Getting Morpheus ship shape

Thursday we spent a lot of time looking at our new electronics and inputting our boat characteristics like setting it up for cruising, rather than racing, for example. We also used our new New Zealand and Australia chart chip and played around with the radar, AIS, chart settings etc. We came across a couple of things we couldn’t work out but otherwise everything was working as it should. Very happy! We emailed Hans to say thank you again for sorting this in our absence and could he pop round to go through the few items we were puzzled by…. All in all a relatively quiet day but was very useful in familiarising ourselves with the new equipment. We had a quiet evening on board.

Friday was the last day of having a hire car, so we headed back to Kerikeri. We had a long shopping list and was relatively successful although the final items, new rugs for our saloon, remained elusive. We talked to a few people in town and were directed towards Whaipapa. We managed to find our way there (without maps or sat nav!) and came across a huge warehouse which reminded us of Costco. So we pulled in and had a look. They sold everything – including rugs – but the sizes didn’t work for us. So we decided to give this up until we get to Auckland where, hopefully, there will be lots more choice. We did manage to get some other stuff though and all at bargain basement prices so pretty happy. Best bargain was a very thin 3mm yoga mat which is now pressed into service as a protective cover for our saloon table, as the old one had gone a bit mouldy.

In the evening, after dinner on board, we headed to the Cruising Club for a few glasses of wine before heading back through the boatyard to bed. Picked up a local magazine to find out that next week is the Bay of Islands Sailing Week so a beer tent was being erected in the car park. It looked like it could be fun.

Saturday morning it was back to boat jobs. We took everything off the rail and scrubbed the topsides. Then we used a de-oxidiser to clean the gelcoat. After that we Woody Waxed the non-slip areas.

Finished up top for now we headed below and deep cleaned the heads. Phew, that was hard work. So we had a quiet evening on board in the cockpit watching the small racing boats arrive. Most of them are being temporarily housed on our dock or some are on trailers in the marina’s car park.

Sunday we waxed the topsides and cleaned the plexiglass and the hatches. I also repainted our dorades (wind scoops) bright pillar box red. Then we cleaned ourselves up and headed to the Cruising Club for our first Sunday roast in a while – was lamb with mint sauce – which was absolutely delicious and spent a nice evening with Bill and Peter.

Monday we ‘protected’ the topsides with a product they use here to avoid UV damage to the gelcoat and polished….all by hand as we don’t have a machine…another item I hanker after LOL. When that was done, and after a breather, we got on with other jobs like servicing and testing the generator and the outboard. We also ordered some new locks for the cabinet doors as these all seem to be failing at the same time. Hans came by later and kindly answered our questions on the new kit. Richard also cleaned out our bilges. Morphie is looking quite shiny but there remains some work to do and that’s without even thinking about re-varnishing the wood some of which is in a poor state right now (inside and out).  Absolutely shattered, we had a quiet night on board.

Tuesday we applied the second coat and finished protecting the gelcoat. Then it was time for the cockpit to get the spring clean treatment. Richard worked very hard on all this while I started on the stainless steel.

All done and we decided to take the rest of the afternoon off so headed over to Russell on the car ferry from Opua with the intention of seeing the kiwis (of the feathered variety). We enjoyed looking at the boats on the way.

Kiwis are nocturnal birds, so while waiting for the sun to go down we wandered around this pretty historic little town which, originally, was called the Hell Hole of the Pacific.   This was the biggest whaling port in the Southern Hemisphere with one of its largest industries being prostitution. Up to 500 whalers would come ashore at any one time – having been at sea for 12 months – and there was no effective law enforcement. Apparently it was all a bit of a shock to the London missionaries LOL.

We then visited the Duke of Marlborough Hotel which has been refreshing rascals and reprobates since 1827 and was originally named Johnny Johnston’s Grog Shop.

We had an excellent dinner in their restaurant overlooking the waterfront and then headed off to the look out having watched the sun go down over the bay.

Whilst this offered us great views over the Bay of Islands and of the moon coming up (no lunar eclipse visible here) the birds stayed away, probably because of the noisy rugrats running around!

Oh yes and Bill does not comply with road markings LOL.

We headed back to the car ferry and returned to Opua where Bill and Peter came onboard Morphie for a final pontoonie. Was lovely to be doing something other than just working on the boat!

