Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

Some old enough may remember Gomer from the Andy Griffith show spouting that line. Because I made a mistake – those words are my thoughts.

When we travel we often close off the forward head. Any beating of the waves against the boat spurts water into our forward head (cabin) area via the sink. To be safe I also close off the head (toilet) too. If this is too much info skip to the next paragraph. I used the head and without thinking grabbed pump handle. I began pumping the toilet (there is no handle to flush as in home toilets). Pumping required more effort than I expected. On the second pump I remembered; opps, open the seacock.

On the second stroke I also heard a little squish. I opened the seacock and completed the task of flushing the head. Sadly I still heard a little “squish”. Some water passing back and forth. The squish ought not to be there. There is a small hole at the bottom of the Henderson / Lavac pump to let any fluids out.

I checked and it is a little wet there. Damn! Added to my never ending list is to now replace the head pump. Oh well….. I have another pump all ready made up. We are after all a cruising boat and carry an enormous amount of spares. I have a spare pump, as well as spare rebuild kits. Tomorrow I’ll pull the pump and replace it, then rebuild it in the afternoon at my leisure.

After breakfast we begin. While I could do this on my own having a partner assist will reduce the work time considerably. W/ looks up where the spare is, I dig it out of the locker. I check the pump bolts and tighten just a little; after all it has sat in the locker for about 2 years and I don’t want any leaks.

We begin by clearing out the lockers on both sides of the pump. In one locker there are a couple of soaked items. Those go in the wash. The rest is strategically placed about the boat to create the biggest mess possible. I now begin to remove the pump.

Four hose clamps and four nuts later I have it out. I install the new pump and we’re close to finished. Once installed we get a bucket of fresh water for testing. We don’t love having to clean salt water up. W/ fills the toilet with fresh water and begins to pump. Water is coming out of the screws holding one of the gaskets in

Cracked Henderson Pump body

Cracked Henderson Pump Body

place. This gasket stops water from flowing backwards into the pump. I HATE this design! Three out of four times I have trouble with this part. I tighten up the screws. It still leaks. I get some Butyl out and we put some in the holes and around the screw heads. I tighten down and get a better seal; not perfect, just better. We pump and I’m still getting water around that area. DAMN! I wedge my head in the locker with a headlamp and W/ pumps some more. Double DAMN! There is a crack in the plastic molding in the pumping chamber. Surprise! Guess what we get to do.

A bronze underwater fitting with a hole eaten in it.

A bronze fitting with a hole eaten in it!

Remove the pump, clean the old one, transfer the new rebuild kit to the old pump, put back together and reinstall. An hour or so later we’re ready to put the old rebuilt pump back in service. While I was taking this pump apart W was removing more stuff from the hanging locker where half the pump is. With her eagle eye she sees a drip area that ought not be there and as usual she wants me to be worried too. I check it out. Again I stick my head in the locker with a head lamp and Surprise ! I discover a hole in the bronze elbow where effluent leaves the sewage treatment unit and exits the boat.

In many respects this was discovery is lucky. I don’t know exactly when this hole opened all the way up. Had we not noticed and continued to use the system we would have had quite a few items as well as the floor of the locker covered in ground up, fully treated, excrement. A real PITA and real lucky; all at the same time.

Even luckier still, I have a plastic 45 degree elbow that I can replace the bronze one with a hole with. I remove the bronze fitting; without breaking anything. I seal the threads on the new elbow with silicone tape and add thread sealant to be sure all goes well. I crawl into the locker and install the new elbow. We also have some new hose we picked up in Whangarei so we decide now is the time to replace that section too. I heat the hose end, install the hose, cut it to length and then install the other end on the seacock. I let the hose cool down prior to adding hose clamps. I remind myself to remember to tighten them before testing the system. I also let W/ know to remind me. We can’t be too careful when it comes to keeping water on the outside of the boat.

Back to the pump. I get it installed and the hoses clamped on. W/ adds fresh water to the bowl and we pump. Bingo. No leaks on the pump, a small leak on a joint connecting two hose sections and no leaks at the elbow install. And this time I remembered to check all hose clamps and open the thru hull. I snug down the union and all is right with the world. W/ vacuums out the lockers and then wipes them down removing any salt residue she can. Everything is now cleaned and put back into the lockers.

We started this process at roughly 9 am and without any breaks we finished at about 3 pm. All told, in the end, a good day. We discovered a problem after I created a problem. We addressed it, solved it and everything is now ship shape. And what did I learn? Oh…. when we shut down the forward head I will move the pump handle to the aft head. That ought to remind me before I try pumping with a closed seacock again!

On to dunch. (W/ likes to combine the two into one meal- works for me!)

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Leaving NZ

Over half way. And it wasn’t an easy half. Sailing in the mid latitudes is not fun. We had been informed by a retired meteorologist that if we made it N of 30 S we would be for the most part on the up and up. Not so. Here too is where not having an adequate shake down enters the equation.
 
We were N of 30. Listening on the SSB that am we were informed that we would have two fronts pass over us. For most of us tropical and sub tropical sailors that means an hour or so of crappy weather and then fair winds. Not here.
 
The first front wasn’t bad at all. I turned down wind, pulled the sails flat and ran with it for an hour. Once it had passed we came back on course. Four hours later a second front crossed our path. And it was nasty. Maybe; I ought to say NASTY !
 
We saw it coming. I reefed the mainsail and we furled some jib. The winds struck and if you ever heard of heavy air; that is what it was. The colder, dense air in the higher latitudes can be more problematic. Less than an hour later I reefed our main again. I couldn’t put the third reef in because I didn’t have the lines run. Remember: shakedown!
 
