|Bravo tugging at her dock lines (friends' boat, Rubicon, is just behind)|
YEEE HAH!!! We're ready, BRAVO's ready, and we think we have a halfway decent weather window to leave NZ tomorrow.
The past few weeks have been a hectic flurry of last minute repairs, provisioning, stowing an amazing amount of stuff below, lashing things on deck, seeing friends, and all the other things that make departure tough after 7 months.
Our watermaker pump finally arrived after being stuck in customs for several days. I picked it up at the DHL depot, raced home, tore open the box, drilled and mounted it in place, plumbed all the hoses. Went to wire the bad boy up, and what the hell????? There are 6 wires, but the diagram has 7.....A call to the shop in California confirms worst fears.....they shipped a 50 hz motor because we're in NZ, but BRAVO is a 60 hz boat...really not good at all!!! But we wired it anyway, and will be able to run it under reduced output so as not to burn up the motor. Until we get to Fiji, where CruiseRO will have a new 60 hz motor waiting for us. Great customer support by them, thanks Rich!
|Old, corroded alternator|
|Took all manuals of the electrical system to trace the problems.....and even then...|
|$1000 circuit board??? You've gotta be kidding, Yanmar!!! (they weren't)|
Yesterday we motored the 11 miles down river from Whangarei Town Basin to the marina at the mouth of the river for customs/immigration check out from the country. We've filled out the forms and submitted them, including full descriptions and a photo of the boat for rescue purposes. It happens around here. Weather patterns are some of the more challenging in the world, due to the unending series of troughs and highs which come across the Tasman Sea from Australia to the west and New Caledonia to the north. This time of year they're spaced close together, so you typically don't get one window with great weather the whole way for the 1200 mile passage. You just try to limit the crap as much as possible....."prepare for the worst.....hope for the best" really applies here.
Leaving NZ is surprisingly emotional for us. The town of Whangarei has been our home for the past 7 months, the longest we've touched down anywhere since leaving Seattle 4 years ago. We've thoroughly enjoyed the warmth and hospitality shown to us at every turn. Made some great friends in kiwis and non kiwis as well, and learned a lot about boat systems, repairs, and construction. (As friend and shipwright Chris always said.....if man can build it, man can fix it......he is right.) The kiwi "can do" attitude is pervasive. And unlike some places we've been, kiwi's typically WILL get it done, and done well. "No worries, mate", means just that.
People like Sharon and Brian at the Town Basin Marina, and Charlie and Doug at the Dockland 5 haulout yard were perfect hosts. Rigger Brian, Glen, Jade, Trevor.....the list goes on. We were made to feel welcome at every turn. Kiwis just seem to have helpfulness and hospitality in their DNA, it happened over and over. As friend and fellow cruiser Fatty Goodlander says, "we vote with our keels" (and he's spent 5 recent cyclone seasons here in Whangarei). These folks must be doing something right!
What about the $$$?????
Many folks speak about NZ's high prices. On the surface, things are indeed expensive. More so these days for us American visitors, as the US:NZ $$$ exchange is the worst it's been in years from our perspective. Was 50% just a few years ago, now just a 15% discount.....ouchh!
That said, we have really found the VALUE of NZ to be terrific. And while we are retired and need to conserve $$$ wherever possible, value is really important to us, not just the initial cost of widgets or services. Do you get what you pay for??? It's true that you may pay more for some / most things (not everything), but we feel not much more than in the US. (gas being a major exception.....regular gas runs around $2 US/ liter) We believe that the caliber of boat work is unequaled anywhere else, certainly not in the US. We're talking every aspect of the work, and as you know, we have first hand experience with a lot!!! Rigging, welding, carpentry, design, painting, mechanics.....the list goes on. And it's not just the one or two champs who make the difference. The "depth of the bench" in NZ is also amazing, especially for a nation of just over 4 million folks. Parts can be hard to come by for unique items, but if you try, it'll happen.
Unlike Latin America, where quality of the work could often be dodgy (though cheap), we really found that we got what we paid for here in NZ. Sales tax in Seattle is around 10%, here in NZ visiting yachts don't pay GST (15%) on any boat related work or parts. Restaurants are a bit higher, perhaps, than the US, but there is no tipping here in NZ.....they pay their help a fair living wage instead. So knock 20% off the price of your meal and bar tab. We sorely miss $4 street taco dinners in Mexico, and $1 beers, or $3.50 almuerzo 3 course lunches in Ecuador. But NZ is a 1st world country, and you do indeed have to pay to play here.
Slip rates are on par with much of the US......less than some areas such as southern California.
All this said, we're terrifically excited to be hoisting sails tomorrow and heading north at last. New Zealand winters are cold....we've had frost on the decks already. The tropics beckon. Our itinerary for this coming season includes exploration of Fiji and possibly Vanuatu if time (hard to pack it all in 4-5 months). We'll then make the return passage to New Zealand, where we will spend the next 6 month cyclone season. Hopefully without the extensive repairs, we'll be able to spend our time cruising by sea and land around the country.
Gotta go, theres more to tie down up on deck!!!