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Spreading Happiness

As you all know due to Covid and border closings Dazzler chose to sit out this cruising season and stay in New Zealand until next June. Fortunately for us and many other cruisers the New Zealand government has been very gracious in providing blanket visa extensions to allow us to stay through cyclone season this year. So far, we are clear through February but we’ve also applied for a formal extension to get us through until June.

Not going up to Fiji this year meant we were not able to begin delivering any books to the children. You know, the 2000+ books we raised money to buy and that were donated from organizations like the Lions Club of New Zealand and Kokopu School? The biggest issue became what to do with all of them as we wait for next season to come along. Fortunately our dear friend Allan Gray who owns Wynn Fraser Paints here in Whangerie came to the rescue. He offered to keep them stored at his paint store. There are so many wonderful people who have played a role in this endeavor.

The good news is that we did find three crews that were planning to sail to Fiji this season in spite of not knowing whether or not they would be allowed to come back here or go to Australia during cyclone season. So, two months ago we made arrangements with the Captains of these yachts to drop off boxes of books to them. It was really exciting to know that at least some of the books would be making it to the kids this year. 

Last evening we received word from Richard & Michelle Marshall of SV Pogeyan that they have made their first delivery. They chose the island of Makogai. We visited Makogai last season and spent quite a bit of time with the people there. We donated some clothing and other items to them as well as a brand new volleyball. While I sat and chatted with the ladies Dan played volleyball and soccer with the kids so it was nice to know that some books have made their way to people that we know and love.

Here’s some comments from Michelle and Richard about their delivery…

“Makogai has a small primary school on the other side of the island so we made arrangements to take some of the books over in our dinghy.  But, the weather and seas were too rough the next day so we geared up with backpacks and hiking boots instead.  John (one of the islanders)  led us on the 5 kilometer hike across the island and I was so happy he carried my backpack.  It was heavy!  And he walked there and back in thin rubber dive boots!  He said it was no problem and that he does that hike every day.

As we approached the school I saw one of the students spot us then run over to a large brass bell and start ringing it.  I guess that’s how they announce visitors.  The rough trail we had been hiking emptied onto a large flat open field that was perfectly manicured.  The six or so school buildings lined the edge of the field and were brightly painted and very tidy.  We arrived right at the end of the school day and stood attention during a brief flag ceremony.

The headmaster gathered all the students together on the lawn and introduced us.  He then asked Rich to talk about how we arrived and where the books came from.  The books were then passed around so the kids could look them over. There are 31 students in the school broken into two classes, 1-4th grade and 5th -8th grade.  The kids were very attentive and they seemed to really like the new books.”

We can’t even begin to tell you how delighted we were to get the news. Our hearts were full and for me, tears streamed down my face. To see the smiles on the faces of these children is something I will never forget. I just can’t wait until next season when we will get to deliver books ourselves. For now, we are so grateful for people like Richard and Michelle who volunteered to assist us in this endeavor. They are a treasured part of our cruiser angels team and we look forward to seeing more of their adventures as they continue to spread joy and happiness around the islands of Fiji. 

As for our donors, we hope you enjoy these photographs and assure you that, as promised, we will provide you with continued updates, photos and videos as more books are delivered.

Cheers,

Jilly & Dan

P.S. Our fundraising effort made the news last month as our efforts were mentioned by Cindy Smith in an article she wrote for IslandCruising.nz. CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE

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Rebuilding Saves Money

Last cruising season while enjoying the warm tantalizing waters of Fiji, you may recall we had some electrical difficulties with our windlass motor and engine starter.  

I had saved the defective windlass motor with thoughts of possibly rebuilding it.  A few weeks ago Jilly alerted me to a cruiser advertisement of a used Lighthouse windlass motor and parts for sale in the Opua area which is about an hour north of Whangerie.  We made contact with Gary Slidell and eventually made a day trip up to Opua to have a closer look at the used motor.  

We met with Gary and I examined the motor which had been taken apart.  The magnets were still attached and in place inside the cylindrical motor housing.  The end caps and the brush assembly although covered in carbon dust all appeared to be in serviceable condition.  The armature, windings and commutator appeared to be in good condition as well.  Gary only wanted $89 USD for the unassembled, used motor.  He, in fact, sweetened the deal by offering a chain gypsy and a guarantee that if the motor didn’t work once I got it back together, he would provide a full refund.  I figured I had nothing to lose except my time.  

A few days later back in Whangarei, I decided to begin tackling the motor restoration.  One of the long skinny bolts that holds the case together had broken off in one of the end caps.  The first order of business was to get some new bearings, an end cap seal and a new long, skinny case bolt.  Here in Whangarei is a business called Donovans, a place where you can get or order just about anything needed to rebuild electric motors.  This is where I obtained the bearings, seals and some treaded stock and nuts that matched the tread pattern of the damaged end cap.  Next I took the end cap and treaded stock to a local machine shop to have them extract the end bearing, broken machine screw, cut the treaded stock and weld the nuts onto the rods to make new long, skinny case bolts. 

Back at Dazzler I cleaned up the brush assembly, case and other end caps.  Everything was starting to look like a clean motor that might return to life.  The armature and commutator were inspected and found to be in good order.  I did take it to the machine shop to have it turned on a lathe to clean up the surface of the commutator.

