Time on the hard in Opua

Sunday evening we headed along to the Cruising Club for Indonesia night. It was absolutely rammed, that’s what happens when you offer free food and a couple of drinks per head to the cruising community. We enjoyed the informative presentation and the traditional dancing but felt personally that the organisers should have restricted attendance in some way to those who are travelling rather than just having a free for all as important questions from people joining the rally this year were drowned out by people asking daft questions like ‘Why don’t American citizens get special immigration treatment like New Zealanders? Really?!? Or how about ‘ Can I take my cat?’ Oh well, never mind. Was a fun evening anyway.

Monday morning we were up early and took off our dodger so that we could drop it into the canvas shop to get our plexiglass panels replaced. As we removed it and folded it on the dock one of the ‘windows’ completely split end to end, so glad we had decided to get this done before we left New Zealand.

Job done we headed into the cafe for breakfast and then met with the people who are responsible for the Sailing Fiji app and had a good Q&A session with them, including finding out which package is best to use for navigation as both electronic charts and paper charts are notoriously poor for Fiji. Well, it was Ovitalmap which is free to download and can be used off-line but heavy on the data, so that’s more time for me in the cruisers lounge next week.

Lunchtime we were ready to go and drove into the haul out area where the ‘beast’ was waiting for us. And of course we couldn’t have timed it better with the arrival of a sharp shower LOL. We were quickly secured in the slings and we climbed off the boat while we nervously awaited Morphie’s safe arrival onto dry land. She was lifted up and then jet washed. We were complimented on her clean bottom so that cold nasty job was worth doing, at least!

Morpheus was then placed in a brand new cradle and secured – ladder up – and we’re set after a quick clean of the hull.

We quickly went around the hull getting rid of any stray barnacles and Richard removed the bow thruster propeller to make life easier for the anti fouling to be applied. He also cleaned the keel cooler plates and the grounding plate, while I did some sorting down below. Once we were all set we had a quiet night on board eating the remaining food from the freezer as we no longer had refrigeration.

Tuesday morning and the guys started work on Morphie’s bottom straight away sanding her down. They said she was lovely and smooth and they seemed to be enjoying their work, singing along to the 70s/80s tunes blaring from their sound system. Loved the fact that they pushed themselves along on chairs underneath…..

I took myself off to the laundry with two loads and tried to get online whilst there. But failed miserably so just stayed there and read my kindle. By the time I got back, the guys had finished sanding and Morphie was taped up ready for the morning. Richard had installed our new battery monitor in preparation for the installation of our new batteries; he’d also re-marked the anchor chain at intervals and made up a new anchor marker buoy; he also rewired the bow washdown system and cleaned the windlass.

I left him to his list of jobs and returned to the cruisers’ lounge where I managed to get started on my list like activating the Pacific Islands Navionics chip; downloaded updated software for our Vesper unit; downloaded all the Go West Rally documentation into .pdfs plus some banking.

Around 5pm the guys had finished rubbing down and we headed to the Cruising Club for a quiet dinner.

Wednesday morning and I was back to the laundry with another couple of loads while Richard continued to get on with his long list of boat jobs. Today the engine got some attention and he created lots of lists of things to do; to buy; to order etc. He had also got rid of some very old flares and made sure we had a set of new ones in the grab bag. By now the EPIRB had been serviced with a new battery so we are getting there in terms of preparation to go to sea. He’d also got our dive tank refilled.

The paint guys, in the meantime, were now spray painting the hull. So much faster and smoother than rolling it on by hand. I did a walk to the Opua Store to get some provisions for dinner and we had a quiet movie night on board.

Thursday morning and the propeller and the rudder stock were rubbed down in preparation for a coating of Propspeed (the local product everyone uses here on metal instead of antifoul) and it sure looked good.

Before they returned, Richard quickly swapped the zincs out so that they were then masked up before the painting started. So apart from a few patches where stands had been and needed a touch up of more antifoul we were pretty much good to go. I spent more time in the laundry….thankfully the last load….and we carried on working until we had pretty much exhausted our list of things to do and we had another quiet night aboard. Final job was to install the new bow thruster propeller which, as it is brand new, doesn’t need anti-fouling as allegedly the barnacles don’t like shiny new plastic surfaces. We’ll find out whether that is true or not later in the season.

Friday morning and we were ready to splash.

The beast came to get us…we climbed down…and Morphie was lifted up while Mike climbed underneath to finish off the antifoul patches. We were then splashed into the water, thankfully at high tide and slack water so there was little current to contend with.

We then moved back into our slip on the working dock. Once secure we headed to the cafe for coffee while the boatyard guys came and washed her down to get rid of all the boatyard dust. So a successful end to a busy week.

In the afternoon we emptied all our food cupboards to make a shopping lift for the morning. Then we took a bit of a breather before heading to the marina cafe for dinner, live music and a celebratory bottle of sauvignon.

Saturday morning we met Chris and collected our rent-a-dent hire car. Chris is leaving on Monday to Fiji so this was his last chance to purchase fresh fruit and veg. We had ordered a mid-sized vehicle online (think RAV4) but actually ended up with a Nissan Note! Oh well, never mind, we’ll manage. First stop was the Packhouse Market in Kerikeri where we loaded up on fresh vegetables.

Next stop was Bunnings for some bits and pieces (but mainly a new tap for the galley as I managed to break the old one) before heading into the New World supermarket for non-perishables, then onto Churchills. They are a high end butcher who are coming to the marina on Friday to deliver orders to the boats leaving with the Tongan rally – they had agreed that, providing I came by on Saturday to make the order, they would deliver to us too (along with a NZ certificate to prove that all meats were local which is required to import meat into Fiji).

So job done, we then went to the Liquor Store for a couple of bottles of wine before our final shop of the day, Warehouse in Waipapa. We headed back in the car towards Paihia fully laden and we topped up the car with petrol. Then we headed to Rayz on the Bay for a late lunch and enjoyed sitting there looking across the water. Was a lovely way to spend the rest of the afternoon. Back on board we didn’t do much apart from unloaded our provisions and stowed it all away. Then we had an early night and awoke to howling winds and torrential rain.

This morning (Sunday) and it is a very miserable windy day with some heavy rain squalls. We’ve doubled up on some of our lines as they are forecasting up to 50 knot winds (we are currently seeing 30+ knots) and have taken refuge down below.

It is also Mother’s Day here in New Zealand, and coincidentally this is also the first anniversary of losing Mum so a pretty poignant day and feeling very emotional. I think of her everyday and miss her so much. RIP Mum, I love you. Here is a picture of us together having fun on one of our girlie trips – this time we were in Tobago.

Later on we are heading to the Cruising Club for a Sunday Roast along with Chris (Sea Bear), Chris and Frances (Usquabe) who are all leaving Opua next week. Mum would approve, she always loved a good natter over a roast dinner…..

This coming week we have loads more boat jobs to complete and then we’ll start looking for a weather window ourselves to leave for Fiji. We expect to be ready to depart in a week or so but we’ll just have to be patient and keep busy while we watch and wait for an appropriate window to open for us to move north.

Bye for now