Saturday, March 18, 2017

Splashed!

Astarte is back in the water on Friday morning and in a slip at Whangarei Marina (Town Basin) for about a week. It was a bit less than two months out of the water at Docklands 5 and lots and lots of work done to Astarte. We worked just about everyday, so we are knackered and looking forward to taking it easy for a few days. We still have to get the boat reorganized – getting tools and supplies re-stored and the dirt from the yard cleaned up. The boat is mighty dusty!

On Friday, we had a visit from a former colleague of Michael's. "Hoagy" and his partner Mary are in New Zealand for some exploring and they were nice enough to come by Whangarei. We enjoyed a few bottles of bubbly and wine and a nice dinner out. Michael and Hoagy caught up on the work gossip and we enjoyed their company. It is great to have visitors we are just sorry the timing was such that we couldn't take them for a sail.

So in order to share the pain of all the work we accomplished in the yard...here's the list.
Bottom paint scraped off by hand and sanded to the hull. Blisters ground out and dried and then re-glassed, faired, and sanded. Hull washed then waxed. Anchor dropped and chain cleaned. Anchor locker cleaned out. Thru-hull replaced. Prop removed and cleaned up with zirc fittings installed. Shaft and strut cleaned and polished. New zincs put everywhere. Inside sole (floor) removed and refinished (4 coats) and re-installed after major cleaning of floor areas. Salon table removed and refinished (5 coats) and re-installed. Hydraulic centerboard ram sanded and painted. Major stove cleaning. Four coats of two-pot barrier coat on bottom. Three coats of anti-foul/four coats at high impact spots. Greased centerboard pin. Checked all thru-hulls. Re-installed prop and treated prop/shaft/strut with "prop speed." Removed air conditioner unit from boat (haven't used in eight years)- giving us some additional storage and removing about 25 kilos of weight. Rebuilt wooden wall where AC was hidden. Installed new VHF radio (after testing many possible issues with the radio problem). Fixed water heater problem by replacing a hard to get at hose.

All this along with the day to day chores of living in a yard. That means climbing a ten-step ladder hundreds of times to get on and off the boat. Using the bathrooms on land and doing most of the cooking and dishes off the boat. Grocery and supply gathering was a few miles walk away...and we needed lots of supplies for all the projects so the walk back meant we were loaded down. Laundry still needed to get done.

Tired? We are!
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At 1/28/2017 7:04 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 35°44.37'S 174°20.32'E

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Still At Work

It's been more than a month in the yard at Docklands 5 with "Astarte" on the hard getting lots of care. That means hard work for us but progress is being made.

It took a whole month of seven days a week of hard work to take the bottom paint off by scraping, sanding and grinding it down to "no paint." Then repairs on some blisters we made, by re-fiberglassing the ground out spots, filling and fairing them. Once that was completed, the paint layers starting going back on. We put on four coats of barrier coat. And as of this writing, we have two coats of bottom paint. The rain has now started, forecast for five days – so no more painting for awhile.

The hull has also been washed and waxed – more hard arm and shoulder work for Michael! The interior floor has been sanded down to bare wood and four coats of a new finish put on them. The main salon is all completed with the boards reinstalled after a good cleaning of all the areas under the boards. It looks great and no shoes are now allowed below decks! Our carpet from Michael's mom has been cleaned as well so we are sparkling fresh on the floor!

The SSB radio has been sent out for repairs and we are waiting for that to reinstall once fixed. Today's project on this rainy day in the boatyard is to clean out the anchor locker which means clearing out the V-berth and reaching into the anchor locker for a serious clean-out. Not a pretty job. We will also "work" and grease all the the thru-hulls and the centerboard pin.

It really has been non-stop work along with still getting the daily chores done (cooking, laundry, cleaning, shopping etc) – none being easy while on the hardstands in the yard. The good news is the yard has a nice community area with a microwave, toaster, grill and big sink so we do our main meal in there daily. This was particularly convenient when the floorboards were out of the boat. It was hard to move around.

