October 25, 2014

It’s been a busy and fun time since we last wrote.  We are still living in the bach and will be for another few weeks.  The winter is almost over and spring weather has arrived.  The nights are cool but the days are warming up.  It’s a good thing because we are down to our last few pieces of firewood.

We are still playing badminton three mornings a week and Paul plays an additional, more competitive, session on Wednesday evenings.  The badminton club membership is now up to about 20 people, with 11 or 12 being regular attendees.  As our days of living in the bach are almost at an end, two of the badminton members have stepped forward and volunteered to keep the club going.  We are happy about that as everyone seems to be having a wonderful time and we would hate to see it fall apart once we move back aboard Bella Via.

As well as badminton, we have been socializing a lot with Kiwi friends, Dave and Fran from Te Kauwhata and Dave and Margaret from Paihia.  We have also spent quite a bit of time at McMorrissey’s, the Irish Pub, where one of the members who plays the Irish drum (called a bodhran – pronounced barone) brings his extra drum, which Paul has been learning to play. 

Here is Paul playing the bodhran at McMorrissey’s Irish Pub.  He is doing quite well with this instrument.

While we were in Te Kauwhata with Dave and Fran, we were treated to a ride in their 1939 Chevrolet Deluxe Sedan.  Here is Paul acting out the part of a 1930’s gangster in a getaway scene. What a ham!

Most of our time in the past two months has been spent preparing for the ‘Auckland On Water Boat Show’ held at the end of September.  We had decided to enter Bella Via in the boat show because there would be lots of exposure and, therefore, lots of potential customers.  So Paul made countless trips back and forth from the bach to the boat to empty out cupboards and wax and polish the inside and outside.  Bella Via has never looked better!

When the time came to bring the boat down to Auckland, Dave and Margaret came down to the bach.  Paul and Dave left with Bella Via for Auckland on the Sunday morning and Mary and Margaret drove to Te Kauwhata (an hour south of Auckland) on the Monday.  The four of us stayed with Dave and Fran that week. 

We got a lot of national advertising out of the boat show, some of which was directly the result of a human-interest story that Paul wrote and was subsequently published on the Boat Show web site. Then Radio New Zealand picked up on the story and contacted Paul on Bella Via, while he and Dave were at Waiheke Island, for a ten-minute live interview on the Monday prior to the show.  This interview was broadcast across the entire country.  Some of our subsequent boat show visitors commented on hearing Paul on the radio.

Paul sitting at the salon table in Bella Via speaking by telephone to the Radio New Zealand interviewer.  In front of Paul is the board with Post-it notes that Paul was using as reminders as to what he wanted to say. It was sooo obvious at the end of the interview, when he was thanked by the interviewer that Paul was hell bent on mentioning our web address before being cut off. Click here to listen to the podcast.

The boat show opened on Thursday, September 25 and lasted until Sunday, September 28. 


Here is Bella Via tied up to a dock in the Viaduct Harbour in Auckland with the Sky Tower in the background.  We had designed and purchased a large “Live the Dream” banner that we hung between the mast and the backstay.

The outside and the inside of Bella Via looked spectacular.  Everyone who came aboard couldn’t believe that Bella Via is almost ten years old and has crossed 30,000 sea miles. They complimented us on how well we have maintained the boat.

Here is the “Bella Via Sales Crew” in our team shirts.  We also had team jackets.  That is our Kiwi friend Dave Sanson, who has lots of sales experience, on the right of the picture.  We very much appreciated having Dave aboard. There were several times when all three of us were showing people around the boat.  It was so busy that we weren’t able to get off of the boat and look at the vender exhibits in the Event Centre and barely managed to eat a quick lunch on board during lulls in the crowd.  Mary remembers touring a couple while holding her half-eaten sausage in her left hand and Paul finished his sausage at 1330 that day.

As a result of the show we have several strong leads and have been in contact with these people.  We remain patient and positive.