The winds kept increasing. Without the third reef heaving to in this stuff wouldn’t work. By now we had pulled in the headsail and I had up the staysail. Time to reef that. I went forward to reef it and I didn’t have it rigged right. I needed a snap shackle on the clew instead of a D shackle. I got the clew pulled down but couldn’t get the sail set right. Now this is where memory is sketchy. I didn’t ease the outhaul on the stay sail so getting it down and setting of the reef didn’t work. Frustrated and with the wind speed still increasing I furled the sail. We were moving faster than I wanted to go but with only the main up it was manageable. I’m glad we had the new main built heavier than the last and glad we had full battens. For the most part it was setting pretty and the wind vane was doing all the work steering.
 
I cleaned up around the deck. Some lines had freed themselves from the belaying pins and I secured them. After cleaning up the deck I hid behind the dodger. We don’t have a high latitude boat. We don’t have a “Florida room” as I like to call it. High latitude boats generally have an enclosed cockpit. Most of the NZ boats have enclosed cockpits I call…. “Florida Rooms”.
 
I use to laugh at boats with Florida rooms. Not any more. I understand the need. Th the cold wind, the wind chill can easily be deadly. This front stayed around for about 10 hours. Never in our 35k miles of sailing had we had conditions like that and as is often the case, a good part of it was in the dark. One improvement that worked awesome was our new spreader lights. The forward deck light and spreader lights made deck work quite safer. There was not doubt about where things were; what I could do even in the blowing rain. By midnight things had eased a bit and we pulled out some jib continuing our course N.
 
As a side note; the vessel Second Wind was about 60 nm from us and they didn’t have any of this frontal event. I say didn’t have any; I believe they said they had a slight wind increase but nothing memorable.
 
As the day wore on the winds slowly disappeared. W/ wasn’t happy because if we tried to keep sailing that put Minerva another day away. Once we were below 4 kts it was time to start the engine. Generally neither of us complain about sailing at 3-4 kts. But North and South Minerva can be dangerous sailing near them at night.
 
During high tide nothing above the water is visible. I doubt one would even see the breaking waves. There is a light on each reef but the chart doesn’t say how high it is. At least my three charting programs didn’t. Knowing the height of the light and the placement will guide you in how far away from it you are. After visiting Minerva I would say it is about 15’ above sea level and not all that bright. Tonga is responsible for the lights but I have a feeling they are maintained by the NZ Navy.
 
We needed to pass S Minerva in the day light. At least that was my wish and then enter N Minerva in day light. Attempting a night pass passage was not prudent even if one has a gps track. With the engine running we could manage our speed better and our entry time as well.
 
However; as mentioned in our previous post our engine temp was still a bit problematic. W/ was worried, knowing if we had to sail the arrival could well be dangerous. I started the engine and just as before, it rose to the correct operating temp and then kept climbing. I shut it down and waited 15 minutes. Once the temp fell below the normal operating temp I started it again and viola’ ! The operating temp moved into the correct range and we were off.
 
Now we switched from wind vane steering to our tiller pilot pushing the arm of the vane. We powered for a good half day and finally there was enough breeze to sail. A few hours sail, then back to powering. I ran through the starting method that worked and Minerva was our destination.
 
We passed S Minerva earlier than I wished but I did pick up the light on it. I stayed about 2 miles off the edge; closer than I wanted. By all appearances we were fine. 30 nm further N was N Minerva. Arriving in the late morning we could see some boats anchored. We tried calling Second Wind on the radio. We could barely hear them. We were using our hand held VHF as it seems our mast mounted antenna or the bigger boat VHF isn’t transmitting properly. Did I complain about a lack of a shakedown yet ! 🙂
 
As we got closer the communication was clearer and we could see the entrance and checked our charts for a match. . For the most part it was easier than some of the passes in the Tuamotus. I could see a few eddies as water flowed out of the lagoon but nothing enough to physically move the boat about. W/ powered right on in.
 
We had been told to drag a line entering the lagoon and the fish there will grab anything. Earlier in the day we had a small fish hitch a ride and ran a hook through it. Who ever told us must be a real-estate broker in Florida because it was a tall tale and we didn’t even get a nibble.
 
45 minutes later we were anchored in the lee of the S part of the volcano rim and ready for a good sleep. That was not to be. Art and Nancy offered to make lunch for us; and even to pick us up. W/ couldn’t refuse so we spent lunch with them sharing tall tales. . After, we returned to Elysium with the goal of counting stars from our berth. A great night sleep was honestly earned.
Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long
ps  As mentioned earlier I will move this to the correct date after a day or so. It is out of order so anyone wishing to check up on our blog will see it first. Cheers….

Shake downs

Don’t skip shake downs! No matter what. We thought we could. We spent a year on multiple new projects. Yet, because of immigration constraints we headed off shore with no shakedowns. None for the new systems nor the refurbished ones. Well, one might say using the solar / lithium setup the last month at the dock counted as a check. Dock usage was only part of the solar / lithium / charging system functioning.

We motored down to Marsden Cove from Riverside Drive Marina (RDM). I say motored but really the engine idled most of the way. With the current we were flying and there was no rush. We would get a berth that night, check out and leave the following day. The wx prediction said there would be a little light winds for the next few days. We were happy with that.

We’d dealt with immigration 3 times during our stay here. Immigration surrounds itself with paperwork and bureaucracy. NZ provides our boat a two year grace period to visit, have work done, moor, and be a tourist. All without paying import duty. We don’t want to live here! We are cruising here and refurbishing Elysium. Immigration limits the boat owners, captain, crew, etc, to three months. After three months each individual must to apply for an extension.

