Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Medellin one week on

Hi to all,
Well, we have been settling in - sort of - to the apartment and Medellin living. As the days have gone on we have identified over 30 deficiencies with the apartment. Some quite significant and others by themselves fairly trivial but together they add up to the fact that the apartment was not ready to be let as it was held up to be back in April. We have been having some testy discussions, particularly as they now inform us that they want more money from us which would amount to 109% in excess of the amount estimated to us for refurbishment last year when we bought the apartment. We may compromise a little but will not be paying the bulk of their claim, and if they won't accept that then there will be all sorts of shenanigans! Most of the increase comprises their fees so they can do the other thing with them!! Reminds Jim of a hilarious conversation he had with our agent in Suva when we were exporting onions and potatoes up there in the 1970's. There was a 3rd. party who had been upset at our activities and our agent who was an Indian told him to write him a letter and he would write a letter and then they could all do what they liked with it!! And all in a delightful Indian accent as well.
Added to that Jim has contracted a severe case of Gout (la Gota) in his left foot which means he cannot put on any footwear and walking is extremely painful. Plus a bad cold - no doubt from the Air Asia flight from Langkawi to KL!! However, we have an appointment this morning at the top Medellin hospital, Clinica las Vegas at 1030 so the effort has to be made to get there. It is a little better this morning so should be more or less bearable. The last time this happened was at Waiheke in Waiheke Wines and Spirits 13 years ago. We'll advise progress.
The weather has been hot with some rain but this is the hottest month. We have fans in the apartment which are adequate and at night we sleep with just a sheet as it gets cooler at night. Officially the temperature ranges between 16C early in the morning to the high 20'sC in the evening but it seems to have been higher just recently. Jean has swum in the pool but it is cold in the morning after the lower night time temperatures. Once Jim's Gout lets up he'll be in there too!
The apartment lies well - we get morning sun all across the front, on the balcony and in all 3 bedrooms. It is a very sunny and bright and airy apartment. In view of our balcony is a most attractive Catholic church and it is always well patronized. Sometimes we hear singing and often the bells in the morning. There was a wedding there on the weekend and the bride looked beautiful with a very long train.
There are 2 supermercados within easy walking distance from the apartment - Carulla and Euro. Both very well stocked and the fruit and veges are to die for. All the S American fruit, some of which we have in NZ, but many more here including the ubiquitous Cape Gooseberry. Jim's favourite! It is actually native to S America - we had thought it was S African, although it grows right through those latitudes, including here of course. The difference is that here it is grown commercially and sold in punnets minus the outer shells. Only possible with a low cost labour force no doubt.
Well, we're back from the hospital now armed with some pharmaceutical firepower to deal with the Uric Acid. Great experience at the hospital - first time in any Colombian medical facility. We had made an appointment by email yesterday with Maria in the International office and so off we went (Jim with a bare left foot) straight to the doctor's office on the 2nd. floor (piso dos). Doctora Bibiana Lucia Serna did all the admission formalities herself which took a while, Her English wasn't great but passable - certainly better than our Spanish!! Then she examined Jim and blood pressure was fine. As were all other vital signs. She prescribed medication for 3 months which was way over the top and also wanted to prescribe 2 injections which we politely declined. We paid COP145,000 (NZD65) to her male secretary who sat in her outer office. Then downstairs to find Maria in the International Office. She is Colombian but had been married to an American and they lived in Minnesota. So, her English was excellent and she was most helpful. She took Jean to the dispensary while Jim drew some money from the ATM. We have to go back tomorrow for some blood tests.
Now back in the apartment and just had some delicious Quinoa crackers with cheese and avocado. Some contractors arriving from FARM to start the remedial work this afternoon so maybe things are looking up.
More to come as always...................
Jim and Jean
Medellin
Colombia 

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Istanbul and finally on our way to Colombia

