About Us

Welcome to our blog, describing our voyage aboard the two BRAVO's; the first boat a Kelly Peterson 46 with homeport in Seattle, Washington. The second is a new Boreal 52, launched in February 2020. We headed south in 2010, and have been voyaging in one form or another since. Cheers, Adam and Cindi

"As for me, I am tormented by an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts." -Herman Melville, 1844

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Murphy and his family hitch a ride to Fiji !!!

"BULA" !!!!!

500 miles at sea, a freighter passes within 3 miles...He didn't see us till I called on the radio...scary

We're now safely tied to a mooring buoy in Savusavu....finally.  It was a pretty tough passage.  Not crazy tough.  No big gales to deal with.....and, except for less than a day of NO wind where we motored, we had breeze for the whole trip.....mostly around 25 knots, with lots in the 30-35 knot range, and up to the low 40's.  On the beam.  Nothing dangerous or particularly hard to handle, just continual tiring, wet sailing.

Savusavu harbor looked pretty sweet after 9 days
When we arrived on the morning of day 9, after slowing the boat down for 2 days to arrive in daylight, we called the Copra Shed Marina for a mooring.  We were tired, having hand steered the boat without autopilot for the previous night (read on for that story)  They said a guide would come out to meet us, show us to our mooring,  and help secure the boat.  Cool!  

This began a pretty funny version of the Savusavu Shuffle!!!  We get to the mooring, and Epeli (incredibly friendly and helpful worker) is in process of telling another boat to get off the mooring, as it's for us.  He then helps us to tie up, we shut all systems down, and heave a big sigh that this passage is in the books.  Naturally we popped an anchor beer to celebrate and await the arrival of the authorities.

After 10 minutes, the marina calls.....a change in plans.  The motor on their dinghy is broken, so could we come to the fuel dock for clear in.  Damn.....we're all nice and relaxed.....can't we just launch our dinghy and come get the authorities???  Uhhhh.....let me check......Uhhhhh, no, they say you are not allowed to leave your vessel until you are legally in Fiji!!!  You will need to come in to the dock.

So we untie from the mooring and come in to the dock, where we are met by the gang of super friendly authorities.....biosecurity, quarantine, customs and immigration.  Cokes and cookies are a real hit all around, and one by one they go through the required forms and stamps (LOTS!), tell us where to go to pay the various fees, and with a big BULA, say "welcome to Fiji".  But wait...Mr. Customs and Immigration looks over the side, notices how low the tide has fallen at the dock, and says, ummmmm, skipper, you might want to get away.....quickly, before you're aground.  He's obviously talking from experience!  So we quickly untie, and Epeli is waiting to take us back out to the mooring to finish up with C&I.  But wait!  That other boat has now retied to OUR mooring.  Epeli gets him to leave again, and secures us.  No worries, smiles all around.  We complete our checkin....BULA, WELCOME TO FIJI !!!

Later, we head in to town.  We're met at the dock by Epeli.  There's a slight change of plans.  Seems another boat had reserved our mooring before we showed up, and we will need to take a different one.  Come back in 1 hour and we'll switch.  OK, no worries.

We get back after the hour, and are told....ummmm....sorry, there's another change.  The mooring that we were to take has someone else there from a previous reservation.  We will go to one which seems, well, ridiculously close to a 55' boat, Lisa K, owned by friends.  Epeli assures us that "you won't actually touch, but it will be very tight......."  He promises to move us again, as soon as another buoy opens up! 

The weather is perfectly calm, so we tie up, and settle in, by this time in a virtual stupor due to lack of sleep.  30 minutes later Epeli calls on the radio.  Another mooring has opened, and true to his word, he'll help us move again!  So we did, and are now settled into what will likely be our home for the next few weeks.

All good, but a pretty funny arrival into what promises to be a fantastic place!

So what was this about Murphy?  And what about that remark about "hand steering"???  Well, the passage from New Zealand uncovered a surprising number of seemingly unrelated electronic gremlins.  Murphy struck us hard. 

