Sunday, May 19, 2013

Life on the Hard, Day 4

Day 4.

We awoke to the sun shining! YAY... today I can paint.

After Breakfast I quickly went online and answered some emails, then I set about sorting out a way to hang the oars so that I could paint them. I spent a lot of time working out a plan and then just as I was putting on the first coat of varnish, it started to rain. So I had to rush the oars back into Puddytat, and hide the partially painted oar under her, hoping that it didn't rain too hard.

Back inside Puddytat I carried on cleaning the propellers and their bits. David had gone off to try and find some spares while all this was happening. Now he came back and we decided to eat some apple crumble topped with vanilla ice cream... yum.. Afterwards we relaxed for about 20 mins and it was back to work. The sun had come out by now, but we weren't sure how long it would last so I carried on cleaning the props. David started to sand the sail drives down in preparation for new paint and anti-foul, to try and protect it from those critters that just love to hitch a ride with us. :-)

The afternoon sped passed and soon it was shower time.. oh what bliss to stand under hot running water and not worry about how much is left in the tank. Showers on shore are the best!
Robbie and Neville on the back steps of Cat Wagon, the yacht
we visited.
On our way back to the boat we stopped off at Cat Wagon, a 46 ft Fontaine Pajot Catamaran, to chat with Robbie and her husband Neville. We sat with a welcome glass of wine and discussed the various problems on our boats, how we overcame them or where to get the best help to get it sorted. As always these folks are just so pleasant to be with, but we had to get our dinner cooked and eaten so we left them and toddled home.

Ahhh life is good, when your tum is full, you have a warm place to snuggle, and you're with someone you love and who loves you. Yeah.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Life on the Hard, Day 3

Day 3,

It's raining, pouring, raining... oh heck I'll not get any painting done today. So I've been elected to go and do some grocery shopping. I'd spoken to Anna on Concertio, and she was going into town in her car at 9 am. At 8 am the phone rang, it was Tony, could we come around to his workshop to see the plans for the Targa Bar. He'd drawn them on the floor of the workshop and wanted us to see if we liked it.
The stainless steel holding up the solar panels are what's cracked..
if they go we lose the panels and Limo! So they have to be
We went to Anna and asked if she'd mind a slight detour.. no problem she said. What a honey she is! So off we went and chatted with Tony, made some adjustments to his design.. I like working with Tony, he really listens to what you have to say and takes it into account. I'm so used to people brushing me off because I'm a woman in a man's world and they automatically figure that I know nothing.. rather frustrating, especially as I'm a qualified Captain, I have a great eye for shapes and dimensions and can visualise things in my head, probably because I'm and artist, lol, and I'm told that I'm quite logical for a girl. :-p

Anna and I left to go shopping it was now 9.30.

At about 11.30 we finally got back.. it was still raining. David and I unloaded Anna's car and took the groceries up into Puddytat, trying not to get it all soaked in the process. After a quick glass of coke, we went down in the rain to remove the lower end of the sail drives and drain oil into a bucket.
David had been having a hard time removing the Port rudder bearings, but finally after a lot of effort and hammering they came out. They're slightly too big for the rudder so we're having some new ones made.

After a quick lunch of fresh baked Apple crumble and cream, that David had made along with a loaf of bread, he got stuck into taking the hydraulic steering ram apart because they need new seals.

I put a huge chicken, with potatoes, carrots and onions into the oven for dinner and then I started cleaning the propeller blades and fittings. I need to get all the barnacle and oyster footprints off and get it shining again. Lots of hard scraping and scrubbing, but they're starting to look good again.
This is just one blade.. there are three per propeller, and two propellers.
I forgot the two shaft covers......
Here's one of the shaft covers..they're both done though. :-)
It's still raining... at dinner time, we ate with relish, the food was soooo tasty. :-) then we relaxed and watched a DVD.
At about 9pm I phoned my folks in South Africa.. just to give her a surprise and say hi, I love you. It was so great to speak to them.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Life on the Hard, Day 2

Day 2.

We woke up just after 7 am ready for a day of hard labour. After breakfast of toast ( made from David's home baked bread,) and tea, we got organised. David passed up the 9 oars, that we have stowed in the forward section of the starboard (right) hull, through one of the hatches to me on deck. My job was to sand them all down to the wood for repainting. We decided to throw out 2 of the oars as they were too badly broken to be repaired, so now I had to only do 7. Wow how many oars do you need you ask?.. hehe well we have a rowing dinghy with two rowing stations, so we need 4 working oars at all times. the rest are spare in case we break any.

