Weblog van Laura

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10-5-2016

Sailing

NZ summer was coming to a slow end: high time to take Guppy out for a sail again! …and besides that, it was a good opportunity to introduce Chantal to sailing and for her to find out whether the legs she uses are sea worthy or not.
The work around the windows was all finished and turned out beautiful, and - even after a week of rain and waves - the windows did not show any sign of leakage! So I think they'll be good for another trip around the world! (Just not with me).
Slowly we sailed up the Northland coast, stopping in small bays overnight and exploring the areas by dingy. Whangamumu is one of the bays we stayed in for a little while, it's an idyllic place, save from the swells of the ocean and horse-shoed in by lots of wild bush and patches of lush, high grassland. The dingy trip there took us past many caves. Once inside the caves the ocean swell hitting against the far walls sounded very much like thunder. It's an exciting area with clear water around the rocks and boulders. The little tracks on shore lead us either along a frequently falling stream or along ridges and through plentiful forests and green hills. A scenic jewel indeed.
The bay of islands was as far north as the winds took us and I realized once again how much more strenuous it is to sail along coastlines with ships, reefs and islands. But I do love these challenges and we found some cool little passages through various islands that led us to beautiful anchorages.
The Northland coast is quite epic and one could easily sail around for years and still discover new beautiful places to go to.
After only a day at the Bay of Islands we headed back south again and couldn't help but visiting the Poor Knights islands (where Chantal had previously done her diving course). Daniel and I (and Chantal now too) love these islands for it's abundant marine life and the untouched and ruggedly wild looks of it - no one is allowed on the islands. There are lots of caves and arches to explore around those high cliffs, which drop vertically into the water and make anchoring very challenging. We managed to find a spot to anchor at 11m of depth, very close to some of the steep cliffs. I had to get up regularly to see whether there had been any changes in the weather. It turned out easier then expected to get up very often, as there were hundreds of hungry mosquitos that would not let us sleep! It drove us crazy, they managed to get to us even though we had a net spun around us! We had to get up at leasts every hour to fight back all of those that had gotten inside of the mosquito net!  The weather was great most of the days out at sea though, and we loved the little adventures around those islands. Also - we had the islands to ourselves, although we were hoping to meet one of the dive boats as we had run out of drinking water surprisingly.... But no one came by that day and we had some bottles left for reserve, so we enjoyed the loneliness and the feel of an ancient jurassic world alone.
Chantal turned out to be a good cook onboard a ship, managing fairly well to cook while the boat was rolling with the swell. There was only a few flying objects… and no vomiting nor sickness! She's a natural, besides the use of water !
After our weeklong sailing trip Chantal left for a week to Fiji which gave us some time to finish some other little jobs that we had to get done before heading off for a road trip :)

Laura 


19-4-2016

Last week has been a very busy one - our days are usually filled with little adventures of some sort and sitting still doesn’t happen very often.

About a week ago I went to the bay of Islands for a photo shoot while sailing my new Laura Dekker Minicat.  We went out about 20nm on a 72 foot sailing vessel to a location where clear water rolled onto a white beach and then green hills took over the rolling. A beautifull stunning little bay! We spent some sunny hours there but at the end of that day the sailboat had to keep going to other locations - it was not returning home to where my car was. So I sailed the 20nm back to Opua. The wind was perfect. I had a great reach almost the whole way down with some bigger waves (well… big in Minicat terms) backed by 15-20knots of wind. I already capsized before I had even left the bay…

It took me about 3 hours to get back to the car. It was a fantastic sail in such delightful scenery. Lush green islands covered in fog with sun-rays breaking through to point out some beautiful details. Sometimes there is moments so beautiful that I just simply don’t know what to do with it. Do I shout out of joy or jump up and down? Do I put it on camera to capture it all? Or should I just sit and enjoy it? Mostly I end up doing it all but it still doesn’t seem enough. The natural beauty of this world is just to much to take in sometimes. How fortunate we are to be living in such a world! And what a shame that we are destroying it at a rate and with numbers we can scarcely calculate anymore..

The same evening my cousin arrived from Germany to live with us for 8 weeks. Luckily she is very easy going, because we had started to work on Guppy just before her arrival and are still eating in between tools, pieces of wood and dust. We are replacing the windows around the upper part of the deck as they were getting pretty old. So while taking out the windows we figured it was a good time to replace some of the interior wood around the windows. But I am very happy that we are doing it now as it makes Guppy even more beautiful, homey and hospitable. And well, as in almost all cases, you have to start taking things down and making a mess before it starts to become more beautiful.

A few days after my cousin, Chantal, had arrived I was asked to be an instructor at a high school camp that was orientated around sea food gathering. Now - many of my faithful supporters might remember: I don’t like killing fish!!! I love eating it, but found out that breaking its neck, breaks something in me too. So luckily my main job was watching the kids in their kayaks and while snorkeling. Sounds easy, hm?! That's what I thought too, but I realized quickly how tiring it is to have such a responsibility and to stay focused for the whole day. Nevertheless it was great - I loved being out on the water and to see young girls learning to appreciate the outdoors and being part of a play with nature as our beautiful stage.

I am still alway pleasantly surprised by the kind of opportunities kids have in New Zealand schools. They do sailing lessons, camps, hikes - so many valuable experiences that I was only dreaming of in my class room years.

 Here's a video of me sailing the minicat back

Laura


31-3-2016

Back home! Our last two weeks in Europe were as always to short to do all the things that we wanted to and we never get to spent enough time with all of our friends and family.. I went back to Holland to spent another week with my dad and sister. One evening Kim proclaimed that she felt like skiing, so we decided to drive to a big indoor skiing hall in Bottrop, Germany, close to the border of Holland. Spot stayed with some friends and off we went. A good friend of dad joined us on our skiing adventure as well. But as we drove towards Bottrop looking out at the beautiful weather we didn't really feel like being inside a big hall. So we spontaneously decided to keep driving another 2 hours to go to Winterberg - which is a small skiing area about 5 hours away from dad's place. It hadn't been a snowy winter at all and even the entire drive to Winterberg we saw barely any snow. Only the last 10km some snow started to appear. We almost turned around as we just couldn't believe that there was enough snow to ski. But sure enough, when we were just about 5km out everything around us had turned white. Winterberg is located a bit west of Germany's centre  and somehow geographically privileged in a way that there always happens to be snow before it falls anywhere else in the area. We spent one full day on the ski trails. I decided to join the rest of the group and try skiing instead of snowboarding for the first time in 12 years - and it's not as easy as it looks! But at the end of the day - after tumbling down a few times and going straight into the woods instead of turning - I did pretty well. We all came back home without any broken bones - It was a great day ;)

From Holland I flew to Stockholm for a presentation at the boat fair. There were various sailors presenting their story but I had a hard time following, as it was all in Swedish.. Luckily I was allowed to give my talk in English - I don't think the audience would've understood my swedish very well :) I loved Stockholm, although I had hoped for some snow. But even so far up north was not a single snow flake to be found. Nevertheless it was very cold, which can be quite handy sometimes, like on the morning before the boat show when I went to visit a Hurley 700 for a radio podcast. The owner had forgotten the keys of the marina but - thanks to the cold, we could just walk over the ice towards the boat! Not handy for sailing though… It was lovely being on a Hurley 700 again. It had the typical Hurley smell and the layout was exactly the same as the first Hurley that I sailed on. It brought back a lot of good memories. And I realized how much I loved that boat. Although I did think "it seemed bigger at the time" after standing up straight and hitting my head on the ceiling…I used to be able to stand up straight in the cabin, but those days are over..

Last week we made the long journey home. I actually enjoy flying, but spending two days on a seat, breathing dry, re-circulated air is not my favorite… But saying that - there has to be things in life we don't like in order to appreciate other things more. Oh! and how I appreciated smelling the warm summer air, and the fresh breeze flowing past my skin. It is lovely being home again! But soon after we came back it started pouring with rain for two days straight. I was afraid that we had missed the summer completely! The rain was accompanied by big wind gusts making Guppy sway from side to side between her poles in the marina. Like a wild horse that wants to run and jump but it is tied up...  

Just before the big winds came my new Minicat, the Laura Dekker version arrived and I had a chance to try it out. This 420 version is perfect to sail with two people. I managed to convince Daniel that it would be fun - so off we went. There was a good breeze and we were flying from shore to shore. I was having a great time! Daniel a little less, considering the high speeds we where at, that could easily crash us when making a wrong move… although he did agree that it was fun in the end when we were safely back home. I'm afraid it might have to do something with my sailing style?! The 420 is definitely faster than the 310 version! We gave it a good test run in strong winds and bouncing over waves, But I want to go out to do some more 'test' sailing soon ;) 

For now we are enjoying the calm after the storm with one beautiful sunny day after the other. There is things to do on Guppy (as always) and we will be working on her, while trying to figure out where life will lead us next :)

 

Laura 

 

 

 

 


25-3-2016

I just came across this lovely poem again written by John Masefield. A woman read it to me last year before the start of a presentation and I thought it was very beautiful. 

 

Sea Fever  

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and sky,

And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;

And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,

And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

 

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide

Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;

And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,

And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

 

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,

To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;

And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,

And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

 


4-2-2016

Josefien was released from the hospital and we all drove back together. Much rest and sleep were ahead for her, but quiet the opposite was awaiting us. Daniel and I had decided to help my dad for a while with building the masts for his boat. We've been here for nearly a month now. The aluminum pipes that were laying in the hall when we got here have slowly transformed into a mast. I have always loved to see these kind of things grow. Every time I am amazed at how much humans are capable of making just by going step by step, day by day. I loved to see dad's boat growing out of a pile of wood - and later the walls that made rooms, then the interior and now slowly the masts. It's a dream that is coming true - slowly but surely. And I feel very happy to have been and still be a part of it. It's been so much fun working with dad again for a longer time. Thinking about plans to make things work and dreaming about sailing this boat. We've had some small breaks from working, in which we went to Sliedrecht with dad's boat to tow back a heavy tug that had a broken engine. We started heading to Sliedrecht just after sunrise, but we never saw anything of the sun.. the clouds were creeping around us while I was standing on the bow peeking through the thick mist - trying to find the next buoy. The water was rustling quietly at the bow as the boat was gliding through the water. Without any radar or chart plotter it was a real challenge to find our way across the Grevelingen towards the locks. Once we were at the locks we decided it would be too dangerous to keep going in this thick mist without any good navigational equipment. So we called a friend who has a maritime navigation program on his tablet and asked if we could borrow it for a few days. That made live a bit easier. But we had lost a lot of time by going through the fog that slowly, so that we had to keep going full speed to get to Sliedrecht before dark. The "Havorn" doesn't have any navigation lights yet - they have to be mounted on the mast and in the rigging which is still in the making. So getting there before dark was a necessity. We were doing well for the rest of the day, steaming along at almost 10 knots, even overtaking some of the inland freighters that were steaming along the rivers. With only one more hour to go we were hopeful to make it, when a police boat pulled up along side suddenly and made signs that they want to come aboard. We had a little chat and they checked our papers. When we asked them for the reason for their visit, they said that we weren't in their system. Otherwise all was fine and we could keep going. That had slowed us down a lot and sunset had already started. We hit the gas again to make up for the delay and had still some hope left, but only 10minutes later that hope was challenged again - by the port control this time. We told them that the police had just been onboard, but since I didn't know the name of the police vessel they couldn't do anything with that information. Again we had to slow down and explain where we were going (without them coming aboard). In the end they decided to stay next to us to serve as navigational lights, because darkness was becoming an issue by that time. Half an hour later we finally got to Sliedrecht. After mooring the Havorn the port control left us in peace.

The next morning was clear, freezing - and early, as there was work to do. We had to tie the tug next to the Havorn - and what we thought would be an easy job to do, turned out more challenging as we found the ropes frozen. Stiff like steelwire. After one our of fighting we had the tug next to the Havorn and the journey began. The sun even accompanied us for most of the day on our homeward trip. Towing the tug went well and we also had some good laughs when going through the locks. The "Bruinvis" (the tug boat) always got called on the VHF before they tried calling the Havorn. Guess it's a strange picture to see a tug boat being towed. Although it was rather obvious that nobody was aboard the Bruinvis and it couldn't have towed us the way it was positioned on our beam - the ghost skipper of the Bruinvis got the first calls! :D Again we tried to push on hard to get home before dark and even managed to squeeze ourselves into a lock with some other freighters. Sadly for the freighter behind us it had to wait for the next turn. He wasn't to pleased with this, and made that clear on the VHF. "They should have gone through the smaller yacht locks" he said. I explained to the lock operator that we were to deep and also to wide for these locks and that there was no other way for us than to go through the commercial shipping locks - which kindled the next discussion… "How could a boat from 65ft possibly be 3.40m deep?" Nobody seemed to understand and they came to the conclusion that only 3000ton freighters would have such a depth. After listening to that whole discussion via the locks' VHF channel, I decided to tell them about sailboats… That sailboats need this depth, and that it was very well possible for a 65footer to be 3.40m deep. All we heard for the next 10minutes was complete silence. The freighter behind us had to wait and we could go through, which was really necessary because we were still racing the sun at 7,5 knots now. The tug boat and Havorn both got home safely!

A cold but very nice trip over the rivers and through the locks. I loved seeing Daniel's face every time he saw a bridge that opened in yet another fantastic manner. Some went sideways, some up, or rotated. And I started to realize that so many bridges and locks are very unusual outside of Holland.

The following morning was an early one yet again, no sailing anywhere this time though. We were on our way to the Dusseldorf boat show. I have been working with Minicat on a new boat. Early on in my trip I got a Minicat 310 onboard. This is an amazing small inflatable catamaran. This way I could fold it easily into two bags and store it on my boat for a crossing and do some sporty sailing when I was at anchor. Over the years of sailing with the 310 version I gave Minicat some feedback and we decided to make a Laura Dekker edition. It is based on their standard 420 edition. But it has many upgrades. The boat is also stronger - because it will have to stand the way of sailing that I like! …with lots of wind and rough conditions ;)

The first boat has been build and was standing on the Dusseldorf boat show. I was very exited to see it in real live of course. It looked great with the many colors in the sails, carbon rudder, boom and bowsprit. Even with my name embroidered into the trampoline. Fancy :) I have enjoyed the Minicat 310 a lot over the years and really can't wait to sail this bigger, faster and stronger edition!


Laura 


3-2-2016


31-1-2016

So far Europe has been cold, wet, busy but also very nice. Well most of it anyway.. We spent New years eve at a rather unexpected place, namely in the hospital.. But lets start from the beginning.

We had spent an amazing christmas at Daniel's parents place in Germany, also together with my parents and my old dog Spot of course. It was amazing to be all together. Certainly worth leaving the New Zealand summer for the cold European winter… Just after Christmas we decided to go to Switzerland. Together with Daniel's brother Otto and Josefien who is a Dutch friend that I met traveling in New Zealand. Daniel's sister and some cousins are working in a ski area over there, and we thought it would be nice to spent New Years eve together with them in the mountains. The first two days were great! There wasn't so much snow though, so we just did some smaller hikes and spent time with friends and family. But of course we wanted some more action. So we packed some sleds on our backs and started hiking up a snowy mountain, with the plan to sled down again. The view got more amazing the further we got up and we even got some heavy snowfall once we reached the cable station. It was truly a winter wonderland. Heading down turned out more tricky than we had expected. It was not always easy to find the best paths and big patches of snow were very icy. Daniel and I were already a little ways ahead, going very slowly down an icy slope, when suddenly we see Josefien flying by. Her sled had gotten onto a big icy patch and there was no stopping it anymore. We yelled at her to get of the sled but before we knew what was happening the sled and Josefien started bouncing and flipping downhill. I was the first to reach her - she was laying on the cold snow, eyes wide open but no reaction. A lot of thoughts went through my head as I starred into her bright blue eyes. It was scary and we had to take action quick. Daniel and Otto were still trying to get down while I was speaking to Josefien trying to notice whether she could hear me. When I asked her to blink her eyes she did, but that was all! I got some more hope but the situation was bad. We were halfway a deserted mountain (the lifts weren't operating due to whatever, so there was nobody except us) and darkness was coming fast. We very carefully moved her off the ice onto the sled and gave her our jackets in the attempt of keeping her warm. She slowly came back to consciousness a bit as Daniel and Otto were trying to call the Emergency Department. There was blood coming from a wound on her head but it didn't look to bad. And except for a very strong headache she didn't have much pain. I was guessing that she had a concussion - and I was very glad she didn't start feeling ill or throwing up for now. Rescue was our only hope as it seemed. We couldn't get her down the mountain like this and besides that it would be dark before we could have managed.

While we waited for rescue, I sat next to Josefien hugging and talking to her in the attempt to keep her warm and awake. I was also shaking partly because of the icy cold going through my bones but also because of the shock of course. Finally the rescue helicopter came buzzing down with bright spotlights and picked Jo up and I also joined them - as a translator, mental support and... spectator of the landscape :) which I had to thank her for afterwards, because I have never been in such a machine and it was an interesting experience to see all these things plus the beautiful view of course. The nurses and doctors in the hospital were all very helpful and friendly. Luckily I was allowed to be with Josefien all the time so I could watch and comfort her - I even watched her head being stitched together again. So all in all it was a very educational Old Years Eve. We wished it would have been differently but were very happy that she was alright in the end and only had to stay in Hospital till the next day. We stayed in the Hospital for a few more hours, trying to celebrate the years' change a little. We decorated the hospitals' bed with some break lights and the hours went by as we talked and even laughed. Finally we had to let Josefien rest and drove back to town where we stayed, in hope of celebrating with the others and getting some rest ourselves... but that didn't happen.

