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s/v Proximity
The Voyages and Adventures of "Your Rock and Roll Argonauts".
Fish On!!
Rod
04/14/2012, Shark Bay, Kawau Island, New Zealand

We sailed from Auckland to Kawau Island yesterday. Along the way, Elisabeth caught her fish, a beautiful Kahawai. It was a beautiful downwind sail with sunshine in the anchorage. Sunshine is getting rare here since it is the Kiwi fall season. Jan and Eli later arrived and joined us for fish taco dinner aboard Proximity. Interesting factoid: the hot sauce served with the tacos was an original, unopened bottle (we still have a few left) that have been with us since Mexico! Yum.

Ready to go North
Rod
04/13/2012, Auckland, new Zealand

"Your Rock and Roll Argos" are pleased to announce that after a few delays, we are once again out and about. On our last post, we reported that our charts had arrived and that we were off to the anchorage and further on. We had happily checked out of the marina at Marsden Cove, and just before we cast off the lines, I took one last look at the sky and thought, "No sir, I don't like it." I mentioned to Elisabeth that I wanted to reconsider the weather, fire up the computer and do some further digging into the forecast. This was a good move, as Cyclone Daphne had been hammering away at Fiji about 1100 miles to the north, she was moving and her outer edge was coming to visit New Zealand's North Island (you know, where we are.) With a heavy heart, we trudged back to the marina office, told them that we were not leaving just quite yet. Karen, the marina manager, had seen that forecast and heartedly agreed with our thinking.

It was hard. The weather at the moment was beautiful, and we really wanted to get moving. Since we have had the rig off, we really needed to sea test it before we set off across a potentially rough passage to Fiji. Good we waited because it was about two days later that the winds picked up and blew with ferocity for nearly five days. It was intense enough that we added extra mooring lines, checked our chafe protection daily, and just hunkered down. We read a maximum 47 knots on our meter, but the amazing thing was that the wind was steady and consistent for so long. Eventually the wind subsided, and the forecast promised a few nice days before it got nasty again. So we dove for it.

We have had then a beautiful night at Urquhart's Bay, followed by a nice, all day, and upwind sail in gentle conditions, down to Kawau Island where we had been with Jenny. All was perfect, and we really enjoyed the day. The anchorage at Kawau was amazing. It was still and quiet. We sat out that late afternoon and listened to the birds in the forest. One of our favorites is the Tui. Its voice is very special. It sounds kind of like a bell with two different tones going at the same time.

In the morning, we continued down to Auckland. At first the conditions were so light we had to motor. After a while, the wind filled in, this time from behind us and continued to build throughout the day. This was just the kind of testing we had been wanting, gibing back and forth in the building wind. All is good with the boat and we were eventually racing along. By the time we reached Auckland, the nice weather had well given way to the windy rainy stuff the forecast had promised. Soon after we were snug and tied in Westhaven marina, it opened up and blew and rained while the two of us smiled at each other reflecting on yet another great day together. Life is good.

Our reason for coming to Auckland is to check out our charging system and battery monitor. Proximity has a large battery bank that operates all of our electrical equipment. Our two solar panels and wind generator charge it. It is also charged by the engine's alternator while the engine is running. We have an instrument that monitors this charging and tell us exactly how much current we are drawing and how much electricity is being fed back in to the batteries. It is all kind of like a fuel gauge for this critical system. We think all is ok, but again, before we set out on a long journey well away from sophisticated help, we want to have an expert electrician check her out well due to some funny readings we recently noted.

It is not all work though. Jan and Eli and still here in Jenny, so we spent a nice evening with them last night and may go sailing together this afternoon. On Saturday, we plan to leave and begin our travel back up to Whangarei where we will wait for a good weather window for leaving for Fiji. We may stop over at Great Barrier Island along the way. We haven't decided yet. Much depends on the weather and time is counting down rapidly to the big voyage.

Late breaking news. (Later this same day) Electrician has been here, and Proximity's systems are all A-OK. Now we look for that weather window for a north bound sail to Fiji!


On the Move!
Rod
03/27/2012, Auckland and back

Hi Everybody. A few changes since we last reported. After a road trip to Auckland, Jan was successful in locating a new engine control unit for Jenny. We got it in and working in very short order, so Jenny was now fine. Meanwhile, Proximity was also good to travel, but effectively still stuck while we had to wait for a package of charts for the upcoming season to arrive. Since Eli was scheduled to fly into Auckland, and Jenny needed some further work once there, Jan asked Elisabeth and I to help Jan sail Jenny to Auckland. How could we resist? Our boat was stuck, Jenny would be a treat to sail, Jan is a beloved friend, Jarl wanted to go off by himself fishing (remember his bucket list?) and to top it off, the Volvo Ocean Race fleet had just arrived, and were scheduled to do their Harbor race. If we traveled well, we just might get to watch.

