This blog is about planning and preparation for a circumnavigation of the world in a 39-foot sail boat followed, hopefully, by a diary of the actual circumnavigation. You can track the progress of Pachuca by visiting http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=VNW5980
Friday, August 29, 2008
Two days ago "Thomo" from SeaPower visited the boat and installed the new gear box and motor for the anchor windlass. Initially I thought that we would have to do a complete replacement but Bruce identified the Australian manufacturer and source a gear box rated at 2000 lbs to replace the broken 1200 lb gear box. This had the advantages of halving my replacement cost and utilizing the same footprint for an easier installation. There was one minor change. Because the electric motor is bigger Thomo had to rotate the unit 90 degrees below deck meaning that the fiberglass panel that hides the assembly will no longer fit. I hope to one day hide the assembly with a small set of shelves made of plywood.
The accompanying photos show the windless replacement work. I have also included a photo of some of the boating services in this precinct. Cater Marine is the boat shop. SeaPower is doing our mechanical and electrical work. The Marina Shop is looking into our blue water insurance. Titan is doing our canvas work. Spars and Rigging Ltd is doing our rigging work. Not represented is New Zealand Stainless which as done some work for us. Also in this precinct is a sign write, marine painter, several electrical, stainless steel, and mechanical services. Pachuca is strategically berthed near the centre, within 500 meters of every service.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
We took delivery of two more LED "globes" for our lights, making a total of three at $41 NZD each. However, we judge them to be a good investment. Using one quarter of an amp they are much brighter that the 1.5 amp globes that they replace.
We also took delivery of the 406 MHz EPIRB which we will put in the boat's "grab bag".
We also received four cartridges for our inflatable life vests: one to replace the one on my vest which discharged accidentally at about the time we reached NZ, and one spare for each of the three vests on board. That may seem like a lot of spares at $23 per cartridge but we cannot risk having less than our full inventory of life vests in working order.
We also got a visit from the riggers who shortened the two top rails. Today we plan to fasten all of the rails with 4mm cord that I got at the boat shop yesterday, re-install the rail netting near the bow as well as the spray dodgers near the cockpit.
Bruce has done a lot of work in the last two days in fitting the new alternator arrangement to the engine. We spoke with him about our desire to do a 5-day car tour of the North island, but only if it did not impact on his work. It turns out that our absence could work out very well. Before Friday he will visit the boat to discuss the layout of the new batteries and cable paths. We will the leave for five days which will give him a clear run to take the boat apart without us getting in his way.
We hope to depart on Sunday and return on Friday. This will put us close to our planned departure time of 8 September, so we may have to add a few days to our stay in NZ, particularly if there is a delay in receiving our replacement wind charger from UK or our new cooling system diaphragms from Norway.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Point No Point is located at the end of Hansville Road in Kitsap Peninsula, about 5 miles from my home in Kingston. On the Point is an abandoned complex (Ford's Landing?) that has a nice beach, a boat lift, a large fish-packing area, a large restaurant that overlooks the water, several workshops, and several cabins. I often ride my Suzuki to the facility to enjoy the beach and a coffee in the local general store, but I knew nothing of its history and often wondered why the owner closed the facility, located in such a prime location, instead of developing it in some way. Stuart knew because he worked there twenty years ago and was known as the crazy New Zealander who wore shorts during winters, even in snow.
Stuart's explanation was simple – the owner was an alcoholic that let the place deteriorate and was incapable of even selling it. Stuart lost his job when the facility closed.
So, half way around the world I met a bloke who knew more about some of my part of the world than I did. Like many others, I'm starting to think of Planet Earth as one big neighborhood – I think sailing does that to people.
We have completed the replacement of the Lewmar hatch with a new Maxwell "Offshore" hatch. The new hatch was slightly bigger than the old one so we used a rough paint-remover disc on an angle grinder to take 8mm off each axis. The new hatch has four handles and can be latched and unlatched from the deck unless the handles are in the "lock" position. Note that we took the opportunity to reverse the hatch, partly for the obvious reason of minimizing the risk of spray and more serious water entering the boat, and partly to avoid an opening problem presented by the chain plate just aft of the hatch that supported the baby stay that was removed to accommodate the radar. (Edgar said that the angle between the baby stay and the mast was so sharp that the effectiveness of the stay was questionable. We rely on the inner forestay to steady the mast.)
Today we installed a second midships bollard on each side of the boat. These bollards are slightly bigger than the existing ones and are backed by thick stainless steel plating. The idea is to have one bollard for the forward springer line and one for the aft springer. ... When I purchased Pachuca she had no midships bollards.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
These are photographs of a special boat at Doug's Boat Yard, a short walk from the marina. I have been told that it is identical to the legendary solo sailor Montessier's boat, built at the same boat yard. It was sailed solo to NZ about twenty years ago by an Austrian named Karl who has decided that it is time to sell her even though he is still a youthful 70 years old.
Brenda has had the pleasure of speaking with Karl in the laundry and if I get a chance I will learn from him more about the boat and his experience with her.
As you can see, she is a double-ender ketch. Her steel hull is fair but I could not call it carvel because it appears that the sheets overlap clinker style. Note the perspex observation bubble on the port side near the cockpit that is characteristic of Montessier's boat.
I have been told that Montessier based his design on Joshua Slocum's "Spray".
... The garden gnome in the hill above the boat in one of the photographs is Arnold.
Two days ago Brenda, Arnold, and I visited the historic town of Russell, just across the water not far from Opua, which we crossed by car ferry.
During our walk along the very pleasant waterfront we encountered the (to me) legendary Russell Radio, which provides weather and other marine information throughout this part of the Pacific. It is staffed by volunteers.
While we stood in front of the window taking photographs Stuart, the manager of the station, came out and we had a great yarn. The attached photographs are of Stuart and Russell Radio, with Brenda and Arnold.