The rest of New Years night and the 1st of January Daniel and Otto alternated in running to the toilet and trowing up. They were both laying in bed with a fever and I was trying to look after them and also had to go to see Josefien in the hospital again to pick her up later that day. It was a busy day! The chances were good that 2016 could only get better from then on..

Laura 


16-1-2016

On the 23-24th of January 2016 I can be found on the stand of Minicat on the Dusseldorf Boat show to present the Laura Dekker Minicat edition. 


23-11-2015

After 2.5 half years in the water, it was time for Guppy to get a serious manicure done. We hauled her out and worked like crazy for weeks to make her look all beautiful again. The rudder had to go back to bare steel to be retreated and so did some spots on the keel. I finally closed up one of the un-used through-hull holes which was always a potential leak… We polished the topsides to change its color back to her beautiful own red. And after we had put on some new Anti foul and anodes it was time for a sail!

We had 2 great days of sailing on which we had an average of 7.5 knots! Well,.. okay, I have to admit that we had very good winds, but the clean and smooth hull did sure make a big difference. It was such a joy to be out on the water again, and I am especially glad we managed to take her out before heading of into the cold winter of Europe.. We will be in Europe with Family for a while. But at least Guppy can shine in all her beauty now.

 

I have been toiling with the idea of selling Guppy for a while now, I have fallen in love with the taiwanese style clippers - like the formosa 51 and hudson 50 yachts. And so,.. even though it still really hurts - I would have to sell Guppy. I won't just give her away to anybody though! After all she is my first love and baby and the best boat I could have wished for to do my circumnavigation on. If anybody is interested feel free to e-mail me at media@lauradekker.nl and I will give you some more info on her.

Another thing that has kept us busy is building a cabinet in our friends apartment. Over the winter they have been so kind to let us stay in their basement apartment which was warm and we didn't have to paddle in the rain and cold. They mentioned that they'd like to have a cabinet in the kitchen, so we thought we would just build one from scratch. Neither of us had done anything like this before and so there was a lot of thinking work involved, which was Daniels job. I stuck with glueing, staining, varnishing and… well, what I do best of course - supervising ;)

We landed in Germany about a week ago - back in the fridge - and certainly worth the freeze as we really enjoy seeing our families again!

 

Laura 

For Picture's please go to the english blog.


1-10-2015

I want to start with saying thanks for all the lovely birthday wishes. I had a great day together with friends here in Whangarei. Daniel and I did a little birthday hike up to the top of mt. mania. Whangarei weather can be pretty unpredictable sometimes and we had everything from no wind and sunshine to downpours with gusts of wind. It certainly keeps it interesting, and makes for stunning views.

For the last couple of weeks I have been keeping myself busy on Anam Cara. She is the Wharram catamaran I sailed on from Bluff to Dunedin. She had some rotten crossbeams and needed a good refit before sailing up to the islands. It’s been good to work a lot with my hands again. I really enjoy working on boats (most of the time ;), I always learn new things, and it’s great to use the skills I have already learned! ☺ Anam cara is now back in the water and almost ready for her trip up to the Solomons with Oceans Watch.

Last week I flew out to Melbourne to do some filming for a short 5 minute inspirational film. It will show on Red Bull’s new TV station sometime next year. The filming involved lots of sailing on the big bay in Melbourne, and so it’s needless to say I had a great time! ☺ Whilst I was in Melbourne I talked to somebody who was going to see Jessica Watson speak that same evening. Of course I wouldn’t let such a chance pass and so we ended up going to the talk together. I had never met Jessica before, although I did feel as if I knew her quiet well just from following her journey. It was really great to finally meet Jessica personally and get to talk to her. We had a great time sharing our story’s with each other. 

I am back in Whangarei now, spring has finally arrived! It’s so nice seeing the flowers come back up and the little lambs jumping around in the paddocks. And now that the weather is getting better it’s also getting time to get some things done on Guppy! ☺

Laura

( go to the english blog page to see the picture's)

 


4-8-2015

Last weekend I had a presentation in Twizel which is on the South Island. Daniel and I both got to go down and have a few days of adventure's in the Cold but very beautiful Twizel area.

  Picture's


25-7-2015

Radio interview.

Next big thing radio ep. 23  (61 min.)  Wenn not working on your pc try this link

An older one: 

Next big thing radio ep. 3  (52 min.)  Wenn not working on your pc try this link


14-7-2015

Sorting out and checking Guppy's anchor gear.  

 

 A gorgeous sunset accompanies us while passing the bridge on our way out. 

 

Last weekend Daniel and I decided it was really time to go out sailing again. So Friday night, after Daniel was done with work, we headed out. Of course it got dark very soon and I discovered that sailing out at night was trickier than coming in. At the beginning of the Whangarei harbour is a big refinery with lots and lots of lights, which blinded us from seeing the channel markers. My chartplotter GPS had once again decided to test me and refused to find a position so we were left with just the map. It's good fun actually, almost like a treasure hunt. Your looking for the right colour of light with the exact right flashing code. The map tells you what the light is supposed to do. For example: there's a Q which means quick flashing. So the light flashes quickly. But there are also more complicated once. For example: if it says Fl G (3) 2.5s  It means the light is Green and it flashes 3 times every 2.5 seconds. Despite the refinery over ruling a lot of the channel marker lights - we still managed to find them after looking intensely. It took us a long long time (about 5 hours for 8 miles!) to get to the heads due to very little wind. It was a beautiful night lots of stars and therefore also very cold. The temperature went down to 0 and even below 0 for a little while! We decided to anchor at Urquhart's which is a bay near the harbour entrance. We had planned to sail out to sea but the tide had meanwhile turned against us and the wind was too little to be very exiting. There was also another reason why we were eager to anchor. A very odd smell had been saturating the boat, and I had absolutely no idea what it could be. So we went on a hunt and found that one of the starter batteries for the engine was hissing and boiling. Nothing was charging it at that time but it was still connected to the second starter battery so we unhooked the two from each other after which the hissing stopped quickly. I felt pretty sick just from the smell that hung in the boat, but hearing the waves against the hull and rolling around quietly brought me into dreams soon. 

The next day we where lucky to have a bit more wind and we still ended up having a good sail before heading back home.

 

Laura  

 


26-6-2015

Here are a few picture's of some sailing lesson's I did a few weeks ago with some girls from Whangarei Girls High school. 

They are doing a Day-Skippers course in their Adventure Class and I helped out one day instructing, so they could get some practical experience in small boats. The mini-cat turned out to be a good boat for lessons. But a bit small with three people.

Laura

 

 

 


29-5-2015

The days are getting shorter, darker and wetter. Winter has arrived and this year I am not escaping it. Since Daniel's accident we have been staying at George & Ellen's place where he well recovered (except for his right wrist which is still painful when used to much).

And that's where we are going to stay for now, as Guppy isn't much fun in winter on pile moorings and without a heater. I love the warmth in the house, but the walls and the absence of rustling waves against the hull and the tender swinging is getting to me. Daniel is working at a small factory that manufactures cast iron wood stoves and I used the opportunity to drag all of Guppy's floorboards up to the factory to sand them down and revarnish them. That way we get to go to work together :)

Although I do get distracted doing lots of other things as well. Like waving George & Ellen goodbye as they sailed down the harbor onboard their Yacht Winddancer, heading for Fiji. Daniel and I managed to fix the floppy rudder of my Minicat and I thought it would be fun to accompany them along the harbor. And fun it was! There was a lot of wind roaring through the harbor and before I even saw them coming around the first corner I had already capsized. And after that the wind only got stronger and they saw me upside down more often then flying along to catch up with Winddancer again. Once we got out of the shelter from the narrower riverbanks, the waves had built up and sailing such small cat, it felt like I had ended up in a huge storm. It definitely was not build for this sort of adventure. Upwind I would fly into and over the waves. On one occasion I flipped over backwards, with boat and all. That's when I decided to turn around and go back downwind. I waved Winddancer a last goodbye and then flew home. Literally flew home. It was hard to keep the little cat under control even downwind as I had to surf side-ways down the waves in order not to pitchpole. I was holding on to my seat firmly so I wouldn't get launched off - it didn't help. A strong gust made the cat and me flip mid air. After a short flight I landed in the water under the sail - still firmly holding on to the seat, which, at this stage was not attached to the boat anymore… While I was battling under the sail to try to hold onto the piece of triplex with one hand and use the other to free myself from that submerged knotting business - my thoughts wandered back to my early childhood. The first couple of times that I sailed out in my Optimist, dad would sail along me on a windsurf-board. He would capsize the boat in moments when I would least expect it. I often landed under the sail, which was what he wanted, so that he could see how I would react. It was - I realize now - the best preparation that he could have given me for my trip and other adventures. Teaching me not to panic but to think clearly. Of course, since then I have landed under boat, sail or ended up tangled in ropes of little boats so many times that it became almost as normal as actually sitting in the boat.. I had to make many mistakes before being able to control my little dinghy's perfectly. it's the most effective way to learn, although - saying that I think sometimes it might be good to just listen to your parents (or others) as they probably have a good reason for their opinion. (I definitely didn't think like that back then) but even this I had to find out by experiment. And well, honestly I often still don't listen to the opinions of others, because I like to try things out for myself. …which is why I was actually sailing on that day. Everybody including the more sensible part of my brain thought there was to much wind to go sailing in the Minicat. But how do you really know for certain unless you get out there. So long story short, I was struggling under that sail thinking of me at age 6 doing the same thing, and it surprised me how similar it was. The same amount of disorientation. Water sloshing around - above you and under you. Simply everywhere. The same struggle and the same thrill. I only just managed to get her right side up again, heading upwind before I landed in the mangroves on the leeward side. It made me realize again how much fun dinghy sailing is.

Laura

 

picture's 

 


9-5-2015

So here I am sitting again, thinking of how to start this blog… I have a confession to make. In my blogs I often write how busy I am and that that's the reason for not writing a blog, but really that's actually a lie. I am very busy yes, that part is true, but the actual reason for me not writing so many blogs is that I dread it. Even when hundreds of exiting things happen. There's a few things I really do not enjoy and one of them is having to place myself behind the computer to write or answer mails.. merely for the reason that my brain goes blank whenever I see all the mails or have to write something down. But as many things, I guess practice is what makes one good at something, so here I am again, trying to get that mess of thoughts sorted into some writing that hopefully most people can understand... 

 

Last month I made one of the biggest decision in my life. Together with lots of friends plus some of Daniels family and mine, we celebrated the commitment that Daniel and I made for each other. A commitment of love - on an absolutely stunning day. The forecast had been threatening us with rain all week, but on THE day the weather couldn't have been better. Some clouds dimmed the light on the venue outdoors in the morning, then it cleared up to a blue sunny day. 

Our honeymoon we spend on board our romantic Guppy, together with many friends and family that had come over and were staying on even after the wedding. So this is what it took to get both - my mum and dad - to come to New Zealand! They enjoyed seeing many of their old friends again a lot and recalled memories all the time. I can hardly describe in words how beautiful it was - it made my heart jump of joy to see all these people, that mean so much to us: together and having a good time. I loved having my dad on Guppy without actually working all the time and running from one place to another. It was a busy and crazy time but oh so beautiful! 

A couple of weeks after our visitors left, I took on a delivery from Bluff to Whangarei on a Wharram catamaran. Well, that trip was ehm, interesting.. I flew down the day before the departure was planned. Lia Ditton and her partner had been on the boat for a while working on it. I couldn't be there any earlier due to a presentation that I had the night before in Warkworth - so I just had to trust that all was fine with the boat. Early the next morning we were off, with a strong out going tide. Sytze, the owner and builder of Anam Cara was watching us from shore in the warmth of his car.  Just out of the harbor entrance I started hoisting sails, intended to, but they wouldn't let me succeed. They wouldn't go further up then a few meters.. This seemed very strange because there really isn't much to this gaff rig. Two ropes leading down the mast - with the sail sown around the mast. I dropped the sail again, checking the few blocks and tackles that there were, while Anam Cara was swinging wildly. Waves had build up on a shallow patch, just starboard of us. … Up went the sail again, but still no further. Eventually I just hung on the rope coming straight down the mast before it went through the block. This worked well and with Gerard pulling through the other rope, we finally had the sails up, one hour later..  A little later in the day I heard a concerning mumbling while Lia was on watch. The mizzen mast was swinging around wildly. The new rigging - which is just made up of ropes - had stretched itself so much that the mast now had enough freedom to dance a tango... While I was on the wheel Lia and Gerard tightened the rigging as much as possible in the confused seas. With night fall the wind turned onto the nose. By morning we had sailed a good distance, but we had made very little progress towards our goal. Winds proceeded to be on the nose and we had to keep tacking to and from the coast, only gaining very little towards north. Eventually the winds shifted, but then dropped. So even though we were on the right heading now, we still didn't make any progress. 4 days went by of which we spend almost 2 days floating just before Dunedin and tacking around it. On the 4th night the winds had strengthenth to a good 20 knots but from the north, so that we were back to the wave-bashing-business. We had a hard time keeping the boat on course because of the waves. I had just got of watch when I heard Anam Cara tacking and Lia running around on deck. Not much later we tacked again and I heard a turning of the ignition - a few slow turns of the starter motor - but the engine did not start. Flat battery,.. Lia opened the hatch and asked if I could come up. I quickly put on my sailing gear and jumped out. The blocks on the mizzen mast had broken off their bolts, which gave the halyard a very bad angle. The rigging had loosened again, which made the mast swing a little. Our main worries though, were loud bangs and the groaning of Anam Cara. So we made the decision to turn the bow around towards Dunedin. The next morning I had a chat to Daniel on the phone and found out that he had been hit by a car on the road, or - HE hit the car - as he thinks haha! That joke cost him a concussion, bruises and a few painful joints. Luckily George & Ellen had sweetly taken care of him as he was staying in bed at their place after the hospital had a look at him. And of course I was left with little choice, whether to go back and take care for him or not. So as soon as we had moored Anam Cara at the Otago yacht club I had to book a flight for the next morning and packed my things. 

Well,… that's the end of that adventure, I thought while flying home. But new adventure's are never far - as my flight was delayed by 2 hours, I missed my bus connection from Auckland to Whangarei without any other seats available on any bus liner that day. So I took a chance, talking to people that were paying their parking fees at the machine, to see if anyone could possibly give me a lift up north. Puppy eyes help in these situations, but what didn't help was looking like a rugged sailor in thermals as pants, gumboots and a salty, dirty sailing jacket - holding an old grey bag. I am not sure what people must have thought exactly. It does help to live in a sailing nation though. I am not sure what people would have thought of me turning up like that at Amsterdam airport?! Anyhow, I don't know how long I stood there, maybe an hour, before a lady that was heading up to Warkworth decided to take me along. While we were driving, I explained my situation and it didn't take her long to figure out who I was.

She drove past Warkworth and told me that she would bring me all the way up to Whangarei, which is about another hour further!! It was getting dark and she thought it would be safer if she took me home. Even though I told her that I would find my way home, she insisted on taking me the other half of the journey. Oh how thankful I was for this woman! 

Daniel was sleeping when I finally got to our friends place, he spend most of the week sleeping and resting. But now, a few weeks after the accident he's getting better everyday, we probably will soon be able to move back to Guppy :) Except for a sore wrist and slight headaches he is doing fine now, which, of course, is a big relieve for me. 

If you want to see how Lia, Gerard and Johannes are doing on Anam Cara, you can track them on this website: http://my.yb.tl/liaditton

 

Laura 


9-5-2015

For picture's please go to the english weblog. 


20-3-2015

 

Here's a beautiful article about the restoration of my sextant, done by Bill Morris. He has done an absolutely fantastic job.

http://sextantbook.com/2015/02/

 

For all my fans worrying about the damage of Hurricane Pam:

Hurricane Pam passed us without leaving much damage. In the Town basin where Guppy lays not much was felt luckily and so we do not have a single scratch of the category 5 hurricane passing New Zealand along the coast last week.

Laura 

 


8-3-2015

 

Well,.. lets see what I can write about this time. I kind of feel like those days at sea, where there was always so much happening, But still I wouldn’t know what to write about. I think I will just start with the most exiting thing that happened. During our trip on Anna Rose I had been taking a lot of sights with the sextant. And doing complete Astro Navigation reductions. (of course checking myself with the GPS as well) It wasn’t all that easy - even on the days without much wind the boat was rolling and the sun was standing right above us. We were heading south while the sun was heading north and so we had one day where our latitude equaled the sun’s declination. And I realized, that taking sights at that moment isn't that easy.
Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised by how well my sights turned out. Most of the time it turned out to be almost at our exact position. I had lots of fun doing it, but the main reason I had taken my sextant on this trip was to complete my last part of my 'Yachtmaster Ocean' exam. In order to be able to do the last Oral part of the exam you need to do a practical. Luckily my examiner was as happy with my sights as I was and he didn’t even really ask me too much about it. Instead he asked me a lot of ‘’what would you do if’” kind of question. What if you dismast for example, or in case of a hole in the boat. I was telling him everything I knew about boats, weather systems, passage planning and various other topics. I was really nervous… even though, in the end there was not any reason to be, because the examiner seemed very satisfied with my knowledge and happily granted me my 'Yachtmaster Ocean' certificate.
As for the rest of life, it’s good. I am really enjoying living in Whangarei. Lots of lovely people around, and also Guppy has a lot of company. Neighbors come and go, while Guppy happily rests on the pile moorings and has many story's to tell to her mates from the past years.
At the moment Daniel & I are housesitting on a farm again. It’s quite nice not having to row and walk to shower and toilet for a while. And the big kitchen is much appreciated. Although I really do love the coziness on Guppy. Every now and then I still give presentations, and do some promoting for the English book. Last week, I flew down to Nelson for a talk at a fundraiser. We had a massive turnout and the boathouse - which was relatively roomy - seemed to get really small one of a sudden, with almost 200 people cramped inside and some outside not able to get in anymore. Everybody seemed to really enjoy my rambling about Guppy, waves, islands and life at sea so that makes me happy as well.

