NEW YEARS RESOLUTION FULFILLED
2 January 2023
My new years resolution last year was to “Drink more different types of Beer.” I am happy to report I have largely been successful in this endeavour. It has not been an easy task. The breweries have conspired against me by producing an increasing number of craft beers at an alarming rate. Keeping up with all the newcomers has been challenging. Unfortunately, halfway through the year I lost track of what I had been drinking, making the rest of the year a bit confusing. But I did well, although there is the nagging doubt – could I have done better? To finish off the year I was gifted a couple of new and unusual brews, they were good.
I don’t have a resolution for 2023 yet. After a period of recovery from the efforts of last year I am sure it will come to me.
2022 has been an unusual year. Not much sailing undertaken but lots of little and not so little maintenance and upgrade jobs completed on Truce. Truce is now ready to go again. She is full of water, gas, fuel, beverages and food. I have quit my part time job at Burnco and am a free agent again. Looking forward to the next adventures around New Zealand.
At the end of my last trip around New Zealand I compiled a wish list of items for future cruises. There were four things on the list, namely: –
- A light wind sail, something easy to manage, set, retrieve and stow.
- A lighter spinnaker pole. The current spruce stick is a handful single handed.
- Horizontal wind vane. The current vertical vane takes up a huge amount of space and can’t be reefed.
- Furling staysail. To replace the hanked on staysail, a nod to old age.
Of the four items on the wish list, I have managed to purchase and fit a furler for the staysail together with a new sail. The furler is a Harken ESP model, similar but smaller than the headsail furler. The new staysail was made by NZ sails, it looks good and sails well. I have used a heavier cloth for the staysail so I can carry it in higher winds instead of setting a storm staysail. The furling staysail will remove interesting trips to the foredeck in nasty weather, both safer and less strenuous. Now, only three things left on the wish list.
As I write this I am sitting at home in Auckland waiting for a strong easterly wind to blow through before venturing out. At this time of year the Hauraki Gulf is overflowing with boats, they will all be herding into the few anchorages protected from the easterly winds. I predict a fair degree of pandemonium, Kiwi’s love to anchor close to each other on short anchor scopes. I am happy to sit at home for a few days to let the mayhem pass, its going to be a long summer.
I have not decided where to go this year or the route to take. The indecision is enjoyable, the wind and weather will decide for us when we head out.
FRIDGE INSTALLATION AND COOL RESULTS
5 January 2023
When I acquired Truce she didn’t have a fridge on board. The previous owners liked simplicity on board and didn’t go for ‘fancy’ systems. The top opening icebox on board was very well insulated, ice would keep for several days.
I went along with the icebox idea for a long time. However, Ngozi convinced me that we needed a fridge onboard, after all, you can’t drink warm bubbly can you? In fact, I was becoming disenchanted with drinking tepid beer in summer, so I didn’t need too much nagging to get me motivated for the fridge project.
The plan was to convert the existing icebox to a fridge. A few sessions on Google convinced me it was something that even I could manage. So, in the winter of 2020 I set to work obtaining the bits to make it work.
The icebox is just over 50 Litres capacity, quite small. The unit to make it work was the Isotherm series 80 air cooled compressor/condenser. I purchased the Isotherm compressor from Fridgetech in Auckland for a reasonable price. The unit is virtually plug and play but I still read the instructions a couple of times before opening or cutting anything.
It turned out to be a straightforward job. I placed the compressor unit into the bottom shelf of a food locker in the Galley. This location had the advantage of being open to the bilge where I hoped the cool air could flow up and provide some cooling effect for the compressor. Into the side of the locker I installed a vent to allow the warm air to escape from the compartment.
Then came the harder bit of installing the evaporator plate into the ice box. I drilled a hole into the side of the ice box with a hole saw and threaded the piping through. Screwing the evaporator plate into place in the ice box was awkward, it’s a small space in an awkward location and my elbows only hinge in one direction. After a few choice words of encouragement, it was done.
The compressor unit mounts into a frame arrangement. First screw down the frame and then click the compressor into place. That bit was easy, the compressor mounts on rubber dampers to reduce vibration and noise, nice. This frame idea is good as its would have been more difficult to mount the compressor as one piece. Also, it allows the compressor to be removed easily if needed without removing and fixings.
