Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Its That Time Again

Mariner has not been out of the water for a scrub and antifouling paint for over two years. There were a few barnacles and other marine growth on the hull but considering the time since the last haul out she wasn't in too bad a condition. I gave the cabin and deck a good clean and now begin some under the waterline repairs and paint before returning her to her natural element.

Monday, December 16, 2013


This is the Santa James and I made for the Hikurangi Christmas parade. It all began on the deck at Stacy and James's house one Saturday early in December. We took some interesting advice from Stacy during this construction stage.

First we constructed a large globular shape out of number 8 wire. Then we covered it with chicken wire. James's students covered this armature with papier mache. It rained all week during the construction process so Santas large paper mache tummy was dried 24 / 7 with a fan heater. James is covering the paper mache body with PVA glue prior to the application of summer snow.

I bought a large beach ball from 'The WareHouse' for the head. All of this work was completed during a week when we were still writing end of year student reports - Just another weeks work for Kiwi teachers, but we are not complaining.
The head and the body were then covered in summer snow (white insulation fabric). We had problems with the body because the weight of the waterlogged paper mache combined with gravity conspired very hard to make Santas body into an ellipse. James cut the branches for the arms and I, (now being very knowledgeable about surgery) used wire cutters to cut holes through Santas rotund wire body and insert them with surgical precision. I made the nose and the eyes, Terry our Deputy Principal gave us a bright red scarf, her class made the black pom pom buttons and I found a red Hikurangi sun hat somewhere in the staffroom. What New Zealand teachers aren't called to do in the name of education and community isn't worth mentioning.

The Hikurangi School float won first prize in the Christmas parade. James and I in a fit of modesty named our snowman 'Clincher' because it was of course our snowman who made all the difference to the float and clinched first prize for the school. We made ourselves very popular with the almost all women staff by continually repeating this fact over and over and over  and over again - they knew deep down that a couple of Kiwi blokes working with number 8 wire is bound to win the day. It was one of those situations where men were men and women were glad of it.

There is an old saying in snowman making circles that explains in a deep and meaningful metaphorical way the tough physical and emotional environment that we were working in.....

......... "Its easy to forget that you came to drain the swamp when you are up to your arse in alligators." ........ Well, James and Moi, drained the swamp and now have a couple of pre...ttty sharp alligator shoes in our wardrobes, yup, we clinched it alright.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


2013 has been quite a year. This is the staff of my school photographed yesterday at Hikurangi Primary School. They are a great bunch of people working in a great school. It's been quite a year. A year of survival. The school survived an ERO visit (Educational Review Office). The teachers and children survived teaching, learning and living together. I survived a massive heart attack a hop, skip and jump from where this photo was taken. Yes it's been quite a year.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


A day so happy.
Fog lifted early, I worked in the garden.
Hummingbirds were stopping over honeysuckle flowers.
There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess.
I knew no one worth my envying him.
Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot.
To think that once I was the same man did not embarrass me.
In my body I felt no pain.
When straightening up, I saw the blue sea and sails.

Czeslaw Milosz 

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Cunning Plan

"Why, yesterday, was this dinghy laden classic Honda with a damaged right front wheel arch parked under a Pohutakawa tree in Devonport opposite the 'Evergreen' second hand book shop"  I hear you ask --- Well it's all part of a cunning plan that I will explain to you. But first ......

The Evergreen second hand book shop in Devonport has a really good sailing section amongst it's bookshelves. It is from said shop that I have almost completed my collection of UK published Yachting World Annuals 1950 - 1973 (I am missing 1955, 1968, 1969, bugger, but I live in hope ).  I called in to take a look and bought a great book by the legendary Kiwi sailor Adrian Hayter

.........But what about the damaged car ? I hear you ask again. Well, a large and impossibly stupid steel post literally jumped out on me as I was reversing in a supermarket car park, simple as that. Bloody supermarkets, someone should show them how to design car parks fit for sailors, or alternately someone should show the car manufacturers how to fit tillers to cars instead of that stupid encumbrance called a steering wheel.

 Now to the cunning plan, bear with me as I explain. Dinghies are a perennial problem for small yachts such as mine. Inflatable dinghies are problematic because they don't row very well at all ( they are very dangerous in high winds as they are almost impossible to row ), necessitating the use of an outboard motor (fuel cans, stowage, smell etc, etc) which are expensive.

Also, inflatable dinghies not very robust. Nothing beats a rigid dinghy as a tender for a yacht - BUT, and its a big But, a rigid dinghy is almost impossible to stow on board small yachts such as I own ( 30 feet / 9 metres ) unless the dinghy is really small. But the problem is that most really small dinghies are not very sea worthy and don't have a great carrying capacity.

Dinghies are usually stowed upside down  between the main cabin hatch and the main mast. They are stowed here for safety reasons as towing a dinghy offshore in high winds can be dangerous as when running before the wind dinghies have a tendency to surf on the following seas. There are many cases where the dinghy has either surfed, broached and capsized or surfed itself aboard into the cockpit and injuring the crew.

What is cunning about my plan is that this second hand dinghy is the minimum size for sea worthiness, carrying capacity and stowability (is that a word?). It should stow snugly between the main hatch and the main mast with enough room for any crew member who is as thin as a Norwegian racing sardine to slip below when required.

This dinghy is shaped in such a way that it has a lot of volume for its length, has good free board and rows well to boot. This is a dinghy that boxes above its weight. I know all this because my late father had just such a dinghy which he used for his own little yacht back in those far off sailing days that I remember so well.

I got the dinghy for a fair price but it needs a lot of TLC including a complete re paint. What with my yacht Mariner not having been hauled out for two years because of my heart attack, my current big old trusty work horse of a dinghy in need of a lot of repair work and now this new (old) dinghy in need of work ..... guess what I will be doing over the Christmas break.

1st Prize In The Christmas Parade!

We did ourselves proud this year by taking out first prize in the Hikurangi Christmas Parade. What a lot of work for a 30 minute parade up and down the main street of Hikurangi; but I guess it's as much about the process (children involved in a lot of art work) as it is about the product.  A great deal of work went into the creation of this float by teachers and children - what a great day!

Thursday, December 5, 2013


This Saturday is the Hikurangi Christmas parade. Since the year dot Hikurangi School has had a Christmas float in the parade. This year will be no exception. The theme this year is 'Winter Wonderland', not exactly meteorologically correct for Aoteraroa New Zealand at this time of year but we have done the jandals / beach / pohutakawa theme before. So lets just say this year is a nod towards our Pakeha cultural hertitage from the northern hemisphere. The colours for the 'Winter Wonderland' theme are red, black, white and silver. I am sure on the day the float will look as awesome as it has done in years gone bye. These black trees (above) is Room 5s contribution to the parade.
I thought it would be great to have a big Christmas tree in the classroom but then I felt it would be nice for each child to have their own traditional Christmas tree to decorate and take home at the end of term. These are the childrens efforts. They brighten up the our room well and I hope they will brighten up their homes for Christmas in a couple of weeks time.