A Short Sojourn in Sydney and Sussex

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Sydney sojourn-8340We left Sel Citron tucked into a marina berth in Gulf Harbour, New Zealand in early February and headed back to Sydney, ostensibly en route to Fort Lauderdale, but also to catch up with friends, family… and so that Damian could get a nose job.

He was thinking something pert and upturned, but the doctor wasn’t up for it. In fact, it was more about function than form: he has had a deviated septum forever, which causes him all sorts of trouble – like, he can’t breathe. He’s been putting off the op for a couple of years, but it was time…

So he had the op – and it all went well – and he went into hibernation for a week as he felt too crappy to see anyone (thanks, Tanya and Mick, for the offer of a recuperation ‘cave’ and apologies to everyone he didn’t get to see!) while I ran around seeing everyone I could and spending some time with my family (thanks Hunters for use of your front room!).

Damian’s Dad lives in West Sussex and turns 80 in June. It’s not likely he’ll be able to get out to Sel Citron, so as a surprise, Damian flew to the UK and turned up in time for dinner. He then took Rob (his Dad) on a boys’ road trip to the south of France, to the Catana factory, where Sel Citron was built. They were able to look over a sister ship to Sel Citron (only 18 were built, so it was a fortunate coincidence that one was there on the dock) and see the new Catana 59 and do a factory tour.

They had a great time and, while in England, Damian also got to spend time with the rest of his family and to meet his new nephew, Harry, who was born in January. (Congratulations Bex and Karl!).

He then flew on to Florida and spent a weekend with his old work mate, Gary and his wife, Lynie.

Meanwhile, I did my own, solo road trip up to Queensland, arriving in time for floods – and a touch of déjà vu – to go and play with my cuzzy-bros and besties up there – thanks to Lee and Bill; Al and Ian; Nod and Ray and my ‘children’; Chrissie and Pete; Jules and Angelika; the Downey clan; and Max and Judie for putting me up and putting up with me!

I drove back to SYD for a last few frenzied days (thanks Pete and Gwyn, and Elaine, hostess with the mostess, for my sleepovers) then jumped on a plane and met Damian in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for the next adventure…

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Tackling the Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Fairway Bay, Gulf Harbour

By: Kerry

Tongariro Crossing1-4480Hiking (or ‘tramping’) in New Zealand is primarily associated with the famous trails of the South Island. But right in the centre of the North Island, three hours drive south of Auckland, is a region of active volcanoes that provides the dramatic setting for New Zealand’s best one-day hike: the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

The rocky and often steep track traverses active volcanic craters, rises to nearly 2000 metres and skirts surreally-hued crater lakes that shimmer with steam – and freeze over in winter.  The alpine weather can change in minutes from brilliant sunshine to icy sleet and there are no supplies available en route. It can be completed in a day, but Lonely Planet describes it as ‘exhausting’.

We drove down from Auckland and met up with the Kiapas and Maunies in the little village of National Park, where we’d booked a cottage for three nights to give us some flexibility with the weather: you really don’t want to tackle Tongariro in crappy weather.

The Tongariro National Park encompasses three active volcanoes that lie along the string of volcanoes ridging the North Island’s Central Plateau. The highest is Mt Ruapehu, at 2797 metres. On our first morning, Ruapehu was invisible in thick cloud: with a better forecast for the following day, we went mountain biking rather than hike the Crossing in freezing fog.

There’s no cost to do the walk – the trail, boardwalks, signage and amenities are immaculately maintained by the Department of Conservation – which in part explains why up to 1000 people hike the trail each day.

We were keen to get a jump on the crowds – most of whom are reliant on a public transfer from town. The guy from the bike shop gave us the tip: be on the trail by dawn. The only way to do that is with your own vehicle. So we’d parked one car at the end of the trail the previous night, and drove to the start of the trail in pre-dawn chill. It worked though: we were the first out of the blocks.

The track starts at 1100 metres above sea level and soon starts winding upwards, following the Mangatepopo Valley. We were in deep, cold shade, trekking in beanies, gloves and thermals – but it wasn’t long before we were peeling off the layers.

Tongariro Crossing-4497Despite the dire danger warnings posted everywhere from the park signboards to the Lonely Planet guide book urging trampers to check they are properly prepared for this challenging walk (make sure you have enough water, stout walking boots, thermals, wet weather gear and adequate fitness), we were soon being overtaken by a motley collection of backpackers doing the walk seemingly woefully under-prepared.

