It's beginning to look a lot like cruising season
22 May 2018 | Marsden Cove Marina, NZ
Here in the Town Basin Marina in Whangarei, NZ, there's a festive, almost Christmasy atmosphere.
Just like in the days prior to Christmas, the air is charged with anticipation, people are checking items off their long to-do lists; buying, buying, buying supplies and spare parts and food; there are parties and smaller get-togethers; people are cleaning and reorganizing. All in preparation for sailing away from New Zealand in the coming days or weeks.
Without boring you with the list of items on our extensive to-do list and our schedule of social engagements, I'll just say that the crew of SCOOTS is participating fully in the above-mentioned activities. We're getting ready to make a passage to Fiji (possibly with a stopover in Minerva Reef along the way), a trip which should take about a week, longer if we throw in that stopover.
Unlike the exhausting provisioning orgy that we engaged in before our months-long passage across the Pacific in 2016, when we were unsure what items would be available along the way, this time we're preparing for about a month's worth of self-reliance, as we now know that we can get most of what we want or need in Fiji. Of course, we're loading up on things that we can't get there, such as some of New Zealand's tasty meat pies, some favorite local wines, and some particular boat parts.
Though it's not as all-consuming as the Pacific crossing preparation, there's still a lot going on. At this very moment, all the horizontal surfaces in SCOOTS' main cabin are piled high with items I've removed from her aft cabin, which has been a storage area ever since we left Mexico. (You need to pack a lot of stuff for an eight-month odyssey.) Though the amount of stuff stored there has been slowly dwindling over the past two years, it was (probably well past) time for a reckoning. Every item came out into the light and like St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, we decided its fate. When we leave, the aft cabin won't be empty, but the storage pile should be only a miniature version of its former self.
Stuff is still spread all over the main cabin because while we had everything out of the aft cabin, we had access the hatch to the engine room, which would allow us to change the impeller for the salt water cooling pump on Yanmar the Magnificent. We do this prophylactically every 300 engine hours, and it was time. This job took longer than we expected (surprise, surprise!), and so by the end of the day, when we had dinner planned with friends, everything was still half done.
Which is why as I'm typing this, I'm perched on the edge of one of SCOOTS' settees, sitting in the only clear space on the cushions.
Everything will get done. It always does. One job (or two or three) at a time.
And so it has. A week after I wrote the above post (and have been too busy to edit and post it), the piles of stuff in the cabin have found homes - either stowed on SCOOTS; stored in our car, Baxter; placed in the giveaway box in the marina office; or dumped in the trash. Baxter has moved to his winter home, a cozy spot behind a friend's garage, with a commanding view of Whangarei Harbour. The storage pile remaining in the aft cabin is, in fact, a small shadow of its former self. We finished the provisioning, topped up our diesel tanks, stocked our medical kit with fresh antibiotics, and even got haircuts.
With everything done that we needed to do in town, we said goodbye to our friends at the Town Basin Marina and moved SCOOTS downriver yesterday, to Marsden Cove Marina, situated conveniently near the mouth of Whangarei Harbour. This puts her downstream of the mudflats, the Hatea River drawbridge, and the dredge working the channel, the transit of which require careful timing with the tides and traffic.
At Marsden Cove Marina, along with the other boats who've staged here, we'll wait for the weather to look good for a trip north, and finish up the jobs on our to-do list. But as the weather in our part of the world is looking pretty snarly for the next week at least, we're going to get comfortable here.
The picture for this blog shows me working on one of the jobs on our to-do list. I'm stuffed into a space in the foc'sle, so that I can reach the wires for the forward bilge pump float switch, which we were replacing. My body is taking up the entire space beneath the shelf. If I were trying to work on something on the shelf, this would be ideal; however, the wires I needed to work with were all the way at the bottom of the space. Accessing them required me to duck my head under the shelf, bend over sideways, and stretch my arm all the way down past my feet. Eric and I make a good team: I can fit into places that he can't; he tells me how to fix things once I get there. Being small is just one of the ways I keep myself indispensable on SCOOTS.