See travelogues about and
photos of the following

Valdivia, Chile
Isla Robinson Crusoe
Underway to Easter Island
Easter Island (Isla Pascua)
Pitcairn Island and outliers
Gambier Islands
Society Islands
Aitutaki, Cook Islands
American Samoa
New Zealand

Overall guide to cruising in
the South Pacific
Travelogue 1:  Valdivia to Isla Robinson Crusoe
Home page
                             2010 Travelogue 1 – New Zealand, again

In early April I returned to New Zealand after a four-month absence, toured around a bit, then
met up with Glen, my Kiwi crewman, and spent a couple of days of what we thought was
finishing Anna’s preparations for her second cruising season.  John arrived soon thereafter.  
During John’s and my long sojourn back to the States, Glen upgraded several mechanical
systems and performed a great deal of maintenance and oversaw repairs undertaken by
several technicians, so that on our return to NZ, there was little for John and me to do.  It is a
wonderful thing to have crew who are not only technically proficient but also truly good human
beings, and I am very thankful that both Glen and John share cruising on Anna with me.  They
are both good mechanics (something I, an attorney, am weak at), good sailors and fishermen,
polite, generous, and a heckuva lot of fun.

My long trip to the US was a rather melancholy time for me, and apart from visits with my kids
and grandkids and my parents, and the few visits with friends, I was mostly alone.  My
loneliness was largely of my own doing, and I apologize to friends I did not visit.  I was in a
funk and not as sociable as usual.

In the South Pacific, yachties sail to New Zealand before the beginning of cyclone season,
which runs November through April, because the waters around New Zealand are generally
too cool to support cyclones and, thus, New Zealand is out of the cyclone belt.  Anna arrived
in NZ in early November and was hauled out of the water and placed ashore (“on hardstand”
as the Kiwis say) for the long interval.  Next cyclone season in the South Pacific we may move
up to the North Pacific instead of returning to NZ, or we may go to Australia -- we just do not
know yet.  I love NZ, however, and will return one way or another.  The landscapes are at
worst quite pleasing and sometimes extraordinary, the cities are mostly very pleasant, and the
Kiwi people are -- with no exceptions I have ever encountered -- friendly, honest, generous,
easygoing, humorous, and clean and tidy.  I thoroughly admire NZ society overall and, after
touring their Parliament in Wellington, the capital city, must say that I much prefer their
political system to the American, so dominated by monied and special interests.  I plan to
reside in NZ at some point.

Before beginning any cruise I always go through a period of doubt:  do I really want to leave
my comfortable, safe life ashore for living on a boat on the temperamental ocean for a period
of several months?  But this time my doubts were almost imperceptibly brief, and instead I was
thrilled to chills by the idea of being back at sea and escaping life on land.  Like most people, I
am happiest being active, which I have to be when at sea, while on land it is harder for me,
especially in a snowy winter like we just experienced when it is challenging to be active
outdoors.  And at sea I always have my crewmates to socialize with, and never feel alone.

My first sail since November took place on Glen’s boat in Auckland’s enormous harbor, and
proved memorable in a peculiar way.  At one point we were going downwind and I was
standing on the side deck near the stays that hold the mast, watching two America’s Cup-type
racing boats nearby.  The wind shifted abruptly and we suffered an accidental jibe, which is
when the mainsail crashes from one side of the boat to the other in an unplanned manner,
and the boom hit my back and forced me over the side.  While going over the lifelines I
instinctively grabbed hold of the spinnaker halyard near me, which was stainless steel cable
and shackled to a lifeline, but the force of my considerable mass yanking on the shackle
popped it open and, as the boat lurched and heeled over, I swung out over the water, my
bare feet dragging in it.  Luckily I was able to not only hang on but even pull myself up and
swing back inboard so that my feet landed on deck.  Glen rushed over and helped me haul
my trunk in, with the only cost the loss of my cap, wet pants (from the sea, not you-know-
what!), a gash and some cuts on my hands from the cable, and a bruised foot from slamming
back on deck.  Even though on Anna an accidental jibe is unlikely because of the use of
preventers that don’t allow the main boom to move, this accident, though minor, awakened in
me a need to be more circumspect and anticipatory when at sea – the sort of safety
consciousness one loses when away from boating for a long time.  It was a good wake-up call.

