Last weekend we drove up to Whangarei to visit our friends on S/V FREE SPIRIT. They are hauled out there for routine bottom job and Paul is doing all the work himself for the first time. So Bill wanted to go help Paul paint the anti-foul. Funny, we paid someone else to do all our painting but Bill goes and helps a friend paint his boat. Go figure. We enjoyed visiting with Paul, Michele, Merric and Seanna. Gosh, those kids are growing fast!
On the drive up to Whangarei we again saw a car parked on the side of the road with signs for Hot Fried Bread and Hot Hangi. I understand the fried bread because many of the native American tribes also eat fried bread as a staple of their diet. But what the heck is Hot Hangi? We saw this same car parked in the same place the last time we drove to Whangarei. It reminded me of the signs along Highway 6 back when our son Trey was attending Allen Academy in College Station and we would drive that route almost every weekend. There was an old man and woman who would set up their truck or van to sell homemade foods. Their 3 signs were placed equadistance apart and read: Hot - Tamale - Fudge. We never stopped to buy any Hot Tamale Fudge.
A small town we drove through had an unusual business or service. It was called a Toy Library. Seems like a worthwhile idea for a small town. And New Zealand is filled with thousands of Mayberry-like small towns. Look just like 1950s and the people are ever so nice and polite just like in the 1950s. As the song goes: " If I could turn back time ........."
One of the small towns we drove through is nearby Orewa. Orewa is probably my favorite small town in all of New Zealand. It is so picturesque and has a very pretty beach and exceptionally nice playgrounds for kids. Many, many small interesting shops. Also has a McDonald's, which are few and far between in New Zealand. We stopped there for a taste of home, but even a small regular hamburger wasn't exactly like back in the States. It did have the same frozen chopped onions, ketchup and mustard, and even had a slice of pickle, which is unheard of on a sandwich here in New Zealand. They use sliced beets on sandwiches and don't eat pickles. The difference with the McDonald's hamburgers was the meat. The wrapper had a map of both islands of New Zealand and claimed it was pure New Zealand beef. But like every other hamburger we have seen in New Zealand this "pure beef" patty contained bread crumbs or cereal of some sort. So definitely not like a regular McDonald's burger back in the States.
While we were in Whangarei visiting Paul & Michele on Sunday morning there was a 5.7 earthquake here in central area of North Island of New Zealand. Michele and I were inside the boat which is perched up on hardstands and neither of us noticed any vibration or movement. I didn't even know there had been an earthquake that morning until the next day when I read the news. Earthquakes supposedly happen in New Zealand fairly often. There was also an underwater earthquake on Monday about 80 miles southeast of Nuku'alofa in Tongatapu Group of Kingdom of Tonga. That one was 7.9 and a tsunami warning was issued by the monitoring center in Hawaii. But no tsunami formed as far as I know, and the warning was canceled later that afternoon.
Also there were underwater volcano eruptions at 2 tiny islands called Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha'apai. This volcano or these volcanoes (not sure how many are involved) have been erupting for about a week and are spewing steam and ash more than 1,000 feet into the air. The news video has been quite spectacular. This is only about 12 miles from where we were anchored last October. And just yesterday a volcano erupted in Alaska. So the Pacific Ring of Fire is still very active. The Ring of Fire covers from Peru over to New Zealand and north through New Caledonia and eventually through Hawaii and Alaska and down through California. Earthquakes and volcano eruptions continue to occur in the Ring of Fire. NOTE: We experienced yet another earthquake while on our boat in Fethiye Turkey in 2012. Same experience; felt like a car driving over small ridges approaching a bridge.
BTW, I have meant to mention several times but keep forgetting it -- the area of the city of Auckland was formed by 48 volcanoes. When we went up the Sky Deck on the observation tower it was easy to spot many of these old volcanoes, even though I don't believe any of them are active today. I read news recently that geologists now believe that New Zealand was at one time actually connected with volcanoes with New Caledonia. These old volcanoes have now sunk back into the sea, but at one time it was a continuous land mass. That is interesting to me because I recently plotted our course to New Caledonia and looked at the depths for the entire course. Certainly didn't appear to be any old volcano formations down there now because didn't see any "shallow" spots. Just nice deep ocean all the way.
Today we turned our little Toyota car over to her new owners Ray and Fiona. Ray and Fiona contacted us via the message board on this website a few weeks ago. They had purchased a boat docked here at Gulf Harbour Marina and were moving aboard March 21. They are moving from Australia and will be refitting their "new-to-them" Petersen 44 for several months to a year. So they will need a car while docked at Gulf Harbour. This worked out perfectly for all of us. They had a rental car from March 21 until this afternoon, and we needed to use the car until noon today. Like I said; worked out perfectly for all of us.
We will be leaving Auckland area tomorrow morning. Our original plans were to depart this marina on April 1. But winds are predicted to be 30 knots that day. So we decided to bug out of here a few days early and begin working our way northwards to Opua. The holding at Opua is horrible and we do not want to be anchored there in a blow, and the marina won't have a slip available for us until April 5. So we will find a sheltered anchorage somewhere to tuck up before the winds start Tuesday night; then move into the Opua Marina on April 5, where we will wait for good weather forecast to sail either to Vanuatu or New Caledonia. Might be no website updates until we dock at the Opua Marina.
Don’t know where we are going tomorrow – just wherever the winds take us. Looking forward to quiet anchorages hopefully all to ourselves.