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

Thursday, 27 February 2014

And further North we go (episode #5)

The forecast on the day we left for Whangaroa was for easterly winds to gradually drop over the next few days but as we left they were still blowing 15-20 and there was a 2-3 metre E swell rolling into the Bay. We spent the first hour punching into this (which did not amuse Woody at all) until we reached the "Ninepin", a tall vertical rock at the N entrance to The Bay. There is a passage between the "Pin" and the mainland and the currrent runs very strongly through it, so the sea became a washing machine for about 15 minutes - which amused Woody even less.
Once around the Pin, the sea was on our stern quarter, which made for a more comfortable ride (much to Woody's relief) although the swell remained large and we surfed down a couple of big ones as we approached the Cavalli passage inside the Cavalli Islands.
"The Cavallis" consists of 1 large and 4 small islands interspersed with numerous islets, above-water and sunken rocks,  and lies about 2NM off the mainland. The Cavalli passage runs between the islands and the mainland and provides sheltered anchorages. There are a few sunken rocks in the passage, so you need to be careful while transiting, and have good charts and/or chartplotters. The Royal Akarana Yacht Club Coastal Cruising  Handbook (NZ cruiser's "bible"), describes the Cavallis thus: "In bad weather with strong easterly winds, the Cavallis can be a fearsome sight and should be avoided". 

On the mainland, inside the passage, is Matauri Bay where the "Rainbow Warrior" was laid to rest and is now a popular dive site. For those who don't remember, or don't know, the Rainbow Warrior was a Greenpeace ship that was sunk at the wharves in Auckland in 1985 by the French Secret Service to prevent it sailing to Mururoa Atoll in protest against French Nuclear weapons tests. They made such a botch-up of the job that they killed a photographer on the boat, got identified by the local neighbourhood watch group, and two of them got arrested within hours of the bombing. The ship was raised in Auckland and towed to Matauri Bay, where she was sunk as the dive site.

The swell dropped away as we went through the passage, and out the other side (as so often is the case) it was like a different world - the wind and swell had gone NE and eased considerably which  made for a much more pleasant trip the rest of the way. Whangaroa  is a fiord like harbour with an entrance only 0.15NM  (900ft) wide at its narrowest point. The tide pours in and out with tidal streams of 2-3 knots, and even light winds can make for choppy conditions against the current. We noticed that other entering boats were hugging the N head shore and we found that when we followed their lead, the current was significantly less on that side. Once inside, Whangaroa is a sheltered, spectacular harbour. Just inside the heads in Kingfisher Lodge, a famous Big Game Fishing Lodge that is only accessible by sea. Immediately opposite is Pekapeka Bay, a large deep bay with smaller Rere Bay at its head. This is where we intended to anchor during our stay, but first we had to go to the township, and marina, to pick up the girls.
They weren't there when we arrived, so we figured we'd do a few chores, take a look round and refill with water. We were tied up to the marina's courtesy dock and there was a sign on the water tap that said the water was unsuitable to drink. We asked the dockmaster if that applied to the whole marina or just the courtesy dock and he replied that it was the whole marina. However, when you look at their website, they state that they have power and water available at the berths, so I think it was just a ploy to stop people using the water at the dock. The girls duly turned up and we ate that night at the Game Fishing Club's restaurant, and had a fine meal, before departing to anchor at Rere Bay.

Rere Bay is small and surrounded by high hills, so it is very sheltered. On the S shore is Lane's Cove which has a DOC hut that is available for rent at $163.50 per day (for up to 12 people) and is accessible by walking track from Totara North, or by sea. It was quite popular and was occupied for the three days that we were there. The bay also has a spectacular dinghy ride up the Wairakau stream at high tide to a waterfall (if there has been sufficient rain) and early signs of habitation in the area. It also has the walking track that takes you to the Lane Cove hut.

