Our Current Position

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

We are going tomorrow ......

Well it’s official, we have now been waiting so long to go to Tonga that Pat became a Grandad! Lucas Raymond Corbett, our latest potential crew member, finally made an appearance on the 7th June, coincidentally the same day as our new temperature sensor turned up! We look forward to welcoming young Lucas and his Mum and Dad onboard.

Our latest potential crew member, Lucas Raymond Corbett with his Mum
Shane, our electrician fitted the new temperature sensor pretty much as soon as it arrived and we ran up the engine for the final check. The alternator temperature behaved itself and ran at a cool 36 C. So the drama in the engine bay would seem to be finally over.

Thankful to be in the marina!
With an evil looking tropical low heading across our planned path we could not leave directly for Tonga, but instead chose to use the extra days of fine weather in NZ to cruise up the coast and enjoy the sunshine. On Friday we departed Marsden Cove and motor-sailed north as far as Mimiwhangata Bay. This is a beautifully sheltered bay which we had previously visited in January on our way south. We had a lovely evening at anchor here, though a lot colder than our previous visit.

The embroidery continues ...

A sublime sunset at anchor

Afternoon tea and cake - we're  civilised boat!

On Saturday, we continued north and dropped into Whangamumu Bay for an hour to show Leanne the whaling station. We then had a lovely sail out around Cape Brett and into the Bay of Islands. We managed to get X-Pat up to 8.4 knots on a close reach heading around the Cape and then had a nice run into the Bay. We dropped anchor around mid afternoon in the aptly named Paradise Bay, for another peaceful sheltered night.

A close reach to Cape Brett

More cheese Gromit?

Sundowners in any weather
On Sunday the skies looked a bit threatening and so we motored up the channel and are now berthed at the Bay of Islands Marina, where we originally arrived in NZ back in December. We have come full circle.

We have had a nice few days at the marina, doing final provisioning, cleaning up the boat yet again and getting our final internet fix before departure. Today Leanne headed off to see the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, whilst Pat and Debi headed across to Russell on the ferry for lunch at the Duke of Malborough Hotel. We had a nice relaxed lunch with some good beer and finished off with a whisky in front of a log fire. Luxury compared with the prospects of ten days at sea!

So tomorrow we will finally leave New Zealand. We have booked our appointment with customs at 09:30 tomorrow and then we will be heading out across the bay with a plan to land at either Va Va’u or Ha’apai islands in Tonga in about 8-10 days time.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

.... and still we wait

After a weekend of hanging around, our new alternator duly arrived on Tuesday as was promised. It was fitted immediately and so on Wednesday (30th) morning we left our berth at Gulf Harbour Marina, filled our tanks with fuel and set off north in very light southerly winds. It was a pleasant and gentle re-introduction to making passage with only our headsail up and motor sailing the 55 miles up to Marsden Point. This is our planned departure point for Tonga.

A coolish sail up to Marsden Point
On the way North a paranoid Pat checked the engine bay, to find it swimming in coolant. Our engineers at the marina had failed to tighten a clip, which had rattled loose. Thankfully we found it quite quickly and managed to fix it. This was then followed by hourly checks of the engine but all was fine.

We anchored in Urquhart Bay where we had sheltered back in February on our way south. It was a fine evening with a nice sunset but considerably colder than on our last visit. 

Sundowners in Urquhart's Bay
On Thursday we had relaxed morning and then set off with the tide in the afternoon to do some man overboard and reefing drills out in the bay. These went well and we came up with some new ideas of how to do things as one always does when one practices. Three hours later we returned to Urquhart’s Bay for another relaxed but cold night at anchor.

Off to do some MOB Practice
Earlier in the week we had thought that we may be able to leave for Tonga on Thursday, but our weather expert Roger Badham, advised against it and suggested Tuesday the 5th as the earliest departure date. So with that in mind we decided to move across to Marsden Cove Marina whilst we wait for the weather.

We awoke on Friday morning to Pat’s fairly significant birthday, blueberry pancakes and blue skies. Looking forward to celebrating in the marina we started the engine, only to watch the alternator temperature soar to 120 degC! The sinking feeling of skipper and crew was palpable. After a few phone calls we found a very helpful electrician, Shane Batten, who is based at Marsden Cove. He advised us how to disconnect the alternator and we headed up the river to our berth at the marina.

Passing the oil refinery
Shane came aboard pretty quickly and after taking a few measurements and phoning the Balmar (alternator manufacturer) technician, he concluded that the alternator was fine (relief) but it looks as though the temperature sensor needed replacing. He also concluded that there was probably nothing wrong with the old alternator! 

Our luck doesn’t seem to be in at the moment as it is a bank holiday on Monday and so we won’t see the new sensor until Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning. We just have to hope that we don’t miss another weather window.  
The big red alternator, well one of them!
After the eventful morning there was nothing left to do but to celebrate the significant birthday with plenty of bubbly and hot chocolate with rum!

Significant birthday celebrations
On a positive note we were glad that we took Roger’s advice and didn’t leave on Thursday. The weekend brought 40 knots from the north-east and we were glad to be safely tucked up in the marina. Leanne has continued to embroider cushions and towels and is transforming the onboard d├ęcor. Both Debi and Leanne have also been slaving away in the galley turning out delicious food to try to keep the skipper’s morale up.

Stormy skies at Marsden Cove

Tucked in at Marsden Cove

Chef at work

The moral of the sorry tale is to trust your intuition. If a so called expert is telling you that something is broken and it doesn’t seem correct, then get a second opinion. We did ask for a second electrical guy to look at the alternator but he was from the same company as the first guy. We should have got an independent view. If anyone wants a strong recommendation of who not to use for any electrical work at Gulf Harbour Marina then please ask. We will never be going back.

It's now Tuesday and there is no sign of the temperature sensor yet. This is not really a problem as the promised weather window never materialised and it now looks like it may be over a week until we can depart for Tonga. This is cruising!

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