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

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.

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