Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Tide has Turned

April 11, 2012 

We wanted to say hello to all and hope your Easter Sunday was as full of chocolate bunnies, chocolate eggs and egg hunts as ours. Here in NZ it's Easter Monday, so we celebrated with all Kiwis on April 8th - 9th. Tamsyn began making her basket a couple days before. She remembered how we made them last year (hand woven with colored paper). Then she made one for Griffyn. She is so competent these days. She has been getting up before us to make breakfast. Today it was scrambled eggs, apple slices and tea. Lovely.

We have just experienced 3 - that's 'three' - full days of warm sunshine. It is hard to express how much we needed that vitamin D: how much it has lifted our spirits. I spent an an afternoon painting with Sylvie on Puddy Tat. We went on our favorite hike, along the beach from Opua to Pahia (2 1/2 hours). Then we ran into the family from S/V Pegasus who drove up to Opua from Auckland for the weekend. Tamsyn and Griffyn were so excited to have kids to play with, they were jumping and hugging. (The last kid boat with English speaking children left Opua 3 weeks ago.) Catherine (Pegasus) invited us to come with them to the play ground in Pahia. While the kids played, we all talked about how difficult NZ has been (for them in Aukland and us in Opua) and how much we can't wait to sail north to warmer waters.  We talked about where we might go next (no certain plans yet). We were so cheered to see them again! After they drove back to Auckland, we felt lazy and happy to have warm sunshine again. 

I was able to wash sheets on the boat and hang them out to dry. Then Griffyn washed the decks with the soapy water. (We have had to use the laundry mat for the last month.) We have had so much rain, one local headline read, "60 Days of Rain in 36 hours" and that headline was 3 weeks ago (two storms back). The last storm (40-50 knot winds, rain for 6 days straight) was our second "storm" and the mere "gale" winds (30-40 knots) following with it was probably our 7th or 8th gale since December. We are averaging one gale every other week. I didn't feel compelled to write about the last storm/gale situation because it was so much like the others - and I have to admit the weather was getting us down. Our living space is reduced by half when we cannot go up on deck.

There has been tons of flooding all over North Island and as a result there are stray logs & debris floating. The last Securitee Warning was for a floating log 10 meters long! in the waters between Pahia and Opua. A couple days ago we saw a 4 meter tree tied up to the main dinghy dock. And the debris - it's hunks of wood and great big sticks, floating on brown foam mixed with smaller sticks, leaves, seaweed, and garbage. And the water has changed from a thick pea soup green to a dark chocolate brown. When the tide changes there is a tide line of foam in the water where two tones of brown converge forming a long swerving line of foam across the whole bay. The days where we can safely take out the camera have been few and far between. 

On the bright side our boat is much drier these days. Between gales and rain storms, Owen dashes out and spreads 4200 (heavy duty caulking for boats) around the trim all over the cabin house, around every port, around every attachment point for the hand rail. He repairs every spot where a wood plug (bung) has come loose and a screw is exposed. The people who owned this boat before us would fix a loose something or other by pounding a nail through it - so there were a lot of little holes that needed to be fiberglassed or caulked. We were actually a little excited the last time it rained hard - wanting to see how dry the boat would stay. And we were pleasantly surprised. Dry as a bone. I no longer bake on rainy days either - to avoid condensation. 

Owen has almost completely finished the pedestal - he needs one more sunny day for varnish - (today it is raining again.) The battery bank seems to be doing O.K. We run the engine to charge them more often now. At some point, outside of NZ, we will replace the gel starter battery with a new lead-acid one. But for now the systems is holding. Owen has replaced a number of corroded 12 volt outlets (you know the old salt water and metal thing), and fixed some shoddy wiring in the 12 volt system to boot. He has changed the engine oil again. And though that sounds so simple it too turned out to be a 6 hour job as our normal hex nut plug in the oil pan froze, so we had to suck the oil out through the dig stick hole (which a majority of cruisers do anyway). Thank God for David on S/V Puddy Tat - he has been there every time there is a problem. There are still a couple large projects that need to be done on Madrona, but the list is definitely getting shorter. 

Sylvie (S/V Puddy Tat) has been a great friend to me. She keeps coming up with ideas for selling her work online - the latest is fabric designs. She is entering a contest online - I'll be looking into it as well. And Sue on S/V Fugue has contracted a design for a knitting project from me. (She loves my paintings.) I am currently playing with her favorite one to design a pattern for a scarf. There are a lot of sites these days for marketing creative ideas. And I have begun an article about Tamsyn's Birthday at Minerva Reef - which I will submit to one of the cruising journals. (I'll keep you posted.) 

And Owen has got some things going with his business. Fiji has better internet connectivity than New Zealand so maybe we will sail there next. Anyway… we are past the "winter hump" here on North Island where this summer has been the worst in 20 years. The weather here has been more like their typical winter. For us the tide has turned in our favor and we are feeling mighty grateful.

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