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….

Cyclogenesis on da Boat

Cyclogenesis is a weather term describing a small insignificant Low Pressure system that spins up creating high winds and a great deal of trouble. Not a perfect definition of cyclogenesis but generally correct.

In November of last year we lost a brand new alternator. Here’s a link for the complete debacle. Luckily; last month I found it. It was well stored under a zip lock bag of 1,000 teak plugs. The low has began to spin up. Veteran cruisers say, when you get a new item put it on and use the old as the spare. Only then will you be 100% confident the spare works. Our old alternator worked. I had taken it to Snow Brothers Electrical; one of the most respected shops in Whangarei. Alternator was in fine shape. So I figured; ok… I’ll follow advice of those before me. I stored the old working alternator and began to install the new one.

My first discovery was that the old broken; modified alternator was in fact; broken. And as luck would have it, there is a metal fabricator on site. However I was remiss in not earlier deciding to use them. After a couple of hours and a great deal of verbal abuse directed towards our generator attempting to make it work. Finally I came to a rational decision and paid the price. I had them design and make two new brackets. Two! You bet. The surest way to guarantee that there is no problem with the first is to have a spare.

But; let me step back a bit. When I dug out the new alternator it didn’t have a pulley on it. I had neglected to order one thinking I would use the pulley on the original alternator. The down side is I have tried before to remove a pulley from an alternator without success. Without a serious impact wrench it is impossible, at least for wimpy moi! Into town we go… in search of a serpentine pulley. First place I check … nope. Second place bingo. They didn’t have one in stock but could order one. I left the alternator and would pick it up the following day. Shipping in New Zealand is awesome. Most shops that need to order anything for you will have it the following day.

Back to the boat with the new alternator, new pulley and new bracket. This time I didn’t need to talk to the generator… as much. I mounted it, installed the new bracket and needed to re- install the belt. Attempting to install the old belt let loose a new verbal dialog not fit for print!

Considering all possible avenues of problems I have several belts for this system. If the belt I had been using didn’t fit… try out the others. Now; please keep in mind, installing the belt is no easy task. I put a breaker bar ( a long ridged wrench) on the idler, pull so the idler provides some slack, reach over the engine and attempt to slide the belt on the pulleys. I make at a minimum two attempts for each belt. My arms receive numerous scratches and

Changing a belt on my Aquamarine Generator

blood appears where none ought to be. I am lucky, the engine is NOT hot. After trying each belt once; some twice I am convinced we don’t have the correct size. I am guessing the pulley on the alternator is not exactly the same size as the last one. One issue of cruising the world is that there is not near as much consistency, metric vs imperial ! (A pet peeve of mine is that the politicians a few decades ago had no spine and the US tried to remain an anachronistic island in the world continuing to use an outdated, difficult to learn system of measurement. Oddly enough; politically, not much has changed in the last few decades. End of rant.) While the pulley measures out to almost identical, in this case almost isn’t good enough. I take the belt that fits closest and head to the auto stores.

At the first one I ask for the next three sizes larger than what I have. The employee measures it and indicates it’s 1060. Actually on the belt the number is a 1065. However; they didn’t have any of the step up sizes but could order them. They would have them…. tomorrow. I know there are other establishments in Whangarei that have belts. I WANT IT NOW. 🙂 I am directed to two other places. I cross my fingers.

The next place I run to is PartMasters. The counter guy checked the belt size; 1065. Ok, I want one each of the next three sizes up. He has a 1075 and a 1080. I believe they are too big but I take them anyway. Just to have the right size on our run back to the boat we try a third place looking for a 1070. No luck. At the boat I perform my engine yoga. You guessed it. More talking to the generator. Neither fit. Head down, shoulders slumped I head back to PartMasters, returning those that didn’t fit and getting even larger sizes.

Our savior heads back to the stock to grab the next two sizes. I’m now close. Yet, not close enough. They don’t have them. Damn! The closest size he has is an 1100. That is 35 mm longer than the original one but hey; if it doesn’t fit I can bring it back. At least I’m narrowing the size down.

I return to the boat, perform my yoga, I chant…. and …. bingo. It fits. Hallelujah ! Another day I’ll return and get two more for spares. One can’t have too many spares.

