Last week we bought a 1992 Toyota Corolla Ceres online at Trade Me, which is like a local New Zealand version of Ebay. We paid $2,000 NZD, which is $1060 USD. We couldn't rent any car for 3-4 months for that amount, so we consider this to be a disposable car. When it is time to move on then we will auction the car again on Trade Me with no reserve and take whatever we can get for it. The car has 234,000 kilometers (145,800 miles) and everything works, including the air-conditioner. It has a manual transmision. I have not yet driven this car. Bill seems okay shifting with his left hand. I am not that coordinated so why test fate. I'll just let Bill drive. (He is still not accustomed to the turn indicator being on the right side of the steering wheel. That is just odd.)
Last weekend we drove up to Whangerei to visit our friends on S/V FREE SPIRIT. They are docked at the Whangerei Town Centre Marina and are right in the heart of town. This was the weekend of the Buskers Festival which is like a New Zealand very miniature version of a Renaissance Festival. They had numerous skits and shows and a fire show on Saturday night. We enjoyed seeing Paul, Michele, Merric and Seana for the weekend. It is a very scenic 2 1/2 hour road trip from Whangaparaoa Penninsula north to Whangerei. Our first excursion driving through the countryside.
Today was a busy and productive day.
When we visited Houston in December 2007 we purchased Sunbrella fabric to recover our cockpit cushions. S/V BeBe left the factory exactly 6 years ago this week and the cockpit cushions were the originals. The fabric was still in good condition but we wanted a fresher look. This week we finally shopped the marine re-upholstery folks. We obtained bids from 4 shops. This morning we decided which shop would get the job and dropped off the old cushions and the fabric. Check one project off our list.
New Zealand has regulations regarding refilling propane/butane tanks and it seemed that our LPG tank could not be refilled in this country because it did not have the weight engraved on the tank. It is a 20-pound aluminum tank and we have never encountered refill problems anywhere before. This morning we took the tank to a dive shop where they engraved the tank weight capacity on the outside of the tank. The tank still does not entirely meet the New Zealand regulations because the tank does not have the liquid volume capacity also engraved on the outside of the tank. We have no way of computing that figure so could not have it also engraved at the dive shop. But we decided to try getting it refilled anyway in hopes that the station wouldn't notice the missing liquid volume numbers. Sure enough, they refilled the tank without any questions. Check another little project off our list.
We also visited the Australian Consulate in downtown Auckland this morning to apply for our visas. We wanted 6-month visas since we aren't certain of our exact arrival and departure dates. Well, we were pleasantly surprised when the clerk said he could give us 12-month multiple-entry visas instead of 6-month single-entry visas. AND he could have the visas ready this afternoon. This was a shock since it was already almost noon when we submitted the applications. So we shopped nearby chandleries for a couple of hours and returned to the Australian Consulate at 3 p.m. and picked up our passports containing completed visas. Talk about service! Kudos to the Australian Consulate.
I have spent the last few days plotting courses to New Caledonia and onward to Australia, ending at Darwin for the moment. The Great Barrier Reef looks really scary when you drill down on the electronic charts. Sure hope the charts are GPS corrected and the waypoints are accurate. I always plot courses at least 10 miles from any shown reefs or rocks, but in the Great Barrier Reef there are many areas where you must be within 1/3 mile of reefs on each side. Will be really glad when we are through that famous reef.
Which brings to mind something I don't think we have yet mentioned in this blog -- how many boats we know of that met disaster in the South Pacific this year. A couple of boats had rigging failures but both survived without injuries and were assisted to the next port by other cruisers. We personally know of 7 cruising boats that sank while crossing the South Pacific in 2008. Most of them ran aground on reefs because they had their electronic charts zoomed out to show large scale during passages. That just doesn't work out here. There are way too many reefs to ever sail with your chartplotter set at large scale. You need to keep the charts zoomed in to show detail, even during those long passages when it seems like your boat is not even moving across that screen.
Since bought the car we have discovered the Whangaparaoa Town Centre, or The Plaza as it is also known. We have also found the new movie theater, where the seats are very large heavy upholstered chairs like you would find in a home. Have never seen chairs like these in any cinema. Of course, during certain movies they will also serve you food on the little tables between these large chairs. Much more elaborate and nicer than the Alamo out on Highway 6 in Houston. We did not attend a movie at a time when they would serve food so we aren't sure exactly how it works.
Today for lunch in downtown Auckland we visited a very nice Thai restaurant, rated as the best in Auckland. During the fourth quarter of 2009 we will be in Indonesia, ending up in Phuket, Thailand by year's end. So I thought we should become familiar with the various types of curry that is served in that region. Today I tried Penang Curry, supposedly from Penang, Malaysia -- one of our planned destinations. It was pretty tasty and even Bill liked it; and he doesn't normally eat curry.
The best name for a restaurant I have seen locally was a Thai restaurant that is on the top floor of building on a nearby road. The name is Thai'd Up.