This is how much of the passage to New Zealand looked. Deeply-reefed sailing upwind on port tack in 20-25 knots. There are truly no free sailboat rides to New Zealand, but the little boat straight rocked it out. Long live Bill Lapworth, the famed Cal Yachts designer.
I've written in these pages about many "changes in plans" before and i'm sure I will do so again... As you can tell from my last blog entry to this blog entry, there has been a big change in my crusing and voyaging plans. Namely sailing MONGO to New Zealand instead of Australia. And for that, I will say 'mission accomplished'!!! This was by far the most challenging and daunting passage and test that MONGO has ever under taken and without a doubt the sweetest feeling upon completion.
It all started the moment I got to Fiji. Pretty much everyone that I met was headed to New Zealand and when I told them that I was headed to Australia, I would oftentimes get the question "why?". I would expain my motives; good market to sell the boat, great place to cruise, surfing, doing the Sydney to Hobart, etc. The more I talked to other cruisers (many of whom have 'been there, done that'), the more that I learned and began to change opinions and beliefs on the matter. It turns out that New Zealand is arguably as good a place to sell the boat, it is 100 times better of a cruising destination (at least compared to the east coast of Australia where I would have taken MONGO...) and the surf is as good or better and imminently less crowded. With no good Sydney to Hobart ride sorted out (I turned down a couple of potential offers on slow shitters), the motivation to head to Sydney was waning. As I continud hearing and reading horror stories about the Aussie bureaucracy and making friends in Fiji that were all headed to New Zealand, I became a bit upset that I was headed to Australia, even though I had a great time there last year and I love the country.
Cruising friends upon arrival in Opua. They had all made the crossing to NZ at the same time as I did. L to R: Tony and Steve (Knot Tide Down), me (MONGO), Joe and Heidi (s/v Huck) and Debbie (Buena Vista). Great to arrive to friendly familiar faces after a challenging crossing and swp stories!
The final nail in the coffin came on the day before I cleared out of Fiji. After sending my pre-notice of arrival to Australia, I received two very dickish (at least in my interpretation) emails with a lot of bold-print, underlined words such as you' MUST NOT' do this and you 'MUST' do that, followed by a table of fees, potential fees and other expenses that could have, at the whim of a single customs agent, literally bankrupted me.