This blog, or at least part of it comes to you from Istanbul, Turkey. We arrived here just after 5 am local time this morning (15/07) after a 10 hour flight from Kuala Lumpur. Turkish Airlines was excellent as always. We had bulkhead seats on the 777 and had bought neck cushions at KLIA just before boarding so were able to sleep for reasonably long periods which had the effect of keeping us fairly spry - at least until we arrived at our hotel for the next 16 hours.
However, to digress - the momentous breaking news is that we have finally taken the plunge and after much hand wringing and discussions with other like minded yacht owners, we have committed to shipping our old girl from Phuket to Genoa, Italy in March 2018. We signed the contract and paid the 10% initial deposit. We have obtained a very keen discounted and all inclusive price from Sevenstar Yacht Transport and so we are going!! Our rationale, if indeed you can apply that word to anything to do with yachting, is that there has been almost zero interest from buyers in SE Asia and we received an opinion from a well respected classic yacht broker in the U.K. to the effect that in his opinion we have zero chance of selling a classic wooden yacht like ours in SE Asia. So, as we'd already been in Malaysia/Thailand for just over 3 years, we thought the time had come to be a bit more pro-active and get her to an area where there is far more likelihood of effecting a sale. And at the same time, a series of new adventures for us. The thought of sailing those historic waters is intoxicating and we've already identified very economical marinas for over wintering - either in Licata, Sicily or Bizerte, Tunisia. And no doubt there are other places as well in areas we haven't as yet had a chance to research in depth. In fact, the costs in Bizerte and/or Licata are lower than those at the Royal Langkawi!
After the usual few days cleaning and otherwise preparing the boat for her lonely 3 month stint alone, we flew from Langkawi to Kuala Lumpur an hour late. The departure lounge at Langkawi International was packed to the gills with passengers departing to myriad destinations and the numbers travelling these days always amazes us. Our flight to KL was full and the flight from KL to Istanbul was full also. Just as well we'd allowed 6 hours in KL before the departure for Istanbul at 2330. We are always early for flights because we have discovered that these days, with all the travelling (walking) within gigantic airports and extra security formalities, it always takes much longer than you think. We are way too old to face the additional pressure of shortage of time between flights. For instance, at KL Air Asia lands at its own airport and it is then necessary to take a train to the international airport proper. Trouble is, being Malaysia things are far from efficient and the signage is confusing, if not entirely bereft. Check-in with Turkish was no problem and our previously booked seats were allocated. Just prior to check-in we'd thought we would have a cup of coffee and a snack at a nearby café. We received the usual Malaysian response to the request for a menu item of "don't have" and the coffee was more or less awful. Back in Langkawi on the morning of the day we left we walked the short distance down the road for breakfast at Starbucks. We had no food on the boat. We could have eaten at Charlies at the marina but the food is truly totally awful there and grossly overpriced so Jim had "Mac n' Cheese" and Jean had a lamb pocket at Starbucks. Not very nutritious but the best choice of a bad bunch. We will be glad to be away from the indifferent food of Malaysia for a while. 
We followed the usual route over India, Iran (close to the Iraqi border), over the southern Caspian Sea and south coast of the Black Sea and landed at Istanbul just as a spectacular sunrise was occurring. Immigration and Customs formalities were very quick and easy and as we always travel light, we had no baggage to collect. Found a reasonably priced Mercedes taxi van and we arranged for them to take us back to the airport later as well. Within 15 minutes we had arrived at the Steigenberger Hotel where we had a reservation and checked in - very friendly and easy. After a shower we felt more alive and went down to one of the best breakfasts we have ever had anywhere. Salamis, cheeses, fresh fruit and salad vegetables, breads, olives, etc. etc. - it was fantastic. As always the taste explosion of Turkish food is a delight made all the more poignant after the mediocre food of Malaysia. The hotel is brand new and so reasonable in cost - less than NZD100 per night - compare that to Auckland!! After breakfast we had a much needed sleep - then decided to try the indoor pool. We went down to the pool and there was a young Indonesian woman overseeing the pool, gym and saunas. After talking to her we discovered that she was a widow - her husband had been killed in a motorcycle accident in Indonesia 6 years ago and she had 2 sons. They were being cared for her by her mother while she worked far away from home to earn USD600 per month. She could only earn USD200 in Indonesia. For that she had to work 12 hour days 6 days a week. Stories like that are by no means uncommon in Asia and always make us thankful for what we have.
We didn't have a swim because the water was freezing as it was indoors in an airconditioned environment.
Then we had dinner before finally repacking for the long haul to Bogota in Colombia. At the airport we met another delightful young woman - Fanni from Switzerland. We didn't have bulkhead seats this time as they were unavailable but Turkish has fairly generous legroom anyway so we were fairly comfortable - although after 13 hours nothing is really comfortable. We took off around midnight and flew the length of the Mediterranean before heading out across the Atlantic just north of Porto on the Douro River in Portugal. Slept fitfully before landing at 0700 on Sunday the 16th. Finally back in Colombia.
However, our first hours in Colombia were to prove much more of a trial than we expected. We had allowed 8 hours between our ETA on Turkish and the ETD on Viva Colombia for Medellin just in case Turkish was late, but in fact we landed early!! After just sitting, relaxing and having a meal we decided the time had come to check in with VC. Had what would have been a hilarious time checking in as being a low cost airline, they do not allow much in the cabin so we had to check our 2 small cases. Took a while with our non existent Spanish. And being extremely tired by this time, we found the whole thing fairly painful. Anyway, it was finally done and then we settled in to wait for the flight at 1530.
As the time for leaving was getting close and nothing was happening we asked what the holdup was. We were fed a cock and bull story about adverse weather at Medellin but this was untrue. It transpired later that there had been an aeronautical display at Medellin and they had closed the airport for a few hours that afternoon! We waited and waited and waited and then we were transferred to another gate. This entailed a long walk with all our hand luggage which included 6 bottles of duty free Scotch. Jim found the walk difficult as his knees were not good after all the time awake and travelling and Bogota's altitude (8,000') caused some labored breathing. Never struck that before but it was not a comfortable feeling.
We had no phone as the only outlet at the airport had run out of SIM cards! So, we had to email the people who were picking us up at Medellin to tell them of the delay. Luckily we had their email and were able to use the airport Wifi which was patchy at best. Also luckily they were monitoring their email and so we at least had made that contact. 
Then the fun really began. There was a young and vociferous group of Colombians who greeted every loudspeaker announcement with loud boos and abusive language. Colombians are very outgoing!! We probably would have joined in too if we hadn't been so tired. In the meantime Jean (as she does) had met an American woman in a wheel chair and her Colombian husband who is a 2nd. hand car dealer in Medellin. He has promised to assist us with an automotive purchase when we finally settle here permanently. She had badly pulled a hip muscle doing the Salsa - hence the wheel chair! Then around 2200 the aircraft finally arrived and we had to board buses to get out to it. The aircraft was an old and battered Airbus 320 and certainly did not inspire confidence. In our physical state we were far from happy. However, we had bulkhead seats which were a Godsend at that stage. The American lady and Jean chatted all the way to Medellin while Jim went to sleep with fingers crossed that we missed all the mountains around here. However, Medellin is 3,000' lower than Bogota so it was all downhill. Probably could have glided if we'd had to.
We landed safely after all that and our driver was there with a sign. Then we had to wait for our 2 bags. Everything came off the plane but not our bags. However, it appeared eventually that they had been taken to a carousel at the other end of the building and after much wailing and gnashing of teeth we were finally re-united with them. The drive into town was uneventful except that it was very slow with queues of cars on the narrow one lane road.
We arrived at the apartment - Jardines de la Maria, Carrera 44 22 Sur-51, Envigado. Just before that we had stopped at a supermarket to get fruit and eggs and bacon, etc. to eat the next morning as there would be no food in the apartment. By then it was well after midnight but the key had been left with the armed security on the gate. Our driver helped us up to the 8th. floor (in a lift thank goodness) with all our bags and then we were on our own finally in our own apartment. A heady moment even after all our previous tribulations.
So, we broached one of the duty free bottles (a 10 year old Glenmorangie malt) and sat on our balcony. Couldn't believe we were finally HERE!!! Then more fun and games. Before we had decided to go to bed the power went off. Blackness in a strange apartment. Fookin' 'ell. Checked the breakers but all looked OK. Nothing for it but to retire. In the morning we awoke bleary eyed from sheer exhaustion and a modicum too much Glenmorangie but couldn't even boil water because the electric ignition on our gas hob top wouldn't work. And we couldn't find a phone to even ring someone. Anyway, we eventually staggered downstairs in our jetlagged state and spoke to a woman who appeared to be the building manager. She spoke some English and she then organized security to investigate. It turned out that a breaker in the basement had tripped for some reason and power was restored. But the cause remains a mystery.
We were not happy with aspects of the apartment as it had not been adequately prepared for letting. Ok as it was us, but if a tenant had arrived in the middle of the night it wouldn't have been good. So off we went in a diminutive Hyundai taxi and 8,000 pesos (NZD4) later we arrived at First American Realty's office in Poblado. We met Bruna Lima who is a Brazilian and she heads FARM's rental division. We discussed the deficiencies and later followed up with a detailed email. Then another taxi up the hill to the El Tresoro shopping mall which has a commanding view over all of Medellin. We had a meal up there and also finally got a local SIM card' Jim bought a pair of swimming togs (Quicksilver!). Our cell phone no. is +57 4 312 630 8785. We also have a land line - +57 4 2709871.   
Today (Tuesday) we have been relaxing and we had the maintenance manager from FARM here to go through our deficiency list. Most is now sorted - he spoke excellent English - and we have hot water at last! This powered by natural gas which is reticulated all over the city.
So, that's it for now folks - as usual hope everyone's in the pink. Our pink had become almost purple but now looking much brighter again!
Lotsaluv from us..............
Jim and Jean
Appt. 804
Jardines de la Maria
Carrera 44 22 Sur-51
Envigado
Medellin
Colombia

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Monday, 26 June 2017

Fwd: 2017 America's Cup


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: James Donald <tiare.taporo3@gmail.com>
Date: 27 June 2017 at 01:49
Subject: 2017 America's Cup
To: Alex Donald <adonald@abdonaldltd.co.nz>


Yayyyyyyyyyy - Emirates Team New Zealand has won the America's Cup in Bermuda from Team Oracle USA. The America's Cup is once more New Zealand's Cup. Well done and hearty congratulations to Team New Zealand, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and everyone associated with such a fine effort. 
Jim and Jean
s.v. Tiare Taporo III
Royal Langkawi Yacht Club
Langkawi
Malaysia