I discussed it with the crew and we agreed that we could not wait six weeks for the replacement if we were have any chance of making it to Seattle by December. We also agreed that even though we do not question Rod's competence and ability to provide us with a good replacement there is no substitute for a brand new unit direct from the factory.
We asked Rod to ask Theresa at Marlec if she would consider air freighting the replacement unit to us if we paid for the freight. Theresa said OK and yesterday we got the freight quotation which we accepted. We hope to receive the unit in about one week.
I know that we had a rough time with the Rutland 913. However, beyond that it has been all good. Rod has been extremely thorough in his investigation of our faulty unit and Theresa representing Marlec was very prompt in agreeing to a replacement, then agreeing to air freight it.
Marlec has the serial number of our faulty unit and I expect them to undertake an internal investigation to learn the history of this unit before it was sold to us. The result is of course their business because we are satisfied with the replacement.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
We retrieved our rail stauncheons and two bases from the same rigger. The two stauncheons at the widest part of the hull on each side had been bent by our encounters with the jetty at Eden, and their bases had been bent. They have been straightened out reasonably well and Arnold and I will put them up tomorrow and the rigger will see how much if any the wire rails must be shortened to achieve a tight fit.
Bruce has been working hard on the mechanical and electrical side of things. Four diaphragms for the cooling water pump of the diesel engine are on the way from Norway. Bruce got on the Internet and learned that my broken "Orca" anchor winch was made in Australia. After much discussion with the supplier and careful measurements on Pachuca he has ordered a larger gear box rated at 2000 lbs to replace the 1200 lb unit that failed. This is very good because it means about half of the cost of a total replacement and gives me a much more powerful unit.
He did some more measurements today and after discussions we agreed that instead of a 120-amp alternator for the house batteries he will install a kick-ass 160-amp unit. This will mean adding about 75mm to the length of the engine housing. We will install four large gel batteries. He says that he installed two of these batteries on a boat and they ran the batteries down to see how many days it would take to get to 50 percent capacity. Those two batteries supported that boat, including refrigerator, for 5 days before reaching 50% capacity. He says that I will have three times the capacity of that boat. The idea is to have plenty of battery capacity and to be able to charge those batteries quickly. We also took delivery today of the hard-wired battery charger which we will set up for 240V and 110V.
The NZ Rutland agent inspected our wind charger and sent the following report to the manufacturer:
"I have been sent a 913 that was purchased from (deleted) in December 2007.
Serial # C10705144. Email attached below from owner Robert Morales with letter from (deleted) confirming purchase date.
Per letter attached from Robert with unit:
The unit has given three problems within one year of use.
1. In late May the unit quit working. The two bolts holding the yaw had fallen out and the unit had spun, breaking the yaw shaft wiring.
2. In late June the unit quit working. One of the brushes was discovered to be stuck and not contacting. Un-stuck and away.
3. Two weeks ago vibration and bad noise from unit. (The stator assembly is loose and floating. Unit was tied up and has been returned to me as is).
Also noted has been the issue of the rust on the tail. I would agree at less than a year it is bleeding rust. Client wants a replacement tail also.
Pictures attached of unit dis-assembled. The hub assembly and stator are un-repairable. The bearings have flogged the casing and as you can see the stator has rubbed the windings through. Unless the unit has been dropped on its face to cause the bearings to release off the hub, no idea why the bearings have spun in the case.
No obvious damage to hub casing to state unit has been dropped. Maybe the stator was not glued in?
Haven't seen an OEM stator with marker pen writting on it, maybe you can advise if this is now normal from factory to have marker pen on stators?
Unable to seperate the yaw from the housing as this is corroded together? The yaw assembly is still good. I wanted to inspect why the brush assembly could hang up?
No fault found with brush guide or internally. One brush does have a divit in the side. Wear face of both brushes is not clean. Will need a set of brushes.
I have spun the yaw assembly in the housing and polished the slip ring assembly. All ohm readings are excellent. Also checked rectifier assembly which passes.
Please advise your warranty stance. We have 12vdc stators and hubs with 24vdc windings complete in stock. I can split one and insert the 12vdc stator. We could also use the tail from our display machine in the shop if necessary? We also have a shipment leaving with you and could pass one of these machines as complete on instead? We have no stock of the 913 in 12vdc at present...
It seems that this is a very good case for full replacement under warranty and the agent seems to be on my side.
Some minor things:
- Took delivery of two spare light globes for the compass
- Took delivery of three beautiful paper charts covering the South Pacific, North Pacific, and west coast of the Americas down th Ecuador.
- Tomorrow I will pick up the backing plates and bollards which I will fit amid ships to assist the bollards that are slightly forward. These are larger bollards and will be amid ships where they belong.
- Awaiting delivery of the 406 MHz EPIRB and the gas cartridges for our life vests
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
This is late morning and I am working from the laundry room where I have close proximity to the internet wireless tower (300m max range) and electric power for my laptop. Behind me are two ladies chatting about cruising and Oops, a third one has just shown up with her washing.
The photo is of the 50 lb Swarbrick anchor as it rode with no problem through the at-times rough passage through the Tasman Sea. On departing Eden the 7-day forecast looked like a fairy-tale gentleness and of course it was a fairy tale. On that basis I decided to spare the trouble and risk of dismantling and stowing the anchor so that in NZ it would be ready for a quick drop in rough seas. Had I known the reality of the two gales ahead of us I would not been game to leave the anchor up. So in this case the fairy tale had some benefits because now I know that the anchor will ride OK on the roller in rough weather.
