Final days in Opua (perhaps?)

Sunday afternoon the weather deteriorated even further with the fetch in the anchorage pushing waves over our dock and then it started to rain. It was absolutely horrible.

However, we had all arranged to meet in the club, so we headed out wearing our foulies and got blown by the gale-force winds up the road. We arrived to find Chris (Sea Bear) but no Frances and Chris who had decided (very sensibly) to stay home and keep warm and dry LOL. And, of course, because of the storm there had been power cuts on and off during the day so we were disappointed to not even get the opportunity of having a roast dinner. But we had a good evening anyway and, thankfully, by the time we headed back to Morphie the rain had stopped and the wind had started to ease.

Monday morning our new battery bank was delivered and the battery monitor was activated. However, because the new Lifeline AGM batteries had a slightly bigger footprint, they didn’t actually physically fit in the space. Damn! But Chris the electrician from Seapower had a solution and they took the ‘spare’ battery back and ordered a new AGM cranking battery for the engine.

So we connected the new battery monitor to the new house bank and were pleased with its functionality. I spent the time in the Cruisers Lounge downloading customs and immigration documents and Google satellite images for Fiji via the Ovitalmap app.

I returned around lunchtime and Chris from Sea Bear came by as promised as he was going to give Richard some hints and tips for climbing the mast using the system he had purchased but not yet mastered. With Chris’ mountaineering experience he made short work of it and Richard was much happier that he could manage to get to the top of the mast without assistance if necessary. The wind was still howling so he didn’t go very far (although at least the rain had stopped) and the southerly direction meant it was freezing cold! We said farewell to Chris as he was leaving in the morning for Fiji and we had a quiet night on board keeping warm snuggled up in our fleeces.

Tuesday morning and I spent time in the laundry again. While Richard continued with his list of boat jobs. Today he was measuring up for spare accelerator and transmission cables; he also measured for a replacement gas pipe; he purchased a new engine ‘stop’ button; he ordered spare spark plugs for the generator and the outboard; he ordered a sight ranger for me (as I drive him nuts with my inability to read distances); and did some general organising.

In the afternoon we helped Chris and Frances on Usquabae go to the fuel dock and get themselves fuelled up for their imminent departure to New Caledonia. They are heading off to Indonesia this year so we will probably not see them again whilst cruising. The amazing freedom and excitement of travelling and visiting new places / cultures sometimes get offset by the sadness in saying farewell to new friends. In the evening I cooked for them and luckily they liked Chinese food – was a really good evening.

Wednesday morning and the refrigeration company visited as planned. They identified that the freezer (which had refused to restart since we had splashed back in the water) had sprung a leak so they took the compressor away to have a better look. Thankfully it was only leaking at the coupling and with a burst of gas both fridge and freezer were operational again. The ‘hunting’ which happens regularly, particularly on the fridge, was caused by the Carel thermostat controller which was having difficulty reading the probe inside the unit. As both units have been drawing quite a lot of power we decided to order two new controllers which would stop this happening and not damage our brand new battery bank.

In the afternoon, as the wind had died down significantly, we pulled out the genoa and stuck some reflective tape to it so that we could see the reefing points easier in the dark. Later on we picked up our dodger with the new ‘clears’. They look great and it was nice to get some shelter from the weather again in the cockpit. The new cables had arrived and so had my present – the sight ranger – so we had some fun pointing the laser at things to see how far away they were. We had another quiet night on board. Oh yes and Richard treated himself to a new fishing rod….

Thursday morning and I returned to the Cruisers Lounge to continue downloaded the Google satellite images….this is a time-consuming and tedious task….but we hadn’t been able to do it previously as this takes a lot of bandwidth and we needed ‘proper’ internet to facilitate the process. I also completed the advance notification of departure for NZ customs (we had to submit this a minimum of four days before our intended leaving date) and confirm the day before whether we are going or not. So we can make a decision day at a time once these had been submitted.

I also did some research about getting my blog to publish onto Facebook via the Iridium Go as the latest Facebook API changes had stopped me doing this directly when at sea. And I know that a lot of people read the passage blogs so wanted to continue to be able to do this. Anyway I found a few potential solutions and asked Paul (my amazing friend and techie support) to look into the available options.

When I got back to the boat Richard had been manically busy. He had installed the new tap in the galley; replaced the shower bilge pump; had removed the sea water intake to the heads; had fitted the new gas pipe; and installed the new ‘stop’ button. The jobs are definitely being whittled away on our ‘get ready to go to sea’ list!

In the evening we headed to the Cruisers Club for a fun evening hosted by the marina to say farewell to the cruising community. Food was free and plentiful and we had a good time catching up with some old friends and making some new ones.

Friday morning and Richard was up the top of the mast to tighten up the wind instrument which had worked its way loose and also to install a new radar reflector on the shrouds. Job done and he was quickly back down. After this we headed to the marina cafe for a late lunch and awaited our meat delivery from Churchills. They turned up exactly on time and we collected our box of NZ meat and official certificate of origin which should enable us to take it all into Fiji.

We headed back to Morphie and filled up the freezer. The guy then turned up to install the new controllers and we had to get our head around new settings in Centigrade when we had been used to Fahrenheit for so many years LOL. They are very smart looking and worked perfectly immediately – so we were happy with our decision. We then had another quiet movie night on board.

This morning, Saturday, and we started the day by heading to the fuel dock and filling up our tank and all our cans. NZ $500 later and we were refuelled – phew! We then returned to our slip where Richard organised the cans again and got them reinstalled on the rail while I cooked tonight’s dinner (making extra so that this can be frozen as a passage meal for our departure). On our return to the dock we were chased down by the Rent a Dent people who said they had been waiting for us since 9 am. Well, actually, the car was booked for this coming Monday not Saturday so we sent them away. Never mind….not our fault!

This afternoon we are spending in the lounge continuing to download charts and looking at the Fiji advance notification documentation. They want to know sooo much information which has to be sent to them prior to leaving here so I need to get this information organised pretty soon so I can complete the documents. And that means writing a complete list of all my stores….sigh…. The hardest bit actually is for the inter-island cruising permit. They want to know where we are going, when we are arriving / departing etc etc and we really don’t know right now! So we need to start planning our time too, all we have fixed is our arrival port at the minute.

Paul has speedily replied to me – thank you so much for all your support! I’m pleased to let you know that we will be publishing imminently a Morpheus of London Facebook page so, when we are on passage, we will be able to publish directly from our Iridium Go! You can follow us using the tracker (on the blog’s Where are we now? page) or subscribing to the blog, or you can now follow the new FB page. Please note, however, that just because I’m publishing updates it doesn’t mean we can see any comments until we get ‘proper’ internet access again.

We are now constantly checking weather and our proposed initial departure date of Tuesday is not looking so good this morning as some strong northerly winds and a low have appeared in the grib files but things change so rapidly and the models (as usual) don’t yet agree on the longer-term forecast so it is just a continued pressing on with our jobs until we can confirm our future departure date. We are both really looking forward to getting back to the higher temperatures in the tropics.

Bye for now