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Anthem Adrift
Chilling to Chillin'
05/22/2015, Day 7 to Noumea

Saturday 23 May 2015

Haven't quite made Passe de Boulari at noon, but we be nearly done; everybody sleeps tonight. Each day on passage was warmer than the day before and now it's downright balmy. Finally tossed jeans in the hamper and slipped on shorts. A person could get used to this. As human nature goes, it's time to start complain about the heat, but expect to give it a few days. Recreational whinging is fun, but we'll quietly bask in warmth for a smidge.

Not sure where we'll anchor as am considering, rather than trying to chill under the radar at Ilot Maitre, to call Port Moselle and request chillin' above the radar at Ilot Maitre. Port Capitaine may have alternate 'suggestion'. Officials are reportedly mellow, but they do have guns and jails and such and, being so close to Noumea, we could draw the attention of a cranky one.

New Cal quarantine confiscates fruit and veggies plus various other victuals, so not being able to clear in until Tuesday has the advantage of allowing us the enjoyment of converting these unconsumed substances into something less enticing to those fine folks. Also allows work on a few boat projects (don't they ever end?) before getting caught up in the delights of Paris of the Pacific (hold on a sec, isn't that Papeete?).

Jack

Laughing All The Way
05/21/2015, Day 6 to Noumea

Friday 22 May 2015

Funny thing about that maligned rosy forecast from yesterday; it actually happened as everyone knew it wouldn't, providing a beautiful 30 hours of sailing. Made 161 NM, noon to noon, directly toward Noumea averaging 6.7 kts., but now, again as forecast, wind is backing, taking us west. Necessity to drive past, then tack up into the lagoon via Passe de Boulari will still allow arrival midday tomorrow. Regrettably there's no rush as, contrary to derelict published info, clearance will not be possible until Tuesday. Pshaw or stronger words to that effect. No worries though as, if winds allow, we will anchor off Ilot Maitre, which includes a marine preserve with good diving and a hotel with all amenities including restaurant and pool. This little patch of paradise is 3 NM from Noumea and officials are purportedly mellow about shore visits sans pratique (a little French lingo). Perhaps, after all, the pain du chocolat deficiency can be alleviated before onset of irreversible psychic damage.

Barring a hideously pear-shaped ending to this passage, it's been our best ever between New Zealand and the islands: no ugly weather, lots of good sailing, nothing seriously broken and shorter by 2 days than previous best, albeit over a bit shorter distance. Now if we can just avoid getting assailed for anticipated legal infractions by opprobrious, indecipherable French issued forth from infuriated immigration and quarantine officials and subsequently shot by gendarmes, we'll be laughin'.

Jack

Plan Rhymes With Pain
05/20/2015, Day 5 to Noumea

Thursday 21 May 2015

Spinnaker halyard break the other day was just below eye splice where extra core made rope thicker. Methinks the block is not large enough for the extra width and thus caused chafe that parted the line after several hours. Decided a bowline will work better in future, but more diligence this time to confirm the sheave is in good nick and she runs fair past headstay gear under load might revise that assessment.

Appropriate ministrations to hatches and portlights seem to have been efficacious. For those in Pinellas Park 'we don't got no deck leaks no more'. For all you fine individuals who live there and have a carry permit, just kidding. Having actually worked on lighting problems yesterday, discovered that the 2 offending, burned out bulbs had been missed when LEDs were substituted for incandescent. Replacement will rapidly follow finding the new lamps, which were moved to make them easier to find. Hey, I know where they used to be! Additional light problem will require a saw and other implements of destruction so will be ignored for the nonce.

Having moved well over last 4 days, averaging better than 6 knots made good, we are quite far north and wind increased enough by 0600 to keep us ahead of bad weather under sail alone. Sea is easy, sky is clear and silence is golden. As morning wore on, freshening breeze pushed speed up to mid-sevens and forecast, should one entertain a notion to believe such foolishness, indicates a continuation into tomorrow. Henceforth, low pressure passing south will quickly back wind through our rhumb and allow opposite tack into Noumea by Saturday afternoon. The plan is flawless. What could possibly go wrong? Customs and immigration close early, so hope they're open, as published, for a couple hours Sunday morning because Monday is a holiday (the French seem to have a lot of them). Being so close to unobtainable pain du chocolat would be cruel and inhuman.

