Friday, November 25, 2016

In New Zealand

A ten day passage from Fiji's Vuda Marina to Opua in NZ is completed. It was a decent passage. The 1071 miles turned into much more as we couldn't stay on the rhumb line. For one entire day we made only 20 miles towards the destination though we traveled a tad over 100! Astarte scored two – 143 mile days and we had some good sailing though hard on the wind the entire trip (with the exception of the last two days when we had to motor with no wind).

The trip was not without its adventures. Before we left we dealt with the transmission. That worked great underway...bravo, Michael and thanks to Moon Engineering in Auckland. We got some big swells, thanks to a big storm in NZ that sent up 5 meter swells (that's 20 feet!) along the route. We didn't see the five meters, but saw and experienced 2.5 meters. Plus the seas were confused with the big swell from one direction and the wind waves from another.
Underway on one of the two really bad, lumpy, rolly, icky days, the steering decided to quit. Of course this happened at night and in the confused seas. We offloaded the lazarette (a chore to keep things from rolling off the decks) and Michael climbed in the hole to take a look. Too dark and too much of a roll to get a good look, so we determined we'd wait until morning. Morning brought the light, but certainly not calmer conditions. The autopilot, "Nigel" was doing a great job steering (it is attached directly to the quadrant so the wheel steering was not needed.) We thought we'd just wait until conditions or "Nigel" demanded otherwise.

We were now sailing a good speed and heading more southwest. The forecast promised that we would get more easting in the wind over the next few days and we could get our "southing" at that point. We were covering a lot of miles each day now, and actually gaining on the destination.

On Wednesday morning with less than 400 miles to go, conditions lightened enough to tackle the steering. This was a chore. The emergency tiller needed a bit of lubricating and work to get it to bend at the right points. Once attached, holding it in perfect place so it wouldn't move an iota was critical. Fingers could be lost if we had any movement. A scream from inside the lazarette was scary, but fingers got only pinched not cut off. Whew! The cables got reconnected and we aligned the wheel as best we could. Now, the wheel steering was working with Nigel still working hard. Another problem sorted.

The wind died and we had to motor for a bit after getting below 3 knots of speed. The winds were pretty inconsistent. One minute it would be blowing good enough to push Astarte along at 5 or 6 knots, the next minute we'd slow to 4 or 5. Bang. "What was that noise?" "Don't know" "The engine temperature is going up fast." A quick look in the engine room showed that the belt broke. So, engine off again. Another project for Michael. But a spare belt was retrieved from the spares locker, installed and all good again.

Now we figured we had our three bad things for the trip behind us: transmission, steering and now alternator belt. Clear sailing or motoring the rest of way! ?!

The last several hundred miles were a mix of sailing and motoring. A big front was due in on Friday around 10 am, and we would hopefully beat it in. We entered the Bay of Islands in the dark (something we are loathe to do), and made our way towards the quarantine dock. We went very slowly knowing that by 0500 we would start to get the early sunrise light. We got to the dock at 0600 and luckily there was room and we got a hand tying up. Passage over. Now the wait for the officials. There were about 25 other boats that day waiting for clearance as well. In fact, it might have been a new Opua record for the number of boats cleared in one day. When we see the customs or biosecurity folks we'll find out.

Now we are all cleared in and settled in a slip at the Bay of Islands Marina (we often call it the Opua Marina). Now the work will begin on the galley/refrigeration. We arrived in time for the last of the All Points Rally so enjoyed a free burger dinner on Friday night and a chance to reconnect with the Gypsea Hearts (Sandy and Rankin) as well as Lily and Otto who are 2009 cruising friends whom now own the Marina Cafe here.

Overall it was a decent passage even with all the fixes along the way. Just a few hours short of a ten day passage. A few rough days. Forty-six hours of motoring. Much of it pretty good sailing hard on the wind. Glad to sleep more than three hours at a time again!

Let the work begin.
At 11/25/2016 7:30 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 35°18.95'S 174°07.22'E

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