Archive for the ‘New Zealand’ Category

Back in the water

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Bodhran back in Town Basin Marina after 6 long weeks in the yard:

After 6 long weeks in the yard, Bodhran is back in the water…..for now. I’m hauling out again this afternoon, but just for the night. More on that later. For one reason or another, I just haven’t been motivated to write about all the work that I’ve been doing on the boat while it was still in progress. Now I just want to go out sailing instead of sitting around writing blog posts, but as I’m anchored off Whangarei waiting to be hauled out this afternoon, here goes.

Of course there are many projects that I wanted to do and didn’t get a chance to, but here’s a synopsis of everything I did:

1. Took the facing trim off the entire cap rail, re-caulked the hull to deck joint, replaced the trim piece (much of which was damaged during removal), faired the entire rail and painted it with white marine enamel.

Here’s the cap rail all done with the windows faired and painted:

2. Removed the large windows from the saloon, glassed in 3/4” plywood plugs for the old windows, glassed over the plugs inside and out, faired the outside, trimmed the inside with 1/8 ply painted white, painted the outside white with marine enamel and installed 4 new 5×26” opening ports. The new ports don’t quite match the old ones installed forward, but when I get my port visors in they should match better.

3. Removed engine, cleaned and painted engine compartment, replaced all 4 motor mounts, cleaned the propeller shaft, re-trued the coupler face, replaced the shaft seal, had a new alternator bracket made, cleaned and painted rusty parts on the engine, replaced the bearings and seals in the water pump and re-installed the engine.

Here’s the engine compartment painted with 4 shiny new motor mounts:

4. Replaced 4 old bronze thru-hulls and seacocks with new marlon fittings. I still have a bronze thru-hull and seacock for the raw water foot pump in the galley that is only 6 years old.

5. Installed mini-bulkheads next to each chainplate attachment point not already supported by a structural bulkhead, painted new bulkheads white and re-installed cabinetry including new workbench area.

Here’s the new bulkheads on the starboard side:

And here’s the fold down workbench that I constructed around the new bulkheads:

6. Removed the old butterfly hatch, built and glassed in a new 1.25” frame around the old hatch frame raising it to above the upper deck level, faired, painted and installed a new aluminum hatch.

Here the new hatch as well as my new 2.7m inflatable. My old 2.2m avon was just too small so I sold it and got a new one:

7. Doubled the size of the anchor locker by cutting the opening in the old bulkhead larger, and adding a new bulkhead 9” aft of the original allowing me to move my primary anchor chain to the upper locker and alleviating the need to go below to knock down chain and I raise the anchor.

Here’s the new anchor locker bulkhead:

8. Cut the bottom out of half of the cockpit locker, glassed in new bulkheads to separate the new locker area from the engine compartment reclaiming a large portion of unused space in the engine room and allowing me to move my diesel jugs off the deck into the cockpit locker.

Here’s the newly modified cockpit locker:

9. Tiled the rest of the galley counter, built temporary shelving behind the sink and added a pull out kitchen sprayer that doubles as a shower in the cockpit.

10. Installed new 6 gallon water tank under the sink as a dedicated shower/rainwater catchment tank. Plumbed the vent line so that while catching water, I can direct the overflow from the new tank to the main tanks if I want.

11. Built a new cockpit table with leftover 3/4” ply. I still need to build the support when the table is in the up position.

Here’s the new table folded down against the pedestal:

12. Polished the hull, re-painted the bottom with two coats of anti-fouling and had propspeed applied to the prop.

My new deep red hull with a shiny coating of propspeed to keep the growth off the prop:

I’m probably forgetting some little things, but that’s the gist of what I’ve been doing the last couple of months. I went back in the water 5 days ago and after spending 3 nights in the marina in town decided to take off for a bit of cruising yesterday. Well unfortunately I didn’t install my new shaft seal properly I think that I burned it out already. It’s a lip seal that attaches around the shaft log with a clamp and then at the other end has a tapered area with 3 depressed ring areas that hold grease and keep the water from coming out around the shaft (it kinda looks like one of those dog toys you fill with peanut butter). Unfortunately the seal was made for a smaller shaft log than mine and the clamp deformed when I tightened it. It was doing fine, but after taking off yesterday and running the motor for 2 hours, the seal developed a leak around the shaft log which drained the water out of the seal leaving it with no lubrication. I figured it out when I started getting a burning rubber smell from my engine. So now I’m back to Dockland 5 for an overnight haulout. If the seal isn’t damaged I might be able to re-install it in a way that it won’t leak, but I think that I’ll be putting my old stuffing box back in. Either way I hope to be back in the water tomorrow and on my way out the river to meet up with my buddies Rick and Christian on Guava Jelly. Cross your fingers!

