Update on our cruising plans

Having travelled home because Mum had passed away suddenly we threw ourselves into organising the funeral, the wake and clearing her apartment.  She had the most moving funeral as it was attended by many veterans in their uniforms and we had the standards (flags) in attendance too from the Royal Naval Association, the Normandy Veterans and the Royal British Legion.  Many close and dear friends were also there.  

It was a very emotional day and it was wonderful to listen to all her friends’ lovely memories of Mum.   To also find out that she had raised almost £60k for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal over the years was just an amazing achievement and I am so proud to be her daughter.

I was also invited to be a member of the Royal Naval Association in her name which was a fantastic honour which I have accepted and am now proud to be an Associate Member.

We also raised over £1k in her name for the Blind Veterans Association – fantastic!   

To be honest, I’m still struggling and miss her so much…but know that she will still be with me wherever I am….  Love you Mum, you’ll be forever in my heart.

So what next?  Well, the uncomfortable long journey home managed to aggravate my back so I decided to get it checked out. The result was that I needed a minor operation to get that sorted. However, the MRI showed that I also have a problem with my right hip that needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later, so once I have been signed off by the back consultant, I’ll probably be having a small hip operation – luckily it is keyhole surgery only.  So this means that we are staying here in the UK for longer than anticipated to give me time to recover.   Am hoping it is not too debilitating as I need to see my friends and have some fun too!!!

Our original plan for this season was to explore New Zealand and sail next May / June 2019 once the cyclone season had passed (which is November to April in that part of the world). However, during this period we had planned to return home to the UK for Mum’s birthday and to spend Christmas with her.  Sadly that is no longer an option and, as a result, I really don’t want to be home during the festive period.

So our new plan is:

  • Return to New Zealand around October time

  • Explore New Zealand
  • Leave in May / June (2019) bound for Fiji.   We may stop at South Minerva Reef on the way if the weather closes in.

  • We’ll then explore before moving on to Vanuatu.    We hope to visit the Tanna Volcano while we are there.

  • Then move on to New Caledonia

  • Finally leaving New Caledonia bound for Brisbane, Australia

Our timings are fluid and weather dependent, but we need to be safely into Australia before November 2019.   This revised plan means that we would be in New Zealand longer than the duration of a normal visitor visa (6 months on arrival for UK citizens). So we applied for a special visitor visa to stay for 9 months instead which has been granted (phew!). It gives us multiple entries and no requirement for onward travel so we can now fly on a single ticket and have something official from NZ immigration to show the check-in desk.  So hopefully we’ll not have difficulties this time – result!

Whilst in New Zealand we have some exciting plans and will be having friends joining us for much of this – and are also looking forward to returning to Morpheus. We were originally concerned about leaving her in the water in our absence but we have a good company visiting every couple of weeks to run the engine, to air the boat, and to wash her down as needed. They are also visiting every time there is a blow to make sure that she remains well secured (and they send us an email so we don’t worry).   So feeling much happier about the situation now.

So not much else to say really, other than we have been enjoying the heat wave at home, although have not really taken advantage of it as we have been busy sorting out Mum’s estate. That is now finished and we are scattering her ashes at sea next Thursday off Brighton on the south coast – which is where Mum was born.

We are also actively looking at changing our yacht insurance company.  As they took a hit in the Caribbean last year they are no longer offering Named Storm Coverage in their normal insurance policy.  I requested a quote for this to be included (when I found out) and it is now such an outrageous amount of money it is clearly designed to discourage take up.  We are definitely not willing to pay that sort of money nor leave Morpheus without cover when we leave her in Australia to travel (and it is mandatory in most boat yards/marinas anyway). So we are now in the process of getting quotes from other insurance companies – but feel really let down by the whole situation.

Anyway, that is about it. We have just signed on the dotted line for new front and rear doors for our house so at least the maintenance is getting done LOL.

So bye for now

Jan

Devastating news….so we’re on our way home.

This morning, Sunday, in the early hours Richard couldn’t sleep with the noise of the rain hitting the coachroof so he turned the iPad on. He spotted emails to me from both my brother and my sister which is unusual and I was almost too frightened to call them back. The news was terrible – mum had passed away – and I’m absolutely devastated.

This poem says it all.

Every time I smile,
Every time I sigh,
I think of your face,
And a tear escapes my eye.

You were my world,
My inspiration and my heart,
But when you left me,
I thought I would fall apart.

You were my best friend,
My one true confidant,
And that’s not all you were.
You were also my mum.

I don’t want to live without you,
But you would have wanted me to,
And if there’s anyone I want to make happy,
That anyone is you.

I would give anything to have you back,
But I know now that it was meant to be,
For you are still watching from up there,
And I know you’re watching me.

I’ll make you proud, Mom.
I’m going to fulfill your wish.
You’re going to see me and smile.
That’s a daughter’s promise.

Here’s the last family photo I have of my brother, mum and me…..

Rest In Peace Mum – enjoy your reunions up there with those that have gone before – and know that I will always love you. You will never be forgotten and will always be in my heart.

So what next? We are going to pack the boat up quickly and fly out of here on Wednesday, arriving in London on Thursday afternoon. We are leaving Morphie in the water and will ask the marina to keep an eye on her. So this will be my last blog for a while. We don’t know how long we will be home for, obviously, so subscribe to the blog (using the link on the right-hand side) and you’ll then get an email to let you know when I start it up again.

Bye for now
Jan

Exploring Northland (part 2) and back to Morphie

Sunday morning we were disappointed to wake up to very heavy rain. We had a coffee, said our farewells to John, packed our belongings in our car before heading into next door’s art gallery / cafe for breakfast. John had said he used to own the antique store / restaurant prior to extending his house….so we think that the art gallery / cafe remains in his ownership due to the style of some of the contents.

Leaving Rawene, we drove through the gloom and down the west coast going into the Waipoua Forest until we reached where we wanted to go.

We parked the car, went through the biosecurity gates washing our shoes to ensure we did not bring any invasive species into the forest, and followed the walk through until we reached Tane Manuta. His name stands for the Lord of the Forest – and he is the largest of the ancient Kauri trees.  Even in the rain he was pretty spectacular!

Moving back to the car we carried on down the coast towards Bailys Beach. This is another beach road and we hoped for some good views and maybe somewhere to stay if the resort was interesting. Well….in the gloom….we carefully followed the road up and down until we finally arrived at the sand car park. But we couldn’t see the sea…and we didn’t fancy walking in the torrential rain. So we aborted and drove back to the main town of Dargaville which sits on the main highway. This was another depressed small town. Hmm….it is such a shame to see dilapidated properties in such a spectacular, scenic area. There must be a lack of work opportunities outside farming and the odd manufacturing base in this region and it showed.

Moving swiftly on we decided to head across the middle of the island to Whangarei. We have pencilled in spending some time here on Morpheus later in the year so we thought we’d take a look. The Town Basin marina (about 12 miles up the river) looked pretty central and was surrounded by a walkway of cafes, bars and local artisan type craft stores. This is a pretty big place and we thought it looked OK but we drove through some pretty depressed areas here in the city too. We had thought about staying overnight but the rain was getting us down and we didn’t really fancy doing other tourist sights (like the local glow worm caves or waterfalls) and decided to drive back to Morphie instead.

So we went to the local supermarket to pick up some fresh produce for dinner and some drinking vouchers. We were in the store about 10 minutes total and, when we came back, some b*****d had reversed into our yellow peril and done some damage. Thankfully the boot still opened! Very fed up as there was no note nor CCTV in the car park….. Sigh…..

We drove on the main highway north towards Kawakawa. We were pretty hungry so decided to stop at the local bakers for a pie….yumm….. By now the weather had started to clear up.

We then visited the local toilets which were designed by Austrian-born artist and eco-architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser who lived nearby – they are typical of his work with organic wavy lines decorated with ceramic mosaics and brightly coloured bottles. All very bizarre!

From there we had to take a detour back to Opua as the main coast highway was closed due to a landslide. We followed the route and ended up back on Morphie – glad to be home. She was relatively warm and welcoming down below so we ended up having a quiet movie night on board.