Jack

Fussing and Fuming
05/19/2015, Day 4 to Noumea

Wednesday 20 May 2015

First time use of spinnaker after checking condition of crane-hung block and reeving new halyard was effective in keeping yacht moving well in light, aft zephyr until dusk when off-watch crew had lain down for a nap just before sail dropped into the ocean. This is the 4th go between New Zealand and the islands at pulling a large sail back aboard. Must be something in the air. !@#$%^&*() _+ or words to that effect. At least no damage done, except to a beautiful, now useless eye splice.

Erie Spirit are having way more excitement with a broken whisker pole and dead autopilot. Mark's toothache, which his dentist says will require a couple of extractions in Fiji, pretty much tops off their trip so far (Eerie Spirit?).

Today's projects, if sufficient energy is accumulated, are re-splicing halyard around shackle and fixing a few interior lights that have gone on holiday. Salty spinnaker has been re-socked, re-bagged and will reside, ignominiously, in forward head until Noumea whereat all will be put to rights. Balance of afternoon, should time remain, will be exhausted in uncharitable thoughts about wind god who, like Elvis, has left the building as we pollute local environs with diesel fumes trying to outrun a stalking low in the Tasman.

Jack

Flockers
05/18/2015, Day 3 to Noumea

Tuesday 19 May 2015

As wind went aft and died at midnight we woke the iron monster until daylight when enough breeze appeared to again sail, indeed increasing to 20 kts for awhile. If conditions become sufficiently benign as forecast, may drag out the spinnaker later. Don't want to dawdle as a strong low is sneaking up from Tasmania to cross this area before the weekend.

Contrary to typical innovation expectations, newly installed rigging to set & stow running backstays without leaving the cockpit is working flawlessly. This makes wearing ship (cool nautical term for jibing, usually in reference to a square rigger) much easier. Begs the question of why, if we want easy, we're not in a marina in Del Rey or a condo in Redondo.

Since departing Paihia we've been shadowed by a gannet. Probably thinks we're his mama. These are large, white boobies, but should not be a source of confusion. So girls, if some loud, drunken jerk asks to see yours, don't be offended. He most likely thinks you have an aviary and would appreciate having the issue clarified by a suggestion for where he can stick his red-headed woodpecker or, alternatively, application of blunt force thereto.

Jack

Mating
05/17/2015, Day 2 to Noumea

Monday 18 May 2015

For some it's better to have people wonder why they didn't say anything than why they did, but cruisers spend a fair amount of time isolated from others due to passages and those lovely, peaceful, deserted anchorages that we often seek out, so catching up with cruising mates and listening to their stories, adventures and ongoing projects is always a joy. There are even a few like Dave on Rewa with whom one can talk about anything, even religion and politics (I call him a socialist and he calls me an anarchist). He's always wondering 'why?' and gets you to wonder too. Jan, who is the gregarious half of this operation, makes lifelong buddies with just about everyone she meets, partly because she makes them feel like they're special to her and they are. Although we talk on the SSB to a number of folks both underway and not, most are going in other directions so won't see them for perhaps years or never. The upside is that we'll add new friends who'll have their own cool stories and every once in a while as we come around a point into the next anchorage, there will be someone from past days and we'll pick up where we left off. Although not the reason this operation got underway, it is one of the great joys of the adventure.

Jack

Transgression Confession
05/16/2015, Departing New Zealand

Sunday 10 May 2015

After traditional banana pancake brekkie the distaff contingent decamped to dinghy for a session of fishing local bay with newly acquired, dink-sized rod and reel. One nibble and a joust with rocks gave us a souvenir gouged into aluminum bottom, but produced no dinner. Just as well as Sunday is roast night at the OCC whence we shortly repair.

