February 2015 - New Zealand

1 February 2015   Whangarei, New Zealand
It was Sunday, but no rest for the wicked.  We spent most of the day polishing the blue and white stripes on the water line.  It’s a pain the neck (literally) because we had to do it by hand.  When we apply rubbing compound, the blue smears across onto the white, so we had to do the blue stripes, trying not to smear onto the white, then do the white separately with a new clean rag.  If there was the tiniest bit of blue on the rag and it would smear again…

By the end of the day we’d done both sides, so the top of the hull and the water line is now polished, which leaves the main white bit in between, which can be done using a polishing machine – we’re not looking forward to tomorrow.

2 February 2015   Whangarei, New Zealand
There’s only one more day to go until we launch.  I woke up worrying about the sea cocks that I’ve just installed and jumped out of bed early to inspect them.  I gave them a good push & pull to try to loosen them and then looked at the outside fitting to see if the paint had cracked.  All seemed well, but I noticed that there were some small gaps in the sealant on one, so I scraped the paint off around it and applied some more sealant - all before breakfast.

Glenys started polishing the remainder of the topsides using our small buffing machine and was on the job all day.  Unfortunately, the yard team wanted to put us on the trolley so that we were ready to launch early in the morning - this kept disrupting her during the afternoon, so she only managed to polish half of it, so we’ll have to carry on when we’re in the marina.

Early Morning Launch

I did some running about in the morning, obtained a quote for sending our life-raft down to Auckland, then packed it up and dropped it off at the haulage company.  I nipped around to the chandlers and dropped off ten old flares for disposal.   Most of them were dated 1992 and the others were 2006.  Flares are only supposed to be kept for three years and, even worse, one of them had swelled, split its casing and looked highly unstable – a real fire hazard, so I'm glad that they’re off the boat.

We've received an outrageous quote for handling the shipment of our dinghy from Australia - the cost for freight & export documentation is £230 plus £175 for import clearance. Then we've still got to spend a day going down to Auckland to pick it up, which will probably cost us another £100 for van hire.  So I've asked for a quote from a shipping agent here in Whangarei - hopefully it will be cheaper by having someone local handling it.

A guy called Rod (not the rigger) came on board to do some of our rigging repairs.  He removed the fair-lead for the stay-sail halyard and pop riveted on a new one.  This fair-lead is a small tunnel that the halyard passes behind to create a better angle for the roller furling.  Rod managed to put the fair-lead in place without the halyard behind it – give me strength.  To sort it out I had to tie on a thin mouse-line to the halyard and then Rod had to pull the halyard out of the mast, put it through the fair-lead and then pull the halyard back down the mast.  

Our man then removed two plates on the intermediate shrouds and replaced them.  There were only four holes in the new plates and six on the old ones, so he then started to attempt to drill through the 4mm stainless steel at the top of the mast.  After 30 minutes of thrashing about, he’s blunted two drills and has now probably work-hardened the stainless steel making it even more difficult to drill.  I'm not too happy, especially as this is the same guy that put the masking tape on our hull before painting and lost our white line.  I'm going to talk to the rigger tomorrow before anything else is done.

The yard moved us to the top of the slipway and we’re scheduled to be launched at 0730 tomorrow, so we had an early night.

3 February 2015   Whangarei, New Zealand
The alarm went off at 0630, so I jumped out of bed and started to run around, closing all the sea-cocks and making a little check list of things that my subconscious had reminded me about overnight.

Motoring into Whangarei Town Marina

Before we were launched, I had a word with Jerry the rigger, explaining that I wasn't too happy with the work done so far and would only be paying for 3½ hours of Rod’s time because I'm not paying for him to rectify own his mistakes.  Jerry agreed that there was no point in drilling the extra holes in the backing plates – if the manufacturer supplied them with only four holes then four holes is good enough.  We went through the remaining work – new running back stays and the repair of the rod kicker, which he will replace next week. 

By half past seven, Alba was being slowly trundled down the slip way and I was checking that we didn't have any water rushing into the boat.  I had a bit of a scare with the PSS seal which had a persistent drip, but I pulled the carbon bearing back to let a load of water in and the drip seems to have stopped – perhaps there was a bit of dirt on the bearing face.  I’ll be keeping a close eye on it for the next few weeks.

