Healing Journey – Update 04/2021

It’s about time for annother update on my cancer treatment. The last update was written while I was still in the middle of chemo and no decisions had been made regarding the stem cell transplant.

The effects of the chemo, more information from my oncologist and the begining of the covid crisis lead to a decision about my further treatment. For one thing I was getting less and less confident in the idea that treating your body with poisons (chemo) will make me healthy. Secondly the plans of my oncologist to keep me on maintenance chemo for as long as funding was available put me off, as I had been planing on going sailing for extended periods of time again. Also the next planned therapy – stem stell transplant seemed overly destructive and outright stupid in light of the covid pandemic starting. During stem cell transplant the patient receives a very destructive chemo at some point that among other effects, pretty much destroys the immune system so that you have to be kept in isolation for several weeks because any germ or virus that gets to you could wipe you out.

At that point – after 4 months of chemo my cancer indicators (para-proteins) were down to 3 mg/ltr so I was in a pretty good remission. Gaylyn and I had started reading up about alternative therapies, we watched the very helpful videos on Chris Beat Cancer and read up about a lot of other people’s experiences with fighting cancer. As a result I decided that before going down any further on the path of allopathic, destructive medicine I was going to give nature cures a chance.

My oncologist was rather unhappy with this decision and it appeared to me that they were trying to scare me back into their planned course of treatment. But my mind was made up and I soon faded out all of the drugs I had still been taking and started the diet that I had agreed on with Gaylyn.

We had been adapting our diet to be more healthy ever since I had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma but now went for the real thing:

  • Intermediate fasting – we are only eating from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm. Outside of those times only water is allowed.
  • Alcohol, sugars, meat, processed foods are removed from the diet, leaving us eating only food that comes straight from the field – as much as possible grown organically.
  • All water we consume is filtered.
  • Overdosing on healthy nutrients – I (or rather Gaylyn while I was still working) started juicing 1 1/2 kg of carrots plus beetroot, lemon, ginger and turmeric every morning.
  • Breaking the fast at 11:00 with a celery juice and fresh fruit.
  • The Budwig Protocol consisting of most of the above dietary restrictions as well as a mix of quark ( a german type of cottage cheese) and flax seed oil.
  • Plenty of fresh, organic seasonal fruit.
  • A big bowl of salad as the main meal of the day along with a little bit of cooked food.
  • Plenty of fresh air, sunlight and exercise.

As with all alternative therapies and diets every publication will prominently state that it is unproven that anything good can come from it, to not be immediately sued by the pharmaceutical lobby but it appears that there are a huge host of people that have managed to cure cancer in all sorts of states with all natural diets.

Although my oncologist has yet to acknowledge that anything unexpected has occurred, half a year after stopping chemo and starting the above diet my cancer indicators dropped from 3 mg/ltr to ‘too faint to quantify’. I have lost over 20kg of weight and have regained my fitness that was pretty much gone after 4 months of chemo.

Gaylyn and I have since trained up engaging in increasingly long and strenuous hikes and we have just achieved our goal which was to do the Tongiraro Alpine Crossing.

In the end only time can tell, but I am currently not too worried about the cancer coming back. I am living my life pretty much as before except a lot healthier. This winter we are planing on flying to Australia to visit the family and explore some more of the red continent.

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My Healing Journey – Update 11.12.2019

Appointment with Sarah Poplar, Haematologist 9th December, 2019

Several issues were discussed

FISH test result *– this a test done on the biopsy of Thomas’ bone marrow to determine the generic ‘type’ of myeloma he has. The results were inconclusive and they will try again at a later date to get another sample. Apparently it is quite common to not get a result as the culture of myeloma grows very slowly – sometimes too slowly and then the sample becomes useless, as in this case. What this means is that, we won’t know a true prognosis as the type determines how aggressive the cancer is. Myeloma is relatively a non-aggressive form of cancer but one particular type is more so than the others. (as I understand it)

* “Myeloma genetics is an important piece of the myeloma puzzle. The most commonly run genetics test is called the FISH test. A fluorescence in situ hybridization, (FISH) maps out the genetic material of a cell. It uses special fluorescent dyes that only attach to specific parts of the chromosomes.”

Thomas asked how long he can expect for a remission to last.

Sarah said between 3-6 years before a new line of treatment is required. Rarely, there have been remissions lasting 10 years but they are very rare. So Thomas is currently on the first line of treatment that will possibly last 2 years. We haven’t asked if the treatment continues if he goes into remission earlier than the 2 years. That’s a question for next time. We are planning on Thomas being in the 10 year rarity framework.. or longer.

Autologous Stem Cell Transplant

Sarah focused on informing us about this round of treatment as it will probably happen after the 3rd or 4th monthly cycle of his current line of treatment. This is when Thomas will have an extraction of his bone marrow stem cells and these will be frozen. Then Thomas will have an extremely large dose of Chemotherapy. After this, he will have his cells transferred back to him so he can grow healthy cells. Then Thomas will have about a 3 month break from chemo injections and we’ll be able to go traveling for a while. This might line up nicely with New Zealand’s winter. I am still reading up about this treatment. We are unsure if this goes ahead if he goes into remission beforehand – another question that we were both wondering after the meeting.

Thomas’ current condition and response to treatment thus far

We are extremely happy to report that the cancer in Thomas’ blood has dropped from 54points to 18points. This has amazed the doctors and shows a very promising outlook for Thomas. He is responding well to the drugs, change of diet and life very well.

He is eating well, lost 8kg, working and concentrating well and is beginning to lift a bit more than he has been. We are living on the boat in the marina and he is managing the walking and movement on the boat well.

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My Healing Journey

On or about the 11th October, 2019, Thomas hurt his back trying to lift up the garage door. He put this down to a stupid move. He felt the twinge and knew immediately that he had strained his back.

On or about the 12th October, 2019, Thomas woke up from a daytime nap, resting his back, whilst continuing to work, and felt a sharp pain as he climbed up from the ground level bed. He immediately had pain and experienced difficulty breathing.

His breathing became worse, but he recalled a diagnosis from his youth where something similar had happened, and decided that rest was required.

After a few days of no relief, he was encouraged to see an osteopath where he was told that his vertebrae were in an anterior position. He had some immediate relief but this left as soon as he got up from the table.

He thought he needed more rest and decided that sitting around an emergency room would only make it worse and he needed to rest and we were going to Barcelona on the 20th anyway so no it wasn’t much use to begin ongoing treatment for back pain.

He went to the doctor before leaving Germany, but he was away on holiday. Thomas booked in to an acupuncturist who told him that his night sweats he’d been experiencing for sometime, needed investigation.

