18 May 2015 | New Zealand
Since Phil put new sails on Silhouette back in Hawaii I can't keep up anymore. He gets to Opua, New Zealand Wednesday evening and gets to sleep at the dock while waiting for customs. I get there the next day around noon and was hoping to get a little rest before having to deal with the officials, but they were waiting for me. At least I had someone to help me tie up to the pier. Must say that was one of the fastest check-ins I ever done. Got a berth at the Marina for a couple of weeks. Now I can run an electric heater.
We heard that there was a Thanksgiving Dinner at the yacht club, if you had a ticket. The tickets were sold out, but we showed up anyway looking hungry and someone had a couple of tickets for sale since his guest didn't show up. Ran into a few more cruising friends whom we meet along the way, like Beez Neez from England, whom I met way back in Galapagos. They are still here in New Zealand, arrived here about the same time I arrived in Hawaii. Now that's how I like to cruise. No hurry equals no worry. They have finally made it halfway around the world in 7 years.
Opua is a nice little town with a few boat stores and other yacht facilities and a guy who can work on refrigerators, but he's on holiday this week. WTF. I could get someone from out of town for twice the price, but since I still have a few more cans to eat out of and a restaurant nearby, and a little store a bit up the road I can get by without frozen food for a while longer. Heck it's so cold outside who needs refrigeration to keep the beer cool. The other problem with Opua is all the transit slips are taken by the guys who got here first. We didn't think about making reservations. Soon we will have to anchor out or pick up a mooring and no electricity to run the heater. No fun.
After calling every Marina in the country the only place we could find with a berth for a few months was Marsen's Cove, about 80nm south of here. And since Phil is leaving the country soon, off we go before they run out of slips with a stop on the way for an overnight anchorage to see some more of New Zealand, too bad we never got off the boats. Several of the other boats in the parade down from Tonga are also heading for Marsen's Cove. I guess they didn't think about making reservations either. Oh well one of the problems of being one of the last boats to make the crossing to New Zealand.
Some of the boats in this group had reservations in Whangarei and this was just an overnight stop. Some were like us, looking for a place to plug in to run the heaters or leave the boat for a month or so. In Opua they loan you the electrical adapters to go from 240 volts AC to 120 volts. In Marsen's you have to supply your own. Phil have a built in transformer, I have a portable one. I would have to buy a special cable to hook up my transformer and then it's not big enough to run the built-in boat heaters anyway. Damn why did I give away my little portable heater to Sparky in Honduras. Oh well when I have to have heat I'll just have to run that gas powered Honda generator that I went to Samoa to get if Phil will loan me his portable heater. Or maybe I can find one for sale when I find an appliance store. But its summer time here, no one selling heaters, fans maybe, but no heaters. Just can't wait for the temperatures to rise so I can use the fans.
Marsen's Cove Marina has been in business only for a couple of years. Everything is brand new. But it's located way out of town. And there are no boat businesses yet. There isn't even a convince store unless you call 5 km nearby. But the staff is very accommodating. They will take you to the strip center and if someone is going to town you can catch a ride. There's a bus stop nearby about 2 km, but we heard that sometimes they don't stop. So the only sure way to get anywhere is to have a car. Not yet. I get on the waiting list at a couple of marinas in town, if nothing comes up soon, then maybe a rental car or something cheap.
First thing on the list is to get that frig fix. Call a guy in Whangarei to come by and take a look. He said the compressor is bad, can get a new one in a couple of days. Then I luck up and get a call about an opening at the Town Basin Marina in Whangarei next week. I take it and tell the frig guy I'll call him when I get there. Pay for travel time would be less.
We arrive in this part of NZ just in time for the welcome to Whangarei party for the cruisers. Meet up with other cruisers that we haven't seen since French Polynesia, s/v Itaca with Colin and Anna. Also met this lady with the strongest southern USA accent that I ever heard. She from Arkansas and her mate is from New Zealand and they be the Capt. and first mate aboard that big yacht in the marina. Well with that kind of an accent Nalene is now my best friend.
I move on to Whangarei Town Basin Marina in Downtown Whangarei where all the boat shops and stores and bars and restaurants and city life is located and leave Silhouette in the boom docks. I will have to raff up to another boat and for that I get 25% off the monthly rental. I bought the necessary power cable and believed it or not you just can't plug it in. It has to be inspected by a certified electrician and have a tag that with the date the inspection expires. WTF? You have to have a power card that you bought at the store inspected every year? And I thought OSHA was bad. Just one of the many weird things NZ call safety related. Seem like someone just passed a few laws so brother-in-law can have a job.
The refrigerator guy came by and installed the new compressor, but it only work for a few minutes. He said I now need a new evaporator because the dryer from the old compressor must have failed and plugged everything up. More money. Just happens he has one back at the shop and he'll be back later today, More money. But at least now I have cold beer and ice for the rum. A month later he had to come back and replace the thermostat. Shit I should have just bought a new one and installed it myself and saved some $$$.
Early December, Phil and Carl and Jane need a ride to the airport. I want to go and visit some friends in Auckland. I rent the car and they share in the expense. One friend that I have never met is the daughter of my Aunts sister. She's on a work assignment here. Denise meets us at a restaurant just outside the airport for a quick visit, because Phil's flight was ready to leave without him. She then took me around town and showed me all the sites near the marina. The other friends I wanted to visit weren't aboard their yachts. So when I went back a couple days later to take Jan and Carl to the airport I called first and had another place to sleep for free while in town. Also found a scuba shop and got another mast.
I heard The Great Barrier Islands east of New Zealand is a must see, especially for Christmas. So I invite Denise for a sail over the Christmas holidays. Only problem the weather doesn't want to cooperate. So we make plans for another day. When that day comes the wind doesn't. But we did get to do a little motor-sailing out to the ocean and back. I think she had a blast, it was hard to see behind that big smile.
Now the fun is over. When Phil came back from the States he was able to get a spot at the same Marina. Now it's time to get to work on that BIG ASS Maintenance List. Main thing to do now is to replace the chain plates - big straps of stainless steel that holds the wire rigging from the top of the mast to the hull. It is highly recommended by the experts that these and the wire rigging be change every 15 years if you are sailing in the tropics, and somewhere in the insurance papers they say the same thing. I changed them out 15 years ago with a little help from George. So it should be easy this time. WRONG. We put them things in so tight last time it's going to take a lot of cutting and grinding and cursing. And to add to the work the bolts wasn't change out last time, so now I have to cut out fiberglass and wood to get to them. And then I have to rebuild it back to better then new, maybe? So from January to April all I can remember doing in New Zealand is working on chain plates and varnishing some wood. And then after all that was done I hauled the boat and repaint the bottom and a few other underwater projects that's best done when the boat is out of the water. Not to mention finding the rudder brace broken, the engine exhaust pipe leaking, and this and that and more. But only minor damage done when I ran into that reef back in Honduras. Not many pictures of New Zealand, but I did include pictures of working on the boat.
Well that wasn't the only thing I done. Nalene plays keyboards with one of the local bands. She invited me to the Wednesday night Jam session where her band is the main attraction. I had so much fun there I came back every Wednesday night. Became good friends with the band members too. And there were a lot of other parties and such, but no touristy stuff. Spent all my money on the boat.
If I want to see New Zealand I'll have to come back.