Travels 2



Following her exotic and energetic time in Nepal Vicky retreated or perhaps progressed to a more relaxed and quieter time in England, visiting both her sisters, Annabel and Fiona in the wilds of East Anglia. Remembrance Day gave a further chance for peaceful contemplation and it is always pleasant to watch others hard at work, in this case Annabel and her textile conservationist partner, Poppy. They were busy restoring a colossal flag used aboard Admiral Lord Howe's flagship at the Battle of the Glorious First of June in 1794.







No matter how much London changes and becomes more like every other large city on the planet, there are always landmarks which make it distinct. Big Ben is certainly the best known, however the view across the pond in St. James' Park to Whitehall, with it's unique skyline speaks just as distinctively of London.








For many years, Fiona has been very actively involved not only with the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC), but also with the UK national authority for sailing, the Royal Yachting Association (RYA). She has been particularly active with and responsible for the development of sailing for the handicapped and has served for many years on the RYA national committee. This year her long and continuing service to sailing was recognised with an RYA Community Award, presented by the Princess Royal, Anne, who is also the President of the RYA.



We had always planned to spend time with Tom's family in New York, so after five weeks separation, we were re-united in the Big Apple quite a contrast to both Nepal and East Anglia! Quite apart from spending time with Erika, Inge, Chris, Susan and Elizabeth, we did what most visitors to the City do. We walked and walked, shopped and saw sights including the beautiful art-deco lobby of the most elegant building in Manhattan, the Chrysler tower.


Inge fed us royally on Thanksgiving Day and just about forgave us for missing her 60th birthday though we did manage to have a party anyway.










By early December we were ready to migrate back south to our floating home and summer. Though needing a good bottom scrub and a few coats of varnish, 'Sunstone' was ready for some warm weather Kiwi cruising and so were we.


Though we had hiked there previously we had not anchored in Whangamumu, a beautiful cove on the east coast just south of Cape Brett. We were lucky to see it in wonderful weather and before Christmas, when hundreds of boats head north from Auckland for their long summer holiday.


Of course Vicky was also determined to make the most of another hiking opportunity, up over around and through the hilly terrain of the Cape Brett Peninsula. There is no rest for the 'Vickied'!




By contrast, we made yet another vain attempt to get into fishing each of us as unsuccessful as the other. This may have to do with our technique or lack of it, but is probably more to do with our lack of patience, considering that our concentration span for fishing rarely exceeds fifteen minutes.







Our summer visits to the Bay of Islands always give opportunities to catch up with friends. We had not seen Nick and Jenny on 'Bosun Bird' since Mar del Plata in 2005, though we have kept contact, even while they were posted to the Canadian Embassy in Pakistan for a demanding two-year stint. We were particularly pleased to catch up with them in order to share plans and information about cruising through Micronesia to Japan, where they were also heading at a somewhat more leisurely and sensible pace than ours.





The weather held for our next stop at Whangaroa Harbour. Here we celebrated Christmas and made a second ascent of the Duke's Nose. This time we could actually enjoy the panoramic view, as our first climb had been through low cloud and mist. At one time the final clamber up the rock face of the Duke's 'head' must have been challenging. Fortunately DOC have installed a chain to make the climb a great deal easier for those of us not used to clinging to a rock wall.









On our return to the Bay of Islands we visited fellow S&S aficionado, Philip Yates, who owns the eastern point of land which forms the entrance to Waipiro Bay. In keeping with his and his family's business supporting horticulture and agriculture, Philip has set out to regenerate the native plants of New Zealand on the property. He kindly gave us a tour, which not only gave us some short-lived understanding of native flora, but also of the Maori history of the Bay of Islands and the tribal conflicts which led to the fortification of practically every hill and cliff top along the coast.


Philip's boating is now done at 25 knots from the bridge of a 60' launch, however, in another bit of cruising serendipity, the day after our visit we saw his old S&S, 'Jupiter' and heard later from him that he had had an opportunity for a nostalgic visit on board the first time he had seen her in years.








Much to the farmers' distress, the weather continued to give the warmest, finest, driest summer in most memories. With it came every boat in Auckland for a holiday, as can be seen by the crowds in Oke Bay on New Years Eve.


We decided to see whether it was just as crowded at Great Barrier Island, knowing that the direct route there would also give us a chance to visit the Poor Knights Islands, a Nature and Marine Reserve off the coast.



The soft rock of the Poor Knights and their exposed offshore position has resulted in islands carved and moulded by the sea with caves and arches. Though landscape of the islands is fairly barren, the waters around them are considered a diver's paradise.


We had chosen particularly calm weather for our visit in the hope that we might be able to anchor for the night. However, we found that there were no sensible spots for anchoring on the eastern side of the island in the prevailing westerly conditions.


One of the arches (right below) was so tall, probably at least 80' that we were tempted to follow the example of the small motor boat and go through, however, good sense or cowardice prevailed and we went round instead.







At Great Barrier we caught up with Hamish Dickson, Malcolm and Joan's son, who we had last seen in Ushuaia after Malcolm's and Hamish's crossing of the Southern Ocean and rounding of Cape Horn in 'Sarau'. He and his wife Kate, also a very active sailor, are heading off soon at the start of their own cruising adventures in their recently acquired boat 'Pedlar'






While in Australia we had been in touch with the Chairman of the Australian Classic Yacht Association, Mark Chew. He had brought his boat, 'Fair Winds' across the ditch to take part in the New Zealand Classic Yacht Associations annual regatta. We shared an anchorage and a few beers with him, while mutually admiring each others boats.





Our last stop on Great Barrier at Nagle Cove gave us a chance to catch up with fellow RCC members, Tim and Ginny LeCouteur on Pizarro. In the calm, pre-sunset light we shared the pleasure of watching a pod of dolphins play and cruise around the anchorage, swimming with, around and among a group of youngsters and not so youngsters, from the anchored boats.


It was a good note on which to head back to Auckland for our next journey.