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The Inconvenient Passage Video

It has come to our attention that there was an awful noise in the beginning of our video posted yesterday of our passage from Fiji to New Zealand. We have corrected that and the new video is uploaded. Click on the photo below to see the revised version.

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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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Clearing Into New Zealand

So here we are…we made it! After eight days of which four were a complete beating we couldn’t be happier to be in the land of the Kiwis. The first order of business is to check in with the officials.

The sun is finally beginning to peak from behind the clouds as we enter the mouth of the river and make our way toward Marsden Cove Marina. This is where we will do our official check in with Customs and Immigration. On the way we pass a large commercial dock where freighters come to deliver fuel and other supplies to the island. Dan radios the marina to let them know we are getting close. They advise us to continue on to the Custom’s Dock.

We arrive at the dock and tie up and Dan calls them on the radio to let them know we are ready. It takes a bit for them to arrive so we celebrate our arrival with the traditional anchor down beer. This one tastes especially sweet as it’s not just celebrating a safe passage, it’s celebrating the entire journey from México to New Zealand.

About twenty minutes after arriving the first of two Custom’s agents arrives at the boat. We’d been forewarned that New Zealand can be very strict and so we were completely prepared. We have filled out all of the paperwork and we have a spreadsheet that lists all of the food we have on board and where it is located. As the officer goes through our paperwork he finds that we do still have a few items they will have to take from us. They confiscate a couple of packages of meat we didn’t get to yet as wells as popcorn, fresh beans, our last onion and a couple of other small items but nothing we really cared about. Like I said, they are pretty strict with what you can and cannot bring into the country but we were prepared for it so it was no big deal. In fact, before we left Tonga we donated some of the food we knew they would take to the islanders. At least someone would get to eat it rather than it being tossed in the garbage.

The second officer who came aboard was Bruce Cooper. He is a fine mate who has been doing this for over twenty years. We chatted with him for quite a while. He was a wealth of information and very kind to us. When he finished with his paperwork he told us we’d get an invoice via email for the custom’s fee and he’d send us our TIP (Temporary Import Permit) when he got back to his office. All in all it was a pretty easy check in, of course it helps that I spent several days completing the paperwork before we arrived.

After our check in we departed Marsden Cove and headed up river to find the marina we had booked for our stay. The hour long trip up the river was absolutely stunning with mountains and hills that reminded me of an English countryside. And even though the sun had finally made its way from behind the clouds it was still cold! Our house gas had gone empty the day before our arrival so I was trying to make coffee from the hot water in the sink. It wasn’t as hot as we like it but it was helping to warm our insides.

Once we got to the north end of the river here in Whangarei (pronounced… Fon ga ray), you have to go under the Hatea River Bridge. It’s a rather unique looking bridge that is said to resemble a Māori fish hook. Our mast is too high to get under so we called to have it opened. The tide was low at the time and as we passed under the bridge we had just a foot and a half under the keel. That’s cutting it s little too close for both of us but we made it.

We originally planned to put the boat in the Riverside Marina but as we went by we realized this was not going to work for us. They didn’t really have any slips that would fit Dazzler so we kept moving up the river toward the Town Basin Marina.

One thing we both noted here is that not every slip has a finger dock. Some slips are just pilings and you tie off the bow and stern. Well, that means no electric and no water and you have to keep your dink in the water to get to shore. This was not an option for us. After all, whats the point of being in a marina if you don’t have easy access to land? Dan radioed the office as we were getting nearer to the main part of the marina and they did have a slip available on a finger dock. Hooray!

After eight days of traveling and in some pretty rough weather we were both ready to get tied up and relax a bit. We found the C dock and as we rounded the corner toward our slip I looked out and saw a most wonderful sight. Our dear friends, Lutz & Gabi were docked just two slips away from ours. This was such a wonderful surprise for us! More good times are definitely ahead!

Once we tied up and checked in with the marina office it was time to relax and tip a few cold ones. It’s absolutely beautiful here. I think we are going to love New Zealand!

Until next time,

Jilly & Dan