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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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Want A Lift?

Okay boys and girls today’s lesson is about Water Lift Silencers. What in the world is that? Well, I’ll tell you Shouty. It’s that round thing under the deck behind your engine that helps the exhaust push the water out the exhaust port usually somewhere near the aft your your boat. It can easily be located when your engine is on and the water and gases are spewing out into your wake.

There are all kinds of lift silencers but this one is mine. Dazzler is fitted with a very old fiberglass style with both the exhaust in and out ports on its top. It is a cylindrical sealed can with an approximate 1.5” flange on its bottom for fastening it to a platform.

So what’s all the trouble with these things? Do they have a life expectancy? Can they go bad? If so, what causes them to go bad? I sum up these questions with our experiences over the last several days.

First, I’m not sure if this is the original lift silencer on Dazzler or not. I suspect so though. I have owned her since 2003, and she is now 32 years young. I knew where it was located, but honestly didn’t know much about how it worked or what to look for in the way of issues. One of the two previous owners had it installed or installed it themselves. When it was installed, the angle of the elbow that connects to the back of the engine apparently was modified from a 90° elbow to an approximate 30° down angle. During the modification process, as determined by the crack I found, a regular 90° elbow was cut to accommodate the needed angle and a putty similar to the Minute Mend that I used to make our emergency repairs was used to complete the modification. Perhaps the instant epoxy has a use life also. Years of vibration and almost 6000 hours on the engine had finally hit that magic age of disintegration. LOL How do I know these things?

Well, two days ago the engine stopped spraying water again. No big deal as we’re just putting up the sails again. We sailed through the rest of the night and into the next afternoon before I had to tackle the new water leak situation again. It seems that I missed this crack because I couldn’t see it during the second fix. Hence I pulled the entire silencer out of the engine compartment to better diagnose and attempt to fix ANY and ALL cracks this time.

I guess third time is a charm. After grinding the areas around the several additional cracks I found, I filled up the canister with water to see if it had any other leaks. It’s flat bottom is also fiberglass and is joined to the flange of the bottom of the canister. When it was installed. The installer drilled through the flange and into the mounting deck. This held it firmly in place but it also put eight screw holes into the flange that apparently should have been avoided as all eight holes leaked water. I’ll tell you how I tried to fix this issue later. While the minty flavored dog poo was setting up From the new application, I refitted the silencer to its mounting deck. I used some wazoo pipe thread sealer I found in Papeete on the screws before I inserted them and fastened the silencer down. Yes, I magically found all eight same screw holes without too much difficulty. Not bad for upside down blind left handed screwing. Actually, I used a Sharpie marker and marked one of the holes and as for the rest the silencer just kind of fit in place. Both hoses were connected as designed. We waited an extra 10 minutes for it to set before I fired up the beast. You’d have thought I was waiting for Santa to come down the mast or something. I was impatient so I found putting away tools occupied me for several minutes while I waited. We fired up the beast and tada! No leaks from the hose connection. Yay! The bottom of the canister was a different story.

As it turns out, one of my Diesel engine repair manuals by Nigel Calder talks a little about the water lift silencer. Apparently a back pressure 1.5 PSI is present to help force the water out to the back of your vessel. That’s good because I’m not sure I could seal it up for any more than that. Additionally, Mr. Calder recommends breaking lose your exhaust connections and inspecting the inside of hoses for excess soot, oil or anything else at least once a year. Catch it before the surprise of not working properly when you least expect it. It will be on my annual inspection to do list from now on.

To answer the question of what the life expectancy is would be like answering the riddles of the universe in one word. They may, but I would recommend routine checks while servicing your engine. You know hands on eyes on while it’s running if possible. I have to admit that this was not something on my radar of things to check. To make sure it doesn’t develop a crack like ours did for whatever reason, defect, installation or old age, I’ll be checking our new one during regular engine services in the future. I only look upon our repair as an emergency repair and yes, we will be getting a new one in New Zealand.