In Barcelona at his work summit, Thomas’ pain continued. The health insurance company found a doctor for us to see. This doctor said he had back pain and needed medical attention and prescribed some mild pain killers. His health continued to gradually decline, but he was still reluctant to go to emergency as he was in too much pain to sit around and was concerned about the language barrier.

A few days later, after talking with a friend on Palma, he rang another doctor in Barcelona who x-rayed his back. The x-rays were of such a poor quality that they were unable to be read, but the doctor gave him some powerful painkillers for the flight back to New Zealand. Thomas’ health continued to decline, but he thought this was due to the constant pain, and he was unable to carry any of his luggage, including his own backpack. We booked into a nice hotel near the beach where he was able to rest and prepare for the long flight home. He was still thinking he just had a bad back, he carried on knowing how back pain can be persistent.

On the flight home, he was quite comfortable and didn’t take the strong painkillers. We discussed the option of going to emergency upon return to New Zealand.

On Sunday 3rd November, Thomas presented to the White Cross Emergency medical centre where the doctor treated him for a back injury. This injury was accepted by the accident compensation board, despite the fact that it was done overseas. New Zealand is amazing! This doctor took some blood tests.

On the evening of Monday the 4th November, there were 2 phone messages left on Gaylyn’s phone saying there were some concerns with his bloods and could we please ring. It was approximately 7pm when we heard those messages and rang straight away. They told us we needed to ring in the morning, but the levels of calcium were high. We looked this up and saw that it wasn’t a good situation. Thomas’ health and condition continued to decline.

On Tuesday 5th November, Thomas presented at Rust Ave Medical Centre where he was allocated a new doctor. (he hadn’t been before in New Zealand). The young German doctor looked at his blood results, gave him some new pain killers and told him to get another blood test in a week’s time. This was despite the fact that we had a bag packed ready for hospital as we wanted some answers.

On Wednesday 6th November, Thomas’ health had deteriorated to a concerning level and after a bad night sleep, ringing the doctor’s surgery and describing his condition we went to the Emergency Department at Whangarei Base.

Here it only took the medical team half an hour to tell us that all blood results were indicating he had Mulitple Myeloma. He was given an x-ray which showed he had a compression fracture to his 4th Thoracic vertebra.

He was immediately given some morphine for the pain, and then he was put on fluids to get the calcium out of his blood stream. This was at a level over double the norm and his kidneys were down to 40% operating capacity. His life was in immediate danger.

He was given an extra drug that stopped the bone from putting the calcium into the blood stream. This drug was called Zoledronic Acid and we were told that it would stay in his bones for 10 years. It would also cause any breaks to heal slower.

Dental treatment was arranged as this was an important factor about avoiding complications but this was postponed as he had already been given the Zoledronic Acid.

On the fifth day in hospital, Thomas had responded well to having the fluids and the calcium count had halved and his kidneys were back up to 88% functionality.

On Monday 11th Thomas had an MRI

This showed that he had a tumour on his 4th Thoracic vertebra.

On Tuesday 12th We had a meeting with the haematologist at the Jim Carney Cancer Centre. Sarah Poplar gave us a good impression of the situation stressing that she strongly advised going ahead with the treatment, as by not doing so would end in a crippling demise. The following are notes taken during that meeting.

  • Multiple Myeloma is a disease of the cellular plasma in the blood. There is evidence of it in the top back and pelvic bone.
  • As well as the fluids, Thomas was given steroids as a rescue procedure because he arrived in a state of emergency.
  • The tumour on his back is a lump made up of the plasma cells
  • They need to stop the cancer first so the tumour can be removed
  • If the tumour was endangering or impinging on the spinal cord, then they would operate immediately, but that was not the case. Radiation down the track may be needed.
  • Sarah is going to be talking to the radiation team in Auckland.
  • The biopsy results from his bone marrow are still arriving but the diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma was confirmed.

Treatment

  • 85 – 90% of people respond to the treatment and things are looking very positive
  • He will be having anti-tumor chemotherapy, a bone strengthener/calcium controller 24 doses monthly. (2 years of treatment)
  • This is not curable but it is very treatable
  • Treatment is to control the tumors and to get the cancer down to minimal levels.(paraproteins currently reading 5.9mg/L) This is high
  • Need to get control of long term treatment
  • Weekly injections under the skin
  • Other chemo in the way of pills

Blood tests

Once a month – blood tests and monitoring by Sarah

Once a week – blood test before the injection with Janet (cancer nurse)

After first cycle – get training in self injection

After 4 months and there being a radical decline in the cancer cells – paraproteins, they will take a sample of Thomas’ bone marrow.

Then they will give a powerful burst of chemotherapy that will kill off most of his own bone marrow cells. The sample of Thomas’ bone marrow would have been frozen and then will be returned to him once the rest of the cells have been destroyed, to build up new bone marrow cells.

Alternatives

Turmeric is known to have a positive effect

Green tea is a contradiction and mustn’t be taken and Grapefruit causes a reaction with some of the medication.

Main Drugs for Chemo

Dexamethasone – a steroid

Cyclophosphamide – Chemo in tablet form

Bortezomib – injection under the skin

Other drugs

Valaciclovir – anti viral

Allopurinol – for one month cycle only – antigout

Co-Trimoxazole – antibiotic

Metoclopramide as needed for nausea

Hospital drugs on top of the above

Tramadol – excessive pain

Phosphate phebra – to build up phosphate in the bones

Omeprazole CA – gastro protection

Paracetamol for mild pain

Laxsol – constipation which is expected on the first few days of chemo

Future Appointments

Weekly visits to cancer clinic after blood tests

Psychologist appointment to be made at Jim Carney Centre

Dental appointment in approximately a month’s time

General Comments

Now that we have the diagnosis, of course we regret not going to a doctor and getting blood tests sooner. Even the two doctors in Barcelona still assumed it was just back pain and didn’t order blood tests. Thomas had lots of rest before coming back to New Zealand. The hospital staff and the doctors involved are amazing and have done everything to instill confidence. Thomas has responded well to treatment so far and his vital signs have returned to normal. The cause of this cancer, like most, is unknown, except that long-term exposure to chemicals is a common thread amongst people who get it. Our boat builder said to us before leaving New Zealand, that he was surprised we weren’t both ill because of the amount of diesel and oil that were in Qi, in places that we couldn’t reach and had been absorbed into foam layers under the fuel tank and in our water pipes. Now Qi has had a complete refit, this problem has been resolved. If these toxins were the cause of the cancer, then we have removed the cause.