Monday morning we telephoned Wayne from Rent-a-Dent and told him about the car. He told us that we were liable for the first $2,000 worth of damage. We were not happy with that as I knew that would probably be an excess but, hey, the car probably wasn’t even worth that much.  So I quoted his own document back to him saying that, as we had taken his insurance, we were indemnified against any losses. He denied knowing anything about this – despite it being in the small print on his own contract – and said he’d look into it.

Anyway….we had the car for another day…..so we took ourselves off to Kerikeri to do another large provisioning run. We also stopped at a couple of places to try and get our propane bottle filled – but, despite it being a recognised manufacturer (Worthington), they won’t fill it without a NZ LAB number. Hmmmm….this is getting difficult……we are down to half a bottle of gas only right now. If we can’t get them filled we are going to have to purchase new ones and the size of our lockers – as our cylinders are designed to be used horizontally – are quite tight.

On our return we were delighted to find that our new hot water tank had arrived in the marina so we went to SeaPower and organised John to come and fit it on Tuesday. In the evening we had another quiet night.

Tuesday morning we were up early and cleared the aft cabin in preparation for the hot water tank to be fitted. Well…we waited…and waited….and John had got caught up in another job so it wasn’t going to happen. Richard returned to see Wayne and he had now decided to waive any costs of the damage…. So that was a result at least!

We got all our stuff back in the saloon from the cockpit, locked up, and took ourselves off to the Cruisers Lounge and caught up on some internet stuff. We are looking at routes home from New Zealand later in the year so wanted to price up all the different options – and, hopefully, get some more exploring done on the way. Later on I did the laundry while Richard did some other boat jobs – like topping up the water tank as the water maker remains pickled until we get back out on the hook. We had another early night.

Wednesday and John was here bright and early. The new water tank was fitted and then Mike came onboard to do the final electrical installation. Everything was turned on….and it filled up and worked. Hot water has been resumed onboard. Yay!  Richard filled up the coolant bottle on the engine as we had lost some during this work and that was it. Later on in the day Hans came by and returned the radar – the interesting news was that Raymarine could find no fault with it at all. In the workshop it connected both via a cable and also via its built-in wifi. Hmmmmm….curious!  We couldn’t install it, though, as no rigger was available.

Later on – after luxuriating in the hot showers on board – we headed to the Cruisers Club to meet some people whom we had met last year in Tonga and had a nice social evening with them.

Thursday and Hans turned up along with Brett, the rigger. We were hoping that Rob would be back as he climbs like a monkey and it is really easy getting him up the mast – Brett is a much bigger lad and it takes a bit of hard work to hoist him up LOL. Anyway….the radar was reinstalled….plugged in…..and we lowered Brett back down.

Hans turned everything on – ensured power was connected etc – and, guess what, the plotter still could not be paired to the radar, either physically through the data cable or through the wifi function. And….at this point….the plotter went crazy starting doing some strange things. Hans was on the phone to Raymarine (Australia) for a few hours trying different options and, in the end, they decided that the plotter was crocked. Apparently this has only happened once since the Axiom Pros had been introduced and sod’s law that the second event would be us!  So the plotter was uninstalled and taken away.   After another uneventful day we had another quiet movie night on board.

Friday morning Hans turned up with a brand-new plotter out of the box which had been couriered up to us overnight from Auckland.  Pretty impressive!   He plugged it all in and it found the external GPS / the Vesper AIS system / the autopilot / the depth gauge / the wind gauge / the speed gauge….but NOT the radar!  So although the new plotter was working fine it still couldn’t find the radar…. Hans was completely perplexed by all this…. At least the plotter and all other equipment is working – but a real mystery. Hans went off again to talk to Australia.   We then had a boring afternoon just waiting around – Richard did some boat jobs but I just read a book….    I’m convinced this problem is a software bug!  Hans phoned us again later and said that Australia had a few ideas and he would return on Monday to try them out. Very frustrating for all concerned!   We had another movie night on board staying warm and dry – it was absolutely horrible out.

Saturday morning and the weather remained awful – pouring rain and heavy wind gusts. So we had a bit of a lay in and then headed up to the laundry. On the way back to Morphie we watched the small boats coming in from their race day…pretty impressive how they sailed in a line to get onto the dock!

We returned, did a few more internal boat jobs, and then headed out to the Cruisers Club for the evening. It was rammed with people from other yacht clubs who had come to cheer on their boats….and there was a live band playing. We sat outside on the terrace for a few hours with our coats on and then headed back to Morphie.

Bye for now

Jan

Exploring Northland, New Zealand – part 1

Monday morning we did the laundry first thing. Afterwards we pulled the new radar data cable through all the way from under the mast to the plotter at the binnacle in preparation for Tuesday when Hans was coming by to swap the radar domes over and commission the entire new system. I was struggling with my back so after that I rested up while Richard continued to tie wrap all the new cables throughout the boat. Both pretty tired we had a quiet night on board.

Tuesday morning Hans and Rob (the rigger) turned up to pull the cables through the mast. Rob climbed up like a monkey with very little assistance from Richard who just kept the halyard taut.

Rob unscrewed the old Garmin unit and replaced it with the new Raymarine unit. Then he pushed – whilst Hans pulled – the replacement Raymarine data and power cables through the mast. They got stuck a few times in the mast so they were at it for a while. All done! Yay….

Unfortunately we couldn’t connect the cables under the mast as we needed special connectors which hadn’t arrived yet. This would mean that all cables could be unattached easily if the mast ever needed to be taken down.

Later on we headed to the Cruisers Lounge to catch up on line….and have hot showers…by the time we had finished it was late so we headed to the Cruisers Club for dinner before returning to Morphie for the night.

Wednesday morning and John. from Seapower turned up. We weren’t expecting him so were still in bed LOL. He came back an hour later when he realised. By that time we were at least dressed and had cleared the aft cabin for him to check the remaining hoses for the hot water tank reinstallation. He just wanted to make sure they had the appropriate hoses in store for when our new hot water tank turned up. About that, we had finally got customs clearance and had paid them their NZ $50 for opening the package….and it was now cleared for delivery. Woo hoo!

We then did a photo shoot in preparation for the sale of our redundant electronic equipment…although there was a glitch with our opening a TradeMe account (New Zealand’s answer to eBay and Amazon (neither of which are very big here). We aren’t allowed to trade without being NZ residents apparently. Oh well….never mind….it was a nice idea! eBay it will be then – we’ll just have to make sure that the purchasers know the cost of shipping from here and price our stuff accordingly.

The rest of the day we spent cleaning the boat as we had Hugh and Annie on board (SV Vega) for sundowners. We had a really nice evening and learnt a lot of useful information about their adventures down in South Island which we plan to visit early next year when it will be a bit warmer.

Thursday morning and Hans turned up. He did all the intricate welding of the connectors and we were ready. So we turned the radar on and, nothing! So we thought it might be a software update so did that…and turned it on again and, nothing! So we decided to take the physical data cable out of the loop and turn on the radar wirelessly as it has a wifi capability….and nothing! So the damn thing wasn’t working. Sigh…. Hans talked to Raymarine and they decided we had a dodgy unit. So they agreed to swap it out and pay for the re-installation time. So glad we decided to engage Hans for the commissioning as this would have been much more difficult on our own. Later on Brent turned up….we hoisted him up the mast….the radar got removed….the new cables got covered in a plastic bag….and the Raydome was returned to Auckland. A bit disappointed but never mind….it will be all sorted next week!

In the afternoon Richard worked out how to raise our new dink onto the arch….and we installed that along with security chains (now carefully enclosed in plastic piping to avoid damage to our new dinghy) and we lifted him up. We also informed our boat insurance company of the change of dinghy and our new electronic equipment for our policy.

