With some reluctance we tore ourselves away from friendly, tropical Fiji to face the 1,100 (mainly upwind) miles to New Zealand. They didn't disappoint! Harriet's first and unforgettable ocean passage, fast and furious, banging into large waves with the temperature dropping as we ventured South. And there it was 15,000 miles, half way round the world, New Zealand we had made it. And the celebrations started as each boat arrived, hugs, kisses and congratulations literally on the quay. A kind of unbelievable realism that we, fairly ordinary people, have achieved something quite extraordinary.
And now time to explore New Zealand, Meteorites home for the next five months, starting up North in the Bay of Islands. A stunning area of isolated islands, small villages set in beautiful coves with friendly local cafes providing the most exceptional food and of course the odd local beer (highly praised by Andy) and wines to die for. We explored the coastal paths on foot, the islands by ferry and the bars en mass, great fun.
Tearing ourselves away again for the final 120 miles down the coast, our dream of sailing into Auckland was upon us. We literally did sail in, as our trusty engine 'Perky' decided now was a good time to lose all the coolant, so we patched him up, crossed our fingers, held our breath as he fired up one last time for the last 100 metres to our mooring right in the heart of Auckland. We are here, we have arrived, as our NZ friend Fiona said meeting us on the dock, it's only taken 25 years of invites!! And what a friend her and hubby Andy have been, not only introducing us to Auckland, but lending us their apartment, taking us up to their home in Omaha and even providing a car. Fiona tour guiding us around secluded bays, restful vineyards, coastal walks across stunning countryside and of course the odd exceptional meal, has been an unforgettable introduction to this magical country and we are very grateful.
Meeting old friends has been a bit of a theme, catching up with our dear sailing mate Mickey Reardon, and his lamb BBQ overlooking Auckland was truly memorable and a visit from a great Meteorite Tom Phillips and his growing family, as they travel around NZ was a lovely surprise.
And finally the event to end them all, the Oyster half way round party held at the legendary RNZYC home of the current Americas cup. What a place, what a night, welcomed, well sort of, by a traditional Haka, it was time to reminisce, dance of course, say goodbye sadly to some who are stopping here and just party hard with people who in a very short time have become friends for life. As said in the toast "to places we have visited, extraordinary people we have met, to friends we have made and to us .. sailors ... half way round the world .. we made it."
So Leg 1 is over, we have a break for 5 months while Mike looks after the Mighty Meteorite (thanks for everything Mike!!) and we tour NZ and Australia by land. We will resume sailing adventure and our blog in April 2018! Thanks for reading!!!