Some people apply on line. Steve and Kim on NorthStar did the online route. For Steve a proficient tech guy the process required about 2 days of frustrations and effort. Simply getting one of their photo ID in the system required many retakes and uploads. First it was the eyes, then the face was too big, then to far away, then the background wasn’t right. Even though Kim’s picture was taken with the same conditions as Steves. In NZ the web application is said to be easy. NOT! In the electronic version there isn’t anyplace to identify we are visiting by our own vessel. This is odd considering that Auckland is the “City of Sails” and they have a huge number of yachts every year. I’ve not met a one boat owner that hasn’t spent a bucket of money in NZ completing repairs and upgrades. The immigration categories didn’t include us. After a frustrating couple of hours trying to work my way through the various screens I gave up. Only completing taxes in the US is worse! We had the name of an agent in Wellington and we contacted him. We explained to him what we wanted to do, explained the boat work we were doing and he took care of the rest… for a fee. We paid the immigration costs plus approx $500 NZ to our agent each time. In the end, our costs to stay in NZ averaged about $150 NZ / month.

We cleared out, received our depature paperwork, filled up with fuel and set off. We motored out of Marsden and about 30 minutes later set sail. We knew the boat and didn’t expect any issues. The weather predictions suggested for the most part an off the wind sail N at least to Minerva Reef. We took that route believing that it would give us a break if Mother Nature didn’t follow the play book. We passed the Heads and aimed for a few miles off of Cape Brett. In settled weather the cape is ok but Cape Brett is a dividing line between weather on the northern part of the N Island and the middle part. Cape Brett can be nasty. As evening approached we settled in. We began our offshore watch schedule a few miles off of Cape Brett. All was looking fine, cold but fine.

In the middle of W/s watch; the first watch, we heard a metal on metal clicking sound. She calls me up on deck; I was already awake from the noise and we began to search for the causes. It ought not be there. With our torch shining on everything it could be, I soon discover our upper spreader lift on the port side is flying free! Damn. It’s not a big deal but it is a deal. We decide to change course and head in to calm waters, fix it and continue. We furl the sails and start the engine pointing the boat towards Opua. Ten minutes later the engine high temp alarm goes off. DAMN!

We shut the engine down and begin the arduous task of tacking in light winds to Opua. Fortunately before we left I joined the NZ Coastguard Aux. I called them to let them know of our situation, no engine and a rigging issue. They had no boat in the water by Opua but if needed would ask other boats for assistance. I informed them all was well and we were at the moment fine but I wanted to apprise them of our situation.

The NZ Coastguard Aux is one of the best deals in the country. Unfortunately they don’t take out of NZ Credit Cards. To sign up you need a friend in NZ or a NZ account to pay them. But I would strongly suggest anyone traveling by boat around NZ join the Coast Guard Aux. The waters of NZ likes to eat boats. The day after we made Opua a catamaran flipped off of Cape Bret. We personally know one yacht that lost while we were there and heard of 4 others. If one needs on the water help from them and is not a member, the cost is hundreds of $$’s / hour… from their point of departure. If you join them it is roughly $125 NZ / year.

We’re tacking back and forth all night long. At this rate we will not even make it in to Opua the following day. Hourly the winds are getting lighter and lighter. And all night long I am thinking what the hell is going on with our trusty Perkins. As daylight arrives I explore in the engine room. It seems there is plenty of coolant in the header tank but when I actually start to fill it I add about 2 liters. I need to stop using my finger as a gauge! With coolant added we start the engine up and watch the gauge. It climbs to temp and then climbs some more setting off the alarm. We shut it down.

I’ve been here before. In Tahiti we had an issue when I replaced a thermostat. It boiled (no pun intended) down to a vapor lock in the cooling lines. Ok, I check the coolant and it’s down a bit, add some more and try it again. Finally the temperature settled in at the normal operating temp. I don’t want to gamble by going faster, we’re able to move along at 1100 rpm and head straight in. I apprise the CC Aux of our new situation and for the most part we are all happy. Mid afternoon we’re approaching the docks.

W/ calls the marina for a slip informing them of our situation. They say we need to call Customs since we had already cleared out. W/ calls Customs and then calls the marina. Customs said to take a slip and bring our paper work the following am. We’re not sure what will happen as we’re checked out and our visa had expired.

We shower, rest, and expect to begin diagnostics the following day. We take our paperwork to the customs office and for the most part we’re ok. He indicates there may be a slight issue because our visa had expired. . He would let us know. We may have been lucky that it was now Friday and at the speed of most bureaucracies we will be ok. IF we get things fixed and are on our way quickly. Back at the boat W/ hauls me up the mast. I reattach the lifts and this time put in the cotter pins- on both port and starboard. When we stepped the mast I remember telling Matt (our rigger) not to worry about them- I need to adjust them anyway. He didn’t worry and neither did I. I forgot. Shame on me. Now that they’re reattached and secured we’re much better off.

Next is the engine overheating issue. My shore support team in Tahiti had said I need to get all the air out of the cooling lines. That’s accomplished by running the engine at high rpms. I run it till it’s warm and then increase to 80% of full rpm for a few minutes hoping that pushes any air out of the corners of the cooling system. I let it cool down, add coolant and do it again. After three times it runs up to temperature and stays where it ought to. Bingo. We’re again ready!

The following day we head to customs asking for our clearance papers. He’s as relieved as we are that we’re leaving. He hadn’t yet asked immigration about us and he hands back our clearance papers wishing us a good trip. Off we go.

