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04-08-2015

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


25-07-2015

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


14-07-2015

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  

 


26-06-2015

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

 

 

 


29-05-2015

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 

 


09-05-2015

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 


09-05-2015

For picture's please go to the english weblog. 


20-03-2015

 

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 

 


08-03-2015

 

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 

 

 


30-01-2015

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/ 

 


05-11-2014

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! 


31-07-2014

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 :)


 


20-07-2014

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.


15-07-2014

 

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.

 



11-07-2014

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!


09-07-2014

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.


08-07-2014

 

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 

 


07-07-2014

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.


06-07-2014

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.


04-07-2014

 

Link Radio interview 

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

 


03-07-2014

 

Link Video Toronto 

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

 


21-05-2014

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

 


20-05-2014

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! 



16-03-2014

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

Laura 


15-03-2014


27-02-2014

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 

 


26-02-2014

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 


25-02-2014

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 


24-02-2014

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


23-02-2014

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 


22-02-2014

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 


21-02-2014

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 


20-02-2014

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 


19-02-2014

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 


18-02-2014

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 

        


17-02-2014

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 

 


16-02-2014

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 


15-02-2014

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 

 


12-02-2014

 

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


12-02-2014

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 


13-01-2014

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 

 


12-01-2014

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


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