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Langkawi 10 weeks on

Hi to all,
As usual we hope that this finds you all in the pink.
We arrived back on Langkawi on April 11th. and as mentioned before spent a fairly listless first month slowly recovering from this viral flu that seems to afflict many people here. We think we caught it on the aircraft, but who knows. Anyway, we have finally got back on top of things but scheduled boat work has taken a back seat for a time.
There has been the normal socialising that happens in a marina, particularly this one with relatively cheap alcohol and a bar (Charlie's) which has been here since time immemorial. We've hired a car twice a week and done the normal provisioning - sometimes all the way to Matsirat! That reminds Jim of Waiheke days and the local who referred to the eastern end of the island as "the Bottom End"!! Sounded like a trip across the Nullabor and took all of 20 minutes on sealed roads. Hope we're not becoming as insular as that old codger.
Jean has joined the gym at the Westin Resort which is only a 15 minute walk up the road. She enjoys that, except that you need to be aware of the monkeys and a couple of wild dogs, especially around dusk. The monkeys can be a problem if they think you are carrying food.
Jim is swimming regularly in the marina pool. He has had to berate the marina staff fairly often to drum it into their heads to add chlorine daily, but at night - not in daylight as sun destroys chlorine quickly. After about 3 weeks we think the message is finally getting through!
We've met Poppy and Peter who are babysitting a B&B at Tanjung Rhu at the northern end of the island. Poppy was staying at Jo's in Whangarei when we first arrived there. Peter is German and Poppy a NZ'er. They seemed to be enjoying their Langkawi sojourn.
We've been making plans for our up-coming trip to Colombia. It will be great to be again living in a property that we own after a number of years. We can't wait to get there. We've been researching places to go in Medellin - Salsa dance studio, fabulous organic markets etc etc. We leave Langkawi on July 14th. and fly out of Luala Lumpur on Turkish Airlines. Only 18 hours or so on the ground at Istanbul which is too long to stay in the airport so we have booked a hotel nearby. Then Turkish again direct to Bogota and after just a few hours there we fly with Viva Colombia to Medellin where we arrive on the 16th. We return on October 12th. - the only material difference being a 3 day stay in Bogota as we haven't spent any time there before.
Life in Langkawi has been diverse and very pleasant, although we'd have to say that we are getting a little jaded and are increasingly feeling that it's time to move on. Problem with that is that the boat hasn't sold and an opinion received from a classic yacht broker in the U.K. was to the effect that there is "zero chance of selling a yacht like ours in SE Asia". Virtually at any price. So, what to do? Sailing back to NZ would be a difficult and long-winded business. It would involve much sailing against the wind and it would be necessary to go back through Indonesia and then north along the PNG coast to New Britain and then down to the Solomons, Vanuatu and/or New Caledonia. Then the on the wind slog down to NZ and a lackluster yacht market. Frankly neither of us relish that thought at our age. To sail on round S Africa via Mauritius, Reunion and Madagascar is out for the same reason. The other route past the south of Sri Lanka and India, through the Gulf of Aden and up through the Red Sea is out for largely a different reason - piracy. Not to mention the distinct possibility of 50 knot headwinds going north up the Red Sea. The piracy seems to have died down a bit lately but the risk remains high and frankly it's a risk we are not prepared to take. We don't relish having the boat looted and then probably sunk and ourselves taken captive and held for ransom. That's just not going to happen.
So, that only leaves shipping where the old girl would be craned into a cradle on the deck of a specialized yacht carrier in Phuket, Thailand. They travel the Red Sea route, but they take on mercenaries before getting to pirate alley and with a ship's vastly superior speed are unlikely to have any problem. Port of discharge at this stage is likely to be Genoa, Italy which would be absolutely fine. The shipping cost has come down substantially since we first discussed the possibility 2 years ago so it is a viable option. And there's a brand new marina at Bizerte, Tunisia which is even cheaper than here on Langkawi so not all bad.
In the meantime we have listed the old girl (the boat!!) with a classic yacht broker in the U.K. and also Vinings in NZ so she might sell in the interim. That would be our preference and of course it would enable us to adopt our new lifestyle ashore almost immediately but there is some little niggle which suggests that a Mediterranean experience in those historical waters (the west Italian coast, Elba, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Malta, Greece, Crete, Tunisia (where the ancient city of Carthage was), Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Gibraltar) would be the experience of a lifetime and we've already had some of those! Still, there are experiences to be had everywhere - it's just a matter of how circumstances pan out.
After our first month of feeling listless we have begun doing some boat jobs. Problem with those here is that after around 10 am you have to stop as the heat becomes overpowering and you can easily become dehydrated before you realize it. We've been washing the boat to get rid of mildew which at this time of the year is an on-going process but not as bad as in Whangarei we'd have to say. Then there was some deck caulking which had been re-done in Krabi about 18 months ago. It had badly deteriorated and was partially melting. We think they'd used some out of date caulking material. So we ripped it out using our newly acquired Makita oscillating multi tool (we'd had a Fein previously) and re-caulked the offending areas using International Evidure timber sealer first. Not the best to do these things piecemeal, but it works medium term and the decks are not leaking, even in the tropical downpours we get at times up here. Some overdue re-painting of the bulwarks and the boom will have to wait until our return. In addition we need to clean some mildew off the Genoa and sanitise the interior (which ex nurse Jean is good at) before leaving the poor lonely old girl for another 3 months while we flit off to Colombia. Still, she could be in for a whole exciting new experience very soon. 
We've been enjoying renewing acquaintances around the island and especially here in the marina. There are the girls in the office (Tini, Effa, and Shakila) who usually regard Jean with amazement and wonder just what she is going to do or say next! And there is Azrin, the marina manager - official title Harbourmaster.
Gavin and Jeanine Ganley are here with their steel NZ registered Ganley designed yacht. Gavin's brother Dennis designed all the renowned Ganleys but sadly passed away at a relatively early age. He also designed the original rig on Tiare when she was launched in Wellington in the late 70's. There is Ary who usually manages to find a car for us, sometimes at short notice. He has his office at the Jeti (about a 10minute walk from the marina) where the ferries to Penang, etc berth.
We.ve been spending some pleasant times with Lorraine and Graham, who we first met in Bundaberg. They have a lovely 65' steel cutter which was originally built in S Africa. Went to dinner at Cocos a few times with them as well as at the ubiquitous Wonderland Food Store here in Kuah. Two of the best places to eat on Langkawi.    
We bought a Spanish lesson language pack with CD's and explanatory books at the Post Office in Murwillumbah, NSW so we have been trying to get at least a rudimentary knowledge before we arrive in Colombia. Thanks to Sara (Jean's old friend in Murwillumbah) who recommended it. Sara, who Jean and Perry flatted with in Milford in Auckland in the late 70's, subsequently married a Spaniard and lived in Malaga. Hence she speaks Spanish fluently.
Ramadan has been on for the last month which is a bit irritating at times because it makes the Malays even more lackadaisical than normal! They aren't allowed to eat or drink anything between sunrise and sunset which is nonsensical, because in this heat you need to drink all the time to avoid dehydration. But it's one of the things one must accept and plan for if one is staying here for any length of time - and particularly if any boat work is needed. We learnt that a couple of years ago when we were hauled out at Rebak - one of the most frustrating experiences we have ever had.
Finally we cannot finish this blog without reference to Emirates Team NZ and how right now they are 3-0 up against Oracle Team USA in the final of the America's Cup 2017 in Bermuda. The Auld Mug is once more in sight , but ETNZ must be very careful and concentrate on their own performance which has improved hugely since the regatta began. It has even been suggested by commentators that OTUSA is even capable of attempting to force ETNZ into a give way position and then collide with them to damage the boat sufficiently to severely damage their chances. Of course there is also considerable risk for OTUSA in doing this because they could suffer the same fate. But nevertheless ETNZ must be aware of the possibility and watch their backs like a hawk to ensure that such a situation cannot develop. Possibly easier said than done. There is now a 5 day lay period with racing set to resume next Sunday. However, looking good so far - GO EMIRATES TEAM NEW ZEALAND!!!!!!!
And now really finally - the absolutely shocking and disgraceful attacks on the legitimately elected President of the United States of America. Severed heads, flagrant lies by the leftist so-called mainstream media, and now lies and innuendo as regards the investigation of President Trump for obstruction of justice. This apparent investigation has never been officially confirmed and is almost certainly not happening, but that doesn't stop the traitorous media from claiming this to be true amid many more lies. They are traitors because they are prepared to totally hobble the functioning of government, particularly when external threats are so real - terrorism and North Korea to name a few. This is creating extreme division at a time when unity is needed more than ever. There are of course also the economic threats where the US is definitely on the back foot after Barack Obama caused the national debt to double from 10 to 20 trillion dollars. Trump's task is huge and he must have the unquestioning backing of his own party who have majorities in the House and the Senate.
But this isn't happening and one needs to ask why. The GOP (Trump's own party) seems to be prepared to send their country down the drain simply to preserve their own jobs and the political status quo. Whatever one's personal view of Donald Trump, the fact is that he is prepared to upset the political establishment and "drain the swamp", and he should be supported in this endeavour if America is to survive in a world becoming increasingly strident and determined to attack America on all fronts - military and economic.
Perhaps one can expect these types of lies and innuendo from the screaming left - aided and abetted by media owned by people who are trying to profit from a political meltdown. But it certainly shouldn't be expected from people who represent a right of centre party (the GOP), and who should be putting their own country's interests first and foremost. Makes one wonder what threats could be being levelled against GOP politicians - and maybe their families. There was the premeditated shooting of some GOP politicians who were practising for a charity baseball game. The shooter may have been deranged, but clearly was single-mindedly intent on killing as many of the GOP as he could. It was just very fortunate that there was a security detail present that prevented this outrage from happening. And now we see the House debating a bill to allow House representatives to arm themselves.
The only way out of this appalling mess is for Americans to support the democratically and legitimately elected President of the United States. And for people everywhere to stop believing the "fake news" and "alternative facts" pedalled by the anti Trump media. We notice that almost every article about Trump in the NZ Herald is by-lined "the Washington Post". But what can you expect from Granny Herald?!! Unfortunately most people believe what they read and never question anything.
We had to get this off our chests because we believe it is important. If anyone has another view - either in support or to the contrary - we'd be more than happy to see it and maybe we could have some robust debate! After all, that's what democracy is all about.
With all best wishes and love from us.....................
Jim and Jean
s.v. Tiare Taporo III
Royal Langkawi Yacht Club
Langkawi
Malaysia




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Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Hi,
Another little joke that we thought everyone might appreciate -
The elderly widow was arriving for her 98 year old husband's funeral. The undertaker greeted her and said - "and how old are you?" She said - "96; hardly worth going home, is it?"
Cheers........................