"There's yer problem, ma'am"
As mentioned in the previous post, water was seen dripping out of the marine ssb radio faceplate.  Yesterday evening, after the mooring shuffle had concluded, I removed the now non-functioning SSB radio from the nav station panel.  And wow, what a mess!!!  The entire back part of the radio, where the water dripped, was entirely rusted out.  Clearly this leak has been dripping a bit over a longer period of time than we knew.  I took the case apart, but no go.  This bad boy is heading for the Icom happy place in the sky (aka "the dumpster").  Big bummer, it's an expensive piece of gear to replace, and getting it here to Fiji won't be a snap.

On our last night of the passage, Cindi called from the cockpit that our autopilot which steers the boat was acting strange.  Strange, as in, not at all !!!  It seems to engage ok, and all the lights and LCD's are ok....it just-doesn't-steer-the-boat.  And that's it's only task!!!  In the 13 years we've owned Bravo, the autopilot has performed flawlessly, driving the boat in winds up to 55 knots.  No worries.  But now, nada....zippo.....nietski!!!  And since our wind vane was now uselessly lashed to the transom, we had to hand steer for the last night.  Not too bad, really, to get a bit of driving practice now and then, but certainly not as relaxing as having Otto the Autopilot drive through the night!  Could've been a lot worse, as in the middle of the crossing!!!

As dawn broke, and we were within 10 miles or so of an island, Cindi checked the radar.  Nothing showed up.  Hmmmmm....that's wierd......we can always see land at that range, if not always small boats.  But nope, no image of anything on the screen.  The radar unit was installed new when we left Seattle 4 years ago, and has functioned perfectly ever since.....until now.  Murphy, the sonofabitch, had claimed another victim during his uninvited passage.

So that's Murph's story.  It's a boat, as they say, and we know that many define "cruising" as "fixing your boat in exotic places".  But after all the work we did in New Zealand, we had thought we'd be ready for at least a BIT of trouble free sailing.  Instead, we now need to repair the vane steering, the autopilot, the ssb radio, and the radar!!!  Yesterday we were a bit discouraged.

But our spirits are much better today.  Savusavu is a pretty little town, and we can't remember meeting friendlier people anywhere.  Wherever we go, the greeting "Bula" is heard.  With a big, welcoming smile.  There are great dives awaiting us all around, as well as excellent snorkeling.  We've just landed, but we think we'll be very happy hanging out here as the projects get crossed off the list!

Stay tuned as Bravo's Fiji chapter unfolds!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Passage report NZ to Fiji - Days 7 and 8

Again, this passage has provided a mixed bag of sailing conditions. Yesterday was a gorgeous day, steady trade winds from the east at 15 knots, and nice gentle seas. By late evening, though, winds had built to around 30 kn, and beam seas grew to around 10 feet. Sleep was pretty much impossible for the off watch. The ride was wet, VERY wet, as green water steadily washed over the decks. We discovered a couple of new leaks, including a nasty one behind the navigation panel. This is where all of our radios and most other electronics live, and we first noticed the leak when we saw dripping water coming from under the faceplate of our marine ssb radio. Salt water and electronics don't play well together. At all. When we make landfall we'll remove all, and dry out as well as possible. Spray in some contact cleaner and hope for the best....fingers crossed that the rig survives. We do have a backup hf radio, but it would be an expensive piece of gear to replace. Not sure where the leak originates, as there is a wire raceway running the length of the boat at the outside edge where the deck meets the hull, and the leak could be anywhere along that raceway.

Now the seas are down, breeze is a lovely 18 kn, sun is out, and we're scooting along toward an early morning arrival in Savusavu. The shorts are on, and the fleece is off.....it feels like we've arrived in the tropics at last!!!

