I have created this blog with the hopes that you, my friend, will follow me as I sail around the world (figuratively or literally, not sure yet) with my parents on their Contest 48. Whereas I hope to keep you updated with exciting adventures of exotic ports and epic waves, keep in mind that cruising - that is, traveling by boat in a leisurely fashion - tends to be filled with days of intense boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer terror. Please keep this in mind as you read these entries, for this platform will be just as much an attempt for me to maintain my sanity (and connection to the California-based world), as entertainment and reassurance for you. And so, follow me as I sail the world.

P.S. All material on this blog, words and photos alike, are copyrighted by me. Copyright 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018. If you decide that this material is worth re-publishing, please give me credit and lots and lots of money.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Ocean Beach, NZ - Where I am going to be a volunteer lifeguard.

It's taken me a while to warm up to New Zealand, perhaps because it has been so bloody cold, or perhaps because it always takes me a bit to figure out a scene. And the scene here is quite different from any I have been in for a while. We are now at a marina in Whangarei (pronounced "Fangaray) and this is home sweet home for the next 6 months or so.

Whangarei is "the largest city in Northland", which isn't saying much with its population of 40,000. It is not a tourist town which I like, because it makes it easy to meet the locals... this and the fact that Kiwis are ridiculously nice and hospitable (as we know from my previous post).

Allow me another anecdote to get my point across: the other night I did something I have never done before - I went to a bar ALONE. You might not think this is a big deal, but really, what kind of loser goes to a bar alone on a Wednesday night? Don't you have any friends?? Well, I don't have too many friends here-- yet. But I am working on it.

Ok, so I walked downtown - a few minutes walk from the boat - and slowly walked past a few bars where I saw big groups of people laughing and talking and enjoying themselves. Feeling a bit intimidated and lonely I walked past, only to finally muster up the courage to enter the most empty bar I could find. There was a table of 3 guys out on the patio so I got myself a beer and walked outside to say hi. They, being gentlemen, asked me to join them and of course I graciously accepted, thankful for the company. We chatted for a while and before long they insisted I join them for oysters at their favorite restaurant. I politely declined but they were rather insistent, so I found myself being taken to dinner by the guys.

It was kind of a funny situation, mostly because these guys were in their late 30's to early 40's, two of whom have kids, but who is counting? At this point I will take whatever I can get. They were very kind and very generous, buying me dinner and drinks all night after meeting me an hour or two before - and even making it clear that they had no ulterior motives. I think one would be hard pressed to find a similar experience in the States.

I don't know what it is about people around here, but they are willing to go out of their way to make others feel welcome. On Thursday night a surf film was being shown at the arts theater so I went to it with the hopes of meeting surfers. I was not in the foyer three minutes before I met two guys who live here in Whangarei who told me they would take me surfing whenever. Bingo. We exchanged numbers but they also said that they work (what's that?) so they can't surf all the time.

That is the main difference making friends here as opposed to making friends with cruisers. In the cruising community everybody is doing pretty much the same thing. Here in NZ everybody has their own lives - their own shit going on. I am attempting to do the same. I found out that there is a volunteer lifesaving club out at Ocean Beach (not OB, SD but close...) so today after my first surf session since American Samoa I went out to Ocean Beach and met the guys who run the show. They were stoked to get me involved and I am going to start training tomorrow.

A note on my surf session - it was one of the most painful sessions of my life! It was ridiculous. I can't surf anymore. My arms are weak and my balance is off. On my first wave I caught I fell. On the second wave I caught I fell. And so on. I was out for maybe 2 hours and I successfully rode 2 waves. Ouch. Regardless of the pain, it felt great to be in the water and on a board, even if it was a chilly 62 degrees. I know that I will get back into it, I just need a few sessions to get back in the groove.

One thing that I hope will help me get back in shape is the badass aquatic center that is right across the street from the marina. Not only does it have multiple indoor pools, but a gym (kooky, I know), saunas, spas, and a huge waterslide running through it. I am considering joining with the hopes of shedding a few of the pounds I gained sitting on the boat for 10 months. Kiwis are pretty active folks and set up their country accordingly - there are tons of places to camp, hike (tramp, as they call it), and all sorts of fun stuff.

I still miss the tropics. I still have dreams of clear blue water and coconut palms. But I must admit, I am warming up to New Zealand as well.

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