"Egret" N4674 - Scott and Mary Flanders
Ed. note: On February 10, 2011, Scott and Mary Flanders, on board their Nordhavn 46, Egret, arrived in the Canary Islands. In doing so, Egret became the eighth Nordhavn to circumnavigate the globe. It had been four years, five months since the couple departed Gran Canaria, intent on seeing as much of the earth as possible, although not necessarily with an end goal to circle the globe. Voyage of Egret documents the Flanders’ entire trip, an endless adventure that has put them in touch with the most fabulous places and interesting people. Much route planning and forecasting was required in order to get to some of their ports of call. But the days of detailed planning are over…for now. “Egret” is now back in Fort Lauderdale, the place the couple called home for so many years, and, ironically, the starting point of their world wide cruising escapade that began with the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally in 2004. They currently travel hither and yon, sometimes by boat, sometimes not. Here, the latest update from the Flanders as they keep us continually apprised.
August 24, 2009
Position: S41 15.62 E173 16.86 Nelson Marina, D27, Nelson, South Island, New Zealand
Crikey dix mis amigos, it is boat work time. Before we get started you'll notice in Picture 1 we are back in the marina. Good ol' D27. These are our neighbors to the west. N55 New Paige is at the far left. There is more to picture 2 than just another pretty picture. To Mary and I there is a story here. According to the camera recording time we took this picture at 5:29.27 PM, August 12th, the afternoon before Egret's arrival in Nelson. You can see it is calm with no white caps in the picture. The location is the last cape or land extension before turning into Tasman Bay and south to Nelson. Beyond this cape is NO land or obstacles before Nelson. Earlier that morning we got killerated in sustained winds of mid 30's, gusting to over 40. Then there was the tide issue. Ugly. Then this peaceful setting, tranquility and promise of a smooth ride to our destination. So it is not just another pretty picture, it is the calm after the storm. Weather does come from time to time and calm eventually returns. What we are saying here is when you go out in Your Boat and get your first killeration* just remember this picture or one you took yourselves. *When you are on watch, seat belted into your Stidd, projectile hurling all over your la di da Furuno stuff and your other is down below softly moaning...quietly dry heaving into the darkness, remember it does get better. You get the picture.
Now we have rocked* your boat a bit and you're WIDE awake let's move on to techno ramblings. *(I giggled so much after typing the last sentence Mary came up to see what was going on. I can just see newbies reading this drivel in wide eyed horror...don't believe everything we write.) And while we're in the not believing everything mode, last VofE's Nuclear Sunrise picture was a little 'juiced' in post production. That sunrise was a bit tamer. The next day we had the same sunrise and I watched it carefully. For the first time ever I saw (Mary was off watch) a light to light - medium green 45 second segment of the sunrise. This is where the exaggerated green came from in Nuclear Sunrise.
So back to techno. Oh, happy days!! First, the hot water heater is repaired, back in the boat and heating as we type this. Mary and I removed the plumbing and wiring from the water heater and removed it from under the master berth. We spliced couplings in the water hoses and got the fresh water working again sans hot water. Dick Anderson took it home to take apart. He made a simple pressure test arrangement out of pipe fittings and a pressure gauge. He then pressure tested it to 40lbs and found the leak in the bottom of the heating tank. The outer shell is rectangular but the inner water tank is round. He even made a few second movie of the leak dripping with his point and shoot camera. Dick took it to a marine engineering shop of friends of his. They cut a plate out of the bottom of the tank around the leak. What they found was interesting. The leak came from a small spot obviously eaten thru. It was surrounded by other places with less degradation. The remaining aluminum plate was perfect with NO sign of electrolysis or scale. The shop folks think it was small pieces of copper wire that got inside during the heater construction as the wiring was put in place. Copper will eat right thru aluminum, particularly in salt water (not the case here of course). The lesson here is with a bit of extra work, obvious help from friends and a minimal cost to weld a patch plate over the cutout we have essentially a new/repaired heater instead of spending $700 + air freight from the States. Egret's kinda deal.
Now for the big news. Batteries. In a nutshell, Egret's new Lifeline AGM house bank batteries (4 8D - 1050 amps total) were reduced to 115 usable amps after leaving Nelson on our winter cruise. To keep charged we burned lotsa extra fuel and charged heavy twice a day. Egret's happy little Lugger main engine has a 130 amp Leese Nevile alternator that has an adjustable voltage regulator (adjustable on the alternator regulator itself by turning a small screw). When we left Oban heading north we cranked up the voltage to 14.4 volts (max recommended by the Lifeline folks), and ran the same voltage for 3 days continuously under way except for a short stop in Akaroa. When the alternator was charging just 1.5 amps or so at 14.40 volts I turned it down to 13.5 volts. Nearing Nelson we went back to 14.40 volts. After arriving Nelson we turned on shore power but did not turn on the 50/60 cycle Victron battery charger to keep the batteries up. This was a test to see how many amps we now had usable vs before. We ended up with 330 usable amps before the batteries were down to 12.2 volts (50% discharged). Now THIS was a step in the right direction! The next test was to see if the Victron would recharge the batteries to at least that level. We charged for a day and a half on shore power and turned off the charger again. (during that day and a half we turned off, waited 2-3 minutes, then turned the charger back on again so it would bulk charge for 4 more hours (the factory setting). Wellll, this time we had 346 usable amps and probably a bit more if we had truly run it down to 12.2 volts....settled. Later. During a third test the batteries reached nearly 400 usable amps. I think we are going in the right direction and may not have to buy a third inverter/charger to have the ability to equalize the batteries. Today I spoke to a local tech who is going to come by and see if he can make a reasonable diagnosis on the Trace SW 2512 inverter/charger so we may buy parts in the States and he will install them on our return.
And we'll keep testing until we get comfortable with how things work and we are back to at least 450 usable amps. In conclusion so far it appears AGM's need higher voltage from the alternator while under way. Also, if the batteries are depressed as Egret's were the Victron 50/60 cycle charger won't bring them back up on generator. In two tests on generator, the Victron went from bulk charge to float in 1h - 10m the first time and 50 minutes the second. As we learn more about the batteries we'll pass it along. Thinking about this a bit more I don't understand when you buy a Victron charger they don't have complete instructions on how it operates, what to expect and not to expect from performance. Same for Lifeline AGM's. The information we received with the batteries was minimal. This information could save both companies lots of back end trouble much less helping boat owners have fewer problem or problem solve if they do. We sent an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org asking for his opinion on charging voltage while under way but haven't heard back. When we do we'll pass it along.
