22 February 2009 | Whangarei, New Zealand
It's been 3 months to the day since we arrived in New Zealand, but I sure don't feel like we've done 3 months' worth of exploring. In fact, if it weren't for John and Sandi's (Nancy's parents) visit last month, I'm not sure we would have ventured out of Whangarei at all.
It's not that we wouldn't want to...after all, this is truly a spectacular country in terms of scenery, culture, and geology. People spend months and years traveling to every bucolic nook and rugged cranny. So why are we content to sit here?
Part of it, of course, is because of the road trip we took with Nancy's folks. We really did get to see a fair portion of the country, even if it was a whirlwind tour.
Then there's Whangarei itself...this is a very easy place to be. Not really a city, but bigger than a town, it offers just enough of everything but not too much of anything. Clear as mud, eh? Suffice it to say, it's a very comfortable place to settle in...nice people, good friends, beautiful scenery, and a good marine-environment.
In fact it's perhaps this last attribute, the marine environment, that has so completely put a grasp on us and delayed our departure. As alluded to above, the marine-services industry here is just the right size...big enough to get just about anything done, or find what you're looking for, at very competitive rates, but not so huge (unlike Auckland) to be confusing and geographically spread out. You need work done? Fine, there are enough skilled craftsmen to complete any task. Need an obscure part? Hit one of the 3 chandleries. If they don't have it, they'll get it the next day from Auckland. Want to organize a work-party to help raise a mast, fix a generator, or sew a ripped sail? Call on some dock-neighbors, provide cold beer, and away you go.
So, no doubt you clever readers have quickly identified this rambling text as my lame excuse for sitting on my duff in Whangarei. And right you are. But at least we are taking (full) advantage of the services here. A partial list of projects completed, or underway...
-Repair boom vang damage we took after leaving Tonga
-Repair sails after same
-Repair stanchions. Yep, Tonga
-Reinforce autopilot drive (used lots of fiberglass for this)
-Stainless Steel work...Fabricate "vang tang" attachment for vang-to-boom connection; Reinforce gate-stanchions; design new anchor-securing hardware for bow and stern anchors: new strike-plate guard for bow-anchor.
-Rebuild heads. Yuck.
-Rigging...Mount 2 new rope-clutches for better headsail control in heavy weather. Design and install mainsail preventer system. Shorten staysail link-plates to lower center of effort for this important stormsail; Fabricate 4 new aluminum sheaves (turning blocks) for mainsail control line. Old ones were plastic, and the control line grooved them right to the core; Flatten staysail for better up-wind efficiency; Loctite set-screws on both headstay foils to keep them from loosening, which would prevent me from furling or reefing the sails when needed most; Tune the rig.
-Canvas work...Design and build a full enclosure for the cockpit, using Sunbrella and Isenglass. Nancy is very excited about this one. In fact, this is the only project she's interested in at all.
-Misc...Install various vents to make refrigerator compressor more-efficient; Install heat sensors on engine and transmission; Fix leaking vented-loop (which leaked on engine mount). Fix now-rusted engine mount. Remove heat-exchanger to get at engine mount, so boil core on heat-exchanger, and replace frost-plugs while its out. All because of the damn vented loop; Rebuild shower pump; Recharge fridge with r-134a evaporative gas; Re-mark anchor chain at 25 foot intervals; Oil, filter, impellor and zinc-changes on all engines. Get lots of oil, filters, impellors and zincs. Start lists, and master list of lists, for everything needed for the trip to Fiji.
Etc, etc, etc. Ad infinitum. Ad nauseum. On and on. Forever and ever.
And you wonder why we can't get out of Whangarei?!