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Monday on the hard

With good weather we managed to make good progress on Monday against our task list. In no particular order, here is what we got up to.

Helen spent a good part of the day applying anti-rust paste to the various stains around the boat. While this has been largely successful she has now put the completion of this on hold as the dust from the guy who is back sanding the bottom of the boat is mixing with the paste and causing stains. We’re pretty sure these stains will come out later on but it’s just more work. Nevertheless, our stainless steel is looking good. Some items, like the anchor roller, are looking transformed.

I had a more detailed conversation aboard the boat with Peter, the yard manager about the work to be carried out. He will be providing us a quote this (Tuesday) morning for each task and we’ll choose which items we will have them do. Most we’re pretty committed to doing anyway but if the cost is outrageous we may have to consider alternatives. One recently new item on the list is having one of our bow rails straightened. I noticed the problem recently. It looks like some considerable pressure has been placed on one of the bow life lines which has in turn bent the starboard bow rail inwards about 10 degrees. No idea of the actual cause so we’ll have to guard against future recurrence.

I also talked to Peter about our shaft seals which leak from time to time until I squeeze in some grease. He sent round his expert later in the day who took a closer look. Turns out that these shaft seals are not compatible with the flexible coupling we have on the shaft. The problem is apparently reasonably easy to fix so we expect to see that on Peter’s quotation.

A made a few trips to the chandlery to pick up items needed for the boat. The biggest purchase were new lines: main halyard, main sheet, code zero furler and anchor bridle. The current halyard is torn where it goes through the clamp. The guy in the store gave some great advice on how to prevent future tearing which I’ll implement when we have the time. Our current mainsheet is the maximum diameter that the clamps will take and has expanded over the years so it now doesn’t slide well through the clamp. I’ve gone a diameter down which will make handling the main a lot smoother. The furler has a few burn spots from when we’ve lost control furling/unfurling the Code Zero and the bridle is simply manky for it’s time at the bow. At the chandlery I also picked up some 2-stroke oil for the dinghy and various screws I needed for a few fixups around the boat (see later). Also purchased/ordered were new zincs to replace those I’d removed earlier in the day.

I spent some time going from place to place to find someone able to splice the lines I had bought. One nice thing about NZ is that folks are quite happy to recommend others for services they are backed up on. After about 2-3 recommendations I found someone in the neighbouring yard who could take on the work and be finished by the end of the week.

Our remaining lines are a little salt encrusted so I began the task of washing them. We’ve heard that using regular conditioner works well. We’ll see how that works out.

Helen completed the washing and repair of our salon seats. The bases have become torn around where they attach to the bases beneath with velcro. Nothing smarter than good old duct tape was required. I refixed some of the velcro pads where they were screwed into the fiberglass behind. I also refixed a few of the panels with slightly larger screws where they have worked themselves a little loose.

Greg, the upholsterer, visited briefly to fit screws to the seat back for the new helm seat. That work should be finished today or tomorrow.

I gave Phil from whom we have the buy back agreement for the car a call. Principally it’s to see if he’s still in business and still committed to buy the car back next month. He is which is good to know. He reminded me that it is ok if we find an alternate buyer which we’ve already begun to look into.

My one week of auctioning the extra camera housing that had been ordered in error came up midday. I logged onto the internet only to find all our time had run out. I called the provider who explained there had been some cross over issues and peoples time being used by others. He ended up giving us an extra month free. I later discovered someone else connected to our boat network – someone who I must have shared the password with. I’ll assume the best and believe that it was simply a past record of the password on their computer and they were unaware of the connection – this is normal Windows behaviour. I’ve changed the password now and I can’t complain as all has worked out well in the end. Back to our auction. Although a few people have been watching the item noone ended up bidding. I probably set too high a starting price so I’ve relisted with a lower one.

Helen and I did find time to go shopping. We ended up picking up quite a few food items we like that were on offer as we found ourselves in provisioning mode without intending to be. We know good food is available in Fiji in certain places at good prices but it doesn’t hurt to pick up bargains when we see them. We found a few more bargain wines. We have our needed supplies (bar party cartons which we’ll get just before leaving) so we’re now into getting that which we need for the last few weeks here in NZ.