Ten minutes out of the marina the high temp alarm goes off again. We shut the boat down and float. When the gauge drops back below it’s normal operating temp we start the engine up again. It goes up to temp and stays there. We can live with that. We’re ready to say goodbye to NZ. It’s cold and we don’t want to piss off the bureaucrats. David (a retired Meteorologist) on Gulf Harbors Radio says this weather window isn’t perfect but ok. If we can get north of 30 degrees S by Wed we’ll be in the clear. That’s our goal. We’re heading N and a bit E in case Minerva would be a smart stop.

I would like to stop there. Minerva is a two coned underwater volcano that the rims just rise to the surface of the ocean. It provides protection from most of the ocean swell and is a place to “get some lobsters”. I hope.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

ps I will leave this out front for a week or two then put in the correct order. Cheers….

Anchor and Chain….Found!

It was the third or fourth time we’ve looked for Elysium’s anchor system. The final two times I was invited out to look. I brought my tablet so we wouldn’t repeat any areas we had dragged in. The Royal Suva Yacht Club and Charlie’s Divers have been instrumental in removing the 5 lost anchors. Ours was the last and we were getting worried that it might not be found.
 
One huge issue is that I didn’t have the location where I dropped it. If you read the previous post you know that we had moved an hour before the storm arrived, it was calm and I wasn’t a bit concerned about where were were lat / long wise. Lesson Learned. When moving the boat and anchoring; have the charting program on!
 
So what I had been using was some common sense and the coordinates of other boats effected. What I was missing a bit was that we never dragged anchor. Princess Civa never forced the anchor out while pushing us downwind. I’m not sure the anchor would have come out considering how difficult it was to get out once found. I have a difficult time imagining the damage that might have occurred then!
 
It had been a week and with only one anchor left to be found there didn’t appear to be much impetus in locating it. But like the Bull Dog W/ sometimes becomes, I kept visiting them and asking when they would go looking…again.
 
Finally Friday pm Charlie (the owner) said we would go and I could come. I brought along my tablet with iSailor installed. Based on where the other anchors were found I thought we would be in that area. We dragged for about an hour picking up a another nice mooring line, a fishing net and lots of plastic. Charlie had another dive to do so we headed back and he said about 10 tomorrow we would look again.
 
That evening I sat and thought about where we were. I looked at where we had dragged already. Considering where I now thought it might be we never covered the correct area. It must be about where we anchored. Knowing where I thought we were and where we saw Princess Civa ram right into Sahula I put a new anchor on the chart. You can see it in the image posted.
 
Ten in the morning I was at the Yacht Club and no Charlie. Luckily I found someone that had his personal cell number and called. I didn’t get a hold of him but got his wife who would pass the message on to him. Thankfully he received the message and called back. He suggested a new time 3 pm same day. Ok. I’ll be here and back to the boat I went a little disappointed but glad he called and I wasn’t “stood up”.
 

iSailor instrumental in locating the anchor.

Three o’clock came and he showed up! I was ready. We headed out and I explained my new thinking. I showed Charlie where I thought I was anchored and the way we were when the wind was blowing. We started dragging the grapnel. Overboard the grapnel went and line paid out. We towed it from the bow, slowly moving backwards while iSailor charted where we were. Charlie watched the display and we picked up a couple of chunks of plastic. Stop, haul in the grapnel, clear the flukes and keep going. After we were far enough away we picked it up and moved again to where we could drag across the expected lay of the chain. Our main anchor system has 300’ of 3/8” High Test chain.

 
We’re going along and snag something… again. Stop the boat and haul it in. Francis (a friend of Charlies) was along to help. He’s pulling and it’s not easy. Charlie and I join him and we can’t get it up! Maybe? As we are lifting what ever it is higher and higher it is getting heavier and heavier; like chain would. Charlie decides to buoy it and get his dive gear. Back we go to the shop and 15 minutes later we return to the spot.
 
We pull it up as far as we can on the boat and cleat it off. Charlie is in the water to check. Yep, it’s chain and he’s concerned it’s not shiny. Nope; we don’t have SS chain but galvanized. Ok. He moves the line with the grapnel to the end of the chain and we haul it aboard. It looks like ours.
 
As we pull it aboard I see the white paint I have signaling the end of the chain. I see the line that blew apart when I let it go. I see the markers we added to know how much chain is out. Oh happy day! It’s ours!
 
We get all 260’ aboard and are stuck, the anchor is still set in the bottom. Charlie cleats it off on the work boat and pulls. We almost pull the bow of the boat under trying to break the anchor free. There is the possibility we might have to put the chain back in the water and bring Elysium over to retrieve it. He decided to reverse directions and pull from the opposite side we set the hook. Getting a bit of way on and giving it some hp, before the bow of the workboat swamped, the anchor broke free. Yippee!
 
The three of us haul the rest of the chain and anchor aboard. Luckily as we lift it off the bottom and get more chain in the boat the system gets lighter. We secure the anchor on the bow and the entire setup delivered to Elysium.
 
There we drop the anchor and chain in the water saving the bitter end for Elysium. Francis hands me the end and I drop it over the windlass making sure it doesn’t end up back in the water. W/ and I are aboard and we haul the rest of the chain and anchor up. Yeah! We can now move to get the rest of Elysium put back in order.
 
Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

A Night to Forget!

Prelude: This post is out of sequence. I want to write it while fresh in my mind. As I add the offshore posts I will date them correctly but post in front of this before correcting the dates.

We arrived in Fiji. The GRIB’s showed off shore winds in the 20-30 kt range and we were happy to be here and anchored in Suva. We arrived in the am and by early afternoon we had received 5 individuals to formally complete the paper work. They were, Health, Biosecuirty, Immigration, Yacht Club launch driver, and what seemed like two trainees. All were very professional and all went well.

