Saturday, November 22, 2008

Won $500 door prize! Lucky us!

We won a $500 door prize at the final dinner/party for the All Points to Opua Rally!  The $500 could be used for either parts or labor from a marine engineering company called Sea Power.   Bill planned to do routine adjustments of valve lash for both generator and main engine.  Sea Power works on both Onan generators and Yanmar engines.  So instead of doing this work himself, Bill opted to let Sea Power do it.  Bill also had a few other jobs for Sea Power to do, figuring that we would spend probably $700 and apply the $500 door prize against this work.  Turns out it was a good thing that we hired a professional to do this work.  The generator is fine but the main engine has a slight problem.  They cleaned the injectors and discovered that the nozzles were spraying an erratic pattern.  Cleaning the ports did not solve the problem.  All 4 nozzles for the injectors for the Yanmar 100hp turbo engine need to be replaced.  At $180 NZD per nozzle, that will more than use up that $500 door prize.  The new nozzles had to be ordered so we are stuck in the Opua Marina until these parts arrive, which should be this Thursday if all goes right.  I hope they arrive earlier than that as I would like to get moving toward Auckland.

Weather will be high winds from the wrong direction at least through Monday so we would not have left this weekend anyway.  But I would love to depart Tuesday 11/25 if possible.  There are 3 or 4 places where we can stop overnight on the trip south to Auckland and I would like to have an opportunity to enjoy those 3 or 4 stops and not rush.  We fly home on December 10 and we want to be settled into the marina near Auckland for several days before that departure. 

Bill also won a nice large open-weave nylon carry-bag at the final dinner/party for the rally.  He won this for submitting the best protest.  He decided a few hours before the party that he would submit this protest.  Now, we are not racing sailors and have never seen or heard a protest before.  But the rules stated that a protest could be submitted for anything – the wilder the better.  For example, you could protest that another boat arrived faster than you because they had the wrong color boat; or because they had more crew on their boat; or that they had nicer meals and better brand beer; or whatever.  Bill decided to write a protest on behalf of all marine merchants or marine service providers located south of Opua.  These merchants were supposedly protesting the well-organized Opua rally and festivities that are encouraging yachties to remain in Opua far longer than necessary and spend money with Opua merchants rather than moving southward quickly and spending money with the more southerly merchants.  BTW, we are not “cruisers” here in New Zealand; here we are collectively known as “yachties.”  And our boats are never called boats; we sail yachts. 

The rally organizers loved Bill’s protest.  He hit the nail right on the head as the entire point of this rally is to get us yachties to spend more time in Opua and patronize the local merchants and marine service providers.   We originally planned to be in Opua only a couple of days and then slowly move southward, stopping in many bays along the way down to Auckland over 3 weeks.  Didn’t happen.  For the first 5 days after our arrival we partied at the rally festivities.  Then we won one of the door prizes and stayed another few days to get the work done.  That has turned into another 2 weeks spent in Opua than we planned.  And at least 4k NZD more than we planned. 

Bill has a big shopping list for additional spares and decided since we are here waiting on the injector nozzles that he would shop here rather than waiting until we are in Auckland.  We wanted to shop before our trip home so that we would know what was available locally and what we would have to carry back on the plane when we return in January.   By the time we leave Opua we will have spent at least 4k NZD that we had no intentions of spending here.  So the Opua rally was a huge success in our case.

Also, the water heater developed a tiny leak a couple of months ago --- only a few tablespoons every few days.  Supposedly this leak was from the heating element, which can be replaced.  Bill ordered a new heating element.  But while installing it he noticed some rust inside the tank, so he decided to replace the entire water heater rather than chance having a problem later.  He returned the new heating element and ordered a new water heater.  This was the exact same brand and model as our original water heater.  Of course, as usual with boats, the replacement “exactly the same” water heater wasn’t exactly the same.  It was supposed to be the exact same dimensions.  The tank itself was the same dimensions, but the “new and improved” protrusions from the heater made just enough difference that the new water heater would not fit where the old water heater was mounted.  It took 3 days and several modifications, including some stainless steel welding and removal of the external mixing thermostat, but we finally have hot water again.  Good!!!  I do not like showering in the marina showers and prefer to shower on the boat.  Always took cold water showers in the stifling heat of the Caribbean, but it is freaking cold here in New Zealand and hot water is a necessity!

We took a day-shuttle trip into the small town of Kerikeri on Wednesday.  Thanks to Renee on S/V SCARLETT O’HARA for arranging this outing.  We stopped at a WalMart type store and a small Home Depot type store and then had several hours to wander around Kerikeri on our own.  Then we stopped at a marvelous chocolate factory on the way back to Opua.  Delicious!  While in Kerikeri we opened a bank account.  Man, that was easy.  The US should take lessons from the Kiwis on how to operate a bank.  We obtained wiring instructions so we could have our bank in the US wire funds to establish this account.  But we did not need to wait for those funds to be transferred.  We left the bank with an account number (zero balance of course) and ATM/debit cards and online banking arranged.  As soon as our US bank wired the funds then this account became functional.  Never had it so easy when dealing with banks at home.  We have always had to wait for the ATM/debit cards to be mailed and waited weeks.  This was ever so easy.  BTW, the bank here in New Zealand is paying 7% interest on a 5-month CD.  That is way, WAY, way more our US bank is paying right now.

So now we have a local cell phone and a local bank account.  And plan to buy a used car as soon as we have time to look for one when we reach Auckland.  Almost sounds like we might be here awhile, doesn’t it?

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