The following is our task list for New Zealand:
Task No. TASK Start Date Completed Date
1 Replace masthead wind instruments 10/08/08
2 Fix compass light 11/08/08 12/08/08
3 Solve battery problems 09/08/08
4 Repair engine-starting switch 09/08/08
5 Replace battery tester ammeter 09/08/08
6 Repair Anchor Winch 09/08/08
7 Engine service 09/08/08
8 Replacement alternator belt 09/08/08
9 Repair wind charger 11/08/08
10 Replace/Repair Fwd Hatches 11/08/08
11 Repair loose railing 10/08/08
12 Replace roller furler line 11/08/08 12/08/08
13 Cockpit jack lines
14 New mainsail sheet 11/08/08 12/08/08
15 Replace life jacket cartridge, get spares 10/08/08
16 Repair starboard bow fair lead
17 LED globes for cabin lights 09/08/08
18 Repair Rutland Wind Charger 11/08/08
19 New barge boards
20 More snaps for main dodger
21 Repair starboard rail dodger
22 Lee cloth for Arnold's bunk
23 Hang V-Berth curtain
24 Investigate anchor well for leaks
25 Soap dispenser shock cloth in head
26 Install Cabin Fan
27 GPS antenna for Arnold's laptop
28 Install JVComm32 software on Arnold's laptop 08/08/08 13/08/08
29 Purchase 406 Mhz EPIRB 11/08/08
30 Replace Traveler Lines 12/08/08 13/08/08
The venerable B&G anemometer started to malfunction after the recent gales so we're putting up a Raymarine ST60 system that will integrate with the chart plotter.
Items 3 to 8 are part of a major revamping of the boat's electrical system. The consultant (40 years in the marine electronics business) has recommended changes such as:
- Increasing our battery capacity from 260 A/H to 1000 A/H
- Going to gel batteries instead of the current lead-acid
- Replace the alternator servicing the house batteries with a much larger one
- Install a hard-wired 60-amp charger that can take any voltage (e.g. 240, 110)
- Better power management system that will tell us current going in, out, net current, and percentage of battery capacity left
One of the house batteries was faulty, explaining why we were not able to get full charge from our engine runs. Also, one belt driving both alternators was not advisable because it causes slippage and wear of the belt. Worse, the pulleys on the engine did not match the pulleys on the alternators so that it was impossible to fit a belt that fit correctly. With the present system we were condemned to frequent belt failures. Proper pulleys will be installed so that each alternator has its own belt.
The anchor winch gear box is a write-off. We are looking to replacing it with a larger one, probably a Maxwell.
We have a new Maxwell hatch to replace the venerable and leaky front hatch. The cutout size is 7 mm larger on both axis so Arnold and I will have some filing or jig sawing to do.
Many of the things with "start" but no "finish" dates represents things that are on order, such as the 406 MHz EPIRB and the LED globes for the cabin lights. The Rutland wind charger is being shipped off for repairs, hopefully under warranty. Paul the rigger will visit tomorrow about fitting the masthead unit and replacing our rails. Item 15 arouse out of my life jacket inflating while I was raising the mainsail two days out of NZ. We are replacing that cartridge and keeping three spares on board. (And learned to keep the life jacket rip cord tucked away.)
Monday, August 11, 2008
One of the biggest rewards of cruising is the interesting people that you meet.
Last Friday night Arnold, Brenda and I went to dinner at the cruising club and met Simon, who was on his own and shared the table with us. Simon turned out to be a capable and accomplished sailor who has among other things competed in three transatlantic OSTAR solo races.
He was in solo transit from New Caledonia to Aukland in his beautiful Oyster that is about 55 feet in length and extremely well appointed.
I ordered my dinner using what I thought was a New Zealand accent from a joke that I had heard many years ago. I ordered "fush and chups". The girl instantly took the order down without any flicker of reaction.
Here are three photos:
- Simon's Oyster named "Duet II"
- Simon discussing weather information downloads via Iridium satellite telephones with Arnold
- Brenda beaming after having inspected Simon's galley
Friday, August 8, 2008
When I get out of the bunk I am wearing the following:
close-fitting leotard-like pants made in NZ of fine merino wool
track suit pants
two close-fitting full sleeve skin-fitting tops made in NZ of fine merino wool
a track suit top
a heavy wool sweater
I have been wearing these same garments since Eden and probably will wear them all of the way to NZ.
I then proceed to the wet-weather locker and fetch the sea boots, bib & braces style wet weather trousers, sailing jacket, and life jacket with built-in harness. I put the trousers on, braces over my shoulders, front zipped up. Behind the front zipper is a panel going up to the mid-chest and designed to keep the chest dry. I then sit down and put on the thick alpine socks which I remove before sleep to give them and my feet some airing. Then come the sea boots, which go up to the mid-calf and have provision for tightening them around the leg but we find not necessary. The legs of the trousers fit over the boots and are tightened around the boots with velcro straps. Then the sailing jacket goes on. It is a high-quality heavy duty one provided by my friend Roland. It has zippered pockets, a hood, velcro strapping around the wrists, and a front zipper protected by a waterproof flap that goes up to the chin. Then I put on the life jacket/harness. It is the manual pull cord type because we did not want to risk an automatic one going off when doing wet work in the cockpit or fore deck. We have fitted strobe lights inside of the jackets so that when the jacket is inflated the light will be exposed and automatically start when it contacts salt water. Strapped to it is the Raymarine man overboard “lifetag” which will set an alarm off in the boat if I fall overboard. I check to ensure that its green light is periodically flashing, meaning that it is functioning correctly. I ensure that the stainless steel pocket knife is still in place. Then I put on one US navy wool beanie if I am starting a day watch or two beanies if it is a night watch. On the way out I put on sailing gloves to protect my hands and help keep them warm.
