A Kiwi couple's cruising adventures on America's Great Loop and around the coast of New Zealand

Monday, 18 June 2012

We’re here

No WiFi for a few days so this is a chronical of the trip till we get to it.

Wed 13th June.

After 3 hectic days of final preparation, we departed for the airport with our son Adam, who also kindly promised to return to our home and finish all the things that we had run out of time to do. We were taken in their motorhome (RV) and enjoyed a glass or two of bubbles on the way. Lyn left at the same time with Woody, who will be a farm dog until we return.

We got our upgrade to Premium economy and the new seats on Air New Zealand’s Boeing 777-300 are excellent – not quite as luxurious as the beds in Business, but not a bad substitute. The plane was full, so we appreciated the extra room. Security on departure were a little curious about some of the items in my carry-on luggage but when I explained we were going boating in the USA, they understood and were just concerned if I had a scanner with me. After a 12 hour flight, we arrived in LA on time and 6 hours before we left, courtesy of crossing the date line. We passed through immigration after explaining what we were visiting for but when we got to the baggage claim, I checked the entry stamp and they had only given us until 12 December to estay – 6 months. Since our return flights to NZ are for 6th January, we need at least 7! We returned to immigration and queried this and the man went and checked with his supervisor. The answer came back as” we give 3 months on Visa Waiver Scheme, and 6 months on a Visa.”, and with a stern look he added “make sure you leave before then”. Since these guys have sole say on the matter, I knew it was no use arguing that they have the discretion to give longer if they want. They obviously arrive at work each day and set their VWF stamp to 3 months and their Visa stamp to 6, and they ain’t gonna change that for just a couple of people coming through who want different from the tens of thousands of other travellers. I can understand that, but it now means we have to apply for an extension, or leave the country temporarily to get an extension on our return. Capt Pete – if you’re reading this, I remembered you warned me this might happen at LAX. We may just have to pop into Canada for a day around July 6th while we are up in this neck of the woods.

Thu 14th
Security at LAX were not quite so curious for our flight to Chicago, but as we checked in I was charged an extra $35 for one of my bags. No matter how I protested that the United flight was a continuation of an international one and the same bag limits should apply, it fell on deaf ears and United Airlines scored another unentitled $35. When we got to the gate, we discovered that our flight had been delayed by an hour, which turned into 2 by the time our plane finally arrived. It was packed, and we were WAY down the back, and by the time it arrived it was full of people with very tight connections. As a result it was an hour before we got to the Bus and Shuttle centre to get our hotel shuttle and very late by the time we got to the hotel. We just had a meal and crashed. On opening one of my bags (the $35 one!), I found that TSA had taken a lot more interest in the contents of that one, with this card sitting on top. However nothing was missing, seized or broken and I’d rather the inconvenience of the TSA searching through dodgy looking bags, than the alternative…

Fri 15th

After a shuttle ride back to the Airport Bus and Shuttle Centre, we caught the Wisconsin Express bus to Milwaukee. We arrived at the drop-off downtown at 12.30 and immediately got a cab to Harborside. When we arrived, there she was hanging on the crane about to be launched. I quickly borrowed a tape measure and measured from the “tide mark” to the ground and the ground to the bottom of the prop, and calculated the difference as 4’6” – or actual draft. We then went to lunch as they washed the hull sides, and from the restaurant across the river we saw her being swung out and lowered into the water. By the time we got back, they were washing the topsides so by the time we were ready to start loading she was lovely and clean. John Niemann, the broker, came aboard and together we “re-commissioned”  the boat and made sure all the important stuff, like the genset, fridges, freezers and aircon all worked (oh – and we fired up the engines for a while as well). This took several hours as there is an awful lot of stuff on a 453, and there was still a lot that was going to take a lot of investigation and reading of manuals to get to understand.