Wednesday I finished off the stainless steel. Richard was planning to service the engine but the Reverso oil pump decided to go on strike. Eventually it was resolved with a new impeller and a replacement hose but, by now, Richard had had enough and decided to leave the engine servicing for another day. So he started work on the pilot light to the heads shower sump pump but that didn’t work either….not a good day for him….and it continued in that vein when he realised that he couldn’t install the new LED light strip above the refrigeration units as he didn’t have the right size drill bit to fit the switch! Language was quite workmanlike for a while LOL. The mood was not improved when we also found out that we could not get our Winslow (USA-made) liferaft serviced here in New Zealand as the cost of getting the licence is apparently too prohibitive and, of course, it is the ONLY make they do not have a licence for. Not impressed!

The one thing that did go well – hurrah – was that we managed to sell both the old Garmin radar dome and the Garmin AIS and posted them off to their new owners in Auckland once the money had been transferred. As this was the first evening of sailing week we decided to go along and join in the festivities….well that was a damp squib… live music and most of the racers had gone home by 9pm. Definitely wasn’t like Cowes Week LOL.

Thursday morning and we were up very early as the riggers were coming to start the installation of the whisker pole onto the mast and we needed to protect our lines from the drilling as little bits of metal will be flying around. Here are both the Robs getting ready to start work.

I then headed off into Paihia with Bill in his car…for some grocery shopping. I returned and Richard had fixed the new cabin locks to the locker doors and had also installed the LED light strip. Very impressed when I saw what a difference it made to this dark area.

Richard has been doing other small jobs all day whilst the riggers have been on board. They left late afternoon. I was blogging and had technical problems with the uploading of photos so had to get some support – thanks Paul for sorting it out overnight! We had a frustrating night in the cruisers lounge on the internet. Oh well, never mind.

Friday morning and the riggers are back and I’m finishing this blog. Think we are going to have a lazy day once the riggers have gone and then we are heading over to Music for dinner with Bill and Peter tonight, as it is their last night with us. It’s all go on the good ship Morpheus.

Bye for now


Our New Zealand reunion with Morpheus

Tuesday afternoon we were ready and waiting to go to Heathrow for our evening flight to Singapore.  We had a great run to the airport and were in good spirits when we arrived at Terminal 2.  Despite having checked in on line we were told to check in using the machines to get our bag tags….no worries……and started the process.  The machine didn’t recognise our New Zealand visa so we were put in a long queue to talk to a real person. Whilst in the queue a couple of guys told us about a drone sighting and that all flights had been grounded. OMG what a start to the journey!!!

Our flight, however, was showing as leaving on time and as there were no announcements we weren’t sure what to think – and then Alison rang (she had given us a lift to the airport) and confirmed the drone news.  Damn!   We continued to queue and finally got to the counter and the check-in clerk thought it was strange that we had two people on one visa – we pointed out that it mentioned us both and that I was listed as the principal applicant with Richard as second applicant (ie a joint visa) but she wasn’t happy.  Finally, after she took some advice, and definitely not with a smile, she printed our bag tags and they were off on the carousel.

We then cleared security (where I got the full scanner treatment as usual!) and then went to the pub to get online to see what was going on. The news was pretty dire for a while and I was concerned about missing all the connecting flights.   But, amazingly, we were called to the gate  and took off on time. We were travelling Singapore Airlines on one of their double-deckers and our economy seats towards the rear of the lower level were pretty cramped but who cares we were happy to be on our way!    

We arrived into Singapore Changi airport early….found the next departure gate…..and had a wander around to stretch our legs before sitting down with coffee to await the next long flight.  The gate came up, we cleared through security and waited. This time we were upstairs on the double-decker plane and it seemed much more spacious in economy. Late on Wednesday evening we took off for the next flight to Auckland.

We arrived into Auckland on time and got through immigration really quickly and then collected our bags and reported to Customs with our prescription drugs….as requested on the Customs website… one of mine is a controlled drug. This was all sorted really quickly and the Customs man  was really friendly and thanked me for my honesty! That’s a novel experience….