 

Laura 

 

 


30-1-2015

Check out some pictures of my latest sailing adventure here

 

Excuse me for being so slack with my blog! I just realized that I didn't even wish anyone of you a merry Christmas & a wonderful new year. 
So hereby a very belated Happy New year to everybody :) 

Christmas was wonderful again! Three friends of Daniel came over for a short summer holiday aboard and we took Guppy out for a sail to the Whangarei heads. We initially hoped to sail out to sea, but the weather was a little too rough to go out with three crew that had never sailed before - so I decided it would be more enjoyable to spend the night in a quiet bay near the heads, explore the shore there, scrape the hull, spend a rolly night out and then turn back - with three crew that know a little more what life's like afloat :)

Otherwise we have been busy with all sorts of things of daily life (including friends, work, maintenance on Guppy and other ordinary things that keep us alive and happy) - We also did a boat delivery. Only a few days ago Daniel, Rafael and I got back to Whangarei.

Early January Daniel and me flew over to Port Vila, Vanuatu, and spend about a week getting 'Anna Rose', a 13m sloop ready to be returned to New Zealand. The Hurricane season had started and so I had to watch the weather very carefully. There seemed to be no ideal time to leave. Different weather systems roared over all the time and created messy weather patterns. So when the boat was ready I departed from Port Vila with Daniel and Rafael as crew. Rafael has sailed a lot in the past and saw this delivery as a nice opportunity to be out at sea for a little while again. Sailing with him was interesting, because it gave us a lot of insight into “findacrew.net” and their makers. Rafael is its founder and to find out that he’s not just a computer specialist, but actually knows also about sailing himself (and was able to amuse us with lots of wild stories!:) was quite an aha for us. It explained, why ‘findacrew’ is so well set up for sailors and focused on crew and captains needs. It needs a sailor to serve sailors efficiently :)

The first two days immediately put the boat and us to the test. We landed in some sort of tropical system, which – according to weather maps – were supposed to develop more after they had passed us. We didn't have any means of getting weather maps on board, so I still don't really now what the weather did out there exactly. We sailed for a day in 35knots of wind on the beam bashing into waves. At night Rafael and I were up when the wind suddenly dropped. It was a very dark night. We couldn't tell the difference between the night sky and the sea. It all seemed to be one black mass that was tossing us around wildly. With no horizon to fix our eyes on, it didn't take long for all of us to get seasick. The sea had build up and seemed to come from two different sides. After about ten minutes trying hard to keep her sails from ripping and the boat from damaging anything by rolling around very wildly - the wind suddenly came back from the opposite direction, only this time with a fist of 50knots! 
We found a stable course for Anna Rose to lay on for the rest of night, not really going anywhere but just keeping the boat together. Exhausted we lay down in the cockpit with our wet weather gear completely soaked. The next day I realized that Rafael had slept in a waterfall that was streaming down the bench that he laid on. That night gave him a bad cough for the rest of the trip :(  When the winds finally ceased, we got the calm after the storm, which lasted for four days… There was no use in motoring for days, so we just patiently waited… slept, read, ate, dived into the bright blue deep (which I never would have done if there wasn’t dolphins around)… and so on. 
When we just decided to try out paddling :-) , a breeze cooled our cheeks and filled the sails to a gentle speed of under 2 knots. Other days again we just took the sails down and rolled about in a smooth, silent ocean. 
As it generally seems to happen at sea, there's either too much wind or too little and when it's a good amount of wind it is doomed to be on your nose. And so it seemed to be. We sailed slowly for a day or two, when a nice breeze replaced the calms. Soon enough the winds strengthened and on a close haul we were beating into seas again, that were now building up. I was very pleasantly surprised by how well Anna Rose managed to force herself through the waves. I think that it helped, that she is a long-keeler and very very heavy. That way we still managed to make good speeds and also to stay on our rumbline. Progress was certainly great then, but comfortable is surely different. It took us 12 days to get across from Port Vila to Whangarei, where we then moored the boat, rowed ashore, shook off the salt and indulged in a delightful meal at George & Ellens place – back home!

P.S.: Another thing that excited me was the adventures that I had in Iceland. I was offered to take place in another expedition for a dutch TV channel, but this time not in the hot Marocan desert but the iceland cold. Of course I couldn’t resist the opportunity to visit such remote place without even having to pay and organize it yourself. So I ended up on volcanic and icy grounds for a couple of weeks and later on dutch home screens. In case you’re interested and understand a bit of dutch you might like to see some bits of film cut to a weekly series about the troop and me fighting cold drops, cold heights and dog food, while the landscape was well worth all that!   Here is the link: http://www.expeditiepoolcirkel.nl/

 

Laura 


10-12-2014

USA radio interview.

http://nextbigthingradio.net/?podcast=conversations-episode-3 

starting at 3.50

 


27-11-2014

Another interview

http://dailytravelpodcast.com/around-the-world-alone-at-16-with-laura-dekker/ 

 


5-11-2014

Radio interview,

http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/ntn/ntn-20141105-1006-teenage_round-the-world_solo_sailor_laura_dekker-048.mp3

or,

 http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/ntn/ntn-20141105-1006-teenage_round-the-world_solo_sailor_laura_dekker-00.ogg

or, 

http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/20156041/teenage-round-the-world-solo-sailor-laura-dekker 


18-10-2014

The last 2 months I have been busy with some presentations and visiting family. Time in Europe flew by. I went to Spain where I was invited for the "Sail in" Festival. I loved walking around Bilbao, which is an old city with lots of beautiful architecture, I also really enjoyed meeting the other sailors that were at the festival. Racers of big boats were present as well as those that cruise the oceans using only astronavigation in their tiny boats. Capucine Trochet was one of the speakers who really fascinated me with her story. She is sailing mostly singlehanded using only celestial navigation. Her boat is a tiny boat from Bangladesh that is made from canvas jute (40%) , Polyester and recycled materials. This is the first boat made like this and she hopes to sail it back to Bangladesh to prove it's strength. Go Capucine! :)

Unfortunately I don't understand spanish and therefor couldn't follow what was being said on the festival. Which means that I had to get the personal stories by asking the people for an english version. Luckily a lot of video material was included, which made it more interesting for me :) 

The following week I found myself in Copenhagen. With its typical buildings and lots of water, it reminded me a lot of Holland. Prior to the presentation I went for a sail with the host on her boat. We sailed a little around Copenhagen and into the harbor where the mermaid sits. I love seeing the differences between boats in various places of the world. In Copenhagen I found a lot of old Colin archer type boats. Very wide and mainly wooden.

But then it was really time to get back to poor Guppy - who has been on her own for 6 months! On the way back I made one more presentation-stop - this time in Lake Tahoe, California. I stayed there for four days, enjoying the area and its people. I got to go wake-boarding on the Lake and jumped of a cliff into one of the clearest lakes in the USA! The area is perfect for adventurers on many levels, and I connected well with the people living there. There were about 350 people who turned up for my presentation, which I thought was pretty awesome for it being in a relatively small town. 

After another long plane ride I arrived in Auckland, where I took the bus back to Guppy. She was as expected full of Spiders,but not as much as I was expecting. Or maybe I just didn't find them all yet. It is so good being back! I had an awesome nights sleep and it felt so right to open my eyes and realize I am home. It is still a little to cold at night for my comfort zone though. Or maybe I should just close the windows a bit more.. The next couple of days I will be busy cleaning up Guppy and seeing if everything still works as she certainly doesn't get any better from sitting in the berth on her own. Oh and as I arrived back home, I found another nice surprise - the certificate of my Yacht Master Offshore! :) I had done the practical just before we left to Tahiti so that I didn't get to see it before.

Next month I will be busy doing a bit of a book tour through New Zealand. My book has finally been translated into english and will be published on the first of November this year by Harper Collins in New Zealand! :) 

 

Laura 

 

 Kim and I enjoying time together. 

 

 My Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate :) 

 The english version of my book, only two weeks to go before it will be in the stores! 


31-7-2014

Picture's can be seen on the english weblog.

 

Europe

On the 31st of July we left New York and headed to Frankfurt with a stopover in Paris. I had decided that I actually wanted to go to Holland after the flight was booked and thought it would work to get off in Paris. Dad had his boat in a dry dock in Zeeland and I really wanted to see it before it would go back into the water. Last time I saw Havorn dry, was when it had been let in the water for the first time - so this was a special moment that I did not want to miss. In JFK I asked if it was possible to get my luggage off the plane in Paris, but they told me there was no way. I didn't really try hard, as we were very late for our flight, very late means, the check-in had already been closed and we were just very lucky to still get on the plane involving much running. Daniel would continue to Frankfurt to his family and could take my backpack along. From Paris I took a bus to Rotterdam where my grandparents picked me up. I had not told my dad I would come to Europe and so when I finally arrived at the dry dock and he came out it was a big surprise! That night I also got a big surprise - Daniel told me that the stewardess in the plane had asked where I was, and when he said I had gone out they told him my luggage had to go as well, so they checked for it but came back with the message that my luggage wasn't there anymore. And so Daniel thought, great Laura got her luggage of the plane, which I didn't. When he told me this I did got a little distressed. I was almost ready to call the airport in Paris, but then he told me that he did actually have my luggage, and just wanted to give me shock - which worked! Turned out that both the backpacks had been put on Daniel's name and therefore not been taken off the plane. I was very lucky that my backpack came straight after Daniels' pack in Frankfurt, because he had already assumed it was with me, and would not have waited for it. 


Time with my dad was great, I helped with getting the last things ready on the boat and then sailed it back to Den Osse with him, after it was let back in the water. After that I spend a week traveling with my sister who was working in the circus again. Now I am visiting the rest of my family in Holland. I will be in Spain for a sail event from the 4th to the 6th and on the 12th in Denmark for a presentation, and for after that, I got more adventures planned, but more to that later :)


 


20-7-2014

East Coast

 

The last couple of days before flying to Europe, we stayed with old friends of Daniel. They live in Pennsylvania and have two kids. We spend a lot of time playing with them. I got the mum inspired to raise her 5 year old by doing some more housework. I told her how I always had to do the dishes and fold the laundry and how much I complained about that, but that I am happy now that Dad raised me like that. So she started to do that with her child, and the little one now hangs up the washing and does the dishes as well. Isn't that awesome?! They live in Amish country. I had not really heard of Amish folk before and it was interesting to see how these people live. In the area where they live there were both Amish and Mennonites. Some of them are still riding horse-buggies only, without rubber or electricity. They all farm themselves. Somehow I really liked the way they think about things, like growing their own food and making things themselves. I don't think I would be able to live the way they do though, for many reasons.


15-7-2014

 

California and the wild west 

 

From the Redwood forest we kept on heading South, following the coastline. Compared to the temperatures further inland the west-coast was very cold and going for a swim didn't sound as attractive anymore. Along the way we admired the beautiful beaches and adorable old villages with a very typical beach and surfing culture. We drove as far south as Santa Cruz, where we left the amazingly beautiful west coast and started heading east. I found the Californian coast very beautiful and wished I could have spend some more time. The surfing culture, wildlife, villages and sharp cliffs along the coastline reminded me somewhat of New Zealand. But that beauty soon disappeared,and so did the cold. It became very hot very soon, with temperatures up to 45 degrees, there was nothing left of anything we had seen in California. Only dry plants and a lot of sand caught our eyes. We were on our way into Death Valley. The highways so far hadn't impressed us much, so we often chose to take smaller roads leading us to all sorts of magical places. This time we ended up on a small dirt road leading us into some mountains that where so dry they seemed to be big sand hills. When we finally came out of the hills we overlooked a flat area where there was, well.. basically nothing. It seemed like nothing, nothing but sand and dry rock. Just like I expected Death Valley to be. But once we actually drove in this endless place of nothing, I was a lot more impressed than I expected. There are amazing rock formations, sand-hills and clay pans that somehow had the same effect on me as the nothingness of the ocean. Seemingly nothing, but in fact something. Hard to explain, but very impressing. I was not much impressed by the heat though.. We did have an air conditioner in the car, but with this heat it wasn't doing much anymore. I found the heat the hardest to deal with at night. As much as I had experienced desserts, I knew that the temperature drops at night. But here I don't think it dropped at all. We slept in the car somewhere along the road as usual, but much sleep I couldn't get. With all doors open it was still to hot. I even felt like it was worse, as the hot wind burned my skin. The next day we drove into Las Vegas. One other crazy place on this world. I am not to sure what to write about Las Vegas, especially as I feel like there has been written enough about it. Both of us weren't to interested, and so we only spend half a day to see if it really was as people told us. And yes, it definitely is a crazy place where everything seems possible. The weirdest was to see a huge town like that in the middle of a big dessert. That night we stayed near a big lake not far east of Las Vegas. Big dark thunderstorms made the sky a vivid grey and the sand got whipped up so violently that we had to jump into the car, otherwise we would get sandblasted. From here the Grand Canyon wasn't so far anymore either. It took us a little longer as we went off the highways again and actually ended up going really off-road. We had hoped to see the Grand Canyon without paying the fee to see the crowded park area, but that has been made pretty impossible and so we ended up entering the park, and well at 5 in the morning.

The rainstorms that had been with us again all night hadn't been blown away yet and with the sun trying to peak through, it made for a beautiful scenery. By late morning rain and clouds were gone and a hot sun was shining on our head. Halfway through the park we found a steep path leading into the canyon, whose call we couldn't resist - and soon found us sweating on rough ground. It turned out to be an amazing walk, very steep but incredibly beautiful. The Grand Canyon is unimaginably big, and with more colors and shapes than I could imagine. We ended up very glad to have paid the entrance fee and gone into the park.  

When we drove into New Mexico a bit of green finally started coming back. I loved the rock formations in the Grand Canyon and the rest of the dry places as well, but a fresh river to swim in and some trees and wood to make campfires again were very welcome. We drove through New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee. All of them had their own beauty. In New Mexico we saw a whole town that was build in utopian style, with clay, round forms, …just the cutest and most beautiful town I have ever seen. Oklahoma put us on many straight roads. And I mean really straight! We hoped to see a Tornado and chase it, but we drove through fairly quickly and did not see one. In Tennessee fireflies danced around us at night, looking like little stars giving us a private performance.

 



11-7-2014

Redwood & Northern California

We have now come into the Redwood forest, which lay in the north of California. The trees are amazing and Daniel, being a tree lover, is totally in his habitat. I am very much in my habitat too, not really because of the trees, but because we have finally reached the pacific ocean on the west coast, after 14 days of no salt water. It always makes me very happy and relieved to see that the ocean didn’t run away while I was gone. While staying close to the ocean we ventured into the forest, to look at these amazing big and ancient giants of the earth. Some of which had survived lightning, flood, the axe and wild fires. They’re tough for sure!


9-7-2014

Montana & Southwest bound

By now we had reached Montana and if anybody has done the math so far, this is very, very far away from the ocean… I had never been so far from the ocean and I started to miss it. But there are more things in life than the ocean and there was a reason why we wanted to come to Montana - namely this is the state in which Robin Lee Graham (the author of “Dove”) and his wife Patti live. Sadly we didn’t get to meet Robin as he was fishing in Alaska, but we did get to meet Patti. I read “Dove” a couple of times throughout my life and was thrilled to meet Patti and hear more about what had happened after their great voyage. I was positively surprised to hear Patti’s stories. It didn't include much sailing. But many great adventures through live, like raising their kids, building a house and finding positive and good things in life. From Montana the journey went on through Idaho and into Oregon, passing many beautiful and different faces of the states. From really cold areas to really hot ones, where we looked for rivers to jump in because – with no air-conditioning in the car - there was no other way to cool down. We camped next to a cold but clear river one night and while cooking our spaghetti on an improvised cooker (which is basically a campfire made inside a little, iron cage, so that we need less wood and a smaller fire to have enough heat to cook food) and not having a phone or computer distracting us, we observed nature around us. We watched how ants fought a worm-like insect that looked like a stick and acted like one, but in fact was a little creeping thing. Later on we saw the ants attack a caterpillar, felt sorry for it, and helped it shake them off. As soon as it was free, it ran faster than I have ever seen a caterpillar run! And then, on the way to a wake-up dip in the morning, we came past two baby snakes chilling out on the rocks, while taking in the heat of the sun. So far the American outback surprises us very positively.


