Saturday, December 31, 2011
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Monday, September 12, 2011
So I met Sean, and about 200,000 other people in downtown Auckland Friday night for the opening ceremony of the 2011 Rugby World Cup. They had originally expected about 50,000 people to show up downtown, updated it friday mid-day to 100,000 and best estimates are over 200,000 showed up so it got pretty crazy. I waited about 45 mins for a bus in Albany and arrived in the city at about 4:45. It took me the next hour and 15 minutes to travel the 1.5 blocks to find Sean. I think he was in the hardest spot possible to get to and I nearly crushed this little old asian lady against a wall when the crowd started pushing pretty heavily. Took all my strength to give her enough space to hide between me and the wall.
Finally caught up with Sean and had a great time watching the haka's and Maori parade till about 6. We then headed up into town to grab a few drinks, and a little food. Met a nice group of kiwi's who thought Sean looked like actor Kevin James, even taking photos with him...quite funny.
We returned to Quay street for the opening ceremony and fireworks....quite spectacular with 4 sets of the same show over the harbour, plus another shot from the sky tower. Then it was back to the same bar for the game as Quay street was just TOO crazy, so after another 30-40 mins of severe pushing and some near tramplings we were out of the pack and on our way. All Blacks killed Tonga so I headed home at halftime. A great time though I was VERY glad to be a big strong guy as the crowds were HUGE and there was basically no crowd control in place.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Since returning work on Visions has progressed, but a bit slower than I had hoped. Insulation has been installed and looks great and tomorrow most of the electrical equipment and furnace should get mounted on the walls and then the electricians can get in there late this week or early next and do the bulk of the re-wiring.
Meanwhile, I have been trying to make new friends and have started curling. The ice is pretty marginal as it is normally a hockey rink, but still lots of fun on a Sunday night.
I also headed to the beach in Piha, though the clouds rolled in on my drive there so it wasn't great weather wise. Still a beautiful point and I am sure amazing on a nice summer day.
God, I suck at actually posting when I am home. I have lots to talk about so this is going to go in increments.
Trip to Vanuatu was good. We caught a few fish along the way including some of the smallest tunas I have ever seen which we threw back. Here is Ayla reeling in one (I finished for her as it was fighting pretty good). We got in at about 11:00 am on Thursday, about the same time the owner landed and spent the afternoon cleaning the boat in the nice bright sun.
Friday I took the day off to "see the island" while the others finished turning over the boat for the owners to move onto Friday afternoon. Unfortunately it poured pretty much all day so my plans sort of got screwed. I ended up going to the market and walking around town. The market was the best I had seen since South America. Tons of great veggies and fruit, fairly cheap, and all looked really good. I had a little kitchen in the room I was staying in, so I decided to buy some fruit (coconut, bananas, oranges, raspberries, & POMPOLMOUSE!) and make a great big fruit salad for lunch...it was fabulous.
I flew home early Saturday morning and was back in Auckland by late morning. My car battery was dead to the point of not being able to unlock the door so I had to wait around in the freezing cold for almost 2 hours for AA...not a great way to be welcomed back.
Work on the boat had progressed well in my absence and I returned home to an engine room fully painted and ready for insulation to be installed.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
30 s 174 30 E
Conditions have been surprisingly reasonable and as we get north of 30 south it should get better. We are averaging about 10 knots and today the sun is out between the scattered squalls that keep us on our feet with sail changes. Hoping for bikinis and board shorts by this time tomorrow.
21 37 s 171 57 e
300 nm SE of Port Villa Vanuatu
It id 2:45 am and we are rolling gunnel to gunnel. Yesterday was probably the nicest day of sailing on the Pacific one could imagine..beam reach in 12 to 14 knots of breeze, flat seas, a mahi mahi in the morning and tuna in the afternoon. This evening the wind has come around right on our stern and we are rolling like crazy in the swell coming up from south of NZ. Still, it is warm, clear sky, and we only have about 36 hours to go, hopefully a little less as we really want to be in by midday on thurday to allow time to get the boat clean and ready for the owner who is coming thursday (they will probably stay in a hotel thur night to allow Toby and Ayla time to prep. My left shoulder (separated in car accident) feels like it is ready to fall off after 4 days of holding on to things so the lack of heel is nice but it is hard to sleep when rolling back qand forth. We have modified the watch (was 3 hours on 4:30 off with 2 people on at a time on 1:30 hour blocks but in the calmness your 2nd 1:30 can be taken sleeping in the pilothouse. Makes for a short but boring watch without anyone to talk to. All for now as my first half is cominng to a close. Time for a log entry and then try to catch some Zed's.