Second Wind offered to dinghy me to shore. I bought a small amount of petrol for our dinghy engine and disposed of our garbage. Very little of our trash is tossed overboard and we avoid carrying gasoline on passages. Gasoline is highly flammable and it’s one less safety item to worry about . While in harbors or day sailing we store it in proper plastic fuel containers on the aft deck.

Late afternoon we spent some time with Second Wind. We talked about the passage and discussing Fijian formalities. We talked about our trip around Fiji and what we were going. On our list is attending the wedding of friends, massages at our beloved Una, Kakonda (the best in Fiji) at Surf and Turf in Savu Savu, and completing the varnish.

Some of that has now changed.

We heard some thunder off shore and the breeze had increased a bit. Art from Second Wind returned us to Elysium. W/ was concerned about being to close to the super yacht Encore and with her provications and my acquiescence, we moved deeper into the harbor away from the super yacht. We were also in shallower water which improves our anchor scope. We moved, we got settled in for the evening and then the winds picked up.

And the winds increased more than we expected. It was later revealed to us that even Fiji Meteorological services missed this weather event. (A discussion on the event from an Aussie Meteorologists perspective)  W/ wanted to pull down the forward awning. Up we went to the bow and removed it all the while the winds kept increasing.

I began to untie the bow lines and W/ untied one of the side lines of the forward awning. At that time a gust picked up that side of the awning and knocked W/ on her derriere. Luckily she wasn’t hurt and came forward to assist on removing the awning. As we completed the removal I looked out and a 120’ steel ferry (Princess Civa) was being blown sideways by the wind heading

This vessel rammed our sailing yacht on the bow and then the port side.

right for us. My eyes lit up and a rush of adrenaline surged through me.

Scooping the awning up (no folding now) I dumped it in the cockpit and told W/ to start the engine. While she started the engine I went forward to deal with the anchor. The side of the ship was closing in. For a few seconds I thought the ship would slide off to our stern. It appeared that the stern was moving past us and we would escape in front of it. I let the anchor pendent go and W/ was now powering forward to clear the bow of the steel vessel. I am worried and scared. I saw that I needed our anchor and chain go. I let it go! The chain was flying over the pawls. I had a light safety line on the end of the chain so I would loose it to the bottom. The safety line I had attached blew apart when it reached the bitter end. The anchor and chain were gone taking with it two of the teak slats on the bowsprit. We were free from the bottom but the 150’ by 20’ side of the steel boat was now only meters away. I looked behind as the Princess Civa slammed into the bow of Sahula.

Sahula was another steel sailboat and we heard a huge bang. Seconds later the steel boat collided with us. We were about 30 degrees from perpendicular. First mv Princess Civa hit our bow pulpit bending it then collided with the bow sprit turning us immediately sideways. Next our hull was bouncing on the side of the steel motor vessel. We were now side on being pushed towards the shallows. But; we are still moving forward and I screamed above the wind noise to W/ to keep us going forward as fast as possible. We slid along the

Damage to our new paint on the port side.

steel hull ruining our brand new paint job. But; we were saving our boat and ourselves. As we slid along the side of the steel boat our rigging came in to contact with parts of the steel hull and sparks were flying off. I was concerned that if something sticking out of the ship was secured enough our rigging could catch and pull the mast down. 55’ of Aluminum crashing down on us was nothing we needed right now. Not now! Not ever!

Seconds later we cleared the bow of the steel boat. We were lucky they didn’t have a bulbous bow sticking forward underwater that we could run into. We were clear of the worst and now dealing with the winds, waves, and unlit obstructions in the harbor.

This marke passes our stern one to many times.

Attempting to motor into 40 kt winds with gusts of 60 and waves washing over the bow and me, is not an adventure I would wish on anyone. We motored by super yacht Encore who had blown aground by a shallows marker. They had their 800+ hp diesel running in full reverse throwing up water all around and screamed at us to “STAY THE FUCK AWAY’! No duh! Like that was our goal to hang out by them. W/ kept trying to keep our bow pointing in the wind but it would blow off to one side and then the other sometimes pushing her to gybe to gain steerage and the ability to make way. We kept seeing that shallows marker slide by the stern of the boat and we were spending too much time in the same place all the while feeling like we were going forward. I wanted to anchor and W/ wanted to power into the wind until the storm abated. Not knowing how long it would be and fearing that we didn’t have the energy (not accounting for the adrenaline) I wanted to anchor. We tried once to anchor once. I got our secondary anchor to the bottom and we settled down … for a few minutes.

I can’t believe when I see a cursing yacht with only one anchors on the bow. Our primary anchor is a Spade 80 with 300’ of 3/8” HT chain. Our secondary anchor is a 60 lb CQR with 130’ of 3/8” HT chain and 200’ of 3/4” braid on braid line. We were anchored in about 40’ of water and I put out roughly 200 feet of rode.

Our position on the chart plotter didn’t hold. It is still blowing the hair off a dog. I leave the protection of the dodger, W/ takes the helm and I begin the process of retrieving the anchor. 10 minutes later we have it up out of the water and we’re moving again. Not always in a good way. Our new arch and solar was only seconds from being destroyed. I’m trying to watch

In 40 kts of wind at night this is NOT good to run into!

the big picture and W/ is manning the helm. Above the wind I yell “FORWARD AS FAST AS WE CAN”. I see the marker pass feet from our stern. We motor into the wind into deeper water. We pass the bow of another steel vessel anchored and go up wind of Pebbles (the only yacht in our group not effected by the steel ship) We drop the anchor again. After paying out the 200’ of rode I’m afraid we are too close to Pebbles. We watch for a few minutes and I try to gain some rest. In this break from working W/ digs out my foul wx pants. I’m cold. I’m beginning to shiver. Adrenaline is keeping me going. W/ has a moment of being overwhelmed by emotion and starts shaking and crying. We’re safe. I hug her and we’re both thankful that we’re both here and alive; thankful Elysium on the bottom of the bay under the steel hull or pushed way up on the reef. Ten minutes later we decide that we are too close to Pebbles and pick up the anchor again. We’re both frightened enough to keep going.

