stiff fee for overtime.

I went a bit crazy at the butcher shop and bought too much meat. Our freezer locker is almost full and I doubt we will eat all that in one month, expecially considering we will have 2 long passages during that month and we usually eat lightly on passages. I kind of lost track of how many meals to plan and what we already had in the freezer, plus the butcher shop screwed up on my order and gave me some things that were not ordered. If we have too much when it is time to set sail for Australia then I will give some of it to the local people at Tanna.

The boat is all prepared and we are ready to leave. Looks like perfect weather tomorrow to start the long passage north. Thanks to Danny & Yvonne for the delicious lemon cake they brought as a going-away gift. Hope you enjoy your new Amel as much as we have enjoyed ours.

As you can see we have put up our cold-weather enclosure on the cockpit for the first few days of this passage north to warmer climes. Time to get out of the cold!

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