Oh dear, after the previous post moaning about the succession of storms hitting NZ and our area in particular, I clearly offended the weather gods with Cyclone Gabrielle having just come to visit us - unbelievable! More on that later.
Coinciding with Gabrielle's visit was the annual Brits at the Beach car festival held on the south eastern side of our peninsula at Whangamata. We'd entered for this event and booked accommodation months ago and with Gabrielle forming up in the Pacific, we weren't sure whether to pull out of the event. However, looking at the forecast a few days beforehand , it looked like we might just about make it before the weather turned to custard big time.
The event started on Friday with a limited numbers charity drive round the Coromandel Peninsula. I took part in that whilst Jennie and her sister Sue travelled separately as our MG isn't set up for more than 2 adults. A nice 2 hour drive from home to the venue half way round the peninsula in hot, sunny conditions.
Our '72 GT in the company of fellow entrant Mike's '65 Roadster with factory hardtop
Checked into our accommodation, registered for the event and a nice drive round town at dusk with a few of the 160-odd entrants. A number of entrants had cancelled because of the weather forecast. Next morning, we all met at a local park and mustered in lines by make of vehicle so we we would park in the same order at the public display venue on the waterfront. It was warm and overcast with a stiff breeze. MG's were bracketed by Land Rover on one side and Austin Healey and Rolls Royce Rolls Royce on the other. No snobbery at all, everyone was totally approachable and chilled.
A goodly mix of British classics (courtesy: Brits at the Beach)
Fords and Minis
There were quite a number of Land Rovers, most of which had been heavily modified by their owners. The first one below was a V8 version which had a camper body made by the owner with a scooter on the rear for local travel. a sign in the rear window says "Sorry for driving SO CLOSE in front of you"!
Land Rover camper van conversion
Built for serious back country work
A line for the unusual or exotic
With everyone assembled, a London taxi lead off for a parade through town to the display area on the estuary waterfront. Unlike some of the older cars, our MG showed no sign of overheating at the slow pace which was a relief.
A line up of MG's
The Scimitar below is what I would have chosen for our classic car but Jennie thought that they were pig ugly, sigh..... No regrets about owning the MG though.
Reliant Scimitar GTE with the Ford 3 litre V6 powerplant
Fords and original Minis
A Morris delivery van - notice the Ace of Spades cutouts on the mags!
A Bristol and Jowett Javelin
Alvis TC21 Grey Lady - a stunning restoration
Rover P5B - one of my personal favourites
The following car won the "best classic restoration" popular vote. It's a Daimler SP250 with the V8 Daimler 2.5 litre motor. The restoration was breathtaking and I'd hate to think about the total restoration cost. It would be easy to say that it looked brand new but it wasn't. Nothing that came off a mass production line could look that good.
The following photo was taken in front of the vintage Rolls Royce. The owners had 4 Rolls of different ages and were an absolute delight. They were staying at the same motel as us and offered to take Jennie and Sue for a drive in it but unfortunately, time was against us.
Jennie, me and Jennie's sister Sue going upmarket with the Rollers
That's just a sample of the many photos taken. We were really impressed with the organisation and the laid back atmosphere. Other owners were totally approachable and no cliques. I guess that's the Kiwi way. That evening, there was to be a live music show and the following morning, a "bonnets up" followed by fish and chips. However, with the cyclone approaching and a real risk of not being able to get home due to landslips and flooding, we decided to head straight home. A memorable couple of days though. The following photo is part of a road we travelled on to drive home from the car festival. Less than 24 hours later, this is what it looked like. The couple in the photo had just had their car break down.
Floodwaters on the Coromandel Peninsula (source: NZ Herald)
Well, Gabrielle has passed over us and you can read in the mainline press about the devastation it's caused to parts of the north island. From a personal viewpoint, I guess you could say that we dodged a bullet. Our decision to skip the final half day of the car festival was the right one as heavy winds and rain started not long after getting home and some of the roads we travelled on became impassable in the night due to slips and floods. We're currently cut off from the rest of the north island as are many other peninsula communities. Plenty of food and work to do clearing wind-borne debris so that's ok.
Wind starting to knock our neighbour's palm trees around
Yesterday was pretty scary as Gabrielle approached with high winds and torrential rain. During a lull and having no power for over 12 hours, I ventured out in the 4x4 to get a feel for what was happening in our locality. Had to negotiate 2 downed trees not far from our driveway.
Just hoping that the rest of the tree doesn't land on me
At the end of the road where we launch our boat was the sight of our friend's (and fellow classic car owners) yacht having broken its mooring and ending up on the beach. Fortunately, it doesn't appear to have been badly damaged but will need to be slipped to do a proper examination.
Not a sight that anyone wants to see - a beached keel boat
The next photo maybe shows that an arty shot is possible despite the conditions. A row of mailboxes on our street with waves piling in from behind.
Next, it was round to the village wharf which is just a few hundred metres from home as the crow flies. There was a local yacht with the jib torn to pieces. I'm wondering whether the wind was so strong that it unfurled itself and just flogged itself to bits. Not cheap to replace.
Yet more damage to local yachts
I was going to drive to the end of the wharf but the wind had picked up and was driving waves over the wharf so discretion was the better part of valour. One of the mussel harvesting boats was getting pounded by the beam-on wind and rain.
The Phoenix getting hammered
A quick return home to prepare for the worst part of Gabrielle. I must admit that the main worry was losing our roof but fortunately, our neighbour's trees helped to diffuse the worst of the gusts. We live on the side of a hill so flooding wasn't a concern apart from the risk of flooding in the basement garage if the drain outside couldn't handle biblical bursts of rain.
At 2am today, I woke to howling winds and the aforementioned biblical rain. A quick inspection revealed that some rain had got in but dumping a load of towels inside the garage door took care of that. A mad dash outside clad only in boxers to remove wind-blown vegetation from the drain mouth resulted in a good soaking which really wakes one up at that time of the morning! Probably a sight best unseen. At least the drainage improvements in the garden after the last garage flooding fiasco several years ago has clearly worked. With 400 mm of rain having fallen in the last 24 hours, we got off lightly by comparison with many in the north of the North Island.
Mother Nature always has the capacity to remind us of who calls the shots but whether mankind will do anything to live in a more sustainable manner is anyone's guess.
Sodden towels, anyone?