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Thursday, January 15, 2015

New Zealand - Held Captive Against my Will


New Zealand, the picturesque setting of the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit... a land of beautiful mountains, picturesque waters, crazy adventures and prison....

A 3 year reunion with former yacht-sinking desert-island marooning legend Helena
http://barefootedgypsy.blogspot.co.nz/2012/08/shipwrecked-marooned-destined-for.html 

New Zealand kicked off brilliantly - there were amazing people to catch up with and phenomenal things to see.

Karl's face upon seeing his first ever live hippo




There were places to explore:


But after ten days of patiently waiting for our Australian visas  to come through (aside from the two weeks wait in Tonga) we knew we needed to get out of Auckland.

We hitched North.
To anywhere.


And wound up at Nghawha Springs Hot Pools (and campsite and hotel)


We were just going to stay for a night but help was needed and new challenges were to be overcome

Look how good that mowed lawn looks...

I seemed to be getting the hang of house keeping and cobweb candy-flossing when an unidentified flying creature attacked me


And made me swell up like Shrek.
When my fingers stopped bending I was forced to become a leftie.


Eight days of intense labour (and Christmas) in the beautiful Northlands later, Karl finally got his visa.


And so it was that we bid dear Carole farewell 

Sadly we didn't get to keep the vests

And we hitched back to Auckland with Pat, an incredible Kiwi who took us to the beach


And to spectacular viewpoints




And dropped us right on the doorstep of the house we'd be staying at.
Hitching doesn't get better than that!

After an unplanned catch up with sailing friends we hadn't seen since Panama (April)
Karl wondered his way to the airport and flew off to the distant magical land of Aus leaving me a somewhat lonely traveler for the first time in... um... a flipping long time.

At least the fireworks were pretty
It was 2015.
Already.
Flip!
I had slight plans. I had no visa.
I had no idea what to do next.

So I defaulted and went hitching...again.


Four hitches later, a lovely family took me in and told me to stay with them and sort my life out.
They put me on the internet and made me plan my route. 
Apparently you can't just hitch hike to anywhere...

And so it was that I headed for Napier - a land of winyards and art deco;
a land of opportunities...


...And prison.


Prison gave the whole being kept in New Zealand against my will a whole new meaning.

But at least they believed in justice and equality for all


Three hours of random "community service" a day got me a roof over my head - in my own ghost-infested cell. 




And allowed me to roam and explore Napier freely.

I got to catch up with more awesome and inspiring friends of yonder years 







Missing the water, I even tried to get involved in the sailing club


And I was even put in charge of flag raising... but I'm not sure racing is for me 
all the flags are crazy confusing and you get in trouble when you raise them upside down.


But still, it felt a bit like home - I think this whole sailing thing takes a while to get out of your system.


Tomorrow ends my prison sentence which is good - I don't want to end up like the hundreds who died here before me.
But after two weeks, it's sad to leave my awesome fellow inmates behind. 


Tomorrow I hitch North.
I hitch to blokarts and driftkarts (http://www.blokartheaven.co.nz/ )
and Auckland and a flight

Actually now that I look at it, New Zealand hasn't been all that bad... I suppose it's the awesome people around you that make life brilliant. 
And there sure have been a lot of awesome people about.
Thank you all!

And finally - now that my visa has come through - after six weeks of patiently waiting.
I head back to Aus.



Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Taking Another Tack


“hark, now hear the sailors cry, 
smell the sea, and feel the sky 
let your soul & spirit fly, into the mystic...” 
― Van Morrison


WE DID IT!!!

...We hadn't quite crossed the Pacific... We hadn't made it to Australia or even to New Zealand.
...We hadn't set any records or claimed any new territory. (But at least our mums were proud)
...But we also hadn't died... Or sunk...  Or had to cannibalise each other.

No, we hadn't quite accomplished what we had set out to do; but we had however sailed 8023.6 nautical miles (14 859.7072 km - straight line) in a 27 foot boat (8m)
And instead of abandoning our fair [and somewhat broken] Yoldia, we'd steered her to a safe haven for the cyclone season.


With some of the easiest sailing we had had in a long time; we arrived in Tonga.
While the joys of land and new adventures stirred; a sorrow crept in as we moored for the last time.

The little vessel that kept going even when we couldn't, that had taken us to some of the most remarkable places on earth, through the biggest ocean on the planet was finally getting some rest (And hopefully some paint and a clean)


And so it was that I finished the longest hitch hike of my life. It was, if you remember, only meant to be a 2 week trip. 

It was a massive milestone for the captain too - He had sailed more than half way around the world in the little bath tub.
 And while it was a hard decision, he was ready for a new adventure; and so it was that Karl-Oskar stepped down from his fascist dictatorship and handed over the captaincy. 

A new era for Yoldia - Karl taking a step back and Jonas taking over.
With salt still pumping through our veins, and tears still streaming down our cheeks, we boarded the ferry and set off for the capital, Nukualofa.
I have never seen so many people throwing up as I did that day... even Karl (a viking at heart) joined in on the funtivities. 

Tired and smelly and heavily burdened with life belongings; we dragged ourselves into a small B&B where we had our first hot shower in 8 months.
Where 6 months ago, without propane or cereal,  we had endured bread crumbs and water for breakfast - we now feasted on three course meals served to our table. And we didn't even have to wash up.


But in less than 24 hours, we were experiencing Severe Boat Withdrawal Symptoms (SBWS) and headed down to the docks where we were happy to bump into old friends!

Please note the facial expressions associated with SBWS)
The friends came in handy too because Karl woke up one morning with shrek-sized feet and lovely doctor Tom got to spend a morning squirting pussy gooyness all over Jerry's cockpit. 


At least Pepe enjoyed cleaning it up



While we waited for our Australian visas to come through, we became "regte-egte" tourists for a bit

We visited the blow holes in Tongatapu.


We took a ferry out to Pangalau Island to visit big mama


We marveled at cyclone damage and were quite glad that we wouldn't be sailing in one


We chilled on the beach


And we drank too much beer



And then finally we grew tired of waiting for our visas. 
The rest of the world looked forward to the holidays while we, after a year and a half of sailing, looked forward to work.
Thinking they [the visas] would be approved at any moment, we put the sailing world completely behind us, booked our flights and set off to New Zealand.
We were only going to be there a couple of days...

Normally I'm against flying but did you know that in 3 hours of air time we covered a distance that would have taken us three weeks?
We were also given soft seats, served a meal and wine (while we watched the hobbit) and we didn't  get wet, or have to steer or navigate...
I might need to reconsider this flying thing a bit!


“I really don't know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it's because in addition to the fact that the sea changes, and the light changes, and ships change, it's because we all came from the sea. And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea - whether it is to sail or to watch it - we are going back from whence we came.

[Remarks at the Dinner for the America's Cup Crews, September 14 1962]” 
― John F. Kennedy