Sunday 30th October 2016
Normally on arrival at a new place we take a couple of slow days to rest and acclimatise before tackling any tasks that need doing, the problems with the engine, however, have meant this time we found ourselves immediately embroiled in boat maintainance. We have had little time to reflect on our return to civilisation, forced to enjoy and cope with the dramatic changes to our life style while we work busily to get things sorted out. As the New Zealanders get excited about the signs of the summer about to begin, we are shocked at how chilly we feel. As we take delight in the quality and variety of food, we grapple with the concept of using credit cards and phones again. We are in constant surprise at the ease of communication and the amount of services around us, while having to hobble from one workshop to another. After nearly a year of freedom our poor feet are struggling to cope with being contained, they are covered in blisters and even with copious use of plasters it is a choice between cold toes or pain.
After Bruce and his guys got the engine cleaned and restarted, the dirty job of emptying and cleaning the contaminated fuel tank began. Up came the table and floorboards of the salon and for hours a continuous train of full smelly jerry cans were carried up the companionway and out of the boat. Time for me to escape, nowhere glamorous unfortunately, just to the quiet of the laundrette and another task completed.
In the meantime Rick had found a North Sail loft that would valet our sails and replace the degraded UV strips that protect the edge when furled. We decided with the facilities so close by we might as well get them sorted out straight away and we were pleased to hear that with the protection in place and a bit of stitching the sails should be good for another 20,000nm. While the sails are off the boat, we have checked, washed and repaired all the running rigging and the outhaul car for the mainsail is at the stainless steel shop being refabricated. Rick has serviced the generator and we have cleaned and dried out the leaky forward cabin that had taken a bit of a bashing on the sail down.
It’s not been all work and no play however, the marina is surrounded by gentle rolling hills and winding water ways. It has a very pleasant cafe that does brilliant breakfasts, especially a delicious eggs benedict and the Opua yacht club has a terrace to sit and appreciate the view. They are both gathering places for all the yachties and we have been bumping into familiar faces as everyone gradually trickles out of the tropics, like us arriving in New Zealand to escape the cyclone season.
Wednesday we were kindly taken by locals and Island Cruising Club managers Mike and Lyn, the five miles into the nearby town of Paihia. A pretty tourist town where the ferries and tours leave to explore the Bay of Islands. The sights from the car and the sea front are lovely but our attention was focussed on the long awaited trip to the supermarket. Walking in the door the choice and quality of the products was almost too much, it turned out to be nearly as hard to buy a complete meal as it had from the empty shelves of Tonga. We came away with six bags of unrelated but scrumptous items from asparagus and advocados to blue cheese and sausages to fresh milk and bottles of local Riesling.
And on Friday it was Rick’s birthday, to celebrate we got a taxi back into Paihia for dinner. After a year of early tropical sunsets we are really enjoying the light evenings and spent an delightful hour drinking at the wharf overlooking the bay. Then despite what we thought was a burning desire to eat somewhere sophisticated, we ended up being tempted by a Indian/Thai restaurant, Greens, it turned out to be an extremely good choice, the food was fantastic.
We plan to stay in Opua for another week before sailing down to just North of Auckland, Gulf Harbour, where we will base the boat while we return to the UK, tour the South Island and lift out to redo the antifoul. So with our feet on the mend and jobs on the boat in hand we are hoping to try and have some time here to be tourists before we leave.