We finally made it to New Zealand on Oct. 19 after 39 days at sea from Mauritius. Whoa- that was a long one! After exiting the Bass Strait, it was a continuous slow, upwind struggle through the Tasman Sea to Cape Reinga at the northern tip if NZ and then a beautiful trip down the East coast of the North Island. We hung on to take 4th place ahead of Whiskey Jack by about 3 hours after a lengthy duel, but were really just glad to finish this very long leg and get into Auckland and start getting the boat fixed up as we had multiple maintenance and repair items. Despite getting in later than expected, a team of pros came right to the dock and we had a mechanic, rigger, electronics, and watermaker specialists ready to help us out. Fantastic Kiwi Spirit- these folks just rock! Friendly, competent, and ready to help.
Quick sidebar- we were met on the dock by David Minors, the marine electronics specialist who did the initial installation of all the B&G equipment on the boat when it was first commissioned in the spring of 2011 in France. David and I spent two weeks in France working on the boat and then later that summer he joined us for the Fastnet Race in England. He then moved to New Zealand and we have kept in touch over the years, so it was wonderful to see him on the dock! Thank you, David, for all your help here in NZ and for being a great friend!
So after getting things squared away with the boat, I joined my wife Kim and sister Wendie in Queenstown on NZ's south island, where I was supposed to be four days earlier! This place is amazing with towering mountains and glaciers coming down to beautiful deep blue lakes. It reminds me a bit of a western ski resort in the US- like Lake Tahoe (although I have not been there) and there is a ton of stuff to do. We have been hiking, on a boat and plane tour to the glaciers and a wine vineyard tour, as the NZ Pinot Noir is the world's finest. It has been a wonderful and much-needed break from the boat and I am feeling rejuvenated.
We are now headed back to Auckland for the start of Leg 4 on Saturday, Oct. 29. We have the usual last-minute items to attend to like a sea trial to test all our repairs and then grocery shopping to augment our new supply of freeze-dried food from NZ purveyor BackCountry Cuisine. We are looking forward to the approx. two-week sail to Tahiti and hope it is not all upwind!
Thanks to my co-skipper Roger Junet for staying in Auckland to oversee repairs while I ventured south. We have agreed to reverse roles in Tahiti and I will mind the boat as he travels- Good teamwork!
Wishing everyone a happy fall and thanks to all for your continued support of this RTW quest.
Joe + Roger on GS2 in Auckland, NZ