Thursday, February 24, 2011

Office & February Update

Gulf Harbour Marina, Whangaparaoa New Zealand

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

Classic Yachting - New Zealand Style

Auckland New Zealand

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

January Update

Gulf Harbour Marina, New Zealand

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.