Tuesday, 27 March 2012

And now its over

Sally and Rob finished at 7:01am which on the face of it seems not too an unreasonable time for a support crew. However, I was fielding calls and giving people updates until a little after midnight when I finally got to go to bed. At 2:26am I got the call that the boats were about to start finishing so I made my thermos of coffee took the bottles of bubbly out of the fridge and headed down to the westhaven start tower.

Surreal was first in at around 3:45 once she was successfully tied up Cameron was straight into a hot shower the rest of us were straight into the celebratory rums. After checking the tracker I sent out the call to the rest of the support crew around 4:15. Next boat in was truxton just on 5am we helped off load the sails, skinner put the boat back on piles and we headed off back to surreal for another rum.

Out we headed in the mighty rainbird to meet our intrepid sailors, the rain pouring down in a dying breeze with virtually nill visiblity. After avoiding the large incoming ship and accompaning tugs we met coppelia off north head. Coppelia then proceeded to find a bit more breeze and accelerated away from us. We engaged full throttle turned up the stereo and gave chase.

Once the finish hooter sounded I quickly boarded taking the helm while Rob and Sally downed the sails with a large wind shift and increase in pressure occurring just as the main was being dropped.

Once along side the bubbly was opened rob and sally had an on camera interview and then the serious partying began.

About 10:30 we poured Rob into to cockpit and Steve, Megan and Sally drove the boat back to gulf harbour. Unfortunately for me this meant an early stop to the imbibing as I got to be the sober driver and go and bring them all back.

We got to visit the other finishers on our return and stayed to wave and cheer as sunstone finished before my poor sleep deprivation training became apparent so took sally and myself home to bed.

Congratulations to everyone involved the race was a cracker never easy and the compedators deserve all the accolades on offer.

Special thanks to all the host families and yacht clubs for their support. Maunganui prize giving was a cracker. Bill and I loved the roast dinner at pohara. Stewart island laid all on, thanks for the baking Beverly. Thanks to the Couloms for looking after Sally till my arrival in Napier and to the yacht club for another great wine tour.

Finally thanks to Steve Ashley and ssanz for organising and putting the whole thing on.

The  Mira preformed faultlessly only 1 speed camera ticket on my return.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Back in the big smoke

Quick comment on being compared with James May on Sallys blog. Probably fair enough, though my hair is as shorter these days to reduce the amount of grey hair on show and I can find my way around using a map. I actually said Chris Skinner was most like Clarkson but more like the stig in stature.

Disappointment yesterday, the craters of the moon were closed due to tree falls and track damage. No chance to get closer to my relatives as apparently they're all aliens and that's why I have so much electronic stuff at home to communicate with them.

We stopped in in tokoroa for lunch so was able to complete my survey of the three bakery/cafes on the main drag. Best pie goes to the bakehouse though they make the worst coffee.

Back in Auckland once again, the cats seem to remember who I am. Just as well as I've had to put up with the little parting gift that one left on the end of my bag to remind me of home.

Sally and Rob seem to have recovered from their start and are making good progress towards the front of the fleet.

Driving aroud with my dad has been a great wee holiday now I'm back home I can finally get to relax as I have no tired and disgruntled sailors to try and smooth the waters between.

Mr E. senior has an appointment this morning to have his temporary bridge finally replaced with the permanent titanium and porcelain version. Having another tooth break off at every meal  then trying to find dinners to extend the life of the remaining teeth has somewhat grown my waistline.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The last leg begins

I must give credit where its due, Napier sailing club is one of the best yacht clubs in the country excellent facilities and great staff and helpers. There are also quite a few characters amongst the members with not all of them on good terms with each other, it can make having a drink in the bar a strange experience

The restart:
Fog caused delays for two ships coming in and out of the port. vingalot then got caught on the wrong side of the port entrance and the harbour pilot stopped them crossing back. The fog eventually lifted and the race restarted 15 minutes late at 17:15 with everyone getting away cleanly, well at least for the first few minutes.

Truxton spotted the banana attached to their prod before the restart Skinner didn't look too impressed while removing it.

Special thanks to Frank and Rose for sharing their house with us we'll be back next regatta

Off to visit the craters of the moon tomorrow then home.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Wine Trail

safe in our warm accomdation in Napier, out of the wind and rain, currently having a few largers...

This years wine trail, once again a was a game of cat and mouse, with me and Bill, the Expedition Coppelia support crew trying out fox team surreal in attempting to see who could inflict the worse hangover on the opposition. It does make for quite a fun outing. The result, a draw. The wine and food was all good, as the bus driver had another job in the late afternoon only a couple of extra bottles and the odd food platter got consumed between stops on the way around so all were returned safely to the yacht club.

