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"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.  

May 30, 2009
Position: S46 54.36 E168 02.85 Kidney Fern Arm, Prices Inlet, (inside) Paterson Inlet, Stewart Island, New Zealand

Crikey dix mis amigos, the rain has quit and the sun is out. We'll revisit Oban, a hamlet of 390 full time folks, after a bit of exploring different bays during good weather. Oban is a rarity these days with NO bank, ATM machine or much else. Tourism and commercial fishing appear to be main source of revenue. Dotting around Halfmoon Bay (Oban) bay are a number of cribs, (bach's on the NZ mainland or weekend homes in the States). More on Oban later.

After a somewhat rolly night in the Oban (Stewart Island) anchorage we moved to a smallish island inside Paterson Inlet (a bay). Ulva Island is a special island where it has been rid of all pests like deer and rats. This was a 3-year endeavor. DOC (Department of Conservation) has a few 'island life rafts', 2 that I know of around Stewart Island, where all undesirable critters are removed and super rare native birds are repatriated. One bird in particular, the kakapo, a flightless parrot with no defense was nearly driven to extinction. Just a very few live on an offshore island about 20nm from Oban. Ulva Island has a number of small birds living on their own life raft island. Mary, Dick and I walked the trails at Ulva today. There wasn't a single time we didn't hear birds singing. We saw a number of different birds including a large parakeet and a larger parrot. So we played and explored like kids. It was a great day. After, we moved to a calm anchorage on the other side of the bay from Oban. There is one more long trail on Ulva Island so we'll probably make a repeat trip one of these days.

Recently we received a Forum request for more boat stuff so here we go. I was rather brief describing our trip from Port Chalmers to Stewart Island. Let me explain the 10' seas and early weather of the 24 hour trip. Ten foot (3+m) seas are obviously usually something to avoid. In this case they were head seas for the first 2/3ds of the trip with winds to 25 knots then diminishing to under 10 knots. However, the wave spacing was such that there was no severe pounding. We have been in rougher 4-5' seas. We did pitch fore and aft, and early on it wasn't comfortable but it was not bad and didn't last long. We would much rather have rougher seas at the beginning of a trip than at the end. This way the up and down is soon forgotten. Someday I'll learn my lesson. To much coffee before bouncing gives me a sour stomach...and it did. Learn from my mistakes. Mary never missed a beat. Dick skipped a few beats but when the seas laid down all was well. Like most every time we anticipate difficulty the anticipated winding between close together islands with lotsa current turned out to be a straight forward affair. The C-map electronic charting was right on and the currents were there but not an issue. The Simrad autopilot was showing over 30 degrees of set and drift but kept us right on course. Early explorers and even later square riggers must of had nightmares when entering a section of water like this, particularly with our light 4-7 knots of wind.

We moved from our calm anchorage to anchor off Murray Beach (S46 54.89 E168 03.45), the site of an old Norwegian whaling station. The whaling station was built in 1925 to service a fleet of whale chasers assigned to two mother ships. During the high point of their short tenure they killed an estimated 1000 blue whales in one year taken near the Ross Ice Shelf. The trail from Murray Beach to the whaling station was even wilder and even more Jurassic like than Ulva Island. The birds were out in force as well. Not much remains of the whaling station but foundations, and bits of rusty steel. The old steam boiler is sitting in the mud just offshore. Of particular interest was the remnants of the whale chaser props. They were laying buried in the mud here and there as well in a heap in another area. After the whaler base we moved to a bombproof anchorage in Kidney Fern Arm of Prices Inlet. Then off we went dinghy exploring.
The bays are mostly a sand/mud bottom and littered with shells. The ends of each arm dries at low tide. (We have 2 meter - 6.5' tides) Holding is excellent and charting is a combination of poor resolution C-Map charts and a borrowed old Mana Cruising Club guide with hand sketched charts much like Patagonia & Tierra Fuego Nautical Guide we used in the Deep South. Bottom line: so far by using both and traveling very slowly, navigation isn't an issue. If you didn't have both electronic charting and the Mana guide it would be difficult to navigate around the hidden rocks without the advantage of a flybridge. If there is any real wind it would be best to stay put. The local hills are not tall and everything is heavily wooded right down to the water. Inland there are several low mountain ranges. As we move further south topography changes quite a lot. There we'll be able to do some serious hiking and perhaps climb a few low mountains. Other than close to Oban there are no roads. There are a number of hiking trails. Some are well maintained with boardwalks over the mud and others aren't so perfect with serious mud bogs and stream fording. I think we'll pass on those. I'm sure an internet search will show pictures of Stewart Island and what we are seeing. The best way to describe what we are seeing and how we travel it is like Chilean Channels light. (Very light)

When eating ashore from time to time we get fish n chips. The very best fish is local blue cod. Wellllll, Stewart Island is loaded with blue cod. Once we figured out where they hang out we could catch them at will. It's real simple. Deep water past a point with large rocks underwater is the key. At low falling tide the nearshore rocks are exposed leaving the fish concentrated at the rocks left underwater. Cast upcurrent with a simple jig sweetened with a piece of fish. Dick caught a mess of bait fish off the back of Egret at anchor. We cut those into small strips to stick on the jig. Cast up current near the rocks, let the jig sink to the bottom and give it a slow retrieve. Simple. Mary sauteed our first dinner of blue cod in olive oil and 3 different types of pepper and onions. Yes, it was great. AND we have four more meals put away for later. When that is gone we'll catch some more. No problema.

