No 1 – The bigger picture
Okay. So here we are, sat sitting in Opua, still waiting for the weather to clear so we can head up to the warmth. The difference is that over the past few days, instead of the bad weather sitting offshore, on Saturday it moved inshore and we are cold and wet and it gets very windy! So what better time to write another exciting episode in the continuing adventures of the good ship Hakura and all who sail on her … or more specifically, will be sailing on her.
There is much to do, see and experience here. Saturday dawned bright and sunny, and as Monday was the planned departure day we decided to walk to Paihia to get supplies and then catch a taxi back from the supermarket to the marina. Nothing moves quickly on the boat in port. While I am ‘up and at em’ at 7.00am, the rest of the crew are usually struggling to gain consciousness by 8.30am, so it was 10.00am before we set off, all three of us, to walk the track that winds round the coast from Opua to Paihia – about 2-3 hours walking time.
It is a little ‘up hill and down dale’, and well worth the effort for the glorious views that you are afforded all the way round. It is also a chance to experience, first hand, the lovely little bays that sit along the harbour and to see the dwellings therein.
The Captain was under the impression it was about a 45 minute walk so we had failed to take our water bottles, and even more importantly, our cameras. The views are simply breath taking. Along the way we met many people out for walks, often with their canine friends. Everyone is very friendly - I guess it is hard to be anything but in the presence of such spectacular natural beauty, and in such lovely weather.
About two thirds of the way there, and 2 hours later, thirsty and tired we arrived at a small bay that you actually have to walk along before rejoining the track. Unfortunately, we missed the track and ended up going round the rocks which were rather slippery in places... and… yes, you guessed it! ‘The lovely Lorraine’ missed her footing and went down like a lead balloon, landing on my leg badly
bruising both leg and ego and taking the wind right out of my sails. By the time I had recovered my equilibrium, the Captain hovering above me with concern, and got back to my feet I was wet through, covered in mud and sand, extremely disheveled and completely over walking for the day. That was it for me! Out onto the road I marched and stuck out my thumb.
I don’t remember ever hitch hiking, though in the dim dark recesses of my mind I suspect it may have happened a couple of times when I was in my teens with my friends wanting to go from the camping ground to the nearby general store at Bowentown – but I am certain I have never seen a woman in advanced middle age with her thumb out, especially one looking as unkempt as I was at the time. Would you believe it - the fifth car stopped. An angel (disguised as a woman) pulled up beside me, opened the door and invited me to get in. Apologising for the state I was in and having explained what had happened, concerned that I was going to make a mess of her car, she proved how much of an angel she was when without even batting an eyelid, she responded that it was only a car and would clean up – people were far more important to her. So in I climbed, mud and all, pointed out the rest of the crew who were also loaded on board and she drove us to the supermarket in Paihia. Wonderful, wonderful woman! May she live in peace and harmony with a laden table for the rest of her days and may she never be troubled by the fleas of any camels.
We were able to have some lunch and rehydrate before hitting the supermarket to stock up again for Monday’s departure.
Back at the marina, we unloaded, got it all on board and watched the weather front come in as I headed for the shower to clean up, finishing just as friends arrived for a visit from Whangarei. The timing could not have been better. By the time they had left, the weather had set in significantly and it has not really changed since.
And so the days here have passed, full of things to do and small adventures. On Friday we had family members come up for the day and we took them out into the bay for a spot of fishing (not particularly successful). There is a delightful café under the marina office which serves good coffee, a very nice savoury scone, and is always warm and welcoming. The laundry facilities are very good and I find doing the laundry very pleasant – it is situated right next to the café! We are getting to know some of the other ‘yachties’, many of whom are in the same situation as us and waiting for the weather to improve. Some have actually tried to leave and have had to come back, so having to be here is not a hardship with such good facilities. There is also a very good general store and marine shops for any last minute things needed on the boat. We had dinner one night at the Cruising Club – enjoying the company of friendly people who share similar interests.
And the excitement just doesn’t end there. About to hit the bunks the other night, it was discovered that the toilet in the head is blocked! The task for the captain has been to try and get it working again before we head out, and to date he has not been very successful (a really shitty job ahead of someone – if you will pardon the pun). As I sit at the computer to finish this edition of the blog, it is still blocked and now becoming a concern. The weather is still holding but it is fairly sure we will be able to leave tomorrow afternoon, Tuesday. You can imagine the degree of frustration that will be present if the problem in the head holds us back! The Capt’, first thing this morning, went over the side into the water to try and attack the problem from a different angle with no success. Bless the man – to get into the water at the moment almost constitutes hero status in my book – I have made him a hot breakfast and a nice ‘cuppa’ to get his blood circulating again. Such a shame the effort was wasted and the problem is still present.
While all this was going on, my son Alex, was in contact by text. Alex is a marine engineer currently on three months off from his ship, who loves the sea. He was on a ‘tug’ (he called it) with a friend bringing the boat down the coast from Mangonui and doing a bit of diving along the way. The weather curtailed their activities and they have ended up here on the wharf until the weather clears – a huge bonus for me – I always love spending time with my children and as they are all based offshore the opportunities are few and far between so I try to make the most of them when they present themselves.
The Capt’ and I stood on the wharf and watched them come alongside and helped them berth. Then we were invited onboard to meet everyone – an absolutely delightful mix of characters who welcomed us with open arms. We were given hot drinks and the best mussel fritter I have ever tasted was handed to me. Later in the afternoon, both Scott (our crewman) and I went across to have a drink with the people left of the boat (most had departed for Auckland) and we spend a delightful couple of hours socialising with them. I left Scott with the boys who were heading into town for some entertainment and he has arrived back on Hakura this morning – currently sleeping off the night he has had. It has proved a very timely occurrence for him to be able to get with some younger people and enjoy some time out before we set sail.
So there you have it. We are still here but the adventure keeps happening. I suspect that tomorrow will be the day we depart and this will be the last blog for a couple of weeks. The next report will hopefully be from Vava’u – where it will be warm and tropical and I can already imagine sitting in the Aquarium Café preparing the report.
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