8-7-2014

 

Teton & Yellowstone National parks

Just before reaching Teton, we got to a little town called Dubois. Dubois fascinated us by its beautiful log houses and cozy wild west atmosphere and we stopped at a little souvenir shop. On the path to the door made-up bear paws led the way into the store. My hand could fit into these paws five times, that’s how big they were. I asked the lady if this was a real size paw and she answered that it was about the normal size of a grizzly, but that there were bigger ones for sure… She started telling us stories about Grizzlies who had ventured into town and how there had been attacks. As I listened to her stories I started realizing how bears were part of everyday life in this area. That night we slept as close as possible to town, with our windows up, the doors locked and me getting scared with every unfamiliar sound I heard. The next day got even better as we even saw a Grizzly bear from the road, walking into a camping area. At that moment I was really happy to be sitting in the car with wheels that could get me away fast. Even down on its four legs, a Grizzly is an enormous creature, so I don’t want to imagine him standing up in front of me. They’re not known to attack humans often, only if you surprise them or if they have cubs to defend. After I saw the bear I got over my fear somehow and hoped to see another one - so we still did some hikes, but always carried bear-spray and tried to make noise so that they were aware of our presence. Making noise was a bit against my feeling though, because I did actually want to see wildlife, I just didn’t want it to eat me! After Teton we spend three days in Yellowstone. There we found lots of hot springs, geysers and geothermal activity, which didn’t excite me as much after knowing New Zealand, but it was still fascinating to see. Much more fascinating to me was the wildlife. One early morning we went out to see wolves in a valley that’s known as their hunting ground, but they didn’t show up. Instead we saw a moose, a coyote, black bear and uncountable elk, deer and Buffalo along the way. Watching these animals in their natural habitat was a beautiful thing. They are quite different animals compared to those in a zoo. I'd really rather not see an animal, than watching it imprisoned behind bars and walls.

 

For the latest blog and picture's please visit the english blog, either by going to the English webpage or Click here

Laura 

 


7-7-2014

Toronto & Westward bound

And so the fun begins :) First stop, Toronto. I was presenting at Ideacity, a three-day conference that includes a lot of different speakers and topics. From genetic engineering over to entertainers and adventurers. After the conference we didn’t stay in Toronto much, even though it seemed to be a nice city - especially the great lakes had a strong draft. But New York had given us enough city input for a while, so that our eyes were focused on the western horizon now. I knew that the states were big, but I don’t think I ever really got the whole picture. For two days we drove through cities, over wide, long and straight highways and eventually we disappeared into the smog of Chicago. Once we were out of the smog, green meadow’s with dairy farms dotted all over them pleased our eyes. For another two days that was all we saw. Then coming to the far west of South Dakota the landscape started changing. The badlands formed some magnificent landscapes with bear soft rock standing in the form of hills with sharp edges and cliffs, all rising out of the flats. We also ventured past the great faces of Mt.Rushmore. The spot for the best view was occupied by a lot of tourists and we decided not to go there. Instead we climbed to the top of a rocky hill, to look at this amazing piece of art, so extremely big and still so beautiful and precise. We mainly just thought about how much fun it must have been to climb those rocks and create that piece of art. But there is no way to climb these rocks anymore. About every tree has a sign pierced onto it prohibiting us to go on a cross-country adventure to come closer to those cliffs. And so we continued into the green hills and empty lands of Wyoming. Many deer jumped over the grassy hills as we continued our way west. Somewhere along the way we had heard that there are bears in this area but forgot all about it until it got dark and we ended up in a dark forest looking for a place to sleep. With the darkness and the silence I remembered the bears. Having never been in bear country before, the idea freaked me out a bit and I wished that we would’ve had some more info on what to do. So we did the only thing we knew we should, and hung our food up in a tree, about 100m away, and went to sleep. Neither we nor our food got eaten by a bear that night, so that morning was a great relief. But this was just the beginning of a very exiting area.
As we drove through Riverton, we experienced how quickly the weather can change. The skies turned dark and a strong wind came up. I told Daniel to pull over as soon as possible and just as we did extreme gusts of wind and rain came pounding onto the car. The rain changed into hail quickly and it wasn’t like the hail we knew from Europe. It was much more severe. Remembering pictures of hail stones as big as tennis balls, I got a bit nervous and told Daniel - who was sitting behind the wheel - to find a save place for the car. Hiding on the lee side of a big building we waited out the storm. As the hail was pounding to the ground, everything outside a circle of a meter disappeared in thick gusts of water pouring down. After less then half an hour everything got quiet and we hit the road again. There we were given one good reason why Americans drive big cars. The road was transformed into a river that reached a depth of half a meter at some points. As we were driving through two walls of water, created by our own wheels, we realized that the very hot and dry city that we had entered now had changed into one big swimming pool. We felt small in our Subaru Legacy, when big Utes drowned us when driving past. So - as much fun as it was to drive through a river in down town, we choose what was best for the car, went uphill, and kept doing so until we reached Teton National park.


6-7-2014

New York,

Leaving the beautiful little town and the friendly people that we had stayed with in Tahiti, Daniel and I went through a massive culture shock. We flew to the US of A, and from all the places that there are in that country, we went straight into New York. But the culture shock was a rather pleasant one. New York is somehow different from most big cities. As you may have figured out, Daniel and I are both no big city fans. New York however managed to keep and entertain us for almost two weeks. Walking along Brooklyn town often feels like walking through different countries while you’re still in the same city. So many different faces, cultures and stories. Nevertheless we would have been out of there earlier if it wasn’t for the car. We were hoping to buy a car and do a road trip through the states. But that wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Without a social security cart and a US address you can basically do nothing other than what normal tourists do, and apparently that’s not buying a car. The actual purchasing of the car wasn't too big of a problem - it was the registering. We tried many things, and failed many times. A friend in California tried to help out but the car needed a smog check and since the car was in New York, that didn’t work out. Finally we managed to register it through a friend in Maine, who needed a car anyway and so we made a deal that he would register the car and than get it for a nice price after our trip.


4-7-2014

 

Link Radio interview 

http://raddeviant.com/?p=48

 


3-7-2014

 

Link Video Toronto 

http://www.ideacityonline.com/video/youngest-cirvumnavigator-sail-alone-around-world-laura-dekker/

 


21-5-2014

Well I suppose it really is time to write something again. Last month we where going for a day sail to Opua on Gizmo, a 60ft Catamaran that we had sailed on before. While already underway we got to talk about their next voyage, New Zealand - Tahiti. I started dreaming away about Tahiti and the Islands again I got to love so much, the people, warm clear water and perfect breeze. Paul, the captain saw this and said that we should just come along. Everybody agreed but laughed as they would leave the next day and nobody thought we could actually come along. But my brain was working at full speed, thinking off all the reasons why not to come along. I didn't find one that was good enough so I looked at Daniel with puppy eyes and 10 minutes later we sat in the dinghy on our way back to Guppy. In half a day we packed our stuff, said goodbye to most of our friends in Whangarei and prepared Guppy for a long silence. For such little notice I am surprised about how little we forgot to think about. The next day we where at sea again, in my element. A little sad to leave Guppy and New Zealand behind but looking forward to show Daniel around French Polynesia. The trip to Tahiti wasn't the smoothest, lot's of squalls, headwinds and little wind laid on our path. But therefore we had some amazing sunsets. We did the 2200 miles in about 11 days so even though we did less than the average speed of Gizmo it was still a lot faster than we would do on Guppy. After a quick fuel stop in Rarotonga, we where surrounded by lightnings for 2 entire days. The wind meters didn't survive and it seemed to be a bit much for the autopilot as well. I am so glad I don't have any of those fancy meters and electronics on Guppy. Means then they can not break down or give trouble. The more you have on a boat the more can break. But I suppose if you have enough money it's nice for the time that it works.. Ones we got to the beautiful islands of French Polynesia we stayed onboard Gizmo for a little longer as they would do the Tahiti Pearl regatta and we wanted to take part. It's a 3 day race run between Raiatea, Tahaa and Bora Bora, which meant that we anchored at another place every night. With a heavy tender, a generator, an anchor and lots of spares, Gizmo had no chance of winning that race - so we sailed in the cruising division, in which we did actually win the first price overall. For one night we stayed in Bora Bora and I had the chance to catch up with the family Duval who took care of me and Guppy when I arrived in these islands the first time with Guppy. It was amazing to see them again. Sadly I only had the time to have a drink with them and to chat about what had happened since we saw each other last. I will never forgot their hospitality.

I am still sadly surprised by the many changes happening in these islands, every time I get back here the islands and its people are more destroyed then I knew it from before. By now there are four Mac Donald's on Tahiti!! These islands have been blessed with the best fruits, fresh water and fish in the world, but instead the people go to Mac Donalds!! With every bit that comes into their culture from the outside world like, computers, tv's , fast-food, plastic toys they lose a bit of their own amazing culture.. The people of Tahiti see America as an example, while in American people see Tahiti as Paradise.. when will people learn to love and value their own culture? ..and see that with all these electronics and manipulated foods the world is not getting any happier.. It hurts me so much to see these islands slowly change to what in my eyes will be the end of this beautiful world.. I know that there is a lot to say about this topic, and I would love to write a lot more about it but I think I will leave that to another blog as this one is already getting a bit long and I still want to tell a little more.

Even though the people here are changing they still are more hospitable then I have experienced anywhere else in the world. Currently Daniel and I are staying with a Tahitian family in Papenoo. We where hitchhiking around the island and ended up in this little town for the night. The beach looked good for camping and so we went to the store to buy some baguette and juice for diner. That's where we met Bety, who works there as a cashier. We got to talk a little and after she found out that we where planning to camp on the beach, she immediately invited us to come and stay with her. We thank her a lot but tried to explain her in our best french ( which is very bad..) that we are used to camping and it was alright, and so we went to the beach. We enjoyed our diner and gazed at the ocean for a while when it started to pour down with rain. There was a roof of a party tent on the beach which gave us perfect shelter so that we didn't worry to much, but just as we wanted to crawl under, someone tapped on our shoulder and wildly waved and pointed to a car. It was Bety! She wouldn't let us stay here and so we grabbed our backpacks and ran through the streaming rain to her car. Bety's english is about as bad as our French and so talking happens mostly by feet and hands, but we are surely learning a lot of french quickly now. Bety lives just up the hill with her husband and 3 children. The next morning she took us to town and introduced us to a cousin who has lived in America for 18 years and therefor speaks perfect american. They took us along for a local lunch on the beach and taught us to prepare and cook Uru ( breadfruit ), we made plates out of leaves and learned about the things you can do with coconuts. Uru looks like a big green ball-like fruit that grows in big trees. They are best when they turn yellow and old. We cooked them in a fire until they where pitch-black and then peeled the skin off. What is left is a soft potato like thing, but bigger, sweeter and much better!

Just before we met this amazing family in Papenoo, Daniel and I did a 2 day hike up Mount Aorai, which is the second highest mountain at a hight of 2066m. The walk is right on the ridge and very steep. A very dangerous path to walk if it rains, but we where fortunate and had amazing weather. There are two huts on the way in which we slept and so slowly made our way up to enjoy the view at the most. It really was an amazing hike, clear in the mornings and at night, cloudy in the afternoons.

For now we are staying with the Family and enjoy learning about their local traditions, a truly beautiful experience. What an amazing love these people have got in their hearts. It makes me want to share it with the world and somehow show them how wonderful it is to just do something for somebody and not want anything back. I wish I could tell people how much happier it makes one to do that.. It's great to see how these people do that and I very much hope to be able to give this hospitality and love to other people as well, so that maybe they will want to pass it on further.

Laura

 


20-5-2014

Arrival in Rarotonga for a quick fuel stop.Beautiful sunsets on the way First night sunset after leaving New Zealand. Gizmo under spinnaker in Light winds.Preparing to pull up the spinnaker. Repairing the jib. Beautiful sunset! Squall developing in the back before nightfall. And a beautiful sunrise on my watch! Halfway mark sunrise :)  surrounded by lightning at night for 2 days. Gizmo anchored in Tahaa, last day of the Tahiti Pearl Regatta. The Gizmo crew girlsSnorkeling on a plane wreck in TahitiThe trail to the top of Mount AoraiAlmost at the top, above the clouds! View from the first hut, Mount AoraiMaking plates out of leaves with Bety and her family                                                  Making Coconut milk by squeezing freshly graded coconut. Preparing the Uru and cooking it on a campfire.                        Walking along a river in Papenoo valley, found some beautiful waterfalls.                         A bit further the river went trough an awesome gorge! 



16-3-2014

For the latest blog and picture's please visit the english blog, either by going to the english webpage or Click here

Laura 


15-3-2014


27-2-2014

A curious Albatross checking out on Guppy.Moonlight while seas are calm, some days are simply magical and indescribable                                                With the Spinnaker up Guppy lays straight and moves along at a steady 5kn in light winds.                         Guppy and her crew are loving it :)One of the most beautiful sunsets of the trip, 2 days out of Whangarei, it looked like the sky was on fire.First sight of the Island by daylight - we arrived and anchored in darkness.Guppy at anchor in the bay - can you find her? ;) Guppy at Anchor in Cascade bay, Norfolk Isl. Guppy meets Guppy! On board some locals which where kind enough to give us a lift ashore and back. Leaving Norfolk Island after a very enjoyable 6 hours there.  We where going through these grey skys with drizzle for days after leaving Norfolk Love those colours of the ocean and interesting cloud formations, no day at sea is the same!  Pancake time!! Everything happens on an angle.Beating through some rough seas on the way back, but Guppy's doing very well! :) Beautiful sunset, which we could only enjoy while on top of a wave..Seas getting rougher while going through a front on the way back.Sewing the replacement Main

Arriving back in Whangarei 

 


26-2-2014

We are all cleared in and sailing home to Town basin. Guppy with a big smile on her bow, doing another 1000 nm together. The wind stayed and the last bit of the night it turned in our favor. But we had to tack until then though. We are very much looking forward to a FRESH water shower and some fresh food! :)

Laura 


25-2-2014

Guppy went like a rocket for a couple hours and then the wind just turned straight south, south east again and we're back to tacks... But the couple of hours that we could keep course where awesome! We're now at 35.18S 174.27E 37nm to go to Whangarei heads.

Laura 


24-2-2014

The Wind turned! yeay! So we tacked. The last two rough days, Daniel says he was slowly turning into a vegetable not being able to do anything :P. We didn't make much progress anywhere today as we heard a loud bang this morning and found the mainsail in two pieces... I think there's something about getting close to land that my mainsails just can't stand... I had one spare on board but with some little rips in it, so we spend the day sewing and putting the other main up. Now Guppy is happy sailing again, nicely on course to Whangarei doing 5kn, still pounding into some leftover seas but all very well on board :) We're now at 33.51S 174.27E

Laura


23-2-2014

Well we've gotten into weather now. Guppy is dancing, two times reefed main, mizzen and storm jib. The speed has gone down quiet a bit as the waves have builded up and its hard making any progress right going into this weather. But at least making some and not going backwards :) We are now at 33.22S 173.43E The skies cleared up today and for the first time in a week we could enjoy a nice sunset again, but not without getting really wet.. :)

Laura 


22-2-2014

The wind picked up again fairly soon after I wrote and we didn't end up motoring, so that was good. Been going to much east all night now but doing reasonable speed. Instead of the wind dropping it has been around 15kn sometimes more. Put the 1st reef in the main which made Guppy a lot happier. Still all the other sails full up. Now at 32.34S 172.18E. We made bread and pancakes so we don't have to worry about food to much when we're pounding into waves, because the wind will start to pick up now. Guppy so far is doing really great. After around 38.000 miles sailing with her, I'm still impressed, especially now that we're pounding into waves and rollers start coming over deck. She's a tough one! We just had to renew one sail batten yesterday that had flown out, so some sowing as well. We just sowed the batten in now..

Laura 


21-2-2014

The wind dropped last night after we had sailed a little. We had to start the engine again, but the 10 hp Yanmar can't get into the choppy waves unless the sails are helping. So we had the volvo running for a little while last night. This morning we sail again but the wind dropped later and we are back to motor sailing. We have to fight for every mile! But yes we knew this before and it's all good. The sun came out today and there was not as many squalls and dark clouds hanging around, so that was a nice change. On the moment it's back to drizzle and cloudy sky's. Also the wind is dropping again, hmm speaking of dropping, the wind is litery just disappeared and we're back to bobbing, So we will have to start the engine... But therefore we have enjoyed a nice little breeze for most of the day, and been making some really good progress. We're now at 31.45S 170.38E.

Laura 


20-2-2014

Currently bobbing around at 30.49S 169.49E. We ran the small engine for the night as there was no wind, Guppy can't quiet get to 4kn though because we're fighting some swell and waves. But we made good progress since yesterday. There Is a little bit of wind coming now and we started to sail again, but doesn't really seem to be enough to stay on a steady course so might leave the engine by and motor sail for a bit.

Laura 


19-2-2014

We had a one hour squall in which we where able to sail the right course line, which was great but most of the time it's either S or W tacking. We are currently at 30.06 S 168.57 E. Still have about 15kn of wind and doing around 4kn. Daniel made some bread today which included some dough flying trough Guppy. He is still getting used to the fact that things really do start attacking you as you leave them alone for a moment. We also saw a big ship on the horizon. The sea and weather are not to bad. Some waves and a long 2m swell. Also a lot of squalls around but they seem to mostly just give drizzle and some wind shifts which are mostly in our favor, so that's life for now.