We will both need to sleep for three straight weeks when this big project is done. At this point the plan is to get launched hopefully in the next ten days or so and head to Whangarei Town Basin for about 5 days and then off to Great Barrier Island or Kawau for some R&R. After a few weeks out it will be time to return to Whangarei and provision up for leaving the country and heading to the islands (still TBA). We have to be out of NZ by May 24.

So lots to still do and time is ticking away.
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At 1/28/2017 7:04 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 35°44.37'S 174°20.32'E

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

EIGHT YEARS

We left the dock in St. Petersburg, Florida on February 9, 2009. Today in New Zealand, we celebrate eight years of full time cruising and living aboard SV Astarte. We have had the pleasure of visiting 31 countries (several multiple times). More than 120 islands within those countries where we have met amazing people on land and on other boats. We have made some lifelong friends from around the globe. It has been an amazing time for the two of us.

There are times it feels like only a short time ago that we left the US and at other times it feels like decades. Some days are filled with great memories and others are ones we want to forget. But there have been definitely more of the good times in our years afloat.

Now we have to pay the price of those eight years of full time cruising. Like anything that gets well used, you have to do repairs. We have been great about taking care of our boat with regular maintenance and upgrades. But this year we've had some really major ones! We've had to replace the head sail roller furler in June. We now have a new transmission that Michael installed in November. There is a new refrigerator/freezer box with all new insulation and upgraded systems. This also meant new counter tops and a refurbished galley area. Now we are in the boatyard doing a major bottom job and interior varnishing. So this will be a big year for Astarte as we enter year nine of cruising.

The great news is we have been healthy, happy and still enjoy this lifestyle. We are grateful to the many family and friends we have who have helped us in big and small ways. We can never fully express how much your help means to us. Thanks also to everyone who stays in touch through the time and distance.

We are grateful to have had eight great years of cruising aboard Astarte together. How many more? Who knows!
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At 1/28/2017 7:04 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 35°44.37'S 174°20.32'E

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Hard Aground


On purpose! We have been lifted out of the water and are sitting on the stands in Docklands 5 boatyard in Whangarei, NZ. We will be here for about 6 weeks or so. The work began pretty much as soon as we came out of the water with a hard pressure wash bottom cleaning. Once settled with ladders and stands, we got into life “on the hard.” And it is hard. Climbing up and down the ladder dozens of times each day – who needs a gym membership.

In fact, if you want to get in shape, fly to NZ and help us out! Volunteers wanted. You too can look like this.




No that's not one of the old “ghost busters” it's Hawk in full regalia fighting layers of bottom paint! He puts in two hours each morning and two hours each afternoon with a scraper, vacuum (to collect all the scrapings) and back breaking, shoulder aching, hand hurting work.
Meanwhile, Barbara has been finishing the sanding and varnishing in the newly refurbished galley (new fridge and freezer are working great). From that project it's on to the the cabin sole (floor) and taking out all the boards and sanding. The main salon table will also be taken down to bare wood (redone two years ago but not looking very good). So lots of hard labor for all parties on board. Plus just the day to day stuff is more difficult on board – doing dishes means taken them off the boat in a bucket to a sink in the community room. Plus, just going to the bathroom is a ladder climbing project! With all that said, we're probably not getting many volunteers, are we?

We remind ourselves though that we have been out eight years and living aboard full time and cruising. So the wear and tear on the boat is expected and needs to be maintained. This is the price we pay for the enjoyment we get in all these exotic locations. The aching muscles don't seem to understand.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Tutukaka and Beyond

After a night in Puriri Bay, we decided to move on to Tutukaka – a place we had not stopped at previously. We enjoyed a slow, leisurely sail there – turning the engine on after the wind died and the sails started to hang limp and bang. But it was easier than the previous day's run to Whangaruru.