A Wild and Wonderful Ride…

On the Monday after the Boat Show, Paul and Dave Sanson sailed Bella Via from Auckland to Whangarei Heads, a distance of approximately 75 miles. Their intention was to sail the distance non-stop. They fully expected to arrive at Bella Via’s winter mooring, in McKenzie Bay, some time in the middle of the night.
They departed Viaduct Harbour at approximately 0930h with the sun shining and a light breeze. The sails were hoisted and they began the day sailing on a close reach in 20 knots of wind with a full mainsail and jib. As they came out of the leeward side of Rangitoto Island they were forced to reduce sail and within an hour and a half they went from the first, to the second and finally to the third reef as the wind steadily built to 35 knots with gusts in the high 40’s.  It was at this point that Dave suggested they might want to duck into Kawau Island for the night, only a few miles downwind of their location at the time.  Paul would have none of that.  He was enjoying the exhilarating sail too much.  They carried on.

Their first big thrill of the day was the moment they reached 14.4 knots sailing 60 degrees off the wind with a triple reef in the main and a partially furled jib.  After rounding Kawau Island they were able to bear off to a beam reach for the next 10 miles.  During this short leg of their trip they hit 15.5 knots, not once, not twice but three times.  After rounding Cape Rodney they were once again able to bear off with the wind now on their stern quarter.  Throughout this time the seas had been building from one, to two, to three and finally as big as four metres on their final leg from Cape Rodney to Whangarei Head.  With these seas and the wind on their stern quarter they began surfing on the waves averaging well over 10 knots. At one point, Paul was speaking with Margaret Sanson on the phone, when he started to say “oh, oh, here we go again, 12, 13, 14 15, 16.1 knots.  What a ride!  That’s our fastest yet.”

The surfing went on for hours and the grins grew until their faces were sore.

The plan was for Paul and Dave to sleep aboard Bella Via after their late arrival, for they did not have a dinghy aboard.  It had been pre-arranged that our bach neighbour, Kathryn, would row out to them in the morning, for neither Mary nor Margaret have spent any time rowing a dinghy.
At about 1630 it became quite obvious to Paul and Dave that they would arrive at the mooring well before dark, so they called Kathryn on the phone to request a dinghy ride ashore.  Kathryn went next door to discuss Paul’s request with Mary and Margaret.  After some discussion among the women, the answer came back, “NO! Spend the night on the boat.  It’s too windy to come out now.”  Mary then invited Kathryn over for a girls’ night watching chick flicks.

So the two ‘boys’ spent a sleepless night on the mooring, rocking and rolling, in full view of the glow from the bach where the women drank wine and watched movies by a warm fire in the hearth.

Paul says, “It was a wild and wonderful sail and Bella Via handled it with ease.”

Our Australian friends, Catherine and Peter from The Southern Cross, who are circumnavigating and are in Tonga right now sent us this picture of our friends on Lape Island.  The first of two flush toilets in the village have been built.  Our Tongan friends would like to say a special thank you to our Canadian friends who helped raise money toward this project.

Paul was away for two days with Dave Sanson on his boat, Freespool, and was the only person of four aboard who caught snapper.  Here he is with his catch.

This is the first time in ten years that Mary has had a full-size oven so we decided to have a full turkey dinner to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving in October.  We invited our friends, Dave and Margaret, to help celebrate Mary’s favourite holiday.  Here we are just about to start enjoying the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, salad, and carrots as the main meal with apple and pumpkin pie for dessert.  Yummmm!!!

While Paul was on the couch in the living room and staring out the window at our fantastic view of McKenzie Bay and Bella Via, he suddenly decided that we should commission Kathryn Millard, our neighbour and badminton club friend to paint the scene for us. Kathryn is an award winning artist, originally from England, who paints in, what she calls, an “Impressionist, somewhat Expressionist” style.  We had seen a magazine article about her work and like her style of painting.  Here she is with her easel set up on our deck doing her preliminary sketches.  Kathryn can be contacted at kathrynsamirahmillard@gmail.com.

And here is the final product!

We wanted to leave Craig and Liz, the bach owners, with a load of firewood that Paul stored in their shed further down on the property toward the beach.  It was easier, but still a lot of work, to dump the load on the driveway and use a wheelbarrow to cart the wood to the shed.

October 27, 2014

So that is where we are at right now.  In the next few weeks, we will move back aboard Bella Via.  We plan on flying home on December 26 for two months.  We have another grandson due to be born in late January and we want to be there for that exciting event.


    Journal 2013