Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Electrical awesomeness

It's been ages since I've posted anything - I'm sorry! After we got the boat home we were really busy for a while getting lots of work done, mostly on the engine. Then it kind of died down for a while because we got engaged! Which is very exciting.

The obligatory ring picture
Garth took me out to a lovely restaurant for dinner about 2 months ago and then afterwards we went for a walk along the waterfront to look at the lights on the harbour, which are really beautiful. Then the cheeky monkey pulled out a box of chocolates with a ring inside and proposed to me very awkwardly, which is exactly how i'd want him to do it. One thing he said that was really sweet and not at all awkward was in response to me asking him why he didn't take me out sailing and propose on the boat. He said it was because he wanted to propose just to me and not to our trip or to the boat, which was just cheesy enough to be beautiful.

So boat planning has been coming second to wedding planning lately, and it's ski season so we haven't actively been thinking about it much at all. But we have taken her out quite a few times with our friends, and have had a lot of help from friends trying to sort out the wiring, which will probably have to be completely redone (even though when we bought it, it was supposed to have new wiring). It might be new, but it's not very logical. We spent an entire night a while ago trying to figure out which lights were broken and which ones were just labelled wrong - they are now all labelled correctly, if not working correctly.

Dale being amazing with me on the boom
The fabulous Dale and Craig have put a lot of time into doing exciting things with the lights and the batteries and anything else electrical I'd ever be able to fault. If the boat crashes and we sink to a watery grave, it is not going to be because of an electrical fault, and our lights will be shining brightly under the water. They have found way brighter and more economical lights for the cabin, the nav station, the reading lamps and the mast. So we won't be stumbling around in dim lighting any more, and we'll have a better system with red lights for night vision. The compass light is also being replaced and everything onboard is going to be way more pleasant.

Dale doing Titanic in front of our giant dinghy
We're also doing lots of stuff with the rigging, making it easier and more functional. At the moment we've got our giant dinghy at the front of the boat which is making life really difficult. When we need to do anything in a hurry it becomes dangerous - its hard to reach the cleats to tie on when we're mooring, and david went flying across it when he and Mike needed to reef in a hurry.

We can't anchor easily either, making it a giant mission to actually take the boat out for anything but a spin - the dinghy lives over the anchor compartment. It's also in the way of my favourite dolphin viewing area.

So we were going to do something very cool we saw on a boat in Gisborne - make the forestay detachable, put a hole with a closing valve in the dinghy and move it back so the forestay goes through the dinghy. Brilliant!

But it turns out our forestay might not be strong enough to handle being detachable, and we need to replace it to be safe. And if we're replacing it, Garth just wants to move it forward and turn the boat into a cutter with an extra sail, which is what he wanted all along - that was the only thing we wanted in a boat that Heartbeat didn't deliver. I'm not sure how I feel about it, because it will make cruising around harder because tacking becomes more of a mission. But I like the idea of leaving the sail off and having the option of using it if we want to. We haven't made a decision yet, and have been umming and ahhing about it for ages.

Either way the dinghy will be out of the way and I'll be able to anchor and look at dolphins again, so it doesn't really matter.

We've had a few nice sails around the harbour with friends, either stopping for lunch or setting out some food while we were still going. That's been really nice and it's been great sharing the boat with our close friends.

We're doing as much skiing and snow kiting as possible over the next month, then hopefully by summer we'll be all set up for a few trips to the sounds and around New Zealand!

I promise I'll update more when stuff starts happening again.
Love Monique and Garth xxx

Becca and Dale
Becca fixing the lazy jacks

Wellington Harbour

Full moon

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Delivery part 4

 (just realized I never hit publish on this one. Whoops!)

Sunday 7am

The wind died just as we got to the cape near Wellington
Remember how I was worried about being stuck drifting towards rocks with no engine and no wind? That's pretty much what we spent all last night and this morning doing. Except most of the time we've had an offshore wind, blowing us away from the rocks instead of into them. Unfortunately this is the only time I've ever been able to stand outside in Wellington and say there is honestly no wind. There's about 3 knots and we're almost moving backwards from the current. Our engine died again after we left Gisborne, but we've had lots of wind so it hasn't been a problem. Now it's a problem. We had about 6 - 10 knots for some of last night and were moving at about 3 knots until we got to the harbour entrance where we've been sitting ever since.

