JULY, 2014

May 19, 2014

Monday, May 19 was a very busy day.  We had booked our annual physical exams with our doctor in Whangarei and then we planned on checking out of the marina and taking Bella Via downriver to the mooring and moving into the bach (pronounced ‘batch’).  After our doctor’s appointment we had time to do some last minute shopping as high tide (the best time to leave the marina) was not until 1100 that day.  Unfortunately, Paul realized at about 1100 that we should have left the marina earlier as it is a two hour trip downriver to the mooring and if we leave it too late in the falling tide, it is a greater distance that we need to drag the dinghy and walk over dried out beach.  The problem is that Mary had packed up quite a bit of food and belongings from Bella Via and we needed to carry it up to the bach, not an easy task as the bach is up a hill.

But we did manage to accomplish all of that by dinnertime.  Paul made countless trips back to the boat to collect our belongings.  Mary made one trip with a load and then proceeded to unpack and re-organize the kitchen and do some preliminary cleaning while Paul finished the delivery of the loads.  We went to bed exhausted and asked ourselves why we had been so silly to miss the opportunity to send everything from Bella Via in Craig’s car (the owner of the bach) on the Sunday as he had come up from Auckland and had picked Paul up and given him a tour of the bach with some maintenance instructions!  We could only claim busyness because we have been spending so much time marketing the boat that we didn’t think that far ahead.

The next morning we needed to be up early as we had offered to drive our friends, Dave and Margaret, to the Auckland airport, and we were being picked up early by Dave.  Dave and Margaret were going to Europe for three months and very generously offered us their car for that time.  We had planned on buying a used car for the winter but for the time being that is not necessary.  We have mentioned before how very generous Kiwis are to visitors.

We saw Dave and Margaret off to Europe, wishing them Bon Voyage, and spent the night in Auckland at the house of our friends, Liz and Craig, the owners of the bach.  We returned to Whangarei the next day; stopping in town to do a big shop at the grocery store while we had the luxury of a car to load up.

We are very comfortable at the bach and Bella Via is doing fine on the mooring.  Here are some pictures:

The bach is built on a hill, with a very steep and narrow driveway.  Luckily there is a part where Paul can drive in and turn around so that we don’t have to back out of the driveway.

Mary snapped this picture of the front of the bach while walking up the hill from the water.  The large windows are the kitchen windows.

The bach is a very comfortable summer home with three bedrooms, kitchen, living room and dining room. Nothing fancy but very comfortable with a potbelly wood burning stove for heat. Liz has decorated the bach with memorabilia from their two-year family cruise of the South Pacific (where we first met in New Caledonia) and some of her own paintings.

No kiwi home has central heating despite the fact that the temperatures can dip as low as 5 Celsius even here on North Island.  Paul can often be found sitting in front of the wood fire in the living room.  In the bedrooms, there are stand-alone electrical heaters, which keep us warm at night.

Here is the stunning view from the kitchen.  We can view Bella Via on the mooring from every room in the house (except for the bathrooms), including the three bedrooms on the lower level.

Here is Bella Via on the mooring.  That is Whangarei Heads in the distance on the left and we enjoy seeing the big ships and freighters coming into the harbour, being guided by tug boats.  Paul makes regular visits to the boat to keep it shining and we have taken it into the town marina on sunny weekends to show it off.

Just about every day, Paul is out chopping wood.  We had a load of wood delivered in June and this month Paul and a friend went and picked up a second load.

The walk down to the beach and the dinghy is not very pleasant, especially at low tide and even more, when it’s been raining.  Mary realized during the first week that we were at the bach that she would have to buy her first pair of gumboots in order to protect her shoes and sandals.  But she didn’t just buy the everyday kind – she bought designer gumboots!

We are surrounded by hills and mountains – the most stunning of which is Mount Manaia.  Before we learned the name, we called it ‘Mordor’ from Lord of the Rings because that is what it reminded us of.  There is a walk of over 1000 steps up to the top – we haven’t done the walk yet.  We are considering it but we are not sure that our knees can take it.

We do walk on nice days whenever we can.  Mary snapped this picture when a cow, which was eating, stopped to stare at who was passing by.

As a thank you to Dave and Margaret for loaning us their car, we are checking on their bach in Paihia regularly, and their boat ‘Freespool’, which is on the hard at Norsand Boatyard while they are in Europe.  Their inflatable dinghy has been problematic for a while with a difficult to find leak.  Paul brought the floor of the dinghy back from Freespool and set it up in the living room of our bach to try again to find and seal the leak.  This time he was successful!

Although the owners of the bach do not want any rent (other than our power and water usage), we can see that it is in need of some fresh paint so we have taken on the task of painting a few rooms a month as our thanks for their generosity. So far we have painted the kitchen, dining room, upstairs bathroom and laundry.  We are about to start on the master bedroom.

The other thing that we have done with our time is started a badminton club. It’s a very social, non-competitive club of mostly seniors and stay-at-home moms, because we meet three days a week from 10 to 11 in the morning. This pretty well rules out any one that needs to work for a living. So far we have about 18 members in our club but only a very few come regularly. Most of the time there’s only about 6 of us in the gym.

The gym that we are using for badminton is a splendid community hall located in a nearby village. The gym was purposely built for badminton many years ago with two courts, high ceilings and a hardwood floor and, although a very active badminton club initially used it, organizers moved on and the facility has seen little use recently.

We are about 40 minutes by car from the main town of Whangarei. Our habit is to go into Whangarei on Tuesday afternoons, take care of business, buy groceries then go to the local Irish pub for a few games of pool, (we still like to shoot pool), a beer or two, a burger, and the best part is a jam session of some Irish music played by local amateurs, mostly school teachers.

We have made friends with our neighbours, who were the first to join our badminton club, and recently hosted a dinner party for Kiwi friends, Melva and Hilton, from an hour away (they stayed overnight) and our neighbours. The next morning, we all played badminton.

We have stayed busy and active and all of this is very much fun.

July 21, 2014

It’s the end of July and the middle of winter now in New Zealand.  The weather for the most part has been pretty good.  Nights are cold but when the sun is shining during the day it can be quite comfortable.  About every five or six days, a front comes through after travelling across the Tasman Sea from Australia, usually bringing high winds and rain.  The most recent storm was the worst we’ve seen in New Zealand.  The wind was fierce – the NZ weather service announced 95 mile an hour winds just north of us and 70 mile an hour gusts in our area.  We were fine in the bach but Bella Via did not fare so well on the mooring.  It looked as though the boat was okay but when the weather settled down and Paul was able to row out to the boat, he found that we lost one of our solar panels and all six blades from the wind generator. It really was our fault for not securing properly our one rotating solar panel. It probably hit the wind generator blades as it was carried away by the strong winds.

Thankfully the wind generator motor was not burned out when Paul tested it and all we had to order were six new blades from England.  The blades should arrive in about a week.  We will be able to obtain a new solar panel from Whangarei this week when we are in town.


    Journal 2013