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Allan and Rina's Sailing Adventure
The travels of S/V Follow You Follow Me Continue....
Back to the Big City
02/04/2010, Auckland, New Zealand

Back in the big city of Auckland! Boy, the hustle & bustle after being out on the boat again is quite the jump back into reality. People everywhere, walking to work, cabbies racing around, joggers on the waterfront, and mothers walking their babies in strollers. I think the hardest to get over is the "suits" that partake in happy hour for most of the middle of the week. The thought of going back to work when we return is one of hesitation, the looming reality of the trip being over and getting back to our land lives. Going home for the holidays was a whirlwind of visits and putting many miles on Allan's car driving all over Northern California. It was a great time, but trying to get your boat fixed via long distance was a challenge. All is well except for the watermaker...which the guy is coming today to check it when it's all hooked up again. We'll keep you all posted. Ok, back to boat work to finish up before this baby leaves for Mexico. Can't wait to do another spring season down there before we work our way back home during the summer.

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02/04/2010 | Phillip J. Faillers
Just cuz u got no comments don't mean we ain't watchin.
02/05/2010 | Mom Fives
Hear! Hear! Hugs, Mama
Auckland City Skyline
02/04/2010, Auckland, New Zealand

The chaos continued on our way out of the Bay of Islands this week, as the expected 20 knots of wind on the nose never developed, and instead we had 15 knots of following breeze. Sometimes that can be a bad sign, as the wind gets sucked towards a deepening low and more extreme winds to come. Fortunately that did not happen, and we enjoyed about 12 hours of sunny skies before clouds, wind and rain returned just outside of Auckland. We enjoyed the company of a few other sailboats and a large pod of dolphins who danced under our bow for about 30 minutes. As the sun went down around 830pm (ain't summer grand!) we could see a front approaching from the east, and overnight winds built to 25 knots with gusts to 30. We changed our course earlier to keep us well offshore to the east so we could ride the front into Auckland rather than paralleling the shore in shallower water and taking the brunt of the wind and rain on the beam. Turned out to be a good decision as we had a relatively calm ride into Auckland overnight. Our only drama was dodging fishing boats coming out of Auckland harbor and a freighter or two coming in.

We arrived in Auckland at dawn, creeping slowly into the channel as small fishing boats sped past us on their way out to the Hauriki Gulf. We coasted up the waterfront on the flood tide, entered Viaduct Marina, located right at the foot of the downtown tourist and shopping district. We tied up right next to our good friends Dietmar and Suzanne on Carinthia.

We've spent the last several days hanging out with Wayward Wind and Carinthia, as well as meeting new friends on Lightfoot and some locals, doing typical cruiser sunset parties and dinners. Our days have been filled preparing the boat for it's voyage on Dockwise, which will take the boat to Ensenada, now scheduled for February 14th, as well as more mundane maintenance stuff.

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New Zealand Weather: “A Mix of Patterns and Chaos”
01/29/2010, Russel

Those words, spoken by local weather guru Bob McDavitt, were never more true than today. Rina and I have been watching buoyweather and gribs from the local metvuw weather service and that big red blob was heading north, right before it decided to turn west enough to put 35-35 knots right on our nose as we planned to head towards Auckland this morning. So we find ourselves waiting for the blob to pass before heading to Auckland on Sunday morning. Of course, that could change tomorrow morning too... the upside? I get to play another gig with Roger and Bobbie Joe at a small festival in Russel this afternoon.

We took advantage of the brisk 15-25 knot winds today to give the new rudder a good thrashing and she worked great, highlighting only our rusty gybing skills. 3 hours got us all the way out to the mouth of the bay, where we experienced 2 meter short period swells, putting anything loose down below straight onto the cabin sole. The proverbial "shake down" cruise...

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02/02/2010 | Sandy Edmonson
So happy to hear you are back at home on Follow You. We are in Tenacatita today and it is RAINING! We're excited to know that we may be seeing you again soon. We'll make sure we have some champagne on board to celebrate while we catch up! Chris & Sandy
Noobs on the Water
01/28/2010, Russel, New Zealand

It was quite an experience getting back out on the water, with just a little trepidation after almost 3 months tied to a dock or on the hard. Those hard-won cruising skills came back quickly though, and we are once again bouncing around the boat, gaining stronger sea-legs by the day. Talk about feeling like noobies!