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Addendum to NZ/Australia Sojourn

As is often the case when composing lengthy blogs, there are things which can be temporarily forgotten. So, here is at least one of them - 
We arranged to meet Dennis Bouverie up at Opua where he and his wife, Rosie are now managing an accommodation business. You may recall that Dennis was an original owner (along with 2 others) of our old girl when she was launched in 1978. Dennis now has his own yacht up there as well, which he sailed up from Tauranga. Dennis had sailed with Jim back in 2012 from Bundaberg to the Whitsundays.
We also took the opportunity to meet for the first time our insurance broker who operates at Opua. He is interested in listing the old girl for sale as he acts as a sub agent for Vinings Yacht Brokers.
Anyway, we finally met up with Dennis and Rosie - much to talk about. Then we all got into Dennis's car and we drove to Kerikeri to the Marsden Estate Winery which is owned by Rod McIvor. Rod had been another of the young triumvirate who lived in the roof rafters of the boat shed in Evans Bay in Wellington to save money while they worked on their dream. The 3rd member apparently still lives in Wellington and we haven't met him so far. We had a great lunch in a very pleasant garden setting and again much to talk about, but Rod at that point was very busy getting the grape harvest in ahead of some forecast rain so was understandably a little preoccupied.
Then after lunch we drove to Waipapa Landing where Jim had had the old girl moored on a pile mooring in the Waipapa River - until it silted up and became untenable. Also saw Colin Read's house across the basin - so many memories for Jim. Colin had been the mooring warden and he and Jim had got on like a house on fire. The first time he came on board the old girl he said - "this is a real ship". Colin was also an avid small boat builder and in the days before some disastrous river floods he had operated a small slipway at the bottom of his lawn. Sadly he passed away soon after Jim left and took the old girl to Whangarei for her extensive refit.
During one flood Jim had tried to reach the yacht by dinghy but didn't have a bolter's show in the current and finished up on Colin's lawn where he hauled the dinghy and crawled up the lawn in a bedraggled state. Colin kindly drove him home after that! 
Well, that's finally it we think. Not sure when the next blog will be as things have settled down now - Phew we hear you say!
All blogs including photos of the Medellin apartment are on the website - www.tiaretaporo3.blogspot.com
Cheers and love again from us.............
Jim and Jean
s.v. Tiare Taporo III
Royal Langkawi Yacht Club
Langkawi
Malaysia. 

NZ and Australia sojourn - continued!!

