Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Into the bay we go (on a boat ..)

We took a 5 day Competent Crew Sailing Class from John Moore at Sail Nelson. John and his partner Woodi also run the fabulous boutique Wakefield Quay B&B. At the end of the course we would get our competent crew certification and if possible maybe even a day skipper certification.

Its fall in NZ, so the wind is not very reliable. The seas are also a bit calmer than the summer time. John was quite accommodating and tailored the course to our schedule. We split the course into a 3 day / 2 night session, a few days break and then a 2 day / 1 night class.

Maya and PJ were gracious enough to let us escape for that time. The grandparents were awesome and took great care of the kids. For the second part of the class, Maya and PJ were not too sad to see us go. They had a great time with both sets of grandparents and I suspect were quite spoiled also. Maya wanted to take them to Boathouse since we had not taken them there. Mari's dad did not know where it was, so Maya directed them there. They saw the door shut and thought it was closed so drove away (it was open, but since it was super windy they shut the doors and windows). Maya was very sad that they could not have a seafood meal. Instead she had to eat bad chinese at the food court in Richmond Mall.

Overall the course was quite nice. We got a lot of practice sailing in decent winds. We motored for a fair bit too. Handling a yacht is a bit easier than handling a small dinghy. The first trip we went and stayed opposite Adele island and we had penguins as our campsite mates. They are quite noisy at night, luckily we were exhausted both nights and fell asleep quite quickly. We learnt how to rig the boat, get the sails up, a bit of navigation and how to operate the VHF. We came in pretty late at night and it was quite challenging (and a bit scary) to get the boat into the marina at night. Overall the first part of the course was quite uneventful. I think we could have covered quite a bit of navigation, tides and anchoring while we were motoring. I normally dont like too much structure, but I suspect some planning and structure during the slow times would have made the course more informative and challenging.

The second part of the course turned out to be quite an adventure. The forecast was for gale force winds, and John gave us an option to delay the course till later. However due to various scheduling issues, we opted to sail under those conditions. We practiced some maneuvering in the morning and learnt how to tie the boat to the jetty before we took off towards Marlborough sounds and Crousells harbor. The wind was slow at first, but kicked in after an hour and we were flying at a good healthy speed of 7-8 knots.We got into the harbor at 4:00 pm or so and started making our way into the bay and past quite a few mussel farms. We were supposed to tie into a Nelson yacht club mooring far in, but could not find a mooring after a fair amount of searching in the dusk. We put down the anchor, hoped for the best and cooked a decent meal. At this point in time the rain was coming down quite nicely along with decent gusts of wind. Our anchor did not hold, so we had to lift it up and re-anchored the boat. We thought we had done a good job and were having a good time chatting and laughing, but 30 minutes later we ran aground after being pushed by the wind. We dressed up and went out into the horrendous weather and pulled up the anchor again. Its quite difficult to navigate in the night with only a little flashlight with no moon light or stars!. Not sure how John managed to pull it off, but we reanchored again. He was not too happy with it, so we pulled the anchor up again and attached the second anchor to the first one and put it down one more time. This time we seemed to be holding pretty good and managed to have a depth of 10m or so for most of the time. It was past midnight and we decided to sleep a bit. John was awake for most of the night making sure things were ok. He took a short nap just before daylight. When he woke up we were in the mussell beds and he tried to get us out of it with the little flashlight. Unfortunately he lost the light and gave up, decided to tackle the issue at daylight. Dawn came soon enough, we got out of the mussel mess and a few of us snoozed till 9:00 am. Mari and i were enjoying the scenic sounds :)

We searched the next day for the buoy again with no luck and headed back to Nelson. John was not his chipper self, a wee bit nervous, and the rest of is were quite low energy. We basically tried to get home at a reasonable hour and made it back by 5:00 pm. We then went over to the B&B where Woodi graciously fed us a few good snacks and a good wine. Overall we had an excellent time and learnt a fair amount. John did mention that the course felt quite disjointed because of the way we split it up. I would have liked to have gotten a bit more out of it and learn more advanced navigation, tides and anchoring. I guess we'll save that for summer and invite the grandparents over again :)

Monday, May 07, 2007

nelson's best restaurant

the cut, nelson nz

fish soup, mushroom risotto, double layer chocolate cake made w/ valrhona. complimentary chocolate truffles. martini

It was a cold night so sipping a martini warmed the body faster than the portable heater. I've never liked martini's but this one went down smooth, no after taste and kept you warm for awhile.