Fish report: One flying fish washed up on "suicide alley" (aka the side deck) last night. Nada mas!

current location: 18 degrees 05 minutes S, 179 degrees 40 minutes E
around 90 miles to landfall at Savusavu.

all well aboard, as we dry out in the warm sunny breeze. Already passed a few of the outer Fijian islands!!!


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Passage report NZ to Fiji - Days 5 and 6

Well, been an interesting past couple of days. Looking at the GRIB weather forecasts, and checking with meteorologist McDavitt, we realized we were sailing right into the trough, part of the South Tropical Convergence Zone, that had formed in a line over Fiji and Tonga. This trough promised lots of squall activity, with winds around 40 knots. We thought we'd be smart and heave to for a while, to let the trough pass to the east. Well, we got the idea a bit too late, as we were already in it. The winds built to the hi 20's / low 30's as the sky became 100% dark overcast. It became an extremely wet ride, with continual green water waves washing over the boat. No danger, just damned uncomfortable!!! We decided to heave to and essentially "park" out in the ocean while the thing dissipated. So, with the staysail backed, we began crabbing our way to the north at around 2 knots. The motion of the boat instantly calmed, and we had a relaxing (well, sort of) night, while the 40+ knot winds screeched through the rigging all night. By 5am it had calmed considerably. We simply flopped the sail over to its proper side, and started boogying toward Fiji at 7 knots.

That's what we're doing still, at noon. Forecast is for this nice 15-20 knot easterly breeze to hold till our arrival. Unfortunately that has us arriving in the dark, so will need to slow way down, or possibly heave to again tomorrow for a few hours to ensure a daylight arrival.

Current position: 23d 02m South 179d 34m East
369 miles to Savu Savu

Fishing report: 1 small mahi mahi...released with firm instructions to go invite his big brothers!!!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Passage NZ to Fiji - Days 3 and 4

Been a mixed bag the past couple of days. Wind died early morning 2 nights ago, we started motoring at 5am, and motored for about 28 hours before it piped back up. Now cruising along at 7.5 knots, heading for Minerva, 198 nm to go. If these winds hold, we may continue past, heading straight for Fiji instead. Especially since we will likely get to Minerva in the dark, and need to wait for daylight to enter the lagoon. A bit worried that sailing straight to Fiji, though, will make for a weekend arrival, with need to pay extra customs and immigration overtime fees. Will see.....

Had a bit of a snafu this morning. Heard a loud creaking noise coming from the transom. Went back to investigate and saw that our Hydrovane wind steering vane's lower bracket had come loose!!! Sheeee-it!!!! Apparently the long period of motoring had shaken the securing nuts loose. We had to stop while Adam got into the water to remove the rudder. (harnessed and roped in, of course) We had lost the shim block, so were unable to reattach. Managed to get it lashed in place on the transom, so it will wait until Fiji for repairs. Otto, our electric autopilot, is now our only auto steering option...no worries, he's a great driver!!!

Otherwise all good and happy on board. Terrific sailing conditions, and had a couple of albatross stay with us today for a good hour or so.

current position: 26degrees 39 minutes South 179degrees 26 minutes East

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Passage NZ to Fiji - Days 1 and 2

Bravo is at sea at last!!! We've had 2 excellent days of sailing. A bit lumpier than we'd prefer, perhaps, but the miles have been sliding by. 164 miles on day 1, then noon today showed 165 nm for day 2. Wind has been behind us all the way, averaging 12-25 knots. The nights, especially, have been very squally, with brief heavy showers and gusty winds up to 42 kn. We've had 1 or 2 reefs in the mainsail most of the time, and have had good luck with our genoa poled out for stability in the swells, now running around 10 feet. Makes for some great surfing runs on the gusts!!! Yeee hah!

Looking at weather maps (GRIB files) received over HF radio, and in discussions with meteorologist Bob McDavitt, we see a trough developing as we approach Fiji next week, bringing northerly (head) winds of around 20 kn. Not fun sailing. So we're planning on stopping and anchoring at Minerva Reef, an amazing formation in the middle of the pacific where boats can anchor and get shelter from the seas, though not the wind, as there is no land showing at high tide. The idea is to hang out at Minerva until the northerly winds pass, then proceed the last few hundred miles to Fiji.