We are coming up on the shortest day of the year. We don't have much light until around 8:00 in the morning and it gets dark at 5:15pm. Our routine is to get up before dark, start the generator, make coffee, check e-mail, shower when the water is hot, take MS (My Sweetie) her coffee in bed, eat breakfast, then we're off. We return for lunch around 1:30 then we're off again until dark. We have a taste of grape some evenings, a bit of rum or perhaps a beer. If its been cold we settle for hot tea or hot chocolate. In addition to occasional wave bashing this is what cruising is all about.

So there you have it. A little insight into The Life. Ciao.


May 25, 2009

Position: S46 53.90 E168 08.3 Halfmoon Bay, settlement of Oban, Stewart Island, New Zealand

Crikey dix mis amigos, its time for a little fine whining. We have been waiting for weather for 2 weeks (May 5th - 19th) to make the final 24 hour run to Stewart Island. Our previous waiting record was 8 days in the mid Chilean Channels. At least here we can get off the boat and visit Port Chalmers or Dunedin. In the Channels the scrub was so dense there was no hiking including along the shoreline at low tide because of sand flies. It looks like MAYBE Thursday we can make the dash. We'll see.

Yesterday we received a great e-mail from N55 New Paige. NP is berthed in Nelson Marina (South Island, NZ) while Paige is attending school. Here is the latest from them.

(NP Roger) "Went out on Thursday for our tank run (holding tank) and Joan ran the boat the complete trip. When coming back to the slip it was quite calm so she decided another try at docking was in order. Right on the dock with only two small (1 - 2 sec.) nudges with the bow thruster. She was ecstatic. And yes Paige is next in line for lessons. Pretty soon I'll be demoted to swab. I look forward to that day".

"I have been looking at the weather down your way from time to time and it looks nasty, not quite enough time to move without risk. As we all know its much better to sit than the alternative".

So there you have it. NPJ (New Paige Joan) is on her way to running NP not only under way but docking and close quarter maneuvering in the harbor. Goodonher. It appears The Kid (Boat Kid Chatter Paige (11) is next. Adding to the goodonem's, NP and family is featured in a Nordhavn ad that just came out in a local (NZ-Australia) high end boating magazine (Pacific Motor Yacht). Cool.

Boat bound in the rain and reviewing a few past VofE's I realize how much space I devoted to my photography hobby. To most, taking photographs takes an incalculable small amount of their weekly or monthly time. We all write about what is important to us. Without distractions of business, vocation or media run amok we lead a simple life. We do what makes us happy because we have time for simple things. Like making ourselves happy. Like taking pictures and trying to improve. Like going where we want. But not when we want as you can see. Bottom line: I'll slack off the photography details if you'll give a little thought to leading a simpler life. You get the picture.

While WAITING for weather a slow but steady trickle of Forum questions have been forwarded. Forum requests are worth your time checking from time to time. Questions asked may well be questions you were wondering about yourselves. (www.nordhavn.com/egret/forums.php4)

Speaking of waiting, you may have noticed New Paiges agreement to have patience and wait for weather. Before crossing the Pacific on their N55 they owned N40 New Paige and traveled from California to Alaska to Mexico and back. Doing miles like these you LEARN, usually the hard way until you figure it out.

Today we received an e-mail from intrepid cruising buddys aboard a Grand Banks 46 currently in San Andres, a Columbian island off Panama. They too chimed in with their experience (I guess our tears were rotting their Teva's (sandals). "I can relate to having to wait for weather. The most dangerous thing on any boat is a calendar". What a great quote! These folks have the experience being liveaboards for 22 years. After San Andres its back to Panama, then off to the San Blas Islands for the umpteenth time and on to Cartegena (Columbia) for Christmas. Not bad mis amigos.

The next day we received this e-mail from Coco Loco, this couple's dog/son.

Hi to all my Uncles!!

Its me Coco - I have the computer and have to tell another story. The other day while recovering from my new status in Motorboating Magazine*, I went to the island near our boat with my parents to play in the sand and look for pieces of old fish or chicken bones. When we got there we noticed a film crew with some beautiful girls in bikinis. After I got all wet and had sand in my hair, this lady came over and asked my Mom if I could be in the photo shoot. Turns out this was a whole gaggle of Colombian models doing a swimwear magazine. Guess who they fell in love with? Me! I prefer Schipperkes, other Havanese and poodles but I'll take what I can get. Well, the model grabs me up and off we go in the water to get her skin wet. What my mom didn't notice but Dad did, was she had NO Top on underneath the lace cover up she was modeling. My Mom realized this halfway thru the shoot. It was funny. So now I am going to be in this Colombian swimwear magazine!! The model was born in New York but her parents are from Medellin. Wow, my parents said she was beautiful! Well, ho hum as Uncle Scott says!!

