After 20 days of sailing, The Odyssey bucked the seas 30 miles off the northern tip of New Zealand. Rich planned on coming to shore and making contact with Tim, informing him of Ramona’s safe delivery to Reao.
A close examination of New Zealand’s north on a map yielded little affirmative information about a good place to make shore. “That seemed to never stop me in the past, just pick a place and be done with it.”
Rich drug his finger slowly down the western shore of North Island, New Zealand. “Ninety Mile Beach,” Rich smiled stopping his finger. “That should be interesting.”
Rich sailed around the northern tip of New Zealand under gray skies and choppy seas and raced down the sandy shore of western North Island. An hour south of the tip the water smoothed and flowed toward miles of uninterrupted beach with large dunes like unfinished sculptures. Green mountains sprung gentle and distinct from beyond the brown soft sculpted ridges of sand.
Rich ran out of daylight before reaching the end of the beach. Anchors were tossed and The Odyssey bobbed a quarter mile from shore for the night.
Before noon the next day, The Odyssey advanced south along the western shore and entered the mouth of the Hokianga Bay and River. Not far from the river’s entrance Rich docked at a wharf in a small community of Omapere. He grabbed his shopping cart and climbed up to the wharf’s deck and walked to shore.
A couple of houses from the wharf, he asked a woman pruning a rosebush where he might find a grocery store.
“To the end of this road and right,” she said, “not far at all, but mind your step. You’ll be on a state highway and New Zealanders are not known for good driving.”
“Thanks, Ma’am,” Rich said and pulled the cart along behind him.
He reached the store in five minutes. He loaded the cart, paid the clerk, and pulled it to a phone booth just outside. He obtained Tim’s office number and called. When he mentioned the call regarded Ramona, Tim was immediately put on the phone.
“Doctor Cantwell,” Tim said.
“Tim, this is Rich.”
“How are you and what about Ramona?”
“Ramona reunited with her father a little more than three weeks ago. They received her with great joy and she fit in immediately. I left immediately.”
“Are you in Auckland?”
“No, I’m in a small place on the west coast called Omapere.”
“I know where it is. How are you?”
“I’m fine. I’m here only long enough to stock up and give you a call.”
“I sure hoped you could meet my family and spend some time together.”
“Me too, but perhaps it’s best for me to stay away from Auckland. Has Tiki caused you any problems?”
“Not at all. Deep inside she knows Ramona is best elsewhere; besides she ended up with a purse full of money, that’s all Ramona meant to her.”
“Tim, it was my pleasure to meet you and Ramona. Who knows whether we will cross paths again, but if not, all the best.”
“There are no words to express my gratitude; the same to you.”
They hung up and Rich walked back toward the wharf where The Odyssey lay lashed.