So all is going great aboard, and it's terrific to see how all of the improvements made to Bravo over the past months in NZ are performing at sea.

It is C-O-L-D, at night, especially. We really can't wait to get another couple of days north so we can pack away all of the fleece, boots, gloves, and hats!

Haven't been fishing in the rough seas, so no fish to report, and no flying fish in these cold waters. Have seen a couple of beautiful albatrosses soaring around us with their 10' wingspans, and a few sooty terns fishing in the whitecaps.

current location at 2pm today (6/20 west of dateline, 6/19 east):
30 deg 52 min S latitude, 176 deg 58 min E longitude
480 miles to go to N. Minerva reef

the BRAVO crew

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Farewell New Zealand !!!

Bravo tugging at her dock lines (friends' boat, Rubicon, is just behind)

YEEE HAH!!!  We're ready, BRAVO's ready, and we think we have a halfway decent weather window to leave NZ tomorrow.

The past few weeks have been a hectic flurry of last minute repairs, provisioning, stowing an amazing amount of stuff below, lashing things on deck, seeing friends, and all the other things that make departure tough after 7 months.

Our watermaker pump finally arrived after being stuck in customs for several days.  I picked it up at the DHL depot, raced home, tore open the box, drilled and mounted it in place, plumbed all the hoses.  Went to wire the bad boy up, and what the hell?????  There are 6 wires, but the diagram has 7.....A call to the shop in California confirms worst fears.....they shipped a 50 hz motor because we're in NZ, but BRAVO is a 60 hz boat...really not good at all!!!  But we wired it anyway, and will be able to run it under reduced output so as not to burn up the motor.  Until we get to Fiji, where CruiseRO will have a new 60 hz motor waiting for us.  Great customer support by them, thanks Rich!

Old, corroded alternator
Then, while installing a new alternator to replace the one that was toasted by leaking coolant from the engine, the bloody thing slipped and touched the hot terminal to the engine.  SPARK!!!  Yowza, it made quite a bang.  No fuses blew, but the engine control panel lost its alarm buzzer that alarms for all sorts of engine faults.  Damn it, are we EVER going to leave New Zealand???  We figured we blew up a diode on this tiny circuit board, but they were all good.  A replacement board here in NZ was $1050 NZ (about $850 US).  A call to Yanmar US confirms this...the damned tiny board is $650 US +tax +shipping.....a wash.

Took all manuals of the electrical system to trace the problems.....and even then...
Took a full day to trouble shoot the rascal.  We wound up unsoldering the little piezo electric buzzer and soldering on a new $10 buzzer....."right as rain"!!!!!  A damned buzzing squeak sounded like music to our ears!!!

$1000 circuit board???  You've gotta be kidding, Yanmar!!!  (they weren't)

Yesterday we motored the 11 miles down river from Whangarei Town Basin to the marina at the mouth of the river for customs/immigration check out from the country.  We've filled out the forms and submitted them, including full descriptions and a photo of the boat for rescue purposes.  It happens around here.  Weather patterns are some of the more challenging in the world, due to the unending series of troughs and highs which come across the Tasman Sea from Australia to the west and New Caledonia to the north.  This time of year they're spaced close together, so you typically don't get one window with great weather the whole way for the 1200 mile passage.  You just try to limit the crap as much as possible....."prepare for the worst.....hope for the best" really applies here.

Leaving NZ is surprisingly emotional for us.  The town of Whangarei has been our home for the past 7 months, the longest we've touched down anywhere since leaving Seattle 4 years ago.  We've thoroughly enjoyed the warmth and hospitality shown to us at every turn.  Made some great friends in kiwis and non kiwis as well, and learned a lot about boat systems, repairs, and construction.  (As friend and shipwright Chris always said.....if man can build it, man can fix it......he is right.)  The kiwi "can do" attitude is pervasive.  And unlike some places we've been, kiwi's typically WILL get it done, and done well.  "No worries, mate", means just that.

