Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hiking and Hitch-hiking

The easterlies were predicted to get stronger, so we motored across the way from Smokehouse Bay to Kaiarara Bay. We made it past a mussel farm (floats with strings of mussels hanging) into a well-protected bay. The hills protect from an east wind and the holding is in about 9 meters of water over a muddy bottom. We can attest to the stickiness of mud after a dinghy adventure ashore.

After settling into our new spot, we went ashore for a nice hike with the "Gypsea Hearts" - having to pull the dinghy through the mud and throwing out the anchor with the hopes that the tide would come in by the time we returned. We had a great walk through a Kauri forest and saw some pretty birds and interesting flora. There were lots of mud slides along the path that had been recently repaired. Many tracks on Great Barrier Island have been closed down since a major storm in June 2014 caused all types of land slides and destruction on the trails and roadways. We went up to one of the DOC (Dept. of Conservation) huts and across a cable suspension bridge. Upon our return, we all had a good laugh when Sandy said, "Good thing you put out that anchor Rankin." The tide had continued to go out and now the dinghy was even further up in the mud! We decided we could sit and wait awhile before we had to wade out in the stuff. We waited about an hour and the water came in just enough that we thought we'd give it a shot. The slimy, mucky stuff definitely would hold an was a chore walking through it and dragging the dinghy into deeper water.

The next day, Rankin and Sandy had arranged for a rental car so we could all go on a motor tour of the island. They had done it a previous year and enjoyed it – so we thought it would be fun. Plus it was predicted to be a rainy and cloudy day – not good for hiking on muddy trails. We dinghied across to the next bay – Fitzroy Harbour, one of the larger towns on the island and the next bay over from where we both were anchored. Luckily we made it between showers for the dinghy ride. We got the car delivered and Rankin who gets the driving on the left thing, would be the designated driver.

The gas tank was pretty low and the only place to get fuel on the island was on the southern end of the island in Tryphena. All the roads (or really road) is very curvy and narrow. Thank goodness there isn't much traffic on the island with its 800 or so year-round inhabitants. We headed south. After fueling the car and ourselves up we decided to continue all the way south on a road called Cape Barrier. We went until we could go no further and started to head back. It was a rainy day and as mentioned earlier, the roads aren't exactly straight nor wide!

Around one corner came a bright red rural postal car – and we were headed in the opposite direction. Luckily Rankin is good at this left hand drive thing – so he didn't swerve into the postal car, but went to the left....only the road seemed to run out and the culvert gave way. Slowly the car slid off the road and down the embankment. Ooops. Thank goodness for the lush growth along the road that kept the car from sliding further down the embankment. The postman, Tane, came to lend a hand helping to get the doors open and us out of the vehicle – all the while Rankin keeping his foot strongly on the brake. This seems to be a common occurrence on these roads and all the locals knew exactly what to do. We all got safely out of the car and the driven back to the "gas pump/store" by the postman (with a few mailboxes filled along the way.)

We then waited there for what seemed like hours as the rental company was trying to find one of the two trucks on the island that could pull the car out. After awhile, it was determined that they couldn't get the car until the next day. The only way back for us was either a ride for $140 or our thumbs. We took our chances on the kindness of Kiwis and our thumbs. Because there were four of us though, the first person to stop could only take two – so the "ladies" went first. Sure enough over the next few hours and about five rides each – the two sets of hitchhikers made it back to Port Fitzroy. The last ride had all four of us in a very comfortable van!

It ended up being a sightseeing day filled with a bit more adventure than we anticipated but it all ended up okay. Nobody was hurt. We got back before dark. We saw a lot of the island. And today when the van was pulled out – there was no major damage and it could be driven. We met a lot of very interesting folks along the way and found that the Kiwis are really truly kind people.