Refrigeration. If you remember our fridge was boxes on the back deck for most of our winter cruise. It was cool enough to hold food including leftovers. However, that is wasn't we signed up for when we bought two Isotherm units, 1 freezer (perfect so far) and a fridge with a small freezer to the side. The electrical module gave up on the fridge. While in Oban we had one shipped in and we sent our old one back. The new unit lasted 5 days then quit. In the meantime the Isotherm distributor in the States sent one to a friend for pick up when we return in October. We paid for the second unit and would keep the original warranted electrical unit as a spare. When I went to install the new, new electrical unit I discovered a broken wire in the factory wiring harness, still with the wire coating in place and not cut. SO, it seems the unit we sent back was OK. Broken wire was the problem. We called the Nelson fridge folks and told them the story and said we would go without a fridge until we returned to Nelson and would take the old electrical unit back. In the end we were given the new unit and paid the bill today in Nelson. (the old unit was already on its way back for the NZ distributor's warranty). We will repair the wire and all should be well. However, this will have to wait. The weather has been so sunny and beautiful it has been hard to work on the boat. Tomorrow (Fri) we are taking a day off and will visit the Omaka Air Museum (with WWI airplanes) as a day trip.
I almost forgot.......the wing engine. We had the wing rebuilt in Ushuaia, Argentina after it swallowed sea water courtesy of the Argentine coast storms, ruining the valves and valve seats. While on the winter cruise in Stewart Island we used the wing from time to time charging the house bank batteries (we added a 110amp Nissan Pathfinder alternator to the wing keeping the 55amp alternator as a spare). The wing gobbled oil. So much oil it wouldn't be usable to run for days at a time in an emergency situation because there is no way to check the oil accurately while under way. It starts right away so it has compression. I think it is the valve guide seals. We had a tech aboard today that took a compression test and all were down a bit from new but relatively consistent with each other. We have ordered new valve guide seals. The engineering shop thinks they can replace the seals without removing the head. This would be nice because in addition to the extra labor the head gasket costs $400NZ. We'll see.
And one last techno item. Egret's hydraulic steering ram's (Hynautic K2 ram) ball joint to rudder arm connection is sloppy. The rudder arm is quite heavy stainless steel and thicker than the shoulder on the ball joint bolt. (Apparently the bolt is normally installed on thinner rudder arms for girl boats). Part of the bolt going thru the rudder arm has smaller diameter threads than the non threaded shoulder. In any case the local marine engineering shop is getting a proper ball joint and will machine fit the bolt shoulder to the hole in the rudder arm.
In any case we feel good about boat issues and most were taken care of in less than a week after arriving in Nelson. Longer range plans are to sell the catamaran dinghy (REALLY tough decision) for weight and more importantly, windage. We will replace it with a new or used 9 1/2' or so aluminum bottom inflatable. Our small dink is a 9' aluminum bottom inflatable but a small 9'. We will still use it most of the time but with crew aboard for the upcoming long stretches its best if we have a larger dink. While in the yard this November will also have a boom lift take the solar panels and small antennas off the top. We will then remove the pvc top fabric and will have a lace-on skirt stitched to the existing top fabric then will replace the top material and reinstall the solar panels. We mentioned our upcoming 15 month plans covering lotsa miles. During this time and the following year as well we will have little use for the flybridge. While under way we will roll up the top material and lash it into two tubes on either side of the solar panel mounts reducing windage. Along those same lines we will give the flybridge dock boxes a thorough going thru for weight as well as building two holders behind the Portuguese bridge for the two extra LPG tanks normally carried on the flybridge (we carry 4 LPG bottles total). Bottom line: every effort will be made to reduce high weight and windage for the upcoming 2+ years of heavy travel.
Today (Friday) we went to the Omaka Air Museum as mentioned. Dick Anderson joined us. Dick was a pilot for many years, both fixed wing and later helicopters, so had a lot to add as well. The museum settings are more lifelike than any we have ever seen. Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings and others) has a personal interest in the museum and a number of display aircraft are his. His movie set company fabricated the displays. The entire museum (thus far) is WWI aircraft in different settings from a very early bi-plane with the observer shooting a rifle at another plane to the crash scene from the Red Baron. There is quite a lot of authentic Red Baron memorabilia including pieces cut from his plane by the Aussies. (He crashed near an Aussie infantry camp) The Allies gave the Baron a funeral with honors in France. Another plane was stuffed into a tree. And so it went. The museum was sweet desert after attending the Omaka Air Show earlier in the year. Any locals reading this, a trip to Omaka is well worth your time.
The drive to and from was interesting as well. It is lambing season. Baby lambs were everywhere staying close to their mom's. We pulled over to take a picture of a mom and baby and found the ewe had JUST given birth. JUST. The lamb was still wet and trying to see. Newborns are called 'yellow lambs' (and it was until it dried). It was laying down as well gathering energy to stand. Mom was giving it its first bath. On the return the same ewe gave birth a second time. We stopped again and got pictures of both lambs. The first born was up and around and the second was resting. Within a few minutes the second was up looking for a snack. Interesting.
Now we have internet access again and projects are under way we have time to look up other cruiser's adventures. We got caught up on the Sushi run, Ice Dancer II and got up to date on the Northwest Passage assault by Sprague Theobald and crew aboard N57, Began. Later while perusing the N Owners website we came across several emotional e-mails from Bagan, not shown 'raw' on the NW Passage website, to Dan Streech of PAE. The same e-mails also appeared in the Nordhavn Dreamers, Yahoo Groups site (available to everyone). In case you haven't been following this years Amazing Adventure of a fiberglass production power boat testing herself against the ice, below is a slightly toned down* version (for Boat Kids) of Sprague's emotional rapid fire e-mail's to Dan. *the spelling and grammar are included as sent. You can FEEL the tiredness, emotion, relief and enthusiasm in the disjointed words sent by an obvious very literate author.
