Monthly Archives: August 2023

New Zealand Jade

Jade, Green Stone or Pounamu are just a few names of the many names for New Zealand Nephrite.  This greenstone plays a vital role in Maori culture.  It is considered a treasure or “Taonga”.  Jade is only found in the South Island of New Zealand, known in the Maori language as  “Te Wai Pounamu” (“The Greenstone Water”).

Only one Maori tribe has rights to collect and carve NZ pounamu / jade and they are from the west coast of the South Island. This tribe is the largest in NZ and is called Ngāi Tahu.  Only members of this tribe are allowed to collect, harvest, and carve NZ jade. And you have to be born into this tribe in order to have access the stone.

All pounamu is sourced from riverbeds and boulders in the South Island, especially the West Coast. The colour and markings of each stone vary according to its river source.

Jade can be found in other parts of the world, but it is a distinctly different type.  Jade in NZ is very difficult to carve because it is very hard and is not typically translucent.  Chinese jade for example is softer, easier to carve, and often see through when you hold it up to the light.  Thus the cost is much less expensive.

New Zealand Greenstone

Below are large pieces of jade.  In the upper left photo I am kneeling by a typical boulder found at the river bed that has been exposed by hundreds of years of water wearing its surface to expose the beautiful jade.  The dolphin in the lower right is a piece from China.

I could not resist. I had to get a kiwi made of NZ greenstone and I bought a pendent which is a symbol of strength and hope.

Tbeautiful greenstone is in many shops but you have to be very careful not to buy a piece made from a foreign country.  I was told to ask the merchant where the jade was made and by which tribe or carver.  The answer will easily reflect the origin of the stone.

Events from this blog occurred in May 2023.  Our blog posts run 8-10 weeks behind live events.  In our last blog I introduce you to our new ghost who was very mischievous!

We have a Ghost onboard

Do you believe in ghosts?  Yes we all know and love Casper the friendly ghost but I mean real ghosts?  Typically, I would say I am a non-believer, but recently we have had some very unusual things happen on Sugar Shack.

As you know, we have been in Whangarei, New Zealand working on renovating the boat.  We have been upside down and backwards for so long that some times it is hard to remember what the boat looks like under normal circumstances.  But, as we are coming to end of all the construction and begin to see a light at the end of the tunnel we start having totally bizarre things happen.

 Let’s Go…

Our boat requires two keys to start (one for each engine).  Do you remember when you had to actually inset a key into the ignition of your car and turn it to start the engine?  Same thing on our boat.  You have to insert the key and turn it to start the engine.

Now imagine Matt and I sitting on our settee (couch) inside the salon, nestled in our blankets, watching a movie around 8:30pm. We are just minding our own business and enjoying a quiet evening. It is pitch black outside and we did not hear anyone board our boat.   When all of the sudden our starboard engine turns on and starts running!

We look at each other, spring up, turn on the lights and see nothing, nobody.  So, Matt turns the engine off and we go back to watching our movie.  Early the next morning (2am), it happens a 2nd time.  What the heck?  This time Matt takes the key out of the ignition.  Teach you!

But, a few hours later it tries to turn on again. This time it does not catch or actually start the engine.  Ok then.  But, we counted our chickens before they hatched.   The engine started a few hours later without the key in the ignition.  This is super weird.  Each time we were able to shut the engine off within seconds of it starting so we didn’t think much of it.  The day went on with no other incidences, no false starts, and no ghost starts.

And then…

At around 6p we decided to run out to get a bite to eat.  We were gone for 45 minutes and when we came back the engine was running.  Oh $hity $hit $hit.  We jump on board, turn the engine off and Matt crawls in the engine compartment with a torch.  This time we were not so lucky.  The power / electricity from the engine had no where to go and it burned up 2 of the 3 relays and a huge piece of wire. The relay is not supposed to fall apart in your had and the copper wire is not supposed to be exposed.

At this point, we do not know if the starter is still working and if our now bloated starter battery is recoverable.  Seriously?  Is it that the boat wants to leave so bad that she is starting her engine to go or is it she doesn’t want to leave and is creating problems that make us stay?  Or is it just a ghost?

I am sure there is a perfectly logical explanation for all of this!  Matt thinks it could be the relays so we order the parts and wait for them to arrive.

Starter Down

Once we install the relays we are able to test the starter.  The engine does not turn over at all.  We took the starter in to be tested and she is dead dead!  The good news is that Auto Tech was able to order us a replacement for half the cost of a Volvo starter.  We paid $705NZD and they got it here the next day.  If this works we will buy a second one to keep onboard as a spare!

New and Old Starter

New and Old Starter

We had to install the relays to test the starter.  Once we replaced the starter we could test the starting battery.  As it turned out the relays and the starter were all dead. What a bad ghost!