The next item was to connect the quick couplings between the compressor and the evaporator plate. This is also an easy job, just mate the two ends together and screw them up to the correct torque. There was a momentary hiss of gas as the couplings went together (a bit disconcerting) but no leaks afterwards.
I sealed up the pipe entry hole into the icebox with expanding foam from a can. (Very good stuff to have on board for emergency use as well). The installation looked good. I placed the thermostat at the top of the locker where it is visible and easy to adjust.
Next, I wired up some cables from the buss bar through a switch to the compressor via a fuse, that bit was also easy Then I connected the electrical connections up and applied power. All seemed to be OK. Then I turned on the thermostat and after a couple of seconds the compressor kicked into life. A few minutes later I checked the evaporator plate, it was cold. Bingo, all working.
Eager to test further I loaded a few drinks into the fridge and closed the lid. The compressor unit cycled on and off, just about 50% on and 50% off. This should not happen so I called up Fridgetech for advice. They advised me to let it run overnight and it should settle down, so I left it running and went home.
The next day I returned to the boat. The fridge was down to temperature, in fact a bit too cold and the on off cycle was down to about six times per hour, just as it should be.
I have now been running the fridge for many months and not had any problems. The thermostat is set on the lowest setting and the fridge contents keep gloriously cold. The noise level from the compressor is negligible and not at all intrusive, you can only really hear it if you are listening for it when at anchor.
The power consumption is also quite low, although not quite as low as the makers claim. In use I find the unit draws 7 amps momentarily on start up then settles at about 6 amps. This equates to around 0,7 Ah which is reasonable and still less that 24 amps per day, easily handled by the solar panels most days. There have been a few days when continuous rain and cloud has reduced solar input when I have had to either run the engine or shut the fridge off for a while, but these are rare.
All up I am very pleased with the installation, its quiet and trouble free. The temperature and efficiency are good. The cost was less than buying and installing an off the shelf fridge and the room lost to the compressor unit is small. The end result, we have the luxury of cold beer for me and bubbles for her.
SAILING AGAIN – NO RUM!
13 January 2023
Sailing season opened on the 1st January. Unfortunately the weather forecast was atrocious for the week, so we delayed departure. This decision turned out to be correct, nasty easterly winds and plenty of rain made the first week of the New Year a wash out.
On the seventh of January we set forth, early morning, from Hobsonville Marina and took the ebb tide down and out of the harbour. A heavy rain squall in the Rangitito Channel reduced visibility and we used radar to pick out the buoys and other vessels. The rain soon passed and we had some wind, we set course for Great Barrier Island. Of course, the wind didn’t hold and we shaped course up towards Kawau Island, we managed to sail through Tiri Channel before the wind died. We motored the last couple of miles into Coppermine Bay. The anchorage at Coppermine Bay was delightful, peaceful and calm.
Having anchored and cleaned up the cockpit from sailing I decided to relax in the last of the afternoon sun with a rum and coke. Oh Horror! We had somehow forgotten the rum, we had a bag of lemons and two cases of Coke – but no Rum! I thought Ngozi had brought it (I saw her stocking up the booze locker) and she thought I had stocked up. Nothing could be done. I reverted to beer.
The following day, Sunday, I was up early and eager to get going. By 08:00 we were clear of Kawau Island and sailing in a light S’Wly breeze on a rhumb line for Man of war passage, Great Barrier Island. The wind alternated between light and very light. In the light wind Mickey the windvane managed to steer and for the very light we switched to the Pelagic tiller pilot which did a very good job. I am liking the Pelagic so far.
We had a wonderful sail in bright sunshine and sparkling seas. This is how it should be. By 14:00 in the afternoon we were anchored in Kiwiriki Bay feeling very happy and cracking a cold beer. Little did we know the next few days would be horrid.
A tropical cyclone was making its way towards us, bringing strong gusty winds and a tremendous torrential amount of rain. I watched the barometer steadily fall from Monday onwards until it finally started to rise on Wednesday morning. By my reckoning we have had rain every day in 2023 so far.
