Geesh, it sure has been a long time since I have updated this blog (well, aside from the post I just completed prior to this one about Fiji).
Here is the deal. We sailed to Australia. Our boat is listed. Actually, as of now, Do Over is under contract, money is in escrow, and I’m happy to say she may well be going to Sam (who visited the boat while we were in Fiji), his wife, and his daughter! I really hope she goes to them, as they plan to move onboard and cruise with Do Over eventually. That is cool. Dan especially did not want to see our former home sit in a marina disintegrating. She is meant to be on the water–even if I’m not! Hee, hee, hee.
When we arrived into Port Macquarie, Australia, we had very little time. We had to clear out Do Over completely, finish cleaning/staging her for sale, and prepare to fly to New Zealand. Dan’s father was meeting us in New Zealand in less than a week (or so we thought), and we had A LOT to do!
We managed to get all of our personal items off of Do Over and into a vacation rental. We stayed here: https://www.airbnb.co.nz/rooms/9047425 at Shelly Beach Bungalow and it was great! This place gave us enough space to unload and organize all of our personal belongings on our boat. We ended up with several piles of things: (1) send home to the States, (2) a gift for the Salvation Army, (3) trash, and (4) things that make the cut for New Zealand.
I love Airbnb. Now that we are off the boat, I plan to continue to update the blog with the places we visit, our experiences, the places we stay, etc. And a lot of these places will include properties on Airbnb, Bookabach (very popular in NZ) and also, we have a few “pet sits” set up during our time in New Zealand as well!
The four days and nights we had in Port Macquarie were long, and our kids really had to hang in there. This is Ryan, at about 11 p.m., after a VERY busy and long day. He fell asleep on his knees, on top of an ottoman!
Well, we finally managed to get all of our stuff either to Salvation Army, to the trash, or packed into boxes that we had to buy from a storage facility. We were down to the last hour of getting packed up, etc. Then, Dan and Ariana had to sail/motor Do Over down to the Pittwater area of Sydney where our broker, Anna, was. It was an overnight sail and proved to be difficult for them after about the first 5 or 6 hours. The wind was with them initially, but once again, Australia proved to be a bugger with headwinds making the trip south a horrible one. Dan and Ari also had to take all of our NZ-bound suitcases and the kids’ books onto Do Over, because they certainly weren’t going to fit in the minivan with everything that was being shipped home–which is what Ryan and I were charged with.
While Dan and Ariana were sailing, Ryan and I had to take the loaded-up minivan about 3 hours each way from Port Macquarie to Newcastle, because that is where the shipping place was. That was quite the process. I had perfumes in one of 13 boxes, but I couldn’t remember which one. Perfumes cannot be sent to the States–at all. So, I had to find them. Guess where they were? Yup, that’s right–the LAST box I rechecked! We also had to have every box with a battery of any kind labeled. It took an hour and a half working with the nice man at Pack N Send just to get our boxes sent! Then Ryan and I drove back to Port Macquarie because there were NO minivans in the whole town that we could rent one way to Sydney. And then I started thinking…I had rented the only thing I could get one way from Port Macquarie airport to Sydney airport, which was a compact car. No company would let me take an SUV or a minivan on a one way trip to Sydney. I forgot that we would still need to load up this (compact) car with our luggage in Pittwater and take it to the airport. It was not going to work. Plus, I was not looking forward to the 5 hour drive and then another hour from Sydney airport to Pittwater if I had to exchange the car (especially after the 6 hours Ryan and I drove the day before to Newcastle and back), so I looked into flying. Ryan and I decided to fly to Sydney and rent an SUV there, and the difference was less than $100 versus driving. I’d much rather sit on an airplane reading a magazine than driving six hours!
Plus, extra bonus: before we had to go to the airport, we had a few hours to finally do something in Australia for fun. We went to the Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie, and saw several adorable koalas. Most of them had had chlamydia (very common in koalas) and lost their eyesight as a result by the time they were found. Others had been hit by cars and I think one was attacked by a dog. Interestingly, Port Macquarie is one of the few areas where koalas still live in the wild in Australia. They had koala crossing signs around the town, but unfortunately, we never did see one in the wild! Good thing, I probably would have wanted to take him or her with me! 🙂
Ryan and I finally got to the Pittwater area, and we met up with Dan and Ari. In another half hour, Sam (prospective buyer) and his wife were to meet us at the boat, along with our broker, Anna, and her partner, Martin. We ended up having champagne and enjoying the beautiful Sydney weather. After that, Sam and his wife left to go on a dinner date, and Martin and Anna invited us to go out on their 50 foot sailboat to an island in the area. This island had wallabies roaming freely so we were in. We were both truly exhausted (especially Dan who had not slept much on the passage the night before), but we could not turn down an offer to spend time with Anna, Martin, and Martin’s two sons Tom and Sam. We had such a good time, and ended up having dinner and wine on their boat, while Martin’s son Tom played guitar and sang songs. It was a beautiful night with beautiful scenery and beautiful people. Can you really beat that?
Ryan taking the wheel of Martin’s boat while Martin’s son, Sam, looks on
Dan, Martin and Tom on Martin’s boat
My Standoff with a Wild Wallaby
A Wild Wallaby
Ariana, Anna and I on Martin’s boat
We ended up crashing on Do Over for the last time, and the next morning, we moved Do Over to Anna’s mooring and headed to the airport. We had learned that day that Dan’s dad was not going to be coming to NZ; he got the airport in the States and his passport had recently expired! But, we already had our flights and we had reservations to stay at a hotel that night, and a vacation rental the next day two and a half hours from Auckland. I won’t go into all of the details, but we had SO many issues with our flight! We got stuck in traffic and arrived to the airport late, we learned that we could not fly to NZ without a visa (which was quite the process) or a flight out of the country within three months, our luggage was overweight, etc. So, I had to get on my computer and book us some refundable flights out of NZ for the end of January, knowing we would have to apply for a Visa extension (we are planning to be in NZ for 3.5 months but you’re only allowed 90 days). Then, Dan and I had to rearrange all of our luggage so each piece wasn’t too heavy, and finally, we were allowed to get on a later flight (that we had to pay the change fee for). Getting through security took nearly an hour as we were selected for increased screening. The culprit: Ryan had a museum replica of a bullet in his backpack! Geesh…but they let us keep it. We finally got through security at nearly 9 p.m. and we had not eaten since breakfast. All of the restaurants were closed by our gate except McDonald’s so that was our fantastic dining experience. Spicy grilled chicken sandwiches with jalapenos and french fries. We were SO happy though, because one bar was still open, so we were able to get some wine! Yippeee! After such a long day, all we wanted to do was exhale. And it got better from there, if you can believe it. The Air New Zealand flight was FANTASTIC with free and free-flowing drinks, our own personal entertainment center in front of us so we could watch great movies, and you could even order more drinks right from your entertainment screen on your seat! We had a flight delay but we didn’t care. I think we could have stayed on that flight forever…
Update re: New Zealand to come next!