New Entry dated 27th November, 2019

As a part of Thomas’ treatment to directly kill off the cancer cells, he was administered high doses of steroids. 40mg for four straight days out of every eight days. In the days just after his first chemo treatment on the 12/11/2019, Thomas began experiencing long hours of being awake in the middle of the night and discovered new insights to his feelings for others and perspectives on life. He found the experience quite enlightening and joyful. However the pain wasn’t under control. He wasn’t experiencing any pain when he was lying in bed.

On November, 16th, the weekend after having his first chemo and the night after taking two tramadol in the morning, Thomas experienced a high level of anxiety that lead him to want to go to hospital. He calmed down after a while and a back rub and then went to sleep. Thomas had a reasonably good nights sleep and was calm the next day.

The boat was transferred to Dockland 5 by lorry on the 14th November. There was still a lot of work to be done, so Richard asked if we’d continue to stay in the flat at the back of the boat shed at Matakohe. Thomas spent quite a bit of time out at the boat watching her get ready to go and take photos. This tired him greatly and it was quite emotional.

Thomas was only able to stand for approximately three – five minutes at a time before needing to rest. He was having to lie down 3 times during eating a meal because the pain was so great. We were both worrying that he was getting worse.

He began to experience tingling and numbness in his fingers and toes on some occasions.

Monday 18th November

Thomas rang Janet, his nurse from the cancer clinic and discussed his head space and the lack of pain relief. She instructed him to go to the emergency department at Whangarei hospital.

It was decided that Thomas’ steroid dose would be reduced by half and Codeine would be trialed as his pain relief along with two paracetamols.

He had a new CT scan of his back and Dr Sarah Poplar conversed with the radiation team in Auckland to see if they thought they could do anything for the pain.

They kept him in overnight and prescribed more phosphate for him to do another five day course.

Tuesday 19th November

Thomas had his second course of chemo and was released from hospital.

Thomas had no adverse effects from the chemo

Wednesday 20th November

We received a call from Auckland booking Thomas in for an assessment on Thursday, 21/11/2019 and radiation treatment on Friday 22/11/2019. They booked two nights accommodation for us at the Domain Lodge across from the hospital, a hotel designated by the Cancer Society to house patients receiving radiation away from home.

Thursday, 21st November

Thomas was feeling rather pain free with ¾ of his dose of pain killers. We drove early in the morning to reach his 9.30am appointment. Unfortunately, they let us wait 2 hours before they interviewed him.

Thomas went into a CT scanner to be measured up for his radiation treatment. He was tattooed with dots to ensure that the radiation treatment would be exact as, they wanted to ensure his lungs and heart would be safe as they were very close to the site.

Because he’d had his chemo, they weren’t sure if they would go ahead with the treatment the following day or not. They would ring us if it was to be cancelled. We had no call.

The hotel was very nice and we both felt very relaxed. I went for a walk through the beautiful Auckland Domain to get to Burger Fuel, our all-time favorite hamburger joint. We had a delicious late lunch of some our favorite food.

Friday 22nd November

I took Thomas for a drive through the park. He was still only managing about 200m at a time before he needed to get comfortable again. We went to the war museum, which was free for NZ residents, and we spent about half an hour wandering around the Polynesian display. It was very calming and beautiful.

We went to the hospital for our 3pm appointment. He was given 3 minutes of very intense radiation to the crushed vertebrae. He had no burns but it felt like the pain had changed.

We had a quiet night in the hotel.

Saturday 23rd November

Thomas was feeling good. He’d received a call making an appointment with the orthopaedic team for Tuesday. We called in for more Burger Fuel on the way back to Matakohe.

Monday 25th November

Thomas had organized a surveyor to inspect the boat so we could change insurances. Unfortunately, Richard was busy and we had to go down. As Thomas’ appointments were all the next day, we decided to stay in Whangarei overnight at Aunty Jeanne’s place. Thomas was quite comfortable and I organized running around to get a Warrant of Fitness for the car.

Tuesday 26th November

Orthopedic Team meeting – Thomas had another x-ray to the spine

We were able to see that the crushed vertebrae had settled and was unlikely to move and endanger the spinal cord.

We asked questions about the drug they had given him to stop the bones from throwing off the calcium and its effect on the healing process. The doctor told us that it will not affect it adversely.

He said healing will take about four months.

He said swimming would be the best exercise to build up the muscle around the break. He did say that he could do some other exercises to keep up his fitness.

He said the vertebrae will always be crushed and won’t regain its previous height. Thomas will forever be two centimeters shorter.

He told us that it is unlikely that he will experience other breaks as that vertebrae had a lesion from the cancer – a tumor inside the actual vertebrae, taking the area up where bone should have been. This wasn’t strong enough to withstand the strength needed in the spine. There are no other lesions currently present in his spine and none will hopefully appear with the current cancer treatment.

The registrar showed us a photo of the break. You can see the crushed vertebrae that used to be the same height as the others around it. You can also see that a fragment goes slightly into the spinal canal, but it isn’t in danger of touching it. The break has caused some pressure on the nerve coming out of his spine at this place and this is what is causing most of the pain.

When Thomas asked, should he lose weight, the doctor laughed and said only in your head, and you don’t want to do that, because this vertebrae holds up the head. It is T4, The nerves from T4 go to the chest and the chest wall. This could also account for some of Thomas’ breathing difficulties.

Thomas had his third chemo therapy with no adverse effects.

Wednesday 27th November,

Thomas has spoken to his boss about doing a small amount of work. He has written a blog and is able to concentrate a lot better. He has another appointment this afternoon with another one of his bosses.

Posted in English, Multliple Myeloma | Leave a comment

Shorter

Today I had a consultation with orthopedic team at the Whangarei hospital and got a better idea what actually has happened to my back. The footing I was shown from the MRI scans gave me a bit of a shock. The collapsed vertebrae visible in the MRI has likely shrunken me by about 15mm and I am unlikely to catch up with that again. The damaged vertebrae is the one with the line through it. Compare it’s height to that of the ones above and below. Luckily the damage is in the upper part of the spine  where there is not a lot of movement and the spine is rather static due to the ribcage and sternum.

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The Good and the Bad and the Ugly

Deutsche Version

Vanua Balavu

It has been a busy time since my last post.

Reading up about the 2017 sailing season in Fiji, it clearly was one of the most beautiful experiences of the journey so far. This post picks up the story at the end of that journey, briefly recapitulates the events of the following years and ends with the current life-altering changes that have arrived to our life. The impatient reader can skip the stories and get the news in the last 2 paragraphs of the post.

