Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall charting our adventures as we sail around the world. This season we spent 5 months exploring Vanuatu and are now on the east coast of Australia.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Return to NZ (slowly)

Our final destination on our UK tour, having dropped the car off and waved a fond farewell to Karl & Jo who had gone way beyond the call of duty to help us, was near Southwold in Suffolk, reached by train. We stayed for two nights with Jenny & Richard (Jenny joined Marks & Spencer as a graduate trainee at the same time as Dianne, back in the day) and had a great time with Martha, Henry and Di's Godson Jasper. Graham was delighted to give lots of cuddles to Kipper and Chutney, the cats, too.

With (l-r) Martha, Jasper & Henry

With Jenny (photo by Martha)
We left on Thursday afternoon for the train & tube ride to Heathrow for the start of the planned 34-hour, two-stop (Abu Dhabi and Sydney) trip to Auckland. Unfortunately it didn't go entirely to plan and we had to get a later flight from Abu Dhabi to Perth instead, which added about 12 hours to the voyage; luckily the airline, Etihad, were brilliant throughout what could have been a rather stressful time and put us into a hotel so that we could get a meal and about 5 hours' sleep. The connecting Etihad flight to Perth was pretty empty so the stewardess led us forward so that we had an empty 4-seat row each and so managed some more, relatively comfortable sleep.

Anyway, we arrived in Auckland at dawn on Sunday after nearly 48 hours in airplane-land, less jet-lagged than expected thanks to the stop-over but with Graham showing the symptoms of man-flu (for the first time in 3 years!) after such close proximity with the travelling hoards. He's got it bad.

Our arrival coincided with the passing of Cyclone Pam but conditions haven't been at all bad, considering the devastation she's wreaked in Vanuatu. The restart of the Volvo Ocean Race has been postponed to allow sea conditions to subside so we walked down to the Viaduct area on the waterfront to see the boats.

The Volvo Open 60's are identical boats so it's all down to the skill and tactics of the crews to  beat their opponents, rather than the size of their team budgets
The pink boat is Team SCA, the only all-women crew, which won the in-port, round-the-buoys race on Saturday. No doubt there were a few bruised male egos!

The delayed start (originally scheduled for Sunday) must have come as a huge disappointment to the Auckland City organisers who had planned a huge razzmatazz send-off for the fleet. Inevitably a week-day restart will be a less busy affair. 

 We'll go back to the Race Village today so see what the latest news is - if the restart takes place tomorrow we'll try to find a good vantage point before driving back 'home' to Maunie on Wedneday. After 6 weeks away, we're looking forward to getting back to her.

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