Our first day was a beautiful sail down to Kauwau Island, just over half way. The wind was from the SE, so it was a spirited sail to windward. New Zealand has always provided us with upwind sailing, hasn't it? But it was absolutely lovely, and we were flying along at about 7 to 8 knots. It was just about twilight when we got Jenny's anchor down on the east corner of the anchorage at Kauwau. A traditional "anker dram" of Aquavit (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akvavit), a nice dinner, and it was off to bed for a happy and tired crew.

The next morning, we were up early and set out for Auckland. It was cool and gray with a little more wind, sometimes in the low 30's. We once had a local tell us that if it wasn't blowing 30, it wasn't worth going out. This, of course, was an exaggeration, but it does underscore that Kiwis know lots of wind, and partly explains why so many professional racing yachts have a high percentage of Kiwi crew. They are just at home in it.

We arrived at Auckland just in time for the Volvo Ocean Race start. The activity was amazing with course marshal boats, spectator boats, coast guard boats, television helicopters seemingly everywhere. Captain Jan tacked Jenny up and down along the windward course boundary. At one point, the television helicopter came down and quite close to us. Of course, we all waved. And the Volvo boats? Well, they were magnificent with their big colorful sail, sailing fast as if they were powerboats with big spray coming off their bows. Like Formula One on the water.

Eventually, the race was over and we took Jenny over to the marina for the night. As we were tying her up, the harbormaster reported to us "I just watched you on the television!" Fun. Indeed, it wasn't too long before Jan received reports from Norway that he had been sighted. We spent some time that evening on the Auckland waterfront where a "race village" had been set up (I bought a Groupama, the French Team, t-shirt). I had chosen Groupama as my team to cheer, and I got the shirt for "only" $40 NZ. Jan had stopped by the Camper, New Zealand team tent and was stopped by the price. He decided that $90 NZ was too high for a t-shirt. But, hey, it WAS the home team, and the shirt DID have a collar!

After all of this fun, we bid good-bye to Jan and Jarl (the fishing had been good), and "Your Rock and Roll Argonauts" were soon back at home on Proximity. While we were away, a French boat, Jeandreé, had arrived and had tied next to us. They told us that the previous night, the wind in the marina had gotten up to 60 kts, and had squeezed our fenders up on to the dock so that they weren't fending, and that they had pushed them down for us. After a hearty "Merci!" we were invited over for an aperitif and conversation - all in French. These two, Jean and Andreé have become friends with us having a few dinners and walks, trips to town, etc. together. It is especially cool in that Jean and Andreé do not speak any English, and we are all able to get along nicely in French. Studying pays off.

Our charts finally arrived this morning, so our plan is to head back out to the anchorage in the morning, and take the next weather window south. We still hope to get to Great Barrier, and Elisabeth wants to catch that legendary snapper that she has heard so much about. Yeah, mon, she says, and we will keep you posted.



On the Move!
Rod
03/27/2012, Auckland and back

Hi Everybody. A few changes since we last reported. After a road trip to Auckland, Jan was successful in locating a new engine control unit for Jenny. We got it in and working in very short order, so Jenny was now fine. Meanwhile, Proximity was also good to travel, but effectively still stuck while we had to wait for a package of charts for the upcoming season to arrive. Since Eli was scheduled to fly into Auckland, and Jenny needed some further work once there, Jan asked Elisabeth and I to help Jan sail Jenny to Auckland. How could we resist? Our boat was stuck, Jenny would be a treat to sail, Jan is a beloved friend, Jarl wanted to go off by himself fishing (remember his bucket list?) and to top it off, the Volvo Ocean Race fleet had just arrived, and were scheduled to do their Harbor race. If we traveled well, we just might get to watch.

Our first day was a beautiful sail down to Kauwau Island, just over half way. The wind was from the SE, so it was a spirited sail to windward. New Zealand has always provided us with upwind sailing, hasn't it? But it was absolutely lovely, and we were flying along at about 7 to 8 knots. It was just about twilight when we got Jenny's anchor down on the east corner of the anchorage at Kauwau. A traditional "anker dram" of Aquavit (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akvavit), a nice dinner, and it was off to bed for a happy and tired crew.

The next morning, we were up early and set out for Auckland. It was cool and gray with a little more wind, sometimes in the low 30's. We once had a local tell us that if it wasn't blowing 30, it wasn't worth going out. This, of course, was an exaggeration, but it does underscore that Kiwis know lots of wind, and partly explains why so many professional racing yachts have a high percentage of Kiwi crew. They are just at home in it.

We arrived at Auckland just in time for the Volvo Ocean Race start. The activity was amazing with course marshal boats, spectator boats, coast guard boats, television helicopters seemingly everywhere. Captain Jan tacked Jenny up and down along the windward course boundary. At one point, the television helicopter came down and quite close to us. Of course, we all waved. And the Volvo boats? Well, they were magnificent with their big colorful sail, sailing fast as if they were powerboats with big spray coming off their bows. Like Formula One on the water.