We have been sorting out the boat, which was in quite a chaotic state after all the work that was done, and we are close to having her back in order. We also discovered that our genset and solar charging system were not working, reducing our electrical system to a single alternator for charging the 675 amphours of capacity. We therefore got just a little cranky when we had to return to the dock to research what was going on. 2 days later, both problems were traced to workmanship... The genset fuel pickup was not tightened after a tank cleaning back in November, allowing air to enter the fuel line, resulting in variable genset RPM before it shut down. A half a turn on the fuel fitting fixed that. The solar panels was more interesting, with visions of a controller that had lost its mind and no longer sent current to the batteries. If there is one skill that I have not gotten comfortable with, it's electrical systems. I can do the basics, but after watching Carl the electrician come in and diagnose the problem in 5 minutes, it confirms it have a long way to go. Turns out that when the batteries were pulled out and reinstalled to torque the keel bolts, one of the hot leads was not connected, allowing the voltage on the charge input battery to rise, which told the controller to stop sending a charge to the batteries. The electrician diagnosed this by identifying a voltage drop between the batteries, then tracing the cables, finding one that had hidden itself in one of the chases. Hooked her back up and everything's working fine... back to 3 charging systems!

The new rudder works great, with virtually no change in behavior from the old while sailing and motoring around the Bay of Islands. We will get a better feel as we head to Auckland on Saturday, where we will Rendezvous with Carinthia and Wayward Wind at the Viaduct Marina. We will then load Follow You onto a Dockwise freighter for a trip to Ensenada Mexico, where Rina and I will resume cruising for 6 more months. While Follow You is in transit, we will tour the South Island of New Zealand, "Lord of the Rings Country" as Dietmar on Carinthia likes to say.

Meanwhile we have reconnected with our cruising musician buddies Roger and Bobbie Joe from Hipnautical, playing at the Opua Cruising Club for a large audience last night. Tonight is our final gig with Trippy at the Opua Café. I'll really miss playing with everyone here, especially Roger and Bobbie Joe, having played gigs with them in Mexico, French Polynesia, Tonga and now New Zealand. It highlights a cruising truism, meeting great people, building great friendships, but then having to ultimately say goodbye as our cruising plans diverge over time. Bittersweet indeed...even if balanced by our excitement of heading back to Mexico where we will meet new friends and reconnect with old ones.

The picture above is Follow You Follow Me, dead center, in the Bay in front of historic Russel, the first capital of New Zealand.

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We're Home!
01/23/2010, Opua, New Zealand

It sounds strange, but it's know that feeling you get after coming home after a vacation? We had it in spades after settling back in on the boat, especially after she was floating again.

After 6 whirlwind weeks in California, we arrived yesterday in Opua to find a thoroughly renovated sailboat waiting for us. Doing project management from 6000 miles away has been a challenge, but Ashby's boatyard has done great work... The list of improvements completed during this "mini-overhaul" are substantial... Both sails got new clews, new UV covers and were substantially re-stitched... They are 6 years old and were showing their age and significant use over the past 18 months. After the new rudder was installed and the keel bolts tightened, we decided to do a high quality bottom job; deep sanding followed by 2 coats of epoxy and 2 coats of Micron66 bottom paint, which served us well over the past 2 years. A couple of surprise repairs: The cutlass bearing holding the propshaft was almost gone, requiring a complete rebuild. Another was the replacement of our Yanmar 4JH3TE injectors while getting a major tune-up. They were marginal when tested so we bit the bullet and replaced them now. Hmmmm, wonder if our engine salt water episode in Tonga had anything to do with it.

Follow You then went back in the water after a thorough inspection and a couple hours of cleaning the waterline, and it was quite exciting really.... She floats, steer and everything! We'll do a thorough sea-trial on Monday and then finally get out to anchor in the Bay of Islands for a couple of weeks before heading to Auckland. Rina and I spent 10 straight hours cleaning and putting stuff back together again. 6 weeks of dirt and mechanics onboard had taken its toll. The good news is that all systems came back on line without a hiccup EXCEPT the shower sump, which decided to test our troubleshooting skills AFTER I got in the shower. Turns out a small blockage formed at the 90 degree elbow right at the thru-hull... mud-wasps perhaps? The barbeque got a thorough test, with New Zealand's finest steaks, and it felt great to just hang out in the freshly cleaned cockpit.

