Down with the Monkeys

 In Auckland

Today we went to Auckland Zoo.  We arrived mid morning and got our tickets.  It is a big zoo and whilst there were hundreds of people there, there was always room to see the animals.  The highlight was the elusive Kiwi!  We’ve been to 3 other zoo’s so far and spent 6 weeks in New Zealand and had yet to see one.  They were like buses.  None and then they all arrived at once. I think I counted 6 in a few minutes.  The Sea-lions were great too.  It got very hot in the afternoon and we had our picnic lunch avoiding the seagulls, who have no fear of taking food from you.

We finished in the zoo at around 1630 and headed back to the apartment before the traffic really started.  We had been in contact with Neal during the day and had been invited down to the vendee boat for a tour after we got back.

We met Enda and Neal onboard and spent time touring the boat.  Bare bones isn’t the word for it!  Bare Carbon Fibre, 60′ long and only weighing 8 tonnes; 4 of which is in the keel.  There weren’t many creature comforts aboard. Bucket and chuck it.

It turns out that this is a joint venture between Ireland and the French. When the Irish lost their mast and the french split their bow, they met in Dunedin when making repairs.  The agreement was that the two countries would collaborate on fixing one of the boats, sell the other, re-rig and finish the race.  Due to the french having a professional skipper, he moved on to other things which left Enda as the person to bring the boat back to France.  They plan to do a circumnavigation for New Zealand as a way of creating some PR for the French and Irish along with the Atlantic Youth Trust and the Spirit of Adventure in New Zealand charities.  It is also a shake down trip for the boat before the crossing of the Pacific. Enda will also be the first Irish man to sail around the world and circumnavigate New Zealand whilst doing so.

We then headed up to the coffee shop on the pier while Cameron and Cormac (Enda’s son) played hide and seek around the boat. At one stage they were in the main sail hiding on each other). They also amassed a fair crowd of onlookers on the pier watching their antics. The french technicians (Max and Pierre) joined us and the next thing we knew it was nearly 2000.  Joanne took the boys for dinner while Neal and I had a catchup. When she came back they played in the apartment while we had dinner.  A long and interesting day for all..


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