So having no boat is one thing… waiting for it to be fixed is another. Especially when parts need to be engineered, couriered between two cities, couriers not turning up when planned, props and shafts split up between Auckland and Wellington etc etc. We decided to be incredibly grateful for a few things – no-one was hurt, the damage to the boat could have been a lot worse, we could have been somewhere where they didn’t have the ability to haul the boat out and fix it and…. Wellington is not a bad place to be ‘stuck’. So it was a matter of sucking it up and making the most of our time on land.
Our first outing the week before was to meet Tracy at Hangar. Tracy Morris is a very dear friend and used to work with B and I many years ago. And we used to cycle together when she lived in Auckland. Hangar is a very cool and funky place to meet, eat and hang out. Their coffee is out of this world – and that’s coming from a decaf drinker! Each cup comes with a card explaining where it is from, the blend and what it tastes like. I haven’t even seen this much detail when buying wine. As always, Tracy, B and I had a wonderful catchup. Doesn’t matter how much time we are away from each other, you just start off where you left off and in no time at all, you are all caught up. Before the end of the night we had arranged a dinner for the following week at the Hillside Eatery.
That night we couldn’t resist going back to Charley Nobles for dinner. The delicious Te Makatu Oysters were calling my name. Half in tempura batter and half au natural with some chardonnay vinegar and shallot. I also tried their Chicken Pot pie – a small array of heaven in a bowl of pastry. Seriously good food at this place.
Our friend’s, Kirsten and Pete, arranged for their son Jacob (Rosebud) to lend us his car. What a godsend! We met up with Jacob to see where it was parked and pick up the keys. A nice coffee and B grilling Jacob on his girlfriend (sorry Rosebud), we now had our own wheels. Bug was now part of the whanau.
The boat was on the ‘hard’ for what we thought was one more week so I’ll focus on our land based cruising, which will read more like a Wellington restaurant review. We are good eaters after all. Most of the restaurants are either old haunts or new, trendy places that Tracy has told me about.
Firstly accommodation, Wellington is a very busy place. I remember years ago when I was stuck in Wellington for an extra night due to fog closing the airport and there was absolutely not a spare bed in town due to a flower show! Really? Anyhu, busy place and/or they need more beds. Understandably we were looking last minute, but the options were few and far between. Even AirBnB were short on places to stay. Those that we did find and like, were out of town and we knew we’d be wanting the comforts of the city. We decided to treat ourselves and stay in the Sofitel for a night, which is one of Wellington’s newest hotels. A nice night and excellent service. Bug was excited about some valet parking but there were spare car parks right outside the door.
Our favourite place of all times is the Museum Hotel, which is now part of the QT chain. They have apartments including a kitchenette and laundry facilities. We booked ourselves in for the rest of the week.
The good thing about Bug was that she was parked about 2km away from where we were staying so the walk to and from was good exercise. Some days in the very uncharacteristic 28 degree heat!
Wednesday morning and we headed to another Tracy recommendation, Prefab. What a cool place. Very hip and really busy. Often have to wait for a table and the queue can be out the door. We got seated at a sharing table which we love and reminded me of old times at Bambina. Food was excellent and I would highly recommend this place for a weekend breakfast or lunch.
Resigned to the fact that we’d be on land for at least another week, we ventured back out to Seaview to see how the boat was coming along and to pick up some more clothes. Needless to say there wasn’t much going on at all as Strait Marine were still waiting for the parts to arrive back in Wellington.
After parking the car back in town and heading down Tory St, we stumbled across a Bunnings! Outside were two lovely young salespeople working for the Fred Hollows Foundation. After a lengthy chat about what the society does and details of how they are helping so many people, I signed up to pay a monthly contribution. I think they were a little overwhelmed with all the questions but they loved the experience. I’d lost B into Bunnings, but was happy to stay chatting with these guys. They said I was the most positive person they had spoken to in the job. I asked if people are rude to them. They said short of being told to ‘F off’, a lot of people are just awful. I hate hearing this about humanity. One of them was a student and the other a backpacker and new to NZ – felt bad that at such a young age they see such a bad side of society. But… they are out earning money… and for a good cause. Good on you guys.
Wednesday night was booked at the Hillside Eatery on Tinakori Rd. We were meeting up with Tracy again. The Eatery does a degustation menu with matching wines, if you so choose. Tracy behaved on the wine front as she had an early morning flight to Auckland, while B and I were our self-indulgent selves! The value for money wasn’t quite there and the meals a little short of expectations. They were creative and funky but not spectacular. Tracy had dined there last time after an electric bike tour and thinks she was may have been on a post-ride high! She also had ordered off the normal menu.