Thursday 12th S’Wly breeze moderating, less gusty, still rain showers. We had anchored overnight at Smokehouse Bay and I decided to head out of Port Fitzroy to have a look at the wind offshore. After an hour it was obvious that the lumpy sea was too much for the light wind and the sails flogged as we rolled. We decided to turn back and relax for another day, anchoring this time in Kaiarara Bay. We watched a big brown parrot type bird called a Kaka, didn’t seem to mind our presence at all and came quite close.
I passed the time by doing odd jobs. I wired up the floodlight on the new antenna mast. Now we have a wonderful bright light on deck and sails, either red or white. New lines were spliced for the traveller to replace the dyneema core lines I had used previously. I have gone back to polyester braid that is more elastic, an advantage in a gybe.
I am writing this on Friday 13th January. Although we had a good forecast for moving north today I would not sail for obvious reasons. Tomorrow is also looking good so hopefully we will be on our way again, heading further up the east coast.
RAIN AGAIN – BAY OF ISLANDS
16 January 2023
After a quiet night at Whangamumu Harbour and after a leisurely breakfast we weighed anchor and headed out into a decent swell and confused sea. Once clear of the harbour things sorted themselves out and we sailed on a brisk S’Wly breeze up to and around Cape Brett. From there it was plain sailing all the way down into the Bay of Islands, the sun came out, it started to feel like summer had arrived.
There were a lot of boats around, big and small all sorts. Don’t know where they all come from but there are a large number of foreign cruising boats in the mix. No doubt the foreign boats have been waiting for the boarders opening and coming down to avoid the Pacific cyclone season.
After a couple of tacks we sailed into our chosen anchorage in Te Hue (Assassins Bay) Bay. Here we found good shelter and holding tucked in on the north side of the bay. Strong winds are forecast so nice to be securely anchored.
The wind picked up, the rest of the day it gusted with rain showers. We stayed on board and I completed a number of small jobs that had been outstanding. Luckily we also had a phone signal and I was able to communicate with Steve Dales in Australia about a problem I was having getting my laptop to pick up the Yakker wifi signal. After an email exchange the problem was sorted, it was my firewall setting on the computer blocking Yakker. What a great little product Yakker is, it sends GPS and AIS data around the boat by WiFi, great for both Navionics and OpenCPN navigation software.
The following day we had gusty wind again. Determined to get ashore I pit the pig in the water and flashed up the outboard. The sun came out and we headed ashore for a walk, no sooner had we left Truce the heavens opened and rain again. We persevered on our mission until, sodden and cold we had to admit defeat and headed back to Truce.
The Bay of Island is a very pretty place. During the holiday season it gets very busy. At night boats with blue underwater lights should be avoided, they play something called drum and bass. Nasty.
Time to move on. Tomorrow we plan to head around to Whangaroa Harbour. The forecast is for a SW’ly winds 20 knots, should be a good sail.
WHANGAROA HARBOUR – DINING OUT
21 January 2023
Eager to vacate the Bay of Islands and boats with blue underwater lights I was up early. The sky was still grey overcast and threatening but the wind looked steady. I had considered towing the dinghy but knew that sods law would come into play and lead to disaster, the dinghy and outboard were securely stowed on deck for the passage to Whangaroa.
We motored out of the anchorage and soon has a steady S’Ely wind. With full headsails and one reef in the main we took off, quickly passing Robertson Island to starboard. Just after ten we rounded Tikitiki island (Ninepin Island) and adjusted course to Cavalli Passage. The wind and sea were boisterous, I was thankful the dinghy was safely lashed on board.
Passing through the Cavalli Passage the wind and sea moderated and we had an easy sail around Flat Island and into Whangaroa Harbour. By four in the afternoon we were anchored off the Whangaroa Sports Fishing Club and getting the dinghy ready for a run ashore.
Ah, good to be ashore again after three day on board. A fine afternoon and evening was had with draft beer, a fish and chip supper and rum and coke to finish off with. The evening weather was good so we stayed anchored off the ‘town’.
The next day, after an excellent nights sleep we awoke to a light southerly wind and clear sky’s. Such a nice change after the miserable weather of the past few days. We stayed in town the whole day, not doing much and enjoying life. In the evening we anchored in Waitapi Bay and a couple of friends from another yacht came over for sundowners. Waitapu Bay proved to be an excellent choice of anchorage, calm and sheltered from the S’Wly breeze, a good nights sleep was had by all.
