Almost Ready!

Mike and Liz Downing
Tue 27 Mar 2012 12:10
The weather continues to dominate activities here - a lot like the UK! A few days of dry weather was spent cleaning and checking the rigging prior to a rig check by the local rigger. The original plan to do this up in the Bay of Islands, before leaving New Zealand, was changed when we realized how many yachts are likely to be leaving from there. The chances are they will all want their rigs checked at the same time. Here in Tauranga there are very few foreign yachts, so we could pick the time and day for the check to take place. Cleaning the rig does not just mean deck level - it also meant spending quite a few hours hanging in the bosun's chair cleaning all the rigging screws and attachments aloft. But it did give a good opportunity to take a few pictures from the top of the mast.
Two tropical depressions coming down from the north, one after the other, put paid to the dry weather and it was another week of heavy rain and strong winds. On the boat we recorded 42kts of wind in the marina. Other places up the coast were recording over 60kts and the surrounding countryside had 2 months of rain in one day, creating yet more flooding in the North Island. With those depressions out of the way, the weather looks like it might be settled for a few days before another big storm heads down from the tropics. The forecasters are not sure whether this one will hit the North Island or pass well to the east. We all hope the latter!  
While it rained, it was a good opportunity to test the sat phone, not used for 12 months. We have a new sim and voice calls worked fine,  but we don't use it for that, the call rate is far too expensive. It's used as a back-up/alternative to the SSB (long range radio via modem) to send emails when out of range of land based Internet connections. So there's a modem between the laptop and the sat phone and we can send and receive emails in around 45 seconds of connect time, so not expensive. Or at least we could, but not now - every time the sat phone connected to the Internet it caused the laptop to freeze (leaving the phone still connected and clocking expensive minutes!). Two days of trying to find out what was going on, deleting drivers and programs installed since it last worked, and it was no better. A re-installation of Windows was looking likely and all data, emails and key applications were backed up ready, when one last attempt actually worked. We're now using a new, and free, antivirus application ('avast!') which so far seems to run happily alongside the sat phone software, unlike the last antivirus application we were running (that wasn't free!).
Most things have now been tested and are ready for sailing once more. The deck could do with more work on it, but apart from replacing 80+ dowels (we reckon we have over 1000 in all), that will have to wait until we reach a better climate  - one that's a lot drier! So now it's a big tidy-up to find a secure home for everything before leaving Tauranga. It's difficult to believe that in a few days time we will have been here a year!       
Time to sort out the charts! While we use electronic charts, we always have a relevant
paper chart on the chart table to refer to.
The marina buildings and Tauranga airport in the distance, from the top of the mast.
Looking down on Aurora B. The red bucket is on the way up bringing more tools - you always need something
you haven't got!
Looking nor nor west.
Looking nor nor east.
Looking east.
Looking south west, towards downtown Tauranga.
New dowels just put in the teak, covering the screws holding the teak to the deck. As the dowels wear thin they
come out, and with over 1000 or more in the deck, there's always a few to do. We hadn't replaced any since
June last year - so a lot to do. The caulking has been taken down and needs sanding, but that needs dry weather! 
Removing the tops of the dowels and sanding them to deck level - The first few (so still smiling!) of 80+.
Easter's on it's way!