Lucky for everyone, the weather was perfect: with glorious sunshine and no wind, as the day wore on, the exposure threat was more from heat stroke than hypothermia.

From the top of the first climb, there are endless views to the south, including of volcanic Mt Taranaki. It’s then a flat, exposed stretch through the broad glacial basin known as the South Crater. The only obvious sign of life is the sparse clumps of tussock grasses scrabbling a living between monster blocks of rock that erupted – possibly recently – from the volcanoes flanking the valley.

The very recent and reasonably violent volcanic activity in the Park adds a unique frisson to the walk. Mt Ruapehu erupted in 1995, 1996 and again in 2007. Tongariro erupted as recently as 2012, vaulting 20,000 volcanic ‘bombs’ into the sky, one of which – a large boulder – smashed through the roof of the Ketetahi hut, used by hikers as an overnight stop on the trail. Signs and signal lights all along the trail warn that the entire area remains “in a heightened state of unrest and eruptions can occur at any time”.

We walked past Mt Ngauruhoe, which featured as Mt Doom in the Lord of the Rings movies. It didn’t exist at all until about 7000 years ago and last erupted in 1975. We opted out of the optional side trip to climb its scree-covered slopes to the summit at 2287m…

From the South Crater, the track winds upwards, skirting Mt Tongariro (another potential side trip, to the summit at 1967m) to the high point of the Crossing at Red Crater, at 1886 metres.

As I panted up the final approach, a skinny German backpacker in baggy t-shirt, shorts and Converse sneakers came towards me, walking in the opposite direction against the flow of trekkers, playing a ukulele and singing, sotto voce, the Johnny Cash anthem, “Burning Ring of Fire”.

How appropriate.

The Red Crater is around 10,000 years old with a hollow lava tube (aka a dike) in its middle that has a remarkably ‘labial’ look about it (thanks, Lionel, for pointing that out – once you see it, you can’t forget it).

The views to the other side take in the absurdly lurid Emerald Lakes – explosion craters that have filled with mineral-laden water – set like cabochons of turquoise in the red-brown landscape, and volcanic vents and fumeroles sending up plumes of steam. From the saddle, the trail descends steeply down a slippery scree slope that has just about everyone landing on their bum at some point, to the shores of the Emerald lakes.

We stopped for lunch in the lee of a huge boulder on the edge of an elyptical lake that looked like it had been painted in the pure hues of the printer’s palette: cyan water, magenta grasses around the edges, and sulphurous yellow and black rocks looming over it and mirrored in its surface.

Even though the sun was shining, the altitude made it too cold to stop for long and we headed off towards the Blue Crater. Looking back along the track from the rim gives a wide-angle view of the broad black lava floes, red oxide-stained volcanic cones and the barren, chocolate-coloured scree slopes we’d negotiated throughout the morning.

Just beyond the crater lake, we had our first views to the north, all the way to Lake Taupo, before the track began to zig zag down in an extraordinary series of broad switchbacks that make things very easy on the knees – it became suddenly evident why it’s recommended to walk in the direction we’d taken. It would be punishingly demoralising to start the walk in the other direction and spend hours walking up the hill.

We wound our way down through scrub and bushland and native forest and emerged at the car park.

They say the trail takes six to eight hours. We did it in nine and a half, but we took it easy, and had lots of snack and photo stops. Rather pleasingly, we pulled up pretty well – not even a blister or a sore muscle!

Nevertheless, we felt very relieved (and ever so slightly smug, as we passed pooped trekkers waiting for their transfers) that we could pile into the crew car and head off (still in our hiking gear) for high tea at the Whakapapa Chateau.

So very civilised, Dahling!

PS> Damian took some great photos on the day – see the album of his photos on the Images page.

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Walking and Wining on Waiheke

Waiheke Island, Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand

By: Kerry

Walking on Waiheke-1600 Waiheke Island – 45 minutes by ferry from downtown Auckland in the Hauraki Gulf – is known for its boutique wineries. But even better than its fine wines is the network of 100 or so kilometres of walking trails, collectively known as Te Ara Huru. We spent January cruising the Hauraki Gulf islands, with much of our time on Waiheke. We covered most of the western half of the island’s walking tracks, in addition to the Stoney Batter walk (on the far eastern side) on New Years Day.

The Stoney Batter Walk, New Years Day

Our favourite was the Headlands walk, starting from the little township of Oneroa and tracking along the cliff edges and beaches of the north-east and western coasts. Each climb to a high point revealed astonishing views across the island and the Gulf: craggy black cliffs sprouting huge, gnarled, scarlet-flowering Pohutakawa trees, and rocky islands dotted across sparkling, tropical-hued water stretching all the way to the Auckland city skyline.

