A bitter-sweet visit


This has been a difficult visit to New Zealand for me… and not just because of the sleep deprivation and the stress of assuring the boat and its systems are ready for the four of us to trust our lives to for the next few months.  I’m so focused on Illusion and our trip to Vancouver, that I haven’t taken extra time to visit friends (or even write blog posts!!).  I feel strangely disconnected from NZ, as though I’m not really here, since I’m not really connecting with this country as I have in the past.

I’m even so focused as to miss most of the sunsets and the stargazing on clear nights.  All the southern constellations that I became accustomed to, but lost seven years ago when I left NZ.  But I’m saddest that I’ve not connected with most of my friends that I left behind.  So many memories come welling up when visiting a certain place or driving by a particular park or village.  Now that we’re sailing again, even more poignant sensations.  A part of me wants to leave soon, so the memory flood will diminish, another part of me wants to stay and re-live: visit friends and places.

But this weekend has been a time for some relaxation.  We sailed into Oneroa Bay (Waiheke Island) in light winds and sunshine, anchoring in 15 feet of water, surrounded by a beautiful, sandy beach.  About 20 minutes later, a storm front passed over, bringing cold rain and high winds.  Two hours later, the four of us set off across the bay in the dinghy, heading for a small beach at the foot of a path leading up the hill to Lise’s house.  This was a long dinghy ride, so before leaving we installed the Honda outboard engine onto the dinghy for the first time and I took it for a test run to make sure everything was in good shape.

We made it most of the way before the engine began doing squeaks of death… I’ve never experienced it before, but it was immediately clear that the oil circulation system had failed (confirmed by a quick check of the oil pressure light) and the engine seized a few seconds later.  We rowed the rest of the way, but there was another stressful sinking feeling… Another project that I believe only I can manage (just… maybe): rebuild an outboard engine. Curiously, I’ve not used this 8hp engine much, I saved it from the scrap heap in Tahiti when friends called it cursed and bought a new one. But my “regular” 10hp Honda went missing over the years while stowed in a friend’s garage.

This engine’s curse: oil flow problems causing it to seize… I spent $500 having it overhauled by professionals when I arrived in Tauranga in 1999 – still cursed, it seems. The memories keep flooding back and taking me on unexpected journeys through my life in New Zealand.

Update (25 May 2013): I wrote most of this a couple weeks ago, but only tonight finished writing it. We just moved the engine into the salon so I can begin the overhaul while waiting out another storm. Here she is, waiting patiently to be part of more memories:

2 thoughts on “A bitter-sweet visit”

  1. Ahoy! So glad I found your blog site. I thought of you and the old gal often over the past few months and imagined that getting ready for your trip to Vancouver was a rather full-on affair. Remember how exhausted we were when we left San Francisco?! I imagine this time was just the same. You are underway now and I will send good thoughts to you and the boat until you are safely in Vancouver. I have been flooded by memories reading through the blog posts and there is a (rather large) part of me wishing I was sailing her back to North America. Good luck out there and I hope the whole crew enjoys the trip – and gets as much out of it as I did coming this way. B

    1. We heard lots of stories about your trip Bette! In fact, we started to think Doug was making it all up (especially the huge numbers of dolphins. We were dolphin deprived, even in the Marquesas!) It was really cool to hear Doug’s memories from his trip with you as we covered some of the same waters (in the opposite direction of course) and interesting for him to point out the things that had changed, too. Best wishes, Sara x

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