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Anthem Adrift
12/07/2014, Kawau

Friday 5 December 2014

Another surprisingly marvelous sail to Tutukaka (pronounced 'too too KAH kah' which in Maori means... never mind) with easing wind requiring motor-sail last few miles. Mast, sails, rig and all diddled-with parts, new and old, operated properly during 2-day trial. All lights, radios and instruments are, to the amazement of... well two anyway, also nominal.


Two more nights and a day of full contact partying in Whangarei and 2 great bracketing days of sailing have brought us to Mansion House Bay on Kawau Island with about 28 NM left to Pier 21 in Auckland. We'll be in tomorrow. It's quiet, it's peaceful, it's beautiful, it's a relief. Love kicking around with good mates, but man, we needed a break. Chook on the barbie, maybe a little telly with a documentary on the South Pacific then early to bed.

Speaking of friends, after nearly five years we caught up with sailing buddies from St. Pete. Hadn't seen Michael & Barb since Panama in 2010 when they line handled for the Cabo Rico 38 Canal transit. They crossed the Pacific on their Moody 42 "Astarte" (the Babylonian goddess of passionate love) in 2012, but we missed them in New Zealand because we were in Oz prior to selling that boat and buying this one. While we were returning to SoPac via Caribbean and Mexico, they were dodging cyclones in the Marshalls. We'll go to Indonesia next year, but they may not until '16. Not to worry, we'll bump into them sometime, somewhere down the line. It always seems to happen eventually. Notwithstanding that we live on a big planet and our vessels are slow, cruising is a small community and if someone doesn't swallow the hook and retire inland, you're likely to run into them again - whether they like it or not.

Last time this ongoing codswallop took a break after first arrival New Zealand. This time has lasted a bit longer. It may now adjourn after Auckland, but, given a perverse nature, may sneak into the ether occasionally to abuse your more tolerant natures. You have been warned.


12/03/2014, Whangamumu

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Misspoke concerning Kemp. This original name was changed to Selden in 1997. Same company that has since discovered that old masthead sucked and now made it easier. Should get sheaves replaced Saturday or not until Auckland. Meantime other projects are limping along.


Wrong. Stays disconnected and masthead missing, so can't even motor south. Steel sheave pins frozen to aluminum cap required removing latter to hydraulic press after additionally disconnecting furler and pulling or cutting wires to wind instrument, tri-color/anchor/strobe light and VHF. Then, of course, available, but non-fitting, sheaves must be machined to fit which can't be done until Monday (maybe) and rigger can't get back until Tuesday (probably). Totally slammed marina took our delayed departure until Wednesday with aplomb and tickets to Whangarei welcome party Friday may still be used after 2 day sail if we actually leave ref. new schedule. Was it mentioned a slip at Pier 21 in Auckland is being paid for starting the following Monday?

Meantime we were thrown out of the Cruising Club Thanksgiving dinner Thursday when Jeff from Grasshopper, last seen 6 months ago in Mexico, brought us a present of fine tequila and decided to open it after the meal. Major no-no that can get the joint closed down and purveyors fired as contrary to their license. Being merely accomplices we could have stayed, but supported our impetuous comrade by returning to boat and rather disgracefully continuing to overindulge. Apology subsequently accepted by bartender Marie.


After 12 or 14 hours for the 2 hour job (good news on cost is in the mail), mast is again stabilized with all appropriate parts including new sheaves, destroyed interior has returned to merely disheveled and de-mildewed sails may actually be hanked to furlers with new telltales at some point prior to required noon departure from dock. Love it when a plan comes together.


Considering all, departure from the marina just before 1300 yesterday was a miracle. Despite forecast, a beautiful sail was had all the way to Whangamumu (pronounced 'fang a MOO moo' which in Maori means 'carnivorous cow'...). After busting rear for a week getting rig, sails and diverse other boat bits prepared and then being exposed to a peaceful, clear (albeit frigid - 16C) night in a quiet anchorage, slept for 12 hours - gotta rest up for that big party in Whangarei on Friday. When will the fun ever stop?


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.


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