Day 411, Year 1: The V-Berth

Day 411, Year 1: The V-Berth
Date: Sunday, December 3, 2006
Weather: Sunny and Windy
Location: Whangarei, New Zealand

Yesterday was spent cleaning out the anchor chain locker and today we moved to the adjacent v-berth. This is our “guest bedroom” but it has secret compartments. Underneath the v-berth beds there is a big storage area. Because it is always closed up tightly, it is the one place on the boat that gets damp and mildewy. So today we dug into that area taking everything out on deck to be cleaned and dried. We didn’t find a way to get to the local country fair, so we just worked all day. Mark keeps his tubes of charts in the v-berth, and they needed to be totally reorganized. That job alone took about over three hours.

We started early today by moving the boat to the slip we will be in for the season. We had lots of help and we really needed it. We had to back into the narrow space and Windbird is just not a “backer”. But with all of the help, we made it in without any major issues. We are much closer to the ramp leading into the marina now which means we are closer to the bathrooms. This is a good thing. Our neighbors to starboard are Marie and Paul on Ranger, a fairly new Island Packet. They are leaving for the States tomorrow, so we won’t see them again until we return in February. To port our neighbor is Maggie Drum. Cindy flew to Colorado this past week where she will be working in Denver until April. Joe will be leaving this week to join her. Bob of White Swan flew home today, as did Ron on Rontu. His wife, Cynthia, went home a couple of weeks ago. Diane on White Swan is staying here to work on the boat while Bob is visiting with his brother who is ill. Slowly everyone is headed home for the holidays.

We stopped working at 5:30 so we could attend the Marina Sunday night barbeque. Most of the people here attend, so it was a great time to get to know people a little better. We met Roger on Wings and Strings. He has a Tayana that looks just like ours-same green stripe, same anchor, same wind generator, same black docklines, etc. Since we have so many things that are the same, we figure we must have other things in common as well. He and his wife have been here since this time last season. She taught in the school system last year and he teaches paramedic classes. His wife is already back in Florida for the holidays and he is flying home on the 14th, the same as us. He has offered us a ride to the airport, so that will be great.

Tomorrow morning Calibre Sails arrive at 8:00 to take down all three sails for repairs. And then the v-berth cleaning will continue. Fun, fun, and more fun.

061203 Day 411 New Zealand–Sunday Night Barbie

Day 410, Year 1: Anchor Chain Locker

Day 410, Year 1: Anchor Chain Locker
Date: Saturday, December 2, 2006
Weather: Sunny and Windy
Location: Whangarei, New Zealand

Our day today revolved around the anchor chain locker. First we pulled the 300 feet of anchor chain and 50 feet of anchor line out of the locker and onto the dock. This is what we use with our main anchor, a 55-pound Spade. This left the anchor locker empty as we had already taken out the 75 feet of chain that goes with the back-up anchor, a 45-pound CQR, as well as the 225 feet of ¾ inch line that goes with that anchor. We had that line on the deck for our crossing to New Zealand. We were going to use this with our sea anchor if we had needed that to stop us in very heavy wind. Next we hauled out all of the extra line that we store in the anchor locker. The next step was to clean all of the anchor chain and line. It took us most of the morning, but finally everything was cleaned and drying. It was a perfect day for drying things as it was very sunny and very, very windy. I also hauled out all the dive and snorkel gear and gave it a good freshwater wash down. By late afternoon we had the anchor chain and line all tucked back into a clean anchor chain locker. The extra line is still drying and will be put away later.

We are supposed to move from the space we are currently in to the space we will be in for the season this weekend. The space opened up this morning but since this has to be done at high tide, we had to wait until 6:00 this evening. Unfortunately, it was just too windy so we will try again early in the morning. It will be nice to be in our permanent slip–one more thing we can check off the list of things that must be done before we head home on December 14.

We heard from Randy and Sheri of Procyon. They are staying in Gulf Harbor Marina near Auckland but are coming north for some sight seeing next week. They will stop by on Tuesday and probably spend the night here before heading up to the Opua area. It will be great to see them.

Last night we went from polar fleece blankets to down comforter. It was only 60 degrees inside the boat this morning, but the sun was shining and things warmed up quickly. Last night was probably as about as cool as it will get as summer is coming on quickly, but on the days when it is cloudy, it still feels like late fall to me.

