Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Anchored in the Hatea River...

This might be our last email before Christmas. Hooray we hear you say!! We have been anchored in the Hatea River, Whangarei (off the Norsand Boatyard) for a week while we dealt with a sail issue and a problem with our engine starting. We have finally traced the latter to a faulty ignition switch and hopefully will have a new switch installed on Friday. What fascinating news we can hear you say. But it is important to us (just like your phone call!!) as you never know when you might need the iron sail. We have had the car at Norsand so have been able to go ashore and do all the land based things whenever necessary; the downside is that we are strengthening the umbilical ties to the land again. Can't have that.
Noel and Litara asked us to break bread with them on "Sina" last Friday and we travelled up there to the marina in our 2.3 metre inflatable dinghy with 2.2 hp. outboard - a distance of about 2 miles further up river. At 3-4 knots that's a half hour trip. We had a very pleasant time with them and then had the return journey down river to negotiate at around midnight - at low tide. Fortunately the effects of the wine had worn off somewhat and, apart from running aground off the old fertiliser wharf we made the journey without falling in or any other incident. There were one or two arguments with the crew as to which channel markers we were looking at - hence the running aground. It seems that the skipper needs to be more assertive!! It happens when the crew has successfully completed a Boatmaster course and they think they know something!! In fact they probably do. Old greybeard skippers need to lift their game!
On Friday we are going upriver again to the Town Basin Marina - this time on "Tiare". We will leave her there while we drive down to Auckland on the 23rd. to spend Christmas with Gina's (Jean's) extended family who are truly international with many members in NZ for the first time in a few years. It promises to be a fairly hilarious time.
Our plans after that are to sail south in and around the Hauraki Gulf and also north - maybe up to North Cape. We plan to do some overnight passages to get used to the watchkeeping routine before we set off seriously for Vanuatu and points north. In between we need to do some serious yachting - none of this poncing about staying in nice sheltered anchorages! Then we are hauling out again late in March for last minute maintenance before the big OE.
In the meantime we hope everyone has a very happy Christmas and we'll not only look forward to hearing your news, but also to further regaling you with ours. "Oh no" we hear you say!!
Cheers and lots of love,
Jim and Gina (Jean)

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Heading south

Hi everyone,

We are now heading south and are at Mimiwhangata again. Decided to leave the BOI today as we need to be back in Whangarei early next week and the forecast SE conditions didn't cheer us much. Had a windless rounding of Cape Brett but further south picked up some good wind although we are only 20 miles south of the Cape here so the sail didn't last long. Just north of here we hooked what turned out to be a Wahoo which was a good size and Gina was thrilled and excited to haul the beast on board. Must have weighed a good 2-3 kilos and we had most of it for lunch!!
We had a discussion last night re our plans for the summer and have reluctantly come to the conclusion that we are going to need much more time to become fully familiar with the boat as she has now become with all the changes - not to mention simply getting used to living at sea. It's quite different from living on board out on the hard or even afloat in the marina. Therefore we think it would be prudent to abandon the plan to circumnavigate NZ this summer and instead concentrate on getting ourselves and the Tiare up to speed between the Gulf and Northland before leaving for the Islands next April. There are also the inevitable small teething problems that need to be sorted and we also have to haul out again in March for some final painting and anti fouling so that gives us too short a time frame to squeeze in a 3 month circumnavigation as well as everything else. And, before tackling the southern seas we need to be fully seasoned for a voyage of that sort.

At the moment it's 2115 and we've just heard a fishing boat at Stewart Is talking to Bluff Fishermans Radio so no worries about radio reception. The wind has died down and we are right at the E end of Mimiwhangata tucked in inside a rocky point. The boat is moving a bit but it will be a gentle rocking to sleep! This bay is quite shallow so we have to be careful that we have enough water under us when the tide goes out! Earlier today we had 2-3 feet under the keel at low tide. The bottom is sand and so the water is very clear which only makes it appear shallower.
We are hoping for a decent sail tomorrow to Whangarei. Easterlies up to 20 knots are forecast so that should push us along. Urquarts Bay tomorrow night and then some day sailing maybe before we head up the river to anchor off Norsand again. The Town Basin Marina is filling up with all the offshore boats coming in but we have a slot booked for the latter half of this month.
Well must now go through the palaver of Sailmail and trying to find a frequency in the Sailmail system that is currently free for data transmission. More nautical adventures again soon. Watch this space!
J & G

