Whangarei Old Geysers etc

Wed 18 Jan 2017 10:13

Whangarei Old Geysers, a weekend swap and Camping preps.

I wrote the last blog on Friday 13th January. I didn’t realise the date until the computer ate and swallowed the blog, never to be seen again. It has happened before when I

wrote the blog as an email ready to send and it was lost forever from the send box. So I thought I’ll be doubly sure not to lose it by writing it in Word where a copy will be saved even if Mailasail does lose it again.

So this time it was lost as I transferred it to Mailasail. Gone from Word and Directory even though I had saved it. I got over the frustration that caused the air on Zoonie to be mid Atlantic blue for a while but my problem was remembering what I had written. It came back over the morning and fortunately Rob had read the blog so could help me recall passages.

Today I will save it on the external hard drive before moving it anywhere on this suspicious, sometimes malevolent little computer of ours.

Today there is very little wind here in the basin and I hope it is the same elsewhere. Yesterday the South Island and south of the North Island were hammered with strong winds and heavy rain (400mm in one hour in places) coming from an intense low off the Tasman Sea and I’m glad we weren’t pitching our tent at the time.

On the Quayside of the river opposite us there are a number of typically very old, wood built motor launches in pristine condition and lavishly painted in white paint. On one lives one of the ‘single’ Old Geysers of Whangarei Marina. There are a few who live alone but have plenty of company around them a pontoon or pile away.

This particular gentleman paddles around in his red plastic canoe for exercise and to socialise and we have chatted on occasion. On the spacious afterdeck he has his hammock, barbecue, director’s chair, and his hose. Apart from filling his water tank with it he waters his potted herb plants, washes around the un-used anchor and bow each day and, if the day has been on the hot side, he aims the hose down the front of his shorts for a few delicious moments and then down the back, just to maintain balance you understand.

Vince is on the opposite side of the river and we pass him each time we leave the dinghy to go ashore. He is married but his wife is now in a wheelchair so he comes to the boat most days to potter, polish the already shiny stainless, clean the already brilliant white paintwork. He is a sweet, friendly man, the sort you’d be lucky to have as a grandpa.

Two other guys live aboard their homely boats and spend much of the day sitting at the bench that looks over the river by the shower block. One is very large and the other medium build, the latter always has a chat line ready and they both wave as if we were long lost friends as we motor back to Zoonie.

Just to balance things I have to tell of two less friendly guys. ‘The Admiral’ has his boat moored on a finger at the outer end of the pontoon behind us. He wears an ‘officers’ cap, has a short white beard and walks around with an air of having known a much prouder, distinguished past. He also secures a rope from his stern across to the stern of his neighbour, to ensure the likes of us do not tie up our dinghy in the gap between the boats to go ashore or as would be the case in the dark, get rope burns around our necks.

Then there’s Bert (that’s obviously not his real name, his real name is Frank, no its not that either) who is a cruising yachtsman who sails a very nice yacht with his long suffering wife. He is the hygiene mafia all rolled into one. Ticking people off for putting the wrong rubbish in the wrong bin. He did this to Kyle and Shelley, suddenly appearing on their boat, head poked down the companionway, bee in his bonnet. He got the wrong people of course, and left the boat briskly, with a sizeable flea in his ear and a few more words in his vocab.

Yesterday we were in the shower block while I was ironing when there was a brusque ‘ratatat’ on the door. Someone had forgotten their key. Rob opened the door for him and Brank or Frert, which do you prefer(?), looked at Rob, pushed his way in and started chatting to someone across the room. “Gauche twit” I said in a not too hushed voice.

I was ironing a dress I have made for Ruby’s 6th Birthday present. Our granddaughter and her family and friend Lauren are coming to visit us in April and Ruby will be spending her entire birthday up in the air, so of course we will celebrate when she arrives. Having the second-hand sewing machine at my disposal I decided to make her a birthday present.

I wanted to get it finished before we went camping and not rush the job on our return before her arrival. I also had other machining jobs to finish. We now have a new Hydrovane sail cover in place, the old one was so weathered by UV and salt air that it would split if you so much as looked at it. Also the corners on the shroud awning covers, where the eyes and guys are attached were torn so I folded squares of the grey sunbrella scraps and machined them over the corners. Rob then had eyelets attached and we are ready for next season in the tropics.