I have a spot picked out on the charting program we use and we work our way up to it. There I anchor again. We fall back on the anchor, the line stretches and it holds. We begin to swing to the wind. I hide from the wind and rain behind the dodger and watch our track on the electronic chart. Ten minutes or thirty minutes later W/ shuts down the engine. Time hasn’t much meaning here. We go below. I bring up another program on a different device to watch our anchor position. I have two programs running. I watch our track on iSailor and we are filling in an Etch A Sketch area. We are staying in place.

Now almost 4 hours after it all began it appears the winds and seas are slowly abating. The gusts are not coming as frequently nor is the song the rigging is making as high pitched. We seek some solace in the land of dreams. Electrons screaming through our electronics are keeping watch. We sleep the needed sleep from a passage but the uneasy sleep from a night of horrors. Tomorrow we we see the damage not just of us but of our friends who we believe ended up in the shallows on the reef.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Auto Costs Cruising

There are many ways to cruise. By private yacht isn’t the only way. Some people fly to various locales and stay at luxury resorts. Others, house sit their way around the world. Some are strictly land based and buy a motor home (called a caravan in NZ or Aust) for seeing the sites. Then there are those that mix it up. We fall into that latter group.

While it is wonderful seeing the harbors and experiencing different cultures from the water, land too has many 5 star views. With that in mind, in NZ we bought a car. It wasn’t a new car. No matter what some of my cruising friends like to say; we are not “high rollers”! 🙂 It was a good solid car, one with low km/miles, reliable, and for the most part comfortable. It was a Toyota Camry; ’99 model.

Driving on the wrong side of the road required some practice. Fortunately with this “not new” car curbs and small road side structures didn’t scare us off. The fenders already had some minor scratches and dents. We liked the 6 cylinder and that would easily handle the roads in the Southern Alps. It served us well for the 14 months we had it. But, Elysium is not large enough to stow the Camry until we reach the next port. So we sold it.

Most people want to know what it costs to cruise. Most cruisers will tell you what they spend and not where they spend it. If you want to see a wee bit more of the world than harbors and anchorages you will need to expand your horizons. There are land tours but for this horizon we wished for more freedom.

We purchased the car for $3800 NZ. Insurance costs in NZ are much much less than in the states due to the ACC which is their national fund to cover any accidents any tourist or resident has while in the country. Key word is accident. For 18 months of insurance we paid $337 NZ .

We had the car serviced twice. While we have all the gear for servicing the boat, being an auto mechanic was no longer in my job description. We got a recommendation of an honest / reliable shop from our Anytime Fitness center staff whose partner loved to refurbish/rebuild/restore autos. Before we left for the S. Island we wanted to ensure there would be no problems. The S. Island of NZ has some rather remote places. When we returned and about 6 months further down the road we had it serviced again hoping that the Camry would last till the end of our needed use. Servicing was $190 and $213 NZ.

We did have a couple of surprises. The windshield had a nick in it that was repaired by the previous owner. We weren’t informed of it nor was it visible. Somewhere during the countries 4 seasons in a day weather the repair popped out. I wasn’t worried…but then. Driving to a home stay in Ruakaka we had a good stretch of Highway that 100’s of logging trucks ran on daily. We were a wee bit to close to one and a few chunks of bark flew off and smacked the window, one of them right at the nick. Now we had a crack in the windshield. Generally insurance will cover one windshield a year from what I understand. But with our liability only car insurance we weren’t covered. Cost of Windshield $350 NZ.

And to keep insurance costs low and increase road safety NZ has a Warrant of Fitness (WOF). Since our car was pre year 2000 we needed a new Warrant every 6 months. Cost was about $50 NZ. There are cheaper places but this was an all above board / fair place. The first warrant passed without any issues. However; the second warrant noted the car for a frayed seat belt. If only I had thought. I ought to have taken the hair clippers to the belt and trimmed the fraying off but who knows if that would have worked. I tried to find a new seat belt on TradeMe; NZ’s answer to eBay but had no luck. We found an after market one for about $250 NZ. In this instance, I did the work and installed the new belt.

One last surprise arrived in the mail during our first house sit. A yearly registration. To transfer the car license and vehicle to us we paid a whopping $5. But two months later we got the bill for using it in NZ of approx $250 NZ. Compared to cost in the states for owning and licensing a vehicle this bill was very reasonable!

Of course; we used up quite a bit of fuel on the bigger 6. But each car is different so it is rather pointless to say how much we spent on gas. To be up front however fuel costs in NZ are higher than in the States. Currently a liter of fuel is $2 NZ and this includes their road taxes. Diesel is much cheaper but then you must purchase a road tax tag usage sticker. And from most companies you can reduce the cost a wee bit by getting one of their cards.  We often saved 10 cents / liter when filling up. Todays average for US gallon is $4.15 NZ, in NZ the same gasoline is roughly $9 NZ .

And finally, the cost to list and sell the car on TradeMe came to roughly $100 NZ. This gave us more exposure and included the final cost for the sale. I paid nothing to transfer the car from my name.

