January 1 - August 2, 2011 (Part 2)


On September 21, we posted Part 1 of the update, describing the outcome of our boat refit project. If you missed it, you can see it at: January 1 - August 2, 2011 (Part 1).

As mentioned in Part 1, the boat refit absorbed most of our time, though we did manage to poke our heads out of the boat and into the world a few times...


* Apartment Wildlife

* Big Toys For Big Boys

* Make My Day

* A Sea Trial On "Iron Lady"

* Anzac Day


January 1 - August 2, 2011

Life In The Wild -- Indoors

New Zealand has a mild climate, and the Kiwis build their houses accordingly.

So the thing to keep in mind about an apartment in New Zealand is that it's a lot like living outdoors. Our apartment turned out to be a great wildlife studio. Here are a few of our favorites.

Here's a Japanese cockroach, trying to hide inconspicuously on a roll of paper towels.


Fortunately for us, there were plenty of predators to keep the roaches under control. Here's a vagrant spider, about as big as the palm of your hand .


A face only a mother could love. Actually, from what we know of spiders, even his mother probably didn't...


Here's a much cuter predator.
At the same time, there's a certain "don't mess with me" gleam in that eye, don't you think?
Here's a guy who was much happier when we put him outside.
Whereas, this fellow seemed content enough, so we left him alone.
And, in a previous update, we already showed you this Weta that Beth encountered IN THE SHOWER. But we figured he was good for another go.

Mine's Bigger

Chad, the son of our project manager Steve, is a natural engineer. He loves technical problems and likes to fly model helicopters.
So we hooked him up with Don Barker, an engineer friend of ours who likes the same sort of things.
Now THAT'S a serious toy! What do they say about how you tell the men from the boys?

Go Ahead, Make My Day...

Here's another of our good friends in NZ -- "Yankee Bob" -- a former Navy Seal and long-distance sailor.

To celebrate when Bob's colleagues finally got their man in Pakistan, we met up for a little light recreation.

Bob loads a silenced .22 rifle. In NZ they prefer that you use silencers when you hunt possums and such, so that you don't wake up the neighbors.
Beth takes her turn.

Here's Bob and Caroline's son Odin, who just started high school. The rifle really belongs to Odin.

Odin's business card reads "Odin's Pest Control: Have Gun, Will Travel".

Caroline shows us how it's done, with a nice, reasonably-sized revolver.


Beth gets a few pointers from the range master, then blasts away with a bigger gun.


Ken with a pretty big gun.
And here's Beth with the mother of all revolvers -- a stainless steel .44 magnum. Clint Eastwood's gun.


Kicks like a mule, and no wonder. Here's the cartridge, compared to a .22.

Beth complained that there were too many pictures of her shooting in this section, and not enough of Ken. Ken replied "Dog bites man -- that's not news. Man bites dog -- that is."

And besides, Ken knows better.

Here's Beth in her element, back in Wisconsin, where there are 600,000 hunters in the woods on the opening day of deer season.

Beth doesn't hunt -- she claims this is all about zen...

"Iron Lady"

When Steve Dashew -- the designer of Eagle's Wings -- held an open house in Whangarei for his new powerboat design, we just had to go. We saw two completed boats: "Iron Lady" and "Osprey".

Steve talks about his design and cruising philosophy.
Here's a shot from the bow of "Iron Lady". We prefer sailing, but if we were going to sea on a powerboat, we'd want it to be this one (if we could afford it). The Dashew FPB 64s can come back from a full capsize!! (With most powerboats, if you roll more than about 45 degrees, you're going for a long, cold swim.) And the FPBs go 11 knots with a 150 horse engine, and have an 8000 mile range (if you slow down to 8 knots). (FPB stands for "fast patrol boat," and they do kind of look like they should have a 20 mm cannon on the bow.)
Inside, we're talking about life on a different scale than what we're used to.
That's a heck of a watch keeping station!


Serious fuel filtration, and dual, redundant autopilot hookups.


Steve gets Beth's advice on how to run "Iron Lady". (Just kidding).


A little light spray. But nice and dry on the bridge. "Iron Lady" handled beam seas like a sailboat with the sails up. Which is high praise indeed for a powerboat. Plus she didn't pound going into the waves. Really very impressive.

After we got to Fiji (which we'll describe in NEXT update), we met up with the owners of "Iron Lady" and learned that she had gone up on a Fijian reef when her anchor dragged in a squall. But her tough aluminum hull survived with hardly a scratch, although she lost a stabilizer. You can read the full account on www.setsail.com

It's a reminder that we're always on the edge in this cruising business.


Not that we need more reminders, but here's another one.

Our good friends Frank and Rita from Switzerland, leave for New Caledonia aboard "Laika".
A few days later they were back in Whangarei, having hit a reef off the New Zealand coast. Here Grant from the yard's engine shop, inspects the damage as "Laika" comes out of the water in the travel lift.
The front of the keel barely got scratched.
But the seven knot impact drove the back end of the keel up into the hull, punching a big hole. "Laika" was saved by her integral fuel tank, which contained the seawater. (And also contained the fuel, since the heavier seawater kept the fuel from leaking out the bottom of the tank.)

After the fuel was pumped out, and "Laika" was hauled, this tank drained for about 15 minutes. No way the pumps could have kept up with this flooding without the fuel tank, which acted like a watertight compartment.

So Frank and Rita ended up staying the season in Whangarei to put things back together in cooperation with Boat Builders. We lent Frank and Rita our car for the winter.

Kiwi Scenes

Our landlord, Martin, mixing cement on a hot summer day.


Life in the harbor


White-faced herons.


Keeping The Memory Alive: Anzac Day

We wanted to close with a Kiwi tradition -- Anzac day. Anzac stands for Australian / New Zealand Army Corps.

When Ray Roberts told us that we would find the Anzac Day celebration very moving, we decided to go see how the Kiwis celebrate their version of Memorial Day.

The first thing you notice about the Anzac Day celebration is that it demands commitment. The parade features the usual group of elderly veterans carrying flags, but it starts well before sunrise, AT FIVE-THIRTY IN THE MORNING!


There's a brass band and bagpipes, but only silence -- no music.


The parade marches from downtown to the Memorial Park with only the rhythmic tapping of a single drum.


The kids show up and march. And when the official parade passes, the spectators all join the march.


After about 15 minutes, the parade files into the Memorial Park, where the townspeople of Whangarei have spent the past month erecting a war memorial of 600 small wooden crosses, each representing fifty soldiers from New Zealand who died in WWI and WWII.


Grade school kids have researched memorials for the crosses, each describing a particular soldier -- quoting from their obituaries and listing such facts as where they were born, who their parents were, whether they were married, whether they had children, their rank, their unit.

And always their age when they died, and on what battlefield.

The Kiwis take a grim pride in having suffered the highest casualty rate, relative to their population, of almost any nation in WWI. Forty-two percent of military aged men served in the expeditionary force, and fifty-eight percent of those were killed or wounded. Of all the combatant nations, only Serbia suffered a higher rate of loss.

A chaplin leads a prayer in the dark, followed by a reading of the names of a few of the soldiers who died in the wars, chosen alphabetically and changed each year. The bands play some hymns, and the bagpipes play a few more. We then "stand to" for two minutes of silence. And then a bugler blows the "Last Post".

And then, just about as the sun is rising, one of the speakers reads the forth stanza of Laurence Binyon's poem, "For the Fallen":

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

And the townspeople respond "we will remember them."

Then the crowd disperses, each wrapped in their own thoughts.
And maybe with a deeper understanding.

So, anyway, Ray was right about Anzac Day.