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….