Saturday 6 June 2015 – Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow

Jon & Carol Dutton
Sun 7 Jun 2015 23:08

Saturday 6 June 2015 – Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow.

It is approaching 11 weeks since we last blogged.  At that time you may recall that we’d returned from an excellent long road trip around NZ but had to contend with the fact that the Opua boatyard had damaged our forestay beyond repair and that Reckmann in Germany had been tasked with its replacement.  Reckmann estimated that it would take 8 -10 weeks for them to manufacture it and get it to Arnamentia from the date of ordering – now getting on for 12 weeks ago.   It, apparently, landed in Auckland, via China Airlines, on Tuesday.  We are told that there are three packages in all.  As of Friday afternoon – a mere 3 days later - China Airlines had already found two of them.  So, that’s encouraging.  Once they’ve found all three, NZ Customs will be able to have a go at thinking about clearing the stuff in before it occurs to someone to find a truck to get it north to Opua.   By then, of course it will be a weekend, or close to a weekend, or another bank holiday.  La, la, la . . .

As planned, we did sail the 130NM south to Gulf Harbour in early April to have the ‘snagging’ work done on Arnamentia’s deck by Brin Wilson Boats.  That was done with customary efficiency, good humour and charm.  We were back in Opua about two weeks later and were hauled out again in the Opua boatyard to await further developments with the forestay.

Whilst Brin Wilson were doing their stuff with the decks in Gulf Harbour we took up the very generous offer of Wendy and Denis O’Callaghan to stay with them in their bach (beach house) at Matarangi in the north east of the Coromandel peninsula.  Wendy is the sister of Lindsay Sutton our erstwhile landlord when we were in Gulf Harbour last year.  We were very soon swept up into the laid back social whirl of the beach side community and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  Our stay coincided with the Matarangi Food and Wine Festival – a glorious sunny day with great food, wine and music.  A mini Glastonbury right on the doorstep.


             We passed on the Fish Tacos, but Mussel Fritters, a Kiwi delicacy went down very well.


             Cupcake heaven – but your correspondent thought the weather was too hot to indulge!

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                                                         There was some great fancy dress


And even a Masterchef competition


It was pleasing that the chef who won ran the restaurant where we had eaten the night before!


A great variety of bands played but our favourites were the Daughters of Ally who could really belt out a good song.

We had heard that the Coromandel was a stunningly beautiful area and we weren’t disappointed


                   The central ridge is very rugged and provides  a mass of interesting hairpin bends …


. . .whilst the sand on the beaches is a lovely creamy white colour, though it was all a bit chilly for a dip.

We did the tourtist thing for a couple of days.  Firstly a ride on the Driving Creek Railway.  A well known NZ sculptor, Barry Brickell, built the railway as a means of getting clay from higher up the hills down to his pottery.  It is an amazing piece of engineering with the track looping back on itself, going across several bridges and through a few tunnels.


                                                            A double decker stretch of track

Barry is definitely a “character” as can be borne out by one of his sculptures just outside the station:



Our other outing was to the Gold Stamper Battery just outside Coromandel Town.  A very enthusiastic mining geologist, Ashley Franklyn, runs this little working museum and he really was a mine of information.   The battery is over a hundred years old but is fully operational.   The processing involves the use of some very nasty chemicals but  Ashley is licensed to use cyanide and arsenic.  When the stampers get going the noise is horrendous.  What it must have been like to live in the area when there were hundreds of these stampers pounding away all day long is difficult to imagine.


                         The gold stamper battery – a real Heath Robinson affair but it works.

Returning to Opua there were a couple of technical issues to resolve.   On our way back to Opua from Gulf Harbour our Raymarine E80 chart plotter developed a bright horizontal line halfway up the screen.  Not a good sign really.  Sent it away to the Raymarine agents in Auckland who came back with the comforting diagnosis that the LCD screen was on its way out; we were seeing the early signs of complete demise and that Raymarine produce no spare parts for any of that generation of equipment (ancient stuff bought in 2008!).  The Raymarine answer is to buy new – accepting that, if you do, the new generation of chart plotter will not work with your old-fashioned (2008 again!) analogue radar.  So, get a new one of those too, please (can’t tell you how much sexier you will find the wonderful resolution, blah, blah).  Neither will your new plotter work with any other similarly old-fashioned Raymarine instruments you might have without the insertion of special interface boxes (each as cheap as you’d expect).  Naturally the plotters themselves are a different size and shape (like modern TVs, long and narrow) so, handily, a new one will not fit into the hole you have cut in whatever, to mount the original.

E Bay and a recommendation to a local marine electronics firm from the Auckland Raymarine agent solved the problem.  We are now proud possessors of two second-hand E80s in excellent nick (one as a spare) for around £400 each.  Plus our original to cannibalize for spares when we run out of spares, if you follow.

Moreover, whilst on enforced shore leave we decided to tackle a slight nonsense in our pilotage equipment.  Before leaving the UK we had had a forward-looking sonar (FLS) fitted.  This uses a screen to indicate what is coming up underwater dead ahead – a 2D view of what the shape of the bottom is (there are 3D versions but they cost somewhere in the mid gazillions).  The range of the FLS is not enormous – a few boat lengths or less in the depths we are usually concerned with - but it is nonetheless a wonderful thing to have when you know full well that you are manoeuvring amongst poorly charted (or plain uncharted) rocks and coral reef bommies.  Your normal echo sounder is a similarly wonderful instrument but it is rather late to be notified about a dangerous rock when you are sitting on top of it.  However, despite the fact that we thought a FLS a good idea, we had bought into the flawed notion that having all data shown on one screen was the way ahead (all so neat, tidy and logical).  Of course it isn’t – particularly if the feed from the FLS cannot, for technical reasons, share (use at the same time) the screen with your charting (which, however cartographically inaccurate, is showing your safe WGS 84 waypoints etc).  It’s not either/or you want – it’s both.  So, back to EchoPilot for a new display; back to Navpod for a pod to hang off the binnacle hoop to hold the display.  The binnacle hoop looks a bit more like a Christmas tree but, hey. 

On the subject of single displays that show it all, let’s not kid ourselves; it is magical to be able to overlay the radar picture on the chart (if only to check the accuracy of the charting) and have the AIS targets similarly displayed on the same chart on your chart plotter at the wheel/helm.  But, when that one display dies, you have lost it all.  Given the current Raymarine game; “Ship a spare”, I say!

Now it’s back to the waiting game in Opua although there is some prospect of the coming week resulting in a forestay arriving here.  It better had – our much beloved 2002 Honda Torneo (which we’ve owned now for 2 ½ years and has done us brilliantly) has gone onto Trade Me (a Kiwi e-Bay) and we may lose it at auction in the next 24 hours.   Then we’ll have to trog along to Mr Rent-a-Dent to see what jalopy he’s got to offer for our remaining time here.