A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.

Departure Decisions

Sunday was our last full day in New Zealand. We brought the boat in early and fueled up. This took a few goes as the first time on the dock the fuel line wouldn’t reach either of our inlets. Second attempt we could reach our starboard inlet but not the port so we had to dock a third time to fill up port side. We then moved over to the Q Dock to await customs and immigration.

As of time of writing the above map shows us in a field. Sooner or later google maps will get a picture from after the marina was built so it will then look more sensible.

Helen, Paul and Sam went shopping while I filled in paperwork and collected the duty free. We all returned about the same time and ran into Rod and Elizabeth from Proximity who are also heading up to Fiji (the west end) later this week. In the afternoon we fixed a missing sugar scoop on the bow and prepped the dinghy. We installed the jacklines and the line around the back of the boat we use to hang on to when moving around in rough seas.

That’s about it.

We had our last meal ashore stuffing down burgers and fries at the local (and only) restaurant. No beer or wine to accompany dinner or lighten the evening as it was our last night before passage.

Bruce, the customs/immigration officer is due to arrive at 8:30am to clear us out but it now looks better to leave this afternoon. We’ll have to discuss our options with him.

Everyone is keen to get going but apart from with Helen, I haven’t broken the news about delaying our departure, mainly because everyone else is asleep.

Balancing Act

As the bad weather came through we did manage a fair bit of down time on Saturday. However, we did spend much of the morning being fairly busy. We moved the rest of our disconnected and spare batteries from the front cabin area to the rear. We also shifted all our jerry cans of fuel and spare anchor to aft. The combined effect of this weight redistribution lifted our bow water line out of the water.

We managed to lay the anchor down inside our under seat locker in the rear. The fuel is not so easy to place. We’re thinking that for long trips we’ll simply keep the spare fuel in the cockpit area and transfer it into the main tanks as that fuel is consumed. The empty cans can be stored forward without a problem. It’s probably good to keep cycling the fuel through the cans.

I spent some time with Dan from Division II who is going to help me next week put in a new floor and battery boxes below the stern guest cabin. After some discussion we have it all worked out. I then spent some time with all my various batter cables figuring out what lengths I need to keep and some to cut to make up our new battery bank. The new bank will sit further down and be more accessible than the last. We will also get some additional storage space.

I ran into Rod and Elizabeth from Proximity at one point in the marina. They’re here too. They knew we were here as they saw us coming up the river on AIS. That’s a good test. In fact I am very pleased with the new setup. Right now I can see four vessels at Marsden point over 10nm away and not line of sight. Great stuff.

We treated ourselves to sushi for lunch which we ate on the boat. The afternoon was mostly R&R. I pulled out the XBox and played for a few hours while Helen read. Outside the wind howled and it alternated between sunshine and downpour every 10 minutes it seems. A good day to be inside.

Last day in Whangarei

What a day. We started the day with one last wash. The genset started ok but not with the zest we know it can with a good power supply. It’s battery was getting tired. A quick decision was made and it was off to the battery store to buy and then install a new battery. When I moved the original battery I tucked it way out of the way which meant pulling loads of stuff out of the generator compartment and then squeezing myself into a very tight place to work. Glad we did that as the genset starts perfectly now.

Next task was to head for Opua to sell the car back to Phil from Cars for Cruisers. I had an agreement with Rob and Ruth from Albatross III to head up to Opua too and give me a ride back. Just before leaving we bumped into a young lady from the NE US whose on a traveling trip and was looking for passage up to Fiji. We offered to take her up to Opua and back to investigate things there and learn a bit more about making what she was trying to do work.

On arriving in Opua I let Lauren off to explore the area and agreed to meet up at the Fish and Chip shop at noon where I’d promised to buy lunch for everyone for helping out. The deal with Phil went through smoothly and soon I was walking away with a cashable check.

While waiting for Lauren to show up I bumped into Andy from Zephyrus which was a pleasant surprise. We chatted for a while and I asked about people looking for crew. He had a good lead and shared it with Lauren when she found us. About 12:30 Rob and Ruth turned up having seen some friends. Unfortunately the Fish and Chip shop in Opua had closed down so we headed off to Pahia for the banks and shops there. Half way there I realize I’d left my GPS unit somewhere so we headed back finding it with Phil.

Leaving the others to look around I first went to Westpac to cash the check using my passport to prove my identity. She had to call Phil to verify the check was ok to cash and he approved with the caveat I owed him a GPS unit. She found the explanation of his remark quite funny. My next stop was the ANZ bank to deposit most the cash keeping enough to pay for our new kayak.