People like Sharon and Brian at the Town Basin Marina, and Charlie and Doug at the Dockland 5 haulout yard were perfect hosts.  Rigger Brian, Glen, Jade, Trevor.....the list goes on.  We were made to feel welcome at every turn.  Kiwis just seem to have helpfulness and hospitality in their DNA, it happened over and over.  As friend and fellow cruiser Fatty Goodlander says, "we vote with our keels" (and he's spent 5 recent cyclone seasons here in Whangarei).   These folks must be doing something right!

What about the $$$?????

Many folks speak about NZ's high prices.  On the surface, things are indeed expensive.  More so these days for us American visitors, as the US:NZ $$$ exchange is the worst it's been in years from our perspective.  Was 50% just a few years ago, now just a 15% discount.....ouchh!

That said, we have really found the VALUE of NZ to be terrific.  And while we are retired and need to conserve $$$ wherever possible, value is really important to us, not just the initial cost of widgets or services.  Do you get what you pay for???  It's true that you may pay more for some / most things (not everything), but we feel not much more than in the US.  (gas being a major exception.....regular gas runs around $2 US/ liter)  We believe that the caliber of boat work is unequaled anywhere else, certainly not in the US.  We're talking every aspect of the work, and as you know, we have first hand experience with a lot!!!  Rigging, welding, carpentry, design, painting, mechanics.....the list goes on.  And it's not just the one or two champs who make the difference.  The "depth of the bench" in NZ is also amazing, especially for a nation of just over 4 million folks.  Parts can be hard to come by for unique items, but if you try, it'll happen.

Unlike Latin America, where quality of the work could often be dodgy (though cheap), we really found that we got what we paid for here in NZ.  Sales tax in Seattle is around 10%, here in NZ visiting yachts don't pay GST (15%) on any boat related work or parts.  Restaurants are a bit higher, perhaps, than the US, but there is no tipping here in NZ.....they pay their help a fair living wage instead.  So knock 20% off the price of your meal and bar tab.  We sorely miss $4 street taco dinners in Mexico, and $1 beers, or $3.50 almuerzo 3 course lunches in Ecuador.  But NZ is a 1st world country, and you do indeed have to pay to play here.

Slip rates are on par with much of the US......less than some areas such as southern California.

All this said, we're terrifically excited to be hoisting sails tomorrow and heading north at last.  New Zealand winters are cold....we've had frost on the decks already.  The tropics beckon.  Our itinerary for this coming season includes exploration of Fiji and possibly Vanuatu if time (hard to pack it all in 4-5 months).  We'll then make the return passage to New Zealand, where we will spend the next 6 month cyclone season.  Hopefully without the extensive repairs, we'll be able to spend our time cruising by sea and land around the country.

Gotta go, theres more to tie down up on deck!!!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Back in the water at the Hotel California

Farewell view of home for the past 5 months, taken on the (final) trip up the mast

BIG NEWS !!!  About a week ago, after nearly 5 months on the hard, the time had finally come to resume our life on the water!!!  After being lifted carefully from our cradle, and slowly rolled to the water, it was with a bit of trepidation that we hung in the slings of the travel lift to check for leaks.  We jump down below, and.............SHEEE-IT !!!!!  Water was GUSHING in, both bilge pumps had flicked on, and the frantic scurry began.  We've redone so many systems on this haulout that there was a lot to check, but quickly found the gusher around the prop shaft.  I had repacked the stuffing box (a fitting to keep the sea water from pouring in around the shaft).  I didn't want to get it too tight, always a danger, so of course, it was WAY too loose.....a quick few turns with the wrenches and we were good to go.  Sweet as!!!  About 1/2 mile motor boat ride to our old home at the Town Basin Marina, and at last we were a boat again...

