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Anthem Adrift
Arduous Amusement
11/23/2014, Opua, New Zealand

Thursday 20 November 2014

As seems to happen following arrival at every cruiser node, ennui and sobriety are cast aside (assuming either of these conditions exist) and merriment ensues. Despite absence of many who, due unfortunate weather between the tropics and New Zealand, are yet en route, All Points Rally festivities proceed apace, counterpointing for nearly everyone numerous maintenance issues that have accumulated during the Pacific crossing or were introduced for some by a more interesting passage than they might have found absolutely necessary. Thus has this blog, to the delight, no doubt, of billions, been in abeyance since moments prior to arrival.

Opua is a marvelous place for boat work as well as boisterous bacchanaling so, to the degree obligatory gaiety allows, a few bits that desperately need attention are getting it. For starters, an isolation transformer was installed to allow plugging a 120v boat into 240v shore power; most of the globe outside of North America uses the higher voltage. A new Lavac head pump and hose was installed to segregate fecal matter from less bacterially laden areas. Recalcitrant navigation and deck lights have been re-invigorated with LEDs. New masthead sheaves and halyards will soon be mounted encouraging genoa to remain a sail rather than a sea anchor and various other rigging paraphernalia will be added or upgraded. Other items that may possibly receive attention in the next week are: rebedding of additional shroud chainplate covers which transported water onto port settee during previous passage; replacement of masthead mounted Windex wind direction indicator which was rendered ineffective by rude, not to mention heavy, frigate birds; thorough cleaning of deck; and removal of old brightwork (teak) coatings preparatory to new varnish.


In the interim inexcusably high spirits have prevailed and little else has been accomplished including masthead sheaves which present an unexpected, difficult problem due having to disconnect stays to lift mast cap with furling extrusion which contains and yet hides sheave pins. Cap also holds sheaves that rigger uses to keep his relatively soft, squishy body suspended up to 18 meters (59 ft) above various protruding deck hardware. Apparently the designer of this Kemp mast system (similar to and owned by Selden) didn't have to do it himself.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on one's tolerance for fun and liver damage) rally festivities have come to an end and work may proceed except, of course, for all the great friends, old and new, here or soon to arrive, with whom one is forced, forced I say, to celebrate. We soldier on in the face of such adversity.

"When I works, I works hard. When I plays, I plays rough. And when I thinks, I falls asleep." - Anonymous


11/09/2014, Day 5 to Opua

Monday 10 November 2014

Today's the day. Having left the gale behind and now motorsailing in calm sea, we expect arrival Opua, Bay of Islands, late this afternoon. Jan & I got together there 4 years ago and it's a welcome return for us. Beautiful country with great people, New Zealand is our adopted home. Now if only we could convince Kiwi officialdom of that and what excellent additions we would make to their population we could possibly return a few years hence, after the current circumnavigation, as residents. As stands, although Jan may be able to maintain permanent residency in Australia and consequently, via the Trans-Tasman agreement, New Zealand, I don't qualify due being over 55 and not having $10 million dollars to invest - too old and too poor. All to be revealed in the fullness of time.

Besides the citizenry and our mates here, we love sheep. No Cal, shame on you, not like that. We're particularly fond of their wool on those frosty nights and lamb cooked just right nearly anytime. NZ wine is excellent with sauvignon blanc a specialty and a malbec from Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf the best we've ever tasted. Auckland, The City of Sails, is a terrific place and Pier 21, the small, friendly marina where we often stay, is within easy walking distance of the center, which includes live theater and a symphony. Although they've risen in recent years, prices, as opposed to Australia, are reasonable. Boat parts are readily available tax free for foreign yachts and otherwise may be imported duty free. Boat work is generally excellent and also untaxed. New Zealand is a wonderful place to avoid the South Pacific cyclone season and is within a week and a half sail of Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu or New Caledonia. Kiwis know how to make coffee. Jan & I look forward with happy anticipation to the next 6 months.


Running Hot and Cold
11/08/2014, Day 5 to Opua

Sunday 9 November 2014

By yesterday afternoon wind had decreased to 12 knots. Sufficient with the genny on a close reach to keep speed near 7, but the staysail just doesn't have the drive so, given that for us, the child-like wonder and enthusiasm for sailing has gone out of this passage, we're motor-sailing in the almost certainly vain attempt at arrival during business hours Monday; also, of course, as is everybody's secret desire, to squander non-renewable resources and kill the ozone layer. A shame as this would otherwise have been by far our best trip between New Zealand and the tropics.

Speaking of gentle breezes, warm days and soft nights, they're just a fond memory. Despite coming out of overcast and drizzle into bright sunshine it's cold here at 32 south. Hell's bells, temperature went down to 19 Celsius (66F) last night and promises to do worse tonight! How do people tolerate this sort of thing? Have been informed that at some locations on earth it can actually go below 0C. Ice is formed at that temperature, you know! Humans are mostly water, so how do they survive? It's not natural.

