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Auckland at Last!

November 15, 2002

Opua was fun and mostly warm, at least in the daytime, since it's in the subtropics. We had more reunions with our cruising friends, toured the vacation towns nearby, and relaxed for a few days. Ken and Cathy needed to get back to Auckland, so they rented a car and headed south while we readied Raven for the short trip to Auckland. It's not far, only about 120 miles by sea, but we wanted to take our time and see at least a couple of anchorages on the way.

After rounding the same Cape Brett light that had greeted us on arriving in the Bay of Islands, we cruised the gorgeous coast to a little hole-in-the-wall harbor named Tutukaka (welcome to NZ's Maori place names!). Signe and I stayed in the hotel up on the top of the cliff in 1997, when we spent a month sailing and driving around New Zealand. We wondered at the time if we would ever be back in our own boat . . . and here we are! We hope to spend more time later in our cruise of Kiwi-Land.

Another overnight stop in Kauwau Island, sort of a Newport, R.I. for wealthy Aucklanders, gave us a chance to stop at Kauwau Island YC, a yacht club cleverly disguised as a pub! Still, the pub food was good enough and the TV had the latest America's Cup races, so we were happy.

Early next day, it was on to Auckland and Bayswater Marina. And what a welcome we had. It was a boisterous race day for the America's Cup teams, and our path was right through the race courses, happily a few hours early. The Cup boats were being towed out to the course, though, and it was exciting to finally see some of them up close. Impression: they're BIG but look amazingly delicate compared to the husky cruising boats we're used to.

We feared arriving in Bayswater -- which is nicknamed "Blowswater" by the locals, for reasons which soon became clear -- in Auckland Harbor's signature heavy southwesterlies. One of our friends had scratched his boat trying to get through the pilings in a 40-knot crosswind. Happily, we had "only" 20 knots or so, and got into our slip ("berth" here) with little trouble. Raven is now securely tied to the dock and will remain there for a few months.

In the week or so we had left before flying home for Thanksgiving, we managed to pack in quite a bit: getting our NZ visas and visitor permits (total of 8 hours standing in lines at Immigration), borrowing a car from our ever-helpful friends Bjarne & Lise, opening a bank account, visiting the America's Cup team installations, and on and on. Friends of Bjarne and Lise even took us for dinner at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron so we could see the Cup. Jan also visited the boatyard and rigging companies he has selected for Raven's refit this summer in NZ.

Now it's Home for the Holidays, visiting family and friends on both coasts, and experiencing a Tacoma winter again! We'll probably be happy to get back to the (relative!) warmth of Auckland.

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This page was last updated on 04/13/04.

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