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

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Bad Friday.

So here we were heading towards Easter. We had invited Lyn and Lois (who now lives on the Kapiti Coast) to come and spend it with us. We planned on getting to the boat on the Tuesday before Good Friday, departing Wednesday,  and returning Easter Monday. I drove down to the boat on Monday to pick up Lois from the airport the following day. On the way, I got a call from the Marine store saying the SS plough anchor had arrived, so I diverted to pick it up. When I arrived, they unwrapped it and I found it was a 60lb anchor, not the 50lb I was expecting. I queried this, but they insisted that it was the one the insurance had ordered and paid for and since bigger is always better when it comes to anchors, I took it away - although a little anxious that it would not fit in the storage space I had in mind for it. As it turned out, it fitted OK (just) and is now tucked away as a pretty, shiny, spare while I continue to use the Vulcan.

All stocked up and ready to go, the weather decided to intervene. A gale warning was issued for Tuesday and Wednesday with NE winds forecast to gust to 70kts. It was starting to honk by the time I picked up Lois at noon, and it was howling by the time the Admiral and Lyn arrived in the afternoon. True to its word, the weather remained this way until Thursday morning, so we stayed put on the dock. After heavy rain on Wednesday, I found the carpet in the sundeck was very wet. At first I thought it was a roof leak, but couldn't find one and then discovered the internal plastic water tube that feeds the ice tray in the icemaker had broken. I had a brass fitting the correct size and fitted it, but found the tube was so brittle that it kept shattering, and after several attempts I decided I would need to replace the whole tube with new and we would have to make do without ice - so I turned it off.

Early Thursday morning, the wind dropped and the forecast was for calm and settled conditions for the next 5 days. So off we went. It had been a while since our last holding tank pump-out, but the gauge was still reading empty (it doesn't normally begin to register until the tank is about half full). I was still a little suspicious that the overboard discharge pump was not working properly, so I intended to stop at Westhaven for a pump-out. However, as we left, we got a text from our son who had just arrived back on a cruise ship at the cruise terminal, so we by-passed Westhaven (first mistake) for the compulsory drive-by and photoshoot of them on their ship. I considered returning to Westhaven but figured we could discharge using the macerator pump when we reached open sea (second mistake). It was calm cruising all the way past the 2km point from land where overboard discharge is legal, so we slowed and turned on the pump. The pump ran for some time and, as the gauge still read empty and despite the fact that there was no sign of released effluent, I assumed the tank had discharged (third mistake). We continued on to Man O War bay at the "bottom end" (of Waiheke Island) and had a lovely afternoon lazing about in the sunshine.

The following day was Good Friday and we expected a lot of boats to be joining us, in view of the forecast for the long weekend. The plan was to go and harvest a feed of mussels from the wharf at low tide around 3pm, but in the meantime I had discovered the water supply to the icemaker itself had started to leak, probably from all the jostling it got while I had attempted to fix it. The trouble is the icemakers shut-off cock doesn't shut off properly, so the leak was going to be a bother. I decided to have another go at repairing it, but by now about 50mm (2") of the hose was missing and the remainder was broken in several places. After an (unsuccessful) attempt to use duct tape to hold it all together I decided to use electrical heat shrink cable, and cut a piece of a plastic drinking straw to fill in for the missing piece of tubing. I also managed to resurrect a used fitting to stop the leak in the feed pipe. This worked fine, with not a sign of a leak for the next 2 weeks, when I removed the icemaker and replaced both of the tubes.

The straw

You can see all the kinks where the bits of tune( and straw) are
Final fix

And long enough to take it right out to test
Feeling jubilant with success, we were about to celebrate when a familiar, and ominous odour reached my nostrils. Someone had flushed a toilet, and I could smell raw sewage. I raced to the back of the boat and looked over the side to see what I knew would be there. A trickle of horrid stuff coming out of the holding tank vent. The crew were immediately told to cease using the heads and we got underway to get to the nearest pump-out station. The closest marina was Pine Harbour, 13 NM away. We didn't know if it had one, but we decided to head that way. As we headed back the way we had come, there was an armada of boats coming towards us - all heading down to "the bottom end" for Easter. They were all shapes and sizes and going at all kinds of speeds. It seemed that everything that floated in Auckland was heading out. There were monstrous boats, putting up monstrous wakes and we ain't no little ship, but one of the wakes buried our bow. In doing so it sent an improperly stowed roasting dish flying down onto the floor via the hotplate and removed the hotplate knob, including the shaft that held it, in the process.

By this time we had determined that Pine Harbour did not have a pump-out facility, and that the next closest, Half Moon Bay marina, only had it "by arrangement". Good Friday - no-ones open. The next nearest was Okahu Bay, another 17NM then Westhaven  at 20NM. We tried Okahu Bay, but never found the pump-out station and no-one there knew where it was, So we went on to Westhaven (remember Westhaven?) and duly pumped out a VERY full holding tank, on which the gauge still read empty!!!! By then it was almost 4pm, so we decided to go to Oneroa, arriving to a very crowded bay (I counted more that 120 boats). There was a bit of a NE swell rolling in, about 1-1.5 metres, but long and lazy so the rocking about wasn't too bad. It would have been better up the W end of the bay but it was too crowded to get a good anchorage. 

The following day it was warm enough to warrant a swim and I had been considering why the overboard pump hadn't been working. I figured at first that it may have been blocked at its inlet, and I hoped that the pumpout may have cleared it. But there was also the possibility that it was blocked on the outlet, so I took a screwdriver, went for a dive and poked the screwdriver into the outlet skin fitting. At first there was a bit of resistance as I poked it in and, as I twisted the screwdriver, a lump of something (perhaps oyster shell) fell out of the hole. AS we were getting tired of the swell, it seemed a good time to relocate, and test the pump at the same time. So, we went out the pre-requisite 2km, stopped, and started the pump. The results were immediate and gratifying (to me, anyway), as the water surrounding us indicated positively that the pump was working. We returned to Oneroa and managed to find a good anchorage amongst the other boats and clear of the incoming swell. The rest of the weekend was warm, sunny, pleasant and uneventful. We even had a visit from the scenic flights floatplane who had some trouble weaving his way to the beach to drop off his passengers.

De Plane, De Plane (sorry - I had to say it)

Regrettably, we had to toddle off home on Monday, even though the weather was superb for the next few days. Some people had work to go to, or planes to catch.

We carried out a successful overboard discharge on the way home and I would like to say that that is the end of the holding tank saga, but you may remember in the last post that there was still work to be done on the venting on the starboard side. I shall address that later - enough of the crap for now!