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Last day in Whangarei

What a day. We started the day with one last wash. The genset started ok but not with the zest we know it can with a good power supply. It’s battery was getting tired. A quick decision was made and it was off to the battery store to buy and then install a new battery. When I moved the original battery I tucked it way out of the way which meant pulling loads of stuff out of the generator compartment and then squeezing myself into a very tight place to work. Glad we did that as the genset starts perfectly now.

Next task was to head for Opua to sell the car back to Phil from Cars for Cruisers. I had an agreement with Rob and Ruth from Albatross III to head up to Opua too and give me a ride back. Just before leaving we bumped into a young lady from the NE US whose on a traveling trip and was looking for passage up to Fiji. We offered to take her up to Opua and back to investigate things there and learn a bit more about making what she was trying to do work.

On arriving in Opua I let Lauren off to explore the area and agreed to meet up at the Fish and Chip shop at noon where I’d promised to buy lunch for everyone for helping out. The deal with Phil went through smoothly and soon I was walking away with a cashable check.

While waiting for Lauren to show up I bumped into Andy from Zephyrus which was a pleasant surprise. We chatted for a while and I asked about people looking for crew. He had a good lead and shared it with Lauren when she found us. About 12:30 Rob and Ruth turned up having seen some friends. Unfortunately the Fish and Chip shop in Opua had closed down so we headed off to Pahia for the banks and shops there. Half way there I realize I’d left my GPS unit somewhere so we headed back finding it with Phil.

Leaving the others to look around I first went to Westpac to cash the check using my passport to prove my identity. She had to call Phil to verify the check was ok to cash and he approved with the caveat I owed him a GPS unit. She found the explanation of his remark quite funny. My next stop was the ANZ bank to deposit most the cash keeping enough to pay for our new kayak.

With all the financials handled I found the others and bought all Fish and Chips on the waterfront which turned out to be overfilling but delicious.

Rob took us north out of Pahia for a different route back to Whangarei. A few miles out of town I realized I didn’t have our folder containing our boat papers and passports. Not again. So back into town we went. I checked first at the Westpac. The teller grinned hugely and went to the safe to retrieve my passport. I found the folder in the ANZ where I’d left it. Where was my head???? I checked to make sure it was still in the right place physically. I think my brain had already set sail.

No more mishaps beset us as we traveled back to Whangarei. Rob helped me collect the kayak which we placed on the boat. Helen had spent the day making a clean boat immaculate for the evening’s party. By now there was not much time left. I performed a few small jobs around the boat before showering and soon after folks began to show.

All in all we had the pleasure of welcoming the crew from Albatross III, Attitude, Blue Penguin, Boree, Callisto, Clara Katherine, Division II, El Regalo, Imagine, Jackster, Leu Cat, Marquesa, Proximity, Sail Away, Scream, Sea Mist, Sidewinder, Stray Kitty, Tahina, True Companions and Tyee along with one or two marina neighbours. That was about forty people at once. It was a great test of our through hulls as we were down about 6-9 inches in the water. We didn’t sink.

This morning we woke fairly early and after doing last minute internetty things we dropped of our key to the shower block and headed out. As we headed down the river the winds were light and behind us. And cold. We motored on batteries alone for about 30 mins before turning on the generator. Near the river mouth we caught sight of True Companions ahead of us and called them on the radio to greet them.

As we rounded the heads we hit a dead patch and used the opportunity to raise the new main. We crossed our fingers hoping for wind as we really wanted to see how our new sails would perform. We didn’t have to wait too long and soon we were in winds that were to vary between 10-20 knots as we headed up the coast. We were gobsmacked by the improved boat performance. Before the boat speed would fade below about 12 knots under main and jib. Now she was achieving above 1/2 wind speed all the way down to 9 knots on the beam. We’ve never seen it so good.

We have found a couple of issues. The reef points on the new main are higher up than before and now the 1st reef only has a turn of spare line at the winch which is not enough to reef on the fly. We also have new modes of vibration on the luff of the main which we need to figure out how to handle. Apart from that everything seems to be in amazing shape. It feels like we have a new boat.

Our original plan had us making our way up the coast in smaller steps. With reduced wind tomorrow and nasty northeasterlies forecast for Friday we’re aiming to cover as much distance as we can today and complete the trip to the Bay of Islands tomorrow where we can find shelter from any type of wind. Our goal for today is the Whangamumu Bay which we visited last November.

We’ve now settled into a pleasant sail up the coast putting on and taking off our warm clothes as the sun goes in and out. We have about a knot of counter current but we’re doing well against it. We even have a line out for fish but nothing caught yet. We’ve shed the land life and are back on the water.

