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Courtship

Muscle recovery and cold/wet weather kept us in yesterday except for my RT session. This was my first one without calibration so went quite quickly once I reached my turn.

Had some more Skype calls. Got a chance to chat with son John who’d getting on without Ella and Bao. He’s using Skype to stay in daily (if not more) contact with them. He seems well.

We also had great chats with the David and Marian on Kilkea, Stuart and Sheila on Imagine and again with John from Sea Mist who’s now recovering from a hip replacement in Singapore. He’s doing well and for once seems to know not to push himself too hard.

It seems they’ll all be up in Langkawa, Malaysia soon. The opportunity to swing by there on our way out of Australia (by plane) and see our friends again is irresistible, particularly with many offers to stay aboard with our friends. Many factors could influence our being able to do this but it’s very high on our list.

We’ve also accepted an invite and made plans to have a Thanksgiving dinner with the Bristol Roses. Sam will come with us and their sons Elliot and Owen will be there. We last saw them in the middle of the Pacific. Also there will be Jack and Jan from Anthem. The song of the sea is truly playing loudly this side of the shore.

We continue to dance a dance of courtship with Dignity’s buyers. We all need to be cautious but we’re making positive steps. Contracts are now signed, deposits deposited and inspections booked.

This morning Helen found one of the buyers’ website – Helene Young. She’s an author as well as a commercial pilot. She has mentioned us in her blog so I must return the compliment. We’ll continue our dance of courtship and hopefully all get together soon.

Dangling

We made the decision to stay one more day here by Kawau Islands. The Kilkeas, with ambitions to be off to Australia on Monday made the decision to head up the coast to Marsden so we bade our final goodbyes as they left the anchorage.

The rough patches on our starboard shroud cover were bugging me so shortly after lunch I had Helen haul me up the mast in the bosun’s chair. With the chop in the water on the north side of the bay I was swinging around up there alarmingly so I came straight back down and we moved the boat over to the south side of the bay. Up in the rigging the motion wasn’t quite so bad as before and I managed to cut away 4 segments where the sail batons had rubbed through the plastic shroud cover creating sharp holes. I managed to tape over one cut out section before feeling quite ill from the swinging around. I came back down.

The chop in the bay didn’t calm down until the evening so the other three sections are untaped. I’m wondering if it’s best to leave it that way as it allows the shroud cover to rotate and may reduce friction if in contact with the sail later on. Will cogitate on this.

Weather looks good to go to Great Barrier Island today. The winds are a little down on yesterday and the chop will now be behind us rather than ahead. This latter point makes a lot of difference to comfort. The plan is it head into Port Fitzroy and spend a few days there before moving around the island perhaps to other anchorages.

Au Revoir Revoir

After a final, not so encouraging look at the weather, we decided to leave Gulf Harbour and see what we’d find. We popped round to Kilkea to say our Au Revoir’s as we could well be parting ways and the next possible time we might just meet up would be in the Far East late next year.

Leaving the dock was easy as there was no wind in the harbour. There was not much more outside so we made the decision to go to Kawau Island. We motored all the way putting up the head sail for a bit of an assist when a light squall came through and gave us a bit of a blow.

We anchored near to the yacht club again with our minds on Fish and Chips for dinner that evening.

By now the skies had cleared and the day warmed up. Perfect for some relaxing. The Kilkeas had shown up in the same anchorage promising company for the evening.

After a lunch of hot soup and bread I read for a while then dozed off. Only for a bit because my mind took off with two problems whirling round. One was a Project Euler problem I’d read a week or so and forgotten about. An approach to solving it had come to me so I couldn’t rest without trying it out.

While my solution (which turned out to be correct) was running the second problem began to bug me. Although I’d used the main VHF radio to communicate with Gulf Harbour Marina in the morning as we departed I was struck by it’s quietness. Ordinarily I should expect some announcements from the NZ coast guard on channel 16 but we’d heard none. I called Kilkea for a radio check and it was not good. With the squelch turned right down I could hear them over the hiss but as soon as I squelched the radio, nothing came through.

The obvious thought was there was something up with the antenna splitter. I started undoing panels and getting at wires, checking things out and doing further tests between my handhelds, the main unit and Kilkea. At one point I tried putting my old AIS antenna directly onto the radio. Same symptoms. This suggested a problem with the radio itself. All this was frustrated by finding my box of radio spares missing. We turned the boat over looking for it. In the end, Helen seems to recall, putting the contents into another container which is now buried very deeply. We’re not sure about this and there’s a nagging and horrible possibility the stuff got tossed out by accident during clear up in the yard.

