Daily Archives: April 22, 2016

How about a heads up?

Funny things can happen when you travel in second and third world countries for a couple of years. Ours is a 12-volt world. Even when we turn on our inverter it’s just inverting 12 volt DC from Escape Velocity’s 12 volt battery bank to 110 AC at 60 cycles. So that’s 12 volts DC or 110 AC, all from solar energy, which is good because the generator hasn’t worked for years. Time marches on. 

We were so tickled when we made it to New Zealand where fast Internet and WIFI not to mention olives and real chandleries would be readily available. In short, a first world country. “Well, maybe a one-and-a-half world country,” a smiling Kiwi friend corrected us. We get that now but it’s close enough for us. We’d been dealing with lots of bizarre electrical systems for quite some time now so on our two week whirlwind tour of New Zealand’s North Island we threw our trusty globe trotting bag of electrical adapters into a canvas boat bag and assumed we had it covered. After all, NZ uses 220 volts at 50 cycles which is nothing we hadn’t seen before. The first night, after plugging in every disconnected light, heater and TV in our room, we plugged in all of our electronics and iPhones to charge, only to discover that our globe-trotting adapter bag wasn’t as complete as advertised. So for Yours Truly it was go out and find a big pharmacy and buy New Zealand adapters. The new adapters seemed to work but then stopped working but then started to work again. I got the fix-it-quick-skipper look from crew. I quite frankly was gobsmacked. A little help from the turbaned Paradise Motel desk clerk showed us that not only does one have to plug in every light and appliance but one has to throw a little switch beside each outlet as well. I may have heard a slight snicker. When did that happen Escapees? Things still seemed to operate randomly and morning found our hungry little devises only partially charged. Clearly we’re missing a critical piece of information here. 

We continued to be dogged by intermittent power “outages” throughout the two week tour until the last motel which, for us, was a very modern Best Western. The lap of luxury! We arrived in daylight but soon found that while everything was already plugged in, nothing worked. No lights, no heat, no coffee pot, no TV, no outlets. This was too much. If I told you Dear Escapees what we were paying for this room your eyes would bug out. This time I’m not even a little bit embarrassed, I mean the whole room doesn’t work! The desk guy said, “Did you use your key card?” 

“Of course, that’s how I got in.” 

“No, no in the slot on the wall with the blue light.”

Come to think of it I did see an odd blue light somewhere. When I inserted the key card the whole room lit up with the TV running and the radio too! When did this happen, dear readers? Noone told us. 

Maybe we need a culture break or frequent warnings of any new developments from our Escapees. Please keep us up to date. We’re counting on you. 

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Second chances

From tiny worms that light up in caves to the bright lights of a big city, we Escapees know how to have a good time. We were especially excited to catch up with friends Julie and Ken of Kia Ora whom we met, improbably, in Golfito, Costa Rica, and even older friends Sue and Mark on Macushla, whom we first met way back while still in the intercostal waterway in the US. Both couples were housesitting near Auckland. Hmmm, have we missed something here?

I’m sure, dear readers, you’ll remember that when we were last in Auckland, Escape Velocity was left at anchor in Waiheke Island while we took the ferry over for a whirlwind tour of the city. It was a great day but we missed a few things in the rush. Chief among them was the New Zealand Maritime Museum. 

This time we would not be denied. First we needed a room but Auckland can really book up and as luck would have it this was one of those nights. Marce had to resort to AirBnB for a semi-creepy stayover in someone’s frilly room featuring a plethora of flowery night lights with colored balloons. I had to unplug them all.

With Eggs Benedict nudging my belt we walked past the magnificent KZ1 America’s Cup boat on display just outside the entrance to the New Zealand Maritime Museum. Of course KZ1 lost but it certainly makes a statement. These Kiwis have really influenced sailing skills and innovative design the world over. 

It’s a given that one enters the museum via — all together now — the gift shop, then through the ubiquitous displays of ancient pirogues and ocean-going catamarans of the first immigrants to a small archipelago at the bottom of the then unknown world. An excellent video tribute to Sir Peter Blake, a large collection of in-water heritage sailing vessels and examples of just about every known type of sailboat awaits the nautically obsessed. Lots of fun for Yours Truly.


In the meantime Marce found an Ethiopian restaurant and lined up dinner with the Macushlas. We’d been enjoying all the Indian cuisine down here in New Zealand but this was our first Ethiopian meal since 2014 in Washington, DC, and we four old friends lingered at the restaurant until closing time, enjoying our last evening together for a while. To top it off Marce found a real room at a Best Western Motel. We’ll be back home on Escape Velocity tomorrow and it’s none too soon. This dirt life is exhausting!

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