You may think that we have fallen off the face of the Earth.
Where shall we begin?
After returning to Bella Via in March 2015, we spent most of our time till the end of May with our dear friends Tony, Carol and Des in Whangaparapara, Great Barrier Island, enjoying island life and trying to decide what to do next.
Should we apply for another visa extension and spend another winter in New Zealand while we continue to advertise the Bella Via for sale? Or, should we once again sail off for another season in Tonga and Fiji and not worry about selling?
As much as we would enjoy another season in the tropics, we were pretty passaged out and not looking forward to the trip to Tonga. After all, passages were never the reason for our life aboard. Neither did we really want to spend a winter aboard in New Zealand on the hook. Without a dehumidifier, the condensation aboard is too much during a New Zealand winter, even in Northland.
Then just as we were about to decide to sail off to Tonga, our very dear friends, Dave and Margaret Sanson offered to have us live with them in their spacious home in Paihia. This was an offer we couldn’t refuse. Bella Via would be kept clean and empty on a mooring in the Bay of Islands ready for showing off while we were kept warm and comfortable in the Sanson’s home.
We moved into the lower level of the Sanson home, once again “bottom dwellers”, on May 20, the day after their first grandson, Leo, was born. Leo is the cutest, smartest baby in all of New Zealand. There was no disagreement among the four of us that our grandson, Liam, was the cutest, smartest 5-month old in all of Canada.
Two couples sharing a home couldn’t have got along any better. Dave and Paul were especially spoiled because Mary and Margaret took turns cooking the evening meal and they are BOTH awesome cooks.
We had originally planned on doing a South Island tour during the month of July; winter in New Zealand. However, the country was experiencing a very cold spell with snow and icy conditions on the roads. It was decided to restrict our tour to the North Island, and for two and a half weeks we enjoyed seeing more of the country. Dave and Margaret are excellent tour guides and it was a very enjoyable trip.
During this time the pressure to sell Bella Via was building. Immigration New Zealand had made it quite clear, in no uncertain terms, that this was the LAST time we would be granted an extension to our NZ Visas. If Bella Via wasn’t sold by June 2016 we would have no choice but to sail offshore for six months. When we returned to New Zealand at the end of that season, we would only be granted the usual stay of a three-month visa.
We first advertised Bella Via for sale in December 2013. We showed her off at the Auckland On The Water Boat Show in September 2014, which produced a great deal of interest. However, by August 2015 every single one of the Boat Show leads had dried up. We were becoming very discouraged that we would have to offer Bella Via at well below her true value.
Then, out of nowhere we had 5 serious inquiries in 7 days during the third week of August. Just when we were about to settle for something less we received the following email dated August 20th,
Lovely boat. Is she still for sale? If yes then I am interested, but have a key question. Can you please advise the maximum headroom…
I look forward to hearing from you.”
Within four days, this email turned into a signed contract with a retired British naval officer residing in St. Malo, France. The buyer arrived in Bay of Islands, New Zealand on the 3rd of September for a test sale and handover. The new owner was ecstatic with Bella Via’s performance and condition. He continually thanked us for having taken such good care of her during our ten years aboard.
What followed was a whirlwind of activity:
- flights had to be booked back to Canada
Dave and Margaret held a bon voyage party for us on a Sunday afternoon to which about 20 of our dearest friends came from near and far. It was a great time. Dave and Paul even had a chance to play the dozen tunes that they had been practicing for months in front of a live audience other than Margaret and Mary, their usual audience.
We arrived back in Windsor, Canada on October 8th. We visited with family and friends, purchased furniture for our new accommodations, picked up our new/used 2014 Toyota RAV4, and then hitched up a small utility trailer full of our minimal belongings; Mary’s good china, silverware and original art that had been in care of her sisters these last 10 years. We drove for 7 days across the US, arriving in Spokane on the 31st of October where we picked up our daughter Jennifer and her husband Jass. The four of us then proceeded to Nelson, BC, where our little family celebrated being together for the first time since 2012.
It is now mid-November and we are settled in to our rental condominium in Nelson, BC, down at the shore of Kootenay Lake with mountain and lake views. This is the building in which we would like to buy a condominium but there are no units available for sale at the moment. But we were fortunate to secure a one-year lease for a rental unit in the building and this is where we will be for the next year.
We are repeatedly asked if we miss Bella Via and we can answer honestly that, “no, we do not miss Bella Via nor the lifestyle”. The past ten years were everything and more than what we dreamed about and we are very glad that we had the opportunity.
But we know that there are many more adventures awaiting us and where we are right now is a very good place to be. And if occasionally you notice a smile on our faces, it is probably because we have been reminded of something nice that happened during our time aboard Bella Via. We will always have our memories.
It has been a very great pleasure writing the Bella Via story for you, our readers. Thank you for your kind words of encouragement.