REFLECTIONS ON NEW ZEALAND CRUISE 2021

This year I completed the New Zealand cruise that was interrupted last year by covid and a long period of lockdown in the Marlborough sounds area.  So, a year later I finally completed my adventure, sailing around New Zealand and visiting many places that are only easily accessible by boat.

Last year I tried not to hurry, spending time to enjoy the attractions of New Zealand.  This year I had the same philosophy and took even more time on my way around.  A big difference this year was my decision to motor when the wind dropped away on passage and not to hang around waiting for a breeze.  Part of this decision was due to having my wife, Ngozi on board (who doesn’t enjoy being bounced around offshore going nowhere) and partly my desire to limit the time sailing to windward.

Having Ngozi on board for the first two months of the cruise was a bonus.  I modified my tendency to press on and was conscious to provide a safe and comfortable cruising experience.  My diet benefited with healthy meals at regular intervals and someone to share sundowners with onboard.

By picking the right weather windows the cruise was accomplished with only a few hours of windward sailing.  We did however have some brisk sailing on occasion.

This year’s cruise started and ended in Auckland.  On the 1st January we departed our mooring in the Tamaki River and headed over to Coromandel, spending the first night in Ranger Bay, Te Kouma Harbour.  We visited Coromandel and a number of anchorages on our way to East Cape via the Mercury Islands and Whitianga.  Once around East Cape we travelled down the East coast, stopping at Gisborne, Napier, Akaroa and Port Chalmers before heading down to Stewart Island.

From Stewart Island we headed up the West Coast, visiting Fiordland, Westport, Abel Tasman, Nelson, Pelorus Sound, Havelock and New Plymouth before heading around Cape Reinga and North Cape and then down the East Coast back to Auckland.

Truce handled the cruise very well with no major gear failures or breakages.  The only problems encountered were mechanical (engine and wind vane), I will detail those below.  As with any cruise or trip to sea preparation is critical.  Cruising around New Zealand can be challenging, sea and weather conditions can and will change without much warning, voyage planning and vessel preparation are important.  Shelter is not always readily available on the coast and the boat needs to be well found and set up for offshore conditions.

Some highlights from the cruise: –

  • Port Chalmers.  A friendly place, great pub with the best food.  Free moorings provided by the Harbour Master.
  • Ten days in Napier. A very welcoming Yacht Club and wonderful city. A good place to stop over, relax and wait for weather.
  • Sailing to Stewart Island with a brisk Easterly wind across Foveaux Strait making for a fast and exhilarating passage.  Arriving at night in flat calm into Paterson Inlet.
  • Stewart Island.  Friendly, generous welcoming locals.  Good fishing and eating.
  •  Rounding Puysegur Point and into Otago Retreat with serious following seas and wind.
  • Fiordland.  Gifts of Crayfish.

Some of the less pleasant events: –

  • Sandflies in Fiordland.  I could go on…..

What worked well this cruise: –

  • Fridge.  Over the winter I converted the icebox to a fridge using an Isotherm 12-volt compressor.  The fridge worked wonderfully, providing crispy cold beer on the lowest setting, all powered from the solar panels during the long summer days.
  • Solar Panels and battery storage.  Upgraded over the winter period to two 100w solar panels and 220 Amps of house battery.  Provided power and storage during sunny days without need to run the engine for days on end.
  • Rig and sails.  No changes this year, it all just works well and in balance.  Increasingly I use soft shackles and low friction rings to replace shackles and blocks and find these are excellent alternatives, standing up to wear and UV very well after many thousands of miles.
  • Yakker WiFi.  I send GPS and AIS signals from the Matsutec AIS unit via the Yakker WiFi router to my phone, laptop and tablet.  This works with both OpenCPN and Navionics navigation software.  A great little low-cost device that makes navigation easier and facilitates a visual display of AIS targets on the chart.
  • Madman remote autopilot control.  I use a madman autopilot control on the Raymarine ST2000+ tiller pilot.  This allows me to alter course when sheltered under the dodger or on deck.  A handy device in wet weather or when working on deck away from the cockpit.
  • Pressure Cooker.  A lifesaver for cooking one pot meals or rice, pasta, porridge etc.  
  • Windvane.  Just awesome.  Performs without complaint, day in day out and never sleeps.

What didn’t work so well: –

  • Raymarine tiller pilot.  I carry two on board and finished the cruise with only one struggling to perform.  I also had problems last year with Raymarine tiller pilots.  They are not robust enough, not waterproof (even when new) and unreliable.  Unfortunately, there is not much option for an economical tiller autopilot outside of the Raymarine units.
  • Radio.  The short-wave radio on board was not picking up weather forecasts well.  The radio is old.  I will be replacing it with a modern short-wave unit.  The new radio will give me the ability to download weather fax to the laptop and into OpenCPN.
  • Engine failure.  The engine failure was certainly inconvenient.  With some assistance from fellow cruisers the engine was able to run and make the trip from Milford Sound to Nelson where testing, parts and a repair was available.  The fault was worn injectors, new injectors had the engine running back to normal.  Many thanks to the helpful people at Marine and General.  The engine problem gave me an opportunity to anchor, stern moor, sail into Milford Sound and hone my sailing skills.   
  • Windvane.  A broken gear mechanism on the windvane was caused by my poor management and a repair was performed quickly by Stark Brothers in Lyttleton without delaying the cruise.

A wish list for future Cruises: –

  • Light wind/downwind sail.  This item was on my wish list last year as well.  Something easy to manage, set, furl and stow.  I have given up on using the spinnaker when single handed and need an alternative.
  • A lighter spinnaker pole to replace the malevolent timber stick on board.
  • Horizontal windvane sail.  The windvane on Truce is a vertical vane type which drives a trim tab on the transom hung rudder.  The unit works well in both light and heavy winds.  However, in heavy winds I can’t reduce the vane sail area, a heavy flutter sets up on the vane.  To reduce the area of the vane I would like to change to a smaller horizontal vane that can be ‘reefed’ in heavy weather.  I have looked at options but can’t quite get the mechanics sorted out in my head.
  • Furling Staysail.  The staysail on Truce is hanked on.  To reduce to storm staysail I need to go on the foredeck and change sails.  A furling staysail would be easier to manage from the cockpit and reduce trips on deck in heavy weather.

Statistics

 2020 Cruise2021Cruise
Distance covered (Nautical Miles)2,7322,814
Duration (Days)158127
Anchorages4155
Marina Days2223
Engine Hours319336
Total Fuel Cost NZ$570604
Total Fuel Consumption Litre.439476
Fuel Consumption Per Hour L/Hr.1.371.42

One thought on “REFLECTIONS ON NEW ZEALAND CRUISE 2021

  1. Well Done, Ray!

    It has been wonderful following along with your travels. I have enjoyed your writing.

    I’ll be researching the Remote Autopilot Control and the Yakker WiFi. Thank you for the tip.

    We’ll be making our sailing decisions for 2022 this winter and will keep you apprised. We may meet up again yet.

    Like

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