Over the past couple weeks, we have been busy with boat projects.  Monty has been working non-stop, checking and charging batteries, cleaning, polishing, greasing, etc.  On a calm day, I helped him go up the mast and put up our new lazy jacks.

Replacing the lazy jacks

Last Sunday, we took an afternoon off and drove to the Waipu caves to saw the famous glow worms.  That was interesting.  Once your eyes adjusted, the ceiling of the cave looked like the night sky.  We stopped at The Pizza Barn in Waipu for pizza  and drove to the coast to see the beaches.  On our way back to Whangarei, we took a detour to visit the Waipu Golf Course.  It has a lovely view over looking Bream Bay.  The gal in the Proshop said that the course was just recovering from a very hot dry summer.  It sits on sand, so it is hard to keep the grass green, but it did not look bad.  They have a deal on Thursdays, a dollar a hole.  Maybe we try it out sometime.

On Thursday, our sailmaker, Willis Sails, delivered our new main and genoa.

Craig and Dave from Willis Sails with Monty, with the new mail sail

They look great and are beautifully made.  Craig made some major changes to the design from what we had before and from the sail plan that we got from the boat designer.   Craig said the old genoa was too short and had been made with cross-cut dacron but cut in a radial design.   He cut the foot and clue of the genoa much higher to provide a better sheet angle.  The old mainsail was too tall and had been recut to fit after the fact. Craig reduced the size of our main, cut it with less roach and reduced the number of battens.  We are excited to test out our new sails.

Whistler’s new main and genoa

On Friday, we had light winds again, so we also rigged our screecher (bigger foresail for light winds).

We got close to buying a new dinghy but weren’t happy with the options available.  We heard that Northland Inflatables does good work repairing dinghies.  Tim is usually booked up for a month or more in the busy season, but had a window in his schedule so we decided to take our old one in to him.  Monty rowed it across the river to Tim’s pull-out.  We should get another season or two out of it.  Tim thought he could get it back to us within a week.

We are going to go to Auckland next Tuesday or Wednesday to see our life raft opened.  The reason is to get an orientation in case we ever have the unfortunate need to use it.  We will have it delivered back to Whangarei after being repacked.

I have updated the software on our new Chartplotters and our navionics charts.  We purchased new charts for the South Pacific Islands too.  The old charts were on Compact Flash Cards, but our new chartplotters take Micro SD cards.  We found out we could trade in our old cards for new ones and get 2 for 1.

I planted some herbs in some pots I bought last year.  We will see how far they get this season. Last year my plants got a bug infestation, so I bought some natural safe-to-eat bug deterrent spray.  No one wants bugs on a boat!  We had friends on Mango Moon who kept their NZ herbs for the cruising season in Fiji.  They still looked amazingly healthy in October.

Herb garden in our solarium

Sharron, one of the marina staff, invited a group of the cruising gals to her home for a “clothing exchange” on Friday evening.  After a glass of wine, a few were brave enough to model some of the items.  I won’t publish the pics, as I would not want to reveal too much!  It was a giggle.

Mintou modeling a top

The same night was a potluck bbq on our so-called catamaran dock so Monty was not “home alone”!

Weather has been very mixed and changeable here.  One minute it is sunny and the next, raining.  We have had some deluges. We returned our rental car, so we have been walking or biking to get around.  We try to pick a time when it looks like we won’t get caught in a shower.

On Saturday, we biked out to Port Whangarei to see some friends.  Citrus Tart and Kiapa were both there, busy painting their boats before it rained.  It was nice to see them again.  Citrus Tart had been with us in Fulanga a couple years ago.  We are hoping to do some cruising with them again this season!  We had spent some time with Kiapa (kiting in Fiji) last season.  Sadly for us, Lionel and Irene are selling Kiapa and planning to do more land travel in Australia.  We will miss them!

Kaipa at Port Whangarei

We also stopped in at Riverside and had a brief visit with friends on Eagles Wings, Althea, Erie Spirit and Kinabalu there.  Then Monty noticed the Northland Inflatables’ garage door open so we had a brief chat with Tim.  He discovered our dinghy was actually an Aquapro, made in NZ, and shipped to Canada to be sold under the Titan name.   He suggested buying new handles rather than trying to take the glue off the old ones that were pretty hammered from UV.  We agreed.

After our bike ride, we went for a hike to the lookout over Whangarei.

View looking south east from the lookout.

It is really quite amazing to see a section of preserved sub-tropical forest with Kauri trees and giant ferns.  I will try to get back and take some more photos before we head off.  The ferns are 30 feet high.  A sign said the Kauris are dying off from something (possibly from whatever we bring into the forest on our shoes) but there are still some magnificent ones to admire.

Forest trail with a seemingly endless stairway

Tonight, we are going to an event put on by the Indonesian Tourism Board.  They are hosting a complimentary dinner and drink, and some entertainment.  The interest from the cruisers was so keen it was “sold out”.   We are looking forward to hearing about cruising in Indonesia, their Sail2Indonesia Rally as well as mixing with some friends.

In the next week or so, we are hoping to get our Iridium Go’s marine antenna working better.  Last year, we spent a lot of money installing the marine antenna on our arch and running expensive LMR400 cable. The reception of the satellite signal was so bad that we ended up using the Iridium Go device by itself, moving it around the boat to get a stronger signal. We want to keep the Iridium Go safe and out of the direct sun where it could overheat.  Our electrician, Scott, says he heard another more flexible cable can be installed which would eliminate two tail cables and three connectors.  In theory, this should give us better reception.  Monty has ordered a new SIM card for the Iridium Go.  We need that to be able to test the system.  Hopefully FedEx will have it here next week.

The last item on our list is to pick up our cockpit cushions that are being recovered in Auckland. Picking vinyl fabric was a real dilemma for me.  Our old cushions were covered in a tough leather-looking off-white vinyl.  The available choices of marine vinyl in NZ don’t compare to what we saw in Canada.  Most of the cost of recovering is the labour, so you want to choose a long-wearing durable fabric.  We just had to pick one that has been used for years in the marine industry and trust it will work. They are supposed to be ready before Easter.

We hope to get out cruising in the local waters soon, at least by Easter.  Hopefully the weather cooperates. Then we will be waiting for a window to leave for Tonga, with the hope that we can stop at Minerva Reef on the way.

A blog without a sunrise/sunset shot?  Thanks to Monty who alerted me to this sunrise!

From the end of our dock at sunrise

Watch for a blog on Whangarei Market Day coming soon.  I must get out for a walk as the rain as stopped and Monty needs a break from scrubbing every inch of the cockpit!