Sunday 28 January 2018

Cruise Ship Parade

Catch-up; Well that was a very long week. So much for getting my blogs up-to-date. Much to my (and David's) horror, my laptop crashed just after the last blog and it has taken all week to resurrect it. 

Initially David spent 2 days trying to get a spark out of it and when that didn't happen, we took it to an IT shop. They were able to extract the data which, because of  the amount of photo files I have waiting in the wings, took them over 12 hours to download before they could even look at the laptop. They also failed to bring it back to life.

Back home David worked on it for another day and finally, just as I was thinking a new laptop was in the wings, managed to get it going, albeit with no data and an older Windows 8 programme. Don't ask me what the issue was, it flies right over the top of my head. All I know is that David has earnt this year's full quota of brownie points in one go and I am a very lucky lady to have a husband who has quite a bit of computer knowledge and a hell of a lot of patience. 

Thankfully I had a complete backup, although there were a few bits and bobs that had happened in the previous week which I didn't have but was able to extract from the data the IT shop managed to download. Of course backups are fine but there's still heaps of work to do loading and sorting out data, home screens, icons, other programmes, favourites and bookmarks etc in the new empty Windows programme. I've spent the last few days doing all those things you take for granted when you open up your computer to a familiar screen. 

(And I spoke too soon, it crashed again as I was writing this blog, but this time David has got it back up and running within 4 hours. I'm a little worried though; there's definitely something going on in the inner workings this space.)

Anyway, I'm back up and running (for now), so here's the next blog; a parade of cruise ships that visited Mt Maunganui during our stay at the Mount Holiday Park.

First up on a rather bleak morning is the Norwegian Jewel (well actually 2nd if you count Golden Princess who had her own blog). The flotilla of  fizz boats are not heading out to welcome her to port; being a Saturday morning, they're keen fishermen off to their favourite spots out in the bay.

Living up to her name the Norwegian Jewel's paint job brings a splash of colour to an otherwise grey day.

The cruise ship berths at Mt Maunganui wharf are in an ideal position for visitors; the boardwalk along Pilot Bay starts just outside the gates, Main Beach is 10 minutes away and it's just a short 5 minute walk to the shopping centre.

Maasdam visited the next day, here she is leaving port on Sunday evening.

I must have slept in on Sunday morning as I have no arrival photos, I suspect it was raining.

Unusually for the Bay of Plenty, the whole weekend was grey and bleak. Cheerio Maasdam, come again soon.

Three days later and another Holland America Line ship, the Amsterdam arrives in port.

Next up- and on a more typical sunny BOP day- is Radiance of the Seas. 

Did you spot this lady in the photo above? What do you think it says on the front? I'm not so sure, unless they had binoculars, that anyone would be able to read it. I couldn't and I was just above her.

I caught sight of the front as she rushed off to get to the gate before the ship berthed. It says 'Welcome Radiance'. I thought the Captain might have been her son, but locals tell me she is a regular, welcoming many of the cruise ships into port. 

I took this shot of Radiance from the lower slope of  Mauao (Mt Maunganui) in the afternoon. You can see the entrance to the holiday park and parts of the Ocean and Pilot(top section) Camps in the lower left of the photo. We're in the Harbour Camp which is around the corner to the right.

Later in the evening as the sun went down, Radiance of the Seas departed Tauranga harbour.

Early the next morning (it's a tough life being 'Johnny on the spot'), I was back at my favourite spot overlooking the Entrance, in time to see the sister tugs Tai Timu (ebb tide) & Tai Pari (flood tide) heading out... meet Nordam, the third 'dam' ship to arrive from the Holland America Line within a week.

Big Toot...

Once the tugs had finished escorting Nordam to her berth, and just 30 minutes later, they headed back out... bring Sun Princess through the Entrance. I also moved down to the water's edge.

The calm waters here at the Entrance belie the fact that it can be a treacherous stretch of water. Tauranga Harbour is a large estuary with a tidal range of 1.98m covering an area of over 200km2.  Approximately 290,000,000 tonnes of water flow through the Entrance at each tide change which can generate currents of up to 7 knots. If the tide strikes an opposing wind, the waves can be huge. We've had a few hairy rides through the Entrance during our boating days. 

Tangiroa challenges Sun Princess... she sails by.

On this stunning summer's day two cruise ships are welcomed to the Mount.

