Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.
It has been over two years since my last blog, for which I am truly sorry.
Truth is, Julie and I we’re ‘down-unda’ in New Zealand, and lost to the world, (in our own world), convalescing after a serious bout of ‘over-boating’. Careful boat aficionado’s, it could happen to you too! 😮
We spent virtually 10 straight months cruising from Hawaii to Fiji – and then another few months from Fiji to New Zealand. We were exhausted, the boat was tired, and it was time we all enjoyed a break. We flew home back to Vancouver a few times, and I of course had to go back to work. INFINITY was also in need of some love and attention after many months of deferred maintenance and hard use. What better place to catch up on things, than one of the World’s boating Mecca’s – Auckland – New Zealand!
First up then, the Stats from the Fiji-NZ transit for the Offshore savants, (and Dreamers alike). The first and last entries (below) were partial days, but we show fairly consistent milage in between. I plan our days at Sea to cover 180 nautical miles per day, burning 150 gallons. As you can see, we were not far from this, (and we usually do better), but this passage certainly could not have been described as ‘favourable’ conditions.
|FIJI – NZ||(2016)|
|nautical miles per day||fuel burn (Gallons per day)|
|Averaging: 1.21 nm/Gal.|
We arrived Opua, NZ, during the dead of night, exhausted but elated. Not much to see, everything closed for the night; so we shut down INFINITY and went to bed. The next morning, bright, full of sunshine and promise, we saw several other boats at the Customs Dock with the NZ Customs Officers already going from boat-to-boat, checking-in the 6-odd vessels that arrived during the night. Formal entry into New Zealand was a straight-forward process. They were expecting us, as I had been in contact with NZ Customs prior to leaving Fiji. That’s the way we like to roll on INFINITY 😉👍
Once checked-in, we decided to press-on down to Auckland, rather than stay in Opua. We had reservations at Gulf Harbour Marina, and were keen to get established in our new ‘home’. Who knew that we were going to spend the next 18 months in Slip N-25?
Our immediate goal was to take some time out from cruising and decompress awhile. After which, I planned our time in New Zealand to be a ‘catch-up’ period – for boat maintenance, visiting my Uncle John (my Mom’s brother), and getting myself immersed back into work. The diesel isn’t going to pay for itself!
The first week we pampered ourselves by doing nothing. In that I mean, we slept-in often, and caught-up on some TV mini-series during rainy afternoons. We hired a car and spent the next 3 weeks exploring the local Township of Whangaparaoa and meeting our Dock Neighbours; which N-Dock coincidentally turned out to be a mini-Nordhavn coterie!
At the end of November, 2016, Work in India was looming, the call had finally come. We decided that Julie should go back to Vancouver and spend Christmas with family. In the end, we flew to Vancouver together and I caught a flight to India from there.
Now, fast-forward 105 days (to Mid-March, 2017). Work completed, money in the bank, and I’m in desperate need of a Jay-fix! We rendezvoused in Hawaii for a week (our self-designated ‘perfect-place’), and then flew back to NZ & INFINITY together.
All good so far right? But this is where things go awry. 😮 With a maintenance plan & some funds in place, we commenced what we assumed to be a routine period of up-keep. Not so fast. Mr. Murphy and the Chaos sisters had other plans! The routine maintenance period turned into a few months of hard work. (I’ve actually written about this phenomenon before, whereby I defined a period of 15 years to be the naturally occurring lifetime of any bolt-on component in a trans-oceanic vessel). Well, many of the remaining components which were not tended to before, (without being repaired or replaced), played “GOTCHA!” this time.
Before you, lays a brief outline of what kept us on the verge of entering the Twilight Zone. 😜
Equipment failures & mediocre luck during the 2016 season
- Weld on flopper stopper pole (STBD-side) parted in the Tuamotus Islands;
- Re-welded, and painted at Gulf Harbour machine shop
- flopper stopper wire-rigging failed in Fiji
- Replaced with a Dyneema harness in Auckland.
- Polished some rocks with not one, but 2 propellers on our Yamaha 60HP outboard engine in Bora Bora.
- spare prop installed, & new spare purchased and entered into inventory
- Anchor winch failure in Aitutaki.
- parts shipped from Australia, and repaired on-site in Fiji.
- Davit slew ring loosened, NZ.
- retightened 3 main fastening bolts, easy fix!
- FWD & Bustle bilge pumps stopped working mid ocean!
- older units removed, & replaced with new Whale Gupler models in NZ.
- Sub Zero refrigerator condenser fan & relays stopped working in Tahiti
- replaced on-site, after being shipped by DHL from Vancouver
- Fuel leak on 20KW Generator fuel pump. Replacement required in Rarotonga
- new fuel pump shipped from Seattle (Hatton Marine),,, love those guys.
- Upper-Aft-Deck Cushion lost (blown off in Bora Bora)
- replaced in Fiji (we’re still in therapy with this one)
- Stbd Stabilizer HP-Gauge failed. Mid ocean! (still too soon to talk about)
- effected an immediate repair, & refilled header tank with spare Hydraulic. fluid (Thank God we had spare!)
- HYD oil cooler impeller failed while in transit, during extremely rough weather
- straight-forward swap – although did require shutting off the main engine mid-ocean 😮
- lost my iPad in Hawaii
- please, let’s move on.
- hydraulic hose burst, emptying all 12 gallons of Hydraulic oil out of the Reservoir (again)
- Okie dokie, locate spare oil, overalls on, engine off, effect repair, fill up tank, engine on, on we go!
- TRACE inverter failed, so replaced both
- Replaced with 2 new Outback Inverters, nice!
- ITR Furnace fuel pump failed (tear in diaphram)
- straight-forward repair
- hot water tank failed / had to remove (this job was a nightmare)
- Replaced with a new Torrid stainless steel unit, shipped from Seattle
- Inverters and hot water tank were both ‘lost’ in NZ Customs.
- Around two weeks MIA, fortunately we had other work to occupy us 😬
- iPhone lost overboard, just too add insult to injury ; )
- silver lining here, replaced with a shiny new-to-me iPhone 6
- Underwater cleaning tool (Wave Blade) failed.
- One tool NOT recommended by me, but at least it did work well for a couple of years.
- Dive Compressor belt split, of course had no spare at the time.
- Supplier located in NZ and ordered 2 spare.
- Dive Compressor HP gauge failure.
- BAUER supplier located in NZ, gauge replaced along with new HP fill-whip for good measure.
What can I say? It was a challenging time!!**
However,,, we came to terms that we both like to have INFINITY fully operational and looking great, and this was just necessary maintenance after cruising for an extended period of time. And while we were at it, we slotted in a few more projects and vessel upgrades: (a few to be detailed later in our Projects section)
Full varnish of the teak cap-rail
Full vessel waxing, from stem-to-stern.
New Dinghy and scooter covers
New flopper stopper covers
Twin room Cabin revamp
New teak corner on bustle/swim step
New Headliners through the boat.
New Carpets through out the boat
**One thing I can absolutely guarantee a couple considering crossing oceans in their boat is that equipment will break down, and you will get though it. The blessing, or the beauty in this for me, was that these very trying times actually brought Julie and I closer together because we got through all these events together. I came to understand that I can trust my partner in any situation, and she would actually be my number one pick for any ocean transit. After 35 years of marriage (at the time) it was an epiphany for me to realize this. As I write this, I’m both humbled and honoured to have had this time, and these experiences together. So you potential cruising aficionados, get on it, stop dilly-dallying, buy the boat and get out there! The cruising life is full of potential enrichment and experience, even when the chips are down.
To break up the hectic work-scope on the boat, we’d take INFINITY out to the local Islands to keep our souls engaged in the Cruising game, and revive this wonderful lifestyle.
Every blue moon, when you and the universe are connected, the gift of friendship-for-life is bestowed upon us. It happened to us in New Zealand with Murray and Julie Bailey. A chance meeting I guess, fairly innocuous. I’d noticed this guy cleaning his boat one day (80′ custom, ‘AZZARRA’) and we’d exchange the “I’d rather be doing something else” look at each other. This happened on a few occasions and over the course of a week we’d stop and chat. We learned that he too, was happily married of many years, to a ‘Julie’
I began to look forward to our chats, and within a month our door was always open to this most wonderful couple. As often as our schedules would allow, we’d share a dinner together, and of course they invited us to their amazing property looking out over the Hauraki Gulf.