For some reason I have had character-building experiences on the boats of several of my
crewmen, having undergone the sinking off the coast of South Africa and, years later after
refloating and repair, the breakup while off the coast of Namibia of the same catamaran, and
now this.  I haven’t been aboard John’s boat in Texas, and I think I will forego the honor if ever
an invitation is extended to me.

We scheduled our launch a week in advance and were all geared to set sail but just a couple
of days before scheduled launch we discovered that the main crossbeam was delaminating
around the trampoline net tube, and would take some time to repair, and because the
boatyard where we were located was on a tidal river and could launch only about two boats
per day due to low tides, once we missed our appointment it took us another week to get back
on the schedule.  Because we wanted to check out Anna thoroughly before we left NZ and its
many fine technicians and resources, once launched we sailed on a shakedown cruise South
towards Auckland, and first visited Great Barrier Island, about 50 nm from where we re-
launched.  The sail was right into the wind all the way, so we were forced to tack back and
forth and probably close to doubled the length of the trip.  In Anna, going into the wind is
extremely easy once the sails are properly trimmed, requiring no more than turning the helm
as the jib is on a boom and self-tending.  Moreover, with the autopilot tacking is even easier
than turning the helm:  all that is required is to push two buttons, and all within the safety and
comfort of the cabin.  To make our initial sail even better, we caught a nice tuna, too.  Our top
speed was almost 13 knots under full main and staysail in 25+ knots of wind.

To some degree Great Barrier Island (not to be confused with the Great Barrier Reef off NE
Australia) shields Auckland, about 50 miles SW, and Hauraki Gulf at Auckland’s entrance, and
at 110 sq miles (285 sq. km) it is the fourth largest of New Zealand’s islands, after South,
North and Stewart islands.  Much of it is a wilderness preserve, and the approximately 1000
people who live on it have to get by without any utilities – it is off the grid and has no water or
sewage.  There are few roads.  Wending our way through the almost fjord-like passages on
its NW corner, we were reminded of British Columbia with hills and trees right down to the
water’s edge, clear waters, and abundant sea life, especially birds and dolphins.   The highest
point is 2037 feet (621 meters).  After we determined that the water in the cove where we first
anchored was not too cold – in the lower 60s Fahrenheit (around 18 C.) – Glen talked me into
accompanying him on a scuba dive around a wooded pinnacle islet in search of lobster
(called crayfish here).  We were successful in catching only two as they are very quick to seek
shelter in the crevices among the rocks, and we had to look for them amid a forest of kelp, but
the two served us well at dinner that night, along with a squid Glen caught trolling from the

We have geared up a great deal for fishing this season with the addition of shellfish traps, a
couple of gill nets, Hawaiian slings, a crayfish noose, several rods and reels, underwater
lights, a proper filleting table, and even two bowfishing rigs. We plan to devote more time at
anchor trying to bring in fish and shellfish, both to supplement the harvest from trolling while
on passage, and to have more to do.  Now the first thing we do after anchoring is to bait two
lines and drop off the stern.  Then we launch the dinghy and go out and set the traps and a
gill net, trolling along the way.  All these extra activities make lying at anchor more interesting
– and more productive.  So far we have caught snapper, squid and lobster for the table, plus
several other local fish we use for burley (the Kiwi version of chum), plus many we released
because of size, some – like the wonderfully tasty kingfish – quite reluctantly.  