Laura 


18-2-2014

Well, after a very enjoyable day on Norfolk we are out at sea again. So we are all cleared in and out of Norfolk island, with a stamp in my, but most importantly Daniel's passport this time :) as that belong to the same procedure and is done at the same time. I have not often experienced such easy clearance! Custom hoped on board looked at the clearance of our last port and stamped our passports, later he did call again on the vhf though to ask for our passport details as he had forgotten to write them down. Daniel went ashore first, so I could stay on Guppy and watch the anchor as there is no any good anchorages around here. If he comes back I go onshore. A local actually gave us separately ( as one of us always had to stay on Guppy) a little tour of his island. Very friendly people on a beautiful small island. So far I can see the island looks very green and empty except for the many pine trees covering the wavy hills. Oh, and I almost forgot, Guppy met another Guppy! The boat that dropped of the customs guy, is also called Guppy and talking to the locals here we discovered that there is another 2 boats called Guppy on this island. Isn't that funny?! We are at 29.10S 168.11E now, doing 3.5kn on a starboard tack. So not great progress but pretty much all I can get out of her now. Sailing nearly full sail.

Laura 

        


17-2-2014

We just anchored in Cascade bay, a little rolly but really not as bad as I thought it might be, so quiet happy with that. We will do customs in a few hours when it gets light and everyone wakes up, so going to try to catch a hour of sleep as well :) So far the island looks pretty and very deserted, we didn't even see a single light on it when we approached, how cool is that! Okey well, going to get some rest now.

Laura 

 


16-2-2014

Still 45 miles to go, we will most likely arrive tonight. All is well here, wind and seas are just beautiful and Guppy is doing around 6kn. Makes me just wanna keep sailing, especially looking at the weather to get back to New Zealand... We would have 20-25kn on the nose which will be unpleasant.

Laura 


15-2-2014

We got some wind and are making good progress after some calms before yesterday. Still the seas are nice and calm. We didn't even have the sprayhood up for a single second of the trip yet. We are at 31.59 S 171.14E doing around 5.5 -6 kn at the moment. Yesterday we had the spinaker up for most of the day and where doing great speeds but took it down for the night tough as I didn't really trust the dark clouds on the horizon. Also yesterday we saw a albatross, very cool! Nothing else out here except for some little birds playing around Guppy. It's wonderful to be out again with Guppy, and Daniel this time :) Made a beautiful picture of Guppy with a magnificent sunset behind.

Laura 

 


12-2-2014

 

Abalony shell found on the Hen and Chickens ( Marotere islands)


12-2-2014

As you can see on the pictures we have let Guppy out again. Going to the Hen and Chickens which is a group of islands just off Whangarei. Since I met Bernie last year when he took me flying in his little plane he has wanted to come out sailing on Guppy. So we finally made it happen and together with his 13 year old son, Gared, they made a great crew for the weekend. The sailing weather couldn't get much better. A great breeze from the beam brought us out to the islands while enjoying a nearly cloudless sky. Ones we arrived at the islands we found a nice spot out of the wind in 10m deep water. The fish must have watched us puzzled, when seeing me dive into the clear blue with my normal clothes on. Daniel taught me a lesson for something I said… what was it again?? :P A bit to cold for my likings though. Not like the pancakes for dinner - very much to our liking :) As the night fell, the wind started to turn around and picked up. It kept swinging around - now blowing us further into the bay and the anchor started dragging. While watching the rocks coming closer real fast , Daniel and Bernie very quickly hoisted the anchor and we sailed out of the bay, which by now was ruled by strong winds and a rolling swell. The moon broke through the clouds a couple times and gave us just enough light to carefully maneuver between two island to a safer anchorage. Luckily Daniel and I had sailed Guppy here in daylight before and knew what to look for and where not to go. The second anchorage turned out to be just a little bit more sheltered but at least now we would be blown out to sea in case the anchor should drag. The wind kept picking up, Daniel and I didn't sleep to well that night. Luckily our guests rather enjoyed the swinging of Guppy and woke up feeling rested. After a quick snorkel we sailed back with the wind on our nose. Guppy being completely in her element performed beautiful, doing a constant 7 knots all the way up the river.

We also enjoyed an awesome festival in Rotorua just before we went for that sail with Bernie and Gared. Raggamuffin gave 1% of it's ticket sales to YforYouth and all that money went straight to "Heart for Youth" which is a youth organization in New Zealand. So it came that we rocked the grass of Rotoruas International Stadium to the Raggae-sounds of Damian Marley (Bob Marleys Son) with YforYouth printed big on our back. During the weekdays we worked on a big steel boat standing on the hardstand, taking of rust, sanding ,polishing and then in the evenings work on Guppy continued, as right now we are actually very busy preparing Guppy for a trip again. We will do a visa run for Daniel as his visa has almost expired, and we haven't got all the paperwork ready yet to get him to stay. The trip will lead us to Norfolk island this time, roughly 500 miles north of Whangarei.

       

Laura 


13-1-2014

First of all, I wish everyone a very happy 2014!!  

As life kept me busy with exiting things, I didn't get the chance to write much in the last months so I'm quickly going to back up a little here. In November, Robert (Daniel's brother) came over to New Zealand. For a little while we worked on a big catamaran in Auckland, and straight after we continued doing some maintenance on Guppy so that we could take her out for a little trip. We didn't go very far as there's no need to go far to find some beautiful spots around here. We anchored at the Hen and Chickens, a group of island just a few miles off the coast. The snorkeling is amazing there, but as it is prohibited to go on shore, we got bored quickly and continued to the great barrier. There we found a beautiful bay, without any other boats at anchor, which surprised us, as it is the middle of the cruising season now. We found out quickly why there were no other boats anchored here… The holding ground for the anchor was terrible! It felt like the anchor simply didn't do anything at all as soon as we put the engine in reverse. We kept trying and trying at different spots and then moved a couple bays until at one stage it seemed like the anchor was holding. We set out a second anchor to be sure and then paddled ashore, where we landed on a beautiful deserted white beach.. ropes and swings hung of the branches of strong thick trees - but no one seemed to be around or close by.. A perfect playing paradise for some big kids ;) 

But that was only the beginning of the fun..

I finally got the chance to show my little sister Kim around in New Zealand, and invite her into my life here. During her Christmas holidays she came over to enjoy the New Zealand summer. So just after we arrived back at  Whangarei with Guppy, I drove down to Auckland to pick up Kim from the airport. My 15yo sister flew over from the Netherlands to New Zealand and After a long 29 our trip on different planes, we fell into each other's arms at the airport. We drove the two ours back to Whangarei at night, so nice driving here at night as there's no cars at all!  We saw 7 cars on the highway. The next day, Kim had to get used coming from winter in summertime and we went to explore some caves a bit up north. Life on Guppy got kind of crowded with four people but also crowded with fun. Kim is the first one of my family to actually visit me here in New Zealand, as it is simply to far away and to expensive to get here. Showing her my way of living and of course the place where I live, gave me many many smiles. I showed her around in Whangarei and took her gliding on a plane with Bernie, the same guy that took me flying across Northland in his little stunt plane about a year ago. It was the first time gliding for both of us and surely an amazing experience. No noise of an engine's roaring, just the wind, the sky, the clouds and yourself. You constantly have to look at the clouds to find the best lifting. Similar as with sailing, you're only using air-pressure systems to go to places. And when you are not able to find a good cloud that gives you a lift back up high - there's not much of a problem either as you can land in pretty much any paddock that's long enough. And we've got many paddocks in New Zealand. A couple days after Kim's arrival it was Christmas which we spend at George and Ellen's house together with friends and other sailors. Now that Kim was here I had to show her some more of New Zealand of course, so we packed the surfboard, the guitar, dinghy, and all of our stuff into Joy and started heading south. Taking turns in driving, we drove the five hours down to Rotorua in one night. By the time we arrived none of us felt like getting the tent up, so we ended up sleeping in the car with all four of us. But Kim is nice and small so it felt like three people anyway ;)  And as we were all very tired, sleep came over us pretty much straight away. We ended up with the four of us in the car more often after that, as our tent wasn't as water resistant as we had hoped. In Rotorua we showed Kim and Bobby the Bubbling mud and steaming parts of mother earth.  

She thought it was really cool, but found the smell unbearable and wondered why all these people would wanna live in the farts of mother earth… So we took her swimming in some hot rivers close by and I think that was good enough of a answer. I have been in that area three times now and am still amazed by the beauty and mystery's of that area. Driving along the highway in Rotorua we could see the lines of steam coming out of the trees where a hot river is. Further south we where surrounded by such beautiful round green hills that they could come straight out of a fairytale. Then we went to Taupo and stayed on a lovely spot next to the river. Also there was a awesome little cave next to a big waterfall where we climbed in. A very cool little spot. After enjoying the hot springs for a couple days it was time for some action. So we set out to climb the highest mountain of the North Island, Mt Ruapehu roughly 2800m. None of us had good climbing shoes and the best Kim and I had, were sandals. So we set out with the idea to just see how far we would get. It started of challenging straight away with some nice hiking over big rocks. Black rocks most of them, making the scenery look dead and burned like charcoal. But while hiking along, we could see brown and red colors too and even bits of green stiff grass and flowers. About half way up we encountered the first snow. Luckily it was very hard and we could walk over it without getting any snow onto our socks. So we got to the next rocky part, this time smaller rocks and more challenging as it was steeper as well. But we were rewarded with a great view. The last part was going up steeply and no way around the snow, so we slowly started trying and kept going bit by bit until we couldn't go any higher - standing on the ridge. As there weren't many clouds, the view was tremendous. We could see Mt. Taranaki and the dark looking Volcano Ngauruhoe. We started heading down not to long after reaching the top as the wind was freezing cold up there. Going down was by far the best part of the whole day, as we could just sit on our bum and slide down the mountain, a bit cold but it brought us back to the car very quick. Two days later Bobby left us to get his plane and continue his travels elsewhere in the world. So it was just the three of us left. We looked on the map and picked the area closed to us that looked most remote, Eastland. Off to new adventures, we cruised into an area where only few people live, mostly Maori's. As we drove past a beautiful remote coastline with wild sandy beaches, rivers and later on cliffs and reefs, we saw Maori's fishing and hunting. Along the reefs we collected some nice shells and abalone's. Holding the surfboard tight - we jumped into the waves a couple times, but as Kim got hit by the fin straight away, the fun of it was rather painful and not as enjoyable for her anymore. She did manage to catch some nice waves anyway. But as she didn't stand up yet, she will have to come back for that :)  For New Years eve we parked next to a clear river on the east coast. Paddled across with the small dingy we brought with us and walked for a bit. Then we made a nice campfire next to a river, with a magnificent star lit sky as our roof, roasted some meat and just had a really great time. We show Kim some big kauri trees a lot of other nice beaches and just had a awesome lot of fun together. After that there was not much time left. To fast came the time Kim had to leave for a her long flight back to the Netherlands, as school in Holland was starting soon and Kim had to go back home. All visitors are gone and 'normal' life on Guppy continues. Well…normal is a bit of an undefined word especially as I haven't really found out what normal life is, so I guess I better call it another stage of life on Guppy. 

 

Laura 

 


12-1-2014

Picture's


29-11-2013


28-11-2013

So lets see where I was at,… yes that's right - I arrived back home on Guppy about a month ago and it didn't take long until I was out on the ocean again. I was contacted by George and Ellen onboard Winddancer, a boat that I had met in South Africa. They told me that they are in Raiatea (close to Tahitie) with an engine that's not too good and that they would love me to join them for the 2400nm trip across to New Zealand. At the same time I had another offer to crew on a big catamaran but let that go as I felt more connected to Ellen and George on Winddancer. So I booked a flight the same day and not even 48 hours later I landed on Raiatea. George built Winddancer about 25 years ago and they have sailed all over the world with it since then. The next day we did some provisioning, and I tried to get to know the boat a little before we cleared out of Raiatea and left the next morning. The first week we had some great warm winds pushing us along at 6.5 knots through the beautiful clear water. It was such a great feeling to be out on the ocean again. After we'd passed the Cook islands the voyage started going south, still great winds but it did start to get a little colder. For days and days we didn't see anything except for the endless blue. Not even birds or fish. I started to wonder what had happened to all the beautiful creature's I knew being out there before… One group of enormous dolphins turned up and played with Winddancer for about an hour. But these where the only dolphins we saw… A couple of days before we reached the Kermadec islands the days turned grey, waves started building and the wind turned against us. The following week we beat into 20-25 knots of wind, which made us go way more south than we wanted to. The nights where cold, but George and Ellen who aren't exactly the youngest people anymore kept having a great spirit. Ellen kept serving us great meals every day, even when the floor had turned into the wall and everything was trying to attack her. And George, who is in his seventies, just reefed and cranked the sails like a young strong man would do. I learned to have a lot of respect for these two people, and was so glad to be there with them instead of a big fast catamaran.. Finally the winds and waves slowed down on us and we were able to sail in a straight line to New Zealand which was a real blessing. But the winds kept dropping out and soon enough we where becalmed. Once the wind had stopped giving us a hard time out there, nature made up for all that in no time. It only took one day to forget about the waves smashing into our faces and the winds keeping us busy with the sails. We saw Albatrosses circling around the boat for two days, and two little brown birds followed us for at least four days before exploring other horizons. But the best thing was the whales that showed up next to Winddancer - gently moving along, not even noticing that we were there. Slowly we kept moving along towards New Zealand, still sailing as we didn't want to kill the engine that was already dying. Eighteen days after we had left Raiatea we saw New Zealand again, the same islands and the same heads that I saw first when I came into New Zealand with Guppy last year. Just now there were no breaking waves and no forty knots of wind blowing me towards the shallow waters. Instead we slowly watched the Poor Knights islands and the Great Barrier getting bigger until we could also see Bream head and the shoreline of New Zealand. We got there in the middle of the night, so that we only got a few hours of sleep before clearing in and a long day of getting up the river with almost no wind and only being able to motor at 2kn. But I wasn't in a hurry and neither where Ellen and George. We enjoyed looking around, especially as George and Ellen hadn't been going up the river since they left on Winddancer in 2001! A couple of days later I drove down to Auckland to pick Daniel up from the airport, who had stayed in Europe a little longer. His brother also came over after traveling in Australia for a while. So we are now showing him around a bit and enjoying the lovely summer.

Laura


25-10-2013


24-10-2013

I'm standing at the airport surrounded by my family who all drove to Amsterdam to say goodbye to me. Saying goodbye is never great fun, but I am in a very good mood as this plane will bring me closer to Guppy, closer to my home. With just a few days stopover in Dubai. An Australian friend whom I'd met in Thailand, lives in Dubai. There will be a sail race going on from Dubai to Abu dhabi and since I'd never sailed a race in that part of the world I thought it be very interesting. So from cold Holland, I landed into a very hot Dubai. I stayed with my friend, Elizabeth, who showed me different parts of Dubai. So I saw the huge shopping malls,  the skyscrapers which are all completely different from each other, burj kalifa proudly standing above all of them. In the old part of town there's no skyscrapers but old buildings and little streets, more like I know it from morocco. Somewhere in between all these buildings standing on top of each other there is the gold souk, a street... well a couple huge streets with shops that just sell jewelry and gold, and it just keeps going and going and going…  It was amazing to see but I was over it quite quickly as it was way to busy for me. 

 A couple boats had pulled out from the race as the forecast gave almost no wind for the period that we would be on sea, but luckily my boat still got to do the race. We had a great start, sailing in front of the boats we had to be in front of and making good progress. There are a few great sailors on board. But then after a day of sailing, the weather forecast made it's words right and we where becalmed. We could have made it back to the finish line in probably another 17 hours if it would have stayed like that, but one of the crew had to catch a flight that night and we where forced to start the engine so we could make it to Abu Dhabi in time.  I had a great sail and time on the ocean anyway with very nice warm temperature's and new waters. To bad we had a deadline to catch :-( Next day I had to wake up early as we wanted to see the camel racing before I would have to go to the airport. Camel racing is a very seriously taken sport and there is heaps of arabians training and racing their camels, a quite spectacular thing to watch. I knew that they could run fast, but just having seen our lazy camels in Morroco I was quite impressed how fast they where, sprinting over the racetracks here. I couldn't stay to long as I had to make my flight back to New Zealand. Such a torture sitting in a plane for 17 hours not being able to do anything and so exited to go home! But it made the arrival even better. The same day I drove back to Whangarei where I was very happy to learn that Guppy was still patiently waiting for me and had only taken on some spiders inside of the boat. Also my car Joy was still there where I had left her and started without a peeps! So I just got some cleaning to do now, most challenge thing will be to find time for that as I am always very busy. The next day I already had to drive back to Auckland for a Y for Youth meeting and now I am finally actually sitting still for a couple ours since I arrived home. So happy to be back. :-)

 Laura 

 


18-10-2013

 

German radio interview:

http://www.radiobremen.de/mediathek/index.html?id=93095 

 

For the dutch speaking Fans.

http://www.een.be/programmas/cafe-corsari/zeil-je-voor-het-eerst

 

Many more video,s in german, Dutch and Englisch:

http://www.lauradekker.nl/Basis.aspx?Tid=2&Lid=15&Lit=VIEW&Hmi=5018&Smi=5018&STIJL=1


27-9-2013

 

Last presentation in Germany on 6th of oktober 

just before starting my presentation in Hamburg yesterday, I worried about how I would manage to do it in German,.. but realized that it's a lot of fun :) It really seemed to have come through nicely, so that I decided to do one last big presentation in Germany before going back to New Zealand. I will hold my presentation on the 6th of October in Windeck.

