10/12/2014 – Whangarei

Our trip south from Opua was interesting. We motorsailed on Sunday as far as Bland Bay, an almost circular bay with good protection from SE through W to NE but with, allegedly, variable holding. Our anchor set instantly and we enjoyed a very peaceful night. The forecast for Tuesday was for a 15-20 knot headwind so we decided to bash on all the way and anchor somewhere inside the Whangarei basin. We had a good sail in a freshening wind until we approached Bream Head where the seas were chaotic and the wind couldn't decide where to blow from. The 'iron tops'l' aka the engine was pressed into service until it cut out. O.K. We thought, the rough seas have stirred up rubbish in the tank, the filter is probably blocked. John had installed a bypass system through another pair of filters for just such an eventuality, the engine still wouldn't start. We tacked for about 3 1/2 hours and dropped anchor under sail just outside Marsden Cove Marina. It was still rather windy but they sent a RIB out to tow us in a couple of hours later when the wind had dropped. A big Thank You to the staff of Marsden Cove. The Volvo engineer arrived on Wednesday morning. After about 90 minutes John was persuaded to empty 40 litres of diesel into the tank even though the gauge said we half full. That did the trick! How embarrassing? The fuel tank is under the cabin sole (floor) and there is no access port to insert a dip stick, we have to rely on the gauge which had failed. We bid farewell to Marsden Cove, but not before filling the tank completely, we now know it holds 450 litres. The river up to the town basin in Whangarei meanders and is very shallow in places, even the dredged bit is shallow! We left Marsden Cove at low water so had a rising tide in case of accidents. The trip is actually about 12 miles and took 2 1/2 hours. In the event, we made it safely to the marina in the town basin even though the echo sounder was reading 0.0 metres below the keel at approaching half tide. When it is time to leave I think we will plan to cast off at half tide rising! The past week has been busy, making a start on all the repairs, replacements etc. To date the fuel gauge sensor was ordered and has been refitted, the injectors have been removed, serviced and replaced, the water tank has been removed and taken off to have some repairs welded. On Friday the EPIRBs are going to a service agent in Aukland, one to have a new battery, the other to have its registration changed from the USA to UK. The liferaft is also going to a service agent in Aukland to, hopefully, be repaired and repacked. Finally, John will visit a plastic welding company to discuss the design of the holding tank which needs replacing. One of the tasks last week was to go to a southern suburb of Aukland to collect the car we had arranged to buy so we do have transport. This weekend we intend to try out our new mini motorhome. It's actually an elderly Toyota Estima/Previa people carrier with the rear seats and seat belts removed, a wooden framework installed to support a mattress with stowage underneath and a guaranteed buy-back. Kiwi Cruise Control usually deals with gap year youngsters and backpackers so the crews of Caduceus, Trillium and Starblazer rather raise the average age of their clients! We will find out if we are supple enough to dress/undress in the car. We have bought a small, very inexpensive (NZ$16, £8) dome tent so we don't have to pack away the table, chairs, gas rings, pots, pans etc. in the car every time which should make the whole experience more enjoyable. There are a lot of DOC (Department of Conservation) sites which are inexpensive, basic and fairly isolated in lovely areas. So long as there is a water supply and a toilet we are happy. The showers tend to be cold so we have to find our solar shower or buy a replacement. The advantage of being based in Whangarei is the proximity to a wide range of shops and services, including an outdoor sports and camping shop and a big discount Warehouse Extra. We can easily source any requirements to make our camping experience more luxurious! Joyce

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