Saturday, May 28, 2016

A Conspicuous Lack of Logic...

We're back in Whangarei town basin, having now sailed all the way around this beautiful and sometimes windy country. Whangarei is a convenient place to stock up and get parts for the boat before we head back to the pacific islands. The town is quite small so all shops and useful businesses are close by. We've been doing an awful lot of ordering and buying around town, a job made significantly quicker, easier and more fun with our new folding bikes.

We have been pretty busy getting Impetuous ready for the off as well as finding a little bit of time to have fun with some friends who like us left their boat in New Zealand whilst they went back to Europe to earn some pennies. So busy infact, that we haven't written a new blog. Fortunately we have a story from the last time we were here that we never got round to posting. Now that we have our new foam mattresses, various pretty, hefty and useful bits of bronze and new kitchen worktops ready to shape and fit at a later date its time to go. We set out towards Fiji on Sunday.

There are some facts in this watery life upon a boat that need no explanation. Why a boat floats or for that matter why they sink. How altering a foil in the water; the rudder, affects the direction a boat travels in and why rocks are bad.

There are other details that though they may take a little pondering over, are essentially perceptible. The ebb and flow of the tides and their relationship to the moon and sun or the necessity to trim sail to take best advantage of the wind direction.

But occasionally there is a phenomenon which evades all reason! There is a conspicuous lack of logic. For example, How the concept of sailing to wind, can usefully be explained by the analogy of squeezing a dried pea between a thumb and forefinger, why some people motor when they could be sailing or why boat hooks are not always made to float if dropped.

There was undoubtedly a look of disbelief as the pole that had slipped beyond the tentative grasp of Ruth's outstretched arm fell in to the harbours still, murky water and didn't float. Petulant with frustration Ruth muttered a number of choice expletives, which basically boiled down to 'why doesn't that float'.

Everyone has dropped a boat hook at least once in there life, surely. Undoubtedly, more often realised that they were lucky not to have dropped it. Before long I was cynically pottering around town looking at potential replacements and it dawned on me that perhaps there was a conspiracy amongst boat pole manufacturers. Deliberately manufacturing them to sink, thus ensuring future sales.

The pole in question was a particularly fine example. Telescopic stainless steel tubes, a handle that the designer, clearly capable of having lucid thoughts, had riveted on; Its usually the handle that slips off the pole, that results in the poles loss. And a variety of interchangeable heads to collect: hook, brush, mop etc. Giving one all the enchantment of a child collecting a Worzil Gumage toy. But best of all we kept the boat hook head in a drawer, so when, and admittedly rarely was I asked, 'where is the boat hook?' I really could legitimately say 'Second drawer down of the chart table.'

Still with an edge of cynicism and melancholy about our loss I tried to look on the bright side. Several years ago I had bought Ruth a bronze boat hook head, maybe now was the time to marry it to a pole. Now you're probably thinking one of several things. How lucky Ruth is to have a boyfriend who buys her pretty pieces of bronze, perhaps, Or maybe. Bronze, lovely alloy, great for marine applications, not generally known for its inclination to float.

As it happens it was I who was lucky to have Ruth as a girlfriend, for whilst I searched listlessly for a replacement pole, Ruth searched stoically for the lost one. With mask and Fins she scoured the drop zone until triumphant she emerged from the murky effluent rich depth clutching her very own Excalibur, complete with detachable head.

So now we are a two pole boat. There, lashed down amongst the dinghy mast detritus, are the boat hooks. Poking out like twin exhaust pipes, But somehow poles apart. One made from buoyant wood, the other a product of a different age, a salesman’s dream, with its multiple sell 'head variations', contractability and its negative buoyancy. Safely stored away is the boat hook head in the second draw down of the chart table ready for me to tell an unsuspecting guest where we keep our boat hook. Or rather the spare, because now we will use the one that floats. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

We've Turned our Dorades Around...

Dorades are those funnel shaped protrusions you sometimes see adorning the coach roofs of boats. The idea being that they funnel air, but not spray, down into the boat keeping it cool and ventilated. As the sun set early after another beautiful but cool day in the Abel Tasman, we thought it was time to turn ours around. They were wafting us with cold air that sent us scurrying for our jumpers and thinking with more urgency that we must head north.

We'd had our shake down cruise. We'd seen a little of Pelorus Sound including Duncan Bay; listening out for the mating calls of the deer. We'd transited French pass and had spent a few days in the Abel Tasman national park, meeting with friends new and old. But autumn was here.

Duncans bay

Sailing in the Tasman Bay

Mending the depth sounder by Adele island, it's co-ax socket had pulled off

Torrent Bay and the Anchorage, Abel Tasman

After spending a quiet night in D'Urville island, with a light and favourable forecast we set off for Wellington. Wellington has an infamous reputation as a wind factory but we both had fond memories of the city so we wanted to pay it a visit. We were also running perilously low on eggs!

Windy Wellington certainly lives up to its name; it took us fourteen tacks to beat our way in under double reefs. Then after our brief visit we were whooshed out by a forceful wind; fortunately it was behind us this time. The forecast had been for 15kn but the gale we encountered was strong enough to break another of Beryls (our Aries wind-steering mechanism) wooden vanes. This one had barely been used but probably snapped because we were hand steering so it was held still against the wind. Good job we're not short of spare ply to make more. Certainly, New Zealand's South island is beautiful but it has cost us dearly in these vanes.

Shock horror, one night in a marina in Wellington.  Very nice showers!

We find it easy transitioning between our lives on Impetuous and back on our narrowboat. We never particularly miss anything whilst in either one of our homes. But there are some things you forget how much you enjoy. When I let the fishing line over and within minutes saw the huge splash behind the boat as an albacore tried to free itself from our hook I instantly remembered the thrill of fishing. It got off unfortunately as did the next two; both about a meter from the boat, but we did land two more. One weighing in at around 15lbs which I know is not gigantic but certainly fills our fridge and has now filled our bellies for over a week.

The next destination was Napier, where we spent a couple of days meeting up with a childhood friend who has emigrated there and his family. We also enjoyed lots of walking along Hawkes bay and around the art deco neighbourhoods. We stocked up at some of the fantastic speciality shops that both Wellington and Napier have to offer us keen cooks, in preparation to head back into the South Pacific.

Despite crossing back from the sub 40° S the dorades are still facing the wrong way. We have a 'to buy' list for jobs we'll be doing over the next 6 months or so, and a few little jobs to complete before leaving New Zealand in the next couple of weeks. We're spending the weekend on the lovely Kawau island then we'll press on to Whangarei back to the metropolis and other boaters. Its amazing to think that in all the six months we have spent down in southland we only met one other foreign couple.