Sunday, 26 May 2013

Honeymoon - Day 2 & 3 (Jan 28th and 29th)

Day 2 - Queen Charlotte Sounds to the Abel Tasman

I'm just chilling out in the shade under the Bimini with the autopilot on while Garth naps. I know I'm not supposed to, but I kind of like motoring. I hate the sound of the motor and I have a headache from us yelling at each other over the top of it, but I get to use the autopilot and I don't get seasick as much. Or maybe I'm just getting used to the boat, but I think that is less likely.

We're crossing over from the Marlborough Sounds area to Golden Bay at the moment, which is about an eight hour trip. So we'll get in after dark again but no more traveling after that! Hopefully just golden beaches and more sunshine. Garth wants to find civilization so he can get some swimmers or shorts or some kind of clothing, but stopping in a town would have added an extra day onto our trip - Nelson is the only big one. I actually got to go swimming this morning without a wetsuit, which was exciting. The water was chilly, but beautiful compared to Wellington! Who would have ever thought I'd be happy to go swimming in a temperature that three years ago I would have classed as ice cold. I remember when I lived in Australia, I'd never get in if the water wasn't around the 25 degrees Celsius mark.

Anchorage near Cape Jackson

Skinny Dipping

While I'm on watch I had a timer set to go off every 15 minutes so I could jump up and check the horizon, but I'm constantly looking so I changed it to 10. I'm facing backwards crocheting a sun hat, and I can't help but feel slightly uneasy that the boat is steering itself and nobody is watching where we're going. It's 3:30pm and we've seen two boats all day, but I still worry. For some reason it's less unsettling at night time, I guess because you expect there to be more boats to navigate around during the day. I was trying to figure out why there's no other boats out on such a beautiful day, but I suspect it's because it's a Monday and there's still zero wind so all the sane people have stayed home.

We went through French Pass today, which was exciting. It's a reasonably small gap you can duck through to avoid going around a massive peninsula. But the current there is crazy and you have to get the right time just as the tide changes. Garth said it would be a four hour trip to go round so it's usually quicker to just wait for the tide, but he checked it as we got closer and we were coming in just at the right time.

 We tried to go through amidst a whirlpool of churned up water, streaming in all sorts of crazy directions. We didn't move, and then started swirling a bit. Whoops... Garth checked the time over and over again, before realizing he had forgotten to adjust for daylight savings. So we put up the Bimini, made lunch and cruised through half an hour later with only a bit of difficulty. There was a minute or so where we weren't sure we were moving forward, but our little boat managed to push through all the chaos going on down below the surface.

Still no pants. Checking the tide

Day 3 - Abel Tasman to Golden Bay

We made it to a lovely little bay behind Tonga island just as dinner was ready last night. So we got to relax inside with the peace and quiet of no engine, eating delicious tacos and drinking bubbles. Perfect!

Showering on the deck as we watch the sun set

The moon was just as beautiful last night as the night before. It rose as a giant orange ball of brilliance, then stayed a bright golden colour all night. I wonder if I'll ever get sick of it?

Moonrise over D'urville Island

We 're planning on snorkeling in the marine reserve next to Tonga island today, then heading to Golden bay for a day of stand up paddle boarding and then making our way to the peninsula for some horse riding. Exciting! But our engine died just as we were pulling up the anchor. I was just thinking last night that it was doing really well, I may have jinxed it. We've done 25 hours of motoring in the last two days, and I'd expected it to be cranky by now. Luckily we're just out of fuel but Garth is worried that we've got a leak somewhere. I think we're probably just empty, and filling up will solve the problem... though that may be my optimistic nature shining through.

Garth lost in the cockpit locker, wearing my board shorts
There's a very light breeze now so we're hoping to get going - Garth is just trying to bleed the engine so it will work again, because it has probably got air into it when we filled up the fuel from cans. Some good has come of this though - we have exactly 40L of fuel in the tank, so I put a very accurate marking of the fuel level on our measuring stick. Before it was just estimated guessing.

Seal colony on Tonga Island

Beautiful water
Seal pups on Tonga Island
I'm starting to get our log book organized now we're doing an actual trip - before it was just scribbled notes everywhere. I want to print up a custom one for us to use, but we need to start actually filling in the one we have to figure out what is important and what we need to know later.

