Day 2, Year 2: Repeat Performance
Date: Thursday, April 26, 2007
Weather Today: Blue Skies, Sunny Temperature in the High 60’s
Location: Anchored in Whangamumu Bay (fon-ga-moomoo)
Latitude: S 35 degrees 15.05 minutes
Longitude: E 174 degrees 17.75 minutes
On November 25 of last year we stopped in Whangamumu Bay on our way south to Whangarei. On that trip the skies were blue, the temperature was hovering around 70 degrees, and there was no wind. Today was definitely a repeat performance. It was a beautiful day but the only use our mainsail got was to help steady the boat. Actually we are hoping that tomorrow will be similar. Heavy winds are on the way, but we don’t want to be out here when they come. We should be safely tucked into the harbor in Opua by the time the winds arrive.
As we were motoring north today, we heard Wind Pony calling another boat. The last time we heard Wind Pony was the night our auto pilot failed as we were trying to leave Tonga to head to New Zealand. We got delayed, but Wind Pony, Procyon, and Quantum Leap headed on. It was great to hear Dick’s voice and no sooner had we finished talking with him when Sherri on Procyon called. Wind Pony, Procyon,and Endangered Species will all be in Opua tomorrow night, so it will be quite a reunion. It seems everyone is heading to Opua to wait for that “weather window” to get us safely to destinations north. At least we can have a great time visiting with good friends while we are waiting.
Once we anchored in the harbor, we put the dinghy in the water and tried the dinghy motor for the first time in five months. It actually started and we were certainly happy about that. We picked up Marie and Paul on Ranger and went ashore for a walk through the old whaling station and on up the hill to the lookout. We didin’t make it to the top, but we did make it most of the way. We got some great pictures of Ranger and Windbird at anchor and then headed back down for dinner on Windbird.
We’re looking forward to getting into Opua tomorrow, but we aren’t looking forward to raising the anchor in the morning. This morning the windlass that raises the anchor pulled up 50 feet of chain and then just quit. Mark had to raise the last 100 feet of chain by hand. I’m afraid he’ll have to do the same in the morning. The windlass motor appears to be fine, but there is something wrong with the gears or bearings. Ah, the wonderful world of sailing. There is always a challenge.
Day 1, Year 2: Leaving Whangarei
Date: Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Weather Today: Warm, Sunny Fall Day; 62 degrees F at Sundown
Location: Urquarts Bay, New Zealand
Latitude: S 35 degrees 50.696 minutes
Longitude: E 174 degrees 31.925 minutes
It is just about 6 PM here and I am sitting very comfortably in the cockpit listening to the New Zealand weather on the VHF radio and watching the sky being painted with all shades of pink and red just after sunset. It’s one of those nights where the water around us is reflecting red light as well. Since there are red sails tonight maybe we will have fair weather tomorrow for our trip up the coast to Whangamumu. One thing is for sure. We have had a beautiful start to our second year of the voyage of Windbird.
I spent the entire morning doing laundry–sheets, towels, blankets, etc. We will have access to a laundromat in Opua, but I wanted to start fresh from here. The laundry took longer than it should have because we had a meeting at 10 AM with Dr. Geoff of Aspect of Arron. We sat with him and his wife Raewyn at dinner last night and he asked if we had room to take some sails to Vanuatu. Geoff is a physician and Raewyn is a nurse, and they work in Vanuatu every winter. This year they will be flying, not sailing there, and they were looking for a way to get the old sails to some of the village chiefs. The villages will be able to use the material to make sails for their canoes. We are more than happy to transport the sails and Geoff wanted to give us advice on where to go and where to anchor when in Vanuatu. It was a great trade and I’m sure that when we deliver the sails to the village chiefs we will get a special welcome into the villages.