 In addition to a myriad of smaller projects, the last few weeks in the boatyard mostly centered around completion of the galley rebuild.  Installation of the counters and new trim took longer than expected (it's a boat, remember?), and we needed several coats of varnish before stamping this one "DONE".  But it turned out beautifully, with bright lighting, new oven, plumbing, freezer and counters.  A total success!!!

Keeping track of varnish coats

One project which has not been so successful has been the rebuild of our 25 year old watermaker.  A couple of years ago we started the process, throwing out the 3 old membrane pressure tubes and replacing with 1 big one from CruiseRO Systems in California.
Rube Goldberg parts on their way to the dumpster
We kept the old motor, pump, and electronics in a kind of jury rig hybrid, ugly as hell, but seemed to work ok.  While in Seattle in Nov, we brought back a pump rebuild kit to have installed at a local pump shop.  Good preventative maintenance??  R...I...G...H...T........??????

Got the pump back in January, supposedly rebuilt and tested, and put it in our storage container at the boatyard.  There it sat for 4 months.  I reinstalled it with all new plumbing and a new control panel, also from CruiseRO, getting rid of lots of the old crap.  Sweet!!! 

Rebuilt pump (far right) and repainted motor await plumbing in new pantry (membrane mounted on bulkhead on left, covering new port fuel tank)
While out of the water, we couldn't run the high pressure pump, but we could check the new plumbing work with our on-board fresh water system.  With pressure at only about 45 psi, we figured it would at least find any major leaks in my plumbing.  Amazingly, the new plumbing stayed dry, but a steady drip could be seen coming from the NEWLY (professionally) REBUILT and TESTED high pressure pump.  At 45 psi, no less, not the 1250 psi that the pump is rated at!!!!  Color us unhappy campers indeed.

Pump leaking into bucket


The pump shop sent over a mechanic (we didn't feel like uninstalling the 100 pound beast by ourselves again).  He was stumped.  He found that the bolts holding the pump halves together were loose, so in fact it could never have been tested by the subcontractor testing service.  Tightening didn't help.  Mechanic opened the pump there on the boat, and found some damage, and noted that the "new" o rings didn't feel new at all.......the rat stench is getting stronger.......We lowered the whole assembly to the ground with a halyard, and off it went to the shop for some forensics.

Got a call a couple of days later.  "It's about your pump.....we'd like to discuss the matter in person, could you please come down to the shop right away ???"  Sounded like a call from the doc.....couldn't be good news.  Remember, this was a pump that was working fine till we brought it in.

Seems the pump has quite a bit of damage to 1 side of the pump.  At this point, no one knows who/what caused it.  We're not even sure that it's our pump.  Testing subcontractor says he tested w/o leaks, "At 100psi" he claims (this on a pump rated at 1250)  "BOOOO-SHIT" as Suwarrow Charlie would say.  So pump shop is still stumped, but embarrassed by their subcontractor, and agree to sell us a new 1/2 pump to replace the damaged one for their cost.  Retail for just the damaged 1/2 pump here in NZ is $1550!!!  (Whole pump, including both halves AND the gearbox in the US retails for $1200.....over $4000 in NZ!!!)

Here's where things get dicey for us.....Rather than just getting 1/2 of an old pump, and keeping the 25 year old gearbox and motor, we decided that it made more sense instead to order a whole new pump assembly, with new motor from CruiseRO back in the US.  It shipped last week, and is expected to arrive here on June 9.  More than 1 week later than our last shipment from the US.  Our visas expire on June 13.  Not good, not good at all.  With a huge amount of luck, all will go back together without problems (!!!!!), and we'll be at the start of a good weather window to depart on the 9 day voyage to Fiji (!!!!!).  No worries.....yes, we're in a bit of a panic.....NZ immigration apparently takes this visa stuff seriously.

