Friday 3rd March 2017
This afternoon Raya went back into the water and we are back living onboard, it feels good to be home. We didn’t quite get everything finished in time to make the tide to motor up the river today, so we are tied up to the pontoon holding our breath that everything will be ok as we sink into the low tide mud.
Sunday we started the last leg of our road trip on another very different river. We opted to drive north on the Whanganui River Road, a scenic drive. We now know that scenic route in New Zealand means steep hills and hairpin bends, cliff rock falls, pot holes and gravel tracks, sheer drops and precarious bends but also magnificent views. This road was no exception, it folllows the deep v-shaped valley of the Whanganui for over 60 kilometres .
On our final day we went to Waitomo Caves, it was a shame you can only explore them as part of a tour, the group effect taking away the ambiance of these extraordinary spaces. We first visited the glow worm caves, tiny lights cover the roof of the dark caves, every bright spot a glow worm using bioluminescence to attract insects that they capture in spider web like threads.The second cave we visited was full of stalactites, hanging from the ceiling like giant icicles. Whenever we visit caves, now setup with lighting, steps and walkways we wonder how incredible it must have been when the first explorers discovered them, turning their lamps to reveal this magical underworld.
We have had a great time over the last few weeks, the scenery on some of the drives has left us speechless, but after so long on the road we were more than ready to get back to Raya. She was looking very shiny, her keel cleaned and repainted with antifoul, the topsides polished and the superstructure buffed. The staysail furler leak has been diagnosed and sorted out, the gouges on the transon filled and polished, the anchor chain regalvonised and the anchor cleaned, the windlass serviced, the rigging checked and one of the boot tops repainted. An impressive list, unfortunately an impressive bill came with it. Everything here seems to take longer than it should, so labour costs are high and parts are also expensive, all of this highlighted by the weakness of sterling.
To save some money we finished some of the jobs ourselves, including me winching Rick up to the top of the mast to detach the topping lift so it could be shortened and then winching him back up to reconnect it a day later. I was pleased to discover that the almost paralysing fear I had the first time I did this has decreased, I was a picture of calm.
Ricks sister Jane and husband Peter, join us tomorrow and we start our cruise of the Hauraki Gulf.