Thursday, March 19, 2015

Opua: lost Eden

        The distance from the Kerikeri Airport to Opua is 15 miles/25 kilometers.  I know every bend in the road, and I’m filled with happiness as I near the Opua hill and see the harbor in front of me.
        Another sailor was about to leave the dinghy dock and kindly gave me a ride out to GANNET, so I didn’t have to row the marginal fiberglass dinghy I keep locked ashore.
        I found the little boat in excellent condition.  No water in the bilge, no mold, no spiders.  She smelled a bit musty and needs her deck scrubbed and hull polished.  Open hatches took care of the mustiness.  I’ll work on the deck and hull soon.
        One of the first things I do when I go aboard after being away is check the battery charge.  4.0 was not a number I expected.  Then I realized that the first and last numbers of the digital display on the SolarBoost 2000e solar regulator are no longer working.  4.0 is really showing charging at 14.0 something, which is normal.  
        It took me a couple of hours to stow the stuff I brought with me and get the cabin organized.  
        I got it all done in time to listen to music and have a glass—literally a glass because I brought two from Evanston—of duty free Laphroaig on deck accompanied by music in late afternoon.
        The music was Bach and Mark Knopfler.
        Mark Knopfler’s newest album, TRACKER, was released in the U.S. the day I flew.  I bought and downloaded it from iTunes while in the San Francisco Airport between flights.  I’ve listened to TRACKER a couple of times, like some of the songs, but none as much as several on PRIVATEERING.  Last evening ‘The Dream of the Drowned Submariner’, ‘Haul Away’, ‘Privateering’, ‘Redbud Tree’ and others drifted from GANNET.
        I got some sleep on the long flight across the Pacific and have had less jet lag than usual.  In fact I feel quite normal today.
        When I rowed ashore this morning, I went to the Customs Office to ask for an extension for GANNET to remain in New Zealand.  I did not know when I sailed in last year that New Zealand had changed regulations and now permits foreign yachts to remain two years instead of one and I only asked for one.  The pleasant woman in the Customs Office found that GANNET had been given two years anyway.  All problems should be so easily solved.
        Although there have been a few sprinkles of rain, the days have been mostly sunny and warm.  Shorts and t-shirt.  No socks.  Lovely.
        So far my shoulder is holding up, though sometimes painful.  Perhaps only other Moore 24 sailors can fully appreciate from what odd positions and angles you often have to lift and shove and brace yourself on the little boats.  Sometimes this hurts.  My shoulder presently aches, though not unendurably. 
        I’ve pulled and pushed various stowage bags around, hauled the Avon dinghy onto deck and inflated it, managed to get my heavy duffle bag on board, have filled and lifted a 5 gallon jerry can of water—lifted with my right arm, and rowed ashore several times.  I am pleased that I can row without even a twinge. 
        Just after lunch I bent on the furling jib.  GANNET might soon sail.
        Opua for me is a lost Eden, not one from which I’ve been banished, but one which I can only visit, not remain.
        It is wonderful to be back. 
        But you already knew that.