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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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The Sky Isn’t Falling

The tales from the grim reaper aren’t that bad. Yes for the last nine days Dazzler and her crew have had patches of weather and a few daily fixes. But in the big picture her crew has learned many things to better understand the whole sailing thing. Everyone has their favorite point of sail and we have ours as well. Our least favorite is having your ear pinned down trying to go as close to weather and as fast as possible. There has to be a level of comfort or the human body gets fatigued. Let’s face it, with a crew of two comfort is a big factor. We generally hove to to make the hot evening meal and that feels as if we are at anchor. Nice break from all the motion of the ocean and subliminal core exercises that Dr. Oz never told us about.

Dazzler and her crew have enjoyed watching her stretch out her legs and lean into the wind. For the last few days we have experienced a good point of sail with 15-20 knots of wind from the east with our coarse of 185°-194° true. The apparent wind angle has been about 70° apparent. Not a bad point of sail but when we add the 1.5-2.5 meter swells running out of the southeast the sea pushes back a bit. Since yesterday afternoon the wind has been coming straight out of the east and Dazzler has hit her glory. We have experience winds from 120°-90° true and she seems to be very happy. For a small heavy vessel she doesn’t give way too easily to the constant bullying of the sea so she holds line very well.

One of the things that I’ve been working on for the last several years is learning to fine tune Dazzler’s sail plan and balance. Constantly adjusting the different sails and noticing how they affect the relationship with regards to how hard the autopilot is working. Currently her sail plan for the above mentioned wind and swell pattern is a double reefed main, fully deployed staysail and the jib let out to the shape of a high clew yankee (About an 80% sail). As she leans into the wind we have been enjoying 6.0-7.0 knots per hour. I must say it’s quite nice compared to those close hauled bone jarring wave crashing times at the helm. She runs smoothly at this wind angle and obtains great speed as we are starting to make up a little time on our passage.

As luck would have it, we are expecting a low pressure front to move across north island New Zealand on 9 November and our scheduled date of arrival is 8 November. So, making up as many miles along the way to ensure we arrive on the eighth of November is important. And who knows what challenging circumstances may rise up to our delight. By the way Neptune that wasn’t a challenge. LOL

The weather is decidedly colder here at 26° south than in Fiji. Granted Fiji had its share of cloudy cool days as well. But Fiji is coming into its cyclone season and summer months now. So is New Zealand for that matter. We were told how warm it was last season by the local Kiwis, but to us 69° and 72° was butt ass cold. Kiwis are walking around in shorts and barefoot and we are all bundled up like we’re going on an arctic adventure with Sir Edmund Hillary. I guess the term of winter or summer is all relative to the thickness or lack of thickness of your blood.

Dazzler is 32 years young and still has a great spirit for bluewater sailing. I try to stay on top of all the preventative maintenance, but issues such as a water lift muffler are something I’ve never experienced or even heard of before. Perhaps they have a service life. Perhaps there is a way to check their condition. Without internet, I can’t search that issue. Rest assured when we get to NZ we will look that up along with where to get a good quality replacement.

Yes that list of projects for New Zealand is growing every day. Six months of sipping drinks with little umbrellas has its price. It’s called Maintenance! Nothing is free in water world! Cruising anywhere and living your dream is not free. Not necessarily money, but your time and labor as well. You could do as some do and have the attitude of deferring maintenance or you can stay on top of it by fixing things when they present themselves. I myself like to even outsmart those pesky things and fix them before they become an issue. In some case those simple projects grow because you find other issues when you’re fixing the first one. For example changing Dazzler’s oil before we left Fiji and finding a nut from one of the shaft flange bolts under the engine. At least we dodged that bullet.

So you see, while I’m sitting here on the morning watch screaming in a southerly direction towards John’s Corner at 7 knots, I am enjoying the relationship we all share. You know the one between Dazzler, crew, the sea, the wind and paradise! You may not think 7 knots is that fast, but for those armchair sailers or those custom to the yacht club bar stool it’s faster than the 405 in West Los Angeles at rush hour but a hell of a lot more fun.

Until next time catch us if you can. Cheers!
Captain Dan