Auckland skyline and Spirit of New Zealand
Sailing in to the ‘big city’ was a bit of a sensory overload for us. We had just spent ten months seeking out the most isolated anchorages we could find, and now we faced a real city with lots of ships and traffic. But it was also a bit exciting.
We sailed in alongside the Spirit of New Zealand, and she was a beautiful sight with the city behind her. Although there were many boats and ships in the water, she dominated the waterfront. The only other boats that warranted much attention were the ferries that demand right-of-way, and we quickly learned to yield to them.
We had arranged to stay at Westhaven Marina, and our welcome there could not have been warmer. The first person we met was their security guard, Lou, who was a real jewel. And as time went on, we discovered that the entire staff at Westhaven was particularly pleasant and helpful. We had made a good choice to stay there.
Our three months in Auckland were not at all what we planned or expected. We did, however, enjoy our time there.
Within less than 72 hours of arriving Auckland, Bud was on a plane to the US to visit family. He was gone just over three weeks. When he returned, Nita was in the US on her first of two brief trips. We were spending too much time in the air.
Pulling the mast
We had a few boat projects that we needed to do, and we had a few more that we wanted to do if possible. Then we decided to do a substantial electronics upgrade, and our time in Auckland was gone – completely consumed by boat projects (this will not surprise those of you whom knew us in Honolulu as we were putting Passage together).
This is how we spent our time in Auckland:
Engine – install new heat exchanger, replace oil hoses
Electrical – install 220 v battery charger (done in Opua), replace entire battery bank including one group 28 and three 8D gel cells, add Ample Power Smart regulator, build/install windlass remote control, rewire nav station
Electronics – install Icom M-802 SSB/ham radio and AT-140 tuner, upgrade Pactor modem to Pactor III, install Icom 502 VHF radio, install Icom Commandmic at helm, install Garmin 126 GPS at helm, install built-in computer and monitor, install satellite phone, increase ground plane
Rig – new gooseneck fitting, pull/replace mast, shorten mast & elevate to prior height, replace upper tang bolts, replace staysail halyard, replace mast conduit and re-run wires/cables, redesign running backs and preventer, new spinnaker pole, all sails to the loft for inspection/repair
Haulout – bottom paint, shorten and straighten shaft, install intermediate cutless bearing with injected water cooling, service prop and coat with Prop-Speed, mark increments on anchor chain
Steering – rebuild autopilot cylinder, rebuild autopilot arm, bush and align windvane tiller arm, upgrade to ball bearing blocks on windvane, new vanes for windvane
Safety gear – re-pack life raft
On deck – replace three large overhead hatches, repair various canvas items, make 29 mosquito nets, ‘just a little paint and varnish’
Below deck – make lee cloth for saloon berth, just a little more paint and varnish
We also bought ‘stuff’ we needed. We bought new foul weather gear, books for the upcoming season, fishing tackle, and enough provisions to get us through another six to eight months offshore.
We left Honolulu a year ago with a list of undone projects that we would like to have completed, but we ran out of time. We felt as though we had to ‘draw the line’ somewhere, and we left after completing the ‘must do’ list but not the ‘sure would be nice’ list. While in Auckland, we worked our way through the ‘must do’ items that developed over the last year of cruising, and we also completed many of our ‘sure would be nice’ items. Hopefully, our lists will be a bit smaller when we arrive Australia next summer.
Because we did all this, we did not do one thing we really wanted to do – go to the south island. But we are not giving up on seeing it. We are tentatively planning to fly back from Australia, rent a campervan, and spend a month touring about. Unless we break something major, we shouldn’t have too many projects to do while in Australia. Our ‘sure would be nice’ list is much smaller than it was when we arrived Auckland.
We did get out and about Auckland a bit, and it is a very nice city. We had three chandleries within walking distance, and we did our best to support them. We found lots of good food, and we got caught up on movies. Shopping was ok, but not as varied as we expected. We both shopped while in the US and carried our maximum load back on the plane.
Suddenly it started getting cold – very cold – and we knew it was time to head north. We were sleeping in flannel and fleece under four blankets (all we have), and we were still cold. So on April 30 we bid a fond farewell to a lovely city and headed north to wait for a weather window to head back to the tropics.