Despite losing 2 halyards and use of the genoa, we've been very lucky in finding the seam in a very difficult and unsettled series of weather patterns (of course, Jan & I know it's really a matter of transcendent perspicacity, right?). Many who left earlier had little or no wind alternating with too much and those behind are jammed up in the islands by a gale. There are upwards of 30 boats just in Tongatapu with more in Fiji, Vanuatu and New Cal, some having waited multiple weeks until at least Wednesday to depart. We wish them all a good and safe passage.


No Go Mojo, Part II
11/07/2014, Day 4 to Opua

Saturday 8 November 2014

Was awakened at 0300 an hour before my morning watch by Jan indicating, rather insistently, that there was something interesting to see on deck. She suggested that we might want to do something with the genoa (this is the very same large overlapping sail at the pointy end referred to yesterday, Cal) that was at that moment dragging through the Pacific Ocean after the spinnaker halyard parted at its sheave. Feeling a little deja vu are we? This time, as there is not another halyard forward, used a spare main to get it on deck where it was poorly lashed. "Poorly", you might query? At 0815 a wave washed over the bow and dragged a bight of it back into the Ocean which subsequently filled with more water and was the devil's own effort getting back aboard to be secured a tad better. Are you asking yourself if this is another example of the glamour of cruising? Yes, yes it is.

Became aware of today's second dunking, third overall, during a conversation on the SSB which led me to the clever statement "We've got a little emergency. I'll call you back". Well, the "little" was lost in translation. Since it took some time to secure this whole caboodle and we didn't get back right away it was assumed that a real emergency had occurred. My bad. Got it sorted presently with abashed apologies. Life in New Zealand returned to normal as construction of 2 Coast Guard cutters was abandoned, 5 million Kiwis turned off CNN, and 19 million sheep were allowed to continue grazing.

With only staysail and main, progress has been slowed somewhat to 5+ knots as opposed to 8. An inconvenience perhaps, but latest weather reports show no worse than fresh beam breeze all the way to Opua and because good speed had been maintained until now we expect landfall, barring another fascinating, glamour enhancing, advancement inhibiting escapade, Monday evening.


No Go Mojo
11/07/2014, Day 3 to Opua

Friday 7 November 2014

More perceptive folks, perhaps one of you 3 who actually reads this codswallop, may have noticed the post for Wednesday was sent same time as yesterday's. Propagation in the high frequency bands was abysmal so couldn't get through, but then it improved to appalling. Hoping for merely dreadful today.

Was awakened at 0345 just before my morning watch by Jan indicating, rather insistently, that there was something interesting to see on deck. She suggested that we might want to do something with the genoa (this is the very large overlapping sail at the pointy end, Cal) that was at that moment dragging through the Pacific Ocean after its halyard parted at the sheave. As it was no longer encouraging, but rather inhibiting progress away from a gale that might soon overtake us I agreed that getting the thing out might be appropriate. Next 45 minutes was spent with crew (me scrambling about in skivvies) using spinnaker halyard to pull it up and onto the deck, then re-reeving bolt rope into furler extrusion and rolling up the sail until daylight. After giving new arrangement an eyeball, it has again become a productive element of our journey.

And speaking of storms, the promise of a sub-tropical low has materialized big time. Latest GRIB (Good Reason to Imbibe Booze) indicates we will get a bit of a spanking over 36 hours beginning in the morning and 2 boats behind us will get more for longer. As happens, the boat in worst position is the only one paying cash money to a weather router. Think I'd rather just be beaten up and use the money after it's over to get anesthetizingly inebriated. Today has seen more wind and lumpier seas than forecast, so if there's any karmic justice, the next day and a half will be easier than expected. Meantime we're plowing along, making good time, with hopes of arriving Opua Monday afternoon in prospect of getting only slightly sloshed.


Postulating Positiveness
11/05/2014, Day 2 to Opua

Thursday 6 November 2014

The music died at 0400. After half an hour of bearing up, away from destination to keep sails filled and speed above 5, snuffed the spinnaker (no sails died during this exercise, Cal) to jibe onto starboard. In the several minutes it took for that, wind went even lighter so importunate petroleum partaker was powered on. Based on pitifully provided prognostication, the pandemonium will prevail until probably tomorrow afternoon. Poo!

Adding additional insult was a surprisingly adverse current which, however, has since diminished. Because we live in hope, expect a continuation thusly with a perfect breeze filling in from the ESE later tomorrow to blow us all the way into the Bay of Islands. Being optimistic is a good thing and yet, one sometimes wonders just what that half filled glass contains.

"The nice part about being a pessimist is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised." - George F. Will

The Western Hemisphere has again been left behind as we crossed the International Date Line this afternoon. Although it is a very important line, clearly apparent on maps and globes, we did not see it. Perhaps, as alluded to 4 years ago, this is because while there is a 180E, there is no 180W and one must come at it from the other side for proper perspective. For at least the next few years home will be in the other half of the globe with the next year or so in the southern half of that - the far side of the world from our former domiciles. Oddly enough, English (OK, a version of it) is the predominant language in the most southerly of that quarter and as luck would have it, we both became reasonably proficient at an early age. Thanks James Cook and Jack Aubrey's Royal Navy et al. Brits really got around back in the day.


