Merry Christmas Everyone!!
I decided to post my Christmas letter because I don't have email addresses for you all. Basically a very bridf synopsis of the last year. So, here goes:
The New Zealand branch of the Morrison’s, hope this Holiday Season finds everyone happy and healthy.
This Christmas season finds us in Auckland (Bayswater) New Zealand with plans to be here until Josh finishes high school.
Josh finished his freshman year of high school at the end of May. He did online public school in Hawaii so he could swim with the Kapolei High School team. He enjoyed the swimming both with the high school and the Hawaii Swim Club. He continues to make us proud. He didn’t get too much of a break before he started working on geometry, psychology and biology – his sophomore home school curriculum. This was in preparation for starting the next school year here in New Zealand which begins in January.
We left Hawaii on June 15th headed for Fanning Island 900 miles away. It was an okay crossing, with no mechanical issues – well except that we discovered the generator didn’t get enough water on that tack – but it didn’t break. We met up with Moondance (Doug and Carla) there. From Fanning we headed to Christmas Island, where we spent more time than planned due to arriving during their Independence holiday – week (really a week? A country that wouldn't fit in California takes a whole week off to celebrate - must be nice). Both of these Islands are in the Line Island chain, but part of the country of Kiribati (Kiribas). It was quite the cultural experience. Fanning had just recently gone up on the internet, so was kind of weird to see folks with phones and computers, but no food on the shelves in the store. Lots of chickens, but no fresh eggs for sale. Main protein source – fish. Fanning hadn’t seen a supply ship in 3 months when we arrived, but while we were there they had 2 (can you say party?). Christmas Island (Kiritimati) was somewhat better as they have an airport and are a regular stop for cargo ships. We took on more fuel there – a major calamity averted when the delivery truck realized they had gas and we paid for diesel. We were glad that Dennis and Doug had decided to wait around.
From the Line Islands we headed to Suwarrow in the Cook Islands. We did break up our trip there with a stop at Manihiki. That was not the greatest anchorage, so we ended up on a mooring. We never got off the boat, just got a couple of good night’s sleep and moved on. Suwarrow is so beautiful, probably at the top of the list of best places we have been. There are no year round residents, only two rangers from April to November. No supply ships at all – only cruisers. Beautiful beaches, lots of birds and fish. We had our first taste of coconut crabs there – yum.
Our next stop was Pago Pago in American Samoa. It was nice to go to a US territory. We were able to provision at the Costco- type store there. Yay - familiar things. Got a McDonald’s fix (not that we needed one, but it was convenient) and took on more fuel – the last cheap fuel. American Samoa is beautiful, but there aren’t many good anchorages outside of Pago Pago.
Samoa (formerly Western Samoa) came next. We cleared in at Apia (only choice) their major city. Wow – at a marina. There were still many signs of the cyclone that went thru the year before. We were able to see a fire dancing show and an amazing cultural demonstration by local Samoans. Our car tour of the south Island included the Bahai temple, Robert Louis Stevenson’s home and several waterfalls.
Finally Fiji. We spent almost 2 months in Fiji and it still wasn’t enough. Our friend Paul Freshour from New Mexico joined us in Savu Savu and stayed on through New Zealand. Fiji is amazing! Lots of blue, blue water, sandy beaches, good snorkeling and fishing - And inexpensive! The people are very friendly. We certainly enjoyed exploring this country. We highly recommend it. Poor Evergreen had one of her tightest squeezes ever getting into our “slip” at Vuda Point Marina. Talk about being shoe horned into a space. When we finally settled we only had the width of a fender on either side!
We left Fiji for New Zealand on October 31. This was one crossing we were all secretly dreading. It has a bad reputation. In anticipation of that, we enlisted the aid of Brad (weather router extraordinaire) again and at his suggestion – Commander’s weather. Good planning, good luck – not sure, but we had an excellent crossing and only 8 ½ days. We checked into Opua in the Bay of Islands on Saturday November 9th.
Our time in New Zealand so far has been great. We did some exploring in the Bay of Islands, spent 12 days in Whangarei and are now settled into our berth here in Bayswater – across the harbor from downtown Auckland. Josh, through his friend Mera (s/v Don Quixote whom we met in Mexico) is meeting kids his own age. He is enrolled in Takapuna Grammar School, swimming with the water polo team and generally having a great time. I found a job that I think I am really going to like, and so we are waiting for one last piece of paper from the US and then will submit my work visa, Josh’s student visa and Dennis’ visa. I am hoping that will all be done by the end of January. Until then, Dennis and I will start to explore our immediate surroundings and hopefully some of the countryside.
It has been an amazing year. Since leaving Hawaii, we have been in 6 different countries, experienced many different and interesting cultures and people and ended up in a place we are sure we will be happy in for the next couple of years. We hope you all have a very Happy Christmas and we wish you all the best in the New Year.