Living and working in New Zealand
We are in Kuala Lumpur and we are determined to visit the Twin Towers, but we don't have a lot of time. The traffic is a disaster and our flight to Auckland in New Zealand leaves in a few hours. We have spent a month in the Netherlands and during our stopover in the Malaysian capital we'll just have to go to another part of the city to catch a whiff of the oriental culture.
Back on Happy Monster
We finally arrive in Auckland and get in our minibus, totally exhausted. To drive as safely as possible, we take turns driving in half-hour shifts. Once back in Opua it's wonderful to see our Happy lying peacefully between the poles. We're worn out and fall asleep in our own bed.
We resume life on board and make new plans. Happy desperately needs to be taken out of the water, because the rudder needs to be repaired. It took us safely to New Zealand at the time, but it's not moving smoothly at all, steering is incredibly heavy. Something has to be done about it.
We make an appointment at Asbey's Boatyard and we can soon bring the boat ashore. After having heard many stories about rudders that are stuck, we were a bit worried that our rudder wouldn't cooperate either, but fortunately it wasn't as bad as we expected. With a bit of tugging we manage to remove the rudder from the rudder stock. The damage wasn't as bad as we expected either, it was all caused by a lack of grease. The little bit of grease that was left was old and dried up. We fill up a hole on the outside along the rudder stock that let in a little bit of water and we lightly sand the inside with fine sandpaper. We apply lots of new grease and put the rudder back in and it works like a breeze. We just need to top up and tighten the grease container more often.
We also take the opportunity to finally do something about the ugly smudging paint on the red bands around the hull. A Belgian sailor who used to have a painting business back in Belgium gives us advice and after a day of shopping in Whangarei we return with a big pot of "Happy Monster red" paint, a few rolls of masking tape, paint rollers and paintbrushes. First we clean the hull, then we tape the masking tape along the red bands with surgical precision and then Dory can start painting. Hans has been disqualified from painting in the past because he is far too impatient and only causes the paint to drip. The result is dazzling, Happy shines like a diamond again.
Finding a job
Hans hasn't found a job as web developer yet so after careful consideration Dory decides to send an email to the biggest audiology company in New Zealand, Bay Audiology, hoping to find a job in a town where we can continue to live on our boat. To our big surprise, we already receive an answer the next day and Dory is invited to come to Hamilton for an interview and a test.
We pack Bussy for a few days of camping and leave for Hamilton. It still feels exotic to drive past all those places with Maori names. We pass Kawakawa, Ruapekapeka, Hukerenui, Hikurangi, with the exits for Tutukaka and Whangarei, which is pronounced as Vangarei. At some point, someone has written down all the place names in Maori and for some obscure reason has spelled "v" as "wh".
We pass Waiaka, Waipu and Brynderwyn. The latter sounds Dutch, but we don't know whether it actually is Dutch. Anyway, we could go on like that for ages.
A bit of a scare
Driving past all these exotic names and through the wonderful New Zealand scenery we finally arrive in Hamilton. The interview isn't until the next day, so we take our time to explore the city. Then suddenly Dory's mobile phone rings. Can she have the interview this afternoon!? Oh dear, Dory hasn't washed her hair, her feet are dirty, she hasn't painted her nails yet, etcetera, etcetera. She looks like a tramp! We quickly walk back to the camping site. Hans receives instructions over the phone on how to get to the interview location while Dory tries to make the best of her appearance in half an hour. One hour after the phone call she enters one of Bay Audiology's shops dressed to the nines. She meets Steve and she is a bit nervous while she awaits all the technical questions. But the interview isn't about knowledge, they only talk about Dory's years of experience as an audiologist. So the interview was a piece of cake and two days later at their head quarters, Dory receives the confirmation that she has a job and can start an introductory course next week. After she has completed the course, she will start working in Thames and Pukekohe. Unfortunately, we can't live on the boat in these towns.
The first week of Dory's introductory course is in Auckland and a flight has been booked for her to fly from Kerikeri to Auckland. She has a hotel suite which is at least ten times the size of our boat and she has it all to herself: two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a large kitchen with a dining table and of course a very spacious living room. In an apartment like that, it's difficult to decide where you're going to sit.
Dining in a restaurant every evening is something else. But every advantage has its disadvantage. Having to attend a course in English all day and dining out with three new English-speaking colleagues in the evening is very tiring and Hans' warm shoulder isn't available to rest on in the evening. After 5 days she was completely exhausted. What a pleasure it is then to see Hans again after the plane has landed and to enjoy the weekend together on Happy.
In the meantime, we apply for work permits and have our medicals for the permits.
Pukekohe and Thames are far from Opua and we have to move Happy. We sail via Great Barrier Island to Pine Harbour Marina, near Auckland. Via email we enquire whether we can live on the boat there until we have found a house and it turns out that this is not a problem. Unfortunately, on arrival we discover that the lady at the desk, who only started working there a few days ago, doesn't know the rules very well. We are not allowed to live on the boat. Dory's generous employer pays for another two weeks at a hotel.
While Dory gradually gets used to working life, Hans starts looking for a rented house. Fortunately there is no housing shortage in New Zealand and within two weeks we have found the ideal house. It is close to the centre of Pukekohe, with a beautiful wooden floor, a hearth, two bedrooms, affordable, but not furnished. What to do now? Where do we find furniture? It turns out the hotel owner has a spare bed and he's actually quite happy for us to use it for now, so he doesn't have to store it. A second-hand, ugly sofa with so-called lazy-boys costs only 99 dollars and we find a nice cane dining table with four matching chairs for 200 dollars. We can sit and sleep and we'll continue to look for more stuff at garage sales.
With a desk, a television on a cabinet and a dehumidifier our house is fairly complete and we have everything to adapt to a regular schedule. We are leaving our sailors' life behind for now.
(Translated from dutch to english by Percy Balemans)