Thirteen days at Docklands 5 Boatyard in Whangarei, New Zealand got Astarte all spiffed up. She has several new coats of bottom paint (Hempel), (which meant sanding it all first and than putting on three full coats plus a four in a few spots!) a newly cleaned and waxed hull, thru-hulls cleaned, painted and maintained, centerboard checked out and greased, rudder determined not to have a problem, new mirrors to replace the old (and we do look better!), decks cleaned, cockpit table re-painted, dinghy patches put on, bilges de-oiled and oil issue to be tracked later, and salon table and interior steps completely stripped and re-varnished and ten cabinet doors newly varnished. And we did all the work, except pressure washing the bottom, ourselves! And we are tired but feel good about accomplishing so much ourselves. It also saved a lot of money doing all the work ourselves.
Besides the work, living aboard "on the hard" is difficult. You have to climb up and down a steep ladder to go to the bathroom, do your dishes, shower, do laundry, and get in and out of the boat for all your projects. Because we thought we had a rudder issue, we were raised several additional feet on the stands in case we had to remove the rudder. So that made the climb that much more difficult. Carrying the dishes, laundry and varnishing projects and all the paint and supplies up and down the ladder was quite a work-out. We just considered it part of the Astarte weight loss program. Step training times ten!
The yard is also in an industrial area so there were no quick restaurants or shops near-by. So we had to do all our own cooking and cleaning up as a result...but that also saved us some money. Michael walked his shoe tread off hunting down bits and pieces to try to fix the hot water heater (no luck) and pick up paint, varnish, sandpaper, filters, dinghy repair glue etc. Barbara took a few hikes to the grocery store. Once to surprise Michael with a birthday event. She got help from Doug in the yard to get some beer and she bought sausages and snacks for a Friday Night (March 1st) Sausage Sizzle – a traditional NZ feast! She invited folks working in the yard and it was a fun birthday evening.
There were lots of birthdays to celebrate while here. Matt on "Superted V" had one as well (March 4th) and we made up a big pot roast dinner to share with him and Jean as well as Stefan and Sue from "Charlotte of Lymington." Stefan's birthday was Tuesday, March 5th. So lots of March babies. The yard has a nice area for cooking with two barbeques and a full kitchen that anyone can use. We took full advantage of it several nights (including the pot roast dinner for six). The fun part of the kitchen was also meeting a few of the local fishermen who have their boats in the yard. "Crash" was quite interesting though a tad difficult to understand with a strong NZ accent and "Keith Richards" slur. He and Ron (another boater in the yard and expert diver and fisherman) provided lots of advice on local fishing.
We did enjoy dinner out one night in town as we had won a gift certificate at a Whangarei Marine Promotions event so we thought we'd use it. It was a $50 certificate but like most things in NZ – it was a spendier establishment so we had to throw in additional dollars for our night out. It was fun though as we met our friends Bob and Anne from Charisma and got to celebrate their engagement!
A skin cancer check-up was also in order as there is a good clinic here. It wasn't inexpensive, but it was certainly worth doing after four years in the tropics. Several spots got "frozen" off and Mchael had "brain freeze" by the time he was done. But all is good and we have to be even better with hats and sunscreen!
Astarte spent the last night "in the sling" so we could get the centerboard dropped and painted. Then Doug launched us early Tuesday morning – though we were concerned the water was too low. But Doug knows his stuff! As we left the sling and headed down river, the engine temperature started to go up quickly. We dropped the anchor, shut off the engine and Michael went in search of the problem. All the thru-hulls were open, the strainer was clean and water was getting to the engine. It was an impeller issue that Michael went on to replace and we were back underway. The good news about the stop was that we were in an easy place to drop the anchor and it allowed the tide to come in a bit more as were heading through some very shallow areas with less than five feet under the keel.
We anchored near the mouth of the river in a lovely bay. The plan is to stay here a few days and get things put away and cleaned up from the yard. The yard is so dusty and dirty – the interior of the boat is a mess. Plus we still have lots to store and re-organize. It rained quite hard last night after we were nicely anchored and had a hamburger and salad dinner. It also got quite windy as the front passed overhead. But we held good and it was nice to be back "on the hook." The rain was nice to wash off the decks more and give the solar panels and rigging a good washing after the yard dirt.
It was a successful maintenance stop and satisfying. It was nice to have our friends Jean and Matt in the yard for some of the time. We wish them good luck with their bottom paint job re-do. Now, we get to take a few days to do small put-away and cleaning projects, nap a bit, take a trek in the park and then head off for more exploring.
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