Sunday 16th December - Getting through the Chores Down Under

Jon & Carol Dutton
Sun 16 Dec 2012 10:42

35:43.42S 174:19.60E

Sunday 16th December – Getting through the Chores

It would be good to say that we’ve spent the last two weeks or so relaxing and seeing a lot more of New Zealand.  However, we’ve been pretty flat out tackling the ever lengthening list of chores.  It is great to report that all 16 winches have now been dismantled, cleaned, greased and re-assembled.  Although it was grotty, mucky work and took several days, it was quite therapeutic in some ways and far less stressful than trying to track down spares for the auxiliary generator.  We had prices quoted for a new fuel injection pump ranging from £1,100 to £250 and delivery times from 3 months to two days!  We’re hoping that the more inviting option comes good.

Those interested in such things should note that Mastervolt have given up making generator sets and have sold that part of the business to an organisation called Whisper Power.  But, of course, the latter haven’t got themselves organised yet.  So, as customers, we are, as usual, being a bit of a nuisance and rather naïve in thinking that the OEM might live up to all the hype about the impressive world-wide service offered by him when we elected to buy the product.  But, it’s not all bad – at least we are forced to approach Kubota dealers - nay, encouraged to do so - for bits of the diesel engine at the heart of that generator (a Kubota OC60 single cylinder engine) and since a very large number of mini-diggers in the world are powered by one of these engines there is really quite a difference in price and availability if you bypass the marine route (Now, there’s a surprise for you).  See above – a very helpful and responsive man in Waterlooville will sort us out and we’ll have a little bit more luggage to bring back with us when we return from the UK in January.  Oddly enough, he’s the guy we’re likely to use for any such parts in the future.  I’m not sure what Whisper Power paid for the goodwill element of the Mastervolt generator support part of the business, but by the time they get their act together it may appear to have been rather a lot.

We spent two weeks in Opua.  The Bay of Islands really is a delightful part of the country, particularly from a sailing point of view.  There are some good yachting services there but apart from a small general store, nothing else.  We had decided that we would base ourselves in the much larger town, Whangarei – after all we had to use up our Tongan regatta prize of a week’s free berthing in the town centre basin!  By sea, Whangarei is about 80 NM south of Opua and we made the passage overnight, leaving at around midnight on Saturday 8th December.  Whilst in Opua we’d had several days of strong northerly winds.  Perfect.  We set off with absolutely none.  Less than perfect.  So, Mr Perkins got us there with a little help from the sails when, on rare occasions, the wind gods graced with their favours.  Thanks; wind gods, we know it was the weekend and all that but please try to concentrate on the plan.

Whangarei is about 10NM inland up a river and the depths towards the town basin are such that we need to approach this at highish tide.  We did our usual trick of arriving at the entrance to the bay too early; at about 1100 on Sunday 9th December.  We needed either to dawdle or dig out the anchor and do all that stuff.  Dawdling won.  There was just enough wind for us to roll out the headsail and ghost our way up at about 3 knots until there was enough water for us to get into the Town Basin.  We touched bottom once – there is no detailed charting of the precise depths in the channel (but stick to the outside of the bends, guys).  However, it’s only soft mud.  So provided that you are not careering along like a lunatic and you are coming in on a rising tide, it will sort itself out. 


                                                                Ghosting our way through Whangarei Harbour

Now we are within easy reach of shops and facilities of all kinds.  So far we’ve really only availed ourselves of the cinema – We know we should have gone to see “The Hobbit” since it was filmed in New Zealand but our friends on the next door boat were keen to see the new James Bond film.  Very good escapism and totally believable, of course!  (Sorry – editorial intervention here – the real problem is that JB is supposed to be smooth.  Daniel Craig is many things but he ain’t that – Ed)

In the other odd moments when we have not been slaving away (probably going for the sympathy vote here – Ed) we’ve come across a few odd sights worthy of mention.  Firstly, in Paihia, in the Bay of Islands there are Lollipop men for grown ups.  They appear only on cruise ship days.  That’s probably because too many of the passengers are used to driving on the wrong side of the road, are incapable of finding the right chip to re-programme the brain and, so, become potential toast.  But, perhaps, litigious toast.


                                                                                    Very Senior School Patrol

On another occasion whilst Carol was driving she was confronted by a Portaloo coming down the road on a fork lift truck.  The girl driving it couldn’t possibly have clearly seen where she was going so thought she might as well chat to her friend on her mobile at the same time!  Sadly, Carol didn’t have the camera with her so wasn’t able to capture this unusual spectacle.  (There is a quip here just begging to get out but we’ll keep it in - Ed).

One of the more amazing public conveniences in the world must be the Hundertwasser loos in Kawakawa.  The name is nothing to do with plumbing but is that of a controversial Austrian artist and ecologist who immigrated to New Zealand.  The building and its decorations are made from all manner of recycled materials and even the roof is thatched in grass.


                                                                                                    Entrance to the Loos


                                                                                                View from the Throne

(OK – I think we’ve probably done enough on loos now – Ed)

Some time ago, we made the decision to return to the UK for Christmas and the New Year.  We were advised that getting work done on a boat is impossible for three weeks over the holiday period.  Whilst we might have gone touring, most places get very booked up.  So the plan is now for Arnamentia to stay in the town basin until we return.  The day after we get back here she is being lifted out of the water at a local boat yard – let’s hope we are not too jet lagged to get her there and into the cradle in one piece.  Then it will be time to tackle the antifouling and all the other jobs not yet ticked off on the chores list.  After that we should have some time in February and March to see some more of New Zealand.

Finally, we’re delighted to report that the 24 foot long US flagged Sockdolager, owned by great mates of ours, Karen and Jim, arrived safely in Whangarei from Tonga last weekend after twelve days at sea.  (Karen is the other half of the unbeatable pub quiz CK duo - Ed).  As previously reported, Karen had been evacuated to NZ from Tonga after experiencing heart problems.  Quite apart from the anxiety that this unexpected medical hiccup caused both of them, it left Jim with a bit of an issue to resolve if he was to get their little boat clear of the Tropics by the time the hurricane season arrived in early December.  Help arrived in the shape of a long-term friend, Tom.  They had a bumpy and wet passage at times, but came through very commendably.  It was great to see Jim and Karen again and we had an excellent dinner together in Whangarei on Thursday.