Back on Happy Monster
After having lived as landlubbers in our house in Pukekohe for nine months, it's high time we take up our sailing life again and move back to our boat. Dory arranges that she can work near the marina in Opua in January and February, so nothing will stop us turning our Christmas holiday into a wonderful sailing holiday. But first we need to find new owners for our second-hand furniture. And what's the best way to do this in New Zealand? You organise a garage sale. Since all garage sales are held early on Saturday mornings, we get up really early on the Saturday before Christmas. Around half past six we start to carry everything outside and display it in our front garden. Our house is on a busy crossing and soon a couple of interested people stop by to have a look. The small stuff is soon sold. Around eleven, the washing machine and the fridge are all we have left. We can sell those to the second-hand shop on Monday. The ugly desk we bought for 30 dollars (15 euros) nine months ago is still there as well. Do we really have to carry it back inside? Surely not?? And then what? The new occupant will certainly not want to keep it. You know what? We stick a note on it saying "Desk For Free" and we just leave it in the garden. On Saturday evening we return from a party and turn into our street full of anticipation. We thought the desk would be gone by now, but unfortunately the hideous "Desk For Free", made from chipboard which by now is expanded by humidity, is still there. The following morning, Hans looks out of the window full of hope and he is beside himself with joy. An empty garden, without the "Desk For Free". Yay!!!
Dory's last working day is on the day before Christmas and this is when we have to try and fit all our stuff in the car. Just like five years ago, we barely manage to fit everything in and for the last time, we close the door of our house in Pukekohe behind us. We're on our way back to Happy Monster.
Christmas on the boat
There we are, on Christmas Day, with a stuffed car, our mattresses tied to the roof because they didn't fit inside. Then the big question arises: how will we ever be able to fit this into our boat again? We start with the stuff that has its own place and after having rowed back and forth a couple of times with our dinghy, there are only a few things left in the car which we won't need anytime soon. We have been invited for a Christmas dinner at Sue's, one of Dory's colleagues. She lives in a beautiful house with a great view of Kawakawa Bay. In the evening, Sue takes us back to our boat; our car will remain at her place until we will pick it up again. Two days later we sail down the shallow river during high tide, but no matter how high the water is, it's not helping: we get stuck again for a short while. But then we reach the open water, beautiful islands and many great anchorages. During this holiday, we want to explore Great Barrier Island and after having anchored in Man 'O War Bay for the night, we reach the bay of Port Fitzroy. For the last nine months, Dory has worked without interruption, so she is really experiencing the ultimate holiday mood. We go for beautiful walks, rent a car for the day and tootle around the island and enjoy the wonderful summer weather. Christmas in summer, it's still weird, the Christmas mood is lacking completely.
On New Year's Eve we leave Great Barrier Island again and we sail all night. In the far distance we sometimes see a rocket light up and exactly at midnight we uncork a small bottle of champagne. This is our second New Year's Eve at sea, the first time was when we were crossing the Atlantic Ocean. The next morning, we anchor in the bay of Whangamumu, near the Bay of Islands. We still have a couple of days before we can enter the marina in Opua. We explore an old and deserted whaling station and enjoy the dolphins who are putting up a great show. But then our holiday really is over and we have to go to the marina, where we have reserved a spot. It's a luxury to be able to step directly off the boat, instead of having to use our dinghy. This is the third time we are here, and we soon feel completely at home again. All those months in Pukekohe we didn't have much of a social life, but here in the marina we can't walk around without chatting with everyone we meet. Our sailing life has started again! Dory still works in two different shops in Whangarei and Kerikeri, while Hans does odd jobs on the boat. His first job is to install the water maker. Then he lifts a part of our cap rail (the wooden strip along the side of the boat) to finally find out why our stands, to which the sea railing is attached, are loose. It turns out to be less serious than we feared, but it's still quite a lot of work to reassemble everything. We have hired a professional carpenter to redecorate our kitchen. The old fluorescent green work top will be embellished by a beautiful Formica upper layer in a natural colour, we have tiles painted, buy a new tap and all the woodwork will be as new. The stairs in the entrance to the saloon, with its veneer peeling off like old paper, will be replaced. Happy Monster almost looks like a glamour boat!
Visitors from the Netherlands
Dory takes a day off and we drive to Warkworth, where we will meet Jacques, Gea and Ischa. We make our favourite stop-over at the Dutch Deli, to treat ourselves to liquorice, chocolate sprinkles and real Dutch cheese. We then receive a panic phone call: they are stuck in Auckland, because Jacques is too tall for the car and doesn't want to be cramped in the car for four weeks. We decide to continue our trip and find out that a clever Kiwi has finally managed to move the car seat further back. It's great to see someone from our old circle of friends again. We get some groceries and Gea and Jacques treat us to pancakes in the beautiful apartment they have rented. They inform us of all the latest news about our friends. They also surprise us with a Dutch book and a couple of plastic cups we asked them to bring. In the evening we drive the three hours back to Opua, full of stories about the Netherlands.
Chores, chores, chores
Once Dory stops working, she starts working full-time on the boat as well. We won't bother you with all the different things we are working on, but will restrict ourselves to describing a random day. We get up at around eight. We have breakfast, read the news and sometimes we Skype with family or friends. We try to start working at nine. Usually we start with a difficult or big job in the morning, such as sticking the solar panels on the new solid spray hood or taking down the pole and the railings to which our wind mill is attached. At eleven it is time for cappuccino, after which we continue working. Sanding, cleaning small things, sticking anti-skid tiles on the stairs, etcetera. At one we take a short break to have a sandwich. Usually we are too exhausted around four to take up new jobs, so that's when we do the thinking: what do we still have to do and how are we going to do it? Hans still has to do some programming for a friend back in the Netherlands and Dory does a couple of cleaning jobs and makes dinner. Sometimes our working day is interrupted by a short drive with ZigZag, our car, for example to drop off the sails or to pick up the newly galvanised anchor chain and anchor.
Time flies and Easter comes along. On Wednesday, we hoist Happy out of the water for a new layer of anti-fouling and to make a hole in the hull through which the water maker can suck up salt water.
(Translated from dutch to english by Percy Balemans)