Now lets break it down to cost of ownership. And to compare there are small cars you can rent here from RAD; called Rent a Dent. They are quite nice and quite small and yes they may have some scratches and nicks but they are not junk yard cars. They rent / day at $30 NZ and if you wish insurance coverage you will add $20/ day to the price. They have longer term contracts but I don’t know how much the cost is reduced for them.

That said; our total up front cost was about $5290. We sold the car for $1700 leaving a cost to own (again not counting gas) of $3590 plus or minus. We owned the car for 14 months yielding a cost of about $256 NZ or $9 NZ / day.

Things we learned.. First practice driving in not so busy areas. Driving on the left side is quite disconcerting for US drivers. Many of the deadliest accidents here involve a US driver. They’re tired and end up in a head on collision because they are on the wrong side of the road. A couple of times I found myself on the wrong side. It was when no one was around or on a country road where one women shook her finger at me and smiled. I’m lucky, that was the worse case. And NZ has many “roundabouts”. Practice and learn the rules. Driving here is slower than in the states and there is little to no leeway on the speeds. Be cautious and practice out of the cities.

Second. We used NAC insurance; but while they were very reasonable they wouldn’t cover damage to the car. I would suggest getting a quote from the AA Insurance. (Not related to AAA in the states). They have a very good plan and some bonus’, one of which is a free eye exam from Spec Savers. Spec Savers provided us one of the best exams W/ and I have ever had. So at a least; compare. Other companies might have had a higher up front cost. By the time we paid for the windshield and the eye exams our method could have easily been higher.

Third, we knew that cars pre year 2000 required a WOF twice a year and this was a bit of an inconvenience. We almost received a ticket once when we didn’t notice our WOF was due and we were stopped for a breath test. They have drunk driving stops in various places and every car stops and they check all the drivers. They take safety very seriously here. Safety trumps rights.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

IWS

 

Another NZ 4 seasons day

Yes. I have IWS. Wendy; although not a Physician has diagnosed me with “Irritable Weather Syndrome” !

The Kiwis like to say that in Winter they have 4 seasons every day. And in truth it seems to be most of the year they have 4 seasons. A cold rain / mist, bright Sunshine, cloudy gray, and overcast with cold nights. Yep, they have adapted to it over the decades but not I ! When the Sun is out and shining I’m doing fine. I can play tennis, work on the boat, walk into town, do what ever. But! when it is to my way of thinking crappy out I want to hibernate.

Now the Kiwis are not even bothered by the weather. It is raining. Not hard, not cats and dogs, not a frog strangler, but a good steady down pour. We watch as groups of locals are out walking the “loop” as they call it.

The loop is a 4 km stretch that runs from the Town Basin; where most of the boats are moored, past our marina to the fish hook bridge and then back to the town basin. It is a nice scenic walk along the water front. But in the rain? Nope, rain doesn’t seem to bother them.

Not me. I guess I’m a bit of a fair weather outdoors person. A few months ago we were at one of

Tennis in the Rain

the tennis clubs playing. it started to rain and I waited for them to clear the courts. In Florida a little rain made the courts slippery. Rather liking my bones and limbs remaining in fine shape, myself and everyone else retired to the sidelines. Nope, not here. The Kiwi’s kept on playing. The court surface here is all weather. It is much like an astro-turf, a very short fabric with fine sand mixed in. The court holds a lot of water before it puddles. We served heavy wet tennis balls. When the ball struck a heavily wet spot on the courts it slide instead of bounced. When anyone struck the ball water flew off looking like the rings of Saturn. If the Sun was shining; yes the Sun shines often when it rains here, you had a rainbow!

In that scene I soldiered on. However, on most rainy days I crawl into a berth in the boat. I then do research on something; what more to buy, play chess, or just read the news making life even more depressing. Nope I’m not a person in love with the 4 daily seasons in NZ. I’m a fair weather person, I am an individual with IWS.

 

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

It’s time. I’ve been vacant for too long and yet things have been accomplished on Elysium. I’ll tackle most of the projects individually to save space, my fingers and the reader’s eyes. Some projects have been small and some HUGE!

One unexpected project was the forward head sink drain. We had filled the drain up with “gunk”; thats the technical term, over the years and it needed to be cleaned. Ok, no biggie; W/ wanted it cleaned and I could do it. All that was required was to remove the hose clamps and then the hose. Clean the hose and drain out, reinstall. Right!

Removing the clamps was the easy part. The hose not so much. It was boat original and had been on the drain nipple for eternity. I tried to twist it – that didn’t work. I took a slotted screw driver to it attempting to break the seal to the fitting. I’m making a little progress. I twist some more. I’m hopeful. I work with the screwdriver further around and add a heat gun to the mix. I heated the hose and worked the driver between the hose and the nipple again. Finally; I am close. I was right but not in what I was close to. I twisted and the nipple broke off. DAMN!

What looked like an hour or two job turned into a few days. The biggest issue now is that we are in the land of intelligent governments. New Zealand made a choice years ago to join the majority of the world and adopt the metric system. Our sink and drain are US imperial. DAMN!

Where there is a will there is a way. The following day; note that 2 hours has actually turned now into a full day event, W/ and I headed out to the marine / hardware stores. For sizing we took the drain but forgot that it might well have been smart to take the sink too. Breaking the drain necessitated the removal of the sink. Did I forget to mention that?

W/ ran to retrieve the sink and we cogitated on the items needed to correct the issue. Fortunately much of the plumbing world has adapted metric to imperial and we found new 38 mm hose at our local All Marine store. At Burnsco we found some of the fittings but not a sink drain we would be happy with. At Mitre 10 we found the drain but not the fittings. After purchasing what we needed at 3 different stores we were able to install the new system. But wait! Not so fast!