Short, But Sweet
11/05/2014, Day 1 to Opua

Wednesday 5 November 2014

An attenuated cocktail hour with Rewas then sleep-in this morning set us up nicely, so after eggs & bakie including a satisfactory level of caffeine we departed the Reef late morning in light winds. Caught up to Rewa, who left 2 hours before us, with help from the spinnaker. A dearth of suitable conditions for the sail since taking possession in Papeete and thus having flown it only once before, we were suitably impressed with boat speed, a high percentage of wind velocity. Hoping to get through the night before wind backs to the north then dies.

Easing wind calmed the troubled waters which, with yet enough breeze filling the assymetrical to move boat along at 6+ knots and clear blue sky, made this one of the top five days of sailing we've ever had. Not to last, alas, but delightful while it does.


Judiciously Intrepid
11/03/2014, North Minerva Reef

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Arrived just at dawn to motor through the pass into North Minerva Reef and across the lagoon for least fetch to anchor in 13 meters sand near Rewa and Cygnus. After securing the boat, a short nap and lunch we unshipped dink to explore, discovering that there wasn't much to see; mostly sand with little coral all the way to the outer reef which was crashing impressively with surf.

By afternoon Cygnus as well as Reckless, who had just come in this morning and belying its name, took off to avoid a sub-tropical low that may be heading our way in a few days. Having little reason to stay until Thursday (original plan) except possibility of slightly more motoring and allowing that discretion just might be the better part of valor, we resolved to leave tomorrow morning after a good rest.


Endeavoring to Persevere, The Dude Abides
11/02/2014, En Route to Minerva Reef

Saturday 1 November 2014

After last night's anniversary, birthday, Halloween bash, have now participated in two notable parties at Big Mama's. There's another next Friday, but don't think we can survive a third. Finished last few preparations for departure toward New Zealand starting tomorrow including wholesale bottom cleaning and oil change on that noisy iron thing (which, by the way, is camouflaged in gray and consequently hard to find - previous one was a much more accessible red).


Sail to North Minerva Reef will be one of those too long or too short kind of deals. Wind is perfect for swift trip, but 12.2 meter waterline couldn't quite make it on one overnight without dragging gluteus maximi from warm covers in the teeny weenie hours (it would thus have to be an emergency), so left at more civilized 1100 to potter along, spending a second night at sea. With triple reefs (confusing, isn't it?) looks like we'll still arrive well before 0710 sunrise, so eventually expect to hide a bit more polyester.


Seas are unbecomingly uneven, unleashing the occasional death roll, but overall a beautiful sail off the 22 knot true/18 apparent wind; expected to ease slightly as progress, you know, progresses. Last few day's forecast has consistently indicated Reef departure Thursday will give best wind and avoid a spanking with nasty conditions assuming entry Opua by following Wednesday. Easy peasy by averaging 5.2 knots; done by Tuesday afternoon at 6.0. Sanguineness abounds to avoid anything sanguineous.

For those who value each and every major appendage and were concerned, current census here indicates full complement as evil doer fauna has been successfully exterminated with broad spectrum Galactomicin (something like that) conducting its lethal commerce. "Nothing personal, it's just business". Crew are tanned, rested and ready for arduous, upcoming bacchanalia in Opua.. oh, and passage to get there.


Wooden Go There
10/24/2014, En Route to Tongatapu

Saturday 25 October 2014

Morning GRIB (Grim Reality In Boobooville) showed earlier onset of strong headwinds than last night's attempt at accurate modeling. Although initially able to sail on beam at 8 knots, wind began veering southeast halfway on to encourage letting big, noisy iron thingy help with locomotion. Once far enough along and now bashing into seas, fell off to head for north entrance of harbor and again let big flappy jobbies push us near hull speed in more peace and comfort. This direction is a tad longer and will require motoring last few miles directly upwind, but gives more protection and may save a liter or two of diesel, which is getting a bit skosh.

Via morning SSB net requested info on a clinic to have Jan's leg checked. Although skin doesn't look too bad, muscle pain indicates deeper infection. Meantime Ciprofloxacin is attempting to slay the little, offending demons. Although wonderfully nautical, a peg leg doesn't have the utility of an original and we just don't want to take time to have one carved.

Assuming none of crew is having an appendage lopped off, tonight will find us pot lucking at Big Mama's with, it has been understood, ice cream. Something really sticky and gooey and particularly unhealthy would be appreciated.

Although several have left, many boats remain anchored off Pangaimotu, home to Mama and just across bay from Nuku'alofa, but will all be departing shortly for New Zealand, some via Minerva Reef. There appears to exist a possible weather window for us around the 31st or 1st (this, of course, assumes long term accuracy of that previously aspersed (not a real word) forecasting tool - uh huh, uh huh). A few crews have indicated departure a bit sooner, but we have things to do: get parts from airport, fix headstay, fill fuel tanks, wash clothes, clear out, screw off. Plus there's a Halloween party on the 31st. That's probably worth getting slammed en route for because we left too late in the cycle. Right?


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