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Letters From Stardust – November

November 14-15, 2004 (Sunday/Monday)

We are hunkered down and waiting for the weather system, that finally go here four days later than first predicted, to blow through. We have had 40+ knot winds, but being tied to a secure dock makes it a piece of cake. We feel really sorry for the folks bashing their way toward NZ. It has been raining so we are just hunkered down and relaxing.

November 16, 2004 (Tuesday)

Finally we were able to head to Whangarei. We left at 7 a.m. to make the overnight trip. We should be down to the coast and be anchored off the Whangarei River before dark. The trip was uneventful, ahhhhh!! The winds were blowing fairly strong, anywhere from 15 to 25 knots, but were coming from right behind us. Being this close to shore the seas didn’t have time to build so sailing was fairly comfortable. Because we have two FULL tanks of fuel we decided to motor sail to use up some of the fuel. Bob wants to clean the fuel tanks before we leave NZ in the spring to make sure there is not any algae growing in them. Funny to think of plant like material growing in diesel, huh?

The port captain in Whangarei has assured us that he will hold the last piling spot for us. We will be tied up in the middle of the river and will have to use the dinghy to get to shore but it is a secure spot to leave the boat while we are gone.

By 4 p.m. we were anchored in Bream Bay. It was a pain trying to get anchored in here though because a big old rain squall came through with lots of rain and wind just as we were getting the anchor down. It took us two tries, but we set well and then, of course the wind died. Hopefully it will stay that way all night!!! We will spend the night here and then motor up the river to Whangarei in the morning on a rising tide. The river is VERY shallow in spots and as long as we go on a rising tide we will float off even if we do go aground. Supposedly in most spots the bottom is so soft and muddy that you can just power through it!! We draw six and a half feet, but several of the boats draw up to eleven feet, so they have to be even more careful than us!!

November 17, 2004 (Wednesday)

We had a very quiet night last night so got a good night’s sleep! About 8:30 Bobby decided it was time to pull up the anchor, for the last time for probably several months, and be on our way up the river.

It was funny coming up the river because I didn’t remember any part of it from the last trip. The shallowest we saw was a little less than eight feet. We made it all the way in without touching. As we approached Whangarei I got on the VHF to try and raise some of our friends already there to come give us a hand with tying up. No luck, everyone was out running around. Finally Steve on Windrunner answered up and came and gave us a hand. The boat has to be driven in between four pilings and then the lines on the pilings picked up and attached to the boat. All of this maneuvering without swinging into the boats on either side of us. With Steve being able to hand us the lines it all went smoothly and Stardust was soon tucked in secure and happy!!

Now the fun began!! First we went and picked up our car from the auction place. It is a pretty little white Nissan, Cefiro, station wagon. Pretty plush inside too!! It should be comfy for us to tour in. Then our next stop was for insurance. Because the car was fairly expensive we took out full coverage. It will cost us, eat your hearts out, about $370 for six months!! Most of the cruisers bought cheaper cars and are only putting on liability insurance which runs less than a $100. Driving on the wrong side of the road makes it pretty important to have insurance, also the Kiwi’s are crazy when they get behind the wheel of a car for some reason!

While driving around enjoying our new transportation we passed the library so went in and joined so that we can use their facilities, check out books and CD’s, etc.  We did that last time we were here too, but it was free then. Whew, a rather full, successful day. Tonight we are going out to dinner with friends and get together to gab.

November 18-20, 2004 (Thursday – Saturday)

I am going to lump these days together because they are just like your days at home. Running around trying to get things done!!! We did manage to organize with a couple of other boats and have rented a storage locker to off load the boat. It will make it easier to live on the boat and make it easier for Bobby to do the projects he needs to do before we leave next spring (fall here).

November 21, 2004 (Sunday)

Most of the town closes down on Sunday so we were forced (oh darn!) to take the day off. We went on a little mini-tour. Mai from Sowelu went with us. We decided to do a little exploring close to here. The countryside is beautiful. Bobby says he thinks that NZ is just one big pasture!! We went out to Tutukka, which is maily a marina facility on the coast north of here on the eastern side of NZ, beautiful, but very quiet and not many services available.

Then we went to Whangarei Falls. This is a really beautiful triple waterfall. We took the walk that crosses the river above the falls on stepping stones and then curves around and down to end at the bottom of the falls on a very picturesque wooden bridge that once again crosses the river and the trail goes back up to the top of the falls. It reminded us very much of hiking Silver Falls just out of Silverton in Oregon.

Our next stop was a place on the west side of NZ. Obviously it isn’t very far across the island. We took the hike down to Whale Cove. The vegetation was incredible and the hike provided several beautiful vantage points for pictures.

Once back in Whangarei Mai decided to make us one of her incredible Vietnamese dinners of salad rolls and stir fry! Yummy!! Boja, Mai’s partner, has gone home to Canada and then on to the Czech  Republic to see his mom. Mai has stayed and is working part-time as a seamstress to add to their cruising kitty.

November 22-24, 2004 (Monday – Wednesday)

Projects, projects!!! The outboard, which hasn’t run right since it sunk in the Papeete storm) had to go to the shop. The sails, the new ones, that have been giving us fits had to be taken in to be repaired, at least Bob tried. He found out that they have to go back to Opua to the sail loft there to be repaired. No problem because we are going back to Opua on Thursday to celebrate Thanksgiving with a whole fleet of cruisers. That should be lots of fun!!

Bob’s big project was finding the mystery leaks that have been plaguing us! It finally stopped raining so that he can put water just in the places he needs to check. He discovered that we had a port light (window) leaking and one of the dorades (ventilation spots) he had glassed over had apparently cracked. He fixed the window and put a bowl over the other one….temporary fix!!

Mai and I spent one day just wandering all the shops in town. Our favorites, the Op Shops!! Op Shops are like Goodwill at home. She had lots of luck finding things. I didn’t dare, my guy is still on the boat and we are loaded to the gills!!

Wednesday I spent the day trying to find pie pans!!! They make pies here, but couldn’t find an actual pie pan anywhere. I finally bought some little aluminum foil ones that were only about six inches across. So instead of two regular size pies I made four little ones. I was smart and brought canned pumpkin with me this trip. The only other way to make a pumpkin pie is to buy a whole pumpkin and cook it and then make the pie. They eat pumpkin in lots of dishes, like regular squash at home, and they are good!!! So once I had the pans I needed whipping cream. No Kool Whip here, but lots of the aerosol canned cream. I, of course, wanted real whipping cream. This is after all the dairy capitol of the South Pacific. Ha!!! No whipping cream. Finally I asked. After an initial blank look this gal brightened and said, “Oh, you want sweet cream!” So that is what I bought and it worked great!! We do all speak English, just not the same English.