The last six months have been different. Although we haven’t moved a lot with Louise, there’s been a lot of hard work, milestones reached, and plenty of beautiful adventures.
We were happy to arrive in Auckland, although it was still a little early in the season, we were looking forward to what the city of sails had to offer. Although it seemed to rain a lot and was almost always grey and overcast and a tad cold we enjoyed the change.
From October to the beginning of December our days were long and full of preparing Louise for the Sydney to Hobart race 2014.
We took 2 weeks of in November to go to New Caledonia to spend some time with Morgan’s family. Our visit to New Caledonia was the first time that Morgan had seen his dad and brother in nearly six years. It was good to catch up and to spend some quality time with them and to see a little of where they had been calling home for the last few years.
Otherwise our time was consumed on Louise. We completely stripped her of her interior. Anything that wasn’t needed, could get damaged and weighed anything was taken of. The mattresses, cushions, tables, tools, galley equipment, books, clothes and personal belongings….Everything came of. We estimated that it was a good 4-5 tons of stuff. Once she was completely empty all the vanished interior was protected using thin white fluke boards and tape. Hours was spent doing this. I had thought preparing for the big South Adventure the year before was a lot of work. However preparing Louise for the race took on another dimension, it was crazy. The rules and regulations for participating in the race was very strict, therefore requiring a few alterations and additional equipment. Its renowned to be one of the most complicated races to register for. Needless to say its not something we would rush into doing again.
On the 2nd of December we were finally ready to leave New Zealand. This was the first trip that we were going to do just the two of us and family. Morgan’s brother Jonathan and his brother in law Stephen joined us for the 1400 mile trip across the ditch.
I can’t say I was looking forward to the passages across the ditch. I had heard stories that made me cringe. However we left on the calmest of days and spent the first 2 days motoring. We could feel the difference in Louise, she glided through the water being that much lighter. As the days progressed, the wind slowly began to pick up. By the fourth day in to the passage we had a steady twenty five knots beam on. We were flying along. The days were grey and overcast and the nights were dark, wet and windy. The ditch was living up to its name. The wind continued to strengthen and peaked at 35 knots with gusts up to 40. I was so looking forward to arriving. Early hours in the morning of our sixth night at sea it slowly started to ease of and by day light the wind and sea started to drop. By mid morning we were back to flats seas and no wind again. Ahead of us land slowly started to come into view. We watched in anticipation as shapes became buildings.
We arrived in Sydney Harbour just after lunch on Monday the 8th December. Our arrival marked another milestone for us. Our first circumnavigation together. It only took fours years, two different yachts and 48 000 Nautical miles in between crossing paths in Fernando de Noronha in Brazil and then again there in Sydney.
Sydney is one of my favorite cities. So to return was fantastic. Its such a vibrant lively city. It’s where the beach and surf meets the high rise buildings and chic shopping.
The following weeks went by quickly as the race day grew closer. With the race being on Boxing day we couldn’t even think about Christmas. Morgan had been working tirelessly to get everything in order. The days before was rather stressful. Boxing day came and they were on their way. I can’t even begin to describe the relief I felt watching them start on live TV from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s lobby. Not being present I can’t comment on how the race actually went. However Team Louise did well, Louise performed beautifully topping her boat speed at just over 23 knots. I flew to Hobart to prepare for the teams arrival. Louise and everyone aboard arrived safely in Hobart in just under three days. I believe they got lucky as the weather gods were kind to them this year. We were both extremely happy and relieved to have the event over. Morgan had an amazing time and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.
Our delivery crew arrived the day after the race. Once again Morgan’s brother Jonathan joined us along with his girlfriend Maeva and Morgan’s sister Sarah who we hadn’t seen in nearly four years. So once again it was a family affair. We spent the New Year celebrations in Hobart and waited patiently for a weather window to cross back over the ditch.
A week later on the 6th January that weather window came and we left Hobart behind us as we started on our trip back across the ditch. Once again it started of calm. By nightfall we were sailing along nicely. However by the next day the wind had picked up and we were hard on. It wasn’t going to be a comfortable trip. We hadn’t done a lot of up wind sailing on Louise, and I can’t begin to describe how much she tends to heel. Without any furniture inside there was very little for us to hold on to. For six days this was how it was, with a good wind straight in the noes. On the seventh afternoon we could see the northern tip of New Zealand come into sight. It was a good feeling to see land again. The weather was warmer and summer felt like it had arrived. Our last day on passage was spent motoring down the coast. It was welcomed after the last week at sea. We arrived back in Auckland on the evening of the 13th January after nearly 1600 nautical miles. We were happy to be back in the City of Sails.
Shortly after arriving back we took another two weeks leave and spent our time in the South island. We flew down to Christchurch and spent the next two weeks in a camper van doing a little circumnavigation of the South Island. It was amazing. Absolutely breath taking. Words can not even begin to describe the beauty of this country. There was such an amazing contrast of landscapes. From deserted Canterbury plains to snow capped mountains, icy blue lakes to stunning beaches. The country seems to have it all. The mountain scenery is like non I have seen before. We also found the New Zealanders to be among the friendliest of people.
Back in Auckland we started a month of warranty work on Louise. It was good to finally have this time to deal with all the little jobs that had accumulated since we left Holland eighteen months before. A Dutch team came out to help take care of things. It was a busy period. Once again we were docked in Orams Marine. What a brilliant facility. We have had the experience of working in a few yards and this one by far is one of the best. Their work commitment, willingness to help and quality of work is outstanding.
Summer was in full swing. The city was bustling and beautiful. When ever possible we would take little road trips in order to try to see more of the North Island. Auckland has since become another one of my top cities. Its big enough to give you the city thrill and yet within a few miles you can feel as far away from the hustle and bustle as you want. The beach, the rolling hills and the rugged beautiful coastline is only a short way away. I love the Auckland city skyline.
After the warranty work period we started putting Louise back together again. Cleaning her up, re-loading and re-organizing her in preparation for the adventures to come. At the end of March we were finally ready. We spent a week cruising between Auckland and the notorious Bay of Islands. Once again the scenery was absolutely stunning. There is just so much more to see by land and by sea.
With a heavy heart on Thursday the 9th April we said farewell to Auckland for the last time. I think we have found another one of these places where we will definitely return to.
As the the Land of the Long white Cloud slowly disappear we made that promise.