Back to NZ

Things went pear shaped on the way back 3 days out of Fiji with the common strong winds on slight upwind course and chop you, might encounter in the region. A broken chainplate forced us to reroute to Noumea.

By the time we arrived there, a burst warm water hose had poured all our water into the bilge and entering into the port our steering played up so that I dumped the boat in a random empty berth quite unelegantly and informed the marina that I was not able to move out again before fixing the rudder, which they accepted reluctantly.

The rudder was quickly fixed, the pressure water system shut down and access to clear water jerry-rigged but we found no quick cure for the chain plate and I needed to get back to NZ quickly to get the required days inside the country together for my residency application.

Some Auckland ‘rig experts’ reassured me that my rig was strong enough to stand with one slack lower port shroud, so we jerry-rigged the shroud, bought a huge spanner belt as plan B, bought 200 litres more of diesel canisters and diesel and hired MetBob to conjure up a low wind sailable weather window with wind from starboard back.

All good we thought…

We had an awkwardly slow trip with all the wrong wind, went through huge amounts of fuel and still got strong winds from the vulnerable port side and nasty waves too.

We had to put plan B into action early as the fastening we had the shroud rigged to gave way on day two. It ripped out of the deck!

All the time I was nervously waiting for another chainplate to give way and render the rig unstable. A sailor’s nightmare.

Coming home to NZ from the islands is never a piece of cake, a well known fact actually … we made it anyway, but not a journey I like to think back to. I must have been grumpy 24/7 for the whole of the 8 day trip – sorry crew.

The Summer of 2017/18

Learning to fish

We got the boat fixed and fit for a summer season in NZ. An interesting season, as we were going to have a semi-permanent visitor – my sister Katrin’s then 19 year old daughter Selina and her then 15 year old brother, Bo, were coming and while Selina wanted to travel NZ & Oz, Bo was coming to stay and get sorted. He had been in all sorts of trouble in Germany. A challenge of some kind for the father of none that I am.

Bo used to be the little boy that loved to crawl all over me and punch me in the tummy as hard as he could while I pretended to hardly notice. We used to have good fun. 6 years of cruising later we had to redefine our relationship.

We soon got the the idea of just how Bo was getting in trouble and as we did not want him to get involved with NZ police, we decided that we were better off getting him out into the wild where there was no trouble of his liking to be found. So sailing in remote places it was for that summer.

Physical Education on the deck

The Northland coast from Whangaroa, Bay of Islands, Poor Knights, Whangarei, Waiheke, lots of Great Barrier Island, and the Splore music Festival was on offer next to racing the boat and the dinghy, fishing for kahawai, kingfish, snapper, and crayfish, diving, freediving, paddlebording, kitesurfing, next to daily schooling by Gaylyn and a bit of his German scores, electronics and software development taught by the captain himself.

The necessary discipline was enforced by a hideous router that would mysteriously throttle the bandwidth of Bo’s internet devices whenever he was not cooperating. Staggering low res youtube on the boat is probably a lot more cruel that single confinement.

School’s out – Play Time

Sorry Bo, but why would you upset the IT nerd in charge of the network? Your only option would have been to hack me back, but that would have afforded a bit more attention in software class.

We spent lots of time with friends on other boats especially Family Circus, which eventually made Bo come around and embrace the cruising lifestyle and engage. By the time he left we were a team and it was a sad goodbye.

Winter and Work

Qi had only been repaired as far as required for summer in NZ and we were planing to do a ‘little’ refit to make her fit to sail the seven seas again. I am a good enough craftsman to keep Qi afloat, but I like to get serious work done by serious craftsmen. So my plan was to find a job in IT, and earn tons of money (in NZ?) and to put all that would be left after tax into someone else’s pocket or rather to throw it into the big gaping hole in the water they say a boat is.

Qi was moored for winter on pylons at Kissing Point on the Whangarei Harbour and we moved into a summer home on Palm Beach, Waiheke that was rented out to us by our sailing friend Vaughan Wellington for an affordable winter flat rate.

Turns out after 6 years off the job you aren’t really sought after on a rapidly changing market like IT.

I found work with an old German contact, which turned out to be a permanent chase to get invoices paid and ended up with 10K€ worth of invoices still open presently while even his employees were going without. To be honest I was only mildly surprised due to prior experiences with the guy, but I thought it worth the while just to get a foot in the door and a bit of projects to fill the gaping hole in the CV.

While waiting for jobs and overdue invoices I engaged in online studies on the field of artificial intelligence and managed to decorate my CV with 5 certificates from Stanford University.

When I needed a break from the computer I just had to look out of my little office window overlooking the beach. There was always plenty of distraction to be had there.

I ended up concentrating on the overseas market for remote IT workers accessible via stackoverflow jobs and linkedIn instead of going for the Auckland job market which offered mediocre wages, little opportunity and troublesome commuting from Waiheke Island.

Gaylyn had found work at a Waiheke primary school, but getting back to the classroom with very young students wore her down so badly, that after several months we decided we’d rather go without the money than have her unhappy, sick and exhausted.

Gaylyn and fellow Teachers set up for the Ball

Finally I applied to just the right company – resin.io now Balena. I was just waiting for outstanding invoices again and had no time restrictions, so I obsessively started to deliver a test project that had all aspects of the posed problem I could think of addressed nicely. I somehow managed to get through the interviews although rather nervous about the overall recentness of my skill sets and scored a remote job at an agreeable overseas freelance pay which was still lots more than I could hope to earn in NZ.

Qi’s refit funds were coming together and the project was planned for winter 2019 with Richard Edlin, who had been pointed out to us as the best boat builder in all of Northland and had already done excellent jobs on our rudder an the broken chainplate.

Summer of 2018/2019

Summer came and we moved back to the boat again. With my job I needed to be in reach of good internet during working hours which restricted our travel times to weekends and holidays and nights. Smokehouse Bay on Great Barrier Island turned out to be the perfect location for us. Plenty of good company around, a Vodafone mast delivering 4G internet, warm water (if you collected enough firewood), barbecues, fish smokers, and a pizza oven, were the main features of the place together with groceries delivered by a mainland supermarket,Countdown directly to the port Fitzroy peer just a mile away.

Seafood Feast on Family Circus

My sister Dagmar came for a visit – we cruelly made her fly out to Great Barrier after her overseas flight and then had problems picking her up from the airport as the rental lady had crashed the car we had booked for that purpose. She went silent when we told her to hitchhike to our location, but we somehow got a taxi organised at the last minute. She didn’t realise that hitchhiking was the main form of transport on the islands – for visitors and a high majority of the inhabitants. 