Once everything was back from the machine shop it was time to start to get it back together.  First I wanted to give it some fresh paint.  The exterior surfaces were all prepared, primed and finished with a top coat. 

The next day after letting the paint dry, I installed the new bearings and seal and began the reassembly process.  Both end cap joints were slathered with silicone sealant to help keep out water.  Everything looked proper and I didn’t have any parts left over which is always a bonus. The Kevlar coating was then replaced with the aid of a good contact cement.  Now it was time to apply a 12 volt power source and see what happens.  Jilly provided the drum roll and Bam!  It worked both forward and reverse.  Dazzler once again has a replacement windlass motor.  

There are those that might say why not just buy a new motor?  The company address for Lighthouse Manufacturing is in Riverside, California.  The cost of a new replacement motor is approximately $1,200 USD and then there is the shipping of a very heavy electric motor to New Zealand.  I hate to think what that may cost.  Obviously, if we had no other options we would have ordered a new motor. 

All in the cost of rebuilding this used motor in US dollars.

As you can see a working motor at a fraction of the cost of a new motor and it leaves money left over for the next project.  Sometimes rebuilding something can be worthwhile.  This was the first time I have ever rebuilt an electric motor.  Thank goodness for the internet and the plethora of “how to” videos and other valuable information at your finger tips.  As I have said before, “If it’s already broken or not working, You can’t hurt it any more.”  Besides I had a return refund waiting for me if it didn’t work.  LOL  Trying to fix something not working is something I believe in and have employed many times in fixing other issues on Dazzler.  The worst case scenario would be buying and shipping a new motor from the States.  The best case scenario is we saved some money and I learned a new skill of rebuilding an electric motor.  The satisfaction of a “can do” attitude….Priceless!

By the way, the old motor that had stopped working in Fiji would have required a $650 USD rewind on top of new bearings and new brushes.  This motor is identical to the replacement motor currently on the windlass.  I decided to cannibalize some of the parts and save them for a rainy day down the road.  You never know what can happen in Water World and what is useful until you need it and seashells and coconut husks won’t work.  LOL

Until the next time this old man writes another article, stay healthy my friends with fair winds, following seas. 

Cheers!

Captain Dan

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Baby It’s Cold Outside

As we said in the last article it is quite a bit colder here than where we’ve been spending our days as of late. But, if you are going to be in the cold weather you might as well embrace it and get out to see the spectacular winter scenery. Over the first few days of our trip here to Queenstown we took some beautiful drives and saw some absolutely dazzling places.

The first morning we awoke to some truly stunning scenery at our perfect little Air BnB. The clouds were low in the valley over Lake Wakatipu as the sun was coming up. There was still ice and frost on the grass from the days of snow they had before we arrived. My feet nearly froze to the large stone outside as I ran out barefoot to snap a few photos. Yes, it was pretty chilly but it was also truly impressive. We all enjoyed the picturesque views from the dining room window as we ate breakfast and planned our days ahead.

One day we took a drive up to Coronet Peak. It’s one of the ski areas here. The 17 km drive from town is quite scenic as the roads twist and turn through the mountains.  We reached the bottom of the mountain to find signs there indicating whether or not you could drive up to the ski lodge and if you needed chains. All looked good for us to make it all the way to the top without the need to stop in one of the designated parking areas. Of course there were definitely some icy spots along the way where the sun had not reached the road. I’m no sissy when it comes to this stuff but I will admit that I held my breath a few times as I felt the tires slide on the ice while I looked over the side of the mountain. Dan obviously drove it like he’d done it his entire life so there really wasn’t much to be afraid of in all reality. 

We reached the top and were rewarded with some spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and the valley below. The air was crisp and clear as a bell so you could literally see for miles. The slopes were not open yet for the season. They would not be opening for a few more days so we virtually had the area all to ourselves. Lutz & Gabi were planning to go skiing one day so they checked out the lodge and slopes while we took some incredible photos of the area. We aren’t much for the freezing cold but it was a bit fun to play in some snow and act like kids for a bit.

After enjoying the views we headed back toward town where we were hoping to find a bite to eat. We stopped at the Shotover River along the way for a little side adventure. There is a restaurant there but since ski season isn’t officially open they weren’t either. Shotover is a 75 km long river that runs from the southern end of the Southern Alps through to Queenstown. Being fed from the Alps and their glaciers, this water here is a beautiful color of pale turquoise. This is a fast moving river with lots of rapids and is used for whitewater rafting, jet boat tours and more. Since we arrived in town just before the “season” opened we had the opportunity to see it without the crowds. It’s simply spectacular!

After our little side adventure we headed into town to eat. We ended up at my favorite Irish pub, Póg Mahone’s. It’s such a quaint little place with a stone fireplace and lots of dark wood. When we were here last year the bartender told us that the entire bar had been shipped here from Ireland. It’s truly beautiful. And, they have the absolute best Beef & Guinness Pie I’ve ever had so I, of course, had that while the rest of the crew had ribs. We enjoyed our afternoon in the warm pub as we imbibed in some frosty beers and feasted upon their brilliant meals. All the while we chatted about the events of the day as we began planning for the next. There truly is nothing like great adventures with awesome friends…even if it is a bit chilly outside.

Until next time,

Jilly & Dan