Hi again to all,
Fortunately we had finally mostly recovered from our flus and so on the 14th. (just 2 days before we were due to fly to the South Island) the furniture removal people arrived at our storage unit. There was quite a performance getting things out and deciding what stayed and the items destined for the antique shop. After about 3 hours it was finally done.
It's a wrench for Jim as he has known all these things for the last almost 50 years but our lives have changed irrevocably and especially so since buying our apartment in Medellin. We certainly can no longer afford to buy property in NZ due to the ridiculous property inflation that has raged for the last 5 years or so and it is certainly uneconomic to ship the entire contents of the storage unit to Medellin. So, there was only one sensible answer, but the difficulty with that is that these days no-one seems to want anything of quality and so values are far lower than they should be. Shades of the classic yacht market!!
We said goodbye temporarily to Hamish and Sara and on the following day drove to Auckland  where we stayed with Jean's old friend, Linda Luxford. A new acquaintance for Jim but Jean and Linda had years of catching up to do. We had a delightful stay with Linda and she spoiled us rotten!
Then on the next day (16th.) we drove to the airport for our flight to Christchurch with Jet Star. Left the Suzuki in airport long term parking. The flight was uneventful, except for very cramped seating, but as it was only just over 1 hour, it was bearable. Arrived Christchurch about 4.30pm  and straight to Apex Car Rentals to organize our car. Soon we were off heading north out of Christchurch on our way through the Lewis Pass. It's a 3 and a half hour drive to Greymouth and we were feeling somewhat jaded already. Very heavy traffic which was slow but finally we were free of the city's influence and heading west. Stopped at Culverden for an indifferent meal of fish and chips and as we've said before about NZ, at exorbitant cost!
We hadn't realized but there had been fires in the alpine areas of the Trans Alpine Railway which had damaged signals and bridges so trains are out of action for 6 weeks. As a result bulk export cargos of logs and coal are moving by road which makes driving on NZ's goat tracks masquerading as state highways even more hazardous. It remained daylight until after 8 so that helped our aged eyes and the drive, apart from the trucks, was scenic and enjoyable.
We rolled into Greymouth about 9 and had little difficulty in finding the house of Jean's nephew (Jiveen). Then there was a reunion of Jean and Jiveen. They had last seen each other in Scotland almost 2 years ago. Jiveen has taken a position with the Grey District Council as "Innovation Officer". The rest of the family was asleep by this stage so after a cup of tea we were very glad to be shown to our bedroom and a nice comfy bed where we slept soundly - only woken from time to time by the colds we still had. Some lovely welcoming natural soap on our bed - left by Jenny.
We had a delightful time with Jenny and Jiveen - not to mention Theo and Rohan. The children were delightful. Jim was very pleased to discover a genuine NZ butcher's shop not far away and we certainly patronized it. We bought a Canterbury leg of lamb for Jean's 70th birthday on Feb 18th. and a great time was had by all. Jean found a gluten free cake mix in town and made a chocolate cake which was also greatly enjoyed. During our stay we drove north up to the Punakaiki Rocks which are a pancake formation on a headland. Very fascinating and extremely well serviced by DOC with paths and explanatory plaques. We felt that DOC should charge an admission fee to pay for what is a really admirable asset. There had also been a weekend market in Greymouth in which Jenny was a main player due to her long standing interest in and knowledge of self sufficient production of fruits and vegetables. 
Then there was the arrival of Rod and Fiona (Jenny's parents) from Scotland which was their first visit to the Land of the Long White Cloud. In the meantime Jiveen had arranged alternative accommodation for us as their house wasn't big enough for all of us. We had a very comfortable house south of Greymouth right on the beach which offered dramatic views of the Tasman rollers. The weather was quite benign however and even the Greymouth bar was disappointingly calm! Jean had met Rod and Fiona back in Scotland 18 months ago but Jim hadn't met them so it was a happy reunion. They are very pleasant lovely people and we enjoyed their company. One night Jenny cooked a delicious dinner which we all had together.
Then one morning Jean developed a bad stomach pain on the right side. Of course, having some medical knowledge, one always imagines the worst so we decided to go to Greymouth Hospital to get things checked out. They were excellent and we had a very thorough doctor. He gave Jean an ultrasound examination which showed nothing untoward and happily the pain slowly subsided. Hasn't been a problem since.
Jean was a bit washed out after all that and needed to rest - very unlike her! So, Jim decided to drive up to Reefton (about an hour north and slightly inland). Reefton is like stepping back in time and they have preserved most of the original buildings. Had a coffee and a slice of bacon and egg pie (!) and then drove back again. Beautiful bright green countryside with many dairy farms.
We had learnt about a greenstone carver while at the aforementioned market and so visited him and learnt much about the business and all the skullduggery that has gone on in the past! We had been asked to source a pendant for a friend here in Langkawi and happily we were able to do that at very reasonable cost - much less than tourist prices.
Then it was all too soon for us to leave for Christchurch. Jenny, Rod, Fiona, Theo and Rohan all came to say goodbye after which we drove back to Greymouth to say a last farewell to Jiveen. We should be used to these goodbyes after our lifestyle over the last 6 years or so, but it's always a wrench.   
The drive up to Arthurs Pass was spectacular - cloudless sky and very steep inclines with great views of the Southern Alps. It would have to be one of the world's greatest drives. We had a pleasant café lunch at Arthurs Pass itself and then carried on down the Canterbury side. Around 4 we were back at the rental car depot where we waited for Charlotte's husband Jon to pick us up in the work truck. This he duly did and then we were at 12, Kaiwara St., Hoon Hay for a reunion with Jim's youngest daughter, Charlotte and Lucia and Elsie. Lucia was away at a "sleepout" that night so we were able to get to know Elsie all over again as it had been 3 years since she had seen Jean but the aforesaid has a great way with children and soon there were games etc. Being a Friday night, we got takeaways from a Chinese takeaway and a good time was had by all. We had been going to sleep on a blowup mattress on the sitting room floor but Jon quickly mastered the situation and  we took over Lucia's room who was moved to the study.
The next day we went over to Lyttleton to the farmers market. Excellent produce etc - but pricey!! as is NZ generally. A very pleasant visit complete with coffee and morning tea! Lyttleton still has a few gaps courtesy of the earthquakes but there is definitely an air of prosperity which was good to see. The road back over the Port Hills was still closed due to the extensive fires that they had had so it was both ways through the tunnel. 
That afternoon/evening it was great to see again Jon's father, Max and Philippa. Much to talk about and catch up on. Don't know whether there was much understanding of our decision to eventually live in Medellin though!! A very pleasant BBQ and red wine put a mellow touch on the evening.
The next day Charlotte took us into the city to view rebuilding since the earthquake. There is undoubtedly much building activity but it seemed to Jim not much more evident since his last visit almost 2 years ago. During the visit to town we also visited the Air NZ exhibition held to commemorate their 75th. anniversary. An area of particular interest for Jim was the depiction of a passenger cabin on the Solent flying boat (operated by TEAL - the forerunner of Air NZ). Jim flew on the 2nd to last Coral Route service, as it was known, from Fiji to Tahiti in 1960 with his parents and brother, Alec. The Solent was the aircraft used and after a re-fuelling stop at Aitutaki in the Cook Islands, Alec and Jim were invited to the flight deck for the take-off!! They simply stood in awe behind the pilot's seat and Capt. Joe Shepherd merely said - "you kids OK?" before his hands pushed the throttles wide open and the 4 Bristol Hercules engines roared in unison. Jim can still see the scene as if it were yesterday. 
Then on Monday it was all too soon time for us to take our leave again. You would think we were used to it by now, but it seems we never get used to saying goodbye - albeit hopefully temporarily. At least Lucia would have her room back!! Charlotte took us to the airport and once again it was farewell for however long. Back in Auckland we collected the car and went straight to Linda's at Hauraki Corner. She was so hospitable and we owe her an extreme debt of gratitude. As indeed we do to everyone who allowed us the run of their houses and put up with our quirky eccentric ways!!
So many things to do - buy a repair kit for one of our 2 manual Whale bilge pumps, and a new oscillating tool (after the trusty Fein had packed up) to deal with the seams on the boat's deck as required. In Whangarei we acquired a new mat for the galley, bronze screws, and a length of line to hoist the outboard on and off. Couldn't find the required diameter here in Langkawi.
Then a visit to our Auckland solicitor to organize new Wills in respect of our recent apartment purchase in Medellin. It was great to renew acquaintance with him. He has been a long standing solicitor for Jean's family and is a great person to talk to. Much of our several appointments was taken up with discussions of everything except the law but they were enjoyable occasions. The law in NZ is based on British Common Law, whereas the Colombian legal system is European Civil Law based. The main issue for us was to ensure that when the inevitable happens and one of us shuffles off this mortal coil, the survivor can retain ownership and use of the apartment. We finally understood the issues with advice from our NZ solicitor as well as simultaneous advice from our Medellin counterpart. It involves the formation of a Civil Trust in Colombia but fortunately the costs of all this legal work are not so great as Colombia has a much lower cost structure than NZ.  
We should also mention that we managed to organize to meet Jim's best man (at his 1st. wedding in 1969). This was David Dunsheath and he was in Matakana with his wife, Joy and sister, Anna. Anna has a house on Waiheke Is. and Jim hadn't seen her since Waiheke Wines and Spirits days. Anna is also a very accomplished artist and Jim has a small example of her art which will eventually find its way to Medellin. It was a wonderful reunion and we managed to bring ourselves up to date as much as is possible in such a relatively short time. David and Joy live in Wellington and were in fact in Matakana for the wedding of one of their sons so it was a happy time all round. We had come down from Whangarei and stayed with Keith in Wellsford once again which made the meeting possible. As well as that we had the opportunity to have some more hilarious conversations with Keith and Darren and Jolene.
Then back to Whangarei for more bouts with our storage unit. We were now entering the slow and boring phase as box after box had to be unpacked and contents dealt with. Some to keep, some to Hospice and some to sell. Also some special items to Charlotte in Christchurch and to Amanda who with Dave is about to move into their 1st. home. Amanda and Dave came up to Whangarei in a borrowed van to remove their items. We then had one trip to Auckland (there and back in a day) to deliver to Crown Relocations the items for Charlotte. These included a solid silver tea set that had belonged to Charlotte's great great grandmother - also Charlotte Donald and her initials had been engraved on all the pieces so Charlotte was the obvious beneficiary. She'll have to get used to regular polishing to keep it all looking pristine!!
Jean had some items as well to deal with. There was a large Kauri chest of drawers which she gave to her nephew, Rakesh and Geraldine and their very new baby, Amalendu. They have recently moved to Whangarei and we had the opportunity to visit them several times during our stay. Her wonderful camphorwood box which she had had since Singapore days in the early 1970's was kept for eventual shipment to Medellin. It will have been a well travelled camphorwood box! 
Finally the sorting was finished and Jim was getting over what was for him a huge change and a long overdue letting go of the past. The process was of necessity slow, especially where papers were concerned, but the Norsand Boatyard just down the road had very generously allowed us to use their rubbish skip!! We gave Murray and Jo at Norsand a bottle of wine in appreciation and a large Steinlager photo of NZL32 winning the America's Cup in San Diego. The origin of this had been with Waiheke Wines and Spirits which was a Lion Brewery associated franchise (Super Liquor). We gave Noel Barrot (our shipwright friend) some other items that we felt he would appreciate such as some vintage charts and a Teak benchtop from a furniture maker in Delhi, India which had been surplus to requirements in the building of the Kerikeri house back in 2006. Plus quite a few other bits and pieces! Also one of Jim's Rajahstan rugs (purchased in India in 2005) for Heather.
In the end we finished up with some boxes of items we want to ship to Medellin and once again due to great kindness from our friends Hamish and Sara, we purchased a 1.5 x 1.5 metre garden shed from Bunnings and had it erected in H & S's large commercial shed - so it is well protected while it awaits the final move. Then H & S will get a pristine garden shed!
It was such a haven to come back to Hamish and Sara's after hard yakka  each day in the storage unit. They really put themselves out for us and slept out in the aforementioned container (sleepout) while we had the luxury of their bed. And of course it was no distance from the storage unit in Port Rd. so we could come and go with the items for final storage. It was a really logistical exercise which tested us at times. And it must be said that Jean was her usual tower of strength - particularly given that most of the stored items were Jim's stuff! The job could not have been completed without her.
We should also mention that we had our usual appointments with our doctor, Andrew Miller at Bush Rd. Medical Centre. Jim was very pleased to learn that his blood test results were all clear and within normal limits. Blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol. When Andrew took the blood pressure and saw the reading he said - "you're just showing off!" Jean of course was her normal healthy self and we were also very pleased and relieved to see that Andrew had recovered remarkably well from his recent very severe illness. Well done, Andrew and all best wishes from us for your continued good health.  
