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November 2017: Shamal is on the hard in Guatemala.Mum and Dad are home in New Zealand till Jan. 2018. *ATTENTION PLEASE* if you are still interested in receiving the posts, could you please subscribe to the Blog following the two step process in the right hand column, so that new posts are emailed to your inbox. As of next year the reminder emails that are being sent out will cease. Thanks to all of you for following our Adventures.

10 January 2008

Shamal is Home!!!

A Very Very Happy New Year To You All

Sorry it has taken so long to get this letter away to you. While out at sea we used a different server for obvious reasons (‘sailmail’ as it can be used out on the high seas) but we were restricted to how much we could send and receive at a time, plus there was the odd day when I did not want to sit at the navigation station and tap away on this machine! We also received all our weather at the same time and this took up quite a bit of our daily allotted time.
Our last few days in Bundaburg passed very quickly with a couple of visits into town on the local marina bus for supplies, a trip to a local market which is always fun, gathering weather reports, and then Alec felt the time was right so off we set sail for Lord Howe Island late afternoon on Sunday 9th Dec. We headed out to the top of Frazer Island then turned southeast out into the Tasman. We had a mixed bag of weather on that crossing. One afternoon the winds died altogether and David and I went over the back for a swim. Later we had thunder and lightning a little way off, and even a water spout. One thing that was quite amazing was we had this black sea bird follow us the whole way to Lord Howe. We later found out it was a shearwater – mutton bird. Then again one follow us all the way from Lord Howe to NZ. I would get up every morning and there it would be. We arrived off the Island late evening of the 13th Dec but were unable to go on in through the reef as it is only navigated by daylight. That was an interesting night with choppy seas, winds and a jolly good old swell all thrown in to give us a bit of a ride. We really did rock and roll around that night. But by 7.30 the next morning we were safely in through the reef and tied to a mooring in the lagoon.

What a beautiful place it is. We all hired bikes and explored the Island over the next six days. We swam with the king fish – Alec did try to catch one with his hands for dinner which is totally a big no no, but with no luck as they are far too smart, so we just fed them bread along with all the other tourists, ate lunch out nearly every day, shopped around for more supplies – I tell you Helen and I had the galley so well stacked we could have done the crossing a few times and still had food left over. We peddled out to the airport at least three times to visit the met office to see when the best window was for the next stage of the journey. It is just gorgeous and I would recommend it as the top holiday spot out of all the South Pacific Islands, but it is a little pricey.

Then at 8.30am on Thursday 20th Dec we motored on out across the lagoon and through the reef again and around the Island and pointed in the direction of North Cape. Well that did not last for long. The winds for the next two days were not in our favour and we found we were tacking either north for Noumea and then southeast for Wellington, but this is sailing. By day three the winds came around and we set course for North Cape and away we went. The seas were still confused making the trip a little lumpy at times but we averaged 6kt which was a good run.

Early on Christmas morning Dave sited the Three Kings Islands – how appropriate! Helen had a Christmas CD which we played over the morning. By 6.00pm we were sailing around the top of North Cape and starting the run down to Opua in the Bay Of Islands – our reporting in port. It was grey and overcast with rain on and off. Here the winds changed again and at one stage we found ourselves doing 15.2kt so reefed in for the night. By midnight the weather had cleared and the stars were out and we were having a beautiful sail. By 3.30am the wind had nearly died so we motored sailed the rest of the way arriving into the Bay Of Islands by 9.30am. There was the usual customs to clear etc but now we find we have to stay in the area to get special paper work to clear us in on a temporary important entry, but being the holiday period all staff are on leave.

Helen and David left the boat here in order to catch up with family, and Murray and Brigitte joined us for a week. We had a wonderful New Year with front row seats out in the bay watching the fireworks. Brigitte and Alec along with another crew from a boat the same type as ours that arrived from Australia a week before us, owned by really nice Americans, got a few wonderful meals of scallops. I have caught a couple of fish, so we are not too hard done by waiting around here. Anyway we hope to hear tomorrow if we can leave and then start our way down the coast to Auckland. We hope to be home by the end of next week.

OK enough for this letter. Will away and keep you posted when we are on the move again.

Love to you all

Ann and Alec

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