Due to my restrictions we just did a little trip up to Waiheke, Bay of Islands and Whangarei before returning to our home base Great Barrier.

Pizza Oven Smokehouse Bay

The Refit

The plan for winter was to haul the boat, get it fixed up and go to Germany for the northern summer. As the mast and keel was coming off the boat anyway, we decided to put the hull on a truck and cart it over to Matakohe were Richard had his boat shed. This way he had it right where he needed it with no commuting involved. We lodged 10m away in a little flat built into the boat shed with a view overlooking part of the Kaipara inlet. A perfect solution.

Qi ready to go

As work proceeded I became very confident with the quality and cost of the work done, so that I started adding more and more problems to the list of things to be addressed. The incomplete list as of now:

  • Cut apart and remove the stainless steel fuel tank to get access to the keel. Replace with a removable plastic tank.
  • Removing foam, water and oil filled structures from the bottom of the bilge that were not accessible due to the tank.
  • Take off keel, repair cracks in hull around keel, reinforce keel area, repair wet and damaged bulkheads.
  • Overhaul the teak deck, removing all screws, repairing parts and sanding it down. Gaylyn was responsible for taking out the thousands of screws and then creating teak plugs and gluing them into the screw holes.
  • New paint to the hull and deck house.
  • New windows in the deck house.
  • New layout inside, moving generator, watermaker and boiler to more appropriate places.
  • Reinforcing the stern of the boat near the rudder.
  • Replacing all through-hulls with new plastic ones.
  • New lifelines.
  • Rerouting and repairing of the exhaust and turbo.
  • New chainplates.
  • New workbench for kitchen
  • Fridge rebuild
  • Winches overhauled

The Keel is off

Image 1 of 37

Winter came and we left for Germany with the boat far from finished and the general idea of a return of Qi to the water some time in November. 

Summer in Germany

Summer in Germany was a nice change to the gnarly weather in NZ. We moved in to my sister Dagmar’s lovely place, hidden in the forest near Hamburg, purchased a cheap SUP and soon we were out on the lakes having fun. Unfortunately I had a lot of work to do and spent a most of my time in the basement where we had set up camp and I had my office.

Meanwhile Gaylyn was having fun with the family when she was not away visiting friends throughout Europe. We managed to get a few little excursions in together to visit Stephan and Ilja off SY Sabir in their new home in Fehmahrn and went for on beautiful trip to Turkey which is well worth a blog of its own.

Cappadocia Baloon Flight

The Ugly

Too much computer work is never a good thing and I felt that my health was degrading.

  • I hurt my shoulder at archery and had to stop shooting bow and arrow completely.
  • I hurt my back and was struggling to keep up work on the computer or perform manual work.
  • I often felt tired and found it hard to concentrate on my work.

Unfortunately I did not consult a doctor early, the back pains seemed just too familiar, orthopaedic appointments seemed hard to get and our time in Germany was running out too. So I just tried to get my back adjusted and had some Chinese acupuncture treatment applied while my back was getting worse rather than better.

My last European appointment was my company’s summit in Barcelona. We packed our bags – loaded with plenty of mainly tech stuff for work and for the boat, purchased in Europe, our flight luggage amounted to combined 47 kg plus pretty heavy cabin luggage and I was struggling to move that kind of weight with my injured back.

Barcelona was quite a struggle for me. I tried hard to be present at the summit and get things done but my back was degrading further and I progressively had to spend more time in my hotel room relaxing my back on the bed. We still managed to do a little bit of sightseeing, but most of the time Gaylyn roamed the beautiful city alone, or with Marta, a friend of ours who lives in a small town near Barcelona.

A couple of doctor’s visits did not provide any diagnosis, but supplied me with a range of pain killers, anti inflammatory drugs and some Valium to sleep over the pain on the long flight back to NZ.

We still managed to do a day trip to Palma de Mallorca where Gaylyn and I first met. We enjoyed the beautiful old City, went to the Real Club Nautico (marina) and stood on the peer on which we started the journey, that brought us to NZ. We were invited for a superb lunch by our friends Silvie & Peter in their beautiful flat overlooking the port of Palma and spent the the afternoon chatting.

The trip back to NZ turned out less hard than I thought it would be – for me that was – as I was mostly sitting or standing around – slightly embarrassed – hands in pocket, while Gaylyn was doing all the heavy lifting and hauling, not only the flight luggage through several check ins and baggage claims, busses and taxis but carrying both our cabin luggage too.

Finally, back in Whangarei I went to see the white cross medical centre the day after arrival and after informing me of the unsolved mysteries involved in diagnosing back pain the doctor decided to do a blood test just to see if something else was going on. He called the next day and urged me to see a GP and get more tests done as my calcium levels were dangerously high and some other markers were out of the normal range too.

Unfortunately, my freshly allocated and consulted GP did not see the problem, prescribed a new set of pain killers and sent me home (we had relocated back to the boat shed at Matakohe 110km out of town ) to get another blood test done in a weeks time. The next day my state had degraded further, Gaylyn got on the phone and consulted a colleague of my GP, and Trudi, Richard’s wife who is registered nurse, with the result that we were urged to proceed directly to the Whangarei hospital’s emergency department.

An hours drive and some wait time later my pain was sedated with a shot of morphine and I was told that my problems were likely caused by a rare cancer of the blood and bone marrow called multiple myeloma. The back pains were due to a fractured/compressed vertebrae of the upper spine (T4, I think), which had been weakened by the effects of the cancer. The haematologist involved, urged me to start an aggressive treatment right away, due to my relatively low age and otherwise good health to which I agreed.

My cancer circulates in the blood so it can not be removed like a regular tumour that can be cut away. Never the less, it can be slowed down and even stopped for long periods of time so that my outlook is not too bad. The consequence of leaving it untreated would be the progressive destabilisation of my bones causing fractures and that or the modification of my blood cells would finally kill me or make my life unbearable.

So I ended up in a hospital bed with a drip feed pumping salt and water through my body for the next days to flush out the calcium, a high dose of steroids to start attack the cancer and a full blown chemo planned for the next week. Also there was the challenge to make sense of my new state – getting told that you have cancer will stir up your mind in ways you can not imagine, unless you had experienced it personally.

The Good

The NZ health system surprised me with its focus on the patient. My treatment comes at no cost, even drugs are provided for free starting after the first 20 prescriptions which amounts to $100 maximum cost per family. The staff in hospital was just lovely and for the radiation treatment I just received in Auckland comfortable accommodation that is provided for free. I feel lucky to be a New Zealand resident – despite the likely more modern facilities that might be available in Germany, I would be caught there in a multi-class treatment system with quality depending on my insurance and my willingness and ability to fund treatments myself. In NZ there is a good and up to date therapy plan for my illness and all necessary treatments are paid for.