There are mutterings coming from inside, the last one was 'I don't even know how I'm meant to do that,' so I might go and help. At least we're in a beautiful bay with lovely golden beaches to look at. I can think of worse places to be stuck in.

Garth has banned me from fishing. I keep catching big Barracutas, which I make him pull in because they're stupidly heavy. Then he has to take the hook out of them and throw them back again after being spiked a few times - they're full of tiny bones and worms, which makes them a pain in the ass to cook. We're not exactly short on food, so I suppose there's no point. But I like catching fishes! We were given a shiny new rod, reel, tackle box and tackle as wedding presents and it's notably more fun fishing with good gear. Before we kept losing lures and breaking the line and it just seemed impossible to pull anything onto the boat. I think I'll wait until we've eaten all the mince in the fridge before sneakily dropping the line again.

We had more engine trouble today, but it wasn't as simple as forgetting to check how much fuel was left before starting the engine. We were cruising along and I had jelly beans all lined out on my shirt trying to pick a flavor when Garth started screaming for me to turn off the engine. I didn't manage to save all the jelly beans, which made the whole thing even worse. There was diesel spurting everywhere out of a hole in an engine pipe, which means the blasted boy was probably right this morning. We lost at least 10 litres of fuel and the entire boat stinks of diesel, which is not ideal. He managed to find the leak, patch it up and have us going again in half an hour, which is amazing. I'm ridiculously impressed at how good he is at fixing things. He's been showing me how to do everything as well, which is another good thing about us being all alone - there's nobody else to do things for me, so I have to learn. Lucky for him I'm a fast learner, because then he gets to palm jobs off to me all the time.

I keep finding a lone bumblebee hovering around the cockpit and hiding under the dodger. He probably thought it was a good idea to stow away with us this morning, but is no doubt regretting it by now.

I jumped in the water when Garth was fixing the engine and it was divine - I don't even think we'll need wetsuits at all. We're getting fuel then anchoring somewhere, hopefully private, because I'm looking forward to going for a swim in the morning. Then tomorrow we want to explore the Tata islands by SUP!

Honeymoon - Day 1 (Jan 27th)

Day 1 - Wellington to Queen Charlotte Sounds

I can't believe we haven't done any big trips together until now. Our little boat feels like a home already - when we got on board we literally dumped a truckload of stuff into the cockpit and everything just found a place tucked up neatly somewhere. Today has been lovely, and I'm sure it's because right now we're on our honeymoon and our boat is perfect and has nothing to do with the sunshine, blue skies and calm seas.

It seemed so right when we threw off the dock lines and it was just the two of us - we've done very little sailing on our own and it's been really nice. We love having our friends along and going on adventures together, but it's awesome working together as a couple to make our little boat go as fast as possible.

We've had to motor sail the whole day, with the sail hanging limply and the boom flapping about sadly every once and a while. We had wind in the harbour but we were becalmed once we entered the strait of crazy wind - go figure. When we did get a bit of a breeze and Garth went to trim the mainsail, the clew was being weird. It looked like it had come off the mast track so I went to investigate and found the bolt which attached the sail to the boom and the boom to the mast had decided to come off. Whoops. So as I was steering through a weird current in between two islands, Garth attached the spinnaker halyard to the boom (totally my idea), winched it up and managed to get it back in place before it slid another inch to the left and fell down destroying everything. He found the bolt, and that sucker is getting some lock tite on it tomorrow. Other than that our crossing was pretty uneventful. Garth slept through most of it, and the karori rip (which could have made me quite sick) was tiny and tame.

We found some dolphins at around sunset, who played with our boat for a while before rushing off to find something more interesting. They were in a small pod of about 6 and looked like they were going to cross our path about 100m ahead of us. When they saw us though they all took a 90 degree turn and came over to say hi. They were big common dolphins and I'm sure they were sending us some good luck :)

I can't stop staring at the moon. Its full tonight and so bright, i feel like a moth to a flame. There was a beautiful sunset when we were in the middle of Cook strait. One island was shrouded in beautiful shades of dusty pink and blue with the moon rising above it, and the other was highlighted in brilliant shades of orange and yellow as the sun sunk behind the hills. It was stunning.

North Island

South Island

Now almost all the horizons are dark. There's a scattering of tiny fairy lights from the coast of the north island and nothing but the dark outlines of hills in the direction we're going. Then there's this brilliant moon taking up the whole sky and illuminating a long strip of water underneath it.