Pacific ocean. 600 miles south east of Vanuatu
A fairly booring day with winds easing though of course coming from the exact direction we need to go. Excitement was added then the engine start battery was dead just 10 minutes after the engine had been running (shut down to drain fuel/water separator). Parallelled the genset batt to start it and seems as though the 12v alternator has died as it isnt ouputting any juice. Toby and I looked through the manuals to discover that there is an emergency 24 to 12 volt Newmar converter (same as on visions), but we then dicovered it has been left on preumably for years and is deas so we are stuck running the genset and main engine in order to charge the start batteries. Wind has in the meanti me built and we are pounding pretty baddly as we try to make miles north to get across this frontal boundary and into light southerlies.
Friday, July 8, 2011
35 23.4 s 174 14.6 w
OFF CAPE BRETT
Last chance for cellular data for a while so not sure how much I will update from here out. But I will try. Passage so far has been easy as we are in the lee of the island hugging the coast. In the next few hours we will bear away to the north and get out into some real seas...hopefully not too bad though. Eta is currently late wed night but I wouldnt be surprised if we have to slow the boat down in the larger seas expected.
36 41s 175 50e. HARAIKI GULF NZ
We got off the dock at 4 and will have a fast night hugging the coast in 20 to 25 knots of wind with gusts to 40 from the port quarter in flat water as we will be in the lee of the north island till some time in the wee hours of the morning. Forecast is then for about 2 days of pretty big seas before we get far enogh north to get away from the big low in the Souther Ocean. Wish us luck--Gram
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Toby and Ayla had a last minute crew cancelation and I actually seem to have everything under control on the boat so I am leaving tomorrow for Vanuatu. Should be a 6 day passage and I should be flying back on Sat the 16th. I will post as much as I can. It should be nice to get away from the cold for a few days.
Friday, July 1, 2011
Weather and schedule cooperated to duck out of the yard for 9 nice holes. Actually got a bit sunburned but had a great time
Monday, June 20, 2011
Again I need to apologize for my lack of entries. Truth is I don't have a lot to say these days. We have decided not to post information on the repair process as the insurance company is making life hell and we don't want to publish anything that could possibly haunt us down the road.
I will say that this is just about the most frustrating process I have ever been through mostly because I can't actually talk to anyone to make it better. We are literally insulated by 4 layers of Brokers from the insurance company and are forbidden to jump over any one of those layers. This is classic Chinese telephone and it is making for a slow and painful process.
Small rant over I can offer an update on what I have been up to.
I finally met up with Sean Ryan, who used to work at the Camden Grasshopper and moved down here a few years ago after working at the South Pole. I don't mean the big base in antarctica, but the small base literally at the pole, where there are no flights, supplies, etc. for I think he said 9+ months each year. Mom has kept in touch over the years and I think I will have plenty of fun going skiing with him this winter.
I have also been working quite a bit for Toby and Ayla on Lady K. They had new Hall Spars Carbon rigging put on the boat and are trying to get the boat ready to head up to Vanuatu next week. They have appreciated the help, and it has been quite nice to get some cash and company. I have still not gotten paid yet for the insurance work I have been doing for the last 6+ months so a bit of cash flow is pretty nice. Ayla even set me up on a blind date last weekend (quite fun).
There is one other crewed yacht in Gulf Harbour this winter (2 young couples) and we went skiing with them 2 weeks ago at an indoor ski hill just down the road. Surprising good hill, though short, and quite good snow as they can keep a very consistent -5C temp in the building. Couldn't ski there every week, but certainly will go again at some point.
The weather down here is pretty dismal much of the time. Not really at all cold, but today is one of the few sunny days and it rains a TON. Still, the nice days are quite nice so it isn't all bad.
In other news, Corey and Jeanelle had a baby boy (Carter Bruno) so this means the annual ski trip will now certainly enjoy a Senior Year Spring Break-esq "Romper Room" as Carter makes the 3rd baby in about 18 months (if memory serves on birth dates).
