Saturday, 9 December 2017

One last wave then safe and sound in NZ

 [Final letter home from our recent passage from New Caledonia to New Zealand]

Oops - some restiching required for the dodger.

Sorry Gary, your old SUP bag is looking a bit worse for wear.


As you may know, our cockpit is protected by a hard dodger (roof) and panels of sturdy clear film, which we had made in Mexico (2012).  Every so often, I re-stitch individual seams with my speedy stitcher, as the thread succumbs to the harsh UV light of the tropics; however, some of the seams are awkward to access, and we had committed to having all the panels checked and re-stitched by Peter, our canvas wizard, who sewed our beloved rain enclosure, once we arrived in Opua.  You can probably guess what is coming next ...

As Max was finishing his watch at about 0400, after the better part of 36 hours of being pounded by waves over the bow, and as the sky was just beginning to brighten, he noticed water coming through, rather than over, the dodger on a particularly big wave.  Shortly after that, he noticed that the cockpit had become much breezier.  You guessed it - the top seam of one of our dodger panels had let go with the weight of the water.  Thankfully, we had already started closing the companionway throughout the passage to prevent water from coming downstairs (even without the dodger blowing out, water was shooting through the reinforced holes at the bottom of the dodger where the lines enter the cockpit).  As I blissfully slept below decks, Max jury-rigged a hard plastic panel (actually the kids painting board for water colours!) behind the torn seam and lashed it into place with sail ties.  By the time I woke we had brilliant sunshine and relatively calm seas.  Thankfully this happened with the last big wave and not the first!  The final two days of our passage were surprisingly peaceful.  We continued to have winds forward of the beam, but the seas kept diminishing. 

Having learned over the years that it is much calmer to spend an evening on the Q dock and clear in the morning, rather than arriving and clearing in amidst the debris and detritus that collects during a passage, we gave ourselves the freedom to take it easy on our last day at sea without the pressure of arriving before 'closing time'.  I had time to tidy and clean in the morning while Victoria prepared a big stack of crepes (to use up our eggs), then we enjoyed a rather comical big brunch (the sea state had become swelly as we neared land, and none of our tasty food could be trusted to stay put; there is a reason we normally save fancy meals for when we are at anchor). I made one of my best sailing memories that afternoon: Max and I rarely sail together as a team, since in general, if there are two of us in the cockpit, one of us should be off-watch, but as we came into the Bay of Islands, we were able to be on watch together for the last few hours of the passage.  We dropped our main and lazily jibed our boat back and forth across the Bay with only the genoa.  We had light winds and lovely conditions, and we worked together to helm and trim our way towards Opua and the Q dock, dodging Sunday afternoon sailors, tourist para-sailor boats, ferries, and sports fishers bobbing in place.  We arrived in time to finish preparing the boat before dinner (including time for Victoria to finish plotting all of our noon fixes on the big chart on the saloon table), then we enjoyed the last of our lasagne, a massive apple crisp with whipped cream, and the bottle of champagne I had been given for my birthday (gotta love those days when the provisions have to be finished!)

Our customs clearance on Monday morning went very smoothly: we had  cleared the table of everything but the chart and our completed paperwork, I had been through the cupboards to collect the dry goods (esp legumes/peas) that they wanted to see, and we had used almost all of our fresh fruit and veg, with the remainder located in the fridge and one hammock, and benches, floors and counters were cleared, wiped and swept.  What a pleasure to be prepared!  After our clearance, we moved into the newly expanded Bay of Islands Marina (which has doubled in size since we were here two years ago), and we have spent the last week or so on the dock 'fixing what broke' during the season: engine leaks, rig check, steering cables (which are not supposed to have meathooks after only a few years!), rain enclosure / dodger repairs and restitching (Thanks Peter!!), etc etc.  We have been reunited with our friends on HONEY (including back and forth sleepovers for the kids between Opua and their boat Whangarei), celebrated Benjamin's 4th birthday, and are beginning to look ahead to actually cruising in NZ and Christmas :)

Love to you all,


At 2017-11-06 7:59 AM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 22°21.91'S 166°31.53'E

Diverse traffic in the Bay of Islands

Liz remembering why coastal passages are so much nicer than offshore ones

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