About the Omarsea Crew

We are the Trefethens. After 10 years of planning we decided to sell our home and buy a sailboat. In November 2007 we departed Portland Oregon for the Virgin Islands and our 50 foot sloop the OMARSEA. Our three children Ben, Juli and Steve are enjoying the benefits of being homeschooled. Join us on our continuing adventures as we explore the East coast of America on the way to New Zealand.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Travel in New Zealand Part 2

In the last post we had arrived in Hamilton and seen the gardens. Not too exciting to read about so thanks for being patient. After a night in Hamilton we pressed on to Lake Taupo. Much like lake Tahoe with clear blue waters and small islands we stayed two nights on the North shore. The whole area is volcanic and actively so. Steam issues from the ground all over the place and there is a geothermal park just up the road we visited. From Taupo we drove around the East side of the lake South toward Hamilton. Jean and Margret had selected a house in the forests of a town called Upper Hut. You should see the driveway!!!!! I was reminded of driving up a ski slope.
  I should note that we rented an 8 passenger van in Whangarei for the trip. At the time there were very few options for such a vehicle and when Jean and i saw the van we were a bit frustrated. It really looks old and worn. The fella renting it to us, I wont mention the name of the company, felt so ashamed of the van he dropped the daily price by 25%. As we were leaving the next day we took the van but were none too happy with it. Especially as the brakes squeaked going out of the rental parking lot.
The driveway to Stu's house proved to be  a bit of a challenge for the brakes. They worked great mind you but they protested loudly doing so. Because  there were no repair facilities nearby that we could have the car fixed at we elected to drive the car until we got toAukland where I could have a shop look at them.
Our house in Upper Hut also proved to be a new experience. The owner had only recently decided that he would rent it to guests. But when we arrived we found that he, his daughter and her boyfriend were going to be sharing the house with us. That we did not expect. But Stu proved to be a quick learner and by day three we pretty much had the house to ourselves. He made us great coffee in the mornings and we had many an enjoyable chat with him during our stay there. It proved to be an excellent location to pursue our two favorite activities. Geocaching and tracking down the filming sites for The Lord of the Rings. The scene where Aragorn falls into the river in Two Towers and comes ashore where the horse finds him is just below Stu's house. Mary and I found the Aragorn Lives geocache there. Just 12 KM up the road is the location of the Rivendell, the Elvish city. We all had fun taking our pictures there. (Once I get back to my PC I will upload all my pictures of this.)
From The Upper Hut we drove to Wellington. A good size city we visited the famous La Papa museum. It has the largest display of Mauri artifacts and history in NZ. If you ever get to NZ this is a must do for visitors. A combination of art, history and science museum it has something for everyone.

Leaving Upper Hut we were treated to another hair raising driving event through a mountain pass.Squeaking  loudly now we rolled into Rotorua still with functional brakes but also strange looks from those around us. The hotel, well lets just not talk about the hotel. It is for the best I assure you. Clara had arranged for us to have dinner with the Mauri tribe in the area. They are a very well organized group and we were picked up by bus and taken to the village. Our driver mark was an amazing Man in that he could say hello in 62 languages and converse fluently in German, Italian, French, Chinese, and of Course English. He made quick work of the 30 minute ride by teaching us some history and of course how to say Hello in Mauri. Kia Ora"  Pronounced KeyOrraa". We must have said it 100 time before we reached the village but he had us in fits of laughter the whole way. Once there we were welcomed to the village with a traditional hangi or challenge. The serious looks, heavy weapons and aggressive stance of the warriors was a sight to see. Then the women sang a welcome song and we entered the village. There Mauri taught us carving, dance, fighting and games. Once done with the pre-dinner activities they led us to the kitchen where the dinner was cooked underground in large pots. The chief did mention that if you get too close and fall in the cooking pot he would put the lid on and cook you. He wasn't smiling when he said this.
The dinner was great, Lamb, fish, local potatoes, salas and a desert. From the dining hall we were lead outside and a farewell song sung to us. Then we boarded the bus and our crazy driver Mark had us singing all the national anthems of those people who were aboard. He knew the words to them all and had a pretty good voice. When we arrive back in Rotorua he gave us one last surprise. As we approached the traffic circle he went all the way around. Not once, not twice but nine times. We laughed so hard at his jokes while he did this I nearly slip my sides. A great evening it was.

