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Winter Blues?

Have you got those winter blues? Tired of the cold weather already? Well, the crew here at DazzlersWatch has just uploaded hundreds of new photos of our travels throughout the South Pacific. These sunny photos of warm beaches and tropical waters are sure to brighten your spirits so make yourself a fruity drink with an umbrella, sit back and let us transport you to warmer climates some of the most beautiful ports in the world.


Jill & Dan

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Hallelujah! Land Ho!

First off we’d like to offer our apologies. You see we’ve been in New Zealand for several days and unfortunately didn’t get back to filling you in on the rest of our trip. We’ve received several emails from friends and followers asking how we are and we’re very sorry for not staying on top of this knowing you are all out there worrying about us. Please forgive us. This trip really took it out of us. Anyway, here’s our final entry from this year’s passage to New Zealand.

The last couple of days on the water have been pretty nice all things considered. The winds and swell died to next to nothing although the temps dropped a bit so it’s been a might chilly once the sun goes down. There were times the sea was as flat as glass. You honestly couldn’t tell where the sea ended and the sky began. It was so beautiful. Of course with these conditions we had to motor but thanks to Dan’s exhaust fix and our new friend Minute Mend motoring was not a problem.

The sea was so flat you couldn’t tell when it ended and the sky began!

As I sat on watch on our last night of this crazy passage I reflected back on all that had transpired.

Day one was filled with 30 knot winds and 3-4 meter short frequency seas. We had water come down into the companionway not once, but three times. I had a meltdown but soon recovered. 

On Day three we had to heave to for six and a half hours to wait out some wind and swell and then we ended up having a problem with our exhaust lift silencer and also had to replace our impeller. Both of which had to be taken care of in the middle of the night because, you know, that’s the time that everything decides to breakdown. With those two items repaired we got underway and then had to deal with a leaking 50 liter jug of diesel fuel. Yes, THAT was a fun evening. Can’t imagine anything we’d have rather been doing that night…you know, like sleeping or the like.

The slick we made when we were hove to.

By Day 5 our Engels freezer stopped working for a time but fortunately that was just due to something getting shifted in the locker and shutting off the timer. At least some of the challenges we faced were simple ones.

When Day 6 came around we got to deal with water ingress in two of our lockers. We assumed these leaks were coming from a leaking chain plate, which is something we simply could not fix at sea so we emptied the lockers and delighted in having clothes strewn hither and yon across the salon for the rest of the trip. Not really but hey…got to find some humor here. 

If you don’t have this or something like it on your boat…run, don’t walk to the nearest supply store and get it!

And by Day 7 we were again dealing with the water lift silencer leaks and had to heave to for the second time and on Day 8 we were finally able to get a semi-permanent fix to it after heaving to for the third time.

Fortunately Days 9-11 proved to be much better both in terms of weather and challenges aboard Dazzler. Oh yes, the morale improved exponentially as well.  

Among the more humorous things that happened was that I was literally catapulted off the thrown in the head with the toilet seat attached to my bum. (Sorry, no pics or video of the acrobatic show.) That’s not something you land dwellers will ever have the joy of experiencing I am quite certain! It is something, however, that brought a great deal of laughter to both Captain and Mate. I think Grape Ape even spit his juice out when he heard mama telling them what happened.

We did run into something that is quite rare and rather interesting which is that we got to see a bit of the pumice raft that was generated from the underwater volcano that erupted near Tonga earlier this year. While we only saw very small pieces of it, it was still pretty cool given that this is something so rare that most people in the world will never get a chance to see anything like it.

We survived it all just as Dan said we would. Intellectually I knew it too but there were moments when I just needed his calm reassurance. After all, if Dan couldn’t get us here safely, who could?

We arrived at Marsden Cove Marina early on the morning of Day 11 far ahead of the low pressure system we’d been racing. It was cold and overcast as we made the turn into the Hatea River. There were several ships at the port loading and unloading their wares. As we passed the port one ship was preparing to leave. It was at this very moment we were taking down our mainsail. Of course I was a bit on edge as I felt we were in the way of the tugs but Dan said we were fine so we finished our job and moved on.

As we entered the narrow and shallow channel into the marina the sun came out and it warmed up beautifully. In fact, by the time we docked at the Customs dock we were both peeling clothes off like we had landed on the sun.

