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.

I DID A DUMB THING TODAY

I had a wonderful relaxed night’s sleep, woken this morning by the quacking of ducks around the boat.  Yesterday was quite mild for a change but today has started with a bitterly cold wind, even the locals are complaining about the weather.

This morning was clean up time.  As I was taking out one of the big floorboards it slipped from my hand and landed point first on the freshwater tank.  Yep, it has made a nice hole in the tank.  Just what I didn’t need.  I set to fixing the hole with epoxy and tape, but it’s so cold today the epoxy is struggling to cure.  It looks like it will be another couple of days before the repair will be complete.

As a penance for my dumb mistake this morning I set about cleaning the boat outside, removing all the green BC mould and slime that has accumulated over the winter, a complete wash down.  I was soaked through, freezing cold and didn’t finish until six thirty in the evening.  Truce is now clean again – well outside anyway.  One benefit of having wet cold hands all day is that the black antifouling paint has now washed off and in have more or less clean hands again.

For my trip to NZ I am trying to source a life raft.  I thought it would be easy but the suppliers in BC are quoting 4 to 6 weeks delivery due to ‘excessive demand’.  I will have to go online tomorrow and see if there are any available south of the boarder in the USA.

I have the Dickinson heater on again tonight and feeling warm for the first time today.

BACK IN THE WATER

This afternoon Truce went back into the water.  A big sigh of relief all around.  The last days have been cold wet and miserable trying to get the anti fouling completed and living on board when the boat is out of the water is not pleasant.

Truce back in her natural element.Photo, Ray Penson
Truce back in her natural element. Photo, Ray Penson

Once in the water I had a good check all around for leaks,  Happily nothing untoward found and the hull is nice and tight.  The engine started on the second try and burst into life in a large cloud of smoke.  Once the checks had been completed I motored around to the lay-by berth and noted that the dripless seal didn’t drip.  It’s doing what its supposed to and if this continues we will have a dry bilge – or at least dry from the water coming through the shaft packing.

Once secured on the berth I went up the road and jumped on a bus to Sidney for some groceries.  I had just about run out of food and drink.  When I got back to the boat I flashed up the Dickinson Diesel heater and ten minutes later the boat was getting warm.  Such luxury to have a warm boat.

Tomorrow I will start working on the rig and cleaning the boat up.  The salon is full of sail bags that I will have to re-stow somewhere.

I am looking forward to a good nights sleep as we gently rock at the dock.