Wednesday

Except for tradies out the wazoo, a convenience store, a cafe for brekkie and a cruising club for dinner that is closed on Monday and Tuesday, Opua is bereft of diversion. There are several of us poor souls who have delayed departure for points north awaiting a window through the seemingly endless parade of poopy (little used professional meteorological terminology) weather. This week has featured NW winds up to 40 knots. Except for residual 6 meter seas, Saturday would be tolerable, but Sunday morning will likely be tolerabler. After that will be smooth sailing, as it were, all the way to Noumea - maybe.

Sunday (the next one)

In order to buy duty free fuel the day before leaving New Zealand one must stay in marina that night, otherwise it can only be shipped the same day. The rationale is that authorities can confirm that one is not using GST exempt fuel within the country which one might do if left to one?s own devices whilst hiding out in the bay. As one must clear customs & immigration next door to fuel dock following which tax is refunded, this presumes that one is likely to piss away all that fuel careering about in circles overnight when the closest foreign country is upwards of a thousand miles away and having full tanks on departure is unimportant.

Thusly and because wind generator required calm conditions for removal, disassembly and repair we had shore power, reverse cycle heat and ease of commute to morning coffee at Marina Cafe last two days in harbour (Yanks please ignore spelling due corruption by local overuse of the letter ?u?. For some bizarre reason, they rather similarly misspell aluminium).

Refueling Friday we cleared out Saturday and, flouting the letter if not the spirit of the law (OK, that too), anchored over by Paihia to enjoy the evening at 35 Degrees South restaurant with Mark & Susan, who are heading to Fiji on Erie Spirit. At noon today our operation is under way with 16 to 23 kt. beam wind to New Caledonia as mates angle off east. Navy warship that blasted by us awhile ago gave no concern whatsoever.

Goodbye Kiwiland, we love you, although frigid temps last few weeks have restrained previous enthusiasm for spending a winter or possibly settling here. In any event our return is unlikely for at least a few years until completing a circumnavigation, most likely via South Africa, and again approaching from across the Pacific.

Jack

Puff the Magic Dragon
05/08/2015, Motuarohia Island

Friday 8 May 2015

In the "plans written in sand at low tide" genre, rain caused rethinking of departure for Cavalli Islands today as ladies played with beads and rest of crew piddled with a small project or two. Also, given need to motor most of the necessary 4 hours tomorrow morning to a rolly anchorage, have decided to meander over to Roberton Island here in the Bay, about 7 NM distant. Sailing is a possibility and would be an appropriate activity as this is, by a preponderance of informed appraisal, a sailboat.

Several cruisers departed today for the Islands with an expectation of little wind and much motoring. We, on the other hand, anticipate a near gale next week followed by little wind and much motoring. We could hang out in New Zealand for awhile yet.

Saturday

That "sailboat" assertion is still under advisement as the only wind observed was produced by engine motivation. There is some hope that tomorrow will be decisive as the thing doesn't carry enough fuel to make Noumea without help. Our faces would really be red if we got half way, were surrounded by those serpents that wait near the edge of the world, only to discover there had been a mistake.

Wind left, but so did soggy, dreary, rainy weather. Not a bad tradeoff as we bob around off Roberton (Motuarohia) Island in glorious sunshine. The scenic trek up to a pa (lookout) with excellent views of the Bay of Islands produced a bit of peckishness that will be assuaged in company of Erie Spirit (only the associated crew as the boat itself has trivial social skills and doesn't engage in potlucks) on our boat at 1700. It is rumored that adult beverages will be ingested as well, but there is no confirmation at this juncture.

Jack

Assault With Batteries
05/06/2015, Opua

Friday 1 May 2015

So, is this May fools day? Should be, else why are we still in this cruelly cold climate? It's going down to 10 degrees C at night. That's just wrong. Could it be because, after 6 months in New Zealand, we still haven't finished all the boat projects?.. give me a second, I'm thinking. Nah, not possible. Fortunately, there's really nothing we can't live without. New head vanities look fantastic and if someone on boat staff dredges up a little initiative, there might even be a photo (this is not something one should risk turning blue over in anticipation). Secondary winch will remain unpowered for the near future, but new solar panels may get wired before any of grizzled crew turns completely white (not in New Zealand). Most of worst deck hardware leaks have been addressed (including that hatch previously mentioned), bottom and prop have been anti-fouled and topsides are gleaming.

