We chose Whangarei as a base for mooring Ascension because the city is the main urban area for Northland. It is convenient for shopping and also has a wonderful ambience. Whangarei means "cherished harbour."

Riverside Marina

November 31
We arrived at Riverside Marina and were met by a huge group of our friends that had been at the marina for a while. (Emerald, Maahje-Ra, Mag Mel, Billibong, Sersae). After we got settled in, we all got together for Tuesday nite Cruisers Happy Hour and Yachtie specials put on by one of the waterfront restaurants in the Town Basin. There we met another cruiser who has a boat in the downtown marina and Gord and Gregg & Sujata (Maahje-Re) ended up getting their instruments and meeting on the boat for a jam session that lasted into the wee hours of the morn.

Our car (now affectionately named NORMAN GREENBOMB) arrived safely and was in the parking lot waiting for us. On Wednesday night a Cruisers Welcome BBQ was hosted by the Whangarei Business and they served up a delicious array of beef, lamb, chicken and assorted vegetables. There were some informative talks about customs, importing your boat, traveling New Zealand and weather, which we really enjoyed.

December 4
The gang at Riverside marina has a BBQ every Friday night so we attended our first. Everyone takes something to barbeque and something to share. It is a good way to get to know people on the dock.

Saturday morning is Market Day. Because it was raining (still) Tanya drove Melissa, Judy, Mia and myself to the market in Whangarei. The produce was incredibly fresh and reasonably priced so I will make it part of my Saturday routine to attend each week.

December 8
After a cold, windy, rainy week I am ready for a change in weather. It is supposed to be Spring here so I am anxiously awaiting. I have spent the last few days cleaning the boat and catching up on my web pages. It seems as if the wind never quits howling so I have no desire to venture outside. Everyone in New Zealand is talking about how the weather has never been so bad as they all take their summer holidays at Christmas and it certainly isn't beach temps.

Since we arrived at Riverside Marina just before Christmas, we decorated the outside of the boat with Christmas lights and I hung painted shells inside the boat to create a festive atmosphere. 
Riverside Marina viewed from across the RiverOur home for 6 monthsAscension in her slip
at the dock
Endless and Ascension are neighbors

Christmas ornaments from the sea

Stocking hung by the chimney...

It really doesn't feel like Christmas here because New Zealand is pretty low keyed about celebrating. There are no lights, decorations, Christmas trees or carolers chanting in the malls like we are used to.


The cruisers on the dock planned a get-together on December 25th. We had beef and lamb because a 3 kg turkey here costs $25.00 and a 4 kg turkey cost $32. Everything here is so expensive so Christmas dinner, potluck style was a great idea!


Marv (meat cutter) watches Melissa (vegetarian) carve the meat


Everyone digs in to a fabulous Christmas meal with all the trimmings!

Gord with Gregg and Sujata
Eric, Mike & MarvBetty, Gigette, Cliffvisiting old friendsGinny & Ilze A great meal!Meeting new friends
Skip and Ilze (Scoots)Ursula and Eckhart(Azimut)Craig & Gigette (Kipona)Mia, Donna, Eva (Sowelu/Endless)Betty entertains us with Christmas carols

click here for complete PHOTO ALBUM OF CHRISTMAS 2004

December 26 - Chris arrives in New Zealand. Follow the link for the segment on Chris Visit




Race Night

The contestants eagerly launched their state of the art race boats, made strictly of paper, but high expectations soon turned to amusement as all the entries either capsized, sailed off in the wrong direction or just sank out of sight.

However, a boat managed to drift across the finish line well after dark. It was Gord's entry, waterlogged, bedraggled and unnoticed by practically everyone who by then were engrossed in partying.


Every Friday Night the cruisers would get together and BBQ. It became a very popular outing and gave everyone a chance to visit and share a good meal.

Bjarne and Barb (Freya) even started a Pancake Breakfast in the morning!



Ray Roberts, manager of the marina, took Gord and Craig fishing one day. They were so busy reeling in the fish that they barely had time to drink beer (often thought the real reason for going fishing). As a result there was enough fresh fish for everyone at the dock!




The Community of Whangarei put on a traditional Maori Hungi (Feast) in recognition of the cruisers and their input into the community. They entertained us and gave us a great sendoff, hoping we will return again another year, our wallets again ready to be emptied!

Meat and vegetables are wrapped...And buried in the ground to cookMaori displays Dance of the WarriorLots of authentic Maori entertainmentFood is removed from hot rocks
Maori reception lineTraditional method of greeting by rubbing nosesLots of food...
a great feast of lamb, pork, chicken
Enjoying good company Visiting friends (Becky Stardust)Cindy (Pazzo), Judy (Freebird), Tanya (Sorona)

Life in the Boat Yard


March 21
The fun has come to an end and it's time to do some work to get ready to leave New Zealand. Upon our return from the South Island, we hauled the boat out of the water to redo the bottom, scraping it right down to reapply epoxy and bottom paint. Gord also buffed the hull, did some repair on the tiller and we kept ourselves very busy with maintenance and upgrades required for our onward leg to Fiji.

Living 15 feet in the air with your only access via  very long ladder is something you don't get used to. The boat yard is dirty and of course, it's a long way to the washrooms.

While on the hard, we polished up Norman Greenbomb (far left) ready to sell and also got our extra dinghy in shape for sale.

We were in the company of lots of other cruisers completing boat work understandably necessary after years at sea. We were fortunate that their wasn't any major issues that we had to deal with, we only had routine maintenance and minor repairs.

Left is a photo of our back yard, taken from the deck of Ascension on the hard.

Saying Good-Bye...

April 6

Donna and Ralph are sailing Ocean Girl home to Vancouver Island. Gregg & Sujata have sold Maahje-Re and are planning to stay in New Zealand. Angela & Doug are giving Solstice a rest and working in NZ for a while. Boya and Mi are flying home for the season. Robin & Duncan from Whisper are also looking for work in NZ. Len & Ellen (Gypsy Wind) are living in Tauranga and working there.Tanya & Pete (Sorona) have bought a house in New Zealand.

The days at Riverside Marina are drawing to a close as we have been saying our goodbyes to our friends, some that are staying in New Zealand, some that are sailing home, and some that are going on to other destinations other than the path we are taking. Our little close-knot family is breaking up and it's sad to say fare-well. We have made so many friends from all over the world and we plan to keep in touch with them all.




Farewell Party and last gathering at Riverside.

Ray Roberts also gave the cruisers a send-off party on behalf of Riverside Marina.

Free Beer!!!

l to r. Gord, Bob, Corby, Sujata, Becky, KT, Mi, Boya, Rick, Chirs, Donna, Ginny, Ralph, Gregg

llze and Skip have become very good friends during the time we have been at Riverside Marine. They are selling their beautiful boat Scoots, retiring from 9 years of cruising and making their new home Hawaii. We plan to keep in touch and visit them in the new house they are designing and building in Hawaii.

Back in the Water

April 11

After over 2 weeks, Highrise Living comes to an End! We are in the process of doing final preparations to leave Whangarei. We hope to sail around The Bay of Islands for a while before going offshore to make sure that all our systems are working properly.

Norman Greenbomb has found a new home with Gregg & Sujata. The boat is polished and looking spiffy. Laundry is done. Provisioning taken care of. Time to untie the dock lines.


NEXT: Fiji...Here we Come!

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