The next day we motored back around to town and had a run ashore for beer, bread and bait. We also found time for a lunchtime beer before returning to Truce. Then we motored down to the east arm of the harbour where there is a water buoy. We tied up to the water buoy, pulled the hose onboard and filled the tanks with nice fresh spring water. There is a money box on top of the buoy for donations to the coastguard. We happily made our donation before casting off, what a great facility.
Then it was a gentle motor across to Waitepipi Bay for another social evening and peaceful nights sleep. I have recorded in the log book that this is the first day this year there has been no rain. It has been a very wet summer so far.
Saturday and the weather seems to have settled down for a bit. Its still not like the usual summer with long warm days and settled winds, but its better now than anytime this year so far. Today we had another easy day. In the morning we motored around into Rere Bay with the intention of going for a walk ashore. However, once ashore we seemed to lose interest in the walk, the effort of walking uphill just didn’t seem worth it. We pottered around the foreshore instead and said we can always return another time for the walk. Back at the boat I took the opportunity to clean the scum off the hull around the waterline, luckily it came off quite easily but still quite an arm aching business.
The evening was spent anchored in Pumanawa Bay, another sheltered bay with good holding. Whangaroa Harbour has numerous bays and good shelter can be found from all quarters. Tomorrow we may head out to the Cavalli Islands, the weather forecast is looking settled.
FAIR WEATHER EXCURSION
23 January 2023
This morning all was peaceful in Whangaroa Harbour, flat calm, quiet and clear skies. I sat in the cockpit with an early morning cup of tea and savoured the tranquillity as the sun rose above the hills. This the best time of the day.
Today looks like a good day to move along a bit, the forecast is showing settled weather for a couple of days. There are a couple of anchorages close to here that I would like to visit. The first is Whangaihe Bay and the second is Waiiti Bay in the Cavalli Islands.
Our first destination is Whangaihe Bay, its only about five miles from Whangaroa. No need for an early start so we had a leisurely breakfast and waited for a breeze to arrive. Nothing much was happening with the wind so we weighed anchor and headed around to Whangaroa wharf for a walk ashore. One thing led to another and we had lunch at the Whangaroa Sport Fishing Club. Then an afternoon tipple followed, we managed to get back on board Truce around five in the afternoon.
Time to move on, soon we were underway motoring out of Whangaroa Harbour and around to Whangaihe Bay where we dropped anchor just after six in the evening. The anchorage was beautiful and a delight to be here. The head of the bay has a long curving beach with some dwellings and grassland. Pine forests populate the hills with a rugged shoreline on both sides of the inlet.
I have passed this bay a few times when travelling up and down the coast but either the weather or time has prevented me from visiting. The bay is open to the north and subject to swell, the right weather conditions are needed for a visit. Today was the right weather. After we anchored two other boats arrived and anchored a little further out.
The evening was calm and the sunset spectacular, illuminating the hills and trees in a golden light. Sundowners were special this evening, but still no rum.
After a calm night at anchor, only a low northerly swell disturbed the peace, Truce rolled gently all night. This morning we moved around to Waiiti Bay on Motukawanui Island in the Cavalli Islands. First motoring into an easterly breeze to Flat Rock and then sailing down to Waiiti Bay. We anchored just before lunch time and were surprised to find about seven other boats in the anchorage. It seems that a few have come up from the Bay of Islands to visit the Cavalli islands in the nice weather window.
There was a bit of easterly swell entering the bay causing us to roll a bit, but not uncomfortable. After lunch we went for a walk ashore, little swell waves on the beach made for a fun landing from the dinghy. There are good views from the shore back to the mainland and the surrounding islands.
This evening we are dining on fresh snapper that we caught earlier. Then more relaxation, music and book reading. Not much stress around this evening. But still no rum for sundowners.
Tomorrow it looks like the fair weather is starting to break up, there is a tropical depression heading down towards new Zealand. Too early to know how it will turn out but we will move back to Whangaroa Harbour where we know shelter can be found from all wind directions – and we like the place.
More content coming soon, just waiting on weather