It was our intention to stay at Whangaroa for several more days, but the weather forecast was sounding a bit grim. The next day was forecast as a good one but thereafter it was to turn a bit ugly for maybe up to a week and, as lovely as it is, we didn't want to be stuck there for a week or more. So the decision was made for, once again, Charlie and I (and Woody) to take the boat back down the coast while the girls hit the road. We finished our last night with a Barbie on board.
The trip back to The Bay was the opposite of the trip up in both route and sea conditions. There was a slight ground swell, but only light winds so it made for a pleasant 4 hour trip to Opua marina, although it began to drizzle as we arrived. The next day was Waitangi day, the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi between the English and Native Maori people in 1840. We passed the Treaty grounds and a Navy ship as we headed towards Opua and we could see all the preparations for the celebrations. We had booked into the marina for 2 nights, with an option for a third, as it looked like it was going to stay nasty until at least then....and we were not to be disappointed

Still - more of that next time.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Next instalment (#4)

The day after we arrived at Opua marina, so did the wind. The girls took off for their favourite pastime (shopping) and Charlie and I set to making up a permanent bridle, which was the same as the last temporary one but had thick plastic hose over it to prevent chaffing, the loops on the end were spliced, not tied, and the hook for the anchor chain was secured with a shackle, rather than a knot. By the time we were done, the wind was gusting 40 knots and waves were continually breaking over the breakwater, however it eased off in the evening and became quite pleasant overnight.

The girls stayed in Kerikeri that night and brought the provisions back the next day to be loaded so we could depart back out into the bay. By then the wind had dropped considerably and we had a good trip back the 10NM to Omakiwi Cove (of course). We had arranged for Aunty Lyn to come up and stay with us for a weekend so we were going to pick her up from Dove's Bay marina on the other side of the Bay, and refuel at the same time. This was going to be a critical refuelling as it was the first since we left Auckland an would show us how much fuel both the boat and the genset were using. We had found that we needed to run the genset about 5 hours a day to keep the batteries charged and the refrigeration down. This usually comprised an hour in the morning while we cooked breakfast, and hour around midday (lunch) and 3 hours in the evening (dinner). Just as an aside, I found the icemaker is a good beer fridge and only has to be switched on with the morning one hour genset run to keep the drinks cold all day! From the genset specs, I had figured we should be using around 1 - 1.5 litres an hour, but we had never confirmed this. As I had been running the genset off just one tank since our last refill, its consumption would be the difference between the two fuel tanks when we refuelled. However, I became concerned that the fuel gauge on the starboard tank was reading rather low and was mindful that the genset had done 67 hours since our last fuel up. Since I didn't want to run out of fuel on one engine I decided to switch the genset to the Port tank, but not before I had figured a way of calculating the genset consumption with fuel being drawn off both tanks. Amazingly I fell back on my schoolboy algebra, and came up with a series of algorithms that gave the necessary information ( a real mathematician would probably have got it down to a single equation - but I ain't that clever!). I used a couple of examples to test it and it came out spot on each time. Then, and only then, did I change the genset over to the other tank. I even put the formulas down on an excel spreadsheet, so I only had to put in the data and it works out the results for me.

Off we went to Dove's Bay marina the day before Lyn's pickup and refuelled. We took on 512 litres in one tank and 435 litres in the other, so from the engine and genset hours I could calculate that the genset had been using 1.25 litres per hour, and the boat 22.8 litres and hour (both engines). While I was not surprised at the genset data, as it was about what I expected, it was good to have it confirmed. It means it costs about $2 an hour to run the genset, which also confirms the suspicion I was getting that it would be uneconomical to make too many changes to the boat to make it more "self reliant" (such as replacing the electric cooking with gas, more house batteries, PV solar panels etc). For every $1000 spent on "upgrades", I can get 500 hours on the genset, so it becomes a bit of a no-brainer. The engine consumptions were as delightful as they were unexpected. During our Great Loop experience, we changed our pattern of boat speed as we went along and, although I knew that we used one third of the fuel at the end that we did at the beginning (9 knots vs 15 knots will do that!), I hadn't actually collected the correct data to accurately work out the consumption. Our last boat, Kindred Spirit, consumed 35 litres an hour at 14 knots, which equates to 0.4NM per litre. On this trip Loopy Kiwi consumed 22.8 l/hr at 9 knots which equals 0.4NM per litre. OK, Kindred Spirit travelled half as fast again as we do now, but we're quite happy at 9 knots, particularly knowing what happens to the fuel burn when we push Loopy Kiwi up to 15 or more. Of course this data will be updated when we next fill with fuel, but to date it looks like those figures will remain fairly accurate.

