Beware the Cut of the Jib

Wed 26 Dec 2018 20:26

Beware the Cut of the Jib

And a Soggy Moggy

A lot has happened since we first arrived back at Marsden Cove (35’49.85S 174’28.43E) on the 22nd October, all of two months ago and I have written about our activities up ‘til Tauranga in our Christmas Message as you know.

So before the big day tomorrow and before we fly off to Aussie or ‘Straya’ as the name is mockingly pronounced around here may I bring you right up to date?

On my way back to Zoonie late evening after our supper with Neville and Sharon I was nearing the locked gate to our pontoon when I heard a loud, uncontrolled splash in the river water to my right. It was quite dark so when I saw a very skinny and shocked creature emerge up the rocky wall, for a split second I wondered what it was before realising, as he shook each leg in turn, that this little cat must have completely misjudged the situation when expediting its plan to do whatever it was, maybe catch a fish or a rat or perhaps walk across the river?

The next morning Rob and I drove in to town to collect the old genoa so we could strip it of all useful material including the not too old blue sunstrip, for which we had numerous little jobs planned. Phil was busy packing up a sail when we arrived and pointed to the two bags containing our sails he had stored. “I haven’t done the acrylic strip on the light weather sail yet,” he commented so when we opened one of the sail bags and saw an acrylic blue strip on the sail we assumed it was the old genoa that we wanted to cannibalise to which he had attached the strip before we went up to Fiji.

Back on board we set about cutting through the stitches on the blue sunbrella UV strip. Progress was good with each of us working from either end. Suddenly Rob noticed the sail material seams were single stitched, as on the light weather genoa Phil had said he hadn’t reinforced yet.

We had been undoing the work not on the old genoa but our light weather one! Thank goodness we hadn’t started to cut up the sail material and shared it around the marina. Sheepishly we returned the sail to Phil and explained we had interpreted his comment literally and thus took what we thought was the old sail. He obviously took the error on his part as he didn’t charge us for having to sew the sunbrella strip and the protective acrylic strip back on for us. The acrylic strip takes the chafe as the foot of the sail rubs on the pulpit bar.

The reclaimed fabric from the old genoa has made a new bag for the long rescue line and a bag for the Hydrovane once the ‘vane’ part has been stored away. We re-arranged the storm jib sail bag by installing a zip down the front so the sail can be stowed in it while attached to the removeable inner forestay ready for hoisting. I also created a cushion cover in Fiji style fabric and put a bought cushion inside it and finished it with white rope edging as you can see in the picture. I can tell you about this now because I will send this blog after Christmas and it was Jeannie and Merv’s Christmas present.

All this sewing took place after Rob solved the problem of why the Pffaf Sewing Machine kept cutting its own thread! Muggins here had put the needle in the wrong way around! Hmmm.

The time has been flying by here. Someone ran off with last Monday and because we entertained Vandy and Eric on board on a Thursday and were entertained up at Max and Shirley’s fine home overlooking the river and Limestone Island on the Friday the two days of the weekend felt like a bonus.

I sent a package of 55 photos off to Mere and Jone on Fulanga and as I thought it would take it six weeks at least to get there with the once monthly delivery to the island and all, I emailed Mere to tell her they were on their way. I heard back from her yesterday and she is a very happy bunny at the moment because she is in Suva with her daughter for Christmas. It is 18 months since she last saw her young daughter who is at secondary school and living with Mere’s sister! Jone has been cleared of heart disease by a thorough check up in Suva after a visiting doctor to the island thought he might have a problem. So it’s all good there.

I am sitting typing this in Jeannie’s late mum Alaine’s home. It is pouring with rain and the low pressure system that has anchored itself over the north island is going to remain stationary until Thursday when we fly to Sydney. I feel so sorry for families as this is their summer holiday and they usually shoot off en masse to the coast and the hills for some R & R.

Also our cruising friends who have gone out to anchor for Christmas. Well if they don’t come back in to civilisation they will have a cosy time onboard. But we cannot complain because we have just had a lengthy period of beautiful weather. When Jeannie and Merv heard we were lifting Zoonie onto the hard for our four month absence they offered us a comfy land base, bless them.

We were at the Wednesday Cruisers Drinks evening on the Barge Inn the other evening when Julia and Stuart from a lovely traditional yacht called Desiderata, Desi for short, invited us and everyone else to her 60th Birthday Party at the Barge last Monday.

Scotland the Brave goes Placidly Down Under

We were promised drinks, food and a few surprises and the threesome took place on a beautiful warm sunny and peaceful evening. Julia is from Scotland and I can tell you that it is not only on the celebration of Robby Burn’s Birthday that the patriotic celebration of dressing the Haggis takes place. It took place on Julia’s celebration too.

Two very smart Scotsmen from Waipu (that very Scottish town south of here where we attended the Jan 1st Highland Games two years ago) in full highland dress appeared from Desi and made their way slowly up the ramp towards us astonished and delighted guests. The fore Highlander played his bagpipes and the rear Highlander carried the haggis to the gathered group on the veranda. After dressing it with Robby’s poem he stabbed it with his dirk and served a taste on oat biscuits to the guests. My Robby said it was warm and a little like pate and very pleasant.

Then the piper went on to the pontoon and played on while Julia did a fine Highland Fling on bare feet, lifting hem on her colourful tent dress revealing shapely legs and pretty black panties. What a dancer!

And that was not all!

A clanging bell was heard coming briskly up river to reveal Father Christmas aboard a sporty blue rib announcing his arrival in the same way as Waipapa, the tripper boat we took to Limestone Island with Gail and Tony way back, remember?

He took up position on a chair on the pontoon and the party children were led down the ramp to have a chat with him and delve into a box of pressies.

