Well here we are in the middle of June and back in Nelson! We arrived back a few weeks ago after two months in Perth. Neil’s Mum has stabilised after her stroke but the loss of her short term memory as well as her vision makes rehabilitation very difficult and is causing her a great deal of anxiety. She is now living in a permanent nursing home not too far from Woodvale where Neil’s father lives, so she is being cared for and he can visit her whenever he wants.


While in Perth we visited Neil’s Mum every day but still had plenty of time on our hands. We bought a couple of tennis racquets, dusted off our rusty skills and had fun thrashing around the tennis court. Neil finally managed to convince me to pick up a golf club and have a swing, I actually enjoyed it as long as I didn’t take myself too seriously – not much chance of that! I also managed to wangle myself some work at the university in Perth (UWA). My old mate Myra Keep is a Professor of Geology there and needed a teaching assistant for her third year course in Petroleum Geology. It was great spending two afternoons a week teaching seismic interpretation with Myra – almost like old times. So our two months in Perth was well spent, meeting up with old friends, spending lots of time with Neil’s Dad and we also had several enjoyable evenings with Heather when she was visiting.


Anyway it’s good to be back in Nelson again, although it’s the middle of winter so frosty in the mornings but generally bright, warm and sunny during the day. We’ve had a lot of fun catching up with friends and, of course with Maya. Soon after we got back she performed in the Nelson Stage Challenge. This is a national musical/dance competition which is held annually in different regions. Teams from each school put on an eight minute dance show which is written and choreographed by them. Maya’s team (Nayland College) won to tremendous applause and celebration, it was really exciting!!


The main reason for returning to Nelson was to sort out what to do with Distant Drummer. Unfortunately the temporary import permit for the boat was due to run out at the end of June so we had the choice of either paying 50,000$ import tax or getting DD out of New Zealand. As our bank account is empty we planned to sail to Lord Howe Island (Australia) and then turn around and come straight back to enable us to keep DD in NZ for another year. We had a bit of work to do on the boat before we set off, including putting a new seacock in the aft head outlet. Careening the boat was a little more hair-raising than we’d anticipated, particularly because the tide at the careening posts was a bit too low for our draft. As a consequence we ended up precariously balanced against only the last two posts, which we were then told were rotten! Hmm . . . panic!

Tasman Bay

Luckily a good Samaritan from the boatyard across the road lent us his forklift. We parked it in the road (blocking the traffic!) and tied lines to it from the top of the mast to try to prevent the boat from tipping over. We spent the day at a rather unpleasant angle and were very relieved when the tide came in and we were floating again.


Unfortunately when we were on the point of leaving Neil’s Mum went back in to hospital. She had a couple more minor strokes and it was touch and go for a couple of days. The thought of being at sea and not being able to get back in case of an emergency was pretty tough for Neil so we paid another trip to the bloke at customs. We laid out the facts and he gave us another 6 month extension. It was quite a relief and we were glad to avoid the unwanted journey to LHI but we did feel a bit deflated. Anyway we’ll close down the boat again and are heading back to Perth on Thursday!

Suzy and Neil

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