It was a popular day to arrive here in New Zealand. We were boat number four to arrive at the dock. Everyone was tied up and waiting their turn for the officials to check them in. Two more boats arrived while we waited. Everyone was on the dock talking about their passage challenges and the weather. We, of course, had our celebratory anchor down beer. Never has a cold beer tasted so amazing! It was truly the taste of success!

It took a couple of hours to get completely checked in with Customs and BioSecurity. We didn’t even mind the time it took. It was sunny and warm and we were in New Zealand! Maybe knowing that a wonderful hot meal with beers and a great night’s sleep was ahead is what made us so patient. It certainly didn’t hurt anyway.

As always the officials with Customs and Immigration as well as BioSecurity were truly terrific. Many cruisers complain about the process but we actually find it to be rather easy. It’s all in what you make of it. They have a job to do and we respect that. We do everything we can to make their job easier by having the forms filled out, printed and ready to go when they step on board. We, all too often, see cruisers who don’t have the first form prepared which means they are taking up the valuable time of these officials. These are the very cruisers that invariably complain about the process.

We go so far as to have a spreadsheet listing every single food item we have on board, how much of it is there and exactly what locker it is located in. We hand that over to BioSecurity and let them tell us what they want. This year we did have a bit more meat on board which they took. She did tell us that if the meat had been in its original packaging so she could have seen where it was processed we may have been able to keep it. Unfortunately the butcher we purchased from in Fiji prepackaged the meat in vacuum sealed pouches. Oh well. It wasn’t much and we knew it was coming. She also took our frozen mangos (very sad face) that we use to make Mango Margaritas. And they took our eggs, some dried beans, Kava root (not the powdered stuff), popcorn and honey. None of this was really a surprise and it didn’t bother us a bit. As always, we received apologies for the fact that they had to take anything at all. The way we look at it is we over provision on some things to be sure that in the unlikely event we were to get stuck at sea we still have food. If we get here and have stuff they need to take it means we made it here safely and weren’t stuck at sea! BONUS!

After checking in we made the two hour trip north up the river to the Whangerie Town Basin Marina. Cruising under the Hatea River Bridge and up to the marina felt almost like coming home. As we passed the marina office Nadine was there waving and giving us a big welcome. We docked Dazzler and as we sat in the cockpit enjoying our final anchor down beer of the season we smiled and toasted each other on another safe passage.

Later we got our Guinness Stew and a few cold brews at McMorrisey’s pub and then it was back to Dazzler for some relaxation and an early bedtime. 

Needless to say we are happy to be “home” again in New Zealand. We’re looking forward to spending some time cruising the islands around here this year but before that can happen we’ve about thirty boat projects we need to get completed. Not the least of which is replacing the water lift silencer unit. Boat work is a neverending process for the cruiser…that’s for sure!

For now, however, we are going to take a week break from writing as we get settled in and begin to amass the supplies and tools we need to get working. Don’t worry though there will be plenty of upcoming articles from Captain Dan as he does everything from replacing the water lift silencer to varnishing to repairing and re-teaking the hatch to our lazerette. Of course these are just a few of the projects he’ll be talking about.

Thanks for following our passage and most importantly thank you for all your prayers and well wishes along the way. Hearing from our family and friends made the bad days so much better.

Until next time,

Jilly & Dan

P.S. Having hove to eight times in this 1200 mile journey we are pretty certain we do now hold the record for the most times a boat has heaved to in a journey such as this. Of course we’re still waiting for the officials to provide us with our trophy.

Here’s a video of the passage. You know, just in case you couldn’t visualize the trip!

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The Hits Keep Coming

Rated NFM (Not For Mom)

Days 2 & 3 Fiji to New Zealand

Before we begin we’d like to apologize that there are no pictures with the last couple of posts. Our Iridium Go seems to be giving us some trouble getting them uploaded. We will post a gallery of pics from this passage when we reach New Zealand and have regular internet again.

