Lydia Down Under

Lydia is in the water again.

She has been refitted and serviced, her bottom has been pampered, caressed, and de-barnacled, and she has been lowered gently back into the Pacific. The Norsand Yard in Whangarei appear to have met every positive expectation. My thanks to Mark, the service manager from Falmouth, and to David, the hoist manager from Germany, who carries off heavy-lift operations with a delicate touch.

Once in the water I motored her up the couple of miles to the marina in the Town Basin in Whangarei, mildly surprised to be able to stop all traffic at the bascule bridge with a mere word on the VHF, and secured her for a couple of days of storing and marine Mrs Mopping. The dirt ran off, and is still running off, in rivers.

The town of Whangarei is light-industrial, but the paucity of its charm is compensated for by the friendliness and helpfulness of its people, as always in NZ. It's quiet and out-of-season still, but of course it's Springtime, and the birds' dawn chorus is cacophonous. No tuis at the marina, but some very tuneful sort-of-blackbirds.

I needed a new USB cable for my sat-phone, having stupidly left the old one at home. The young lady at the phone shop near the marina knew her stuff, told me that my cable was not a phone part and that I would need a specialist computer shop. "Try Beryl's in Tarewa Road". Well, I got instructions as to my route, and thought I wouldn't forget Beryl's even if it sounded more like a patisserie than a computer shop. Got there, looked around, no sign of Beryl's, now what do I do? By co-incidence, the shop that I'm standing outside looks pretty techy. Look up, see the name, double-take: "F.W.Barrel Technology". Friends divided by a common language. But I got my part and, as the young lady might have said, no worries.

I had lunch with Annie Hill, RCC member, the redoubtable "Voyaging Annie", who is building herself a boat at Norsand Yard, and who had kindly agreed to keep an eye on Lydia during my absence over the European Summer. Annie left Liverpool as a young girl to sail across the Atlantic, never came back, and has now covered over 200,000 miles. She has a fund of annecdotes and good advice, and used to write the column "Blue Water Letter" in Yachting World. Her boat is 26 feet, junk-rigged, and will take her another couple of years to complete, after which she is quite capable of sailing it anywhere. Thanks for your help, Annie, and good luck with the project.

The weather is cool in Whangarei, 10 degrees at night, time to head North. I plan to sail for Opua tomorrow, taking a gentlemanly couple of days over it and anchoring somewhere at night.

Best wishes to all.

Donald.