As our time in New Zealand winds down, our to-do list seems to get ever longer. Though our upcoming passage to New Caledonia will only be five to six days, then another five to six to Australia, both countries are planned to be relatively short stops on our way to Indonesia. Once we’re in Indonesia and working our way north to Thailand, we’ve been told that boat parts become hard to find, expensive to ship, and it often takes a while to get them. So in an effort to save ourselves time and money in the future, we’re spending our last weeks here stocking the boat with whatever we think we might need for the next 12-18 months. This includes food provisions.
Although we’ll have a chance to top up our stock in Australia, we’ll be in fairly rural areas as we make our north along the coast. We’ve been buying shelf-stable goods here in New Zealand, while we’re across the street from a large supermarket and we have the time to stow everything properly. In addition to loads of canned and dry goods (Costco chicken!), we’re grabbing extras like dish soap (lots of Dawn!), bars of Dove soap, and tubes of our favorite toothpaste.
We’ve also been testing and prepping equipment, including EPIRBs, MOB beacons, and MOB throw devices. Last week, we inflated our Spinlock life jackets, only to realize that the cartridges for the boys’ expired last month and the bladder of my seven-year-old Deckvest is no longer maintaining as much pressure as we’d like to see after 12 hours. Then, the debate becomes whether to spend the money now to get a new one, or wait and test it again in six months. But where are we going to be in six or 12 months and how hard it will be to acquire? Alternatively, we can walk 10 minutes down the street and buy one right now. In the end, I have a new lifejacket (along with new cartridges for the boys.)
Finally, we’ve been stocking spare parts like we’re preparing for the end times. Which spare parts do we need? What’s easy to acquire along the way? Which systems are critical? We’ve been asking ourselves these questions and then making judgment calls based on how likely we think it is to break (Ha! It’s a boat. It’s going to break.); whether it’s critical to our safety and happiness; and how expensive the spare is.
Just in the last week, we’ve acquired an expansion tank, oils and hydraulic fluids for every mechanical item on the boat, a third 20-lb LPG tank, sail repair materials, 800 meters of new running rigging, and an array of stainless steel fittings. This is just a small portion of what we’ve done and acquired over the last four months. While most of our timing for departure is dependent upon the arrival and installation of our new rudders—a whole story in itself—we want to have all other projects and provisioning wrapped up and be ready to leave New Zealand on May 4. Fourteen days, tick-tock, tick-tock!