WINTER SOLSTICE NEW ZEALAND

 21st June and the shortest day of the year.  Its wet and cold in Auckland and work on Truce has declined to a snail’s pace.  My casual job at Burnsco, travel for Marine Consultancy work and the short daylight hours all conspire to keep me off the boat for days at a time.

From now on the days will get longer and hopefully more productive.  I have a long list of maintenance jobs I want to complete this winter before my next summer of adventure.  The boat needs painting inside and out, the mast needs refurbishing, the rigging needs replacing and there are a thousand and one small jobs on the radar.  One of my major tasks is to skim off the top layer of the deck and apply new epoxy and glass fibre cover.

To keep the decks dry and protected I have put a plastic shrink wrap over the boat.  It cost a few hard-earned dollars but is a lower cost option than hauling out into a shed and allows me to work on the boat at the dock.

Inside Shrink Wrap. Photo, Ray Penson
Inside Shrink Wrap. Photo, Ray Penson

Boat Cover and Access Door. Truce.nz
Boat Cover and Access Door. Truce.nz

So far this winter I have refurbished the toilet area or head to give the correct nautical description.  Everything looks nice and clean with crispy new white paint and sanitation pump.  I am also in the process of painting the inside of various lockers and cupboards, a very time consuming, messy and convoluted process.  A small leak in the filler hose for the Dickenson cabin heater had caused the outside of the ply tank to become saturated with diesel.  I will replace the old tank with a new aluminium one and the previous lingering diesel odour in the wardrobe will be no more.

Refurbished Head. Truce.nz
Refurbished Head. Truce.nz

 Next week I will be travelling to Saudi Arabia for a short job, it should be quite warm and put some heat into my old bones.

 After that I am looking forward to getting stuck into the refurbishment and planning for the next seasons trip to the South of New Zealand.  At the moment my idea is to sail up the East Coast and around North Cape before heading down the West Coast to Golden Bay.  From there to Fiordland and Stewart Island before returning up the East Coast to Auckland.  My plans are pretty sketchy at this stage but one thing I don’t want to happen is to have any deadlines or schedules – just go with the flow.

CHRISTMAS DELIVERY

My arrival back in Auckland was a quiet affair, the wind disappeared and I motored into the harbour in sunny calm conditions.  Truce is now berthed in Bayswater Marina where she will spend a couple of months until I find a more permanent berth in the New Year.

Heading into Auckland with no wind
Heading into Auckland with no wind

It was good to settle back into New Zealand life, especially as the summer weather is on the way and days are long and warm.  As usual there are a heap of odd jobs to do around the house and garden, but no hurry, I am just taking it easy after my Pacific crossing.

However, it wasn’t too long before I was packing my bag for another trip overseas.  This time for a ship delivery from the Netherlands to India.  In mid-November I left Auckland in sunshine and arrived in a wet, cold and dark Amsterdam – quite a shock to the system.  A taxi ride took me to a hotel in Rotterdam where I joined the rest of the crew, a mixture of Dutch, Belgium and Indonesian.

The next day I headed out with the other crew to join the ship and prepare for the voyage ahead, 7,000 miles to India which will see us spend Christmas at sea and arrive at our destination before the New Year.  The ship is fresh out of the shipyard and as usual everywhere was buzzing with technicians doing final installations and testing of systems.

The ships crew started the task of preparing for the upcoming voyage, receiving provisions, preparing the voyage plan, getting familiar with the ship and its systems, safety training and drills and of course the volumes of paperwork and certification that are part of modern seafaring.  After two days on board we were ready to sail – but not before a good night’s rest.

The next morning the Pilot boarded, the gangway was sent ashore and we let go the mooring lines.  I carefully manoeuvred the ship away from the berth into the Nieuwe Mass River, very aware that a lot of people were watching from the shipyard.  Taking a new ship for the first time is always interesting and a steep learning curve to establish quickly how she responds to engines, rudders and thrusters.

Before reaching the sea we had to pass three bridges in Rotterdam.  This involved lengthy waits in the river for bridge opening times – which are coordinated with traffic conditions to avoid more congestion than usual in the city.  After an hour wait we passed the Van Brienenoordbrug and then had a lengthy wait in the river for the second bridge, the Koninginnebrug, to open.  During this wait we were passed by the old tug the ‘Spanje’ with Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) on board.  Zwarte Piet is a traditional Dutch Christmas character – who in recent years is becoming controversial with his blacked up face and curly wig.

Tug Spanje with Zwarte Piet on board
Tug Spanje with Zwarte Piet on board

 The next bridge we passed was the Koninginnebrug before entering the Koningshaven.  We waited in the confined area of the Koningshaven for half an hour before passing the Erasmusbrug (nicknamed the Swan bridge) and finally being free to head towards the Hoek van Holland and the North Sea.

By late afternoon we dropped the pilot at Maascenter.  The weather forecast was not too good for the southern North Sea.  After the pilot departed we spent some time securing the anchors and double checking all was secure on deck before picking up speed and heading off to start the voyage to India.

ANCHORED AT MANSION HOUSE BAY

After a couple of peaceful days in Whangarei whilst the wind blew outside I sailed this morning, passing under the lifting bridge at eight forty-five – the first opening after the rush hour.  I rode the ebb tide down the river, past Marsden Point and out the shipping channel, passing the fairway buoy three hours after departing the town basin.

The south westerly wind was blowing at fifteen to twenty knots and we could sail close hauled on starboard tack at between six and seven knots.  The sun came out around mid-day and we had a great sail down the coast past Cape Rodney to the north channel by Kawau Island.

