Saturday, November 27, 2010

Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Bay of Islands NZ

A nice Sunday morning learning about the birth of a nation.

Friday, November 26, 2010

news from New Zealand

Long time and many miles but at last we have landed (in New Zealand that is). It really is quite lovely here and I especially am happy to be a bit more on terra firma. Still doing some cruising but it is now in coastal water and much more like cruising in Maine. It is very beautiful here...very rural and pastoral. The hills are green and full of sheep grazing, the roads in all but Auckland just 2 lanes winding thru the hills and valleys. People exceedingly friendly and pretty laid back. They definitely only work 8 hr (or less) days and use every weekend to recreate either sailing or trekking. Seems like a really healthy lifestyle. It is very nice being back in a first world country with supermarkets and phones and clean facilities (not that I wish we hadn't had the explorations of all the places we have visited along the way that were not what we are used to).

We are currently in Opua but have spent a bunch of nites out in the Bay of Islands. The islands out here are magnificent..pretty much uninhabited with great hiking paths and some nice beaches. Water is too cold for swimming but we did go in ankle deep and harvest some yummy green lipped mussels for one nite's worth of appetizers. Thanksgiving was shared with our friends Bruce and Alene that we met in Tonga. We had a roasted chicken rather that turkey as boat ovens are way too small for turkeys but managed all the other "normal" Thanksgiving accompaniments. Some New Zealand champagne for starts with shrimp sushi was novel for this holiday but may have to be entered into the Tday menu in the future. A feast for sure with lots and lots to be thankful for not the least of which is having made it these close to 20,000. miles aboard Visions of Johanna!!!

One of our most exciting days was being treated to a dolphin performance right off the beqam of the boat. We were anchored in a bay here and right after lunch this pod of bottle nosed dolphins (they are a really large variety of dolphins) came over and started doing flips and jumps that were unbelievable. A few hours later at the next bay over where we had just moved to about 6 Orca whales did a swim thru and again seemed to be playing with us. They even swam under the boat! See Gram's blog post( for photos of these 2 marvelous sea events. We have been doing lots of hiking and gone to a few towns to look around...they are small and quaint and it feels like in some ways we are in the good ole 50's. I like it here alot!!! Will continue our way down the coast needing to get Gram to Auckland by mid Dec for his return to the US for Xmas with his other family(Schweikerts). Bill and I will spend another few weeks before bringing the boat into Gulf Harbor the marina where she will stay for the next year. I meet Sierra in NYC Jan 8 for a trade show. The weather will probably kill me (we are freezing here and it's in the 60's) but the prospect of Sierra shortly followed by Emma and Rob and Zak a few weeks thereafter will keep me going at least.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Kruising with Kindle Part 1

Bay of Islands NZ
I have now had my Amazon Kindle for 18 months and have grown to like it more each day. The latest great feature I have discovered is that when traveling it makes a very workable email and internet device. In an odd twist of pricing foolishness you can browse the internet for free on the experimental browser. Now in an area where I had other options I would never bother with the klunky interface and laggy screen, but here in NZ where wifi and cell data are crazy expensive it is a godsend. I am in fact writing this entire post on my Kindle and uploading for free.

That isnt to say it doesnt have its issues.

I have actually had 4 kindle e-readers. The first one met its demise last August while reading by my fathers pool during a visit home. It just stopped working after sitting out in the sun. I called amazon, explained what happened, said yes of course it was out in the sun, it is summer and I was reading outside. They were fine with that and had a new one to me in 48 hours.. Number 2 was left in a bus in Ecuador, a much more painful mistake then with a paper book. Number 3 got a broken screen while in the protective pocket in my backpack during a bike trip.

Clearly the screens are pretty fragile and I now have a rigid waterproof case for protection when off the boat. Again Amazon was very responsive and provided a free replacement and luckily we had family coming to visit who could bring the new one and return the broken one without paying for international shipping.

Tomorrow in Part 2 I will discuss actually reading on the device.