(Sprague Theobold) Dan, we had to use Bagan as an ice breaker all during that day and last night. She was an ocean tug pushing massive sheets of 4' ice away and/or breaking it. Apart from some gelcoat (very slight) damage in the bulb, not a scratch or whimper (Greg the diver went under to look). We were all staggered by here strength and power. With NO word of exaggeration she saved out lives as one of the reason we made the decision to bash our way off shore a few miles last night was because the pack ice we were trapped in was pushing us to shore and we were only .3 miles off. Scared out of my darn wits!!
Thanks! Finally got out into the "yellow" zone, "should" be in Gjoa Haven tonight.. Thought we were truly screwed.
Absolutely! Pure and simple; while another boat had to call for the breaker this boat saved our butts!! Also, I will go anywhere and say anything to anyone re Nordhavn's! Sprague
Gjoa Haven Baby!!! Dan, we're here! Dropped the hook last night at 2 a.m. After 2 long day, we finally broke out of the ice and when we saw the new chart showing none ahead (except for the occasional growler) I went to my cabin, shut the door and broke down and cried like a baby.
Gosh Dan... I've never know any pressure or mental anguish as I did the last few days. The chances of Bagan being on the bottom were well over 75%. The boats you build saved our lives and Dan, I will forever be indebted to PAE for that, no exaggeration. We'll be here for maybe a day, try to get a bit of new food (not needed) gas(somewhat needed) and diesel (not really needed, but...) then on to Cam Bay. When (if) we get out from under The Passage I'm sure I'll cry again. This was either hands down the most stupid, reckless idea I've ever had or a good one. Heck with the documentary, I should write a damn book!! Taking nothing for granted anymore. Hugs to you and Marcia...Sprague
(VofE) Great stuff here folks. History* is being made. Sprague Theobald and crew pushing Began into Neverbeforeland* is the Real Deal. Egret's highest compliment. Pretty cool. Pun intended. *records are for others to announce.
We have other tings going on but those will wait until the next VofE. We want the last thing you remember is the few paragraphs above. We are really excited for this crew and their effort. Ciao.
August 14, 2009
Position: S41 15.62 E173 16.86 Nelson Marina, Berth D28, Nelson, South Island, New Zealand
Crikey dix mis amigos, Egret is on her last overnighter before leaving New Zealand, unless we change our minds of course. Tonight's run will take us to the entrance of Cook Strait between N. and S. Island. The weather forecast calls for 25 knots of wind and rough seas. 25 knots of wind usually doesn't mean rough seas, however Cook Strait is VERY tidal with the Tasman Sea trying to enter the Pacific and the opposite every 6 hours. Wind against tide is the rough part. Since starting this trip north the Cook report has changed daily so we'll see. This trip we have been using the excellent NZ Maritime Radio weather reports broadcast 7 times a day. Weather is first announced on VHF channel 16 then switched to 5 different S. Island broadcast area stations. Weather is first given for the top of S Island, then counter clockwise around S. Island for the remaining 8 geographic areas. So far since leaving Oban we had no wind over 24 knots or seas over 3 meters. It did chop up for a bit causing us to throttle back from 1630 RPM to 1575, then later to 1525. Each time the ride smoothed out and the first slowdown we actually increased speed because we weren't burying the bow. Speaking of weather, we had an interesting sunrise the other morning. It was a bit weird as you can see (picture 1) however it cleared, the sun came out and stayed out for the day. It looked like the older dude from N. Korea finally pushed The Button. Mary's picture taken at Mason Bay during the mud fest hike in and out is a bit more subtle. (picture 2)
Timing Egret's arrival at Cook Strait entrance for morning light, we anchored for a few hours in French Harbor off the town of Akaroa. Mary navigated and ran Egret in between the high cliffs of the entrance channel. Range lights at the entrance were a big help, however the range lights in town were obscured by town lights. In the end between fairly accurate electronic charting, radar, a partial moon, town light reflecting on the water and so on we didn't have a problem. We anchored in 18' and dropped 125' of chain (5.6m x 39m) This was our second short visit to Akaroa. I believe we will return by car for a couple days. It is a beautiful little town. We can see why the French chose this site to begin their New Zealand colonization. The entrance channel is deep (about 5nm), usually 1/2nm wide (1 kilometer) and the harbor is protected from the worst winds and any sea swell. We hauled TK and cleared the channel entrance at 10:15 this morning. (same day).
Akaroa is on the south side of Banks Peninsula. Banks Peninsula looks like a thumb sticking into the Pacific. On the north side of the peninsula is Lyttelton Harbor. Lyttelton is exposed to the north and where we didn't want to be with this prevailing NE swell. The eastern end of the peninsula is high hills covered in green. There are occasional valleys V-ing down to the ocean. The majority of the seaward edge is as if a giant bread knife sliced the end off the peninsula. The sheer cliffs are spectacular.
Since beginning our trip north we have been visited often by our albatross friends including the giant, 11' (3.4m) wingspan, wandering albatrosses. The Big Guys are the battleships of southern birds. BG's are joined by the grey headed albatrosses (also called Bulers Molymawks) as well as painted petrels. Since leaving the peninsula behind this afternoon, bird life has been scarce except for a few petrels.
One interesting offshore observation was the relationship between seals and sea birds. Sixty miles offshore while it was calm we saw a seal surrounded by flowing albatrosses and a few petrels dipping and diving overhead. The seal appeared to be deliberately splashing individual albatrosses with its flippers. We just thought they were playing. Not so. When seals eat a larger fish they can't swallow whole they have to break their fish apart slinging their head back and forth. When they get a manageable piece to swallow they do then pick up the remaining piece of fish and start over. Well guess who is there to capitalize on the shaken off pieces? Yup, the birds.
