Monday, January 14, 2008

January 13, 2008 - Whangarei

For the past few days, and for the coming month, Sten and I are going to be spending most of our time at Dockland 5, working on Mata'irea. Other than applying new bottom paint for next season and getting our main sail serviced, there is nothing that absolutely needs to be done before we head back to the tropics in a few months. However, we've somehow come up with a list of about 50 projects that we would like to do. Our challenge is going to be in budgeting our time so that we actually get to see some of the natural beauty this country is known for . . . you know . . . as long as we can view it from the back deck of a vineyard's tasting room.

The biggest project is to replace the insulation around our fridge and freezer. Currently, it takes an awful lot of energy to keep them cool in the tropics. New insulation should cut our generator run time way down. As the fridge and freezer are under the galley counter, this project will involve removing the existing counter top, which is in sorry shape. It looks like the prior owner used to use an ice pick directly on the counter top. More importantly, there is no backsplash; so, every time we get water on the counter top, it wicks up the teak veneer of the cabinets above the counter. The wood is permanently discolored from years of this. And if we're going to replace the counter top, we might as well get a new faucet with a spray attachment . . . while we are at it.

The first thing we needed to do, in order to be able to communicate with various vendors was to buy a cell phone. Now, with car keys and a phone in my pocket, I'm starting to feel like a regular old land dweller again. After purchasing the phone and sim card, I printed up a handful of boat cards with our New Zealand mobile number on it, ostensibly to hand out to vendors, but mostly so I would be able to remember the number. I also made a few calls to some vendors to set up appointments for next week.

While I was off talking to vendors and researching what supplies we can get here, Sten was digging into one of our other big projects - installing that 60 lb transformer that we carted down here. He is planning to put it under the galley sink, where the prior owners had installed a battery charger for a bank of batteries that is no longer there. He pulled out the battery charger, and a bunch of extraneous wires that are no longer in use. Unfortunately, the transformer install isn't going to be a straight forward as he hoped, so he is back to the design stage - figuring out where to put in some additional breakers. The good news is that he found the source of a water leak that we've had for a few months now. And, not being able to resist checking a minor item off the work list, he installed a GPS interface cable to the SSB. Today he has been working on dropping the rudder so that we can inspect it. While Sten engages in skilled labor, I got stuck into the mindless project that is going to keep me out of trouble over the next few weeks - scraping all of the old, flaking Cetol off of our cap rails and rub rails.

Just as it does when we are on passage, cooking and eating are providing a major source of recreation for us here in the boat yard. Yesterday morning, we visited the local farmers market for the first time. It was huge! It felt so wrong, and yet so wonderful, to be wandering through rows of fresh blueberries, tomatoes, avocados, basil, cilantro (coriander to the Kiwis), cucumbers, zucchini (which they call courgette here) and zucchini blossoms in the middle of January. Locally made cheeses, yogurt, organic honey and locally raised beef completed the picture. We came back and made a capreese salad for lunch from tomatoes, basil and mozzarella. For dinner, we sauteed up some zucchini and garlic, then tossed it with pasta and basil. Having just come from the northern hemisphere's winter, this summer fare seems so decadent.

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