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.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Make do and mend

The 'summer' weather is pretty awful in Northland just at the moment. A huge low pressure system came over yesterday, bringing a gale and lots of rain, and there's another crossing the Tasman Sea to hit us on Wednesday. The 10 day forecast for Kerikeri, the nearest big town to Opua, looks rather unfriendly:

Spot the sunshine!
So we battened down the hatches last night and fell asleep to the sound of the rain drumming on the cabin roof. With a bit of a break in the downpour this morning, though, we got on with some mending jobs.

Now I (Graham) may get onto my soapbox here for a minute or two but it does seem that we (developed nations at least) have forgotten how to mend things when they break. It seems to be so much easier and cheaper to throw things away and buy a new one when they fail (computer printers in particular) so mankind is now hooked on this crazy routine of filling landfills and then buying more badly-made but cheap stuff from China. 

There's a chain of shops in NZ called The Warehouse which sell household,garage and garden goods at amazingly low prices - amazing, that is, until you see the quality of many of the items. It's possible to buy a brand new mountain bike there for $80 (about £40) but it'll last just the one Christmas and then end up in the skip. Before we left home we had a few trips to the local recycling centre and I had to be restrained from taking away apparently new bikes that needed just a modicum of maintenance. I spent my youth building bikes from discarded frames, wheels and other components that other people didn't want but the difference then was that a new bike was an expensive item, not a £40 disposable.

Anyway, back on the good ship Maunie we had a couple of broken things to deal with today. The first was a smashed plastic lens on our starboard (green) navigation light, as a result of a slight misjudgment of wind at the fuel dock in Denarau. I was delighted to find that it's possible to buy just the lens rather than the whole light, but less happy to learn that it cost $110 vs $125 for the full kit. The negligible price difference just tempted us to buy the whole thing but it just seemed wrong (and not to mention expensive) so we searched around and found a veritable Aladdin's Cave called Stanley Marine in Whangarei which stocks only second-hand boat bits - $15 got us an old light from which we took the lens and the job was done. Happy!

The broken lens (with temporary tape repair) and the $15 donor light (lens removed for cleaning when the photo was taken)  from Stanley Marine. We though long and hard about keeping the housing as a spare but it was pretty worn out so we just salvaged the bulb

The second breakage was the handle of the hand-held pump we use for emptying the water out of the dinghy - we really need this with all the rain! The pump's probably 10 years old and doesn't owe us anything but a new one is about $50 and the old one probably isn't really recyclable. So, a happy hour with drill, glue and a 3mm bolt had it fixed for another few years' pumping and it's one less item into landfill.

Glued and bolted handle - better than new!

Having visited island communities where nothing gets thrown away until all possibilities for repair, salvage or reuse have been exhausted, the challenge for this millennium would seem to be how we reverse the developed world's rush towards buying low-quality 'disposable' goods, and over-consumption in general. We like to think that we were pretty green before but this trip has certainly changed our approach. 

Now, we just need the weather to buck up so that we can sail to Waiheke Island for Christmas.

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