Onboard life has been quite routine. Mary and I alternate 4 hour watches during the night (S 8-12, M12-4, S4-9-10). During the day we take irregular time watches. We do our engine room checks every hour. This is a quick and simple check. We have 3M white bilge diapers under the oil and fuel service side of the engine so we can spot any leaks immediately. We also check the Naiad stabilizer tower oil level, the stabilizer cooling pumps for leaks and a flashlight look into the bilge for excess water. The salon hatch to the engine room checks mentioned previously are done with a flashlight. A flashlight (torch) shows problems more clearly than engine room lights. Next we go into the master stateroom for the Racor filter vacuum gauge check*. During the night we don't open the door and wake the off watch. At night we have a large double pane view port to check for any water leaks without opening the engine room door. For this check we turn on the engine room lights.
*Vacuum issues don't happen suddenly so its not a big deal. We switch filters from one dual Racor to the other at 7 inches of vacuum. The book says change the filter at 10" of vacuum but once the filter hits 7" it isn't long before 10" of vacuum. Why wait? Along these same lines, when tanks are full it takes a long time for the vacuum gauge to register any vacuum at all. As the fuel tank nears its last 25% capacity the lift pump on the engine has to work harder to lift the fuel without the head pressure of fuel from the tank. Assuming clean tanks your filters aren't suddenly getting full of debris causing the vacuum to rise as the tank level drops.
Another check we occasionally perform is the exhaust temperature at each individual exhaust port. This is to check to see if all injectors are firing properly. We use an infrared temp gun (with the red lazer beam) and check the exhaust port just before the exhaust manifold. All temps should be reasonably close. Any wild variation means injector issues and needs to be dealt with at the first opportunity. Egret's Lugger (main engine) injectors were changed the first time at just over 7000 hours. This says a lot for clean tanks and 2 micron* filtered fuel. *Egret's engine is a low horsepower, non turbo engine. Higher horsepower and turbocharged engines don't recommend 2 micron filters so please don't try 2 micron filters on your larger engine unless recommended by the manufacturer.
When Mary woke me for my morning watch at 4:00 the seas were far spaced 1 meter swells that were glassy calm on top. Within minutes of taking the helm it started. Maritime weather predicted the northern part of our reporting area (Conway) would increase to 20 knots. And it did.....plus. By the time we entered the Cook reporting area at the entrance to Cook Strait it was mid 30's sustained, gusting over 40. Tall, tight, current driven seas to match. While wintering in Barcelona, Spain, Dennis and Julie Fox from Krogen 58 Sea Fox gave Mary and I a cast bronze bell with the Egret logo part of the casting. This pride and joy is mounted on the starboard side just behind the pilothouse door. We call it the D&J bell. We think of D&J when we get our bell rung. And did we get it rung. Our speed dropped from the high 7's to 3.2 to 4.8 knots. However, in time we beat our way around the corner and north past the shallow water compression zone.
So lets think about wind and water for a bit. In a mountain stream there are rapids, shallow accelerated water, and slow moving pools, deep water. Tidal currents are the same. As tide races from deep to shallow water it accelerates. Water likes to follow a surface. So does wind. This is why wind AND water accelerate around headlands and capes. What logic tells you may be protection from the wind may not be. Once in Spain we saw wind lifting water straight up from the sea in a thin straight line a few hundred yards (meters) off a sheer cliff. The wind was blowing less than 15 knots on both sides of the accelerated wind. We drove thru the spray, got a salt bath and a little rock to one side then it was over. Taking this into consideration we used the chart to route ourselves thru the deeper water away from land. Also, C-Map charting shows current waves in places along with eddys and obviously we avoided these areas. So we did the best we could considering we have no local knowledge. (Later) Our plan worked perfectly.
We will leave the introductory sentence stand even though it is now a lie. This shows how weather affects our plans at times by the hour or half day. We originally planned to stop overnight then on to Nelson in the morning thru French Pass, a VERY tidal pass. Weather is coming Thursday evening or Friday. Today is Wednesday, very soon to be Thursday. Nelson has a tidal, shallow entrance. Docking* in the marina is greatly affected by tide, and to a lesser degree, wind. Instead of spending the night on anchor we are under way overnight to Nelson taking the looong safe way around ALL the sounds with NOTHING to hit. Of course now the tide is again our friend and is whipping us along even though we have slowed to 1275rpm delaying our arrival. If the tide doesn't swing we will arrive at 4:30 in the AM. Then what? This kid isn't going to enter the harbor at night......in current even if there is little wind at the time. We'll see. *We don't dock often so each time it is new adventure.
Later, early in the morning. We would have arrived at our waypoint to enter Nelson Harbor at 3:15 AM because of current push. Sooo, we turned right and anchored in Torent Bay along the coast. We have been there before but STILL, there was NO moon, fairly heavy rain and electronic charting was at best so-so. Radar it was. Mary stood in the chilly rain for a half hour with a large spotlight double checking. In the end we made a perfect anchorage by taking our time and zooming down the radar. In the morning light we saw we couldn't have anchored in a better spot. We arrive in Nelson in a little over an hour. So soon the winter cruise ends. What a great trip. We're still swimming in experiences. We don't know why more locals don't cruise Stewart in the winter, particularly during June and July, the cooler but most settled months. Ironically, I believe we had better weather than Nelson during these two months. We didn't see another cruising boat during our entire 4 1/2 month cruise.
Once ashore we will tend to lists of lists. Lotsa details we won't bore you with. Like getting haircuts. Mary always looks good but I look like a prisoner even though I gave myself a super scissors haircut a month or so ago standing in front of the mirror cutting in reverse. (Its been over 4 months for both of us) As the boat fix issues unfold we'll share the details.
When we slow down we'll do an overall wrap up of the Winter Cruise. Back at the dock VofE's will slow down. It isn't as interesting, however we will do our best with flashbacks of the winter cruise. The adrenaline is still fizzing and popping and we want to share the experiences. Wave bashing begins again this December and will continue for quite a while so we'll be back VofEing regularly. These next couple........few years will be VERY exciting. It is our goal you don't watch these events unfold, however instead you will be tending to Your Adventure. If not, enjoy the ride. We will. Ciao.