The merino skin-tight garments have lived up to their promise: comfortable, warm, and extremely tolerant of body odors. I've been told that the NZ yachtsman Peter Blake wore a set continuously for 140 days. The Ronstan sea boots and Musto wet weather pants have been superb. We have yet to have these outer layers penetrated by rain or salt water.
[Post script: I got to NZ with the set of clothes described above and two changes of socks. At anchor in NZ I had a bath in the ocean then put on the same clothes except for fresh underpants.]
- The light house at North Cape
- Arnold at the helm as we approach our anchorage at Tom Bowling Bay soon after making landfall
- Robert on foredeck after dropping and setting the anchor at Tom Bowling Bay
- Our first visitor in New Zealand: a Fluttering Shearwater come to look us over
- The anchorage at our New Zealand landfall: Tom Bowling Bay on the north side of the north island.
- Fresh Bread! We ran out of bread twelve days out of Eden so Brenda baked a fresh loaf at our NZ anchorage.
- The entire north side of the north island of NZ. Looking to the West, on the extreme left is part of North Cape on the NE corner of NZ, and in the distance is Cape Reinga, on the NW corner of NZ.
- The Tasman Sea while hove to during one of the gales
- Track of our first hove-to. During the first night we drifted to the NW. The slight bend of that track would suggest a change of wind direction. The sharp turn at the top of the track is where we gybed the boat and hove to on the starboard tack. This had advantages which I described in my detailed report and gave us a favourable drift. The heavy section of the track above the cursor is where we started sailing again.
- Our track from Eden to 3/4 of the way to NZ
Please note that our mobile telephone number in New Zealand is now: 0212572142.
Summary of Crossing from Eden Australia to Opua New Zealand
The crossing took 15 days: from 0910 24 July until 1100 7 August
We encountered two strong gales (41-47 kt, Beaufort Scale 9), heaving to 32.5 hours during the first, and 31 hours during the second and recording lengthy gusts of over 50 kt.
Gales aside, the winds were always favourable and we were always able to sail on or near the rhumb line, though the downwind sailing was difficult and required a lot of concentration..
Boat and crew arrived in New Zealand with remarkably little damage.
Eden Australia to Opua New Zealand
24 July 2008
We cast off our lines from the jetty at Snug Cove, Eden, at 9.10 AM. The night before we had filled up our water tanks, returned the two borrowed fenders and two tyres that had been on loan to us. This morning I paid a brief visit to John at harbour master's office to say good bye and to thank him for his help. He wished us the best and advised that we take the barge boards that had been given to us because of the big tides in NZ. On the way back to Pachuca I left a note for Peter thanking him for his help and letting him know that he could see photos of his boat on our blog.
The departure went very smoothly, though slowly because of the web of lines that we had set up over the last two days. But we worked calmly and methodically and with the aid of a gentle breeze got under way with no dramas.
The sail that day was wonderful: calm sea, clear skies, gentle breeze from the South. Late in the afternoon a group of dolphins put on a spectacular show with plenty of leaps out of the water, seemingly trying to outdo each other for our attention. At sundown Brenda and I had a glass of shiraz while happily tended to the helm.
The night turned out to be somewhat more challenging. Arnold helmed until midnight while I slept then I took over from midnight until 6 AM. The winds were variable, ranging from 20 kn to at times totally calm. We got a few rain squalls during the night with their peculiar effects on the wind. At about 3.30 AM after 30 minutes of no wind and flogging rigging I dropped the mainsail, tied the boom, and took to my bunk. An hour later Brenda woke me up reporting wind over 10 kn so I started sailing with some jib and with the assistance of the Autohelm managed to raise the reefed mainsail without having to wake up Arnold.
25 July 2008
We had a noon-to-noon distance covered of 113 miles. We have had a 15-20 kn southerly which at 4.PM increased to 25 kn forcing us to put in a second reef and roll the jib to about a no. 4. Our speed with this configuration is still a respectable 5.5 – 6 knots. There has been some concern about in the barometric pressure from 1025 to 1022 in the last 5 hours, but 1022 is still relatively high. We are having trouble getting clear weather faxes probably because of noise from the boat. After clearing the refrigerator, AIS, and overhead light of blame I've thought of the possibility that the wind charger is causing problems. This would explain why the noise seems to come and go. Arnold thinks that it is a good hypothesis because brushes generate all sorts of noise, and the wind charger is only 2 or 3 feet from the lower part of the HF antenna on the back stay.
I tried to contact Allan at American River VMR on two HF frequencies to get some advice on the weather.
26 July 2008
We sailed the entire day from midnight with a 25-30 kn southerly and many rain squalls that took the wind above 35 kn. Until sunset we ran with a double reefed main and a small jib. For the night we dropped the mainsail and ran with a small jib. We had been speculating about the origin of the strong wind, which had not been predicted in the last 7-day forecast that we saw in Eden, and were concerned that there may be a storm sneaking up on us. We figured that it was probably caused by a low south of us but the one that had affected Eden should have been well away past NZ by now. Fortunately yesterday I finally figured out what was causing the noise interference to our weather faxes and tonight we got good weather faxes showing a strong low over the north island of NZ and the prospect of improving weather in the Tasman Sea for the next few days. The noise problem was caused not by the wind charger but by the external power that I was supplying to the laptop. As soon as I pulled out the external power and allowed the laptop to run on its own power the noise disappeared. Solving the weather fax problem has taken a big load off all of our minds. As for the low, Brenda had heard in Eden that a low was moving to NZ from the Coral sea. It must have deepened much more than expected.
Arnold picked up a message from Allan at American River via the satellite phone. He had heard my call but I was not able to hear his response. He asked that I try again in Saturday night which I thought was the next day but turned out to be that same day. (Sorry, Allan)
Our noon-to-noon distance for the day was 127 nm.
