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New Plans, New Crew

April 2004

(Don't forget: you can always click on any small photo in this website to view the full-sized version.)

Big News on the Raven front! This year, we're getting back to cruising the islands of the South Pacific, starting with Fiji. And we have new crew aboard, too.

We spent the months of January and February in New Zealand, met old friends and made new plans. The weather was poor most of the time, even though it was supposed to be High Summer in NZ, but we did get Raven back in the water and into cruising trim.

Raven Afloat Again

The old girl was a sad sight when we found her, high and dry in the boatyard and looking forlorn. In spite of the best efforts of the yard workers, she was dirty and in no shape to take anyone cruising. But after a month's hard work we had her up and running again. We must have had seven technicians and specialists on the boat at various times, from refrigeration experts to riggers to electricians.

After her NZ refit, Raven has new standing rigging and a rebuilt and repainted mast, new refrigeration, a rebuilt and remounted generator, rebuilt watermaker, and lots of smaller jobs. We're especially happy with our new all-stainless steel fridge and freezer boxes. With new, more efficient insulation, they have cut our daily energy use substantially, which means less generator run time. And the newly rebuilt mast will allow us to carry our big reacher most of the time. (Remember when we dropped it into the sea off Rarotonga?) Look for faster passage times.

Perhaps the best innovation is our new boom "antlers". At least that's what they've been nicknamed. Our mainsail is as big as a large apartment, at 1,000 square feet, so it can be a bear to handle in a good wind. Thanks to friends aboard Kela and Vision, we picked up a good idea for easier furling and reefing: stainless steel racks on the boom. The photos show how it looks under sail and how neatly the sail furls into the new racks. Not very conventional, but we're very pleased with the results.

One of the best parts of being back aboard Raven was that we found lots of our cruising friends here: Final Straw, Kiapa, Mobisle, Tara, By Chance, l'Eau Life, and Avventura. Not to mention our Danish-Kiwi friends aboard Ekanta and Midnight Sun. Between working sessions, we had plenty of time for get-togethers and dinners.



Cruising New Zealand

Happily, we did have time to cruise the North Island a little bit, and made it to the Bay of Islands and Great Barrier Island, two of our favorites. January and February are high summer, and the Kiwis combine their Christmas and summer school holidays. Having a barbecue at Christmastime does seem strange, but we think the kids here have the best of both worlds.

New Zealand is definitely a different place. It's at the Southwest corner of the Polynesian Triangle, that vast span of ocean from here to Hawaii and Easter Island settled by Polynesian voyagers in their double-hulled canoes. Most of the place names in NZ are Maori, and they take some getting used to. Some favorite cruising spots include Urupukapuka, Whangaruru, and Whangamumu, and our new marina is on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula. We get weather reports from neaby Tiritiri Matangi Island, right on to the Hauraki Gulf. But after cruising all those islands from French Polynesia to Tonga, we're pretty well used to Polynesian, and it just adds to the charm.

But then there are some other aspects of different. For example, NZ payphones are much like back home and they offer a choice of languages: English and Japanese, logically enough, but then they also have Maori, Samoan, and Tongan! A large part of the population originally came from those islands and others. And the supermarkets have lots of Asian food choices, such as the one in the photo: Fijian Taxi Driver Chicken Curry. We do enjoy just about everything in New Zealand.

By February this year, the weather had deteriorated and we ended up staying in the marina longer than we liked. The crowning blow was when the remnants of Cyclone Ivy brushed by us, with winds up to 70 knots. Happily, none of the boats in our marina were damaged.


New Plans - Fiji

After more than a year in New Zealand, Raven is finally getting under way again. At the end of May, we'll take her to Fiji for a few months' cruising. We visited Fiji in the 1980s as land tourists and loved the land and the people, so we've wanted to go back every since. It'll be a kick to anchor Raven right off the beach where we stayed as tourists. Fiji is vast, though, and even in two or three months' cruising we'll only be able to see a fraction of the islands. The country, with its mixture of Fijian and Indian cultures, is easily worth two or three seasons to really get to know it. Happily, our friends on Kiapa went there last season and have provided lots of tips on where to go and what to avoid. Watch for a web update or two on our Fiji cruise.

New Crew

Now that our granddaughter, Ava, is nine months old, we definitely want to spend more time back home so we can visit her and her family. But we don't want to miss cruising Raven in the South Pacific island. How to resolve the dilemma? We decided to hire a couple to crew for us and take care of Raven.

Friends recommended an agency in Auckland that finds crew for superyachts all over the world, and we were surprised that they didn't mind helping a measly 64-footer. Turns out that plenty of Kiwis work on big yachts in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, but many would dearly love to work closer to home in the South Pacific. So we were able to interview five couples with professional crewing experience, "auditioned" two couples for a weekend each aboard Raven, and finally selected Rod and Anouk, who have no professional crewing experience at all!

The experience they do have, though, is cruising the South Pacific for several years in their own 50-foot sailboat, in the waters we hope to cruise aboard Raven: Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, and Australia. Rod is a Kiwi and handles the sailing and technical side. Anouk is Dutch, has professional diving instructor credentials, and is in charge of the domestic side. They're both smart, cheery, and fun to be with. We're very happy with our choice of crew and feel lucky to have found them. And Rod & Anouk are happy to be going cruising in their favorite waters.

Watch this space for an update later this year, after Fiji.

Love . . . Signe & Jan

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

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