We spent the night in Crowles Bay, just around the corner from the marina, and in the morning went back to pick Lyn up. Then, where else of course, but across to OKC! (you can see from the pix below why it is so appealing.

By this time on our holiday, it was the end of January so most of the boats that had journeyed up from Auckland had gone home, and during the week you tended to have comparatively few boats in the Bay. However, over the weekend the locals come out to play and OKC was fairly busy each night, with a fair amount of partying going on as well. OKC has a steep, sandy beach and big tides reach right to the shoreline. We would go ashore each day and the girls would go for a swim. Woody would stand on the shore a while, fretting over some of his "pack" being in danger, until he could stand it no longer. He would first wade, then swim out to the girls, rounding them up like a flock of sheep until they followed him back to shore.
On Sunday, we decided to cross the Bay to drop Lyn off on Monday, and do a bit of fishing on the way at a well known fishing spot called "middle foul". Unfortunately, the brisk NE wind and 2 metre swell decided against our doing so, so we tucked in up the Mangonui Inlet and had a go there. While not the best fishing spot, we did manage to catch enough for a feed, and then anchored up in Patunui Bay for the night. Here's the map again to remind you where all these places are:
We dropped Lyn off at Doves Bay marina, and met up with Charlie and Pauline again, who intended to join us for the next portion of our journey, North to Whangaroa Harbour. This entailed the girls (including Lyn) going shopping for the day in Kerikeri, then Lyn departing while the other 2 drove to Whangaroa. In the mean time, Charlie and I got to take the boat to sea again and battle our way up the coast to the harbour. But we will talk about that next time.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

What we done on our holiday #3

Thanks for the comments of encouragement - its good to know somebody does read it. Also forgive some of the strange skies in the pix. My camera has developed a black triangular blob near its top RH corner, so I am using MS Paint to rid of it and sometimes the end result is less than perfect.

Also I said in the last posting that the Bay was quite small and I wouldn't put any tracks on, but I have decided to put up a map with our most common track, to give you an idea of scale. The two magenta lines between Omakiwi Cove (OKC) and  Doves Bay,  and OKC and Opua, are about 10NM each.

Anyway, in the last episode we had just anchored in Omakiwi Cove, with the remnants of Cyclone June bearing down upon us. The first day was forecast for winds 35-45 knots from the E, for which OKC was well protected, with a change the following day to SW 50, gusting 65, to which it is not. Sure enough, by 11am the winds were honking through the trees at us and all the boats in the bay were swinging violently around on their anchors. We were anchored in 2 metres (7ft) of water at low tide and had 20 metres (66ft) of all chain rode out which made for the chain to be at a low angle away from the boat. As usual we had deployed a "snubber" line, which is a piece of rope that attaches to the anchor chain by means of a metal hook, and to the boat by means of a spliced loop around a cleat. The snubber is there to provide a shock absorber between the anchor and the boat and to take the strain off the windlass. It is good practice to have a piece of plastic hose slipped over the rope to prevent it chaffing against the boat. Now.... this is where Mr Silverton was REALLY remiss in designing the anchoring system on the 453. The bowsprit on the boat, through which the anchor and chain descend, is very thick and has sharp edges to the fibreglass. In shallow water, the angle of the rode is such that when the boat pulls up on the anchor after a strong wind gust, the snubber rubs against the sharp inside edge of the bowsprit, and the loose chain can get caught between the snubber and the fibreglass. The result in our case was, that after several hours of this, the plastic hose on the snubber had worn right through and the chain had gouged holes in the side of the bowsprit leaving sharp fibreglass edges that would soon sever the rope of the snubber itself. If it couldn't cope with 35-45 knots then it would certainly not withstand the 50-65 forecast for the next day, so an alternative had to be found. I got one of my spare braid docking lines and made a bowline loop for the end that wasn't already looped. In the middle I tied a "Burnham Bowline", which is an excellent knot for tying down loads and is often referred to as the "Trucker's knot". It is designed to provide a loop in the middle of a line, and will readily untie when you have finished with it, no matter how much load is applied to it during use. I then attached the hook to this knot using the original snubber rope, which was spliced to the hook. Unfortunately, I didn't have any plastic hose to put over the dock line, but hoped that it would be OK as a temporary fix anyway. The two ends of this "bridle" were looped over the dock mooring cleats either side of the bow and I dropped the hook over the front of the bowsprit, using a line with a dog-leash type clip attached to pull the hook back inside the bowsprit so I could attach it to the anchor chain. Once deployed it was clear of deficiencies of the single snubber and provided  the extra benefit of having 2 securing positions on the boat..