Wednesday 6 May

Now in Opua performing last minute preparation for next passage. Discovered, after 6 months on shore power, that battery performance had fallen off a cliff. Almost nothing left. Knowing this was coming in near to medium future, but expecting a tad more lead time, hoped to replace with lithium ion (prices have come down quite a bit) but wouldn't get them delivered quickly and couldn't wait to Australia. Jan & I removed three 8D, 72 Kg, and one 4D, 56 Kg, batteries and replaced with same. Ibuprofen and alcohol are our friends tonight.

This brings up the truism that one wants to depart with everything operative. En route it's OK and expected to have breakdowns, one can cope. Leaving inop, however, is not acceptable. Ergo the aphorism, "if it ain't broke, don't use it". Prior to a passage one attempts to use boat systems only as a last resort and the practice of denial should be a well honed skill if one ever wants to leave the dock and head out into the dragon-filled abyss.

Friend Maggie is coming tomorrow from Auckland for a few days, bringing chunks of dead, wool-bearing animal. Would love Maggie anyway, but the lamb doesn't hurt - mint jelly is on the list for provisioning run to Kerikeri in the morning. If winds shift midday Friday as forecast, will head for the Cavalli Islands for a night or two, possibly joined by Erie Spirit sailing up from Whangarei, followed by return to Opua for clearance and departure toward Noumea, about 900 NM, on the first decent weather window, maybe mid-week.

Jack

Cruising Are Us
04/26/2015, Tutukaka

Friday 24 April 2015

In typical boat project manner, there were two leaks in the new, reconstituted aft head plumbing, although not, as one might suspect, involving that twice alluded to ingenuity thing. Very slow drip in a hidden, pressure water fitting was culprit in delamination of lower vanity woodwork (remediation of which was addressed) and new drainpipe was faulty, but quickly mended (he averred hopefully) by judicious application of magical marine goo. No leaks in forward installation (it was dry), but there was rot in lower skirt as well (also fixed). New teak has first coat of varnish, both heads look marvelous and that particular operation is awash in jouissance.

Regrettably, some of the rest has gone a bit pear-shaped... to be continued.

Sunday

Due unexpected circumstances, i.e. nearly everyone wanting to splash on Friday and one boat taking on water, had to leave the yard much earlier than planned or stay the long Anzac weekend, so didn't complete necessary activities including transferring money to pay for all the joy and making prop zinc seat properly. Went back to Town Basin for the night and left yesterday morning for Tutukaka.

On sail up, wind backed to make running the engine necessary while newly bedded hatch leaked - a lot - on dinette and settee. Seems to be around rubber seals, not caulking. Jan's acquisition of a viral pathogen, stronger and more northerly than forecast wind plus the leak issue occasioned our enthusiasm for continuation today toward Bay of Islands to wane dramatically so here we sit until at least Tuesday, probably Wednesday, maybe Thursday... weather weasels disagree.

Hacksaw shortened 3 prop zinc mounting screws before dropping into cold and surprisingly fast current to discover they were the wrong size. Pulled the whole thing off to cut off those screws and subsequently encountered severe disinclination to go back in the water. Maybe tomorrow during the gale.. maybe not.

Monday

Anchor snubber chain hook pulling off and backup snubber breaking causing chain to loudly rattle through gypsy in tempestuous winds before sunrise delayed any tendency toward boredom this morning. Now rethinking entire snubber setup. Finally got it all sorted around 9. Wind and rain forecast for later is worse. Any residual enthusiasm for replacing prop zinc has subsided.

Not wanting to be entirely unproductive, polished the bronze oil lamp this afternoon. Acid required to eat away worst of corrosion put streaks in the brand new forward stainless sink bowl. Jan hasn't seen it yet...

After 5 months of sitting still, welcome back to full-time, blue-water cruising.

There are people who dream of this and go to great lengths to make it happen, thinking it's the only way to live. They would be us.

Jack

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