Julia had given a budget to a local catering company and they set to and produced a wonderful array of miniature portions of all kinds of savouries and sweets. Mini cheese wedges and biscuits, cherry tomatoes, tiny sticks of celery, savoury and chocolate pretzels and fairy cakes that would be perfect birthday cakes for dolls and much more all decoratively laid out with dried cranberries and almonds cast over it all like pebbles on sand.

Stuart tried to convince us he had so much wine in the bilge he needed to get rid of but it appeared we were being served with locally bought wines by a charming team of youngsters and maybe his liquid ballast is still intact.

We chatted for a while with Brian who originates from the Cook Islands and was there with his son. I walked with his son along the pontoon where Zoonie was moored after her near sinking. On this evening I wanted to show this young lad the boats all decked out ready for the annual Best Christmas Dressed Boat Competition.

From the photos which do you like best, Desi with her grey ribbons to match the boom cover, Santa’s empty sleigh and his team dashing up the boom and Santa himself in the hot air balloon in front of the mast; Chilled out Father Christmas languishing on the end of the boom next door or Santa in his train revolving around the coach roof aboard Rewa, the beautiful yacht owned and skippered by David (aka Father Christmas on the evening)? Personally my vote goes to the little train which we all thought must be solar powered but is in fact costing FC more in total for the four batteries it uses daily than his monthly electricity bill! Worth it though as the pretty little train chugs around its little track on the boat.

The music transformed from bagpipes to disco and then to a group consisting Gordon on guitar, and his friends on keyboard and solo voice. We had a curfew, 10.00pm and the security guards were hovering closely to make sure this deadline was respected in this council owned and run marina. We stood on the pontoon by Desi, watched the space station cross a clear ink blue sky and chatted with Brian and a few others. He became tearful and commented “Us islanders live in fear, but when you cruisers visit you bring us hope,” I hoped it was just the booze talking but he had a much bigger story to tell. Another time maybe.

Betsy and I had arranged to climb to the Parihaka lookout the next morning but as we didn’t get to bed until nearly midnight, real midnight not cruisers’ midnight of 10.00pm, I wondered if either one of us would make the allotted time of 6.30am while it is still cool, before the day hots up you understand.

Delighted was I to see Betsy cranking on her walking boots in the cockpit of Alcyone, across the pontoon and three boats down from us. We had a lovely cool wander upwards, with plenty of female stops to admire the trees, photograph a giant black snail in its shell and worry about two disturbingly brown kauri saplings. I say female stops because neither of our men would want to keep stopping and the saplings were a worry as New Zealand’s few remaining kauris are under attack from Kauri Dieback, a disease that kills them.

Soon after we returned Phil arrived for Zoonie’s new genoa fitting, which went very quickly and crackly. The day was calm so we didn’t bother to fit the sheets, just held the clew and admired the view and then folded it carefully, bagged and stowed it with the re-repaired light weather genoa(!) Job done.

We were beginning to run out of jobs to do which is as satisfying as it is worrying that we have forgotten something.

At the library, using the pleasant ambience, peace and free wifi we did a few IT jobs including booking an Airbnb in Sydney as Alison and Randall’s plans have changed. Hopefully we will see plenty of them along with their visiting family. We were lucky (I hope, as time will tell) in finding a place very close to Hyde Park and the CBD, so we can walk plenty to explore.

In the afternoon we went to tea at Helen and Rod’s home near the Whangarei Falls. It was lovely to see them both and Leo the Collie dog and to meet Helen’s lifelong friend Christine, but Rod’s Alzheimer’s is taking firm hold and he left us for a rest mid-afternoon, re-appearing just before we left.

Zoonie is High and Dry

Rob went off to a boy’s building date with Merv, I think they were installing a state of the art loo this time with an array of cockpit controls for different permutations of a bidet wash. Do you know where the term Bumf comes from? The piles of written orders in First World War time were treated with a degree of contempt and relegated to toilet tissue, Bum files!

While I was enjoying a Turkish lunch with some cruising ladies the tide was rising until, late afternoon, we were able to cast off in a lull in the fresh wind that presaged an unwanted change in the clement weather and motored the short distance down river with two four man canoes and a tinny complete with dog paced themselves alongside us.

We anchored within the rectangular harbour of Port Whangarei on the outer limits of the town and just a short dinghy ride as the Tui flies to both Max and Shirley’s hillside home and the airport that will soon facilitate our departure.

The showers cleared to reveal a beautiful vista of hills and river, countryside and shipworks. It was bliss to be at anchor again, even if it was only for one night.

Next morning, at 8.00am sharp boatyard Manager Jimmy, hoist driver John and backstop Sean drove the mighty hoist out ready to collect and lift Zoonie. They are a new team, Jimmy arrived from Auckland only a month ago after the previous Manager was left a fortune and decided he had better things to do than work. The yard is not busy and it’s possibly partly because of the new stringent environmental rules for all cruisers that is putting foreign visitors off. This was the first we had heard of them, from Jimmy. Anti-fouling once a year and wash off every 6 months and before moving to another area.

Zoonie’s hull and all the other yachts hulls have been checked by divers, twice without reference to us, once in Marsden and again in the Town Basin. They are looking for the Mediterranean Fan Worm which is brought in by the big ships and is now all over the walls and pontoons underwater at Marsden.

Still she was pretty clean when John aimed the high pressure hose at her and upped the pressure to get the few barnacles off, saving us the job. There are a few more raised pimples around the old waterline, but Jeannie says they may not be osmosis. We’re not too bothered anyway.

Zoonie is now sitting just outside a massive hanger on the leeward side of any marauding cyclone and next to two other yachts and with a big tug boat a few metres the other way, so we are happy she will be safe. We keep going back to her from the house though, for this and that, she’s hard to leave.






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