The Headlands Walk, Waiheke Island

And on every cliff top, there was at least one example of the Kiwi penchant for choosing the most spectacular but inaccessible building site and constructing a formidable and extravagant architectural statement – apparently some of these massive ‘piles’ sell for upwards of $15 million. The track winds up and down to pretty beaches and secluded coves (in one of which I discovered my dream home – a modest ‘pile’ by comparison, with its own private pebble beach sheltered within a tiny cove and with a perfect northerly aspect), skirts around vineyards and, on the homeward leg, passes a few cellar doors where a crisp glass of pino gris does wonders to restore one’s energy levels.

My future view-from-the-front door...

My future view-from-the-front door…

When my friend Elaine came to stay for a few days, the biennial Headlands Sculpture Exhibition was strung along the walking track, with some whimsical and impressive artworks. In her inimitable style, Elaine also shouted us to a delicious lunch and wine tasting at the Mudbrick Winery. But we made the mistake of mis-judging the tide: when we got back to Oneroa, our dinghy was high and dry and wasn’t going to float for another hour or so. Just as well Elaine had bought a bottle of spark en route!

Hunter-gathering was high on the agenda as we pootled around the Gulf islands with the Kiapas. We caught a few fish, and even a couple of crayfish, but the highlight was diving for scallops. Lionel, Irene and I would dive (tanks and full wetsuits, including hoods – the water’s not quite tropical temp) while Damian manned the dinghy. It took a little while to get your eye in, but once you did, it was fairly easy to spot the shallow indentation in the sand marking the outline of the buried scallop. We managed to catch our quota (20 per person, minimum 10cm diameter) in about 10 metres of water on less than half a tank of air. Walking on Waiheke-7795

And oh, were they ever sweet and succulent – the most delicious seafood I’ve ever tasted.

After all the evil weather we’ve endured over the winters here, we had a whole month of perfect sunny days – who knew Inzud could turn on weather like it? We climbed Rangitoto (the perfectly symmetrical, dormant volcano that can be seen from anywhere in the Gulf); met the peacocks on Kawau Island and the myriad little birds (including the tuis) on the sanctuary of Tiritiri Matangi; hiked on Motutapu and Ponui and dived on Rakino.

Finally, after two and a half years of being NZ-based, we’ve been able to really enjoy cruising in New Zealand. We’ve only seen the Hauraki Gulf, and there is so much more to see, but even so, we rate it as some of the best cruising we’ve done anywhere in the world.

Oneroa beach, Waiheke

Oneroa beach, Waiheke

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Fast and Slow Food Shopping

Whangarei, New Zealand

By: Kerry

Fiji Provisioning-7200It crossed my mind that it would be a good premise for a reality tv show: drop the contestants in a developing country and tell them to find a taxi to the nearest town, which is half an hour away and where they’ve never been before. They then have to do the grocery shopping for a week at sea (ie you can’t forget anything), get back to the boat and leave port before they get busted by Immigration.

All in under two hours.

When we left Fiji, we cleared Customs and Immigration at Vuda Point. We’d been led to believe we’d have 24 hours to leave the country and that we’d be able to do the provisioning after we’d cleared. But the Immigration official made it plain that we had to be gone in an hour.

When I pointed out that we had nothing to eat, the official reluctantly relented and said we could go ashore to buy some food. “But make it quick.”

Trouble was, there was nothing available ‘ashore’ at Vuda Point. So while Damian stayed on board, Verdo and I jumped in a taxi and headed for Lautoka, 30 minutes away. We started at the market, where the fruit and veg were spread over a couple of acres. From half a dozen different stallholders, we piled up pawpaws, bananas, potatoes, beans, bok choy, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, and whatever else we could find – the variety wasn’t huge, but with a bit of picking and choosing, the quality was great.

Then we headed across the street to the supermarket, where the aisles were blocked by large, idly browsing locals, and where everything was where you least expected to find it. No problem – after doing a few circles and Twister-like manoeuvres I’d found everything I wanted.

It was at this point that our taxi driver, Mohamed, who was supposed to be waiting for us, went AWOL. Nowhere to be seen and the clock was ticking…

Eventually, Verdo phoned Damian back at the marina, who spoke to another taxi driver there, who phoned Mohamed, who then appeared and we loaded up our umpteen bags and boxes. We sped back to Vuda Point – stopping en route to buy a heap of mangoes from a friend of Mohamed’s at a roadside stall – piled it all in the dinghy, zoomed out to the boat, unloaded it, pulled up the dinghy and high-tailed it out of there.

