Whistler back on the dock at Whangarei Marina

On April 12th, we were launched and motored back to the dock in Whangarei.  It was nice to be on the dock again.

The marina life provides numerous opportunities to mix with other cruisers from all over the world.  We have come across some familiar faces and made many new acquaintances.  We seem to have spent most of our time with Americans and Canadians.  We have also made some new European, Australian and New Zealand friends.

The social calendar has been full of events like BBQs at the marina office, dinners on other boats, pot lucks on our private pontoon (with a guetto blaster featuring music of the late Prince and a bit of dancing!), a “navigation” soiree in our saloon, happy hour with 2 for 1 burgers at a local grill, trivia night at a pub and a farewell dinner hosted by the local businesses with Mauri entertainers.  It is a wonder anyone leaves!  It is reminiscent of Hotel California!


Navigation night in our saloon with cruisers from Alberta and Seattle

On a few occasions, we have pushed the tool boxes aside, cleared the table and made enough space in the cockpit to have a few people over.

Appetizers for cocktails in the cockpit

Appetizers for cocktails in the cockpit

Warning:  Talking about maintenance may put many to sleep!  Skip to “Where we are now” if that is not of interest!

Despite having the loving care of a conscientious, technically-inclined former owner, when a boat is almost ten years old, some things just need to be fixed or replaced. Other Antares owners have been so helpful and willing to give advice through the owners forum! Also, the designer of the boat and the current management of Antares have been providing resources.

It has been challenging (and expensive) tackling the maintenance.  It has also been rewarding as we slowly work to resolve them and, at the same time, get a better understanding of our boat.  Cruising a boat and maintaining a boat are two different things, though they overlap.  We have learned a great deal in the last 6 weeks.

Many cruisers have been helpful and generous with their time, advice and information.  As an example, when Monty appeared to be struggling with a rigging problem on our coach roof, our friend, Frank on a catamaran across the dock politely asked, “Need a hand?”  He has been so helpful and shown Monty lots of tricks, including splicing!  Others have given us guides and charts for Tonga, Vanuatu and New Cal.  It is such a great group!

Mark and Sarah and their children, Elizabeth and Michael, from another Antares called Field Trip, have been at the marina too.  It is nice to get to know them a bit better, in person.  When he drops by the boat, it has a bit like going to Antares University!  He and Sarah have been very helpful with so many things, offering their experience and point of view when we asked.

Our boat has been turned upside down much of the time as our lockers and hatches had to be open for access to engines, wiring and electronics.  We have also been trying to organize, inventory and pack away our provisions.

Canned goods to be stored

Canned goods to be stored

We had a rig check in the fall and had it reviewed again when we were on the hard.  Monty and/or the rigger have replaced, repaired, cleaned or lubricated everything that they could find that needed attention.

Monty was looking into ordering a Harken part from a local chandlery.  When we bought one last June, it cost about $200US plus $100 shipping, that time to Fiji.  He was quoted $1200 NZ by the local chandlery!  The exchange rate is about 70cents to the US dollar, so go figure! Some things, like lamb and cheese, are reasonable in NZ, but parts coming from outside of the country can be very expensive!

Simon and Pat, our stainless steel guys, reinforced the arch.  We saw that Field Trip and Rehua, the other Antares here in New Zealand, had installed bars between the arch and the coachroof so we decided to do the same.  The arch which holds our dinghy, life-raft and solar panels is very solid now.

Getting our oven to work has been a saga.  We have ordered a part from the US and hope to get it delivered this coming week.  It sure would be nice to have a working oven before we leave NZ!

While Monty was putting the boat to bed last September, he noticed a bird was leaving debris around the boat.  He thought he had covered all the possibly entry points on the boom with netting, but while we were in Canada, a bird had found its way in and been very busy! The car for the outhaul and reefing lines was jammed with nest material.  It was quite an operation, with help from friends, to remove the end of the boom and then clean everything.


When Monty raised the main sail, he found some some poop stains on it, such a convenient place to go, next to the nest!  Steve Frewin, the skipper of the boat Monty (and I) raced on, can relate!


Last Friday, a young auto-mechanic spent all day with us, working on our oil pressure gauges, and finally got them working.  A few days later, we started up the engines and one of the gauges was malfunctioning again.  Story to be continued!

I seem to be busy all the time but there is always more to do!  Monty tells me often that all I do it sit on my _ _ _  and work on the computer!   I have been spending a lot of time researching getting parts we needed and coordinating trades in addition to trying to get the technology and communication stuff working.  It has been a busy time, but we have not been as active as we are used to.  That will change once we get away from the dock!