27 July 2008
This is Sunday evening. We have sailed one third of the distance between Eden and the northern tip of the North island of NZ. The wind has moderated to 10-15 kn from the south. For most of the day we sailed with the jib only. In afternoon we raised the full mainsail in response the the falling wind speed. Just before sunset we took one slab of reefing out of the mainsail as a precaution against encountering a rain squall during the night.
28 July 2008
I managed to establish contact with Allan at American River. He seemed to hear me well but I could barely make out the occasional word from him. It was frustrating because I would have liked to have yarn with him. Anyway, I let him know that we were OK, can now get good weather faxes, and that I will try to contact Russel Radio in NZ as he had suggested.
We had a somewhat challenging night of sailing but managed to keep the boat moving at 4.5-5 kn for most of the night. In the early evening the night before we dropped the mainsail due to a weakening wind veering from S to SW and ran the entire night with jib only. The first two hours were frustrating because the wind was light and the sail kept flogging as the boat rolled. However, by 11PM the wind strengthened and we got the boat into a comfortable groove. At 9AM we were becalmed and motored for an hour principally to charge the badly depleted bank 2. Happily, at the end of that hour the wind was back and we were able to proceed at 4.2 kn with full jib on a broad starboard reach.
This was the third time that we had run the engine for an hour to recharge the batteries because for the last two days we were in the bad combination of relatively light winds (affecting wind charger) and cloudy skies (affecting solar panels). Nevertheless we cannot complain. We have managed to run our refrigerator almost continuously and have been untrammeled in our use of all of the other electrical instruments and gadgets on board. It was on the third day of the sail that we were forced to first use the engine for charging.
We started the engine again around night fall to charge up the batteries. After about 30 minutes I noticed that the ammeters measuring the flow of electricity from the alternators to the battery banks were reporting zero amps. Arnold discussed it with Arnold and we figured it highly unlikely that either both ammeters or both alternators had failed simultaneously, which pointed to a fan belt problem. We shut down the engine and slid back the cover and I breathed a sigh of relief when Arnold produced the mangled remains of our alternator belt. I soon produced four spare fan belts of various thicknesses and fortunately we had a very good match. After 30 minutes of careful work (lest we drop a vital nut or bolt into the irretrievable section below the engine) we closed everything up and voila! one ammeter was reporting 50 amps and the other 20 amps. On reflection, I'm pretty sure that the belt had been slipping for weeks. Two or three weeks ago I reported to Arnold that the ammeter to bank 2 was reporting 0 amps and I asked him to increase the engine revolutions which did the trick. I suspect that this was an early manifestation of the impending failure. Also, I remembering a few days ago wondering why our alternators were producing such little output. This explain part of our unhappiness with the performance of our batteries. Nevertheless I plan to have all of the batteries checked out in NZ, even though the two major ones are only about three months old.
It was a day of repairs. A few days before I had grumbled to Arnold that our third new roller furler line was getting mangled by something, but not by the jam cleat which I we had been careful to avoid. Yesterday Arnold reported that he though that he had spotted the problem: The line was rubbing against the side of the sheet block which had a fairly sharp corner. I dug around into my spares and soon we had fixed the problem with an additional block fixed to the toe rail to hold the line clear of the block. The line isn't as bad as it looks. The cover is frayed at various sections but the core is intact and should serve us well until we get to NZ. I also shaved off two edges of one of the cupboard doors in the head. When it was slammed shut it took a large screw driver and lots of effort to open it again. Fortunately I have a good rasp on board and managed to do a reasonable fix after an hour of patient work.
We had a splendid sail last night. We raised the mainsail just before dark and wisely decided to not reef it. At 1 AM when I relieved Arnold the boat was progressing at 4.3 kn, mainsail only on a starboard reach, with a gentle southerly wind and a calm sea. Arnold reported an easy time, managing the wheel with one foot and listening to music on his MP3 player. By then the wind was backing to the SE and I decided to spice up the action with a bit of head sail. The bulk of my watch consisted of rolling the jib in and out and hardening and loosening the sheets as the wind varied in strength and direction. Fortunately the wind never headed us (though it came close) and never dropped in speed enough to cause flogging of the rigging. Arnold took over at 6 AM and when I relieved him at 10 AM he reported that we were only 5 nm short of the midway point between Eden and Cape Reinga, on the Northwest tip of the North island of NZ.
At the moment Pachuca is traveling at 5.5 kn, only 5 degrees south of the rhumb line, full sail, slight weather helm, and steering herself with wheel lashed. Arnold is asleep. Brenda is about to cook some bacon and eggs.
Yesterday afternoon Brenda got the news from a NZ commercial radio station. There was a surprising and disturbing weather report of an impending storm over the north island. Late in the afternoon the wind started to pick up still from the south. The 8.PM weather fax showed fairly deep low NW of the north island, and it was expected to move down the western side of the island, across our path but over 400 miles ahead of us.
We had gone from a full mainsail to one reef at sunset and put in the second reef in the dark at about 9 PM. It was my watch until 2 AM and the wind kept getting stronger and stronger. Pachuca was dealing with it well – not too much heel, not too much weather helm, speed just over 6 kt. I was confident that we could ride this one all night. But it was not to be. The sea got rougher and rougher and at 2 AM I gave up and hove to with the mainsail down and a small area of the jib back winded off the port winch and the wheel lashed hard to port. By then the wind was ranging up to more than 40 knots. We spent the night battened down, boat moving at about 2 kn to the NW and by 10 AM today we had lost16 nm. It was an uncomfortable night with the boat constantly pitching and rolling and yawing, with the frequent occurrence of big waves hitting the boat hard and sending water cascading across the entire deck and into the cockpit. Our plan was simple: wait until the low moves south and the winds ease then we will use the fading winds of the low to make the remaining 470 nm to Cape Reinga.