I write this for all my boating friends out there that at the very least ask their own questions. I wonder if mine might be leaking? Do I have one of those? Is it in good working order?

If this helps just one other person to avoid potential exhaust water lift silencer issues then right on!

Now it’s back to sailing in a cold, cloudy environment. We are less than 200 nautical miles from Marsden Cove Marina where we will check into Country with Customs, Immigration and Bio-Security. We have about 14 knots of wind out of the North on our port quarter, the seas are relatively flat and we’re making 7 knots. Hang on Grape Ape! He likes to be part of everything. What are you gonna do? Teenagers!

Cheers!

Captain Dan

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Is My Rubber Room Ready

Day 4 Fiji to New Zealand

Last night was certainly one I do not want to repeat. We’re both exhausted and ready to have this passage behind us. I’m trying to look at the bright side of things as I sit in the cockpit on watch. Due to our watch schedule it’s rare that I’m awake for sunset or sunrise. This morning, however, I will get to see the sunrise as I let Dan get some additional sleep. I’m excited at the prospect of seeing the golden sun clear the horizon. It’s the dawning of a new day and one I hope will bring better things for us and this journey.

It’s Halloween morning and I had already written an eerie poem about the sinking of a pirate ship and posted it on the blog along with a photo of me dressed as an evil pirate Wench. With all the mishaps and bad things happening on this passage I’m beginning to wonder if I jinxed us by writing it in the first place.

The sun should be coming up soon as I can see the sky beginning to lighten. As it gets lighter I realize there will be no picturesque sunrise to start my day. It seems the dark cloud that is following this passage has now enveloped the entire sky. There is just one opening in the clouds and as I look at it I can’t believe my eyes. It literally looks like a skull. I can’t make this up! I even take a photo because no one will believe it. I can’t help but wonder if this is some ominous sign but as quickly as that thought enters my head I fight to flush it from my brain. “It’s merely a coincidence. Stop letting your imagination get the best of you.” I say aloud. “I really, really need to get some sleep.” In an effort to change my thoughts I open my iPad and play a little mindless solitaire for the next two hours.

Dan wakes up around 0730 and takes over so I can get my sleep. I’ve only had about an hour and a half in the past seventeen hours so I’m ready. It takes mere seconds for me to fall into a deep slumber that even the pounding of the waves can’t penetrate.

Several hours later I wake to nature’s call. I can feel that the boat is not being tossed around quite as violently as she has in the past few days and I’m delighted. Finally, maybe our luck has turned around and the rest of this passage will be smooth sailing. I crawl from the bunk and hit the head. I’m a happy girl because I’m feeling like everything is finally going to be okay.

I’ve just completed my business when the boat makes a quick lurch to the starboard side that literally catapults me AND the toilet seat off of the throne. I try grabbing hold of the shower wall and sink but the force is too much. It’s as if my bum and the seat are one as we slide forward and slam into the door. The next thing I know I’m standing there with my knickers to my knees looking in the mirror. I have one hand on the shower wall and in the other I’m holding the toilet seat. At this point there are no tears, no salty sailor swear words. No, I just burst out laughing. I mean honestly, what else can I do? I’m mentally and physically exhausted and probably just moments from needing a reservation at the Rubber Room Palace. Laughter is all I have left.

I set the seat down, pull up my britches, wash my hands and walk out. I walk straight up to the cockpit where I inform Dan that he has yet another boat project to work on. We both have a great laugh at my expense and fortunately it takes him mere minutes to reattach the seat. He does tell me I need to hold on better in the future though.

The rest of the day is fairly benign as far as catastrophes go. The winds and swell are what they are and we just keep pushing through. When it’s time for dinner we decide to hove to so that I’m not getting bounced around the galley. Hoving to is a wonder thing. I’m able to make our spaghetti dinner easily and quickly and for the first time on this trip we both sit at the table and enjoy a meal together. Maybe things are going to be okay after all.

Until next time…
Jilly & Dan