About this time the wind dropped and I sensed it was the "calm before the storm", and probably signalled the wind change. The next bay round, Waipiro Bay, is considered to be the best in the area for shelter from W winds so we decided to reposition there, as did most of the other boats in OKC. Waipiro Bay is quite popular and there are a lot of local moorings, so it was also important to get a good anchorage before the stuff hit the fan and the bay became too crowded. The wind did pick up again, but remained from the E. However, we decided to stay where we were for the above reasons and because it would be a good test of the new snubber bridle. By the time we went to bed that night I was confident that the anchor was holding well and the snubber was doing its job. At 3.00am the following morning I awoke with an uneasy feeling. The wind was howling and the boat was swinging, so I got up to check that everything was OK. The anchor was still holding and the snubber was fine, but there has been a slight change in wind direction that now had us swinging to within about 2 metres of an empty mooring buoy which, under the upcoming circumstances, I did not want wrapped around my shafts or rudders. So I sat up for 2 hours and watched us swing towards and away from the buoy, never getting closer than the 2 metres and at  5am I returned to bed. By 7am the wind had dropped and was beginning to turn, but I noticed we were hanging differently to the other boats around us. Also, when  I went topside, I could not see the buoy that I had watched for 2 hours earlier. Uh oh! its gotta be under the boat! A sudden gust of wind swung the boat to one side producing a scraping and bubbling noise, and suddenly the buoy bobbed to the surface right alongside covered in antifoul and looking a little worse for wear, but now clear of us!!! Time to go. We went a little further down the bay and re-anchored in slightly deeper water and well clear of any moorings. There was a little bit of chaffing on one side of the bridle where it had been rubbing against a protruding screw head, so I split a piece of the old snubber's hose and put it over the chafe and cable-tied it on and used the old snubber rope from the hook back to the docking cleat on that side as an extra safety precaution.
Calm before the storm
A couple of hours later, the wind arrived/ It was quite weird - the sun was shining, it was warm...but man,was it blowing!! I have been out in many gusty storms, but this one was particularly strange. Normally you will get an elevated wind gust that hits the boat, pulling it hard up on the anchor, but almost immediately drops back to the constant speed of the wind and the boat "relaxes" back on the anchor rode. These gusts were different - you could hear them coming as a roar across the bay, they would hit the boat and pull it up on the anchor, but then remain at gust speed for 3 or 4 minutes. This puts enormous forces on the anchor (and snubber), and both the boat in front of us and the one behind us succumbed and began to drag their anchors after one particularly harsh gust (a yachtie I met later told me that he was recording gusts in excess of 100 knots that day in Waipiro Bay). Fortunately both managed to relocate without incident and Loopy Kiwi (bless her little cottonsocks) remained perefctly fixed to the seabed for the duration.
Pictures never really give a good idea of wave height, but you can see from the above that we were in a well sheltered bay, yet those waves were reaching over a metre in height at times. (excuse the black blobs - I promise I'll get a new camera soon!). By 3.00pm the wind had "eased" back to 25 gusting 30 and by evening it had dropped to a gentle breeze. A much better night's sleep was had by all.