 

letzte Präsentation in Germany am 6 oktober

Ich war etwas nervös eine Präsentation in Deutsch zu geben, als ich in Hamburg auf meinen Auftritt wartete… doch habe gemerkt, daß es viel Spaß macht :) Anhand des Feedbacks nach der Aufführung scheint es sehr gut gelungen zu sein, so daß ich mich entschieden habe, noch eine große Veranstaltung zu geben, bevor ich wieder nach Neuseeland ausfliege.

 

Die Präsentation wird stattfinden am sonntag 6.Oktober um 18 Uhr im, Bürgerkulturzentrum Windeck Schönecker weg 5 51570 Windeck Schladern Die Eintrittspreis ist 14 euro pp, Die Eintrittspreis für Kinder ist 8 euro.


Feedback Hamburg presentation:Klik

 

  

 

 

Laura 

 


23-9-2013

Life in Europe has been busy, and tough in many ways. It is more difficult then aspected for me to come back into a rushed society like this, and leave Guppy and New Zealand behind for such a long time. As much as I love to see my Family and work on the promotion of my German book, I realize more and more that this is really not home for me any more. The time spend in Europe I did a lot of promotion for my book, Ein madchen ein traum, that has just been released in Germany. In between I visited friends and surprised my sister by coming to the circus where she worked at for the summer. She didn't know I would come to europe so it was a very big surprise for her. And I finally got to watch her doing her circus tricks in real life, which I really really enjoyed. We all went to my dad's place for a while and enjoyed a bit of the dutch summer, with heaps of dinghy sailing, swimming and water-fun. But the fun can't stay forever, my sister went back to school and I went for a tour trough Germany for my book. After spending another week at my mum's place, we went to France to celebrait my 18th birthday there. A day that I have been looking forward to for a very long time..  In France we visited Leatitia, with whom I have traveled in New Zealand. Josefien who was also part of our travel team in New Zealand came along as well. And so I spent a great 18th Birthday in France with some really good travel mates I met in New Zealand. We went up the Eiffel tower and visited some beautiful old castles. After three gorgeous days with plenty of france baguettes, crepes, cheese and wine the party was over and we headed back to Germany, doing more promotion and presentations. The weather is starting to change to winter, and I am really looking forward to go back home to see Guppy in a couple weeks and enjoy the New Zealand summer. 

Laura 

 


22-9-2013


15-8-2013

We had five marvelous days on Sweet Robin, the Jeanneau we borrowed from new made friends in Phuket. After checking everything on the boat and doing some necessary work on it as well like changing the oil and tightening the V-belt we sailed into a new cruising ground.They only had 20 meters of anchor chain so we had to find shallow spots for the night to anchor and with the common squalls gusting over us, having only 20 meters of chain went to my nerves a bit, but luckily the anchor had good hold and we didn't encounter many problems. Phang gna bay was our cruising ground for that week and even though we where on a different island every day the time wasn't even nearly enough to get a good view of the bay. Phang gna bay is scattered with huge pillar rocks sticking out of the water and islands formed out of limestone with in numerous caves and hongs. Hong is the Thai word for room, which the enormous openings in the middle of these islands are called, mostly entered trough a cave or narrow opening. After 5 days of sailing and exploring we sailed Sweet Robin back to the marina and lived on board for another couple days with the family before heading off to explore another part of Thailand. Five rides with locals a short bus ride and a train ride of 12 hours later we arrived in Nakhom Pathom at 3am. The benches at the railway station looked quite comfy and we slept there until daylight, and hundreds of Thai's rushing on and off the stopping trains woke us up. The trip continued westwards to Kanchanaburi where we stayed in a very cute guesthouse build on docks along the riverside. A very basic hut with a shower, cockroaches and ants included served us well, we where glad to leave our heavy backpacks somewhere while exploring the city.As everywhere in Thailand eating on the streets at local stands is the cheapest and easiest way to fill your tummy with yummy food. We didn't visit a single grocery store, except for a ice cream every now and then… Hiring a scooter costs about 5 dollar a day and turned out to be a great way to go exploring and drive to the local markets which are a great cultural experience, so is the driving… most of the time they drive left but that seems to be as many rules as they have for scooters. After a night in Kanchanaburi we traveled to Ayutthaya where we explored the old capital city with it's many impressing ruins and tales. The city isn't to big and a bike seemed to be the best way to explore the many old ruins and get lost in the littlest streets and backstreet markets with the cheapest best food. By then we had booked our tickets to Germany and time was getting a bit little. I will be in Europe for a while to promote the German version of my book and hope to do some presentations as well. We left Ayutthaya and went into the hectic of Bangkok where we didn't spent to much time looking around as it was far to busy and commercial for us, instead we spent a night at the airport and flew back to even more hectic and busy europe. Since then it has been a culture shock again, every time I get back into this rushed and strange society I wonder where this world is heading to. People just not thinking for themselves any more and following the 'protocol of life' made by media and people that just care about themselves. But mainly the mentality created by civilization is something that really bothers me. In Thailand or New Zealand for instance it is normal to greet people on the streets or in the car, but now I just get strange looks, and people probably think I want something from them… Friendliness is not something from this society anymore. Luckily there is still places in this world that are 'untouched' and people that haven't been sucked into the tornado of the western civilization. And I'm extremely thankful to be one of these people that can see and explore these places, but so far it makes me sad to come back into a world that has been so destroyed already..

Laura


14-8-2013


21-7-2013


21-7-2013

We arrived in Phuket, Thailand safely - after an unexpected layover in Singapore. We had booked the 8 o'clock morning flight from Singapore to Phuket, which would be a 4 hour layover. But when we tried to check-in, they told us that we were booked in for the flight at 6pm!! Even after showing them the proof of our bookings they told us that we couldn't get onto that flight unless we pay another $200! The reason for that was that we had book via an agency and not directly with Tiger-Air. That's why Tiger remained firm in blaming the third party, Bravofly in our case, and wouldn't leave us an option... To make some use of the day we now had in Singapore, we took the train into town to explore a bit. For the little bit of time that I was there, I found it a very interesting city with a lot of art and buildings of strange shapes. When getting out of the subways, we looked up into the sky, as if watching a UFO land on earth. There it was, a sailors dream – a ship in the sky! …on level 57 to be exact. High above ground they put a boat on top of three buildings. We couldn't help having a closer look and went for level 57 - where we found a roof-top swimming pool that looked liked it was running of the building. It was a very spectacular view. We got sent down quite soon though, as it was just meant for paying hotel quests and not for poor looking and barefoot-backpacking Gypsy's :). Nevertheless we ended up having a great 15 hours in Singapore before we arrived in Phuket at night, to meet Dan's friend working on his boat in a marina not far from the airport. Knowing that, we started walking towards it. A few rides on the back of pick-ups helped us getting there quicker and finding Queen Tala in the dark. It's an old 52ft ferro-cement ketch with heaps of work to do before I would even consider it seaworthy... We have been working almost non-stop on getting the boat ready for a trial sail. We replaced the bowsprit and cleaned the whole bottom of the boat which pretty much meant removing 10cm of reef over the entire length. One day we went out sailing to an island on a Jeanneau with a family that we got to know here and lives on their boat. When we anchored in front of a beautiful island, Dan and I took our hammocks and slung 'em up in a tree that managed to grow with it's feet under water. We spent the next morning exploring the wild heart of the island a bit and had a good time on board later on, before we sailed back. The owners even gained some trust in our handling of the boat, so that they offered us to have the boat for a couple of days as they were heading off. And I will NEVER say no to cruising around Thailand while being the skipper myself. Really looking forward to being on the water again and exploring by boat. I'm completely in my element again living in a marina and working on boats in the humid heat of a new place to explore.

Laura


10-7-2013


9-7-2013

Just realized that my last blog is already a while ago and so many exciting things have been happening since. I was back on Guppy for a little bit but busy as always trying to organize a lot of things at the same time. After I sailed Guppy to Whangarei I attended an opening of an exhibition in the Auckland museum . The exhibition is called Moana ‘’my ocean’’. The exhibition starts at the surface of the sea with the smallest creatures and goes further into deepest parts of our oceans. I found it a very interesting and well made exhibition. Late at night I drove back up north to Guppy because the next day I was flying out from there to Dunedin for a presentation. The weather hadn’t been very good in the last days and down south the city’s were covered in snow and there are floods in many places. At the airport in Whangarei they told me that the chance of getting to Dunedin that day wouldn’t be very big, but unlike many other travellers who’s flights were cancelled I was extremely lucky and still got to Dunedin without much of a delay. The presentation for the Otago yacht-club went nicely as it was put together with the prize giving, and quite a few people and many kids turned up. Dan, who had left me in Christchurch two months ago to go working in Australia, had just finished his job so I looked for a cheap flight to Perth and found a good price. So a few days later I gave Guppy a big kiss and a warm hug before I set off to Perth. For the past two weeks I have been exploring Western Australia, distances here are far bigger then what I’m used to and everything seems ages away. We borrowed an old car from a sailor friend who just happened to be back home for a couple of days from his travels and took it down the coast to Albany. We stopped a couple times along the way and jumped in the water, but that didn’t last too long as the water is a bit to cold in winter for swimming. On the way we explored some caves, and high treetops, which they used to locate fires in the old days. Back in Perth I did a couple presentations for yacht clubs around here and spend some time surfing at the beaches on WA’s sunset coast. I haven’t been eaten by a shark yet which I am pretty happy about as that seems to happen quite often here. According to all the signs that we have encountered on the way everything in Australia is quite dangerous. We came across signs such as ‘’Rock risk area’’ while climbing in a cave, ‘’Tree climbing risk area’’ in the forests and a whole bunch of ‘’Coast risk area’s’’ in coastal areas on the way as well. It’s kind of sad to realize that we live in a world where people can’t think for themselves anymore, where these signs are actually necessary because if anything happens to them they blame others… But we had heaps of fun anyway. Next plan is to go up to Thailand but flights are a bit expensive at the moment as the holidays have started over here, but hopefully we can find something affordable soon and head back into the warmth.

 


17-6-2013

The past three weeks I've been in Morocco for a Dutch tv game programme wich will be on television from August. For a change it had nothing to do with boats or water whatsoever. Pretty much the opposite of where you would expect me to be, I was in the sahara! Burning in 45degrees and breathing sand. It was a awesome experience on it's own, but after two days I already missed the ocean and had seen more then enough of the endless sanddunes and little sandstorms sandblasting my skin. I wasn't allowed to make any picture's during the trip so we will all have to wait until August to see the captured moments of it. 

 I just got back to Guppy about two days ago. A huge difference coming from the sahara into New Zealand winter. I'm not a big fan of cold but for now I'm enjoying it as my bones are still cooling off. I'm gonna sail Guppy back to Whangarei this week as there's not much to do in winter near Tutukaka.

While I was busy making television in the most remote places in Morocco my Dutch book has been Published, wich is pretty exiting. I had to write it in Dutch because of a contract I signed three years ago. There are a few English publishers willing to publish my book but don't want to translate it. I still havn't been able to find a translator that's affordable for me so that will still have to wait a bit.

 Laura 

 


21-5-2013

I'm very proud to announce that my book 'A girl a dream' will be published tomorrow, sadly only in Dutch so far. 'A girl a dream' will be published in German the 23rd of September this year. I'm really trying to get it translated and published into English as well but haven't had any success so far. So I'm really sorry for my english fans as they will have to wait a little longer.

Laura

 

Klik for more info (dutch)


10-5-2013

On the way from Auckland, the rain started pounding against the windscreen. 'Welcome back to Whangarei,' I thought while driving on familiar roads again. The weather hasn't really been great the last couple days but nevertheless I'm really happy to be on Guppy again. I wanted to make it good with her and take her out immediately but changed my mind after seeing the weather forecast. A strong gale! Ok, so maybe not such a good idea to go sailing right now... Leatitia is still with me, and we drove up to Cape Reinga instead. The wind was blowing in our faces and soon the rain followed, but the view was definitely worth it. The Pacific and the Tasman Sea coming together, creating 10-meter-high wild crossing waves. We stood there on the top of Cape Reinga for a while and looked out at the sea, me wishing I was out there again and Leatitia happy to be safe on land... After two days the wind settled down and we decided to take Guppy out for a sail after checking and maintaining her. The sun was shining in our faces and a fresh breeze came to say hello once out of Tutukaka harbor. As soon as we were sailing, the engine did not want to switch off! The whole electric panel was dead... including the RPM meter. I checked the connections but nothing seemed wrong with that so I emergency stopped the engine by hand. After all, Guppy is a sailboat and I don't really need an engine. On sea I checked the connections to the batteries and soon found the problem. Something had bumped into one of the power switches. So that was too easy. Guppy wasn't finished with me yet though. I think after such a long time away from her, Guppy was a little grumpy and she just wanted to make sure I was still capable. So a few hours later the chart plotter decided to give up his duty now. By dark we arrived in the Bay of Islands where we wanted to anchor for the night. Arriving there Guppy's spotlight didn't want to work anymore either, but with the good old paper maps and an old GPS I managed to miss all the rocks and anchored in a beautiful quiet bay, where we stayed for the rest off the night. On the way back the next day we had plenty of wind and rain as well, giving Leatitia (who hadn't sailed much before) a good view of how sailing can also be. I don't think she enjoyed that trip as much though as she was seasick most of the way. But Guppy was doing almost 8 knots and happy as in old days. Now she is moored on her berth in Tutukaka Marina again. She is happy to be out with me again and so am I. She has a big smile now, even the rain is gently ticking on deck and the fresh wind telling me that the winter is coming…

 

Laura

 


10-5-2013


2-5-2013

We spent a whole day cleaning and repacking 'Joy'. We washed, cleaned, and made a For Sale sign for 'Marta," my girlfriend's car which we left behind in Christchurch with a friend. Joy packed with 3 backpacks, traveling gear out of two cars and the three of us squeezed in between, we left Christchurch. The following week we saw a lot of the road and the car as it was pouring down with rain. We stopped and walked around in the Marlborough Sounds at the very rare dry moments. In Nelson we visited some old friends that were in South Africa with their sailboat Lemanja at the same time as me, so it was awesome to catch up with them again. But the sad weather got boring and annoying very soon as there's not much to do if you live in a car with three girls, so we rolled onto the ferry and back into Wellington. In Wellington we said goodbye to one of our travel mates, as she was flying out to Australia. Leatitia and I left Wellington the same day and arrived in Wanganui late at night making a few stops on the way. We were looking for a place to camp out for the night and drove onto a small dirt road. It was dark and we realized after a few seconds that the dirt-road had ended and we were now on the beach. As I tried to turn around the nose of poor 'Joy' went for a dive into the soft sand. No more turning around, we were stuck on the beach… As we stepped out of the car we felt the wet sand and saw the tide coming up only about 20 meters away from us. So we started digging and tried to get more grip under the wheels by putting the carpets out of the car under the wheels. Meter by meter we moved the car. I looked around from digging and saw a light coming towards us further on the beach. A small 4-wheel drive stopped behind us. 'Move girls!" "we can't, we're stuck!" I answered. "Ah okay, go aside." Four big Maori guys jumped out of the vehicle. One sat down behind the wheel and the three others went behind the car. In the next minute they lifted up the whole car and pushed it through the sand 50 meters uphill. While they were already back in there car we were still trying to process what we just saw! We thanked the guys and asked them if they knew a place where we could camp for the night. "Well, I have a lovely family and a house, just park in the backyard. Come on, follow me." We got invited to a lovely Maori family. They gave us some delicious food, we had a warm shower and could camp out in their huge backyard. The next day one of the family friends we met the other day invited us over to his farm a couple km out of town. He owns a lot of land and he brought us to a place where there used to be an old hippie community. The houses are still there, but the people moved out about 8 years ago. Not many people come there, as the easiest way to get there involves crossing a river and a one hour walk. We stayed a night in one of the houses with a nice fireplace and a stove. It was just amazing! The next day we went back to the farm where I get invited to catch a horse and went riding on one of the them. After that I practiced some shooting at cans. I might have to practice a bit more as there where no holes in the cans afterwards... After two good days out with nature and some great people we left the lovely countryside of Wanganui. In Taupo we stopped for a dive in the hot-river and in Rotorua we had a lovely day by the big lake. The weather had finally turned around and the sun was now burning on our skin. We are walking around in dresses and swimming in the sea, awesome! The sun stayed and we moved on to Tauranga where we climbed to the top of Mt. Maunganui and enjoyed the beautiful beach. We are now back in Auckland after a short visit to our friends from Anasazi who are still up in Whitianga with their three kids. Being back in the big city is a bit of a shock after being out with nature for so long. I had completely forgotten about the existence of traffic jams, noise of busses, and the fumes of cars, not to mention all the people running you over being busy with god knows what! So well, I will start heading back to Guppy and peace as soon as possible.

