Daily Archives: February 23, 2016

Vertigo in Whangarei


Moving day suddenly got real when David the Slipway Man at Norsand Boatyard called and made an appointment to check out Escape Velocity for our scheduled haulout. I decided that there are two ways to look at this; either he’s being very thorough or it’s touch and go with their hydraulic trailer haulout thingie, or maybe a little of both. Ok, three ways to look at it but we were reassured by the time he left. Our home was long overdue for expected maintenance, engine bedevilments left over from the dismasting, and a few projects that can only be done out of the water, but we had to wait for high tide the next day. Even though Whangarei is miles up the river it still has a tidal range of two meters or more.  


We left a little early in a wild rainy wind squall, of course, barely making three knots fighting the incoming flood while hauling our own marine growth exhibition on our bottom, EV’s not mine, through the muddy water. We had to call Whangarei bridge control to ask for passage under the Maori hook-shaped bascule bridge, padding our reported mast height a little due to their reticence to raise the roadway any more than absolutely necessary, rounded Kissing Point and maneuvered into Norsand’s dock to wait for the squall to pass and more tide to flood. 

Eventually EV was coaxed into position over the hydraulic trailer thingie and David sculled the yard’s jon boat, Gypsy, over to EV and ordered us off. This is not Trinidad where you can just ride up and out of the water in your boat. EV slowly emerged from the brown brackish water like the Creature from the Black Lagoon ready for her first power wash in over two years. Not as bad as I would have thought but still full of yuck. We spent the night on the trailer on full display. 

The following day David double parked EV in front of several boats in various stages of refitting, all of us pretty much doing the same long deferred maintenance, a few wouldn’t-it-be-nice-ifs and several honey-do’s and blocked us up, tail down, which caused us to stumble, bruise, and bark all our tender bits the entire time we were here. Our water tank wouldn’t fill all the way. Doors that normally stay open close as if by magic, and in every unguarded moment we inexplicably pitch about with a Hitchcock-like vertiginous lurch and fetch up against some bit of nautical cabinetry. It’s amazing what an inch or two can do.

Vacation’s over. It’s full on NZ list. Knowing about the eye blinking thing, we got an early start on it at Town Basin and two weeks on the hard sounds like a lot of time but it can really get away from you. We have experience at this so it’s 24/7 for the handy bloke. However I’ve found that I no longer do 24/7 so I thought an early start was in order. First, my trusty Bosch random orbiter sander threw up its expensive clutch pad, sold only in the USA. Welcome visits by crews from Oceanna and Enki II saved us from any danger concerning overly ambitious exertion those first days. Jobs that were originally slated for professional yard workers lost their budget due to must-repair Volvo engine bills. So once more into the breech goes the handy bloke. The list is massive so I gotta go!



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Bream Head ramble

While we’re holed up in Whangarei we’ve been lucky to have some of our cruising friends stop by for visits. Mark and Sue of Macushla met us for lunch and Diana and Alex of Enki II accompanied us to the Saturday farmers market, then took us on an expedition to Bream Head. Whangarei is 12 miles upriver and hours by boat from Bream Head but Diana and Alex had a loaner car and we drove through the beautiful North Island countryside back to the point of land we passed when we sailed south.  

 It’s always interesting to see by land the places we navigated on the water. I remember the thrill when we stood on the mountain in St. Thomas looking at the vast and empty sea we sailed when we first sighted land after our long passage from the Bahamas to St. John back in 2013. 

Bream Head is a landscape painter’s dream of dramatic rock-studded rolling hills and we followed the twisting track from one breathtaking view to another. We were in no hurry, just enjoying each other’s company and peppering Kiwi-native Diana with questions about the birds and plants we encountered along the way.



Every once in a while we stopped to orient ourselves to the islands of the Hauraki Gulf to the southeast, Escape Velocity’s next destination once our boat work is all done.  

Every moment with Diana and Alex is precious to us because Enki II is now offered for sale and her crew are returning to land life in Sydney after an epic journey from Turkey to New Zealand. We met the day they made landfall in the Marquesas and we shared the pleasures of French Polynesia, from our hike to the Vaipo waterfall in Nuku Hiva, to pearl shopping at Heiva in Rotoava, to drift snorkeling and beach bumming at the South Pass, to our Tahiti road trip, the shrimp farm in Moorea, with long talks about life and art and books over sundowners all the way to Bora Bora. When I injured my back, Diana and Alex enveloped us in their generous hearts, helped us puzzle out our next steps, and kept eyes and ears on us even when they had to follow the weather and move on. Diana’s daily emails while we were at sea kept us sane and focused, and Alex’s pharmaceutical expertise guided my confusing medication choices. 

We meet a lot of amazing people and make a lot of wonderful friends. We share life-changing experiences with people who will forever be associated in our minds with special places. But we especially treasure the friends who are there in rough times because they see us at our worst and jump in with both feet anyway. Diana and Alex are friends for life and we’re not letting them go no matter where we are.  



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