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Tiare Taporo III

Hi everyone,
This will be a relatively short email - Jim's daughter Charlotte will be pleased!! We have had a pleasant few days in the Bay and our thanks to Russell Radio for allowing us to use one of their moorings in Russell. Thanks again also for Stewart and Louise's hospitality the other night. It was a very enjoyable interlude. We are gradually getting used to living on the boat and cutting the umbilical ties with the land but have to say were subject to some temptation in Russell - not least was a cafe breakfast on the waterfront. We also met Richard and Bev who both operate the radio on a part time volountary basis. We'd have to say that we always find Bev one of the most friendly and personable people we have heard on the air. Sorry Stewart (and Richard) - don't mean to denigrate you or anyone else at Russell Radio at all!!
While there we visited Pompallier House because Gina has a family connection there. Her grandmother, Louise Worsfold lived there for a time during the period of the Greenway's ownership which was from 1879 to 1904. Louise was the daughter of Jane Mair who was Hamlyn Greenway's sister. Jane was widowed and had been married to Henry Mair who was a son of Gilbert Mair who originally came to NZ in the 1830's and was well known as a Pacific Is. trader. No doubt A.B. Donald would have been aware of him - probably even knew him. Henry had been murdered in Vanuatu on Espiritu Santo and that's one of the places we intend to visit next year.
We are thinking of heading off down the coast tomorrow as the weather forecast is talking about SE winds in 2-3 days which would be on the nose for Whangarei - maybe we will have time to visit the Barrier before returning to Whangarei where we will have to be by the 8th. We have heard Bluff Fisherman's Radio previously but never made contact with them until tonight when we called them up on SSB and told them we would probably be circumnavigating the country starting around New Year from Whangarei. We received a very friendly response and will certainly be communicating with them as we progress South. It was great to have confirmation that our installation is now A1 and is capable of clear communication over long distances. They have confirmed other advice we have received in the past which is to go South down the West Coast of the S. Is. and up the East Coast. There is no substitute for local knowledge.
We will be in touch again with more of our nautical saga - in the meantime hope all is well with you.
Cheers (and love where appropriate!!)
Jim and Gina (Jean)

Friday, 27 November 2009

The wind turns

A further update. The wind went NW today and was very light - hardly ever exceeded 10 knots. So there was some motor sailing to be done. Cape Brett was spectacular as always and when we stopped to anchor in a bay in the BOI on the SE end of Moturua we had an added bonus. There was a school of dolphins in the bay leaping and generally cavorting and 3 dogs on the beach going mad!! They eventually swam with the dolphins - probably thought they could get them to come onto the beach to play!! In the meantime we anchored and they stayed in the near vicinity for at least 2 hours. It was great to see them up close like that; much better than when moving at any speed. They rolled over as they came up alongside and looked at us and bumped the boat probably hoping we'd come and play.
One thing I forgot to mention the other day - when we were at Mimiwhangata we were visited by HM Customs, probably attracted by our Scottish flag! They wanted to establish that we were a NZ yacht or, if foreign, that we had cleared in. The surveillance is certainly stepped up these days but at what cost? Their boat was a large motor launch with at least 6 crew. We were also buzzed by an Air Force Hercules coming up to Whangamumu. Still, there are a large number of boats heading to NZ at the moment. We listen to Russell Radio's evening scheds and it's fascinating hearing boats reporting their current positions. Tonight we acted as a radio relay for a couple of boats that Russell Radio couldn't hear but we were picking up loud and clear. So it certainly seems that our SSB installation problems have been well and truly sorted in Whangarei - thanks Murray.
Kerrin - glad to hear that all is progressing with "Jado". What boat doesn't go over budget? The Tiare and I know all about that!! It almost sounds as though those copper tanks were the originals! How did you manage to source those?
One other matter - we have received the odd email where the sender has hit the reply button. If you wish to reply to us (and we are always very pleased to hear from you) then please send a fresh email as these emails are sent and received from and to the boat by HF radio. From here they go to a Sailmail station in NSW where they are converted into conventional emails. If you hit the reply button our original message to you simply gets re-transmitted back to us clogging up the airwaves.
As always hope all is well and looking forward to hearing your news.
Jim and Gina (Jean)

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Journeying north

Fairly quiet day today. We left Mimiwhangata around 0830 and motored in very light conditions for about 2 hours to Whangamumu - mainly to fill the water tanks and top up the batteries. Had a bit of a wake up call on the way. About a mile north of Home Point Jim had what he thought was a good look around before going below to check on the water maker. After about 2 minutes Gina yelled out that there was a boat dead ahead. Gina was about to disengage the auto pilot to manually alter course which would have done, but in the event a quick dash aft and a 30 degree course alteration on the pilot saved what would have been a very nasty situation. There had been a largish tinny with about 8 people on board in front of us - fishing. The colour of the boat must have blended perfectly with the sea colour and so we didn't see them until almost too late. We passed about 15 metres away at nearly 7 knots! Things like that really ram home the lesson that eternal vigilance is so important.
Whangamumu is a great anchorage. It's a deep sheltered bay in what is otherwise quite a rock bound coast and sheltered in almost all winds. "Bella Via" (a Canadian catamaran which was at Norsand during our time there) and another Canadian boat as well as a German one were already here when we came in. Later in the afternoon we went ashore to the old whaling station which at its peak in 1927 processed 74 whales in that year. The ruins are plainly visible and all explained on a DOC notice explaining where everything was and how everything worked. Prior to 1910 when a steam powered chaser arrived they used to go to sea in open rowing whalers and there were heavy set nets"Amanda D" which hampered the whales' progress enough that they could get in close with harpoons. Then they had to tow the whale carcasses back in (at least 3-4 miles) by rowing. Then the carcasses were winched up a concrete ramp and the processing began. Whatever we think about whaling these days those guys must have been hard men and out in all weathers as well.
While there Gina cut Jim's hair which felt quite bizarre in that setting. We were speculating at Noel's likely comments while this was happening - probably something like "that's not enough; take some more off!!
We're intending to sail into the BOI tomorrow. Here we are only 5 miles south of Cape Brett so shouldn't take too long. If the wind direction is favourable we might spend the night in Paroa Bay (Jim's old haunt) before heading for Russell.
J & G