I awoke from my post watch nap on the second day of our journey to a much different world. There was sunshine,15 knots of wind and nice easy swells between 1.5 and 2 meters. Wow! What a difference a few hours can make out here on the open ocean. It was truly a beautiful day with brochure sailing. We were making 5.5-6 knots and enjoying a wonderful day at sea. It was so nice that I spent most of the day in the cockpit and even stopped to make some chicken salad and Dan & Grape Ape’s favorite meal, Fijoles de la Hoya. That evening when my watch came up I was actually happy to be going on deck. It was simply spectacular out on that moonless night with a crystal clear sky and millions of stars that could be seen from horizon to horizon. Ahhhh! THIS is my idea of sailing!
But, as luck would have it I went to bed after my watch and awoke on the morning of day three to another blustery day with choppy seas and three meter swells, Lord of Lord, would you please make up your heavenly mind?

We were getting tossed around quite a bit and while I was much calmer than I was on the first day out I was still miserable and could think of nothing more than having this trip be over! I just wanted to be back in New Zealand sitting in a pub with a cold pint of ale in front of me. Add to this I had a raging headache which is an ailment that rarely afflicts me.

After giving Dan a couple of hours to take a break and sleep I came back down below and headed for the bunk. Even though it was bouncy and I would literally be lifted off the mattress several inches every few minutes I found a way to sleep and I slept for several hours. I was secretly hoping I wasn’t coming down with something as I’d been sneezing a lot the night before. On passage is no place to get sick. Dan needs me out here. Later I would realize that my headache was caused by dehydration. The first couple of days on a passage are sort of difficult to manage in the best of weather and with the weather we’d been dealing with I simply was forgetting to drink my share of water or even eat well. Two things for which Dan would chastise me for later.

I woke up from my slumber around 1500 because it sounded like holy hell was being unleashed outside. The crashes and booms in the bunk were loud and terribly unsettling. I slowly made my way to the companionway being sure to hold tightly to the hand holds and anything else I could grab to keep from being knocked down. I poked my head outside and Dan said we weren’t making much progress at all. From the looks of the sea I could understand why. We were beating into the swells with the engine hard on it and only making about two knots. Soon after our conversation he decided it wasn’t worth beating us and Dazzler up for so little forward progress so we decided to hove to. That’s like parking in the ocean.

Hoving to is a maneuver that allows sailboats to ride out bad weather and/or slow things down so you can make repairs, cook, sleep or whatever. If you plan to sail the open oceans mastering this skill is a must! When you hove to you place the boat at just the right angle to the swell then lock the wheel and the sail in place. This creates a slick in the water in front of the oncoming swells. This slick actually disrupts the forward motion of the wave and calms it down so the boat glides gently over top of it. You cease making any forward way and move ever so slowly in the direction of the wind and current. It’s actually pretty cool to see and experience it. We’ve done it many times in our travels.

We decided we would hove to until the wind and swell clocked around later that evening. I know this will sound crazy but once we were in position it was literally like being at anchor. The swells were a little over two meters and we just floated over top of them so nicely. Dan and I relaxed below for a bit and then he took a nap while I harvested ice, read a little and started dinner. We actually stayed hove to for six and a half hours!
Around 2230 while I was taking my pre-watch nap Dan decided the weather had changed enough that he fired the engine and we were on our way. The firing of the engine woke me up but it was the crashing into the waves that got me out of bed. I crawled up the companionway stairs and opened the hatch. “I thought we hove to so we didn’t have to get beat up like this.” I blurted out. Dan replied, “It’s better than it was and we are able to maintain five knots.” Not liking the answer I grumbled under my breath and headed back to the bunk to see if I could get a couple more hours of sleep.

I wasn’t in bed a half hour when I heard a sound that made my hair stand on end and caused me to sit straight up. It sounded like the release of steam from an old steam engine. I came flying out of the bunk and as I reached the galley I smelled it. Something was hot…maybe even on fire. I hollered up to the cockpit but by that time Dan was already shutting her down. He came below and I told him what I heard. He could obviously smell the hot engine smell.

He immediately opens the door to the engine. I’m praying nothing is on fire and thankfully we didn’t see any flames but he can’t see enough to determine what’s actually wrong so he has to remove the cowling from the front of the engine. This requires also removing the stairs to the cockpit.
Last year when we sailed to New Zealand from Tonga we had the engine overheat and it was a bad impeller so that’s where Dan went to look first. Before he could take it out he needed to close the seacock so he had to dig into the quarter berth to open the door to the side of the engine. This is when things start getting messy in the cabin because all that stuff has to come out and sit somewhere while he works. It’s a mess with things laying all over the seats and floor and counters. I’m literally having to climb over sails and boxes and stairs to move about the salon. Finally I make a place to sit at the table and plant myself there.