In the late afternoon we came to realise that this was not a garden variety winter low but a special event. We got a message from Reg via the satellite link that included the statement that this was the deepest low in the Tasman Sea since 1998. Brenda picked up the news from NZ and most of it was devoted to the effects of the storm as it worked its way from the North island to the South island. There have been two deaths, many landslides, and power outages. A cruise liner 300 NE of NZ in 50 kn winds and 7m seas took a heavy with many injuries.
Just before sunset the wind was still recording winds into the low 40's knots and there was no question that we would spend a second night hove to. Arnold and I ventured on deck with full wet weather gear. I crawled to the mast and from there verified that the anchor was still in position and lashed down, and the two barge boards that we had picked up in Eden were still lashed to the port rail next to the spinnaker pole. Arnold mentioned the loose main sail trying to ride up the mast so I lashed its peak and put two loops of rope around it along the boom to tidy it up. Then we gibed to heave to with the weather at the starboard side. We were then drifting 1.5 kn to the SE. Brenda and I cooked a spaghetti dinner and had it over red wine while Arnold slept, too tired to answer the call to dinner. Later that night I saw the wind speed briefly hit 53 and 54 kn.
We set sail at 10.30 AM doing 4 kn down the rhumb line with a tiny amount of jib and the wind from well aft. We had been hove to for 32.5 hours and had actually gained about 20 nm. After failing to receive either weather faxes or verbal reports for 24 hours I told Arnold that there must be something wrong and I would check the HF radio antenna. He looked out and said that he could see a black cable dangling from above the solar panel area. In the high winds the connection at the backstay antenna had failed due to metal fatigue. Later that morning we fixed it with me standing one leg on the Zodiac inflatable, tied at the waist by ropes going to both sides of the cockpit, and the other leg in a rope stirrup so that I could tension myself and keep steady in the heavy rolling while I reached over the panel with two hands and just managed to fix the cable to the backstay with two universal clamps. Soon I verified that I was receiving voice and later that day I received excellent weather faxes from NZ. We sailed all night with a small amount of jib sailing more or less down the rhumb line.
We continued sailing all day with a small amount of jib. The wind was still at about 25 kn and our speed was 5-6 kn. The wind started veering in the afternoon and an hour before dark we put the boat on a port tack putting us on a heading just north of Cape Reinga. The 9AM weather fax showed the low sitting on top of the South Island still causing havoc. We were getting 25 kn winds more than 400 miles from its centre.
From the time that Arnold took the helm at 2 AM the wind steadily built up through the high 30's and through the 40's. When the wind reached 50 kt Arnold roused the crew and reported the high winds and that the boat was becoming unmanageable even with the greatly reduced jib. We reduced the head sail to little more than a square meter, hauled in both sheets and jibed the boat to heave to with the starboard to weather. The weather to starboard presents several advantages: (1) We are in a position to deploy the para anchor from the safety of the cockpit. Against intuition the para anchor must be launched from the up wind side of the boat and it must be launched from the starboard side because its section of line between the bow and cockpit is clipped to the starboard gunwale (2) Arnold can sleep comfortable in the port quarter berth,(3) The marine toilet is on the port side of the boat and its inlet and outlets are guaranteed to be below the water line. On the other hand it makes Brenda's tasks in the starboard side galley more difficult because everything wants to jump out of the cupboards onto the sole.
I am delighted to report that Pachuca heaves to very well. She sat comfortably making way of 1.3-2.5 kt depending on the wind strength. The heave to configuration is simple: mainsail down, a square meter or two of back winded headsail, wheel lashed to windward. The lashed wheel may not be that important. One morning we woke up to find that the lashing had come loose during the night but Pachuca stayed hove to. I should have stated “comfortable as can be expected” because while hove to in high winds the boat is subjected to a regular battering by breaking waves that hit her hard with a loud bang, cause her to lurch, and send a cascade of water over her deck. Having said that, our S&S 39 has once again lived up to her reputation of being a good sea boat. It is at times like this that her low profile and curved hull, deck, and cabin provide incalculable benefit. I wonder how Pachuca would heave to and stand up to the battering had she a pilot house, high freeboard, a mizzen mast or, shudder shudder, a collection of bicycles, fuel containers, and surf boards lashed to her rails.
Anyway, hove to at 5 AM I contacted NZ maritime radio report our winds. The seemed to hear me well and understand our position and wind strength but we had great difficulty hearing them. I could tell that the person was making a valiant effort to give us a weather report. Arnold and I took to our bunks like experienced and tired sailors. I woke up at 10 AM to see Brenda sitting on the starboard bunk on the weather side, hands braced against the table, with a look of apprehension. I rubbed my sleepy eyes and told her to relax. She said that she found that difficult to do when she was looking across and up through the port holes of the steeply heeled boat looking at the horizon. Soon after I donned my wet weather gear and made a dash to the lazarette to turn on the gas. The sea was a cauldron of waves and white spume. Fortunately I made it back into the cabin before the next “greenie” hit us. Brenda produced hot coffee and buttered toast, Arnold woke up, and we had a refreshing breakfast. Not long after that I reported a tiny sliver of blue sky and was rewarded with another wave slamming into the boat. By noon the sun was relatively clear and the wind had settle to the 30's.
We didn't see this one coming. We received the latest weather fax last night at 9 PM and although it was rather complex, it indicated 35 kt winds in our area. However, there was an occluded warm front approaching we we were not sure just what this would mean weather-wise. One hint if impending trouble was that Brenda heard on NZ radio that there were gale-strength northerly winds expected on the north island last night.