In the meantime I re-activated our Iridium Go! unit. And, of course, it didn’t work straight away as the activation people sent the wrong e-mail (they are useless). They also charged me US$200 more than I expected. Very unhappy! I found out later, from the PredictWind support team (who are amazing and got me back on line relatively quickly), that SatPhone Store actually charge $50 for activating a new SIM but $250 for re-activating an original one. There is nothing to this effect on their website so I have concluded that SatPhone Store (Miami) are just plain sharks!!!!  It would only have cost us $95 for a new activated SIM so that’s the answer for next time I de-activate the unit. I’m determined not to let them get away with it and have sent an e-mail querying the situation but they are choosing to ignore me at the minute (the time difference makes it very difficult to talk to them in their business hours). It is a shame that PredictWind are in bed with such an awful company. If we had a choice for our airtime plan we would go elsewhere…. Rant over….   Anyway, we are back on line, so the tracker is working again so you can keep an eye on us when we leave the marina.  

Friday morning and we rented another Rent-a-Dent car from Wayne. Of course, he was 10 minutes late, but we were expecting that. What we didn’t expect was our Yellow Peril little Honda Fit LOL.

First stop was Paihia where we visited the Information Centre expecting good local advice on things to see. Hmm….not impressed. So we visited the book store and purchased a good NZ road atlas and headed out – using our Bad Elf bluetoothed to the iPad for our sat nav.

First stop was the Stone House (near Kerikeri) which established in 1819 as one of the first places in New Zealand where the Maori invited visitors to live amongst them. This was originally a Mission Society warehouse used as a trading post, library, barracks, boys’ school and also served as a general store.

Then we headed north towards Matauri Bay with absolutely stunning views along the way. This is farming country….with lots of cows, sheep and the occasional turkey on the road.

Then we visited Whangaroa which was all about oysters and boats on a serene waterway scene.

We carried on to Gumdiggers Park. This is the sight of an ancient Kauri forest. For some unknown natural disaster the trees all died and what was left was gum. Not sure about who came up with the idea, but the gum was highly sought after and was used in linoleum, glue and, in its solid state, carved into jewellery. This was the equivalent of a gold rush and many Europeans – particularly Croatians – flocked here to share in the riches. The living was difficult and basic…..

But at least they were joined by some cute rare green lizards…..

We then headed to 90 Mile Beach. We were warned by the signs that this was unsuitable for any vehicles other than 4X4…so we didn’t drive onto the beach. The place is amazing and we were very jealous of the vehicle that went driving past us onto the sand LOL.

Continuing north we visited the oldest tavern in New Zealand which was closed for a private function….never mind.

We returned back down the single highway to Pukenui where we took the last room in the motel for the night. Was a basic one-bedroomed unit but the views from the lovely gardens were pretty amazing.

We had a nice evening in the bar across the road with a fish and chip supper washed down by local sauvignon. We are pretty fed up with chips but there is very little else on the menu and we are seriously starting to hanker after fresh vegetables.

Saturday morning we headed north early after a very good breakfast.  We followed the single lane highway No 1 to the top of the island towards Cape Reinga. Was a great drive through some diverse landscape with red soil and sandy pastures covered in lots of sheep, horses and cows.

At Cape Reinga we enjoyed the views down to the lighthouse and the coming together of the South Pacific and the Tasman Sea – creating whirl pools and a confused sea state. This is also a spiritual place called Pohutukawa. Which means the place of the departing spirits in Maori culture. Just simply beautiful and amazing.

We walked to the lighthouse and took selfies along the way…..

Walking back it seemed much longer than the way down for sure LOL. Cape Reinga is the top of New Zealand’s North Island and is considered to be the Top of the Bottom of the World. Not many people we know can claim to have been there.

Back in our yellow peril we drove a short way across unmade roads to Te Paki to see the large sand dunes. We parked in the car park and rented a sand board. Richard manfully climbed – and it was huge – to the top of the dune and then surfed down…..twice! I found it difficult enough, with my dodgy legs and painful back, just to get to the bottom. Apparently he was only doing this for inclusion in the blog….I think he just had fun LOL.

Moving on we drove back down Highway 1 and then took another route through Kaitaia. This was our proposed overnight stopping place. But we found the area pretty industrial, the motels looked really shoddy and seedy, and the whole place was really rundown. So we carried on going.

We followed the highway towards Mangamuka Gorge in the Raetea Forest. Well we drove up and up….following tight chicane-style roads….and kept looking for the gorge to be signposted. Hmmmm….well picnic areas were….but nothing to see. OK…well maybe the walkway will be signposted (we think it is a wooden bridge across the gorge) but nothing. So we carried on and then realised we were heading down the mountain again. Oh well…never mind….

We continued and reprogrammed the sat nav to take us to Kohukohu. This was on the north side of the Hokiaenga harbour area. We knew there were places to stay on either side – but the ferry left on the hour every hour. And our arrival time was 3.10 pm. So Richard put himself into racing driving mode (again!) and continued to chip away at our arrival time, scaring me to death in the meantime! We arrived, finally, into Kohukohu at 2.58 and with no obvious place to stay overnight – we drove onto the ferry.

The ferry took us across to Rawene. There are a few places to stay here….so we parked the car and went for a walk. We visited the Masonic Hotel and Bar. They had no en-suite rooms available but they did have rooms….for only NZ $80 (about £42)….but with shared bathrooms…. Having had a look at the shoddy and dirty common areas we decided that this wasn’t really for us. We walked back down the hill and came across the Postmasters B&B. Well, it was an old building surrounded by foliage, and we rang the doorbell, and were met by John, the 78 year-old owner. We asked about a room – at $130 (UK £70) and were shown all he had available. OMG they are fantastic – quirky but just lovely!

We quickly signed on the dotted line and chose our room…. We then went to the supermarket and got some wine – put it in the residents fridge – and headed over to the fish and chip takeaway for a late lunch / early dinner. All the cafes and restaurants shut around 4pm and this was the last eatery open. We were very lucky we didn’t end up with a supermarket pie! Richard’s mullet and chips were really fresh and huge. Trying to avoid the chips I just had a lamb burger which was a bit disappointing. We really need to find some more fresh vegetables or salad! They are trying to kill us with fries with everything….

Back in our B&B we spent the evening with John (who is of Dutch origin) listening to classical music streaming from Vienna. swapping stories and drinking wine out on the deck. A really lovely, and unexpected, end to our day.

Sunday we are heading down the west coast and am looking forward to continuing our exploration of this beautiful country.

Bye for now

Jan

Boat jobs nearly finished!!!

Sunday afternoon we went to the Cruising Club for our regular roast – sadly the food wasn’t as good as usual with tough pork, no crackling and miserly amounts of apple sauce. Never mind…. Later on we headed out into Paihia with Karen and Paul to watch some live music at the Thirty 30 bar. We enjoyed being out and about and we had a fun time.

Monday morning I went shopping with Karen into Paihia. Richard stayed on board getting everything out of the cupboards and bilges again in preparation for us to continue with identification of cables. And that was what we did all day….although we did manage to watch a film before we retired for the night.

Tuesday was more of the same. We managed to identify everything apart from a couple which we left in situ. We feel much more confident now that we know where most things lead to and have been labelled – making trouble shooting much easier in future. Late afternoon we headed over to Gigi – Karen and Paul’s 440 Island Packet – and had a wonderful dinner and a really nice evening. Their boat is huge compared to Morphie and absolutely beautifully maintained.

Wednesday morning we received our new panels which had been cut to size – one for the nav station and one for the bulkhead in the aft cabin. Both of these boards had equipment that we had either removed or we wanted to reposition.

So the nav station lost the Iridium Go! unit and the Meteoman barometer – but gained an alarm and switch for using with the Vespa unit; two 12v charging units; one USB to connect the computer to the WIFI bat on the arch; and Richard’s new bluetooth radio (which he is very excited about) and which now means that we have surround-sound when watching films on board.

The bulkhead lost its large Garmin plotter and gained the Iridium Go! and the Meteoman. They do look pretty smart and much less cluttered than before – and the wiring behind is very tidy and labelled. Very pleased with how all this came together.

