Devastating news….so we’re on our way home.

This morning, Sunday, in the early hours Richard couldn’t sleep with the noise of the rain hitting the coachroof so he turned the iPad on. He spotted emails to me from both my brother and my sister which is unusual and I was almost too frightened to call them back. The news was terrible – mum had passed away – and I’m absolutely devastated.

This poem says it all.

Every time I smile,
Every time I sigh,
I think of your face,
And a tear escapes my eye.

You were my world,
My inspiration and my heart,
But when you left me,
I thought I would fall apart.

You were my best friend,
My one true confidant,
And that’s not all you were.
You were also my mum.

I don’t want to live without you,
But you would have wanted me to,
And if there’s anyone I want to make happy,
That anyone is you.

I would give anything to have you back,
But I know now that it was meant to be,
For you are still watching from up there,
And I know you’re watching me.

I’ll make you proud, Mom.
I’m going to fulfill your wish.
You’re going to see me and smile.
That’s a daughter’s promise.

Here’s the last family photo I have of my brother, mum and me…..

Rest In Peace Mum – enjoy your reunions up there with those that have gone before – and know that I will always love you. You will never be forgotten and will always be in my heart.

So what next? We are going to pack the boat up quickly and fly out of here on Wednesday, arriving in London on Thursday afternoon. We are leaving Morphie in the water and will ask the marina to keep an eye on her. So this will be my last blog for a while. We don’t know how long we will be home for, obviously, so subscribe to the blog (using the link on the right-hand side) and you’ll then get an email to let you know when I start it up again.

Bye for now

Exploring Northland (part 2) and back to Morphie

Sunday morning we were disappointed to wake up to very heavy rain. We had a coffee, said our farewells to John, packed our belongings in our car before heading into next door’s art gallery / cafe for breakfast. John had said he used to own the antique store / restaurant prior to extending his house….so we think that the art gallery / cafe remains in his ownership due to the style of some of the contents.

Leaving Rawene, we drove through the gloom and down the west coast going into the Waipoua Forest until we reached where we wanted to go.

We parked the car, went through the biosecurity gates washing our shoes to ensure we did not bring any invasive species into the forest, and followed the walk through until we reached Tane Manuta. His name stands for the Lord of the Forest – and he is the largest of the ancient Kauri trees.  Even in the rain he was pretty spectacular!

Moving back to the car we carried on down the coast towards Bailys Beach. This is another beach road and we hoped for some good views and maybe somewhere to stay if the resort was interesting. Well….in the gloom….we carefully followed the road up and down until we finally arrived at the sand car park. But we couldn’t see the sea…and we didn’t fancy walking in the torrential rain. So we aborted and drove back to the main town of Dargaville which sits on the main highway. This was another depressed small town. Hmm….it is such a shame to see dilapidated properties in such a spectacular, scenic area. There must be a lack of work opportunities outside farming and the odd manufacturing base in this region and it showed.

Moving swiftly on we decided to head across the middle of the island to Whangarei. We have pencilled in spending some time here on Morpheus later in the year so we thought we’d take a look. The Town Basin marina (about 12 miles up the river) looked pretty central and was surrounded by a walkway of cafes, bars and local artisan type craft stores. This is a pretty big place and we thought it looked OK but we drove through some pretty depressed areas here in the city too. We had thought about staying overnight but the rain was getting us down and we didn’t really fancy doing other tourist sights (like the local glow worm caves or waterfalls) and decided to drive back to Morphie instead.

So we went to the local supermarket to pick up some fresh produce for dinner and some drinking vouchers. We were in the store about 10 minutes total and, when we came back, some b*****d had reversed into our yellow peril and done some damage. Thankfully the boot still opened! Very fed up as there was no note nor CCTV in the car park….. Sigh…..

We drove on the main highway north towards Kawakawa. We were pretty hungry so decided to stop at the local bakers for a pie….yumm….. By now the weather had started to clear up.

We then visited the local toilets which were designed by Austrian-born artist and eco-architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser who lived nearby – they are typical of his work with organic wavy lines decorated with ceramic mosaics and brightly coloured bottles. All very bizarre!

From there we had to take a detour back to Opua as the main coast highway was closed due to a landslide. We followed the route and ended up back on Morphie – glad to be home. She was relatively warm and welcoming down below so we ended up having a quiet movie night on board.

Monday morning we telephoned Wayne from Rent-a-Dent and told him about the car. He told us that we were liable for the first $2,000 worth of damage. We were not happy with that as I knew that would probably be an excess but, hey, the car probably wasn’t even worth that much.  So I quoted his own document back to him saying that, as we had taken his insurance, we were indemnified against any losses. He denied knowing anything about this – despite it being in the small print on his own contract – and said he’d look into it.

