Tag Archives: marina

Abel Tasman

The Abel Tasman is a glorious area. Situated at the NW corner of the South Island, it is an area of outstanding natural beauty by the sea extending into the hills, very much at the end of the road and it would be the last place we would visit with Alastair and Gill as they needed to head N to fly home to the UK.

We decided to stay at what turned out to be a fairly noisy campsite on a roundabout at the edge of Motueka, the last “big” town on the S edge of the park. However, the town was beside the sea on an estuary and an even bigger plus, had a marina less than a mile walk away which Alastair and myself were keen to look at. The campsite that we had originally thought about, set in the hills at the end of a rough track was being used for a week long festival, the festival we had been told about by a lady we had met in our very first campsite in Auckland the week we arrived in NZ. Called “Illuminate” it did sound fun, but not at $250 each for a weeks ticket being the only time period you could buy! There is a UK festival of the same name, organised by some of the same people. We may investigate when we get home.

We had a good look around the town, did some shopping, visited one of the best kept cemetery we had seen (H was most impressed by the flowers) and walked around the mudflats of the estuary. Abel TasminAbel TasminAbel TasminAbel Tasmin

We also ran in to Gollum, Smaug and Gandalf sitting on top of the local sports hall!

Abel Tasmin

The coast line of the Abel Tasman is spectacular but unless you want to walk the trail which is a five day trek, the best way of seeing as much as you can is to take a fast boat out along the coast, get dropped off and then walk back to another prearranged pickup point. We went for the longest available walk, about 18km. It was a great trek. We saw and heard lots of cicadas, met a nosy Weka, another one of NZ’s flightless birds, tramped across lots of wire bridges and caught some great views. We stopped towards the end at the Pools of Venus for a cool down swim and to go down the natural slides. Only Eleanor and I had the nerve to go into the chill but wonderfully refreshing water.

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For our last day we had planned to go up into the hills by way of a tortuously steep road. With the engines and gearbox straining hard, we ascended into grey cloud and lots of rain. With visibility no more than a few hundred metres, our hope of great views died and after a short reassessment at one of the viewpoints, we turned tail and headed back to Motueka. We did what Alastair said we had to do on such a day and found a pub. We had to wait for it to open but it turned in to a very civilised afternoon, sampling a few of the local microbrewery produced ales.  We shopped in the town, dodging the rain. Eleanor, Hannah and I had an interesting time at the local gun shop, admiring the kids .22 rifles in neon blue and I admiring somewhat bigger calibres. Hunting is a big deal in NZ and gun ownership levels are high. Interestingly, the incidence of gun crime is very low which would suggest that the NZ attitude to their use is a healthier one than the US, where the need for “protection” far outweighs hunting for the pot.

We said our goodbyes to Gill and Alastair as they headed back up towards Auckland to put the boat to bed and fly back to the UK. We had a wonderful time with them and even if there was a requirement to save their bleeding ears from the constant flow of consciousness of our eldest every now and then, they were marvellous with the kids. Of course, grown ups, still travelling with their teddy bears (Pickles and Habitat respectively) suggests that they are both still very much young at heart too! Our grateful thanks for their company throughout our travels of the S island. They helped make NZ special for us all but our friendship goes back to Galapagos.  We have heard that they won’t be returning to the boat for perhaps another year whilst they sort a few things out in the UK so we are looking forward to catching up with them on our return in December.

Abel Tasmin

N Bimini

 

After crossing the Gulf Stream our first stop in the Caribbean is at Bimini.  Not quite the Abacos, which was the initial plan but having waited for weather to allow us to get up there for too long, Bimini seemed to be the next best thing.

Bimini itself is split into two small island – North and South – and has a total population of about 1600.  There is a huge very shallow area to the E of N Bimini where the water is never more than 3-4 feet deep and a deep channel with a very fast current running beside the island, giving access to the various villages and marinas.

S Bimini is a little different with one water taxi point on the N side connecting to N island, a made to measure posh resort with a deep water basin blown out of rock and a very small fishing port to the S side of the island.  It also has the airport.

We arrived in North Bimini and parked up at Brown’s Marina, famous (as it would seem most of the Marinas here would claim) for its association with Ernest Hemmingway and being one of the oldest on the island.  Certainly there is a big plaque with a quote from him referring to Browns just beside the bar.  Prices are reasonably high in the marinas.  Beer is $5 a bottle for the local brew, more for import brands and food starts at about $12-16 a main.  On the basis that we have stocked up and the fact that money is now tight, we won’t be wanting to spend anything like that – welcome to the life of a liveaboard!

We cleared in without issue.  The Customs post is now in the Big Game Marina building and I was processed by a lovely lady with a big smile and a very obvious grip on the male staff there.  I didn’t quite understand the requirement to declare my GPS type (I have three, we settled on one) and the girls mini scooters but saw no reason to query it – better just to smile.  I presume some legacy regulations in force!

Passport at the island’s Admin Centre (shared by the Police, post office, immigration and, I think, council equivalent) was even quicker. There was obviously a very good TV programme on and I was taking the lady away from it.  “Fill these with your names”, four thumps as she stamped the passports and about 60 seconds later I was marching out again.  Who said clearing in would be difficult?

North Island is not difficult to explore.  There are three nominal villages all in a row, each pretty much up against the other on the main road running N/S on the island, which is for the most part no more than a few hundred metres wide.  We walked along to see the sites.  We found and visited the museum – all about the settling of the islands but mainly to do with the rich big game fishing history the island has. Hannah had a lovely time reading everything out aloud to us, great for Lou and I to listen to but a bit wearing for big sister!

We also found the War memorial and another for the worst air crash that Bimini had just a few years ago.

It is obvious that the Island has been hit hard by the recent financial  woes. Most buildings and the marinas are tired and could do with a lick of paint.  Houses are old and most look a little decrepit.  Tourist shops are v few in number, mainly dealing in garishly coloured t-shirts. Restaurants amount to two conch salad bars.  Even though we are in the winter months and the tourist numbers will be a lot lower now, times are obviously difficult.

Perhaps the most telling of pictures was the number of young men and woman grouping together to drink hard through the day outside the one bank on the island.  It seemed to be an everyday occurrence.

No work to be had.

Saying that, it is a pretty place but not somewhere I would want to stay for any length of time.  Although it could be said the glory days of Bimini are behind it, the people here are v friendly and optimistic that they will return.