Just after six this evening we anchored in Mansion House Bay on Kawau Island – good sheltered anchorage from the south westerly wind.  There are six other yachts sheltering here – there is plenty of room for everyone.

Tomorrow I expect to make the final hop down to Auckland, now less than thirty miles away.  As I write this I realise this is my last night anchored out and solo.  Tomorrow I should be sleeping ashore in a static bed.

FAT AND CONTENTED IN NZ

 I have been back in New Zealand since the end of January.  Living the good life, eating, drinking and enjoying the warm summer weather.  Generally getting fat, contented and too comfortable.  Apart from a couple of mammoth record breaking rain events the weather has been beautiful, real Kiwi summer.  Ngozi and I had a few days away in the Far North, enjoying he beautify scenery and taking in the quiet pace of life that exists just a few hours drive north of Auckland.  February always seems to be the best month.

Oakura Bay, New Zealand
Oakura Bay, Northland, New Zealand

Recently there has been a chill in the air at night and I am thinking more of my return to Canada next month.  Time for action, I have booked a one-way ticket to Victoria for early April.  Then down to Canoe Cove and meet up with Truce again.  I feel guilty about leaving her all winter, I hope she hasn’t suffered too much.  I expect she will need a thorough cleaning and airing, the weather will have been cold and damp over winter.

I have been thinking about the route I will take back to New Zealand.  First I think it’s down the coast to San Francisco, I have never been to San Francisco and I feel the need to sail under the Golden Gate bridge.  From San Francisco, I will probably head towards Hawaii before turning south towards New Zealand.

Anyway, before heading off from canoe Cove I have anti fouling and heaps of boat preparation to get out of the way.  There are always jobs to do on a boat – to keep in the sweet spot between perfect working order and total breakdown.

CARLESS

For the first time I can remember I am without car.  As a family we are now down to a

Goodbye, old friend.
Goodbye, old friend.

single car.  This is a voluntary situation brought about by my desire to be free of objects and encumbrances that don’t add to my quality of life.  In reality my car has only been used for half the year, it seems as waste to have it sitting around doing nothing.

I am now free of the responsibilities of insurance, registration, warrant of fitness, servicing, road user charges, maintenance, tolls, servicing, fuel, cleaning, parking and all other botheration associated with car ownership.

Meanwhile, after a month at home, I am getting used to being a domestic servant and living back on land.  Whether it’s a boat or a house, there is always maintenance to be done.  Conveniences such as showers and fridges are great but the scenery doesn’t change much from the back deck.

A great advantage of being home is access to unlimited 24 hour internet.  I can check sailing equipment any time of day and night and online shopping is only a click away.  Too easy.  It’s also nice to see where some of the cruisers I met on the way are travelling.

Over in Canoe Cove Truce will be lying in wait.  I have commissioned a few works over the winter period.  Truce has a conventional shaft seal and despite repacking it drips more than I would like.  The bilge is fairly shallow and water accumulates quite quickly.  So I have decided to fit a dripless seal.  On examination the shaft is worn where the seal will fit, meaning the dripless seal will not work properly.  This wear is also the cause of the stuffing box dripping despite new packing.  The remedy is to fit a new shaft and all should be good with a dripless seal.

Of course to fit a new shaft the stern strut will have to be removed.  While not a big job it requires all the gear to be removed from the stern of the boat to gain access.  So often when doing repairs half the boat has to be shifted to get access.  A tiresome ritual that always irritates me.

The mainsail is ashore for some repairs and maintenance.  Although its old I hope to get a couple more years sailing out of it with a bit of judicious patching and strengthening.

I could be at sea again quite soon.  There is a possible ship delivery job from Romania to Canada.  Not the nicest of trips at this time of year, I hope it has a heated bathroom floor like the last one I delivered from Romania.

Hectic Times

Its been a hectic few days and I have run the full gamut of emotions.

Inspecting Yacht Truce Rig. Photo Ray Penson
Inspecting Yacht Truce Rig. Photo Ray Penson

I left home in Auckland on the 26th March, one day before my official retirement time and flew into Vancouver on the same day thanks to the date line.  Then over to Vancouver Island where the prospective purchase was to be surveyed at Canoe Cove marina.  Canoe Cove is a great spot, just next to the BC Ferry Terminal from Vancouver, its very sheltered and has a wide range of practical types available to fix, repair and build boat things.

The boat was scheduled to be lifted out of the water on the 30th for underwater hull inspection and a surveyor was arranged to start on the 29th to carry out in water inspection.  The survey went well on the 29th with nothing serious found.

I also organised for a rigger to climb the mast and do complete rig inspection.  All went well and no major problems were identified, the rigger was most impressed with the quality of the wooden mast.  There is a touch of rot on the outboard end of the port spreader that will need attention at some stage, I climbed the mast later to check it out and its only superficial but I may fit a new spreader this year just to be 100% certain all is well.

Yacht Truce Lift off
Ready for lift out, backing into the travel lift – Photo Ray Penson

On the morning of the 30th the engineer turned up to check the engine and mechanicals.  He spent some time working around the cold engine before starting up for the hot check.  With the boat tied up securely to the dock he tested the engine on load at high RPM and ran up to working temperature.

I am sure the engine hasn’t been worked that hard in its life but it held up for 10 minutes before being pulled back to a more moderate power.

Yacht Truce Underwater profile – Photo Ray Penson
Underwater profile – Photo Ray Penson

On the engine side we found some corrosion on the exhaust mixing pipe and a hose that needs replacing due to chafe – otherwise all is sound.  I will replace the hose and exhaust mixing section before heading north.

I will also get a set of spare belts and another spare water impeller.  These spares are easy to get elsewhere but will be more expensive further north.