My illness has forced me to reconsider a lot of choices I have made in 56 years of lifetime, with some surprise involved as to why I have not addressed some of these topics earlier.

The drugs I am taking, in particular the steroids, give me insomnia and leave me with a mind that is processing at high speed in the middle of the night. I have been using this brain boost to talk to friends and family in Germany (perfect time zone for a sleepless night) or keep Gaylyn awake to brainstorm my epiphanies with me.

My attitude towards people, emotions, computers, work, relationship, spirituality, family, health and a lot of other things has been revisited and I am hoping to find the power to change what has held me down.

My financial situation appears stable as my Balena’s ceo has assured me that he will not cancel my current contract (which he could with 1 month’s notice) and instead is treating me with compassion, which he sees as a good investment in my and the company’s future. I am incredibly grateful for this move that gives me the freedom to heal without worrying about finances and I am determined to make his choice worthwhile.

The refit of the boat is not quite finished but already Qi is literally a new boat. We are still in awe of the craftsmanship and talent of our chosen boat builder and his crew. Upon my diagnosis, they increased their pace so we could return to our home. Her beauty brought tears of gratitude to my eyes.

She is meanwhile back to Dockland 5 in Whangarei with the keel and rig refitted and awaiting further preparation and a date for splash. We were lucky enough to get the berth in Whangarei Town Basin Marina, that our dear friend Renate’s boat used to occupy. She has even left her stainless steel staircase to allow easy access to the boat for us. We are grateful to her for making this happen. We will occupy this berth until I am released from weekly medical appointments and ready to go sailing again. We are hoping to be able to gradually increase our radius of travel from marina dwellers back to cruisers of the seven seas. This process will likely take a year with currently planned treatments stretching over two years.

So the the Islands of the South Pacific will have to wait a while before we can sail our brand new boat through their pristine waters again, but we are determined to do so.

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Where we were this Winter

As you might already know, we spent winter in Fiji but that we have done twice before. This winter we decided to dedicate the whole cruising season to Fiji so that on our 3rd visit we would at last make it to the remoter areas – like the Lau Group.
After a quiet crossing – we waited for the right weather for a long time in Opua and finally got it a bit too quiet – and a beautiful stopover in Minerva Reef we arrived in Vuda Point Marina and checked in. We spent a while hanging around Vuda, Musket Cove and spent a lovely week with Gaylyn’s daughter Sam – visiting the Mamanuka and Yasawa Islands. Unfortunately some of the Mamanukas were off limits for us due to the Australian Survivor being recorded there. Just heard from Gaylyn Sam is having a good time watching the show now and seeing how it is all being put together.
Next we set off north following the west coast of Vitu Levu for two days – motor-sailing behind the reefs up to the northern most point of Vitu Levu where we anchored in lee of the the Island of Nananu-i-Rau.
The next day we crossed the Bligh Water to Nambouwalu on Vanua Levu in a beautiful south-easterly breeze that gave us mostly over 7 knots of speed on a 60° wind angle. Just before entering the reefs of Vanua Levu a beautiful Mahi-Mahi took our lure and we managed to bring it in. I still have the scars on my fingers where I attempted to haul him in hand over hand without gloves on..
We spent the night in Nandi Bay, where we had a nice Visit from some locals and set off early the next morning to make the Nasonsoni Passage on a slack high tide. We did not quite make it in time so the current washed us through the narrow channel with about three knots. The interesting part is the eastern exit. Here the swell of the Koro sea runs against the current and the waves run into the pass high and steep. Gaylyn who was keeping a lookout on the bow soon abandoned her exposed position as the bow was dipping dangerously deep into the waves. Luckily it was a rather calm day in the Koro Sea  – you would not want to try it in big swells and east going current.
We headed on close reaching, just making it past the reefs into Savusavu.
Savusavu is a nice place. Plenty of cheap Indian & Chinese restaurants make it almost cheaper to eat out than to cook yourselves. Also there is a big cruising community and plenty of entertainment. It is one of these hard to get away from places, specially if you are going east like us, because you have to wait for the wind to go all the way around to the south or north, so you can sail to Taveuni.

It took two attempts to get to the Lau Group. The first time we made it to Viani Bay, spent some time with Jack Fisher and went snorkeling on the Rainbow Reef. For the first time I realized, how the rainbow Reef got its name. Due to the effects of the high island of Taveuni, that sends the moist air up high and gathers plenty of rain there Rainbows in sky almost constantly. 

Our next stop was Taveuni – the Garden Island, where we wanted to do some hiking. Unfortunately Gaylyn slipped and fell while we were visiting the Water Slides and twisted her hip in a bad way.  I just managed to help her back down the track with the help of a young Fijian who happened to be around to where our taxi would pick us up and get her back on the boat. The next morning her hip was completely seized up – even getting her to sit up or helping her to the restroom was a major endeavor and very painful for Gaylyn. We decided to return to Savusavu to get her hip x-rayed to make sure nothing was broken.

Again we had a good time in Savusavu, Gaylyn took a while to get up and running but after 4 weeks we were ready for annother attempt to conquer the Lau Group. The trip from Savusavu to Taveuni and even more so to the Lau Group cannot be undertaken in any weather. For the first part you want a nice southerly breeze with not to much eastery in it. That lets you beat to east against the wind which is a bit of a pain because it is usually rough and you are pounding into the waves. But the closer you get to Taveuni the more the wind usually comes around to the south so that most of the time we make it into the Somosomo Strait / Viani Bay in one tack. We also managed to haul in a beautiful mahimahi on the way.

To be continued

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Hängengeblieben in Neuseeland

English Version

Wieder einmal bin ich in Neuseeland nicht zum Schreiben gekommen und das obwohl viel passiert ist seit meinem letzten Artikel im November. Die fotografischen Indizien könnt Ihr in der nachstehenden Galerie bewundern:

Gaylyn und ich hatten eine herrliche Zeit, den Großteil des Sommers verbrachten wir in der Bay of Islands. Meine Schwester Dagmar hat im Dezember für 4 Wochen vorbei geschaut und hatte Nadine eine Freundin im Schlepptau, die auch zur gleichen Zeit in Neuseeland reiste. Wir haben die Zeit mit Segeln, Wandern, Schwimmen (nur dir hart gesottenen) und Paddleboarding totgeschlagen. Nadine hat sich mit Gaylyns Cousin John und den Seinen angefreundet und hat nun einer Ersatzfamilie in Neuseeland. Kaum eine Woche später kam Gaylyns Freundin Andree vorbei und blieb für eine Woche.
Danach lies Gaylyn mich eine Weile allein um Ihr Buch in Neuseeland und später in Australien zu promoten. Sie hat sich gut amüsiert in Diversen Backpacker Hotels auf dem Weg und reichlich Zeitungs- und Radio-Interviews gegeben. Am Ende marschierte sie sogar direkt unangemeldet in eine lokale Fernsehstation und schaffte es mit einem Interview auf Sendung zu gehen. Gaylyn ist jetzt ein Prommi!

