Posts Tagged ‘NZ’

Shake downs

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

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….


Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

Sunday, March 25th, 2018

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


A Wish to Come True

Friday, April 21st, 2017

Heading back to the Glaciers. W/ and I wanted to hike on one. We’ve lived in the tropics and sub tropics for so many years, glaciers were an oddity. But, 70% of the flights / hikes on the glaciers have been canceled this year. We’re going to take one more chance, two more days. It wasn’t that far out of our way. The road north from Christchurch was closed by an Earthquake a few years ago. This closure ensure we needed to cross Arthurs Pass to Greymouth anyway. From Greymouth is was a short days trip to Franz Joseph.

Arthurs pass was an easy adventure. A hundred years ago traveling across the Southern Alps was a true adventure. Each trip risked life and limb taking upwards of 10 days to 2 weeks. That time schedule was only once the route was known and the weather clear. Today; for us, it

How to Die hiking Arthurs Pass NZ

required less than one days drive to clear the Summit and see the Tasman Sea. We stopped near the peak at the Department of Conservation (DOC) station and did the tourist thing. The DOC station actually tells people how to die: 1) Don’t tell anyone you’re are hiking up here, 2) Avoid checking on the weather, 3) Take minimal gear/supplies, and finally 4) die in a lower elevation. The fourth note is to ensure that they can find and return the body to next of kin! The blunt language is refreshing.

The Kia Parrot is said to the be smartest of all parrots. However they may also be the riskiest! :)

The Kia Parrot

The Kia Parrot inspecting our Car

On the way down we came across the ever inquisitive Kia parrot. They too know very little fear and will pick at and destroy most anything they come across. We spent a few minutes enjoying their boldness but neither of us wished to test our fortitude. Offering them an arm to climb upon or even the car to walk on. They might well have decided a piece of our skin or clothing, or worse even our ear lobe was something to be picked at and absconded with.

We arrived in Hokatika early afternoon. The tourist station; an iSite, was open and we hoped to make a new Heli-Hike reservation. I-Sites are a wonderful asset to traveling NZ. They assist in reservations and information. With reservations made we set out to find a new accommodation and some jade. Yep; W/ hasn’t forgotten. Our AirBnB host in Nelson had suggested a Mauri artist that had a shop by the river. Andrew grew up in Hokatika. That shop / store / artist studio would be the place to eliminate the middle man and find a piece that “spoke to” W/. Jade is said to find you, not the reverse.

I don’t know if W/ heard the jade or just decided on a a couple of pieces. But we left Hokatika with more goodies and less money than we had arrived with. On to the glacier.

By now the tourist season was winding down and we were able to score a nice motel just outside of town. The two restaurants we came across in Franz Joseph were AWESOME. One in town; the Blue Ice, and the other at our motel: the Franz Joseph Oasis, a short drive out of town.

The following day with baited breath we entered our Heli-Hike headquarters. No guarantees…yet. We did receive a verbal list of the fine print: If we make it to the Helicopter pad but don’t go – full refund, if we fly but don’t land, 50% refund; if we land but don’t hike, 10% refund. Were we alright with that? What choice did we have if we wanted to hike… on the glacier? Ok. But; we still waited. Around noon they called us up and gave us our final clearance. We filled out more forms. Next of kin. Dr’s numbers. Meds we might be on. general medical issues, height, weight, etc . Then the final interrogation; can you walk with gear for a couple of hours. Duh! We were lead back to the changing room. They provided all the supplies, water proof jacket, pants, warm gloves, and the most important; cramp-ons. The clothes were designed to aid in surviving a night on the glacier should the weather turn to crap. We changed and then moved at a fast walk to the heli pad. Time to get going. W/ was a wee bit nervous never having been in a helicopter before. As expected I was re-assuring…. It’s easier than an ocean passage, smoother than a car in a parking lot, etc. She worried until we lifted off. Then I was vindicted and found correct. A man of experience. 🙂 I rode in a helicopter once as a kid! 🙂


Our Fellowship of the Glacier

On the glacier we looked down on the world. We entered a Lord of the Rings universe when the fellowship had crossed the mountain heading to Mordor. Here too; we could see the Tasman Sea 40 km away. Only a few 1,000 years ago the glacier had stretched all the way there. Now with Global Warming it was receding every year, the face only a couple km away from our landing pad.

Eleven of us were in this group, eleven and a guide. After donning our crampons we received walking instructions. Away we went competing with the average snail. Footing must be solid and the crampons driven into the ice. To make it through the crevises we needed to walk foot to foot.

The Crevasse Squeeze

Our guide called it pin stepping. One crevasse was so narrow and had a slight bend I thought I would get stuck. I wiggled and turned, moved up and down, at last able to get my legs through the opening. I could feel panic wanting to rear up. Patience, deep breaths, and the saving thought was that our guide carried a pick and most likely he could enlarge the opening allowing me through. Yet I was still fearful. I didn’t like the idea of a pick swinging close to my knees. I love my knees! Minutes later I and the rest of the group made it through. An hour or so of walking and sliding along the blue ice we took a break in front of a mountain cliff. I say in front but we were still an hour hike away. We filled our water bottles with ice cold glacial run off and zero contamination. No life lives up here. We are intruders.  W/ put together a short slide show of our trip to Franz Joseph.

We moved back down the 100 meter thick sheet of ice witnessing some of the magic of mother nature. She creates caves and crevasses as water turns from a solid to liquid state. Back at the helipad we remove our spikes (helicopter pilots are not fond of having them inside the bubble) and prepared for the descent. Another smooth ride and we’re back at Franz Joseph returning our gear. Everyone is full of smiles.

For our post mortem W/ and I head to our favorite Franz Joseph restaurant, the Blue Ice. We forget how many calories burn hiking in freezing temperatures. For me a succulent lamb chops awaits and W/ looks forward to salmon. We return to our lodging and sleep well. The following day we head north. North to home. North to warmth; for it is getting a mite chilly here on the S island. With one long days drive we expect to be in Picton and the following day cross the Cook Strait to Wellington . There we will visit John and Penny; Frodo and Pippin (Hobbiton) before finally reaching our floating home.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

ps  I know it has been awhile since I last posted. I am sorry. I hope it’s only the cold weather here in NZ that is causing my body to want to hybernate.  Once we return from the trip I will mostly be posting once / month untill we are out on the water again.