I dug out our old Raymarine radio which still worked but had been replaced as it did not have the capability of a remote handset. With it in place everything worked ok. I spent some time trying to figure out if there was a setup issue with the Icom radio but could not find a cause or solution.

My conclusion is that there is some damage to the receiving circuit on the VHF radio. It may be a coincidence that I’ve been plugging in and out the AIS transponder/splitter recently but I can’t discount it. Nor can I discount the possibility I had things wired incorrectly and blasted too much signal into the radio thus damaging the receive side of things.

It was now late in the afternoon and I’d missed my relaxation. I tidied things up a bit, including myself, before we headed off in the dinghy to pick up David and Marian and go ashore.

We ordered fish and chips but were persuaded to go with burgers instead. The ‘Kawau Burgers’ were delicious and were nicely washed down with a couple of beers. We were treated to a fantastic sunset while chatting outside.

Once the sun had set it turned cold quite quickly so we soon headed back. We dropped off David and Marian with a rerun of the morning’s goodbyes – not unusual when cruising.

We finished off the evening watching a few TV shows. In parallel I researched the options with the VHF radio. Things weren’t too encouraging. The unit is no longer on sale in the US and costs a kidney here in NZ. Icom have an inferior unit on sale in the US which doesn’t come with a remote. They have an exciting newer unit (for which I’d also have to buy a new remote) that hasn’t yet received FCC approval so is not on sale. Awkward.

There are options to have the radio repaired here in NZ but that would mean diverting back to Gulf Harbour and missing the next opportunity to sail out to Great Barrier Island. It might be the cheapest option but we may never get anywhere. At the end of the evening I found a bunch of ex-display units for sale on Ebay in the US for a decent price. Result.

I’ve ordered one for piece of mind. Sam will bring it. If I can get the current unit fixed here then all the better. For now I’ve got the old Raymarine jammed into a hole too small for it in the console and consequently sticking half out. It’s ugly but it works.

We have wind predicted for today but it’s from the north to north east. Not the best for sailing over to Great Barrier. So after putting things back together (I had to cut a lot of my cable ties which made things neat while troubleshooting yesterday) perhaps I can have my missed relaxation.

Sunday or Monday look better for the trip to Great Barrier so we’ll watch and wait.

The Sun – it Shines

After days of miserable weather today was a very welcome change. The skies were blue and the sun was out. It hasn’t rained all day.

This morning we went out for a walk with Marion from Kilkea. She showed us the walk around/through the golf course. It was simply nice to be out.

We popped into the shops at the tail end of the walk to pick a few things up. On the way back to the boat we were passed by and picked up by Don (Irv) and Marie from Freezing Rain who are back in the area. We ended up chatting with them for a while before heading back down our dock to the boat. Before we reached Dignity we ran into the Ivory Keys and ended up chatting with them for some time too.

We eventually made it back to the boat and at some point geared ourselves up to do a little more boat work. Mostly cleaning at this stage. I cleaned out all my fishing gear throwing a lot of old line away and derusting a few things that needed it. I also fixed the navigation light which had given up the ghost.

We invited the Kilkeas and Freezing Rains over for curry dinner. Knowing that the Kilkeas and we are likely to be leaving tomorrow we imposed a limit of one bottle per couple on ourselves. I think we did pretty good when we ended up with three between us and a sip of port (well – what was left from Tuesday evening) back on Kilkea.

The weather is looking okayish for a departure to Great Barrier Island tomorrow. As long as we leave early. We still may lose the wind along the way but might get away with it. We need to move on.

It’s only a month before Sam arrives and we’d like to get to see a fair bit of the Hauraki Gulf before then. Time to move.

Presuming we do get out of here early morning we’ll be turning our AIS transponder on. We should be visible for sometime at the the station down in Auckland that relays boat positions onto the web. A good site to see this data is www.marinetraffic.com. Look for us popping out of Gulf Harbour around 7:30am to 8am.

And if you want to see the weather forecasts we’re looking at, a good one is here.

Trashed

The Kilkeas had us round to dinner last night. We took a couple of bottles. Last thing I remember was five empties and the port coming out. Spent today totally trashed. Don’t know how long I was there after the port was out but Helen says she left ‘early’. I don’t remember that.