Archive for November, 2008


My nieces

November 30, 2008   

So I got to see my nieces who are called Charlotte Beatrice Perrin and Phillip Ione Perrin. I think they are going to grow up to be pretty special little kids but than again I am biased!


November 29, 2008   

I stopped in Auckland for a day and got to hang out with some old friends before the long flight home which wasn’t that bad as I was in an exit row and my seat neighbour was a nice guy to talk to. Two days at home and it was time to get on another plane to Colorado to visit the cousins for Thanksgiving. Thursday morning my brother called to tell me that my twin nieces had been born 7 1/2 weeks premature! I was a bit bummed not to have been there but I also had a good time with my cousins relaxing and going to the movies. We saw Australia which is a great epic. There was snow fall on thanksgiving day much to my joy but not at all for my cousins who live in it. Only a 3 day visit before heading home for a day to see the nieces at the ICU unit.

Diving at Poor Knights..

November 23, 2008   

Last year I sailed past Poor Knights on the way to Sydney and thought those Islands look interesting. Then I read that they were a great place to go diving so I decided to go check it out when I was in NZ. Dive Tutakaka is a great company well organised and friendly people. It was a 45 minute ride out on the dive boat to South Cove where we anchored for two dives one off the stern of the boat and the other across the cove which was in Blue Maomao arch. The arch was an incredible dive and it was exactly like the video footage you can see by clicking here . It was the best dive I think I have ever done. After diving we had a little tour of the islands before rushing back to catch a bus to Auckland.

The arch to the left is where we went diving..

Wreck Diving on HMSNZ Canterbury

November 22, 2008   

I joined Pahia HQ for another day of diving this time on HMSNZ Canterbury. I enjoyed this vessel even more than the Rainbow Warrior as it has only been sunk for just over a year and therefore looks much more like a ship and less like a reef. It is also so much bigger than the Rainbow Warrior.

You can see a video done by Auckland University Underwater Club here the visibility was similar to the day they shot this video when I was on the wreck.

After another busy day of diving we drove south to Tutakaka to spend the night at the holiday park before my parents left me to do another day of diving while they went to the South Island.

Wreck Diving on Rainbow Warrior

November 21, 2008   

It was too short of a stay in the Coromandel before we got in the car and drove 7 hours north through Auckland to the Bay of Islands. We stopped along the way to check out some of the smaller towns on the way to our farmstay in Keri Keri. I dove with the Pahia Dive HQ team for two days.

The Rainbow Warrior was laid to rest just north of the Bay of Islands twenty years ago after being towed north from Auckland. It is 15 minutes from the shore by RIB which was launched from the beach using a tractor. The visibility was about 30 feet – the end of the mooring places you off the stern of the vessel. The starboard side is covered with jewelled anemones and it looks like a painters brush strokes as they are grouped by colors – red, green, pink, orange. If you get up close there are small fish feeding off the ship and then you can poke your head into a large hole on the starboard side. There are about 50 large mackeral that live in the vessel and they swim around in circles when you stick your head in the light glistens off their silver scales. After a great lunch on the beach we had a shallow 2nd dive.

Check out a video here of diving on the Rainbow Warrior

After diving we went to a chocolate factory – not good for the waist line – and then onto Keri Keri’s historic stone house and a reenacted Maori fishing village.

From the Sea to the BBQ

November 19, 2008   

We woke up at 6am in Auckland and drove very fast to the Coromandel Peninsula. Poor Mum and Dad it was 4am Australian time for them! I thought I wasn’t going to make it in time for diving when we got behind a road repair truck going at 40K! We pulled up to the dive shop and I jumped out with my kit bag and threw the car keys at Mum and Dad and said – be back for 4:30pm.

My kit was already soaking as when I went through customs at Auckland airport I had to answer yes to having dive kit and it was still wet from Sydney so they had to take it through bio security and put it in bleach to remove any pathogens that could invade NZ from Australia via my dive kit. They fully soaked my dry suit etc. and handed it back to me in a plastic bag which was heavy with water still coming out of the kit. We loaded up into the dive boat and I realized in my haste that I was wearing my flip flops and had forgotten socks and also my poly pro under shirt – I was going to be cold. Oh well.

