Serenity of Swanwick
Phil and Sarah Tadd
Sun 5 Jul 2020 03:48

New Zealand moved from level 2 to level 1 on 8th June, so all internal restricitions have now been lifted although the border remains closed to all but New Zealand citizens and they have mandatory 14 day quarantine when they arrive. With the lifting of restrictions Whangarei Hash House Harriers have started meeting again so we have been out with them on Tuesday evenings – last week we got soaked on a short run/walk from a local restaurant, but this week was a pleasant evening with birthday celebrations for the ‘hare’ at his house afterwards. Sarah has been going to yoga sessions run by a fellow cruiser.

The visiting cruisers living in Whangarei used the excuse of the winter solstice to celebrate with the midday presentation of a banner to the Mayor to thank the town for making us welcome, and a ‘Coming Out’ party at the cruising club in the evening.

Firing the cannon at midday for our Winter Solstice celebrations

The Riverside Drive Marina Band of cruisers plays on the canopy bridge, with the flags of all the nations represented on the river displayed behind them

Serenity and other yachts ‘dressed overall’ with her signal and courtesy flags for the celebrations

The cockpit enclosure is complete and is making a real difference.  We can sit in the cockpit for lunch on days when the wind would make it too cold, and it stops cold draughts coming into the cabin.  We were getting water coming through the bimini (the sunshade over the cockpit) in heavy rain so have re-waterproofed it and are now waiting for the next rain to see if it has worked.  Today it is mild and we are able to sit in the cockpit in comfort. We’ve had some cold weather with a lot of rain in June and water restrictions due to the summer drought have now been lifted in Northland (Auckland is still under restrictions).  June is the most humid month of the year in Northland and we have been having to deal with a lot of condensation in the cabins – hopefully that will begin to get better from now.

The sunlounge panels zip on to the overhead bimini

The after panels unzip and can be rolled up for air and access

Held down at the sides with bungy cord

To get the enclosure done, Sarah worked pretty solidly so we have not ventured out of the local area much, but we used one fine day to drive to the other side of Kamo with the plan of doing a ridge walk.  The walk we wanted to do was closed due to Kauri Dieback, a fungal disease that is killing the magnificent native Kauri trees and which New Zealand is working hard to control, but there was a forest walk open which provided a lovely two and a half hour walk up and down a river valley.

Magnificent Kauri Trees.  As they age the lower branches disappear leaving a straight trunk which, together with its hardness makes it an ideal wood for shipbuilding.  As a result vast areas of forest were felled and they are now keen to protect the remainder.

Lush green forest in the sub-tropical climate of Northern New Zealand

Lunch break by the oldest Kauri in the forest

The prolonged rainy period ended with a thunder storm on Friday evening, thunder and lightning and torrential rain. Unbeknown to us at the time a small but strong and very localised typhoon struck Norsand boatyard causing a swathe of destruction in one area of the yard lifting boats from their cradles and probably causing total writeoffs. Luckily these revolving storms don’t occur too often here.

Destruction in the boatyard.

Phil installed our new electric anchor windlass during the month and last weekend we decided it was time to test it.  The weather forecast was giving more settled weather from Saturday so we motored down the river to anchor in our favorite spot in Parua Bay with the thought that we would perhaps go out for a day sail. The windlass worked beautifully to lower the anchor and on Monday we had a successful test run with the watermaker – after Phil had spent Sunday stopping the leaks from the high pressure pump which sprayed water everywhere.  We only had intermittent internet access in our anchorage so were relying on the VHF radio for marine weather forecasts and the coastal water bulletin was getting steadily worse.  By Monday lunchtime they were predicting up to 45 knot winds and thunderstorms and as we had done the testing we wanted we retreated back up the river to town, where the weather was lovely!

A lovely day at anchor – apart from local boats on permanent moorings we had the place to ourselves

The new anchor windlass is identical to the old one, but with the addition of an electric motor so we don’t have to use the handle to winch the anchor up by hand

There are some signs that Pacific islands may begin to reopen their borders soon, but before we can make the decision to sail to the sun we need to know we can return to New Zealand or Australia at the start of the cyclone season in November.  At present there is no indication of when that will be, so we intend to continue enjoying what New Zealand has to offer for the time being.