Later that evening a group of us watched from near the boat ramp as the cruise ships prepared to leave port.

After Sun Princess departed, I headed along the Base Track a short distance to capture Nordam leaving too.

I was a little disappointed to miss the biggest cruise ship of them all, (well the biggest to visit NZ waters), Ovation of the Seas wasn't due in for a week or so but if I was lucky and timed it right I might just catch her in Napier.

Saturday 20 January 2018

Hitchin' A Ride


I had to share this quick blog with you before it becomes history. As you know we're parked on the concrete pad beside Mum & Dads' house here in Napier. A self seeded swan plant (which Mum had been carefully nurturing) had sprouted from a crack in the concrete at the back of the pad and unfortunately when we backed the 5th-wheeler in, the rear of the van went right over the top of it and bent it nearly in half.

Rather than pull it out and have the tiny caterpillars on it die, we let it be, figuring that it was still getting some light and would probably survive. That was back in early December and from my kitchen window I'd often see monarch butterflies flying about hunting for the plant and then disappearing underneath.

We gave the plant a breather and the caterpillars some warm sunshine on their backs for a few days when we pulled out a week or so ago to head to Kuripapango for a few days.  I thought I'd better check underneath to see how the caterpillars were as I'd seen a few crystallises both green and hatched on the nearby fence railings. There were still quite a few caterpillars on the plant but it was more of a surprise to find seven green crystallises attached to the bottom of the van in various places.

We thought about removing them and super-gluing them to a stick so they could hatch in peace but in the end decided they'd be ok under there out of the weather and they'd probably have just as much movement as they would have had on a plant in the wind.

So seven extra passengers came with us on their very own 70km road trip to Kuripapango for a four day holiday. They shared their home away from home with thousands of native bees, a few birds, the odd possum, dozens of sandflies and many other flying insects. 

And seven, still green, passengers returned home with us, all in good health. Over the last few days they have been slowly turning black...

...and emerging from their crystallises. 

Which is just as well as David has been patiently waiting to water blast underneath.

I've now cut the plant off at its base to stop any more butterflies laying eggs before David gets under there. Mum has the plant in a jar of water with the few remaining caterpillars chomping their way through the last of the leaves. There's a funny but sad story there too- after carefully rescuing a fat caterpillar who was off to find a sheltered spot under the van to spin his magic, he then fell off the plant, through a gap in the table and onto the concrete.

Mum carefully returned him to a stable area in the plant but when we went to check on him later he'd headed off again. Mum and I hunted high and low for him; checking the window sills, other plants nearby, under the table the jar was on, everywhere, until suddenly Mum spotted green and black goo squelched out from under my shoe as I stood on the nearby rubber door mat. fat caterpillar found. And lost.

Meanwhile I've been transferring the butterflies, as they hatch, to the runner bean plants so they can dry out their wings in a sheltered spot. I'm sure they must work on some sort of homing instinct though because it's not long before I see them circling around the back of the van and flying back underneath.

There's just one more chrysalis to hatch, he's turning black as I speak and should be gone by tomorrow evening. David can then get on with his maintenance.

Thursday 18 January 2018

A Procession of Boats- Tauranga Harbour

Catch-up; And there I was finally thinking I was catching up on blogs when summer arrived in the Bay (Hawkes Bay that is). Beautiful hot sunny weather, too good to not get outdoors and enjoy. We've had two short sojourns away from suburbia in the last few weeks; one out to Oceanbeach and the other up to Kuripapango on the Napier-Taihape Road. 

We still have another week or two here in Napier before we'll be back on the road; David is steadily working his way through his maintenance list for 'Out There' and I have been busy working on an exciting project (another reason the blogs have been a bit slow in coming). I'll be able to tell you more about it in the not too distant future.

And now back to the blog;  while I was going to do one post on the Mt Maunganui cruise ships, I decided I had too many great photos not to share more of them. But don't worry (famous last words), I won't do a blog on every ship that arrived and left while we were there. This one is on the Golden Princess (the first to arrive when we were there) and I'll try and combine the others in another one or two posts. Bear with me (I sound like Tilly in Miranda).

I'd downloaded the Port's cruise ship schedule which helpfully listed arrival and departure times so it was just a matter of whipping a couple hundred metres along the Base Track past Pilot Bay to one of the many vantage points near the Entrance to Tauranga Harbour, to watch the ships arrive. 