We did a deep wall dive which dropped to 95 feet. As we were entering the water there were dolphins playing around the boat and we dropped into the depths and saw schools of kingfish, leatherheads etc. We caught one legal crayfish on the first dive. After an hour or so surface interval and lunch of a cup of soup – I hadn’t had time on the manic drive from Auckland to either eat breakfast or grab something for lunch – we did a shallower dive. This was a different landscape completely it was a boulder field with lots of moguls to make your way around and lots of places for crayfish to hide – we caught another here. One of the other divers got 7 in total so between the boat there was a total of 10 caught not bad with a value of $50 each! Dad was beaming when he picked me up to find I had dinner to cook on the BBQ.

After diving I stuffed myself at the bakery and we headed to the beach where we took a walk and relaxed in the sun. It really was a beautiful landscape.

Dinner was the crayfish on the BBQ and we were treated to a beautiful sunset.

Sydney Zoo

November 18, 2008   

To avoid decompression sickness you can not fly within 18 hours of multiple dives so after my last dives on Sunday I drove up to Sydney and met my parents who had spent the day wondering around the Rocks, Botanical Gardens and Opera House area. We checked into a very busy hostel right next to the Domain in a great location. The only problem being that I had the car in the city and the nearest off street parking wanted $56 for the evening, night and next day. I wasn’t into paying all that so we got in the car and drove to the Cruising Yacht Club to have drinks and dinner than found some parking on the street outside the hostel that was free after 10pm.

We drove over the Sydney Harbor Bridge to the Toronga Zoo. My mother is not into Zoos as she feels sorry for the animals even though I explained my view that many were rescue animals that would have died in the wild or they were there and this meant they weren’t being hunted to extinction. I wanted to go to see the Southern Ocean Exhibit in particular they have a Leopard Sea pair – no other institute in the world has these animals in captivity. The two at Toronga were found washed up severely mal nourished on the shoreline within a week of each other and confounded the trainers/vets by surviving and flourishing in the zoo. They would like to release them back into the wild however; the countries who govern the Antarctic will not let them do this for fear of introducing non native pathogens into the Antarctic. The trainer did not believe in the logic and so she says discussion are continuing!

There were great views from the zoo across the water of the bridge and the opera house.

After the morning at the zoo it was off to the airport to fly to Auckland.

Shore Dives in Sydney

November 16, 2008   

After thinking I was so organized as to stay a mile from the dive site on Thursday night it didn’t work as well as planned. I waited around for an hour past when everyone was meant to show up. It looked like heavy surf so I was not so certain it would be a good dive day.

While waiting a colorful funeral procession turned up along with a Scottish bag pipe player and champagne. Either the grandfather was not a well liked man or he asked that everyone have a party and indeed they did. They were scattering his ashes on the beach. I also met up with some spear fisherman who kindly lent me their phone I called the dive shop and it turned out they had cancelled the dive down south due to the conditions and they were diving up north of Sydney airport a good hour and half drive from where I was. So I got in the little car and sped north a lot faster than the speed limit. I got to the other dive site to see everyone disappearing below the surface for their second dive! Damn.

There was another group doing a rescue diver course so I joined in and acted as a dummy but it was a short dive. I was taking my gear off when an Italian who had been living in Australia for a while decided to befriend me and we chatted a way. He was trying to persuade me to go in on my own but I wasn’t going to do that at a site I didn’t know. A few minutes later another lot of divers piled out of a car and he asked them if I could join them. So I got in my second dive at Bare Island after all that but it was a big effort!

On Saturday I was up bright and early and picked my parents up at the airport and took them to the dive shop as I was determined to not be left behind. We dove at the Steps going against a large current towards a site called the Monument at the Botany Bay Reserve. The site gets its name from the large number of steps that you have to heave yourself and dive kit up and down to the enter the water. Next dive we all voted for walking up the shorelines upstream of the current and getting in at Monument and doing a drift dive exiting at the Steps.

Sunday we dove at two different sites. The first one that you have to do at high water as it is in a tidal part of the river. It is the oldest marine reserve in Sydney area the wall is covered in flora that makes it a sight to behold all different types and colors of seaweed. It was some what of a divers convention as it was the highest tides of the year at a reasonable time of day on a Sunday – we almost needed traffic lights under water! I would say a total of 100 divers were under water but the fish weren’t too concerned. We even saw a Wobbygong shark about 4 foot long camouflaged lying on the sandy floor at the base of the wall.