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Smokehouse Bay, Great Barrier Island

Ah! Astarte is hanging on the anchor in Smokehouse Bay gently rolling in the breeze (or gusty wind depending on the time of day). We left the river out of the Whangarei area on Friday morning, bright and early and motor-sailed the 48 miles to Great Barrier Island. We arrived into the Bay mid-afternoon where there were about eight boats anchored including our friends Sandy and Rankin on "Gypsea Heart." They had been cruising around the Harauki Gulf and the Mercury Islands for awhile so it was good to see them. We were delivering some much needed supplies for them – crisps (potato chips) and peanuts!

We found a nice spot and dropped the hook in about 10 meters of water and settled in. It was good to be at anchor again. A trough or ridge or something was passing over the North Island so the weather was quite changeable – sunny and bright blue skies one hour and cloudy, rainy and gusty the next. But the holding is good here and on day one – so was the direction. The wind has shifted more to the easterly quadrant so we are on a lee shore – but at least there is no longer wind warnings – and the winds should die as the week goes on.

We did some major cleaning aboard – getting rid of the yard dust below decks with wipe downs. We also put up some better offshore "bookshelf security" to keep the books on the shelf in rough seas. This looks much better than our styrofoam pads we'd stick in front of the books.

We enjoyed two nice evenings with the Gypseas – one to enjoy a tasty fish they had caught. We also got to shore yesterday for a short walkabout – but the trails were a bit muddy after the rain. Michael and Rankin however made it further than Barbara. Met a few of the "locals" who seem to call the Bay home aboard their boats. We are the "youngsters" here as most of the other boaters are in their 70's. One boat pulled up to the "grid" - a set of pilings that you can tie your boat up against and wait for the tide to go out. You are left standing on your keel against the pilings and can clean your bottom of the slime and barnacles. He was cleaning the bottom with a scraper attached to a PVC pipe and scraping them off. The tide comes back in and you can undo the ties and get out again. Much easier than swimming or diving in the cold water to clean the bottom holding your breathe (or with a tank). Luckily for us, we have a very clean bottom and don't have to do that for awhile!

Today is hot shower day! Smokehouse Bay has a wood heated water heater and bathtub on shore where you can take a hot shower if you cut the wood! They also have laundry tubs with ringers so we'll get a small load of wash done as well and hang it on the clothesline provided. This is a great place!

It sure is nice to be out of the yard, have a lot of work behind us and in a really lovely place. Ah!

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Sunday, April 12, 2015

(no subject)

We are back in the water after six weeks in the Docklands 5 boatyard. We highly recommend that yard – a great place to get work done. We spent the weekend in the "sling" to get the last of the centerboard painted and use up the last of the bottom paint. We prepped for getting "splashed" on Monday morning (today) by clearing out all the lockers where new thru-hulls were installed so a quick inspection could be made once in the water. Glad to say, no leaks and no drips! Had a small issue getting the big engine started after sitting unused for six weeks – will have to check that out. We made it down river – but got caught in a nasty squall just as we were about to make the turn into Marsden Cove. Saw 35-40 knots of wind and some heavy rain. We decided with the heavy winds and rain for the next few days and being tired from the yard, we would go to the marina for a few nights and get the last of the boat cleaned and put back together. Unfortunately the wind is predicted to be in the 25-35 knot range for a few days so getting Michael up the mast and the sails back on won't be happening. We still have plenty of putting things away and cleaning up below catching up on some rest is in order as well.
So what did we do for six weeks....

