Back to civilization as we know it

Vanille is tied up in a Whangarei harbour marina, some 20 miles up on Hātea River, New Zealand. This was our final crossing for 2014 and now Vanille and the crew are ready to take a land-dock break until April 2015 since cyclone season has already started in SW Pacific and will last until then. We chose Whangarei in New Zealand's North Island for its facilities and protection. This is a small town with medical clinics, dentists, big modern library, boutiques, three big supermarkets and any service a yachtsman could imagine will be available to him here. There are also trails within easy reach and we are amazed by hundreds of species of ferns and all kinds of for us unusual flowers. Here we are back to civilization as we know it with the same standards we are used to from North America or Europe. Yes we will be going to cinema as well and JP will be able to enjoy popcorn!! ...After more than 15 thousand miles we traveled in the last two years Vanille needs a bit of pampering as well – new sails are on the program, revision of the shaft alternator and motor starter is needed, outboard motor needs a good tune-up, rigging has to be checked,... etc,... etc. Every yacht that comes here to hide during cyclone season takes advantage of excellent service and a reasonable costs for numerous boat repairs after the long Pacific crossing. Australia has great service as well, but more costly than here in New Zealand. The next tune-up station to fix anything will be in South Africa, and that is not exactly next door! ...We also decided to rent a small camper van and will tour the South Island in February. This will be a nice change for us to travel by roads, although we will have to get used to driving on the left side – for now, one time out of two JP puts the windshield wiper on instead of the flasher – but could be way more dramatic-traumatic. ...Presently with the holiday season around the corner comes the time to visit our families. I'll be spending this time with my sister in mostly pleasant California weather, but poor JP will be facing ice and snow in Montreal. We were complaining of cold when we had a sharp drop from tropical heat to a NZ's spring, night temperatures were and sometimes still are around 10°C, day time is better, up to 18°C and now climbing up every day. After a month here we still have to heat in the mornings, although during the day with the sun up we are ready to complain about the heat!! ...hmm, is that just myself complaining? Knowing that we will be back here later in the full summer gives us courage to brace anything. ...We wish you all the joys of the season, a fabulous New Year and most importantly good health and best of everything!!