We walked to the domestic terminal and checked our bags in there – after lots of hassle because the bar code readers couldn’t read our Singapore Airlines versions.  So we had to get Air New Zealand to reprint the boarding passes and luggage tags and we were then finally good to re-check our bags. All done we had a couple of beers in the domestic terminal while we waited for our final flight.

The next flight to Kerikeri was on time and we were greeted, only 40 minutes later, by our shuttle bus to take us to Paihia. We arrived into Paihia, checked into our basic but very clean motel, wandered down the road to a pub for pizza and a pint and crashed into bed by around 7pm….this was Thursday evening, New Zealand time.

Friday morning – Happy Birthday to me – and thanks to everyone for their cards, gifts and kind wishes.

We waited around for Rent-a-Dent to deliver our small hire car and then drove over to the marina.   The cars aren’t great but at only £25 a day they certainly suit our needs. 

We stopped by the office and the boatyard to let everyone know that we were back and found Morphie up on the hard. She was a little lonely and we were quite anxious about the condition of her down below. We were pleasantly surprised – no mould, no problems – so did a quick clean up and started to unpack and called it a day.

We returned to Paihia and wandered the town where Richard purchased a lovely birthday present – a stunning new ring for my Seabourn cruise. Will share pictures later!

We ended up sitting on the Paihia wharf quaffing wine overlooking the water and enjoyed just chilling – still feeling very tired – so we changed our mind and decided to go straight out for something quick and easy to eat rather than go to a fancy restaurant as we didn’t think we could do that justice. So ribs at Jimmy Jacks it was….. We then returned to our motel and had another early night still recovering from our long journey.

Saturday morning we were up early and headed over to Morphie. She had some dried slime left on her hull from the straps when she was lifted so I got down to getting that off along with some barnacles. Richard cleaned the hull itself and got all the dust and muck off – she looked so shiny when we were finished. We also gave her a new ensign and New Zealand courtesy flag, both of which had shredded in our absence. Long day but satisfying… back to the motel via the supermarket and we had a steak BBQ on the motel’s roof terrace and enjoyed a very pleasant evening in the sun.  Nobody else used this area so it was very private.

Sunday morning back to Morphie and we carried on tidying up the boat.   I went and got us some more dock lines from the store as ours had finally given up the ghost, they were gnarly and salt-laden so it was time for new ones. Richard was surprised when I came back with relatively inexpensive poly ones as he thought I might end up with blue, pre-spliced lines as I always hankered after them on other boats – but the cost was prohibitive and I knew I would be in trouble if I did that LOL.  So plain white with blue flecks was the answer.

While I continued sorting stuff down below Richard serviced some of the winches. Later on we lubricated and worked all the seacock through hulls and started the engine using a water hose into the intake. Another good day and we were ready for splashing. 

Sunday night we had another BBQ on the motel roof and of course some nice NZ Sauvignon to wash it down.

Monday morning and up very early – we packed our stuff up, checked out of the motel and returned to the boat yard. We went for a coffee and then climbed back on board, got all the fenders and lines ready for going into our slip, and waited for the ‘beast’ to come get us.

He was a little late and the weather was closing in so we got a little wet as they started to move Morphie towards the water.

Richard was going to reverse into the slip single-handedly (to avoid me having to jump off and risking any further injury to my back) but luckily Mike from Total Yacht Care came by and offered to help which we gratefully accepted. So I ran to the dock to catch the lines. Richard did a brilliant job of getting Morphie in despite some wind and current and she was quickly tied up. The marina is absolutely full so we have been allocated a slot on the ‘working’ dock so we are in the cheap seats LOL. We washed her off with fresh water and then got on with unpacking and making beds etc. We also cleaned all the sofas and got the fridge and freezer up and running – aided by a little extra gas and some ice. At this point the heavens opened and it rained – hard – for the rest of the day.

So we headed to the supermarket to pick up some fresh meat and vegetables for dinner.   We didn’t need anything else as I had fully provisioned the boat with dry and canned goods back in early May. So we had a quiet evening on board and an early night as all this manual labour was taking its toll LOL.

