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On the 16th of November, Dorothy’s sister, Margaret, and her husband, Fred, flew from Colorado to join us in the Isle of Pines, New Caledonia. Making an ocean passage had long been on Fred’s Bucket List. As soon as they arrived, we began looking for a weather window for sailing to New Zealand. We wanted a “Goldilocks” window, not too early in the season, and not too late to risk playing tag with tropical cyclones. We were keen to “show them the ropes”, in preparation for the blue water passage.
Planning this passage back in September with our router Rick Shema, Rick’s recommendation for this year was a passage towards the end of December. However, with two passengers aboard who had tickets to fly out of New Zealand on Christmas eve, we had to be sure we didn’t find ourselves facing only bad weather options and wishing we had taken an earlier “so so” weather situation. So when Rick reported that we would have a decent weather situation on the 23rd we decided to sail to Noumea for departure formalities.
After a week of making the most of being in Isle of Pines, we enjoyed a lovely off-the-wind sail through the southern reefs. We anchored near Noumea just nine hours after departing Ile des Pins at 0555.
Tuesday morning Steve cycled from one government office to another to complete our outbound clearance. Provisions and fuel were taken aboard, life jackets were tested, ADAGIO was fitted out for sea, systems tested, and we sailed for New Zealand on midday Monday the 23rd.
ADAGIO’s guest cabin is portside-forward over the wing. Very comfy on our normal off-the-wind passages. In typical Kiwi understatement, it’s a “bit bumpy” when we have to sail mostly upwind. While that’s what we had most of the way to NZ, there were no complaints from our hardy crew – though there was a bit of off-watch sleeping in ADAGIO’s saloon.
With four aboard we could run a relaxing 2-on, 6-off watch schedule to NZ. Two hours on watch at the helm/navigation station, followed by six hours off watch, gave each of us plenty of time to rest, to read, watch Albatrosses, Shearwaters and Petrels circling the boat, starry nights, sunrises and sunsets, and to enjoy each other’s company.
At dawn on our sixth day out, we spotted the “Long White Cloud” floating above New Zealand. Sailing south along the coast of the North Island is a beautiful experience. Australasian gannets and Terns dived around ADAGIO as we entered the Bay of Islands. NZ officials set a very high standard for yacht formalities. As always they politely and efficiently checked us in to New Zealand at OPUA port of entry.
In September we had celebrated our fifteenth year of cruising, and now we had returned to where ADAGIO had been built and launched in year 2000. We soon encountered cruising friends we had made years ago, and were eager to hear stories about their recent years of cruising. New friends we had made in New Caledonia continued to arrive, as well as cruisers from Vanuatu, Fiji and Tonga.
Margaret and Fred joined us exploring around the Bay of islands: for hikes, beach walks, climbs to lookouts and native forest walks. Being recently retired, they were loving the life that we live, waking each morning, not really knowing the adventures and beauty that we would enjoy during the day, and meeting the interesting people who somehow always turned up. We were surrounded by such beautiful scenery that Margaret and Dorothy turned ADAGIO’s cockpit into a watercolor studio.