We left Whangarei at 2:30 PM at high tide and arrived here in Urquarts Bay at the mouth of the Whangarei River at 5:00 PM. Leaving Whangarei was an emotional experience for me. First, I was devastated that I didn’t get to say a personal goodbye to Ray Roberts, the marina owner. As I explained in yesterday’s log, I had totally forgotten that today was a holiday and that no one would be working at the marina. And then we had to say goodbye to some good friends that we probably won’t see again for years, if ever. Beth and Ken on Eagle’s Wings are going back to Nuie, to Tonga, and then to Fiji this year. We will be long gone from Fiji by the time they arrive. Bill and Yvonne on Windsong will be staying in Whangarei. They have been granted residency and will work through the winter, sail in the Pacific next season and then return to New Zealand. It is possible that they will not be returning to the United states for many years. Joe on Maggie Drum is waiting for Cindy to return from the US and then they will be traveling on land for a while. They will probably catch up with us in Fiji, or at least we hope so. Dianna and Bob on White Swan will be leaving Whangarei in a week or so and we will probably see them in Opua and possibly travel to Fiji near the same time. Bernard and Christiane on Est-Ouest from Quebec have sold their boat and will be returning home on May 18. Jens on Moana will be leaving Opua for Fiji in a couple of weeks, so hopefully we will see him there. We hope to see Roger and Jane of Wings and Strings and Anna Maria and Ernst of Galatea in Opua before they head off in different directions. So many people and so many directions. All of these people have become our family out here and leaving them is hard for me. I was also sad that I didn’t get to make phone calls to family. We had this great deal at Riverside with a Cheap Talk phone card. It only cost a penny a minute to talk to people in the US. We had bought the card and not used it much since we usually use Skype on the computer. I had hoped to call people today before we left, but there was just no time. Mark didn’t have the same emotional feelings that I did. He really enjoys all of the new friendships, but he was ready to go. The sea is calling, and I must admit that as we headed down the river, I enjoyed tremendously hearing the water rushing against the hull. Even with the sadness of saying goodbye, it feels good to be on our way. We are looking forward to year two of our voyage.
We got an email this morning from Dave Laux back in Hard Scrabble, Delaware. Dave is the “magician” that installed our new motor in the fall of 2005. He evidently read our log from last night and had some further advice for us in reference to the stress cracks in the headstay chainplate. First, we were delighted to hear from Dave, and secondly we were amazed once again at how technology has changed the world of sailing. Even five years ago, sailors didn’t have the ability to have such quick returns on correspondence from sea. Dave gave us some solid advice on things we should do to check to see just how serious these stress cracks might be. As soon as we get to Opua, we will follow Dave’s advice, point by point. He truly is amazing and we are very grateful that he took the time to send us the information. Once again, David, thank you for being there. And Mark says to tell you that the bolts are solid and there is no rust.
We left Riverside Drive Marina just after Marie and Paul of Ranger left today. Marie gave us a wonderful “going away” present. She invited us to come to Ranger for dinner tonight. So as soon as we were anchored in Urquarts Bay, we put the dinghy in the water. I then started writing this log and then we rowed over to Ranger for dinner. Marie fixed pork chops, fresh green beans, a fresh bib lettuce salad, and baked squash. Dinner was absolutely delicious and it was fun to have someone to share our feelings about being “on the road again.” Where is Willie when I need him? Tomorrow morning we will be up at 6 AM and out of here by 6:30. That should put us in Whangamumu Bay by no later than 4 PM, maybe sooner.
One last note. Mark and I marveled at how easy it was to put the dinghy in the water tonight and when we got home from dinner on Ranger, we were able to get the dinghy back on board in the dark. I guess we haven’t really forgotten how to do this. The real test will be tomorrow when we raise the sails.
NZ Land Logs 65, Year 2: Close Call
Date: Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Weather Today: Sunny Morning, Overcast Afternoon
Location: Whangarei, New Zealand
Just when we thought we were all ready to go, we discovered something that was most disturbing. We were taking advantage of the fact that our bow is reachable from the dock to polish the stainless anchor roller. Mark was working on that when he discovered stress cracks in the chain plate that attaches the headstay to the hull. This was not a happy discovery. He immediately went up to the welding shop in the yard and Terry came down to the boat to check out the situation. The piece of stainless that has the stress cracks is two and three quarters inches wide by about three-eights inch thick. It is bolted to the bow of the boat with half inch bolts and is part of a huge stainless structure that holds the anchors on the front of the boat. If this piece of metal should break, we could lose our headstay and that would not be a good thing. When Terry came down to check this out, he gave us his professional recommendations. It was either take the whole structure off the front of the boat and replace it–very expensive and at least three weeks of work OR repair the area with the stress cracks by welding a piece to it OR do nothing. Each of the options other than total replacement has drawbacks. We then asked one of the local riggers to take a look and give us his opinion. Welding always weakens the metal just above or below the weld, and knowing that, the rigger opted for doing nothing. We took the middle road. We had the welder cut a piece of metal that can be welding on if the condition gets worse. We will have to watch this closely. The welder really thinks the stress cracks happened when the boat was built and that they have always been there. We will go ahead and leave tomorrow and when we get to Opua we will reconsider. If we feel that the piece should be welded on, we will do it there. This was a close call. If we opted for doing the welding here, we would have to wait until Thursday since tomorrow is a holiday. And waiting until Thursday really meant waiting until Sunday since the tides would not be right for leaving the river until then. We’re hoping that our plans to leave tomorrow have not clouded our decision making process. But we will have a chance to reconsider in Opua.