We snuck into a good anchorage spot in Tutukaka. Getting into the cut is a bit tricky, but range markers (or leading marks as they are called here) keep you centered. There is a lovely marina here beyond a breakwater and a small island (Phillip's Island) in the cut. We chose to anchor though (trying to keep the zero dollar days going) and found a home near Phillip's Island in about 3 meters of water (10 feet). It got pretty shallow under the keel at low tide! But we were protected from most directions and the bay is a "gale force" anchorage with good holding and little swell.

The name Tutukaka is interesting. According to Dillon, the man at the marina, it means Snare the Kaka. The Kaka is a native parrot and on the endangered list so the snaring was obviously quite successful. There are few Kakas left in Tutukaka.

We went into the marina and the above mentioned man Dillon, was very, very friendly and helpful with information. He directed us to the walk we wanted to take to the Tutukaka Lighthouse at the entrance to the cut. It was described as a two hour leisurely walk. We have learned that the kiwis are much more fit than us. Leisurely to them is difficult for us! Or at least part of it was! It was actually a very nice walk – up to the ridge, along the ridge road, than down 180 plus steps to a beach (best walked at low tide) and then up the other side to the lighthouse. This "up" was more difficult but you are rewarded with a magnificent view. Of course a young boy and his dad ran past us as we were coming down (and then passed us again and ran up the stairs (twice!).

It was a good hike and we rewarded ourselves with lunch out, a beer and an ice cream cone! So much for the weight loss from the walk and the zero-dollar days!

Tutukaka is where many dive boats go out from to the Poor Knights Island group – a nature reserve that is supposedly one of the best dive spots in NZ. There are also many fishing charter boats out of the marina and they go for marlin and bigger game fish here. There is a large "Game Fishing Club" on shore. The board outside tells the story of many big catches of various fish (most tagged and released). There is also a good display of stuffed fish inside the club on the walls. Some giant blue marlin, plus just the heads and tails. Impressive creatures. There were also other fish from grunard to ocean sunfish and dorado on the walls. We wished they were open for lunch as they supposedly have the best fish and chips along with great fish stories. Some other time.

The lift at Docklands Five is repaired and we are now scheduled for a Tuesday haulout. It was Friday and the weather was about to turn sour so we decided to get out if Tutukaka while we could. We left bright and early to go the 25 miles to "the Nook" on the Hatea River. This would get us close to Docklands and in a protected spot with good holding. The predictions were for NE, then SW winds 20 to 45 knots!

We were surprised that the Nook was relatively empty with just a few boats and most of those were on permanent moorings. We snuck in quite a way and dropped 100 feet (30 meters) of chain in about 4.5 meters of water. At low we are seeing about 3 meters. We got in just in time as the wind started to pick up soon after we were in the river. We saw 20 knots regularly and it kept up throughout the night. We saw sustained winds at 25-30 for a long period from the N/NW (we had better protection from N/NE) and there were a few higher gusts. It wasn't a very restful night, but we held. By morning the wind shifted to W/SW which is the worst direction in here, but still better than most other places on the river. It is supposed to last until Tuesday – so we will just ride it out here. Hopefully the winds will settle a bit and the forecast is for offshore and not inland! There is a bit of a fetch here when the winds are in the westerly quadrant.

For now we'll just enjoy the last few days (as best we can in the windy conditions) before we head to the haul-out and non-stop work.

Sunday, January 22. 2017
The Nook: Lat: 35 47.44s
Lon: 174 27.76e
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At 1/21/2017 10:55 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 35°47.44'S 174°27.76'E

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Whangamumu to Whangaruru

You gotta love the names! We went all of 15 miles from Whangamumu's former whaling station protected harbor to Whangaruru's Puriri Bay. We thought we could sail and gave it a good try, but the southwesterlies were stronger than we hoped and right on the nose along with the seas...so it was very slow going. It took about five hours to make that short distance.

