January 2015 - New Zealand

15 January  to 17 January 2015   UK to New Zealand
We were up early for a change – while in the UK, we've become too used to lying in until after nine o'clock.

We had an easy run to Heathrow, dropped off the hire car and caught a bus to the terminal.  Everything went smoothly until we got to the check-in desk, where the clerk wouldn't let us check-in because we didn't have a scheduled flight out of New Zealand and the computer said no.  To try to prevent this problem, we’d obtained a letter from the boat yard saying that we were on a yacht currently Whangarei and we had copies of our boat papers and the customs clearance form, but the airline wouldn't accept anything because we had nothing that stated a scheduled date of exit from New Zealand.  

The only way out of this conundrum was to buy some single air tickets from Auckland to Singapore which cost us a whopping £1,570!  The girl on the ticket counter gave us an email address to ask for refunds.  She told us that she would waive the normal £35 per ticket cancellation fee.  What a load of administrative nonsense. 

Meal in Singapore

Neither of us slept well on 12 hour flight to Singapore, so we were tired when we arrived in the early morning.  Our next flight wasn't until the evening, so we cleared out through immigration and caught the underground into down town Singapore.

I’d pre-ordered some camera equipment, so our first stops were to pick up a nice, new Sony RX100ii camera and a Nauticam underwater housing to match.  Altogether, it cost over £1,000 but it was duty free and at least 20% cheaper than I could get it anywhere else in the world, so I'm a happy bunny – I can’t wait to go diving to try it all out.

We had a walk around China town and stopped for lunch in a small restaurant.  They had a big tank of live bull frogs on display next to their live fish tanks - to Glenys' great relief, I resisted the temptation to have sweet and sour bull frog.  Instead we had pork ribs and spicy duck which was very nice.

After lunch, we were feeling exhausted, so we went back to airport to collapse.  We both paid to have a shower in the Ambassador lounge.  We’d not really been aware of this little area of tranquillity.  They charge for their services, but 5 hours in the lounge only costs £25 per person and is well worth it with comfy seating, a shower and a complimentary buffet included.  If we have another long layover in Singapore we’ll be in there like a shot.

The 10 hour flight to Auckland was much better because after a meal and a few glasses of red wine, we both passed out for 6 hours.  We landed at 1000, but it took another 9 hours to get from the airport to our boat by bus and a taxi.

18 January 2015   Whangarei, New Zealand
It’s a Sunday today, so we had a long lie in.  We spent most of the day unpacking and sorting out the stuff that we’d bought in the UK.  It’s strange (but nice) to be back on the boat – it all seems very cramped after staying in houses for the past month.

I dug out my old To-Do Lists and started to switch my mind back to boat jobs.  The bottom of the hull has been scraped free of anti-foul paint and sanded smooth, but there are still a few fiddly areas that need to be cleaned up.  We’re hoping that we should be able to get the bottom painted and get the boat back in the water in the first week of February.

I sent an email off to Singapore Airlines to cancel our two single tickets and asked for a full refund. 

19 January 2015   Whangarei, New Zealand
I jumped on my bike and went around town to do some errands.  Our propeller hasn't been finished yet, but the guy has cleaned it up a bit and says that there has been a lot of electrolysis going on.  The zinc is being slowly leached out of the bronze and there are many dark red spots all over it.  He says that it’s probably been caused by poor electrical contact between the propeller shaft and the propeller, so I need to clean everything up and make sure that the propeller is locking onto the taper on the shaft rather than the key.

He says that the metal is nice and thick though and the propeller should be okay as long as we don’t get any more galvanic corrosion.  I’ll need to keep an eye on it and inspect it regularly to watch for cracks.

Hull stripped ready for painting

The new window for our windscreen is in progress and our sails have been serviced, so things are starting to come together.  

I called in at Whangarei Town Marina and confirmed that we’ll have a berth there for six weeks from the 3rd February.  That gives us just over two weeks to get our jobs done on the hard, which should easily be achievable

On the way back I called in at the chandlers and picked up some hoses and sea-cock parts – another £150 from our credit card.

Back at the Yard, I chatted to Peter, the yard manager, about the time scales for getting us back in the water.  He told me that we’d over-run a little on the labour time for scraping the hull (no surprise there…), but we should have no problem in getting the bottom finished and launching on the 3rd February.

He showed me some very fine cracks in the hull.  They’re along the line where the two halves of the moulding have been joined together.  The cracks are very small, but two of them are suspiciously near the aft locker that has been weeping for the past couple of years, so I told Peter to get someone to lay a couple of layers of fibre glass over the cracks to strengthen the area and seal them.  It’s probably overkill because we’re having 3 layers of epoxy applied to the hull which would probably seal them, but better safe than sorry. 

The plan is for us to tidy up some small fiddly areas around the bronze skin fittings and the rudder, and then the yard will be able to start spraying operations any time from the 21st.  They will be putting on three coats of epoxy paint and then two coats of Jotun ablative anti-foul.  The paint will need to stand for seven days to cure before we launch, so the timing is just perfect.  

Fitting the sea-cock skin fittings

Glenys spent the day pottering about cleaning the stainless steel barbeque that we never use, so that we can sell it.  She also cleaned our Apex dinghy, which we want to sell as well.

I couldn't bring myself to do any actual work, so I spent the afternoon planning the jobs that we need to do to make sure that we hit our launch day.

20 January 2015   Whangarei, New Zealand
Glenys started on the labour-intensive job of scraping the hull, while I started putting in the two sea cocks that I removed in December.  It’s very cramped in the corner of the engine room where they are located, so I first had to go and buy a pipe wrench and cut down the handle so that I can tighten the locking nuts.

Trying to work out how to fit the sea-cocks was a bit like one of those puzzles where you have to move something before you can remove another part.  I eventually figured out the order to do each part and we did a couple of test fittings.  One of the sea cocks has to be in a very precise place, so we marked the rotational position of the skin fittings on the hull, then disassembled everything before finally installing the skin fittings with sealant.  I’ll have to wait until the hull has been painted before I can attach the valves.  I just hope that I’ve got the skin fitting in the correct position.

Glenys beavered away all day with occasional help from me.  They’re going to start spraying the day after tomorrow, so we need to get it finished tomorrow.

Saloon table turned into a work bench

We were both very, very tired by evening.  We've both put on a lot of weight during our holiday in the UK, so we've been trying to cut down on food to lose weight, but in retrospect, it’s not a good idea because we need lots of food to compensate for all this physical activity. 

We had some good news - the airline replied saying that they had cancelled the air tickets and the money should be refunded to our credit card in the next few days.

21 January 2015   Whangarei, New Zealand
I went for an eye test in the morning and thankfully, there is nothing wrong with my eyes.  I still have excellent long range vision, but my reading prescription needs to be increased a little – old age is hard on the body.

Glenys got on with scraping the hull and I joined her when I got back and we got it all finished by the end of the afternoon.

The rigger came on board for a couple of hours and did an inspection of the rig.  He found a few things wrong including some cracked sheaves, a worn fair lead and the t-swages on the running back stays both have cracks, so we need to replace them.  The running back stays are wire at the moment, so we’re going to replace them with Dyneema rope which will be easier to handle.  There are a few other little rigging jobs and I bet that I don’t get much change from £1,000 by the time he’s finished, but it has to be done.