Weblog van Laura

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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


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.





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.






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.






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



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