No Harmonica newsletters this year since we lived in a house in 2006 - our townhouse condo in Calgary. We left Harmonica in Tauranga New Zealand in December 2005 fully expecting to return in March 2006, then sail back into the S Pacific Islands after the 2005/06 cyclone season. However, we each had surgery, and New Zealand Customs extended the boat's "temporary import" status, so she will stay until May 2007. Some friends in Tauranga kindly checked Harmonica periodically, and she is looking well, and we are both now fit.
Living on board for 9 or 10 months per year and exploring new countries has been fun, but the year in Calgary has been refreshing, and possibly revitalizing. We have seen much more of our two sons. Mark stayed in Victoria BC after completing his degree there, and then travelling about the globe for a year. His exciting news is that he is now engaged to his long-term companion Heidi. He is now 'manager customer services' at the bank, and has the extensive group of friends that Mark would not be without. His parents feel very happy for them. We 4 shall spend Christmas 2006 together, but from 2007 we expect to share Mark and Heidi with her family in Port Hardy near the Northern tip of Vancouver Island, which is a beautiful place with a small community. They must travel lots since we have met Heidi's friends everywhere from the S Pacific to Lake Louise.
Neil has had a successful year working in Calgary with Key Seismic, and has been living 10 minutes walk away from us. It has been lovely to see more of him too, although he keeps busy at work and spends so much of his spare time up the the Rocky Mountains that we have seen only slightly more of him than Mark. Dave had a couple of great days ski-touring with Neil and his friends before having a hip resurfacing operation (Birmingham Hip) in April. He was already the slower and weaker partner. Neil has also climbed Mt Assiniboine, & Mt Rainier this year.
Jan started 2006 by having surgery for a Dupuytrens contraction in her little finger, which has straightened the finger quite successfully. In September Jan and a friend hiked the West Coast Trail. It was a 75km, gruelling, 6 day trek along the coast but worth every minute of it. Steep vertical ladders led the way up and down the many gorges (62 rungs being the highest).
After deciding to settle back into city life, we took up house projects - improved a lot of the insulation, replaced the furnace and water heater, and installed a new gas fireplace. We had a pleasant surprise just recently to find that we just got in on the end of the federal government heating efficiency incentive programme and had a cheque to cover some of our costs.
Dave also enjoyed getting involved again with geophysical software, and with Tom & Wilf the partners who have kept Techco Geophysical Services operating smoothly in our absences. He spent much of the summer composing, writing, & testing some updates to the residual statics software. Then nearly lost it all by reformatting a disk on his linux system - he should be relegated to amateur programming status!
Our return tickets to New Zealand would expire in November, so we spent October and November this year checking Harmonica's condition and touring round New Zealand in a Toyota van which had the centre seat removed and a bed built instead. We did lots of walking, a little camping, and visited friends in Hamilton, Wellington, and Dunedin. We also managed to remove all the stanchion posts from Harmonica, paint the bulwarks, and re-bed them. Several of the old stainless steel bolts showed crevice corossion.
Dave's mother moved into a sheltered home in England late in 2005. He has visited as often as possible. Jan flew back to Calgary with her after visiting her relatives in England. She is walking less now, so we had no occasions when she forgot her way back our house this year. It was lovely to see her and take her both NW of Calgary into the Alberta Foothills, and West for 2 days in the Front Ranges. Then, she flew back to England with our friend Celia. Dave will fly over to England again and see her early in 2007.
Next May, we plan to sail north from New Zealand to Fiji & many other islands to be determined, then finish the year in Australia.
Best wishes to you all from David and Janet