August 10, 2009
Position: S44 34.25 E172 22.20 48.1 nm off Akaroa Harbor Entrance, South Island, New Zealand
Crikey dix mis amigos, we're still sitting waiting on more reasonable weather before crossing to Fiordland. Before we start whining about that lets talk about a leaf. Picture 1. This leaf is from what is called locally the bushman's tree. In New Zealand, what North Americans call woods, New Zealanders call the bush. In New Zealand you tramp thru the bush instead of hiking thru the woods. So, in North America this tree could be called the woodsman's tree. The top of the leaf is waxy green as you can see from the picture. The underside is soft and has a texture like velvet. It grows everywhere. In protected areas the tree grows to perhaps 30' (9.4m) high and is dense with small limbs and leaves on the outside of the tree. The inside of the tree is mostly barren of leaves. In higher elevations it struggles to exist and grows quite sparse and short so the wind doesn't sweep it away. Picture 2. In any case the leaves are at times a bushman's best friend when nature calls. Until 1977 the bushman's leaf was a legal post card in Stewart Island. Messages could be written on the back and would be posted.
If you haven't fallen asleep reading so far there is a bigger story here than a simple leaf. When cruising you don't have the usual privilege of watching The Idiot Box and having some talking head giving us bad news (what sells) or some fairy tale sitcom straining our intelligence. We have to entertain ourselves. We take interest in little things, like leaves for example. When you spend time in places you have the opportunity to learn something new. We could have stayed in Opua (where we arrived in North Island) and smothered ourselves in American culture brought from back home, OR we could expanding our thinking a bit and look at something new. When Egret arrived in Opua we spent a lot of time with the Vision crew we first met in Argentina. They are from New Zealand and took us here and there showing us their home (country). Additionally we land toured North Island from top to bottom in the HBC (Honda beater car). After leaving Opua and arriving in Nelson we met another local (Dick Anderson) who in time joined Egret on our cruise south to Stewart. Dick is an encyclopedia of knowledge about NZ nature and we learned quite a lot from him. And we met more locals here and there and learned more. We spent two weeks on a South Island camping trip, seeing something new every day and learning all the time. So you can see where this is going.......showing you what to look forward to when its Your Time. We'll stop here. You get the picture.
By now you are probably gasping for something tangible so we'll give you some techno info we promised last VofE. This could come under the category of 'what's wrong now'. We're not being pessimistic but explaining realities of cruising. Nothing lasts forever and neither do boat parts. Trading on must have 'new tings' and other boater's misfortune (maintenance/repair/replacement) allowed us to be here.....literally. (I used to be in the wholesale boat parts business). Now it is our turn to give back, so to speak. We'll give you the current list.
Fresh water pump. The fresh water pump was taking longer and longer to raise pressure and shut off. So we changed it with a new one from spares. Taking it apart later we found a bunch of mush under the plate where the three valves sit. Now cleaned it should work as new so it is back in the box as a possible replacement. The fresh water pump is mounted above and behind the two watermaker pumps in the engine room and a difficult place to get to. However, we have changed enough pumps to have a system so this time it was no biggie and we didn't even bleed.
Hot water heater. Previously mentioned in VofE our hot water heater has a slow leak. Our fix is to keep the boat listing to stbd thru fuel balance allowing 2 silicone seal dams divert water to two holes drilled in the subfloor. From there it makes its way to the bilge. Its not high tech but it works. A hot water heater is nothing more than an inner box that holds water surrounded by insulation and an outside shell. There are two 1/2" IPS (international pipe size) female threads on the back and 4 on the front plus the electrical heating element. The two threads on the back are for the engine hot water by-pass loop that pumps hot engine water thru a loop inside the heater for use while under way. We sent an e-mail to Dick back in Nelson checking on how much it would cost to have the inner box fabricated here in NZ vs shipping a new complete unit from the States*. *The brand of heater we have is only distributed in Canada and the States. We want to replace the unit with an identical unit so we don't have to reroute plumbing. We haven't heard back on the fabrication cost so that is where we stand there. Later. Dick replied saying the fabricators suggested replacing just the defective panel with a new plate of aluminum. Simple and it should work. When we return to Nelson we'll give it a go.
Now for the biggie. While in Opua we changed our batteries for a complete new set of Lifeline AGM batteries. We replaced the 8D main engine start battery, the 4D wing/generator start battery as well as the 4 8D batteries in the house bank. (the engine start battery and wing/gen start battery were the original Lifeline AGM's since new) After they were first installed we took a short cruise and tested the batteries. They went 2 1/2 days without charging on solar alone. After the test we charged way earlier in order to have hot water. The batteries were GREAT. At the same time we bought a 12V, 100amp Victron stand alone 50/60 cycle battery charger for use while at the dock. Leaving Opua we ran 3 days to Nelson and were back on shore power. Leaving on this trip we had barely 100 usable amps of battery instead of nearly 500. Lifeline AGM's are 50% discharged when the batteries reach 12.2V. We never allow the batteries to get below 12.3V so needless to say we have been charging a LOT!! This takes another 3+ gallons of fuel per day (11.5ltr). This doesn't sound like much but we have been gone since May. Simple math.
So we started on the problem. Justin Godbar (email@example.com) has been a big help in finding where the problem lies. I never felt defective batteries were the problem and still feel that way. We also started working with Bob at Cater Marine in Opua where we bought the Victron charger. To keep this reasonably short I'll pass along what we think we know so far. The batteries have been WAY undercharged. They can be resurrected (to what degree I don't know) by equalizing them for 8 hours at 15.5 volts. The Victron charger is programed to bulk* charge for 4 hours before dropping to float. (*bulk charge is called absorption in NZ) Testing the Victron the past 2 days, bulk charging drops off after 50 minutes instead of 4 hours. You can see how the batteries were constantly undercharged. There are 3 dip switches on the Victron to select the battery type; lead acid, AGM and gel. In the AGM setting the voltage reaches 14.7 volts. .3 more than the max charge for an AGM. When set on the gel setting the voltage maxes at 14.65V. WAY more than 13.8V max for a gel. The Victron charger is not only dropping off bulk charge at 25% charge or less but when it is bulk charging it is overcharging. So we're working toward a replacement unit from Victron.