At last it was time to leave for Napier and Aukland. We packed in the morning and drove the three hours North, around lake Taupo to the town of Napire. It is a small beach town once crowded in the early 1900's and now a retirement place for wealthy Kiwi's. Vineyards dot the area. We stayed in a nice place right on the bay there. Long walks were made by all around the salt marsh. It was a wonderful place to slow down and catch our breath from all the go, go, go. An earthquake in the early 1900's had leveled the place much like the recent quakes have hit Christchurch. It was rebuilt during the Art Deco period and hosts many examples of that architectural movement. It is a nice place and I would visit it again given the chance.
From Napier we motored North to Aukland and entered the big city again. Gone were the calm empty roads of the south. Rush hour traffic here we come. The house we are staying at overlooks a bay and has amazing views of the outer islands here. Donna the owner lives downstairs and is a wonderful host. We have really enjoyed our visit to her house. We visited Aukland several times and Jean the ladies and the kids went up the Sky Needle. I was here chilling out after all the travel. The pictures looked good from up there so I will have to take the ride someday to be sure.
As this is the end of the big adventure, at least for Jean and the kids I feel compelled to say a couple words. It has been a year of tremendous effort on all our parts. The kids have learned so much, grown in ways that marks them as young adults and they have developed truly a global outlook on life. For Jean and I, we have grown strong as a couple, faced challenges as individuals that we were not sure we could and overcome all of them. Our future is as yet very undecided but we are more excited about 2014 than we ever were about 2013. Our thanks to all those who follow our blog, we will try to keep you entertained with more adventures in the future. I look forward to seeing all of you Stateside in the coming year.

Fair Winds and Following seas

Capt. Scott


Travel in New Zealand Part 1

Happy new year!

We have been away from the internet for the better part of three weeks and I am just now getting back to the website. The Omaresa's crew hope all of you had a great holiday season.
Jean flew into Aukland on the 11th of December and I drove down to pick her up in a friend of mines car. It was brilliant to see her after nearly 14 weeks in Fiji and the voyage here to New Zealand. Just to Recap the kids and I stayed on the island of Malolo Lali in Fiji for three months awaiting the warmer weather and safer passage to New Zealand. In late october we set sail for Opua in the Bay of Islands on the northern coast of New Zealand. After a rough 7 day passage we arrive in gale force conditions and checked in with customs in Opua. After an eight mile walk to get groceries we sailed out into the Bay of Islands to explore one of NZ's most famous cruising grounds. The weather was still cool so we had them all to ourselves. The kids and I did quite a bit of hiking on the island trails and were blessed to spot a pod of killer whales as they swam by the boat one night. After five days in those islands we set sail for Whangarei and life at the dock. We arrived at the toen marina and were greated warmly by the wonderful staff there. After picking out our slip we moved across the river and made the Omarsea fast to D docks outer finger . It is  great vantage point to see the goings ons of the harbor and the shops across the river. Every Saturday there is a big market on the bridge nearby. We were treated to a first world grocery store only 5 minute walk away. Being able to push the shopping cart to the boat made provisioning for two weeks a breeze and we began eating a normal diet again. What a joy to have real good quality veg and fruits once more!
Whangarei is a yachties heaven, with all manor of boat repair facilities and shops. I busied myself with the many repairs and upgrades I had planned to do here while the kids continued to write their novels at break neck speed so as to be finished by the time their Grandmother and Aunts arrived.
On the 19th of December Jean and I drove a rental car down to AAukland to pick up Mary, Margret and Clara who had flown in for a visit from Portland Oregon. It was great to see the ladies as we had not visited since the Christmas before. Our plans were quickly laid and we decided we would stay in Whangarei until Boxing Day or the day after Christmas. Then we would drive down to Hamilton stopping in Aukland to drop off the extra baggage we had at the house where we are staying in today. As we drove south the gentle rolling hills of the Dairy country gave way to high plains desert. It reminded us very much of Madras Oregon with all the sage and scrublands. As we enterred the desert lands there were signs for a large active volcano to our West. This is the mountain made famous in The Lord of the Rings movies as Mt Doom. While we did not see any lava flowing that day we also didn't see any Orks so we counted ourselves lucky. The road twisted and turned in crazy switchbacks often with near blind corners. large tandem trucks often passed in the opposit direction creating seconds of terror followed by moments of being able to breath again. There are no guard rails there and the drops are often quite sheer. As we came down out of the high desert we stopped for gas and a rest. Jean and I find that we can drive quite easily for two and a half hours but after that the business of driving on the left begins to cause fatigue. We followed a large river for an hour through small towns until we came into Hamilton. Hamilton was a very nice small city. As we checked into the hotel the clerk recommended the Hamilton botanical gardens. After a good nights rest we drove to the gardens the next morning where we spent several hours walking among the italian , Japanese, Chinese, Indian, American and British gardens. There we met a man from the Philipene islands who was on Sabatical learning new techniques to raise food for his people. Conrado has an ingenious idea for an urban chicken coop that I plan to employ once we get back to Oregon.
End of Part 1  Please see Part 2 for our adventures for the Geothermal pools, Dinner with the Mauri Cheif at lake Taupo, Wellington and the great brake failure on our rental car.