With all the financials handled I found the others and bought all Fish and Chips on the waterfront which turned out to be overfilling but delicious.

Rob took us north out of Pahia for a different route back to Whangarei. A few miles out of town I realized I didn’t have our folder containing our boat papers and passports. Not again. So back into town we went. I checked first at the Westpac. The teller grinned hugely and went to the safe to retrieve my passport. I found the folder in the ANZ where I’d left it. Where was my head???? I checked to make sure it was still in the right place physically. I think my brain had already set sail.

No more mishaps beset us as we traveled back to Whangarei. Rob helped me collect the kayak which we placed on the boat. Helen had spent the day making a clean boat immaculate for the evening’s party. By now there was not much time left. I performed a few small jobs around the boat before showering and soon after folks began to show.

All in all we had the pleasure of welcoming the crew from Albatross III, Attitude, Blue Penguin, Boree, Callisto, Clara Katherine, Division II, El Regalo, Imagine, Jackster, Leu Cat, Marquesa, Proximity, Sail Away, Scream, Sea Mist, Sidewinder, Stray Kitty, Tahina, True Companions and Tyee along with one or two marina neighbours. That was about forty people at once. It was a great test of our through hulls as we were down about 6-9 inches in the water. We didn’t sink.

This morning we woke fairly early and after doing last minute internetty things we dropped of our key to the shower block and headed out. As we headed down the river the winds were light and behind us. And cold. We motored on batteries alone for about 30 mins before turning on the generator. Near the river mouth we caught sight of True Companions ahead of us and called them on the radio to greet them.

As we rounded the heads we hit a dead patch and used the opportunity to raise the new main. We crossed our fingers hoping for wind as we really wanted to see how our new sails would perform. We didn’t have to wait too long and soon we were in winds that were to vary between 10-20 knots as we headed up the coast. We were gobsmacked by the improved boat performance. Before the boat speed would fade below about 12 knots under main and jib. Now she was achieving above 1/2 wind speed all the way down to 9 knots on the beam. We’ve never seen it so good.

We have found a couple of issues. The reef points on the new main are higher up than before and now the 1st reef only has a turn of spare line at the winch which is not enough to reef on the fly. We also have new modes of vibration on the luff of the main which we need to figure out how to handle. Apart from that everything seems to be in amazing shape. It feels like we have a new boat.

Our original plan had us making our way up the coast in smaller steps. With reduced wind tomorrow and nasty northeasterlies forecast for Friday we’re aiming to cover as much distance as we can today and complete the trip to the Bay of Islands tomorrow where we can find shelter from any type of wind. Our goal for today is the Whangamumu Bay which we visited last November.

We’ve now settled into a pleasant sail up the coast putting on and taking off our warm clothes as the sun goes in and out. We have about a knot of counter current but we’re doing well against it. We even have a line out for fish but nothing caught yet. We’ve shed the land life and are back on the water.

3rd Friday on the hard and an excellent break

The weather this week has been very alternating.  Every other day we have variable weather and on the alternate days we have a consistently good day.  Yesterday was a consistently good day.  Confused?  Because we had an afternoon event planned we had a shortened work day but we still made progress :

  • Sanded all the gelcoat touch ups
  • Replaced temporary split pin at top of mast
  • Added a layer of varnish to the shower sill
  • Picked up new code zero halyard
  • Replaced old main halyard (which was in the code zero halyard’s position) with new code zero halyard
  • Assembled gooseneck twice.  First time I thought I had it on the boom upside down but I discovered I was wrong about this after removing it.
  • Installed new main sheet
  • Reattached sail bag
  • 80% inflated dinghy (which was returned from having handle/rollock reattached)
  • Filed off ridges from inside boom in order to install new sheave for outhaul/third reef

On the external projects more progress was made than anticipated.  The dinghy arrived.  The anchor roller strengthening is now complete.  The chain chute is complete.  The props / shafts were returned from having a hole drilled and pin inserted. The new sheave was cut.  Our window inserts are now expected early next week and I postponed the forestay work to Monday.

I actually had a little time to study a few Euler problems and have now developed a strategy to solve one of them which I’ll implement over the weekend.  It’s interesting going back to them as at first they all look far too complicated to solve but sooner or later dormant brain cells wake up from their slumber and go to work.

Around 2:30pm we broke for the day and cleaned up for our afternoon out.  The town of Whangarei was putting on a farewell seminar/show for the cruisers who’ve spent time (and presumably quite a lot of money) here in the town – particularly on services to their ocean battered boats.  First was a very impressive traditional Maori challenge, far better than the one we saw at the Maori experience in Rotorua.