I have had on my TO DO list for days to wax the deck–not the teak walking deck, but the top of the cabin. I got it done, but it took most of the day. While I was doing this, Mark continued with stainless polishing. In mid-afternoon, Mark went to the pharmacy to pick up the travel drug prescriptions and I worked on our farewell letter for the Riverside Drive Marina book. What I didn’t realize is that the marina will be closed tomorrow for a holiday. I will ask Dianna on White Swan to put our page in the book, but I am really sorry that I didn’t get to say a personal thank you and goodbye to Ray, the marina owner. I am hoping that he comes in tomorrow, but if not I’ll just have to do the farewell electronically. I love technology, but it is not my idea of a way to say goodbye. If we are in Opua for a while, maybe I can hitch a ride down here to say a proper farewell.
The most important thing we did today was to talk with our grandson. Well, we didn’t really “talk” to him, but we talked and he watched us and listened to the computer screen. More importantly, we got to see him and listen to his cute babbling. We even got to see him smile. He is cuter than ever and is now trying desperately to suck his thumb or his whole fist. It was great watching him trying to get the right hand thumb in his mouth, and then his left hand thumb, and then both fist at once. It is amazing how such activity can be so captivating to grandparents. We could have watched him all day. Once we leave here, we will not have the internet capability to make the video Skype calls until we get to Opua. We will have internet there, and then not again until we reach Suva in Fiji. Suva is a large city, but we will be spending very little time there. Once we are in the out islands, internet will be spotty. Later in the season in vanuatu, internet is non-existent except in the main city of Port Villa.
So ready or not, we are leaving here tomorrow unless the weather report gets worse. Some nasty weather is headed this way by Saturday, but if that changes and the nasty weather is coming sooner, we might have to stay here. So it goes with sailing. The weather rules.
NZ Land Logs 64, Year 2: Busy, Busy Monday
Date: Monday, April 23, 2007
Weather Today: Overcast with Periodic Sprinkles
Location: Whangarei, New Zealand
Today was a hard one. At the end of the day we are almost ready to leave, but if I never have to go shopping again, I’ll be a happy person. We have spent so much money that I don’t even want to think about it. One thing is for sure–we won’t starve to death in the next few months!
I had hoped to get up and call our daughter early this morning so I could “see” Sam one more time before leaving here, but that didn’t happen. Maybe tomorrow. One thing led to another and from the time we got up we were on the run. The whole day was just one shopping expedition after another. Since we have to rely on others for transportation, we go when they are ready. We called a local physician at 8 am to get an appointment for recommendations on drugs we need to carry for malaria, etc., etc. We thought we were all set, but recent research urged us to make this appointment. Once we had the appointment secured, Dianna on White Swan then took us on a shopping expedition looking for those little things that are hard to find–odd-sized batteries for thermometers and clocks, soap and eating utensil holders with suction cups (the old ones will no longer stick), printer ink, disposable latex gloves, a few more cans of artichoke hearts, beer at a price that we can afford, and on and on. We no sooner got back with that load of things when it was time for me to go with Marie of Ranger to the Mad Butcher to pick up our frozen meat we ordered a couple of days ago. No butcher should have that name, but they had our order ready–frozen and vacuum packed–so ‘Mad’ or not, they do a good job. Again, I got back, got the meat stored in the freezer, and it was time for yet another shopping trip. This time it was to New World to buy the rest of the beer and to Mitre 10 (like Home Depot) to get even more batteries. There was no time for lunch today. By the time we returned from the last trip and got everything stored away, it was time for the doctor’s appointment.