Monday, December 9, 2013

New Zealand and Christmas Spirit

Today as I was working above deck I heard the sound of Christmas carols played on the piano at Riva's Bar and Restaurant.  The sun was out and it is in the high 70's today. It was somewhat unreal to think that Christmas  is almost here, yet it's not going to snow, and everyone around me is getting ready to "hit the beach" and play in the water.
The kids and I are really excited this week as Jean is flying into Aukland in two days. It has been nearly 14 weeks since we have seen her last. Way too long!
We have been blessed in that several boats have arrived with kids aboard. They are friends of Ben, Juli and Steve. It is nice to see them playing with these other cruising kids. They all get along very well.
Our plans are proceeding well. The boat is coming together nicely and I will be done in the next few weeks so we can explore more of this amazing country.  We still plan to sell her here and get out of boating for now. I am not going to say we will never own another cruising boat, as we may later in life. But, we will play that one by ear. For now I am looking forward to some time ashore and some serious R&R away from boat repairs.
With Jean arriving this week the kids and I are focusing on cleaning up the Omarsea and getting everything shipshape. We have a relaxed lifestyle aboard and I am sure it will need some of her special attention to whip us back into shape.
As of today we have 15 shopping days left if you believe in all that stuff. I know the kids are looking forward to returning to Portland where most of their gifts are waiting for them. This is because we have so much stuff to fly back with we are cutting back on our stuff here aboard ship. Thank goodness I have Jean coming to help get rid of most of the stuff we have accumulated over the past year. She is very good at throwing things away.
PS!   I don't know if anyone remembers the 500 lbs of canned goods we stored onboard in Maryland. Good News- we are down to our last 14 cans.  Argh Matey's, I may never eat canned green beans again!
I hope to have some free time next year to organize my notes and put together a humorous tale about our adventures. If there are any of our blogs that you enjoyed more than others I would love to hear from you and get your comments.

I will continue to update our Blog over the coming year with new adventures.

Fair Winds and calm seas

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Whangarei Town Basin Marina


The Sun comes up early now and sets late. The days will soon be very long as mid summer approaches. I was making coffee this morning when the rising sun burst through the companionway in a brilliance under the clouds to the East. The water with its millpond smoothness beckoned me to take a few snapshots. This is our backyard right now as seen over the dinghy astern.


