There are quite a few places around the world where I feel safe and at home including Neil and Kathy’s place in Riverside, CA, Dick and Doris’ place, NJ, Finland and Norway with Mel and Annette’s families, Dagmar, Thomas’ sister’s place in Germany, Jennie and Joe’s heritage resort in Ingham, all the homes of my friends on the Gold Coast, of course my mum’s place and that list isn’t complete. It is in these places that I feel loved and accepted for who I am – warts and all, but I now have to add my birth town of Whangarei on that list with the Aunties and Uncles there taking wonderful care of us during our stay. We left port with an abundance of home picked fruits and had a lovely send off at my dear Aunty Hazel’s place. With our nomadic lifestyle, it’s so important to be able to know that we have these beautiful homes to visit and it’s the people in these places that make each of them a safe haven. We left Whangarei Harbour, past my old home at One Tree Point I was feeling very content rocking gently in my floating habitat with my beautiful Captain. We are off on new adventures and adding more nautical miles with another South Pacific cruise.
Our final days in New Zealand were a whirl of preparations, last minute shopping, final touches and an extremely large amount of paperwork. The latter being just one of those things that you need to take care of before you go off line for a while. Good winds sent us swiftly away from the coast of NZ but these were short lived and we found ourselves grasping for any little bit of wind to fill our sails before we turned to using the motor for quite a few days. This was when the ocean was so smooth there was hardly a ripple. With a waxing crescent reflecting across the night waters we rocked gently skimming quickly through the water.
Our peaceful world where we had lulled into a pattern of daily routines and night watches was only disturbed in the last few days by a call from an Orion New Zealand air force plane, identifying us by name and checking on how many ‘souls’ were on board. Big brother or a watchful eye? After viewing a documentary about a huge storm that required lots of cruisers to be rescued by the NZ armed forces, I would rather think that it was a cursory check on our well-being. It wasn’t just Qi who was called though. We found that we were in the middle of a flotilla of about four boats within about a 20 mile radius, something we hadn’t experienced before when we’re out in the middle of the ocean.
Having heard all the contacts that the unseen aircraft carried out, spontaneous communications popped up and new friendships paved. Everyone was heading towards Minerva Reef, an isolated pair of atolls in north-east of NZ. It was time to have a mid-ocean party. We arrived a couple of days later under motor as the winds had completely left us. Thomas and I had time for a kayak and paddle and we entertained some new German contacts made on the way over, Peter and Helga. They were heavily involved in publishing their own work about their journeys and Helga had written a few picture books for children. Right up my alley. We had an enjoyable evening and for the first time in seven days Thomas and I got to sleep in the same bed.
Anticipated winds from the south whipped up overnight and we were woken in quite a squall. Thomas got up to check on the anchor but we were fine.
Winds still coming from the west meant that it was a great opportunity to make our passage to Tonga first thing in the morning. It took us about half an hour to get the anchor up as it had fouled around a coral head. We carefully manoeuvred to free ourselves and to limit the damage to the bommie. The lagoon was still rough from the storm the night before so Thomas wasn’t keen to dive. After trying to release the anchor for about twenty minutes, the anchor winch stopped working. First option was to look for a blown fuse. This proved to be right action and luckily we had a spare. The spare was in a packet with a $21.95 price tag on it. Not sure which country we bought it in but it was probably the most expensive fuse we’d ever bought although we were grateful for every penny spent at that moment. So our premature departure from Minerva North means that it is still on our to-do list. We were happy to have been in a safe place for the storm and to get a good night’s rest and the idea of resting in the middle of nowhere was quite a treat.
We have arrived safely in Tonga and we’re enjoying the local hospitality and marine life.