Monday, April 11, 2016

Storm Chasers?

Definitely not us, but we have had our share of tracking them this year!

Since our return from New Zealand, the SPCZ has been active north of us and that always means trouble with a "Capitol T". Plus, our water temperatures are very warm - another bad sign.

We receive weather information from Port Denarau and Vuda Point Marinas, plus our research, and the scuttlebutt around Happy Hour.  So, we have lots of data - sometimes too much!

At one time, we had 3 tropical depressions we were watching.  The last one, Zena, actually turned into a cyclone but just for a short time as it swiftly passed Fiji.  But, after the all the worry and hype, it was a non-event.  Thankfully.  30+ winds for 3 hours and a just a little rain.  Amazing after all of that prep work and worrying.

Always good to see a rainbow!
The most wind we had was from an "unexpected low" that passed over bringing 45+ knots of wind.  No one was ready for that one.  One of the boats on the moorings unraveled its chain off of the mooring and drug over to C Dock.  Yikes.  After that, the marina closed the mooring field and everyone had to come to the dock or go up the mangrove creek.  Everyone worked together to get to the boats moved and secured.

We chose to stay on the dock - with lots of lines.  We were happy with the choice.  We were able to help other boats, plus walk around when the weather permitted.  Plus, it is very social on the dock.

Our biggest mistake, not buying beer and diet cokes when we could!  Plus, we ran out of fruit, veggies, and other interesting stuff.  We should have been better prepared - we have been spoiled by daily shopping.

Flooding was the worst part of all of this.  Nadi and Ba rivers breached their banks and the towns flooded.  The locals headed to the hills.  Nadi town reportedly had 11' of water in town.  Most of the businesses in Denarau Marina were closed - workers couldn't get thru the flooded areas.  The few businesses that were open serving limited menus and beer - yeah.  A good excuse for us to get off the boat.  The workers that were here had to sleep where they worked, but seemed to be well taken care of.

Sea Mercy sorting thru tons of stuff from New Zealand
First the cyclone and then the flooding.  Sea Mercy, plus all of the other charities, are going to be busy for a long time.

The Fijians are still smiling - they are amazing!

Hopefully, that is the last of our Storm Chasing for the year and we can go and have some island fun.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Our New Zealand Adventure!

We had an excellent time circumnavigating the North Island. No time for the South Island - we were too busy!
Strolling along the Viaduct
Besides our road trip around the North Island, we spent lots of time hanging with friends and exploring the big city of Auckland.

Jude and Grant (s/v Blinder) invited us to stay with them in St. Heliers - Thank You!
Hanging with Jude at her favorite cafe

They were excellent hosts, plus touring us around the neighborhoods and introducing us to the locals.

We loved it.

Beautiful beaches along Auckland
The beaches are wonderful and I swear everyone swims - no matter what the water temperature is.  Crazy!

There are also great walking and bike paths everywhere, which are very popular.

Savage Memorial Park
Seems everyone wants to enjoy that beautiful sunshine!

Lisa and Lester (s/v Obsession) took us on a great tour of Auckland.

Starting at the Michael Joseph Savage memorial - first Labour Prime Minister. A great memorial, plus what a view of the city!
Lisa and Lester - excellent tour guides

Then along the Viaduct Harbour, which is a trendy area along the waterfront.

Lots of restaurants, pubs, shopping, etc.  Our kind of place.

And so many boats!
All about the boats

I think everyone in Auckland has at least one.

And on holiday weekends everyone heads out to the islands where there are lots of great anchorages.
Lots of classic boats

Plus, the Kiwi's are really into racing and learn to sail at a very young age.

All shapes and sizes of boats flying around the marks - fun to watch.
Lots of racing boats
A special treat, dining at the Quarterdeck Restaurant at the RNZYS.

Sailing bears?
We were a little under-dressed (no Jandals allowed).

But really enjoyed the food and the view. 
Auckland night life

Plus, the company.  A special thanks to Pete and Di (s/v Bonaparte) for everything!
Auckland - reminds me of San Francisco

We spent lots of time just wandering around the wharf and up and down the city streets of Auckland.

Beer time!

Always on the search for a great pub, of course.  Found quite a few...

Crazy art stuff
Like San Francisco, there is always something going on - lots of history, art, museums, music - lots to see and do.
The Domain

We visited a great museum - the Auckland War Museum (aka The Domain).
Beautiful Marae

So much to see (and read) and not just about wars.  Lots of Maori history, Air New Zealand exhibit, collectibles, and more.

Impressive.  We tried to do it all in one day - should have been have two.
Carol and Doug enjoying a beer or two

A special treat, was spending time with our sailing buddies from California - Dennis, Carol, and Josh (s/v Evergreen).

They have settled very nicely into life in New Zealand. Nice to see you all!
Enjoying our Food Court experience

As you can see, we loved New Zealand: the history, culture, the diverse landscape, and seeing our Kiwi friends - of course.

We chose a great time to visit NZ - the NZ dollar was worth $.67 to the US dollar, so it saved us some money.
Enjoying music at the zoo - lots of rain

Lots of visitors tour NZ via caravans and campers. We chose to rent a car to explore and stay in motels (and with friends).

We are very happy we did!
Along the Auckland wharf

We figured that with our cruising life, we get to camp out all the time - hah!

We wanted something different.
Our sweet ride
Doug found a great deal on a rental car - Rent a Dent. Which is actually one of the nicest cars we have rented. 2015 model with only 16k kilometers.

Love the old Motels
Of course, driving on the "other" side of the road is a bit of challenge and NZ roads are pretty curvy, but Doug managed it all.

Green Mussels were wonderful
We also enjoyed staying at the old motels.  Clean and comfortable and more like a 1-bedroom apartment than a motel and with all of the amenities and lots of character.

Totaling it all up, our version of exploring NZ was less expensive???.  Plus, we were able to stay in town versus a camp site.  More our style!

And loving all of the fresh sea food. Doug especially enjoyed the mussels and Bluff oysters (with balsamic vinaigrette).

I loved the scallops and fish and chips, of course.
Lester and Lisa - so fun

So, if you are looking for a special place, visit New Zealand. You are going to love it!
Jude and Grant - lovely people
Now, we are back in Fiji enjoying ourselves, but wishing cyclone season was over.

We are tired of watching the weather...