Monday, April 30, 2018

New Zealand for cyclone season - November 2017

We waited for several weeks in mid October through most of November for the right "weather window" to take us from Fiji to New Zealand.  When you leave Fiji or Tonga area, you wish for a high pressure system that will last the entire time you are on passage. Depending on the size and speed of your boat, it could take between 6-10 days sometimes more to reach Opua, the Bay of Islands in Northland.  3 hours, by car, north of Auckland.  But finding a high pressure system that lasts that long is not very typical.  So, they always say to leave at the end of a low pressure system and ride most of the way to NZ on the high pressure system.  You want to arrive when their is a high passing through the northern tip area of NZ.  The weather can become very uncomfortable (lots of choppy waves) and very rough (high seas/swell, sometimes up to 20 feet) if you manage to come in during a low.   
We thought we chose the right weather window, as did several other boats.  We had the nice high weather system last the entire passage, but the timing of the waves was very short, about 5 seconds between the next wave.  That made the trip entirely choppy for the first 3-4 days.  As we got closer to NZ, the last 3 days the wave timing was much longer, which made for a much calmer passage.  At least we came in on a high and we felt good coming into the beautiful Bay of Islands. We arrived on November 28th.   
Although it was cloudy, it was nice to see the Bay of Islands again!

Arriving on the "Q" quaratine dock in Opua Marina
It was pretty chilly when we arrived, hence the hoodies.

Since arriving into Opua, the Bay of Islands, we have been working on repairing the deck of our boat.  It had minor cracks, no structural damage, just cosmetic.  It had been that way since we bought her in 2011, but the cracks, over time, have continued to get bigger.  So, we thought, let's repair her here.   We are in a good place with lots of clear sunny days, like we remembered from last year.
Ha ha ha.  Apparently, this has been one of the rainiest and most humid summers in the Northland area.  We thought this project would take one month at the most, but it has been going on for almost 2 1/2 months now.

We did have a few nice weeks before the start of the deck repair and enjoyed time with our good friends from SV Pesto before they went to Brazil for the holidays.

Omata Estate Winery - celebrating Alex's birthday

Great place for the kids to run through the vineyard and hang out

Miriam in Whangerai meeting a cockatoo

In Keri Keri - Stonestore grounds

Horatio and Raquel jumped from this waterfall!

Geoff contemplating life while staring at the lilypond

Adriana, Raquel and Horatio at the lilypond

While the start of the deck work was just beginning.  We signed the kids up for sailing camp.  They really enjoyed it last year and the coach is phenomenal.  They had a great time.  They had a variety of dinghies to choose from.  Optimists, Starlings, 420's, Hobie's, TigerShark, 29ers.  Great for them to try them all.

Kids from SV Sang Vind, Ghost, Fluenta, Ballena,
 and Enough getting ready for sailing camp.

Noah and Johnathon getting their sail ready

Horatio and Eskil ready to take the Hobie out

Kids waiting to launch their boats

Noah, Johnathon and Dylan taking out a 420

and their off

Horatio and Eskil take off

The sailing camp out in Waitangi Bay

Now for the work to start.  First, the removal of all the hardware from the decks.  That meant, all of the winches, chain plates, stanchions, blocks, cleats, vents, mast cover around the deck, the dodger frame and cover and both the bow and stern pulpits.  Lots of work.  Second, taking off the old non-skid took more than two weeks.  No amount of sanding or scraping was going to take that stuff off.  So, Geoff attacked it with a heat gun and scraper.  It took forever.  Then sanding it smooth enough to put some epoxy down.  Then more sanding.  Then faring compound and more sanding.  Then base coat, then more sanding.  Then primer, light sanding, then paint, then non-skid paint.  During all of the this time, it rained a tremendous amount.  It felt we could not go more than 2-3 days without it raining.  We have also had 3 cyclones pass by NZ.  So, the weather has not been very cooperative.  In between the rain and trying to paint, was ensuring the interior of the boat was not getting soaked because of all the holes in the deck!  

Some hardware came off, the dodger, windlass, port hole covers, winches, railing, etc
Starting of the scraping / sanding

Geoff looking thrilled about sanding.
Stanchions came off and more scraping/sanding

Several weeks to get to this point due to rain

closer look

We did celebrate Christmas on the boat and Geoff took a day off of sanding! And we also met our friends from SV Outer Rim, who were visiting NZ while they were in Australia.  We hiked the Mangawhai Heads with them.  It was a great day and a nice day off of boat work.

Our Christmas Tree

Lots of presents

Hiking Mangawhai Heads with SV Outer Rim

Ridge view over the ocean

Walking back via beach route

Great day with great friends

More boat work in between

 Epoxy on the deck. Nice and shiny and very slippery!

Primer.  It was weird that it was not white.  Everyone thought we were painting the boat this color!

Paintball fun in between deck work.  

Kids vs. adults.

Not sure it was really fair

Cabin painted 

Geoff painting aft cabin

Miriam celebrated her 50th birthday in Auckland with special treats.  Lots of dessert!

Ice cream with a donut!

Ice cream with chocolate moon

Ice cream toppers - chocolate art

More ice cream art - chocolate ice cream toppers

Rolled ice cream

Similar to Cold Stone where they mix up all the ingredients on a cold plate

But they scrap it into thin rolls


Whopping dessert night!

While in Auckland, we got to see another Lapworth 50.  There were only 6 built.  The one below is the number one hull, named Ichiban.  The gentleman restoring her was not available, but allowed us to come and look at her. 

Ichiban stripped down to her planks.  Lots of work to be done, but amazing how well the work is.

Geoff going up to take a peek

Ichiban has the original rudder which is attached to the keel.  She also has the new rudder aft.

We noticed how different our boats are from one another.  
Cabin railing, center hatch and companion way on starboard, ours is more centered

Cabin and decks 

Down below looks similar, but differences in location of lockers and galley

Vents and railings

Getting hardware put back on so outlining of non-skid can happen

Dodger hardware back on and vents mounts

Miriam got a new anchor for her birthday!  Rocna 33kg

Looks much bigger than our old anchor

Paint on the decks and cabin top

Taping for the non-skid 

Lots of taping and marking

Measuring for accuracy

Non - skid down and taking the tape off. - Finished

Finished with the non-skid, we drove out to the west coast and walked the beach.  It was a cloudy day, but a nice feeling to be done with the deck.

Noah dabbing

Big waves on the west coast.  

Up Next - Touring the places we missed last year in New Zealand.