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, 22 November 2015

Call me old fashioned, but.....

The full quote (from Billy Connelly) is “Call me old fashioned but I have never felt another man’s scrotum”. More on this theme later in today’s update……

So another week has passed and Maunie remains marooned on her mooring. Mark, the engineer, from Seapower finally extracted the injection pump from the engine bay, after much frustration and some ingenuity, on Monday morning.
Mark's not going to thank me for this photo, but the look conveys the frustration of getting the pump out!
The pump was sent down to Marty the Expert in Whangarei for a diagnosis; we called in to see him on Wednesday and were worried that he described it as ‘a bit of a mystery’ as to why the pump was misbehaving. He showed us the pump in its dismantled state; a frightening number of tiny components with very fine machined tolerances. The good news, he told us, was that the pump was in very good condition overall so he suspected that the valves were worn; spares have to be flown in from Singapore so he won’t be able to reassemble and bench-test the pump till this coming week. Our fingers are firmly crossed that the new valves will be the answer but we aren’t looking forward to the invoice.
Meanwhile it has been a busy week in Opua with the ICA ‘All Points Rally’ running lots of seminars and events every day. The Rally is a free event, open to all yachts arriving from abroad, and is well-supported by local businesses; it encourages a lot of boats to come to Opua as their first stop in New Zealand. We went to a few seminars (as old hands we didn’t need the ‘welcome to NZ’ sessions) but did attend the Pizza and Talent night which proved the theory that cruising yachties are cheerfully prepared to make fools of themselves in public. Graham did the Rowan Atkinson monologue of the Devil welcoming newcomers to Hell. If you don’t know it, it begins with: “As the more perceptive of you will have by now realised, this is Hell. I am the Devil, good evening, though you can call me Toby if you like. We try to keep things informal, as well as infernal, here” – you can find a recording of the original from the ‘Live in Belfast’ album HERE. Graham’s slightly edited version went down very well with the multinational crowd. Incidentally, he went to the same Oxford college (and did the same Engineering Science degree) as Rowan Atkinson so he reckons that makes the plagiarism ok.
With one eye on the fast-depleting bank balance and the other on the ready market of newly-arrived crews planning their own exploration of NZ, we have also been busy selling things this week. Our wonderful car-top tent sold to an American couple (for the same price we paid for it two years ago, pleasingly) whilst our aging inflatable kayak and our lovely but space-consuming beanbag went yesterday at a ‘Treasures of the Bilge’ sale, together with a couple of camping items. We managed to avoid buying anyone else’s ‘treasures’ at the event, remarkably, so it’s good to know that Maunie will float a few millimetres higher, whilst the rare reversal of cash flow is very welcome.
The cash soon goes the other way, of course and on Wednesday one of the ‘one-off’ expenditures was a “skin MOT” for the both of us. New Zealand is often described as the melanoma capital of the world; the clean air and the very thin ozone layer makes the risk of skin cancer here very high. We have noticed, even after months in the Tropics, how easy it is to get sunburnt here and Factor 30+ sunscreen is an absolute necessity, particularly on the boat where the sails and sea reflect the sun’s rays onto your skin. So we booked a consultation with a skin specialist, Dr Cottle, who dispensed good advice and showed us scary photos of malignant melanomas before doing a very detailed full-body inspection, taking close-up photos of any spots or pigmentation that looked ‘interesting’. It was during Graham’s check that the Billy Connelly quote came to mind; without warning or any kind of ‘excuse me’, the good doctor whipped Graham’s boxers down and had a good check of his wedding tackle. Presumably some yachties go ‘au naturel’ in the privacy of their own boats but Graham was a bit taken aback; “Do I look German?”
The good news is that both our checks showed that our skins were fine and we left $260 lighter but reassured and promising to apply 30+ every morning this summer.
Looking ahead, we have an ongoing list of boat jobs ahead of us but we can’t wait to be able to go sailing again as soon as the engine is fixed. If we have time this week we plan to put Maunie aground (on purpose) alongside a local boatyard’s quay between the morning and evening high tides to enable us to service the propeller and replace the zinc anodes which do a vital job of protecting the expensive propeller from electrolytic corrosion. At $30 it costs about one tenth of the price of a haul-out with the crane at the main boatyard but comes with the added challenge of ensuring that the boat leans the right way as she dries out on her fin keel!
The plan is then to sail south to Auckland where we’ll be based for the month of December; living in a marina close to the city centre should be fun.

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