More soon (I hope).
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
The 2011 Pacific season has started and Sherry on Soggy Paws has given me some feedback and help for a minor update of the Tidal Guestimator for the Tuamotus or as she calls it, the "tide thingy". Updates are minor, but should solve a potential lookup error and add some helpful internal links. It also include some minor updates to the lookup values of Atols we had limited info on before.
Version 1.2 can be found here or as always by clicking the "Visions Shared Docs" Link on the right side of the blog.
If you are a user, please send feedback on how the "default" values worked so we can continue to make the estimates better for future sailors. I am not in the Tuamotus this season so I have to rely on the users to provide the raw data.
Also, I understand there was some confusion over the multiple tabs of the file, with users only getting the instruction page to load. I know this will be a problem if you use Microsoft Works instead of Excel. I am not sure of a solution to this other than downloading and using Open Office a free open source alternative that supports multiple tabs.
Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions and if you find this program particularly helpful, please make a donation via paypal at the bottom of the blog.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
For Part 1 Click Here
Monday marked Day 5 and didn't start out that well. About an hour south of Ralph's (beautiful drive as you can see on the left) as we approached Warkworth, my car overheated. I pulled over right away...let it cool a bit, checked the coolant level (fine), and tried to drive again to see if we could get into town. About a mile further (1 km to town) it overheated again and I pulled into a parking lot and called AA (no, not the alcoholics, the Automobile Association) for a tow.
In order to avoid a long delay Dad and Wendy headed into town to find a rental car and I waited for the Tow Truck. About 2.5 hours later we were back on the road and headed south. We lost our chance at a day's activity, but arrived in Rotarua in time to have an early dinner and head to the Polynesian Spa for a hot mineral bath soak.
In the morning we headed to Wai-O Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, and a wonderland it is! This shot is of the near boiling pool and is an intense emerald green with very bright orange rim. Depending on the wind visibility can drop to nothing or become brilliant as the steam from the 70-80 (C) water fills the air. We started with the short walk of about 45 minutes before heading off for the scheduled geyser show. The geyser would go off on its own every 24-48 hours, but to allow visitors to see the spectacle they seed the geyser with soap powder every morning at 10:15. About the most touristy thing we did the whole trip but pretty cool non the less. We loved the geothermal hike so much that we went back so we could see the other two trails through the park. The other two loops are not quite as spectacular, but quite interesting and very beautiful. This is a stop well worth making.
From there we headed off to Lake Taupo for a picknick lakeside and some serious duck feeding. By the end of lunch we had about 25 ducks quacking after our scraps and one kiwi teenager asking for a cracker (we guessed it was on a dare). After another nice lunch we headed to Hukai Falls where an amazing amount of water flows down a waterfall. I don't remember the flow rate, but it was something like 80 Olympic swimming pools every second. From there we drove down to Napier, where we found a great hotel room and even better restaurant. Pacifica is run by a Mauri Chef and "European" (i.e. white) kiwi wife who acts as sommelier and hostess. Dishes are appetizer sized and look like something straight out of Top Chef with great presentation, flavor combinations, and unique preparations of primarily local seafood. It was a long (almost 3 hour) dining experience and not one we will soon forget. Before we left we asked the hostess to suggest some vineyards for us to visit the following day...one of our better ideas.
In the morning of day 7 Dad and I took the Art Deco Architecture Tour while Wendy had a "lay-in". Napier was hit by a devestating earthquake in 1931 followed by fires that leveled the city. When rebuilt, Art Deco was in its hayday and most of the city was rebuilt in this style. Luckily in the 1970's and 80's when people started looking to tear the old buildings down and rebuild, only two buildings were lost before a local trust saved the rest. We had a great tour and by noon were having a cheese tasting at Te Mata Cheese Company. We followed that with a wine tasting at Te Mata Vineyards before heading to Craggy Range for a tasting and then lunch. This large and very impressive vinyard is the recent investment of the children of the founder of Waste Management, one of the largest trash services in the US. Apparently the trash business is quite profitable as this is a very nice vineyard with an outstanding restaurant where we had a too long but very tasty meal after our 7-flight wine tasting in the "cellar door". After that we were a bit whipped which probably didn't help our disapointing tasting at Esk Valley. Overall we were very impressed with Hawke's Bay vineyards, especially their ability to make some truly great reds. Dad brought home 3 bottles from Craggy Range (and a polo shirt), two of which will wait at least 5 years before opening when we plan to come together and remember our trip over one of bottles.