In the meantime our SW2512 Trace inverter was put out of commission many months ago by a defective Whale type water hose fitting spraying the inverter/charger with water. Yes, it was a light show at the time and I was next to it. The SW2512 has a programmable setting for time of bulk and float along with an equalizing mode. Our replacement (spare) inverter charger is not programmable for anything and drops off bulk charge too fast as well. We sent the SW2512 to the Xantrax (manufacture of Trace) NZ service center in Auckland. To make a long story short the tech didn't have a clue what to do except replace two VERY expensive boards (1K+ each) to see if that fixed the problem. The bottom line here is we recently wrote an e-mail to a Ft Lauderdale electrical repair center for Xantrax who DO know how to fix things. I explained exactly what the charger portion does and asked with that description could they give any diagnosis. We haven't heard back. The SW2512 weighs nearly 100lbs so we can't just throw it in our luggage when we return to the States in October.
Now you know what we know. Like any series of problems we have to work thru it. We could do it the hard way and worry ourselves to death or take each issue step by step until it is resolved. One thing I can promise, it WILL be resolved before we leave NZ. These are the realities of cruising. It WILL happen to you in time. Cruisers that give up because of occasional inconvenience probably never should have taken up boating to start with. This group needs to be spoon fed sitcoms and live in a more comfortable vanilla environment. Get nature thru BBC. Watch other people do things on TIB (The Idiot Box). We'll take the leaf.
Finally its time.......to whine about weather. We were boat bound for a day and a half by waves of wind and rain. We finally had enough and braved Cape Horn seas in the dink getting to shore and yup, we got rained on. Off we went to the South Seas Hotel for a bit of internet catch up and a cuppa. A couple more stops, a short, single backpack trip to the grocery store and we were on our way back. Yesterday we left earlier in sunshine (guess who was so optimistic they took their sun glasses?) We ate an enormous meal (lunch special $6 U.S.) at the South Seas, fed the internet machine more gold, another trip to the market then were off to return a book and DVD to a local. On the way we got blasted by heavy rain and even hail. Hail was better than rain because it didn't get us wet. Fortunately we were walking down wind. Before we got to her house water was running off the foul weather gear into our calf high rubber boots (wellies). Then it was back to Egret and a cuppa to warm up. Fortunately the Dickinson diesel heater keeps the salon and pilothouse nice and warm so coming home in this kind of weather is always a treat.
Today is warmer and the SUN is out. As soon as the laundry is dry we be gone. Later. Out and about we went and enjoyed the sunshine, lunch at the South Seas and walks here and there. Before we left this morning Mary read what I had written above and picked up on something I don't really see or think about. We write about dirt dwellers, marina queens, girl boats with varnish and generally give folks who don't do what we think they should a hard time. First let me say we were dirt dwellers the far majority of our lives, have been and will be again shortly marina queens, and used to own a Grand Banks all glittery with varnish (we took great pride in how she looked). The far majority of folks who may take offense to this abuse wouldn't read it anyway. They aren't interested. Those of you who do read this drivel are interested in something we are doing or have to say. If we offended any of this group or think we feel above any readers, that isn't the case. We enjoy pounding out these words sharing our experiences and insight and hope to encourage at least a few of you to come join us in The Life. That is our only goal, without venue. Please take no offense to pot shot ramblings. Its all tongue in cheek. This said, don't think you have a free ride in the future, dwellers and marina queens. Glitter boat folks and so on. You get the picture.
Returning to Egret yesterday afternoon we had an interesting experience. Walking up a hill not far from the trail to the beach where we left the dink a lady stopped and asked if we wanted a ride. Actually we didn't particularly want a ride enjoying the exercise but got in anyway. She asked if we were going to Golden Bay wharf. We asked how she knew who we were and said "that is Stewart Island". She is also friends with the lady who loaned us the DVD and book and knew we were there twice. While dropping us off she said several times to make sure we stop by "anytime" and told us where she lives. So we will. Don'tchaloveit? When you arrive as a tourist trying to cram everything in in an alloted time, small town folks are still friendly. That is their nature. However, there is a difference.
Most folks here are, or were tied to the fishing industry. The museum curator lady's husband husband fishes Stewart Island South Cape around to Easy Harbor on the west coast. This would be equivalent to fishing around Cape Horn. On a good day when the tide swings it is BAD. On a bad day it is Armageddon squared. Ironically, the lady's husband we met the day before at the museum fishes Fiordland. His 10 year plan is to quit fishing and do what we do. Pretty cool. Island folks particularly, and particularly island folks living in a tough environment like Stewart Island appreciate yachties who live as they do. It makes us feel special. In actuality, they are special, living and working in this environment enjoying their way of life.
Today was another rain day however we were out and about walking in the rain more than not. After the traditional South Seas stop we walked out of town and into a DOC trail. At the trail head is a Y. One trail leads along the bay toward Kaipipi Bay where we anchored before. Turning right you go into Fern Valley. We had little light unfortunately but it was indeed fern valley and the prettiest hike around town. The walkway is elevated with a chicken wire mesh over the boardwalk to keep from slippng. On both sides is serious mud. The trail follows a small stream crossing it several times. It was foggy, steaming, streaming, dripping and a bit chilly. And yes, it was beautiful. If we get a chance before we leave, AND its dry, we'll go back for another look. Tonight the wind is back with gusts hovering just under 40 knots. Unlike the other night we don't have wave wrap coming from around the point. Tonight it is full on the bow coming from out in the bay. We are rocking and rolling like a chop at sea. At least the barometer is rising so this should be over by morning. TK must be buried half way to China. When we leave we'll have to break TK out with the boat, not the windlass.
The next day it was back to Fern Valley in sunshine. Imagine that? At least the sun was out for a couple hours and we didn't get rained on. On the way back we stopped by the post office to see if our fridge part was in. (Yup, something else we will mention later. With the techno items above we didn't want you going into overload trying to sort issues.) So it was a good day hiking around town. The next day was boat day and we didn't go into town. Just vegged and caught up on little projects. Tomorrow we'll check weather again and hopefully our part will be in.
