"Egret" N4674 - Scott and Mary Flanders
Ed. note: On February 10, 2011, Scott and Mary Flanders, on board their Nordhavn 46, Egret, arrived in the Canary Islands. In doing so, Egret became the eighth Nordhavn to circumnavigate the globe. It had been four years, five months since the couple departed Gran Canaria, intent on seeing as much of the earth as possible, although not necessarily with an end goal to circle the globe. Voyage of Egret documents the Flanders’ entire trip, an endless adventure that has put them in touch with the most fabulous places and interesting people. Much route planning and forecasting was required in order to get to some of their ports of call. But the days of detailed planning are over…for now. “Egret” is now back in Fort Lauderdale, the place the couple called home for so many years, and, ironically, the starting point of their world wide cruising escapade that began with the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally in 2004. They currently travel hither and yon, sometimes by boat, sometimes not. Here, the latest update from the Flanders as they keep us continually apprised.
January 27, 2009
Position: S36 09.99 E175 21.45 Port Fitzroy, Great Barrier Island, New Zealand
Crikey dix, mis amigos, we're under way...slowly north up the NZ east coast. With the N doo at the Maritime Museum over, our tourista travels around Auckland and boat chores behind us, Egret is doing what she does best. Taking us down the road to more adventures and exploring. We are anchored in Islington Cove on the island of Rangitoto just east of Auckland. Islington is a wide cove between two islands, about 5 meters or so deep with great holding. We anchored well before the 5 or so boats that were here before us. We dropped TK into 15' of water and dropped 100' of chain plus the 20' snubber. Even with a great weather forecast why take a chance? Chain is free, as we say. All afternoon the locals were piling in for the weekend. Now there are over 70 boats in the anchorage. Some small day sailors and weekender outboards (fizz boats to the locals) with names like Lynch Mob, Paddy Wagon, Sweet Pea and so on were full of excited kids as they put putted by. Nope, they aren't crossing oceans but I don't think it gets any better than this for the young parents and kids. All over the world the same weekend getaways are taking place. We enjoy being part of it and did it ourselves some years ago. Even if some of the power launches (motorboats) don't get it. Why charge the last few hundred meters and give everyone a roll job? Duuuuh. Must be important folks.
After lunch we took a hike up to the top of the central cone of an extinct volcano here on Rangitoto. The island is still recovering from an eruption way long ago. Trees are sprouting up here and there among the raw lava. The jagged lava is like coke, not the smooth, pancake type flows. From the observation tower at the top we could see across to Auckland and the surrounding islands. It was beautiful looking out at the jagged peninsulas from the mainland and the offshore islands. Most of the offshore islands are agricultural and in blocks of browns and greens. Also you could see the different coves with boats tucked up tight sheltered from the afternoon sea breeze. Spectacular to say the least. Its easy to see why most New Zealanders never leave their own waters. While we were gone I put out a rod with the breakfast bacon fat to soak on the bottom. Some little nibbler stole my bait. Grrrrr.
We met with the NZ Northern Lights/Lugger folks at Whiting Power in Auckland about swapping Egret's 12KW gen for a later generation 9KW. In the end it was best for us to spiff up our 12KW and go with that. (Our decision was strictly based on economics. With the current strong US Peso against the NZ dollar it is great for us buying NZ goods and labor but not the opposite) I will say we really appreciated their straight forward approach about the conversion. The Whiting group are true professionals and were easy to work with.
Tomorrow (Sat) we head out early for Barrier Island, about 45nm offshore, for a few days of hiking and exploring in the park. A fast moving front is supposed to blow thru Tuesday. I guess we'll HAVE to hang out on anchor. Tough duty and yes, they sell ice cream in Port Fitzroy.
Sat noon. 6:00 this morning at first light the early boats were leaving the harbor. I couldn't stand it and had to get up and get going. After quickie showers and a cuppa we spent the next 20 minutes washing the sticky mud off the anchor chain and TK. We said earlier "chain is free" but we'll say now free chain isn't free. Grrrrr. So off we went on a slick calm day. The trip out thru the islands was beautiful as we saw yesterday from the observation tower. There were small fizz boats grouped here and there fishing. We stopped twice to throw a metal jig into diving birds but no luck. After 5 minutes of hard fishing Mary arrived with pancakes. Ho hum. So here we are on a modest little adventure heading offshore into the big unknown. Yea, right. Between the three cruising guides I think we have Great Barrier covered. And yes, the stabilizers are centered. These days the Naiads get more holidays than the Spanish.