All in under two hours.

We would have totally nailed the reality show challenge.

Provisioning (aka grocery shopping) when you’re cruising is hardly ever as simple as driving down to Woolies. Sometimes it’s slim pickings, like in the Ha’apais last year, where finding a lettuce was a challenge.

At other times, there’s an overwhelming abundance, like at the Saturday Growers’ market in Whangarei, where the locally-grown, in-season produce is so beautiful and so delicious I have a River Café moment every time I go.

We’re now pretty much ‘locals’ in Whangarei, so the stall holders all know us (‘Welcome back’ they all said last weekend, our first back from Fiji) and I come home laden with fragrant herbs, the best grass-fed beef and home-made chorizo, golden kiwifruit, organic mushrooms and avocados, and award-winning cheeses.

There are always beautiful flowers, too: this week I have a bunch of deep pink and canary yellow callas. Early in the year, I buy bunches of electric blue and hot pink water lilies that open and close with the light and whose stems twist and warp in the vase like alien beings.

We almost always meet some colourful characters along the way. Our first stop of a Saturday in Whangarei is to have a chat to Steve, a bald, goatee-toting dude in tight black jeans who makes the best coffee in town out of the back of his van. He and Damian compare barista notes and music collections and Steve usually has a tale to tell of his latest encounter with the local constabulary, or misadventure with firestick juggling…

In Fiji I met Anjee – glowing in a fiery orange sari, wearing half her body weight in bling, and beginning and ending every sentence with a strongly-accented “Darling!” – who has a vegetable stall at the markets near the airport in Nadi. The day I met her, she was surrounded by enormous, brilliant green piles of lettuce and bok choy and the smell of coriander. She seemed to be giving as many orders as she was taking.

Anjee has a business called Farm Boy that delivers fresh fruit and veg just about anywhere. While we were at Musket Cove, and even way up north in the Yasawas, Anjee was our main source of fresh produce. I’d send her an email and she’d pack up the order and put it on the next ferry. I’d meet it off the ferry, or have it delivered to the nearest resort and collect it from there.

When I asked her about payment, she said, “Just pay me next time you’re in Nadi, darling.”

There was always a surprise element: if she didn’t have exactly what I’d asked for, Anjee would improvise, which was fine.

Occasionally the boxes would arrive looking like they’d been dropped from a height (which they probably had, by the ferry company). Once, when I’d ordered a dozen bananas I received an entire 12kg box, which arrived very ripe and looking like they’d been run over with a wheelbarrow. No problem: Anjee issued a credit and all the surrounding boats shared in the makings for banana bread.

The Yasawa Islands are surprisingly barren as they lie in the rain shadow of the main island, Viti Levu, and the locals don’t grow much in the way of produce – or at least not for sale. Pawpaws, coconuts and bananas (plus starches like taro and breadfruit) are about all that is readily available.

An exception was when we were at the Blue Lagoon, where we heard about a local farm. We jumped in the dinghy, along with Steve and Michelle (from Citrus Tart), negotiated the reefs and headed up a narrow, mangrove-lined estuary until we ran into a couple of burly local boys carrying machetes. Always a little disconcerting…

We called out “Bula!” and they pointed their machetes in the direction of a couple of rough-hewn buildings. We waded ashore and were met by a trio of laughing Fijian ladies who offered us cold drinks and then insisted on making us omelettes for lunch. We talked politics, families and their memories of the making of the Blue Lagoon movie before they pointed us up the hill.

It was spoiling for a storm as we headed uphill along a rough path, turned right at the mango tree (as directed), met a bunch of goats who looked surprised to see us, eventually found the farm and met the young farmer and his wife, who asked us what we’d like.

We sat on a fallen tree trunk while they went off to harvest the fruit and veg to order: bok choy, peppers, pawpaws, bananas, mangoes, lettuce, basil (!), tomatoes, bush lemons, limes and fresh eggs.

Produce picked to order

Produce picked to order

It started to rain… and then it bucketed down. Soaked through, we slithered back down the path to where the ladies were still laughing, and to the dinghy – which was now waist deep as the tide had come in.

We sped the couple of miles back to the boats with eyes slitted against the stinging rain.

