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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Nov 5th, 2009 - Thank you, God, for another safe passage!

Yes, we made it to New Zealand.  I guess if anyone is reading this blog I left you hanging.  Frank did at least post the part about us making our final approach and docking in Opua and gives an interesting account of our last day on the water.  In fact, as is usually the case with us, our arrival was not without some excitement.  This is my version… We reached the North Cape to find that the normally turbulent waters were so calm that the shoreline reflected as if in a mirror.  We could see the pectoral fins of Sunfish as they floated along, and dorsal fins of various sharks.  It was an interesting and beautiful experience for us.  Still buddy sailing with John and Lyn on Windflower, we got a call from John on the VHF letting us know that due to the excessive amount of motoring, they were running frighteningly low on diesel and were requesting any spare fuel that we may be carrying in jerry cans.  Sadly for them we reported back that we do not carry extra fuel as Destiny's tanks hold 1,000 litres, therefore we are usually well set for any passage.  We tried to figure out some way to get fuel over to them but decided in the end that we would just slow down and hang with them in case they had need of a tow into Opua.  Along came a whisper of wind and Windflower tried to fill her sails.  We in turn killed the engine and attempted the same.  We were going nowhere fast.  We had literally never seen the waters so flat calm.  Lo and behold, when Frank attempted to crank the engine back on nothing happened.  We could not get her going again!  So he dove down into the engine compartment while I sat bewildered in the cockpit waiting for his instructions, when out of nowhere came a very intimidating looking military warship heading straight toward us!  Windflower came on the radio telling us that a NZ Navy warship was hailing us and suggested we respond.  Duh!  We had forgotten to change the radio channel back to 1-6 after our last chat with John.  I quickly changed the channel back and asked the hailing ship to come back.  They indicated that we should prepare to be boarded.  I apologized to them with a quick explanation that we didn't hear the call and that we were dead in the water.  They were so cool, responding that along with Customs, MAF and Immigration Officers, they would send over a couple of engineers to look at our problem.  I ran downstairs, told Frank what was about to happen, grabbed my camera and tidied up as fast as I could.  In no time flat, under full power, the warship had launched a large Zodiac full of crew that took off like a rocket toward us.  They arrived in full riot gear with helmets and big black boots!  They very kindly asked permission to board, removed their shoes and helmets and piled into the cockpit.  Frank presented our papers and answered questions while I snapped pictures.  While this was occurring 2 mechanics scrambled down the companionway and began to disassemble our engine.  This made Frank a little nervous!  We told them about our friends on Windflower who were low on fuel.  Two remaining Navy personnel in the Zodiac took off to deliver some fuel to John and Lyn.  Now I defer to Frank's version for further details of our "rescue".  Summing that up, we were very impressed with the professionalism, and generous hospitality of the New Zealand Navy.  They even returned to bring us trinkets, postcards with pictures of their ship, pamphlets and other goodies, welcoming us to New Zealand, before they took off at warp speed in search of the next approaching yacht.


Now that Windflower had fuel and we had a working engine, we made a beeline for Opua.  We arrived in the wee hours of the morning on Nov 5th.  As soon as we got docked, John and Lyn popped over with their Champagne ready to party and I was so tired I felt like I was walking around in a gelatin world.  We got down onto the Q-dock had a quick toast and I crawled into bed for a blissful few hours of sleep.


It felt like my head had just hit the pillow when we heard someone knocking on the hull and climbing up into the cockpit.  Frank and I startled awake, looked at each other and said, "Oh my God!  Customs is here!".  We threw on some clothes in time to greet them.  As before they were very friendly.  The only thing that I gave up which really broke my heart was a bag full of garlic.  At the time it didn't mean so much until I saw that fresh garlic was $28/kg in New Zealand!

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