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Our Wanderings

hi how are things with you all? Here we are at Mimiwhangata.A nice little bay on the East coast 45 miles Nth of Whangarei. Jim and I have had three days sailing now. Friday for 5 hours around the Hen and Chickens. Saturday we went out again around the Hen and Chickens with Noel aboard to check all his handy work that he has done to the boat over the last 12 months. It was a great day and i certainly learnt a lot, not just about the boat but sailing in general. Jim is back into his sailing , and I am the keen learner, so progress will happen I am sure. We are both very tired after each day of 6 hours sailing.But we will adapt as time goes by. It has been FUN. Will leave for Russell and the Bay of islands tomorrow. We had Sth Westerly winds in gusts between 10 and 30 knots coming up the coast this morning so we had a good sail. Tiare sailing at 5 -7.7 knots. Will keep y ou posted when we reach the Bay of Islands.There is so much to learn about preparing a boat for sailing,not just sailing equipment, but food storage,having a different wardrobe.A bit of a contrast to Hongkong days He He.I have become a expert Gluten free bread cooker,and cooking in general. Wow wonders never cease. Well will leave you all and hope that life is treating you all with love and care.Kagan Rhea Jiveen and Pritika see you around xmas.Andrew and Caroline love to you 4.Sara and Richardo are you over for xmas or the Hols?Wanda love and hope all is well in Tasmania. Maita like your hair colour and will write before xmas.Good Photos!!!!!love Jean.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009


Well, we came back to the marina at Whangarei because the weather was not suitable for us to conduct day sails to experiment with new systems and sail combinations and Whangarei harbour isn't all that friendly with NW to W winds. Finding adequate shelter seems to be always a compromise. However, we came in the other day but are gradually weaning ourselves of the umbilical cord to the land - food shopping whenever we feel like it, movies, and all the things we take for granted in this consumer society of ours. Jim is slowly (maybe) getting used to the notion that we will run out of protein of the meat variety at some point and he may have to resort to chickpeas and lentils!!! Quelle horreur! Hopefully we might catch some fish which will alleviate the meatless symptoms somewhat. And alcohol deprivation - a very serious disease!! When the beer runs out that's it. However, a general observation is that we are both feeling better and more energetic and generally coping with the said disease with surprising fortitude.
Talking of movies - we saw "2012" last night and would have to say that, although the special effects were very well done and were edge of the seat stuff, it tended to trivialise in a typically Hollywood manner a potentially cataclysmic issue. We don't know whether to take it seriously or not but when you read a bit about it and learn about the astronomical knowledge that the ancient Mayans were reputed to have, and their predictions for the next critical planetary re-alignment which is supposed to occur around the 22nd. December 2012, and with all that could flow from that with the Earth tipping 90 degrees on its axis, perhaps there is food for thought. Compasses, GPS and charts won't be worth much then. They do say that it has happened before - about 3,500 years ago. Anyway, it's all beyond anyone's control and as far as we are concerned we will concentrate on our goal of ocean passage making. Being at sea could be the safest place to be when the event takes place and, if not, well we will have expired well fulfilled.
We are leaving again in the morning in the light of a much better weather prognosis and hopefully will get the old girl (the Tiare!) working like a well oiled machine. Whether one could say the same about the crew and skipper is another matter all together. Probably all depends on the severity of the meat and alcohol deprivation symptoms. The skipper seems to be much more susceptible to these symptoms than the crew.
We'll regale you again (if you can stand it) with further nautical adventures.
Jim and Gina

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Tiare Taporo III

Hi everyone,
Just a brief email to let you know that we are currently in Taurikura Bay in Whangarei Harbour waiting for these lows to pass - then we might get some sailing done! Some might say we should just get used to it because I'm sure that we will experience our share of rough weather, but at our tender stage of development with virtually a new boat and after 16 months of refit we are taking things quietly. Gina made some gluten free bread today with pea, rice, and potato flour and it tastes great!! So healthy!! Went ashore in the new dinghy at Urquarts and walked over the hill to Smugglers Cove - no sign of Capt. Hook which was disappointing but great views and invigorating. We are enjoying the rocking of the boat (we aren't causing it!) - it seems so long since the last time. Well better not say any more - they do say when in a hole stop digging!!
Hope this finds you well.
Jim and Gina