We arrived back in Marsden Cove Marina near Whangarei, a week ago. It was a five day sail up from the South Island. The passage was rather dull with too much motoring, but the spinnaker behaved and the amazing albatrosses were out and about. Marsden Cove Marina does feel like home from home in New Zealand. We spent lockdown and much of the winter here and it feels like we have arrived back after a long summer holiday. Except it is not quite like that.
As you can imagine we have spent many many months deliberating on our situation. There is no doubt that we have been incredibly fortunate to find ourselves in New Zealand for over a year during the pandemic. We have lived in a unique parallel universe from the rest of the world, and made the most of it. Our three and a half year trip across two oceans to arrive half way around the world to New Zealand has been amazing, but our circumnavigation, we feel, has really come to an end for the time being. For us the onward journey to Australia, Indonesia, and South Africa looks just too difficult, if indeed possible, too risky and not much fun for now.
Sometime back we provisionally booked A Capella on the “big boat” back to Europe, hoping that it would not come to this, but the world situation has become ever more difficult due to Covid. The precise timings are uncertain but for the moment we expect to load A Capella onto a cargo ship in late March or April. I guess we will then look at how we navigate ourselves home without too many restrictions. We are good at small spaces, but two weeks in a hotel is hardly welcoming. We will be so sad to leave our many cruising mates who have been such fun, but also such great support during our long stay in New Zealand. We have so many very special memories of our whole trip, but we look forward to many other adventures in A Capella, but probably not until the pandemic is more under control. While deciding to return A Capella home by “big boat” is frustrating, it is good to do it while we still want to have more adventures.
We have hauled A Capella onto the hard, and will spend some time cleaning, anti fouling and doing some “out of the water” jobs, so the boat is in good order when she arrives back in Europe. She will need to be completely stripped before loading onto the “big boat” but that can wait until we have a better idea as to when the cargo ship will leave New Zealand for Europe.
We thoroughly enjoyed our two months in the South Island and were sad to leave the magnificent Sounds and Havelock marina.
We completed the Abel Tasman Great Walk with our good friends Ian and Manuela from S/Y Mr X. This walk is 60 km long and we took five days and four nights. It is the most accessible and popular Great Walk so lacks the remoteness of the other walks we have done, but it is a stunning coastal track, with delightful small beach campsites. Accessibility does have its merits as we managed an unexpected brunch at the Awaroa lodge and Bill and Zoe from S/Y Into the Blue very kindly picked us up from our beach campsite, and we had an excellent BBQ on board one evening. We did detect just a little jealously from our fellow campers. It has to be said that Manuela was a slightly reluctant “happy camper”, but has had to admit, although very quietly, that she did enjoy the experience.
We, of course, have been watching the America’s Cup. It is just so exciting when Ben Ainslie and the UK team are doing so well, although things are not so good now. A trip to Auckland seems like a must, but the latest lockdown situation in Auckland means this is on hold just for now.