 
Gleich nach unserer Ankunft in Neuseeland haben wir begonnen die notwendigen Dokumente für meinen Antrag auf Residency (Aufenthalts- & Arbeitsgenehmigung) zusammen zu stellen. Wir waren schon immer etwas beunruhigt durch die Tatsache dass wir keinen gemeinsamen Platz zum Bleiben haben. Wohin wir auch gehen, immer muss nach ein paar Monaten mindestens einer von uns wieder gehen. Das wird zum Problem wenn jemand krank wird oder einfach mal ein wenig Geld verdienen will.
Den ersten Anlauf im Jahr 2016 hatten wir etwas zu spät angegangen und am Ende lief uns die Zeit davon und wir mussten einen unvollständigen Antrag abgeben der prompt abgelehnt wurde obwohl uns von der telefonischen Hotline dazu geraten worden war. Diesmal waren wir besser vorbereitet. Mein zuständiger Imigration Officer meldete sich schon nach ein paar Wochen und forderte Beweise für ein, dass ich mit gaylyn seit mindestens 12 Monaten in einer echten und stabilen Beziehung lebe. Wir schickten noch ein wenig Material ein und auf erneute Nachfrage bin ich dann die digitalen Fotoalben durchgegangen und habe alle Fotos herausgesucht, auf denen wir beide zu sehen waren. Die wurden dann ausgedruckt, mit Ort und Datum beschriftet und an Imigration verschickt. Danach gab es keine Zweifel mehr dass wir die letzten 4 Jahre viel rund um den Globus herum viel Spaß hatten. Wir mussten nur noch nachweisen, dass wir uns finanziell ein Weilchen über Wasser halten können dann waren wir durch.
Ich habe daher seit dem 31.03.2017 ein Aufenthaltsgenehmigung für Neuseeland. Gaylyn stellt mich seither als Gerwi (German Kiwi) vor.. Es gibt allerdings noch eine Einschränkung – das Visum erlaubt mir für zwei Jahre die Einreise und bis dahin muss ich bestimmte Kriterien erfüllen (z.B. 184 Tage pro Jahr im Lande sein) damit ich dann am 31.03.2019 einen Antrag auf eine permanente Aufenthaltsgenehmigung stellen kann.
Gegen Ende des Sommer wurden wir Jim vorgestellt. Jim ist ein Maori der eine wunderschönes Stück Land am Kerikeri besitzt um das er sich liebevoll kümmert. Er freut sich wenn Yachties vor seinem Strand ankern, ihm Gesellschaft leisten und vielleicht ein wenig beim Gärtnern helfen. Gaylyn ist zwar Vegetarierin, was sie jedoch nicht davon abhält gleichzeitig eine enthusiastische Fischerin zu sein. Jim hat das sofort erkannt und lud uns zum Fischen ein. Nachdem wir vor seinem Strand mit einem Netz reichlich kleine Fische für Köder eingesammelt hatten, ging es raus zum Angeln. Der erste Tag verlief für mich erfolglos. Zum Glück fingen Jim und Gaylyn ein paar schöne Snapper. An der Langleine war noch ein extra großer Brocken so dass das abendliche Essen gesichert war. Am nächsten Tag war ich dann dran und habe nicht nur meinen allerersten Fisch überhaupt sondern gleich darauf noch einen echten Prachtburschen, der mir mächtig Neid einbrachte. Bei Jim gibt es immer reichlich Fisch, Pippis und Austern..
Wir kamen zwei Wochen später noch einmal bei Jim vorbei um ein wenig zu fischen. Ein paar Freunde von Ihm waren schon da und Abends gab es im Feuer gebackenen Kawahai. Am nächsten Tag gab wurde erneut frischer Fisch gefangen und Gaylyn zauberte Poissont Cru sowie ein Fisch-Curry vom Kawahai und dazu gab es in Knoblauch gebratene Pippis.

Für die nächsten 2 Jahre werden wir uns wohl im Sommer in Neuseeland herumtreiben und den Winter auf den Inseln (Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Neu Kaledonien) verbringen. Nächsten Sommer wollen wir in Neuseeland mal nach Arbeit schauen um die Reisekasse aufzufüllen – vielleicht bleiben wir ja sogar mal über Winter.
Aktuell wird es hier mal wieder reichlich frisch und wir warten auf ein Wetterfenster um nach Fiji aufzubrechen. Unglücklicherweise sind zwei verspätete Zyklonen (Donna und Ella) aufgetaucht und das Wetter sieht allgemein noch etwas chaotisch aus im Norden. Daher warten wir noch bis sich das Wetter beruhigt hat. Diverse Boote die schon vorher aufgebrochen sind, sind in teils lebensbedrohliche Situationen geraten und weitere schauen mit Sorge auf die (hoffentlich) vorbeiziehenden Wirbelstürme. Nicht die Art von Wetter mit dem wir uns herumschlagen möchten.
Morgen ziehen die Reste des Wirbelsturms Donna über Neuseeland weg und bringen einen Haufen Wind und Regen sowie kalte Luft von Süden. Wir haben uns in die Marina verdrückt..

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Stuck in NZ

German Version

And again I have not posted while in NZ although plenty has happened since my last post in November. See the photographic evidence in the Gallery below:


Gaylyn and I have had  a beautiful time, spending most of Summer in the Bay of Islands. My sister Dagmar dropped by for a 4 week visit in December and with her came Nadine, a friend from Germany who was travelling NZ at the same time. We had a great time sailing, hiking and hanging out in the Bay of Islands together.  Nadine made good friends with Gaylyn’s  cousin John’s lot  and has an alternative family in New Zealand now. They were followed by Andree – a friend of Gaylyn’s from Australia who joined us for a week.

After that Gaylyn took off to promote her book – first in the South Island of NZ and later in Australia. She had plenty of fun touring the backpackers in New Zealand and doing newspaper and radio interviews in several places. She even walked into a local TV-station and managed to get an interview on TV. She is a real celebrity now.

