Saturday, December 31, 2016

A New Years Wish – Let’s Make the World Great Again

It seems like such a nice thought for 2017 on this billboard in Moscow! All the worlds nations improving their economies, growing democracy and safety blossoming, turning swords into plow shares, health care for all and peace among men (and women). I wonder if the Russian version translates the same?
We had a good Xmas dinner on our Scottish friends Colin and Izzy’s boat Endorphin. That’s Colin on the right and Izzy on the left. Filling out the table were their daughter Rachel and partner Jack, friend Cara and Chris and me. Izzy put together a meal to remember!
Lots of beach to do some long beach walks on.

We spent New Year’s day in the anchorage at Tauranga – technically in the beach town Mount Manganui next to Tauranga. We aren’t the only people enjoying this beach town. The Ovation of the Seas tied up right behind us for a visit. The ship is pretty new, built in Hamburg and going into service April, 2016. Its 1,142 feet long (348m) and carries between 4,000 and 4,900 passengers. It’ll push its 18 decks through the water at 22kts.
Tauranga likes to put forth its ‘family friendly’ face for locals and tourists. They have a set of fireworks on News Years Eve that they set off at 9:30pm. I think that is pretty cruiser friendly too. The pic above is proof that Chris and I stayed up late enough for the first round of fireworks. After a few hours of sleep we caught a glimpse of the midnight round, too.

shaunIMG_6097 Shaun the Sheep would like to wish you all a wooly 2017!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Season’s Greetings

I was going to title this Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, but being in the middle of summer here in New Zealand while most of our reader[s] are in the depths of the upper hemisphere winter makes Season Greetings fit so much better.
The picture above is what the fireplace on Georgia would look like if it was cold and if we had a fireplace. I borrowed the image from our friends Connie and Tony on Sage. They are currently in the South Atlantic on the island of St. Helena. I will return the image when we are done with it.
I’m not going to write about 2016 or make any comments at all about the political state of the grand ole U.S. of A. Since D.J.T. is not president yet, nothing he’s done or said really makes any difference. So why get the angst up over something that will surely change over time. I will wait in wonder till he and his lovely family take up residence in the newly renamed Whites-Only House in D.C. I am looking forward to his replacement for my Obamacare health insurance policy – the one that will be much better and save me lots of money. I’m figuring on donating all that money we save on our really great new insurance to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU.
Look what we found under our tree! (Xmas comes a day earlier down here.)
Chris and I wish all our friends and family a great holiday, a healthy New Year and a fighting chance of trying to maintain Peace on Earth.
Paul and Chris

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A View from Nepal

Welcome to Nepal, the home of ancient kingdoms, the Himalaya Mountains and many-armed dieties. Recently I got the wonderful opportunity to return to Nepal (I was here to trek close to 25 years ago) to do some work. There have been many changes since I was here last, mostly in Kathmandu Valley, some for better, many not so much. But the dieties have not changed, no surpise since they’ve been here since around 1500BCE.
My work involved assessing a project that supports the distribution of family planning methods from small privately run ‘corner’ pharmacies. Here I’m visiting one of the pharmacies with some of the Nepali ‘Quality Assurance Officers’ I was working with.
This is Bimala, a Nepali nurse who worked as my interpreter as we travelled about visiting various pharmacies, and her 8-month old daughter, Nina who travelled with us on most visits.
Everyone loved Nina, including this pharmacy owner.
Bimala and one of the Qulaity Assurance Officers in front of one of our stops on the rural route. You can see the ‘Sangini’ family planning logo of the project above the pharmacy entrance.
The hill roads were a challenge and at times terrifying for the white woman who was always given the seat of honor up front. This is a two-way road, with many buses and large trucks on it. To the left in this picture is the sheer drop off from the road. The driver brought a god along (lower right), just for a little extra help I guess.
‘the birthplace of Buddha is in Nepal…’
One of the many buses plying the scary hillside roads; the only mode of transport for many Nepalis.
nepalDSC_0111Although I didn’t make it to the mountains this visit, I could see the snow covered peaks in the distance.
Surely Ganesha, the elephant-headed diety revered as the remover of obstacles, is laughing somewhere.
But, I didn’t spend everyday working. I did get out to visit the  ancient ‘durbar’ squares, the courtyards of the palaces of old kingdoms scattered across the Kathmandu Valley.
Most of which suffered terrible damage from the April, 2015 earthquake.
Above is an image prior to the quake that Google found.

