A Travellerspoint blog


and sheepshearing

sunny 88 °F
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We have just left Akaroa. This town was a simple village until the earthquakes hit two years ago and destroyed the port of Christchurch nearby. Akaroa’s population is about 500; it has a little beach surrounded by high craggy hills (that would be called mountains in Connecticut), some colonial houses, a lighthouse, and a little Anglican church. Once cruise ships started going to Akaroa because they could no longer go to Christchurch, the town is bustling. The harbor area is filled with vendors and tour guides and boats to take you swimming with the dolphins and wildlife kayaking; the park has teens doing Maori dances; the ladies have a craft fair, and the church has a 2 pm tour. Today, we went up the “hill” to Paua Bay Farm to see life as it is without tourists. We drove through miles of stunning scenery to a farm and watched a sheep lose at least half its size in 3 minutes (see below). Then we saw the sheepdogs run at incredible speed and respond to complex commands and whistles and smartly move a herd of sheep to exactly the place the shepherd chose. The sheep shearing was very moving. These are beautiful animals; when you hold them, hug them, they are trusting and unguarded. They are warm and soft and look at you with beautiful eyes and don’t try to squirm away, nor do they baa. We understood a verse from Isaiah (53:7) in a new way. Isaiah talks about the Suffering Servant (a prefiguration of Jesus) as one who was wounded for our transgressions because we like sheep have gone astray. This Servant “did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent.” I don’t think I could have borne it if our sheep were led to the slaughter - the shearing was actually wonderful to see because the sheep submitted so nicely and seemed to love the freedom of romping without a heavy fur coat.

Long Bay above Akaroa

Long Bay above Akaroa

Herded sheep

Herded sheep

Hope and her sheep

Hope and her sheep

Sheep being sheared

Sheep being sheared

A sheared sheep

A sheared sheep

Posted by HopeEakins 00:03 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

A few answers

and thanks for your questions

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Avante and LeRoy: The sharks that were swimming around us as we waded into the little motu (island) on Rangiroa were black tipped sharks and lemon sharks. They were about 2-3 feet long and we were told that they were not dangerous unless they were hungry. There were also a few grey sharks who appeared to our surprise.


Jasmine and Tatyana: People on these islands do eat lot of fish because it is so abundant and, we guess, so cheap. The grocery stores have much pasta and beans and rice and very little meat. Since these islands have so little farming, everything has to be brought in by boat, so food is very costly. There are many bread fruit trees on the island. Bread fruit grows as large balls on these trees and, we are told, tastes like potatoes. We also learned that whenever a baby is born, the family plants a bread fruit tree so that the child will never be hungry.

Paola and Celest: Yes, we are really enjoying being on this beautiful ship and seeing so many new places. The people on the ship come from all over the world, so each person brings a new insight and new experiences. The days are filled with lectures and activities and music when we re at sea; when we are in a port, everyone gets off the ship to see the place. Some go on organized tours and some wander around and experience the place. In Moorea , for example, we rode in a Jeep up a winding and rough trail to the edge of the crater that formed the land. The river told us about his life there and that he was a “forest person.” In other words, he was born in a little village before the village hospital was built and spent his childhood playing in the woods. When we got to the crater, we were amazed at how wide it was - miles and miles of a ridge surrounding a deep depression. When the crater collapsed there were no people here. The first people came about 1300 in long canoes.

Gabby and Elisha: It took a week to reach New Zealand from Moorea. The Pacific sure is a vast ocean.

Bryan and John: It felt so strange than an important day like Inauguration day just didn’t exist where we were. The International Date Line is a hard concept to understand. During the days before we crossed, we set our clocks back (earlier) on many nights. If we had kept on doing that, time would go backwards. So at some point the day we had to stop gaining time (extra hours each day) and give some back!

Celest and Paola: Yes, we are having a great time! What’s not to like about this trip?

Elisha and Gabby: Tomorrow we will be sailing through Dusky Sound and Milford Sound on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Then we have a two-day sail to Tasmania.

Posted by HopeEakins 23:58 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)


Touring in the Southern hemisphere

sunny 78 °F
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We spent the morning at Zealandia, a sculpture garden, gallery, and home of a prominent New Zealand sculptor, Terry Stringer. We wandered through the gallery, which has moving walls that create living spaces (e.g. dining room) from the viewing spaces, then through the gardens by ponds and a modern chapel, to a walled garden with sculptures so well integrated that you thought they had always lived there. A massive stone piece of a father and son wrestling was balanced on a base and rocked when touched.

In the afternoon, we went to the Cathedral which is atop a hill that overlooks the harbor, and is filled with light and activity and joy. The Dean sent greetings to Bishop Ian Douglas who had just visited here with the Anglican Consultative Council.

Terry Waite has left the ship to return home. He send his greetings to you all.


Posted by HopeEakins 17:44 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Terry Waite

A few answers

sunny 78 °F

We hope you received the photo of Terry Waite and the greeting he sent to you. Here are some answers to your wonderful questions:
Terry Waite was taken hostage when he was 47 and was released when he was 52. The reason? He went to Lebanon to work for the release of an American hostage, Terry Anderson, and was himself captured, apparently because Hezbollah thought he had information about arms deals. It took those five years for Hezbollah to recognize that he was innocent. He has established a foundation to help the families of those taken hostage because it was so difficult for his own family to deal with his disappearance.