We also spent some time staying at Jo's (Jean's neice) place at Mangapai. It was good for Jean to see her great nephews, Morgan and Harlen, but perhaps a pity that, even though she hadn't been there for 3 years and may not be back for a while, they - perhaps like teenagers everywhere - were distant and mostly withdrew to their bedrooms and their computers. They don't appear to realize that at our age the chances of seeing us again diminish exponentially.
However, Jo and Jean's sister, Heather (who lives in her own small house on the property) insisted on giving us a BBQ - mainly to celebrate Jean's 70th. Jim's of course had been celebrated back on Langkawi a few weeks earlier. However, we found at short notice that we were expected to do most if not all of the food preparation and supply most of the necessaries as well!! Wasn't quite what we had expected, particularly as we were mostly quite knackered after our stints in the storage unit, but in the end and in spite of inclement weather, a good time was had by all. Special thanks to Keith who supplied the best pork sausages and Hamish who cooked them. We had done everything else including a roast leg of lamb which was enjoyed by all.
Jean's cousins, Elizabeth and Colin were there as well as her old friend, Glennis Bowmar/Neill. Then there were Sara and Catherine's contributions of the most delicious desserts and cake. Thank you again, both of you. Also many thanks to Catherine, Heather and Hamish for all your subsequent help in the kitchen. Also good to see Wendy and her children and Kagan and Anna. Darren and Jolene, Giovanni and Catherine who all contributed to making the occasion a memorable one. Keith and Heather - you two go without saying!  
Then after all the kindnesses and help, it was finally time to say goodbye to Whangarei and all our friends and return to Auckland for some final purchases, chores and frankly some R & R! On the way we called in at Ruakaka to say goodbye to Wendy and her family. Then Keith's at Wellsford for a final brief goodbye - also to Jolene and Darren who have been completing their investment house in Dargaville. All these provincial towns are benefiting (if that's the word) from the value overflow from Auckland.
Then it was back to Linda's at Hauraki Corner, our oasis in Auckland. Linda has been wonderful to us and we owe her (along with others) a debt of gratitude.
This was our opportunity (for Jim particularly) to say hello and goodbye again to his relatives.
First, Amanda - Jim's eldest daughter. Amanda is a midwife practising out of the Botany Health Centre and absolutely loves her job. She and Dave have just purchased their 1st. house (in their 40's!) and are over the moon. The numbers horrify Jim as he remembers his 1st house in 1968 (which he part financed by the sale of a car) for $12,000. Anyway, they reckon they can handle the mortgage. The settlement has been delayed due to a bureaucratic f...up, over a small deck extension. The Auckland City Council are a law unto themselves and the approval is likely to take up to a month of working days. What do these people do all day? Anyway, they now have an antique blue Chinese silk rug and 2 of the original A.B. Donald Ltd. boardroom chairs. They'll all look good in the new house.
One evening Amanda organized a viewing of the new house in Blockhouse Bay and Dad (Jim) was suitably impressed.
Second, John Mains (Jim's cousin) and Garry. We had lunch with John and Garry at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron with a great view out over the harbor. Jim was a member a few years ago at the time of the America's Cup excitement in 1995. John's father, Neil had also been a long time member sailing his A-Class keeler in squadron races.  There is a photo on the wall of "Ilex" which had been owned by Jim's grandfather and which had been subsequently lost on Minerva Reef as "Tuaikepau" when she had become owned by a Tongan Church Mission. That has become the subject of an epic story of maritime survival when some of the survivors sailed to Fiji for help. Reminiscent of  Captain Bligh's epic voyage of survival after he was set adrift during the "Bounty" mutiny.
John and Garry had just liquidated their stock of antiques with a view to finally retiring from the business after 53 years as Portobello Antiques - firstly in Parnell and then more latterly in Ellerslie. There had been an article in the NZ Herald commemorating their 53 years in the business which had begun earlier on the Portobello Rd. in London. Jim also managed to make contact with Jenny (John's sister) by phone as we had run out of time at that juncture. It was great to talk to Jenny after all this time.
Third, Jim's brother Alec who lives in Mt. Eden. We had 2 very pleasant visits - the last of which was for lunch. On the previous visit we had met Leo who is a very personable Thai boy who had been adopted by their eldest daughter. Much frustrating bureaucracy but all but over now. Interestingly, as so often happens, she then became pregnant with her own child who is now about 6 months old. We haven't yet met him but no doubt on a future visit.............lots of reminiscing as always.
Then we had lunch in Meadowbank on an earlier visit with Graham and Carol Pearce. Jim had worked in a sister company to the one Graham worked for back in the 1970's. Graham more latterly has been very much involved in the Heineken Open tennis tournaments and is still involved with Auckland Tennis. We also made contact with John Bassili who was also a work colleague in the same company - part of the Amalgamated Dairies Group. John is Lebanese and left Lebanon during the troubles there with his NZ born wife, Maureen (who is an anaesthetist) some 45 years ago. They drove an MGBGT and a small Audi from there through Syria and Turkey to Genoa in Italy, from where they shipped the cars and themselves to Auckland. And they've been there ever since. They still own the same house in Epsom which they are extensively renovating. We met their son who is visiting from London on an earlier visit and he has been to Medellin, and liked it very much.
We also managed to make contact with Rhea and Pritika (Jean's nieces) as neither of them had been able to make it to the Whangarei BBQ. That was good and Jean was able to catch up with all their doings.
Should also mention that we sold a walnut bedroom suite to Jenny Hastie. This had been Jim's since he bought it in a radio market place programme back in 1968! It was also good to catch up with Jenny when we had dinner with her in Auckland.
In between all this we made last minute purchases and put the car through a car polish place - having washed it ourselves a few weeks previously. When we arrived in NZ we had 2 x 28kg suitcases thinking that they'd stay there. However, with all that we had bought we were still returning to Malaysia with one of them!! After a sad farewell to Linda on April 2nd. we drove to Pt. Chev. to leave the car with Tracie's brother in law. Had a chance and brief encounter with Alan (Tracie's stepfather) and Deborah and Steve until the shuttle we had booked arrived to whisk (if that's the word given Auckland traffic and no motorway to the airport) us to the airport to catch Air Asia to Coolangatta (Australia).
As an aside we've since learnt that the Suzuki had just had the back door repaired (from when it was involved in a minor accident before we arrived) and Steve was driving it home when an unlicensed and uninsured young kid ran a compulsory stop sign and T-boned the car. At least no-one was hurt. So sad to hear because it had been an absolute boon to us and we couldn't have achieved all that we did without it. We remain very grateful to Perry and Tracie for the use of their vehicle. However, at this stage we don't know whether it's a write-off or not.   
The flight to Coolangatta (4 hours) was uneventful as you like air travel to be. Not like United Airlines!!!! We emerged from the pedantic Aussie "Border Force" around 2300 local time and there was Sara to meet us. A joyful reunion between her and Jean - not to mention yours truly because we had met before, notably when we stayed with Sara during our stay on the yacht in Bundaberg back in 2011/12. And also when Sara and her son, Ricardo had been in NZ in early 2014. Jean, Sara and Perry had flatted together not far from Perry's house in Milford when Perry was still at school.
Cyclone Debbie had roared through the area a few days before and we had had concerns as to whether Sara would even be able to get to the airport with all the flooding but she had taken the scenic route through some higher ground and so avoided the flooded Tweed River. Soon we were at her house in a fortunately elevated subdivision in Murwillumbah NSW. Again shades of Hamish and Sara, she had given us her bedroom with an ensuite bathroom. Such generosity and so much appreciated. We were soon well and truly asleep as we had "lost" 2 hours on the trip from NZ.
The next day we went into town for some food shopping as this was the first day that shops had been able to restock following the devastating floods. The town was a mess with flood debris everywhere but Coles was elevated above its carpark so hadn't been affected as far as we could see. However, many shops and businesses were closed for the duration and many low lying streets had heart breaking piles of household possessions outside flooded houses ready to be taken away to the tip.
After a day or so we were very pleased to meet Carl again (Sara's friend). He had only just been able to leave his flooded property which is on the banks of a river that runs down from Mt. Warning. He has 40 acres which had been affected but miraculously his house was spared. He is 79 but as spritely as ever and still drives the same VW Kombi van that he had in 2011. It puffs out some black smoke though, which Sara isn't very impressed about!
Sara's son, Ricardo had last year left school with some impressive acting qualifications and credentials, but as an interim youthful experience had applied and been accepted as a crewmember on the "Soren Larsen" which is now running short cruises out of Sydney. Then he had an opportunity to join another old Scandinavian tall ship, the "Southern Swan". She was brought up to Brisbane for an extensive refit (adhesive cement in her very wormy seams - not sure whether Noel would approve!!) and so we decided to go up there as a chance to see Ricardo, not to mention another piece of maritime history. Evidently on the voyage north the bilge pumps were going all the time! We had booked into a motel at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron at Manly, so checked in there before making our way to the boatyard - "The Yard". Eventually we found it on the banks of a tributary of the Brisbane River and met Ricardo again and had a very enjoyable tour over the old ship. She had been built in the 1920's in Denmark so was about 95 years old - not quite as old as "Vega" who we met here in Langkawi last year when we brought some deck caulking compound down from Thailand for them. "Vega" is 125 years old.
Ricardo accompanied us back to the motel (unaccustomed luxury for him!) and we had a chance to catch up with his doings over dinner at the RQYS. All very civilized. Jean and Sara delivered him back to the yard the next morning to start work at 7 while yours truly lay in bed and watched a fascinating hour long interview with Sir Geoffrey Palmer - briefly a NZ Labour Party PM from 1989 to 1990 - the culmination of a time of great economic and political change for NZ. Then breakfast along the road and slowly back to Murwillumbah via Point Danger where we had lunch. Then it was time to collect Tonka (Sara's little dog) from the kennel where he had boarded while we were away and back home again. A very interesting trip thanks to Sara and Ricardo. All these names by the way - Point Danger and Mt. Warning - were named by the Great Navigator himself - James Cook. 
On another day Carl, Sara and us went to an art gallery near Murwillumbah where there were wonderful collections of Australian art - including that of Margaret Olley. After she died in 2011, her Paddington, Sydney house was photographed extensively before it and its eclectic and eccentric furnishings and art was moved lock stock and barrel to the gallery in Murwillumbah. It is reproduced now exactly as it was the day she died aged 88 while she was organizing yet another exhibition of her work. It was a fascinating thing to see. Apparently it was moved there as she had been born nearby in Lismore.
Then, as had happened before, all too soon our visit was coming to an end once more. We spent the day of April 9th. packing and then Sara drove us to Coolangatta Airport. This time along the banks of the Tweed as the floods had completely receded, but of course leaving an awful mess to clean up. Another sad farewell and then we were on the aircraft for takeoff at 2210. Another uneventful flight, although 8 hours this time to Kuala Lumpur. Then 2 and a half hours on the ground before the hour long flight to Langkawi. Very thankful to be here once more - these flights are becoming much harder as we age.
Caught a taxi to the marina and went to the boat. All was well except that the galley sink discharge pump had decided not to work which was a decided nuisance. However, a fellow yachtie volunteered his services and it turned out that Jim's wiring (which had lasted for a long time) was not up to the task. Easily fixed once the correct diagnosis had been made.
It is now 5 days since we arrived back here and neither of us has been feeling great - same sort of mild viral flu type affliction that we had when we arrived in NZ - no doubt courtesy of Air Asia. Not great but improving now.
Our focus now is with selling the old girl, more varnishing and painting and ensuring that the Medellin apartment is let to provide some income - at last! 
Finally, this blog could not be complete without a tribute to John Clarke (aka Fred Dagg) who very sadly passed away  a few days ago. We have always been fans and have found his satirical wit to be without peer. Some of you who were around in the 1970's before he moved to Australia (which was NZ's great loss) may recall his skit where he recalls our late and unlamented Prime Minister - Robert Muldoon.
He said, "saw him the other day, the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Robert Muldoon - NZ's well known gross national product. He was looking pretty pleased with himself - he'd just been awarded Best Dressed Man - Max Cryer. He was thinking of using him as a tallboy!"
If you weren't around back then, you probably won't appreciate the associations with Cryer and Tallboy. Max Cryer was a well known radio broadcaster and Brian Tallboys was Minister of Overseas Trade in the Muldoon Government of the time. Muldoon was not a fan of Mr. F. Dagg!!! 
Well folks, that's it until next time. Hope this finds you all in the pink.
With lotsaluv from us........
Jim and Jean
s.v. Tiare Taporo III
Royal Langkawi Yacht Club
Langkawi
Malaysia
April 16th. 2017 

