Friday, December 9, 2016

Work Aboard Astarte

There was little rest after the passage from Fiji to New Zealand. We got started immediately on several major boat projects. The reason we are still in Opua in the Bay of Islands is to get our galley and refrigeration system redone. We had it all arranged, or so we thought, in Whangarei where we like to "headquarter" in NZ, but the carpenter we had organized in advance decided he couldn't do the job. That sent us scrambling to find a new woodworker.

Visiting with another boat while in Fiji, we heard about Craig in Opua and contacted him while still in Fiji. He agreed to do the galley and if we could get to NZ before December, he said he could squeeze it in before they close for the Christmas holidays. We have been working with one of his staff, Paul, who has been working hard and doing great work.

The project has involved removing the old counter tops (which also means wooden fiddles and trim). Then we tore into the old refrigeration/freezer box. Unfortunately, we couldn't get it out without cutting it. We had hoped to save the old box and reinstall after new insulation. But now we had to build a new box. That is being done out of stainless (quicker than fiberglass). Again, luck was smiling on us as Craig had a good stainless guy that could get it done within the time frame. It added a few thousand to the cost though (ouch).

We have been doing as much of the work ourselves as we can. Paul and Craig have been good about letting us do that – and it is saving work hours as two parties are working at the same time. Michael removed all the old insulation and we are glad we took on this project this year. The insulation was sopping wet and would have started to destroy the wood in the galley. We caught it just in time. The space then got re-epoxied and Michael put a barrier coat to seal the area. We selected new laminate for the counter tops, bought a new faucet for the sink, polished the old stainless sinks to a shine and Michael did all the plumbing.

We are doing all the sanding and varnishing of the trim pieces ourselves. We are now just waiting for the new stainless box to be done so we can check fit before installing the insulation, box, and then have a refrigeration person on stand-by to reinstall the evaporator plate and add refrigerant and test the unit.

Then of course, massive cleaning after all the work aboard.

As this project is in progress, some rigging work is also taking place. We had a crack in a piece of plastic on the top of our brand new head sail furler. Of course the bit had to be ordered from Sweden...and there is discussion as to who is paying for the labor to repair the piece. It is less than six months we feel it should be under warranty. Plus, the main sail furler has had a "thump" as we roll the sail in or out. We discovered the cause with the help of Rob from NSR, and of course, the part needed is no longer made (the joys of older boats!) So Rob had a new part manufactured that should work. It will hopefully be installed this week. We will then put the boom back on, the sail back on and hope that problem is also solved.

We finally have an AIS transponder as well. We got a used one from our friend Philip on "Bluebie" who replaced it with a newer model. Michael had to figure out how to get the information in the box changed and got great help from West Marine in the States and SRT Marine in Britain with the information and software needed to accomplish this. It still needs to be installed and things like antennas and splitters still need to be purchased.

New chain has also been ordered. We last replaced it in Panama in 2011 (thanks to our friend Tom) and it had served us well. Chain in salt water for about eight months a year (at least) does get mighty rusty – and it is a critical piece of safety gear. While in a marina, it is easiest to get it installed. So we pulled the trigger on that purchase as well.

It doesn't feel much like Christmas aboard Astarte. Usually at this time, the oven is running nonstop with Christmas cookies of many varieties baking. But with the galley in shambles, there is no baking going on. Instead of baking we are sanding, varnishing, polishing, deconstructing, reconstructing, buying bits and pieces, plumbing, running wires, taking down sails and booms, checking steering cables, and a multitude of other festive events! The goal is to be done by Christmas so we can be sitting at some idyllic anchorage enjoying Christmas and New Years before heading to Whangarei for the next big project – a haul out to deal with the underside of the boat!

Here's a bit of financial advice – invest in New Zealand. We are certainly supporting the economy!
At 12/9/2016 10:31 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 35°18.94'S 174°07.22'E

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