Lock down

Serenity of Swanwick
Phil and Sarah Tadd
Sat 11 Apr 2020 23:42

Well, there we were in the yard with an engineer looking at our fuel system when we heard about lockdown, no way were we going to relaunch on Friday. We would be making the best of it here for  the foreseeable future. Schools closed immediately, businesses were given 48hrs notice then it would just be essential shops and services open. We arranged to hire a car to get around and do shopping, otherwise we would have to shop every other day, walking and back packing the food. We also rushed around the shops to get essential supplies for working on Serenity, managed to arrange for our radar and plotter to be couriered back to us from Auckland where they had been in for repair and then settled in. We can still go out for walks but no-one is allowed into the yard who isn’t living here, our own international gated community.

Apart from the supermarket queues the town is pretty dead (seen on our permitted exercise outing!)....

..and very little movement on the river. This is the entrance to the slipway in the early morning autumnal mist.

We have been getting on with jobs on board, Sarah has had the sewing machine out and done some alterations to the cushion covers as well as making new covers for all of our fenders. Between us we have fitted all of our new reading and chart table lights, new wooden vent grills for the fridge and water-maker and then there’s the engine.

Fender socks

Reading lights on a newly varnished bulkhead

Chart table lights


It has taken three weeks to sort out the engine problem.  When the yard launched us it stopped before we left the lift-out cradle and wouldn’t start again. We got it to the point of running for 10-15 minutes and then cutting out but couldn’t find a reason. The fuel system was stripped and rebuilt, the tank cleaned, new filters and lift pump all of the old pipes were replaced with nice new rubber and a number of brains were working on this. Eventually after Phil had stripped and rebuilt the injector pump to no avail, all of the high pressure system was taken to the experts who had rebuilt our injectors for us. They were working part-time as an essential service. Turns out the man who serviced the injectors had fitted the wrong parts and they were locking up with excess fuel in them. A simple answer but almost impossible to find. It now runs quite sweetly so when lockdown finishes we will be ready to launch.

Engine sporting lots of new pipework.

With winter approaching we have ordered a new heater which will hopefully arrive in the next week, the supply of heaters, and warm bedding are now considered essential so mail order is available. This should slot in quite easily as a replacement to our existing one and hopefully being a recognised brand will be more reliable and easier to source spare parts.

New Zealand’s approach to the Covid 19 pandemic has been to try and stop it completely.  Early on people arriving the country had to go into 14 day’s self isolation, then borders were closed to all but returning New Zealanders, and now people returning are going into supervised isolation.  Together with the strict lockdown and lots of contact tracing, known cases are at just 1300, with 4 deaths.  Most of the cases are in linked clusters (eg linked specific gatherings, like a wedding, or places, such as a school).  Parliament has been suspended and there is a committee, headed by the leader of the opposition, to scrutinise the government’s decisions. In the long term this approach means that there is no immunity building up in New Zealand, and the government is warning that borders will have to stay closed for some time – possibly until a vaccine is available, which will hit the tourism industry hard. All very tough but combined with a compassionate touch from the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, who we have found to be very impressive in all of this.

It also has impacts for us.  We can’t consider flying back to the UK, as we would not be able to return to Serenity in New Zealand, and if we sail out of here we need to have somewhere to go to, as we will not be able to return. All of the island nations we might have visited on leaving New Zealand have closed their borders (as has

Australia). The islands medical facilities are only just up to managing their own populations in good times, so there will be tension between their need to keep their populations healthy and safe and the need for the tourist dollar when it comes to reopening.  To add to this Vanuatu, Fiji and Tonga have been badly damaged by a major cyclone this week: 80% of Fiji’s main island is without power over Easter.  So while this is a better place than many to be stuck, our longer term plans are all uncertain now.


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