"Arctracer" Letters

Bay of Islands, New Zealand, Dec 2002 - Jan 2003

After checking into New Zealand at Opua in the Bay of Islands we went to Keri Keri to meet with friends on boats that we'd met previously. On the 9th we headed slowly south to Auckland, anchoring at 4 nice anchorages along the way. From the 16th to the 20th we inquired about work that needs to be done on the boat and met several people who could help us after their holidays. Since most New Zealanders are on holiday until at least the 6th of January we decided to go on holiday too. On the 21st, our anniversary, we sailed north to the Whangaparora Peninsula, anchored, and walked to Manly for a nice dinner. The following day Jerry put our rudder back on and we sailed north for 22 hours back to the Bay of Islands. We spent Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day with other cruisers and their land friends. We enjoyed lots of food on a pleasant beach - ham, turkey, Christmas pudding, smoked salmon, shrimp, salads, kumara, potatoes, pies, and steamed pipis (small clams) with garlic butter. We had three extra people sleeping on our boat for a few days and did more socializing than we'd done in ages. It was all great fun.

We had a quiet New Year's Eve. We moved the boat from Keri Keri to Russell for a New Year's Eve party at the Boat Club. However, we were so tired from socializing so much for almost a week that we fell asleep about 8:30. On the 6pm news on January 1st it was midnight in New York, so we got to watch the ball fall at midnight in Times Square "live" on the TV news here.

On Jerry's birthday we were invited to a picnic on a beautiful property near Russell. Susie and Peter Lindauer have a son Bill who is about 14. They own a huge oyster farm and have MANY acres of land overlooking a lovely bay. We had a feast of grilled oysters, lamb, wonderful seafood chowder, and ginger chicken, along with other things. I had made a datenut cake, so put candles in it and we all sang "Happy Birthday" to Jerry on his 60th. He's told others that "It is hard to believe that I have made so many trips around the sun, but now I can start to use age as an excuse for all my failings and outrageous behavior."

The Lindauer's have some wonderful art in their house. Peter's grandfather, Gottfried Lindauer (1839-1926), was a famous painter of Maoris. He also painted many portraits of family members. The paintings of Maoris with their wonderful tattooed faces are great. We got some prints at a local shop here, along with a couple of frames and now have them on our walls. We almost bought some when we arrived in New Zealand this year. I'm glad I waited and got some of Lindauer's prints as there are two such artists - the other artist being Goldie. There are Lindauer paintings in the Auckland museum and these are the ones we got prints of. Anyway, we have a framed Aboriginal print from Australia that we got from an Aboriginal artist after we met her and I wanted something from New Zealand on the boat too.

This past Saturday we were invited to go on the 68' schooner "Siome," (built in Florida) in the annual Tall Ships Race here in Russell, Bay of Islands. "Siome" came in third so that was terrific. We took our schooner "Arctracer" in the race in 2000, so it brought back good memories. After the race they had a hangi so we ate at the boat club. A hangi is the Maori's underground oven (umu in Tonga, lovo in Fiji). The meal consisted of potatoes, peas, beef, chicken, pipis, and green-lipped mussels.

(view Bay of Islands photos)

It has been raining for a couple of days as there is a tropical low hanging over us. As soon as it passes we'll be headed back to Auckland to start some long days working on the boat. I'm not sure, but the low may be the same one that hit some of the Solomon Islands as a strong cyclone last week. It is amazing that it hit the islands of Tikopia and Anuta as some cruising friends of our had just given us some photos of some of the people on Tikopia to give to them when we go there this coming non-cyclone season. I've been saving all the newspaper articles and making a notebook to give to them too. They are so remote that it has taken days to get relief to them. Finally Australia sent a plane there to take photos. There were a few trees left, but no one was sure for days how much destruction or loss of life (if any) there was. Yesterday's New Zealand Herald reported that no one was killed as the islanders have a cave that they go to during cylcones. The Solomon Islands are really hurting these days and the government didn't have the money to send a ship there. Australia finally gave them money for the diesel to get there. The islands are VERY remote and they are subsistence farmers with no ships supplying them and no mail services either - that is why our friends asked us to deliver the photos. Our friends were the only yacht to visit Tikopia this year. It will be interesting to see the island for ourselves (probably about late August), as we're thinking about going to several of the Cook Islands, Western Samoa, Fiji, and Vanuatu before heading to Tikopia.