Along the way we have had several homecomings, spending time with Kaumoana, Dosia, Lucy, Incantation, Qayaq and Hipnautical. Speaking of Hipnautical, I'm already dialed into several gigs, as well as picking up again with Trippy, who I gigged with when last here.

All in all a great first day. Tired bodies, calm minds, smiling faces.

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01/23/2010 | wayne Stuart from Morro Bay
WELCOME HOME!!! I have been one of your followers (internet stocker as my employees call me) since you were in Mexico. Have really enjoyed your posts and have missed you for the last couple months.
01/24/2010 | Phillip J. Faillers
Can't wait to hear about the sea trials and the rudder comparison.
01/24/2010 | drew
hey allan, i think your rudder just floated by d-dock. apparently it came detached from your boat and was in search of kinda waters over here at dosia. the ducks moved aboard and we threw some jerky to them as they floated towards russell.

drew and margie
01/24/2010 | Kenneth Newell
Good to hear you are back. We are in Paradise marina waiting our exit date in March. We had some repairs in Mzatlan that tested our skills, but we came through.
Follow You on the Hard
11/27/2009, Opua, New Zealand

Follow You is on the hard... all systems put to bed, and a new kiwi-built rudder is being constructed. Our IMIS Jackline insurance has been great to work with and they saw the merits of building a high quality rudder locally, rather than shipping in a rudder from the US, where there might be additional fitment issues to deal with.

We spent a wonderful Thanksgiving with Kaumoana, Carinthia and Wayward Wind and are now at the Sky Grand Hotel in downtown Auckland... Boy things move fast around here.... We forgot what big city life was like. Rina is getting her shopping fix, and we are eating wonderful meals at cool restaurants all over town, seeing movies (2012 is next) and basically doing all those things you don't get to do while crossing the pacific.

This will be our last blog until we have some pictures of the new rudder being built and installed in late December or early January.

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11/29/2009 | Sandy
Wow! THAT "hard" looks pretty clean! Here, in San Carlos, the dust just piles on the boat when it is on the hard. "Faith" was a big, fat dirtball by the time she got launched! We are happy to be in the water and getting ready to head south. Have a wonderful Christmas!
Sandy & Chris
12/01/2009 | daniel vorster
You guys enjoy every minute of DOWNTIME so that you can come back and do the REST of it.. Will soon be doing the same... been good to watch you and honeymoon and la palapa kena and others do, what we hope to do soon in Jan 2010.
12/22/2009 | Joan Martin
Merry Christmas! Hope next is as good as this year! See you soon!
Longing for the Sea
11/22/2009, Near Russel, Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Mind and memory are funny things. After longing for marina time for months, we are officially tired of it... the hustle and bustle of the boatyard and the incessant groan of the giant crane lifting boats in and out of the water 6 days a week is getting to us. Even after the fatigue of numerous long passages over the past months, we find ourselves wanting to be out there again. Rina and I found this beach on the back side of one of the many islands here in the Bay of Islands. As we sat on the beach watching sailboats gracefully glide past our vantage point, squinted at the distant anchorages with masts poking towards the sky, it really hit us. We really like being out here and living on the water. It will be interesting to see how we react to being off the boat for the next 6 weeks as we head back to the states to visit family and friends, most of which we have not seen for over a year. Our last trip home in December of 2008 was 2 weeks and we could not wait to get back on the water. That said, it is time for some quality catch-up time with home.

Over the past two weeks the remnants of the 2009 Pacific Puddle Jump fleet have wandered into Australia and New Zealand. The focused group of 20-30 boats who we crossed the pacific with have dwindled to just a few here in Opua, although we do stay in touch with many of our friends elsewhere in the region. Carinthia, Dosia, Wayward Wind, Zen, Thumbs Up, Long White Cloud, Tender Spirit, Sarava, and several others have passed through Opua, and several have since departed for Whangarei and Auckland. The dream voyage is ending for some... Honeymoon has sold in Australia, and Seth and Elizabeth are planning their next boat already. Dosia is likewise on the market, and Drew and Margie are planning a round the [rest of the] world trip to finish out their adventure before heading home.

