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Anthem Adrift
Nut?
05/16/2012, Day Seven to Vanuatu

15 May 2012

Wind has backed into south southwest, sea has become a lazy rolling 3 meters (giving one a feeling of power and vastness without getting slapped about) and brisk progress toward Vanuatu (for a shortish waterline) may get us in early tomorrow evening. Dinner prep included grilling sausage on the rail without loss. Shorts, T-shirts and bare feet are sufficient accoutrement with now balmy temps. How boring. Where's the challenge, the adventure, the character building stimulation? In an unrelated note, crew have been observed casting furtive glances, frowning and muttering about food - fruitcake, nuts, bananas and crackers.

Which brings to light a quandary. While a preponderance is convinced solo sailors are quite mad, they can provide, given no first-hand observation, minimal real proof. However, although sharing the adventure with an enthusiastic partner is wonderful, delightful and several other adjectives that are inappropriate or escape me at the moment, the fact that aboard ship one exhibits interesting, anomalous behavior including talking to himself, disagreeing and occasionally losing resulting arguments, can place his sovereignty in peril. Fortunately, in this case due to roughly equivalent levels of certifiability, a policy of mutually assured destruction (oddly enough MAD) maintains sanguinity.

How many out there know that Nut is the Egyptian sky goddess who eats the Sun at night and gives birth to it in the morning? Oh sure, now!

Jack

Half and Half
05/14/2012, Day Five to Vanuatu

14 May 2012

Two bad days, two good and today a bit of both with a fair breeze forecast for second half. Wind will circle the compass as we ride a slow high followed by a low and second high. WE'VE PASSED THE POINT OF NO RETURN! Sounded more dramatic when said to John Wayne and Robert Stack in "The High and the Mighty". Anyway, actual point was somewhat before half way as winds to 60 knots currently encourage stragglers in New Zealand to head north when able. Expect to arrive Anatom, Vanuatu Friday if GRIB (Generally Ridiculous Information Blunder) has even the most tenuous contact with reality.

A magical state of grace has descended upon Anthem for the first time in 18 months. Everything works. OK, frig may have a small leak, radar is intermittent, likely due a corroded connection, and port spreader flag halyard broke, but let's not allow picayune detail to sully the warm glow of preferred reality. Thank you.

First watch (2000 to midnight) proceeds slowly as we punch to windward in 18 knots apparent (finally able to lay our destination after 24 hours of beating upwind) and Jan sleeps.

Jack

Erroneous is Felicitous
05/12/2012, Day Three to Vanuatu

12 May 2012

Passed a car freighter this afternoon inbound to Auckland. As a giant, floating shoe box these guys make cruise ships (BUTTS as you may recall) look attractive. Wonder if Captain's mom knows what he does for a living?

Otherwise our little patch of South Pacific has been unsullied by human intervention or even by the weather lizard who again steps on his dangly bit. No wind forecast is instead SSW for 5.5 to 6.2 boat knots with main and drifter. Glass is both half empty and half full. Seems somehow wrong, but no one is complaining as a beautiful day in easy sea under clear sky meanders into night.

Jack

Vagabondage
05/11/2012, Day Two to Vanuatu

11 May 2012

Thus begins the 10 month ICA (Island Cruising Association) Western Pacific Rally from New Zealand to Vanuatu, Solomon's, Papua New Guinea, Eastern Australia to Tasmania (devils are tiny rascals, but mean) and return. Jan & I will steer off after Hobart for New Caledonia and Queensland then Darwin to catch the Indonesia Rally next year.

Rallys have advantages. They can grease bureaucratic wheels, provide local knowledge and serve as a focal point for get-togethers with other cruisers, most of whom are wonderfully likeable. Also, due to schedules, it discourages procrastination when starting a passage such as with those weenies back in Opua who are waiting for an actual weather window. Ha! After a day and a half of getting hammered by an obstreperous sea the two of us may or may not try to scrape together enough energy to credibly scorn their pusillanimity (real word Cal). No worries though as tomorrow bodes no wind or sea at all before the following day's headwinds change the rolling to pounding. Change is good.

We're paying good money for this.

Well, that's it. Except for a few pesky daily details blog's done until July 2013.

Jack

Potpourri
05/09/2012, Opua, Bay of Islands, New Zealand

16 April 2012

Passage across the 130 NM Bay of Plenty has been fraught with motoring, but an unforecast breeze sprang up at 0430 for 6 1/2 hours of beautiful sailing.

28 April 2012

Having the attention span of a three-year-old, forgot to return to blog for almost two weeks in a failed attempt to make boat fully operational.

Arrived morning of the 17th at Pier 21 after surprisingly long periods, given forecast, of using only the big, white sheets for propulsion (oddly, Cal, in nauticalese sheets are ropes and ropes are lines and the big, white things are called something else entirely - sailors are a perverse lot).

Wind generator ordered from US remained backordered from Trinidad, one watermaker pump died without a whimper and refrigerator decided that cold beer was over- rated.

