Slowly the excitement of the arrival wore off and then it was time for a reality check...Now, what's next? After spending 4 days in Opua, we started heading down to Whangarei, together with Pete and Fliss. The coastline of the Northlands is astounding. We stopped for one night in Mimiwhatangata Bay, the following day we sailed down to the entrance of the river that leads to Whangarei. We tackled the river the following day, after a night anchored at Parau Bay, which is fantastic. After the last 8 miles up the river we arrived at the town basin and the marina. With this we are ending an amazing one and half year cruising, at least for a while. We will stay here in Whangarei for the cyclone season, which is six months, possibly longer. What comes next is work on Nomad Life, applying for work visas and a big come down to reality.
Working hard on Nomad Life, we still not sure what are we doing, selling or keeping her . Today I spent 500 dollars on medical exam for my working visa! This included a HIV test. We found immigration in NZ really tough, but Kiwis can come and go easily in England, something's wrong there. It feels just like being back to England, the shops, weather, people are just like in England. Doesn't really matter where you live, the worries are the same, and we got them all at the moment.
We have been in Whangarei for almost 3 weeks. Up to now we didn't want to commit with the marina for a long term berth. Now we are almost convinced that we will be here for at least 6 months. The shops are walking distance; we have some friends here, abundant work opportunities and also have no desire to go sailing soon. Settling in one place for this long seems very strange... We will be living on the boat for a long time, but sometimes we feel that it would be nice to live on a house again, more comfortable, warmer and on those miserable rainy days we are locked inside with not much to do!
I finally got my working visa. The bad news is that I HAVE to work now, what a shock! We love here, Whangarei has a relaxed pace of life, we always have friends dropping by, life hasn't been dull. Also we didn't get a lot of work on Nomad Life done so far!
After a manic month of working and sorting papers out, we are heading to Great Barrier for Christmas and New Yearís Eve. We have been helping Xavier and Stephanie to get their boat ready to sell. As we were leaving the marina, the engine died so we also lost steerage. Luckily the wind turned Nomad Life 180 degrees, where the ropes and fenders were still in place. Graham then brought the boat in and rafted next to another boat! Once we got the engine going we left just before the tide turned. We made Urquhart's bay before sunset. The weather forecast is predicting 30 knots of wind from SW, exactly where we are going.
The weather forecast is spot on, so we are going nowhere. Graham, as a father would with his child, sensed that Nomad Life is not herself. Then we tried to start the engine and there was barely any power in the batteries. The engine is not charging the batteries. We decide to head to Parau Bay, more protected as there is a blow of 40 knots coming through. Then Graham changed the alternator, so we could get charge into the batteries. Another 3 days waiting for the weather to settle, and we are losing the motivation to go anywhere.
We spent 1 week in Parau Bay, managed to leave the boat once. It was fantastic to get away from this crazy world which we are not used to anymore. Over Christmas there were a lot of drowning around NZ , due to hypothermia and strong currents. Running short of beer and food, we reluctantly headed back to the marina. Just as we arrive, Eduardo, a Brazilian sailor, invited us to a "churrasco" taking place in the marina for New Year's Eve. That didn't kick off until 10 in the evening, but before midnight it gathered a good number of people and it went on until 5 am! We sensed a great hangover coming after the party.
02nd January 2008
Jim and Julia, on catamaran Papillion, invited us for a drive around. First we drove up to the view point. For the first time we saw Whangarei from the heights and it is very spread out. We only have been around the town centre so far. Then we went to Abbey Caves. The Organ Cave was very interesting. We got through the entrance with some difficulty due to big blocks of rock, the caves went deep inside. It was dark, luckily we had some torches, once inside we saw stalagmites, stalactites and glow worms. Later we found out that the cave was interdicted! We also got a bit wet as a river was running through the cave. After that we went to Whangarei Heads, exploring around Urquhart's bay. A track took us to remains of a World War II gun emplacement. The last stop was Ocean's beach, with nice white sandy beach, great for surfing.
05th January 2008
Yesterday Lynn and Terry finally moved into their house, we spent the whole day helping in the move. Today was their house warming party, nothing better than a braai, a South African BBQ. Over three hours Terry burned the wood. The meat and broeworst tasted delicious, with a hint of wood flavour. For the first time since we have been living on a boat , we slept in a house. It was nice!!!