One of the highlights of the cruise to Great Barrier was seeing the blue or fairy penguin zipping about just under water. Blue penguins are the smallest of penguins and are perhaps 14" (36cm) tall. We spent the entire trip in the flybridge enjoying the weather and the scenery. After clearing the mainland islands we could see Great Barrier in the distance. Electronic charting navigation was spot on.
Great Barrier Island is just as beautiful as described. We have been here now for 3 days dinghy exploring and hiking. Yes, we found the ice cream, burger shack and tiny grocery store. There was even a gourmet coffee car lady working the weekend yachties. The hiking paths are up and down affairs giving us plenty of exercise. One thing we continue to enjoy is hiking thru areas of dense ponga trees that grow in the shrublands that followed logging. Ponga trees appear like prehistoric tree ferns left over from when New Zealand split apart from the super continent Godwanda that covered what is now Antarctica. Can you imagine a tropical Antarctica? That was a few years back. Something we suspected and now confirmed with the help of a NZ DK Guide, is the ponga tree is also called the silver fern, New Zealand's national symbol. We had seen areas of ponga trees while driving but from the car or earlier hikes the leaves appeared green, both top and bottom. In low light of the trails when you turn over a ponga leaf it appears silver. In bright light the underside of the leaf appears green. Ponga's featured prominently in Lord of the Rings.
A first for us we saw in Great Barrier are the gannets (large sea birds) diving on bait. They circle about 80 feet (25m) up, fold their wings and hit the water like a dart with just a swoosh sound. Once underwater there is a big bubble of air that pops up then a bit later they pop up like a cork, shake off then take off again. Pretty cool. Two bird mystery's we have to clear up is there is a kingfisher looking bird, a bit smaller but lives in the forest. It has a yellow belly and a bright blue back. The second bird mystery is when we were returning from yesterday's hike we were passing clay cliffs that were cut to make the road. We heard a noise coming from a small hole in the cliff with guano streaks outside. We could see movement in the back of the hole but couldn't tell what kind of baby birds they were. We passed three of these nests on the way back. You can see after cruising these years the simplest things make us happy. We have few distractions.
Reading in the anchorage the other evening just before dark I saw the sun light up an old wooden sportfishing boat with 3 mates (friends) aboard. It was a beautiful setting with slick calm water with the setting sun and shadows. So I framed and snapped a quick picture, burned a CD copy and took it over in the dinghy. Wellll, this lead to hearing story after story over ice cold suds. I got to hear how the boat was built in 1955 to be a commercial fishing boat, then was sold years later to this guy who extended the cockpit and completely refurbished the boat including a repower. They were fishing a three day marlin tournament but had no luck. And more fish stories flowed. And on it went. When you are cruising, events like this are priceless. It is where memories come from. We put a little joy in each other's lives and went our separate ways. Not bad, mis amigos.
Sitting here this early morning reflecting on the New Zealand's east coast from Opua south to Auckland and now out to Great Barrier we can see why New Zealanders have more boats per capita than any other country. And most importantly, they USE their boats. The entire trip south to Auckland and literally everywhere we have been is full of families and mates out on the water enjoying themselves. There is always a lee to get out of the wind and anchor in calm water. We haven't been to South Island yet but reading the guides and looking at pictures we can see lots of protected cruising there as well. The weather down south is harsher and you have to plan more carefully but the vistas are majestic with the fjord like cruising in the sounds and bays. So what we are saying here is NZ is great cruising, the locals know it and take advantage of it.
Mary and I have been working on our long range plans. There is still a lot of research to do but I will say it involves a lot of miles and about as far from here as you can get. And it doesn't involve the Panama Canal. So we'll be bashing a lot of waves together for the next few years. Pretty exciting for us, and perhaps yourselves. In the meantime we'll enjoy exploring this
super country for the next months. However, starting about January next year...Ciao.