At 5.00pm-ish John left and we decided we should go for a look for some provisions to tide us over until we got to Kenosha and a rental car on Monday. We consulted Carmen (our Garmin GPS we bought on the boat buying trip) who told us there was a grocery store about 1.1 miles away. So off we went with a shopping trolley from Harborside looking like a couple of bag people. Carmen must have given the distance as the crow flies, because we seemed to walk for miles before we found the store, which turned out to be a Mexican mini mart. We loaded up our trolley with all sorts of stuff, including a frying pan and other cooking utensils so we could cook dinner when  we got back, and wended our weary way home. By the time we arrived it was getting towards dark and to top it off we found there were no eating utensils aboard – not even a plastic knife and fork. Fortunately, I had brought one of the Alaskan Ulus that I bought on our last cruise (I use one a lot at home and I figured they might be hard to get in Wisconsin) so we could slice up some cheese and tomatoes and have a sandwich. Very warm evening, so we had to run the aircon (just to try it out – honest).

Sat 16th

Up early as a tech from Harborside was coming at 7.00pm to do an oil/filter change on the engines and genset. I wanted to observe as I have never used an auto oil changer and wanted to see the procedure. I also got him to repair a small oil leak in the injector pump that was picked up by the surveyor as I don’t have any tools yet and wanted it fixed before we headed for Kenosha. I decided to go for a walk to see if I could find a phone store and somewhere to buy cutlery and after wandering around downtown Milwaukee for several hours, I only managed to pick up a couple of plastic knives and forks from a market place sandwich stand. By this time it was pouring with rain and by the time I got back to the boat it was not good for going out on the lake, particularly since I was still somewhat unfamiliar with the navigation equipment, so we decided to stay in Milwaukee until tomorrow. Instead I spent all afternoon going through the equipment and manuals until I had an insight into how it all worked, and identified all the various bits and pieces that came with the boat. The only item that has me (and everyone else I have spoken to is this little remote control that was bundled with the yacht controller and power cord retractor remote. I have been through all the manuals and cannot find a reference to it. If anyone knows what it is, I would love to hear.

Sun 17th (Fathers Day here)
Beautiful clear sunny morning. After a late breakfast we decided to leave for Kenosha and, since both fuel gauges were reading E (for enough???) we figured we should fuel up before departing. We flashed up the engines, cast off and tutued down the river to look for the fuel dock – only to find it was back on the same wall we had just left, about 50 metres in front of where we had stayed for 2 days! Still, it was good to practice manoeuvring. We put 150 gallons in the port tank and got to 48 in the starboard before they ran out of fuel. We figured it was enough to get us down the lake and off we went, listing a bit to port. Out on the lake the wind was a southerly about 12 -15 knots and there was about a 2 ft chop. We cruised down to Kenosha at 17 knots and arrived around 3pm. We had been given berth 410 by the marina when we rang yesterday, but on arrival there was a jetski parked in the berth. A couple of folk on the dock moved it for us and I backed into the dock while standing on the landing board, really impressing the locals with the performance of the Yacht Controller. The next issue was that by the time we were secure, we found the marina office had closed at 1pm so, although we could leave the dock, we had no way of getting back through the gate. So we finished off the last of the supplies from the Meximart and settled down to watch TV and check our emails (WiFi and cable….yay!!!!).

Mon 18th

Up at 7.00 after a cool, calm night where we didn’t need the aircon. I went over to the office and registered with Molly, who had arranged our dock and who was frantic to contact us as 410 has actually been already allocated to another client who was due anytime. We were given 522 instead and figured we would put the other 100 gallons of fuel in the starboard tank and even the boat up.  We agreed that I would go and pick up the rental car and do a little shopping before coming back and moving the boat. Hertz came and picked me up and took me to the car, where all the conditions on the quote were honoured – all insurances were included in the rental price, and the agent was quite surprised when I told him that his competitors charged them as extra. By the time we got back from shopping at 2.30, having bought out Walmart (but with $9.88 prepay cellphones in hand) it was blowing a 40mph Southerly and stinking hot – 92 degrees F (33C). Molly figured the dock wouldn’t be needed today – anyone out on the lake would be nuts! – so we’ll do the change tomorrow. There is a storm advisory out for tonight, with the chance of tornadoes a bit north of here but hopefully it will calm down overnight.

I will try posting this now.


  1. Welcome to WI. (where I grew up.) Before you leave, find some Nueske's Bacon. Nothing Else comes close. Bon Voyage.

  2. Welcome to the U.S! Sounds like things are going well as you learn about your new boat. We are looking forward to reading about your adventures.