- Spoken by Ratty to Mole in Wind in the Willows, a children's book by Kenneth Grahame
Well, it's been quite a hectic past couple of months (sorry for lack of photos, just hasn't been time!!!). We arrived back to New Zealand from Australia in March, to find all was good aboard Bravo, much as we'd left her. Felt like a castle after living in the rooftop tent atop Tojo for the previous 9 months in Oz !!! We figured just a few projects to wrap up in the boatyard, and we'd be good to splash and do a bit of coastal cruising around NZ. Funny how it happens, though.....one project seemed to lead to another, we enjoyed the camaraderie of friends in the boatyard, and the next thing we knew, it was early May. The southern winter is now nearly upon us, and it's nearing our time to depart this fantastic country.
|Heading back to the water|
Alas, we were quickly reminded once again that boats are happiest when in the water. Bravo had been on the hard for nearly 2 years, (save a 2 week romp in the Bay of Islands) and the testing of several systems requires that we be afloat. Water-cooled refrigeration compressors, generator, watermaker (desalinization machine) re-plumbing and pump, engine cooling, lithium battery system tweaking and monitoring, start battery charging system, even rewiring the running lights would all now clamor "me next" as the Bravo crew engaged in a daunting game of system Whack-a-mole. Seemed as soon as we'd fix one issue (oh, say, tearing out the entire refrigeration system and installing a whole new one when the old Glacier Bay system unexpectedly failed us.....an expensive and several day long project), another would take it's place demanding attention. We couldn't get the time, as the rest of the cruising yachts were doing around us, to simply work on voyage preparation. Rigging, charting and route planning, stowing gear, provisioning of food, spare parts, and basic maintenance tasks like filter, oil, and coolant changes would all have to wait. And this with our 2 year T.I.E. (Temporary Import Entry) expiring on May 31 (already extended for 6 months due to Cindi's accident). (Means either take the boat out of the country, or pay the taxes and duties to officially "import" her into NZ.......$31K in Bravo's case.......Ruh-Ro). Stressful????? You betcha.
|Bravo tugging at the docklines to head back to sea|
We missed a major weather window for departure about a week ago. Twenty boats from Whangarei and over FIFTY from Opua up north left for the tropics last Saturday. Customs had 'em stacked up like cordwood waiting to clear out. But at last earlier this week it was time for us to take another baby step. We sadly bid our goodbyes to many friends in the Whangarei area, and turned Bravo down river for the two hour motor to Marsden Cove marina. All systems were working beautifully, and we tucked into our slip here at Marsden with a bit of a feeling of melancholy, but also a sense of accomplishment of a major refit and refurbishment of our home. A boat is always a work in progress.....there's always "The List". But Bravo's never been better, and knock-on-wood, is ready to go voyaging again. Hopefully the same can be said for her crew, who are feeling a bit rusty in the ways of the sea!!!
Leaving New Zealand is proving to be quite emotional. With the exception of our 6 months in Fiji and 9 months spent recently in Australia, NZ has been our home for the past 4 years, one of the longest times that either of us have spent anywhere in our 60+ years. We've done a fair bit of exploring, including a couple of trips down to the south island, some great hiking, wonderful opportunities for photography, and, yes, a huge amount of boat work. We've faced some really trying times here, especially around Cindi's injuries (which have fully healed at last!!!!!). But most of all, we've had a great time getting to know the Kiwi people. We've made several close friends here, and have found the people of this small island nation to be some of the most down-to-earth, capable, and easy going folks anywhere. Frequent calls of "git 'er done", "she'll be right, mate", and "if man can build it, man can fix it" kept our spirits up when they sagged a bit. We can't say when, but we're sure NZ will have a place in our future.
But for now, we're sitting in Marsden Cove marina, waiting for our weather window for the 7-8 day passage to Vanuatu. The low pressure systems just keep sweeping across NZ from the Tasman Sea. Although it's raining donkeys and blowing stink outside right now, it looks like we may get a window to depart tomorrow. Will be wonderful to be at sea again, especially without the constant internet reminders of the shameful shitstorm underway in the US, led by the SCROTUS and his slimy cronies.
The plan at this moment is to spend the next 3-4 months in Vanuatu, then a month or so in New Caledonia, before sailing down to Australia and exploring until around June 2018. After that? Stay tuned!!!
We'll try to post to this blog while at sea via ham radio email. You can hopefully also follow our progress by checking in at www.yit.co.nz do a search for BRAVO