The Brothers light and the moon

You can see all the shadows and shapes across the surface if it. I feel like I'm looking at a picture or through a telescope, it's so perfect. Perhaps it's just because we're all alone out here and it's such a calm night, because I have seen plenty of full moons in my lifetime. But out here where there is nothing else around, it certainly stands out. I wonder if this is what earth looks like from space - a bright ball in the middle of nothingness with shapes and patterns dancing across the surface.

The water looks like oil tonight, all shiny and dark rippling slowly out from behind us. I want to jump in and coat myself in a layer of the silky blackness, but i know it will just be cold and wet.

We're anchoring in a little bay underneath cape Jackson tonight then heading to Nelson tomorrow. Garth has conveniently left his bag of clothes behind, so we have to at least get him some shorts. It was purely accidental, I'm sure.

I keep looking behind me to see why there's a spotlight on me, but it's still just the moon reflecting off every shiny surface.

Pre honeymoon preparations

As usual, I've been stupidly busy and haven't posted anything. But I did write a few entries from our honeymoon! So I'll put them up now - better late than never!

We're off on our honeymoon to the Abel Tasman national park and Golden bay. The weather is divine! I thought I should do a quick update on all the maintenance we did before leaving though, because it was two days of solid work.

First of all we had an anchor winch installed while we were off getting married. It's the prettiest thing I've ever seen in my life. Aside from my husband. Anchoring now is just delicious, and I want to do it over and over just because we can. We have to have the engine running to use it because of all the power it draws, but it has a winch handle to do it manually if we have to. Or if we want to just sail away without the stinky engine. But winching it up is still ten times easier than just pulling it. The anchor winch also came with a brand new anchor which is more universal and has much better holding power than the old one, and new chain and rope. Almost all of our boat fixing funds have now been depleted, but it was 100% worth it. It's a peg winch, because our anchor well wasn't reinforced enough to install an old lady anchor, which I think Garth called a drop anchor. For that type you just press a button from the cockpit and its done. For ours you have to walk up to the bow and stand on a button while you feed the chain into the well. It would just go in on its own but that's probably not great for the deck. I like this way better anyway, we're still spritely enough to walk to the bow and back.

Shiny new anchor winch
Shiny new rope and chain
We also got the fridge installed. Well, Garth did. Kind of. The freezer bit hasn't been installed properly because we're not sure how. So it just kind of hangs there. But we have a fridge! And it doesn't use as much power as we were expecting, which is a plus. The only drawback is that we had to install the compressor in the same compartment as our water bladder. Garth put in a divider and an air vent, but it still heats up the small space and makes the tap water quite warm. Annoying. But our food is cold! We're not really sure how to solve that problem.
This is what it looks like with every single removable panel taken off the floor, with Garth sitting in the bilge

Taking out the old fridge compressor
And it's out!
All of the old fridge pieces
I made a headboard for our cabin, so I don't wake up in the morning with a sore neck to look over at Garth lying on my pillows, while his are in a pile where they've fallen into the walkway. It's not fancy - it just slides into place when we want it and lives on the side of our cabin when we don't. I spent all morning cutting it to size and sanding it down though, and it makes me happy when I can do useful things, because installing electronics is not my best skill. I also fixed the lock on the hatch, so we can actually lock up the boat properly now. Unfortunately that also means we have to actually remember the key all the time.
Sanding the headboard
Fixing the lock
I also oiled all the teak, thoroughly scrubbed the deck and figured out how to service all the winches, which fixed the broken one we're supposed to use for the vang and for reefing. But didn't fix the broken one that's supposed to be for the furler. I really want to get a self tailer on at least one of the headsail sheets and swap out the one already there for the furler. But I'm not sure that will happen, given how much winches cost. I'm a lot stronger than most girls, what with all the aerial acrobatics and pole dancing, but when the wind picks up I really struggle to trim the headsail without somebody to tail me. I'm not sure how Garth does it - I've seen him juggle the wheel and both sheets. And he can steer and furl the headsail at the same time as well, which requires at least 4 hands. He manages it with 2 hands and both feet, somehow. I would be much more likely to trim the sail if we had a self tailing winch, instead of knowing I should do it and then waiting for Garth to get annoyed enough at our inefficient speed to do it himself.

I think those were the main things we fixed, and the boat is all ready for our trip now! I just hope it stays in one piece.

Much love!
Monique xxx
All shiny and clean