Sent from my Kindle -- Update: Sorry, too busy so part 2 will have to wait till after thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It's Like The Splash Zone At Seaworld

Bay of Islands NZ

This morning we had VERY large dolphins literally doing acrobatics
just feet from the boat and this afternoon we had a pod of Orcas
(Killer Whales) swim by. We are really enjoying the Bay of Islands.
Great hiking, tasty muscles within easy reach at low tide, and even
entertainment by the local wildlife. It was like the dolphins were
putting a show for us.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Toilets of New Zealand - Post #1

Kawakawa, Bay of Islands - New Zealand

A new subject for the blog which hopefully will have some more entries in the future. Apparently the big thing for small towns in NZ to do is build really fancy public facilities. This one in Kawakawa was designed by Freidrich Hundertwasser.

Besides toilet-seeing, we went to see Steve from Curious in the Hospital (doing much better than yesterday with a bad foot infection), then headed to Paihia and took a ferry to Russel, an old whaling outpost.

It was great to finally see some of the beautiful countryside we have heard so much about.

Arrived NZ

Opua, New Zealand

Sorry this took so long to get up, but we have been crazy busy getting the boat put back together and making some repairs. We have had a few days here in New Zealand, but haven't yet seen anything other than the engine room, electrical panel, and bilges of the boat.

Today we are heading off for a little sight seeing. I will be sure to post a pic this evening.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Almost There

Pacific Ocean
34 18.9S 174 41.5W
58 miles North of Opua New Zealand

Our final passage is just about to come to a close. Winds have eased and come behind us. Right now we are motoring with the reacher up giving an extra 1/2 knot of speed, but the wind keeps coming further behind us, causing our apparent wind to drop so I don't know how much longer that will help any. We just passed our first fishing boat....showed up nicely on AIS and Radar. I have two other targets on Radar right now, so we are clearly approaching land. Yesterday we diverted a hundred yards to check out a floating object that turned out to be a fridge. Mental note, if you ever need an emergency floatation device, this fridge was floating VERY high in the water.

The DC Refer has stopped running, so I think I know what I will be working on when we get into harbor. Pressures seem fine, water pump is running, but the compressor doesn't turn on. Will have to check electrical connections, but unfortunately the starting relays are located in an inaccessable location behind the AC fridge (thank you Morris). In the mean time, I started the genset so I can run the AC fridge for an hour to keep things cool. We have half a freezer of fish stored up (caught another Tuna yesterday) so don't want that to get too warm. I planned on putting the AC Fridge onto the inverter circuit so I can run it at the dock (only works on 60hz and NZ uses 50hz power) so I may just do that sooner if I can't get the DC fridge working quickly. Probably not the most efficient thing in the world, but at least it will keep things cold.

Can't wait to put my eyes on "the land of the long white cloud"

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Crisp Clean Air

Pacific Ocean
31 47.5S 175 55.2E
220 miles North of Opua, New Zealand

Right on Ken's schedule the wind died out and we have been motoring with light wind for about 4 hours now, about 30 hours to go. The seas have died off as we came south, so it is quite comfortable, motorsailing in light North-Westerly winds under main and jib with the iron Genny providing the real push.

My outdoor thermometer has stopped working, but water temp is down to 66 degrees and air temp feels like mid 50's with very low humidity. After all this time in the tropics, it actually makes my nose hurt a little to breath this crisp dry air. Luckily it is probably mid to hight 60's in the pilothouse so I am still wearng just shorts and a long sleeve T though my feet are a little chilled.

Last night I made eggplant and shrimp stir fry to finish off our last frozen meat and work on our veggies. We may have 1 or 2 too many cucumbers to eat before we arrive (they confiscate fresh veg) and I am still searching for what to do with the last cabbage (made asian cole slaw last night to go with the stir fry and still have leftovers).