January 20, 2009
Position: S36 50.58 E174 45.61 Viaduct Harbor Marina, Auckland, New Zealand
Crikey dix mis amigos, my how plans change. We have always said Egret's plans are written in sand at low tide. We were told some time ago by a yachtie (sailboater), because we are a motor launch (powerboat in Kiwi speak) the best way to travel to South Island is down the North Island east coast. Virtually every other person we talked to said the opposite. There is a yacht (sailboat) race from Auckland to Wellington on the SW corner of North Island. This group travels north first, then up and over the top of North Island before the 3 day run down south to Wellington. So, that is what we will do. Our first stop will be Great Barrier Island, an island offshore, and a bit north of Auckland. From there we will take our time cruising north then will stop back in Opua to be with friends and a bit of fishing.
Currently we are exploring Auckland playing the tourista bit. We get kicked out of our berth soon because of the upcoming busy yachtie weekends. The Louis Vuitton Pacific Series for America's Cup boats is coming to Auckland soon. Across the way from us are 5 America's Cup boats including two from Fly Emirates (I believe). All have been repainted and marked with Auckland, New Zealand. In any case, 5 latest and greatest America's Cup boats are just 150 meters from our berth. Two are backed into their purpose built sheds each evening after practice. Pretty cool. It is interesting to see how a single event (the America's Cup) held in Auckland some years back, so changed the face of Auckland. The area where we are berthed was a run down district. For the Cup this area was completely revitalized with apartment buildings, all new bulkheads and docks and across the way extensive facilities to house the Cup boats. Today the sheds are used for yachtie commercial business. And we yachties provide entertainment for the joggers, strollers, lunch crowd and so on as they pass by. (There is an open plaza just opposite our berth) Its like living in a goldfish bowl for us. In fact, as we type this drivel Mary is sitting on the foredeck dock box in the sunshine enjoying her breakfast cereal and a cuppa. Some tourista just stopped and took her picture. Geesh.
This past weekend was the welcome to New Zealand get together for we Nord folks. The venue setting was superb being held at the NZ Maritime Museum here in Auckland. Around 70 folks attended and got to meet each other and we N folks. After cocktails and nibbles there was a question and answer session. After, they adjourned to view the boats. It was a fun event for N aficionados and VofE followers. There is a very obvious demand for these little white fiberglass ships. N55 New Paige sparkled. NPK (Kimberly) redid her room for the event. N47 Southern Cross was shiny as well. Even the old girl Egret was spiffed up and looking good. Our stock answer when asked how we keep the gel coat so new looking was "we just hose it down from time to time with fresh water and occasionally spray it with zip wax". In reality it was 5 days of buffing using 3 different grits of 3M compound. And NO wax. We have never used wax but thats a long story, so we'll pass. The engine room sparkled as well with a super detailing as well as a fresh coat of Awlgrip on the main engine exhaust manifold and header tank.
After seeing the enthusiasm for the boats, I believe after things stabilize and we get some positive direction in world economies there will be a flood of orders to financially strong builders. With the long lead times for substantial boats it seems prudent to me to get in line now with a minimal deposit for delivery in 1 1/2 - 2 years. Those who wait will face up to 3 years in backlogs. But that's just my opinion.
There is an upcoming article in Soundings magazine about Egret's travels (March, I believe). For VofE readers this is not new news but in our dealings with the editor we were asked to do an inspirational piece addressing fears folks have about taking the plunge to get into boating, fears WHILE they are boating and as importantly, how to expand their horizons and head offshore. We are looking forward to doing this piece and it just may be the most important piece we have done in terms of helping others take up what we simply call 'water'. We'll give you a heads up when it is time.
So there you have it. A few more days in The Life. Ciao.
January 13, 2009
Location: Tutukaka Harbor, North Island, New Zealand
Position: S35 36.96 E174 32.21
Crikey Dix mis amigos, Egret is FINALLY doing what she does best...cruising. First a rundown of the past weeks. Our two boys and family were with us thru the holidays. We spent most of the time land touring. AND we got to spend time with our youngest's family and our 3-year-old grandson from Bangkok (little rice picker - LRP). We spent two stints in Ashby's Boatyard, did a ton of boat chores, and are now under way to Auckland for this weekend's Nordhavn cruisers welcome party.