Cruising is, and always will be, most about the wonderful people you meet along the way. My take on it is that if we had not made the bold choice to cross oceans, and visit distant shores, we would not have met the souls who have enriched our lives. It’s actually not about the boat, it’s about the people – the boat is the icing on the cake🧁
With many of the projects, and maintenance, and 5 months behind us, we decided a Road Trip was in order! We had no specific plans other than to head to the South Island. I did a quick scan of Google-Earth and marked out a few places of interest:
Wellington: we had to catch the Ferry there
Christchurch: the location of a Trimaran builder Farrier Marine
Queenstown: I have some friends that live there
So with a very loose agenda in hand, we took off.
Wellington declared itself a Nuclear Free zone in a benchmark vote, which 5 years later was adopted by the whole country. Nuclear powered vessels are barred from entering all NZ ports. The reaction was interesting – New Zealand was officially downgraded from ALLY to FRIEND status. Fast forward to 2018, the US is in the process of approving easier trade and investment agreements. We certainly did not see any evidence that the Nuclear-free decision caused any harm what-so-ever. In fact, the waterfront city was named the world’s most livable City by Deutsche Bank. I believe the factors were cost of living, climate, safety and pollution levels.
Having arrived Christchurch, we discovered the best way to tour the city is by hopping on & off the Tram that weaves its way through the city, stopping at all the attractions.
We found the City to be an eclectic blend of the old and the new. Not too long ago, Christchurch experienced quite a severe Earthquake, and the rebuild process was evident everywhere.
On our way again, next stop, Queenstown!!
And here I have to introduce you to another great friend, Mr. Martin Hardy. Martin and I worked together in Trinidad, Singapore, and China, and we have kept in touch over the years. Turns out he had a property in Queenstown which was coincidently available. “Why don’t you guys stay there” he said. He did not have to ask twice.
In 1986, I was working in Saudi Arabia with another Diver called Stuart Anderson. He had spent some time in New Zealand and kept raving on about this Jet Boat ride, saying I just HAD to do it. Stuart, you were not wrong!
CHECK OUT THIS LINK, HERE.
Julie and spent a few days and nights just walking around Queenstown with no other agenda other than to explore the town at our leisure. Our Digs were only a mile out of town, so there was no rush to do anything. On impulse, we thought we’d check out the ICE BAR. (Actually, I think we had free tickets 😜)
We had heard that this place, called ‘The Cow’ was pretty cool, so on a cool afternoon we checked it out.
A bit further afield, probably 20 minutes drive from Queenstown, was this delightful little area known as Arrowtown. “Where History meets Nature”
It was time we were heading back up North again. We took the route heading west, past Milford Sound (sadly) and up the west coast of the South Island, stopping whenever the mood took us (quite frequently as it happened 😜)
Meet Zach Rohland. We first met this fine young man in North Vancouver, dockside, helping his family bring their boat ‘FAMILY TIME’ alongside. Months later, we all met up in San Diego. We decided there, that we would loosely ‘buddy-boat’ down the Mexican coast, and up the Sea of Cortez, to La Paz. We spent months together in 2013 with the Rohlands, and just knew we’d all run into each other again. Cruisers do that. So I wasn’t really that surprised when I got a text saying “where are you, I’m in New Zealand”. Well one can’t leave Divine intervention like that unattended, so after a series of texts, and hundreds of miles of driving over multiple days, we finally met up for one night in Tauranga, North Island. It was like we had seen each other yesterday!
We spent the evening catching up, devouring two large Pizzas, and recounted what each of us had been doing over the last 4 years. Zach had been in this area for a few days and asked if we were going to see Hobbiton while we were so close? Why not? While the whole Hobbit thing does nothing for me, I do think that the Lord of the Rings was Epic, so we put it on the agenda.
Hobbiton turned out to be a great day, and a fun experience. Those impromptu events usually are.
After the the Hobbiton visit, we pointed our car North again, back home to Gulf Harbour Marina, to our friends and INFINITY. We are always happy to rejoin INFINITY, even if it’s been just a few weeks away.
After this downtime in New Zealand, I got a call from work to report on the status of a new-build Diving Support Vessel, which was being built for the company in Norway. It was supposed to be a two or three-day affair. In-&-out. To this very day, (two years later) I’m still working on the same boat. You can read all about the vessel delivery trip, from Norway to Singapore, here.
I travelled back & forth from Auckland to Alesund over the next 6 months, Julie and I patiently waiting for a favourable time to move on to New Caledonia. Finally, we managed a slot when INFINITY was ready for Sea, and I had a clearing of time away from work.