Shortly after arriving we had started gathering all sorts of materials needed for a second attempt to get me NZ residency. We have always felt a bit uneasy about the fact that we have no common place to stay. Wherever we go one of us will have to leave after 3 to 6 months, so if one of us gets sick or needs to stay for other reasons we are in trouble.

In the first attempt in 2016 we rushed things a bit and ran out of time in the end, missing some documents that had to come in from Germany. This time we had it all sorted. My case officer – an Indian lady came back to me two weeks after handing in the application and asked for more proof of a genuine and stable relationship with Gaylyn. We handed in some more material and ended up sending a whole bunch of photos picturing me and Gaylyn over the last 4 years.The photos we sent were documented regarding the whereabouts and time on the back. That made it quite clear that we had been together and having fun half way around the globe for an extended amount of time. After that the case officer seemed convinced that we were together and only asked for proof, that we could fund ourselves for a while, which was not a problem to provide.

As a result since 31. of March 2017  I am a resident of New Zealand. I can legally work here and basically stay as long as I want. There is still a travel restriction in place though, which means that I can only enter the country for two years and have to meet certain requirements to qualify for permanent residency after the two year period.

Towards the end of summer we got introduced to Jim.  Jim is a Maori who has a beautiful property in the Kerikeri Inlet which he looks after. He enjoys having people around who enjoy the land and maybe lend a hand in the garden. He invited us to come fishing and after catching some bait in nets outside of his little beach we headed off to his favourite fishing spot. On the first day I did not score but Gaylyn and Jim caught some snapper and we had a huge snapper on the long line he had laid out. On day two I caught my first fish ever, and shortly after that a mighty snapper. There is never a shortage of fish, pipis and oysters  when you are around Jim’s place.

We came back two weeks later for some more fishing and ended up having a great feast of kahawai, smoked mullet and snapper, baked in the fire and some more fresh fish the next day served up by Gaylyn as poisson cru  followed by a fish curry and accompanied by pipis fried in garlic. Living off the land…   

So for the next two years we will hang around New Zealand for summer and spend  winter  in the Islands (Fiji,Tonga,Samoa, New Caledonia). For next summer we are actually planing to work and stock up our travel funds – we might even spend a winter…

Currently winter us coming once again in NZ and we are waiting for a weather window to leave to Fiji.  Unfortunately there have been two late cyclones (Donna & Ella) and the weather still looks sort of chaotic to the north, so we are forced to stay a bit longer. Several boats that have left earlier got in some sort of trouble and others that made it to the islands then hand to buckle down to weather a passing cyclone. Not the sort of experiences we are looking for.

Tomorrow the remains of cyclone Donna are crossing the North Island and it looks like a lot of rain and wind is coming our way.  We are going to duck in to the Marina later today. 

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Back to NZ

We have arrived in Aoteroa – the land of the long white cloud and indeed we spotted some impressive clouds coming close.  I haven’t written since the Somosomo Strait and Rainbow Reef and much has happened since then. It seems we had too good a time enjoying Fiji to spend much time on the computer. 

In fast forward mode: Left Rainbow Reef, visited the hot springs in Fawn Harbour, stopped over in Savusau, visited Namena Reef with Haveachat and Silhouette, sailed on to the Yasawas via Nabouwalu and Yandua, sailed up and down the Yasawas and Namukas twice and finally took off to NZ. 

I will highlight some of the above:  

Diving Namena Reef was stunning although I must say that my best dive in Fiji was clearly that on the Purple Gardens near Savusavu. But Namena has great potential and we clearly did not explore enough to find the best spots.

After our first trip down the Yasawas we went to Vuda Point Marina  to pick up Gaylyn’s Brother Alec. We enjoyed a beautiful downwind sail in the calm waters of the Yasawa Islands. It was perfect timing too because once we were safely moored in the marina a front hit Fiji with gusts of 40 kn which would clearly have been very uncomfortable to weather on anchor.  

With Alec on board we headed to Musket Cove and to to allow him to have a go at Cloud Break. Again the timing was perfect as there was no wind and the Swells were just right – Alec ended up having a great day on the surf spots around Namotu Island. 

We cruised up the Yasawas once more and had a beautiful time. The Island group although way more touristic than Vitu Levu offers a lot of beautiful beaches, stunning coral reefs and remote villages where sailors are still welcome. We attended our first ever kava ceremony. Although we went through several cups of kava (high tide) we did not get very stoned. I guess you have to spend half a day drinking with the boys before you get a properly drunk on kava.   

Alec caught 3 beautiful big Spanish mackerels and a bonito which supplied delicious fish meals most of our time in the Yasawas. All the same our dwindling food supplies and an upcoming weather window for the trip to NZ put an end to our cruising and we returned to Vuda Point Marina.  

After restocking on fresh food and checking out we left Fiji on Wednesday the 26.10 at 13:00. We were surprised to find a lot more wind on the open Pacific than the  forecast had lead us to expect. Our strategy was to maintain a comfortable close reach around 50 to 60 degrees apparent and thus go rather further west than the direct route would suggest, hoping to catch a westerly breeze once closer to NZ. This approach worked well – we spent almost 6 days close reaching at good speeds, sailing rather by the wind than by a set course. Day 7 brought several hours of a nice north-westerly blow and then a nasty little front with heavy gusts just a day sail north of Cape Reinga.

After getting seriously soaked by the front we spent 12 hours fighting against a southerly breeze that forced  us to go west again with hardly any progress towards NZ. Just when we were forced to tack, to not get on the wrong side of NZ the wind turned to SW as predicted and we had a beautiful sail down the east coast of the North Island. We made it into the bay of Islands under sail and moored up on the quarantine dock in Opua at 6:00 on Friday 04.11 after 8 days and 17 hours.

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Stunning Rainbow Reef

We went Diving yesterday and again today with local dive guide Jack Fisher. He shows you the best places in the Rainbow Reef and takes care of you and your boat while you enjoy the stunning underwater world of the Reef. He is the best option if you want to explore the Rainbow Reef without paying big dollars for every dive and a pleasant company to have on board. Not only does he navigate you safely through the treacherous reefs and currents, shows you where and how to anchor your boat, he is also a fascinating source of stories and insights into Fiji today and decades ago. Many thanks for the Israeli catamaran Shuti and its lovely crew for hosting us yesterday. Below see a gallery of our dives so far. We will continue to explore the reef tomorrow and I will add new pics to the gallery as they come.

Day One, Cabbage Patch

Day 2, Fish Factory:

Day 3, Rainbow Reef South Pass

Posted in Diving, English, Seefahrt | 1 Comment