The race restart has been delayed till Wednesday evening so everyone gets a sleep in anyway.

The Mira however has suffered its first breakdown, we got a flat tire overnight. This caused much comment on wheel barrows, roller skates and prams as the Mira has a space saver spare we looked quite funny too. Fortunately Napier is a big town with a plethora of tire shops so the tire was quickly repaired.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Suicidal bugs

Yesterday was a fairly boring day with a zoom up country and a quick pie for lunch at Galveston it was ok but nothing special. The coast is quite spectacular once you get back to it.

The only real item of note was the quantity of suicidal bugs. I washed the windscreen when I gassed up, but the moths and bees just kept on flying into it.

A quick technical tip:
Got poor reception on your smartphone?
Take the over priced piece of shit protective cover off, instantly reception will improve.

Friday, 16 March 2012


Once again my accommodation arrangements have fallen short of expectations. Both holiday parks in timaru were full with only campsites available so I'm in temuka, home of wedding gift ovenware. Actually It's quite nice the Chinese takeaways were good and the bennys getaway motel is clean and warm unlike the holiday park which fortunately was full of fruit pickers so we didn't get to stay. It made smiths just before piahia look like shangri la

Thanks to Gordon and Julie for looking after us last night and for babysitting the Mira.

Coppelia looks to be arriving in Napier well before us, my ETA is the afternoon on the 19th at this stage. Hopefully I won't miss the traditional wine tour the rni one last year was I cracker, at least the parts I remember were fourtuately Tim on surreal didn't record too much incriminating material.

Hopefully I'll be staying in kiakoura tomorrow

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Back on the mainland

Stewart island was definitely worth a visit and the bush and wildlife makes a trip back in the future look almost a certainty to do either the across or around tramps. The bugs weren't nearly as bad as fiordland but I'll need to fully research the huts and walking times before issuing a notice of tramp.

Bill and I are staying at a mates place this evening its good to be able to relax in warmer surrounds after the sub Antarctic blast of Stewart island. It looks like I'll be late to the next stop over in Napier as the boats are blasting up the coast at a great rate of knots. I'm sure that they'll be well looked after till our arrival next stop for us, timaru

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Stewart Island

Large report due to lack of modern communication facilities here on the island.

The good:
Nice people, the locals put two fantastic dinners on for the crews with plenty of local bounty it really did help team morale.
The 4 square, food, drink and booze still at surprisingly reasonable prices.
Pub dinners

The bad:
Cold, wind, rain.
The broken heater
Choice of accommodation, we went cheap it was not a good call

I have to give special mention to Garry the skipper of Arun who kindly used his boat as the start and finish boat and also to take me and Bill and all the still upright crews out on a most successful fishing foray.

Race Report:
Sally and Rob were not on good terms apon arrival. They made some bad calls during the leg and were having a mental explosion with each other as a result.  Come on guys you know the mantra. To win you have to finish, to finish you need to look after the boat and each other.

The Restart:
Coppelia smoked them, managing to hold Surreal off and were still a very close 2nd as we turned back about an hour after the restart.

I've taken the car to Invercargill

Well the little Mira has done more that half its journey. Bill and I have driven from Auckland to Cape Reinga and down to Bluff.

A few observations:
The Miras best fuel economy is at 80km/hr, I drive at the speed limit.
Air conditioning isn't really needed in the south island.
Short wheelbase cars go around corners better.
Petrol is cheaper on Stewart island than at Franz Josef by 20c a litre.
Bluff is 51kms closer to Cape Reinga than the other way around, photographic evidence attached.

Ulva Island

First I must make a few apologies over our accommodation here in Stewart lsland. As the arrival and departure window was so large at 10 days we had to go cheap, more than $100 a night would have meant a new mortage. Now after Sally and Rob plus invited extras have left I have successfully fixed the oil heater, the washing machine and the water flow in the shower so the last few days have been warm and comfy for Bill and myself. Sorry Steve, Megan, Sally and Rob. Our A-frame accommodation is nolonger a dump, still no dryer so I have a huge pile of washing to do somewhere on the way to Napier.

I must also say a special thanks to Beverley, who was Coppelia's host here on the island. Rob loves his food and Sally likes nothing more than dry socks and your help providing both is very much appreciated. Please send us an email, Sally will be happy to point to some real help with any future environmental submissions.

