10 Thoughts After Arriving in New Zealand

h

We have great boat kids. Hazel and Leo now think that doing a 1,000 mile passage is no big deal. They sleep all night. They hold their bowls patiently on their laps when they are feeling queasy. They focus on their work when Sophie school is in session. They can share a cabin and bed when we have guest crew without (much) fighting and yelling. They get incredibly creative and funny. Leo yesterday jumped 2,500 times on the trampoline, and Hazel thinks its a blast when the wind off the jib makes her hair go straight up. 500 miles from the nearest land.

IMG_2910

Only Jenna and Hazel (and maybe the ice princess Caroline Sollenberg) would think that a good way to kill time on a passage would be to braid a bikini strap into your hair.

I love Leo’s sense of ridiculousness. (Look again at the photo).

We REALLY need to get our Webasto diesel cabin heater fixed. Immediately. A week ago it was too hot for a blanket at night, and this morning it’s 53 degrees in our cabin. For us right now that is REALLY COLD!!!!!

fuel pfuel s

Throughout the last 3 months, I joked with people at the various cruising bars that our strategy for arriving in New Zealand was to hit the customs dock with one gallon of fuel left in Sophie. (The theory being you use all your fuel to outrun fronts and storms). I think we succeeded in our strategy. The left photo shows what’s remaining in our port fuel tank, and the right photo shows what’s left in the starboard tank (and the tank is empty when the needle hits the 1/8 mark). Have I mentioned lately that we averaged 8.33 knots over a 1,000 mile passage? Also, there is a fuel dock 30 meters from us.

water

For what it’s worth, this photo shows what’s left in our port water tank. The starboard tank is empty, and our watermaker has basically stopped working. The fuel dock apparently has water as well.

We had a wonderful time in Fiji over the last 2 months, but over the last week Jenna and I both remembered how much we love sailing offshore. We’ve now sailed around 7,000 miles over the last year. And the fact that we are doing it together makes it special.

I am a much, much better sailor now than I was a year ago.

opua2

The Bay of Islands is stunning. We are going to spend the next 6 months in New Zealand, and Sophie will spend most of that time here. I can’t wait to get started. We have already started spotting the boats of friends we’ve met over the summer. The people are all the same, they’re just now a lot colder.

The adventure continues. We are blessed to have the opportunity to do this with our lives.

Hello Opua!

opua

We tied up at the Customs Dock in Opua, New Zealand at 8:42 PM local time, a little under an hour after sunset (above). I am not sure if the highlight of the day was motorsailing at 9+ knots in spectacular sunshine in a 5 knot southwesterly throughout the afternoon, or Jenna braiding a bikini string into Hazel’s hair (photo tomorrow.) All I do know is that Sophie covered 1,072 nautical miles in 5 days, 9 hours. Our average speed over this period was 8.33 knots. Fred and Frank were great crew. We are thankful for so much on this trip and appreciate all of your good wishes and prayers. We made it to New Zealand!

Fiji – Opua, Day 5

We are most definitely in the home stretch. It’s 10.30 AM local time, 28.10.13. Happy New Zealand Labor Day everyone! Current position is 34.01 S, 174.05 E. Winds are 13 knots from the south, and there is a 1-2 meter chop we are plowing through in the bright morning sunshine. Boat speed is 7.5 knots @ 155m with a reefed main and both engines running @ 2800 RPM. We covered 186 miles over our last 24 hours from yesterday’s waypoint. We actually sailed over 200 miles, including a 90 mile tack to the west yesterday afternoon to get a better wind angle after we ran into the southerlies. We have 79 miles between us and the dock, and the last 10 of that is in the shelter of the Bay of Islands. The wind is forecast to swing over to the southwest and drop to 3.5 knots before midnight. We are not quite sure how much fuel we have left on the boat. I am certain we have enough to get all the way to Opua at our current RPMs (and I’ve only been wrong once before in this situation!) On the other hand Jenna is not so sure, so we will spend the afternoon closely monitoring the fuel gauges while engaged in open and polite conversation on the topic. Another key issue we face is New Zealand Biosecurity Hazard compliance. We are not allowed to bring into the country any of our bacon, sausage, parma ham, eggs, fruit, vegetables, and other good stuff. We may have to eat four meals between now and bedtime, and at least some of them will be healthy. Last night we dined on spaghetti with imported Italian pesto and parmesan cheese accompanied by roasted Italian sausage. The movie was “The Pink Panther Strikes Again”, and Hazel almost hurt herself she was laughing so hard. Nothing has broken in the last 24 hours, although I lost the SYC hat the Wickmans gave me when I ran outside to see if the four frigate birds chasing us were going to strike at our lures. Overall the crew is happy, wearing another layer of fleece, and looking forward to sleeping on a dock tonight.

