35:43.40S 174:19.5E Loose Connections in Whangarei

Wed 23 Nov 2016 13:31

35:43.40S 174:19.5E Loose Connections in Whangarei

I apologise for the blogless void over the last two weeks. All three computers have been in ‘Paul, our Computer Guy’s Workshop’. We now have the Samsung back but it looks as if we cannot charge it. Our new universal charger is not quite as universal as it says on the pack, the old charger which replaced the one I broke on the Atlantic Crossing suffered Rob’s dyslexic use of the ammeter and blew a fuse. The replacement fuse hasn’t done the trick and the inverter with the 240 volt charger does not want to work. So this could be short blog.

The new screen is lovely though.

The weather is improving rapidly too. Gone are the days of porridge for breakfast just to keep warm, an early blast with the Ebspacher to take the chill off and nearly all windows closed. It has now warmed up sufficiently for me to risk our first beer brew up, although we still have to wrap the white containers in blankets so they don’t get too chilly at night.

The beer in the bars is tasty but at over twice the cost as in the UK we drink on board or on friends’ boats and if we eat out have water with our drinks. They have a massive binge drinking problem here, 25% of the population in places drinks to go blind and making it more expensive doesn’t make much difference. The kids just tank up at home and then hit the road for late night drinking.

We have come across some pretty bad driving here even though there isn’t the density of traffic. Defensive driving is the order of the day. We bought a 1998 Volvo S70 saloon car from a company called Rent A Dent. In fact it has two dents but never mind. It’s a nice comfy car and with a 2000cc engine isn’t too thirsty. The guy at the garage used it to taxi people from Auckland airport, a five hour round trip, four times a week so we felt reasonably comfortable with its provenance. He has promised to buy it back eventually but even if he doesn’t we can sell it on ‘Trade Me’, NZ’s Ebay.

One of the rear light bulbs has stopped working, another loose connection, but we are hopeful all the cars problems will be so small. After all it has only done 184,300 kms!

Walking around the town and driving around the countryside we see many English ways here, apart from the obvious, language, driving on the left, AA Car Insurance and Road side recovery, The Vicar of Dibley on at the nearby amateur dramatics theatre and English products and imported foodstuffs; things like the driving rules of the road, the systems used in businesses and medical clinics, the music played on the radio and many other aspects of life here are familiar to us. So much so that I want THE REAL NEW ZEALAND to step forward please.

In the historic sense Maori tradition stepped forward for us at the Waitangi Treaty Ground where in 1840 Maori chiefs and English governors signed a highly contentious piece of paper which has caused much strife since. It was the birth of a nation, on English terms. The site is on a high promontory overlooking the fabulous Bay of Islands and the two buildings, one the Treaty House and at right angles to it the Maori meeting house or Te Whare Runanga look towards the water and flagstaff flying the Union Flag and both the present NZ flag and the first version.

We hastened up the hill on arrival to the latter building where the cultural show presented by Te Pitowhenua performers was about to begin. A lady emerged from the House and explained a few things and then said she needed a male volunteer from amongst us visitors to make formal application to be welcomed. Well no one was willing so with a gentle shove Rob stepped bravely forward. The lady gave him a fern frond by way of a gift and arm in arm they entered the dark building with us following, shoes shed at the door.

I had a great seat in the front row being family of the visiting chief, who then gave a fine, short speech thanking our hosts before he came and sat down for the show. All the performers had very healthy teeth, tongues and whites to their eyes and warm smiles. Our chief had one final task to carry out at the end, rubbing noses with the male chief. “Your nose is cold,” said the Maori,

“That’s because it’s cold outside.” Replied our chief. And I missed a photo of their nasal bonding because I was so intrigued, “Good” said Rob.

We have met up again with Tony and Gail, our Houston friends on Cetacea, their Cheoy Lee 53 foot home. A pleasant habit is forming of weekend hikes with them. Up to the Whangarei Falls, marvelling at the few remaining Kauri Trees, tasty sandwiches washed down with red wine and then concluding at Destination Dairy, right beside the marina, for and ice cream.

Last Sunday we had a look at the Whangarei Heads coastal area with a hike past a historic meat freezing factory. I love their sense of historic scale, in the UK it would be a historic salt factory maybe but the freezing process is relatively modern. The Kauri trees are often 400 to 600 years old, however the only ones used now for carvings are taken from bogs and swamps and they fell over 10,000 years ago. Now that’s historic, ancient even!

You probably heard about the earthquake in the South Island on the 13th. During the night we heard what we thought was a car alarm, which went on and on. As soon as we put earplugs in it stopped. Next day we learned it was the tsunami warning. Had it been three blasts on the alarm at equal intervals it would have been an evacuation and we would be compelled to run for the hills. But we are 11 miles up a river and the only tsunami that would likely affect us would come from Chile to the east and not from elsewhere in NZ. Reassured? Not really, after Ecuador we are wondering if we are in some way affecting the geo forces wherever we go! You know when a butterfly flutters its wings in Africa all hell breaks loose in……perhaps.

It is very pleasant where we are here in the middle of the river in the heart of the town at the Town Basin. Zoonie has four lines tying each of her four corners to wooden piles. Next to us is a sad little boat, Wild Thyme, who after a successful pacific passage some years ago has been left to rot. She is a wooden classic and must have been lovely once. But now she has lichen growing up her shrouds and along the boom and her lines are wearing fairlead grooves in her rotten toerails.

The mother ducks are busy with their young. One had 12 ducklings a few days ago but two have succumbed to either an eel or fish or maybe one of the dinner jacketed shags. They are funny, balancing on lines as wash from moving vessels buckets them up and down.

The new pedestrian canopy bridge is just infront of us and each Saturday they have an artisan market on it from early till 2.00pm. We went first to the growers market for fruit and veg, eggs and a fine mackerel and then as that market closed at 10.30 we moved to the bridge market and bought two doughnuts to go with coffee in the cockpit.

Kyle and Shelley on Blowing Bubbles, who we first met in the Las Perlas Islands near Panama, are in the same marina so we have entertained and been entertained by them on our respective boats. Both from Canada Kyle was a minister for 30 years and Shelley ran her own cleaning business.

We went to a Burlesque Show with them, held in the Old Stone Butter factory, circa 1905. It is a charming rough and ready place, bit like the Grainstore used to be and it has a nice atmosphere. Would have become our local if it hadn’t been for the cost of the beer. The show, held in the open air courtyard, was good despite the display of bare flesh in what was a chilly evening. Rob said, “Poor lasses they must be freezing,” as we enjoyed the rounds and curves, tassels and tights.

Tomorrow we are off for a BBQ at the country retreat of one of the marina staff, Naydene and on Sunday we are going to a show of Old School 50’s and 60’s music that never dies preceded by lunch, with Tony and Gail and Kyle and Shelley.

It’s not all play though, we are doing some work, promise. More about that later.