Dr. Vijay Harypursat was so kind to see me today with only a few hours notice. His office was overflowing with people, but I had to wait only 10 minutes. He told me he has over 2,300 patients and he would never think about not seeing someone on the day they call if they really need medical attention. I told him this was certainly not the ways things are back in the good old USA. But anyway, he was very informative and I was very glad that I decided to see him. We were advised by our travel doctor back in the US (not Dr. Carlin with the World Clinic, but the travel physician at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Clinic) not to take any medication as a preventative for malaria and then to take Malarone (atovaquanil/proguanil) if we developed the symptoms. Dr. Vijay said this is not what doctors in this part of the world nor what the Center for Disease Control recommends for Vanuatu. He recommended taking Doxycycline as a preventative and then to take Lariam (melfloquine) if the symptoms develop. He said Malarone is no longer effective against the drug-resistant “bugs” in the South Pacific and much of the rest of the world. It was a good drug at one time, but no longer. So we will be adding Lariam to our medical kit, even though it is extremely pricey. You just can’t take shortcuts when it comes to your health. I’ll keep the Malarone, but I’m glad it will not be our only defense if a problem should arise. You have to learn more about self-medication out here than I care to know, but Dr. Vijay did confirm that our arsenal of drugs (other than the Malarone) are right on. He prescribed some vials of adrenaline in case of a severe allergy attack. We have an Epi-pen that he thinks could still be effective, but there are some strange animals in the sea in the western Pacific whose stings can cause severe reactions. So better to be prepared. Otherwise, we are all set, BUT the pharmacy did not have the Lariam on hand and it will be mid-afternoon tomorrow before we can pick it up. That means that we will not be leaving tomorrow.
We have postponed departure time until high tide on Wednesday. That will be between 2:00 and 3:00 in the afternoon, and give us just enough time to make the thirteen miles to the mouth of the river by dark. We will spend the night in the bay there and head north to the Bay of Islands on Thursday morning. We will make one stop on Thursday night and hope to be in Russell or Opua on Friday evening. We have decided not to head south to Great Barrier Island. I’m sorry that we will not get to see it, but there are many other anchorages to the north that we also want to visit. You just can’t do it all.
So tomorrow I will write our farewell letter to Riverside Drive Marina to put in their memory book, write a farewell note to put in Reva’s memory book, and say our goodbyes to fellow cruisers here. Paul and Marie of Ranger will probably be heading down the river with us on Wednesday, but we will be leaving behind some wonderful friends that we might not ever see again. As always, parting is not easy, but new horizons are out there waiting to be explored. It is time for Windbird to move on.
NZ Land Logs 63, Year 2: The Boat ‘Walk’
Weather Today: Yet Another Beautiful Day
Location: Whangarei, New Zealand
The nighttime temperatures are now down to about 50 degrees F, but the days have been glorious. It is now the equivalent of late October and the trees are beginning to turn. The ten day forecast is for more of the same, so if it is right, we could have a fantastic week. Tomorrow we will try to buy all of the items on that “Can’t Leave Without It” list and still be ready to leave here on Tuesday. I have an 8 AM date with Dianna on White Swan to meet a the phone booth and call the local travel doctor. If we can get an appointment with him tomorrow or Tuesday morning, then we will be on our way.
We had a great time this afternoon and early evening on the First Annual Riverside Drive Marina Boat ‘Walk.’ Eagles Wing’s, Windsong, White Swan, Wings and Strings, Windbird, and Ranger participated. We started by all visited Eagles Wing’s. This is Deerfoot and we are not sure of the length, but it is BIG. Next we visited Windsong, a Tashiba 40′. Bill and Yvonne are a delightful couple and they have a beautiful boat in pristine condition. The tour continued on White Swan. This is a Cape George 36′. By this time in our ‘walk’ we all realized that this was much more fun than looking at boats at a boat show. Here, the personality of the owners leaves a definite stamp on the look of the boat. On White Swan, Dianna has turned the keel-stepped mast into a palm tree using burlap, silk palm leaves, and birds that sing when turned on. Definitely Dianna. Wings and Strings was next on the list. This is a Tayana V-42′ aft cockpit. This is definitely Windbird’s sister boat except that we are a center cockpit and six years older. Many things about the two boats are similar, but the inside layout was surprisingly different. We then visited Windbird, and finally on to Ranger, an Island Packet 40′. We had allowed an hour and a half for our little tour, but it took almost two and a half hours. We were just a little late for the 5:30 barbecue, but since we were most of the people attending, that wasn’t a problem. The only problem was the temperature. By the time we got up to the barbecue area, the outside temperature had really dropped. It was definitely time for wool socks and jackets.