In part 3 we will head to Wellington and the South Island.... Stay Tuned.
Monday, March 21, 2011
I wasn't able to blog about my travels with Dad & Wendy while on the road so this is going to take a few parts to catch up, but we mite as well start at the beginning.
I picked up Dad & Wendy Thursday morning (3 March). I had hoped to offer them a shower aboard Curious, but she got hauled the day before so I just brought towels & toiletries and we utilized the free showers at the airport (small, but not too bad -- just leave a deposit at the flower shop).
We then headed to One Tree Hill for a beautiful view of Auckland. This is quite a lovely park that deserves more time than we had, but it was off to the Viaduct for free parking and a walk around downtown. We had a fabulous lunch at EuroBar including a dozen of the best oysters I have ever had. Approaching 0-nap-thirty we got in the car and drove up to Gulf Harbour, stopping at the Auckland Fish Market along the way for dinner fixings. and settled onto Tanaya for a few naps while I checked in on some boat details with the yard.
For dinner we started with Green Lip Mussels in white wine, garlic, and green onion. This was followed by salmon with lemon and dill, a fabulous dinner.
Friday morning we got going fairly early and headed north. First stop was Whangarei Falls for a nice walk and great picknick of cheese we had bought north of Wellsford at the Kiawaka Cheese Shop. From there we took the coastal route via Tutukaka where I had to stop at Sail Cove Vineyards, probably the most beautiful vineyard I have ever been to. This was a surprise visit as I hadn't realized we would drive this way but luckily the owners had just returned from vacation and quickly put away the closed sign that was up and welcomed us in. We had a tasting, bought a bottle of Rose and Port and were on our way to the lovely beach in Matapouri for a few hours of swimming and a game of beach cricket. I am not sure if this bay has enough draft for a monohull, but there was a nice cat in there an it was a fabulous bay and beach, among the best I have seen in NZ. We then drove up to Paihia.
Saturday I had planned for us to go for a sail, but between the high wind and driving rain we decided to hold off and had a nice relaxing morning in our hotel room. I got caught up on the insurance estimates that Chris had sent on Friday and by 11:00 things had cleared and we decided to heat out. We settled on a visit to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and I showed them around having taken the tour when we arrived in the spring. By the time we were ready to leave the rain had returned so we decided to skip Russel and headed up to Kirikiri. Unfortunately on a saturday afternoon the entire town shuts down, so it was a bit of a wild goose chase, but we tasted some chocolate and then some wine at Cottle Hill Vineyards, a nice little vineyard started by California sailors who never left. The Syrah is particularly good as is their white port.
Sunday wasn't perfect, but the forecast was nice enough for a sail, so we packed a picknick, headed to the docks and borrowed a 28' sailboat from a friend of a friend. Quite the trusting guy to let me take his boat out having met me 5 minutes before he said goodbye. The wind started light, but built quickly. We headed out to Roberton island, but the anchorages were on the windward side and I wasn't comfortable anchoring a boat I hardly know on a lee shore so we dropped sail on the leeward side, left the engine in neutral and hung out for our lunch before turning back upwind towards the bay in 15-18 knots. By the time we entered the mouth of the inner bay, the wind was a steady 25 gusting to 30 and we were getting a little wet, but Wendy did a very good job on the mainsheet, dumping just enough in the puffs to keep the boat on her feet without loosing too much way. I headed us towards the shore to try to get into some protected waters which worked long enough for the strong wind to calm down to 15-20 with a few higher gusts. Three long legs and we were close enough to start the engine, and lower sails, just as the sun finally came out. We go to see Opua Harbour in all her sunny splendor before putting the boat away on the dock before our drive to Matakana. Sharon was away in Australia researching birds, but Ralph Kast was kind enough to invite us for dinner and an overnight at their beautiful home.