Floating around after the engine died just before sunset

I was dying to get on land again but it's actually been really pleasant. No rain, no big waves, no seasickness, just sleeping and chilling out with Garth when it was our watch. While we were drifting near the harbour entrance around 4am two dolphins joined us, which was really amazing. We didn't see them at first in the dark, but Garth noticed some irregular splashing so I went to investigate. There was phosphuresence in the water and it was amazing to watch them. They were circling us, darting from one side of the boat to the other. I think they were disappointed at the lack of bow wave to play in.

Every time they went under the water you could see a patch of glowing water darting around with a trail of sparklies following it. I never noticed how fast they move! In the daylight I always watch them playing, but I focus on the dolphin itself. It was brilliant staring into a sea of blackness watching this glowing section of water darting around. Phosphereserence looks different depending on where you are in the water - deeper down it looks like a glowing auora, whereas closer to the surface the water is all sparkly and pretty. Whenever the dolphins surfaced, they were covered in tiny glowing dots and there was a beautiful trail around their tail as it came towards the surface. We started moving a bit faster and they played under the bow for about 10 minutes, swapping sides and twirling around. They were really spectacular and I'm definitely glad we were out here an extra night to see them.

The two nights before that were horrible - I got really seasick after we left Gisborne when I came downstairs to sleep. I've decided downstairs is bad. I stayed in the cockpit the rest of the time curled under a blanket, feeling rotten. I can't believe how long I was knocked around for this time - I was really sick for at least 24 hours. I think stopping at Gisborne for a day might have reset my sea legs.

It rained all night and the sea was rough and there were no stars to steer to so it was harder to stay on course. I was on watch with Garth in the pouring rain for 5 hours before I got sick and it was not pleasant. The waves were 2 - 3 metres and I was soaked to the bone as we passed through a nasty cold front. The next day and night were pretty miserable as well, even after the rain let up. From downstairs it sounded like my poor boat was getting a beating - waves were smashing over the bow onto the cabin, it was violently tipping left and right as we sailed downwind and it kept trying to crash gybe.

I was asleep on the low side of the settee at one stage when we crash gybed - I woke up as I was launched into the air and went crashing down on the table. I didn't just roll out of bed, I was literally hurled into the air. That wasn't ideal.

I honestly thought we were in a crazy storm because the new sails flapping sound like claps of thunder. Then I felt stupid when I stuck my head out, because it was just normal NZ weather and David was having a blast in the waves. Downstairs makes me sick AND it's scary. Partly enclosing the cockpit has moved higher up on my priorities - then we can stay up in bad weather and not be miserable.

Yesterday the wind died and we flew with the kite for a while, which was fun. The sun was out, I was feeling better and it was a lovely way to end our trip. I'm shocked that this leg has been the easiest - cook strait is generally the worst part of Nz, but it was dead calm.

So now we just float here for a while, waiting for the wind...

Sunday 5pm

Sailing into the harbour with Wellington in the background
So we made it home. Just. One good thing about all this is that we got a lot of VHF practice and Garth and I got to do a lot on our own. When we were on watch we were going to sail into the harbour. We called up on the VHF and chatted to Wellington harbour radio, which is a lot less scary at 4am. They couldn't see our lights with their binoculars and the ferry radioed to say they couldn't see us either, so our lights are obviously still wrong. Garth climbed up the mast to find that the green light looks blue and the white light still comes on at the same time as our tricolour, so you can't see anything. We made the decision early on to do circles near the harbour entrance away from the shipping lane until the sun was up and the morning fog cleared. I'm very sure this was the right decision.

So after communicating back and forth with harbour radio I'm much more comfortable talking on the VHF now, though I did screw up a few times. He didn't seem to care.

When we could see and there were no ferries around we put up our giant kite (we had the small one up yesterday) and came into the harbour in style. Slowly, but in style. I didn't get a good picture because I was driving and flying the kite while Garth was lying over the side holding it out, but we looked awesome.