NZ Land Logs 62, Year 2: The Never Ending Story
Date: Saturday, April 21, 2007
Weather Today: Another Beautiful Day
Location: Whangarei, New Zealand
Boat work is never ending, or at least it seems that way right now. For two days I have tried to get to the things on my list that need to be done, but I can’t seem to get there from here. That’s because one thing on the list takes much longer than you would think it should, and that one thing leads to another and another that are not on the list. Today was the day to clean the Sunbrella (canvas) covering over the cockpit–dodger and bimini–as well as the side panels. The side panels are the flexible plastic windows trimmed all around with Sunbrella. Well, one thing leads to another. We took down the side panels to clean the Sunbrella, but as we suspected, we were going to have to sew new edging on all the panels. The edging is like seam bias tape, but just a little heavier, and the current edging had all but disappeared. While I was cleaning the panels, Mark finished cleaning the bicycles. We then took down the bimini that covers most of the cockpit, and as we did, seam after seam started ripping out. The thread was rotten, so now Mark was not only going to have to edge each of the side panels, but he was also going to have to resew all the seams in the bimini. And of course, once all the covering was down, I was going to have to clean all of the stainless framework that holds all of this up before we could put things back together again. We worked ALL day and got most everything done, but not all. Mark still has a few panels to edge, but we did get the bimini back up. I forgot to mention that I also had to clean the underside of the dodger. This is like the windshield and top of a car, except the top only goes back about three feet. At that point there is another windshield that is higher and then the bimini goes back from there. The underside of the dodger had mildew spots that had to be cleaned and doing that little job took much longer than anticipated. So the story goes. A list of ten things to do on a boat really means about thirty or forty things to do. Tomorrow morning Mark will finish sewing the edging on the cockpit panels and then I will clean all of the plastic windows. When all of this is done, the boat will look just like it did before we started. It will be hard to notice the difference, but we will know that that we have a squeaky clean cockpit covering with crystal clear window panels. Since we spend most of our time out in the cockpit once we are sailing again, this is important to us. All of this is kind of like spring cleaning, even though it is late fall here. It will feel like summer when we reach Fiji, so it is spring cleaning for us.
The boat to boat visiting didn’t happen today but will happen tomorrow at 4 PM just before the Sunday evening barbecue. Bill of Windsong came by this morning and suggested the time change. He is calling this the First Annual Riverside Drive Marina Boat Walk. We will walk from boat to boat to visit and each boat will have an offering of appetizers and wine. Sounds like a lot of fun, but this means getting the inside of the boat ready to “show.” Just another little job on the list.
Our tentative departure time of Tuesday might get delayed. We have been getting the unhappy news that there is an outbreak of typhoid and leptospirosis in Fiji. Both are diseases caused by contact with contaminated water. The outbreaks started in late March and April and were probably due to flooding. We are going to make an appointment on Monday with a travel doctor here just to make sure we have the medications we need in case of a problem. If we can’t get the appointment by noon on Tuesday, then we will have to delay departure. But certainly we don’t want to rush out of here and not have the medications we might need. We are set with the typhoid for four more years, but we need enough doxicycine in case one of us should develop leptospirosis. We’ll hope that our new water maker will work for us and we won’t have to drink local water. I’m also going to buy more Clorox. It doesn’t sound all that appetizing, but washing all fruits and vegetables in water treated with Clorox is certainly better than developing a case of leptospirosis. And then there is the problem of malaria in Vanuatu. We’ve got to make sure we have the medications for that as well. Traveling in the western part of the Pacific is a little trickier than the eastern Pacific. There are not only the disease possibilities, but also the political unrest. We promise to be careful.
In last night’s log, I said that I had made my last trip to the grocery store. Silly me. I have actually completed almost all of the grocery shopping, but today we started listing the things that we really just cannot leave here without, and the list is longer that we had hoped. Balsamic vinegar, black ink for the computer printer, AA and AAA batteries, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, and on and on. It really is a never ending story.