Nine Lessons Of Caravanning
Remembering the Nine Lessons and Carols that were part of his childhood Christmases inspired Bob Sheldrake (#39239) to pen his lessons learnt while caravanning.
Driving through my old hometown of Gisborne just before Christmas, we passed Holy Trinity Church, and my mind couldn’t help floating back to my childhood years. Back in the 50s and 60s, December meant Mum and Dad would have been in Holy Trinity practising for the Nine Lessons and Carols service, an integral part of Christmas for us in Gizzy. Fast forward several decades and as I arrived at the new NZMCA Park by the beach, I noticed we were the ‘most experienced’ members present, or at least we had the lowest registration number of those signed into the camp. We have been members for nine years and a few thoughts – or lessons – learnt about caravanning (rather than Christmas) crossed my mind.
Lesson #1: On returning from a trip, always allow one’s better half to check out the house plumbing before backing the caravan into its park alongside the house The result of my impatience on one trip cost me a slow impact into the fence and a new tail light. I subsequently purchased a reversing camera for the caravan which is connected via a wire through the rear door of the trusty X-Trail.
Lesson #2: Expect the unexpected
While visiting friends at a camp near Porangahau, we discovered the fridge freezing system had ruptured. As we weren’t keen on spending the night breathing ammonia, we headed straight home. As it happened we lost a vent on the way, which helped air the van. The Hawke’s Bay sun loves debilitating plastic! Over the years we have lost three such vents (always travel with them closed) but now carry a plywood ‘plug’ so are ready for the next one.
Lesson #3: Use your caravan more often!
This one is based on a direct quote from a helpful tyre man who assisted us after we had to change tyres on double yellow lines just north of Dargaville: “The only reason your tyre burst was through lack of use,” he told us. An associated lesson learned is to always carry a little tarp to lie on when changing tyres – particularly helpful in this case when the sun had melted the tarseal.
Lesson #4: Be very aware of judder bars
This one was learnt as we approached the delightful motor camp in Huntly. On this occasion the seam in our little English import let go and the van appeared to break in the middle. As we were only halfway to our destination of Whangarei, I used a number of rolls of duct tape to repair the van and continued ...cautiously. Once home I replaced the tape with metres of fibreglass tape – two layers and all was stronger than when new.
Lesson #5: The jockey wheel is 100% removable – remove it 100% before all but the shortest of trips This was learnt some time ago as it fell off/out as we passed through Tokomaru in the Manawatu. A local picked it up and I met him as he walked towards us and our conversation was rather akin to that of Stanley and David Livingston... this leads on to the most dramatic learning of the nine lessons.
Lesson #6: Concerning the tow ball
Our caravan uses a 50mm ball while our boat uses a 1 and 7/8th size. For years and years (nine in fact) I have swapped the tow balls back and forth as required, using heaps of weight to tighten the ball each time. I even use a split pin on the 50mm ball in case the unthinkable should happen and the nut loosen. Well guess what? The ride in the car when the tow ball is loose is terrible! The irregular shunt in the back is *^#!! We stopped at four garages, filled the ram with grease, and looked at, around, under the car and van before the mechanic at Wellsford took two seconds to find the loose tow ball. On reflection it is too painful to describe in detail, but as a result I had to carry some body parts home inside the trusty X-Trail as a result of my lack of care. I offer no defence, I only blame myself. But the split pin did its job. You may think I am only up to Lesson #6. Believe me this one is big enough to be Lessons #6 #7 #8 and #9 all rolled into one!