Kite is up!

Our plan was to get the dinghy going and tow Heartbeat into the marina. So we blew up the dinghy, launched it, dug out the engine and dug out the fuel. This took a long time. Then we spent ages hunting for the connecting cable for the fuel only to find it was missing a bit. So onto plan b. We called seaview marina asking for a tow and they were there in 15 minutes, tied up and bringing us in. I was so impressed by how lovely they were, the marina manager seems to be a really friendly guy. So we got tied up and they made us feel at home straight away. I had been dying to get ashore and then I didn't want to leave the boat! But I'm exhausted and looking forward to sleeping in a dry bed tonight, so it's for the best. Also I probably need a shower...

Love Monique

Heartbeat safely tied up at her new home

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Delivery part 3 - East cape to Gisborne and engine dramas.

Thursday - East Cape to Gisborne
Day 7

Its 2am and we're holed up in Gisborne for the night. We ran out of water yesterday because the tap in the bathroom sink was on and the sink works on a foot pump - the water doesn't some out unless you pump it and I guess it didn't get turned off. So when we were on a big lean to the starboard side, the bladder our water supply lives in was higher than the sink and all the water ran into the sink and down the drain. So no water. Luckily we have about 60L in reserve under the cockpit, but it's a pain in the ass not having water out of the tap. Which is why we're in Gisborne at 2am, to refill the water and fuel.

I noticed a few days ago that our batteries don't charge when the motor is on. This was worrying, but our little solar panel fills them up all day, and they slowly die during the night. Then the sun comes up again! Unfortunately, we had to stop here at midnight and then when we tried to turn on the engine to leave again it wouldn't start. I'm just glad it didn't fail when we ran out of wind, were drifting towards rocks and needed to motor - the thought of not having a secondary means of propulsion makes me very uneasy.

We're assuming the problem is lack of power, but we started it for a few hours just before sunrise this morning - before the solar power kicked in and it worked fine. I just hope it's a simple fix and we can get going again ASAP - we need to be in Wellington by Sunday night. We've got 2 1/2 days left if we travel at an average of 4 knots, so we should be okay, but don't want to cut it too fine.

As much as I want to get going, it's really nice to be stopped. The waves out there are big, the sea is rough and I was feeling pretty rotten before we came in. Everything is drenched from the spray, including our bed - there must be a leak somewhere. To be fair, half the deck was under water for most of the day. We've been beating upwind since this morning, which means lots of tacking and the boat has been on a nasty lean. I've never minded it before when we're racing, but not bring able to stand or walk through the boat without crashing into something is less than ideal. The boat has been smacking up and down waves all day with a horrible crunching sound every time we land and I was scared something would break. Maybe all that shaking just pulled something loose somewhere.
The calm before the storm

Big waves

And none of us were dry that day...

Mike looking like a salty sailor
So it's nice to lie down properly for at least one night before we get going again. Let's just hope we can sort this out in the morning and it's not too much of a big deal.


It looks like we'll be able to deal with this quickly then get underway again. We've been lucky with repairs so far - I think Mike is just very persuasive. He got a guy down here first thing this morning and he thinks he can fix it. Both the alternator and starter motor are screwed - the alternator was broken before and the starter motor obviously just decided to stop working last night. We're all well rested and ready to get going again. The forcast looks good for today with a 15 knot southerly which will hopefully move around to a south easterly for a nice reach all the way home. Much better than the 25 - 30 knot headwinds we had yesterday. We were beating into them all day with our oversized no.1 genoa out (we think it's 160%) so that wasn't a very comfortable leg. The winds were supposed to die off after Gisborne, so we stuck with the big sail.

This morning I put on my togs and had a shower on the dock with a hose and soap. That was fabulous, although freezing cold. I hadn't had a shower or brushed my hair in at least 7 whole days, a new record of disgustingness. So at least I'm clean if not warm.