But it turns out the starter battery bounced back to life.  Unfortunately, we still have a problem with the engine self starting even after we replaced everything that burned up.  Bummer

The Ghost Is Back

Fast forward a few days and Matt and I are asleep snuggly in our bed when our main electric winch starts to operate.  You’ve got to be kidding.  We only have one electric winch and we use it to raise/lower the main, raise the dinghy and hoist Matt up/down the mast.  The ghost is back at work and now making the winch start automatically.  This could be extremely dangerous as it operates our lines for our sails and the lines to raise and lower Matt when he goes up the mast.  Thank goodness we did not (or typically do not) keep lines wrapped on the winch.

Again, a perfectly logical explanation for this, but I like to just call it my ghost.

Matt took the remote control apart and to his surprise it was full of water.  Well that would short an electrical component out for sure!  One mystery solved.

The timing is just really weird to have both the engine and the electric winch start on their own within a few days of each other!

Ghost or no Ghost?

As it turned out our old relays caused the mysterious starting of our starboard engine.  When it started once while we were off the boat it caused a lot of damage causing us to replace 3 relays, and the starter.

The mysterious running of our main electric winch was the cause of trapped water in the remote control which was easily fixed once it dried out.

So, although we did not technically have a ghost onboard, I like to think we did.  He was a mischievous little bugger!

Events from this blog post occurred toward the end of May.  Our blog posts run 8-10 weeks behind live events.  In our last blog post I share with you some of New Zealand’s quirks and oddities – did I make you giggle?

New Zealand Quirks & Oddities

Every country is full of funny quirks.  Of course they are not quirky to the locals, just to the foreigners.  I thought I would share some of the quirks that stood out the most to us.

During our month-long road trip I mentioned the narrow, windy two-lane highways.  In fact, I would venture to say that 90% of the roads in NZ are 2 lane (one lane each way), windy, narrow roads. The pay off is that they all have spectacular views of mountains, glaciers, valleys, hillsides, rivers, or pastures.

But what I did not mention were the numerous one-lane bridges.   Usually one side has “right-away” but most times the cars just proceed ahead and hope that there is no oncoming traffic – it is frightening and amusing.  Matt calls these “shoot out bridge” because in Texas the biggest vehicle would have right away or the smaller one would be shot.

Adventure or Quirk?

Pedestrians do not have the right away unless they use a rare and very specific, designated cross walk (which are far and few between).  These beauties are hard to find and are not located in most intersections.  Maybe this is not a quirk but rather part of the adventure of being a New Zealander?  Here is one of the elusive “proper” cross walks with orange dots and white cross lines on the street.

Kiwi’s risk their own lives each time they get on a bicycles.  So many locals ride bikes on these narrow, windy roads and there is no bike lane or shoulder.  They share the road with cars.  And if there is no passing lane, you are stuck behind the bike until you can safely pass.  It is super surprising to me that they don’t have bike lanes for all the adventure loving bicycle riding locals.

It seems that all New Zealanders are adventurers. I am sure it is not “all” but seriously we run into locals all the time doing something heart stopping and thrilling.  I love that they are very outdoorsy, fun loving, and living life fully.

An Everyday Quirk?

We stayed at over 25 different hotels ranging from backpacker motels to 4-star hotels.  Every single one had a mini fridge with milk stocked in it.  Most of the hotels had heated towel racks which I love!

There are a lot of men, boys, and teens with mullets!  Not just one or two here and there, but a lot!  I was told that mullets never really went out of style in NZ and that there is a huge resurgence now.

All of the plugs have on/off switches.  Took some getting used to frankly as I was perplexed why our devices were not charging while plugged in. You have to plug in and turn on the switch.

All eateries, cafes, bars, fancy restaurants have a “pay at the bar” system.  We’ve sat and waited for the check at many places only to be told to go to the bar to pay.  Slightly embarrassing, but we are learning.

It is absolutely “normal” to go barefoot into a grocery store, market, or restaurant.

A lot of New Zealanders own classic cars.  Not really a quirk to most.  But what was a quirk to me was that they actually drive them and get them out on the roads and truly enjoy taking them out for a spin or showing them off in the parking lots.  Americans tend to keep their classics locked up to be admired not enjoyed.  It was great fun to see all of the classic cars on the roads.

Really Funny Quirks

We saw a lot of really funny, quirky signs around New Zealand.  They like to post signs that “talk to the drivers on the road” but I missed most of them as we drove by.  I saw a lot of signs showing the proper way to sit on a toilet – do you think this is a quirk?

On New Year’s Eve, most of the bars and restaurants were closed by 10pm.  Kiwis celebrate on the beach or the few places that stay open in Auckland.  When we asked why they were not open it was because the cost to employ people to work on NYE was too high.

I am sure many of these “quirks” are absolutely normal to New Zealanders.  But to me, they are lovely little quirks that make me love NZ that much more!

Our blog posts run about 10-12 weeks behind actual events.  Events from this blog post occurred during our 6-month stay in New Zealand (Nov.2022-May.2023).  We unveil our brand new high tech North 3Di Sails in our last blog – did you read it?