Saturday, May 21, 2011

Dispatch 68 Qayaq is Sold

We report with deeply mixed feelings that Qayaq has been sold. We held off on mentioning anything until we were sure, but, as of now, Neil, an Auckland resident, is living aboard her. In a great episode of luck and serendipity, Qayaq’s next owner presented himself to us. Everyone hopes their boat will be sold to someone who appreciates her the way we did, and, we feel happy that Neil will be a wonderful new owner.

Here’s how it all happened. While we were in Auckland finishing up our last bits and pieces with the broker and the boat, we had a small misadventure while flushing the watermaker in that the sink drain, corroded from years of salt water exposure, broke. How apt that the last time on Qayaq should turn into a boat project, but what do you expect?

The old drain had to be removed with our friends' hacksaw (no more tools on the boat after packing!), then Betsy was dispatched to find a replacement. As she got into a friend's van on the way to the store, a man approached and asked if she had just stepped off that double-ender on the dock. When she said yes, he basically offered cash on the spot for the boat. Well, she sent him down to Richard who talked to him for a bit, and, when Betsy returned, we decided it was worth meeting with Neil the next day.

He came out to where we were staying with friends, and, over coffee, he showed us his photo album from one of his prior boats, a Westsail 32, which he had rebuilt from the hull up with his wife. It showed great skill and love for boats which we really appreciated. Now he wants to have a boat like Qayaq to live aboard, fix up and hopefully sail off with his young son. He is a boat engine mechanic and works aboard large yachts, so we know he will take tender care of our boat. His thoughtfulness at bringing the photo album was touching and he said all the right things to let us know he really understands our dilemma--boats do not do well to sit un-used as we would have to do and he knew how emotional the turnover was. So, several steps later (only 3 weeks really), he is now the owner and we are boat-less, homeless and kicking around Oz (Australia) before heading back to the US and work.

They say the best 2 days in a boat owners life are the day you buy it and the day you sell it. Well, I don't think we will agree that selling Qayaq has been a good day. We can only say, it was the right decision for the boat and we are really happy she will have a good next adventure and be taken care of. For us, one door just closed, and we know there are millions opening up if only we dare to walk through them.

From Oz, somewhere over the rainbow, cheers to you all.

Dispatch 67 New Zealand A to Zed

We are wrapping up our time in NZ with a strong measure of sadness and nostalgia. We drove from Oamaru to Auckland, 1700 km, catching a few of the highlights we had missed on the way down, but, it was a fast trip and we didn’t get to savor much. We did enjoy a couple days in Wellington, a beautiful and energetic city, did some wine tasting in Martinborough, saw the quaint art deco town of Napier where a 1931 earthquake (7.9 magnitude) wiped out the city’s buildings so they self-consciously rebuilt in the style of the era. It gave us hope for Christchurch.

Our week in Auckland was spent, again, dealing with boat issues. We were hosted by Jeff and Deirdre, friends we first met cruising in Alaska who have made their life and business in Auckland, and Richard and Suzanne, new friends we met cruising in Samoa who are from Auckland. Both did their best to feed and shelter us while we dealt with our grief at saying goodbye to both Qayaq and NZ at the same time. We were off balance to say the least.

So here, in reflection, are some of our favourite things about NZ.

A for the Albatross who rode the air currents next to the ferry on our way back north between the two islands.

B is for all the British-isms we have learned to love/hate, but that add colour to our favourites list (as well as heaps of extra, unnecessary letters like the “o” in “oesophagus”, the many “u’s” in harbour, flavour, favour, colour, etc.)

C is for all the cows that make up the fantastic meat and dairy industry of NZ. It is unnecessary to ask if your beef has been “grass fed” in NZ because there is no other kind of beef and you see them all grazing by the road every day. The taste is amazing and something we will sorely miss.

D is for the farmed deer which make for such a bizarre roadside site (also see “V”).