Earlier in the week we were getting our refrigeration up and running. We had upsized one of the holding plates, replaced a compressor, and I was checking and reconnecting all the fittings. When I removed the old; 10 year old compressor I needed to remove the High Pressure (HP) and Low Pressure (LP) lines. The LP line came off fine, but the HP fitting tore out all the threads on the pump. I didn’t care about the pump, but I needed the HP hose with the fittings. No problem. Yeah was I wrong.

I took the hose to an hydraulic shop for new fittings. The first shop didn’t have the refrigeration fittings. It was at this point I realized the place where I was getting the new pulley from; Auto Tech, they most likely had the hose fittings. I am like a chicken with my head removed; running in circles! So back I went and indeed they could make a new hose. Or so they said and so …. I …. thought. The following day I returned to pick it up. They had examined it closer and discovered that on the other end, the Swedge Loc fitting they couldn’t replace. They didn’t have any and they didn’t know of any place in NZ that did. They could cut the hose and install a new end for the compressor. There weren’t many options at this point and worrying about the domino effect of micro changes I acquiesced and said …. “ok”. Cyclogensis must be winding down. Back at the boat with the old hose and new fitting everything went back together without any further need for modification. Now all that’s left is to leak check and charge the system. Oh happy day!

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Overwhelmed: Shipping

Yep, I feel it; at times… quite overwhelmed. I then hide behind my Free Internet Chess Club (FICS), tennis, and computer solitaire games, like FreeCell, Spite and Malice, and Bejeweled. I’ll try to break some of the things we’ve been doing down into manageable parts. And to that end my first is shipping.

While New Zealand is a great country for boating they don’t have everything. That means that you often need to have supplies sent here. There are 5 ways to accomplish this. What method you choose depends on what you wish to bring, how much of it you want, and what size and weight it is.

The easiest, not necessarily the best is each country’s Post Office. For us we never used it. Quixotic had parcels sent by the Post and were charged $50 NZ / box. One box was so small customs let slide. Other cruisers recommended Youshop.

Youshop is a NZ post freight forwarder. They provide a shipping address (Currently in Oregon) to send your purchases to. Once purchased you input the Tracking number, the invoice and the price paid. There; if needed, they will consolidate your shipment, and forward them on to NZ by land or sea. You do pay before they ship it. There are size / weight limits on what YouShop will ship. They are fast. Roughly two weeks from order to door and they will ship right to the Marina or address you are staying at. They take care of all customs and quarantine paperwork. We’ve used them twice and been satisfied both times. One key element is to keep the order under $400.00 nz.  If over you involve at a minumum a $50 customs charge.

The final two are for heavier, bulkier, and more specialized goods. KiwiShipping from the US and Ocean Freight.

KiwiShipping too has a forwarding address in the US you ship your products to. Your goods arrive by Ocean freight. You load your pdf’ed invoiced goods to them, they advise when the item has arrived and when it will ship. They will hold the item until you have all your stuff there and pay them, then ship as a group. We were able to ship some specialized varnish with them . Varnishes are Hazmat and they had no issue with this nor asked for any special paperwork. We did ask them in advance about shipping paints and varnishes. They said as long as it was a small quantity there would be no issue. We shipped approximately 4 liters from one company and 2 liters from another. From front to back this process took about 6 weeks. Again they took care of customs paperwork and costs. Once here in NZ we paid Mainfreight to transport the goods from Auckland to Whangarei for a minimal fee.

And lastly Ocean Freight. We didn’t arrange the shipment, our supplier did. We shipped a group of batteries.

NZ_Customs

They arrived less then two weeks after departure from the point of origin. But; they were stuck in customs in Auckland. This necessitated travel to Auckland to pay the shipping company, (roughly $500 NZ) and then to locate the Customs Office. At customs we paid another $50 NZ to clear them for a “Yacht in Transit”, which we are. We needed the invoice, Passport, Temporary Import Permit (TIP) received when a yacht enters the country , and the receipt from the shipper to receive clearance for the goods. Once we had clearance we proceeded to another place,

Warehouse in Auckland

the warehouse where we could pick up the batteries. Luckily we have a car and with that, one tank of gas, one day’s time (no tourist stuff in Auckland); we were able to save the cost of a Customs broker. Another cruiser had used a customs broker for an almost identical shipment; his cost $500 NZ plus the extra fees.