Found a non-working KISS (that first thing listed) by virtue of the chance encounter of a friend with its owner in Napier who actually lives within 2 hours of Auckland. Met him halfway to pick the thing up. It continued to not work on sail up to Opua.

Had a spare pump plus Spectra will make water with only one of two pumps, so blew off that little problem until later.

Frig may have small leak, but was made operational by adding freon plus dye for subsequent leak check after arrival in Opua.

After various machinations and an unconscionable amount of brightwork varnishing, cast off for an overnight to Opua on 26th, arriving 27th.

9 May 2012

All go for departure wee hours tomorrow in a manner of speaking. Anything weer than 6 is likely to be too wee.

Frankenstein wind generator and new 145 watt solar panel are maintaining amp leakage out the the wazoo. Honda generator (box-o-Honda) is back together and may possibly run one day. Water maker pumping on all cylinders. Spare freon is aboard for leaky frig. Life is good.

Now preparing to say goodbye forever, or possibly not, to many friends and acquaintances at the Opua Cruising Club. Will miss New Zealand, but new adventure awaits and plan to return one day.

Jack

Running Hot and Cold
04/15/2012, Day Three to Auckland

15 April 2012

Necessitousness (possibly a real word, but in this case entirely gratuitous) for haste has diminished as, while festivities start on 29 April, fleet not scheduled for departure until 5 May with intervening time devoted to heavy drinking. There may also be ancillary activities such as briefings, provisioning and boat prep. Suspicion grows that organizers will expect some level of compliance with rules. Where likelihood of discovery and subsequent reproval is high one does what one must.

Three hundred nautical miles has provided significant thermal relief as extrication from duvet cocooned bunk for morning watch from 0400 to 0800 is now minimally traumatic. Crew concensus indicates that continuing north to more tropical climes would not be infelicitous (again gratuitous, but a pretty cool word).

After one more comprehensive attempt in Wellington, water system was carefully reassembled to await professional help in Auckland. Supervening operation of engine while progressing north yielded hot water. Thinking, of course, that this was a cruel hoax, foisted upon gullible life forms by a perverse inanimate object, as they do, a second test was conducted following an extended period of sailing. Hot water was again obtained and yet again with subsequent similar activity. Not wishing to underestimate deviousness of mechanical devices, have nevertheless once more become enamored of resulting hot showers.

Jack

Dauntless or Clueless?
04/13/2012, Day One to Auckland

13 April 2012

Departing at oh dark thirty when it's warm is one thing. This was the other thing. Conditions were, however, benign and after a rising sun irradiated greenhouse cockpit, ship's company were more than toasty. Progress has relied on following currents (proximate cause of uncivilized AM departure) and noisy, smelly thing below deck. Clatter was alleviated by a few hours of great sailing until wind fairy again took holiday. Anticipate developing southeasterly overnight to regain blessed quietude for a day or so. As Bay of Plenty is forecast calm during transit and motoring is impossible for full distance, will evaluate fuel situation abeam Gisborne day after tomorrow. Earliest arrival Auckland, Tuesday.

Some will notice this voyage was initiated on a Friday, also the 13th. For sailors of less stout stuff this type activity is ill-advised, imprudent and, I might say, temerarious (if I knew what it meant) or possibly foolhardy. Ha, ha! I wave my day-old skivvies in the face of fate. We endeavor to persevere... whatever.

Jack

Time and Again
04/12/2012, Wellington, NZ

13 April 2012

Careful examination of face in mirror reveals concern written all over it for getting up to Opua for start of Western Pacific Rally leaving the 29th. Champing at bit to be away, but weathermen, who have promised that cold, wet, northwest gale blowing through Wellington this morning will relax to clear, southerly, zephyr by afternoon, have been known to prevaricate.

- Later

Strangely enough weather weasels were correct as to wind and sky however decision to leave has been thwarted by 3 meter, short period swell prevailing until evening. Now plan to go at 0230, two hours before low tide. This timing is reputed to aid in getting out of harbour (Kiwis insert the extraneous 'u', don't know why) and besides we love floundering around in the dark - when it's cold - and we haven't had any sleep.

Non-stop to Auckland, where we expect to spend a week, is about four and a half days.

Jack

Wonderfully Well in Windy Welly
04/11/2012, Wellington, NZ

4 April 2012

Another beautiful day in paradise. The 50 knot zephyrs that occasionally gust up to heel boat 20 degrees on mooring are a refreshing change from all that serene, warm sun. Considered leaving today through Cook Strait toward New Plymouth on southwest North Island, but Jan was reluctant to enjoy what promised to be a bracing sail. She begins to lose proper enthusiasm as seas approach 5 meters. It's hard to find good crew but, ummmm, mustache needed trimming so we couldn't leave anyway.

Also, not that this would have held us, sorting hot water has been frustrating. All are reluctant to believe, given proper engine cooling, that water pump is dead. Diverter seems in good nick and coolant is topped. Next plan is to block water from going anywhere but to HWH (presumably short for hot water heater even though only cold water would seem to require this service). This, besides potentially warping a subsequently overheated head, may prove instructive.

