We woke up to a chilly and dreary Saturday morning surrounded by boats awaiting Customs and Biosecurity clearance on the quarantine dock. Our friends Mark and Sue were just behind us and we four hugged each other in celebratory delight that we’ve come so far across many difficult sea miles to this side of the planet. For Mark and Sue New Zealand represents halfway around from their home and starting point in England. And for Allison and Jeff on Saraoni, another of the boats we arrived with, New Zealand buckles the belt on their nine year circumnavigation. Saraoni tied up to the dock with all their country courtesy flags flying and we took them some Minerva Reef macaroons by way of congratulations.
We were visited about 8 o’clock by Brian, the young Biosecurity officer. He had us dump our fresh eggs and remaining produce along with our trash into a heavy duty body bag. He let Jack keep his few remaining Johnsonville brats because they are American and therefore safe. And in the end he didn’t take our last bits of French cheese, although I’m a little sick of Emmenthaler and looking forward to more variety in that department. I used up the Roquefort on our pizza the night before.
Brian also wanted to see any handicrafts we bought, looking for insect infestations. We showed him the few baskets and wooden bowls we acquired, and after a quick look around in random cabinets and the bilge, we were granted clearance. No muss no fuss; service with a smile.
Next came Customs and more forms to fill out. By 10 o’clock we were officially granted entry into New Zealand for 90 days. Escape Velocity is allowed to stay for two years. Jack and I will need to apply for a visa extension in Auckland.
We called the jam-packed marina to see if they had room for us because we wanted to tie up and chill for a few days after such a hectic cruising season. The only berth left that would accommodate us was on the commercial wharf nearly in the pathway of the frequent car ferry that crosses the bay. “We’ll take it,” we said and before long we were secure and tidied up.
We made plans with the other boats to meet for happy hour but as the time grew closer I suddenly hit the wall. All the months of stress and activity caught up with me and my legs nearly buckled with exhaustion. I told Jack to go on without me and went home to sleep the sleep of the sailor who no longer has to stand watch in a few hours. I know I missed a great welcome party but even days later I’m still grinning with joy and amazement that we made it all the way to New Zealand in just over a year after getting re-rigged. We’re so proud of ourselves, so happy with our dear Escape Velocity, so delighted to have plenty of time to explore this beautiful country.
But first, more sleep.