Well, I loved Cape Town and have plans to return and New Zealand is definitely the same. It’s just like Scotland and I cannot wait to return and discover more of it. It was fabulous to reach land early for once, and especially after the last race I feel it was well deserved. We arrived at 5am to a celebratory beer (oh for a hot toddy!) and then straight into the deep clean and boat maintenance – no rest for the wicked! By 7pm on arrival day we’d been on the go for over 24 hours so what better way to relax than to go to the marina bar and restaurant (owned by the drummer form AC/DC – I know Geordie will be impressed by that), drink copious amounts of red wine and enjoy fabulous food. It was humorous to watch Baz fall asleep at the dinner table and Shaggy giving his best flirting technique to the waitress!
After a couple more days of boat jobs the boys (Baz, Scarlet, Shaggy, Rich) and I took a road trip to Auckland for a few days. Shaggy played Dad, hiring a car and packing snacks. Scarlet the naughty teenager brought along a case of beer, Baz, the mature adult amongst us was co-pilot and Rich and I sat in the back prodding Scarlet on occasion to keep him awake. You’d have thought we’d have had enough of each other but there is something to be said for letting your hair down with the team you’ve just been through some tough stuff with and at least this way, with us all being so tired, we didn’t have to make polite conversation with anyone else.
The road to Auckland was spectacular, very green, very rural and picturesque; through small towns, past little farms (mainly cows in the fields much to Baz’s disappointment, he had images of thousands of sheep) and up a beautiful gorge before arriving in one of the most renown sailing places in the world – yep, who’d have thought, more boats, but these ones came with the pleasure of discussing them over a beer and deciding which one we’d like to sail the world in next. The rest of the trip I shall leave up too your imagination, after all ‘what goes on tour, stays on tour’ suffice to say we returned in need of more of a rest than when we started.
On getting back to Taranga after our ‘holiday’ we had a last day of boat jobs to do before setting sail again. We are definitely becoming more efficient during our stop-overs, both at getting things done quickly and getting them right first time (the help of the Clipper maintenance team also makes a huge difference). I’m even becoming more adept with tools, wielding a power drill to put a new (Blue Peter, what can you do to create something out of nothing) cover on our companion way hatch. Which, I’d like to add, after a few days at sea, is still doing a sterling job.
We are a few people down this leg, one through injury, one home to look after family, and Scarlet deserting us to make up numbers on the Geraldton boat (we’ve put his bunk ‘up for let’ and it’s been filled by our media intern – rather her than me residing in the starboard side penthouse apartment in bachelor towers!). Our watch in particular is a bit smaller, and while that means more hard work for the rest of us, it is actually quite enjoyable and a good test as we will have a small crew on the next leg.
This race started with a lot of rain and I must admit to being fed up at having wet foulies again and damp kit everywhere but happily the sun has come out and we are finally downwind sailing under spinnaker. Our shorts and T-shirts are on, suncream is everywhere, dolphins have been swimming alongside us and Baz and Rich have been successfully fishing so we have Blue Fin Tuna steaks to look forward to for lunch tomorrow.
We’re all looking forward to Goldcoast, many of us meeting up with friends and family before we set off again on the 24th Dec. It does seem odd that it’s almost Christmas – the weather is warm, there are no decorations aboard, no shopping to do, no cards to write and no decisions to be made about where to have Christmas dinner and who with (it’ll be the 11 of us on board!). This may be a bit ‘bah humbug’ but I’ve quite enjoyed not having to be involved in the whole Christmas hype that we have at home, the sunshine and lack of retail clamour has been very refreshing, Christmas will be a day or two event instead of a 2 month build up.
Back ‘upstairs’ for me now as it’s 3.55am and my turn for spinnaker trimming.