More soon as time allows.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
First of all, many thanks to all those who wrote to see if we had any effect from the Christchurch earthquake up here....the answer is no, other than 24 hour news about it. In the meantime, I have been a busy beaver. Yesterday I built myself a desk in the container. I spent the week working on a cooler after my mobile office/caravan had to go to it's proper home. This new desk is much better and gives me plenty of space.
Last weekend I headed down to Waitomo Caves with Toby & Ayla from S/V Lady K. We were joined by Ayla's sister and boyfriend Ross who are traveling around Asia and Oceana this year. We drove down Saturday morning with a nice picknick stop at a 25m waterfall near Piha where I swam almost all the way into the falls. The evening was enjoyed at the only bar in town and then Sunday morning we went Black Water Rafting, where you meander through underground caves on an innertube. The water was COLD, such that even the 3/8" thick wetsuits didn't really keep you warm. The caves are famous for their GloWorms, which are really bioluminescent maggots, but GloWorm sounds much better for marketing. The town is tiny, but sees over 2 million visitors a year through the caves and it is quite spectacular.
Meanwhile in Miami, I was awarded 2nd place for electronics writing by Boating Writers International (behind Ben Ellison of course) for my Cruising World Article on Small Dome Broadband Satcom systems. Thanks to Jeppesen Marine for sponsoring the electronics category. You can see all the winners here.
In other news, my Dad comes to visit on Thursday so I am preparing to head off with him and have been trying to figure out activities to do and places to go. I have the first weekend pretty well booked, then a rough itinerary all laid out, so now we just have to decide what we want to do where.
Amongst all this, I am finishing up the estimates for the repairs to Visions of Johanna so the full report can go to the insurance before I leave. The timing of my departure is probably perfect as I assume it will take the insurance company a week or so to respond to the report. There are only a last few items we need to nail down, but it is becoming increasingly frustrating trying to get these particular subs and suppliers to get back to us. I have also been helping out on Lady K which provides a bit of spending money.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
I headed down to Auckland on Friday night for a bit of a fun weekend in the city. Steve and Trish were kind enough to offer me Curious so I headed down after work and got myself settled in. Toby & Ayla were coming down as well to have dinner with Clive and his wife (can't remember her name) who are about to leave their job aboard Beagle V and move back to Camden Maine for a while. We met Clive in the Tuamotu's and again in Tahiti and they were kind enough to have me over for the BBQ as well.
Saturday morning I met up with Tony Blake, Sir Peter Blake's brother who Sharon had gotten me in touch with. Tony runs Thelma, a 59' 1893 Gaff Rigged Sloop which was restored by a trust a few years ago and is an amazing bit of maritime history. We had a crew of 13 for Saturday and would need every hand as it was quite windy....too windy in fact for the topsail. I got placed on the foredeck crew and effectively became bowman. Steven ran the foredeck crew and was very pleased to have some young strong blood who also knew what he was doing. This is quite the boat to muscle around a course. There are NO Winches so everything is pulled in by hand. Halyards are bad enough, but you only do them once, so no big deal really. The absolute killer is the foresails which have to be pulled in with just 2:1 purchase by hand. It took all 4-5 available men to pull the jib in, then we would move to the staysail, and then to the jib fines to get the jib in all the way after each and every tack. Meanwhile, you are half in the water and soaked to the bone. My hands were on fire and my arms were jello by the end of the day, not to mention my knees, abbs, back, etc. Luckily it was a simple course and we had just one spinnaker set and the douse was after the finish.
Sunday was much calmer but we had just 10 aboard and the course was such that we had 3 sets and 2 douses on the course. We went into the downwind legs in 3rd and 25 minutes/3 sets & 2 douses plus one spinnaker repair later when I finally had 30 seconds free time to look around we were in front. All my time on Rumours really paid off as I was able to show them faster ways to douse the kite and got the lines set up each time for an outside jibe without issue. I was completely knackered at this point, picked up some fresh tuna and salmon for sushi, showered and cleaned up Curious, before driving back to Gulf Harbour to make a quick dinner and crash for the night.
A fabulous, though painful weekend aboard a beautiful classic yacht.
Monday, February 7, 2011
I will try to update more often, but they days are long and it is hard to sit down at the end and write anything. I have been a busy bee here in New Zealand. Lots of meetings, TONS of e-mails, and a bit of fun too.