Given the amount of eating we are doing, we decided to try only having 2 meals a day instead of 3. This usually meant brunch and dinner. Today’s choice was a late brunch at Pōneke. It’s situated at the end of the Chaffers Marina and well worth a visit. From a special hash eggs benedict (the Pōneke Special) to a spicy breakfast mince on toast with the optional poached egg. My favourite is the Salmon with a Fried Egg.
Our very good friend Dougal has a very good friend Burt who has sailed in the Marlborough Sounds for years. He had offered to take us through his charts for some local knowledge before heading out for a meal. We met him at his apartment which I must point out was the coolest place ever! In the old Hannah’s building, it was a warehouse style 2 storey apartment with a deck on the roof. I felt like I had been transported into New York City. So after pouring over a number of nautical charts and talking about bays, anchorages, tidal flows and passages, we had a lovely drink up on the roof. Burt lives a street over from the Egmont Street Eatery where I had dined before (your guessed it, with Tracy). The food is ‘out of this world’ yum and very different in term of the ingredients used and the concoctions they put together. Sorry I don’t have any photos of the food – was worried Burt might think I’m a little strange! A wonderful night. Thank you Burt so much for your local knowledge! Invaluable!
After a huge meal at Egmont St the night before it was time for a huge walk. We headed out around the gorgeous waterfront of Wellington and after about 2km we came to the entrance of the Southern walk up to Mount Victoria. What a stunning day! They do say ‘you can’t beat Wellington on a good day’.
There and back is not our style, we prefer loops! So we came down the other side of Mt Vic into Marjoribanks St. B realised that the first ever house he had bought in NZ was in the next side street. Forgetting that we had just done a huge walk and our legs were way too tired to do any more, we scaled the hill of Port Road to see his pride of joy as a 27 year old. Not bad digs Mr B!
Late brunch at Field and Green on the way back to the apartment. This place is a treasure. Slightly off-beat in the sense that the menu items read somewhat different to what we are used to. It’s advertised as “European Soul Food”. The main item on the menu that got me every time was a Fish Finger sandwich! Wow, I remember eating those years ago. Welsh Rarebit, Marinated sardines and Kedgeree were all on offer. Apparently the owner used to work in the kitchen of a restaurant off-shore and was hidden from view so they never got to see the guests or how their food was being appreciated. She was determined to make this restaurant more open and inclusive. The kitchen was an open, with a bar style place at the back of the restaurant where you could see everything that was going on.
A very chilled day and not having had any food from our meal at Field and Green earlier, it was now around 5pm and we were hungry! I was calling for some more Te Makatu oysters and we knew exactly where to get them. Ortega here we come. But no, they don’t open until 6pm so we went to the bar next door called Slim Davey’s. Fantastic bar but unfortunately they were needing to close down in the new year. So sad for all involved but all we could do in the short term was to support them as much as possible today. No time like the present. We ordered a lovely bottle of rose and summoned up some oysters. They’re not usually on offer at Slim’s but the kind staff brought us some over from next door. Love that type of service.
Ortega and Slims run like a big family business. We got to meet the owner of Slims, her sister, her husband and the nephew. A couple of guys who flat with another of the waitresses turned up with their dog to have a drink. What a hoot. Great young guys living life to the fullest. After our oysters and rose disappeared and a lot of fun banter, we shimmied next door to sit at the bar at Ortega to have some more amazeball food. Since we had started so early I called for a movie. The Embassy Theatre is just around the corner so we chose the only film playing at the time and went on in.
The Embassy has a very cool bar – serves drinks obviously but also has an array of board games that you can sit and play before or after a movie. Or even if you aren’t going to the movies at all. Murder on the Orient Express was the movie on offer. Given the star-studded crew, I would have expected better. But after a day like today, who could complain. Thanks Wellington.
It was the weekend. Funny how being on a perpetual holiday as we are, you don’t normally know what day of the week it is. But… when you are staying in central Wellington it is rather evident. The city is so quiet on the weekends. Not at the eating establishments, but definitely out on the streets. Even moving into Christmas shopping craziness, it was relatively quiet out there.
Not only was it the weekend, we still didn’t have a boat. It was looking good to be in the water this week though. Plan was to put it back in the water on Wednesday, take it for a sea trial and all going well, get it over to Chaffers marina. The lovely team at QT were quite confused as to why we kept extending our stay. They must have been thinking ‘these guys don’t quite know what’s going on in their lives”! Not to mention we had a very limited wardrobe with us.
For an early dinner, we walked into Dragonfly on Courtney Place. Usually a very busy place where you either must have booked or you wait a long time. They offered for us to sit out the back in the bar area. Perfect and I think I prefer it to the restaurant proper. The food was exquisite! Highly recommend this place. Asian tapas and some scrumptious dumplings.
