Saturday, 30 April 2011

Weather bound

Hi to everyone,
When we went to the Whangarei Farmer's Market last Saturday (the 23rd.) we genuinely thought that it would be our last visit for the foreseeable future - at least until next February when we return to claim our pension - if there's anything left by then after this current profligate rabble in Wellington have sold us all to the Chinese!!! However, here we still are and Jim went to the market again this morning to stock up again on the necessities of life. Mahoe Cheese, Harncroft Tamarillos, Waima Organic Meat, Ohaeawai Eggs to name but a few. The Farmer's Markets establishing all around the country are providing consumers with a real alternative to the bland, mostly chemical based supermarket fare. Long may they flourish. 
Jim had experience of the Kerikeri Farmer's Market prior to 2008 and has enjoyed the opportunity to visit the Whangarei Market on a regular basis since. We always banter with some of the characters that man the stalls. Henry with his Macadamias (he is also our friendly mechanic who keeps the trusty Hyundai going! - Allied Motors), Tracy who is Vietnamese and with her NZ'er husband sells delectable salad greens (this is Jean talking here!!), Alan and Marie at Mahoe Cheese, our friends who sell kumaras from Dargaville and with whom we always have some very risque conversations - to do with kumaras you understand!, and Mrs. Joosten from Otaika who is in her eighties and never misses a week at the market and who sells delicious chutneys, jams, etc. Then there are all the other stall holders who are there winter and summer and in all weathers. We well remember a dark morning one winter a year or so ago at about 6.30am when we wore our wet weather clothing to combat the elements. But it's always been worthwhile. After the market we usually repair to a local eatery - either Caffeine Cafe opposite what used to be Len Adams Service Station (now a drive-in drycleaner) where Jim's brother Alec tearfully lost some of his pet lizards when their container fell out of the car about 50 years ago! Memories, memories. Either that or we would go to Bob's Cafe just up Bank St. where our friend Sara works as a chef. Creamed mushrooms on Ciabatta toast is a favourite.
Talking of Sara, we must make mention of her and Hamish who have been such a help during our stay here in Whangarei. Hamish is a stainless steel engineer and fabricator who has done some work on the boat and who works out of their rural property. They very kindly allowed us to live with them when Jim first came to Whangarei on the boat and we have had many happy times with them. The last time we had a meal at their place we provided a leg of lamb and Jim cooked it and roast veges in their oven. Hamish made the gravy and it was delicious! We have just had a bookcase made to go in the forrard cabin and which has proved invaluable in freeing up space previously occupied by said books. We took it up to Hamish and Sara's and varnished it there. It is now installed and looks marvellous.
Now back to the subject of the pesky weather! It's Saturday evening and there is a storm warning out for Brett and a gale warning for Colville. Great!!! In addition there are warnings for heavy rain over the next 36 hours. So we have battened down the hatches and checked the mooring lines. We have had winds predominantly from the north over the past week and it looks like continuing. Not much good when that's the direction in which one wants to sail. However, there is a glimmer of hope for later in the week - it all depends how long is the weather window. Ideally we need 3 days of southerlies to blast us clear but the pattern recently has been to return to northerlies after a short time. The weather guru, Bob McDavitt has said that conditions won't improve until mid May to provide the conditions we need. New Zealand is a very hard place to leave!!! We have very mixed feelings about leaving Whangarei where we have both been involved. Jim mostly with the boat when she was at the Norsand Boatyard having her extensive refit carried out by their shipwright Noel Barrott, and Gina who lived here with her neice, Jo and worked in charge of a local rest home. There are many memories here from our earliest times in 2008 when we babysat a small rural property at Otaika to living in the flat at Norsand. Subsequently we've lived on the boat, both in and out of the water - living on a boat on the hard is a challenging experience, especially when trying to get work done inside and out. We both felt quite emotional a week ago after leaving the market as we thought it would be the last time (ridiculous we know!) but as we've already said it wasn't to be. Maybe today will have been the last time.
Our plans are to sail to Noumea as it's the closest of the island destinations and then to go to Vanuatu. One needs to plan passages on the basis of prevailing winds (in this case SE trades) as there is not a lot of point in beating into it if one doesn't need to. Having said that, it will happen no doubt from time to time in spite of the best laid plans. Then we plan to decide whether we return to NZ for the summer or go to Australia (northern NSW or Queensland). The disadvantage of that is the exchange rate which at the moment is some 27% in Australia's favour but the advantage is that we will then be that much closer to a jumping off point for Darwin, Indonesia and Malaysia the following year. We would sail up inside the Barrier Reef, around Cape York into Torres Strait and the 800 miles further on to Darwin. We need to be in Darwin by July to join the Sail Indonesia Rally and it would be difficult to acheive that from NZ, especially given the capricious weather patterns one encounters down here. But, like all plans this is subject to change so stay tuned to our website Once we have left NZ the best email address to use is as we won't be able to access Yahoo unless we have internet access.
Watch this space!!!
Cheers and lots of love 
Jim and Jean (Gina)   

Monday, 18 April 2011

Preparations for departing - finally

So much to talk about we hardly know where to begin.
Since being re-launched we have been working on the boat and provisioning and re-stowing. This latter is no small task as it invilves stowing many stores and equipment and recording in the minuteist detail their whereabouts on the boat. A fair proportion of the stores are stowed under our bed in the forrard part of the boat and this involves the complete dismantling of said bed to load whatever is necessary. Thankfully this phase is now largely behind us.
We have painted the coachroof and re-varnished the cabin coamings. We are getting a bookshelf made for the forrard cabin which will free up some other much needed stowage. That hasn't been finished yet and we then have to apply at least 3 coats of varnish which we are hoping will not unduly delay our departure. We also have an AIS receiver which gives early warning of commercial shipping in our vicinity.and we have been having trouble with the aerial. We fitted a temporary aerial and went down to Marsden Point to eyeball ships at the wharf and see whether they came up on our receiver. Glad to say all was well and we have now replaced the old masthead aerial which we are hopeful will solve the problem. Trials and tribulations and nothing with a boat is straightforward; it all takes so long to solve problems. But touch wood (and there's plenty of it round here!) all is now well.
We had a visit from Keith (Jean's brother from Wellsford) and Eileen on the weekend and that was a pleasant interlude. At least they now have a visual appreciation of the boat.
Our Swiss French friends, Michel and Marie-Ann have another double ender similar to the Tiare except that she is only two thirds of our size. They built her themselves and they have a house on the island of Elba (where Napoleon was first incarcerated) which they also built themselves.They sailed here from Europe about 3 years ago and have since been re-fitting the boat in between returning to Switzerland to be with family. They are now ready to leave to head back to Europe and will be sailing tomorrow. We hope that we may cross paths either in New Caledonia or Vanuatu later this year. They are in their mid sixties and are great people. We feel humbled to have met them. We haven't been anywhere yet (!) and have still met wonderful people; those who cruise the oceans are a special breed.
Well, we are about to depart. We intend to leave Whangarei just after Easter and spend 7-10 days regaining our sealegs on a leisurely cruise to the Bay of Islands. Once we are there we will be clearing Customs at Opua and setting sail for Noumea as soon as we have a suitable weather window.
Watch this space!!