Eventually, the race was over and we took Jenny over to the marina for the night. As we were tying her up, the harbormaster reported to us "I just watched you on the television!" Fun. Indeed, it wasn't too long before Jan received reports from Norway that he had been sighted. We spent some time that evening on the Auckland waterfront where a "race village" had been set up (I bought a Groupama, the French Team, t-shirt). I had chosen Groupama as my team to cheer, and I got the shirt for "only" $40 NZ. Jan had stopped by the Camper, New Zealand team tent and was stopped by the price. He decided that $90 NZ was too high for a t-shirt. But, hey, it WAS the home team, and the shirt DID have a collar!

After all of this fun, we bid good-bye to Jan and Jarl (the fishing had been good), and "Your Rock and Roll Argonauts" were soon back at home on Proximity. While we were away, a French boat, Jeandreé, had arrived and had tied next to us. They told us that the previous night, the wind in the marina had gotten up to 60 kts, and had squeezed our fenders up on to the dock so that they weren't fending, and that they had pushed them down for us. After a hearty "Merci!" we were invited over for an aperitif and conversation - all in French. These two, Jean and Andreé have become friends with us having a few dinners and walks, trips to town, etc. together. It is especially cool in that Jean and Andreé do not speak any English, and we are all able to get along nicely in French. Studying pays off.

Our charts finally arrived this morning, so our plan is to head back out to the anchorage in the morning, and take the next weather window south. We still hope to get to Great Barrier, and Elisabeth wants to catch that legendary snapper that she has heard so much about. Yeah, mon, she says, and we will keep you posted.



Successful Move to Marsden Cove Marina
Rod
03/05/2012, Marsden Cove Marina, New Zealand

After sleeping it over, Jan, on Jenny, informed us that that he could steer the boat outside while Jarl, his son visiting from Norway, could switch the engine into gear, forward or reverse, and operate throttle control down inside the boat. This would involve Jan calling the commands down and Jarl hearing them, because they cannot see each other during this procedure. Marsden Cove Marina was close by, and it would be much easier to source a fix in a marina that an anchorage. If Elisabeth and I would go into the marina well ahead of jenny, we could park our boat, get our dinghy in the water, and then zoom out to Jenny, climb onboard and take the lines ashore while Jan and Jarl controlled the boat.

A call to Marsden to let them know we were coming with a big beautiful crippled boat and a call to Matt to tell him we are at Marsden, and we were off. We had had the dinghy off the boat last night, so it came on board. We raised anchor, and we set out for Marsden. The wind has shifted during the night, so we had a nice and very rolly ride to Marsden. It was no problem, but very entertaining. Once at Marsden, like good commandos, we got the dinghy in the water and set out to assist Jenny. Once we got out of the marina proper and into the channel, we gave the dinghy power so we travel faster to help Jenny. Of course the dinghy has also been unused for a year. The gas was new, but upon throttle up, the engine died. "Row, Elisabeth, row while I try and get her going". Well, she did, and I did, and the beloved little engine we call "Blackie" sprung back to life. Then she died again. Three times, we had this great fun. The irony is that the engine had just been given to the local outboard shop to "get her ready for a season of trouble free duty". Sigh What can you do? It seems like fuel starvation - should be an easy fix. Just put it on the list.

We got to Jenny. Jan had decided to sail her into the marina. Jenny is over 50 feet long and is a custom built, cold molded wood boat. Sailing such a boat into a very windy (Yes, the wind had picked up by now- remember the gale warnings we had been getting?) It was not blowing that much, but the wind was there. Bottom line is that after a few exciting moments, we got Jenny in and tied. Matt came in the afternoon, had a look, Jan made progress in sourcing help, so to quote the Kiwis, "she'll be right". And she will. I think that we will all be here a few days, but there is another low-pressure system forecast to come on Wednesday, so we would need to be somewhere cozy anyway. This marina will be fine.

On Anchor with s/v Jenny, but we both have problems.
Rod
03/05/2012, , Urquart's Bay, New Zealand

Our two boats left Whangarei this afternoon, about 4:30 and motored down the river toward the sea. Our destination was the anchorage just at the mouth of the river where the sea environment starts. It is 6:30 pm, we have had a beautiful trip down the river. At truly beautiful day, and we are now anchored, but with problems. This is why we do shake downs. The alternator on Proximity is working, but the batteries are not being charged. Jenny has lost all engine controls. So, here we are, anchored in a most beautiful anchorage without internet wondering what we are going to do.

These are some of the challenges of what people call "cruising". It is often much more work than people ever realize. We have made a call to the brilliant electrician, Matt that we met when we first arrived in New Zealand. Matt no longer runs his shop, but he lives locally, commutes to work in his boat, and will stop in and help us troubleshoot tomorrow. Jenny's problem is more serious. She cannot move under power. The engine runs, but no throttle or transmission controls.

We are safe, happy, and not too surprised to have mechanical issues to deal with. Both of these boats have undergone extensive refit and work over the past year. It is common to have issues to iron out after being out of service for such a long time. We will see what tomorrow brings with Matt's visit, and we will go from there. Meanwhile, there is a beautiful setting here. It is mountainous, green with cows (I counted more than 30) on the hillside. The sunset looks like it will be spectacular, we are protected from weather. We will work it all out.

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