 When we arrived a week ago the harbor was quite empty. Waiting on the influx of boats that were only now arring in Opua from Fiji, Australia and Tonga. Whangarei is a haven for us with shops and boating related repair places. The cruisers here have travelled many thousands of miles. Several I have met have sailed to Antarctica, done the NW passage and some have circumnavigated multiple times. The couple next to us are from McCall Idiaho. It's a small world.
 This is a view of part of the waterfront with it's shops and restaurants There is a good glass blowers here and several local bars. Its packed on the weekends..
 This is the Marina office and one of the local restaurants. Ok I admit I took the picture because I have to have this boat!  Wow what a go fast machine she must be.
These are our little friends that stop by each morning with their Mother. She has 10 to take care of. Makes three teenagers seem like a piece of cake. They are so comfortable with people Juli can almost pick them up. . The mother is ever watchful so the kids don't touch them.


Exploring the caves of Whangarei

 Lon a Canadian Neighbor of ours here at the Marina asked us to explore some of the caves nearby. We grabbed our flashlights and boots and headed out there with him. The caves are on private land along an amazing path. The rocks in the photo above that Juli took were at one time underground. Erosion has raised and carved them into these amazing shapes.
 This is our friend Lon as he is entering one of the three cave systems we explored that day
 As you can see everything in NZ is well organized for the trekker. Land owners work very well with the hikers alowing access to these natural wonders free of charge. Very different from the good ole USA where there are stairs and access fees. Here its be warned its dangerous, if you go getting yourself hurt or worse dont say we didnt tell you.

This is the path leading to the caves. Its not a long walk. There are signs posted as to what cave is what. The medows are full of flowers and song birds. It's springtime here and an amazing point to arrive in NZ as all the plants are blooming, the birds are nesting and the air is heavy with the buzzing of bees.



 This is one of the cave entrances. It is a climb down of about 15 meters to a sandy stream bead at the bottom. The cave floor is sand and pebbles mixed with huge chunks of sedimentary rock that is layered black and white like a fine French pastry. The chunks remind one that the ceiling does fall from time to time and we did see signs of recent collapse where a large rock had come down and smashed a stalagmite off its stem.
One of the coolest parts of the passages were the small tunnels and side caves that branched off. Often the ceilings would rise up 30 meters.
When we were far into the caves we found cave crickets. Huge bugs. If you held one they would fill the palm of your hand.
Then we noticed white tendrals hanging from the cave walls. When we shut off our lights we could see glow worms like the stars of the night sky all over the ceiling of the caves.
 Juli and I had our rubber boots on and several times we found ourselves fording the streams in deep water so we made echos of sloshing water filled boots. We explored as far back into the caves as we could without swimming. The Big cave known to be the most dangerous called Organ cave named after the Pipe Organ like flowstone formations was very deep. I imagine we went back some 700 to 1000 feet in that cave.
It was always a joyful experience to see the bright sunshine as we exited the caves. I am curious to see if we can do more caving in NZ. Only next time with waterproof headlamps and wetsuits.

Our last day in the Bay Of Islands 

We trekked all over three of the islands that day. Raising anchor twice and exploring many of the trails and beaches. These are quiet now but in December hundreds of Kiwi boats will be here enjoying the views and wildlife.

 Juli is making sure I spend time in front of the camera instead of behind it. This is Paradise Bay where we saw a pod of Orcas swim by the Omarsea latter that evening. The water looks great but its only about 55 degrees Fahrenheit.


 This is the trail head off the same beach that leads up through a giant fern forest to the viewpoint seen below. Just an amazing hike up there.
 Juli poses with a for a picture with her reptiles magazine. She is hoping to win a spot on the cover of the magazine one month.
 As so often the case when we pass a lonely islet, one of the kids comes running up on deck and shouts"That's my island". This is one of many "Juli's Islands".
The trip through the Bay of Islands was too short for us. Someday I hope to come back and see much more of the area. Now it's on to Whangarei and life on the dock.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Surfs Up Dudes

video
The folks of Segue let us borrow their water tube and the kids took turns pulling each other. Steve is the one in the tube, Juli waving and Ben driving.