Next we had a half hour lecture by weather guru Bob McDavitt.  For those that don’t know him, he puts out an excellent cruising forecast each Sunday that makes a relevant read every Sunday.  As such he practically received a heroes welcome by the cruisers as a result of this service.  He does offer professional guidance / route planning to those that wish it.  His half hour brief was very informative.  He confirmed the weather scenario for leaving north that I’m now already anticipating.  More importantly he helped us understand the broader context for the weather patterns and their near term impact.  We’re in what’s called a declining La Nina situation which historically extends the cyclone season.  Thus the general recommendation is not to leave until May.  This fits our general plan which was to be ready by the third week in April and to take the first available weather window.  That window should now appear early May.  This extra time allows us the opportunity to flex our new wings (once installed) with a sail, perhaps, up to Opua before we leave.

Next was the BBQ which was a fine feast.  I thought I was taking a little of everything but my plate ended up piled high.  Having had a light and early lunch I was famished and polished off the lot.

Finally we were given a cultural Maori performance by a national competition winning local singing group.  Again – far better than the ones we’ve seen at tourist attractions.  We are lucky to have the opportunity in our lives to go cruising and further privileged to be given such joyful, harmonious and passionate performances.

We were not alone for this farewell presentation.  We sat amongst old friends from the ‘class of ’10’ puddle jumpers : Attitude, Boree, Callisto, El Regallo, Imagine, Leu Cat, Proximity, Scream & Tahina.  There were plenty of others there too and the sad thing is was our need to catch up with old friends prevented us from really making any new.

Being in the company of so many friends and having the Polynesian dancing and singing going on made most, if not all, of us keen to start our crossing and get back out into the wonders of the South Pacific.  Just got to get the boat work finished !!!!!

We finished the evening by inviting Frank and Karen over to a messy Dignity to share a bottle of wine.  Almost like being back out on the water.  Except for the gentle rocking.  The slapping of waves.  The warm nights.  The beautiful beaches.  The great snorkeling.  No yard dust.  Not having to pee in a bucket.  Ok – so not quite so similar but we’re on our way soon.

ADDED LATER: All too easy. Euler problem nailed. Off to work.

2nd Thursday on the hard

As I think back on yesterday I can’t figure out what order things happened in so again I’ll just list the events in semi random order.

We had a couple of visits from outside contractors. The stainless steel guys came by to measure up the bowsprit for the anchor protector. While they were with us we discussed an improvement to the anchor locker which will prevent pile ups of the anchor chain.

We were also visited by the engineering firm to examine our gooseneck/boom and our rudder bearings. They came back with rather a large quote later in the day, mostly for the rudder bearings. In discussion with the yard manager, Peter, he came up with a better and cheaper solution to address the wear on the bearings.

The sanding continued all morning. We occupied this time by washing and conditioning our jib sheets and old furling line. I was interrupted in this task (although I can’t remember what by) and the lines are still sitting in the bucket to be finished today. We also visited the chandlers to pick up replacement nipples/through hull, a large tub of rust remover, some flares (our current ones are out of date), a grab bag for our emergency supplies if we have to abandon ship (better late than never) and a few other sundry items. We also picked up a cheap blow heater as it was freezing cold yesterday morning (though not so bad today). We finally found Arthur’s Emporium, a fantastic store filled with all sorts of things. We didn’t have much time and will have to go back but we did manage to pick up a replacement hammock which we’ve been scouring town for.

When the sanding had finished we were loaned the power wash to wash down the boat. The blue dust was every where and it took 2-3 hours to clean the boat top to bottom. At the end of this we scraped and sanded all the through hulls and I gave them all a second thorough inspection for any pitting – there was none.

At some point in the day I verified we had the latest s/w for our two Garmin GPSs and Helen created a list for the grab bag contents. We have most of it at hand but we want to do a proper job with the contents.

We received a call from the rigger who’s finished the splicing and will drop them by this morning and perform a rigging inspection. We also received a call from the upholster who’s finished the back of our seat which I can collect today.

During the day we had the pleasure of bumping into Ingi from Boree in the yard (and in one of the stores) and also Stuart from Imagine swung by to say hello. We got to know Rod from our neighbouring boat Proximity. He seems to know everyone we know but somehow we missed hooking up along the way. It was of course impossible not to bump into John working hard on Sea Mist from time to time.

We were pooped after all of this so we had a takeaway pizza for dinner and finished the day with a movie.