After we dropped Adam off at the airport in Auckland, we headed back to Napier. We made a quick stop in Rotorua, which was on our route. We wanted to see some of the geothermal activity in the area that we missed last time we were there. We stopped at one of the parks, but by 4pm it was already closed for the day. There was an open mud pool off the side of the road, so we stopped to see it. It was interesting to see all of the steam rising and the mud bubbling up, but the sulfur smell was very strong, and after 15 minutes, we were out of there.
|mud pools near Rotorua|
|building the dodger top in Napier|
We also took advantage of having a car and did some major provisioning for the next season. We had our anchors regalvanized and looked into regalvanizing our chain as well. We hoped our chain would last for the whole trip, but we were really unlucky last year with getting it wrapped around coral heads, and it was in bad shape. Unfortunately, it turned out to be nearly twice as expensive to regalvanize chain as it was to buy it new, so we sold ours to the salvage yard and replaced it with 200 feet of new 8mm chain. While we were in a place with good medical facilities, we also took the opportunity to go to the dentist for a check-up and teeth cleaning and to the doctor to get our last shot for our Hepatitis B vaccinations and a prescription for malaria (preventative).
Di spent quite a bit of time planning in more detail the next leg of our trip, researching routes and weather, and reading the guidebooks to determine specific places we wanted to see. She also worked for a couple weeks for our friend Matt, who developed a video game for testing children’s cognitive skills. The game was in the testing phase, so she went to local intermediate schools to schedule sessions and supervise the kids while they played the game. It was nice to have a little income for a while.It wasn’t all work though, and we spent our weekends and many evenings hanging out with Matt and April, and playing with Frazer (20 months old). April is an excellent cook, and we ate very well while we were there. We even had time for running and swimming and even a few rounds of golf. It was really nice to spend some time in one place for a while.
|hanging with Matt, April, and Frazer|
By early April, our “to do” list for Opua had grown, and we were getting anxious to get things started. We got a good weather window on April 13th and said our sad goodbyes to Matt, April, and Frazer, and set out on the 500 mile trip back to Opua. We were able to sail for the first two days, but then the wind died, and we motored the last two days, reaching the Bay of Islands just after dark, around 8 pm. We dropped the hook near Russell in the flat calm weather, as we didn’t want to enter the crowded Opua anchorage/mooring field after dark.
We decided the bowsprit needed some attention as well, as there were cracks in the paint where the wood is laminated together. This is normal, as the wood expands and contracts and the paint doesn’t. We were concerned that water may have seeped into the cracks and starting rotting the wood. Andrew ground out the cracks to get down to the wood and found only a couple of very minor spots with a little bit of rot. There were no structural issues, and we were happy to find out that it was holding up so well. We filled in the ground out areas with epoxy and repainted it. Meanwhile, Di scrubbed the hull, as it was looking more yellow than white these days.
|working in the boatyard|
After six days in the boatyard, we moved Saviah back to the breakwater at the marina. We were finally ready to install the dodger. The stainless steel supports had been fabricated, and we drilled holes in the deck and mounted them. We installed three 50 watt solar panels and wired all of the lighting, and then put a teak rim around the perimeter for the water catchment system. We also added some handrails to the outside edges, and then bolted it down to the stainless steel supports. We had a local canvas guy build a windscreen and a sunshade to cover the cockpit. It rained for the next couple days after it was installed, and we enjoyed the benefits immediately. I’m not sure how we made it this far without a dodger, but we will certainly enjoy it going forward.
|Saviah's new dodger|
Amidst the dodger installation, we were watching the weather for a good window for the next leg of our trip. We got one just as we were finishing the last of our projects. We borrowed a car and headed into town for our last minute provisions and then to the customs office to do our clearance paperwork. We really enjoyed our five months in New Zealand. It is a beautiful country and the people are really friendly, but winter was fast approaching and we are ready for the tropics. We left the Bay of Islands on May 17th, pointing north for the islands of Vanuatu.