Seaforth - The Holiday of a Lifetime

A pair of Kiwis who realised that life isn't a dress rehearsal and its time to go see the world.

10 May 2017 | Orokawa Bay, Bay of Islands
02 May 2017 | Opua, NZ
26 April 2017 | Opua, Bay of Islands
26 April 2017 | Opua, Bay of Islands
09 April 2017 | Urupukapuka Island, Bay of Islands
05 April 2017 | Gulf Harbour
24 March 2017
08 February 2017
25 January 2017
23 January 2017
22 April 2014
22 December 2013 | Smokehouse Bay, Great Barrier Island, NZ
21 December 2013 | Smokehouse Bay, Great Barrier Island, NZ
20 December 2013 | Smokehouse Bay, Great Barrier Island
16 December 2013 | Waimate Island, Coromandel, NZ
15 December 2013 | Huse Bay, Waiheke Island, NZ
14 December 2013 | Kauakarau Bay, Waiheke Island, NZ
13 December 2013 | Westhaven Marina
01 November 2013 | Auckland, New Zealand
18 October 2013 | Westhaven, Auckland

Scooby Don't

10 May 2017 | Orokawa Bay, Bay of Islands
They say that timing is everything. Well, there’s never a good time for gear failure, however, I do feel that we have been a little bit fortunate just recently.

We were due to leave NZ on Saturday 6 May but there wasn’t a suitable weather window. So on Friday 5 May we left the marina to pump out our holding tank, give the hull a wipe over and top up the fuel tanks with jerry cans. This was when we discovered that our autopilot had suddenly stopped working.

Because there’s just the two of us, the autopilot is a very important crew member on our trip. The two of us hand steering the boat the entire trip would be very, very tiring indeed, so it was perhaps fortunate that we found out about the failure before we departed for Tonga. It turns out that the seal between the hydraulic pump and the electric motor that drives the pump had failed and that hydraulic fluid had leaked into the electric motor, gumming it all up.

We had been joking for a while about the autopilot making Scooby Doo noises when it was working …. and by Scooby Doo noises, I mean it sounded like it was saying “Rut Rohhh, Rut Rohhh”. Turns out it was trying to tell us that it was sick. But in our defence it had always made that kind of sound since we bought the boat.

A new pump and motor assembly installed and the old unit off for repair (and to become our spare) and we’re away again. The new autopilot is disturbingly quiet. I feel guilty now that not only had I ignored the old autopilot’s blatantly clear cries for help, but that we’d made fun of them too.

Rut Roh


02 May 2017 | Opua, NZ
Ok, so we're sitting in Opua awaiting a good weather window for departure and the temperatures have plummeted. It's decided cold in the mornings now with single digit temperatures and much grumbling. We're starting to get impatient to be getting somewhere warmer.

Speaking of weather windows there is a disturbing tropical depression lurking near Vanuatu at the moment and that may have a big influence on our departure from NZ. While we're keen to get somewhere warmer, I don't want to set sail into nasty weather.

In the meantime we'll just wait and watch the weather .... and try to keep warm

Road trip!

26 April 2017 | Opua, Bay of Islands
On Easter Sunday we waved a temporary goodbye to Seaforth and jumped on an Intercity bus to Orewa to pick up our campervan that we’d left at Gulf Harbour. We met some friends at Orewa and got a lift to the van, loaded her up with our clothes and headed south to go to a Jimmy Buffett concert in Wellington. We stopped and stayed with friends in Hamilton and Sanson before arriving in Wellington. As well as the concert, we did the Weta Workshop tour (well worth it!) and scooted around Te Papa to see the Gallipoli exhibition before jumping on the ferry and heading to Blenheim for the night where we stayed with more friends. We then trekked to Christchurch via Murchison and the Lewis Pass – the road from Picton to Christchurch through Kaikoura is still impassable as a result of the Kaikoura earthquakes. We stayed two nights with friends in Christchurch and saw Jimmy Buffett in concert again (fantastic show!) before scooting northward to Tasman (just out of Motueka) for the night. Once again we hopped onto the ferry and drove from Wellington to Turangi. The next day we continued northward to Auckland, spent a night with family and cruised back up to Opua – back to our beloved Seaforth.

In 10 days of road tripping we drove 3107.3 km (not including the bus trip from Opua), saw 14 different sets of friends and family and saw Jimmy Buffett in concert twice. A huge thank you to all those people for their warm hospitality and wonderful friendship, and a heartfelt apology to all those we missed on our whirlwind tour. We love you all and will be back later in the year – no doubt with great tans and raft of stories to tell.