Anyway….we had the car for another day… we took ourselves off to Kerikeri to do another large provisioning run. We also stopped at a couple of places to try and get our propane bottle filled – but, despite it being a recognised manufacturer (Worthington), they won’t fill it without a NZ LAB number. Hmmmm….this is getting difficult……we are down to half a bottle of gas only right now. If we can’t get them filled we are going to have to purchase new ones and the size of our lockers – as our cylinders are designed to be used horizontally – are quite tight.

On our return we were delighted to find that our new hot water tank had arrived in the marina so we went to SeaPower and organised John to come and fit it on Tuesday. In the evening we had another quiet night.

Tuesday morning we were up early and cleared the aft cabin in preparation for the hot water tank to be fitted. Well…we waited…and waited….and John had got caught up in another job so it wasn’t going to happen. Richard returned to see Wayne and he had now decided to waive any costs of the damage…. So that was a result at least!

We got all our stuff back in the saloon from the cockpit, locked up, and took ourselves off to the Cruisers Lounge and caught up on some internet stuff. We are looking at routes home from New Zealand later in the year so wanted to price up all the different options – and, hopefully, get some more exploring done on the way. Later on I did the laundry while Richard did some other boat jobs – like topping up the water tank as the water maker remains pickled until we get back out on the hook. We had another early night.

Wednesday and John was here bright and early. The new water tank was fitted and then Mike came onboard to do the final electrical installation. Everything was turned on….and it filled up and worked. Hot water has been resumed onboard. Yay!  Richard filled up the coolant bottle on the engine as we had lost some during this work and that was it. Later on in the day Hans came by and returned the radar – the interesting news was that Raymarine could find no fault with it at all. In the workshop it connected both via a cable and also via its built-in wifi. Hmmmmm….curious!  We couldn’t install it, though, as no rigger was available.

Later on – after luxuriating in the hot showers on board – we headed to the Cruisers Club to meet some people whom we had met last year in Tonga and had a nice social evening with them.

Thursday and Hans turned up along with Brett, the rigger. We were hoping that Rob would be back as he climbs like a monkey and it is really easy getting him up the mast – Brett is a much bigger lad and it takes a bit of hard work to hoist him up LOL. Anyway….the radar was reinstalled….plugged in…..and we lowered Brett back down.

Hans turned everything on – ensured power was connected etc – and, guess what, the plotter still could not be paired to the radar, either physically through the data cable or through the wifi function. And….at this point….the plotter went crazy starting doing some strange things. Hans was on the phone to Raymarine (Australia) for a few hours trying different options and, in the end, they decided that the plotter was crocked. Apparently this has only happened once since the Axiom Pros had been introduced and sod’s law that the second event would be us!  So the plotter was uninstalled and taken away.   After another uneventful day we had another quiet movie night on board.

Friday morning Hans turned up with a brand-new plotter out of the box which had been couriered up to us overnight from Auckland.  Pretty impressive!   He plugged it all in and it found the external GPS / the Vesper AIS system / the autopilot / the depth gauge / the wind gauge / the speed gauge….but NOT the radar!  So although the new plotter was working fine it still couldn’t find the radar…. Hans was completely perplexed by all this…. At least the plotter and all other equipment is working – but a real mystery. Hans went off again to talk to Australia.   We then had a boring afternoon just waiting around – Richard did some boat jobs but I just read a book….    I’m convinced this problem is a software bug!  Hans phoned us again later and said that Australia had a few ideas and he would return on Monday to try them out. Very frustrating for all concerned!   We had another movie night on board staying warm and dry – it was absolutely horrible out.

Saturday morning and the weather remained awful – pouring rain and heavy wind gusts. So we had a bit of a lay in and then headed up to the laundry. On the way back to Morphie we watched the small boats coming in from their race day…pretty impressive how they sailed in a line to get onto the dock!

We returned, did a few more internal boat jobs, and then headed out to the Cruisers Club for the evening. It was rammed with people from other yacht clubs who had come to cheer on their boats….and there was a live band playing. We sat outside on the terrace for a few hours with our coats on and then headed back to Morphie.

Bye for now


Exploring Northland, New Zealand – part 1

Monday morning we did the laundry first thing. Afterwards we pulled the new radar data cable through all the way from under the mast to the plotter at the binnacle in preparation for Tuesday when Hans was coming by to swap the radar domes over and commission the entire new system. I was struggling with my back so after that I rested up while Richard continued to tie wrap all the new cables throughout the boat. Both pretty tired we had a quiet night on board.

Tuesday morning Hans and Rob (the rigger) turned up to pull the cables through the mast. Rob climbed up like a monkey with very little assistance from Richard who just kept the halyard taut.

