Friday 30 December 2022

The Magic of Bioluminescence

- 29/12/22 Westshore, Napier, Hawkes Bay

What a way to end the year! Known as the 'aurora of the sea', I've been wanting to witness this amazing phenomenon for a long while. There's an algae bloom in Hawke Bay at the moment, close into shore & mostly along Marine Parade and around along Westshore & Bay Views' foreshore.

I missed the last bloom in Napier by one day. I wasn't going to miss this one but it took 3 nights of patiently waiting (at the beach) before the plankton really came out to play. I didn't want to leave but when I looked around about 12.30am & saw I was the last one standing I thought I'd better head home.

Bioluminescence is a natural phenomenon usually caused by an algae bloom of plankton. A bioluminescent sea will glow when it’s disturbed by a wave breaking or a splash in the water at night. And yes it's this bright & this blue. And there is a large algae bloom happening in Hawke Bay at the moment. During the day the sea along the coast is a rusty brown colour.

The bright lights are the Napier Port on the right, Whirinaki Mill on the left & ships waiting to berth in the middle.

I've also uploaded a video showing the magical movements of the bioluminescence here

There are three types of 'glows' in the ocean and this one is bioluminescent not phosphorescence as some might think. Bioluminescence is different & rarer to see.
An explanation courtesy of Schmidt Ocean Institute-
'Glow in the ocean falls into one of three categories: bioluminescence, phosphorescence and fluorescence. Bioluminescent organisms produce their own light generated by a chemical reaction, you might see this type of glow in a photo or video of certain deep-sea animals.

Phosphorescence and fluorescence are distinct from bioluminescence in that these phenomena involve the transformation and re-emission of light, not the production of new light.

Phosphorescent and fluorescent molecules absorb light and then re-emit that light in a slightly different form (more specifically a different wavelength). Phosphorescent molecules and fluorescent molecules differ in the time-lag between when the light that excites the molecules is received and when the transformed light is re-emitted. The emission from phosphorescent molecules is slow – think of the glow-in-the-dark stars you may have had on the ceiling of your bedroom as a kid. These phosphorescent stickers have to be “charged up” with light and then they slowly emit a faint glow over an extended period of time.

Fluorescence differs from phosphorescence in that the transformed light is re-emitted almost instantaneously. Think about going “cosmic-glow” bowling and how your white socks glow under the black fluorescent light.

To recap, bioluminescence is like running through the neighborhood at night with a glow stick, phosphorescence is the glowing stars on your bedroom ceiling and fluorescence is the glow of your socks at disco bowling'.

Tuesday 6 December 2022

Diesel Heater Servicing Review- HEATPORT

It's been a few years since David wrote his one & only blog post for me (a Takacat dinghy review) but he has now written another review for my blog.

We have been living full time on the road in our fifth-wheeler for over 10 years now and after spending the last five out of six winters in the South Island we have never regretted our original decision to run with diesel heating. Here’s our blog on the original diesel heater installation.

Lake Ruataniwha, Mackenzie Country
As many of you will know, my wife Shellie is a very passionate photographer and adores the Mackenzie District especially during winter with the incredible hoar frosts and snow falls amongst other things. Also, with us now having an interest in Twizel (Night Sky Cottages) it has meant spending more time there and our heaters were very often working overtime during the many days & nights of sub-zero temperatures. 

The heaters (we have two 2.2kw heaters) were starting to show signs of excessive smoking at start up and servicing was well overdue. Although I consider I am reasonably handy and certainly quite capable of removing the heaters from their locations, I was reluctant to strip them down for servicing even after watching several very informative You Tube clips. 

Another surprise I found out after doing quite a bit of research on the internet was that some parts were indicated to be in short supply for our model heaters mainly due to shipping delays and the current low stock levels held in New Zealand. 

During this research I came across a company called HEATPORT who specialised in diesel heaters. They are located in Cheviot, North Canterbury and as we had a trip to Christchurch planned I decided to extend our travel and visit their operation. And I was very glad I did.

Although located off the beaten track, I was immediately impressed the moment I entered HEATPORT’s factory and the photos included in this blog post should clearly endorse my first impressions. 

Also, after talking to the owner, Pango, and his serviceman Tomas, it was obvious that their knowledge for diesel heaters was extensive and that they were very enthusiastic for what they were doing. Consequently I had no hesitation in booking my two heater units in for a thorough service.

Tomas & Pango with friendly dog Sarah

We based ourselves just up the road at the NZMCA Park at Parnassus and it was arranged to take one heater at a time to them over the next couple of days which at least left us with one heater to deal with the cooler nights. 

NZMCA Park, Parnassus, North Canterbury

Part of their recommended service plan is to firstly do a full heater diagnosis to analyse the heater’s overall condition followed by a visual inspection and also to test the pump for the correct flow. The results showed most things were working fine but both the heat chambers were quite badly contaminated. By far the cheapest option was to replace the parts. One heater was also found to have a damaged glow plug assembly which was probably caused by some poor servicing in the past. This also needed replacement.

After servicing I reinstalled both units back into our van and they are back to working just fine. 

Letitia testing heaters

Finally there is certainly a lot of varying views expressed on social media forums regarding diesel heaters and spare parts that are manufactured in China. I for one, was very sceptical to begin with, but I was very well satisfied that HEATPORT are being diligent and very selective in only using the best products from the top manufacturers out of China.

Tomas at work
All in all I am very happy, also impressed with the lower costs involved and certainly have no hesitation in recommending this company.  

HEATPORT show room