Thursday we had Hans on board to do the commissioning of the new electronics. He did some soldering of cables for us as we had cut some connectors to get the cables through the tight spaces. He answered a few questions about some spare cables we had puzzled over….and was able to help us identify them. Hans is a great guy although his instructions could be a bit better – he is so familiar with the kit that he forgets some basic stuff sometimes LOL. So we missed a few things but they were easily rectified. And then we flicked the switch and everything worked. Woo hoo!!! We were very pleased that we had managed to do most of this work ourselves with support from Hans. In the afternoon we just lazed around as we both felt pretty tired after all that crawling around in tight spaces….

Friday morning we pulled out all the surplus cables. Amazing at how much stuff we had removed. We also put a mouse line through some tight corners in anticipation of the radar cable being pulled through the mast on Monday…. In preparation Hans took a look and was surprised to find no cable connectors below the mast under the floor in the saloon – the guy who installed the radar just pulled the cables straight through – so it is a good job we don’t have to step the mast as this would have been a real pain in the proverbial.

Surplus cables done we played with our new equipment and familiarised ourselves with the Raymarine plotter and the AIS. We still need to download a few Raymarine apps though so that we can mirror what is on the plotter to the iPad. All exciting stuff. I really like the way the Vesper shows the AIS signals on the iPad….and impressed that it can also do some additional things like an anchor watch with its newly-installed alarm.

In the afternoon we picked up our new dink. We wheeled him to the slip way and I returned to Morphie while Richard rowed him round to our dock.

We have lifted him up onto the arch for now and were delighted by how much lighter he was!! Unfortunately the lifting positions are different – so we need to revisit our system.

We also need to register him (along with all our new electronics) to get the warranties in place but that’s for another day. Later on we took ourselves off to the Cruising Club for a celebratory fish and chip supper washed down with a local Sauvignon Blanc. Very nice!

Saturday morning we awoke to gale-force winds and torrential rain. It was absolutely horrible! So we spent the day tidying cables up and restoring order. We have resurrected the garage so the saloon is clear and we were able to thoroughly clean and polish. After a hard day’s work she came up looking lovely.

This morning Sunday Richard washed the topsides and reinstalled all our furling lines. We have to varnish the rail at some point but have decided that it can wait until later in the season as the wood doesn’t look too bad at the minute. Apart from the new radar and hot water tank we have pretty much finished our immediate boat jobs so will be able to go and explore soon. Woo hoo! Really looking forward to that.

Later on Karen and Paul came over for a late lunch (not a roast today) as they are leaving Opua tonight for another marina further south. This was our farewell for now but we’ll definitely catch up with them at some point later in the season as we move around ourselves. We have enjoyed our time together and we both wished them a good overnight passage.

Bye for now

Jan

Boat jobs and some exploring in New Zealand

Last Sunday we had a lovely roast lamb dinner, complete with mint sauce, and enjoyed our  evening with Karen and Paul.

Monday we carried on identifying cables throughout the boat. It is like spaghetti, particularly behind the main switch panel.   Tracing the routes can be difficult especially in some of the tight spots.

We did quite well and, having removed quite a few cables that were no longer needed we started installing the new gear. We took the fibreglass panel from the binnacle to the local carpenter who cut it to size for us in a few hours as our new plotter has a slightly bigger footprint. By the end of the day we had installed both the chart plotter and the autopilot control head. Really happy with how that all went and we followed it up by an early night, both of us feeling a bit achy having crawled around in restricted spaces.

Tuesday we found out that the new GPS cable could be severed and rejoined by the Raymarine guy – woo hoo – this means we can install it on the arch after all. So we cut the cable and pulled it through the arch. Later on, we ordered the pole mount and will do that as soon as it arrives.

In the afternoon we noticed that the automatic bilge pump kept going on and off. Our first thought was that this may have something to do with the new Volvo stuffing gland. So we pulled everything out of the garage (ie the aft cabin) on top of everything that had been removed from other cupboards so that we could check it out. You wouldn’t believe the mess!

Thankfully the gland was as dry as a bone…..but there was definitely water running through the bilge from this area. That led us to think that it could be the propeller shaft as it had been moved during the stuffing gland installation. To fix that would require us hauling out of the water again which didn’t fill us with joy!  Richard went for a walk and found John from SeaPower who thought it might be our hot water tank. We had actually looked at that ourselves but couldn’t see anything untoward although most of the tank is hidden under the aft cabin bed. John touched one of the hoses and it virtually exploded along with the fitting. So he spent ages pulling out the old tank – in the most awkward of positions meaning lots of working-class language – and then we could see that the whole thing was rusty, particularly along the seams. It must have been leaking for a while.

Wednesday we visited SeaPower and they confirmed that the tank was dead. Bit of a design fault, in our view, to have plastic fittings which had got brittle and failed due to the heat of the water in the tank. The casing had also rusted around the base but this is hidden when in situ so we were not able to clean or check it without dragging the whole tank out. Richard says people who design boats should be forced to work on them LOL!!!

SeaPower had done some research into suitable tanks available here in New Zealand which was limited due to our US voltage – but they were all too deep to fit into the hole.   So we spent a lot of time in the cruisers’ lounge sourcing a replacement and were happy to find that they now make the same aluminium tank with a stainless steel casing, rather than the galvanised steel on the original.  So we ordered it from the US…..and it is now on its way. We have contacted customs and they have advised us what documents to send and where to, so that we can get this imported without any duty to be paid. Phew…..problem solved.  As Richard reminded me BOAT stands for Break Out Another Thousand.

Thursday we had a look at the new AIS and splitter and worked out what cables went where. It was pouring with rain so we pottered around doing more cable labelling and removing and installing the new computer and control head in place. This was particularly awkward due to its position and took a while….here is Richard working hard accessing the old computer. 

Anyway it all went to plan and we called it a day, once we had tidied the boat up once again, and had a movie night on board.

Friday we had booked a car again. So by 9 am we were on our way out and first stop was to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. This is where New Zealand was born with the Treaty being signed on these grounds in 1840 between the Maori chiefs and the British. The museum was fascinating and we spent quite a while walking through and reading the exhibits.

At 10.00 am we had a 50 minute guided walking tour arranged so worked our way back to the entrance. We met our guide and were issued with individual radios so we could listen to him along the way. He took us through the timeline of how the birth of New Zealand came about. He had a great way with words and we were a captivated audience. What was really amazing is that he walks backwards through the tour so that he can face us all the while telling us the story of his nation.

We loved the war canoes which are the largest ceremonial war canoes in the world. Ngatokimatawhaoru (the biggest one) is 35m long and needs a minimum of 76 paddlers to handle it safely on the water. They are launched on the 6th February each year as part of the Waitangi Day Celebrations.

These huge boats made out of a single huge tree – check out the size of the stump! They are housed in their own private ‘shed’ which is also ornately carved with lots of manly appendages, glassy eyeballs and tongues – which are very important in the Maori culture.

We then wandered up to the field to see the flagstaff which marks the spot where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed on 6 February 1840.

It flies the three official New Zealand flags – the Union Flag (from 1840), the United Tribes of New Zealand (from 1834) and the more easily recognised national flag of New Zealand which was introduced in 1902. Check out the United Tribes flag below.

The views across the bay from this location were spectacular.

Including where we entered into New Zealand on our passage from Tonga.   Looked very different in the day from the driving rain in the middle of the night that we faced then….

We then went to the carved meeting house which is called Te Whare Runanga.

We were going to be invited inside for a cultural performance but, first, the resident tribe had to find out whether we came in peace or not. For that our ‘tribe’ needed a chief. And the girl chose Richard!!!  

So he was informed about his chiefly duties and had to stand dead still while the Maori tribe came out to meet him. OMG they were in his face full on with violent stabs of their staffs … it was like his own personal Haka!!! Not sure I could have stood still in the face of the onslaught LOL. Anyway….we came in peace…so Richard was offered a peace offering of the green crown.

We then all followed Richard into the meeting house (having taken off our shoes first) and then took our seats. As wife of the chief I got a front row seat whilst we received our official welcome. Then it was time for Richard to give his acceptance speech and for a hongi.  Fantastic.

The show followed with traditional song, dance and the use of weapons. They are very scary when they point those things right at your face!!! And that’s without the tongues or the eyes…. A real treat.

We then went to visit the Treaty House which was officially the British residency of James Busby who was the UK’s first government representative in New Zealand.