Rob unscrewed the old Garmin unit and replaced it with the new Raymarine unit. Then he pushed – whilst Hans pulled – the replacement Raymarine data and power cables through the mast. They got stuck a few times in the mast so they were at it for a while. All done! Yay….

Unfortunately we couldn’t connect the cables under the mast as we needed special connectors which hadn’t arrived yet. This would mean that all cables could be unattached easily if the mast ever needed to be taken down.

Later on we headed to the Cruisers Lounge to catch up on line….and have hot showers…by the time we had finished it was late so we headed to the Cruisers Club for dinner before returning to Morphie for the night.

Wednesday morning and John. from Seapower turned up. We weren’t expecting him so were still in bed LOL. He came back an hour later when he realised. By that time we were at least dressed and had cleared the aft cabin for him to check the remaining hoses for the hot water tank reinstallation. He just wanted to make sure they had the appropriate hoses in store for when our new hot water tank turned up. About that, we had finally got customs clearance and had paid them their NZ $50 for opening the package….and it was now cleared for delivery. Woo hoo!

We then did a photo shoot in preparation for the sale of our redundant electronic equipment…although there was a glitch with our opening a TradeMe account (New Zealand’s answer to eBay and Amazon (neither of which are very big here). We aren’t allowed to trade without being NZ residents apparently. Oh well….never mind….it was a nice idea! eBay it will be then – we’ll just have to make sure that the purchasers know the cost of shipping from here and price our stuff accordingly.

The rest of the day we spent cleaning the boat as we had Hugh and Annie on board (SV Vega) for sundowners. We had a really nice evening and learnt a lot of useful information about their adventures down in South Island which we plan to visit early next year when it will be a bit warmer.

Thursday morning and Hans turned up. He did all the intricate welding of the connectors and we were ready. So we turned the radar on and, nothing! So we thought it might be a software update so did that…and turned it on again and, nothing! So we decided to take the physical data cable out of the loop and turn on the radar wirelessly as it has a wifi capability….and nothing! So the damn thing wasn’t working. Sigh…. Hans talked to Raymarine and they decided we had a dodgy unit. So they agreed to swap it out and pay for the re-installation time. So glad we decided to engage Hans for the commissioning as this would have been much more difficult on our own. Later on Brent turned up….we hoisted him up the mast….the radar got removed….the new cables got covered in a plastic bag….and the Raydome was returned to Auckland. A bit disappointed but never mind….it will be all sorted next week!

In the afternoon Richard worked out how to raise our new dink onto the arch….and we installed that along with security chains (now carefully enclosed in plastic piping to avoid damage to our new dinghy) and we lifted him up. We also informed our boat insurance company of the change of dinghy and our new electronic equipment for our policy.

In the meantime I re-activated our Iridium Go! unit. And, of course, it didn’t work straight away as the activation people sent the wrong e-mail (they are useless). They also charged me US$200 more than I expected. Very unhappy! I found out later, from the PredictWind support team (who are amazing and got me back on line relatively quickly), that SatPhone Store actually charge $50 for activating a new SIM but $250 for re-activating an original one. There is nothing to this effect on their website so I have concluded that SatPhone Store (Miami) are just plain sharks!!!!  It would only have cost us $95 for a new activated SIM so that’s the answer for next time I de-activate the unit. I’m determined not to let them get away with it and have sent an e-mail querying the situation but they are choosing to ignore me at the minute (the time difference makes it very difficult to talk to them in their business hours). It is a shame that PredictWind are in bed with such an awful company. If we had a choice for our airtime plan we would go elsewhere…. Rant over….   Anyway, we are back on line, so the tracker is working again so you can keep an eye on us when we leave the marina.  

Friday morning and we rented another Rent-a-Dent car from Wayne. Of course, he was 10 minutes late, but we were expecting that. What we didn’t expect was our Yellow Peril little Honda Fit LOL.

First stop was Paihia where we visited the Information Centre expecting good local advice on things to see. Hmm….not impressed. So we visited the book store and purchased a good NZ road atlas and headed out – using our Bad Elf bluetoothed to the iPad for our sat nav.

First stop was the Stone House (near Kerikeri) which established in 1819 as one of the first places in New Zealand where the Maori invited visitors to live amongst them. This was originally a Mission Society warehouse used as a trading post, library, barracks, boys’ school and also served as a general store.

Then we headed north towards Matauri Bay with absolutely stunning views along the way. This is farming country….with lots of cows, sheep and the occasional turkey on the road.

Then we visited Whangaroa which was all about oysters and boats on a serene waterway scene.

