Wow! It’s a month today since I arrived in New Zealand. The cunning plan to document the process of getting Illusion ready to sail again has been somewhat foiled by the fact that by the time we finish work each day I’m ready to sleep. That combined with our internet connections being fairly unreliable has made contact a little irregular. And did I mention that our days consist of basically working for hours, eating, sleeping, then starting all over again? It’s been busy! I’ve managed the odd Facebook and Twitter update, but nothing on here. However, as our plan in having a website was not only to share with friends and family what’s going on, but also to document the experience for ourselves and to keep some kind of journal of the expedition, I’m going to do a catch up post here. Maybe when (if?) things calm down a bit, I’ll be able to go into some more details, but for now here’s a bit of a summary of the past month…..
Arriving: The excitement of being back in Auckland was soon replaced by the shock of finding Illusion in a really bad state – much worse condition than I had expected. A lot of water damage and a lot of parts not working. I last worked on her three years ago and then, apart from the fact she’d been broken into and things were a mess, there was no real damage. This time was very different… but I still had a few moments enjoying the idea of being back on the boat, despite all the gulls who had made it their home. I hope nobody witnessed my nightly shouting at sunset to try to get them to find a new place to settle for the night. High point: watching the sunset from deck. Low point: most of the rest.
The team arrives and gets to work: It was definitely a relief when John, Mike and Deb arrived. I’d been doing what I could, but more hands were needed on deck, particularly to start getting rid of some of the mess the seagulls had kindly shared with us over the years. We spent a while getting Illusion ready to move from her mooring to the marina in Warkworth, where we’d be hauling out. Back breaking work, scrubbing the decks, crawling around the engine and getting things working so we’d be able to sail & motor. High point: unpacking the inflatable life-raft to find it was still in perfect condition. Low point: trying to repack it.
Illusion sails again: We got things working well enough to set off for Warkworth. After motoring for about 45 minutes, we were able to sail the rest of the way. Such an amazing feeling – the first time she’s sailed in 8 years! It was a blustery cold day, but as we anchored for the evening it settled and the sun came out. A magical moment. The next day, arriving at Warkworth, we had to negotiate our way down the river. Along the way, one engine belt broke, but we slowed down to a crawl and the other held out. High point: sailing Illusion again! Low point: knowing that this was the only sailing we’d be doing for a while.
Hauled out, at the shipyard: After the excitement of sailing, it was back to the hard grind of getting everything cleaned, tidied and mended. Initially this involved throwing out a lot of damaged stuff. At this point there was still a lot of mould everywhere so a priority has been cleaning every last little corner to make sure it’s gone. The mast came off, the hard work continued. Some happy moments (like finding my night vision goggles and binoculars that I thought had been stolen when the boat was boarded and ransacked), some surprising moments (like finding 5 $100 dollar bills that I’d stashed away, almost disintegrated now, and kids marbles that had found their way down to the bilge pump), a lot of hard moments (dealing with the never-ending mess, worrying about all that still needs doing, trying to keep in contact with Sara without good internet) and hour after hour of tedious cleaning work: scrubbing the deck and the whole interior (ceiling, walls, floors, and behind them!) including the fabrics to create a liveable space again. High points: swimming in the limestone quarry, finding the not-stolen stuff. Low point: a lot of the rest of it!
And now….Still a LOT to do, but finally, a month on, Illusion is starting to feel like a usable sailboat and a home again. Today it’s all change again as Mike leaves to head back to Vancouver – noooooo! We’ll miss his amazingly cheerful, hard-working, positive presence – and Janice arrives – yay, welcome Janice! The challenge now, along with getting the boat ready, is to get ourselves working together as a team, ready for the next big change – getting out to sea! It’s time for the crew of four to make things happen – we’ll (try to) keep you posted….
Here are a few more photos to show what it has looked like -you can click on each image to see a bigger version: