Saturday, November 21, 2015

Pastoral & Industrial Association Show


‘Pastoral & Industrial Association Show’ is a pretty high end sounding name for what we would call an old-fashioned County Fair. They hold them throughout the country this time of year (Spring). The highlight of our visit was getting to watch the working dogs bully the sheep around. Smart dogs – dumb sheep.

OpuaIMG_3281  This guy filled us in on the NZ working dogs and all the sheep dog trials that are coming up over the next few months while his dog waits patiently to go back to work and deal with those evil sheep.

OpuaIMG_3263 With all the rules you have to deal with in NZ some just might call it a nanny state. We had to have our boat AC wiring inspected by a licensed contractor before we could hook up (plug in to shore power) at the marina. This inspection is good for 4 years. We also had to have our extension cord to the dock separately inspected. This one is only good for 1 year.  The weirdest rule is making all the children under 12 walk around in these plastic bubbles so they won’t get hurt.

OpuaIMG_3290 And then there was the safety bull riding with carefully padded paddock floor.

OpuaIMG_3294The fair included judging local baking, flower and crafts entries. I was a little disappointed by the judging for the arts and crafts section. This masterpiece of potato sculpting only got an honorable mention. I couldn’t believe it it didn’t walk away with first.

OpuaIMG_3296 This is still spring down here. The weather changes every few days. You can see the change of weather clouds signaling the next days of wind and rain here.

We finally got off the dock at Opua after buying a new Tohatsu 9.8 two-stroke outboard for the dinghy. Our previous Tohatsu lasted about 14 years and multiple dunkings in salt water (not recommended by the manufacturer). We are carefully doing the 10-hour break-in now. Our sails are all at the sail loft getting some well deserved tender-loving repair and re-stitching. We plan to motor around the Bay of Islands (in NE New Zealand) to visit a few of the anchorages here until our sails come back and then we’ll likely head out to explore a little more of the coast.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Passage to NZ Notes

ToNZIMG_3195 This is all you see when you approach North Minerva Reef on a calm day. Minerva Reef, North and South, are atolls that sit in the middle of nowhere, 250 nautical miles from Tonga. In the ‘good old days’ of sextant based navigation the prudent thing to do was to avoid these reefs by many miles. Today, with GPS navigation, they make a nice place to stop to rest up and wait for a good weather window to continue southward on the passage to New Zealand. Plus, it’s so cool to drop your anchor in the middle of the Pacific Ocean without a spec of land around you!

In a straight-line from Tonga to Opua, NZ, it is a little over 1,000 miles. We managed to actually sail about 1,398 miles to get there. This includes the stop in North Minerva and then traveling west to about 28*30S 173*14E before travelling south. You travel west for a few reasons – mainly to deal with the SW winds you are likely to encounter as you approach the north cape of NZ and also to try and take any of the fronts which blow up the Tasman Sea from the Southern Ocean north of 28-30* latitude where they should have less punch.

Many of the boats that were on passage with us used land based weather routers. We got our weather by downloading GRIB files via our SSB radio, which show predicted wind and seas over the next few days, and by listening to Gulf Harbour Radio out of NZ. Some of the boats were routed very far west – almost close enough so they could wave at Australia. This added a lot of miles to their route and a lot of extra motoring. It was supposed to make the frontal passages less strong. In practice they got the same thing we did – 25-28kts sustained with 33 gusts on the nose – for 24 hours.  We ended up turning toward NZ as soon as the wind moved a smidgen past south toward the west. This turned out to be a lucky call and we had a good sail into Opua for the last 3 days. It wasn’t lucky like you just won the lottery, it was more lucky like you are driving in a strange part of town looking for an address and you come to an intersection, rather than asking for directions, something intuitive says turn here. In a block and half of driving the address you want shows up – it’s a guy thing.

Our trip to NZ:

10 days from Tonga to Opua including 1-1/2 days in N. Minerva Reef,

1.5 days of motoring,

about 12 hours sailing on a nice reach, all the rest of the time close hauled and beating into it.

ToNZIMG_3211 On the one calm day, we stopped for some swimming in 13,000 feet deep water as a break from our 24 hour motor torture. This is crew Bill and Anne, enjoying the cool water.

ToNZIMG_3236 A pleasant greeting from two Kiwi porpoises showing us the way to customs. This was after the NZ Air Force P3 Orion flew over to check out who we were.

 ToNZIMG_3255 Georgia sitting at the quarantine dock in the morning after tying up at midnight. First onboard was NZ Biosecurity. They managed to go through every locker and confiscate a large trash bag of our frozen food, salami, honey plus some items in the freezer that even we couldn’t identify. Most important, Chris got to keep all her shells.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

En Zed

We made it into Opua, Bay of Islands, New Zealand or as they say it En Zed, last night at around midnight. Cleared customs this morning with the most complete quarantine inspection we’ve ever had. The inspectors could barely lift the bag that they confiscated all our meats, honey,, and various other evil things. It is the NZ War Against Meat Products.

We finally got to crack off the wind a bit for the last 35 miles. Other than that it was close hauled all the way from Tonga.  More latter, maybe even some pics. I need a hot shower and a beer.