Whangarei, NZ Dec 2011

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Bodhran on a beautiful southern hemisphere Christmas Eve Eve:

It’s raining again here in Whanga-rain New Zealand (an apt name coined by my friend Camila). In fact it’s rained every day for over a week now. A damned annoying state of affairs if you’re trying to get any work done sitting in a boat yard. It’s been a month now since I’ve been back on Bodhran and despite the weather, things are going well. I spent a week and a half in Town Basin where I met up with some old friends and met a number of this year’s crop of Pacific crossing cruisers. It took a few days to get the boat cleaned up, and then sat and waited for over a week before I could schedule a haulout to get started on this years list of projects that I wanted to tackle. In the meantime, there was much wandering around Mount Parihaka and a big trek to the other side to explore the Abbey Caves.

Town Basin Marina, where Bodhran’s been moored for the last 9 months

Me atop Mt Parihaka above Whangarei

Middle Cave, cave 2 or the 3 Abbey Caves:

All that time spent in Town Basin wouldn’t have been much better spent in the boat yard. As it was raining pretty much all that time as well. La Nina in New Zealand seems to bring an unusual amount of rain. This year’s phenomenon is supposedly weaker than last years, so hopefully it won’t bring any full fledged cyclones, but I just say through the weakened remains of one over the last few days.

I hauled out on December 16th at Dockland 5 boatyard a little closer to town than the Norsand yard where I hauled 2 years ago. They’re a bit more expensive, but the little things that Charlie and Doug take care of here really make it as good an experience and you could hope for while living in a construction area. Immediately after pressure washing my boat, Doug went ahead and threw a 5000 watt transformer and long power cord on board so that I could use all my American 110volt tools. When he put up the ladder, he actually put a floor mat underneath it so that I wouldn’t track all sorts of yard dirt on board. The pièce de résistance came just before Christmas when Charlie fired up his forklift and placed a little shop for me to use outfitted with a work bench and windows right under Bodhran’s bow. The bathrooms/laundry is just just a few boats away and they’ve probably got the best internet connection that I’ve used in New Zealand. All in all, it’s the best boatyard setup I’ve ever had.

Bodhran being hauled out at Dockland 5:

My workspace in Dockland 5:

Twilight in the boatyard:

I passed the holidays without much fanfare this year. I spent Christmas Eve with Neil and his daughter Corie on Rutea along with a crowd of other American cruisers who’d crossed the Pacific this year. It was a great time, but I didn’t cut off work until about 5pm. Christmas Day and New Years were both spent working until late and then getting together for beers with Mike, an Kiwi/Aussie (he’s not quite sure which) who’s building a 15 meter steel Bruce Robert’s cutter.

I didn’t get any pics of Christmas, but here’s Rutea on an beautiful Christmas Eve in Town Basin:

So the projects slowly keep rolling on here. I’ve got the port windows plugged, glassed over, faired and ready for paint before I install the new smaller ports. The thru-hull fittings have all been replaced. I removed the trim piece that covers the hull to deck joint, and have re-caulked the joint around most of the boat. I’ve got the engine out and have stuck trying to get my prop off. I hope to replace my cutlass bearing and shaft seal as well as the motor mounts before the engine goes back in. I’ve got a new bulkhead glassed in at the foot of the vberth to expand the upper chain locker so that I can use it for my primary anchor chain. I’ve glassed a new little bulkhead in the port saloon and have rebuild all the cabinetry on that side of the boat. I’m sure there’s a bunch more things that I’ve done, but after 2 weeks in the yard things are starting to blur. Most of Kiwiland shuts down the week before Christmas and doesn’t come back to life until a week after New Years, so I’ve been having a hard time getting parts. Hopefully the next week will see an end to the rain and the re-emergence of the Kiwi economy and I can get out of here before the month’s end.

