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Auckland, July 2004.

June 29, 2004
Auckland, New Zealand

ONORA'S Sea Trial

A week after ONORA's official launching at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, complete with champagne crashing on the bow, we "kidnapped" Kelly (the boat builder) and his wife, Jos, for a ten day sea trial. The time had come for ONORA to show her stuff. This was a great experience all around: for Kelly and Jos, it was the first holiday in almost two years and for us, it was the best "hands-on" learning we could wish for, with the best teacher possible. Jim best described Kelly as a 'buzz saw': when he's on he goes full throttle: looking, fixing, doing and always improving things. Jos, is his perfect balance as she is calm, insightful and quite mischievous. We have enjoyed each other's company throughout this two and a half year project and that hasn't changed.

We sailed north about 200 miles to the Bay of Islands, a magical cruising area that Kelly and Jos know well from their cruising days. We found ourselves in beautiful secluded anchorages with curious names like Whangaruru, Keri Keri and Matukawanui. When the wind was fresh, we tested as many sails as possible and ONORA pushed through the water effortlessly. When the weather turned nasty (it's winter here), we'd sit and navigate in the warm and dry pilot house. And when the wind was light, we fished for snapper with Jos being our most valued catcher. We ate well and often!

Kelly walked us through the process of sailing ONORA shorthanded (only two people onboard). Everything on this boat is larger than what we are use to but after a few days the mechanics of raising and changing sails, using the new systems onboard and anchoring became familiar and comfortable. Steering ONORA, even in strong wind isn't difficult as she is very responsive to the helm.

After ten refreshing days away we returned to Auckland and Kelly went back to the boat yard ready to "sort out" the eight pages of notes he had taken while onboard. The workmen arrived and ONORA, once again, was turned inside out. Most of the activities required Jim to be onboard learning and fine tuning the many systems but Jeannie tended to "be in the way" so she resumed her role as official "go-fer". Each day she would leave with a new list of different bits and pieces that ONORA needed and drive throughout the greater Auckland area searching out screws, lines, cables-you name it. This was a sometimes tedious but necessary requirement for all the improvements taking place onboard.

Some days progress is huge and other days it seems as if we'll never leave Q dock at Westhaven Marina. The light at the end of the tunnel is June 30th, the last day the workmen can be onboard. Then there's stowing and provisioning, as well as lots of last minute details and a final dinner onshore. Then it's time to watch for a favorable weather window, drop the lines, check out with customs and GO. It's time for the frisky filly, ONORA, to head out to sea. Noumea, here we come!




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