A somewhat moist day in Whangarei

Curry last night was delicious. We’d recommend the place – the Aroma on Vine Street. Not the best ever but the best we’ve had in a while. We also got pretty lucky in that we didn’t get rained on.

But it did piss down overnight. And this morning. And at various times throughout the day.

Helen and I did manage to make it out and see the Farmer’s Market close down. We found a few odds and ends to buy which was useful. In one store we ran into Fergus and Kay from Paleides – can’t keep away from old friends. We did a semi major shop on the way back borrowing a trolley to bring everything back to the boat. We all went out to return the trolley and went for our biannual MacDonalds. The last one we had was in Tahiti. We haven’t missed much.

I then thought I’d try out the car to make sure it was all right. It wasn’t. The battery was as flat as a very flat pancake. A quick examination revealed why – the parking lights had been left on by whoever delivered the car last Wednesday. Leaving Helen to go off walking around town some more I managed to grab Dirk from Sail Away who was willing to get me started. I had the jump leads and he had the car. On close examination we found that not only was the battery flat but the connections to the battery were loose. Dirk managed to wiggle them tighter so I was able to drive to a slightly nearer car park where I parked to get my tools.

I brought back some extra bits and pieces so I could wire in my earlier purchased device to fix the radio frequencies accessible from the Japanese radio we have. Unfortunately there still wasn’t enough juice to turn the engine. Fortunately Dirk and I had parked next to each other in case this should happen. He came out and jump started me again. This time I left the engine running while sorting out the radio and then went for a drive around town. Hopefully this will be enough to get us going next time.

Not a lot else to report so I won’t.

We are sailing

We are on our way to Isabella. With recent reports of local winds I was not fully confident of making the short 45nm trip to Isabella and arrive by daylight so (not to the humour of the crew) I opted for a night passage. It’s easier to slow down than to speed up – unless more fuel is to be burned – and that’s not what I want to do at the beginning of our big hop west.

We are going too fast for a dawn arrival so I’ve set a waypoint 10nm south of our destination and put two reefs in both sails. If the wind drops we can shake out the reefs over night. If we still arrive too early we can about course for a while then head in.

We’ve heard Isabella is a really nice anchorage so we’re looking forward to our arrival and a couple of nights stay.

I did managed some work today. I’ve replaced one bilge pump, the fresh water foot pump and the shower sump pump for which the replacement gave us so much fun back in Costa Rica. I have made notes on possible replacement parts for the removed sump pump and foot pump so they can be returned as spares at some point. The removed bilge pump looked fine so I’m going to have to assess that situation some more. When we’re at Isabella we’re going to take down and examine the wind gen which has begun to make a knocking sound. On Sail Away they had the same unit and it’s making the same sound. We’re not comfortable with the change in sound (about 3-4 weeks ago) so it’s worth having a good look.

The Grotto

Old Friends

The first thing we did upon arriving was to call our selected agent to facilitate our check in. In the Galapagos it is the law that we have to use an agent and we are unable to disembark until the process is initiated.

We then set about finding an internet connection which seems to work ok except certain features just don’t work. Accessing our email using local clients doesn’t work so we have to go online. My Picasa picture uploader also does not work. But enough other things work for us to reconnect and see what’s happening in the world.

Probably as a result of it being Good Friday it took nearly four hours for our agent to show up during which we cleared the boat and rested. As mentioned before I used this time to set up the dinghy and go and visit Leu Cat nearby. While waiting we heard from Sail Away on the radio who we’d met around Xmas/New Year in the San Blas. It’s not so much a small world but a narrow path we traverse.

As soon as our agent had our passports we were good to go ashore. We took the same water taxi as our agent and went to explore the town of Ayora. Helen was immediately drawn to the supermarket right by the dock. Once we’d had the customary price check we were free to walk around the small town taking pictures. One remarkable thing about the place is how clean it all is which is a very nice change.

We didn’t stay too long as we had a 5pm engagement aboard Leu Cat for sundowners. We took some ice as their freezer was having problems and plenty of beer/wine which we unceremoniously downed having spent the last week dry.

After a few hours of pleasant company we went ashore to eat out. As we alighted the agua taxi we bumped into Tim and Ruth and kids from Kamaya who we met in Panama City. They’ve been here for a month and loving it. They’ll be heading west for the Marquesas about the same time as us which will be nice. We learned from them about a nice back street where the locals eat so we went there and had a very enjoyable meal.

It was nearly 11 before we got back to the boat. We were exhausted. Nice to be in a new place and better to meet up with old friends.

This morning we’re off to the Saturday market and later we expect to visit the Darwin Center.

I’ll leave you now with the track of our crossing.

View 2010 Galapagos Crossing in a larger map