We carried on to Gumdiggers Park. This is the sight of an ancient Kauri forest. For some unknown natural disaster the trees all died and what was left was gum. Not sure about who came up with the idea, but the gum was highly sought after and was used in linoleum, glue and, in its solid state, carved into jewellery. This was the equivalent of a gold rush and many Europeans – particularly Croatians – flocked here to share in the riches. The living was difficult and basic…..

But at least they were joined by some cute rare green lizards…..

We then headed to 90 Mile Beach. We were warned by the signs that this was unsuitable for any vehicles other than 4X4…so we didn’t drive onto the beach. The place is amazing and we were very jealous of the vehicle that went driving past us onto the sand LOL.

Continuing north we visited the oldest tavern in New Zealand which was closed for a private function….never mind.

We returned back down the single highway to Pukenui where we took the last room in the motel for the night. Was a basic one-bedroomed unit but the views from the lovely gardens were pretty amazing.

We had a nice evening in the bar across the road with a fish and chip supper washed down by local sauvignon. We are pretty fed up with chips but there is very little else on the menu and we are seriously starting to hanker after fresh vegetables.

Saturday morning we headed north early after a very good breakfast.  We followed the single lane highway No 1 to the top of the island towards Cape Reinga. Was a great drive through some diverse landscape with red soil and sandy pastures covered in lots of sheep, horses and cows.

At Cape Reinga we enjoyed the views down to the lighthouse and the coming together of the South Pacific and the Tasman Sea – creating whirl pools and a confused sea state. This is also a spiritual place called Pohutukawa. Which means the place of the departing spirits in Maori culture. Just simply beautiful and amazing.

We walked to the lighthouse and took selfies along the way…..

Walking back it seemed much longer than the way down for sure LOL. Cape Reinga is the top of New Zealand’s North Island and is considered to be the Top of the Bottom of the World. Not many people we know can claim to have been there.

Back in our yellow peril we drove a short way across unmade roads to Te Paki to see the large sand dunes. We parked in the car park and rented a sand board. Richard manfully climbed – and it was huge – to the top of the dune and then surfed down…..twice! I found it difficult enough, with my dodgy legs and painful back, just to get to the bottom. Apparently he was only doing this for inclusion in the blog….I think he just had fun LOL.

Moving on we drove back down Highway 1 and then took another route through Kaitaia. This was our proposed overnight stopping place. But we found the area pretty industrial, the motels looked really shoddy and seedy, and the whole place was really rundown. So we carried on going.

We followed the highway towards Mangamuka Gorge in the Raetea Forest. Well we drove up and up….following tight chicane-style roads….and kept looking for the gorge to be signposted. Hmmmm….well picnic areas were….but nothing to see. OK…well maybe the walkway will be signposted (we think it is a wooden bridge across the gorge) but nothing. So we carried on and then realised we were heading down the mountain again. Oh well…never mind….

We continued and reprogrammed the sat nav to take us to Kohukohu. This was on the north side of the Hokiaenga harbour area. We knew there were places to stay on either side – but the ferry left on the hour every hour. And our arrival time was 3.10 pm. So Richard put himself into racing driving mode (again!) and continued to chip away at our arrival time, scaring me to death in the meantime! We arrived, finally, into Kohukohu at 2.58 and with no obvious place to stay overnight – we drove onto the ferry.

The ferry took us across to Rawene. There are a few places to stay here….so we parked the car and went for a walk. We visited the Masonic Hotel and Bar. They had no en-suite rooms available but they did have rooms….for only NZ $80 (about £42)….but with shared bathrooms…. Having had a look at the shoddy and dirty common areas we decided that this wasn’t really for us. We walked back down the hill and came across the Postmasters B&B. Well, it was an old building surrounded by foliage, and we rang the doorbell, and were met by John, the 78 year-old owner. We asked about a room – at $130 (UK £70) and were shown all he had available. OMG they are fantastic – quirky but just lovely!

We quickly signed on the dotted line and chose our room…. We then went to the supermarket and got some wine – put it in the residents fridge – and headed over to the fish and chip takeaway for a late lunch / early dinner. All the cafes and restaurants shut around 4pm and this was the last eatery open. We were very lucky we didn’t end up with a supermarket pie! Richard’s mullet and chips were really fresh and huge. Trying to avoid the chips I just had a lamb burger which was a bit disappointing. We really need to find some more fresh vegetables or salad! They are trying to kill us with fries with everything….

Back in our B&B we spent the evening with John (who is of Dutch origin) listening to classical music streaming from Vienna. swapping stories and drinking wine out on the deck. A really lovely, and unexpected, end to our day.

Sunday we are heading down the west coast and am looking forward to continuing our exploration of this beautiful country.

Bye for now