The next day was a lot calmer so we went across to Urupukapuka Bay (after a bit of a struggle to get the anchor up) where I reviewed the performance of the temporary snubber bridle. The side that had chaffed was quite bad, so I decided to retire it and made up a new temporary one from a conventional 3 strand dock line that I had aboard. This type of rope is much less susceptible to chaffing than braid and is easily spliced, and was actually a thicker line than the old one. Later that day there was a wind change and, amazingly, we dragged our anchor. When we pulled it up, we found it was covered in long seagrass and found out later that Urupuk Bay is notorious for dragging because of it. I didn't feel too bad later when I heard that a 40' sailing catamaran dragged his 35kg (77lb) anchor in the same bay - and that as the only time we dragged in the entire holiday.

After Urupuk, we spent a night in TeUenga Bay, the next one round from Waipiro, then cruised the 10NM or so to Opua marina to pick up Charlie and Pauline again for a couple of days. They live in Kerikeri on the West side of the bay and seldom get to see the East side, which is generally considered to be the prettier and more sheltered side. While we picked them up, we made a booking at the Opua marina for a couple of days out, so we could reprovision and recharge, as well as make up a permanent snubber for future adventures with the wind. We spent a couple of nice days at OKC before returning to Opua marina, and on the way there we ran into a pod of dolphins off Tapeka Point, just N of Russell.

Next episode.....more wind, more guests and further North we go

Monday, 24 February 2014

What we done on our holiday #2

Marsden Cove is approximately half way to the Bay of Islands (usually referred to as just "The Bay"). We decided to continue the journey as before, with Charlie and I (and Woody) taking the boat North, while the girls continued by road. While it was possible to do the remainder in one day, it was a long way over open sea and the weather was not looking that good, so we reckoned on doing an overnight stopover halfway up the coast. From 10NM north of Kawau, around Cape Rodney all the way across Bream Bay to Marsden Cove, there are no sheltered anchorages so the trip has to be done in one hit. Further North, however, there are good sheltered harbours every 20NM or so, which is just as well because that coast is even more exposed to winds and swell than that to the south.

In keeping with the norm, the wind was forecast as 15-20 knot Southerly with a 2 metre SE swell, which was mainly on the stern after we had battled for the first hour in the big beam sea to get around the Whangarei Heads. We continued past Tutukaka Harbour as it was too soon to stop, but by the time we reached Whangaruru Harbour, we had been going for 4 hours and had had enough of the rock n roll. Whangaruru is a long harbour with plenty of small bays that can provide shelter from winds from any direction. We chose one on the N headland called Teparapara Bay and spent a calm night at anchor with another couple of launches. Later in the evening, a bunch of Game fishing boats cruised further up harbour and anchored for the night.

The next day turned out calm and clear, so we got underway early to head for the Bay. As we left, we joined the flotilla of game boats that were heading out for the day looking for Marlin. Most of them had come down from the Bay and obviously spend the night at Whangaruru so they can be close to the fishing grounds the next day. The trip was significantly different from the day before, with a gentle rolling swell and light wind. We rounded Cape Brett late morning and were in the Bay before lunchtime.
Cape Brett and Piercy Island, which has the famous "hole in the rock", that they drive big sightseeing boats through

Cape Brett lighthouse
We anchored in a small bay on one of the islands for lunch and then crossed to the Northern part of the Bay to the Kerikeri inlet and Doves Bay Marina, to pick up the Admiral and drop Charlie off. The Bay is quite a small area and has hundreds of islands (hence the name). Like Auckland's outer harbour/inner Gulf, it is a wonderful cruising ground with deep water anchorages that can provide shelter somewhere from winds from any direction - which turned out to be just as well as time progressed.

I will not put any tracks on the map of the Bay for the time we were there or it will get so criss-crossed with lines that you won't be able to see the detail, but I have put the names of the bays that we anchored in overnight. The first  night was spent in Omakiwi Cove, which is one of our favourites with a secluded sandy beach, sheltered from all winds except due West. This was a good choice as the weather was due to deteriorate as the remains of Cyclone June descended from the Tropics towards us, and we experienced our next issue with the anchoring system..........

But that's another story and you will have to wait for the next episode to hear about it.


Sunday, 23 February 2014

What we done on our holiday #1

I finally managed to get blogger to upload pix, by changing browsers.

