Archive for the ‘New Zealand 2010/2011’ Category

Projects, projects, projects

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Sailing past Whangarei Heads. The last sail for a while unfortunately:

Well it’s been another month long break since I got a blog post up. It’s been a month of 8-10 hour days giving Bodhran some much needed TLC. I went back up to Kawau Island for a week or so taking advantage of the good shelter and isolation. There’d been quite a bit of wind out of the north and when I the forecast turned south and my supplies started running low, I took off and had a beautiful sail up to Whangarei where I was able to get a jetty berth and start really getting some work done.

I couldn’t ask for a much better spot for boat projects:


Whangarei is a great town for getting work done with everything you need less than a 15 minute walk away. I’ve probably forgotten some of the work I’ve done in the last month, but here’s what I can remember:

  • Drilled out the port side deck, injected epoxy and painted the deck with non-skid

  • I found some rot in the foredeck hatch, so I stripped it, cut out the rot, put two layers of fiberglass over it, filled the rot holes, faired, painted and vanished the hatch.

  • Stripped remaining varnish off the trim that goes around the exterior cabin top and painted green.

  • Stripped and re-varnished the companionway turtle and grab rails on the after portion of the cabin top

  • stripped and varnished the saloon table

  • cut down the nav desk so that it didn’t stick out so far, the cause of many of my hip level bruises on passage. Then stripped and varnished the nav desk.

  • Added a piano hinge to the bottom of the electrical panel and then varnished the panel

  • moved the sideband radio and stereo to the cabin top above the nav desk

  • sanded and varnished all remaining interior trim that I had put in two days before setting sail back in 2006 and never got around to varnishing. This includes the starboard side interior, most of the trim in the head and all the trim and drawers in the forecabin.

  • Stripped and varnished the companionway and galley trim

  • finished building in my new Engels chest refrigerator, built a hinged hatch over it and added tile to the counter to cover up my demolition job installing the fridge.

  • Stripped old varnish, sanded and oiled galley/nav cabin sole

  • Stripped and varnished bulkhead between the saloon and the head

  • painted the head base and sole

  • cleaned and polished bronze ports as well as the lamp and some of the other brass and bronze in the saloon

  • repained the headliner in the forecabin, head and most of the main cabin

  • knocked all the rust off the, not used since Oregon 2006, cabin heater and stack and the polished them

Well that’s all I can remember for now. I really should have taken some before pics, but I just kept starting one project after another without really thinking about it. Here’s all the after pics:

This was leaving Whangarei at the beginning of February. It’s the only pic I have that shows the state of some of the exterior varnish before I redid it.

Here’s the rebuilt foredeck hatch and some of that shiny new green stripe:

And here’s the companionway turtle and grab rails for you:

The interior projects are just too many to take pics of each, so here’s a photo tour of Bodhran’s interior these days:






And here’s Bodhran on her pile where she’ll be living until December.

I’m in Auckland right now after spending the last few days wrapping up all these projects and getting Bodhran all buttoned up and ready to winter over down here in the Southern Hemisphere. I’ve put her on a pile mooring where she should be safe and sound. I’m flying back to Bellingham tomorrow and then it’s off to Seattle for my brother Trevor’s wedding. Then I’ll hopefully be going back to work for Western Towboat. Blog posts will be sporadic for the next 6-8 months, but hopefully I’ll be seeing everyone in person real soon

Great Barrier 2011

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Whangamumu Harbour

After 4 great months with Tiffany, I’m back to flying solo again. Tiffany was running low on cash and is going back to Washington to look for work. A lot happened the last couple weeks before she took off. First we got hit by cyclone Wilma. We had left Opua and dashed around Cape Brett down to Whangamumu where we hoped to spend a couple of days exploring. Then we get the news on the radio that a cyclone was coming and though Whangamum is a beautiful well protected anchorage, it’s not the type of place I wanted to ride out a cyclone. Instead we went out and bashed into the the pre-cyclone rain and wind down to Whangaruru where we tucked ourselves as far up the river as possible around a bend from any possible ocean swell and anchored in 10′ of water over thick mud. We never got more than 45 knots of wind, but we got of ton of rain. That was the second cyclonic storm to hit us in two weeks. I know that Australia has been getting hit a lot worse than us, but we’re well out of the tropics down here and I’ve not been amused with the weather this Summer.

Once the cyclone blew through, we continued on down to Whangarei where we picked up groceries, water and Tiffany’s friend Bronnwyn and left within a few hours. This time the weather cooperated and we had a great sail out to Great Barrier Island 40 miles off the coast. I needed some chill time after all the weather of the last few weeks, so we tucked into the superb protection of Port Fitzroy. It’s already been a couple weeks now but here’s the highlight: we hiked to the top of Mt Hobson. We did at least 9 miles that day and were almost done in by the 1000 steps to get to the top. They don’t really do switchbacks in NZ, but they do build these great steps that allow you to go straight up the side of a mountain.