Today we journied to Ulva island, It's one of a very few island sanctuaries the public is actually allowed to visit. Lots of native birds, bush and southern weather (wind, sun, rain in 10 minute bursts), well worth the $20 return ferry. The sand fly numbers are low on the island, Bill walked the entire track system with no problems so if you make it down this far there are no excuses.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012


What to say, the place is packed Bill and I are sharing a lodge room at the top 10 here. It was pretty much the lodge room or a tent site and we didn't bring a tent, so much for doing the washing before Stewart is.

Lots of big scenery on the way down and being the west coast still lots of sand flies.

Being on a tour we had to do the tourist stuff. Fox glacier was as expected, big and a little cold first thing in the morning but once you walk to the front of the melt you warm up pretty quick.

We made the mistake of stopping at a few viewing spots on the way to Queenstown big mistake lots of little black bitey things that then get in the car with you.

Reliving my past

Once many years ago when I was younger and stupider as member of a (will remain) unnamed club I was involved with i went on a tour of all the universities in New Zealand.

Today I revisited some of the places we stopped at on the way round. All I can say is that my claim of being 2 years younger than my official age are true as I can definitely state that I didn't remember any of them. This is probably one of the major reasons I got thrown out of uni after my first 2 years there.

Comments on the West coast

Westport is a dump don't bother
Carters beach is remarkably good as was the food at the local pub/shop.
Greymouth has a big supermarket, big wharehouse and very strange locals. This time there was a sixty something year old six foot tall transsexual in front of me at the checkout of the wharehouse. The long grey baulding hair, $2 shop glasses, missing teeth in a Maroon dress created quite an impact

I must apologize for my previous rant about asian tourists and their driving it is actually Apex rentals who are at fault.  Having been stuck behind several Apex rental cars over the last few days I think that they alter the speedos on their vehicles so they grossly over read. Anyone driving one of their cars must think I am a speed demon with a super hotted up Mira as they seem to travel at 20km/hr slower than I think the speed limit is.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

One more lighthouse off the bucket list

The seal colony was a bit of a long walk however I did manage to bag another lighthouse on probably one of the nicest days a place called cape foulwind could ever reasonably expect

Finally a nice pie

Sally and Rob set off at 10am in beautiful sunny conditions, Rob in proud possession of a new pair of size 13 gumboots bought this morning as a replacement for his rather delapidated sea boots. They seem in good spirits and ready for action.

We meanwhile blasted off in a spray of loose metal to go down to Westport our original first night's planned stopover.

On the way here we stopped at the murchison tea rooms for lunch which by lucky coincidence make very nice homemade pies.

After I've had a cup of tea (maybe a beer) we will check out the seal colony. I think it will smell as seals have rather poor hygiene standards rather similar in nature to yachties and old people.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

A little sun at the beach

Nelson was rather cold on Saturday morning.  After receiving dinadie' s spare parts we once again headed out to the little known but rather pleasant golden bay. The sun came out once we made takaka hill and the fresh snow on the hills showed why the temperature had plummeted so much.

Sally and Rob looked fairly knackered when we arrived but me doing their laundry and a local family taking all the boats in for dinner seems to have bucked them up a bit.
Roast lamb with veges and a few glasses of wine, doesn't get much better.

Sally is being asked to make the weather call its really up to the individual skippers but leave now and its good (relatively speaking) for 2 days or wait till Monday and avoid getting hammered at fiordland as the next front comes  past.

Cellular coverage is a bit poor so updates may be a bit irregular till we get closer to a big smoke

Friday, 2 March 2012

A day of action and adventures

What a day, first getting up on time for breakfast then making the ferry on time. No blunt force injurys inflicted and all now over fed and safe in not so sunny nelson.

Observations from todays travels

Don't get stuck behind a convoy of Asian tourists on the queen Charlotte drive - they don't pull over to let people pass. While I have no complaints about the safety of their driving I almost wanted to throw rocks due to the speed the column of 20 odd cars I was part of had to drive at.

The sprig and fern, I must recommed this to all who enjoy a good beer its quite rightly a popular spot. We were enjoying a few rounds before dinner when we were accosted by a pole dancing flamingo dancer ( well the lamp post next to us) this was quite entertaining for the first 5 minutes but did begin to (excuse the pun) drag after a while

had a truely enormous dinner at smugglers not sure how or if they make a profit as my dinner could have easily fed the three of us

Big day again tomorrow off to pohara. with spares and some tools then hopefully down as far as greymouth.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

All is well on coppelia

Quick note just to say sally and rob rang on the satphone all is well but heading in to golden bay for a bit of rest and a cup of tea

They are most likely heading into the golden bay cement marina we checked this out in November there is a guy there who sells fresh hot expresso and icecreams to hopefully buck up their spirits a bit

I'm diverting to Nelson tomorrow and will try to find out what their plans are when I get there