Ahoy all! It has been a long while since I’ve had time to post anything here, but certainly not for any lack of activity. Since arriving here in New Zealand back at the end of October, Learnativity has been safely pole moored in a fabulous spot at the end of a river estuary about 20km inland from the coast and in the town of Whangarei which is about 150km north of Auckland. It is very peaceful here and one of the world’s centers for marine trades and boat building so it has been a perfect spot to spend what will be almost 6 months by the time we leave next month as we wait for the hurricane season up north in the South Pacific to end. I’ll try to write up a more detailed summary of the past few months, but here is the update on the past few weeks to catch you up to the present.
I spent most of the past month (Feb/March) over in the US, partly to look after some business and partly to get in some time with friends and family before I set sail again as I’m not sure when I’ll next be back. After having a great time doing a presentation at a conference in Orlando I was able to spend some time with a few special friends who were also in town for this conference and in particular spend several days with my dear friend Erik from Antwerpen and we locked ourselves away for a few days to work on our Snowflake Effect book on mass personalization. I was also able to meet up Ellen who is my home base in Sonoma when I’m in the Bay area, and after more years than I can remember Marcia and I were able to meet up and Karl and Conner were with her so it was a particularly big reunion. Then it was back to my second family and home up in New Smyrna Beach (just south of Daytona) and I got to spend a few weeks up there. My #1 son Skyler has been staying there the past few months as well so had some wonderful time with him and catching up with all that’s new in his life as he tried the East Coast on for size. And then it was Easter/Spring break for the kids so we spent a week sailing down the Inter Coastal Waterway (ICW) all the way down to Miami. A very interesting ride, more like going down the canals in Europe as you are mostly going past people’s back yards on both sides for much of it. Some VERY VERY expensive back yards I might add! More wealth and excess than I think I’ve ever seen in one sitting. It was a great time and nice to be with my “other family” for such an extended time and being so all together on their sailboat.
Then I flew out to spend last weekend with Lia, Brian, Piglet and Ruby in their new home just NE of Los Angeles. That was pretty special too, such fun to be with my kids now that they are adults and have such great but different conversations with them. Brian and Lia are doing extremely well, loving their new house, settling into being a newly married (Aug 1, 2009) working couple, etc.
If you look closely in the photo on the left here you can make out Ruby snuggled into Lia’s lap while Piglet guard's here territory on Brian’s.
After having Ruby these past four months and seeing how much happier Piglet seems to be, Lia and Brian needed to get another dog themselves. Their newest family member arrives in a few days and is a Japanese Chin and very cute. His name will be “Ponzu” (Japanese dipping sauce) and he is due to arrive Friday (May 23) apparently. Similar looks to Piglet but black and white with more of a “squashed” face and very cute from the pictures we were able to look at from his breeder. If you go over to Lia’s FaceBook page you can see some pictures she has put up of Ponzu.
I spent my last few days in the USA running around to pick up a few last minute supplies and packing everything into suitable containers for the trip back to New Zealand and Ruby and after a fantastic four days with Lia, Brian and Pigled, Ruby and I drove to LAX Tuesday night to start our next adventure and our return to our floating home of Learnativity in Whangarei New Zealand.
After many months of planning and paperwork, Ruby flew with me in the cabin on the Air New Zealand flight from LAX to Auckland and as usual their service was phenomenal. I can’t recommend ANZ highly enough and if you ever get the chance please do use them. They had me/us booked in the forward most row of their “Premium Economy” class which put us in a bulkhead row with lots of space between the seats and the bulkhead. They also booked us to have the entire row to ourselves, no one else sitting in the 2 seats beside me, and also had a special mat put out on the floor for Ruby! The staff could not have been more accommodating and friendly and for most of them this was apparently the first time they had a dog onboard, which surprised me a bit. But every one of them from the purser on down came by to personally welcome us on board, ask what they could do to make Ruby more comfortable, could they see her? Could they pet her? Could they take her up to show the pilot? etc. And this continued through the entire 12 hour flight!