Bronnwyn climbing the steps up to the top of Mt Hobson

The top of Mt Hobson, the tallest point on Great Barrier Island:

Tiff and Bronnwyn on the way back down:

The smallest of the many suspension bridges on the trail:

Tiffany and Bronnwyn collected a bunch of cockles the next day as Bodhran ended up in some pretty skinny water. We’d had 18′ under us when the wind was blowing out of the SW, but a northwesterly breeze blew us back over a shoal and we ended up in about 2′ of water at low tide. No problem really, the bottom was soft and muddy, there weren’t any waves and so I just climbed overboard and scraped all the barnacles off Bodhran’s bottom and cleaned the prop up all nice and shiny.

Bodhran’s unscheduled careening:

After that we made our way over to Smokehouse Bay where a local family and volunteers maintain yachting facilities including of course a smokehouse for fish along with cleaning tables. There’s also some great laundry tubs with hand wringers. And then the coup-de-gras, a wood fired bath tub/shower. They have a number of saws and axes, so you just cut up some drift wood and stoke a little woodstove which has pluming to heat a large water tank inside the bath house. Tiffany gave me a haircut outside while we waited for the water to heat up and we all had showers…..actually I think we all took 2 or 3 showers in the 2 days we were at Smokehouse Bay. We also took advantage of the firepit with a steel grill to have a clambake.

Tiff getting the fire started so we could take hot showers:

I’d been talking about cutting my hair for a long time. We finally got around to taking about 5 inches off at smokehouse bay, but I need a couple more off to get it out of my face:

Tiffany and Bronnwyn at the clambake:

After 5 days out at Barrier it was time to get Bronnwyn and Tiffany back to Auckland. Of course the forecast winds never showed up and we beat into shifting southwesterlies all the way, but we got in with time of a quick shore excursion on Tiritiri Island for some birdwatching before heading to the Gulf Harbour Marina to hook up with Arek and Iwona and to get Tiffany off to the airport.

Once Tiff was gone, I sailed up to Kawau Island for some alone time to work on Bodhran. I’d been delaying a bunch of projects and decided that a nice quiet anchorage would be perfect. I’ve rebuilt and fiberglassed my rotted out foredeck hatch, injected epoxy and firmed up my port side deck that was starting to get a bit spongy and did a bunch of interior varnish work. I ran out of propane after making coffee yesterday, so I sailed back in for a quick re-supply and will be heading back out to anchor and work on Bodhran. Eventually I’m going to be making my way back up to Whangarei where I’ll be leaving Bodhran next month when I go back to the states for my brother’s wedding and another work season.


Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Ariel view of the entrance to Whangaroa

Tiffany and I just got back to the Bay of Islands after spending 12 days in Whangaroa, a spectacularly protected bay 35 miles north of here. We explored the various arms of the bay witnessing it’s amazing topography. We hiked up to the top of the Duke’s Nose and got some stunning views. We fished various spot where we saw other people fishing and did ok catching lots of fish but only 3 keepers and they were pretty small at that. We cooked, we ate, we read, we played music and after about 5 days we felt that we had done up Whangaroa properly and were ready to leave.

Climbing the lst 100 feet up to the top of the Duke’s Nose

View back down to the anchorage from the top of the Duke’s Nose

Skiffing up the Wairakau Stream

I think this was a bonito that Tiffany caught. It had tasty white flesh and was much better than the bonito we caught back in Mexico:

And my snapper coming in a full 2 inches above the minimum size:

Before we could leave, Mother nature decided to show off Whangaroa’s amazing protection. We got hit by the remains of a cyclone coming down from the tropics bringing sustained 45 knot winds gusting higher, or so we heard. While the tempest blew outside, we had our choice of hurricane proof anchorages in the different arms of the bay. We had some gusts that heeled us over and shook the rigging, but sat out the 2 day blow in nice smooth water. We had a couple of day respite and then got hit by another full gale. Finally a full week after we wanted to leave we finally got out of Whangaroa yesterday. We ducked into the Bay of Islands for a propane refill, some groceries and internet and will be taking back off again to continue down the coast. We’re trying to get down to Whangarei by the 31st to meet up with a friend of Tiffany’s. Then hopefully we’ll bop on out to Great Barrier Island for a week or so before Tiffany has to fly back on the second week of February.

Some wildlife and tall ships in the Bay of Islands

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Tall Ships Regatta off Russell

It’s been more of the same for the last week or so. We spent some more time out in the bay of islands sailing with dolphins, orcas and penguins. The winds been pretty light, so the spinnaker has gotten lost of use.


Dolphins again:

The best orca shot I got, too bad these guys don’t like to play in the bow wake like the dolphins do:

We also hit the Tall Ships and Classic Boat Regatta off Russel. Unfortunately the winds were again light and the action was slow, but the turnout was simply amazing. There were 6 tall ships or so, but there must have been 100 classic boats also involved in the race. We were hanging out on Bodhran for the start. Amazingly enough with 100s of boats in a relatively small area, I didn’t notice any collisions or even any close calls. It was odd to see tall ships like the Soren Larsen dwarfed by some of the mega yachts out sailing along watching the race.

