Monday, March 31, 2008

March 24, 2008 - Tauranga

Yesterday afternoon we drove up from Rotorua to Tauranga, where we met up with Andrea, Patty and Giff on Phoenix. We never knew that a boat on the hard could be so clean and put together! Giff served up a feast of steak and popcorn (a Phoenix tradition) and we all settled back to watch Pirates of the Caribbean III and a enjoy few slices of Patty's pumpkin pie. After dinner Patty and Andrea almost had us convinced to join them on the Tongariro Crossing, which is meant to be the "best one day hike in New Zealand" but decided that we were too out of shape to attempt it. We spent the night in Phoenix's cozy forward berth and the next morning Giff made pancakes for all of us.

Over breakfast, we talked about our plans for the coming season. Sten and I have been so busy working on the boat and seeing as much of New Zealand as possible that we haven't put any time into researching destinations for next season. We are planning to get ourselves (and Mata'irea) to Darwin, Australia by mid-July so that we can join the Sail Indonesia Rally. But other than that, we have no firm plans for the coming cruising season.

We would like to spend some time in Vanuatu and maybe New Caledonia or the Solomon Islands before heading west to Darwin. We have no interest in day hoping our way up the inside passage of the Great Barrier Reef, but we will probably make a quick stop at Thursday Island (in the Torres Strait) to clear into Australia before continuing on to Darwin. If we don't stop at Thursday, we're looking at a nearly 2,000 mile run from Vanuatu to Darwin. At this point, we've done a handful of 1,000 mile passages, which typically take about a week (and by the end of which we're both ready to get off the boat). Our Pacific crossing from the Galapagos to Marquesas was just under 3,000 miles and took us 19 days in near perfect tradewind sailing conditions. We haven't done any 2,000 milers yet.

This coming season Phoenix will be sailing shorthanded as Andrea is staying in New Zealand to work for a bit, before heading back to the States to start college. Giff and Patty will be heading to New Caledonia as soon as the weather allows and then onto Vanuatu before heading over to the Great Barrier Reef. Diving is to them as surfing is to Sten, so their itinerary is structured around getting to as many of the best diving sites in the world. We're hoping to be able to spend some time with them in Vanuatu before we go our separate ways in Australia.

We were hoping to do some surfing in Tauranga with Phoenix, but the weather wasn't cooperating, so we decided to head back to Raglan, where this road trip began 6 weeks ago. Before we left, Patty gave us a packet of her delicious pumpkin bread to snack on as we drove west.

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