Weblog van Laura

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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




For picture's please go to the english weblog. 



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



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.





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.






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/



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