This is where we pay for the privilege of the cruising lifestyle. We made it back to Whangarei from Kawau Island enjoying a nice sail for most of the 40 miles. We anchored at the mouth of the Hatea River for two days getting up the courage to head back to town and what we knew would be non-stop work. We made it back and snagged a slip at a dock at the Town Basin Marina for a few days to get the boat ready for the haul-out. It seems that everything to do with boat repairs and improvements takes three times as long as it should. We got our new batteries delivered and after a few heartaches and many phone calls to make sure they were what was ordered (still not 100% certain they are!) they were installed. Phil from Doyle Sails came and looked at the mainsail again after our issues with the roller furling system during this past trip His explanation was satisfactory but he took it away once again to make a minor repair or something else that he saw. We are VERY impressed with the service we have been getting from Phil at Doyle Sails here in Whangarei. We had to re-send our newly repacked life-raft back to the place in Auckland as it arrived with some sloppy work (after costing us a fortune!) Michael got the outboard (Genny-san) into the repair shop for some major maintenance and a good check through. He does most of the outboard maintenance himself, but thought it would be good to give it a thorough look-over after 3 years of hard use. We did some major provisioning for being in the yard since the walk to stores is much further from the boatyard. We got the boom and vang off so the mast would be ready to be removed once we arrived at the boatyard dock.
On Wednesday (Feb 25), we got to the boatyard as scheduled and the crane arrived to take down the mast. It was expertly done with the help of Matthew, the rigger. Then Astarte was hauled out by Docklands 5 master travel lift operator Doug. The bottom was pressure washed and then she was put in her spot – just a space away from where we were two years ago! Must be our spot. It is a great location as we get a nice view if the river and pretty "fish hook" bridge and a good breeze. It is a bit further away from the bathroom though – a concession for the view.
The work has been non-stop: the mast has been re-wired with one small snafu; the in-mast roller furler is apart and getting new bearings; the new headstay is being made; a new radio antennae ordered and new cable for the radio ordered. Polishing is being done on all the rigging parts. The bottom has been sanded (a tough job because the yard no longer allows wet-sanding) and a few small blisters (cosmetic not structural) have been sanded, ground and prepped for fill and primer. The thru-hulls are being pulled and it took most of one day to get two of the skin fittings out! New hoses are being put in the sinks. Everyone in the yard is helpful and everyone pitches in to help one another with heavy lifting – well almost everyone anyone. Michael had a run-in over a barrel with one German lady. Barrels are much prized items in the yard!
The cockpit floor redo is another major project that is in the works. The entire pedestal with compass, steering and table had to be disassembled and removed. The bilge pump below decks had to be taken apart and that ended up being a major discovery. The builders who put it in must have missed the class on dissimilar metals. They connected copper elbows to the aluminum pump and when Michael went to remove it it crumbled in his hands. A new one had to be ordered. This was a good thing to find when we weren't up to our ankles in water in the hopes of this major "get out alive" pump working. Now, we await Steve to install the new floor.
In between all the boatwork and maintenance – life still must go on – only in much more difficult circumstances. We do most of our main meal cooking in the community room in the yard which does make it a bit easier. But going to the bathroom and showers means climbing up and down a 12 foot ladder and walking across the yard (not fun at 2 am). We haul our dirty dishes over to the community room each evening to wash. And the stores are a good hike away for supplies – though lots of people in the yard have cars so getting a ride is possible.
We did take a break on Sunday March 1 to celebrate Michael's 60th birthday. We invited a bunch of folks to a tradition NZ "Sausage Sizzle." We had about 25 folks enjoy beer, sausages and chocolate cake for his big day. He didn't take the day off though and worked on sanding the bottom most of the day. Not much of a 60th celebration. But it was fun to have friends here to celebrate with him.
Our guests Kathryn and Mark have made it back to the states after exploring some of the south island of NZ and seemed to have enjoyed their time in the southern hemisphere. We enjoyed their time with us.
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