Next dive was at Oak Park – the usual entry was not possible due to the amount of swell so we entered off a section of the beach that was rocky with a large gradient. As we were entering one of the girls decided she wasn’t confident about the dive and excused herself so we were down to two buddy pairs and a third buddy group (three divers) – my buddy was the divemaster. Off we went dropping down to a boulder strewn area with some kelp – not the type you get in California. We were all inspecting the flora and fauna with one guy taking lots of pictures.

We continue on and then the divemaster turns around to find we are down to only 5 divers and the divemaster from a total of 7 divers and the divemaster. Two people were missing.. not a good sign… in the briefing we were to stop search for one minute and then surface and look for the lost divers who are also meant to surface and wait. So we surfaced and there was no one to be seen on the surface. We talked and found out that the guy with the camera was missing and that the other diver had been low on air so had not told the rest of us and had just turned around and gone back towards the beach. We had to all get back to shore so we went under the surface again and headed on a bearing back to the shoreline. I was following the divemaster as I had no compass and had never dived there before. The terrain was like the description he had given in the briefing of where you did not want to end up. Shallow and full of urchins and lots of surge – the strong surface current had swept us and we weren’t able to swim against it. So there was nothing to do except exit on a small area of beach that had large waves breaking along it. I remembered my instructor at Monterey talking about a dive side called Monastary and how they do the Monastary crawl – all fours with reg in – to exit. I put my reg in and let the waves take me into the shallows trying to get out of the zone where the waves broke over me as quickly as possible and keeping my reg in so as not to inhale water. It was easier for the guys with the wet suits on who were only wearing 12 pounds of weight compared to my 26 pounds. The missing divers were safely sunbathing on the shore and I took a bit of breather after a tiring dive.

Next stop Sydney and the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia where I took my parents for a drink before spending the night at the youth hostel. I would swear the place was full of guys like my little brother they were up partying till early in the morning in the hallway outside my room. I felt like a grouchy old lady ?

Modern Travel

November 14, 2008   

My flight out of LAX was very delayed so we ended up taking off at 1am. I had a good nights sleep in business class and 13 hours later we landed in Sydney. I remind myself how much I love my mother! When I am in economy on the way home I will appreciate her even more. With an express card I was through passport control, baggage claim, customs and sitting in my tiny rental car in less than an hour.

I stopped off at Abyss dive shop on my way south to pick up my tanks and weights. I went through the Royal National Park towards Stanwell Park stopping at beautiful looking places. An hour after landing at Sydney I was kayaking up Kangaroo Creek in the bush – modern travel is truly amazing. All sorts of animals were along the river – very noisy and numerous white cockatoos, a turtle sitting on a branch sunning itself, common ducks and many birds that I couldn’t name. I found a mud nest just above the water on an undercut rock face and had a quick face wash in the stream as far as I got up river. The vegetation was thick on all sides with a quite a few eucalyptus trees, lots of different shrubs some with blooms.

After a quick hot chocolate, chips and sausage sandwich for lunch it was off down the road south. I turned off at the Wolla exit and took a walk down to a beautiful lagoon where people were swimming in the warm shallow water. The water was a stunning blue and the beach was beautiful yellow sand a stunning view and nicely sheltered. Back in the car I stopped at Garie beach which was windswept and populated with people learning to surf. The sand was beautifully rippled by the wind and the grass was blowing at an angle – a different beach from a few miles north. There is a view point above the beach looking north and south very similar to the California coastline.

I had by now started to succumb to jetlag and thought it wise to continue onto my bed and breakfast after checking out my dive site for the next day. I stayed at Tudor Lodge a very friendly comfortable black a block back from the beach with a dog which of course I loved. I struggled to stay awake and managed till 7pm before it was bedtime!

Coming along

November 11, 2008   

The build of the cruising boat in LA is coming along fast and the owner will have it just in time for Christmas. It has been a long haul for him. We have a few nice customisations that mean the boat doesn’t quite know whether it is meant to be raced or cruised! It is fun learning every day and getting to make small design choices. Off to Sydney tonight.