We still haven't seen any other traffic out here...amazing how big and empty the surface of the Ocean is.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Pacific Ocean
28 54.6S 177 41.5E

Our current latitude is about the same as Orlando Florida, but without the warming effects of the warm Gulf of Mexico it is quite a bit cooler here. Water temp is down to 71 degrees and my thermometer stopped working so I am not sure of air temp, but I am rather tempted to close the pilothouse doors to keep the chilly night air at bay. Still wearing shorts, and no sox, but have resorted to long sleeve T-shirts for some added warmth and am considering putting on a fleece.

As usual Ken McKinley has been right on with his weather forecast. We saw high 20''s with gusts to 33 knots yesterday and around sundown it started subsiding. We are currently making 9 knots towards NZ in 20 knots of wind on the beam. Seas are still a bit stirred up so there is still lots of spray on deck, but luckily we can stay in the nice dry pilothouse and not worry about it too much. We should see the winds continue to drop as we aproach a high pressure ridge south of 30 degrees South and will then have to motor for a while, possibly all the way into Opua. A little calmer weather would be nice as my legs are getting tired from bracing all the time and we have some fresh food I need to cook before it gets taken away in New Zealand (we had been expecting another day or two in Minerva when we shopped in Tonga). In the meantime, we have been using our pre-cooked meals which saves a lot of hassle in these sort of jerky, rolly conditions.

We still haven't seen any trafic out here...a good thing really, but it does get lonely and boring. I have been enjoying Chuck Paine's new book "My Yacht Designs - and the lessons they taught me" available direct from the author at Besides being thanked in the foreward and praised in the writup of Visions of Johanna, it is neat to see some of the other projects I worked on as well as get his take and hear his stories from a fabulous career.

ETA is currently under 2 days, but we will slow down when we hit the high, making it more like 50-55 hours to go.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Eastern Hemisphere

Pacific Ocean
25 49.4S 179 33.7E

108 Miles in last 12 hrs = 9.0 kts Average

As usual Visions has quickly taken us along our route, this time crossing the 180th maridian into the Eastern Hemisphere (a first for the girl). Wind is nicely aft of the beam at about 110 degrees True Wind Angle making for good speed and a moderated ride. We are still fairly heeled over (10+ degrees) and the motion is jerky, especially when we are running faster than 9 knots, but all and all, it is not too bad to be flying along at 9 knots with a double-reefed Main, Staysail, and partially reefed Jib in 21 knots of breeze. So far we are holding position to get into New Zealand late morning of the 16th, but we suspect we will be slowed down at some point along the way.

Departure from Minerva was faster than we had hopped, but luckily we did get to do an amazing dive and walk the reef, my two goals. It is a place I would love to get back to some time as it is a magical place.

The Windlass wouldn't work (control box problems) when we went to leave, but luckily we have two windlasses and were able to pull the chain up using the port windlass without too much trouble (just had to shuttle the chain across to the correct hawsepipe as it came up...thank goodness for backups! I will try to figure out what is wrong in Opua and worse case replace the control box with a spare we have aboard.

Otherwise things are uneventful (good for being offshore). It is cooling off dramatically outside, but it is still shorts and T-shirt weather in the pilot-house.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Minerva here we come

23 07S/178 11.5W
South Pacific Ocean
0700 local Tonga time/1800Z
Wind varies - 13 - 20 kn , slowly backing and easing averging 135 deg. T, then clocking to 172 deg T, at 16 -23 knots

Pasage continued to be a speedy one overnight, averaging better than 8.5kn SOG. Seas are up so it is a bit bumpy, but there is only one significant wave pattern and there are not too many lumps with the bumps. Everyone is well, and well sated, on board. We enjoyed Gazpacho with grilled cheese sandwhiches for lunch yesterday, and chicken marbella with cous cous for dinner (thanks, Jo). We also look forward to dinner tonight with our friends Bruce and Aline on Migration, as we will celebrate their first wedding annivesary with them. They were married one year ago at Minerva Reef! How cool is that!

47 nm to go. Hope to be anchored mid afternoon.


