Drying Out

How was your Boxing Day? We dried Grace out against a couple of piles and scrubbed the hull, greased the prop and changed an anode in one tide cycle. First time for us attempting such a malarkey.

Kiwi Phil drove the piles into the ground using a digger and a large log on his property here in the Marlboro Sounds. He reckons they are driven about 4m in the earth. With a hefty rope around a tree coming back to the mast, we made sure Grace was leaning in towards the piles and the land, as the tide went out and the water disappeared. We didn’t want any unnecessary dramas. 

Then we waited as she grounded and the hull became visible. Time to start scrubbing. Considering we arrived in NZ with a super clean hull (it’s one of the requirements for entry here), the growth and smeg build up on the hull was disappointing. Although we did spend three weeks around Opua on North Island which is where antifoul manufacturers test out their products due the voracious growth boats experience there. So I was told.

5 hours 30 minutes. That’s how long the scrubbing took us. We finished just as the water was starting to lap back around the bottom of the rudder. Time to head for a cuppa with Phil and Linda then back onto the boat, haul the ladder up and wait for Grace to float again. 

At 12.30am in the pitch dark we untied the line to the mast and pushed Grace off the piles. She floated out quietly under gentle engine revs and we picked our spot for the remaining hours of darkness. We’d re- anchor the following morning.  

Happy as Larry, whoever Larry is or was, we’d achieved what we’d set out to do without any ‘shouty shouty pointy pointy’ moments. And it’d cost diddly squat. Excellent. Thank you Phil and Linda.

This all took place on Wairangi Bay in the Marlboro Sounds on South Island. We’d arrived on Christmas Eve morning after an overnight sail of two distinct halves. First half, lots of wind, 30 knots plus then someone flicked a switch and turned it off so we motored. Good job we had diesel!

It’s stunningly beautiful round here. The weather has been settled, warm and sunny. We’ve walked and explored a bit by car. Round every corner there another view to drink in. 

Next we’re off to the Able Tasman are to meet up with Rob, Kate and family, ex UK Cromford-ites, who now live in NZ. It’s going to be a fun time. 

New Plymouth

Sometimes you just have to hold your hand up and admit you’re a pair of numpty’s. Both Dave and I did maths at school but it would appear we struggle with sums.

Why is this relevant? Well we keep track of our engine hours in a notebook. And likewise we keep track of diesel fills, how much went in each tank. There are no fuel gauges on Grace. The dip sticks for our two tanks are pretty inaccessible. These sums are necessary to keep track of how much diesel remains in the tanks. And until yesterday our sums were good. 

We set off for Nelson on South Island from New Plymouth on North Island. It’s about 140 miles. The forecast wasn’t for brilliant sailing wind so we knew we’d need to motor sail some of the passage to windward. Weather windows are fickle here in temperate New Zealand. The trade winds do not blow regularly from the east / south east as they do consistently in the mid Pacific.  

We were keen to get down south as we have plans to meet folks for Christmas and New Year. This may be the only possible window to get south. We were keen. Up at 4, out at 5, first light. 

Then around 11am the engine spluttered and cut out. Dave got into spanner mode. It had to be a fuel issue. Fuel filter was cruddy so that got changed and we swapped to the other tank. The engine started.  Unfortunately this tank didn’t have a whole heap of fuel in it so the decision was made to turn round and sail back to New Plymouth. 

That evening we were back where we’d started with an unknown problem in one of the fuel tanks. 

The following morning we opened the inspection hatch on the problematic tank. The evidence was plain as day. It was completely empty. No wonder, it’d bloody cut out. Somewhere along the line, we’d miscalculated the amount of fuel we had.  Maybe a digit wrong or a pencil scribble misinterpreted. On one level I was actually pretty happy. The fix was straightforward. Dig deep and buy diesel. Dave had talked about possibly having to clean the tank, replace fuel lines, look for possible leaking tank, all things which I knew would take time and involve grovelling around on the floor boards and in the bilge.

Time had ticked. We booked a fuel tanker and filled up. We sourced extra new fuel filters, just in case. And explored New Plymouth a bit more by bike and on foot. Tomorrow it’s take two.

We’re off to the Marlborough Sounds for Christmas. Likely have shoddy internet so here’s wishing you all a jolly holly Christmas. Thanks for sticking with me and my ramblings. Appreciated. 

Exploring North Island

Whangarei inlet is about 35 miles north of Opua. A narrow entrance opens up, almost fjord like, to a couple of arms with many quiet anchorage spots.

We hung out here with boaty friends Bill and Kate for about a week. Usual NZ weather. Nice days. Rubbish days. Some good walks. A weird pub run by a couple of sisters. Generous people who picked us up in the rain as we hitched to a one street town to buy some freshies.

Ultimately our chums headed south to go and get hauled out before returning to see family in the UK while we hung on get weather to allow us to sail down towards South Island.

I tried desperately to fish for snapper. It’s really easy, so everyone says. I failed miserably. I spent several mornings and evenings drifting around in the dinghy. Veggie curry for dinner tonight. No fresh fish I’m afraid. I was gutted.

We did make it down to New Plymouth after a slow 4 night sail over the top of North Island. Some piccies from here to follow.