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Bottom to Top: New Zealand by boat

I was in the North Island of New Zealand when Cyclone Pam was wreaking havoc across the Pacific last month. For days, the people from Vanuatu working in New Zealand didn’t know if their families were still alive or if they had homes to return to. The news coverage of the disaster was extensive; the images of the devastation, sickening. I thought:

‘What can I do to help the Pacific Islanders?’

OceansWatch posted the answer on Facebook. A James Wharram-design Tiki 38 catamaran had just been loaned to OceansWatch for the sole purpose of coordinating aid relief and they needed a skipper to deliver her on the first leg of the boat’s journey.

On Monday, Laura Dekker, Gerard Ellmers and me will sail ‘Anam Cara’ from the very bottom to the very top of New Zealand.

The owner (and builder) of ‘Anam Cara,’ Sytze Riemersma.

From Bluff to Whangarei is a distance of 1100 nautical miles. With winter fast upon us, we expect the voyage to be one of the coldest deliveries any of us have ever done. Our worst case scenario is an E, NE or SE wind direction making the coast a dangerous lee shore.

Prospective departure: 07:00am Monday 20 April NZ (GMT+12)

Bluff Dunedin 147 1 day 13 hours
Dunedin Christchurch 199 2 days 2 hours
(Dunedin Timaru) 101 1 day 01 hour
(Timaru Christchurch) 131 1 day 09 hours
Christchurch Wellington 174 1 day 20 hours
Wellington Napier 221 2 days 07 hours
Napier Gisborne 87 22 hours
Gisborne Tauranga 197 2 days 01 hour
Tauranga Auckland 131 1 day 09 hours
Auckland Whangarei 83 21 hours

Safe harbours between Bluff and Whangarei.


Podcast: Outside Health and Fitness

Here’s me chatting with Steve Stearns:

To subscribe to podcasts from Outside Health & Fitness, click here.


Just when I am in the final weeks of finishing my book, 50 Water Adventures To Do Before You Die, I receive a message from my speaking agent Tim Lavery:

Lia, interested in a westbound transatlantic cruise 1-16 November (2013)?

While I remain undecided about religion, I do believe in the God of Yachting.

Possible lump in left breast? God of Yachting puts stray container in front of boat’s bow and sends us limping towards the nearest port of call.

Break up from long-term relationship? God of Yachting sends me on Transpac sailing race from LA to Hawaii.

Desperately in need of holiday? God of Yachting sends me on a cruise…

Scan 206_1600pxThis is one of those fake overpriced photographs that you think you’ll never buy, until you see it and realise it would make the perfect Christmas gift for your parents.

Before we set sail, I took a one-day course to finesse my public speaking. The course was run by my aunt and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Here’s Dilly talking about speaking.

When you think ‘cruise’ you probably think of this:


In reality, it was mostly a lot of this:

IMG_8013I was onboard to work after all!

Leaving Rome for Miami…

  • My first talk was in the 250 seater theatre with 50 standing.
  • My second talk was in the main 1,300 seater, moved by popular demand (*gulp*)

This was the most delightful thing about speaking on a cruise ship. The audience of the first talk brought their friends along and so on. The expanding number looking out at me wasn’t as scary as I expected it to be either, because after the first talk there were 300 familiar faces, after the second talk there were 500-600…

And WOW what an audience! No one was in a hurry to go anywhere. Question time was often as long as my talks and boy was there a lot of laughter.

  • I was only supposed to give 3 talks, but they asked me to do 2 more!
  • The experience turned out to be a great stage-confidence builder.

Too bad my book was pending publication. I will just have to go on another cruise, preferably to Antarctica, which is one of the 50 Water Adventures To Do Before You Die!

IMG_6950One of the guests kindly arranged for me to get a tour of the bridge. THANK YOU so much if it was you!

DSC_9449The cruise stopped off at Tenerife, the Caribbean islands of St. Martin and St. Kitts (a new one for me) before arriving in Miami.

The image above shot by Alastair Maher is of the Air France Boeing 747 coming in to land breathtakingly close to Sunset Beach.

IMG_6872What I wasn’t expecting was for the gym to be packed all day long.

Most people walked rather than ran on the machines, which was very sensible, because when the boat rolled slowly to starboard I ran into the treadmill display and when the boat rolled slowly to port I nearly ran off the back of the rubber! The view from the treadmills will likely remain unrivalled…


I met a broad mix of wonderful people from all over the world.

It was pleasure to meet each and every one of you and I hope we get the chance to share a cruise again.