Anyway, we made the best of it getting plenty of rest and eating very well. That night we watched “Master and Commander”, which Brenda had never seen before. She noted the heightened effect of from watching the ship scenes from a venue that was actually pitching around in the sea. There was one battle scene where the first salvo of cannon fire coincided perfectly with a wave hitting Pachuca broadside like a sledge hammer, with the associated noise and concussion throughout the boat. We are saving “The Perfect Storm” for a really special occasion (tee hee hee).
We spent a second night hove to and were disappointed that the wind was not abating. During a rain squall I saw wind speeds in the low 50's. However, we had received a 72-hour prediction weather fax the evening before and the prospects for 3 days out were very good. In the morning the sun was shining and the wind speeds had dropped to the high 20's. The barometer had risen a full 10 points to 1007 millibars. The 9 AM weather fax showed that the low had crossed NZ and was now just SE of Cook Strait (between the two islands) and just as important, there were no fronts headed our way. We had actually gained some ground during the heaving to and were 205 nm from the cape. The crew had a conference and decided to set sail before noon to arrive at the cape in the morning in two days. Before we resumed sailing at noon we did a bit of housework and tightened the alternator belt. We had a satisfactory sail during the day and throughout the night, with the wind at about 25 kt, the seas slowly but steadily falling, and Pachuca no more uncomfortable than she was hove to.
We were hove to for a total of 31 hours during which we drifted a nett 38 nm and gained about 10 nm in our quest for NZ.
In the morning we saw that the barometer had risen to 1018 mb. The latest weather fax gave us confidence in the prospects of good weather for the rest of our voyage. At noon we were 100 nm S/SW from Cape Reinga. Soon after I contacted NZ Maritime Radio on 4125 MHz to announce our presence. He got our boat details, position, and ETA at Opua (3 or 4 days), and advised us to contact them again later when we were closer. Our plan is to anchor on the East side of the North Island for 24 hours or so in which to rest, clean up the boat and ourselves, and fill in the NZ entry forms that we were given at Eden. We will then contact NZ Maritime Radio again once we are underway in the final let to Opua. I advised Arnold to be on the lookout for any airplanes showing interest in us. We have switched on the VHF radio set the ch 16 to be ready to communicate with NZ coastal surveillance aircraft.
We sailed all night with a gentle but adequate SW wind with partial jib and no mainsail. At 4 AM Brenda came on deck and I told her that at 30 nm out I would have expected to see the loom of the light house at Cape Reinga by now. She stepped forward and after a hard look saw it barely visible off the starboad bow. We brought up C-Map (I had decided not to pay $399 for a NZ cartridge for the chart plotter and to rely instead on my C-Map for our brief stay in NZ.) on my laptop and saw that we had indeed made good progress and that we were starting to pass to the south of some worrisome unlit islands 15 miles to port. Soon we had first light and the Reinga light could occasionally be seen directly. We woke Arnold up and the three of us negotiated the passage into the dawn and I stood down from my watch and hit the sack. About two hours later the wind changed from a gentle SW to a moderate S. We raised the mainsail with one reef and soon we were traveling at more than 6 kt across the top of NZ with a 20 kt Southerly on the starboard beam. We analyzed the situation and agreed that we did not want to round North Cape and start beating our way down the East coast of NZ. We decided to take advantage of what nature had presented to us and anchor at Tom Bowling Bay on the west side of North Cape. We motored in and dropped anchor in 11 m of water with no dramas.
By 7 PM the wind had become a gentle SE but by then we had decided to spend the entire day at the anchorage unless we were chased out by adverse winds or weather forecast. There was much to do to prepare ourselves an the boat for formal entry into NZ. Late in the afternoon we investigated the source of nose and vibration that I had first noticed two nights previously but kept to myself to avoid burdening the crew needlessly. The wind charger entire propeller section had become loose and had an alarming amount of play in it. It had done a magnificent job of supplying us with plenty of electric power while we were hove to and not able to safely go out into the cockpit to start the engine, but the stress and vibration had obviously taken their their toll.
We all woke up soon after 7 AM very, very refreshed. We reckon that I slept a total of 14 hours with short intervals devoted to weather fax and other duties. After the ardors of the crossing we all felt a sense of relief and security as well as great physical comfort from a warm and dry bed that did not treat us like tossed salad. It was Brenda who suggested that we should get moving on that day rather than spend another night because of the uncertainties of NZ weather. We devoted the morning to some basic housework and baths. Arnold took his in the cockpit with fresh and warm water in buckets. Brenda took hers in the privacy of the head with warm fresh water. I took mine with a swim in the NZ waters violating my sense of humility with deprecating remarks such as what a pack of wimps my shipmates were. By late morning the wind had settled to SW and we agreed to have lunch and then set sail. Arnold and I then poured approximately 17 liters of water from our emergency containers into the starboard tank which services the galley. The tank sounded empty when we started pouring the water but to its credit it supported three of us for two full weeks without running out. We figure that the port tank which services the head is at least half full. (Note that both tanks are accessible to all areas when we use the pressure pump.)
We motored out of the bay at 2 PM, raised the full headsail, then motored around North Cape. We then set a SE course with the 15 kt SW wind from our starboard beam with full jib. We then had a splendid, glorious sail in a gentle sea, under a clear sky, and an easy helm. This was cruising as it should be: relaxed beers in the cockpit watching the land go by and the sun go down. I called NZ Maritime Radio and we switched to a working frequency where I responded to all sorts of questions regarding us and our boat. This will be passed to Customs, who should be expecting us. I gave our ETA as sometime during the following afternoon. I then asked him for a schedule of their voice weather forecasts because since getting close to NZ we have not been able to get their weather faxes. At 5.33 PM we got a good, clear weather report on VHF 68. The following day would bring a steadily-strengthening N wind which would reach gale force in the night. We wanted to make Opua as early during the following day as possible.
