The idea of sailing to Fiji is becoming more of a reality each day. After six months of preparation for cruising, the experience of cruising itself had started to become a distant memory. Now, as we begin final preparations such as route planning and provisioning, I am starting to remember why we’ve been working so hard. The photos and accounts from other cruisers about Fiji, particularly the western Yasawa group of islands, suggest that it is nothing short of a tropical paradise. I can’t wait to break out the scuba gear and get back into the warm, clear, and vibrant water of the tropics.

The downside is leaving this amazing country. Not only is it a perfect blend of natural beauty and 1st world conveniences, but after several months here in Tauranga, I feel like part of the community. I will miss my friends as well as the kiwis in general, who are “friendly as” (they add “as” to any adjective for extra emphasis). The people in stores, restaurants, etc. seem to remember and enjoy “having a yarn” with the acquaintances that they encounter each day, and as a girl from Kansas, I suppose I am especially easy to remember. I kind of enjoy walking into a store to hear jokes about the yellow brick road or having a friend refer to me as “Dorothy the Tornado”. 

I can’t say that I will miss the boatyard much (particularly sharing a bathroom with a bunch of men), but I can’t really complain about my six weeks here. The guys who work at Hutcheson are really nice, and everything that I required (hardware stores, friends, the beach, a yoga studio, etc.) was close by. For the moment, we are still here, but we (particularly Dallas) have been working hard toward getting Pura Vida back in the water soon. Time is of the essence as there is one last potential problem with the port engine that needs to be assessed while in the water. With two rudders back under the boat (one that was more or less reconstructed, the other that had epoxy inserted for extra strength) and a fully patched keel, we are almost there. We are planning on splashing on Monday.


rudder2 Daniel heating up a new layer of fiberglass on the port rudder

rudder Newly glassed, epoxied, faired, sanded, and installed!

Dallas and I took a break from the boat last Saturday, driving up to the Coromandel peninsula that extends north of the Bay of Plenty on the east coast of NZ. The first stop was Hot Water Beach. As the name would indicate, geothermal hot springs lie under the sand and can be accessed by digging a hole at low tide with a spade that you can rent for $5. We thought we were smart by arriving well before low tide so that we could sit at the cafe and have a snack before heading over to the beach, but it would have been wise to head straight there. There was a surprisingly large crowd of backpackers and kiwi families on holiday sitting in the hot spots. I took the liberty of dunking my feet into the pits dug by other people and found the water to be hot as, but there was no room left to dig a hole of our own to soak in. Oh well. I think we got the point.


beach Digging for warmth on the beach in autumn


The next stop was Cathedral Cove. It is easy to see why it has a reputation for being a place for young lovers to sneak off for romantic trysts. The view of the marine reserve and various islands from the lookout point were beautiful, but the cove itself, surrounded by sea caves, was really breathtaking and well worth the challenging (at Dallas’ pace) walk through the Coromandel Forest.


blue Typical NZ colors

cove Cathedral Cove

DSC_1033 Awwww

We were able to climb out of the forest and up a nearby hill to the site of an old pa (a Maori hilltop fortification) well before sunset. Clouds swept in and blocked out the sun, but apart from that, it was an ideal spot to sit and chill for a bit, with nothing but the cliffs between us and the sea.

DSC_1039 View from the pa

After dark, Dallas took the wheel to traverse the hair-pin-curved, gravel road to Coromandel Township. We were looking for some nightlife, but now that it’s getting colder, evidently even tourist areas like Coromandel close down with the setting of the sun. The offices at a couple of the motels that we were considering closed at 8, so after sharing an interesting vegetarian pizza topped with potato, pumpkin, and cream of mushroom sauce (apparently it was a first for the chef) and laughing at the antics of the adjacent table of men from the local “social club” complete with fancy matching jerseys, we headed back to the boat for a good night’s sleep.

As the time for setting sail draws near, we plan to post more frequent updates on the website and finally get my photos uploaded from the several months that I’ve been here. I hope everyone back home is enjoying the spring!