Getting you all up to speed

26 April 2017 | Opua, Bay of Islands
So, we’ve been busy little campers for the past couple of weeks. We have rented out our marina berth in Gulf Harbour from the middle of April until the middle of November so we needed to vacate the berth. We decided that was sufficient motivation to exit Gulf Harbour and sail Seaforth up to the Bay of Islands, so we did an overnight sail up the coast covering the 100 or so miles in 17 hours (average speed of 6.2 knots).

We got away from Gulf Harbour just after 2pm and had quite a good sail up the coast with a reasonably good breeze to start off with. One reef in the mainsail and the staysail had us barreling along at 7-7.5 knots, occasionally straying into the 8s (along with the compulsory “8 knot squeal”). Just off Cape Rodney, however, we sailed straight into a big hole in the wind – it just suddenly dropped out and headed us. We cranked up good old Polly Perkins (our engine) and were once again scooting along at something a bit over 5.5 knots and after about 30 mins, the breeze filled in to what it was doing beforehand and we were away again. The same thing happened later on along the Tutukaka coast as well. We rounded Cape Brett and entered the Bay of Islands just before dawn just before Easter and the impending arrival of the remains of Cyclone Cook.

After recovering for a day (sleeping) we hung around in the Bay of Islands for a couple of days and prepared for the predicted carnage that Cyclone Cook was supposed to deliver. Our weather forecasting systems were showing us that it was going to be a fizzle but the MetService were insisting it was a serious threat. Turned out the MetService were wrong. That gave us confidence in our weather forecasting systems.

On the Saturday of the Easter weekend we slipped into a berth at Opua Marina, tidied up the boat and prepared for a land adventure.

Shit Just Got Real

09 April 2017 | Urupukapuka Island, Bay of Islands
There comes a time in every adventure when it changes from being just a hare-brained scheme into something very real. A kind of water shed moment, the point of no return … like handing the boss your resignation letter. I gather those moments arrive at different times for different people.

For instance, when I did a bungy jump, I was absolutely fine walking out on that bridge, I was fine with being trussed up like a chicken for roasting and attached to a giant rubber band, I was fine with shuffling out to the edge of the platform and looking down at the river far, far below. I was even fine with the concept of leaping off a perfectly safe and secure platform and hurtling through space. My “oh shit” moment came when my feet were about 2 inches off the platform after I’d actually jumped. That was when my (admittedly slow) thought processes suddenly realised that this mad idea wasn’t just an abstract concept anymore and that my body was stupidly going through with it, while my brain was quite desperately searching for the escape hatch in an effort to avoid this madness.

The whole concept of sailing our yacht offshore is, in theory, quite an achievable adventure. We’ve had a few things to do to make it happen and we’ve quietly and deliberately set about doing those things. There have been some major milestones along the way – selling the house, selling the cars, etc. There have been some terribly sad moments as well as some tremendously fun ones. Frustrations, learning, triumph and laughter, all of it necessary. But all in all, sailing away to tropical islands has been a concept for me … an escape from reality maybe, a mid-life crisis, a sustained moment of madness but an abstract idea that isn’t quite real.

Yesterday, we dropped the docklines at our marina berth in Gulf Harbour and headed north overnight to the Bay of Islands to do our final preparations before leaving New Zealand to sail to Tonga. I was fine with getting the boat ready to go for a sail, I was fine with the passage plan, I was absolutely OK with the whole thing …. Right up until the point where was said goodbye to some good friends who saw us off, dropped those docklines and backed out of the slip.

That was my “oh shit, this is really happening” moment. We’re not actually leaving NZ for a few weeks yet, but this shit is definitely getting real.

Counting the days

05 April 2017 | Gulf Harbour
OK, so we're now counting down the days until departure from our marina berth at Gulf Harbour. We have rented out the berth from mid April and need to be out so thought we'd sail up to the Bay of Islands to do our final preparations.

The weather is a bit variable at the moment but it looks like we'll be leaving on Sunday (9th April) or Monday (10th April). We want to get northward before we get hit with a bunch of northerly sector winds.

The final jobs are being ticked off but there's still plenty to do. The latest has been to have full heart health checks at a specialist cardiologists today, including resting ECG, stress ECG and ultra sound imaging of the heart at rest and under stress. All fine for both of us and passed with flying colours. One less thing to worry about.

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Vessel Name: Seaforth
Vessel Make/Model: Davidson 47
Hailing Port: Auckland, New Zealand
Crew: Steve & Ade
About: So we're a couple in our 40s and we've decided to abandon a responsible life with careers and stuff, sell the farm and the cars and go sailing instead. Stuff it, I might die before I get to retire so let's have fun now .... there might be time to work later.
Extra: Oh yeah ... we've got 2 dogs as well .... border collies (cute!). That's gonna make life interesting on a boat isn't it? Oh and in case you were wondering, that isn't a photo of either of us in the string vest ... or anyone we know either.
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Seaforth's Photos -


Who: Steve & Ade
Port: Auckland, New Zealand