Depending on what you want to bring into NZ there is a method that will assist you in acquiring what you need. With the shipping in and out and around NZ we’ve been immensely satisfied with the service.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Msc…

You know I always write behind. I like ideas to foment and percolate for a bit before I put electrons to a screen. And now, for me this is hard. I don’t know why. I feel like a man without a country. While I understand day to day existence in the US for most of my friends has not changed much, the feel we get from international news and US news is that the US is no longer the land of Lady Liberty. That and the two hurricanes: Harvey having already laid waste a large portion of Tx and Irma rearranging many places we’ve been and creating damage and havoc to the people we love and care about. My feelings are best described in another post written by a fellow cruiser who has followed us across the Pacific and is now in Australia (Escape Velocity).

As a child I was never effected by the cold. Skiing, tobogganing, hiking, hunting, etc all provided adventures during the winter months. As an FYI, in NZ it is winter now. And while boat work continues this is not an adventure.

All suspect paint removed.

Simon is our painter. He’s been doing an excellent job but I do find some things don’t go as I foresaw them. In the end those may well be to our benefit as he is the expert and I a lay person. He and his crew removed all the paint from the deck. He removed much of the hardware from the deck. YUCK! Some primer remained and then he re-primed everything and sanded. We had a mis-communication which may result in our new non skid not looking the way I envisioned. We’ll see. W/ and I now have a new process to deal with contractors. W/ will take notes. I will send the key points to the contract check to ensure they are in the contract. In the end, nothing effects the integrity

Deck Primed and Sanded

of the paint or the work. It is only an esthetic change and most likely I will be the only one noticing. But; when you pay a bucket of $$’s to a contractor you want it done right first and if possible your way second.

We’ve ordered new LifPo Lithium batteries for the boat. I do hope they will be delivered this month. BJ on Evenstar has a thorough discussion on them. Along with that we’ve contracted for an arch on the stern. Here we will add solar which will free us up from needing to run the generator day and night in the tropics. When helping Quixotic with their refrigeration I was able to secure a larger holding plate for the freezer. I hope I can get 24 hour hold over but will be satisfied with 18. We will have two of the largest hold over plates Seafrost makes in the freezer. In the cooler waters of NZ I expect we will get 24 hours. In the tropics we’ll see.

Clew Ready for New

We’ve contracted with Calibre Sails to repair our sails and make a new main. Dave looked them over and felt the Yankee Jib and staysail just needed some repairs, a new Sun Cover a couple of patches and stitching replaced. We did order a new Tanbark main sail. It will be flatter, have full battens, a loose foot, and hollow roach as well as being a 40 cm shorter in the foot. To do this we’ll cut the main boom down. This will protect my head as well assist in balancing and driving the boat better. Besides a sail maker Dave is also a sailor. He built new sails for Serge and JoAnn on Spirare. Serge is a pickier sailor than I am so with his recommendation at this point we are quite satisfied. And too, remember we tore up our mainsail track coming down here. We have the replacement track and after painting the mast will install it.

All of this work is occurring while we are off the boat. W/ has been great finding house sits for us using Kiwi House Sitters. We’ve had 4 sits so far and I doubt we’ll do more. We plan on moving back aboard in 2 weeks. We’ve cleaned and inspected the rigging of Elysium. We’ve painted the spreaders. We sewed about 2/3’s of the new dodger. Here I screwed up and didn’t order enough fabric from the states. None was available in NZ. Now we wait while I order and have shipped some more. However, it is all coming together and I am looking forward to getting back on a bed that rocks me to sleep.

Old Dodger ready for replacement

While much of this is going on we’ve worked hard on getting fit. We’re members of Anytime Fitness; one of the best gyms we’ve been associated with… ever. There are 2 caveats: 1) I miss the Nautilus machines and 2) having all the weights measured in kg makes fine adjustments especially for W/ difficult. As we get stronger we’re to increase the weights 5% but often the 10 kg or 22 lb’s is way more than the 5% increase needed.

We’ve worked in a comfortable tennis schedule too. Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. For the most part our games are back on track and the play for W/ is excellent. She fits right in the middle of the play and it provides her a lot of opportunity to grow and learn. I’m hoping in the next couple of weeks to join a mens group having been playing mixed doubles. Finally I’m about 100 % healthy, and slowly losing weight.

I was up to 230 lbs once back in the states and that SCARED THE HELL out of me. Currently I’m at 205 and still want to loose 10 more lbs. I think 195 will work fine. 🙂 Just think how much faster the boat will be with all that weight gone. 🙂

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long