Posted by HopeEakins 21:30 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Interntional Date LINE


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On the page of the cruise calendar pictured above, Monday, January 21, does not exist! The day of the President’s Inauguration isn’t happening here! We are crossing the International Date Line, so we lose a day. All the calendars and chronicles on this ship go from Sunday to Tuesday - no Monday!

Posted by HopeEakins 20:36 Comments (1)


semi-overcast 80 °F
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Like all of the Society Islands, Moorea began as a volcanic eruption millions of years ago. Half of the island then fell back into the ocean, leaving a heart shaped land mass whose jagged peaks are the remains of the former volcano’s crater wall. The high mountains are wreathed in clouds and trap the rain, creating a lush vegetation with many exotic plants and flowers. Christianity only came to this island 200 years ago through the labors of missionaries from England; the first church in Polynesia is pictured here, as are the Polynesians who welcomed us when we docked.


Posted by HopeEakins 21:17 Archived in French Polynesia Comments (1)


Not feeling like St. Francis

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We are at Rangiroa, a huge atoll in the Tuamotus in French Polynesia in a very big ocean. The lagoon is 50 x 15 miles in size and we got here by sailing into a single cut in the atoll and anchoring there. Then we took a tender (which holds 80) to a small pier where 14 of us moved to 2 motor boats for an hour long ride across to the other side of the lagoon. Our little boats anchored outside another lagoon within the lagoon and we walked about 1/4 mile through warm shallow water to a motu (islet).

While the boat men gathered coconuts, made a fire, and cooked fish, a dozen folks walked through the lagoon to explore a neighboring motu. And then the skies darkened and a strong wind arose and a fierce storm blew across Tua’ai (the motu). The rain drove sideways and stung our legs as huge waves crashed against the reef. Because Rangiroa is so flat, the weather passes over quickly, but we were very wet for lunch.

Now it was time to return. The boatmen led us back out to the lagoon where the water was quite roiled and FILLED with sharks. They told us that the sharks were safe unless we had fish smell on our hands, so we were to hold our hands up and walk through SHARK INFESTED WATERS to reboard the boat. We did, and climbed quickly aboard. We are now dry and warm and very grateful to be on Deck Seven. The photo of the sharks below is of black tip fin sharks; there were also large grey ones with big teeth, but we didn’t stop to photograph them.IMG_0170.jpgIMG_0159.jpgIMG_0163.jpgIMG_0176.jpgIMG_0152.jpg

Posted by HopeEakins 20:43 Archived in French Polynesia Comments (1)

Nuku Hiva

Our first port

sunny 95 °F
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After almost seven days (5 pm Saturday to noon the next Saturday) we spotted land and felt like Christopher Columbus! Nuku Hiva is the capital of the Marquesa Islands which are a group of islands in French Polynesia. It has quite a few chickens, horses, and cattle, and 1200 very very nice people and cute kids (see them swimming below). It also has a church filled with large Biblical figures carved from the wood of the bread fruit tree and looking quite like tiki carvings of the ancestral gods. The pulpit was especially moving with a lion (symbol of St. Mark) lying next to a bull (Luke) beneath a man (Matthew) all below a soaring eagle (John). The creche, banked with island plants, was also very sweet with Jesus’s blanket made of flowers.

From the mountains, our ship looked as small as Nuku Hiva looked from the sea.
And now we sail on to Rangiroa, a 38 hour journey, so once again we have a water view for a while! We are wondering where the people on these islands came from. Historians think they arrived about 1000 AD. Some people think that they came from Chile in canoes; others say that they sailed from Asia; the book, Kon Tiki, says that they sailed from Peru on rafts. We are looking at charts of the ocean currents in the Pacific and trying to see which theory makes the most sense.IMG_0097.jpgIMG_0111.jpgIMG_0133.jpgIMG_0116.jpgIMG_0146.jpgIMG_0147.jpgIMG_0137.jpg

Posted by HopeEakins 20:05 Archived in French Polynesia Comments (0)

Crossing the Equator

A long way from home!

sunny 90 °F
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The first living thing we saw in the Pacific was a school of flying fish. They have wings and fins and can sail 15 feet across the waves in a beautiful formation. We crossed the equator at 135° 28.0’ W, and are now officially in the Southern Hemisphere! We received certificates bestowing on us the title His Majesty’s Trusty Shellbacks, and there was a little ceremony with His Majesty, Neptune, and a few mermaids initiating all the first-time crossers with egg and flour and shaving cream - and the kiss of an eel. It was a little more extensive a ceremony than even we liturgists expected! (See below. Bill is on the left side in the photo with Neptune.)IMG_0089.jpgIMG_0091.jpgIMG_0093.jpg

Posted by HopeEakins 18:56 Comments (0)

A real hero

Terry Waite

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Something we especially enjoy about life on board our ship is hearing very interesting lectures by very interesting people. One of these is Terry Waite, who was kept as a political hostage in Lebanon for almost five years. He was chained to the wall of a cell for 23 hours and 50 minutes a day, with no natural light. He is speaking this week on the tricks he used to survive. He's one of our heroes! (Pictured below with FIMG_0064.jpgather Eakins)

Posted by HopeEakins 18:35 Comments (1)

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