Saturday, February 22, 2014

Shopping Triathlon

Living on board an ocean going sailboat at a mooring and going to 'work' every morning is loses some of its novelty after the first few weeks. It feels slightly wrong to stay in one place on a boat that is used to seeing different pastures every week or two. So, rather than do the sensible thing and cadge a ride into Whangarei to do my grocery shopping, I decided to take Ladybug out for a little exercise and sail up the river. The rains had finally let off by early Saturday morning but a thick mist hung over the mountains and the other side of the estuary was but a faint outline.

A tiny breeze filled in around 8 am, so I peeled off the sodden sail cover and hoisted the full main. Of course the wind then went elsewhere, so I made breakfast and waited 'sailing' at the mooring. Around 9, I gave up and turned on the engine, dropped the mooring line and motored past a steel schooner which had just arrived in the bay.

The navigation at the mouth of McLeod Bay is tricky - a sandbar fills much of the bay and then, if you head straight for the channel, another one lies in wait in what looks like perfectly clear water. I checked the chart and ran between the two bars, passing a succession of small fishing boats out for their weekend session.

A very faint waft of SW wind filled in and I optimistically unfurled the jib, but the breeze when elsewhere and half an hour later I resorted to the engine, which got a good run on the trip up to Onerahi. I had intended to anchor further upstream, but the anchorage off Limestone Island looked interesting, especially when a scan with the binoculars revealed it was a DOC park.

The second leg of the triathlon was a row across the river, being pulled gently upstream by the tide. I hauled out Ladybug on a rocky shelf just above the tide line and tied her off to a post. Hoisting a a backpack full of shopping bags and consulting a sketch I had drawn of the roads into central Onerahi, I began the third leg of my triathlon, walking the mile or two up the hill to the town. Much of Onerahi is populated by native (Mauri) - the first place in New Zealand where I have walked through such a community. I was reminded of the south sea islands we had visited when I passed yards full of several families exuberantly sharing a meal on the front lawn and spreading out into the street.

One thing I used to do when I lived a more regulated life was to try to see something unusual and noteworthy each day on my trips back and forth to work. I thought of this on the walk into town and found my noteworthy items in a graveyard. Several graves were in the form of the most beautiful sculptures. One sandstone carving depicted a mother lovingly embracing her boy child - echoes of Madonna and Christ - over the grave of a boy who had died as a teenager.

I picked up some sticky black tape to make a temporary fix to the hatch drip and filled a small cart at the New World, being careful to buy only as much as I wanted to carry back down the hill. The humidity was high and it was sunny and about 28 degrees as I sweated my way back to the dinghy. The waterfront was now full of swimmers and picnicking Maori families. A big fellow swimming off where I had hauled up the dinghy offered to help me put her back in the water, and despite a shoreline of sharp rocks climbed out of the water and lifted in one end of the boat. The kindness of strangers can make life so much easier - it had been a real struggle to get the boat out onto the ledge and the tide had gone out since then.

It rained heavily last night, and the new sticky tape was given a good test. With any luck the hatch will remain water tight until I replace or re-seal it. Today I plan to visit Limestone Island. I will bring a camera and post something on this later.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Chris, day before my real work starts, and all I can advise is keep up the natural paced sporting events. Removed aires wind vane off stern for some tlc. Your favourite anchor is "in the to do box" stiffer than ever. Keep well, I enjoy your bkog. Bruce