Thursday, April 30, 2009

Still waiting on weather so we can leave New Zealand

Our plans were to depart New Zealand tomorrow morning. Submitted the required 4-day advance notice of departure to Customs on Monday; went to the bank in Pahia on Monday and ordered a supply of Euros because out ATM and credit cards won't work in New Caledonia; and fueled up with diesel on Wednesday morning. Everything was on schedule. Then while walking through the parking lot to pick up a rental car on Wednesday afternoon we make a snap decision that we are going to Vanuatu instead of New Caledonia. Won't be able to stay long in either place and we would rather see at least one island of Vanuatu.

I had not provisioned with meat because New Caledonia does not allow New Zealand meat to be brought into their country. I wasn't planning on doing much provisioning of any sort because we will be clearing into Australia by June 5 and Australia Quarantine restricts almost every food from being brought into theis country. Vanuatu does allow meat to be brought in on cruising boats but requires that each vacuum-sealed package be labeled "New Zealand Export Quality" or that you obtain a form from the butcher shop certifying that the meat is NZ Export Quality. So as soon as we got the rental car we drove to nearby Kawakawa to visit the Central Butchery. They did not want to take my small order because they already had more business than they could handle. Central Butchery does the meats for most of the boats participating in the Island Cruising Association's rallies to Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia. But a bit of pouting and just not accepting no for an answer, and I finally got the shop owner to agree to package enough Scotch fillet steaks, trimmed pork fillets and boneless chicken breasts to last us a month.

We then drove back to the bank in Pahia and picked up the Euros we had ordered on Monday. Don't need them now and don't know when we will again be in a country that uses Euros. But we will have some on hand when we arrive wherever that is. Vanuatu does not use Euros; they have their own peculiar currency but will also accept New Zealand dollars. So we also had to get a small supply of NZD. Currency is being a bit of a hassle in this part of the South Pacific.

Today we filled the propane tank and bought gasoline for the outboard engine for the dinghy. Did a last minute supermarket shopping trip for basics for a month; turned in the rental car; did laundry; baked chicken and fried bacon for the passage tomorrow morning. Then we talked to the weather guru Bob McDavitt and decided that we are not departing tomorrow after all. Yet another LOW is developing and will be passing over this area for the next 2-3 days.

The best time to leave New Zealand for a passage north is to leave on the back side of a LOW. That will produce southerly winds to assist us along on the passage north. It is always more comfortable to sail with the wind abaft the beam than in front of the beam. We notified Customs that we were delaying departure. We had already paid the marina through Monday, so we were all set. And we are both so tired from doing various things getting ready to leave tomorrow that I am glad we have a few days to rest up before starting this long passage.

Really looking forward to visiting Tanna Island of Vanuatu. Should be on our way Monday morning.

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