Finally on our way
15 May 2013 | Tutukaka
14th May - Whangerai
What an optimistic view I had, thinking that we had sorted our problem after a mere 24 hrs! 5 days later and in spite of having had two sparkies on board for most of a day, and 2nd, 3rd, 4th opinions of all sorts from kind and sympathetic fellow boaties, we still seem no nearer to finding an answer to what is setting off our alarm system. Conversation on the boat now revolves entirely round diodes, fields, looms and absorption charges, and even I know vaguely what they are! Simon has done the equivalent of a masters in marine electronics over the past few days, and can now with confidence and fluency identify and trace every single wire in the boat. Probably not a bad thing, and better for all this to be happening here than mid ocean or on some remote island, but nonetheless it has been frustrating to watch the weather windows come and go, wave farewell to fellow sailors, and feel all too keenly the temperature dropping and the nights drawing in. We have also just learned that the lifting road bridge which they are building downstream of us is nearly complete, and the final section (which is the lifting part) will be put in on Friday, but the lifting mechanism apparently won't be serviceable for a week or so...completely trapping all upstream yachts.... Very funny!
However, thankfully it has for the moment stopped raining. The nights have suddenly got really cold, but the days have been calm and sunny and the river looks very beautiful especially in the early morning and evening. Wonderful reflections of clouds and masts and lights. And birds...two rather noisy and greedy geese, who I have to say I am not terribly fond of, and herons, and shags.. The latter I have particularly taken to .. They are so impressive the way they can dive and swim underwater.. I can't think why they are called shags.. I have renamed them 'sleeks'.
Another major plus has been our new best (in fact only!) friends Ben and Jan, who live locally and have kept us cheerful with their company and well fed from the avocado tree in their garden. Actually it is not true that they are are only friends.. This is a very warm and friendly place. Each Sunday all the boaties get together for a pot luck supper to which everyone brings something to BBQ and a dish to share. We have now been here so long that we are old timers, and it is always a lively and interesting gathering. Very international and everyone with their own tales to tell and experiences to share. Of course we can now talk of nothing other than diodes, looms etc. and as you can imagine are making our mark as the most scintillating people around!
Another Whangarei highlight is an abundance of charity shops. And it will come as no surprise to you that I am now pretty much on first name terms with the staff in them all! Initially I was collecting things like pots and pans and clothes to trade with and give to people in remoter parts of Vanuatu (which is apparently what you do) but like an old addict I am re-hooked, and on slim pretexts like needing nicer mugs, or glasses, or the weather getting colder, or needing to have modest below the knee, not offensively figure hugging clothes for visiting remote villages, home I come each day with my latest bargains! Poor Simon, who will have been upside down in the cramp recesses of the boat all day, has then (given that I have no girlie daughters, sisters or friends to share my booty with) to pretend to be enthusiastic and interested, and to mask his growing horror that the boat with sink under the weight of my excesses!
15th May - Tutukaka Harbour
What a difference a day makes! We are anchored in Tutukaka harbour, about 1/2 way between Whangarei and the bay of islands! Delighted to be on the move and to have escaped from our upstream incarceration, and (touching and crossing all the appropriate thing like wood and fingers) our alarm problem hasn't so far recurred ... Simon spoke to the battery regulator manufacturers in the States early this morning and we seem finally to have got to the bottom of the problem. Ran the engine for a couple of trouble free hours this morning, then made a spur of the moment decision to leave straight away rather than wait 24 hrs for the next tide. Not much wind, but nice and sunny and what wind there is is in a good direction at the moment, but likely to change tomorrow evening. It's not right yet for setting off to Vanuatu, as there is a bit of a low coming, and the wind will be northerly for a while, but we will get to the Bay of Islands tomorrow and can wait there and check out from Opua when the weather looks ok.
It was dark when we arrived, so we have no idea what Tutukaka is like ..looking forward to discovering in the morning! The days really are quite short now, which makes a big difference sailing.. Long long nights.. Still, at least there is a waxing moon, and as we go north it will get warmer and warmer.
16th May - Tutukaka Harbour
It is a beautiful sunny morning and a pretty little harbour.. We are heading out tho rather than staying to explore, as there is a nice little breeze from just where we want it and we are keen take full advantage of it before it goes northerly.
I seem only to be able to upload one pic with each post.. (Think i need to upgrade to 'premium'!) And this post is a bit of a mixed bag of experiences! Can't decide which to choose.. Will it be the one of the tangle of pretty coloured wires behind the nav panel, or the glamorous one of Simon bottom up (his normal position for the past few days) (possibly not that one!) Or the nice sunset over the river, or the shag sitting on the pole behind the boat, or the entrapping bridge, or indeed this beautiful morning in our new location... Umm. I think it has to be the bridge... Just because it made me laugh so much and we are so very glad not to be stuck on the wrong side of it!