He lived there with his wife Agnes and their six children. This is also where the Treaty was drawn up in 1840. The Treaty House and the Carved Meeting House stand facing each other and symbolises the partnership between the Maori and the British Crown. Was a bit surreal to see that the garden was stocked with very English flowers plus even a white picket fence!

This was the end of our tour so we wandered back through the beautiful grounds and headed off in our little car. The next stop was Haruru waterfalls which, although not very large, was pretty nice to see.

After that it was time to head into Kerikeri.  First stop was the hardware store (of course!) then something for lunch followed by a supermarket sweep…..and then to another supermarket for the things that we couldn’t get at the first. Oh yes and we got some more drinking vouchers from the ATM in town. Shopping finished we headed to the medical centre.

We were both seen by a nurse practitioner first followed by the doctor. The Scottish doctor was  very thorough. We both came away with prescriptions for three months and some blood tests to organise too. The drugs were quiet expensive and we left about £200 lighter in all….but our travel insurance only covers emergencies not routine doctor visits….so this is down to us. Not ideal but what can you do?!?  We were both very impressed with the service that we received – especially as the pharmacy is inside the Medical Centre so you can get the drugs before you physically leave the building.

We then drove back to Opua, quickly dumped all the shopping on board, and headed to the Cruising Club for Indonesian night. The place was absolutely rammed – which is always the way when free food and drink is offered to a cruiser population.

The talk was interesting and we learnt lots about this future cruising destination. We certainly have it on our radar in the next few years. We were entertained by some singing and dancing and we had a pretty good night overall.

Saturday morning and it was our final push on the electronics. The pole mount had arrived so we got the extra GPS onto the arch. We managed to wire up everything ready for commissioning which we hope to have done early next week. After that it was a matter of tidying up cables and making sure all labels were accurate. This has been a huge job!

After dinner on board, we decided to walk to the Cruising Club.   We admired Morphie in her slip and checked out the numerous Oyster flags in the marina.

The Oyster Round the World Rally were at the Club having their formal farewell dinner, as they are scheduled to depart NZ on Tuesday. They were on the balcony so we sat inside and caught up with a few people that we knew. We had a nice time…..especially the people watching.

Today, Sunday, and I’m blogging and doing the laundry….while Richard continues tidying up. We are heading off to the club for our Sunday roast later so looking forward to that.  It’s become a bit of a weekly highlight LOL.

Bye for now

Jan

Back in the water in Opua

Sunday’s roast at the Cruisers Club was as good as we remembered. The offering was pork this week which even came with crackling and apple sauce. Yum! After that we had a leisurely wander back to Morphie, climbed the ladder and had an early night.

Monday morning the weather had deteriorated significantly. It was wet, windy and freezing cold. This left us pottering around down below just sorting things out. When the rain eased up we ventured out to Cater Marine to visit our new dinghy. It had just arrived and was still packaged up but we were quite excited that it had arrived….  And that was about it for the day. We had a quiet night on board and vowed to buy a duvet at the first opportunity as we were freezing despite wearing thermals in bed!

Tuesday morning and it remained cold. We started prepping Morphie for going back in the water. We put a hose pipe up the water intake and started the engine – Richard was keen to do this out of the water as we had had the injectors removed, serviced and reinstalled and the last thing we needed was to find a problem whilst in the sling. Nervously we turned the key but Morphie started first time.  She is such a good girl!   As the rain stopped we focussed on the windlass problem and found a dodgy fuse – so replaced that and, thankfully, it was all operational again so we serviced that too.

Later on SeaPower very kindly lent us some testing gear so that we could check the status of our batteries.  We were delighted that all six of them were in a reasonable condition, so we’ll leave them this year.  We’ll definitely replace them before we leave New Zealand in 2019, however, as you can guarantee that they will pack up the minute we get somewhere remote where replacement is not an option!

Wednesday morning and we were up and ready to splash really early. There was a little boat in front of us that needed moving so that was on its way around eight. Just before nine the lift machine – or the beast as we like to call it – turned up for us.

They got Morphie into the cradle and Richard was still on board as he wanted to supervise if any ropes had to be led back to the cockpit.

No need….so he climbed down. Then they lifted her up and Richard climbed underneath to put a thick coat of anti-fouling onto the hull where it had been sitting on the blocks. In the middle of all this, the Swiss German guy on the boat next to us was not happy that his ladder had been moved to let the beast get through, so he put it back into position to get back on board. The boatyard guys (who were decidedly unimpressed) promptly got it out of the way again and they were thinking of not putting it back LOL. Seriously though he would only have had to wait five minutes or so…..

Then Morphie was on the move and she was leaning forward a bit and pretty close to the ground but the guys were happy so we had to trust them.

Finally Morphie was driven through the boatyard and put back in the water…..hoists still attached. We were given a lift by dinghy to the stern and climbed back on board. The mechanic from SeaPower also got on board – he ‘burped’ the new Volvo stuffing gland and we were good to go having checked that there were no leaks anywhere. So the straps were removed and the beast backed away from us…and Richard reversed out.

I quickly kicked over the fenders and Richard turned us around towards our slip. Paul and Karen from Gigi (fellow Island Packeteers) were waited on the dock and, despite a bit of a current, it all went smoothly and we were into our slip with no problems. Phew – this whole thing is so stressful! It was really kind of Paul and Karen to catch our lines making life so much easier and you could just tell that Morphie was very happy to be back in the water.

The rest of the day was spent moving things around and as it was so windy there was no chance of putting the sails on, even if we had them, which we didn’t.   So the foil inside the mast was banging away as we heeled over in the gusts and we were glad we had no neighbours nearby to annoy.  We reinstated the ‘garage’ into the stern cabin and moved things back into their rightful places. Later on we returned to Cater Marine and visited our new dinghy again.   It looks absolutely huge now it is inflated. We are hoping that it is just an optical illusion as it is surrounded by very small dinghies in the yard.   It was certainly light weight though as we were able to pick it up with no difficulty between us, so will make life much easier going forward.

Later on we went back to the boatyard and climbed aboard Vega for drinks….we had a few wines and then all decided to head to the Cruising Club for dinner…. Was a really nice evening with Annie and Hugh, whom we had first met in the Galapagos last year.

Thursday morning and we waited for the sails to be delivered….and waited….and waited. The calm of the morning turned into another windy day and Richard was fed up. So he went and collected the sails himself but, of course, by now it was too windy to install them so we had to suffer another day of the banging foil. This was like torture!   In preparation for a shopping day on Friday we got the fridge and freezing running – the freezer was straight into the zone but the fridge was a little more reluctant to start its compressor. Finally we managed to get the fridge to play having given it a bit more gas…and we were very happy overnight to have them sitting comfortably at the set temperatures.

Friday morning we were up at the crack of dawn and hoisted the mainsail as we have found sunrise/sunset is the quietest part of the day, weather wise. Yay…it went very well…and we were very happy. We then got ourselves cleaned up and headed up to the car park to pick up our rental car from Rent a Dent. Wayne was late so we stood around for a while but eventually we were on our way.

We had already downloaded the Co-Pilot maps for the whole of New Zealand so, combining either the iPhone or the iPad with the Bad Elf, we have a SatNav. We drove along the main coast route towards KeriKeri – our destination. We admired the beautiful green scenery which is very UK-like in its appearance complete with sheep and hairy Aberdeen Angus cows!

KeriKeri is a sleepy little town and our first stop was at Bunnings….this is a hardware store, of course. Richard managed to get everything he wanted like builders buckets to replace those that had cracked up in the bilges. We then moved onto a small department store – the mission was to get a duvet for our bed and a new mattress protector for the aft cabin. Well….we found a nice duvet…and I persuaded Richard that I needed a hair dryer as we were going to be predominantly marina dwellers this year and he said YES! That was a very exciting moment for me LOL. Anyway we took these items to the till and the guy said “Hmmmm…did you know there is a one-day sale on this afternoon and these things will be reduced???” Well, of course we didn’t. The savings would be significant allegedly….so he put them behind the till for us to collect later and told us to return after 2pm. Slightly bemused at this turn of events we wandered the high street and had lunch at a popular Turkish restaurant.