Day 409, Year 1: New Zealand Weather

Day 409, Year 1: New Zealand Weather
Date: Friday, December 1, 2006
Weather: Temperature Hovering Around 60, Rainy Periods Mixed with Sunshine
Location: Whangarei, New Zealand

The weather here fascinates me. One minute you are burning hot and then the sun goes behind a cloud and you are really chilled. Today there were periods of rain and then we would have beautiful blue skies and sunshine . . . and still it would rain. I kept looking up into that blue sky trying to figure out where the rain was coming from, but I think it is truly just liquid sunshine. The only dependable thing about the weather here is that it certainly will change in the next couple of hours. And even with all of the weather uncertainly, I see why people fall in love with New Zealand and never leave here.

I spent the first half of my day today doing laundry. I had gathered every possible cloth item on the boat to wash and it took five hours of loving labor to complete it all. Riverside Drive Marina has two washers but only one dryer. I had all of the wash done in an hour and a half, but the drying took almost four hours. So now everything on Windbird is clean and I can start on the next cleaning project.

While I was doing laundry, Mark was working on our propane system trying to get me back up and running with a stove for cooking. He also installed the new battery charger that he bought yesterday. We are hoping this charger will keep things running while we are away visiting in the US. He was successful in his installation of the battery charger, but not as successful with the propane system. In the afternoon, we walked all over town looking for a new solenoid for our galley stove, but there was not one to be found. Tomorrow we will work on ordering one of these, but in the meantime, Mark has rewired things so that I can use the stove for cooking.

This weekend there is a country fair in Whangarei. It is on the outskirts of town and a little too far to walk, so I’m not sure we will get there. But I’m hoping a cruiser with a car will give us ride. We were told that there are lots of animal exhibits. I would love to get a closer look at the New Zealand sheep.

Day 408, Year 1: A Rainy Day in Whangarei (fon-gar-ay)

Day 408, Year 1: A Rainy Day in Whangarei (fon-gar-ay)
Date: Thursday, November 30, 2006
Weather: Rainy, Turning Cooler
Location: Whangarei, New Zealand

What do cruisers do on a rainy day in Whangarei? For one thing, we clean out those well hidden storage spaces that we haven’t gotten into for awhile. We found a minimal amount of mildew for which we were grateful. And now Mark is working on little indoor projects while I am writing the log and organizing pictures for the website. We had a rental car until noon today, so we started the day by touring the town. We drove to one end of town to see the New World supermarket that is supposed to be the best, and then we drove to the other end to visit the Tourist Information Center. I had gotten a lot of information pamphlets in Pahia, but I have been reading and now know more about the specific places we plan to visit when we do our land touring here. This center had volumes of free information for us. They were also very helpful in terms of informing us about various ways to travel around the country. They gave us the locations of the local places that rent and sell cars and camper vans, so we also visited those. We went to The Warehouse which is like a huge Walmart and realized just why we decided to go cruising. It took what seemed like forever to find a parking place, and then when we walked through the pouring rain to get inside we were greeted by Warehouse “greeters”, just like Walmart, and crowds of people inside. I don’t think I’ll be going back there!

At the information center, I bought a travel book entitled, “The Lord of the Rings Location Guide Book”. It takes you through scenes from the three films and gives you information on visiting the various film locations. It even gives GPS coordinates, so I guess even cruisers will be able to find these spots. I bought the “Lord of the Rings” DVD’s before leaving home, so if this rain persists, we might just kick back and watch a movie as we study the travel guide. That sounds like a great way to spend a rainy evening or three in Whangarei.

Day 407, Year 1: Whangarei Welcomes World Cruisers

Day 407, Year 1: Whangarei Welcomes World Cruisers
Date: Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Weather: Still No Change–Blue Skies, Sunny, Temperature in the 60’s
Location: Whangarei, New Zealand

Today started with calls to the US to make appointments for physical exams, eye exams, dental appointments, and every other kind of exam you can imagine. Since we have been gone for over a year, we knew we needed to make these appointments. I called using Skype and it only cost two cents a minute. You know how you have to wait when calling doctors’ offices, so I was really glad I was using Skype rather than a regular telephone. Mark decided to rent a car today to do some of the running around he needed to do, and I stayed aboard Windbird and did a long overdue cleaning of the inside of the boat. Before we knew it, it was 3:00 and time to go to the Whangarei welcome dinner for cruisers. It was held at the Whangarei Cruising Club and started early so we could be introduced to the mayor and all of the major marine businesses in town before dinner. Over a hundred cruisers attended, with over half coming down from Opua on a bus. It was a very nice event with great food and it gave us another chance to connect with lots of people we have met over the past few months. Bob McDavitt, the New Zealand weather guru spoke and gave us the news that tomorrow bad weather returns to New Zealand. Bummer. It has been so beautiful, but I guess we will have to endure a few bad days before sunshine returns once again.