We're still here. The engine does not look good. The electrical guy has called for backup from an engine guy, so it's starting to look pretty serious. If we don't fix this today Garth might have to take a bus back home to be at work on Monday. There's talk of water sitting on top of a piston and I don't know what that means. There's also a possibility that we have a cracked head which is pretty much maximum bad. It's looking like we'll have to do a whole engine refit, which is super expensive. I had a feeling we would have engine problems but I was still hoping it would be okay. We would have been in a lot of trouble last night if the engine hadn't started to bring us into Gisborne, because we needed water and fuel and it's a nasty little narrow channel. There aren't many other places to stop along this coast.


The engine is fixed! there was water in it somewhere which is now gone. It took a while for it to kick over and that engine noise is the best thing I've ever heard. Our guy fixed the alternator as well, so our batteries are now charging properly. It was just a loose wire into the battery. If anybody ever gets stuck in Gisborne with a broken engine, the guys from Bensons are amazing.

We got a lot of things sorted while we were stopped today - we dried everything on board, which had gotten wetter and wetter over the days. We solved the leak problem in the v berth and dried everything - there's a compartment aft of the bulkhead that's open through to the v berth. It would get water in it and then when we were on a nice heel ramming through the waves it splashed up everywhere and drenched the bed. Mike also fixed a leak in the outgoing pipe of the toilet and David reorganized the cockpit locker again so nothing can disturb some random wires in there. So our list of things to do is growing but we're getting stuff done along the way which is really exciting. Now we're all dry and rested and ready to go sailing! I expect to spend the next day or two huddled in the cockpit feeling horrible, so I'm just hoping the seas aren't too rough. But they will be.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Delivery part 2 - days 3, 4 and 5

Sunday - Gulf harbour in Auckland to Coromandel Peninsula
Day 3

Gulf Harbour marina in Auckland
We had an exciting day today, but I'm glad to be snuggled up in bed. We've parked up in a little bay along the Coromandel Peninsula, surrounded by towering black shapes along the skyline. They're almost ominous. It's weird to pull into somewhere different in complete darkness not having any idea what it looks like outside. It will be interesting to see what the morning brings.

We didn't leave until around 2pm today, because we had a lot to get ready for the trip ahead. Garths wonderful family were nice enough to run around after us all morning, gathering things and ferrying them to the boat.

Sorting out the dinghy
We made use of the time by pumping up the dinghy and taking our giant genoa down, which took an hour or two. I would not want to do that in heavy winds! It's a furling genoa, so we had to unfurl it (unroll it so the sail was up while we were tied to the dock) then bring it down. It was horrible. The bloody thing was flapping around in the wind and then we couldn't fold it properly on the boat because it's so big and new and stiff. We ended up getting a random cruiser to help us refold it when we couldn't fit it back in the door. Boat people are so nice!

We eventually left in 25 - 30 knots, with a medium headsail and 2 reefs in the main (that decreases the power in it). The wind was behind us and the waves were 2 - 3 metres high - we surfed on them for hours. They weren't like normal rolly waves though - they were really steep and choppy. I'd look behind us and there'd be a wall of water before we were picked up and thrown down. It was pretty fun for a while, but hard work. I especially loved driving with the boat being knocked around, waves spraying into the cockpit, drenched from head to toe.

Lots of splashes in choppy waves

Then it got dark. I haven't sailed at night much, and only in wellington harbour. The huge waves continued, except we couldn't see them very well. It was terrifying steering while Garth was navigating us around rocks, waves chucking me around, scary black outlines of land everywhere. Eventually I got used to it and it wasn't so bad, but I can't imagine a week of that with just the two of us. My arms are buggered. I was constantly turning the wheel to deal with the way the waves were throwing us around. It would be the same as driving for ages through an obstacle course with no power steering - hard left, hard right, hard left.

As exhausting and scary as it was, it was amazing looking up at the stars from the middle of nowhere with only the dark outline of the sails breaking up the sky. It's beautiful out here.

We also saw a dolphin jumping out of the water right next to the boat, and as I ran to look he was gone and there was a rainbow in his place. Then tonight there was a shooting star. I also got to pee off the side of the boat like a guy (using a female urination device). That was freaking awesome. I was too scared of getting seasick to go downstairs to the toilet, so I was really glad I had it. Best $10 I ever spent.