We then visited other stores including a pharmacy. We asked about prescription drugs and how to go about getting a ‘script’ here in New Zealand. When we left the UK in March we were told by our NHS GP that he was unable to give us drugs for more than two months at a time. We are UK residents; we are home owners; we continue to pay our taxes; and we are entitled to drugs but only if we pop in to collect them personally. Rant over…..

So this leaves us having to find a way to get our regular prescription drugs here in New Zealand. There are reciprocal health arrangements with the UK but this is for emergency stuff only really. Anyway….we found a medical centre….and made an appointment to see the doctor next Friday and we’ll go from there. We know that the initial consultation (including a script) will be $85 each plus the cost of the drugs. All in all a time consuming and frustrating process.

We then returned to our little department store – yes the sale had started – and our bill had reduced by 65%. Seriously that covered more than the cost of the car for the day. We couldn’t believe our luck and how great the guy on the till was for tipping us the wink!!!   We thanked him profusely and left in a hurry just in case he changed his mind LOL.

Our final stop of the day was the huge Countdown supermarket for our first provisioning run of the year. We stocked up on essentials and some other bits and pieces. Richard blocked my way when he spotted Beef Hula Hoops being sold in the shop as these are the one UK thing that I really miss – but even I couldn’t justify the £1+ for each tiny bag so I longingly looked at them and left them behind. Sigh…. Having offloaded into the car we returned our trundler to the appropriate space.

We drove back to Opua enjoying the scenery out to the bay on the way.

Back on board we unpacked all our goodies. By now the wind was dropping and we managed to get both the genoa and the staysail hanked on. Yay!!  We did notice that the genoa halyard has some significant chafe so we need to shorten it and splice a new eye. But we are not going anywhere right now so we have put it on the list of things to do.

Having had a successful day we had a quiet night on board and an early night.

Saturday morning we were up very early again and drove back into Paihia to top up the petrol as, annoyingly, the petrol gauge had not moved until we had returned to Opua the night before. Mission accomplished we rushed back and returned the car.

During the day we started pulling wires. We managed to remove the Garmin AIS GPS and cable (hoping to sell this on idc) and replaced it on the arch with the new Wifi Extender Bat which went very smoothly and worked first time when plugged into my laptop. So a good start.

Then we removed the old (inoperable) Garmin GPS 17 and started to pull the new Vesper AIS cable through (on the port side at the front of the arch). If you remember this is where the Iridium Go! cable gave us problems and we eventually had to downsize the cable and terminate the cable ourselves once it was pulled through. The Kato arch is 2 inches stainless steel but the hole into the tube is very very small – thanks to Island Yachts for not thinking about our future needs when they did the installation process as they decided on the size of the physical entry point into the tubes by the addition of a solid plate (which is inaccessible and not removable). Wonder if their ears were burning whilst we tugged, pulled and swore a lot!!!! Despite best efforts we could not get the Vesper cable through as it has terminated ends (also not removable) which make it too big to get through the restricted entry point.

We finally gave up and removed the other Garmin GPS unit (something else to sell). This is also on the port side but at the back of the arch. This has another small entry point but, thankfully, slightly larger so we were able to get the Vesper pulled through and installed. Woo hoo!

The earlier failure means, however, that we are no longer going to be able to install the spare Raymarine GPS (which was only for redundancy purposes anyway as we had space on the arch) so we’ll be getting a refund on that unit and will rely, instead, on the built-in GPS in both the Vesper and the Axiom units. We do have the Bad Elf for redundancy too…. We’ll also need to talk to the stainless steel fabricators to make a ‘cap’ for the riser to stop water getting into the tube – a plastic bag does the job for now!

We then started identifying and pulling out all the wires that are linked to the defunct chart plotter. We pulled them through – we installed mouse lines through where there weren’t any – we dumped those that are surplus to requirements and on it went.

We had a quiet night in the cockpit last night – grateful that it was a bit warmer despite the noseeums that decided to feast on us – and enjoyed a nice bottle of NZ Sauvignon Blanc. All in all a pretty successful day.

This morning, Sunday, and I’ve done the laundry and am now in the lounge blogging while Richard continues to identify and label cables.  Later on we are heading out to the Cruisers Club for our Sunday roast dinner with Paul and Karen so looking forward to that.

Bye for now

Jan

Living on the hard in Opua, New Zealand

Monday night the queue was huge for the fish and chip takeaway shop and that also meant that we couldn’t get a drink either as the Easter alcohol rules continued to be enforced.  So we decided to go to one of the smarter restaurants on the waterfront called 35 degrees.  The food was by far the best we had had and we thoroughly enjoyed our meal washed down with a lovely bottle of local Sauvignon Blanc.

Tuesday morning we were up early and on the boat by 8 as we were expecting some guys from SeaPower. They arrived on time and promptly removed the fuel injectors which came out easily but the stuffing gland was a different story.

Up and down the ladder he went with different tools eventually realising the thread had been crossed. Basically it was not worth “repacking” as it would probably give us problems going forward so they recommended we go down the Volvo type instead which is a more modern version. Happy with that he went off to order it and left us alone again with the boat looking like a bomb had hit it!

We managed to clear our cabin out and find new places to store stuff mainly into the space vacated in the starboard lazarette by the fuel cans which, now that we had finished cleaning the topsides, we could reinstate so that was our final job for the day.

Back to the motel for our last night – so we packed up everything we could – and went back to Jimmy Jacks for dinner. Basic fare but we enjoyed it…..

Wednesday morning we were up very early and did a quick stop at the supermarket – just for essentials like bread, eggs, milk, butter and some drinks. Whilst on the hard we have no refrigeration (as both the fridge and freezer units are keel cooled) so we don’t want much more than that. We arrived at the boat yard and lugged all the bags up the ladder to Morphie. We then cleared out the car and returned it to the hire company who have a base here in the marina. We picked up some ice and turned our freezer into a cool box….

We worked hard unpacking and making the bed whilst reorganising things again….and, eventually, in the afternoon we were pretty clear so we went and collected our canvas from the store where it had been repaired, valeted and re-waterproofed. We then put all the canvas on so we had some protection in the cockpit.

Wednesday night we headed to the Opua Cruising Club and had dinner and a couple of drinks. It was very quiet apart from some people who were having a darts competition – not 301 or 501 as we know it – and we politely declined although might be tempted in future if we are here long enough LOL.  After a few hours we walked back to the boatyard and settled down to our first night on board.   We decided we would not eat in the Cruising Club every night as most of the menu consisted of fried food and we wanted to be a little healthier than that….

Thursday morning we got up early and I went for my daily shop at the Opua General Store. I managed to get chicken and lots of fresh vegetables for dinner so very happy about that!

We visited Cater Marine and decided upon our new dinghy which, according to the specifications, is 16kgs lighter than dink.  We could have had an even lighter one than that but we needed a certain size to fit across the back of our arch….but the new Highfield UltraLite that we have chosen does have a lower profile so we are hoping it will fit better on the bow for future long passages.

In the afternoon Hans came by and delivered our new electronics and gave us a talk through all the cabling. All very simple to him as he does this for a living but it’s going to take us a while to get our head round. The plan is that we are going to pull all the cables through the arch replacing the old stuff as we go – but we won’t start this process until we are in the water as it is just too dangerous when we are elevated above a hard ground.

During the day the guys came back and re-installed the serviced fuel injectors and the new Volvo stuffing gland…so we are ready to splash hurrah!   Everything else can be done in the water going forward. We have organised our slip in the marina and have paid for a month’s live aboard so everything is good to go. The marina is under construction and is being extended around us so we are never bored watching the activity around us….and here comes an Oyster out for a bottom clean….

Thursday night we had a quiet evening on board enjoying the sights of the marina around us.

Friday we did more cleaning down below and thoroughly compounded and polished the gelcoat in the cockpit. We then considered more wiring diagrams … and discussed what arch risers would be best for which items as some of the cables can be extended others not.  All very complicated but we think we have it sorted in our heads at least LOL.

