One last trip to the beach the morning Tiffany flew back to the states:
Well here’s another blog post in keeping with my current trend of infrequent unsubstantial posts. I’m finally back out cruising, but I’ve been in New Zealand so long and it’s so similar to my own culture that I’m not particularly inspired to write too much. When I last updated the blog, I had just got back to Whangarei with Tiffany. It was just a few days before Tiffany had to fly back to the states and she really wanted to get a tattoo to commemorate her time here before she left. So we checked out the two places in Whangarei, but had no luck. It was too last minute, but one of the guys recommended a place in Auckland. So the day before Tiffany flew home, we went down to Auckland with the idea for Tiffany to get a Tui tattooed on her somewhere. The Tui is a endemic bird of New Zealand with a striking white tuft under their throat, and a metallic blue, green, brown and black color scheme to the rest of them. They can mimic other birds, and we even came across one with quite the English vocabulary in Whangarei. Probably most impressive is that they’ve got a beer named after them. So it’s pretty fair to say that the Tui, not the Kiwi is the coolest bird in NZ and a fine subject for a new tat. Fortunately the artist in Auckland outdid herself and came up with a great design mixing in a bit of Maori design with otherwise accurate depiction of the bird. So Tiffany got her Tui, we stayed the night with Arek and Iwona one more time, hit a west coast beach on the way to the airport and then I was back on my own up in Whangarei.
Tiffany’s new tat:
So Tiffany getting her new tattoo set a number of things in motion. I’d wanted to get some new ink myself to immortalize my making it across the Pacific and my time in New Zealand. Unfortunately, I wasn’t really thrilled by either of the tattoo parlors in town. Then Christian on Irie was introduced to Billy, a Maori fella who does tattoos out of his home. They talked for about 3 hours, Billy slept on it and had a design in his head the next day when Christian and I went over to Billy’s house. Billy was such a genuine, spiritual person. I immediately felt that this was the guy I’d like to have come up with something for me as well. My first tattoo, I asked for the turtle shape and the story that I wanted it to tell but never saw the finished product until it was done. This time, I just talked with Billy and he came up with the right tattoo for me. Basically he wanted to capture me in the overall theme of the work, and then add in the members of my family so that I would have them with me wherever I go in my travels. Having family incorporated into the tattoo is a very Maori thing and the Koru (fern stalks) all connected to my central bloodline represent my grandfather, parents and 3 brothers. The overall shape is a very stylized hammerhead shark representing tenacity and my connection to the sea. There are various scales and sharks teeth to further the maritime theme.
My new tat:
Other than that I set into a number of boat projects and doing the normal Whangarei thing trying to spend the next few weeks getting as much done as possible. Then Amber, an old friend from Bellingham who’s recently got hired on with the university in Christchurch, wrote and wanted to meet up for Easter. I was certainly ready to be back out on the water again, so I recommended that we meet up in the Bay of Islands. I quickly finished up what I was working on in Whangarei, saw a great weather window that allowed me to make it up north with SE to SW winds the entire way got around Cape Brett 6 hours before gale force Easterlies came in and Bob’s your uncle, I’m now in the bay of islands.
Beautiful downwind sail north. It was so nice, I could sit in a deck chair while underway:
I anchored on the west side of Mimiwhangata this time as a midway point to the passage north:
Rounding Cape Brett:
I hung out for a few days in Omakiwi bay waiting for a system to pass and then headed into Paihia where Amber was going to arrive after something like 12 hours of travel. It’s not that far, but easy to get around, NZ ain’t. We had a great 6 days on the boat together. Supposedly Captain Cook named the Bay of Islands due to the great number of islands it contains, but I only count 6. The rest are really just hazards to navigation. Still the 6 islands offer a ton of good anchorages, lots of hiking trails, fishing, shellfishing, some chilly swimming and some really great sailing. The wind generally blew 15 knots every day and then died off in the evening so we could sleep peacefully. What more could you really ask for? Oh yeah and there’s a pod of dolphins here that tour boats go out and plop people into the water to swim with. We sailed by them twice. The first time they seemed to be disappointed that we weren’t going to stop the boat and hop in the water. They just keep coming up along side and turning to look up at us. The did a little bow riding, but mostly they just gave us the eyeball.
Omakiwi and the beautiful water of the Bay of Islands:
Amber and myself overlooking the anchorage on Roberton Island:
We sailed down into Opua so that Amber could grab a cab, the first of 8 conveyances that it would take for her to get back to the south island. This’ll be my home base for a little bit. It’s basically a big marina, a chandlrey, a restaurant, and a general store, but it’s a good anchorage where I can take care of all the finishing touches I need to do to get Bodhran ready to head offshore for the first time in 18 months. My buddy Delaware Johnny just finished up the season guiding down at Franz Josef and will be meeting me up here for the passage to Fiji. Phil and Melissa on Mira just left today. There’s been fog in the morning a couple of times, cold rain and cold nights. Definitely time to get back into the tropics.