Hard Times and a doggy shark

Sat 15 Jul 2017 20:06

Hard Times


The weather folk haven’t given the recent snow storm a name, surprisingly, since it had much more effect over both islands than either of the Cyclones, so in the interests of contrast I will call it ‘Snow White’ because the storm was anything but sweet and innocent. However in its destructive way its effect on the scenery was beautiful.

Snow White started her life in the southern ocean and first hit Invercargill and the south coast of the south island. Dumping a couple of metres of snow on the high ground and a blanket everywhere else Snow White moved slowly north powered by gale force winds.

But she isn’t all that is going on in the wild Antarctic Ocean right now. A 6.8 earthquake rumbled the sea bed 400km south of Invercargill and a vast ice berg broke clear of the ice shelf and is slowly making its way towards South America. This was a predicted event and the crack has been monitored for 10 years. As it was always floating it will not alter the sea level but the shelf it came from encloses melting glaciers and if they break through to the ocean that will be a different story.

Dunedin and Christchurch reported a sunny morning in a balmy 5’ after Snow White lifted her skirt northward. Ski Resort owners, busy preparing the slopes for their visitors, and farmers alike asked “How long till the thaw?” The former want the conditions to last of course but the farmers’ cows and sheep will start giving birth in a month and a lack of grass for the sheep will be a disaster.

When she reached the Cook Strait between the two islands the storm gave the ferry passengers an interesting ride before the service was suspended. They lay on the floor listening to the crashing of the waves and the metal juddering and an RNZ reporter standing on the south shore overlooking the strait near Wellington, the wind whistling around his mic reported “I can only see white water”. A wave meter recorded a wave height of 11 metres in the straight. Constant winds reached 120km/h with gusts of 160 +.

As Snow White skipped over the Strait the lace frill at the hem of her skirts left behind an island covered in ice.

Moving north towards Tongariro National Park roads were closed and cars only allowed on others if they crunched along on chains. The Chateau Tongariro at the foot of Mount Ruapehu has over 100 stranded skiers living off airlifted supplies and wondering if they would make their homeward flights. In the ski-lift café where we had enjoyed a coffee with Charly and Tom watching the blizzard at the summit in December (the NZ midsummer) the situation was the same this week, 7 months later in the NZ midwinter, that’s NZ for you.

One lady reported her dog bumped his nose on the ice in his drinking bowl, another followed the tiny footprints in the snow to see that her cats went out of the door on one side of her house to discreetly slip straight back through the cat flap on the other side, in disgust no doubt. Another cat warmed itself infront of the fire but got just a little too close. His owner had never before seen him leap so high nor make such a heart rending noise.

Here on the hard in Zoonie Snow White made her presence felt with moaning winds around the yard buildings and setting the pink rosebuds Kristina gave me shivering in their vase. This morning (15th July) all is calm and sunny.

Before I go to see Rob I am hoping for visits from Steve and Bruce. Steve is coming to measure up for a wooden shelf so we can install the new fridge parts and Bruce will hopefully apply the Coppercoat, if its not too cold for it to cure. Once that is on we can put Zoonie back in the water and Brian at the Town Basin Marina is saving a berth for us whenever we want. When we eventually come home we will put Zoonie on a pile mooring as that is the least expensive. She will have done a full circle sink her accident.

Our travel insurers have taken up our case and will arrange our flights home when the doctors clear Rob to travel and we need to have Zoonie back in the water by then. I think they will both come together at about the same time.

A young lady doctor decided yesterday morning that it was time for us both to be fully informed of the possible outcomes of Rob’s serious illness. She was stretching her wings under the watchful gaze of Doc Heather who corrected her on numerous aspects of her interpretation of Rob’s notes. We had guessed at most of her comments and with the wisdom of years we are not worrying about what may never happen, but living the life we do there is some preparation that needs to be done.

Being single handed when the other crew member is fit and available to help is one thing, but to be the only capable crew on board with a very sick crew member who needs an urgent air lift to the nearest hospital in short order is quite another.

When Rob is back on board we will go through emergency medical procedures together and discuss questions like do we abandon Zoonie or do I stay with her and sail her single handed to port. We have two things in our favour, first the opportunity to prepare for this possible event and the knowledge our insurance company will cover an airlift.

Much depends upon the outcome of the TOE (Transient Oesophageal Endoscopy) camera look at his heart on Thursday to see if the Abs have done their work and whether the bacteria has further damaged his heart valve.

Bruce arrived with his tubby little white lady staffy companion. He is hoping to start work on the anti-fouling job this weekend by filling the osmosis holes Rob ground out and sealed. Now that Snow White has floated off out over the Pacific the weather is going through a calm, dry spell which will be perfect for the painting he hopes to do at the end of the week after the hull is thoroughly sanded.

His little white dog feels the cold so she was wearing a grey coat, with a fin on the top and a fin at each side. “So is she meant to be a whale or a dolphin Bruce?” I enquired.

“She’s a shark!” Which made us laugh and his little friend wagged her stubby tail, I must get her name.


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