Camp Evenstar

Our home is out of the water and has been for a couple of weeks now.  We pulled Evenstar in Opua to get some much-needed work done.  The basic list is:

  • New standing rigging.  All the wires that hold the mast up are original to the boat and need replacing.  Off comes the mast again.
  • Bottom paint.  We last painted in the U.S. in April 2012 before we left.  That we arrived here two and a half years and almost 15,000 miles later without a bottom encrusted with its own ecosystem is a testament to both the quality and quantity of the paint we applied.
  • NEW GENERATOR!!  Ding-dong, the bane of my existence is being put down.
  • Engine Overhaul/Inspection – as long as we’re pulling the generator, might as well have the engine out too for a look at it.  The original is going back in after some sprucing up and deep inspections for wear.

Of course ancillary to these projects are all the little stupid things you find when you look at them too closely.  Rig replacement turns up the need to replace the rollers in the car on the outhaul, pulling the engine reveals that the cutlass bearing is shot again, and so on.

But the budget busting boat work isn’t actually the point of the this post, its the change in living situation.  If you put Evenstar on the hard all of a sudden life is a lot less pleasant on board.  You lose refrigeration, toilets, and recharging capability for starters and every time you run a sink it dribbles out all over the parking lot.  That means you are climbing ladders at night to use the heads or dealing with a chamber pot situation, and struggling to wash dishes and cook.  No stored food is problematic.  Add in ripping up the cockpit sole, taping cardboard over half the interior to protect it, and distributing various and sundry disassembled boat bits all over the place and you really have an untenable living situation in short order.

This work is expected to take about a month to complete.

Living Large on the Hard

Our initial though was we’d live on the move.  Since coming to NZ we bought a cheap car so we knew we could move around (this is a common thing for cruisers to do).   We also acquired some camping gear, figuring we’d camp some places and stay in motels other nights as we explored away from the boat.  Checking out the rates for “Family Camping” at some of the various “Holiday Parks” we realized we’d be spending at least $60-$70/night to sleep on the ground, swat bugs, and have to get dressed to go to the toilet in the middle of the night.  Worse, trying to keep the kids moving forward with school would be a major challenge – try to picture doing school in a picnic table in broad daylight (computer screen anyone?), or worse, in the rain.

How ordinarily domestic!

The house with our car parked in front of it.

As it happened we lucked out.  The day before the haul-out we were resigned to parking in a $125/night hotel until we got ourselves oriented.  As I waited in the marina yard to talk to the launch manager I spotted a little card on the bulletin board “1-2 bedroom house, converted barn, near Opua,  weekly”.  I called, and eventually I got through – basically agreeing to take the place sight unseen after the owner described it and we agreed it was less than three nights in the hotel every week.

All to himself.

The Teenager Isolation Hut with view of the lake and paddock behind it.

What a find – there is a main converted barn building with two bedrooms and a kitchen and living area.  There is a detached building with another double bed and living space that Will has commandeered for his own.  The whole thing is off in the country side, overlooking a lake.  On the property there is a chicken, a cage of cockatiels, two miniature horses, a view of a lake loaded with black swans and other water fowl,  and many flowers and fruit trees.  It is not fancy lodging, but it is quiet with plenty of space and nearby enough to shopping to be convenient.  And the people that own it are just lovely.

Josie, one of the two miniature horses that is causing us to buy more carrots.

Josie, one of the two miniature horses that is causing us to buy more carrots.

As an added bonus the house has a “Chicken-matic” – a Showtime Rotisserie that Will became very enamored of during his internship with Bob Perry.  And an electric fry pan, which we can use to make slow cooked brisket – one of our favorite meals that go left behind when we moved onto a boat.  So we’ve got horses for Danielle (albeit small ones), his own space that is about 10x the size of his room on the boat for Will and some much missed dining for everyone.

Side Trips

While there is still much to be done with boat work and school this month off the boat has given us some time to take away from the boat to see a bit of New Zealand.  With the boat ripped apart and professionals crawling all over it or masking and taping and spraying it is actually better for us to stay clear.  So our days are now spent with school, and every now and again taking a trip to see something.

Unless you count the cold showers.

I didn’t say we were roughing it…


Our first trip was to the Puketi Forest, part of the New Zealand government’s national park system for some for-actual camping.  We spent three days at the park camp site, scoring one of the few sites with a permitted fireplace.  During the day we explored the forest on nature walks and visited the Kauri tree preserves.

I’m going to have to update this post with pictures of the Kauri trees that are on the kids cameras; if you are impatient there is always Google!  They are absolutely stunning, these HUGE majestic trees that tower over the subtropical rainforest.  Not many remain, with logging and the “Kauri Gum” industry (both banned for some time) and a disease that is affecting the Kauri only a few of the true giants are left.  In one section of the Kauri reserve the eight largest trees are named, though sadly three of those have fallen.

Getting our Geek On

This weekend we head to Aukland so Will can that the SAT2 Subject exams.  Fun, fun.  From there though we are getting our geek on for a little Lord of the Rings Tourism.

Yes, our boat is named Evenstar...from The Lord of the Rings.  Our last boat was named Shadowfax, named years before any of the movies came out.  We kick it old school with Tolkien, our kids were read the LOTR for the first time out loud from the Big Red Book, the leather bound copy of the LOTR that was given to me as a gift years by my wife for pretty much just that purpose.

Shobbitono if you think there is ANY chance where we will come to New Zealand, the home of Middle Earth here on regular earth, and not at least check out some of the places where the films were shot you’d have to be a little delusional.

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