We passed the Ballroom Pool Hall on Courtney place a couple of times during the day and it got B’s attention. Not because that is where he and Leach did some ballroom dancing but for many years he has played pool, but not very well (in his words) and he said it was about time he fixed this. I’m sure this was a reaction to his recent loss in Ngawi but who was I to complain. I love pool and Ballroom is right next door to Dragonfly so we didn’t have far to go. In we went. $2 a game and the best of 5. No need to talk about who won but let’s just say that B’s pool was improving.
Sunday morning stroll to Cuba Mall for breakfast at Plum. I had heard good things about this place but I don’t think it was nearly as good as the other breakfast places we had been too. It was however a fantastic place to sit and ‘people watch’ in Wellington. A very interesting mix of people.
That afternoon, we stopped into another favourite Dockside for a pre-dinner drink. We were meeting up with my nephew Ben again. This time at Charley Nobles. I always love catching up with family. Another beautiful meal. B couldn’t resist one more round at the pool hall. We made a deal. One round of ‘best of five’ and then a ‘roadie’ at Hot Sauce by the hotel.
Another walk to Cuba Mall and this time for breakfast at Floriditas. This was worth the walk. The food was exceptional and the team incredibly friendly. Coffee good too. We had thought about ignoring Christmas altogether and given we were going to be away from everyone, we weren’t sure if anyone would notice. However, we did have some time on our hands and Christmas means a lot to me so it was Christmas shopping time. We nailed it! It wasn’t long before we realised that B was not used to this experience!
That night we decided on Chow for their Monday night 2 for 1 dinner deal. You can’t book but after you put your name down, you pop next door to the Library bar for a drink. They will call you or come and get you and as long as you pay for your drinks before leaving, they are more than happy for you to take the wine through to the restaurant.
The food was as good as it always but unfortunately we ended up having a terrible experience. We ordered quite a few dishes to share (as we do) and asked specifically that they come out slowly, perhaps two at a time so we weren’t rushed. It all came out together! So when the last dish, the Duck Curry was brought to the table we explained the situation and asked if they could take it back and we’ll let them know when we were ready for it. It was obvious that the 2 for 1 night is very popular and they were trying to move the tables through quickly. So when we were ready for the curry, we let them know. I jokingly said ‘I hope they don’t bring us back the one they brought out earlier’. Surely not. It arrived and it was cold. Horrified, we got up, paid the bill (minus the curry) and got out of there. A real shame as I usually love it at Chow. Another round at the pool hall and B was still improving. Now I was getting worried!
Back to the Egmont St Eatery for breakfast. I had booked in for B and I to have a float at 10am. For those of you who haven’t tried this, it is my approach to forced meditation. Deprivation of the senses – floating in a tank/pod of about 12 inches of water stocked with Epsom Salts is not only good for your muscles but also very buoyant so zero gravity. No light and no sound. It is so dark that if you do open your eyes, nothing changes. I have floated a number of times but it was B’s first time. He finds it incredibly hard to sit still for longer than 2 minutes so this was going to be interesting. They offer ‘double floats’ with two of you in the same tank but I felt that this completely defeated the purpose of relaxing in your own space so opted for our own rooms. I have also been keen to try of the Shakti Mats I had heard so much about. They are supposed to emulate lying on a bed of nails! I looked where to get them in Wellington and low and behold it was the Float Centre (check name) where we were headed. With a Shakti matt or two in hand and feeling very relaxed we headed back out into the hustle and bustle of Wellington.
Later that day we were walking up Tory St to get Bug and we passed where Chris (guy looking after my plants) works. We bumped into him as he was heading home for the day. So we offered him a lift out to Seaview where we were going to check on the boat as the new shafts and repaired props had been installed. It was a good opportunity to pick up the plants and get them settled back on the boat. Boat was looking good and it was all ready for the ‘drop in’ tomorrow afternoon. We raced back around to Chris and Michelle’s to drop off some Blue Cod to thank them for looking after our plants. Thanks guys!
B had also decided to put some rope cutters on the boat, behind each of of the props. These will cut away weeds, cray pot ropes or any random lines that might get in our way. They are nasty looking things but way better than getting ropes caught around the props.
Dragonfly for more dumpling delights and a quick round of pool next door. B’s pool continues to improve. I think I’ll need to have him as my partner from now on rather than an opponent.
Today was the day! Our boat was due to be back in the water. The original plan was for 2pm but Captain B raised concerns about the tide. High tide was in the morning and we suddenly got the call to get out to the marina by 10:30am. I was having a catchup with a girlfriend so B went to get Rosebud and I hoofed down my breakfast and raced back to the hotel. Never been so excited about checking out from a hotel before!
We got out to the boat at Seaview marina just as the guys were getting the travel lift ready. I don’t get seasick and I thought taking the boat out of the water was terrifying. Well putting it back in seemed to freak me out even more! I felt physically ill as we watched our home being transported into the water. Again the team at Seaview Marina took their time and did a wonderful job getting Resolution back in the water without a scratch, despite their only being a few inches of room either side. What a relief!