The drain is a wee bit larger than the sink hole. Off to our SS fabricator to see if they can enlarge the hole. The have all the tools! Another day goes by.

After two days and some extra coin we were able to install the new drain system. However, as in most any boat projects, when making changes it is best to “improve” the system.

I added a “T” to the drain with a plug on one end and the hose barb on the other. Next

New Drain with easy clean out.

New Drain with easy clean out.

time, when I’m advised, pushed, shoved, etc to clean the hose this is my plan. I will simply pull off the plug and run a brush down the hose to clean it out. Re-install the plug and viola! Clean drain. While doing this project we also purchased the needed parts for the aft head sink. If one sink drain is broken the other more than likely will go down the drain soon! Sorry I couldn’t resist.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Frustrations….

It’s difficult living in one world let alone two; or three. I’m a cruiser, a tennis player and a yacht maintenance guy. I don’t love everything sailing. Light air sailing is my absolute favorite. Ghosting along at 2-3 kts with flat water, the ocean a deep blue, and a rising Sun; that’s for me. A luxurious ride, minimal noise and nature’s overwhelming beauty seeping into every fiber of my being. But, those moments are rare and I cherish them. After a beautiful sail I love the harbors where I can see the anchor on the bottom. The water is so clear the boat appears to float above mother earth, fish swimming near by looking for a meal, a good book in hand, shade, and a cool drink to wet my whistle. That’s what I look for, I don’t always find it but I find it often enough to keep going.

Now however I’m tied to the dock. I’ve been here almost a year completing some major boat projects. Deck painted; check, hull painted, check, new batteries, check, bottom painted, check, seacocks lubed, check, mast painted, check, all rigging inspected, check, new spreader lights, check, mast back on, check, booms painted, check; etc. There are still some projects to complete but I finally see the end of the tunnel. And I look forward to ghosting along again and reading a few more good books.

While the majority of the boat work has been happening I’ve lived another life; one from years ago. Three days a week I play tennis. In NZ they play on an all weather court, quite different from the clay courts I loved in Florida. If it rains here; they keep playing. I’ve served a ball that looks like Saturn as it spins off water traveling to the other side

Middle Project Painting the boat.

We were in a tent to paint the boat.

of the net. Kiwis like to bemoan the heat here. Compared to Florida and 5 t-shirts a match this for me is nice warm weather. Most of my game is back but not all. I am still struggling; struggling to strike the ball like I remember, struggling to move as a fit club player, struggling to get the quality of match play I once had. But; for the most part I am coping.

Before visiting NZ other cruisers talked about the beauty of the country, the friendliness of the people, and the quality of the workmanship. Those characteristics are what drove us to this place. No one bragged about the weather!

W/ and I were painting the booms the other day and 5 minutes from the final brush stroke mother nature sprayed us with a fine misty rain. It lasted a couple of minutes. . That amount isn’t enough to ruin the project but it worried us. More rain would add another day to the project putting us further into arrears. We finished painting and tented the booms. Worrying was for naught. They were fine.

The day before we were to play tennis and the weather looked gorgeous. The club is 5 minutes by car and the weather was perfect. Twenty minutes later the rain starts and within the hour it has stopped. We play tennis with wet; heavy balls.

Strengthening the Core

Strengthening the Core at Anytime Fitness

We joined a gym; Anytime Fitness. After a decade of living in a sailboat we were beginning to feel out of shape. The gym is a 15 minute walk and our fitness has returned. We walk to the gym on a clear, warm, blue sky morning. By the time we are ready to leave the gym the rain is falling in sheets. We wait. A bit later the sky is clear and we risk the walk back home. It doesn’t matter, wet or dry the people of NZ don’t seem to care near as much as we do. There is a wonderful 5k walk around the river harbor; across the fish hook bridge, through to the town docks and

Fish Hook Bridge

Fish Hook Bridge, Whangarei, Northland, NZ

back to the marina. Anytime of the day; any weather; rain or shine, there are Kiwis walking the loop often in bare feet. We are not as comfortable in the rain as they and never with bare feet out and about.

Locals laugh and say in Winter you have 4 seasons every day. In Summer you have at least 3 every day. And while those seasons are tolerable they are not conducive to

Viewing the Town Docks

From the walking bridge of Sails a view of the Town Docks.

completing boat projects nor indulging in outside sports. Not for us, often traveling by foot. For spoiled American cruisers a good part of our time here; at least for me, has been frustrating.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Shameless Plug

 

Infini a Westsail 43

A sweet WS 43 in pristine shape

I don’t often do this. There is an excellent deal out there for someone looking to jump into cruising. Friends of mine have finished their dream, their circumnavigation and are selling their boat. It is a sistership to ours. While we were upgrading and refurbishing Elysium I always looked to their boat as the gold standard.

And yet that is not the good news for someone looking to “jump”. IMHO this boat price is where you would get the best bang for the dollar. Yes, as in any boat nothing is perfect and there will be issues needing to be addressed. You would find the same needs in a brand new million dollar boat. At one boat show I put my hand in a dorade and removed it with a cut. There was an errant piece of cured fiberglass that wasn’t trimmed off. And this was on a $1.2 million vessel.

However with Infini’s owners I can tell you they were and are meticulous yachties. The pictures on their page are accurate. The boat looks as the pictures show. It sails well; I know because I have the same hull and rig setup. It is sea kindly. Again I know cause we’ve several thousand miles of off shore work on ours. It is easily managed by a couple… again I know! 🙂 Best of all; dollars / lb  you could begin cruising with most everything you need much sooner than you think. Good Luck in pursuing your dreams.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long