Laura 


1-5-2013


18-4-2013

Well I haven't been writing much, but a lot happened since the last blog. I'm back in civilization again, after spending a while traveling in places whiteout internet or cellphone reception which was Great!! We left Christchurch soon after I came back from my presentations in Auckland and drove towards Raikaia gorge. After more then an hour over small roads a lot of curves and less and less houses we arrived at a bridge, a beautiful blue river flowing under it, inviting us with it's beauty. We walked along for a couple hours and decided that we wanted to explore this river a bit more. So the next day early we packed up my little red dinghy out of the car and started walking along the river, upstream. Our plan was to leave the car behind, hitchhike up river and then peddle back to the car, but there were so little cars on the road that we didn't manage to catch a ride and ended up walking 15km with the dinghy in the backpack. We found a good spot to launch and before we even knew it the fast flowing river grabbed hold of the dinghy. We were now racing down the river at about 7/8 knots and faster in the rapids that we encountered every couple hundred meters. The landscape changed in every corner while we flew over the crystal clear water each holding a peddle to get trough the rapids without capsizing. We managed, not completely dry though… After 3 hours of peddling down the river and a good night of sleep back in the car, landscape changed again, mountains and a beautiful blue lake showed up at the road-horizon. At the end of the lake, Mt Cook (3754m) was making the view even more amazing, his white snowcaps glittering in the sun. We hiked up one of Mt. cooks little brothers to Muellers hut. A really beautiful hike 1800 m up, where we found some snow and a lot of wind! During the hike big black clouds came rushing over the mountain peaks, taking our beautiful view over the mountain range away. But we were lucky as the rain just started when we were a descend walk and 1810 steps back down at the car-park. More windy roads brought us to Wanaka and Queenstown where we met some amazing people that are into flying! a different kind of flying I was used to though. They took us up to the top of a mountain and attached us to something that looked like a strange chapped sail. ' if I say run you start running down until we are up in the air, got it? ' I looked up at the wings above me on which I was attached with a rope and then down at the steep hill that we had to run off. My hang-gliding pilot started running so I did the same and before I knew it off we went, high up in the air. In tandem I experienced hang-gliding and Para-gliding around the beautiful mountains and lakes of Queenstown. It's both a lot of fun!! and a awesome experience! Using the wind to move, just in 3D instead of just 2D like on a sailboat. After the flying experience we came safely back down to the ground and did some great day walks in the Fiordlands and Milford sound.  We encountered some Ice and Snow and got told of a mountaineer for doing longer day-walks on Sandals. If the ground wouldn't have been so icy I would have preferred to walk barefoot… After that we drove down to the southern most point off New zealand and from there took a ferry to Steward Island, where we hiked for 2 days. I gave a talk to the local preschool kids (7-10 year olds) and a school group from Invercargill that was visiting there for a week. They had just been reading about me and were all really exited to hear the story. The school class from Invercargill went on the same ferry back as us and the whole one hour ride they kept asking questions which was really nice. Before Steward Island we had just hopped along the Catlins coast and saw some Yellow eyed pinquins and sealions. But after all these days out with just nature we had to drive back to Christchurch as Dan (the earthling) had to fly out from there to Australia for a couple months work and I had to do some presentations there. I met up with two girl friends I knew from Auckland. So I'm still in good company and we hope to travel back up North together with Joy (my car).

Laura 


17-4-2013


24-3-2013

Life's been quite adventure's since the last update. I decided to go traveling a bit and explore New Zealand on wheels. So once the Fanworm problem on Guppy was solved, I got my backpack, the car keys and started heading South - together with my boyfriend that I met in New Zealand. ... When being asked for his origin, he doesn't know what to answer, cos his roots are all over the world - just an earthling... like me.The first stop was Auckland, where I had another speech for a fundraiser for Y for Youth. We left Auckland straight after that as we saw no further point of hanging around there. Next we stopped in the Coromandel to meet the lovely Anazasi crew with their three kids. They had been our neighbors in Auckland for a while, and went to Coromandel to haul their boat out. After that we kept heading south, passing geysers in Roturua - and awesome hot water rivers and springs in Taupo. Passing further down the coast the hardest thing was to find a parking spot that was free and legal to camp out in the car. We travel, eat and sleep in the car, which is the cheapest way of exploring the land - just not if you get fined for wrong parking... After about a week we had driven all the way down to Wellington, where we didn't stay longer than a day before we got enough of the big city and wanted to see the mountains, the green and rivers on the South Island - things that everyone was telling us about. So we rolled down along the cities shore, bound towards the ferry, that crosses the Cook Strait. The ferry was loading on the last few trucks and ready to leave for it's last trip that day. We also managed to roll on and park our home in the last few minutes - and off we went, towards South Island… leaving the daylight as well as skyscrapers and everything that comes with a big city behind.We didn't see much of the South Island until the next day as it was pitch-black when we arrived. But the next morning we woke up in a world of differences - we passed big green mountains, little islands and beautiful bays as we went along a curvy road towards Nelson. Further towards the south we took the road along the west coast passing gorges, waterfalls and the longest swing bridge in New Zealand. The sandflies living on the South island are less pleasant though. I had to get used to wearing shoes again as my feet got eaten by them. But with the air getting colder every day that we traveled further South I didn't mind to much keeping my feet warm. From the west coast then we drove towards Christchurch, crossing Arthur's pass - a high mountain range towards the east coast. It was raining the whole two days while we drove through that range but that didn't stop us from hiking up the mountain and exploring some gorgeous waterfalls. At the end of the second day even our walking track had changed into a little creek… With the air being wet and cold, all our wet cloths hanging in the car didn't really want to dry anymore, so we decided to keep going further towards Christchurch, which is where we are now. I flew back to Auckland for 2 nights to do a presentation at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and a talk at the Maritime Museum, which worked out nicely. Now I'm back in the cold of Christchurch again and planning to travel further South soon.

 

Laura


23-3-2013


7-3-2013

Because of the Fanworm feeling a bit to well on Guppy's hull I had to take the boat out of the water, which I could only do in Whangarei as the small slipway in Tutukaka was a bit to busy the next weeks. So after arranging everything I sailed Guppy from Tutukaka to Whangarei, which where a good 5 hours of beating into 30 knots of wind and a few hours up the river. Th next morning as soon as the tide was high enough Guppy got hauled out and inspected for any Fanworm by bio security people which - to their big surprise - wasn't on the hull anymore. I anti fouled Guppy's bottom, cleaned, polished and waxed the hull, put some new anodes on it and the next day early afternoon Guppy went back in the water looking very happy and shiny at me.  It was high tide again and the water was rushing out of Whangarei harbour and so was Guppy. With a good 20 knots on the beam and full sail she was flying back to Tutukaka doing 8 knots average for a couple hours. Bio security is satisfied again and has allowed me to sail again anywhere. But for now I think Guppy is happy to just shine her glory in the marina as I have to head out to Auckland again this afternoon to attend at a dinner for 'Y for Youth' where I will be a keynote speaker.

I am not going to say much about the film Maidentrip, but I won't be representing it as I am not fully standing behind it.

 

Laura  

 


6-3-2013


26-2-2013


26-2-2013

My life continues to be really exiting and very busy! In the past week I have taken Guppy out two times to the Poor Knights, flown a plane went on a night dive, started my rescue course and have bio security messing up my plans because there's something growing on Guppy's hull… pfew well and then the all day life things like working and trying to organize my life in between of course. This whole week has been beautiful sailing weather and I was keen on taking Guppy out again. So I decided to sail her to the Poor Knights islands on my day off, just to show her the beautiful nature and island where I am working every day on the dive boats. A couple days later I took her out again when "Dive! Tutukaka" was having a first trial run of a new product ; overnight stay aways! I had a lovely sail over there with some of the "Dive! Tutukaka" crew onboard Guppy and the other crew on El Tigre, one of the diveboats. I did my first night dive which was really amazing! Seeing all the torches underwater and trying to keep orientation while looking at the underwater nightlife was so cool! The next morning we did a early morning dive which was maybe even more epic as we saw a Bronze Whaler shark passing us about 3 meters away! When we came back in Tutukaka the next day I set of to Whangarei airport to meet Bernie Massey the owner of a small two person airplane. I had met him the day before in Tutukaka and he spontaneously invited me for a flight in his plane. After a little bit of explaining about the plane and the wind I figured that the wing of a plane is actually very similar to a sail. We flew around Northland from the east coast to the west coast and back to the bay of islands and then down the coast with a little break at the Whangarei gliding club. New Zealand looked even more amazing from the sky with heaps of green, forest, farms and beautiful blue water dotted with islands and boats. I got to fly for a bit as well, which I think went reasonably well as we were still alive after that. Flying is bit like diving, you have to look all around you to see everything and just going trough the air, this is an amazing feeling where you aren't actually anywhere but just flying. After a few loops and acrobatics we made our way back to Whangarei with a little detour so I could see Guppy from the sky. After the flight and once back in Tutukaka I made my way to the classroom because I just started my Padi Rescue Course. The last course before becoming a dive master. At the end of the week I felt like I hadn't slept at all, so last night I slept for almost 12 hours straight before another busy day. I hadn't really planned to do anything for today and just take it easy but then fate decided that that's not an option for me. So after a nice morning walk to the dive shop and back I found bio security waiting for me, telling me only things that I don't want to hear. They had been diving in the marina to check for Fanworm, a type of anemone that grows on the bottom of the hull and they try to keep it out of the Northland. Apparently it's a very fast growing species very common in auckland wich is where I got it. If it spreads it will overtake in majority very quickly. So just because they found a couple of these little things on Guppy's hull I have to pay a fee and I'm not allowed to take Guppy out, dive under the boat or touch the hull until everything is clear. So instead of having a nice quiet day I learned a lot about biosecurity and Fanworms which at the end of the day I started to dislike more and more especially the ones that decided to settle on Guppy's hull.

Laura 


16-2-2013


15-2-2013

It's been quite a while since my last blog. Even though I don't travel as much as I used to, there's still so much happening and changing in my life, sometimes like by the minute. Guppy and I have been staying in this small town called Tutukaka on the east coast about 30 minutes from Whangarei. I have a nice job here at Dive Tutukaka, a diving company that goes out to the Poor Knights every day. I am studying to get my dive masters and for a skipper's license. I just have to wait until I am 18 to do the exams. For the time being, I am working as crew on the boats and doing whatever I can just trying to get as much time behind the wheel as possible. I have been up here a couple weeks now and really enjoying it. By now, Maritime School back in Auckland has started. I decided not to attend school after all. Living in a big city like Auckland and doing the same thing in the same place every day didn't seem very exciting. So I decided that I would take another route toward getting my skippers license for the kind of boats I want to sail. I find this way far more exciting! It also gives me some spare time to make new travel plans. I miss the sea, the islands, and being out on sea with Guppy so much. I am in love with New Zealand but I don't think I've reached the point yet where I could imagine settling in forever. But I do know this is the country I will always come back to and call home. Guppy wants to sail out again and explore more of this fascinating world, so as her skipper I will do my best to make new dreams into many more adventures for us. At the moment, I'm just working hard to earn some money to maintain poor 35 year old Guppy. In addition to working at Dive Tutukaka, I also do presentations from time to time--it's always fun and I get a lot of very nice reactions. Last weekend, I gave myself some free time and went racing on a Steward 34 with two other crew. We had a lovely sail, and beat the boats that we really wanted to beat ;). Other days I have off from work, I either work on Guppy or go for little road trip adventures around the northern part of this lovely country in my car.

Laura 


4-2-2013


24-1-2013

My first car! 

 

 

Guppy in the marina of tutukaka 


22-1-2013


20-1-2013

After a week on the farm, poor Guppy wanted to see me again. After all, I had only spent one day with her after the trip on Akatea. So I moved back to Guppy, and this time I've stayed onboard since--for a change. I gave some presentations at the Maritime Museum for groups of kids visiting the museum. It was really nice, as kids have such a different way of thinking and they ask such different but still very smart questions. After the presentations, I came aboard Guppy and saw that she wasn't looking too happy. The big city with all the noise day and night, being surround by big buildings and lots of people, was becoming too much for her. Guppy wanted to get out into nature again--to feel the wind, waves and freedom. So I decided to sail to Tutukaka with two good friends I met in Auckland. The sail up north was gorgeous. To start, we had a really nice 15 to 20 knots of wind from the west and then it slowed down a bit at night. We had left in the afternoon and had the whole night to sail the 80 miles from Auckland to Tutukaka, so I didn't really care when we were only doing 3 knots. We had dolphins out in front of Guppy and I saw that she was happy and smiling again. And it was so nice and quiet that we brought pillows and blankets into the cockpit and had hot chocolate while watching the stars and the beautiful clear night. Guppy got a nice berth in Tutukaka Marina where I'm working on the dive boats. It's so nice here, being surrounded by nature and the atmosphere of a little village in a mild summer. Guppy looks so much happier here, but still keeps asking me when we will go out again.

Laura

 


16-1-2013


12-1-2013

The delivery trip on Akatea back to Auckland from Hobart was really good. We left a day later than planned because Akatea hit something during the Hobart race and no one had noticed that there was a huge chunk out of the keel until the day of the planned departure. So we had to haul the boat out to check and repair the underwater ship. But we finally left on January 3. We had such beautiful weather, especially for the Tasman Sea, known for its rough storms. It wasn't a very fast trip, as we arrived early on the 10th after 1500 nm. I hadn't realized how much I missed sailing until I was back on sea. Seven days was way too short, but the excitement in being back in New Zealand and seeing Guppy triumphed over wanting to stay on sea forever. I gave Guppy a real nice long hug when I got back. She waited so patiently for me while I was gone and still she looks as beautiful as ever. Like always, I didn't stay long in Auckland. I'm not really magnetic to big cities and after the busy month of traveling and having people around me all the time, I decided to go out to the countryside for a bit to work on a farm somewhere between Auckland and Whangarei. It's so lovely to hear the birds and the wind in the trees when I wake up in the morning. I even quite enjoy working on the farm in the warm sun. I definitely wouldn't want to do this forever but it's a really nice change and I have been learning a lot of things in the past few days, that plants are a lot more than just green and what al goes on before you have meat or veggies on your plate. It's amazing!

Laura


4-1-2013

Top stories 2012

 


2-1-2013


1-1-2013

To everyone, the very best wishes for 2013!

This New Year's was a bit different from last year. I did spend it on a yacht again, but this time I was far from alone, surrounded by friends and other sailors. The last yachts of the Sydney to Hobart race came in yesterday afternoon while I was sitting on Akatea, moored in the Hobart marina. It was really great to ring in the new year with the crew from all the different boats. Hobart has been really nice. It's a perfect change of pace from Sydney. Of course, it's gotten busier with all the excitement of the race and the arrival of the yachts, but it's still just a nice town surrounded by sea and mountains, much quieter than Sydney which I really enjoy. I didn't get to see much of the city, as I could be found on or around Akatea most of the time. We were busy replacing the race sails and halyards, doing grocery shopping, and all the other normal preparations when you're getting ready for a sailing trip again. So Akatea is in ship shape and all good to head back to New Zealand again. Today we will do the final preparations and hopefully tomorrow we will be on our way. I'm looking forward to being out to sea again. One month in big cities around the globe with no sailing is just way too long. It looks like the weather might get a bit rough out there, but that will only make the trip back to New Zealand more beautiful.

Laura

 


27-12-2012


22-12-2012


21-12-2012

I've spent more than fifty hours on airplanes over the last few weeks, not even including time in airports. It feels great to finally be back on the right side of the world, even though I'm not exactly home yet. After Tokyo, I flew to Holland to see my family which was really great even though it was only for a few days. From there, I took a short trip to Germany to be on a great TV show. While I'm usually not a fan of the cold weather, it was fun to have some snow and experience the great Christmas spirit up there in Germany. My latest trip was back to the warm side of the world in Sydney, Australia. Here in Sydney, the sun is shining and the Christmas season looks pretty different from Europe. I will be here for a few days until the start of the Sydney to Hobart race on the 26th. Then I will be off to Hobart, by plane unfortunately, because I am too young to actually do the race. But I am in the delivery crew that will take Akatea back to New Zealand from Hobart. Sydney is awesome so far and I am happy to be back in much better temperatures than Europe. I've already met up with some good friends from yachts I met along my journey and I've explored a lot around town, as I am determined to get over my jet lag. Well, I have pretty much had jet lag for the past few weeks straight. When I finally got used to Tokyo time, then it was off to Europe, and then as soon as that felt normal, I was off again. Well, now that I'm right next door to New Zealand, it can only get better from here. Hopefully I will be back in New Zealand by the beginning of January. I'm looking forward to continuing to organize my life there. After I passed my school exams, I got accepted to Maritime School which will start after the summer holidays. It's really exciting but I still have a lot to arrange and prepare for it. It will be a great opportunity, as I will be studying for a few years toward my goal of becoming a captain on the big mega-yachts.

Laura

 


14-12-2012

Germany Film:

Menschen Bilder Emotionen 2012


 


14-12-2012

 

 

Introduced 1:53 to 3:40. The interview starts at 25:04.

Tokio TV Interview

 


9-12-2012


9-12-2012

I've been traveling all over the world again, but this time by plane, leaving Guppy on her own at the Maritime Museum where she will be looked after. Even after the devastating tornado that went through Auckland a couple days ago, she is still gently bobbing around in her marina berth, which was quite a relief to hear. From Auckland I flew to Korea, and from there to Tokyo where I received the 2012 Challenger Of The Year Award from the Faust Adventurer's Guild. Even though I only was there for three days I saw quite a bit of this enormous fascinating city and culture. Everything is different, from the people being really polite and generous to the food and even going to the bathroom is a experience all on it's own. The toilet seats are heated and there heaps of buttons right next to it that do all kinds of weird stuff that I didn't really feel like trying out. But I had a great time, also discovering new food--lots of delicious sushi, fish eggs, and some other stuff that I couldn't identify. After the award ceremony and a fancy dinner, it was off to Amsterdam with a stopover in Dubai. I stayed one night aboard my dad's ship in Den Osse which was really nice, because it has changed quite a bit from the last time I was there. And now I'm in Germany for a TV show. It's really cold over here with lots of snow and slippery roads. But it's really nice to walk around at the German Christmas market with my dad. I also just realized I haven't seen snow in three years, so since I will be leaving in a couple days toward the warm summer of Australia, for now I am just enjoying it.

