Friday, November 4, 2016

4 November - Home

My journey home from Whangarei was a continuation of a great trip.  The bus to Auckland was luxurious and even had free wifi so I could keep Lori updated on my progress.  The infrequent bus schedule necessitated my arriving at the airport five hours before my flight departed.  I checked in, got rid of my luggage, and headed up to the departure lounge to discover a pub showing the World Series on TV.  Wow, perfect timing!  I got to enjoy the best extra innings World Series game 7 ever as well as a couple of pints of craft brew and some nachos.  When the entertainment was done it was time to head over to my departure gate.

Overnight flights are not my favorite.  I had to take the red eye at least once a month during the last ten years of my working career, and I got pretty tired of them.  For my work trips I did discover that some powerful prescription pain medication made the seats a whole lot more comfortable and let me sleep.  I was rummaging through my backpack at the airport in Auckland and was pleasantly surprised to find a little baggie of those pain meds that had apparently hidden there for years.  My flight home was wonderful.

I have been giving the reasons why this cruise was such a success a lot of thought.  It can primarily be attributed to Clay’s leadership.

I have written many times about how critical team selection is on a small boat passage.  Clay hit a home run here.  The team was completely compatible, and their individual skills complemented each other.  A couple of times topics of discussion among the crew ventured into potentially contentious areas and Clay, always on duty to keep us happy, deftly steered the conversation back into safer waters.

Clay’s meticulous approach to preparation and his conservative approach to weather, sailing, and safety optimized the likelihood of a drama free cruise, and that’s what we had.

Of course, a well fed crew is a happy crew.  Gail made sure we were happy with many precooked dinners during the passage, a fully stocked galley, and gourmet meals when she was aboard.

Clay and Gail, when is the next cruise?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

2 November - Journey's End

12PM position 35-43S 174-19E. In a slip at Riverside Drive Marina, Whangarei.

The headland on the coast that guards the entrance to the Whangarei River looks a lot like Makapuu. We passed it, made a ninety degree turn to starboard, and started a three hour journey inland through a spectacular natural harbor and river system. First came the bay, protected by the headland, with little fishing boats we had to dodge to get past. In the commercial harbor we passed an outbound 600 foot lumber carrier loaded to the gills with logs. Along the shore were an oil terminal and the lumber depot that had acres of 30 foot high piles of logs waiting to be shipped out. Then came the river delta with a maze of channels and marked shoals. Once past the delta, the river got narrower and started twisting and turning as we worked our way inland. The properties along the banks were mostly residential, but we passed shipyards, marinas, and a yacht club. We even had to pass under the only bascule bridge in the Southern Hemisphere after calling the operator on the radio to open it for us. Finally when it seemed as if the river couldn't get any narrower, we were there at the Riverside Drive Marina.

The tide had been ebbing for our entire journey up river. It slowed us down by a knot, but the real exciting part was getting the boat into the Marina slip which lay across the current on the down-current side of a finger. There was major potential for disaster, but Clay pulled it off like a pro, and the next thing we knew Jambalaya's 7,000 mile voyage from Hawaii was over.

I didn't have time to blog yesterday because we immediately got to work getting the boat ready to haul out. All the sails came off, refrigerator got emptied and defrosted, linens were removed for washing, personal gear removed, yada, yada, yada.

We had an excellent celebration dinner at an Irish pub in town last night with too many toasts and too many shots of scotch and tequila (ouch!), but we all survived.

John and Tom are catching the bus to Auckland this morning to meet their wives. I'm staying a day longer to help Clay remove the headstay and forestay so the travel lift can pick up the boat. I catch the bus south tomorrow, and will be hugging my lovely, patient, tolerant and understanding wife, Lori, at the airport in Honolulu at 6AM the next morning.

Clay and Gail will stick around a few more days to watch the boat come out of the water and make sure it is secure on the jackstands. Then they will head home too.