The first stint was a 35NM cruise up to Kawau island, and we did this in perfect calm conditions, passing our new home in Orewa along the way. We met up with some of our Marina friends, who were returning from their holidays at Great Barrier Island, in Bon Accord Harbour - one of the most sheltered harbours in the Hauraki Gulf. Which is just as well as it began to blow the following day and this became a trend for the rest of our holiday.
The AGLCA Burgee flies in Bon Accord harbour, New Zealand

In the harbour is Mansion House Bay which contains the property once owned by Sir George Grey, Governor General of New Zealand in 1862 (he actually owned the whole island). Check out: http://www.doc.govt.nz/conservation/historic/by-region/auckland/hauraki-gulf-islands/kawau-island-historic-reserve/mansion-house/. Once it was a pub with associated motel units, and apparently the sea floor was so littered with beer bottles that it was hard to get an anchor to hold. Its now a DOC park, the motel units and the beer bottles are gone and the mansion restored. We visited it with our friends from Westpark, although I had to remain aboard and look after Woody as dogs are not permitted on DOC territory.
The next day we had arranged to pick up Charlie and Pauline from the mainland at Sandspit wharf, about 6 NM from Bon Accord and, while waiting for them to arrive, we had our first issue with the anchoring system. I have said before that US boats are generally not designed for anchoring out, and tend to have substandard ground tackle. There is also not much thought given to the design of the anchoring system and the Silverton 453 is particularly poor in this regard. The bow roller, which is way undersized, has a stainless steel strap "loop" over it to stop the anchor rode (chain in our case) falling off the roller. It is held to the roller bracket by the same bolt and nut that secures the roller. Because of this, it tends to flop backwards and forwards as the anchor is released or retrieved, and jams the chain against the bracket. If you tighten it hard to prevent that happening, the roller won't turn, but I had opted for this compromise rather that continually having to manually push the strap back into position. Before leaving I had fitted an additional bow roller and bracket behind the original one which helped hold the chain in position at anchor and prevented it from rubbing against the stainless plate in front of the windlass and thus removing all the galvanising from the chain.

While waiting for Charlie and Pauline, the wind had risen to a blustery 35 knots with gusts to 45, and we were subjected to being pulled up hard on the anchor for several hours. By the time it came for us to leave, the anchor had dug in well (which is a good thing) but as I pulled the anchor up, I found that the movement of the strap had loosened the bolt though the roller and the nut had fallen off. We were in a narrow river amongst moored craft, with a strong current and a gusty wind, so I had no choice but to continue raising the anchor. As I did, the bolt wound itself out of one side of its bracket and was now holding the roller on one side only (the bolt cannot come right out due to its position in the bowsprit of the boat). By now the chain was pointing straight down on the skewed roller and the anchor was firmly stuck in the mud. The usual procedure in this instance is to gently drive the boat forward to break the anchor out and this proved to be successful in this case. However, the force necessary to clear the anchor was too much for the bracket holding only one side of the bolt through the roller. By the time we got the anchor stowed, the bracket (which is 6mm stainless steel) was bent at about a 30 degree angle and the stainless strap was twisted entirely out of its usual loop shape. We tied up to Sandspit wharf and got our guests aboard realising we could not go anywhere until the problem was resolved, as we could not use the anchor as it was. Fortunately, we had a spare nut but the bracket was now so bent that the bolt would no longer go right through to the other side of the bracket. But "labor omnia vincit" (perserverance overcomes everything), and after an hour or so of blood, sweat and cussing, Charlie and I managed to bend the bracket far enough to get 2 threads of the bolt through the other side, and fit the nut. We were then able to tighten the nut, which in turn jacked the side of the bracket closer to its normal position. We also managed to bend the strap back into the semblance of a loop and we were good to go, although it was a very bouncy trip back to Bon Accord

