4 May 2017

Raoul Island

After being passed by Anzac Class frigate HMNZS Te Mana (also en-route to Raoul Island), we slowed overnight to time our arrival for first light and anchored in 12 m on the north side, off Oneraki Beach

Just in time to see the NZ flag hoisted on 'flagstaff hill' under a spectacular double rainbow and be hailed on VHF to ask what the hell we thought we were doing! (Actually, they were quite polite.)

We were already aware that a plant fungus called myrtle rust had been discovered in the pohutukawa forest on the island and that DOC were forbidding landing by passing vessels to prevent the fungus spreading to New Zealand. No matter that we were headed from NZ and not to NZ - rules is rules.

Raoul rainbow
It must be a concern though, that such a remote island could become infected (the fungus is thought to originate from Australia) and doesn't bode well for even wider spread...

Anyway, we soothed any ruffled feathers by assuring the shore party that we would not be coming ashore, and broke out the traditional arrival rum to sterilise our drinking glasses from myrtle infection - you can never be too careful. Rinse and repeat.

Raoul Island
Then, late-afternoon, in the middle of nowhere in the wide South Pacific, who should pitch up but another CX captain, Dave Saggs on his Lagoon 450, Magique!

They had left Auckland the same day we had departed Whangarei but had stopped for a brief overnight at Macauley Island in the southern Kermadecs - about the same time and only about 15 nm from where we had caught our tuna the evening before! Small world.

They anchored nearby and, of course, were invited aboard to dis-infect (gotta watch that myrtle rust) and sample our fresh sashimi...

Arriving Raoul Flagstaff rainbow Magique

2 May 2017

Leg 1: Whangarei - Raoul Island

Wind picture on 1/2 May
(courtesy of  earth.nullschool.net)
NZ - Tonga is about 1,000 nm as the crow flies, but since it's a good idea to make some easting before entering the Trades at about latitude 25 S, we planned on routing via the Kermadec Islands at about the half way mark.

Administered by New Zealand, the islands are uninhabited, apart from a small research group at Raoul Island. One also needs special permission to land there, so we just planned on anchoring overnight off the research station near Oneraki Beach for beer and showers, weather permitting.

Thus our course of about 045T, which gave us a deep broad reach and some interesting following seas on our first night - all manual steering. A sleigh-ride at 9-10 kts, even more interesting when the moon set before midnight.

Our departure was timed on the heels of a passing trough and ahead of the next high (see earlier explanation of the west-to east cycle of highs & troughs here) so we expected the wind to back and the sea state to moderate, which they did steadily overnight. By the end of Day 2 the High had caught us and we were motoring!

Quick fix
Unfortunately that first dawn revealed a cut in the mainsail. The slick new halyard had slipped a few inches, allowed the well-eased main to rub the top spreader above the spreader patch. Easy enough to fix with sticky-back Dacron patches underway, but hey. Boats. Maybe we should have popped that first reef in after all...

However comma, 180 nm in the first 24 hrs was not a bad start!

We can eat!
By Day 3 we were ready for some action and, as always, it all came at once. Steve was in the galley, serving supper (a manly quiche) when one of the reels started screaming, but he was still first to the rod for a bit of a battle with a yellow-fin tuna. Steve won, but it took over 10 minutes to land our first catch, all of 15 kg he reckoned.

No sooner was the tuna cleaned & stowed and dinner served, but the engine began to stutter. Stutter then die.

Bleedin' engine...
We new this scenario, been here before. Despite having cleaned the fuel tank earlier and fitted new fuel filters (two of those 101 jobs), we now had a fuel filter blockage.

Hmmm... how clean was that fuel from Marsden Cove marina?

So chef (and occasional fisherman) Steve again doffed his toque blanche and donned his chief engineer's hat for a spot of tinkering, ably assisted by Arthur. Changing both fuel filters was easy enough, but bleeding the system afterwards took an age. Maybe next time we'll part fill the filters before fitting, like the book suggests...

Oh, by the way, Steve - your watch!

A Watch

1 May 2017

Departure Day

Returning to the water...
No matter how much flex you allow for all those jobs, time accelerates the closer you get to departure. 

And here we were, all of a sudden: Departure Day!

Having splashed at 1000, we motored over to the Whangarei Cruising Club for a good clean up, washing all the hardstand grime from the boat. We also had a few jobs to complete, including post-service checks for the gennie & watermaker - jobs that couldn't be completed until we were back in the water. Neither worked.

Ready for the off!
We set off down the river anyway, as we had our Immigration out-clearance booked at Marsden Cove for 1400. Gusting 1600, by the time our Border Protection officer arrived. Never mind, it took that long to get the gennie running, top-off the fuel tanks (400 litres) and ship the last of the fresh & frozen rations - thanks to Sue!

We never did get the watermaker running - with full water tanks and reserve cans (500 litres), that was a job for later.

After a teary farewell, we scraped over the marina bar at 1700 and motored out into Bream Bay and a freshening S'ly. All sails up, and we cleared Bream Head at 1800 as the sun set behind New Zealand - our last glimpse of 'The Land of the Long White Cloud'.

Next stop Raoul Island in the Kermadecs!

30 Apr 2017

Docklands 5

Docklands 5
Home for the next 2 weeks!

Or so we thought. Turned out a tad longer...

On dropping the rudder for our usual inspection of its alloy shaft, we found the bottom rudder bearing cracked - again!

We investigated dispensing with the Delrin roller bearing and having a new bushing made from solid Vesconite* by a local engineering firm.

It took a bit of getting out...
[*Interesting fact: self-lubricating Vesconite expands less than 0.1% in water, while nylon expands by up to 3%!]

However, Jeffa, the manufacturer of both rudder & bearing, responded to our complaint by immediately despatching two replacements, gratis, with profuse apologies. It took only 2 days to rush them from Denmark to AKL airport, but another 4 days for DHL to then process and deliver the package to Whangarei. Kiwi pony express... ;)

Saildrive seals shot
Then, on draining the Saildrive, we were delighted to find gear oil like juiced avocado. And on closer inspection, with the prop hub off, the remains of an orange shopping bag wrapped around the shaft and up under the seals. Must have been recent, you could still read the 'Mitre 10'!

So new seals, fair enough, but the damage was deep enough to also require the shaft to be sleeved otherwise the new seals, well, wouldn't. Thankfully only an overnight job with the local Volvo-Penta agent. Again, Whangarei is a great place to get boat stuff done.

Hull prep...
Those jobs, plus a hundred-and-one others, kept us busy for the allotted fortnight. And some...

So instead of splashing on the Friday and having the weekend for final prep before departing Monday, it all happened on the hardstand.

Thankfully, we had a great team of helpers and the weather was kind to us!