Tuesday morning and Richard had the riggers on board to talk through the work we had organised – swapping out our in-haul / out-haul and safety halyard – the only ‘defects’ identified on our rigging report which need to be resolved before we go sailing for insurance purposes. They are also going to mount the whisker pole on the mast as we found the manual deployment of this from the rail difficult at times when crossing the Pacific.   Sadly, the parts haven’t arrived from the USA yet so that  work will have to be rescheduled.    I took off to do domestic duties like laundry and getting the shore power cable PAT tested, which is an annual requirement here in New Zealand. Later on I collected all our frozen food from Cater Marine who had very kindly stored it for us in our absence. After Richard had finished with the rigger he put away all the laundry that I had returned with while I restocked the freezer. Richard serviced more winches and I got all the provisions out of their hiding holes to check what we had – threw away a few things that were out of date – but most of it was good. So made another shopping list…..

After a few hours relaxing, we cleaned ourselves up and went to the Yacht Club to meet Bill and his crew member Peter – from the Island Packet called Music, for a reunion. We hadn’t seen Bill since Tahiti so had been quite a while. Was a great evening catching up (although we couldn’t remember how to set the selfie timer so that’s why we couldn’t get four people in the same picture LOL). We also got soaked by another rain storm on the way.

This morning, Wednesday, and although it is still windy and cloudy the sun is back – hurrah!!!! We are now on shore power so are having a charging fest – and the rigger has just returned and installed the new lines.   Job done.  I cleaned up the winches after their servicing and Richard has been sorting out lockers to identify what there is we still need to buy. He is also starting to place adverts for our old equipment that we are selling on.

This afternoon as we still have the car we are going to go shopping in Kerikeri. 

And whilst we are trying to avoid all things Brexit, we have logged on to see the result of the ‘meaningful’ vote…and OMG it is a resounding NO to the Prime Minister’s deal, as expected. What on earth is going to happen next?!?!? We will send our family and friends food parcels as required LOL.

Bye for now


Preparation, preparation, preparation…

I finally got the all clear to fly from the doctors so we quickly booked our flights back to New Zealand and leave Tuesday, 8 January 2019. We are very excited about getting back to Morphie, especially as another cruiser told us that she looked good but lonely on the hard….

We are in full preparation mode right now. The New Zealand immigration people decided that, as we had not arrived in time for the original set date of 7 November, these visas were void and we would have to go through the whole process again (including paying the fee).   So annoying….all we wanted was a change of arrival date….anyway, we submitted and paid for the whole thing for the second time and waited…and waited….and I was getting really concerned when we hadn’t heard anything by Christmas so called them up. Well, that seemed to do the trick, as suddenly our application was routed to their offices in Beijing (seriously) and the lady there was very efficient so visas are now in our possession. Hurrah!

Yacht insurance was finalised with that all important cyclone cover included and we decided, in the end, to go with the same company that supplies our yachtmaster personal travel insurance. So that was a relief to get that organised.  Some companies were not interested and it appears that, having been bitten by recent hurricanes in the Caribbean, many are withdrawing from the market.

When we arrive in Paihia we are staying in a motel for a few nights so that I don’t have to live up a ladder on the hard…..trying to be ultra cautious over my newly-repaired bones LOL.

We have organised Morphie to be ‘splashed’ on Monday and then the riggers start work on the Tuesday. We expect to be in the Bay of Islands Marina in Opua for a few weeks and then we’ll go sailing and get back on the hook so that we can check that all our systems are working properly.  Once we are confident we’ll move down the coast.

We finally managed to secure a slip near Auckland so that we have somewhere to leave Mophie when we go on our cruise. New Zealand do not make it easy for international cruisers that want to liveaboard that’s for sure. As well as paying for the actual slip they then add on a “liveaboard fee” per person per day plus they insist upon a NZ $1000 security deposit – although we have already proved that we were insured and have significant third party liability coverage. It seems a real shame that they make us jump through so many hoops. But we are delighted to have this hurdle out of the way and are looking forward to actually going sailing again!

We are in the middle of getting the house ready now and packing…. The main difference this year is that we don’t have to carry lots of boat spares as, for the first time in a while, we are in a first world country so we have access to anything we need in situ. Of course, though, there are lots of courtesy flags to buy for the countries we are visiting.  From the top – Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Australia.

Very excited to finally be returning to Morphie after such a long time at home and an awful year. But it wasn’t all bad as we did manage to have some great nights out with friends…   So bye for now and see you next season!