We had problems with reception on our Iridium Go (satellite) last year.  There were days when we could not receive or transmit.  Many hours were spent by our electrician and stainless steel guy to relocate the marine antenna to the arch but it was still not working.  More hours logged chasing down the problem, and finally, the marine antenna and Iridium Go seem to be working.  I wish we had more confidence in the fix!

We installed a Wifi Booster and router to improve the wifi reception while in port.  Now we can both be on the internet at the same time!  YEAH! No more conflicts over who can use the wifi network!  It is supposed to allow us to stream videos from our computer to Apple TV, but, despite numerous calls to Apple Support, no resolution has been found.  I have to talk to other cruisers who have AppleTV and compare notes.  I’ll also be taking the Apple TV in for a hardware check on Monday.

We updated our AIS’s software so that it would have Anchor Watch, something long promised by the manufacturer.  We can now set an alarm function that alerts us if our anchor drags.  That will be useful!  We also got the AIS app installed on our iPads so that we can monitor things from them.

We had a plumber come to fix a number of things.  Now I will be able to take a shower and not get scalded by the hot water! He also got our salt water faucet in the galley sink working, without leaking, and he isolated the problem with our electric toilet not flushing properly.  We ordered a new solenoid for the toilet, which was out of stock in NZ and had to come from the US, of course! It is now installed and working well so we have two working heads again!

Our SSB/Ham radio did not work last year either.  We gave up on the KISS ground and installed a ground shoe on the hull. We hope it will work better this season, especially after I spent so many hours taking the Ham radio course this winter.  I have been able to talk to other boats in the marina, but none of us can hear the cruiser nets very well, as there is too much interference at the marina.  The real test will be when we get off shore.

Monty has been inspecting the boat for signs of corrosion and has tackled cleaning and lubricating various moving parts like our windlass.  His brothers might even be impressed with all the new skills he has acquired.

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Lubricating the windlass

I went to Opua to attend a medical seminar for the cruisers.  The doctor presenting was a Canadian from Manitoba!  Our medical kit is now updated. You just never know when you might need that a good antibiotic for a coral cut!

A month ago, when being relaunched, Monty found a little leak around the transducer (sonar).  It stopped after about 20 minutes. We debated with the yard about re-hauling immediately, but the yard was so busy that we would not have been able to relaunch for another 3 weeks!  The UV exposure would have damaged for our new anti-fouling paint so we decided to go back in the water.  It is also much nicer hanging out at the marina than on the hard.  Over the last month, it did not leak again.  We consulted with a variety of cruisers and “old salts” who had differing views on the need to fix it before going offshore.

Then Monty ran into Peter, the guy who looked after the boat over the months we were in Canada. He said “it is not a matter of if we haul out, but when”.  He said you would not be able to relax, worrying about it, and if it did leak again, it would be not be quick or inexpensive to fix in some exotic island in the South Pacific!  So we decided to haul out here in Whangarei again. The haul out went smoothly and we had the transducer pulled the same day.  The reason for the leak was found: some sikaflex was missing on one side.

Hole in the boat!

We have a hole in the boat!


The transducer (sonar), getting cleaned up

We are told the transducer will be put back in place in the hull and resealed on Monday.

Where we are now:

We were moved to a position in the yard with a water view again, how nice! Our boat was left on the trailer so it seems higher than last time!  I am getting pretty used to going up and down a ladder.  The practice I had as a kid climbing up the ladder into our hayloft has come in handy!

Climbing up the ladder.

Climbing up the ladder.

Whislter on the trailer

Whislter on the trailer.

The days are pretty short now and the boat is covered in dew in the morning.  Winter is approaching in NZ.  We are told we will be relaunched on Tuesday which is ahead of schedule.  We plan to go back up to Whangarei Marina for a few more repairs and wait for a weather window.

A slew of boats just left NZ, as many cruisers’ 6 month visas were expiring. It was amazing to see the Whangarei Marina clear out so quickly!  We are watching their reports on yit.nz.

You will be able to watch our reports and position there once we leave.  Just click on the tab “See Whistler on the Map” and then “Yachts in Transit”.

We are happy to get our projects completed and wait for a good weather window.  One is coming!

We promise future blogs will have more pictures of exotic places!  At least that is our intention!

Please send us a comment and keep in touch with us!  We appreciate hearing from you!