We are settled into a bay that has a campground on the shore. There are lots of very fancy tents set up. Some look to be five room tents- tent technology has come a long way. So much for "roughing it." There are also lots of SUP (stand up paddleboards), kayaks, small boats and tenders near shore, so lots of activity.

We enjoyed our time in Whangamumu getting two good hikes in – though the "all uphill" climbs were tiring on the legs that hadn't seen much exercise recently! We spent some time socializing with old friends and made some new ones as well. We played some Sequence and "Settlers of Catan" with Sandy and Rankin and just enjoyed our time at anchor.

Puriri Bay isn't as pretty as Whangamumu but it is well protected from any swell. The wind has been changing direction 180 degrees every day so anchoring is an ever-changing proposition. We have been having South-west winds in the mornings and evenings and north to northwest winds in the afternoons. You just have to make sure you have good swinging room in the anchorage to go the various directions. The last day in Whangamumu was very crowded as boats are now making the move either south or north and this is a good stopover point on the North Island as people go between Auckland and the Bay of Islands. There were several quite large mega-yachts in the anchorage on that last day as well as the whole collection of very small to our size – both sailboats and motor launches. That made for good entertainment watching the boats come, drop anchor and then leave. Being there a few days, we had seniority in the anchorage.

Now in Puriri, there are not many boats (yet) – but a few. We'll decide later after checking the forecast again if we stay or leave here tomorrow. Another front is working its way across the island so some bigger winds are predicted for Thursday.

For now, we continue to enjoy our "zero dollar" days and time at anchor.

Tuesday, January 16, 2017
Lat: 35 22.01s
Long: 174 21.40e
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At 12/14/2016 2:09 AM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 35°18.95'S 174°07.22'E

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Whangamumu

We have enjoyed time in the Bay of Islands at a few different places before heading back into Opua for the last of our rigging work. We were lucky to get a slip for Monday and Tuesday and connected with the rigger who had the part for the roller furler. That got fixed and the rig got adjusted. Michael had also been spending a whole lot of time trying to connect, then trouble shoot the installation of a splitter to connect the AIS and the VHF radio to the same antenna on the top of the mast. When connected we would not be able to hear the radio. After putting on new connectors and trying everything he could, we ended up hiring someone to come with a VSWR meter to check things out. Then Michael put on all new connectors and still nothing. It seems the brand new splitter box we got isn't working. So now we have to return that to the manufacturer and wait for a new one. Bummer.

After we finished with the boat projects, laundry, a resupply of food, and mailing our immigration extension paperwork, we were off again. Now we are making our way south towards Whangarei. We spent a few nights back in the Bay of Islands and then headed to Whangamumu where we are now at anchor in a very pretty bay.

This used to be an old whaling station. The remnants of that place remain as a historical reminder. We took a nice hike up the hill to a pretty viewpoint and it reminded us that we had been lazy sitting on the boat too long! The uphill was tiring!

Our friends on "Gypsea Heart" sailed in as well and we met some other folks in the anchorage - which is always fun. Michael went and spoke with a few teenagers who were in the water the previous day for hours. It is cold here and they were free diving so he wanted to know what they were going after. People collect scallops, crays (lobsters), oysters and various other critters. Later that morning the two boys came over to Astarte with a cray for us (lobster). How great is that! They just made us promise not to tell anyone where they were diving. Lips sealed! We gave them a giant candy bar as a thanks, but we came out way ahead in that deal! Nice guys – so New Zealand.

It is sure nice being out at anchor and enjoying meeting new folks and spending time with good friends. Plus it helps the budget. We've enjoyed many game days on Gypsea Heart. Today, we'll take another hike and perhaps meet some other new folks. This is a really nice spot. The lift at Docklands is broken so our haulout that we originally scheduled for Wednesday won't happen so we have a few days to kill. We'll find out on Thursday if it is fixed and when we can get hauled. Until then and the major work time, we'll enjoy time along the north island coast.
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At 12/14/2016 2:09 AM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 35°18.95'S 174°07.22'E

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