Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall. After a six-year adventure sailing from Dartmouth to Australia, we are now back in Britain.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

In the land of the long wet cloud

Aotearoa is the Maori name for New Zealand; many meanings have been given for the name but the most popular and authoritative is “long white cloud". Voyagers to New Zealand were guided towards it during the day by a long white cloud and at night by a long bright cloud. At the moment, "long wet cloud" would be more accurate, with "bloody cold" thrown in for good measure. It's certainly a bit of a shock to the system after 6 months in the Tropics!

Weather apart, all is very well with the Maunie crew and boat. We have a week in the marina before moving out to the mooring so have been busy taking full benefit of the convenience of being able to walk ashore and access everything. The advantage of having been here before is that we know where things are and who to turn to when we need advice or assistance with boat jobs. So the outboard motor has already been serviced, we've had the headsails off for a bit of work, we have just agreed a course of action to replace our batteries and, of course, a substantial amount of clothing, bedding and seat covers has gone through the excellent washing machines here. 

The expensive project, battery replacement,  has seen us doing lots of research into the various different types (lead-acid, AGM, Gel, Lithium, the choice is bewildering and, of course, everyone you talk to has their own favourites) and then the different brands. We've finally decided to stay with lead-acid deep-cycle batteries and an American brand called Trojan; a good compromise on cost whilst promising strong performance and reliability. They should be here on Monday and we'll part with the best part of £600 for four batteries; the current ones lasted 5 years and we should do better than that with the new ones (especially with a few expert tweaks to our solar panel controller).

The other great thing about coming back to New Zealand is that Horace, our Honda CRV, was waiting for us, polished like new, thanks to the careful over-winter care of Claire and Tony in Auckland. We went there on Tuesday (a 4-hour bus journey), had a coffee with our friend Trish in the city centre (wow, cities are busy!) and then took the ferry across to North Shore to got to see Claire and Tony. We were delighted to meet their new puppy, Ursa, a 12-week-old Newfoundland who's just a gorgeous bundle of fur.

Yes, I am pretty cute, eh?

Whilst we're busy here, we are also keeping an eye of the weather for the passage down from Fiji as several boats we know are on their way at the moment. It looks a little 'interesting' just not as there's a big depression sweeping across the course in the next couple of days:

The red blob spell rain squalls and gale force winds with very rough seas
Most boats are burning diesel in light airs in order to get south of it; they can't afford to hand around as North Island of NZ will get hit by another front (more rain and strong winds) on Wednesday:

So, on the whole, we'll put up with a bit of cold and wet here in the marina, rather than being out there!

Thanks for all the emails and messages from you blog-followers, by the way. The story of Meli struck a chord with many of you and it has been lovely to hear from you all. When we fly back to Fiji next Friday to crew Kiapa back down we'll hope to be able to update the blog with a different kind of sailing experience.

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