We greeted Southern Star at her Viaduct Marina berth in downtown Auckland on 27th August 2021. She had just been offloaded off of the yacht transporter Happy Dragon, after an eventful and lengthy voyage from Newport Rhode Island (see our earlier post https://southernstarnz.com/index.php/2021/09/17/southern-star-arrives-home/).
NZ had just been put into Level 4 lockdown – essentially a mandatory stay at home existence. We had discovered that there were few places in Auckland where we would be allowed to live on board, but fortunately the Viaduct Marina was one. And it brought Southern Star full circle, back to where she was located when we first saw her back in 2011. A ten-year circle.
We lived on Southern Star, nearly full time commuting from the Viaduct to our jobs. Jenny walked to her office on Queen Street, when she was not working from the home WFH – (work from home- we transposed to WFB-Work from Boat)- or as Jenny’s work mates coined, shirking from home. Ted had to take a bus from the Viaduct to Ponsonby and then a 15 minute walk each way to his office in Grey Lynn.
As the year came around- we began looking for cheaper moorage for Southern Star. The Viaduct was ideally located, but as a marina offered little in the way of facilities or live aboard services. And Viaduct was one of the most expensive marinas we have stayed in long term.
One year on, and masks and restrictions finally gone, we rolled up our lines, hoses, power cord, folded up our folding bikes and departed the Viaduct for a short trip across the Waitemata Harbour to Bayswater Marina. We had found a private berth available for rental from an old Sealegs customer of Ted’s – who had two berths available – one for his old boat, just sold, and one for his new 70ft Riviera, being built. So, while we will have to vacate the slip when Paul’s new boat arrives it has been delayed and is expected in the summer of 23/24 now. So, no real time pressure there.
We had selected berth G10 which had fingers each side – perfect for our asymmetric layout, enabling us to tie up to two sides, and to pull the boat over to clean the port side when needed. Alex and Jason from the marina were there to catch our lines and helped to secure us which was great as they then needed to put in several large cleats for us.
We spent the next three nights getting ourselves organized, properly secured, and figuring out the ferry timetable which takes us over to the CBD in a 15-minute ride. We are no longer living aboard Southern Star, as Gordon had offered his spare room on a more frequent basis, which meant his home and his elderly cat Haggie, would be taken care of as he increasingly spends time in his new property in Arrowtown in the South Island. And it is a very nice place to hang out, located in exclusive and expensive Herne Bay, a 20-minute walk to Ted’s office, and about the same for me on the Link bus to the city.
Ted can monitor the boat remotely. He has installed 3 video cameras to see if anything is going on. Plus, with his job at Vesper/Garmin, we have a Vesper Cortex device, which is an AIS/VHF (redundant to the existing systems on SS) but it also has monitoring abilities. So, we can remotely look at the boat via the internet, and we can see the battery voltage, the shore power connection, and the wind speed and direction via the Monitor app. Ted also tests new software and features regularly onboard SS, for the software team at Garmin.
We spent the last three weeks full time at Gordons place, as he was away in Canada. We have grown quite attached to his old cat- as he gets used to us and seems to enjoy getting his back rubbed. He often visits us in the early morning hours, wakening us with his demanding meows as he comes into our bedroom.
But we plan to spend weekends on the boat ticking off projects, and getting to know neighbors in a much more social marina than the Viaduct. We joined the liveaboard group last night in Devonport at a small pub and met many of the local liveaboards. It was a nice time, and it is interesting to see what motivates people to live this lifestyle. Many are novice boaters and are living on their boats as an alternative to the very high prices of Auckland housing. A few are seasoned boaters but we felt like old salts last night as we chatted with the liveaboard crew.
The real advantage though is the cost saving in berthing – at Bayswater we are paying less than half what we were paying at the Viaduct.
We used to love walking around the Viaduct and the central city, but we have discovered some great walks around Bayswater. We love walking through residential areas, looking at what people have done with their properties, and we love finding trails and boardwalks through parks and bush. One weekend we walked from the Devonport ferry terminal back to the marina (8km), the next weekend we walked from the marina to Hauraki Corner (7.5km), and last weekend we took a bus to the Auckland Domain and walked back to the city (8km).
Ted walks to work in Grey Lynn most days when we are in Gordons apartment. This commute is about 4km (2.5 miles) each day. So that is a nice benefit.
Daylight saving started on 24th September, and we are looking forward to longer evenings and better weather, and more weekend trips on the boat. We took a nice weather window on Labour Day here and took off for Ponui Island, on Southern Star. We had great weather for two of the three days. Gordon brought his boat out for a day of fishing on the Sunday.
We are also planning our Christmas break and taking 3 weeks off (Dec 19-to Jan 9) to spend some time cruising our favorite NZ spots during the summer, even though we will be sharing anchorages with hundreds of boats at that time of year.
We just booked a quick trip back to the US in June mid-2023, to catch up with Ted’s family, boating buddies and other friends. One set of our boatie friends have sold their N57, another had left their N55 on the hard in the Caribbean while they refurbish some properties but are now back on board and cruising the San Blas Islands, and Kya is currently in Anacortes, where she will sadly be sold. This is just the transient nature of the boating fraternity, and we miss those friends as much as we miss the warm weather and wonderful times in the Bahamas and the US east coast.