And getting ourselves ready as well! The trip to New Zealand is one that you have to really prepare for because it is one of the tougher passages. That means really getting up to speed on weather. This means learning about whole new weather systems and the way things move in the southern hemisphere. It means learning all these new names of weather systems as well as oceans, seas and islands and getting a good sense of the geography of everything and how things move. There are lots of services that offer weather information and it seems to be the talk at every social gathering. One weather guru around these parts has mentioned "analysis paralysis" and you can see how that can happen. So much information to sort through – and the bottom line is that it is guess work especially when planning so far ahead. So the daily routine aboard Astarte includes listening to several radio nets – one exclusively for weather; downloading weather "grib" files for the next 24/48/72 hours (and perhaps longer); a long range large area weather synposis; the weekly weathergram from Bob McDavitt; and then looking at all this data and trying to make some sense of it! Add to that lots of talking about weather for the NZ trip with other cruising boats heading the same way.
Besides weather we are checking all the systems aboard Astarte. Recent projects included taking a good look at the steering system. We re-did the vibration control foam on the wind generator yesterday; we have unpacked and re-packed various lockers, the V-berth, the "walk-thru" and the lazarette, to organize better and to see what was where; and, we've done a food inventory and re-organization. We also unpacked from the "stuff bags" all our cold weather clothes. We found some fleeces, long sleeved shirts and sweatshirts for the passage and for the time in NZ where it will be considerably cooler. These all needed to be hung out to air after being in lockers.
New Zealand is quite strict about what you can and cannot bring into the country regarding food supplies. They do NOT allow any meat products, beans (or anything that can sprout), certain spices, dairy products, eggs or any egg products (no mayo); peanuts or peanut butter, honey ...and the list goes on. We are not quite certain if our tinned vegetables will be allowed as we pull all the labels off to keep bugs/mold and clutter down. They allow certain things if they are packaged in certain countries – but without labels – who knows. So the goal has been to go through as many of the supplies as possible. We haven't done any major food shopping (other than fresh stuff and a few items we go through quickly like boxed milk). There is now a new sport in the anchorages – trading food. What do you have that I don't and what can I trade you for it. We have done substantial swapping with our friends on "Chapter Two." I've gotten dried blueberries, they got some nuts; I got some bread flour for some peanut butter; mayo for Parmesan cheese...and the list goes on. We got an electric transformer in exchange for some dive weights, lentils and dried cranberries. We will also gift some items to some islanders because in NZ they toss the items and that is just a waste.
Because we are using up stores – the menus are also getting more interesting based on what's left in the lockers. We are still pretty well stocked – so we had a fun "brunch" yesterday for our friends from "Victory" and "Superted V" - it was a fun day starting with brunch and ending with dominoes and games.
Tonight, we've made a beef pot pie (five tins used !!!) and will have "Chapter Two" and "Superted V" over for dinner and they each will bring dishes to share as well.
So the agenda is getting ourselves and the boat ready for the passage to NZ and enjoying our last time in the Kingdom of Tonga. We have managed to get a snorkel in everyday and the coral and fish here are magnificent.
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