A slight spanner in the works had been thrown in since our last visit to the Mount; a major slip (actually several large slips) came down around the Mount back in April, 2017 during Cyclone Cook. The track reopened within a week or so but people could only walk to the slip and then return the same way.

You couldn't walk the complete loop around the Base Track until stairs were built up and around the top of the slip in June. And while they aren't too much of an obstacle, when you're rushing to catch a ship, camera in hand, it's a fair slog to the top.

And more so if you're coming up the other side; they are very steep.

Luckily, I knew (from past excursions), where the best spot for capturing ships coming through the Entrance is; over (or under) the stair railings, out on a ridge at the top of the stairs and past some beautiful old pohutukawa trees in full bloom. 

From my vantage point I was able to watch a steady procession of early morning boat traffic leave the harbour, many heading to their favourite fishing grounds out in the Bay of Plenty. A couple of local charter boats full of eager punters were also off for a day's fishing; I suspect these may have been staff Christmas functions. 

The Motiti Island barge, 'Deliverance', with a tyre recovery truck on board, was one of the more unusual boats to pass. Motiti Island (permanent pop. around 30) is a small flat island that lays about 10kms offshore from Papamoa, and 21kms from the Harbour. Motiti was a favourite place to visit and fish around when we lived in the Bay and had our launch.

It wasn't long before I spotted the pilot boat 'Arataki', heading around the point and back into the harbour; I knew the Golden Princess wouldn't be too far away.

This was also confirmed by the arrival of the two tugboats; Sir Robert (named in honour of Sir Robert Owens, who played a key role in developing the Port of Tauranga and was also Mayor of both Mt Maunganui & Tauranga before they amalgamated)....

& Tai Timu; (Tai Timu means ebb tide in Maori, her sister tug Tai Pari is flood tide).

They then waited patiently...

...until the bow of Golden Princess finally appeared from around the side of the Mount.

Sir Robert moved to the stern, as the pilot carefully guided her through the entrance.

The occupants of a yacht heading out, waved furiously at many of the passengers- some still wrapped in white toweling robes- watched from their private balconies.

Tai Timu spun around and led the way into the harbour.

Little Toot...I mean, Sir Robert was towed in from behind. 

Once Golden Princess passed my vantage point I raced back to the stairway, clambered over the railing and ran (as fast as my damaged foot allowed me to) along the path to an opening in the trees where I could watch as the ship headed towards the port.

A bit further on and another gap provided the perfect framing...

There's lots of little detail in some of the close-up shots (remember to click the photo to enlarge)- how's this for a view? People lined up along the top of the bridge. Also notice the open gangway door near the bow.

Berthed at Tauranga Port's Pilot Bay, Mt Maunganui

Golden Princess facts and figures-
Class and type:Passenger
Type:Grand class cruise ship
Tonnage:108,865 GT
Length:951 ft (290 m)
Beam:118 ft (36 m)
Draught:8.7 m (29 ft)
Draft:26.2 ft (8.0 m)
Decks:17 total, 13 passenger
Ice class:1A Super
Propulsion:diesel-electric 2 propulsion motors (19,000kW each)
Speed:22.5 knots (41.7 km/h; 25.9 mph)
Capacity:2,600 passengers

Later in the evening and right on the dot at 8pm, the ship sounded its horn as the tugs pulled Golden Princess off the wharf...

...and she sailed off towards the Entrance, heading for her next port of call.

A brave paddle boarder makes for a lonely figure, as he manouveurs himself out of the way as the huge ship approaches. 

Maori God of the sea, Tangaroa performs a wero, or challenge, to those entering Tauranga Harbour. Here he looks to be challenging the ships officers standing on the gangway door.

Check out that BIG screen, I can hear the movie voices from where I'm standing.

The sun is setting fast and it's right in my line of sight as the ship glides past me, down at the water's edge. Passengers line the rails waving to us (and a launch) as they pass.

The sun is now directly in front, the ship silhouette against the bright light, I wait until the sun goes behind the funnels and take a sunburst shot just as it reappears.

The Sun Princess heads out into the Bay of Plenty...

...with the launch bobbing along in its wake.

I take a final shot as it disappears around the point and head back to camp...

...passing my two long time favourite fishing boats (and Pilot Bay icons) along the way.