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Watching Wicked WeatherDavid
03/31/2013, Breaksea Sound, Fiordland, NZ
Sailing in Fiordland is mostly motoring, not sailing, through narrow, deep (500 to 1000 ft.) glacially cut, water filled valleys. Shifting from one fiord to the next, e.g., Milford to Doubtless or Doubtless to Dusky, requires a relatively short (20 to 25 mile) passage in the open ocean. It is good to wait, watch, and select a weather window for the those passages because nasty fronts come up from the Southern Ocean every few days. We just made the 22 mile passage from Doubtless Sound to Breaksea Sound in a barely acceptable window. The wind was northerly which is good because it was behind us as we headed south. A small front the prior day left a 3 to 4 meter swell from the north so it was lumpy. The wind forecast was for 20 knots but the actual wind was 30 to 40 knots. We carried only a double reefed mainsail and sailed at 10.5 knots (over the ground) for the short 22 miles. The shallow areas at the entrance to the sounds are rough as the sea builds a bit. Now we're in Breaksea Sound. We catch dinner each day and tonight is delicious blue cod.
Dropping the BarDavid
03/29/2013, Georges Sound, NZ
We are tied to a large orange fishermen's mooring buoy (in Blanket Bay, Doubtful Sound, Fiordland, NZ) using its 6" hawser. Fortunately Barefoot has 12" aluminum cleats welded to her decks; the fit is perfect. As the boat spins in the windy vortex of this tiny bay we sequentially experience a charming sun-break, a view of the 200 foot water fall 50 meters from us, a calm wind, a gust registering 40 knots., a brief torrential downpour of rain, and an enveloping cloud bank, then back to the sun-break. Listening from the cockpit hatch it is difficult to distinguish the sound of the waterfall from the sound of the torrential downpour. A "weather window" occurs tomorrow--20 to 25 knots of NE wind to shove us south to Dusky Sound. Today is a gale so we are on the mooring buoy. A record was set today on Barefoot-the electronic barometer (a nifty device that always shows a different reading from the analog one) does a "three beep" when the baro drops 3 or more millibars in a 3 hour period. The "three beep" signals a gale is imminent. Since early this morning the gale signal has sounded 4 times and the barometer has taken a Kiwi bungee jump. So, does that mean it has become windy here? You bet; but, tomorrow will be OK. Does any of this explain why Barefoot is the only sailboat in Fiordland?
The Pulse FindersDavid
03/25/2013, Georges Sound, NZ
Today we're anchored and tied with shore lines, bow and stern, in a notch known as the Alice Falls Anchorage. Lake Alice above drains into this notch in Georges Sound, about 40 miles south of Milford Sound. Torrential rain for 36 hours has changed Alice Falls from a bubbling stream to a roaring torrent and created multiple new water falls in our notch. We are not alone here. Zillions of sand flies inhabit our notch. It is good that they are slow and easy to kill, but bad that they are unceasingly present; in fact, present in such numbers that we use a vacuum cleaner to remove the corpses from the companionway steps. Sand flies suck blood like an old Chevy sucks gas. Unprotected skin--often wrist, ankle, and neck-is the target of the pulse finder sand fly We never step outside the black tutu-material screen barrier enclosing the cockpit without first donning a costume that would have old ladies slamming and locking their doors and children screaming for Mom. We wear a screen mesh over the hat and head and long sleeve shirts and gloves and long pants tied at the cuff. Nevertheless they seem to find the pulse and we nourish them. The aftermath of the bite--about 24 hours after--is a red, extremely itchy welt. My wrists and ankles are textbook photos proving the voracious appetite of the pulse finders. Now for today's tech tip-actually more a matter of common sense which I clearly lacked on this occasion. When wearing a mesh screen covering your hat and head, don't spit.
