Monday, May 26, 2014

In OZ and Before!

We arrived in Bundaberg Australia on Sunday 18 May after one of our worst passages. Not 'the worst' but certainly not far from the bottom! We departed Opua NZ on Monday 5 May and hoped the trip would take 10 days. Our departure started dramatically as when we got to the entrance of the Bay of Islands the winds were so strong we decided to anchor and wait rather than bash into them and a big swell. We waited a few hours and then the wind dropped and we set off.

The first day was a nice sail though not in the best direction, day 2 we had to motor and then we had a few days of good winds but not from a very good direction. This meant we went much further north than anticipated without making any progress west. Then there was a few light wind days when we didn't get very far at all and we were getting quite bored. That soon changed when the winds increase to 25-35 knots for 4 days. We had big swells and were being thrown all over the place, at times the boat was just like a pendulum with one side being submerged and then the other. By the time we reached Australia we had sailed 1700 miles instead of the anticipated 1350 and it took 13 days.

To add to the excitement we discovered that we had a leak a few days out of NZ and the bilge was filling with water. This was the second time we had had a leak so we were at panic stations. We thought the problem was the shaft seal which was the cause of our first leak (more details later!) but no, it was actually the rudder. It continued to gush water until we got to Australia so the first thing we had to do on arrival was dry out lots of the underfloor storage, again!

Our check in to Australia was very painless. We had heard so many horror stories from friends who were made to empty out their entire boat for inspection that it was a great relief and was all over in a few hours. That left us the remainder of the day to sort ourselves out and get some fresh fruit and veg. Behind the supermarket we saw our first Kangaroo!

Friends Stefan and Sue on S/V Charlotte arrived at the same time so we hired a car together and did a bit of sightseeing. We had a lovely walk around the botanical gardens and the Hinkler aircraft museum then we stocked up with food and alcohol for our trip north. After quickly stowing everything, we had an early night before getting up at 2.30am to leave for Lady Musgrave Island which is where we are now anchored. This was another awful trip with lots of squalls but we did catch a big narrow bared mackerel, about 20lbs of meat. With the 20lbs of Mahi mahi we have in the freezer from the crossing and all the meat we purchased we now have a very full freezer and Mike has to stop fishing for a while!

Friends Chris and Dave (CD) and Don and Kay (Karinya) are also anchored with us so we are looking forward to a good catch up. We have not seen Don and Kay since we left the Galapagos in May 2011.

Our last few months in NZ

We had 6 weeks in the UK in Feb/March. It was lovely to catch up with friends and family and to meet our 2 grandsons Teddy and Alex. We also managed a week skiing in Les Arc, in the French Alps. Given we had not skied for 6 years we both did very well and got back without any broken bones. The 30 hour flight was very tiring and it took us a while to get over the jet lag. Then we both came down with a horrible bug we must have got from the plane.

Work progress on the boat was slow but we did get most things done and also stocked up for the next few months with things we knew the Australian quarantine would not confiscate. Our plan was to leave Whangarei and head north so that we could spend a few weeks cruising the Bay of Islands. However, the boat had other ideas! After motoring down the river we left the bay and sailed around Bream Head to anchor in Tutukaka. About 15 miles from our destination we noticed the boat was very sluggish in the seas. When Mike looked down into the bilge, it was full of water. We had a panic, turned on bilge pumps and turned around to head back to Whangarei. We found the leak was the shaft seal which had separated. Mike pushed it back together and stopped the leak but we still had to find out what had caused the problem. So we arranged to get lifted at Riverside Marina where we had been lifted the previous year. The water had made its way into practically every locker. We had soggy kitchen towel, first aid stores we had to get rid of and we had to wash and dry everything in the lockers. It took days. Needless to say the bilge pump is now permanently on!

We were lifted just before Easter and we then spent the weekend replacing the cutless bearing and shaft seal. We still don't know why it separated so replacement was the safest option. It was a horrible job and tempers were very frayed by the end of it. In fact we have both said we will never do it again, we are paying someone to do it for us next time!

After launching we left Whangarei for the second time. This time we had a lovely sail to Whangamumu in company with Don and Deb (Buena Vista) who crossed the Pacific the same time as us but who we hadn't seen since. After an overnight stop we headed into the Bay of Islands and straight to Opua marina to collect our generator parts. We had purchased the generator in November but still did not have it running! The final electrical connections were completed in Whangarei but then we discovered the fuel pump was not strong enough and so had to purchase an additional one which was sent from the UK. Once installed, everything worked first time much to our surprise. While in Opua we did manage a final visit to Ake Ake vineyard for Sunday lunch which was delicious as usual. With chores done we then got the boat ready to depart for Australia. A final Sunday roast in the yacht club with Sue and Bob (Mawari) and then we left.

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