When I ate the last lonely passionfruit from our visit to Martha and Bryce’s friends’ orchard, I knew it was time for us to move on.
Our visas are about to expire and the weather’s getting colder every day and we need to get a move on and sail back up to the tropics. That means a concerted effort to work through the rest of the maintenance and repair list and provision for the coming cruising season. Now that we know what is and isn’t generally available in the island nations we’ll be visiting we can be more judicious with what foods we stock up on. Still, I have a tendency to fill every nook and cranny with whatever catches my eye on the day until there just isn’t room for even one more jar of pickles or packet of olives.
As time grows shorter I remembered that I hadn’t fully commemorated our epic journey to New Zealand in the usual Polynesian way, with new ink. I nearly put it off until we got back to the islands but in the end I found a Maori artist who worked with me to design a small but meaningful tattoo. (Photo when it’s completely healed.)
All the boats in Whangarei have started watching the weather and getting things stowed and sorted, us included. We put one of our paddleboards under the cockpit roof and stowed the other one uninflated below. The kayaks are tied on deck forward and I bought storage bags for the bikes so they can also be secured on deck but still protected from the weather. Unfortunately the other day Jack’s bike was stolen from its lockup on the dock, so after a couple of euphoric months with two bikes and the freedom that comes with them, we are down to one and will have to hope another one comes our way again soon as effortlessly as this one did.
A few days before our planned departure from Whangarei the marinas and local marine services hosted a farewell dinner for all the boats who’ve called this welcoming town home for the past six months. It’s a chance for us to thank the vendors and services for their good work, and for the services to show their appreciation for the business we cruisers bring. We enjoyed a delicious dinner with our friends Bruce and Di from Toucan, reconnected with others we’ve met along the way and met some new friends, too. There were speeches and commendations and a marina representative from Fiji, a destination for most boats, and the evening ended with entertainment from a local music and dance troupe, and of course, a farewell haka.
We even won a bottle of wine in the drawing at the end of the evening and that tied a ribbon on our six month sojourn in the Land of the Long White Cloud. Now it’s time to make our way back up to the Bay of Islands where we’ll join the other boats in the daily ritual of weather watching and stress management. Going to sea is always stressful, more so when it’s been so long since the last time. And yet we’re eager to be on our way again. It’s a good stress.