I sanded oars almost all day. Some of them had to be peeled of old varnish first then sanded, but I got it all done. As I was finishing, Tony, an expert Stainless steel and Aluminium fabrication, came by to discuss our new Targa Bar.
No it's not a pub, it's a kind of archway that we're having built from one side of the boat to the other, at the back. We'll put our solar panels on it and hang The Limo from it.
The Davits that we are using at the moment for the job are badly cracked and cannot be repaired....we've tried to come up with a cheaper solution but there just isn't one. We've decided that it's better to do a good job once and have it last, than try and do patch-ups that would cause us to re-patch often, and that will probably cost us more in the long run. The Limo?, that's our dinghy, it's rather snazzy for a hard dinghy.
I added this photo to show you Limo hanging between the pontoons.
She'll look great when I've cleaned her up.
David had spent the day taking the propellers off and their shafts out and draining the old oil. He also drove out the rudder bearings on the port rudder to have new one's made. Then he had to go walking to find, and either buy, or order the requisite parts. He got back just before Tony arrived to discuss the Targa bar... good timing that :-)

Now it was time to knock off, have a shower and eat a good hot meal.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Life on The Hard.

Day 1.

When you live on the water 24/7/365 adjusting to being 'on the hard' is quite a thing. There is no gentle slapping sounds of wavelets in the early morning, or the motion of bobbing in a wake when another boat goes by, or the sound of sea critters going about their business that is heard through the hull. There are 'human' noises all around, cars, hooters, banging, scraping, grinding, voices, factory noises in the distance. Occasionally you get lucky and you hear a bird. The 'loo' is always over at the other end of the yard, so that, can be quite a trek :-) and takes some forethought.
The best things about being 'on the hard'....
Puddytat will look so much nicer when we're done slaving over her;
you get to have a HOT shower EVERY night;
meeting up with other sailing couples and spend and occasional evening swapping stories;
you have the knowledge that soon you'll be back on the water.

This time we're hauling out at Norsands in Whangarei, well known for their careful and meticulous handling of Cats. So the day before we're booked to haul, we anchor near the Boatyards entrance. It's a beautiful night, mirror smooth water, and not as cold as it has been, probably because there is no wind. The sunset is gorgeous.

The next morning we wake up to a silver day, and no wind.. YAY!

The phone rings and we're asked if we could come in earlier than originally planned. Fortunately we we're ready so we start the engines and lift the anchor. Oh yes, yesterday David took the Port rudder out because he has to replace the bearings, so now Puddytat handles quite differently.
David takes her in as I acquaint myself with all the lines that the men on shore will be taking.

Soon we're tied up and the trolley starts to come down the slipway, controlled by a grader.
Tony lines the trailer up with Puddytat, this takes about an hour, and eventually he's satisfied and the hydraulics lift the pads and Puddytat is lifted slightly.

We're taken off Puddytat and watch the rest of the procedure from shore. A nerve racking time... for all of us.

Without any problems Puddytat is pulled out of the water and positioned over a special area that has built in drainage, She will be pressure washed and all that gunk stuck to her bottom is drained into a tank, so as to keep New Zealand's coastal seas clean.

David and I laboriously scrub Puddytat's bottom to get all the bits that the pressure wash couldn't get off. Some barnacles and oysters are especially stubborn and just don't want to let go. Finally at 15:30 (3.30 pm) we're done and we tell Tony that we're ready to be moved.

They bring the grader, hook up the trailer and push Puddytat into the place where we're going to spend the next 8 days... opposite Cat Wagon! Yay, they're friends of ours.

The sunset is gorgeous and we collapse with and exhausted sigh.. we've been going at this all day since 09:30 am and now it's 18;00 (6 pm)... WHEW.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Christmas in Opua, New Zealand 2013

Merry Christmas and a Fun-Filled New Year
from Opua, North Island, New Zealand

This year we have sailed our catamaran 'Puddytat' to Fiji and back. This is the first time we have visited Fiji and it's definitely not going to be the last.
A Bun Starfish.
A Lion Fish
Coral in various stages..
A Sweetlips?

I can hardly believe that I'm going to start my 13th year of cruising in January, and Sylvie's 11th. A good friend of mine told me I'd get bored and suggested that I settled down and continued to run my consultancy/surveying business. Well, I'm glad to say that he was wrong. The cruising life-style is one that is going to be hard to give up.

By far the greatest reward of cruising is the cruising community itself. Forever changing, but also remaining constant. We now have hundreds of friends stretched around the planet; most still experiencing the cruising life, and all the experiences will be different. Some that we have lost touch with, but hope to meet again ….. or hear about from others.

At this time of year I get annual news letters from land based friends who are leading radically different lifestyles to ours, but are equally fulfilling. Reading these letters often reminds me of what my life could have been like, making me wonder if, given the opportunity, I would swap ….... but then the answer would simply be 'No' because I have changed.

