Vanuatu Bound

It’s been a long time between blog posts (I haven’t even looked at it myself in months) and scant communications generally from this end – sorry about that. Truth to tell, with a few notable exceptions (see below), it’s been a fairly disappointing first half to the year and I haven’t felt like sharing the pain. Well, ‘disappointing’ would be something of an understatement, actually…

It took Damian, working with York the electronics guru, from early December when we arrived, until early March to sort out and repair our electrical fry up: all 14 circuit boards, and their daughter boards and sister boards and basically their whole extended family had to be re-built, during which time, the boat was totally pulled apart. An expensive and frustrating exercise. Meanwhile, we were tied to the dock in Fairway Bay, unable to venture anywhere, which put paid to our summer season of exploring the waterways of NZ. On the positive side, Damian is now a reasonably competent electronics engineer…

The first ‘notable exception’ to the grief was in early February, celebrating our friend Lionel’s 60th birthday party, followed by seven of us hiking the Waikaremoana Great Walk (one of NZ’s nine Great Walks) – I’ll post a separate story on this on the blog, but here are some piccies.

It was sensational: a five day walk essentially circumnavigating the lake, passing through beech forests and silver fern groves shimmering with mist, staying in the Department of Conservation huts along the way. The huts were fairly basic and you got to sleep reeeeally close to a bunch of complete strangers (nose to nose) but we organised for water taxis to deliver our packs to us each evening for the first three days, which happily meant we could drink wine every night. The only way to ‘tramp’, really!

Back on Sel Citron, the electrical work finally concluded and we decided to jump in the car for a much-needed break from boat sh*te. We drove down to Wellington for a couple of days, visiting the breathtaking Gallipoli exhibition, where Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings) and his wizards have installed eight, 4x life-size figures, each telling a different Gallipoli story. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a trip to Wellington just for that.

We took the car ferry across to the South Island and spent a couple of weeks exploring around the top end of it. We walked the full length of the Abel Tasman Great Walk, which I’ve wanted to do for years, and would have done the Heaphy Track as well, but we bumped into Easter and all the huts were booked.

We were on a walking binge, so we also did a day of the Queen Charlotte Track, and a couple of walks around Nelson Lakes, including (not quite intentionally) a 35km day hike around the lake, backed up with five hours straight up a mountain the next day.

In the midst of all this, our car broke down (it wouldn’t be a Lemons adventure without something breaking down!) and we had to borrow a car from the mechanic: a beaten up old banger with no matching panels but a spoiler on the back. So we toured Inzud looking like Starsky and Hutch for a week, putting over 1000km on the unsuspecting mechanic’s jalopy. Meanwhile we were in Golden Bay for the worst floods in living memory (of course – we were cut off from the rest of the country for a day), and the garage where we’d left our car (on the other side of the mountain) was the worst hit area of all. When we arrived to pick it up, it was high and dry (luckily) but surrounded by sodden wrecks…

While we were in  Golden Bay, we did a day trip out to spectacular Wharariki Beach…

 

Anyway, we had a lovely time. Back on board, we headed up to Whangarei to haul out, ahead of a bottom paint and some scheduled warranty work. That all went as OK as yard work ever does. It was when we went back in the water that the fun really began…And guess what? Bart the mast builder was involved! I can’t even bring myself to write about it yet, it was just too much agony, but suffice to say, I hereby bequeath the word ‘Bart’ to the world as a new four-letter word. Please feel free to use it in whatever expletive form it works.

I’ll write more while we’re at sea, but right now I’ll have to keep you in suspense as I have to run: we have FINALLY (only six weeks later than intended) weighed anchor and we’re heading out to sea, bound for Vanuatu. Usual story: should take us about 6-7 days. Bruce the weather guru is predicting a less than lovely trip – a lot of strong head winds, which will be pretty unpleasant, but that’s what happens in the middle of winter.

Hopefully next time you hear from us we’ll be somewhere warm with palm trees out the porthole.

 

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