Most of our boat projects are done. The boat gets hauled for 62 days of storage on the hard here in Opua, where a new rudder, bottom paint touch up and a wax job await her. After living with Follow You's systems 7/24 for the last 15 months, turning everything off and putting her to bed for such a long period is strangely un-nerving for me. Boats don't like to sit around. Stuff seems to magically break. I can only imagine what awaits us upon our return, other than a shiny new rudder.

We head to Auckland this week for Thanksgiving at the home of Suzanne and Richard from Kaumoana, accompanied by the crew from Carinthia. From there, we get some hotel time in the big city and then head for home on Dec 4. As we did last year, we'll be putting the blog on hiatus during our time home, likely after one more entry before we depart.

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11/22/2009 | Ken & Lori Newell
Alan & Rina,

We love you insight as we sit here in La Paz till after Thankgiving. We are then planning a week of diving at Espiritu Santo and then make our crossing to Mazatlan.

We are still thinking hard about that BIG crossing and 20-28 days on the water. Keep the blogs coming.
Playing Tourist
11/13/2009, Opua, New Zealand

While awaiting information from our insurance company to get things fixed on the boat, we decided to do a road trip with Kuamoana (Richard & Suzanne) up to the most northern point of New Zealand (Cape Reinga). The winds were blowing, seas swirling and we didn't miss being out there in the boat in this weather. We were thinking of our friends still on the passage and experiencing these seas, not much fun. Wind on their noses, bashing into the sea swells, smelling land and friends awaiting their arrivals. The cape was beautiful. I can't believe that we are 5709 nautical miles from Los Angeles!!! I feel the sense of accomplishment personally. I really did it! Now that we are at the end of our South Pacific sailing journey, right before moving the boat back to the Northern Hemisphere, you look back at your passages and can't believe the countries you've seen that are only accessible by boat. Most islands that we've visited only have puddle jumper type planes (oh, and I do not enjoy small planes). Short trips and long passages, we've learned a lot about, not just the boat, but the time that we had together as a couple and then with new friends. We've grown together even closer than we left. It's been an interesting challenge living in such close quarters for over 18 months but, we have learned to appreciate space and the attachment to "stuff". Cruising is a lifestyle, not a vacation (just to clarify that for you land lubbers). Provisioning, cleaning, maintenance, and fixing things in exotic places is such a true statement in the sailing books. We've had rough times, fun times, but for the most part, it's been a pleasure working and learning from Allan. We have realized how much we contribute to each other's strengths and practically read each other's minds on most things. I'm excited and can't wait to finish up our cruising back in Mexico (which seems pretty easy compared to the challenges the South Pacific has served out) and then work our way back up the coast of California, visiting friends and family along the way. Oh, I'm posting more check them out. Hi! To everyone...see most of you in December!

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11/13/2009 | Sandy
We are in San Carlos working hard to get the boat put back together so we can start heading south again. It is soooo good to be aboard our "baby" even though there is a lot of work to do. Can't wait to see you again!!
Sandy & Chris
A Boat without a Rudder
11/11/2009, Opua, New Zealand

We have learned a bunch about rudders and rudder design in the last two weeks, perhaps more than we really cared to, but it has been key to the dialog with insurance about how and why our rudder failed and the possible replacement options.... They are not simple appendages, but complex creatures that must be built to take much stress while gracefully steering the boat with a mild helm. Our original rudder was fiberglass over foam, connected to a fiberglass rudder post. The rudder post failed just below the bottom bearing, but the reasons are still being researched... There were no groundings of the rudder that we are aware of, but serious stresses have been placed on it in force 10 winds and ferocious seas (Just out of Bora Bora in August) and an unfortunate episode backing the boat slammed the rudder against the stops while pulling away from the dock in Vavau.... But it could also be design or manufacturing related.... There have been other well documented Hunter 466 rudder failures... Mike Harker's 466 rudder failure in 2004 is a case in point, but statistically, Hunter rudders have failed no more or less than other brands with stainless rudder posts... even if the fiberglass rudder post is viewed as a maritime abomination by most.