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Fwd: Jardines de la Maria - Final Pictures

These are the final publicity photos of our apartment - now ready for letting - hopefully!!
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Carlos Sandoval <carlos.s@farinternational.com>
Date: 3 March 2017 at 08:29
Subject: RE: Jardines de la Maria - Final Pictures
To: Rich Holman <rich@farinternational.com>, James Donald <tiare.taporo3@gmail.com>
Cc: john.s@farinternational.com, sara <sara@colombialegalpartners.com>


Hi James,

 

We finally got the edited pictures of the apartment. You can find them on the link below:

 

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ythiov31zxe4esz/AAD7j-46QjV0ZsEW8CVHyqu7a?dl=0

 

We think the unit turned out amazing, now it is ready to be marketed by the rental department.

 

I'll put you in contact with them on another email later today, so they can start discussing with you the rental rate, occupancy policies, rental agreement, and more details.

 

Any comments please let us know

 

Best regards,

 

 

http://medellinapartmentrentals.com/email/signatures/carlos_sandoval.png

Carlos Sandoval

Design-Build Services Director

Mobile: (+57) 301 670 1256
Office: (574) 604 4991 Ext. 111
US: 954-363-1169

Headquarters: Calle 10 #42 - 28,
Global Express Travel & Business Center

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De: Rich Holman [mailto:rich@farinternational.com]
Enviado el: miércoles, 01 de marzo de 2017 4:22 p. m.
Para: 'James Donald'
CC: 'Carlos Sandos'; john.s@farinternational.com; 'sara'
Asunto: RE: Jardines de la Maria

 

Jim,

 

Carlos has to assist with the photos and progress so he is copied above.

 

Since brick does not burn, your building exterior is covered by insurance under the HOA dues, that you have 24 hour security to protect from theft, that we collect and maintain security deposits from renters and have not had any serious damage problems in ten years and that this is not a litigious society and nobody sues here like the US, I would say skip the insurance. 99%+ of our clients do not carry it.

 

But we can look for an insurance broker for you if you wish to pursue. Let us know and I will try to find one.

 

Rich

 

http://medellinapartmentrentals.com/email/signatures/rich_holman.png

Rich Holman

Founder/Director of Institutional and Residential Sales

Mobile: (+57) 314 863 0621
Office: (574) 604 4991
US: 954-363-1169

Headquarters: Calle 10 #42 - 28,
Global Express Travel & Business Center

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From: James Donald [mailto:tiare.taporo3@gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 1, 2017 4:12 PM
To: rich.h@farinternational.com
Subject: Jardines de la Maria

 

Good afternoon Rich,

We seem to be experiencing delays again with communication. We are currently awaiting the final photographs of the finished and furnished apartment. Apparently the photos should have been finished a couple of days ago.

And we have enquired (again) about insurance of the apartment contents - especially in the context of it being let. The enquiry has apparently been referred to Colombia Legal Partners but we recall some months ago we asked them the same question and they were unable to help.

Surely there would be insurance companies who would offer that cover?

If you could assist with these enquiries, that would be most appreciated.

Regards,

Jim Donald and Jean Tallentire

Auckland

NZ

 


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Saturday, 11 February 2017

Langkawi leaving and NZ sojourn - beginning

Hi to all,
We have been sanding and re-varnishing our port caprail - the starboard one and the bulwarks will have to wait until we return early in April.
After Penang, Langkawi is a most welcome slower pace of life - especially when driving!
It was Jim's 70th. on the 27th. - not sure whether that's something to celebrate or not! Guess it must be though to have achieved the 3 score and 10. We had a very pleasant dinner with Lorraine and Graham of "Lorrigray" to mark the occasion at the Fat Frog.
Apart from all that we were preparing the old girl to be left for 2 months and packing. We had purchased 2 large suitcases before we went to Penang to hold small items we have removed from the boat pending its sale.
They finished up weighing around 28 kilos each and so when we booked our flights to NZ on Air Asia, we had to buy 30kgs of checked baggage each. Meanwhile, the cases had stayed in storage on Langkawi.
Our other focus has been the on-going redecoration and furnishing of the Medellin apartment, which has been frustratingly slow. However, the end is in sight with final furniture selection and agreeing colours for "feature walls"!! Maybe we'll earn some rental income yet!!
All that has to happen is for the old girl to be sold, ideally to a younger couple who wish to take her on her next adventure. And then we'll be living the Medellin lifestyle.
We left the marina by taxi around midday on Feb. 1st. so that we could collect the aforementioned cases before the customs agent went to lunch and carried on to the airport where we were early for our 1745 flight to Kuala Lumpur. We had no problem booking all the way to Auckland via KL and Coolangata. We'd also bought bulkhead seats and meals so we were probably as comfortable as you can be in Economy.
Then 3 hours on the ground at KL followed by 8 hours to Coolangata. 1 hour on the ground there and we had to vacate the aircraft with all our carry-on bags. Unbelievably we had to go through a stringent security check after having endured 3 of those since Langkawi!  Even though we were merely in transit. The Aussies are like the US - paranoid. Still, we managed to have a couple of toasted ham and cheese sandwiches, which was a rare treat after the pork drought in Muslim Malaysia. Then off again to Auckland where we arrived at 1700. Our checked through bags did arrive which was a relief and then we got NZ SIM cards for our phones and another for our internet device. Then Supershuttle to Pt. Chevalier where we were to collect Perry and Tracie's car from Tracie's sister and brother-in-law. Deborah was away on business but we met Steve and after a pleasant conversation, headed north on SH16 for Wellsford.
Arrived there just on dark and very happy to be there and see Jean's brother, Keith and Keith's son, Darren and Jolene in the MacGillivray home on MacGillivray Rd. A quick dinner and then off to a very comfortable and welcome bed in Jean's old room - from 54 years ago!! A restful day followed with much catching up. Then one of Keith's lambs which had found its way into the freezer some time previously. Beautiful young NZ lamb. Haven't had anything like that for many moons.
Then it was on the road again heading north to Whangarei to our friends, Hamish and Sara. Was great to see them again and they always make us very welcome. They only have a 1 bedroom house and when staying there previously we've slept (very comfortably!) on a blow-up mattress on the floor. However, since then they have acquired a shipping container which they have fitted out as a sleepout next to Hamish's stainless steel workshop. We would have been very happy to sleep in the container, but very generously they made their room available to us and they slept in the container. That was especially good as about that time we both came down with some sort of viral flu which laid us low and made us feel fairly lacklustre for a couple of days. So, we haven't been social and effectively have lost that time. However, we did contact the carrier we had organized from Langkawi and also researched various "antique/collectable" dealers in Whangarei. As a result, we have the carrier coming on Tuesday and we have identified a dealer who has the necessary space to display items. Interestingly, he occupies the premises of an old service station whose then owners were very well known to Jim's family. This dates way back pre-war when the family held the Reo motor vehicle agency for NZ and the Adams family of Whangarei ran a bus company apart from the service station. The Adams bought a number of Reo bus chassis over a number of years and a strong friendship was established. Jim's recollection of Len Adams Motors was when we always pulled in there for fuel going to and from the Bay of Islands. So, quite coincidentally we're involved in a totally different way with the same premises.
On the 10th. we drove south of Whangarei a short distance to Mangapai where another of Jean's relatives (a niece - Josephine) lives on her newly acquired property. She bought it for a fantastically low price. It is sitting high on 5 acres inland from state highway 1 with a commanding view of Whangarei Heads and was an  Once more - catchups with various family happenings. All very welcoming and nurturing.
The climate needs a mention. Northland has had virtually no rain since November and just before we arrived had officially been declared a drought area. One day when we were both well down with the flu, the mercury hit 34C (98F). That was so enervating, especially in our state of health. And water use had to be very restricted as most places where we stayed were on tank water with existing supplies very low.. However, the day and night after that it rained steadily for at least 36 hours which filled everyone's water tanks, and considerably lowered the temperature. Since then it has not exceeded the mid 20's which is perfect, although the drought is still official and there is not much rain on the immediate horizon. 
Next week we hope to have our storage unit substantially reduced by all the major furniture items and then later in the week we are going to the South Island - Greymouth on the West Coast via Arthurs Pass and then back to Christchurch to be with Jim's youngest daughter, Charlotte.
More blogs to come, that's for sure.
With lotsaluv from us,
Jim and Jean
Mangapai (30 kms south of Whangarei)
NZ
www.tiaretaporo3.blogspot.com                                                                           