Last Sunday we sailed into Opua after leaving Fiji to face the ravages of cyclone Evan at category 4 or 5 …. 110-140 knot winds. We had a little less than one weeks warning. Other cruisers were going to stay and 'hunker-down'. Many locals, including officials, new nothing of the forecast cyclone …... and even when I told them, they didn't believe that Fiji would be affected. We had an uneventful sail, averaging about 7.5 knots. We have had little news from Fiji, but we hope that our friends over there are well and have had little or no damage.

Last Christmas was a different story. We were at sea, crossing from Tonga to Opua via Mineva North reef. Hence I wasn't able to get out a timely newsletter of our travels. We'd stopped in Nuku'alofa to clear out of Tonga and to obtain a NZ visa for Sylvie. Sylvie's parents had already sailed to Minerva North in their catamaran 'Kudana'. We were enjoying the company of our crew, Roz, who'd joined us at Palmerston Island.

Whilst still in Nuku'alofa we got a message that Kudana had hit Minerva South reef and were partially disabled, but trying to make for Opua. To cut a long story short, we managed to find Kudana at about 450 miles from Opua, towing her in for the last 100 miles on a 100ft nylon bridal with Puddytat powered with a reefed genoa at 5.5 knots! Kudana had suffered the loss of both keels, had only half of one rudder, only one blade on one propeller, and had significant but manageable seawater leak from the starboard saildrive.
Amazing job to sail about 800 miles before asking for a tow!
We spent our days in NZ meeting up with old cruiser friends and swapping stories, drinking the local wine, and doing repairs on Puddytat and others.

One of the big pluses with NZ is access to good materials and parts …. at a price. My credit card was flexed to the max: acrylic and seals for the hatches and windows, wood for the starboard centre bunk, and spares, spares, and more spares. We borrowed a car to get about ….. NZ public transport doesn't get to Opua.

After Kudana had been fitted with new keels, rudders, and propellers at Ashby's boat yard, Sylvie and I set about refurbishing her saloon. It was my first attempt at veneering …... although I had picked up a lot from watching my father at his marquetry, I had not actually done any. Our friend Owen from the yacht Madrona offered some friendly know-how, and I did some research on the internet. The result was pretty good ….. better than most production finishes, but I've learnt a lot too (another way of saying I'll do better next time!!).
David's and my work.. It was very interesting to do.
My Mom and I made a cover for it :^D
Sylvie, her mother, and I had a break from the cruising life and hired a car to visit Sylvie's brother in Nelson on the North coast of South Island. We took the chance to have leisurely trip back to Opua, staying at back-packers and B&B's. Unfortunately the weather was wet when we got to Roturua ….. so had to pass on many of the sights.

I remember NZ from a visit I made back in 1992. I remember the beautiful scenery, the colours, the waterfalls, and the clear skies. Unfortunately this year could not match the memory, but it is still a fine place to visit. This year we intend to do more cruising, especially around the Bay of Islands and Northland.

Fiji on the other hand is gorgeous. The people are very friendly, the waters are crystal clear, the coral is vibrant, and the fruit is sweet and tasty. Hopefully it won't be much changed when we visit there next season. Oh, I nearly forgot, the cost of living in Fiji must be the lowest in the South Pacific PROVIDED you eat 'in -season', stay off alcohol and aren't tempted by imports. Coffee beans are hard to find, even though they grow it here. Most of the Fijians drink kava which is a sedative ….. so coffee isn't wanted. Nescafe is fairly easy to come by though …. but I don't regard that as coffee.
Male Dancers entertaining us.
Beautiful female dancer ... :^D
Me taking kava at a ceremony at Robinson Crusoe Resort …. not very traditional, but it would not be politic to take a photo of an authentic ceremony at an island village. Sylvie decided against trying this one …. we'd recently been through an authentic ceremony at Beqa and kava isn't very pleasant.
Those mats take several weeks to make and last several years.
What Fiji is famous for ….. and it is NOT an aquarium!!
Sylvie is busy with her fabric designing and marketing them on the internet at:
The photos don't do her work justice.
This is a photo of one of my fabric designs printed by Spoonflower.
Hand Painted and up on
I've include a few photos give you some idea of our 2012. I hope you've enjoyed them.

If you are wondering what has become of my other boat, Quoi Ca Dit, in Trinidad; and the claim for damages ….... The case was found in my favour, I have still received no money, I am suing my attorneys, and the boatyard won't let me have the yacht back unless I pay them US$36,000. The details are more interesting and painful ….. but not for this newsletter.

Have a wonderful 2013 and don't forget to write. We should have a guest cabin available soon so drop us a line if you fancy dropping in.