The engine started okay and everything else looked good, so we slowly motored free of Norsand Boat Yard – yahoo!  The bridge into Whangarei was closed from 0730 to 0845, while there was heavy commuter traffic, so we had to wait on their holding dock for 30 minutes, which gave me an opportunity to check our seacocks again.  By half past nine, we were tucked up in the Whangarei Town Marina having a Second Breakfast of toast & marmalade with a nice cup of tea.

Glenys went into a cleaning frenzy down below – getting rid of the muck and dust that we’ve picked up after two months on the hard.  Meanwhile, I spent morning rewriting lists and doing a few little jobs like recharging the fridges.  

I contacted the local shipping agent about importing our new dinghy and his quote comes out at £500, but that includes delivery directly to Whangarei and there should be no hidden costs.  It’s more than I expected, but I’ve told him to go ahead and sort it out.  The dinghy should be delivered on the 5th March, a day after we get back from our road trip to the South Island. 

Anchor hitting the Pulpit

In the afternoon, I ran around talking to various tradesmen.  Our new window isn’t ready yet, but it should be done by the end of the week.  I inspected the repair work on the sails and paid out £450 – they will deliver the sails back to us tomorrow.  Then I arranged for a refrigeration engineer to come on Monday and take out the push-fit connectors, which I suspect are leaking.  I called in at a fabrication shop - they can make me an aluminium plate for the radar radome, weld the oven door handle that had broken and can modify our pulpit so that our new Rocna anchor doesn’t hit it.

Back at the boat, I spent a couple of hours working out how to modify our pulpit and drawing the modifications.  It’s a complex three dimensional piece of stainless steel tubing, so I hope that it will go back on.

4 February 2015   Whangarei, New Zealand
I measured and drew an adapter plate to fit the new radar radome onto the old radar bracket.  I then removed the pulpit, which like all things on a boat was not that simple.  I first had to remove the wiring for the navigation lights, which thread through the deck to a junction box inside a cupboard in the front cabin. I then had to remove the safety lines (the turnbuckles were all seized up of course) and remove the actual pulpit.  It absolutely threw it down while I was outside on deck, so I was soaked by the end of the two hour struggle. 

I carried the pulpit and oven door handle over to the fabrication shop and he says that the radar adapter plate and oven door handle should be ready tomorrow.  Unfortunately, the 6th February is Waitangi Day and a public holiday, so the pulpit won’t be finished until Monday the 9th.

I spent the rest of the afternoon pottering about.

5 February 2015   Whangarei, New Zealand
Our sails were delivered, so I fitted the stay sail and then went up the mast.  The top end of the staysail roller reefing has been rubbing on the halyard sheave, so I need to lower the extrusion.  I’ve got at least a foot to play with, so I need to make my mind up how to do it.

Fitting the radar in place

While up there, I looked at the backing plates for the intermediate stays and it looks okay with four rivets although a few of the rivets heads are sticking out at odd angles.  I’ve confirmed that the rigger will be here on Monday morning and he’ll have a look at them as well.

I cleaned up the old radar bracket, scraped out some areas of corrosion and filled the holes with epoxy filler.  I need to paint it all now.  Cleaned up the radar bracket and epoxied some corroded areas – need to paint it all now.  

I jumped on my bike and picked up the radar plate and oven door handle, then rode to Norsand Boat Yard to return their key and collect $20 deposit.  On the way back, I called in at the hardware store and bought £150 worth of tools and bits.  Some of my hand tools are looking very sad after four years of abuse at sea, so I’m going through my tool bags and replacing the bad stuff.  Today it was a new set of files, some mole grips and wire cutters.

Glenys and I have both suddenly taken a keen interest in Indian food, so she made a new version of Beef Vindaloo, which was very good.

6 February 2015   Whangarei, New Zealand
I mounted the radar radome onto the old bracket using the new adapter plate and it all goes together well.   I then spent the rest of the day wiring in our new chart plotter and sorting out the NMEA wiring, which links our GPS and other electronic equipment together – it was a mess.  Two years ago, I ripped out an old Navtex console and hadn’t removed the wiring, so I did that as well.  After six hours, including a lot of reading of manuals and checking wiring, I had the chart plotter installed and it talking to the AIS.

Glenys did some errands, continued organising our trip down South Island and made a fabulous Butter Chicken curry for dinner – two Indian meals in two nights – very naughty.