Sunday, December 28, 2014

Ladybug's Third New Zealand Christmas Cruise

First let me wish you a very happy and prosperous new year in 2015!

It is hard to believe that this is the third Christmas season I have spent on board Ladybug in New Zealand. The only sad part is that Rani is in the UK again this year, so we were apart again for Christmas. I am lucky to have good friends to share the season with. Just over a week ago I left Whangarei. The last days prior to departure were jam packed with selling a few items that we can't carry home and looking over two larger steel boats for my friend Randall who is planning a back to back circumnavigation of the Americas and Antarctica (see his Figure 8 Voyage site).

On Saturday evening, I drifted down the river with the last light at the start of the ebb, dropping the anchor off One Tree Point near Marsden Cove. I was up early to catch the next ebb tide and ghosted down the channel past the big refinery and wood product docks. My departure was marred by a run-in with a tug that was assisting a container ship to enter the channel. The tug took a run at Ladybug, its operators gesturing and yelling, even though we had moved out of the channel to let the ship pass. I was surprised and shaken by this aggressive and very unprofessional action. The bow wave from the tug Takahiwai almost came into Ladybug's cockpit and I came damn close to striking a channel buoy that I was near when the incident occurred. I called the tug on VHF but she declined to respond so I have reported this to Maritime New Zealand. I have had to deal with heavy commercial traffic and tugs in several countries and never seen anything like this before!

Fortunately the day improved and the wind filled in for a nice run up to Tutukaka. I met Melody off the entrance to the harbour and we sailed in together, anchoring under sail near Annie Hill's Fantail. All three boats share supper on board Melody. Over drinks we agreed to sail north for Miniwhangata Bay.

Melody sailed into Tutukaka
The next morning around 6 am I woke up with a fuzzy head to the sound of Melody hoisted her anchor chain as Fantail ghosted past Ladybug.

Fantail ghosting out of Tutukaka
We sailed in company to Minwhangata, a delightful anchorage off a long striped sandy beach that displays mosaics of shells at low tide. We spent the afternoon walking along the beach and among the hills of the peninsula.

Melody en route to Miniwhangata

Fantail sails into the anchorage at Miniwhangata

Melody anchoring under sail.

We spent the evening on Annie's little junk rigged boat, sharing drinks and supper and talking about the usual things that cruisers and 'boaties' in general talk about - boats, and sailing, and how to live a good life. At one point, I recall that we had a lengthy and heated debate over the difference between contentment and happiness.

Roz and Holger on board Fantail

Annie and Roz below on Fantail
We left Miniwhangata the next morning and sailed north toward Whangaroa. We broke our passage at the Cavalli islands where we anchored in Papatara Bay on the big island of Motukawanui. The wind was aft all day, so I sailed most of the way with winged out jib in order to keep all the sails filled and pulling.

Ladybug coasting north to Whangaroa, wing and wing.
Motukawanui island has stunning hiking trails and we had an early morning climb along the Ridge Trail to the highest point on the island. You can see an earlier post from my last visit here for panorama pictures from this point.

From the Cavalli Islands we cruised north again with 15 knot easterly tailwinds and a rolling swell. Again I used the pole and Ladybug really kicked up her heels and enjoyed spirited sailing in occasional rain showers, maintaining 6-7 knots for long stretches. We arrived through the narrow entrance into Whangaroa with tall standing waves kicked up by the out-coming tide against wind. The cliche of calling this a boiling cauldron would not be far off and it was very exciting to sail through these waves while negotiating the entrance running almost straight downwind.

Ladybug and Melody spent Christmas in Whangaroa, visiting different anchorages, eating too much and attempting to walk it all off before returning south to the Bay of Islands where I am preparing for the delivery trip south.

Ladybug at a nice angle of heel beating into harbour. Photo by Annie Hill.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Haul Out, Survey, and Sale

I returned to New Zealand late in November to prepare Ladybug for sale. She had swung around a mooring for 8 months under the watchful eyes of Rob and Jo - cruising friends off Blue Moon who have built a house in McLeod Bay. It took a few days to clean her up but on the whole she was in good shape and I motored up the river to Dockland 5 boat yard where she was hauled out at the end of November.

Apart from the usual bottom paint I planned to replace a ball valve on the head discharge and buff and wax the hull. A potential purchaser had hired a surveyor to take a look at her while hauled out and I was fortunate to be given the use of a locker to store gear and sails in to allow the surveyor easier access to the hull inside.

New reinforced nylon ball valve - made in New Zealand

On haul out I found a couple of blisters on the skeg beside the area  I had repaired last year. I must not have gone far enough in addressing the delamination I had found on the last haul out. I ground these, removing the unbonded laminate and filled with epoxy. Removing the old head discharge ball valve proved to be difficult and while freeing this up, I twisted the bronze through-hull, breaking its seal with the hull. So I ended up removing the through hull fitting as well and cleaning this up and rebedding it. Doing this showed me how thick the lay up is at this point in the hull - about 18 mm or more than 5/8 of an inch, I was also fortunate in being able to buy a locally made ball valve fabricated from fiberglass reinforced nylon. This should not corrode like the bronze one.

Through hull hole showing thickness.

Murray Reid, a surveyor from Keri Keri, arrived on Sunday morning and spent a good part of the day poking around the boat. He found a few things during this survey and a later one that I am glad he spotted, including corrosion issues in the propellor strut and its mounting bolts that required removal and rewelding of the strut and replacement with new bolts. Getting at the nuts on the other end of these bolts was interesting. At first I thought I might have to remove the fuel tank, but fortunately the builders of Ladybug had thought about this issue and provided access in the cockpit locker that required unscrewing a plywood sheet and moving an exhaust hose out of the way. A local welder ground out the old corroded weld and renewed this and I put it together casting in place an epoxy shim to re-align the strut with the propellor shaft. Bolting the strut back on and re-bedding it was a challenge as I was working on my own and had to use vice grips on one end of each bolt and run up and down the ladder a dozen times to tighten the nuts evenly.

Propellor strut removed so I can work on it.

Corrosion in weld - probably due to leaving welding detritus in between two welds (one per side) when the custom strut was fabricated

Corrosion in bolts - possibly due to galvanic corrosion from painting the bolts with copper bottom paint

This is what the bolts should look like.
Other things I dealt with during haul-out were to replace two additional through hull ball valves thaty Murray condemned and to re-zinc and grease up the Max-prop. Brian, the potential purchaser did the latter work and helped out during the launch day, having arrived the night before to look over the boat. Brian stayed on Ladybug for 4 nights going out for what may be a record test sail of three days duration.

Since the launch, I have re-aligned the engine, restitched the UV strip on the small jib (thanks to Roz and her Sailrite sewing machine!), stitched a dodger zipper back on, and rebedded a couple of ports. On Brian's last day on board, one of the galley sink drains fell off, so I have replaced the corroded metal parts with plastic (thanks to Rob for the parts for this job!).

Brian has decided to buy Ladybug and I have offered to help him deliver her to her new home on the South Island. Brian and I will sail as far as Picton together and I will then fly back here and on to Auckland and Canada shortly after.

Ladybug looking at her best with a waxed hull and new bottom paint

It is sad to be leaving Ladybug and finding a home for all the things we have on board will be my job for the next few weeks. I will carry home three suitcases as excess luggage so am quite limited in what I can take. We looked into shipping goods to Canada from NZ but the cost was $2000 for 8 modest boxes...