02/26/2011, New Zealand
We were notified yesterday that our apartment has been condemned. They say they is a good chance it will fall on its own and if not they will knock it down. Mark and I are completely in disbelief and very lucky. How can a new building built in an earthquake zone not be made to withstand an earthquake? Part of the reason we chose it was because it was a newer building. We are lucky that it was only a temporary apartment and we didn't lose more and especially that it didn't come down with us inside but we did take a lose. We had a few sentimental items in there. Our passports with the places we have been, my nice clothes from my showers and rehearsal, a quilt I've been working on for a while and was three squares away from finishing, fabric I have been selecting to make quilts for family and friends, Marks journal. But we also had some boat parts that will now have to go back to square one to get and some of our safety equipment for the boat like our SAT phone and back-up GPS along with Wifi antennas and other electronics. We also lost our bikes, games, camping equipment. We keep trying to put it in perspective, and we know that we are extremely lucky and lost little in comparison to many but it is still difficult. We thank our friends and family for the support they have given us and continue to ask for your prayers and we sort through what we need to do next and how best to move on.
We are still out of Christchurch. Hopefully our building inspection will be completed by this weekend and we can get the last of our things. We are extremely lucky and happy that we were able to get out of the city unharmed and are in part of the country where we do not need to be concerned for our safety. Are prayers continue to go out to the people left in Christchurch and for the families who have lost, or are still looking for, loved ones. Please continue to also pray for us and our ability to return to collect our things. Most can be replaced but there are a few things of sentimental value that we would like to get back.
We have contacted the US Consulate regarding our status. If you are a US Citizen in New Zealand please contact the Consulate and let them know that you are okay even if you were not in or near Christchurch. They are compiling a list so that if anyone worried about a loved one does contact them they have all information available. They have set up a special e-mail address to do so, it is:
11/01/2010, Midway between Tonga and NZ
We are on the 4th day of our Tonga to New Zealand crossing. We started out in Neifu and headed west out of the same pass we entered in. Chris from Mooneshine, Lee from Jargo, and another sailor Sarah, joined us as far as the Mariners Cave where we dropped them off in their dinghy. They planned to visit the cave and then dinghy back to Neifu or perhaps hitch a ride on another sailboat.
Catching up on our last couple of weeks in Tonga, we spent a good part of it in Neifu venturing out for several days at a time. The main issue has been the weather was very overcast and often raining heavily. Mark did some dives with Cory from Comfort Zone which were quite good. We celebrated a birthday with several other boats with a beach fire on one of the anchorages. Mooneshine finally arrived and we hung out with Chris and Ashley for a bit.
We planned to head out several days earlier but ran into some problems while we were still in Va'vau group. Mark had spent the day in the engine room on various repairs, mostly in overhauling the automatic bilge pump which had been failing to prime itself. As he was finishing, we noticed the generator was over heating. Mark found the impeller had lost some of its blades and replaced it. He then fished for the broken blades where they end up in the heat exchanger and can create blockages.
That was when he noticed there was a large crack on the heat exchanger's cover. We decided to head back to Neifu to get it repaired and that slowed us down by several days. Because the cover is made of bronze, it is apparently not welded but braized. Though we're not sure waht the difference is, it didn't matter because the maintenance guy at the Moorings charter office said we'd have a hard time getting it repaired in town and he thought we would be well enough off using some special epoxy we already had on the boat. With the repair complete, we headed out the next day.
The crossing began quite rough. We had 25-35kt winds from the SE and quite unsettled wave action. We were both very seasick the first several days, mostly sitting put as much as we could. Unfortunately, as we were passing Nukulofa in the morning, Mark found two problems. One, the generator was again overheating. And two, the wind direction gauge had been damaged the night before. We decided to not stop back in Nukulofa as neither was particularly serious and we probably would not be able to get the repairs completed anyway.
For the next day, we ran the engine to charge the batteries when needed while Mark worked on the generator. The issue was that being seasick Mark did not feel like spending lots of time in the engine room and needed long breaks. Also, for some reason the first impeller he replaced has an early failure. Looking back, the issue was that being heeled over so far (which raised the side the generator was one higher), the impellers were having lots of trouble priming themselves and Mark really needed to gob on silicone grease to help the priming and protect the impeller until the water started moving through and lubricating/cooling the impeller. Still, there were at least a couple of times where Mark verified the impellers were correctly primed, only to having them "de-prime". We are not exactly sure what the problem was, but the generator now is working correctly. It was nice that we had 5 spare impellers with us, as losing several has not been a great worry. We'll check with a mechanic when we get to NZ and are completing our other repairs.
The winds have generally ranged from the SE or NE and we've had to adjust the sails several times a day to account for changes in direction. We've been making 5-9kts most of the time, though most recently the wind has shifted more to our port quarter and slowed down and we've fired up the engine to keep us moving. The weather down here can be quite rough and the advice given to us was to keep moving as much as we can so we don't wait around for a big storm to come through. Though we'd prefer to sail as much as we can, we're following that advice.
Today is the first day we are both feeling over our seasickness. The most obvious sign of that was that Dana made a giant meal of corn, potato au gratin, and stove top stuffing (!!!) for dinner. We each probably only ate half of what was made, but Dana figured that we had not eaten much the last few days and it was time to get a load of food in us.
It has been surprisingly cold as we have proceeded south. We had thought we were heading into early spring weather in NZ but it feels much more like winter. We both have pants and sweatshirts on all the time to stay warm. Whoever is on watch in the cockpit is typically covered in a blanket to stay warm. Dana even made up some tea and hot chocolate this afternoon to warm each of us up.
In general, things are going well. We are about at the half-way mark for the crossing as there are about 600 miles more to go. We just emailed in our estimated arrival time to NZ customs, which they request you do. We told them we expct to be in Friday morning, though if the winds don't pick up that will more likely turn into Friday afternoon or Saturday morning.
Tonight, we will pass the 180 degree "date line". That is in quotes because Tonga was already on the other side of the date line: NZ has the same date and time as Tonga. Nonetheless, it is a significant mark for us as we continue on our way.