A three-day gale prevented us from sailing, and since we were at anchor in protected bays on
Great Barrier Island (GBI), we busied ourselves fishing and spearfishing and collecting
shellfish.  One day Glen brought in all the scallops he could carry.  I had never eaten them
raw, which offers not only the well-known white muscle but also an orangey appendage that is
marvelously sweet and tasty.  Spearfishing brought us a full freezer, mostly of a local delicacy
known as a butterfish.  We also enjoyed a wonderful supper and evening with Paul and Mary,
a Canadian couple we met in Whangarei, who have been sailing in the Pacific for about five

John, Glen and I rented a car one rainy cool day and explored some of the island.  The roads
are narrow and twist through dense foliage and hills, and it is difficult to gain a vantage point.  
The locals we encountered were a rather curious sort, no doubt due to the hardiness required
of people who reside without utilities, with the men sporting longish beards in a proportion that
rivals Mennonite and Amish country, and the women bold and chatty.  One woman about my
age, pretty in face but stout, with no more than a “G’day” as our introduction began gabbing
about the relative drought they were suffering, and how the lack of collectable water impacted
their daily lives.  “You wouldn’t want to become familiar with my intimate parts, let me tell you!”
she asserted.  

Ultimately the gale passed, after blowing off our windvane from the top of the mast, and we left
GBI.  Instead of Auckland, which crowded seaways we were already familiar with, we decided
to sail down the coast to the next port, Tauranga, with a population in the area of 150,000,
and see if it would be a good place to homeport Anna during next cyclone season.  It is a big
commercial port for the lumber industry, agriculture, cement, as well as container ships, and
has a narrow entrance about 100 meters wide (spectacularly guarded on one side by Mount
Maunganui) that can be tricky when outgoing tide meets big incoming seas.  We found the
place delightful, and spent several contented days there, exploring in a rent car.  Another
reason we chose Tauranga was for John to see a doctor – we did not want to fight the crowds
in Auckland – to check out what turned out to be a minor condition.  That process – dealing
with the doctor and the radiologist and their staffs – proved delightful in John’s opinion, and
not terribly expensive.

During our stay in New Zealand, we also had occasion to witness the ANZAC (Australian New
Zealand Army Corps) Day parade of veterans and a memorial service to the fallen, which I
heard numbered 30,000 in all the wars of the 20th Century – a very high number for a country
of 3-4 million, especially considering that most of the losses were in wars in Europe that hardly
threatened the security of New Zealand itself.  The service was in Whangarei, a city of about
100,000, and occurred at daybreak in a very moving setting in a park where about 600
crosses had been planted, denoting local losses, and was attended by around 5000 people,
including a striking number of children.  The parade down a few streets followed, led by old
men in their medal-bedecked finest, marching proudly, flags waving, bagpipes wailing, and
after an interim of non-musicians including a contingent from the NZ armed forces, a brass
band playing Sousa marches brought up the rear.  It was an invigorating spectacle after a
touching tribute to the fallen.

Texans pride themselves on being friendly but overall do not compare with New Zealanders.  
Kiwis are the finest of the many British subtribes throughout the world, in my opinion.

Another outstanding thing about New Zealand is what Mother Nature bestowed it with – an
absolutely lovely countryside with enough variation to keep one’s interest, and unique fauna
and flora.  When the Polynesian Maoris first settled NZ about a thousand years ago, the only
mammals were two species of bats, but now man has brought several varmints – rats,
possums, stoats – and invasive plants that have devastated the native species, threatening
even the pathetic looking kiwi bird among many other indigenes.  Yet when one goes camping
or for a hike, one does not have to fear for any predator – there are no snakes and no toothy
mammals that could harm a human.  One day we visited the oceanside and walked barefoot
on the beach then, still without shoes, climbed up a hill covered in vegetation without worry –
there are no grass burrs or stickers!  It is much, much different than hiking at home with
rattlesnakes and scorpions and cougars and thorns of a million different sorts.  Such benign

We are now underway to Tonga, about 1000 nm  to the northeast.  We look forward to the
tropical waters, but still leave NZ somewhat reluctantly.

19 May 2010
Photos of NZ - Apr 2010
NZ, yet again!
Ha'apai, Tonga
Anna's capsize