Saturday 19th November 2016
We were woken just after midnight on Monday morning to a strange rocking movement. Gulf Harbour Marina is probably the most protected place we have been since we left, there is little or no water movement, many of the boats berthed here don’t even use fenders. We listened for high winds, maybe some violent gusts were blowing through, but there wasn’t so much as a rattle of a halyard or a whistle through the rigging. Rick went on deck to investigate, we were rocked again, all the boats in the marina were bobbing about. He assumed, although he could neither see or hear anything and odd as it might be in the middle of the night, that a large vessel was passing through or near the marina. We woke of course to the news of the earthquake that had hit South Island, the tremors, that were hardly felt this far north, must have been amplified by the water or it was the small tsunami waves radiating into Hauraki Gulf and on to us. Whichever, we were relieved not to have been any further south.
Hauraki Gulf is the large bay on which Auckland stands and has, since we have arrive, slowly been filling with Navy vessels from throughout the world , all here to celebrate the New Zealand Navy’s 75th anniversary. So luckily there was if needed plenty of help on hand to evacuate the people trapped by the landslips that followed the quake and were exacerbated by the days of heavy rain that have followed.
This same rain has together with a cold wind dampened our week too. The tropics seem a million miles away already. Our heating systems, mothballed for eighteen months, despite Ricks constant tweaking, are only working on and off and the small amount of sky we can see between the motor yachts that crowd us on both sides, have been mostly grey.
It’s a gradual process but we are slowly converting back to normal life, the yachties uniform of shorts and t-shirts or more lately sailing boots and jackets has been replaced by rather smarter attire. My sun bleached haystack, that has past for hair this last year, has been tamed somewhat at the hairdressers and I have dug out my handbags. We don’t leave the boat without our phones, I am even wearing a watch, I forget to look at it of course but strangely these things seem to be suddenly essential.
Monday we ventured in to Auckland, we took the ferry that leaves throughout the day from the marina into the city centre. The sea was surprisingly rough and made us, the ocean sailors, surprisingly queasy. So feeling slightly under the weather we emerged onto the busy streets, traffic, tourists, lunch hour office workers and the racket from a huge construction site. A cold wind blew off the water front and the sky stayed obstinately grey. I had the overwhelming desire to be back on a Tongan beach. We pressed on and gradually got into the swing of things, finding some charming lanes with quirky high priced clothes shops and small restaurants. The sun came out and we sat people watching as we ate the best food we have had since Panama. As the day wore on we were inevitably drawn back to the waterfront and the city centre marinas. The outer berths were lined with super yachts including Pumula the beautiful Royal Huisman yacht that we were next to in Tahiti. We discussed the idea of spending a few nights here next March when we start cruising again, we have never moored right in the middle of a big city before.
Friday we returned to the waterfront area, this time by car, to explore the hundreds of marine shops and services in the area, if it has anything to do with the water you can buy it here. I explored the book shop for cruising guides and charts for next years adventures, while Rick perused the biggest chandlery we have ever seen and we started to investigate buying a kayak, an exciting solution to our problems getting ashore when it is difficult to beach the dingy and another way to keep us fit.
Back onboard we are slowly working through the job list and Rick has been busy talking to everyone in the boatyard. Raya will have to come out of the water at some point to clean and anti foul the hull and service all the underwater fittings The large yacht lift and good hard standing in Gulf Harbour was its main attraction. The plan was to wait until we returned from the UK and manage the lift and initial organisation of the tasks that need completing before leaving on our road trip through the South Island, returning to complete a few of the jobs ourselves. However, we have been made an offer we are finding hard to resist, the yard has a lull in its job list just after the New Year and have given us very competitive rates if we haul out then, unfortunately that will be before we return from the UK. The question is can we bring ourselves to trust them with our precious boat while we are the otherside of the world?