So all in all I think it was a successful day, but tomorrow we're going to start sleeping in shifts and sailing nonstop. It's at least 6 days of 24 hour sailing until we get home, and we're hoping to get there on schedule. I'm just hoping I don't get seasick and that we catch some fish. And that there's more dolphins.

Across the Bay of Plenty - East Cape
Day 5

Yesterday was awful. We only anchored up for around 4 or 5 hours and I hardly slept at all. The boat kept swinging around in the wind and pulling on the anchor line with a horrible creaking noise. I thought for sure we were going to come off our anchor and crash into rocks. I must spend nearly all my time worrying about this boat.

I was feeling a bit off on Sunday, but not compared to yesterday. I spent the whole day shoveling down ginger and seasickness pills and trying not to throw up. I'm sorry to say I spent a lot of time wishing I could just get off this damn boat and onto something solid. I didnt go downstairs all day, because thats what makes you really ill. About an hour after our watch ended and i was supposed to go to sleep, I decided I just wasn't going to be sick anymore and went down to get my pjs. I didn't even have time to grab them before I was back on deck with my head over the side. So I brought my sleeping bag into the cockpit under the stars and had the best sleep since before we left on Friday.

Yesterday afternoon a big pod of dolphins swept past our boat, taking it in turns to play in the bow wake before moving on. They did little barrel rolls and turned upside down so their tummies get the rush of water over them. It was magical.

Then after another beautiful sunset, just as the last light was leaving the sky we got a bite on the line we'd been trawling all day. David was in his boxers trying to change into his night gear. With his long johns around his ankles he dove for the rod and spent quite a while wearing the fish down before reeling it in. He said it wasn't very big, so we were ready with the net when it surfaced. It was a giant tuna, and the net could hardly fit his tail. Garth struggled to untie the gaff (a big sharp hook for bringing in fish), while I tried to take the wheel and David kept reeling him in with his pants around his feet. It was utter chaos.

We have a system in place for fish - take them to the deck, bleed them and cut them there, and don't bring any of the mess near the cockpit.

This didn't work. The tuna was around 15 - 18 kg and it was all David could do to get him in the boat at all without being pulled over himself. The giant guy landed in the middle of the cockpit, spraying blood everywhere. It took quite a while to sort out.

The really sad part was that we don't have our fridge hooked up yet - just an ice box. David cut off two fillets (less than half the meat) and had to throw the rest overboard. The meat he cut off was too much for 4 of us to eat for 2 meals - for breakfast (and then lunch) we all just had a giant plate of tuna. David called it the breakfast of champions and it was fabulous.

David's obligatory shot holding up the fish
Today was spent lying in the sun, napping and reading. We sorted out our windvane steering yesterday, so the boat now steers itself. I'm feeling much better today, I think it just takes a few days to get used to the motion of the boat. We've been keeping 6 hour shifts with 2 of us on a shift, so we're on watch for 6 hours then we can nap or rest for 6 hours.

We're almost at East Cape, wherever that is. We had another pod of dolphins join us this afternoon, which I loved immensely. They really love playing in the bow wake, so I sit right out on the front and they swim inches from my feet when the bow is low in the water. There were hundreds of them, coming in from as far as I could see - the flat horizon was broken up by fins dipping, diving and occasionally jumping out of the water. It was beautiful.

I'm looking forward to tonight, because last night was so lovely. It's peaceful and quiet, with nothing to look at but the stars. It's kind of fun steering the boat to the stars, like Captain Cook and all the explorers who lived in times before chartplotters would have.

We were out of sight from land for a day or two, which was different to what I had thought. You would expect it to be a frightening feeling being all alone out at sea. But all you can see is water in every direction, with a very flat, definitive horizon line. So instead of feeling small and isolated I just feel like I'm in a little bubble. I'm sure this would change in bad weather.

I'm going to get into some warm clothes and watch another beautiful sunset as we round the cape and start pointing towards home. If we make good speed it should be another 5 or 6 days. I just hope the weather stays nice and we get some more wind.

Sleeping in the cockpit

White Island, being all smokey and volcanoey

It's been a while since I brushed my hair...