Laura  

 


8-12-2012

 


27-11-2012

Racing at 0.5 knots... 

 

 

 

First place!

http://classicyacht.org.nz/sites/default/files/Round_the_Buoys_Results.pdf

 

 

 


26-11-2012

Living on Guppy in the Maritime Museum has been great. It can be a bit rolly at times with the passing ferries, and noisy on the weekends from the bars we're surrounded by, but most of the time it is just lovely. Living in a big city and not having plans to go on a big sailing trip anytime soon still feels really weird though. I've already started missing the islands in the Pacific where everyone lives off the simple things on the island and thinks about the easy and good things in life. Back in society, you can't survive without keeping up with the flow. I am really busy settling in and getting things sorted and I'm starting to love having a place like this to call home. With the summer coming fast, I'm able to escape every now and then from busy Auckland. In between all the organizing, I am still sailing a lot. I've been sailing on Akatea a couple more times, and sailed around Waiheke Island with a friend on a very slow 8-meter boat. A few days later I sailed around Waiheke again on an open 40 which was definitely a lot faster and great fun. An American family lives on the boat, with two kids and a third one on the way. The four year old girl on the boat has sailed her whole life with her two adventurous parents, just like me. They are here now until the baby comes and then they will continue sailing around the world. It's been great talking and sailing with them. It's still such an awesome way to live life. Yesterday, we went racing on Waitangi, on an old classic boat that's also based in the Maritime Museum. I skippered the whole race which was really awesome. Meanwhile, Guppy has enjoyed having a rest while I do some maintenance on her, like stitching up the suncover, greasing the winches, and many other small things to keep her in good condition.

Laura 

 


13-11-2012

Since yesterday, Guppy and I have been moored at the Maritime Museum in Auckland. There is a little swell here in the harbor which is not to bad because it's a great reminder that I am still living on a boat. Well, now a boat in the middle of a city :) And I am really happy to be here. Bruno has a good job in Whangarei and has found a place to live there. So it's just me and Guppy together again. Edwin and his 14-year-old sister joined me for the 80 mile journey to Auckland. There was not a lot of wind when we left Sunday morning. But we had a nice quiet spinnaker ride down the coast and stopped at Kawau, an island about halfway, so we could have a nice evening and a bit of sleep. We left again at 5am, but this time ran into rain, squalls, and periods of no wind, finally arriving in the museum harbor at 1pm. I'm still busy sorting out my life here in New Zealand but it's coming together. I just became Youth Ambassador for Y for Youth, an organization that generates funding for youth organizations in New Zealand. It's been great talking to them and seeing what I can do to help. And at the moment, I'm just sitting on Guppy looking at the museum, figuring out some stuff, and getting used to the feeling that I live here now.

Laura 

TV interview 

 

 


12-11-2012

sailing down to Auckland

 

 

  listen to interview

 

 


4-11-2012

Exciting news! I am moving to Auckland next week. Guppy will have a great berth right in the middle of the city at the Maritime Museum, where I will do some presentations and things with kids when they visit the museum. I am very excited for the move. I love Whangerei but I think Auckland will be a perfect place for me right now with easy access to things like uni, great sail races, and also the opportunity to study for my captain's license. And I have been spending so much of my time in Auckland already, it is only logical to have Guppy join me here. So I will go back to her today and sail over to Auckland this week. Guppy and I had such a wonderful time staying in the place of my birth and I know this won't be goodbye forever. I've made many great friends who I plan to visit as often as possible. It is truly one of the most beautiful, friendliest places I have ever been and I am grateful for the perfect homecoming I've had there. This past week, I've been pretty busy over here and having a lot of fun. Saterday I raced again on Akatea. It was a great race and we came in first on handicap :). With the same race boat, I will sail at the end of December from Hobart, Australia back to New Zealand after they have done the Sydney - Hobart race. Before that time, I have also been invited to Tokyo and Germany for shows. So a lot to figure out! Yesterday, we where taking the ice cream trailer to a festival. Yeah, Edwin's parents have an ice cream trailer, and go with it to events. They say; let the kids run it so they can make some extra money--quite cool :). What an amazing beautiful place this country is, with so many wonderful people. I really love it.

Laura 

 

 

 


24-10-2012


23-10-2012

I am finally back on my beloved Guppy, after more than one month away from her. The Coastal Classic turned out to be a good sailing trip, thought not so good racing. We had lots of wind for the start which continued for most of the trip and cause wipeout after wipeout, because the rudder came out of the water. Halfway through the night, when the fast boats had already crossed the finish line, the wind started to die down. We did very well until Cape Brett, where we arrived at 2am. Unfortunately around that time the wind died down to less than zero knots and we were bobbing around in the same spot for about eight hours. Finally the wind picked back up and were able to cross the finish line under spinnaker with a time of almost 26 hours, just 17 minutes before the cut-off time. Then we had a good sleep and set sail back again the next morning. The wind had shifted around once again and we had a beautiful kite ride all the way back to Auckland! So we did have a great sail after all, and definitely enjoyed taking part in this big yacht race. And now Guppy is really happy to see me again and I am very glad to be back home on her after all this time.

Laura

Film: Coastal Classic 

 


16-10-2012

I have arrived safely back in Auckland after a great time in New York. One big highlight of the last two weeks in the states was going to visit Tania Aebi in Vermont. We only stayed for one whole day but in that time I got to meet Tania's father, his friend Fritz, both of her sons, and many of their neighbors. Tania is such a great person, just as I had expected. We had a walk through the beautiful woods where all the leaves were changing color and it was just beautiful. We talked a lot about our voyages and life in general and it was really nice. And then we ate a delicious dinner of vegetables from the garden and a chicken that had been walking around there not too long before. Really cool! Eventually we had to get back to the big city, where time continued to fly. I did a few presentations and some more work on the movie and then suddenly it was already time to leave New York. But as my first fortune cookie told me a week ago, "A thrilling time will be ahead." In Los Angeles, where we had a layover on our way to Auckland, I arranged to meet up with Mike and Deana, really good friends I met in the San Blas Islands last year. They came and met me at the airport and we had dinner in a restaurant nearby. Even though it was only for a couple hours, it was amazing to see them again, almost like no time had gone by. So then after a 12 hour flight from LA I'm now back in New Zealand, where I'm happy to report it is finally getting a little warmer. I will spend the next few days in Auckland training together with Edwin de Laat to do the Coastal Classic on his Farr 727. The Coastal Classic is a big 120 mile yacht race from Auckland to Russel, with about 160 boats competing. I am really looking forward to that.

Laura

 

 

 


2-10-2012

I'm still enjoying New York a lot. I don't think I could ever live in a big city like this, but for a visit it's a pretty amazing place. I've started to get to know my way around a little bit more, especially on the subway. It's a great system and easy to get all around the city on my own. I've been working a lot on Clipper City, sometimes as long as 12 hour shifts. On the weekends, there is a late sail in the evening so sometimes I get home close to 1 in the morning. I'm really enjoying the work and it's great seeing the big city and all the lights out on the water at night. Really cool! The rest of the time when I'm not out on the boat, we've been working on the documentary. It's getting colder really fast here but time is flying by. Next week, I'm visiting Tania Aebi in Vermont. Tania sailed around the world from 1985 to 1987 by a really similar route to what I did. When she started, she was 18 and had almost no sailing experience at all but she just went for it. I read her book Maiden Voyage ('Solo' in Dutch) for the first time when I was eight and got really inspired. She is one of the sailors I really admire and respect, so it will be exciting to finally meet.

Laura 

 


24-9-2012


22-9-2012

New York is amazing. We arrived after traveling for 28 hours, so needed a good rest before going out to explore this amazing city. We went to Coney Island and Chinatown the first day. The next day, Jillian and I walked from her neighborhood in Brooklyn all the way across the Brooklyn Bridge. From the middle of the bridge, I spotted this beautiful old schooner and just had to go check it out. So when we got to the Manhattan side, we walked down to South Street Seaport to Pier 17 to have a look. As we were admiring the boat, the people aboard asked us if were looking for work. At first we said no, but after a nice conversation and a second thought, I asked more about it. And after one test run, I got accepted as crew on Clipper 'City'! She's a 160ft schooner that sails charters up and down to the Statue of Liberty. So I've got a job now, which is really awesome because after not sailing for a few weeks, my eyes were already turning to the water and the horizon again. This way I can make some money and be on the water at the same time. It's really hard work, hoisting all the huge sails six times a day without winches, but it's a great workout. We are also very busy with the documentary Jillian is making about my journey. And of course my birthday! Almost forgot to tell about that. Thanks for all the birthday wishes, it's been amazing! I had a great birthday sailing on another beautiful classical schooner called 'Shearwater' on the Hudson River and past the Statue of Liberty. After that we had some friends come over and I made real dutch pancakes, the good ones with cheese and bacon. Then we rented Big, a movie by Penny Marshall about a little kid who wishes to be big, and then it comes true. It still feels unreal to be 17! So yeah, long story short, I'm having a great time in this enormous, busy, and interesting city! 

Laura

 


14-9-2012

My time in Whangarei has been really busy so far. The first couple days, media and people kept walking up the dock to Guppy, which didn't bother me at all because they were all so very nice. So yeah, that kept me busy for a while. And a lot of other great things have been happening too. I got my learner driver license which is pretty cool. I passed the written test so I can drive with someone else in the car until I get the full license. It's so exciting! Even after steering Guppy all around the world, it feels really awesome to be able to drive a car :). I also found work on a dive boat in Tutukaka! So I can start saving up money for another future adventure. There's still so much of the world left to see. While I work there, I want to get my commercial captain's license. So I've got plans to keep me busy for a while. I've also been down in Auckland for a TV show. They got me a flight from Whangarei. It was really amazing to fly over this beautiful country, to see green hills and blue water, here and there a house and a river with boats--it was all so beautiful! I couldn't stop staring out the window thinking wow, I live here now! Auckland is as big and busy as I imagined, but quite a nice city as far as I can say from the two hours I was down there, as I spent most of the time in the studio. It's still quite cold here, especially at night. One time it got down to 2 degrees! The people from the marina were so nice to give us a little electric heater and we got some more blankets so it's pretty cozy inside. And spring is coming. At day, when the sun comes out it's really nice and you can walk in just a t-shirt. We have such a great spot here in the marina, and there is even a sea lion who hangs around us all the time which is quite amazing. I am really in love with this beautiful country and all its friendly people.

Laura

 


12-9-2012


10-9-2012

Interview

 


7-9-2012

I have really been enjoying the past few days in Whangarei. I've mainly been busy sorting out things like getting my driver's license and doing media requests. All the people have been so nice to me since I arrived, helping me out with many things, even though most of it I have to do myself anyway of course. Reva's, a restaurant just down in the Town Basin Marina invited us over for pizza the other night and it was lovely. She has had the restaurant for a lot of years now, and my parents used to eat there! I've also met quite a few of my parents' friends who still live down here and even my mom's midwife who helped deliver me to the world. They all remember me very well. Of course, I don't remember them, just from pictures and stories, but it's still really nice because it make me feel even more connected with this lovely part of the world. Bruno has been out skating pretty much all of the time since there's a park right across the river. He has already made some nice friends and found work. So, yeah, we are slowly rolling back into normal life. It's definitely different from traveling and sailing all the time, but taking a bit of a break from big passages for a while and doing some other things feels quite nice too.

Laura

 


4-9-2012


3-9-2012

Yesterday as I came in there was a boat with cameras aboard filming my entrance into Whangarei and then some media, all really nice people. As soon as we cleared in, I decided to go directly to the marina. I am happy we did that because it's pouring now! All the buoys were lit up along the way so it was quite easy. Immediately, we met some really nice people who took us for dinner, which was very cool of them. Then I just fell asleep right away and didn't wake up until the next morning. How lovely! As soon as we woke up, we went to the supermarket in the pouring rain and bought some fresh cheese and ham and bread for a nice breakfast! Yay! Oh and we got an umbrella too -.-. Then we finally had a nice hot shower and met the people at the Marina who are awesome. And then guess what?! Remember the boat Winddancer, that I met in South Africa and then had contact with in the Atlantic? Well, they left the boat in Curacao and they are here in Whangarei now (they have a house here) and we are going to have dinner with them tonight. Nice, hey?! I already love it here. And well, it finally stopped raining so we're going to go check this place out some more! Guppy smiles at me, so very happy to be here at her new home with her log stopping count, for the moment, at almost 36,000 nm. New Zealand, here we are!

Laura

1 Film arrival.

2 Film arrival 

3 Interview 


2-9-2012

Yesterday was another interesting day, sailing close hauled at 25-30 knots of wind, I heard a loud flapping in the afternoon. The top of Guppy's mainsail ripped off! So well yeah...it was way too rough to change the sail at that moment. But Guppy was under the mizzen and the stormjib still doing more than 6 knots, so it was okay. Today the wind dropped down a little and I was able to change the main this morning. The next depression is closing in on us fast but I hope to be in Whangarei entrance at 17.00 local. I checked the weathernet and they said that it would be really good if I could make it before 19.00 local time. Until then, the wind will be staying under 30 knots and the waves will probable be fine to make it in. I know Gup can do it =D. Everything is going well. We're doing a good 7.5 knots now with a temperature of 14 degrees during the day. So that's taking a bit of getting used to. Oh and we saw albatrosses today. That was kinda cool :).

Laura

 


30-8-2012

It was a pretty rough night. The winds turned around to west south west, blowing at about 25 knots. We are beating against waves and wind so our speed dropped a little :(. We're now doing 5 knots with a reefed main and jib. So, yeah, Guppy is going through some messy seas right now but there are no more rocks at least, so that's good. It doesn't look like the rocks scratched Guppy too badly from what I can see now. I noticed on the weather chart a new front developing north of New Zealand. It won't be possible to totally outrun it but, ah well, I guess we will see. So everything is normal again. I got some cold massive waves over me while reefing down and getting the boom off the genoa :-P. And Guppy crossed the International Date Line again, her second time passing 24 hours into the future in one moment ;). Only three more days to Whangarei. Yay, exciting!

Laura


29-8-2012

We had a pretty slow night, only doing 100 miles in the last 24 hours. The depression seems to be slowly falling apart so it looks like we wont be dealing with much of it at all. Last night I heard an enormous sound like it was pouring rain or something, so I ran outside and discovered we were sailing through a huge field of floating rocks, ranging from really small to football-size! So of course for most of the night I was outside staring at this strange phenomenon. I'd never seen floating rocks like this before. They are really light! I fished a few out of the water and stared at them for about an hour in total amazement. Now Guppy is on the move again doing 6 knots in a good 15 to 20 knot north wind that is slowly turning west. There are no floating rocks around anymore but I kept a few onboard to hold on to the memory of this strange experience. The wind is still picking up, the waves keep getting bigger, and it's almost starting to look like the northern hemisphere--cold, grey, and windy. Who says sailing is boring...

Laura

 


27-8-2012

At the moment, we are doing a good 7 knots and the clouds have taken their darkness elsewhere, leaving us with a beautiful blue sky and a warm sun :). It's a perfect 18 degree day. And Guppy is getting great winds. Just 790 miles to go! The Kermadec Islands lie about 240 miles in front of us. I am making sure I stay away from them, as I don't want to be too close when the SW depression comes up. So yeah, we are moving along pretty well and I hope I can run out the depression a bit. I checked the weathernet from New Zealand today, and it looks like if we keep it moving, we may be able to escape the worst of it. But the wind is supposed to drop down before the depression, so I guess we will see. At least for now we are moving pretty well. And it's still fantastic out here.

Laura

 


25-8-2012

Yesterday I thought we were going to have good winds and then it dropped back down entirely, so I ran the engine for a few hours. After the variable weather, I finally got some better southeast winds coming this morning. Tranquility is pretty close to us now, since they've been running the engine the whole time. So they've caught up again, although we haven't seen them yet. Earlier I heard Tomboy on the SSB radio net and tried to make contact with them. They're friends I met last year in Bora Bora who are in New Zealand now. I didn't have any luck, so will try again tomorrow. We're now about 200 nm from Tonga and headed straight to Whangarei, so about 1070 miles to go. New Zealand, here we come! Guppy is doing a nice 6 knots again and life is still comfortable.

Laura

 


23-8-2012

Winds have been pretty variable yesterday and today. One moment we'll be doing 5 knots and then other moments just 2 knots. Over the last few hours, it looks like the wind has picked up to stay, and on a close reach we're sailing in the right direction again :p. Tranquility is still a little behind us in the same weather, but they are still motoring. They say a heavy boat like that doesn't want to move with anything less than 15 knots... We had a pretty good night sleep followed by a cold, cloudy morning. Looking at the weather report for the coming days, it appears Guppy will have good southeast winds and I will slowly start to head south. We are now a little over halfway and I am more and more looking forward to steering Guppy into my birthplace of Whangarei.

Laura 

 


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