A Cruisers Life is not all play
A Cruisers Life is not all Play!
‘Though you could be forgiven for thinking it is.
Back on Zoonie and attached to our second buoy we were soon disturbed by a returning whaling cat and its agitated skipper.
“Please move from the buoy now as I have to moor and there is another cat coming next to me with an injured man on board and I have to take him to the shore.” We had no idea this smaller buoy was part of the same fleet so we moved off straightaway and anchored near the muddy bank that creeps from the river mouth into the bay, ready to watch the comings and goings with great interest.
Rob busied himself shucking the two coconuts he had found and grating the firm, fresh white flesh with Ken’s grater until the smaller cat with an elderly couple on board arrived and tied up alongside the whale watcher. The man’s hand was bandaged around the thumb and index finger, he obviously needed medical attention. A few minutes later our ‘friend’ was ferrying the couple ashore.
Then the dog from the schooner started to bark his need or desire to go ashore and his mistress sped off in the dinghy with her lookout standing at the front. A few metres from the sandy/mud bank he leaped for the shore and started to chase the little waves breaking along the shore as if they were rabbits, barking as he went. He didn’t stop for ages, a self-exercising dog full with joie de vivre.
Then Baba and Nora arrived and picked up a little buoy near the pines. We went to visit them the next morning and Nora was in a state of distress because they same guy who had moved us off his buoy the day before had approached them to do the same and miscalculated his speed and the wind, ramming hard into the brand new dinghy that Baba had hauled up on a halyard the night before. There had been a loud ‘crunch’, a lot of aggression and no apology. We discussed the use of Nora’s ‘offshore language’ and decided it was quite justified even in this harbour location. I’d have been pretty mad too.
We convinced them that where we were was good holding in sand and mud, so instead of abandoning the bay completely they dropped their hook near us. Later Baba came for a chat after their trip to Prony Village and that’s when he told us about the whale survey.
Before we left Noumea we decided this little cruise would also be our time to clean Zoonie’s cupboards out for three reasons. First to combine cleaning and sorting them with checking for bugs that could make our clearing in to Australia a long and expensive affair. Second because it is Springtime and third because they could do with it. You would not think that an internal job like cleaning out the galley cupboards would also facilitate re-bedding four stanchions that hold the guide wires around Zoonie and have been leaking in heavy seas and rain causing mildew to form in the cupboards and rust on anything metal. They are bolted through the side-decks into the cupboards underneath so by emptying the contents I had access to the bolts on the inside and could hold the nuts still while Rob screwed the bolts down from outside having re-bedded the stanchion base onto disgusting sticky black stuff that oozed all over my fingers until I found some medical gloves I had used while acting as Rob’s nurse when he was on antibiotics through his PIC line. Job done.
One by one all the cupboards and storage spaces were emptied and cleaned and the paint touched up in places and not a bug was found, nor any revealing little piles of freshly chewed and spat out wood, such as borers make.
Rob busied himself with changing the engine and gear box oil and all filters, discovering in the process that the gear box dip stick had snapped off its threaded part (hopefully we will be able to replace it is Aussie, it doesn’t leak when the engine is running) and finally he checked the belt tensions. All done for another 250 hours; I wonder where we will be then!
After lunch one day we moved on up to the Baie de Carenage along with Baba and Nora on Tutkum, Marina and Diego on Mecce Troy (Italian. Catch me if you can) and Wetherley from the UK many years ago and now resident in Opua, NZ.
You may know the term careen, it means to turn a ship on its side to repair and clean it. This bay is ideal as there are no coral heads and the rocky reefs are clearly avoidable. Where the Carenage River and the Blue River meet just upriver from us is a vast muddy/sandy area where a number of ships could be beached at the same time. Zoonie’s internal carenage continued interspersed with explorations of this colourful and fascinating area.
The first of which I took by myself, before sunrise and at a completely still time of day, rowing the tender up towards where the rivers meet, the old carenage bank to the right behind the tree leaves on pic number 20436. Above me the perfect cobalt blue of the sky was broken by a helicopter trailing one of the counter-balance frames they use when a wind turbine has to be lowered and looked at. Two bladed turbines are used here as they can be easily lowered before cyclones and for maintenance and repair. We woke up one morning to see a turbine sliding down gently and under perfect control to the ground. It was back up and working the next day.
Mangroves hugged the rocky shore and the tidal range is clearly marked by the red muddy deposit. In the shot of the submerged branch you can see how smooth and silty the bottom is, an ideal short term resting place for a wooden hull in days past. A pile of what looked like rocks from a distance turned out to be the old thermal water baths where work weary folk could relax and clean up. They are built on a rocky reef around the rising warm water and nearby the dinghy floated over another reef with warm water bubbles and rock oysters and little black fish were living and thriving in the warmth.