22 44.2S 177 45.4W
83 Miles from Minerva Reef

Chuck says about Visions of Johanna in his new book that she is fast and the only way to keep her below 9 knots is to put the engine in reverse. Mom usually convices us to do it by greatly reducing sail, so we had forgotten just how fast this boat is when you let her run. We have covered 160 miles in just 18 hours, averaging 8.9 knots at a true wind angle of about 60 degrees (just 5-8 degrees cracked off of close hauled). The ride is by no means smooth, and we are heeled over nicely, but the motion is completely livable and we only occasionally pound off a wave...she is a truliy amazing boat. Makes you realize how much we have dumbed her down the last 17 months to make things more comfortable for the whole family

With our newfound speed, we should make Minerva Reef around noontime or early afternoon. A bit of rest will be quite nice before we continue on towards New Zealand later in the week weather permitting.

Tonga to Minerva Evening Report

22 02.9S/176 57.4W
South Pacific Ocean
2000 local time
Wind 16 - 24 kn from 148 mag
Seas 6 -9 feet

Flying under the water while Scuba diving through a pass is awesome, and so is flying over the water at 9 to 10 knots on passage. We have a 1/2 knot favorable current and have had 3 hours of 10+ nm's. Wind has been a steady 18 -24 knots from SSE and we are sailing with double reefed main and reefed jib, letting Visions of Johanna run. Seas are 6 - 9 feet, and we are quite steady with only rare pounding. Johanna left us at 6AM this morning as I was concerned about making Minerva by dark. At this point, if conditions remain the same, we should be there by early afternoon Ralph calls us a racing boat, but I remond him that we are simply a very fast cruising boat.

All is well on board. 141 nm to go.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Underway again

21 06S/17523W
West of Tongatapu, Kingdom of Tonga
South Pacific Ocean
Tuesday, November 4th Tonga, 2200 GMT - or 9 AM Tonga time,

Winds 141 T at 15-18 knots
COG 223 mag
Barometer 1014 mb

We departed Pangaimotu early this morning, bound for Minerva reef. While we anticipate a close reach in 15 -20 knots of wind, this strategy should set us up for a good passage to Opua, NZ in 4 days or so. We are, of course, receiving routing assistance from our favorite forecaster, Ken McKinley of Locus Weather in Camden, Maine, and will check in with him daily. A Low south and east of us will deepen slightly as it reforms today and tomorrow, and then recede around November 11th or 12th. A high will then fill across the North Island of NZ and we will passage to NZ under a moderate easterly and then through light winds below 30S. A light air passage may not be ideal for all, but it sure beats storms, a sharp stick in the eye, or gales, hands down. We carry 460 gallons of diesel for a reason - and are not afraid to use it at times like this.

Since the last post, we visitd the island of Eua (Aiwah), about 24 miles SSE of Nuku'alofa. It is a beautiful island with vistas thaat reminded me of Easter Island, and one that is rarely visited by cruisers as it has an open roadstead for an anchorage, and only a small protected boat basin. We carefully entered the basin when we arrived and anchored insided, but we blocked the small channel and did not have sufficient time to set a stern anchor before the ferry we quickly moved back outside as weather was settled. We spent a great day hiking and cave exploring on this sunken and emerged atoll (40 million years old, it is similar in geography to Niue) but in the end, decided that the travails of med mooring inside were not worth it, as focus was on passage we headed back to Pagaimotu. It was a good experience and great visit, and provided some sailing time for new crew member Ralph, who says he is here on vacation but keeps fixing things on the boat. A GREAT addition and wonderful crew.

Johanna left the boat this morning at 6 AM, and will spend 2 nights in Tonga before flying to NZ. She remains convinced we will have an easy passage because she is not on board. We'll see what develops, but we could be in Opua, NZ as early as 1 week from now.

240 nm to go to Minerva.


We are leaving Tonga this morning bound for Minerva Reef. Mom is
flying to NZ and we have friend Ralph Kast aboard to help us get
plenty of sleep. Should be about 36 hours to Minerva then we wait for
a weather window to New Zealand. More updates while offshore.