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Launching and back to Langkawi

Hi folks,
Well, after all our trials and tribulations the launching day had finally arrived. Was going to be the 3rd. but Jim wasn't well mainly we think due to the residual effects of a tick bite he had on his face under all the whiskers! Apparently these little critters fly and one must have landed there. For some days it just felt sore and we didn't know what it was but just after New Year the body bloated with yours truly's life blood fell off. Just as well we saw it in daylight - if it had come off in bed it wouldn't have been so nice! We then went to a local hospital to get it checked out because in Australia these things can in some cases be fatal. Anyway, the doctor re-assured us and the pain has slowly subsided. But Jim was definitely unwell on the day originally scheduled for launching, hence the delay, but then we were used to those!  
Quite a logistical exercise getting ourselves back on board with cleaning etc. The interior of the boat looked as if a bomb had gone off in it, so everything had to be cleaned and re stowed and squabs retrieved from the yard office where they had been stored. However, Jean had insisted on putting most things in large plastic bags, so the cleaning was less of an issue than it might have been.
We had queried the bill, as we had been expecting to and so at the last minute on launch day there we were going through the invoice line by line! The last thing we needed at that stage. Anyway, we managed to reduce the cost by approx.18% due to the painting shambles and the fact that they had overcharged most things compared to the quote.
The travel lift picked us up mid afternoon when we had been told the tide was highest and there should be slack water. But they never seemed to get the tides right and even told us the tide was flooding when in fact it was ebbing! And there was  a strong cross current across the mouth of the launch basin. So, as soon as we were free of the straps - but still being held by the shore crew with mooring lines - we went full astern and just hoped for the best. Fortunately we slid clear and managed to miss the concrete walls. Then we decided to go to the Jerejak anchorage just under the new bridge and 2 miles to the north as anchoring off the yard, as they had recommended, seemed too fraught with fishing trawlers coming and going. We don't trust those guys. 
We had a rolly, pitchy night due to an unseasonable SE swell rolling in and then returned to the yard the following morning for our final engine alignment check. Except that they didn't do it! The engineer, like Wit at Krabi, insisted that all was well before launching and therefore would remain so afterwards, but most boats "move" on being re-launched (wooden ones especially) and we were less than impressed. But there didn't seem to be any excess vibration and we'd had enough by then so just decided we'd get it checked once back on Langkawi. They did find however, that a hose clip on the exhaust hadn't been tightened and so we were pumping salt water into the boat! That is not the kind of thing that you expect to find on sea trials after a major engine refit. Having said all that, we are generally happy with the engine work and also the fact that we decided to lift the engine after 50 odd years!
They then went ashore and we thankfully headed north under both the Penang bridges as by then the tide had turned and was flooding north with the current in our favour. A marked contrast to the situation when we arrived 7 weeks ago. We had intended to go across the north coast of Penang and around the NW corner to Monkey Bay but when we got there it was very much a lee shore and quite unpleasant - again very unseasonable. So we went back into the western end of Batu Ferringhi and spent a reasonable night there. We were then about 15 miles on the way compared to coming direct from the boatyard so that made for an easy 50 miler the next day.
We re-assembled the area under the cockpit sole and stowed everything that belonged there (fenders and mooring lines) and had a restful night. Broached our final bottle of Laphroaig and celebrated getting this far with a huge sense of relief at being out of the place.
The next morning (06/01) we raised the anchor and headed NW on 340 true. There was a reasonable NE blowing so we motorsailed at a reasonable clip (av. 6.5 knots) under reefed main, staysail and gradually a full genoa. Would have been great to have just sailed, but as usual we had a deadline to get there in daylight due to unlit fishing boats and large scale fish traps. You'd be in a bit of a pickle if you sailed into one of those in the dark. The wind dropped as we approached the island so we dropped all sails and continued under power. The old engine purred along without an issue. Jean rang her friend Efa in the marina office and it turned out that she had saved our old berth for us!! That was nice. So at around 1630 we entered the marina at the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club and tied up on D13. Wonderful to be back.
By then though the sky was looking very threatening and sure enough it started raining cats and dogs. Thank goodness we came in when we did. It then rained more or less continuously for the next 2 days but we just slept mostly. Then on the 9th. was the start of the annual RLYC Regatta. This has been in full swing ever since with big parties every night ashore and all the usual razmattaz. 2 nights ago we went to dinner at Wonderland with Graham and Lorraine off "Lorrigray". They are an English couple who spent much of their working lives in S Africa and "Lorrigray" is a large twin engined 65' steel sloop - quite a lot for 2 people to handle, but they seem to manage her well. We first met them in Bundaberg and came through Indonesia the same year they did.
Our focus at the moment is to prepare the old girl for leaving here when we go to NZ on Feb. 1st. Cleaning and re-doing the varnished caprails which were adversely affected when the cowboy painters placed masking tape on them. The masking has ripped the varnish so we will have to re-sand and give another couple of coats of Sikkens. Then there's the damage caused in the companionway when there was an ill-judged attempt to remove the engine from the boat. Not the happiest of experiences.
Then there's the ludicrous situation of having to present passports to be able to buy 5 bottles of spirits or wine per month per passport on duty free Langkawi.. Jim thought he'd be smart and bought one bottle and then a day later tried to buy 5 bottles at our regular shop, but the Customs computer was onto it and the dastardly plot was foiled. Still, Jean's got 2 passports so we don't think we'll be too deprived. We had managed to buy enough before we went to Penang and so, even with the delays, we didn't run out. But it was a close run thing!
We've been celebrating the fact that the Malaysian Ringgit has declined some 16% against the Kiwi in the last little while which helps every time we visit the ATM, but every thing imported either has risen or will rise in price accordingly. This is one of the prices that the Malay general population is paying for their grossly corrupt and dishonest government. Singapore has already tried and convicted 3 individuals associated with the 1MDB scandal and there is more to come. In the meantime the Malaysian PM has sacked all who were involved in the original investigation here and the whole thing has been forcibly shut down in Malaysia. Anyone who dares to criticise this state of affairs is likely to end up in jail on sedition charges.
Well, the sun is now just about over the yardarm so it's time to do justice to one of these bottles. Looking forward to seeing everyone back in Godzone.
Cheers and lotsaluv from us................
Jim and Jean
s.v. Tiare Taporo III
Langkawi
Malaysia