17th Nov – 7th Dec – Varnish, walks, waterfalls, vistas & van.

I thought that Sea Bear deserved a bit of TLC, it had been a hard 10 months since Panama. The area around the galley was looking a bit tatty so I decided to revarnish it. I scraped off the old and chipped varnish, sanded down and gave 4 coats of clear varnish and 2 top coats of Ephifanes rubbed effect. This gives a lovely satin finish and is a perfect match for the existing varnish work in the cabin. Of course once you started you realise that the top of the engine cover/companionway steps is looking tatty too as well as the teak strips bordering the cabin sole, the cabin sole itself and the saloon table. So soon there was no flooring the cabin and no steps either making clambering in and out of the cabin a trifle difficult, still all in a good cause. Days later I was thoroughly sick of varnishing but all was done and the cabin looking much better. Well when I say all done there were still some small areas untouched but they will have to wait.

Revarnished table
revarnishing sole boards

I had long been frustrated by the outside loops for the guard wires on the 2 sternmost stanchions as they had succeeded in doing was to put holes in the old spray dodgers. A stainless steel workshop just down the road had cut off the loops and drilled and sleeved holes in them for me, a smart and professional job.
Meanwhile I had taken the old ripped and tattered spray dodgers to Ronnie at Undercover canvas just down the road and he had made me up some new ones. Fitted they improved Sea Bears appearance.

New spray dodgers

It hadn’t been all work, I had been for a few nice walks. One up along the river through woods and a treetop walkway to Whangarie falls.

Whangarei Falls

Another short walk around Pataua, on the coast near Whangarie Heads

Pataua

and another up the Ross track

Water fall by the Ross track

to Mount Parihaka, (241m) an old volcanic cone, once a Maori stronghold, from where there was a great view out over Whangarei harbour.

View from Mt Parihaka

In the marina I was visited daily by a duck and her 6 little ducklings, at first no more than little balls of fluff they rapidly grew. If I wasn’t in the cockpit when they came a calling they would paddle around quacking till I appeared and fed them with my stale bread. Somehow I have a soft spot for ducks and mother duck would hop onto the pontoon and take the proffered bread from my fingers.

Ducks

With a view to taking in some of inland New Zealand I also bought a camper van. To pick this up I had cycled out to Parua Bay. One might have thought it would be relatively easy being a road that follows the harbour out towards Whangarie Heads, but they can be surprisingly hilly these coastal roads and this was no exception. I even had to get off and push at one stage, add the fact that it rained hard too and it wasn’t as pleasant as might have been. Still I rewarded myself by stopping of at Parau Bay Tavern in a lovely setting with a great view out over the estuary and had fish & chips and a beer.

Camper van