Will it Float?David
03/21/2013, George Sound, NZ
Years ago a late night talk show periodically aired a segment-"Will it Float?"--testing the audiences' judgment by tossing items into an on- stage inflatable pool. Usually it sank. On the boat there are moments that require similar judgment. When at anchor it is not uncommon to be fiddling with something that suddenly drops overboard. Will it float? If yes, one grabs the boat pole to hook the dropped thingy before it drifts away. If it doesn't float, one either dives overboard immediately and swims for it or uses a convenient nautical term to mourn its loss. Now, a boat pole is simply a long stick with a hook. A modern boat pole is a thin, hollow aluminum tube 6 feet long with 2 telescoping extensions to reach 15 feet. There is a plastic hook on one end and a rubber handle grip slipped over other end. I'm an experienced sailor so I don't drop things over board. Well, that's not quite true. I've recently dropped the boat pole-twice. Yes, it floats, but no longer having a boat pole I had no way to retrieve it. On the first occasion, from the bow of the boat I hooked a mooring buoy just as a gust of wind hit. The bow blew away from the buoy, the pole began telescoping outward, I leaned over as far as possible, the pole zipped out to full extension, the boat continued its journey away from the buoy, and the rubber handle grip began to slide off the end of the aluminum tube. All I could think of was it will never float if the rubber grip comes off the end; so I let go of the pole. This, of course, occurred in full view of the 20 other boats already on mooring buoys in front of the Bora Bora Yacht Club. Fortunately several jumped into dinghies and rescued us and the still floating boat pole. The second occasion involved a recalcitrant mooring line in Doubtful Sound, NZ. While there were no rescuers around, I was now confident the pole would float until I arrived in the dinghy to retrieve it. Here is my tech tip for the week: either be more careful than I am or carry a spare boat pole. (Later a more experienced sailor suggested I could grab the fish gaff; it has a hook. I wonder if it floats?)
Sailing to Milford SoundDavid
03/18/2013, Milford Sound, NZ
Barefoot blogs again!? Well, periodically anyway. Barefoot is now in Milford Sound, NZ. In February David and Roslyn sailed north from Whangarei, through the Bay of Islands, around North Cape and Cape Reinga (the northern tip of the North Island), down the west coast of NZ's north island, through Tasman Bay and into Nelson.
Tech stuff and Sand FlysDavid
03/18/2013, Milford Sound, NZ
Milford Sound is paradise; geological eye candy of towering rock walls, glaciers, and snow. The visual effects as the sun moves across the Sound each day are surprising. That is great, but there are sand flies that bite. Lesson one for us was about revenge. Do not smash the sand fly on anything you value because in its demise it squirts blood on your shirt, pant leg, keyboard, i-pad, or logbook. Moreover, it is your blood that it has just ingested and that bite is why you discovered its presence. We are told that now is an exceptionally dry period in Fiordland and there are fewer sand flies than in wetter periods. We are grateful. Repellent is effective. However, because we are on a sailboat, we try to establish screen boundaries for the little buggers. Here is the Barefoot tip--when making hatch, companionway and cockpit screens to help the sand flies learn boundaries, use black colored mesh screen, not white. It is significantly easier to see out through black mesh. We use fishermen's net lead line to weight down the edges of the mesh around the hatches and companionway. Tubular webbing filled with sand also works.
A Little About NelsonDavid
03/18/2013, Milford Sound, NZ
We liked Nelson; my favorite city in NZ so far. The Nelson marina and the adjacent Tasman Bay Cruising Club welcomed us. Kiwi cruising boats populate the docks and many Kiwi sailors dropped by the boat to chat. Town and supermarkets are accessible via a scenic foot path and foot bridges along the river. No wonder Captain Cook returned to this area several times.
Land Ho! New ZealandRos
11/21/2012, Marsden Cove
Old Kiwi friends to greet us with New Zealand champagne in hand - what more could we ask as Barefoot glided into Marsden Cove - 14 months and approx 12,000 Nm after departing Seattle. Needless to say we were very excited at the culmination of Barefoot's first voyage, and so proud of her performance.
Kingdom of TongaRos
Barefoot is departing Neiafu in the beautiful Vava'u island group; working our way south, ready to set sail for NZ with the right weather window. We expect to reach Marsden Cove, Whangerei, NZ around mid November, or a little later and might even manage a break at Minerva Reef (weather dependent).
Robert Louis StevensonRos
09/27/2012, Apia, Samoa
The highlight of our brief visit to (Western) Samoa was a visit to Robert Louis Stevenson's (author of Kidnapped, Treasure Island, Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde) beautiful old house, Villa Vailima, which is now a museum and an excellent record of the last years of his life, which he spent there. He was apparently writing a book every 3 months until his death in 1894. He was only 44. We climbed the hill behind his home, to his grave. A steep 45 minute climb through really nice rainforest; to the summit with the wide view 'under the starry sky' that he wanted. It was very moving to read the famous epitaph he wrote before he died, inscribed in bronze on his tomb.