We had a bit of a problem in Auckland making the transfer from the international terminal over to the domestic terminal for our connecting flight to Whangarei. When we landed in Auckland we were escorted through customs and down to bio security where the MAF staff (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry) met us and took over. I had to turn Ruby over to them for the remainder of our travels in NZ and so I kept her in her travel bag which she knows and feels comfortable in and just placed this inside the large wooden crate they had ready for her. They officially sealed her in with a numbered zip lock tag and told me to head over to the domestic terminal and they would bring Ruby over there and put her on board the flight to Whangarei. However when I went to board the flight I checked in the cargo hold in the rear of the small turbo prop plane and my checked bags with all my boat parts were there but not the crate with Ruby. I asked the flight attendant to check and I phoned the MAF person who’s number I had and apparently there was some mix-up with the transfer from the MAF people to the ANZ people and so she was still sitting over in the international terminal. So I offloaded myself and my bags from that flight and went back inside to figure out where she was. Everyone I dealt with, from the MAF staff to the ANZ people could not be more helpful and friendly and it all went quite well. I was able to find Ruby, still in her bag and crate, over at the domestic terminal and we were booked onto the next flight to Whangarei. Fortunately this is a common route and there is a flight almost every hour so we were only about 2 hours later than planned in leaving Auckland.
We arrived in Whangarei literally minutes later (it is only about 150km away) and Ruby, still in her bag/crate was just fine. No MAF staff to meet us but a quick call to the number they had given me put me in touch with the two staff members who were on route to the airport and just delayed with some road work along the way. We loaded Ruby and all the bags into their truck and headed over to the Town Basin Marina where Learnativity is moored. A bit of paper work to sign and then they were able to let me take Ruby out of her crate and put her into one of the marina dinghy’s for the final journey over to Learnativity. You can’t imagine how great it felt to have my precious travel buddy back home with me on Learnativity and Ruby quickly raced all over the boat as I opened her up and she seemed to feel the same about being back home. The two MAF officials, Helen and Mike, went around to the other side of the river and walked out to the end of the wooden floating dock that ends about 5m away from Learnativity so they could ensure that we were on a pole mooring and not on a dock, as Ruby has to be kept onboard at all times and we can’t be at a dock or anywhere she could possibly get to land. They were very pleased with the arrangement and wit that we bid adieu and the latest grand Ruby adventure was over! Well almost, a very nice veterinarian came aboard on Monday to give her a quick topical treatment for fleas, ticks, etc. And that pretty much looks after everything other than the MAF people need to come by once a week or so to make sure she is still aboard and healthy. But that should be straight forward and relatively easy. (knock on wood)
And so here we are a few days later and feeling very much at home and back where we both belong. The stainless steel guy came by first thing Friday morning (we got back here Thursday morning NZ time) and we spent most of the day fitting the pieces he had bent up for the new bow railing which was ripped off in the tsunami back in September in Pago Pago in American Samoa. I also have them bending up some more SS tubing for the mounting rack I’m building for my solar panels and possibly a new dual anchor assembly for the bow to replace the single one I have now and to accommodate the shiny new 70kg Rocna anchor I am hopefully picking up on Monday. I’ll write up a new post on all this in a few days.
And while I have you here, might as well bore you with the update on my sailing intentions (no plans, just intentions for me remember) once I leave here. My intended routing is starting to shape up, always subject to change with wind, weather, whim and serendipity of course. I think I’ll head for Niue first to take in that fascinating country/island that is WNW of Tonga. Then from there I think I’ll head West to some spots in the Fijian islands, maybe a stop in Tong on the way there, and then onward to Vanuatu and then take the NW “fork” up toward the equator through the Solomon islands and up over the top of Papua New Guinea. Still undecided as to what route to take from there in terms of going North or South of Indonesia but think I’d like to get back to Singapore and Phuket as I was there quite a few times on business trips with Autodesk and know a few people there. Then I can jump off from Phuket most likely and head over to Galle in Sri Lanka and start my voyages in the Indian Ocean. But there is also the option of going more South of the equator and running south through either Jakarta or Bali and then west over to Christmas and Cocos Keeling and then on to Sri Lanka from there. And just to keep this in perspective this is likely to take at least a year, more likely closer to two before I get to Sri Lanka, but I don’t keep track frankly. Ahhh, the tough decisions of we ocean sailors. Life is rough for me isn’t it?? <g>
Best of all, after over four months apart Ruby and I are now reunited and back home where we belong. It will take me a few weeks to finish up the boat projects I need to get done before heading back out to sea, but my the first week of May or so I hope to be sailing back down the river to Marsden Cove which is the official port of entry/exit for NZ and then we’ll point the bow towards the equator and be on our way for the start of sailing season number three! I’m sure it will be just as packed with adventures, excitement and stories as the last two and I look forward to telling them all to you here as they happen.
Great to be back with you, stay tuned as year three of this grand adventure get's underway .
Wayne & Ruby the Wonderdog
Aboard s/v Learnativity
Town Basin Marina
Whangarei, New Zealand