The good sailing continued through most of the night. The sea was extremely calm. We had a 1 meter swell from the north helping us along and the chart indicated a current to the south. These elements made the boat perform like magic. On a beam reach with a moderate wind we were doing a consistent 6 and 6.5 knots. At 1 AM I relieved Arnold at the helm and continued the splendid sail under a full canopy of stars, with Scorpio sinking in the East, Orion rising in the West. There was an offshore breeze and the North Island of NZ was acting like a giant breakwater.
As dawn approached the wind started to die. At one point we were getting 4 kt of wind over the mast but because of the calm sea I was able keep the sails more or less full and the boat moving at a speed of between 1.7 and 3.2 kt. At dawn Brenda was on deck and took over the helm just as we got an adverse 30 degree change of a stronger wind. I roused Arnold and soon we were motoring the last 7 nm past the head toward Opua. From the instructions that NZ Maritime Radio had given to us I was pretty sure that we would have a port side tie-up and the quarantine jetty, so on the way we raised the quarantine flag and prepared fenders on both sides of the boat, and a barge board on the port side. I zipped up the mainsail and then we enjoyed the passing scenery as we worked our way 10 nm up the channel to the marina.
The marina was as we had envisioned it. Brenda spotted the “Q” sign on the isolated floating jetty and by 11 AM we were tied up. Mike, representing bio-control, and Jo, representing Customs, visit us less than an hour later. Jo said that we should have faxed our advanced notice form from Eden and we apologized because we had thought that Australian Customs had forwarded all of the required information. Mike went through our food stores and confiscated the things that we had expected (e.g. honey) and some that we had not expected (e.g. Dried kidney beans). Mercifully, he allowed us to consume our delicious smoked salmon on the spot. This award-winning salmon from Eden had skin on it which made it prohibited. Anyway, soon the formalities had been completed and we were allowed to lower our “Q” flag and contact the marina on VHF 12 for a berth. The marina was very helpful and soon we were in pen D39, a floating pen.
One of the advantages of having battled our way to NZ in winter is that it is the “off” season and we expect few difficulties with accommodation and services, speaking of which there are all sorts of boating services literally a walk away from the pen, e.g. sail maker, stainless steel work, marine electronics, mechanical work, chandlery.
We booked the pen for 30 days and our plan is to complete our list of boat repair/modification tasks and do a few days of touring within that time.
Comments on the sail
The Tasman Sea crossing was tougher than we had expected – the toughest so far. However, it was less difficult for us than Bass Strait or Spencer Gulf because the boat was in better shape, we were able to heave to better, and we had more confidence.
Brenda was queasy for the first three days of the trip but came good after that. Arnold had a short spell of vomiting a few days out of Eden, but we're not sure if it was due to sea sickness. I have had no hint of sea sickness during the entire cruise.
We used the one gas cylinder from a week before leaving Eden until our arrival in NZ, with the second in reserve. This is satisfactory because Pachuca's gas cylinders are small (3.7 kg).
Our fresh water stock held up well during the trip. At our anchorage on the northern end of NZ we emptied our 7 liters of reserve water into the starboard tank (140 liter capacity), which had not run dry but sounded pretty empty as we poured the water in. That means that the starboard tank supported three people for two weeks using prudent water conservation practices (such as washing dishes with sea water) but undergoing no hardships. We think that the port tank, supporting only the head wash basin, was at least half full.
We have not yet had the opportunity to try out our water maker.
We had to use the engine several probably a dozen times to top up our batteries. We are not happy with the performance of our lead-acid “house” batteries. They do not seem to hold much capacity (although two are rated at 150 a/h and the third is rated at 50 a/h) and have a too-slow recharge rate. We plan to investigate gel or AGM batteries. The wind charger came into its own during the high winds when we were hove-to. With the prevailing cloudy weather it has been our principal provider of electric power. Once we enter the tropic we expect the solar panels to dominate.
Crossing the Tasman represents the final of three major hurdles of the circumnavigation: (1) Great Australian Bight in winter (2) Bass Strait in winter (3) Tasman Sea in winter. I was more apprehensive about the Tasman Sea that I am about the Horn, which we plan to round at the optimal time of Dec-Jan.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
They're anchored in a remote spot so apparently their mobile phones aren't working. They may move soon though whereupon their phones will be contactable.
Any messages can be routed through me in the next two days. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org OR you can email Bob, Arnold or Brenda. If you are going to email me, please replace the .py (in email@example.com) with .uk This is to prevent spam bots.
Monday, August 4, 2008
NOON 4 AUG NZT. 34S52 170E41 CLEAR SKY, FAIR WIND, AND CALM SEA. 99 NM FROM NZ. NOON-NOON: 108 NM.
I heard a phone message from Brenda today. She sounded really tired but very happy
at the thought of approaching NZ. Things are holding up well and thankfully the storm has passed.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Friday, August 1, 2008
NOON 31 JULY NZT. 35S19 163E53. SURVIVED GALE & SET SAIL 1030. NOW MOVING 6+ KN WITH PARTIAL JIB. NOON-NOON: 58 NM.
- ► 2012 (344)
- ► 2011 (288)
- ► 2010 (355)
- ► 2009 (376)
- Electric Anchor Winch
- Works Progress
- Small World
- Hatch Installed
- Boat for Sale
- Russell Radio
- Wind Charger Replaced
- Work Progress in Opua
- Laundry, Anchor, Tasks
- Eden-Opua Photos
- Eden-Opua Photos
- Eden-Opua Photos
- Summary of Eden-Opua Sail
- Eden-Opua Sail Report
- Update from Bob soon.......
- Pachuca anchors at NZ.......
- Ever so close, but so far.........
- Weather fax predicts good news.........
- "Battering" the hatches.......
- The Ups and downs of Sailing.........................
- ▼ August (22)
- ► 2007 (43)