It was good to see Bug getting in on the action.
Now for the big moment to see if the new shafts and repaired props will actually work. I held my breath as Captain B turned over the motors. Everything sounded in order. Now to see if we could move and steer the boat. Dan from Strait Marine was on board with his toolbox at the ready. We headed out of the marina and into the harbour. Other than a slight “hum” at a certain number of revs, everything worked beautifully. Dan assured me that the noise was just the shaft ‘bedding itself in” and it would go away. Dan knows his stuff. After a quick romp around the harbour trying different rev levels, turns, the stabilisers, it was back into he marina for ‘touch and go’ drop off of Dan. There were some others on the dock that could help grab his heavy toolbox. Thanks Dan!
Feeling pretty pleased we headed back to Chaffers Marina. We had left Bug over at Seaview so once we were all tied up and happy with the ropes, we walked to get the ferry to Seaview to collect the car. We waited for the bus that was to take 10 minutes until one drove by and said it was ‘out of service’. It was quite a walk from the bus stop at Seaview to where the Bug was, so I called a taxi. Still another 15 minutes wait. Not an Uber in sight!
Tracy came down to look at the boat. I forget that with her in Wellington she hadn’t actually been on it. It was a gorgeous evening in Wellington so we sat in the cockpit and had a cheeky wine or two before heading up to Pōneke Cafe for dinner. We’d had a number of breakfasts and a lunch here but not dinner. We ordered a variety of tapas to share and the food was fantastic.
I just realised that I haven’t mentioned the weather since being in Wellington. The weather has been absolutely spectacular for 3 weeks now! And every day would have been a perfect time to cross the Cook Strait. As Murphy continues to hang with us, although we had the boat back, B had a Board meeting in Christchurch the following day. So we were in the marina for at least 2 nights. And again in true Murphy style the first day of ‘not so great’ weather just happened to be the Friday that we decided to cross!
B left early in the morning to head to Christchurch for his Board meeting. My job today was to provision the boat with food. We had parked Bug at the marina so I didn’t have to do the big walk to get her. I had some Christmas post for people overseas so I also needed to find a Post Office. As I waked to Bug I passed a gym and saw some weight bags. I thought that’s exactly what we need not the boat to do some strength work. They didn’t have them for sale but directed me to a shop inside Les Mills Extreme so off I went. Funnily enough I parked Bug outside and thought I wouldn’t need to put money in the meter as I was only going to be 10 minutes. Who do I bump into, but Jacob – Bug’s dad. Oooops. Actually he couldn’t have cared less. I really only wanted a 10kg bag but they only had a 15kg one in stock so that was going to do.
Next was a post office. By this time it was 28 degrees and excruciatingly hot. Bug has great aircon but that was helping me outside walking the streets of Wellington. Found the post office and sorted the post – boy did I feel organised this year. Now it was time to hit the supermarket. Surely I didn’t need too much. We have a freezer full of meat and dry stores that could last us months, so it was really only fresh vegetables and a few supplies that needed topping up. I got the small trolley – fatal mistake! Before I knew it, she was full to the brim and I was balancing bottles of wine, cauliflower heads and toilet paper as I pushed the trolley to the checkout. They kindly got me a larger trolley to use to get to the car.
Now it was time to pack the boat. Parked Bug back at the marina but unfortunately there was about 30 metres between the car and the closest marina trolley which happen to be down some stairs. I masterfully managed to get everything I had into one trolley load.
Then our boat was the very last boat on the pier – I’m sure someone was trying to get me to workout today. It was sweltering hot. I loaded the bags into the boat and then continued to load the food and supplies into the many drawers, cupboards and holes on the boat. I was smashed. All I needed to do now was fill Bug up with petrol, get a car wash and park her back up Tory St. When I got back to the car, I realised the 15kg weight bag was still in the back seat. There was only one thing to do. Weight bag went onto my shoulders and I hoofed it to the boat. Another mini-workout I didn’t need in 28 degrees.
Fiona who also used to work with us many years ago was keen to bring her kids down to see the boat. I was running late so they stopped for ice-cream on the way – fabulous idea. It was so lovely to see these guys. The last time I’d seen the kids, they were in nappies.
Tracy was also popping down with a work colleague Gavin. He was a client of mine 23 years ago! Still looked as young as he ever did. We had a nice cold beer on the boat. B arrived home early from Christchurch so he got to see everyone.
We had booked in our final dinner at Ortega. One, because we love it, but two, we had a gift for Jacob for lending us Bug. There’s a bit of an internal shirt competition going on with the guys at Ortega so we thought this would be a great one for Jacob.
So… on one hand a wonderful three-week break in Wellington. But on the other… a very frustrating time not being on the water in such gorgeous weather and an early delay in our trip.
The boat is all stocked and it’s time to get out there!