We will probably also need someone to help us with the new radar cabling through the mast and, potentially, we might need to get some modifications made to the existing stainless cradle to accommodate the new radar. Oh yes and North Sails have finished valeting the sails so they are ready to be delivered to the boat on Wednesday – something else to tick off the list. SeaPower also confirmed that they have a new starter motor, a new alternator and our old repaired/serviced autopilot waiting for us too – we’ll also take this from them once back in the water as Richard doesn’t fancy carrying all this heavy gear up the ladder!

Saturday we cleaned all the stainless steel below the capping rail which involved Richard moving a heavy platform around and me climbing up and down to reach the areas. Was very hard work and, when we finished, we called it a day and headed to the cruisers lounge for long hot showers. On the way we spotted this huge marlin which had just been landed on a local small fishing boat – the boys seemed pretty happy with themselves!

We returned to Morphie and relaxed before having another quiet night in the cockpit. Morphie is looking really sparkly now…..

This morning, Sunday, we had a lazy start. We decided to get the anchor chain out of the locker so Richard could do some maintenance on the windlass. Remember this was only installed brand new last July in Tahiti and has not been used much since. And, of course, it failed to work!!!! Sigh…. We know that our batteries are very old and need replacing so it is possible that they just do not have enough “umph” to get it to work – but will need someone to help us trouble shoot it. Oh well, one step forward….

Later on we are heading to the Cruising Club for one of their famous Sunday roast dinners – can’t wait!  We splash on Wednesday so we’re looking forward to not living up a ladder for much longer;  not having to pee in a bucket any more;  and being able to do a proper shop once the fridge and freezer are operational again. Not very exciting but we are getting there!

Bye for now

Jan

Our return to New Zealand

Having arrived early Sunday afternoon into Singapore we collected our bags from the Thailand flight.

We then promptly repacked them as the Qantas hand luggage limit was significantly more than JetStar so we could carry everything we wanted this time, plus a change of clothes for our layover in Melbourne.  Ready to go we followed the signs for the premium check-in area for our next flight with Qantas. We were travelling business class so, although we had a seven hour stopover, we knew we had access to the lounge from 2.30 pm onwards. So all was well….

Or at least it was until we tried to check in!   The entry rules for New Zealand state that you have to have a departure flight from New Zealand to be allowed in. Well, we knew in advance about that, and that is why the NZ customs and boatyard issued us with appropriate documentation prior to our departure last November. So we were pretty confident we had it all covered….we carried our UK boat registration documents too for completeness.

Of course this is where it all went pear shaped. The computer said ‘no’ as we didn’t have a departure flight/date and refused to issue baggage tags or boarding passes. We were then told we would have to wait for the Qantas service desk to open….would we like to go have lunch and return? Laden with bags the answer was no – we didn’t want to be out of sight out of mind – so we plonked ourselves down right in the middle of the area. At 3.00 pm (an hour and a half later) the girl phoned again – this time the desk was going to open at 4.  We were getting the run-around….so Richard went off to find the service desk himself. He did – and yes it was unmanned. So we sat and waited again…..very frustrating and I admit to getting a bit teary at times…..and was definitely not a “premium” experience.  I guess this is what happens when you outsource the check-in process for 17 airlines to one company as they can only follow a script. This was the first time they had come across this situation alledgedly…..

Anyway….eventually….after over three hours the Qantas service desk opened and our girl was told to phone New Zealand immigration to check with them. If they confirmed they were happy with our story then they would give her override codes for the system…..sigh….so Richard had a very long and detailed conversation with NZ immigration who, eventually, agreed to let us travel. OMG what a nightmare!!!!

So luggage finally checked and boarding passes in hand we took ourselves off to the lounge. This was a delight and we settled in and had a few recuperative glasses of wine. Then we started on the food – freshly prepared by an on-site chef – which was absolutely delicious. Was a very nice way to spend a few hours after our earlier trauma!

We boarded the double decker plane later that evening and took our seats upstairs and had our first champagne of the day. The seats were very nice and comfortable including duvets and sleep suits for the eight hour flight. We thought the service was a bit slow and the food offering very poor – good job we had stocked up in Singapore LOL.

We arrived into Melbourne very early Monday morning and got through immigration quickly – we then wandered to the ParkRoyal Hotel which is connected to the international terminal by a walkway. We checked in but our room wasn’t ready so we sat in reception for a while….and eventually got our room key for an eight hour stay. The room was a bit shabby for the cash but hey, we needed a break!   We enjoyed the luxury of a nice bed to laze on, a TV to watch, lovely hot showers and a change of clothes.

Suitably refreshed we returned to the terminal and, already armed with boarding passes, we cleared security through to the business lounge in preparation for our flight to Auckland. The lounge was a disappointment after Singapore – OK seats and wine but terrible food offering!   By this time we were pretty hungry…..

Eventually we boarded our flight to Auckland and settled into the very nice spacious seats. The service was much better on this short flight – with our wine glasses being topped up very often – and a good menu. The explanation of the food, however, crafted by their head chef was all a bit pretentious and the offering really didn’t match the hype LOL. Never mind….it wasn’t very long before we arrived in Auckland early Tuesday morning.

We expected problems with customs and immigration as we weren’t the normal holiday travellers with return tickets in hand – but we were in the system after our previous telephone conversation and were cleared through incredibly quickly. We collected our bags…..and then repacked them all again. The luggage allowance for Air New Zealand was, once again, different and we needed to check three bags to get them all under 23 kgs each and our hand luggage in line with the domestic policies. So more faffing….

Anyway…..we got organised….and walked around to the domestic terminal. This is supposed to be a 15 minute walk but I think it is nearer 30 minutes. There is a shuttle bus apparently but we haven’t managed to find one yet LOL.

We checked our bags in and sat….and sat….and sat. No lounge for us this time as we were on the cheapest economy tickets and so we waited. There was an earlier flight to the Bay of Islands but when I asked if we could transfer to this one we were told our tickets were not transferable – basically we would have to buy them all over again – so we decided to sit it out. People watching was interesting….and the wait was long in our exhausted state.   Lots of Ed Sheeran tee-shirt wearing fans waiting to board Gisborne flights as he was playing there this weekend.

Eventually at 2pm we boarded our last very short flight of the epic journey to Bay of Islands – Kerikeri airport. We were delighted to arrive – collect our baggage – and pick up the shuttle bus to our motel. We had booked into this motel for a few nights while we got ourselves organised. The room is basic with a small kitchenette and wet room attached so all was well.   As we were being dropped off I overhead one snooty woman tell her husband that she “couldn’t possibly stay here”.  So I just casually dropped it into conversation that we were here for six months and this was our temporary base whilst we got our yacht ready to go back to sea…..  Her attitude changed immediately LOL…  That was definitely naughty and a verbal ‘up yours’ but she shouldn’t have picked on me in my tired state!

We crashed into bed late afternoon and that was it for the night!

Wednesday morning we were up very early and drove off in our hire car (which had been delivered the night before by Rent a Dent, which really is the name of the hire company) to see Morphie. She was looking in good shape and we were very pleased to see her again.

We unpacked bags and moved things around to clear the back cabin as we need to access under the bed as the stuffing gland is going to be repacked.  We visited the trades and paid some of our debts….we just need to organise collecting some of the things we had ordered in advance. The only thing we were interested in at this stage was the bottom paint and organising the sander from the boat yard. Although this is a self-service yard dry sanding is not allowed without a vacuum attached to protect other boats – which was fine by us!

Wednesday afternoon we returned to our motel for a break. We did some laundry and got ready for a night out in Paihia. The Dolphin Motel is only a few minutes walk from all the restaurants and the waterfront so it is ideally located.

We wandered the waterfront and stopped off at the Swordfish bar. We enjoyed the view but the food offering didn’t appeal so, later on, we went to a craft beer and kitchen restaurant – the ambience was lovely, service was fine but the food was really pretty poor for the cash!  What a shame….

Thursday morning we headed back to Morphie very early and taped up around the awlgrip. Richard sanded the whole hull while I took my time on the propeller.