We sat at a table with Richard, Marilyn, and Barrie of Lady in White from England. We met Richard and Marilyn back in Moorea, but we hadn’t met Barrie previously. Barrie and Marilyn have spent time in the US and they were talking about touring California. Barrie mentioned that Marilyn Monroe was once the Artichoke Queen of California, and that brought on the artichoke stories. It was great fun.

We have the rental car until tomorrow afternoon, so tomorrow morning will be a whirlwind of shopping and information seeking stops. When we return here in late February, we plan to do some land touring with our friends Alan and Helaine Kanegsberg from Concord, so we want to do some price checking on car rentals versus car purchasing. This will also give us the chance to see where things are in town. Since the weather is supposed to be stormy, I’m sure glad we will have the car to do these explorations. Walking in the rain is not my favorite activity.

061129 Day 407 New Zealand–Whangarei Welcomes Cruisers

Day 406, Year 1: Happy Hour at Town Dock

Day 406, Year 1: Happy Hour at Town Dock
Date: Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Weather: No Change–Blue Skies, Sunny, Temperature in the 60’s
Location: Whangarei, New Zealand

The weather has been incredible. I guess summer really is coming to New Zealand. It is still cooler than we are used to in the early mornings and evenings, but the sunshine during the day warms things nicely. We started our morning with a quick visit by Calibre Sails giving us a quick estimate on getting our sails off and repairs made in the next two weeks. Next Tom, the local Profurl representative came by to talk about repairs to both our head sail and stay sail furlers-again to be done by the time we leave here to come back to the US. Somewhere in there we had breakfast and then Mark took off to find the guy who does boat paint estimates. In just a few minutes he was back with Gavin from Pacific Gloss. The fiberglass on our topsides, the white sides of the boat, have developed some strange crazings. Gavin thinks there was a problem when the fiberglass was first applied, but it has taken 26 years for the problems to make themselves known. We can either heavily sand the hull and then apply epoxy and paint, or we can have the sides shaved professionally followed by several coats of epoxy, lots of fairing and then paint. If we decide to have the sides shaved, the work will have to be done professionally and I’m not sure I want to see the price tag. If we go with the heavy sanding alternative, we could do the sanding piece but it will take time and energy. We would have to do this in April and by that time it will be fall here and the weather will be cooler again. We’ll have to find out how this would affect painting. I guess the other alternative is to ignore this for another season and return here next November with the intent to do this work during the New Zealand summer. Once Gavin gives us an estimate, we will decide what to do.

While Mark was out gathering more information, I cleaned the bottom of the dinghy and washed the boat down with fresh water. It was then time for lunch and soon after, Mark took off with one of our propane tanks in search of a propane dealer who could help us with a problem that developed just last night. We have propane in the tank, but we can’t get our stove to light. That means no cooking, so we need to get this fixed ASAP. Mary on Kismet, the boat just across from us, offered to take Mark to the “gas man”, so off they went. I stayed on Windbird and worked on getting the last pictures from Tonga labeled so that they can be sent to the website. By the time Mark returned, it was time to get ready to go to Happy Hour at Reba’s at Town Docks. There is only one Happy Hour night here and it is Tuesday. So off we went. Reba moved here from the US over 30 years ago and has built her business from a small pizza place to a very nice restaurant overlooking the Town Docks. There are many boats on the docks and that means many cruisers at Happy Hour. We sat with the crew from Riverside Drive Marina-Maggie Drum, Ranger, Oz, and White Swan-and visited with others that have settled in other locations here in Whangarei. We saw George and Ute from Miami who are temporarily at Town Docks and Steve and Toya from Cheers who were just taken out of the water today and are on land at Dockland 5. We haven’t seen Tom and Bette Lee of Quantum Leap and think they must have headed further south getting ready for their flight back to the US next week.

We learned from other cruisers today that our first impression of drivers here was correct-stay out of their way. Pedestrians absolutely do not have the right of way here. Joe of Maggie Drum was almost hit when he first arrived. When he reported this to the police, they just asked him what he was doing in the road. The fact that you have to cross it is your problem!

I met Yvonne of Windsong today. She and her husband are from Utah, but have been out sailing for about five years now. This is their second season here at Riverside Drive. Mary of Kismet that took Mark into town has been in the Pacific for about seven years, and she and her husband have finally established residency here. It seems like this is a very comfortable place to spend the Pacific cyclone season-so comfortable that some never leave.