Despite the fact that Whistler is a very sound boat, no boat wants to be left idle for so long. Overall she is in good condition, thanks to Larry, her caretaker. She appears to have aged at about the same rate as us in the last 30 months. Batteries were topped up, boat was dry and no funky boat smell. What else could we ask for?

We had scheduled replacement of our Raymarine chart plotters, which was covered by warranty. On passage from Fiji to New Zealand in 2019, the chartplotters had a mind of their own, flashing between menus and not responding to the touch screen. We were days away from the warranty expiring, but they were covered!

At the same time, we upgraded our other electronics to i70s. The autopilot and its display on the right had been replaced in 2019.

On our last passage, the Quantum radar’s performance was very doggy, not holding onto targets and not seeing boats which were only a few miles away. The Raymarine specialists in Auckland checked it but could not find any fault. We decided to sell it and buy the newer model, Quantum 2 which has Doppler. It was installed after we arrived.

Our engines got a thorough maintenance by Marsden Cove Marine. On top of regular oil and filter changes, on engine got a new starter and both got new raw water pumps.

A fresh coat of PropSpeed was applied and Monty greased the props.

Our port side helm seat was recovered with fabric we brought from Canada. It was a close match to the fabric on our double helm seat.

The hulls and underside of the bridge decks were cut-polished and waxed. Gentle, hard-working Iain is a gem!

Monty and Larry installed new solar panels on the stern arch. Larry seems to know something about everything on boats. We are grateful to have his help.

Monty investigates the steering issue we had in Wallis in 2019.

Steve, a mechanic with Marsden Cove Marine, digs further into our steering. He had been at sea for 30 years, keeping fishing boats running. He knew a thing or two about mechanical systems. He removed the gear box, a couple sheared off bolts and re-installed it with steel bolts which he says are much stronger than stainless steel. He remarked that he never understood why most boat builders use stainless steel in some applications were steel would be much more suitable.

We spent an hour laying out and measuring our anchor chain, adding markers every 10m. It was a “silly hour” for Monty and me. Measuring and remeasuring! Anyone watching would have thought we had been into the beer! To make sure the new chain would be happy, Monty installed a new Gypsy on the windlass.

Mark from Mach5 did a rig check. Nothing much to note as the boat had had all the standing rigging replaced in 2019.

I have been working my way around the boat, polishing the stainless steel stanchions, shackles, etc. Fortunately, it was in pretty good “nick”, so it is coming back nicely with some effort and patience. Monty says by the time I finish, it will be time to start again!

We have been trying to keep the boat clean, but it is a struggle with trades constantly coming on board. These tracks were left by a friend, who dropped by to see how we were doing. He had just been painting antifouling on another boat. Boat soap and hose came out as soon as he left.

Monty noticed a little drip coming from a waste water through-hull. We hired a plumber to investigate. After a week of labour hours, the pipes from the toilet to the through-hull were all replaced, the through-hull valves and toilets were taken apart and serviced with new o-rings but there were still leaks. We ordered new toilets, not an easy task to locate new toilets with supply chain issues. Cayla at the local Jabsco distributor, Lusty & Blundell, was very accommodating by swapping parts from different toilet models to make up a package with what we wanted. After one toilet was installed, the ball valve to the through-hull decided to leak worse than ever! We were forced to cancel splashing the next morning.

We decided to hire a different plumber and he ordered a new ball valve for the through-hull. Fingers crossed, and “butts clenched”, Monty added, that this solves the leak! Hopefully next week the boat will get back in the water.

Due to the slow pace of maintenance, our stay at a nearby AirBNB got extended from week to week to week. We ended up staying for a month. Someone had it booked for the Queen’s Birthday long weekend here, so we moved to the only motel that was not too far away.

Monty went to check out the communal barbecue at the motel and, as he lifted the lid, a mouse stared back saying: “Get lost! This is my home!” We alerted the office and they gave it a pressure wash! We braved hamburgers that night, our first barbecue since we arrived. The motel unit has a comfortable super-king bed, kitchenette and a large ensuite bath with jacuzzi bath tub that would fit 2! The kitchenette is stocked with the usual, 2 plates, two glasses, two knives, two forks, etc. They offer meals delivered if you don’t want to cook yourself. The TV has a several more channel options than the AirBnB, including sports and movie channels. We managed to catch the last part of the Queen’s Jubilee half a world away on the telly this morning! Daily cleaning is a nice feature but we do pay for it. While I was taking some laundry down from the line out the back of the motel, I noticed a lime tree with ripe fruit ready for the picking. While I unclipped the clothes, hundreds of sparrows flocked to a stand of tall trees. The dense foliage hides them from view. They make quite the racket till they settle down and, then, not a peep till dawn. The motel manager says they have received complaints about the noise the birds make when they start up around 5am! We are fine with it as we are usually awake then anyway!

We have done the tour of local restaurants within a 25 minute drive but eating out gets a bit old. Our accommodations have allowed us to have the majority of our meals “at home”.

We regularly debate moving onto the boat while she is “on the hard”. Life on the hardstand is not a breeze. It is a long walk from the boat to the communal unheated shower stall and toilet, one of women, one for men. At night, you have to pee in a bucket, unless you want to negotiate the ladder in the dark and make a quarter mile to the toilets. Gray water from the galley flows down the drain to the asphalt yard below. People we have met who have been living in the yard since we arrived include:

  • A family with two young girls on an older Outremer catamaran. A steady stream of trades have been working on their boat.
  • A couple from UK/Europe are fixing a disastrous attempt at copper coat antifouling that was applied by their friend while they were locked out.
  • A seasoned American cruiser who seems a bit shy. We heard is a retired sommelier. Each time he is asked about when he plans to splash, the answer is always the same, “In a couple weeks.” At least his mast is back on.
  • One boat yard manager lives in a trailer with her cat.

With many of our tools, supplies and household goods taken out of lockers and kite gear stowed in the berths, we can hardly visual living aboard till the maintenance is mostly complete and the boat is on the water.

To my relief, the batteries for my old DJI Phantom 4 drone decided to take a charge. Larry had been putting a charge on them for me occasionally which, no doubt, kept them from becoming “bricked”. I updated the software for the aircraft and controller and on a nice calm Saturday, with no one around, I did a test flight.

Here is Whistler at Marsden Cove Marina Hardstand with Monty busy replacing rubber tape on the anchor locker lid which had disintegrated with time. Thanks to Christian, our boat’s former owner, for marking where the rubber tape should be laid in the lids. He was so methodical.

Below is our SE corner of the large yard. Already an impressive gated yard, Marsden Cove has big expansion plans. The marina is owned by the Port of Marsden. There are plans to decommission the refinery at the tip of Marsden Cove. Many more homes with canal access and adjacent docks and town home complexes are to be built in the area. The size of the hard-stand is to be doubled, paving a section directly behind our boat. Lots of boats are expected to come to New Zealand for cyclone season, now that the lockdowns are over. If you build it…

Overall, the weather has been good with highs cooling down from about 22 degrees when we arrived to about 19, cooler when the southerly winds from Antartica kick in. Afternoon showers are common. A couple deep lows have passed over us yielding heavy rain and strong winds, one delivering 50 knots in the marina.

We have kept an eye on the weather in Whistler, BC, which continues to be cool and wet. Monty says we are not missing anything back at home! Though winter is coming on here, at least we have had a change of scene here!

With the frequent showers come rainbows. I was about to polish some gelcoat when Monty brought this rainbow to my attention. A few minutes later it rained and my work surface was wet. Time to quit for the day!