Back to the problem at hand….as he reaches in to the close the seacock he sees a big hole in the engine exhaust thingy. It looked like the outside of a piece of metal that had a bullet pass through it. Aha! This could be our culprit. At least we were fairly certain this is where that steam release sound came from. The big question is how the heck are we going to fix it? At first he decides to use fiberglass but this could take a while to harden and we don’t want to be sitting here for any longer than necessary. Then he remembers this Minute Mend multipurpose putty that he bought in New Zealand earlier this year, This should work perfectly. So he gets the putty out and works it into the hole. It sets up in thirty minutes. While he’s waiting he decides that even though the impeller looked fine he is going to replace it just to be safe. Well, good thing he pulled it out because there were a few veins that had splits in them. Really? We just replaced this a year ago. Arghhh!

Once the new impeller was in and he putty had set up Dan fired up the engine to see if we were back in business. I was below with my head in the quarter berth door checking to be sure the putty was holding and not leaking and Dan was looking out back to see that the engine was peeing over the side. All was good on my end…not on his so he shut her down.

At this point I could no longer help so I went back to the corner I carved out for myself at the table and Dan set about on a process of elimination. He checked several things and finally pulled a hose off the top of the engine. He had me hold it while he fired up the engine to see if water came out of that hose. It did. He reattached it and checked some other things then fired her up and suddenly she was peeing again. Hooray! We’re back in business!
We cleaned up the mess and stowed everything back in its proper place and off we went. We decided that Dan desperately needed some sleep so I’d take the first watch. After all, it’s more important for him to be firing on all four cylinders than it is for me. He went to bed and up to the cockpit I went with my snacks and Coca Cola in hand.

It’s 0330 on Halloween morning. As I sit down and settle in tears begin to fall. I’m not sure why I’ve been so emotional on this trip but I am and I just can’t help it. Maybe it’s because of the two different stories we read in the past couple of weeks about boats that sank just outside of New Zealand. On one a man from Tauranga, NZ died while three others on the boat were rescued. On another, a German flagged vessel, they all were rescued after their boat had been demasted. Maybe these stories are sitting in the back of my brain feeding me with thoughts of doom. I don’t know but I do know I’ve been a bit of a wreck and I hate it. I’m not usually this way.

As I sit in the cockpit crying and talking to God I realize I’m being a baby and need to just stop it. I’m much tougher than all this and I know we will get there. These things are just part of the type of sailing we do. So I dry my tears and start reading my book. I could use a little humor at this point.

About a half hour into my watch I get a snout full of diesel fuel fumes. It’s strong, really strong and it’s filling the cockpit. I pull back on the throttle and call Dan. He felt us slow down and was already on his way up. As soon as he opens the doors the fumes smack him right in the face. For crying out loud what is this now? Haven’t we had enough already?

Dan puts on his clothes and foul weather gear and heads out on deck. Within moments he sees that one of our 50 liter fuel jugs has a crack in the side. He we go. We hove to for the third time in less than 12 hours. We will have to siphon the fuel from the jug into the main fuel tank in the dark. Joy oh joy! NOT!

Dan grabs the jiggler siphon doodad and we head to the port deck. The jug in question is heavy and just two days ago the handle broke. He’s going to have to untie and move three other jugs in order to slide this one down to the fuel hole on deck. I’m there to hold those jugs in place and keep them from going overboard, It takes twenty minutes or so just to get things ready and start the process of siphoning. The two of us are sitting there in the pitch black with just a tiny spotlight from his headlamp to light the project. We barely speak a word. I think we both are feeling a little beaten down and this is just the end of the third day. We still have nine more to go.

It took us just over an hour to get the fuel transferred, get the jugs re-secured, clean the fuel from the deck and get ready to get back underway. It’s just before 0500 when Dan heads back down for some much deserved rest. As for me, I hunkered down in the cockpit under the dodger where I sat watching the white ocean foam spill out from under Dazzler and pondered what in the world could happen next.

Until next time…
Jilly & Dan