The weather forecast for last weekend was fine on Saturday and rain on Sunday. So we swapped the days and took Saturday off. Rob suggested we visit Abbey Caves and check out the glow worms.

In 1860 Nathaniel and Amelia Clodworthy (love that name) settled on 409 acres of mixed grass and woodland and raised a family. Their descendants were still living in the area until 2009, although not in the wooden house located amongst limestone outcrops Nat and Amelia build, shaped like an Irish Abbey, which burned down in 1920.

There are gentle pastures and deep gulleys all over their land and at least three undeveloped caves, Organ, Middle and Ivy and we scrambled down into all three. From bright sunshine and warming air to the cool of the rock walls and the pure water running along the flat floor, around the bend and into pitch dark. With our torches turned off we looked up and saw pin prick constellations of bright greenish light, the little worms were aglowing.

I spoke with a lady from Glasgow, on holiday for five weeks who let her husband and friends venture into the depths of Middle Cave and a young lady appeared in floral wellies, loaned to her by her landlady. They weren’t ideal as they slipped on the rocks.

Making our way back up the hill to the road the path led right through the site where the Clodworthy’s house had stood for sixty years. The Datura trees, now at the end of their flowering season, once beautified the outside of their home and just down the hill the family plot was protected by a mesh fence and the shade of native bush and hardwood trees.

One rich experience on a fine day inspires another so, back on board, we pumped up the canoe and paddled up the river curious to see how far we could get.

Around a couple of bends the river moves away from the road and birdsong replaces traffic noise. Heavily forested slops rise up to Mount Parihaka with its fab views over the city we had enjoyed with Gail and Tony. The riverbed was clearly visible beneath us and we were keeping an eye on the closeness of the rocks. “At least they are worn smooth and not sharp Rob” I said as the canoe rose up and slithered over one. Staying in the darker water we made it a little further, to the pretty picnic area where we had previously munched Gail’s lovely buns and drank red wine while mother ducks kept their broods in order.

On the paddle back down river the bleached dead branches of an old tree supported snoozing shags and a two man band played over our heads as we floated beneath the artisan bridge.

The next day, Sunday, we stuck to our plans and spent the morning working. Rob replaced the engine oil in the gearbox with gear box oil. The engineer who did our major engine service either slipped up or was cutting corners. Or he missed the lesson on viscosity. I worked on the Hydrovane sail and cut out the fabric on Ruby’s dress pattern.

Rain stopped our plans to do the Hatea Loop Walk, so early the next morning we set out instead. I mention this only because that time of day was good for our bird count. Three kingfishers in the same area and a new bird with long red legs and a white face, the pied stilt.

When on board we often tune in to the local radio station. It is funded largely by advertisers, “Lawnmower a pain in the grass, come to so and so for repairs”. That was my favourite. The NZ sense of humour can be found on the roads as well, “Last cheese for miles” short and sweet.

Just for a change Rob had a browse around the frequencies the other day and found that we could re-tune our boat radio to Australasia instead of International that it had been on since the UK. On 104.4khtz Radio New Zealand (RNZ) transmits really interesting programmes and music on subjects such as the up and coming Haka competition near Hastings (Haka is the Maori welcome ceremony we watched at the Waitangi Treaty Ground).

We also listened to an interview with an American environmental expert talking about rebuilding the world’s kelp forests, such as we saw around The Poor Knights Islands. Coral that has been deprived of the rich nutrients it absorbs from kelp becomes pale and unhealthy. Replace the kelp and it has been seen to regain its colour in 24 hours. Also fish thrive under the kelp which attracts bigger fish so the feed chain can function and diversity of life is maintained.

I worried when we first came here that Maori culture was lost as a way of life and survived only as history re-enacted for tourism. Well the performing arts have absorbed and therefore preserve the culture of indigenous populations all over the world and apart from radio they now have their own tv station, which is global. I’d love to find a way into that. Where are you Mr Google?

Plans for our NZ Odyssey are well advanced. We have six tent stops between here and Wellington (For the ferry). Scott who at this moment is fitting our new Auto Pilot, is from the South Island and in the space of a few minutes he has told us the best places to visit down there. So apart from packing and buying some food items we are nearly ready and hope to set off next Monday 23rd January. I cannot wait to see the differences and similarities between the two Islands.