Sunday, 30 March 2014

30th March 2014

Yesterday we motored to a nearby ferry pier on the island of Waiheke, about a mile and a half around the corner from where we had anchored in the bay, to pick up George's daughter Laure and her boyfriend Gwen, plus another older German lady who will be joining us later in the voyage. 

We put the sails up (though only for 'fun' as Jean-Paul said) but really went under engine power for the trip out to a different island where we found a nice spot and set anchor for the day.  The small RIB tender with 6 hp was soon fired up and we went for a quick explore of the coastline.  We spotted a heap of mussels growing on the rocks and made the call to go get the appropriate gear.  Half an hour later we had what turned out to be more than enough!

Lunch was leftover fish, plus the salmon we had caught on the way, with salad, freshly made mayonaise and rice.  Bellies full it was time for some fishing!  I introduced the crew to 'berlying up', they were a little sceptical at first as they expected to see fish coming right up to the boat! 

As the afternoon wore on Gwen and i had caught around a dozen pink snapper, with 6 kept  to eat, 1 slabbed for bait and the rest returned to swim another day.  They are now believers in this strange act of 'berlying'!  I love the fact that it is technically my duty, my responsibility, to go fishing everyday for food!  I was actually 'told' i needed to catch some fish!

Even today i was cautiously asked if i could try to get some more fish for Gwen and Laure to take home.  I just laughed at the notion that they felt i may not want to go fishing??!!   Haha.  I told them i would never say no to that and could easily spend every spare minute of the trip fishing. 

But no luck so far in fishing today!   After dropping Elka, the German lady, back on shore last night we indulged in another great feast on the yacht before turning in for the night.  A short motor this morning, after Jean-Paul let me drive the yacht through a packed mooring bay (a bit scary with all those expensive boats to weave through!), and we are on the pick (anchored up) at this very minute.  No fish but a relaxing day so far in beautiful surrounds.  

It is now late afternoon and we are sailing back towards Auckland for the night, some repairs, shopping and wait for the wind before heading to Tonga.  I am adjusting easily to life on board a yacht, my family were worried about me never coming back from Asia, now they need to worry about me never coming home from sea! 
pictures to come soon...
She looked a fine vessel and my new captain and fellow shipmates seemed a great bunch, very welcoming, but we were soon into some work, it seems to never end!  I have recently read somewhere that sailing is the 'privilege of repairing your yacht in exotic places'!  All good though and I was enjoying the start of my education into sailing and close quarter minimalist living.

Only a few jobs to do the first afternoon and after a tour of the boat it was time for a shower at a marina about 10 minutes walk away.  They don't often use a marina and on a boat you take a hot or fresh water shower whenever you can!  Afterwards it was a relaxing couple of hours on the back deck with visitors, we ate snacks, a huge pot of mussels, fresh fish and washed it all down with a couple of glasses of wine, a great way to enjoy yacht living and my first night on the boat!

Very early the next morning we were up and into some more jobs, then a visit to the supermarket to stock up on supplies for a weekend out at one of the nearby islands. We sailed today and i hoisted the sail, i have also already landed my first fish, a decent salmon which is cooking right now.

 I am sitting here now on the back deck writing this surrounded by beautiful scenery and around 50 really nice boats and yachts in a bay, having a beer and winding down.  We will return to Auckland on Monday to get some repairs done and wait for the wind before heading to Tonga, an open ocean passage that may take up to 15 days.

The crew so far is Jean-Paul the Captain, his Vietnamese wife My, another Frenchman George and myself, everybody speaks French on board so i should pick some up along the way.  My has proven herself to be an amazing cook, every meal has been superb and we have 3 course meals every night, followed by fresh fruit. 

Jean-Paul is a hard working perfectionist it seems, with an easy going nature though, his English is limited so it is a little hard to communicate at the minute. George is a really nice guy and tends to do a lot of translating, though My speaks great English also.

You would think by now, after all the travelling, flying and airports I've done, that i would be proficient at it?!  I got dropped by taxi at the international airport in Perth only to realize that since i have a 2 hour stopover in Sydney, that it is technically a domestic flight.  Now I've made this exact mistake before when i left Bali to go to Thailand with a stopover in Jakarta.  Luckily those terminals are a lot closer than the Perth ones.