Fiji – Opua, Day 4

So when I was tucking the kids into bed last night (after they had finished watching Roger Moore ham is way through “The Man With the Golden Gun”), I turned to Hazel and said we needed to be thankful that Sophie was so fast throughout the entire day that we had successfully outrun the danger of all the storms chasing us from behind. She paused, smiled quietly, and said “Whoa!” That’s pretty much all we need to say. It’s 10.30 AM local time, 27.10.13. Current position is 30.58 S, 174.57 E. Winds are 6 knots from the east, and the seas are flat. Boat speed is 7.5 knots @ 174m with a full main and jib and one engine running @ 2800 RPM. We covered 210 miles in our last 24 hours, meaning that over our first 4 days we are now officially averaging over 200 miles per day. We could have covered more, but Jenna convinced me at 3:00 AM this morning to turn off a motor to conserve fuel. But overall we succeeded in our strategy of outrunning the front behind us, and that makes us all very, very happy. The GRIB (weather) charts we downloaded all day showed nasty weather (30-40+ knot winds) coming south just 50-100 miles behind us. We had some gusts touching 20 knots in the afternoon, but by last last night it was very calm with an easy sea motion and lots of phosphorescence in the water. We are now protected by the ridge of high pressure extending across New Zealand, the front (now a low) has slid off to the east, and we have just 250 miles left before we tie up to the customs dock at Opua. We still have over half of our fuel left and know we will need to motor into a 10+ knot headwind during our last day, but the big question on Sophie now is whose arrival estimate will be the most accurate. We’ll let you know tomorrow. 🙂 From a boat perspective, nothing broke except one of the main salon forward opening hatches which developed a 2 inch crack. We’re not sure if it was caused by a flying fish (we decked 5 plus one squid the other night) or by a sheet, but it’s an easy repair. The engines sound great. Fred is still raving about last night’s boef a la bourgognon. The temperature is expected to drop 20 degrees by the end of the day, and the fleeces and wool hats are coming out. But we are safe and heading for the barn.

Fiji – Opua, Day 3

We are well over halfway to New Zealand and covered our best 24 hours ever on Sophie! 10.30 AM local time, 26.10.13. Current position 27.31 S, 175.38 E. Winds are 10 knots from the east, and the seas are still comfortable at 1 meter. Boat speed is 9.5 knots @ 174m with a full main and jib and both engines running @ 2800 RPM. We covered 210 miles in our last 24 hours, meaning over our first 3 days we have covered 598 miles. (That is fast.) The really good news is that we covered most of this ground without using our engines, with the combination of a clean bottom, flat seas and a 15 knot easterly contributing to 9.5 knots of sustained boatspeed throughout the night. The less good news (and most of you know that I am too much of an optimist to say “bad news” in an offshore passage update) is that we are outrunning a line of squalls forecasted to develop behind us, but we are in a good position relative to the front and didn’t turn the engines on until 8:00 this morning so we have full tanks of gas and only 460 miles to go to Opua. The extended forecast for New Zealand is for a high to develop tomorrow with no fronts and a light southerly wind and 1 meter swells. If (meaning when 🙂 ) we outrun the squalls tonight, we will have a day and a half of motorsailing and should reach the dock sometime Monday evening. The kids are doing much better, and I knew Leo had recovered when he wolfed down 2 Italian sausages for lunch yesterday. Nothing has broken in the last 24 hours and everyone is well rested and happy. Dinner was an excellent salad and sauteed eggplant (Jenna) accompanied by a very tough corned beef (me). New life lesson: never assume the beef you are roasting is NOT a corned beef when it in fact it actually IS. We are bummed the Sox lost game 2, but it means that Jenna and I will be able to watch some of the Series on shore. Finally, another sailboat just showed up on the horizon ahead of us. Frank’s racing instincts are kicking in as he continues to reel in (sailboat racing term) our new neighbor. They don’t see or hear us yet, but I assume we’ll have a nice conversation when we pass them. All in all, we are having a great trip.

Fiji – Opua, Day 2

Our fast start continues, and it looks like we put the bouncy squally weather behind us last night. 10.30 AM local time, 25.10.13. Current position 24.02 S, 176.05 E. Winds 15 from the east. Seas a very comfortable 1+ meters. Boat speed is 9 knots @ 178m with a full main and jib. Covered 193 miles in our last 24 hours, meaning 2 straight days of 8 knot sailing! The kids, especially Leo, were pretty queasy yesterday but are much better (meaning eating) today. Had a bit of an incident when the beam pounding caused our spare anchors/anchor chain to knock out the bottom of a nonstructural locker bulkhead, routing drain water from the forward cockpit into the starboard bilge. The float switch had broken, but we caught it in time to plug the hole and reroute the drain. I will install a replacement switch today. Also, it seems the SIM card on our sat phone no longer works. From a sailing perspective, Sophie remains a tank. From a food perspective Jenna is cutting up coconuts and pineapple in the aft cockpit, and we’ll eat the corned beef roast with salad and eggplant for dinner. Caught one mahi mahi and “decked” (?) 4 flying fish. There are no strong winds or fronts forecasted between us and Opua, and we have 240 gallons of diesel in the tanks. That means that as soon as this easterly dies down, I’m turnin’ on our Yokahama Mamas, putting the peddle to the metal and playing truck driving music really loud as we motor through the calm and into Opua Harbor some time Monday night. Only 670 miles and 3 World Series wins to go!

Fiji – Opua, Day 1

Off to a fast start in a squally easterly. 10.30 AM local time, 24.10.13. Current position 20.51 S, 176.37 E. Winds 20-25 with gusts to 30 from east. Seas 2 meters. Boat speed 8.5 @ 180. Left Vuda Point 24 hours ago, made 195 miles with 2 reefs in main and 1 in jib over first 24 hours. Fast and (relatively) stable ride. Averaged over 9 knots last night. Self service coq au vin and crepes for dinner. Queasy kids, couple of squalls, and Fred Pot can’t wipe the smile off his face. Sophie is back in offshore mode. Nothing has broken. No fish. We are getting exactly the weather that was predicted, and we expect the wind to ease by nightfall. Overall we are off to a good start. Only 863 miles to go!