Mast down and new electrical wire, new coaxial cable and a new antennae installed.
New head stay put on.
Head sail furler serviced.
Mainsail furler serviced (new bearings at mast head installed)
All rigging inspected and stainless fittings hand polished.
Old thru hulls removed (not an easy task as several required being "sawed" out.)
New thru hulls installed.
Old cockpit floor removed (this required taking off the pedestal, table, compass, steering, throttle, bilge pump etc.)
Bilge pump crumbles thanks to aluminum and copper corrosion (engineer must have skipped the class on dissimilar metals). New bilge pump ordered, received.
Binnacle sanded and prepped for painting with new floor.
New cockpit floor installed.
Binnacle/pedestal re-installed.
New bilge pump installed (and because the hole on floor was drilled backwards – more work than it should have been!)
New engine room insulation installed (see above about backwards hole!)
Steering re-installed and checked out.
Throttle and engine connections re-installed.
Stainless polishing.
Hull buffed.
Hull waxed.
Four coats of bottom paint applied (all prep- taping, priming etc.) Bottom paint peels and areas have to be treated.
Out of water survey done.
Cockpit table painted.
Grate put into galley door for refrigeration compressor ventilation.
Galley doors varnished.
Mast put back up and wires reconnected below decks. Several wires changed.
Chain plate thru deck seals re-caulked.
New pactor modem ordered, received and installed – but one cord too short so delicate soldering completed to extend cord.
New wifi "bullet" antennae purchased, installed.
New sink hose installed in both heads (lots of bad language spewed).
Anchor chain dropped and re-marked and replaced.
Anchor rollers replaced.
Prop serviced and re-greased.
Prop and shaft treated with "Prop Speed."
New zincs installed and a new one added to the shaft.
Wheels bought and mounted on the new dinghy. Yet to be tested!!
Ditch bag inspected and old flares removed – new flares purchased.
Life raft inspected and repacked (then re-sent to re-packer for further work).
Hundreds of trips to "All Marine" Chandlers and other shops in town for paint, screws, fittings, hoses, bolts etc.
Hundreds of trips up and down a twelve step ladder made day and night.
Plus we had all the daily cooking, shopping, cleaning, laundry etc to get done – under more difficult conditions (except the laundry!).

We met some very cool people in the yard and got to know two couples who we really enjoyed spending time with and who were most helpful with lifts into town – Walter and Estelle on a beautiful junk rig boat "Pacific Spray" and Barbara and Dennis aboard a classic Shannon, "Landfall."
We spent a fortune and the new Zealand economy is happy! It was time to pay for the great six years of hopefully we can enjoy a little cruising time with "Astarte" looking quite spiffy.
Now time for a nap!

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Friday, April 3, 2015

Still Ground Bound

We had hoped to be back in the water by Easter – but that didn't happen. Easter weekend is big in New Zealand – it is sort of their last summer fling before Fall sets in. They take a four day weekend so most businesses are closed – including the yard. The travel lift sits idle and it is pretty quiet in the yard today (Good Friday). The "yard community" are still here and many are still working diligently on their boats. The Italian is atop his mast yelling orders in Italian down to the foredeck...amazing he can use his hands even while at the top of the mast! The Swiss are scraping the bottom of their keel making an ungodly screeching noise. The big British aluminum boat (that had a patched hole because it hit an iceberg in the Antarctic) came to borrow some sand paper not realizing all the stores would be closed today. The Kiwi next to us is putting on another coat of bottom paint. The Americans on the Shannon are still varnishing the toe rail.

Work goes on here on Astarte as well. Michael completed buffing the entire hull – and now is back at it . . . waxing. He will have very sore arms when this is all done but boy does it look good. Barbara worked on hand buffing the water line and got half the boat done. We're trying to get the old "Astarte" name off (what takes adhesive off the gel coat?) so we can put the new one on (still "Astarte" as designed by good friend Tim Strong). We now have three coats of bottom paint on the boat and will be in the slings next weekend to get the centerboard done. The list of projects is getting smaller and lots of things are completed. We keep adding to the list – so there is no rest here. Can't wait to get in the water again to get some rest.

Did manage a fun evening out last night with some friends that were part of the "class of 2012" (the year we all crossed the Pacifc together.) Got a lift in with Sue and Bob on Mawari who we hadn't seen in a few months. Went out for "two fer" burgers and met up with Bob and Anne on "Charisma" and Ken and Beth on "Eagle's Wing." It was a very fun social evening catching up with everyone's activities. Many had just returned from weeks in the South Island and that has made us know we have to get there at some point.

Doing this log entry has gotten me out of sanding the cockpit table...but better get on to that project!

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