We finished mid-afternoon so we did some more tidying down below – including getting all the crew out of their lockers LOL – and then called it a day. We decided to go to Jimmy Jacks for dinner – a ribshack – and enjoyed a meal between the two of us and a few draft Tiger beers. Was very nice sitting on the pavement watching the world go by. Back to the motel for another early night.

Friday morning we were back to the boatyard again and started anti-fouling in earnest. Have to say neither of us particularly enjoyed this!   We worked hard all day….and finished the whole boat by around 6pm. Note my full protective gear compared to Richard – but I think I still managed to get more paint on me than he did LOL.

By the end of the day we were absolutely shattered so got some beer and a takeaway pizza at the local store and returned to our motel. Had a lovely restorative shower and an early night.

Saturday morning both of us were pretty knackered and stiff but Morphie needed a second coat. So we just pushed on…..and finished her second coat….plus a third coat on the leading edges and water line. We also painted the propeller with Barnacle Buster – something they don’t sell or use here in New Zealand. The store are, however, going to see if they can source some more for us.

Saturday night we headed off into town. The place was buzzing – guess we kind of forgot that it was Easter when we made our plans – and we fancied a curry. So we had to queue up and wait to get a table in the local Indian restaurant. It was worth the wait and we had an excellent meal, although a tad expensive compared to the UK. Afterwards we went to the local sports bar and chatted to an interesting local Maori….and listened to the karaoke. Richard was treated to his first Maori Hongi where the breath of life is exchanged and is equivalent to a formal handshake. No other visitors in here so clearly a bar for the locals – we had fun!

Sunday morning we carefully removed all the tape from Morphie and cleaned the Awlgrip line. This painted strip is in relatively poor condition after a bad paint job in Grenada many moons ago, so this will probably be it’s last season. But giving it a good scrub with cleaning compound and a ‘protect’ layer gave us a pretty shiny finish!

After that was finished we moved to the topsides and gave them a scrub with boat wash.   We did some more tidying down below before heading back to the motel. Later on we wandered the restaurants and decided on pasta. Well, the meal was average at best and we didn’t like the craft beer either. We left – still hungry after the very small portions – and thought we’d stop at Jimmy Jacks for a plate of chips and a beer. However, being Easter Sunday, no beer was being served anywhere without a full meal…and the supermarket although open wasn’t allowed to sell alcohol either – felt like being back in the UK in the 50s LOL!!!

This morning, Monday, we were a bit slower getting going. We compounded the gelcoat on the topsides and have called it a day at that.   She looks pretty good just with this bit of tender loving care – will look even more amazing once we give her topsides a ‘protect’ coat too!

We are now in the Cruisers Lounge blogging and catching up on the internet. This evening we might try fish and chips?!?  The food here in New Zealand is familiar but, actually, we haven’t been that impressed yet….other than the pies, of course, which we have succumbed to a couple of times from the local bakery.

And so the boat jobs go on….. We are moving back onboard on Wednesday – and hoping not to be living on the hard for more than a week – but we’ll see….

Bye for now

Jan

Exploring Phuket – part 2

Tuesday we had another day by the pool…..very nice!   In the evening we wandered back to Bangla Road, ate at a local restaurant, and sat and people watched. We were constantly being hassled by local hawkers and, this time, we gave in. Richard got a young girl to make him a Morpheus wrist band and I got another bangle.

We should have done this sooner as we just showed our latest purchases to everyone else that came behind and they left us alone LOL. We had dinner at a local restaurant followed by a couple of beers in Mollys listening to live music before heading back to our hotel.

Wednesday we went on a fast catamaran day trip. We relaxed in our room for a while in the morning awaiting our 11.30 am pick up. We travelled to Ao Por Grand Marina and were met by our tour company who then issued us with sarongs, towels and beach shoes for the day and we settled down to a buffet lunch while we waited for other guests to join us. Once everyone was there we were taken down to the docks and boarded the boat, settled into the seats, and the captain took off. It was interesting (well it was for us!) that they had a chart plotter repeater in the main saloon. We watched the captain ramp up the speed and the depths were pretty shallow, which reminded us of the Bahamas.

We enjoyed the spectacular scenery along the way before we made our first stop at La Wa Island. We had hoped for a beer bobbing session but no alcohol was served on the island as it was part of the Phang Nga national park. Never mind…..it was lovely to just bob around in the Andaman Sea.

Back on board – being transported by a traditional long boat – we took off again to Hong Island. Here we were taken by kayak through the limestone tunnels and caves. Very serene place despite the huge numbers of other tourists LOL.

Back to our mother ship and we had a beer on board while we travelled to James Bond island for some photo opportunities. Again more stunning scenery. This place is just plain beautiful.

On the return trip we went very very slowly……seeing one cruising couple enjoying the sunset on the bow of their boat at anchor…..and watched the sun disappear into the clouds. Shame we didn’t get the perfect sunset but it was still beautiful.

We sped back to the marina and then were fed a buffet dinner. We had lots to eat and my stomach didn’t react so looks like that episode is behind me, thankfully! Enjoyed the company of a couple of Australians before we all took off in our different minibuses back to our hotel. We got there about 9pm and we were exhausted from having been out in the weather all day so just had an early night.

Thursday we had another leisurely pool day before heading out to see the Siam Niramit show. We watched a few exhibitions and tried a few samples of local food before heading to the main courtyard to see some parades. Richard even took part in a tug of war with an elephant LOL.

After that we headed into the main auditorium for the show. This was absolutely amazing….stunning costumes….fantastic back drops….a real tale of the history of Thailand. There was even a flowing river, some thunderstorms, pyrotechnics and lots of people flying around. A real West End type production. Really glad we took the opportunity to see this.

After the show we posed for a few pictures with the cast before we were returned to our hotel.

On arrival we decided to go out on the town. We headed towards Bangla Road and found a local restaurant that took our fancy so had some dinner first. Then we walked through the madness stopping for the odd beer or two. Was fun!

Friday we were heading out mid morning to visit the Elephant Sanctuary. This place is where they allow elephants to be elephants. It was very sad to hear the stories of how they are mistreated in Thailand – particularly how their spirits are broken when they are babies – to end up in trekking camps / logging camps / or in the entertainment industry (just like the night before – damn).  Most of this is done by violent means until the elephants behave. Once they outlive their usefulness the owners keep them tethered and often don’t feed them enough so they end up dying a very slow and painful death. The Sanctuary are trying to change mindsets and rescue as many as they can but as the King himself has his own elephants it doesn’t look like any change will come soon. Sigh…..

One of the old girls we met had been working for 70 years – thankfully she is now enjoying her retirement having been rescued by the sanctuary. Our role for the afternoon was to be keepers for the day so we fed them, we hugged them, we covered them and ourselves in mud, we scrubbed them, we rinsed them off and put them to bed. Was a very special way to spend the day. Sadly at the point of publishing this blog the official photos of our afternoon have not yet been put on their Facebook site so you’ll have to do with the few that we captured ourselves.

After we came back and got ourselves cleaned up (literally!) we headed out for our last night on the town. We wandered Bangla Road again and this time we ate in the night market. Then we did a mini bar crawl before finally returning to our hotel in the early hours of Saturday.

Saturday morning we had a late start and then lazed by the pool for the day. Later in the afternoon we got ourselves packed up and then headed to Sam’s Steakhouse, which is part of our hotel. We had the most amazing meal for our last night in Thailand.

Sunday morning we were up at the crack of dawn and in a taxi to the airport by seven – the roads were surprisingly busy for a Sunday so it took about an hour.  We had our checked bags shrink wrapped as we know that Phuket airport has a bit of a reputation for things going missing. Then we dropped them off, ate the contents of the hotel’s supplied breakfast box, and headed through security. This took a while and by the time we got through airside our gate was open so we went straight there.

Eventually they started boarding….so we got on the bus…..across the tarmac and climbed the stairs. We settled in and we took off on time.

Goodbye Phuket.   We had a great time and may be back another day to explore some more.

Our first flight of the day was pretty uneventful and we landed into Singapore about an hour and a half later. The rest of the epic travel adventure will follow shortly!

Bye for now

Jan