|Farewell view of home for the past 5 months, taken on the (final) trip up the mast|
BIG NEWS !!! About a week ago, after nearly 5 months on the hard, the time had finally come to resume our life on the water!!! After being lifted carefully from our cradle, and slowly rolled to the water, it was with a bit of trepidation that we hung in the slings of the travel lift to check for leaks. We jump down below, and.............SHEEE-IT !!!!! Water was GUSHING in, both bilge pumps had flicked on, and the frantic scurry began. We've redone so many systems on this haulout that there was a lot to check, but quickly found the gusher around the prop shaft. I had repacked the stuffing box (a fitting to keep the sea water from pouring in around the shaft). I didn't want to get it too tight, always a danger, so of course, it was WAY too loose.....a quick few turns with the wrenches and we were good to go. Sweet as!!! About 1/2 mile motor boat ride to our old home at the Town Basin Marina, and at last we were a boat again...
In addition to a myriad of smaller projects, the last few weeks in the boatyard mostly centered around completion of the galley rebuild. Installation of the counters and new trim took longer than expected (it's a boat, remember?), and we needed several coats of varnish before stamping this one "DONE". But it turned out beautifully, with bright lighting, new oven, plumbing, freezer and counters. A total success!!!
|Keeping track of varnish coats|
One project which has not been so successful has been the rebuild of our 25 year old watermaker. A couple of years ago we started the process, throwing out the 3 old membrane pressure tubes and replacing with 1 big one from CruiseRO Systems in California.
|Rube Goldberg parts on their way to the dumpster|
Got the pump back in January, supposedly rebuilt and tested, and put it in our storage container at the boatyard. There it sat for 4 months. I reinstalled it with all new plumbing and a new control panel, also from CruiseRO, getting rid of lots of the old crap. Sweet!!!
|Rebuilt pump (far right) and repainted motor await plumbing in new pantry (membrane mounted on bulkhead on left, covering new port fuel tank)|
|Pump leaking into bucket|
Got a call a couple of days later. "It's about your pump.....we'd like to discuss the matter in person, could you please come down to the shop right away ???" Sounded like a call from the doc.....couldn't be good news. Remember, this was a pump that was working fine till we brought it in.
Seems the pump has quite a bit of damage to 1 side of the pump. At this point, no one knows who/what caused it. We're not even sure that it's our pump. Testing subcontractor says he tested w/o leaks, "At 100psi" he claims (this on a pump rated at 1250) "BOOOO-SHIT" as Suwarrow Charlie would say. So pump shop is still stumped, but embarrassed by their subcontractor, and agree to sell us a new 1/2 pump to replace the damaged one for their cost. Retail for just the damaged 1/2 pump here in NZ is $1550!!! (Whole pump, including both halves AND the gearbox in the US retails for $1200.....over $4000 in NZ!!!)
Here's where things get dicey for us.....Rather than just getting 1/2 of an old pump, and keeping the 25 year old gearbox and motor, we decided that it made more sense instead to order a whole new pump assembly, with new motor from CruiseRO back in the US. It shipped last week, and is expected to arrive here on June 9. More than 1 week later than our last shipment from the US. Our visas expire on June 13. Not good, not good at all. With a huge amount of luck, all will go back together without problems (!!!!!), and we'll be at the start of a good weather window to depart on the 9 day voyage to Fiji (!!!!!). No worries.....yes, we're in a bit of a panic.....NZ immigration apparently takes this visa stuff seriously.
We also had a major service done on our engine after we splashed. Mechanic found that we had a small leak of coolant from the fresh water pump. So small that the oozing coolant had evaporated before dripping all the way down, so we never saw it, tucked under some hoses. It dripped onto our Balmar alternator, though, rusting it out at the bottom. Once again, we're talking handfuls of "freedom tickets" to repair. ("Freedom tickets" = dollar bills for the non-cruisers in the crowd) Again, the new one ordered, and should arrive with the watermaker parts next week. We were getting some rust spots on our "new" engine (we installed it before leaving Seattle), so decided to prep, prime, and paint the beast to get it looking like new again.
|Engine masked and primed, ready for final paint|
Cleaning up the boat has been a major effort after 5 months in construction mode. It was amazing how much stuff we collected in paints, tools, parts, nuts and bolts, and just miscellaneous shit!!! Where to stash it all??? Took days, but we're nearly there....some will live in our van to be dealt with when we return!!!
OK, for those of you who have read this far......enough of this boat stuff....we know you didn't tune in just for that!!! After all, this is a cultural blog, bringing you updates and insights into local native rites and rituals around the world. So here's a pop quiz: What do "Glam-er-zon", "Switchblade Betty", "Tanya Hyde", and "Pryor Conviction" have in common?
All are roller derby queens!!!
Never ones to sit idly by on a cold Whangarei evening, your BRAVO crew couldn't resist the lure of the billboards the other night. We headed out to watch our first roller derby match, between "Hell's Wives", the local favorite, and "Dangerous Curves", from somewhere south. No one seemed to know from where, or really care!
|Dangerous Curves, ready to rumble!|
|Safety inspection (checking for weapons??? who knows!!!)|
|14 year old kiwi goth checks in. A member of the farm team, the "Northland Nightmares Derby Brats, do we have a future Jerry Springer star in the making!!!|
|NSO's (Non Skating Officials for you Roller Derby newbies) and referees, include "Judge Mental" and "Fury Gothmutha"|
|Hailstorm waiting out her minute in the penalty box. Penalty was for......ummmmm.......who knows???|
|Fury Godmutha was a favorite ref !!!|
|All important team strategy sessions|
|Coaches on the left making the tough decisions|
|No way is local favorite Glam-Er-Zon letting rival jammer pass.....she gets the job done!|
Took us quite a while to figure out what was going on in the mayhem out on the floor. Actually pretty tame by pro roller derby standards (so we're told, if we did happen to ever see one of those events!!!), it was all good fun, and we even stayed to the end!!! Will this be our last trip to the Roller Dome??? Mmmmmm.....probably, yes!!!! But a good taste of local kiwi culture nonetheless!!! (Actually, of course, an American export.....makes us proud!!!) And the corn dogs and french fries (the only two items at the snack bar...perfect!) were hard to beat!!!
So what's next?
Thick frost on the decks and docks in the morning. (We even had to get parts for our diesel heater, not used in over 4 years in the tropics.) We sleep with 2 blankets and a sleeping bag. Boats have been leaving in droves for warmer climes at each weather window.....Fiji, Tonga, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, and Australia are the usual destinations. Seems like we're one of the last.....
We hope to leave the dock this next week to go out for sea trials of all systems. Then back for our parts delivery and install, and depart for Fiji by June 13.
The Hotel California.....where you can check in but you can't check out. Will we be able to check out from Whangarei, our Hotel California???? Fingers crossed, stay tuned!!!
|Freshly painted, BRAVO awaits her next adventure|