E is for the wonderful euphemisms we have adopted from our Kiwi friends. Like, when someone is no longer sound in their thinking, they are said to have, “Lost the plot.” And when they are old and not in such good health, my mentor would refer to them as, “Well past their “use by” date.” Difficult issues are “diabolical.” Being busy is “flat out”, hiking is “tramping”, cookies are “biscuits” and evening meal, dinner, is “tea” (not to be confused with morning tea which is second breakfast in hobbit-speak or afternoon tea which is yet another excuse not to do any work for ½ hour.)

F is for Fantails, wee little birds that fan out their tails when resting on branches that we enjoyed watching flit about in our many travels in the bush.

G is for Godwandia, the original mega landmass from which NZ separated millions of years ago (“ best thing we ever did mate”) leaving it without dangerous animals and Australia with all of those. Also Gas which was $2.18 a liter when we left which is about $8.25 a gallon in US dollars.

H is for a healthcare system in which “EVERYONE” is covered for hospital and emergencies and payments, if any, are usually within the reach of most for other care.

I is for the expression “it is too,” which in NZ is not an argument (is too/is not), but an expression of agreement, as in, “it’s really cold today,” and the response, “it is too.”

J is for jandals, their word for sandals (flip-flops) which is the universal footwear of NZ, that is next to being barefoot.

K is for kilometer and relearning distances and the time it takes to travel between them on two lane roads with one way bridges and occasional sheep crossings—it all works because, there just aren’t that many people in NZ.

L is for the darling lambs we enjoyed last Sept/Oct who are now, sadly, being transported in huge trucks to the freezing works and their final resting place. We console ourselves by knowing that those ewes we see grazing away are, even now, pregnant with next season’s lambs!

M is for metric which the whole world uses except the US. Of course, some of the oldies I met in Oamaru still measure their weight in “stones” which, for those of you who don’t know, is around 14 pounds.

N is for the word NO pronounced “NOOOEE” by most NZ’ers , especially endearing when used by the ankle biters (which means kids, see E for “euphemisms” above. )

O is for, of course, OAMARU, our wee town of little blue penguins and limestone edifices.

P is for PENGUINS and all the varieties we have enjoyed.

Q is for Queenstown where people continue to jump from sound foundations and great heights to confront their fears. And, of course, for Qayaq, who remains in NZ and is now Kiwi owned.

R is for religion, which NZ has little of. The 2010 survey shows that fewer people in NZ claim any religious affiliation than in any other country. Good on ‘em! And let’s not forget what R really stands for which is of course for RUGBY which is, come to think of it, the official religion of NZ!

S is for the sheep that out-number the people 10 to one in NZ.

T is for “tracks”, their word for trails and “tramping”, their word for hiking. It really is a different language! And Tipping which doesn’t exist in NZ because they pay their staff a reasonable salary and let’s not forget Taxes which are high but included in the price so what you see on the pricetag is the price you pay. What a wonderful experience that is.

U is for the US which everyone seems to want to emulate for some unknown reason. Our biggest exports seem related to the spread of obesity: KFC, McDonalds and Burger King.

V is for venison made from the farmed deer. It is delicious!

W is for weather which is, truly, a law unto itself in NZ. One day in Oamaru, it was 38 degrees by 2 in the afternoon (that’s around 100 degrees F) and people were wilting. Literally in 5 minutes, the wind switched to a southwesterly and, in the space of time it took for our friends to consume their ice cream cones, it became cold enough to have to go inside—it dropped to around 22 (72 degrees F). This is normal for NZ. One never counts on the morning’s weather to continue all day, leading to the saying that the weather is “4 seasons in a day!”

X-rated? NZ suffers from none of the puritan modesty of the US. The advertisements and television programs are solidly sexual without apology (although the tele does give a parental warning before airing something that might be “offensive”). Where brothels, “escorts”, and sex ads are a part of daily life which includes having their own labour unions.

Y is for “yonks” a NZ’er term as in “I haven’t seen them in yonks” for those of us more literal types I haven’t seen them in a long time, years , ages well yonks.

Zed which is the way English speaking people pronounce the letter “Z” the world ‘round except in the US. And that illustrates what is so wonderful about travel in general. The US may think it has everything right, but, there is always so much to learn and enjoy from other countries, people and cultures.