Tall Ships Regatta off Russell

Yesterday Tiffany and I sailed up the coast from the Bay of Islands past the Cavelli Islands to Whangaroa. Whangaroa is an incredibly sheltered bay stretching for miles with many offshoots, but with an opening to the pacific little more that 100 meters across. We just ducked around the corner to the first protected cove last night. This morning we each had a nice paddle around on the inflatable kayak and then motored on down to the Wangaroa Marina for some internet and fresh produce. There are a couple of good trails and lots of bays to explore, so we’ll probably be here for a little while.

Looking back through the entrance into Whangaroa

Bodhran anchored in Whangaroa

And for one of those purely Kiwi experiences, I give you Bluebird potato chips latest offering decided on by a national competition to come up with a new flavor:


It tastes just like you expected and gives you an upset stomach just like you’d think. I’m going to stick with chicken flavor for my meat based chips from now on.

Christmas and Cruising

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Idyllic bay on Motorua

It’s been feast and famine here in New Zealand over the last 3 weeks. Apparently the weather had been beautiful for 2 months before we got here. Northern New Zealand was already experiencing drought conditions and Summer wasn’t even here yet. Fortunately for Northland the drought is now over, unfortunately for us we’ve been rained in for a week at a time twice now. We got a bunch of salt water in the v-berth during the passage from Fiji. The first day here, I rinsed our mattress, bleached it, rinsed it, bleached it again, and rinsed in thoroughly. It was finally dry enough to put back in the v-berth on January 2nd.

Tiffany and I hitched the 100 miles from Opua down to Orewa to spend Christmas with Arek and Iwona. I always worry a bit about being able to get rides and this country is always quick to allay my concerns. It took us three rides to get south and ended up taking about 10 minutes longer than if we had driven our own car. Our last ride just saw us walking with our cardboard sign that said “Auckland” on it and pulled over to pick us up 100 meters before we got to the spot where we were going to start hitching from and dropped us off right at Arek and Iwona’s driveway. I do love Kiwi hospitality.

Tiffany’s cookie contribution and leftover dough santa sculpture:

Iwona was in full Polish cooking mode for 2 days before Christmas Eve preparing a 14 course meal. In Poland you’re supposed to have at least 12 dishes on Christmas Eve to ensure a good new year. Iwona’s neighbor Sue doesn’t eat fish, so she needed to have a couple extra dishes to ensure that Sue would have a good 2011 as well. I think that Iwona was having fun. It was great seeing her making pirogies and pate and these little tortellini looking things to go in the borscht, all from scratch. Tiffany helped out making rum balls and santa’s whiskers and in true Christmas fashion there were hardly any left by Christmas day. We spent Christmas day itself with some other cruiser friends of Arek and Iwona’s at their parent’s farm south of Auckland.

Iwona’s amazing Christmas Eve dinner

Arek, Iwona and myself with out Christmas hats on

After Christmas, Arek was hurting to get a little sailing time in and Tiffany was looking for a little off the boat girl time. So Arek drove me up to Opua while Tiffany stayed in Orewa with Iwona. The plan was for Arek and I to spend a week sailing the Bay of Islands. Sadly we got to the boat right as a gale hit and were stuck on the mooring for the first day. It the proceeded to rain for the next 4 days. We sailed out to Motorua Island on the second day and then off to Urupukapuka the day after. There were two good couple hour long breaks in the weather and Arek got out snorkeling during both of them, but in general it was cold, wet and dreary…..and my mattress still wasn’t dry and it was constantly in the way down below as we couldn’t leave it outside in the rain.

Arek and I motoring to a snorkeling spot during one of two sunny breaks

With the miserable weather, Arek decided to cut off his trip short on New Years Eve and head back down to Auckland. Tiffany hitched up from Orewa in 2 rides, the second of which was with a couple of party girls from Auckland heading up to Paihia for New Years. It was quite a ride, but I’ll let her tell that story. We spent a quite New Years out on the boat, watched the fireworks and went to bed and about 10 after midnight.

On New Years day we sailed out to the islands in sunny weather and light winds with a few hundred other boats. It was fun seeing all the boats, but a bit unnerving when we all tried to cut certain points at the same time. Still the weather was beautiful and we buddy boated with Momo and Rockhopper for a day off Motorua. Their boats were rafted up and a bit like a circus with all the little girls swinging from the rigging from one boat to the next. The favorite spot was the bosun’s chair rigged on the main halyard. The girls would swing from stem to stern out of the water, back and forth for hours until they were forced to relinquish their seat to someone else. I always forget that sailboats really are great jungle gyms.

Tiff and I on Motorua looking out towards Cape Brett

That’s Bodhran right there

Momo and Rockhopper took off north the next day while Tiffany and I stayed on. We spent the next 4 days relaxing, hiking on Motorua and Urupakapaka, kayaking, swimming, playing music, cooking and generally doing all the things you’re supposed to do while cruising. Alas Arek took off a bit too early. I think we’ll stick around this area another week or two before heading south. There’s a tall ships festival coming up which would be a shame to miss, but points south are calling and we’d like to explore some new territory as well.

Tiffany swinging from one of the the brilliantly red Pohutukawa trees on Urupakapaka