STUCK … on the other side of the world

I’ll cut to the chase. We’re stuck – in New Zealand and in mud.

In light of the Covid world our three year circumnavigation has been bogged down to four years …. and that’s if it can continue at all.

To recap, our good ship Baggy arrived in sunny New Zealand in November 2019. We’d sailed half way round the world in just 18 months and arrived in high spirits, but ready for a rest and boat refit.

It was summer time. We toured, tramped, camped and dived. We fixed the boat up for the 18 month sail back home.

AND THEN … just as we were planning to sail into Australian sunshine – BANG – the borders shut. And they are remaining shut for the foreseeable future.

Our fingers were crossed for the rumoured Trans Tasman Bubble to materialise before the start of the cyclone season. If it had we would have sailed to Queensland for a few months and then waited out the storms in the Sydney area.

As I write this New Zealand had been celebrating over 100 days of being completely Covid-19 free, but now four mystery new cases have cropped up in Auckland.

Meanwhile, Australian states are struggling to cope with confirmed cases topping 21,713.

Never mind – you’re in a great place” (people say). Well … yes … but ….

1 we’ve missed our weather window for leaving New Zealand

The cyclone season is fast approaching and even if we could suddenly sail over to Australia, spring storms would be sweeping the Tasman Sea.

We COULD sail to Fiji, but it’s in the cyclone zone and wouldn’t be a safe haven.

2 we have to stay in New Zealand till the end of April 2021, when the cyclone season ends

Then we’re dependent on the Covid situation easing so country borders can open and allow us to sail home.

3 we have to jump through hoops to get a New Zealand visa, so we can stay

When Covid-19 was at its peak here our visas were automatically extended. Now we have to re-apply.

And it’s not just a long, form filling exercise.

We’re waiting for compulsory chest x-rays to see if we caught tuberculosis in French Polynesia; blood and urine tests for HIV, Hepatitis and Syphilis and full physical examinations! And it’s not cheap.

4 we are completely reliant on countries opening their borders next year so we can try and sail home

If they don’t? It’s probably game over, which means selling Baggy, shipping our stuff home and flying back to Blighty 😭

And as the UK basks in Caribbean temperatures it’s winter here – snow, floods (220mm in less than 12 hours) landslides and tornados!

This was not in the plan. We love Baggy, but she’s a cramped, damp boat to live on during winter.

Of course … there are far worse places to be ‘stuck’

Home: On big spring tides Baggy sticks in the mud

Moaning aside our home is now moored up on the Hatea River at Riverside Drive Marina in Whangerai, North Island.

Our fishing neighbours: Kingfishers, herons spoonbills and shags
Our front porch

We host Duck Community Centre meetings on our pontoon; mullet leap out of the river next to us and one day a seal came to visit.

Riverside Drive Marina Band: our talented band of international sailors

And the marina has a buzzy social scene, from Sundays BBQ, to our own band.

Life is OK. In our opinion Kiwi pubs don’t have the X-factor of the British boozer; but there are great local walks.

And we have a precious gift … lots of free time. An opportunity that’s unlikely to ever come round again.

We’re running a lot, getting fitter and watching our Park Run times come down.

I’ve taken the opportunity to study plant based diets and cookery and have qualified as a Vegan Nutritionist. Next up is permaculture, horticulture and botany!

Paul is climbing the wall

And Baggy has enjoyed …

  • internal paint spoodles
  • a refurbished engine sea water pump
  • winch servicing
  • deep cleaning and de-moulding
  • a new engine start battery
  • an outboard service
  • new fresh water pump
  • and we brought the (desperately needed) diesel cabin heater back to life (after two redundant years) by hitting it with a hammer

Because, oh dear, it gets damp.

But we’re still having adventures

When the ‘damp and cramp’ has got too much for us, we’ve managed to escape and explore.

Caving: with fellow sailors at Abbey Caves

Dog walking: we caught the bus and ferry to Waiheke Island to stay with our friend Linda. Eight days of beach runs, dog walking and gardening was the best medicine.

Living like locals: We sussed a bargain hire car relocation deal from Auckland to Wellington for just $9 a day (£4.50). After an eight hour scenic drive across North Island we arrived at the Stockley’s lifestyle block (small-holding) in Carterton, in the south.

Kindly offering us their ‘sleep out’ (self catering unit), and a small car for local trips, we made it our home for a month.

With sheep in the front garden, chickens and ducks … and Cartertons Regent 58 Brewery a stagger down the road … we settled in like locals.

Amongst the first runners in the world to Park Run since lockdown

One frosty Saturday morning we joined Greytown Park Run; one of the first park runs in the world since Covid-19 …. and we both came first … in our age categories!!

Windy Welly: We had a couple of great days out in the capital, Wellington

Morepork Owl: But who spotted who first?

And it might be winter here, but the walks are breathtaking.

Waiohine Gorge suspension bridge
Mount Holdsworth: one of the highest peaks in the Tararua Range
Mount Dick: named after a local bloke gored to death by his favourite bull
Mount Clyde: desolate, windy and wild hares (and hair!)
Tipsy wine tasting at Cambridge Vineyard, Martinborough : organic, unfiltered, vegan, natural wines. Just health drinks really!!

So, what now?

The weather starts to warm up in October, hoorah.

We’re going to leave our safe river mooring and go cruising around New Zealand for six months. First stop, Bay of Islands, and then we’ll see where the wind takes us.

It is unsettling to be stuck on the other side of the world, not knowing when or how we will get back home. It doesn’t help that we can’t get work visas either. So, all we can do is make the most of each day, and then take each week and month as it comes.

In the meantime, quirky Kiwi life never ceases to make us giggle and smile.

Sounds nasty: sign outside the butchers
Hot mail: microwave postbox
Watch yr back!

8 thoughts on “STUCK … on the other side of the world

  1. Great to get an update on what you’re both up to over there but what a nightmare for you this pandemic is!! I’ve got everything crossed that you can get back on your way next spring and you don’t have to abandon your adventure!!! Xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry for your troubles, it dounfs a right old pickle to be in. Troubling to hear Baggy is damp as this will no doubt have an impact on your health but pleased you’re staying healthy in yourselves. We love reading your blog but this time I can hear the desperation to get going again. Thinking of you both my lovelies xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So glad to hear from you again even if the news isn’t wonderful. I sympathise with the damp problem and we don’t live full time on our boat! I remember the whole saga of visas when Polly lived there – a nightmare. Glad you’re managing to enjoy the delights NZ has to offer, we’ve missed your blog and wondered how/where you are. X

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sounds like a Patrick O’Brian novel.
    Glad you are making the most of your time stuck on the other side of the world.
    have you contacted the ‘Spirit of Adventure trust’ who run ‘Spirit of New Zealand, like our Disco trust. They have an office next to the Maritime museum on the front in Auckland. It used to be Dean Barker as CEO. A very good friend of STI is Hugh O’Neil , a pilot from Duniden who skips for them. Maybe get some volunteering for them.
    I think I would rather be a bit cold than endure weeks of 34c+ by day and 22c at
    night which we are at the moment and having to stick by covid rules as well.
    Keep safe and good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wonderful to hear your news! You have been busy!- and really seem to be making the most of the extra time. Really rooting for you not to have to ‘abandon ship’ – such uncertain times x sending much love xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great to hear you’re all ok. What a strange twist this virus has taken you on. I just got stuck in Portugal for another week. Two of the others are still out there. Enjoy the time, we don’t often have enforced “do nothing time” stay safe, xxx

    Liked by 1 person

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