The “New Moon” Party

Thirteen months ago Moonshadow was lying on a reef on the remote French Polynesian atoll of Arutua. Nine months ago I arrived in Auckland, in the middle of winter, not knowing anyone, facing the arduous task of rebuilding my floating home. Eight months ago, she arrived by container ship from Tahiti and was trucked to the Salthouse Boatbuilders yard just north of Auckland. She was damaged, had been robbed twice, and looked like a boat owner’s worst nightmare. Last weekend, in a boatyard paint shed dubbed the “Party Igloo,” with Moonshadow tied up nearby, over a hundred new friends, fellow cruisers, and crafts persons who returned her to a like-new condition, celebrated her re-launching at the “New Moon” party. Oh, what a party! 

If the weather gods and Murphy cooperate, we will set sail for the Austral Islands and Tahiti within one week. If you have ever made an offshore passage, you know that the last week before you set sail is insane. For that reason, this newsletter will be short and sweet. 

I could write heaps about what a great experience living in Auckland and New Zealand has been for me. And heaps more about all the wonderful, interesting and unique people I’ve met and gotten to know. Oh, and did I mention that the sailing is awesome? Needless to say, I love it here, and will be sad to leave, and at the same time looking forward to returning in October for America’s Cup and another summer in “Godzone.” 

Anyway, Moonshadow is back, better than ever or as the Kiwis say, “sweet as.” I won’t even go into the details of the thousands of man-hours of work that went into repairing, refitting, upgrading, improving and making her beautiful once again. The craftspersons at Salthouse Boatbuilders, Matrix Masts, SMG Upholstery, Marine Sprayers and lots of other companies did brilliant work. Attached is a photo that will tell part of the story.

The day she launched it started pissing rain. Maori lore has it that if it rains on the day you launch your boat, it is good luck. As I motored, sans mast, up to Greenhithe (Salthouse), soaking wet and cold, I thought to myself how good it felt to be back on the helm of Moonshadow. 

A couple of weeks later, new rig and most of the deck gear installed we headed back to Auckland. With Chris from Matrix Masts guiding us from the top of the rig, we maneuvered under the Greenhithe bridge on a low tide, the lightning protection brush at the masthead tickling the underside of the bridge as we passed underneath. A year and a day after our run-in with the reef, we bent on and hoisted Moonshadow’s sails and close-reached towards Auckland. Sweet as! 

Since then, we have been mostly tied to the dock doing a lot of work, but we have managed to get out for a couple of Thursday rum races/shakedown sails. All the new work is thumbs up, but it has been a challenge to learn how to use all the new gear/electronics and sail her once again.

Last weekend, we tossed off the lines and sailed out to nearby Waiheke Island. We spent a quiet evening anchored in Oneroa Bay with good sailing friends Barbara and Kevin. We woke up to a crisp morning looking out at the quaint Oneroa village with it’s surrounding homes and vinyards in one direction, and the fog bank at the base of the spectacular Coromandel Peninsula in the other. It was great to be cruising again!

Moo Crew

For the passage to French Polynesia, I will have four “Moo Crew,” some old, some new. Steve Moore, one of the nicest crew I’ve ever had (Hawaii to SF in ’96) is bringing his equally nice wife Phyllis along for her first offshore passage. They plan to buy a boat and cruise on their own in the not too distant future. 

Dale Rogers, (also Hawaii to SF in ’96) our technical guru, adventurer and all around nice guy is returning for another “wrong way” passage. At least it will get warmer as we get there this time, Dale.

Paula Skinner, a first time Moo Crew, is a keen racing sailor, and lovely lady from Toronto. Paula just finished her MBA and wanted to do a bit of cruising before returning to the business world. She’s no dummy. Paula signed on for the five month round trip to Auckland, but we seem to be getting on well and having a lot of fun, so I might not let her get away that fast. 

Oh, and of course MaiTai (^..^)~ Fingers crossed that she will be back on board by Friday. Thanks to Barbie Tice, Phyllis and Steve Moore and the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry for jumping through hoops and bending rules to make this (hopefully) happen. I wonder if I can collect her frequent flier miles?

The Plan

Our plan is to leave Auckland on the back of the next low pressure system (hopefully around next weekend) and sail to Raivavae, in the Austral Islands group (about 500 miles due south of Tahiti) and then proceed to Tahiti. Phyllis, Steve and Dale will return to the “real world” around the end of June and Paula and I will then double-hand Moonshadow westward through the South Pacific on the “Coconut Milk Run” to Tonga and wait for a weather window to return to New Zealand in October. As usual, our plans are written in the sand at low tide. We did manage to arrange for berthing in Auckland from October till March just a couple of blocks from the America’s Cup Village. Sweet as!

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