We shared the fish soup so that we could enjoy the valrhona double layer cake. The fish soup was tasty, savory. Bits of vegetables and very flavorful. It came with a couple thin sliced baguette pieces. We said that we'd share the soup so they went out of their way to split it into two bowls. "They care : )" A perfect choice for a rainy, wet and cold night. I ordered the mushroom risotto because i love risotto and haven't ate it in 6+ months. The portion was good - not too much and not too little. Plenty of mushrooms.

Dessert was excellent. Double layered chocolate made w/ valrhona. I was pretty happy with the whole meal, but get this, they gave complimentary truffles. They make them! The only negative thing about The Cut is that they're not open for lunch. They did say we could bring our daughters and just have dessert. : )

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Some pictures ..

So lots of folks have complained that our blog is text heavy and picture light :(. Unfortunately we are not really photo people and dont take the time to clicks lots of snaps. I think our kids will cuss us when they grow up.

In the meantime, here are some photos from our friends who visited us recently

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Our parents rock ...

So Maya and PJ have both sets of grandparents visiting at the same time. They've been with us for a little more than a week and are in NZ for 4 more weeks. I suspect most of our non-asian readers are thinking: wow, thats a long time. Are the parents getting along nicely with each otehr? Are we getting along well with them and living in peace? Suffice to say, we are all having a very good time. I'm seeing a side of my parents i've never seen before and am quite dazzled by the experience. Here are some highlights and cute things they do ...

  • Mari's dad is so so good with the kids. Maya will go upto him after dinner (or after school) and request in a cute voice: "Grandpa, can you please play with me?". She'll then drag him to the living room and they'll play for 30 mins - 3 hours. He took the energy and trouble to get a few things that they could play together with. Thanx grandpa tilos
  • PJ likes to goto bed with my dad reading her stories. PJ tends to fall asleep on her own. So we read her a few stories and we leave the room. My dad is not aware of this and reads to her till she falls asleep
  • In the morning the parents make an oatmeal breakfast for each other every day!. They then sit and plan their activities for the day (with some help/advice from us). They try to leave by 9:30 am or so and get back by 4:00 pm. They are way more adventurous than I expected them to be. A lot of the time they are outside they are on their feet walking around the town/beach/destination for the day!
  • Sometimes they will come back home and complain about how tired and hungry they are. They will then cook some noodles or a sandwich and swallow it down while complaining all the time about how much they walked!
  • They love to exercise! We have a set of 380 steps a block away from the house. Their evening walk consists of climbing all 380 of those steps. If its a bit late, they will try to go upto the half way point (where there is a nice bench!). The first time they did it, they struggled a bit. I suspect they race up it now. At the end of the day they are typically so tired they crash at 8:00 pm, a few mins after the kids!
  • We (mari and me) get to go on bike rides and have some time to ourselves!. We went on a dinner date to "The Cut" last week. We had a wonderful time, the food was awesome, review coming soon
  • They walked to the center of NZ. Its a pretty steep climb!
  • I was really scared that my parents will be bored out of their mind, since we dont have TV or get any Indian channels. To prevent this, I called Andrew (our landlord) and asked him to subscribe us to the SkyTV package and the Indian channel (Star Plus). Once every other day, my parents will watch 30 mins of StarPlus. I expected to get way more usage, but considering the current pattern, we'll cancel SkyTV pretty soon!
  • A few days after coming here, they realized that Nelson was too small a town for their wandering and they'll get bored quickly. So they started looking around and decided they wanted to visit another country (Fiji) since they are so close and might as well see a few more countries. (yes, they do believe in the germanic style of travel and ticking off places they've seen / driven by). They are off to Fiji next week for five days
  • A few days after deciding on Fiji, they realized taking the ferry to wellington might be fun. So now they've started planning a trip to Wellington. I had to remind them that they were here to spend some time with the kids.

Friday, May 04, 2007


Feijoa facts -
Common Names: Feijoa, Pineapple Guava, Guavasteen
Origin: The feijoa is a native to extreme southern Brazil, N. Argentina, W.Paraguay and Uruguay where it is common in the mountains.

I love going to the farmer's market. I look forward to buying cake, sampling the fresh fruit; (feijoas and apples right now), having savory breakfast crepes and browsing through the local craft stalls.

Wouldn't it be fun to sell something? At the Friday market they allow people to sell their excess fruit. And there's no charge to be a seller : ) I told my neighbor about it and she was happy to let me sell some of her feijoas. We (Maya, PJ and I ) sold 210 to be exact. It was fun. I chatted with my stall neighbors, cut up feijoas for people and Maya and PJ to sample and bought baked goods from my other stall neighbors. I was happy to sell the last bag after an hour or so.

You either love feijoas or not. I'd offer people passing to taste and some would say, " No thanks. I know what they taste like. "

Something to think about: What about feijoa zest with butter milk scones ....sounds YUM