The details are:
Saturday, January 17th
1400 to 1800 hours
New Zealand Maritime Museum
RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
The three Nordhavns in adjacent berths are:
N47 Southern Star (for sale and a super boat)
N55 New Paige
Peter will be arriving from Oz with three couples so far and Barry has a larger New Zealand group. This small group of enthusiasts will have a chance to personally meet and ask questions from we three N owners. The event is an informal affair and will be great fun.
While visiting Auckland with the boys (if you can call a 39 and 33 year old boys) we visited N55 New Paige. As we said in the 12-2-08 VofE, we passed 'Paddle To The Sea' along to NP Kimberly (NPK). This is a great kid story and worth a revisit if you have children or grandchildren. Hopefully Kimberly (and her parents of course) will be able to take Paddle to Marmaris, Turkey and finish its circumnavigation. What a spin an 8-year-old boy's homemade boat has taken.
Our latest go-round in the boatyard was to replace a rotted wing exhaust thru hull and ultimately had the yard carpenter properly install our new Isotherm fridge and freezer. It's still too early to give a definitive report on how the units work (amps wise - they cool/freeze fine). We did have a bit of disappointment when we originally installed them. The fridge/freezer combo didn't cool. We had a local fridge technician come twice and got it going. The unit had a defective schrader valve and didn't have any gas. When I e-mailed David Lerbs (manager) at the US Isotherm importer (Pompano Beach, Fla) he basically blew me off and told me to see the New Zealand rep to get any warranty. This isn't what I expected, particularly after we specked the units together at the Ft Lauderdale Boat Show. So we'll see.
The trip south to this evenings anchorage in Tutukaka harbor was perfect. We had a gentle 2 meter swell from the ESE that gave Egret a bit of motion. The sea birds were out in force doing their deal. The coast was just 2 miles or so off to the west and was just as beautiful as we have seen by car. After this weekend we will return to the Bay of Islands for a bit of cruising and fishing. The first marlin of the season are showing up. A local caught 2 of 4 (hits) his first time out for the season. The snapper are still snappin so we'll give that a go as well. After, we plan to slowly cruise south down to South Island. Of course we'll report the events.
In the small world department, we received an e-mail from the new owners of N46 Envoy (New Zealanders). We first met previous Envoy owners, the Davises, in the Bahamas during our first year cruising. We hit it off immediately and saw each other here and there for the next two seasons. Envoy and Egret were both on the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally together. After arriving in Gibraltar we went land cruising together, wintered the first year in Barcelona together and the second year in Marmaris, Turkey. In April, 06 Egret left on her BIG trip and Envoy joined fellow Nord folks on N62 Autumn Wind for the Eastern Mediterranean Rally (EMIR). Envoy eventually made her way to Rome where the new owners bought her. And now we are meeting the day after the Auckland doo (they can't make the Saturday get together). Envoy is in Marmaris, Turkey. Small world indeed.
And for you locals we need to make a correction to a recent article in Pacific Motor Yacht magazine. First let me say this was the best interview and later article we have ever done. Instead of taking notes the editor simply laid a tape recorder on the table. The article was 100% accurate and included our thoughts with one exception. I said I felt for new cruisers apprenticing for further offshore experience (in so many words), they should go offshore in sub optimum weather to gain experience. Offshore, in time, you WILL have sub optimum weather. (if you are biting your nails, get over it- you'll be OK and its no big deal) The article said I suggested 30-40 knots. Now 30 knots sustained (and of course gusting higher) isn't fun but 40 knots sustained (yup, gusting higher) EVERYONE is hanging on and wondering when the mess will lay down. So folks, please take your acclimation to weather in a bit smaller steps.
Speaking of weather....... OMNI Bob, Bob Jones, the professional weather forecaster who was with Egret from Gibraltar to New Zealand has a new, easier to remember e-mail address. It is oceanmarinenav.com
So we'll leave you with what we see out the pilothouse glass as we type this drivel. There is a single man canoe with ama (like in Tahiti) and a 5 man canoe out practicing. The sun is setting to the west (landward) shading the houses scattered around the harbor. The Eagles are on the boom box, MS has kept my little glass in cool white vino. Tonight its a big salad and some fresh fish from our buddies on S/V Vision. Life is VERY good. Ciao.
Ed. Note - The glossary of Egretism terms will be posted on the Captain's Log home page for easy reference.