Life on the hard in New Zealand

Sunday evening we headed into the Cruisers Club for our roast dinner – pork with crackling and apple sauce this week. Was great! We had a few cold ones with Chris and wandered back to Morphie having said our farewells to him as he was heading south on Tuesday.

Monday morning we were up really early and were delighted that the wind was light. We radioed the boatyard to make sure they were ready for us so around 9.15 we slipped away and motored through the marina towards the haul out area.

We managed to drive straight into the area without being bothered too much by the tide which rips through here at times…. and the guys were ready with the strops and their hooks and we were pretty soon snug in the travel lift.  However, the front strop was on the sloped leading edge of Morphie rather than under the flat part of the hull – and to move it back would mean problems with the clearance of our fore stay. So having looked at the plans of our hull they decided to tie ropes to the front strop on both sides and we then winched them tight back to the cockpit to ensure that they wouldn’t slip whilst we were being hauled.   When they were happy they took us off in a dinghy from the transom and dropped off at the boat yard dock.

We watched nervously as she was lifted up out of the water – it was quite a long way – and then into the cleaning area. The guys were delighted with how clean our hull was and pretty soon they had cleaned off the thin layer of slime and we were ready to be moved to our spot.

The cradles here are pretty unusual and substantial and we were happy with our allocated position as it means that we will not have to be moved during our stay.

So Morphie arrived around the corner and they got her in position quite quickly. These guys move around 17 boats a day in and out and their experience showed. We were delighted that they also took the time to ensure we were level otherwise water would not drain through the scuppers properly.

Phew – nervousness over – we were safe and set. Hurrah….. We got our ladder sorted out and checked nothing had fallen over during her travels. All was good. Later on we headed out to talk to a few trades. Total Yacht Care came by and gave us a quote for cleaning, polishing and protecting the hull which they are going to do after Blue Fix have done our gel coat repairs – primarily the transom to properly repair the damage done in the Panama Canal. There are a few other bits and pieces we’d like touched up too….especially the stern helm seats as they have cracked along the rail. We then rubbed down in preparation for another coat of varnish. Whilst out and about we registered for the Opua All Points Rally as there were lots of social things planned that we could attend during the week. Having had a long tiring day we stayed on board for the evening and, out of the wind, it was actually quite pleasant and warm and we enjoyed our view. We slept well feeling very secure in our cradle.

Tuesday morning and Richard got on with the varnishing while I worked down below cleaning the oven and its surround which is always a fiddly job. He had almost finished varnishing when there was a light shower. So he stopped and then restarted again later. Finally we had a coat done and then, shortly afterwards, it drizzled again. Frustrating or what!?!  We’ll just have to see the results in the morning. We decided to go to the Cruising Club on Tuesday night after eating on board and had a few cold ones before retiring for the night.

Wednesday morning the weather was cold and grey and the forecast was not looking conducive to more varnishing. So we checked out Tuesday’s efforts. The varnish was a bit dull but the wood was well protected so we decided to call it a day and removed the masking tape. We also removed all the canvas and took it into the Opua Canvas Store who are going to wash, repair and re-waterproof for us in our absence. Richard also got the main sail over to the sail loft and we agreed a price for a complete valet and replacing the sunbrella UV protection on all three sails.

We then worked hard on the gel coat. We started with the non slip areas which we had previously cleaned so this time we used Woody Wax to give them a protective coating. This took a while. When that was finished we started cleaning and cutting the rest of the gelcoat to remove oxidisation and restore the gloss. This went on all day…..

In the evening we headed to the Cruising Club for the Rally welcome evening and had some great nibbles and received discounted beer / wine vouchers for the whole week so were pretty happy we had decided to sign up LOL!  We had a nice social evening to round off a busy day.

Thursday morning we got our refilled gas (LPG) tank back – the NZ company issued us with a temporary 3-month certificate to enable us to get refills so that was a relief as we were worried about that. And we still have some left in the other bottle….so all good for when we return after our trip home. We finished the work on the gelcoat and it was time to give it a protective coating using the locally-recommended product Mirage. So I applied it while Richard came behind me and buffed it off.   Have to say Morphie is looking pretty good!!!

Thursday night we went to pizza/pasta night at the Cruising Club and enjoyed some good food but the promised comedy / talent evening was a bit of a damp squib and fell flat after a particularly inappropriate joke!  The Gilbert & Sullivan type singing wasn’t really to my taste either…. Oh well, never mind.

As soon as the food stopped coming out most of the cruisers exited left but we stayed and enjoyed another social evening.

Friday morning we were up early again and we caught up with SeaPower and made arrangements with them for some engine maintenance – particularly injectors – for our return in March. That was the final thing to organise so we were feeling quite ahead of the game. The weather was variable so I headed off to the laundry laden down while Richard did some more laying up jobs on board. Later on we applied and buffed off the second and final coat of Mirage on the gel coat.

In the evening we headed over to Burnsco for the sausage sizzle and enjoyed chatting to other cruisers again. They had loads of sausages but very little beer so after a couple we headed to the Cruising Club….but not complaining about free food and drink!

We were sitting on our own just chatting when we spotted this boat arriving from overseas – the wind was blowing quite hard – and they had clearly had a bit of a difficult passage evidenced by the state of their genoa. Good time to arrive just before dark as they will get a chance of a good night’s sleep before they have to be ready for customs in the morning.

Saturday and it was raining cats and dogs. Luckily we had already designated this paperwork and packing day! We retrieved our bags from their hidey holes and started organising our clothes. We had laundered everything we wanted to take home with us so that was straight forward – then we cleaned out all our other cupboards and vacuum packed those items being left on board. The lockers were cleaned out and then it was time for paperwork and electronics. We worked out what was staying (removing the batteries etc) and what was going with us and that was another job ticked off the list. The final job of the day was to organise the food / cans etc and dispose of anything going out of date in our absence. Phew another job done!

Later on we went out to the Cruising Club for dinner and a couple of drinks before returning to Morphie for an early night. The relentless schedule was clearly catching up with both of us.

This morning, Sunday, and we are into the final push…. Everything staying is cleaned and stored, everything going is cleaned and packed. That just leaves us with some incidental items like another pile of laundry and topping up the water tanks…. The laundry is in the machine and we have both enjoyed long hot showers and are now in the cruisers lounge feeling satisfied if not a bit achy! We are going to head to the Cruisers Club for their Sunday roast later and then an early night.

I always have mixed feelings at this time of the season – especially this one which was tough on both us and Morphie. So feel sad to stay goodbye to her but we have given her lots and lots of tender loving care to ensure she enjoys her rest here on the hard in Opua with more upgrades planned for our return – particularly a complete electronics overhaul.

Monday morning, at 10.30, we are being picked up by a shuttle bus to take us to Keri Keri airport where we are catching a small plane to Auckland. Getting quite excited!!!

Bye for now