The ruined temples in the squares are slowly and painstakingly being rebuilt, one brick at a time... The Nepalis have to be among the most resiliant people on the earth. They seem to just put their heads down, shoulders to the wheel and get on with what has to be done. Hence the implacable Ghurkas?
From this…
There is no shortage of highly skilled craftspeople in Nepal. Stone sculptors, metal workers and woodcarvers are hard at work now, rescuing and restoring.
…back to this!
Or, this (Paul’s favorite), a woodcarving gracing a temple support. This temple sports carved beams depicting various positions from the Kama Sutra. (Cover the children’s eyes! And get that pigeon voyeur out of there…)
That’s better, a god on a turtle.
I also visited some of the Buddhist stupas located around the valley.
This is the entrance to Swayambhunath, also known as the ‘Monkey Temple’ for obvious reasons. A large part of it was also badly damaged by the earthquake… it’s very sad to see.
Despite the destruction, the Buddha still looks serene.
Of course, honoring the goddess of consumerism, I also got a little shopping in. Presents for grandaughter Quinn bought from a women’s fair-trade crafts collective.
Despite the dust and destruction, beauty is everywhere in Nepal. I hope I get to go back soon!

Off the Dock – Finally!

Chris got back from working in Kathmandu on Sunday night. I gave her a day to recover and we snuck out of the docks at Riverside Marina in Whangarei, where the boat has been since last January. There’s a hierarchy of boat living discomfort for me: Worst is living in the yard while the boat is hauled. Then scary, crazy anchorage.  Next is hanging too long at a dock. Best is a quite, calm anchorage. We motored the 2 hours down river from Whangarei town to the Whangarei Heads at the entrance to the river and anchored for the night in Urquhart’s Bay – shown in the morning picture above. Best.
A lot of small boat jobs were done before we left. The biggest was finishing up the new standing rigging (wires that hold the mast up). OK, almost finished up. There’s still a few hard-to-get parts on order that we’ll pick up on our way back North after playing on the Kiwi east coast for a few months. Above is our Viking Rescuyou-4 liferaft on its return from getting inspected and repacked in Auckland. If you aren’t going to do the work yourself then you are pretty much restricted to using a manufacture’s authorized inspection station. This model requires an inspection every 4 years. This ended up costing NZD$1,800 (USD$1,260). Seems like a lot for a liferaft that we bought for $2,400. I think its like a slow version of the razor and razor blade business – the profit is in the blades.
Another project was adding non-skid to the companionway steps. The varnish had gotten pretty beat up on the steps. There’s only three wide steps here, making getting in and out of the cabin easy.
After re-varnishing the bull-nose ends and putting Seadek rubber padding down. Better wearing and less slippery.
Before we left momma duck brought over her 10 baby ducklings to wish us Merry Something (it was hard to hear what she was actually saying) and beg for the leftovers of last nights focaccia bread.
We are headed about 150 miles south, to Tauranga to meet up with our Scottish friends on Endorphin for an Xmas dinner. We are two thirds of the way and hunkered down in Cook’s Bay, Whitianga, waiting out a blow. Above is Hole-in-the-Wall at the entrance to the bay. You can pretty easily guess why they call this Cook’s Bay – there seems to be a lot of Cook’s Bays in the world. Cook was here in November, 1769. For his journal:
"my reasons for putting in here were the hopes of discerning a good harbour and the desire I had of being in some convenient place to observe the Transit of Mercury, which happens on the 9th instant and will be wholly visible here if the day is clear between 5 and 6 o'clock"
The often uncooperative Kiwi weather has us spending an unwanted day at anchorage here in Cook’s Bay. The wind is forecast to turn to the SW and go to 25kts gusting to 35kts. We’'ll wait a day for it to let off a bit before finishing the last 60 miles down to Tuaranga. Hopefully we’ll make it before Xmas – they are having it on the 25th down here this year. That’s the 24th for those of you on the other side of the dateline.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

No Longer a Trawler

Here’s Mathew, owner/rigger from C-Spar, undoing the crane from Georgia’s mast. New standing rigging all around – wires, turnbuckles, ball fittings, etc. Got most everything hooked up except the backstay. It needs the backstay adjuster.
The black item in the pic is the Navtec hydraulic backstay adjuster. All the fluid leaked out while it was not in use with the mast out. It’s down in Auckland getting rebuilt now.
Then to make things a little more interesting I decided to throw the stainless grabrail on the side of the dodger into the water. A brief shot with a grappling hook didn’t give it up. So I decided to pull out the Hooka (underwater breathing like scuba but connected to the boat) and jump into the ugly, dirty, brown river water – not to mention the giant eels. I spent about 30 minutes feeling around, brail style, in the deep, deep mud but could not find it. So I invested in two hotwater shower coins and tried to decontaminate from by dip.
Throwing things like this rail in the water helps to keep my To-do list from getting smaller. Chris is working in Kathmanu till mid-December doing real work.