Here’s the point on the cap rail that’s been leaking over the years:

Here’s the port side windows all glassed over waiting to be faired

Here’s the new mini bulkhead on the port side which will hopefully help reduce the pressure on the hull to deck joint around the chainplates:

And here’s the port interior all put back together waiting on the new ports to come in:

I’ve thrown up an album here with more pics from December in Whangarei.
Here’s a quick photo album from Thanksgiving weekend:

Back to New Zealand…..again

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Reflection of the Sky Tower in one of Auckland’s high rises:

It’d been 8 long months since I’d last seen Bodhran, but my friend Amber was up from Christchurch visiting Auckland so I decided to join her and her friends Sarah and Tiddy for a few days sightseeing and hanging out before taking the trip up to Whangarei and my poor neglected boat.

We started out searching for something that I hadn’t really found yet in my previous trips to New Zealand…good food. Apparently I hadn’t been looking in the right places. The first night in town we had some fantastic tapas at a Spanish restaurant on the same block as the Sky Tower. The next morning we set out to dangle Tiddy from a bungee cord off the Auckland Harbour Bridge. Amber, Sarah and I all joined him for the walk out the bridge to the pod below the bridge deck. It was a bit silly to harness up and tether in to take a leisurely stroll out along a well railed walkway out to the middle of the bridge, but welcome back to New Zealand. It’s turning into a bit of a nanny state. Oddly enough we weren’t tethered in at the very end when we climbed the stairs up to the jump pod hmmmmmm.

Tiddy, Sarah and Amber just after Todd’s bungee jump:

All thether’d up to take a death defying walk behind that nice stout rail:

We next hopped on a ferry out to Waiheke Island, famous for it’s many vineyards and just a short trip from downtown Auckland. Amber found a spectacular bach just up a short walk up the hill from Rocky Bay. We had a quick dip and lie down on the beach before heading off to the Mudbrick Vineyard where we did a bit of tasting and had some more very tasty food. I’m normally more a red wine drinker than white, but I’ve found that I prefer the Kiwi whites to the reds and Mudbrick’s were no exception. Still I’ll be drinking most of my wine from a box during my stay here.

View from the bach on Waiheke island:

Mudbrick Vineyard:

We spent one night on the island and then went back to Auckland for a stay in a sweet condo right downtown. That day’s mission was to find a tattoo parlor for Sarah to get a little memento to take home with her. It took a bit to find the right place and we had to stop by the little convenience store with a patio for smoking hookahs out front. Not exactly a smoky den, but it was still a fine place for my first time smoking a shisha. That night we found another fantastic restaurant for some Vietnamese food. The food didn’t come cheap, but I’m officially changing my opinion on Kiwi cuisine. There are some great eats in Auckland at least.

Amber and I smoking a hookah:

View from the condo with the Sky Tower all lit up for Chistmas:

After 3 days in Auckland, I finally hopped on a bus up to Whangarei to rejoin Bodhran. I rounded the corner to the marina office and couldn’t believe that Bernardo, off Albertina, was sitting on the bench out front. I’d first met Bernardo back in Tonga in 2008. He circumnavigated New Zealand in 2009 and I thought that he was off on his way to points further West last year. It turns out that he had sailed on to Australia, but returned after being disappointed by the country and shocked by the prices. He’d already been all the way around New Zealand, but still decided to backtrack 1000 miles across the Tasman sea rather than spend the season in Australia. I’d heard about the cost of living in Australia and was a bit concerned about heading over there this year myself, but now I think that I’ve officially ruled out heading over to Oz myself. I still don’t know exactly what I’m going to do. For the meantime, I’m back on Bodhran working on cleaning her up. There was mold and mildew on all the surfaces except the ones that I painted or varnished last year. I’d sprayed everything with vinegar last March before I left. I guess that that officially doesn’t work. I’ll be hauling Bodhran next week and will probably spend at least a month working on her.

More on Whangarei next blog post. Here’s some more pics from Auckland with Amber, Sarah and Tiddy:

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.