That’s about it. We had a nice surprise when we met Frank from Tahina who was visiting the yard as he intends to haul towards the end of next week and he wanted to meet the folks around here and familiarize himself with the yard. We had a chat about boat projects (as one does) for a while. Hopefully we’ll be back in the water by the time they haul. However, there is evidence the workers here are backlogged so my expectation of this is now a little lower and perhaps we may well still be here then. For now we’re going to push on with our tasks as fast as we can/care and if we end up with nothing to do we always have the car.

Snake Gully

We all headed ashore shortly after 7am. Already at the quay were the folks from Mariposa, Freezing Rain, Trim, Tanaya as well as Anna from Infinity who was celebrating her birthday by taking the dive. They’d all been told to be there by 7am whereas we’d been told 7:30am which turned out to be the correct time. Helen stayed in town to clear us out of Niue as we intend to depart Sunday.

The rest of us were all taken to the dive center in their trucks to be briefed and kitted up. We were then taken, along with the dive outfits dinghies to the sea ramp/crane a mile or so south. On the water we were taken to our first dive close to the Matavai Resort where we stopped for the first time in our rental car. The dive was fairly average. Our maximum depth was 94ft and the highlight was a lot of intricate corals not affected by the cyclone that swept through here a few years back. While on this dive we were accompanied by whale song off in the distance.

After a rest stop we dove on “Snake Gully” which turned out to be a fantastic dive. As expected there were quite a few snakes (kraits really) in and around a gullied area. The kraits are extremely poisonous but have tiny heads and are very docile. They seem unperturbed being stroked or even held. The second part of the dive was to visit a cave and an underwater canyon, both of which were superb. The cave required us to swim into a dark labyrinth reaching an end chamber full of lobsters floating around in the water. As we were in there the sun came out and shone through small gaps in the ceiling – all very cool.

Back on Dignity we treated ourselves to a full English breakfast even though it was now early afternoon. We rested up a couple of hours before Ben and I decided to explore the “Bubble Cave” to our south. We’d had directions to the cave from Jackster and had heard that there were lobsters in the cave and that they may be accessible without dive gear. As it is illegal here to hunt lobsters with scuba gear it did seem tempting (and sporting) to give it a go without.

We dinghied over to the dive mooring balls and tentatively made our way in. We were extremely cautious swimming each underwater section to each surface access. In hindsight none of the stretches were too difficult but one never wants to go beyond half way and run out of breath. It was a little more difficult carrying torches and the spear gun. Towards the back of the cave was a section we could surface in and right at the back in a narrow section were a few lobsters. They were unruffled by our presence until the first took the spear between its eyes. We left it safely on a rock before trying for others. The original cluster had dispersed and were now harder to find. Even as we hunted the swell in the area we were in was picking up. We managed to snag a second lobster before calling it quits as we were being swept in and out of the narrow areas and the sharp coral was starting to leave us a little scratched up. We tucked our torches into our swim shorts and made it back out of the cave with a lobster each.

Later we boiled these two beasties up and ate them with soy sauce and wasabi. We’ve certainly seen bigger lobsters but these were meaty and delicious. As Helen is not a big fan of lobster, Ben and I had most of them. Yum.

We spent the evening aboard Infinity where they were celebrating Anna’s birthday. Infinity is a 120ft ferro cement vessel with a rotating crew of all sorts. They work hard but it looks a lot of fun. They certainly know how to enjoy themselves. This was Helen and my first time aboard but not for Ben. We were given a tour of the boat and were welcomed into the celebrations. For a bit more info on Infinity and what they are about, here is their website.

Today, all three of us plan to dive “The Chimney” nearby and perhaps revisit the “Bubble Cave”. We’ll clean up the boat and leave for Tonga on Sunday morning. We expect it to be a two day sail arriving on Wednesday. Sounds wrong? Perhaps you can work it out.