We stayed in Bon Accord another 2 days, visiting Mansion House again with Charlie and Pauline, and then Charlie and I (and Woody) departed North in the boat after dropping the girls back at Sandspit. They would take the car and rendezvous with us at Marsden Cove Marina, near the Whangarei Heads and because they planned on a typical girls day out (shopping etc), we expected we would probably arrive first, despite it being a four and a half hour sea voyage, as opposed to a 1 hour drive. The voyage takes you across Bream Bay, and you run along a coastline that is quite like that of Lake Michigan, except the hills behind the sand dunes are a lot higher than those around Wisconsin and Michigan, and the other side of our "lake" is 5000NM away in Concepcion, Chile, with nothing in between. Like Michigan, there is a lot of reach for wind to kick the sea up, and we had a 25 knot SE on our stern quarter blowing over a 1.5 - 2 metre swell. This resulted in waves around 1.5 - 2.5 metres (5-7ft) and a pretty uncomfortable ride, although the boat handled it well.

As anticipated, we arrived at Marsden Cove before the girls and even changed berths to one more convenient before they turned up. Marsden Cove is a relatively new marina and is associated with a housing development that became stalled during the recession. There is not a lot of infrastructure or trees around and it is built on a flat plain between some high hills and the sea. As a result, it is fairly exposed to winds from most directions and getting onto the berths proved difficult. Still it is reasonably priced with good facilities and a fine restaurant.

We stayed 2 days and used the opportunity to reprovision, charge the batteries and refill with water. During our housemove, I found I had a residential water meter that had never been used. Originally I planned to sell it on TradeMe and then as scrap, but it wasn't worth much so I decided to keep it on the boat for measuring how much water we use when we are at sea. It turns about to be quite useful as now we know how long our tank water will last. It turns out that we use around 22-25 litres per day per person, so the 800 litres should last us 16 days with just the two of us, and proportionately less as we have guests. We used it over the entire holiday and the findings were pretty consistent throughout.

The next destination was the Bay of Islands, so I will leave that for another posting as this one has rambled on enough.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Back again

Two months without a post may suggest we are not using Loopy Kiwi that much. In fact the opposite is true. In the 144 days since the beginning of October, I have been on the boat for 85 of them. Since New years day, we have travelled 590NM in her and put a further 84 hours on the engines, which is more than we did on the delivery voyage from Florida to Savannah. The lack of postings is probably more due to a feeling I have that maybe not too many folk are interested in the blog since the demise of our Loop adventure, but I stand to be corrected on that. Feel free to leave a comment.

We originally intended to cruise the Hauraki Gulf before Christmas and hang around until after the New Year, before heading North to the Bay of Islands. Many of our boating friends had left before then to cruise the Gulf, and it was our intention to join them, but a series of circumstances, and some pretty ordinary weather, prevented that from happening. Instead, we waited until after New Year and went out for a few days on Auckland's Minuscule Loop, returned to our Marina to provision, then headed North. Over the ensuing 5 weeks, we spent a lot of time in the Bay of Islands with our friends Charlie and Pauline and a few days with Auntie Lyn, went as far North as Whangaroa and "harbour-hopped" our way South to arrive back in Auckland last weekend. Rather than make this posting a "what we done on our holidays" saga, I will put details of individual points of interest in further postings over the next wee while, so it doesn't get too long winded or boring - because we did do some neat stuff and had some interesting experiences. And this is despite the fact that the weather was pretty appalling at times, being one of the windiest summers that I can recall in all my years of boating. However, it all went to prove that the Silverton 453 is a pretty seaworthy boat, and we learned a lot about Loopy Kiwi's performance and economy during the trip. We now know that our anchor will hold in winds gusting over 65 knots. and that the new method of "snubbing" the anchor chain (devised as a result of the old system failing) will remain secure in almost any conditions. We know now how long we have to run the genset each day if we want to stay at sea indefinitely, and most importantly, what our fuel consumption is at normal cruising speed. We also know that Woody is becoming a real sea dog and was rarely scared even in the worst sea conditions (although there is a tale coming up of "Woody and the Dolphins" that struck him with terror). Since many of the islands around New Zealand are now wildlife sanctuaries, we are pleased that we trained him to do his business aboard, and in fact he has settled on a part of the foredeck we have come to call the "poop deck", and he rarely goes ashore other than for recreational purposes.

I made up a map of our route, but for some reason Blogger doesn't want to load pix today, so I will leave that till the next post.