Two weeks in Opua

Serenity of Swanwick
Phil and Sarah Tadd
Wed 13 Nov 2019 21:16

We have spent our first two weeks in New Zealand mostly working on Serenity.  She has been cleaned from end to end to get rid of the accumulated salt since the last clean (we can’t remember when that was) and the mildew from a humid season in Fiji.  We have emptied every locker and cleaned the contents as well as the lockers, washing sails, waterproofs and life jackets and had a bit of a de-clutter in the process.  We finished by cleaning the bilges and under the engine, so now Serenity is sparkling!  Luckily we got most of this done in our first week when the weather was fine.  It broke last Sunday with a terrific half hour squally thunderstorm and hasn’t been as good since.

Phil found a local supplier who was selling a two year old 4hp outboard engine – more powerful that our old 2.5hp – so we took a walk out along the disused railway to his showroom and bought it to replace ours that died in Fiji.  Phil has got the old one working again so we will put it up for sale now.  We had discussions with local rigging companies and chose one to replace the roller furling gear on our Genoa sail.  They are due today to take down the old furler and measure for the new one, but we woke to more thunder, lightning, strong winds and rain this morning – not ideal weather for going up the mast.  Hopefully they can measure this afternoon and fit as planned tomorrow.  We have also ordered a new watermaker with greater capacity than our existing one, which we have to run all day to make a reasonable amount of water - the new one should make 30 litres in an hour, which is enough to keep our tanks topped up in most situations – and we have ordered new hatches to replace the old, slightly leaky ones with their crazed windows.  All in all, the lump sum from Sarah’s pension is taking a bit of  a beating.

We had been following the progress of a group of yachts making their way down from Tonga via Minerva Reef.  Over a few days probably 50 yachts checked in to Opua, including our friends on Saga who we haven’t seen since we left Nuka Hiva in July 2017.  Its been good to spend time with them and we had a hire car for a couple of days to do some shopping and sight seeing. Following nearly 3 years in the Pacific Islands, where boat supplies and non-local food supplies are difficult to get hold of and expensive, Inge and Thomas have a lot of purchases to catch up on!  After the first week the marina moved us to the work dock as the owner of our previous berth wanted it back.  You don’t get people walking by regularly here, which is good for getting jobs done but at the weekend ‘Shandon’, a UK flagged yacht we had met in Fiji, came into the berth next to us and we spent a pleasant evening with David and Sue before they carried on to Tauranga.

The sundial at Flagstaff Hill outside Russell. Russell was the first permanent European settlement in New Zealand. It was once known as the ‘hell hole of the Pacific’, full of the ‘refuse of society’ according to Charles Darwin.  A bit boringly it’s a pretty tourist town now. The flag staff  with its Union flag was apparently chopped down four times by a disaffected Maori chief.

Looking north to Bay of Islands

A vineyard restaurant – we stopped for the view not for lunch.

As soon as our roller furler is fitted we plan to leave the marina for a few days, returning to collect further deliveries before sailing south towards Whangarei and Auckland.