At least it was warm rain, compared to my pre-departure extreme-shopping provisioning trip in Whangarei…

For the week before we left NZ in July, we’d been pinned to the dock with hurricane strength winds. The day I drove in to Whangarei to do four months’ worth of provisioning, it was blowing dogs off chains and raining freezing sideways bullets. I wrote about it here, but I didn’t mention the day’s finale, which was a cracker.

Some of the dry goods, leaving NZ

Some of the dry goods, leaving NZ

After running various errands and the gauntlet of two supermarkets, looking like a sodden fireman in my foul weather gear, I detoured to pick up some cruising guide info from friends Craig and Bruce on their catamaran, Gato Go.

The boat was up the river, tied to a rickety dock comprising several sections. I picked my way in the pitch dark and pelting rain to the boat, had a chat with the boys, collected the information and went to leave. Craig flashed a torch on the dock. I saw what looked like solid ground, took a step onto it… and found myself up to my neck, out of my depth, in the freezing, flooded, muddy water of the Whangarei River.

Fortunately, I somehow had the foresight to keep my handbag (with phone, wallet etc in it) in left hand and car keys in right hand, above my head. The pontoon was above my head height, but I managed to haul myself out, foul weather gear and all.

Shopping list for the Fiji trip

Shopping list for the Fiji trip

Craig and Bruce kindly offered me a hot shower and one of their tracksuits to get home in, in lieu of my sodden clothes. The trouble was, I hadn’t finished provisioning: I still needed to buy alcohol…

So I drove to Countdown (Woolies, in NZ) and wandered the aisles in my oversized man’s tracksuit, bedraggled hair and bare feet. I arrived at the checkout with a trolley full of booze, leaving wet
footprints behind me.

And the best bit? The checkout chick didn’t bat an eye!

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The Big Birthday

March 16, 2013

Marsden Cove, NZ

By: Kerry

Today is Damian’s 50th Birthday. We thought we’d be somewhere more exotic, with a few more sea miles under our belts by now. But here we are in Marsden Cove, a long way from most of our friends and all of our family and not really in party mood.

It’s my 50th in June and I had visions of spending it swimming with humpback whales in Tonga, but I believe the whales don’t arrive there until July (very inconsiderate).

So we have decided to declare a 100th Birthday Year, starting from now, and intend to cram in as much fun as possible.

Let it begin!

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Walking Around Whangarei

March 10, 2013

Marsden Cove, NZ

While we expected to be seeing more palm trees than Pohutakawas over the past months, the coastal scenery around Whangarei is spectacular in its own right and we’ve done a number of great day hikes, including the Mangawhai Cliffs walk – starting about 45 minutes drive south-east of Marsden Cove.

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Groundhog Day

Aside

September 29, 2012

Marsden Cove, New Zealand

By: Kerry

It’s like we never left: howling wind, driving rain, freezing cold. But we have a plan.

We’re heading to Sydney, via Vanuatu. Sel Citron is going to stay in Marsden Cove until next April, when cyclone season officially ends and – hopefully – we can head to the islands.

We need catamaran sailing experience and it’s getting close to the time when I need to go home to look after my Mum. So we’re meeting our friends, John and Christine to cruise on their 55-foot catamaran, Fantazia, for a week or so.

I’ll fly home from Port Vila and Damian will sail Fantazia, with John, to Bundaberg, Queensland.

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Don’t Reach for the Razor Blades

Aside

August 27, 2012

Marsden Cove, NZ

By: Damian

I’ve just read back my pages of prattle and before you head for the sharpest knife, or jump out of a high window, I need to again say that we wouldn’t have swapped the last few months for anything. Sure, there’s been lots of setbacks, a good few more than I’ve actually highlighted here, but they are to be expected, sort of…

We love the boat, it’s fantastic, the people we’ve met have been great, we’ve learnt so much and we’re happy.

We can also feel sure that when we do go to sea, the boat will be as good as it can be, as well-equipped as it can be and we will be as prepared as we can be.