6 April 2012

After allowing overheated engine to cool, removed block then section by section poured water through every nook and cranny of cooling system. Discovered that nothing is wrong with flow and only possibility is circulation pump which is demonstrably fine. Wow, that's a load off. Will henceforth take care to avoid scalding with 15C (59F) water.

10 April 2012

Beautiful sail across Cook Strait on Saturday the 7th until Karori Rip reached out a mile from its charted position to slap us awake just before we were run down by a humongous Cook Strait car/passenger/cargo ferry moving along at 18 knots. Those babies put out quite a wake.

11 April 2012

Truly enjoyed Wellington including the capitol center, focus here as in all countries of waste, corruption and pettifoggery. With a compact downtown, everything a cruiser could want (Irish pubs, restaurants, English pubs, laundries, sports bars, cafes, wine bars, markets, taverns, etc.) is within walking distance. It's a pretty city replete with parks, museums, great buildings and a boardwalk that runs along the waterfront throughout most of downtown. Now if only they could do something about the 50 knot gales that blow through every few days.

Expect to leave tomorrow afternoon for Auckland as blustery wind moderates to too much from way to much.

Jack

A Pallid Pastiche of Prattle
04/02/2012, Waikawa Bay

Mts. Cook and Tasman from Lake Mathison

22 March 2012

Staying busy on road trip. Cool stuff for us, boring explanation for you. Cliff Notes version: Abel Tasman Park kayaks, swing bridge and zip-line over Buller Gorge, Franz Joseph and Fox glaciers, Aranui Cave (glow worms), Pancake Rocks, spectacular scenery along South Island west coast and other sights beyond human imagination (minor hyperbole). Amazingly beautiful weather.

A few comments: Glow worms look like the Milky Way on a cave ceiling and supply the only possible justification for black flies that help feed them. Black flies (sand flies), which are ubiquitous and bites of which itch forever (minor hyperbole), are the spawn of Satan. Kiwis are enamored of swing and suspension walkways over the many gorges, chasms, rivers and creeks. They only know how to build single lane bridges along major highways (chicken anyone?). Many of them are suspended as well. Public facilities are surprisingly well maintained. Sheep and backpackers litter the countryside and some of each are grey or brown. Even hostels are pricey. We have stayed in B&Bs, but none have had, to this point, the second B. Biking up steep mountain roads with four full panniers afflicts amazing numbers and looks way, way, WAY fun...

26 March 2012

Unable to determine age of "Super Windy", our rental Toyota. 284k on odometer, manual windows and unknown insignia on bonnet (that's English for hood so as not to be confused with Robin) indicate some considerable elding, but she goes, she stops and she merely sips petrol (that's the terribly expensive substance cars use here instead of gasoline.. who knew?).

Will again dispense with boring detail, but trip up Lake Wakatipu in TSS (twin screw steamer) Earnslaw out of Queenstown and various activities on and around Milford Sound fiord were magical and included a cruise, fur seals, bottle-nosed dolphins, waterfalls, kayaking, discovering how Cascade Mountains were named and risking loss of various bits of anatomy to frostbite. It's nippy down here in the roaring 40s.

29 March 2012

Was informed two days ago by Gary from Inspiration Lady that after an episode of high winds our wind generator, refitted with higher temperature cutouts to prevent shutting down too quickly, was frozen (this is a misnomer as melting is somewhat more likely). Now anticipating unexpected maintenance delay in Picton including, Goldilocks-like, searching for a Baby Bear thermal breaker that's just right. The joys of boat work in exotic locations continue anon.

Some, now most, will notice lat/long position unchanged from Waikawa Bay when actual location has varied, as of this writing, through over 2500 km. Will partially rectify that omission by explaining that we drove down the west coast, across the bottom and now up the east side. It's a pretty big island.

Two nights in Dunedin (old Gaelic for Edinburgh) were grossly insufficient to see the place. Otago Peninsula, nearby, has a castle, albatrosses (albatrossi?), yellow-eyed penguins, spectacular scenery and narrow, curvy, cliff-side roads with speed limits that would spook Mario Andretti. Someone should investigate the concept of guard rails, but perhaps that would tamp the titillation.

As this blog is about sailing, seems inappropriate to blather on about dirting. Just consider it a reprieve from all the nautical crap. Currently experiencing some sphincter-clinching tailgating as Jan, who observes that my driving makes her twitchy, propels us toward what's left of Christchurch.

3 April 2012

Returned Waikawa Bay to discover KISS had thrown a magnet from rotor taking the other 5 with it and totally buggering stator and windings. New one on order from Hotwire in Tarpon Springs. Also found engine reluctant to push coolant through water heater. Suspect lazy water pump. Cold shower anyone? It was 10C yesterday morning.

Apologies for boring monologue, but things just aren't as funny from a car. Please feel free to skip this one... oops, too late.

Jack

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S/V Anthem
Who: Jack Warren, Janice Holmes
Port: Weeki Wachee, FL
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