In a few short news clips, Paige from the UK stopped dreaming and is ready to start on her adventure. Paige has a long distance boat and is excited about fishing. She reminds me of Mary. I can't think of a higher comment. (See VofE Forum for the story). Braunovich from Grey Pearl, a member of the Sushi Run to Japan, caught a nice cod in the Aleution Islands. The picture was posted on the Grey Pearl blog by Tinaovich. (Yup the Pearl and others landed in Russia for a time) There is a new round of pictures on the VofE site showing the trip south to Stewart Island from Nelson at the top of South Island. Yesterday we mailed a second round of Stewart Island pictures. They should be up in a week or so. Mary took the majority of this round of pictures.
So, of firing this VofE into space to make the weekend we ended up in another spur of the monent adventure. Ever since arriving in Stewart Island and reading the tabletop book we keep mentioning we REALLY wanted to stop in Mason Bay for hiking and picture taking. Our original plan was to stop on the north side of the Ernest Islands (a short stretch of protective E/W islands), dinghy ashore and spend time. In the end we made a big push from Post Pegasus to beat the weather and return to Oban cancelling that opportunity. Its been eatin at me. While in town on Thursday we stopped by to mail the latest picture CD to Jenny at Nordhavn NE. The post office lady also handles the flights to Mason Bay (they land on the beach at low tide). Sooooo we asked and their schedule didn't fit ours. Not to give up we went to the Red Building where local tours are handled. In a nutshell if we could leave in an hour the water taxi could take us to the beginning of a trek to Mason Bay. Off we raced to the Department of Conservation office to pay for the hut at Mason ($3 U.S. per person, per night) Next it was off to Egret to gather our tings and get ready. I won't bore you with details but we did it!! Then it was the water taxi with Ken on Seaview to the drop off 12nm away.
Then IT started. First of all we looked like Sanford and Sons with our mis-mash of backpacks, camera packs, tripods, and a sausage full with two sleeping bags and stove fuel. And off we went wearing our ubiquitious wellies hoping the mud wouldn't get over the top. It was drizzling, the mud was juuuust below the top of the boots, the backpack straps cut deep but 4 hours and 45 minutes later we made it........just , just before dark. We had NO light, candles or anything but matches. The only slight saving grace was the near full moon. Finally we coaxed a quarter size candle dealie someone left into a faint glow and the glow from the cooking pot. After a dinner of some weird prepackaged heat and eat stuff and pringles off we went to bed about 7:00.
Just a slight whine. The DOC (Department of Conservation) sign at the beginning of the trail said the trail would take between 3-4 hours to Mason Bay. They certainly don't cater to Americans (and our competitiveness). If the sign said 4-5 hours and we took 4:45 that would be OK. It would be better if the sign said 5-6 hours and we took 4:45. With the mud on that day a lightly loaded Olympic caliber triathlete MIGHT make it in 3 hours. Not someone who is a bit lacking. And Sandford and Sons equipt. Grrrrr, fairy tale sign.
The next morning I was up and off to meet the sunrise, the magic few minutes when everything lights up. WOW!!!! After it was back to breakfast of ham and coffee drunk from a bowl (we had NO cups). Then off for the day. This, mis amigos was magic. What a day wandering among the sand dunes hiking for miles. Mary and I scattered meeting every hour or so telling our stories full of enthuisiasm. Lunch was water, a few cookies and a granola bar. It didn't matter. It was like being in love. This day was certainly one of our favorites of the entire trip. Then it was back to the hut for dinner of some pasta stuff that needed milk we didn't have so water had to do. A little ham as well then off to bed after dark after the last scrap of wood was burned in the stove.
Today the hike back was only four hours with no rain since our trip in. The mud only came close to the top of the boots a couple times. Returning to Egret and our little home was sweet. We fired up the gen (we turned off the freezer and everything else but the bilge pumps when we left) to charge the batteries and warm tings up with the reverse cycle. AND take loooong hotttttt showers (once the water heated from glacial to hot).
Later: we did those tings (looooong hotttt showers) had a great meal of roast beef (Mary lugged both ways) and got to sleep with PILLOWS. How sweet it was.
Now for the big change of plans. Having a set schedule while cruising is NO good when in higher latitudes where weather changes often and is not predicitable like in the trade wind belts. Since before arriving in New Zealand we rough planned this trip to Stewart Island and Fiordland. Fiordland will have to wait. Checking weather Sunday morning (we are a day ahead of N. America) we found another 5 days of impossible weather on the Fiordland coast. It just isn't the initial trip in to Dusky Sound (the first sound). EVERY time you leave a sound you have to go outside and back into the next sound. It isn't a smart thing to do in iffy spring weather. This is for EACH of 5-6 sounds we planned to visit, much less the three day trip back with no suitable shelter. Its simple math. Time didn't add up. Particularly with boat chores needing taken care of.
So here we are running in 1 meter seas averaging nearly 8 knots heading up the South Island east coast with a fair 3 day weather window. No seas predicted over 2 meters and no winds over 20 knots. (We'll see) Egret just roared* past Port Chalmers where we waited 19 days to make the last 24 hour run on the way south. Daylight will arrive in a couple hours. Mary is below off watch and all is well. *8.4 knots
Its time to put a lit on this VofE. Epic enough I supose. A lot happened while at sea but we'll save that for the next posting. Currently Egret is pushing into 3+ meter seas just off the stbd bow. Our rocket speed is down to the high 5's. For the first time in a while we had to break out the CCOM (Coffeecarryometer) If you aren't familiar with the CCOM check the VofE website under glossery of terms. Currently we are 41.6nm offshore diving for Akaroa Harbor. We should arrive about 4:00AM. A number of pictures of Akaroa are in the latest VofE Pictures. Akaroa pictures are the ones of the bright cottages, and a couple lighthouses.
So there you have it. A bit of adventure, mind changing and a little techno stuff. Time to turn over a new leaf. Ciao.