So it’s just the muppets driving it that might cause problems!

~~~ ><(((°>  ><(((°> ><(((°> ~~~

The Weather in Whangarei

August 27, 2012

Marsden Cove

By: Kerry

We really like New Zealand – it’s a bit like Australia was 25 years ago, in a nice way! Perhaps it’s because we’re coming from Big Smoke Sydney, but ‘Inzud’ seems less developed, a slower pace.

The Kiwis we’ve met have been, for the most part, friendly and unfailingly helpful and hospitable.

The people who’ve worked on our boat (and there have been plenty) have been practical and proud of their work, and don’t seem to be driven by the dime, or by keeping up with the Joneses so much as Sydney-siders seem to be these days. Everyone’s living for the weekend, talking about goin’ fushin’ or diving for crays and scallies. (Damian reckons the fush must hate weekends, since every Kiwi that can get on or near the water is trying to kill them).

But the weather … It’s killing us.

When we arrived in May, it was getting chilly, but it got colder, to the point that camping in the ‘trailer park’ really lost its shine. It was getting down to 5C in our cabin at night, and the decks would be covered in ice in the mornings. Then it got worse.

Since we’ve been at Marsden Cove, we’ve had barely any decent weather (the day of our sail trial being a notable exception). The wind seems to funnel in from the ocean here and day after day it has been freezing cold, blowing dogs of chains and sending the rain in sideways. Many days we haven’t left the boat as it’s been just too hideous.

52 knots true1-1Talk about cabin fever – it’s a wonder we haven’t killed each other.

On one notable day, we sat, feeling the boat shaking and shuddering, watching trees bent double and our navigation instruments going nuts as the wind gusted stronger and stronger: we recorded over 57 knots. That’s 106kmh – just under a full hurricane.

52 knots true-5The official description says:

Beaufort scale 10: Storm: “Very high waves (29-41 ft) with overhanging crests, sea white with densely blown foam, heavy rolling, lowered visibility. Seldom experienced on land, trees broken or uprooted, considerable structural damage.

“Seldom experienced on land.” Yeah, right – clearly M. Beaufort never visited Whangarei!

No problem, though. We got comfy, opened a bottle (OK, two) of red and watched five back-to-back episodes of Dexter. (Sadly, we can’t watch regular telly – when our old telly died with the power surge, we raced out to buy a new one so we could watch the Olympics. But it turns out we’re in a black hole for reception, so we saw London through a snowstorm…).

More frustrating is that it has meant we haven’t been able to take the boat out, comfortably or safely, so we haven’t sailed it once since the sail trials a month ago.

Our lack of sailing experience on the boat; the narrowing window of time before the onset of cyclone season in the tropics; our on-going delays (we’re still waiting on the new nav gear to arrive and be installed); together with my Mum’s deteriorating health (we need to be able to get home in a hurry, if necessary) have combined to effectively put the kibosh on our plans to sail north to the islands this year.

So disappointing, but hey, it’s the No Plan Plan, so we’ll just roll with it.

The locals tell us the weather’s not likely to improve until at least November. We calculated we’d run out of Dexter, Boston Legal and Twin Peaks by then, so figured we’d better get the hell out before things got ugly…

So, Samoa, here we come!

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Don’t Try This At Home

August 15, 2012

Marsden Cove, NZ

By: Damian

One thing I forgot to mention earlier was that, while we were out of the water, we discovered 70 volts DC on the propeller. That’s not a good thing. Actually, it’s a very bad thing.

This, we found, was due to someone who didn’t know what they were doing re-wiring our shore power lead and getting the neutral and earth wires accidentally reversed.

Quite how long it was like that, we don’t know – possibly for a year or more before we bought the boat – but it probably explains the electrolysis on the rudder shafts (picked up in the survey, leading to replacement of both rudder assemblies) and on our stainless steel anchor chain (which we also had to replace, but swapped to galvanized since stainless was going to be about $15,000!).

The reason I mention this is that, while we were waiting for the repaired mainsail to arrive, we got a marine electrician to look at our speed log – that’s a paddle wheel in a through-hull fitting. It turns out it was toasted and needed replacing – also probably due to the same electrolysis problem.

Or maybe it was due to the power surge the marina experienced that also wiped out our boat stereo system, the television and my MacBook!

The electrician also discovered our radar wasn’t working (possibly also due to the power lead issue) and the cost to repair it was almost as much as a new radar. So that was added to our shopping list. But then we realised that, rather than just replacing the radar, it made more sense to replace all of our 10-year-old, superseded navigation equipment.

We bit the bullet and ordered a new chart plotter, radar and AIS. Kerry held me back from also buying the fish finder, depth sounder, and other ‘add-ons’ that were in my cross-hairs!

Needless to say, it’s never as simple as swapping out a new one for the old one. The new radar screen won’t fit in the hole in the navigation station fascia panel, so I have had to source cherry wood veneer on plywood timber, cut a new fascia panel and re-design the equipment layout to accommodate the new radar display.

Part of our on-going problems is that the boat hasn’t been used for at least the past year – which is never good for a boat – so no on-going maintenance, hence everything is going wrong at once.

But surely, the boat gods are going to cut us a break soon!?

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