December 2014 - New Zealand

1 December 2014   Tutukaka Bay to Whangarei, New Zealand
We dragged ourselves out of bed very early because the weather forecast was for strong winds in the afternoon.  There was no wind at all when we motored out of the harbour into a very calm sea, but within an hour, we had 10 knot winds that gradually picked up to 25 knots and backed forcing us harder and harder on the wind.

The rope stripper on our propeller shaft became worryingly loud with a persistent knocking sound rather than a rattling.  After a couple of hours, the knocking sound suddenly went away and we were left with just a quiet rattling noise - all I can assume is that the zinc on the end of the prop was loose and has now flung itself off.

Can't beat an Egg McMuffin

By the time that we were 2 miles from Bream Head, the wind was forcing us out to sea, so we put on the engine and motor-sailed into the strong, cold winds as we rounded the headland.  The bitter wind was dead on the nose as we motored up the estuary and then down the winding river into Whangarei Town Marina.  Glenys kept up our spirits by making an Egg McMuffin and a cup of tea – who could ask for more?

We negotiated the lifting bridge, which was reminiscent of travelling down the Inter-coastal Waterway a couple of years ago.   Without any major drama, we tied up in the Town Marina directly opposite our friends Paul and Celeste on “The Beguine” and, after a quick trip to the supermarket across the road, chilled out for the rest of the afternoon. 

2 December 2014   Whangarei, New Zealand
We went for an exploratory walk around Whangarei town centre which looks nice and compact with more than enough shops to suit us.  I walked out to Norsand Boat Yard where we’re scheduled to haul out in a week’s time.  It’s a couple of miles outside town, but is a pleasant enough place as far as boat yards go.  They have showers, a communal kitchen, a barbecue area and a laundry which will be useful.

On the way back to town I called in at a huge Shopping Complex which has some huge stores including a supermarket, electronic goods shops, and a Kmart.  We will obviously need some kind of transport when we’re in Norsand Boat Yard, so I bought two mountain bikes for $85NZ (£42) each.  How on earth does anyone make any money out of that?

In the evening, we went to an Irish pub where David and Katrina from “Laragh” were taking part in a traditional Irish jam session with a local music group.  I found Boddingtons bitter on tap (my favourite English beer) and just had to have two pints of it even though it was £5.50 a pint.

3 December 2014   Whangarei, New Zealand
I went for a fifteen minute run before breakfast and it nearly killed me.  It’s the first run for nearly a year and I was seriously out of breath.

After breakfast, we took down all three sails and bagged them.  David from Calibre Sails picked us up and took us to his sail loft, where we inspected the sails.  We’re going to get a rope sewn onto the luff of the genoa, so that it furls with a better shape.  They’re also going to do some maintenance on all three sails, which will add up to less than £500, so I'm fairly happy with that.

In afternoon, we pottered about and then went to the cinema - first time for over a year.  We were then very naughty and indulged in an Indian curry at “Indian Aroma” on Vine Street – it was very, very good.

Whangarei Town Marina

4 December 2014   Whangarei, New Zealand
I spent most of the day sat at my computer.  I've just invested in another two 2TB USB drives (in addition to the two I bought a week ago), so I spent all day copying data onto the new disks - I now have spare space on all four of them, which is a relief after a year of shuffling data around.

While waiting for data to copy, I cruised the internet looking into stuff for the boat.  I've received various quotes for spares and the prices in New Zealand are comparable to the UK for most things as long as we can get the NZ sales tax off, so I’ll probably buy most things here in New Zealand instead of buying them in the UK and lugging it all back.

In the evening we invited Dennis from “Pamela” and Paul & Celeste from “The Beguine” over for dinner.  We last saw “The Beguine” in Penrhyn, when they left for Samoa a week before us.  

Paul has been going through hell over the past three months.  After he arrived in Samoa, his right foot swelled up with a really bad infection, which didn't react to antibiotics, so he was air-lifted to New Zealand.  He had some kind of flesh-eating bacteria, which literally ate away the flesh on his ankle.  The doctors couldn't identify the bacteria and could only give him strong painkillers and generalised antibiotics.

After a week, Paul had gaping wounds on both sides of his foot and had to have four operations to scrape out the festering flesh and give him skin grafts.  It was touch and go whether he would have to have his lower leg cut off to stop the spread of the infection, but they managed to sort it out.  Celeste flew back to Samoa and sailed the boat down here, so they’re in the marina for the foreseeable future waiting for Paul to recover.  Scary business.

5 December 2014   Whangarei, New Zealand
We both did some running about today.  I've found a few more suppliers to supply various parts and a place to test our leaking scuba tanks.  We've heard rumours that it’s very expensive to get cooking gas tanks filled here because the tanks have to be tested first, but I found a place that will do it for £14 and don’t charge anything if it fails, which is amazing.

Glenys went to the Shopping Complex for some retail therapy and didn't return for five hours.  As well as a load of new clothes, she’s bought herself a new Kindle to replace her aged Sony e-reader.  It has a built in back light, so I want one too.

Whangarei Falls

Our bimini frame has been modified and chopped about over the last couple of years and is supported by bits of rope, which prevents us using the staysail winches properly, so I was planning to have a new frame made.  I had a guy around to give me an estimate, which was between £750 and £1000 including 8 hours to fit it.  He couldn't see a way of supporting the new frame any better, so we think that we’ll just keep what we've got.

We both went for a ten minute run in the evening which was hard. We’re starting to pile on weight with all the socialising and eating out, so it’s time to get a grip.

6 December 2014   Whangarei, New Zealand
There’re only two days until we haul out, so I got on with some jobs, while Glenys went out to get her eyes checked by an optician.  My first job was to change the engine and generator oil – I needed to get rid of all that nasty, corrosive, old oil because the boat will be on the hard for eight weeks.  I then pickled the water-maker, which won’t be used until we go sailing again in April.

I then checked all of our 21 sea-cocks –they’re not as bad as I feared, but we need to repaint eight handles and two of the sea-cocks in the engine room need to be ripped out and replaced completely.    

With my chores done, I spent the rest of afternoon looking up some new guitar music. After the jam session a couple of nights ago, I've decided that I need to learn “Wagon Wheel” and “You Ain’t Goin Nowhere”.  I’d never heard these songs until the jam session a couple of nights ago, but everyone else knew them off by heart.  I'm constantly amazed how many classic “jam session” songs , I've have never heard – it’s an American thing…

7 December 2014   Whangarei, New Zealandd
Being a Sunday, we had a day off and went for a tramp up the Hatea River Trail, which was a pleasant two hour hike with a nice big waterfall at the end.

Robert and Heidi from “Nuwam” visited us.  They've left their boat on the hard in Raitea in French Polynesia and have flown down to New Zealand to do some road travel.  We were very, very naughty and went for another Indian curry - that’s two in one week - I’ll have to go running tomorrow to compensate.