 So another bloody $30 for a taxi between the international and domestic terminals saw me finally checking in.  With all my gear and fishing rods my luggage weight came to 32.6 kilograms, my limit being 30kg.  You would think that being a measly 2.6kg over, the lady behind the counter would have just let it slide, but no, she was a megabitch and told me i would be paying for my extra 3kg of luggage.

i said 'Hang on a minute love, it says right here - 32.6kg' but she wanted to argue it and wasn't hearing of it, 'No, it's 3 KILO'S'.  The silly b then couldn't tell me how much it was for excess and sat on hold on the phone for nearly 10 minutes waiting for an answer.  I told her it was costing the company more money by keeping all these other customers waiting than the price of my extra 2.6... i mean 3 kg of excess.

Anyway, she sent me off to pay my bill and check my rod's in at the other counter for oversize/sports gear.  So after telling her what i thought about it all i stormed off to the payment counter, once there i simply waited 2 minutes, turned around and went to check my rods in.  All good, they let me through and i got my luggage at the other end. 

A lesson for everyone, when some mega bitch at
Qantas wants to charge you $20 a kilo for excess, don't even bother!  Muahahaha, guess i had the last laugh!   At Sydney my flight was delayed though by 2 hours, but i eventually made it to Auckland, where after picking up my bags, i went and lined up at customs, right at the front of the queue.... until i realized i had left my tube with 7 of my fishing rods in it back at the bag carousel??!!  WTF?  I really perform at my worst in airports!

  Back to the customs queue where i was now behind a heap of other people, to make matters worse i got a text from the yacht saying they couldn't get a berth at the marina and had to leave by 4pm...  it was now 3:46 and i was still in line...  f#*@!

They managed to sort something out though and after $125 taxi fare (double f#*@) i pulled up to where i thought i should be.  At that moment a tiny Vietnamese woman was walking by, she peered in the window, and said 'Hello Dean", she had recognized me from my pictures online and our Skype chats, much to my relief.   A short walk later and i was stowing my gear on what will be my new home for the next 5 months, a 45 foot Outremer sailing catamaran.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014


Well only a couple of days after the last post I had an email from a couple looking for a crew member on their private yacht to sail around the Pacific for a few months.  I have a profile on a couple of websites where boats can look for crew and crew for boats.  I had had a few offers over the previous year but they just weren’t the right fit at the time, this one I believe was the right voyage and the timing was good. 
It would mean cutting my Vietnam adventure short but I wasn’t going to miss out on a trip like this, I will have to return to continue the ride Pete and I had planned, hopefully with Pete also as he visits Vietnam regularly.  I quickly booked a ticket to Thailand for 1 last hurrah and to grab some gear I had left there and spent another 13 days with friends before heading home.
Another mammoth mission home saw me leave Thailand at 10:30am Saturday March 8th after a rather big night, not arriving in Perth until 5:30am Sunday morning.  This included a 6 hour layover at Kualur Lumpur on the way home before flying out of there at midnight, eerily only 24 hours after flight MH370 left the same airport and hasn’t been seen since.
 It was a bizarre feeling as when I had made my way home last year there was another plane crash very close to me.  I was flying from Jakarta to Denpasar and during our descent, only 10 minutes before landing, we were diverted to Lombok where we waited for over an hour before heading back to Ngurah Rai airport.  

A plane leaving from Bandung, very nearby to Jakarta, had missed the runway, crashed into the ocean and cracked in half, minutes before we were due to land, the wreckage still visible when we returned.  I’m trying to work out whether I’m holding bad or good luck?!
I’m currently in Perth after a very rushed visit back home to pack my gear and see friends, now catching up with all the family before I leave for Auckland, NZ, tomorrow night to rendezvous with the yacht and set sail in the coming days.  Our journey will take us from NZ to Tonga, across to Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and back to NZ sometime in September. 
I have never spent that long at sea so am really looking forward to the challenge and excitement of it all, living in such close quarters with what are currently strangers, but visiting some of the most amazing islands around.  There will be some long open ocean passages that have me a little worried, but knowing that these waters produce some of the best fishing on the planet, I’m sure I’ll be ok!
The captain was na├»ve enough to allow me to bring ‘as much fishing gear as I want’.  He obviously doesn’t know me well enough yet, but I have taken it easy on him and have packed relatively light by my fishing standards!  So the next couple of days are the start of my new adventure, thanks to everyone who has followed the blog, I will be keeping it going as I sail around paradise, hopefully with some great pictures and adventures to share.