We're almost there!!! Its hard to believe but we are only 72 miles away from the entrance to the Bay of Islands, and Opua 14 miles farther inside it. Its actually a little surreal as this seems to mark a really significant step. The end of a season of South Pacific cruising, a deep South destination with a reputation for a challenging crossing and all of us crossing the 10,000 nautical miles traveled mark! We are all quite excited to get there, but everyone is patiently hanging out and enjoying a relaxing final day.
Late last night our wind luck ran out, and as predicted, the winds lightened further and moved further north, which was the bigger issue. At that point we would have dramatically dropped our pace, and so we started up one of our engines and let it help us move along. The wind has now lightened further and so we are practically under motor alone, although we keep our mainsail up for some propulsion help, and more importantly for stylistic reasons... we just look better with some sail up, just in case someone in the thousands of square miles of southern Pacific ocean wanted to swing on by to take a picture of us.
And wouldnt you know it..... we got a strange VHF call on Channel 16, the channel we normally monitor on passage "Family Circus, Family Circus this is New Zealand Orion, do you copy???". Now the strange thing is that VHF signals only travel a max of 25 miles, and we couldnt see anyone on the Radar, AIS or on the horizon. It turns out that it was one of New Zealand's Orion search and rescue planes out on patrol, and they were just checking in with us, and probably picked us up on AIS, or had our approximate location from the different radio nets we log in to! It was very cool, but the plane was so high we couldnt see it.
Its also gotten a bit more chilly though the sun still comes out which allows to wear shorts in the day. When the sun goes down, it gets cold enough that I can wear jeans! Yes, I own a pair of jeans that were stuck in the back of the closet, and they arent even moldy! It certainly feels weird to wear long pants, and I hear the spring/summers in New Zealand are highly variable- from sunny shorts to rainy galoshes!
Finally, with Thanksgiving past, Peter the Christmas Elf magically appeared on our boat again after a year long absence. He left us last in Mexico and must have had a good year as he looks quite healthy, but still has this unnerving smiling stare. Either way, it was a great surprise, and I suppose gets us more in the Christmas spirit, which has been hard to do in board shorts and palm tree lined beaches. We are all incredibly excited to be able to go back home for Christmas and visit family and friends!
Well we're in to our final passage dinner, and we're cleaning out the boat progressively. New Zealand has a very intense biosecurity protocol, of which we are well forewarned, and we have to give up any produce, meat, honey and a list of other items. So we're making our way through things, and it almost helps that our fridge broke two days ago as we are streamlining what we have left.
Its our final passage sunset for the year, so I will sign off and go enjoy it. There is something so cool about your entire universe being all in front of you and around you with no one else in sight, and the magic of sunrises and sunsets gets magnified on such a huge canvas.
Hope your thanksgiving was great and thanks for all of the well wishes. We are so thankful for all of the support, the opportunity that we have as a family, and the magic all around us. Talk to you all from Terra Firma soon- CHRIS
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