Posted by: Carol | April 7, 2010

Easter Holiday Cruise

I’ve been remiss in the updates, sorry! We’ve kept ourselves fairly busy here. Friday through Monday was a four day holiday weekend here in Whangarei; systems on the boat were working pretty well, so Circa let us take the boat out for a mini cruise. We invited Steve Dashew along for the ride, ostensibly to check out the crew cabin for livability! So Friday morning with the cupboards stocked full of provisions Rod, Mike and I sailed out of Whangarei Port and headed to Marsden Point where we picked up Steve; also Todd Rickard (FPB64 Project Manager), Todd’s brother Brian (electronics advisor) and Kelly Archer (Whangarei boat builder and FPB program consultant) who wanted to put in a few hours driving the boat for experience. The boys put AVATAR through her paces, practicing maneuvers, peering at gauges, studying trim and balance, fuel consumption, boat speed, handling characteristics, etc. etc. Of course Steve had an entire set of specs for expected boat performance; this was part of the real scenario testing to see if she lived up to expectations (and yes, she did!).

Friday afternoon after dropping Todd, Brian & Kelly back ashore, we nosed into Urqhart Bay and dropped anchor for the night. Rod suggested an impromptu christening ceremony which sounded great to us! We broke out a bottle of sparkling wine, stood on the bow of the boat, made a little speech, poured bubbly over her nose and formally christened her AVATAR! Steve photographed, Rod videoed, and the ceremony concluded with a shared toast followed by a festive dinner of steak barbequed on the grill!

While anchored in Urqhart Bay, Rod pumped air into my inflatable kayak and I spent an hour or two bobbing around taking photos of AVATAR at anchor. Steve and I both shot interior photos at twilight, and that night I entertained myself taking pictures of the moon rising through low flying clouds. Between us I’m sure we took a couple thousand photos – this is one well-documented yacht!

More tweaking and testing on Saturday, followed by a night at anchor in another nearby bay with a delicious curry for dinner and another interior photo shoot. Steve spent a lot of time on his laptop in (my) office winnowing out the best pix and posting the latest updates to his blog. Early to bed (I’m in boat mode now – exhausted by 9 p.m. and sleeping nine or ten hours a night). It rained during the night and we woke on Easter morning to showers and low hung clouds but as the morning progressed the gloom lifted and it turned into a beautiful day.

Steve was flying home to Tucson Sunday evening so we spent the day motoring out of Whangarei Harbour into the Pacific Ocean in the direction of a mini group of islands named Hen and Chickens. Again, more tweaking, testing, and photo documentation, then in to port to give Steve a ride to Whangarei airport.

Sunday afternoon we anchored in a channel near a small island named Limestone Island. The island is a wildlife refuge, rich in birds including the nocturnal kiwis (also some resident sheep), with walking tracks to the summit and a great view of AVATAR anchored in the channel bathed by late afternoon sunlight. Steve says he saw us from his airplane window as his commuter flight from Whangarei to Auckland passed overhead. Mike and I enjoyed a casual hike around the island, interspersed with many lengthy photo stops. I was especially taken by the small fantail birds that followed along with us as we walked along the trail. Apparently they are attracted to hikers because bugs stirred up by our passing provide a quick meal. They are aptly named for their habit of fanning out their tail feathers repeatedly as they flit and dart through the brush.

Monday we headed into the Pacific again, ostensibly towards Sail Rock, but an faulty warning sensor cut our journey short; instead we ducked back into Urqhart Bay and spent some time testing the boat’s handling characteristics while using an emergency “get home” sail hoisted from the bow. And finally that afternoon we took AVATAR back to Whangarei Port to make her available for the work crews returning bright and early Tuesday morning.

Now Mike and I are back in our hotel – avoiding the boat during the daytime while the workers swarm through the boat working on last minute details. They work from 7:30 a.m. until quitting time at 3:30 p.m. each day, at which time we take over and start moving our belongings aboard; scrounging through the storage shed, loading our cars with boxes of stuff, then finding homes for all our possessions aboard the boat.



  1. Looks stunning….. the only bad shot is Rods Hairdresser LOL

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