At this point we are waiting for an insurance decision on coverage and which replacement rudder to go with. A locally built rudder would be made with 20 mil thick 316 stainless tubing, Kauri wood under fiberglass with an optimized shape largely based on the original specifications. The other option is a replacement made by Hunter's subcontractor, who has the original rudder molds. Their rudder is also has a stainless 316 post, but is made of foam under fiberglass. Even after expedited shipping from the US, the Hunter replacement is significantly cheaper than the locally built one, so we expect insurance will go that route.

We will put the boat on the hard in late November while the replacement rudder is built and shipped, then fitted to the boat in December. We will return to the boat in January, splash her and sail New Zealand for several weeks before shipping the boat to Mexico for the remainder of the sailing season.

I've put a bunch of pictures in the gallery of the rudder and associated bits... I'm sure you technical sailing geeks have plenty of questions (and opinions of course!) bring em on, mate!

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11/21/2009 | steve dion
What is the status with your rudder? Where did you finally get a replacement? I hope all is well, it is raining/snowing on our side of the Sierras.
Trapped Like Beavers
11/05/2009, Opua, New Zealand

After arriving in New Zealand on the 27th, we checked in with the cheerful customs officials, who were a model of efficiency. We then arranged a quick tow over to Ashby's boatyard where we have been since. We then slept for the better part of two days.

It's a funny thing... we have been looking forward to "marina time" for awhile now.... Power, unlimited water, easy on/off... and after a week of it Rina and I have both commented on how we feel trapped... "Trapped like Beavers" (movie reference time!) No rudder, and now no engine, while we have our fuel injectors inspected and cleaned. It's not that we *want* to go anywhere, it's that we cant if we wanted to. So we did the next best thing. We rented a car and went for a road trip.... First spending a few days at Paihia, a touristy town about 5 miles away. Then off to historic Russell, one of the earliest settlements in New Zealand. Lastly, we headed 30 miles away to Kerikeri, to visit the farmers market, wineries and waterfalls on the Kerikeri river. The highlight was a stunning lunch in the sun and chilled air on the deck of the Ake Ake winery just outside of Kerikeri... imagine Napa wine country 30 years ago, or Shenendoah Valley in Amador County 5 years ago...quaint and very personal... and oh yea,,, great wine. I've also picked up a few gigs with local musicians, which is always fun.

After returning to the boat early in the week, we set off on our deferred projects. Engine maintenance, sail repair, fixing the damaged steering ball joint and a host of smaller projects. And oh yea, that rudder thing... We've spent many hours on email, the phone and with the local guys figuring out our options. We can get a replacement rudder from the states made by a Hunter subcontractor or we can get one made locally. Unfortunately Hunter's documentation on the rudder is not complete, so the local guys are flying a bit in the dark, but we should have a decision soon on which way to go. Unfortunately, either option requires 3-4 weeks lead time, so we're stuck here for awhile.

We get hauled today to pull the remains of the rudder shaft... A survey done earlier this week found no additional damage, just a broken tab under the front bunk.

New pictures in the gallery!

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11/05/2009 | john
3 weeks for a rudder....what a bummer, we feel for you guys
but it must be a burden with the finance as well.
the tow would have cost alot or do you have insurance for this..........

god bless
11/05/2009 | Phillip J. Faillers
Oh come on........ only your favoritest movie of all time "1941" with John Balushi.
11/09/2009 | Lewis Guiss
Hi, we are incedibly impressed how you deal with difficult situations and then when things turn worse, how you take it to another level. Kudos. We hope to learn from your examples.
Two days before leaving for Mexico with our boat totally stocked and fueled up, we got a call from ML's doctor that she has an abnormal mammogram. The biopsy was positive but 100% survival rate. She will have a lumpectomy and then in 3 weeks ,6 weeks of radiation. We still do know about our plans. Mexico in the Spring or next Fall
Hope to see you and hear more about your adventures.
Mary Lee and Lewis

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Who: Allan & Rina Alexopulos
Port: Sutter Creek, CA
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