It finally happened. For years, Trude and I had been living a fairly routine life, working during the week and sailing on the weekends, all the time knowing in the back of our minds that we would someday be taking off in a boat to see the world. That someday always seemed too far away. Once the decision was made to purchase the Valiant 40 in New Zealand, my life became totally focused on preparing for the move there. Nearly every waking moment of my life was consumed by the effort, so much so that the idea of moving aboard a boat in New Zealand took on that familiar dreamlike "someday" quality and my only reality was the day to day effort to check off items from the many "to do" lists. The mentality of working off the checklist continued right up until the plane took off from D/FW. Then, for literally the first time in months, I found myself in a situation where there was nothing to do but reflect on what was happening. Suddenly, the remote dreamlike quality of it all began to harden into an immediate reality. The butterflies in my stomach and the pounding of my heart made those pre-race, blue flag, adrenaline rushes pale by comparison. It seems possible that I could die of cardiac arrest before even getting to the boat. I decide it would be a good idea to avoid caffeine for a while. Somewhere over the equator, in mid Pacific, I finally started to mellow out and by the time we landed in Auckland I was back in the get things done mode. I breezed though Customs and took the Kiwi version of Super Shuttle to the marina. It finally happened.
Everything has gone quite well so far. I am getting accustomed to living within the confines of a sailboat and to the marina life. Although I have found several minor problems with the boat, all of the major systems seem to be in good working order. I am slowly getting to know the other cruisers in the marina. Several of us Yanks got together and had a traditional turkey feast for Thanksgiving. I haven't hooked up with the local Hobie crowd yet, but that is on my list of things to do this week. I just can't seem to get away from those "to do" lists.
I have been here for almost three weeks now and one of the most remarkable aspects of life here is the weather. It can be hot, cold, rainy, clear, calm or blowing 45 knots. None of these features is remarkable in themselves but when they all happen several times in one day, it does seem worth mentioning. The forecast for today is for southwest winds, 40 to 55 knots, with occasional showers. For once, the forecasters seem to have gotten it right. As I am writing this, a gust will heel the boat over here in it's slip and I'll rush out to look at the wind speed indicator. The last gust was a sustained 45 knots, and we're here in a relatively sheltered marina.
One of the processes that I expected to occur as part of this new lifestyle was some personal growth. Here are a few things that i have learned about myself so far:
That's enough externalization of introspection for now.
Over the past several months, many of you have been very generous with your time and your gifts to help Trude and I along. I have a strong desire to publicly thank everyone for all that you have done for us. So many have helped us that I have to resist my desire to name the contributors because I fear that I would not list everyone. I know who you are, and you know how you have helped us and I want you to know that I appreciate it very much. When deciding who to spend my time with, I have a bottom line judgment that I make: will my life be better for the time spent with this person? During our going away party at Dean's Marine, I felt extraordinarily privileged to look around at so many people and be able to honestly say that my life is better because of each of you. I hope that you can say the same about me.
So, when are you coming to visit? We will be in New Zealand until the end of May and will then sail to the Kingdom of Tonga, where the King is world renowned for how fat he is. New Zealand is a great place to visit and live. They speak the language here and seem to like (or at least not hate, like most of the world) Yanks. The whole country is jazzed about the Whitbread, especially since the New Zealand team is currently in the lead. The Whitbread fleet will be here in February. If anyone is coming down for that, bring along a big Texas flag (Lori?). We'll fly it from the backstay at the start of the Whitbread leg that leaves from here. Maybe we'll get some air time on ESPN. The passage to Tonga is already booked up. At this point, I have no idea how long we will plan to stay in Tonga. The general plan is to sail from Tonga to the Samoa's, then make the passage to Fiji and hang out there for a while. Then maybe back to New Zealand or west to New Caledonia and Australia. Apparently, from talking with some of the cruisers that have just sailed in from the islands, it has been a very bad year for passage making due to bad weather and rough, confused seas. Several boats have been lost and more than a few are ready to sell their boats and give up the cruising life. Sailing within an Island group is no problem but the passages between Island groups could be very challenging. Think about that when deciding where and when to visit.
If you are not planning a visit, at least consider sending a note to let
me know what is happening in your life. Most of you have our mail forwarding
address in Florida. You may mail to us directly, until the end of May, at:
(Note: this address is no longer valid. ed)
T. Micheal Young
S/V "Vela Dare"
Gulf Harbor Marina
Whangaparaoa, New Zealand
Sending mail directly to Gulf Harbor Marina will work best until May when you should start using our Florida address. I hope to hear from you soon.
Missing you all,