Aug 6, 2009
Position: S46 54.31 E168 07.22 Golden Bay, Paterson Inlet, Stewart Island, New Zealand
Crikey dix mis amigos, today is a special day. Eight years ago today, August 6th, 2001, Mary and I took delivery of our little white fiberglass ship, m/y Egret in Bimini, Bahamas. We ordered her in February, 2000 at the Miami Boat Show. Mary was aboard with the delivery crew arriving in Bimini at the same time as a friend and I landed in the harbor on a Chalks Airline amphibian. Egret is owned by an offshore corporation and to be 100% legal I couldn't take the trip over. We had to take delivery offshore and stay out of the country for two weeks. Bimini has but one qualified agent with The Stamp. Reverend Doctor Pinder is The Man. The Reverend Doctor is part time agent, part time minister, part time waiter at the Bimini Big Game Club and full time grandpa. His fee was $200 and a fresh chicken. Yup, it is tradition to give the Reverend Doctor a chicken when the stamp falls. So we did.
After a quick lunch the rest of the group was off to take the soon to depart plane while Mary and I were to start the next phase in our lives. Wellllll, since docking hours before, the now falling Bimini harbor tide was racing stern to our NEW home so getting off the dock was a bit intimidating. We managed to get off the dock with the use of a spring line, THEN had to eyeball navigate the very shallow harbor entrance on a rapidly falling tide. THEN we lost the dinghy towing it across the Bahamas bank. It wasn't exactly a textbook start but it was a start nevertheless and after two weeks of bliss we crossed the Gulf Stream back to Ft Lauderdale to wrap up our final six months working.
We retired April 1st, 2002 and haven't stopped since. Egret has taken us up and down the U.S. east coast twice. The first summer was spent in Chesapeake Bay and winter in the Bahamas. The second summer saw our first long offshore trip, from Ft Lauderdale to Nantucket. The trip is roughly 1100nm and took 5 1/2 days. We were SO proud of ourselves. Prior to arrival Egret was running in fog and we were a bit nervous about landfall. As Egret arrived, the fog lifted and the Blue Angels (US Navy acrobatic team), were practicing overhead for the upcoming July 4th festivities. We were so thrilled, instead of catching some sleep we launched the dink and went into town for the day. From Nantucket it was over to Martha's Vineyard then off to Nova Scotia, down to Maine and back to the Bahamas for the winter.
Next was the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally to the Mediterranean. Egret spent 2 1/2 years cruising the Mediterranean then departing the Med she went past Gibraltar, turning left to the Canary Islands. From the Canarys to Brazil, Argentina, 15 months spent between Argentina and Chile then across the Pacific to New Zealand. She has been in New Zealand nearly a year.
Mary and I researched boats for 4 years before making our decision. Our first thoughts while debating early retirement was to sell our family home in Ft Lauderdale and keep the small weekend home in the Florida Keys. We would then buy a used Grand Banks 42 and follow the sun north and south each year. This was a creditable plan, keeping one foot attached to the known (Keys life) and the other to the cruising life. THEN we got the long distance bug. Now the research took on new meaning. Offshore you can't take chances. If you are a U.S. east coast boater and have a problem in the Intracoastal Waterway or the Bahamas it is an inconvenience but problems at sea are serious. So we looked at used one-off custom long distance boats. Without exception they* were one person's dream and felt each had major flaws. *they means in our price range. Every one was selling at a pittance of new build cost (our initial attraction). Seldom do hulls fail at sea, even in inexpensive or poorly designed boats. It is the systems, engine mounting, fuel plumbing and tankage, electrical and a very long list of what could go wrong when the bouncing starts. Another big factor most folks don't take into consideration is comfort at sea. Comfort is more tangible than you may think. More disasters occur from exhausted crew vs boat failure. Exhaustion brings on poor decisions and the reason a few sailboaters end up on South Pacific reefs each year during the cruising season. Most are competent cruisers and know better, just made wrong decisions while exhausted. Having been in the boat business we listened to over 30 years of sea tales, good and not so good.
In the end we decided to, in our financial case, go 'all in' and buy what we wanted the first time. We could not afford to make a mistake. This meant selling the Keys house as well. So we did. The rest is history. Our little white fiberglass ship has NEVER stranded us or given reason to worry. Her happy little Lugger main engine has never missed a beat. Would we do it again? Absolutely!! Knowing what we know now would we change our cruising destinations or route to a different itinerary? No. What would we change on Egret if we were to build her again? Nothing worth mentioning.
Now we will give you Egret's itinerary for the next 15 months. This is written in sand at low tide like all cruising decisions, however we think it is fairly accurate in the big picture. Also, here we will give just the highlights and major destinations. During the next 15 months we'll fill in the blanks passing them along as we go.
Both Egret, Mary and I run out of NZ boat tax and visa extensions December 24th of this year. Sometime during December we will leave Nelson, NZ for Eden, Australia (the southernmost port on Oz's New South Wales east coast) and then down to Hobart, Tasmania with Nelson's Dick Anderson aboard as crew. Tasmania will be Egret's last real time (months) spent cruising for the next 2 years. From Tasmania on will be lotsa miles with relatively short* visits here and there. *none lasting for more than perhaps a month.
From Tasmania, Egret will recross the Bass Strait and head up Australia's west coast to somewhere near the Shark Bay peninsula (S25 40.00 E113 25.00). From Shark Bay, Egret's course will be WNW across the Indian Ocean riding the SE trades 3100nm to Mauritius, an island east of Madagascar. From Mauritius it is an overnighter to Reunion Island for a stay then will pass south of Madagascar to Durban, South Africa, a short run of 650nm. From Durban south down South Africa's east coast Egret will follow the route twice taken by fellow N46 Kanaloa to Cape Town, SA on the lower west coast. We plan to spend Christmas, 2010 in Cape Town. Obviously Egret will leave Cape Town early 2011. You will have to wait to see where she will head next.
What we wrote above is known history to long term VofE readers with the exception of the Reverend Doctor Pinder (and our coming itinerary). I'm not sure VofE readers can fathom what we have seen and done these past 8 years. We try our best using VofE as a tool helping readers make knowledgeable decisions for their own direction, however it is only a few words and pictures. Most importantly, before Egret's next annual report we hope more than a few of you buy your own little white fiberglass ships and begin YOUR adventures. You can see from our humble beginnings the mistakes we made, and MANY more we didn't mention here, we survived, Egret survived and here she lies to anchor (Picture 1) in one of our favorite places in the world, New Zealand. Now it is Your Turn.
Ed. Note - The glossary of Egretism terms will be posted on the Captain's Log home page for easy reference.