Tuesday 1st April 2014
Since arriving back at the boat we have been very busy organising and doing jobs, and beginning the task of sorting her out down below to make her ready to be closed up for several months over the winter, while we make a visit back to the UK. This involves emptying out all the food lockers and retrieving stores from hidey-holes, to make sure there is nothing left on the boat that might go mouldy or have insect eggs inside which could hatch out in our absence. We were infested with flour weevils once that had hatched out of a packet of pasta bought in an upmarket supermarket in the U.S. It was well inside its ‘best before’ date and we’d had it for about four months before they hatched, so I’m not taking any chances by leaving anything on board, no matter what the sell-by date says!
We also need to empty out all the clothes and linen lockers, have a grand sort-out and get rid of stuff we haven’t worn for ages, if ever. Some will go back in the lockers, some will be cut up for rags, a few will go in the bag to take back to the UK and the rest will go to the ‘Op-shop’ (charity shop). By the time we’ve finished, the boat will sail a knot faster because of a much lighter load!
Boatyard life is not so bad, if you don’t mind climbing a ladder to get on and off the boat. With the car parked below, we can pop into town whenever we want or stop by at friends’ boats in other yards to see how they’re getting on. Some are doing final jobs before sailing off to the islands, probably Fiji or maybe Tonga or New Caledonia, sometime in May. A couple of mad yachties have decided to sail back to French Polynesia, and then up to Hawai’i. Many, like us, are leaving their boat here for this sailing season, and flying out of New Zealand at the end of their 6-month visa, either home or to Australia or the islands, and will return in November/December for another summer here before sailing out. It’s the first year the NZ Customs have allowed boats temporary import entry for 24 months automatically, and many yachties are making use of it. Previously the boat was given 12 months and you had to apply for an extension, possibly having to put up a Bond equal to 15% of the boat’s value which was returned to you with interest when the boat left on time, but was not refunded if the boat overstayed. We, of course, can stay 6 months at a time on a tourist visa automatically stamped into our passport for free when we first arrive. The easiest way to renew it is to leave and come back, but the official rule is either maximum 9 out of 18 months, or 12 out of 24 if leaving would mean sailing out into the cyclone season. Maybe now they’ve allowed the boats to stay longer, they might review the visa rules. We can but hope.
Anyway, it’s less than a fortnight now till we fly out from Auckland, stop over for a couple of days in Hong Kong, and then arrive back in the UK for a long overdue visit. We’re off to get flu jabs tomorrow, not something we usually bother with, but we don’t want to pick up any nasty germs on a plane and then spread them around family and friends. Really looking forward to seeing everyone, promise not to bore you with sailing stories....