On the weekend of the 30th with former cyclone Wilma bearing down on the north island over a 3 day weekend (Monday was a holiday) I headed up to see Ralph & Sharon in Matakana. Original plans were for camping, but I decided I would put off camping until the rains and wind passed. Good thing too. It was quite the storm and after about 24 hours of solid rain, there was much flooding and over 20 slips (landslides) on the road to the Kast house. We got down and back before they closed the road completely saturday afternoon. In Matakana the farmers market was closed due to flooding but Ralph and I walked around, looked at the new river rapids, and of course checked out the toilets! Beautiful aren't they.
It will be several weeks before they road is reopened and Ralph & Sharon don't have an extra 40km to get to town. I left the back way on Sunday morning and headed to Waipu (because everybody poops!) end enjoyed some camping and beachgoing. It was a very nice DOC campground and a great beach (see photo below). Pretty much just relaxed on the beach and in my tent, then headed back to Gulf Harbour Monday afternoon, making sure to stop at the Cheese Shop on the way to stock up.
Last weekend I hung around here, went to Orewa beach, went shopping, got a TV card and antenna set up with my laptop so I could watch some local entertainment, watched the Rugby NZI 7's tournament (good fun) and did some other errands. I saw the best license plate ever. Driven by a dirty old man which would never get by the DMV in the states. The photo came out crappy, as I was driving, but it said "LV3TOF" which I read as "Love To F..." which I can't believe the old man put on his car.
Anyway, this weekend I am heading to Auckland, heading down with Toby and Ayla from Lady K, hanging out with other yachties on Friday night, staying aboard Curious, and sailing classics Saturday & Sunday. Should be a real nice time before getting back to the grind.
Monday, January 24, 2011
I arrived on Sunday the 16th, two days late due to a Northeaster that dropped 1 foot of snow in Newport and 2+ at the airport in Providence. I had a whirlwind two days with Bill before he left to head home. I spent two nights in a little caravan, parked next to the boat and storage container before moving onto my temporary home, a Halberg Rassy 40 Tanaya that owners Jim and Katie have been kind enough to let me stay on in their absence. It is tough to move onto a boat that is already fairly full with other people's things, but they cleared some space for me and I am using the V-berth as a storage closet for now. The hardest part is getting used to a small galley after being spoiled on Visions. Here is a pic of the boat.In the meantime, I have gotten right into the thick of things at the yard. Lots of meetings, e-mails, phone calls, and a few other projects have filled my time. The fire did quite a bit of damage, but luckily it is generally confined to the Engine Room and Laz and I am hopeful that there will me little structural damage to repair. We won't really know till we take everything out of the engine room and pull away the insulation. Hopefully a new coat of paint and a few minor repairs will be all that are needed, then new insulation, and all the gear gets reinstalled (mostly new items other than gen-set, transmition and engine that will be repaired once removed). No real idea of timing yet, but it will take quite some time. The good news is that I am acting as Project Manager with 16hrs a week agreed by the insurance as acceptable, plus I have a job offer from the electrician and the yard to work with them on removing, and reinstalling the equipment, so once I get my paperwork done, I will have a working visa too (still figuring out those details). I also got a new car. A 1991 BMW 525i that was very well cared fore and in great shape.
It was quite the deal at auction from Turners and drives great, plus a comfy rear seat and big trunk if I have company. You can see the boat with tent over the cockpit, 20' storage container, and the caravan which they are going to keep there for a few more weeks as it makes a nice office for me and saves a parking space at Bruce's house.
This last weekend the weather was terrible so I didn't do much other than drive around, do a little shopping, and get my lay of the immediate land. Unfortunately the forecast for next weekend isn't much better, but it is a long weekend (anniversary day I believe) so I will try to figure out something to do that won't be completely ruined by rain. I managed to run into the crew of Lady K who I had met in Tahitti today. They are in the yard for 3 months, have rented a house just over the hill, and will hopefully be good friends while I am here.
Sunday, January 2, 2011
Luckily the boat was at the dock, they were awake, and at least initially it doesn't appear there is any structural damage to the fiberglass. It will still be a TON of work to tear down the engine room, repair damage, and put everything back, making sure everything is in working order.
Thankfully we have the hospitality of Ralph and Sharon Kast as the boat isn't livable right now.