Sunday, March 27, 2016

Opua: pristine; Blackguard Beach; listened

        After last week’s storm, the weather has been perfect.  Well, perhaps not for sailing with little wind, but sunny and warm and dry.
        I finished painting.  Touching up the rub rail one morning and the areas near cleats where lines rub the next, and an irregular spot of non-skid near the companionway. 
        I don’t know that GANNET looks much different in the above photo taken this morning than she did in the past, but I have now been over every inch of her from the bottom of the keel to the deck.  Despite some signs of wear and hard usage, she is close to being pristine and we are close to being ready to sail on, though we won’t for another month.
        During the three days last week I was boat bound and yesterday while listening to the NCAA basketball games on Internet radio, I went through a waterproof duffle bag and managed to dispose of a computer case and various cables, batteries for cameras I no longer own, and owner’s manuals, some for products that have long since died, some duplicates.  Not surprisingly I had a lot of Raymarine tiller pilot manuals.  Much of this was by way of making room for the plastic sextant, which now has a place.
        Last year you may recall I managed to dispose of an entire watertight duffle bag.  
        I am not as fanatical about weight as those who race, but I do take pleasure in getting rid of stuff and simplifying .


        Russell, the small town on the east side of the bay, three and a half miles north of here, is one of my favorite Bay of Islands anchorages.  It is a pretty little town, living on tourism, but it was not always so.
        Russell was, very briefly, the first capital of New Zealand,  a whaling port, and once one of the hell-holes of the Pacific.
        Steve Earley came across this in THE WAKE OF MADNESS:

        Charles Wilkes, who visited the Bay of Islands with the U.S. Exploring Expedition in 1840, described a slum town made up of “about twenty houses, scarcely deserving the name, and many shanties, besides tents. It is chiefly inhabited by the lowest order of vagabonds, mostly runaway sailors and convicts,” he went on, “and is appropriately named ’Blackguard Beach.’ “


        Easter was yesterday here.
         I listened to the first two parts of Handel’s MESSIAH in the morning before the basketball games, and the third part on deck at 6 p.m. with an iceless tequila and tonic at hand, watching birds and boats, Including another one named GANNET, comfortable in t-shirt and shorts, before coming down below to feast on the traditional freeze dry sweet and sour lamb.