Monthly Archives: January 2023

Birthday: You Can’t Drive 55!

Where did all the years go?  Somehow I manage to turn 55 and honestly I have a hard time believing it!  But yet, here we are enjoying another birthday celebration with fabulous cruiser friends!

My birthday fell on a Monday and for some reason, most eateries are closed on Mondays.  So, we decided to celebrate on Sunday at The Butter Factory.  It is one of our favorite places to go in Whangarei and it did not disappoint with steak night!

We had about 12 people at our rowdy table including Chris (SeaGlub), Tyler and Shayna (Yana), Minke and Jaap (Eastern Stream), Rokas and Simona (Starlight), Adda and John (Rhapsody), Jacque (Kaloha).

These are certainly my people!  We’ve known some of them for years across several countries and they keep popping up 🙂

I feel so blessed to have been able to celebrate my birthday with these friends.

2 Days of Celebration

We were installing our new lithium batteries on the 16th so Matt took me out to dinner with our friend Chris to a new place called No.8.  It is an Asian fusion restaurant.  Pretty nice, but very expensive.  I was finally able to use my $100 coupon that I got from the marina for winning Best holiday decorated boat!

It was a great day(s) as we started the install of our new batteries, unloaded 500lbs of old batteries and had two amazing dinners.  I am feeling like a very blessed girl!  And a huge thank you to all of those who called, texted and sent Facebook messages.  I felt so much love!

Events from this blog occurred in mid-January 2023.  Our blog posts run 6-8 weeks behind actual events.  We repair a cracked neck and rusty elbow in our last blog.

Cracked Neck & Rusty Elbow: Engine Repairs

Sugar Shack has been an incredibly trustworthy yacht and home.  Since we bought her in 2010, she has never failed us, she has delivered us across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans putting well over 40,000nm under her keel.  Besides general maintenance, we have not had to do a major overhaul.  Until now….the boat repairs and projects have been piling up, but we could not get to most of them because we either did not have the resources or the expertise. 

Arriving in New Zealand has been a blessing in that we now have access to both the resources and expertise to get many of these repairs done.  Most we will do ourselves (or shall I say, Matt will do himself), but some we are hiring contractors to help us out.

Busy Work:

The starboard engine needed some serious love.  The coolant neck is cracked.  Matt had been gluing the coolant neck onto the coolant manifold but it really needed to be re-braised (type of welding).  The problem is the entire manifold had to come off in order to get the part to the welder (Absolute Stainless).  And this piece has not been removed in the boat’s life (22 years and counting).  So, Matt had to finagle the bolts using a new ¾” impact hammer.

He finally removed the piece after using much elbow grease.  One of the owners offered to come pick it up, but Matt had to carry the beast a few hundred yards to the parking lot.

They were able to fit us in right away, despite the shop being incredibly busy and way backlogged.  He contacted us the next day and said that he was able to braise the coolant neck with no problem.  Top left is the glued coolant neck and the other three show it re-braised properly.

1 Problem Solved: 1 Problem Discovered:

Slight problem – when Simon at Absolute Stainless was cleaning up the rusty exhaust elbow on the manifold, it started to crumble.  Well $hit!

We contacted the Volvo dealer (as this is a Volvo part) and they informed us that the part is not available in NZ and it would take several months to get it.  Considering we can’t use the engine without this part, we opted to ship this part in at a whopping $250USD shipping.  But we got it within 2 weeks!

Engine Cleanup

In the meantime, Matt replaced several raw water hoses that were looking ratty and difficult to see through.

Once we got the exhaust elbow back on the manifold, he installed it back on the engine. 

Next, the alternator bracket.  He had to take this off because it had a crack in it and needed to be welded back together.  You can see that we have welded this piece several times.  The alternator is very, very heavy and when under load while under passage it tends to put a lot of pressure on this huge piece of stainless steel.  The blue arrows indicate new weld.

Matt took advantage of the situation since the engine was really accessible and torn apart.  he cleaned up all around the engine, painted special rust repellent then volvo green paint on the engine.

The starboard engine after a very long spa treatment.

A Few Other Odd Jobs

  • Replaced fuel tank caps, gasket and lid (port/starboard)
  • Sewed new fender covers for our large A4 fenders (old blue cover, lower left corner, new black covers)

  • Received new Highfield 360 PVC Dinghy. Our sailmaker took us to collect our new dinghy from All Marine. He will graciously store it for us at his barn until the canvas lady can make her dinghy chaps.  Talk about great service!

The events from this blog occurred in early December.  We find fabulous hiking trails in Whangarei in our last blog post.

Hiking in Whangarei

It was time for us to get out and exercise.  There are lots of great hiking trails in Whangarei!  We gathered our friends, Mike and Japp from “Eastern Stream” and Aida and John from “Rhapsody” and headed toward Mount Parihaka.  We were told it was a fairly easy trail up to the top of the mountain where we would be rewarded with great views.  Off we went!

8+ mile hike

8+ mile hike

The Whangarei trails are so well kept and clean.  No bush whacking for us.  In fact, they had shoe cleaners as you enter and exit different portions of the park (or if you are crossing trails).  You walk across a grate where there are brushes sticking out.  And then you can squirt your shoes with a solution before continuing on.

Aida and Jaap clean their shoes on the trail.

Aida and Jaap clean their shoes on the trail.

It did not take us long to get to the top (2.1 miles at 241 meters) where the Second World War memorial is located.  The monument was constructed in 1956 and formally dedicated a year later.  It commemorates the sacrifice of the lives of 170 citizens of Whangarei district and also honors all those who served.

Off toward the ledge is a beautiful monument that tells the story of how Mount Parihaka became a sacred mountain.

There were lots and lots of these lovely fan trees.  They provide perfect shade under their branches.

Hatea River Walkway

After we left the pretty view, we continued on to find the waterfalls.  We hopped on the Hatea River walkway and continued on another 2.5 miles crossing over many beautiful rivers.

We finally make it to the beautiful waterfall (4+ miles into our hike).  There was no clear path or trail to the pool under the falls so we just enjoyed the beauty from the top view point.

By the time we circled back to the boat we had clocked in 8.3 miles.  We were exhausted!!!  But it felt good.

Glutton for Punishment

The following weekend, we decided to go up a different trail to see if we could find the Abbey Caves.  We started on the Hatea River Walkway and then merged onto another trail.  The second trail seemed to have an endless set of stairs that had our thigh muscles screaming.

There are three caves that make up the Abbey Caves: Organ, Middle, and Ivy.  To get to the loop of the caves you have to pass through a gorgeous field of flowers. The circular trail that leads from the first cave to the last is about 1.6km. 

We arrived at the first cave, which had a slippery and wet entrance.  There were several people in and around the entrance so we were able to find out right away that we were ill prepared.  We had the wrong shoes and no light. 

The boys lumbered over the huge boulders blocking the entrance and explored a few feet before turning around.  We decided it was best to come back with lights and proper shoes.

We walked another 8.2 miles by the time we made it back to the marina.  Exhausted yet again, but feeling good.

The events from this blog occurred in early November.  Our blog posts run 6-8 weeks behind actual events.  In our last blog we celebrate Christmas in Whangarei, did you check it out?