Back to work. I start today at Reva's, a restaurant next to the marina. Graham, meanwhile, is getting on with varnishing the boat's interior, plenty of work for him.
Fellow yachtie Andy is playing at Butter Factory today, so went over to give him some support. He writes his own songs and he is very good at it. He opened the gig with a song called "Whangarei", written only 5 days ago. Slowly the bar filled up, initially with yachties from the marina but latter on it turned out to be a mixed crowd. As for us, we left early to save those precious dollars.
Varnishing is in full progress, making life difficult living on the boat. The saloon, galley and nav station are stripped to bare wood and the mess is unbelievable. Unfortunately this has been due for a long time. Graham is building 12 coats of varnish on the table and kitchen, the other less affected parts have 5 coats. Time consuming. We also did a full rigging and sail check, all in good condition.
Waitangi day is a Bank Holiday here. This date the Waitangi Treaty was signed in 1840 by the "Pakeha"(this is how the Maori described the local European) and the Maoris. The Treaty was signed over sovereignty of the land, which now a days still a discrepancy of understanding between the Maoris and the British. As we don't have a car, we managed to borrow one from our fellow neighbour and went up with Nick, another yachtie , to the Bay of Islands. At first we didn't know what to expect: Protest? We wandered why the Prime Minister hasn't been up there in 4 years... But the atmosphere was more of an informative nature, where the Maoris wanted to demonstrate their culture and origins. Lots of Haka (a dance that traditionally preceded a battle) demonstrations, Maori singing, Wakas ( traditional canoes), a bit of politics and lots of food. It turned out to be a free demonstration of any kind, including the Cannatour. This is a tour done in the Cannabus, campaigning against the cannabis prohibition. It was an interesting day.
Another week has gone by, time is slipping quickly and we are thinking hard what to do next. Soon is April and the sailing season is open again, but we still not sure what is the next step. Last week Rob spent a few days with us, a family member at last. Unfortunately the weather wasn't great yet again for sailing. By the end of the week the foul weather gave us a break and Graham was able to take Rob and Gordon out for a sail. Claudia and I joined the boys the following day in Tutukaka, 30 min by car from Whangarei. From there we went on a diving trip to Poor Knights Islands. It was well worth it, not just for the dive but the trip lasted a whole day and we visited with the diving boat, the largest sea caves in the world. The dive was cold, needless to say, but with 2 x 7 mm diving suits we were fine to enjoy it, a bit tricky with the buoyancy as we are used to dive in warmer waters. We got back to Whangarei just in time to miss the huge front coming through with more foul weather.
We have been busy finishing the varnishing in the fore cabin and the foreward, all the windows have been resealed and all the Perspex replaced, new spray hood, new mattress, cockpit cushions. Now we are busy sorting out charts, pilot books and visa's. We canít wait to be back in the Tropics. The nights here are colder and soon the rainy season starts.
We left the town basin on Monday and motored down the river to the quarantine dock. By the time we arrived, it was 4pm. We asked if we could stay the night at the Customs dock and leave the next morning. The last night was fun with Nick from Lala Salama tied next to us at the dock , a few beers later! The 6 months spent in NZ are coming to an end, we had a great time and certainly we are sad to be leaving and saying goodbye to all the friends we have made here. However is great to go out and take a bit of enjoyment of owning a boat. The last 6 months we only experienced the down side of boat ownership, all the expensive repairs and hard work.
Ka mate, ka mate (it is death, it is death
Ka ora, ka ora (it is life, it is life
Tenei te tangata puhuruhuru (behold the hairy man)
Nana nei I tiki mai I Whakawhiti te ra (who caused the sun to shine)
Upane, aupane (abreast, keep abreast)
Upane, ka aupane (the rank, hold fast)
Whiti te ra (into the sunshine)
Te Rauparahaís haka originated while he was fleeing from his enemies. A local chief hid him underground in a kumara store, where he waited in the dark, expecting to be found. When the store was opened and the sun shone in, it was not his enemies, but the (hairy) local chief. He climbed the ladder and performed the victorious haka!