We also had a major service done on our engine after we splashed.  Mechanic found that we had a small leak of coolant from the fresh water pump.  So small that the oozing coolant had evaporated before dripping all the way down, so we never saw it, tucked under some hoses.  It dripped onto our Balmar alternator, though, rusting it out at the bottom.  Once again, we're talking handfuls of "freedom tickets" to repair.  ("Freedom tickets" = dollar bills for the non-cruisers in the crowd)  Again, the new one ordered, and should arrive with the watermaker parts next week.  We were getting some rust spots on our "new" engine (we installed it before leaving Seattle), so decided to prep, prime, and paint the beast to get it looking like new again.

Engine masked and primed, ready for final paint

Sails just came back from the sailmaker, Dave Parr of Calibre Sails.  Needed some restitching and other repair work done, to make it through the next season.  Genoa will need replacing when we return to NZ in November.  Main and other sails look good.

Cleaning up the boat has been a major effort after 5 months in construction mode.  It was amazing how much stuff we collected in paints, tools, parts, nuts and bolts, and just miscellaneous shit!!!  Where to stash it all???  Took days, but we're nearly there....some will live in our van to be dealt with when we return!!!

OK, for those of you who have read this far......enough of this boat stuff....we know you didn't tune in just for that!!!  After all, this is a cultural blog, bringing you updates and insights into local native rites and rituals around the world.  So here's a pop quiz:  What do "Glam-er-zon", "Switchblade Betty", "Tanya Hyde", and "Pryor Conviction" have in common? 

All are roller derby queens!!!

Never ones to sit idly by on a cold Whangarei evening, your BRAVO crew couldn't resist the lure of the billboards the other night.  We headed out to watch our first roller derby match, between "Hell's Wives", the local favorite, and "Dangerous Curves", from somewhere south.  No one seemed to know from where, or really care!

Dangerous Curves, ready to rumble!
Safety inspection (checking for weapons???  who knows!!!)

14 year old kiwi goth checks in.  A member of the farm team, the "Northland Nightmares Derby Brats, do we have a future Jerry Springer star in the making!!!

NSO's (Non Skating Officials for you Roller Derby newbies) and referees, include "Judge Mental" and "Fury Gothmutha"

Hailstorm waiting out her minute in the penalty box.  Penalty was for......ummmmm.......who knows???

Fury Godmutha was a favorite ref !!!

All important team strategy sessions

Coaches on the left making the tough decisions

No way is local favorite Glam-Er-Zon letting rival jammer pass.....she gets the job done!

Took us quite a while to figure out what was going on in the mayhem out on the floor.  Actually pretty tame by pro roller derby standards (so we're told, if we did happen to ever see one of those events!!!), it was all good fun, and we even stayed to the end!!!  Will this be our last trip to the Roller Dome???  Mmmmmm.....probably, yes!!!!  But a good taste of local kiwi culture nonetheless!!!  (Actually, of course, an American export.....makes us proud!!!)  And the corn dogs and french fries (the only two items at the snack bar...perfect!) were hard to beat!!!

Another major cultural event in Whangarei last week was Cindi's birthday !!!!!  A fun celebration with mates Andy and Sue from S/Y Spruce at a local Irish pub, complete with Irish music, where the Jamiesons/rocks was cold, and the Guiness warm.......Nice!

So what's next?

Frosty docks
It's getting damned cold here in NZ.  Time to boogie outta here!

Thick frost on the decks and docks in the morning.  (We even had to get parts for our diesel heater, not used in over 4 years in the tropics.)  We sleep with 2 blankets and a sleeping bag.  Boats have been leaving in droves for warmer climes at each weather window.....Fiji, Tonga, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, and Australia are the usual destinations.  Seems like we're one of the last.....

We hope to leave the dock this next week to go out for sea trials of all systems.  Then back for our parts delivery and install, and depart for Fiji by June 13.

The Hotel California.....where you can check in but you can't check out.  Will we be able to check out from Whangarei, our Hotel California????   Fingers crossed, stay tuned!!!

Freshly painted, BRAVO awaits her next adventure