Coco Loco. Well you can see its a dog's life when you're a Boat Dog liveaboard. Ho hum. * check it out folks, its gotta be good.

FINALLY........Egret anchored in Halfmoon Bay off the settlement of Oban, Stewart Island at 10:05 this morning after a 24 hour run. In the end we waited NINETEEN (19) days for weather. During our wait the worst was 25' seas with 8 second spacing. I can't even imagine seas like that. We left pounding into 10' swells with a bit of wind chop on top. (Don't get excited, it was uncomfortable but not at all dangerous) As time went by and particularly during the night the seas laid down as predicted. The last 8 hours were gentle 1 meter swells pushing us along so fast twice Mary reduced rpm as not to arrive among the offshore islands before daylight. TK dropped into 37' (11.5m) of water and came tight on the first pull even though the guide said the bay was poor holding. Nothing like 110lbs (50kg) of Turkish steel to get the job done.

One of our first stops was the DOC (Department of Conservation) office in Oban to check tings out and get whatever help we could finding our birds to shoot (pictures) and whatever other information we could glean. WELLLLLL, it started off we couldn't take pictures of Kiwi birds where we KNOW they walk the beach at night (at this meeting we found out this particular group sometimes walk the beach during the day). In the end we won them over with our genuine sincerity, appreciation of the birds' delicacy and promise not to take pictures at night without further permission.

I'll present both sides. Their point is there are only 4-5 pair of birds on this particular beach. The only people normally allowed on the beach are very small groups taken by a single concessionaire and no pictures are allowed. These folks are tightly controlled not to disturb the birds. I can understand this. So many tourists are so unknowing or uncaring it would, and did in the past with flash cameras, make the bird's lives uncomfortable to the point they could become nocturnal like the far majority of their species. The majority of Stewart Island is protected parks of one type or another. As second aspect is DOC are flooded with commercial interests wanting to film or photograph kiwi's. This group is issued but one permit a year total.

My point is, photographing a kiwi is a very rare and exciting challenge. Most are nocturnal. At the time I didn't know a few are feeding during the day so invested in a very expensive camera lens that requires little light to take a quality picture. Nothing in anything I read said there were restrictions to photographing kiwi's. I imagine most folks do what they want but we follow the rules. So we'll see. We can anchor nearby, cross the ridge and hide in the bush waiting for our daylight picture. Hopefully VofE readers will get to see a relatively rare sight these days of a fresh kiwi picture.

Along these lines, an even more difficult task is to photograph the rare yellow eye penguin. These little guys come ashore just before dark (in very low light for something that is moving). NZ has 14 species of penguins and the yellow eye is the rarest AND there are a few small colonies on Stewart. Again, we'll see. OK, I'm rambling but its really exciting to be here. There is so much to see and do we don't know where to start first.

In rereading this drivel from the beginning I see I promised not to write so much about photography then ended with 4 paragraphs. Sorry, I lied. Oh well. Ciao.


May 15, 2009

Position:S45 48.36 E170 37.64 Carey Bay, Port Chalmers, South Island, New Zealand

Pictures 1 and 2. Egret visitors. Welcome except for the deck mess.

Crikey dix mis amigos, here we sit.......still. We were going to leave this morning with a reasonable weather window to make the overnight hop to Stewart Island. Checking windguru.com and buoyweather.com yesterday along with our ocens.com grib files all pointed to a break between the low getting ready to blast the SW South Island coast north of Stewart and ANOTHER low pushing up from the southwest. Before leaving this morning I got up early to take a last look at the grib files. Oh my gosh!! The severe low had moved way south of its predicted course of the afternoon before. The bottom line was 12' seas with 12 second spacing during our arrival time. Normally this would be acceptable, however the margin of comfort on the back end if the weather moved just a bit faster would be BAD. Particularly because the last bit of the trip is weaving between islands and rocks of unknown charting accuracy AND currents being compressed between the South Island mainland and Stewart. Bottom line: here we sit and won't take the chance. We've written this before about not taking chances. As your skills improve what determines a chance or not is an upward moving target, however in the case of currents and navigation there is NO reason to push the limits. NO reason including a schedule.

We rented a car for the past 4 days just to get off the boat. We spent a full day in the Otago Museum looking at this n that. Of particular interest to Mary and I was an exhibition from a NZ photographer whose pictures from Antarctica were so impressive it was hard to believe. What we know about photography is like a bump in the road compared to Everest. We are using a new photo processing program, Adobe Lightroom that is giving us much better results than our old Picasa 2 program from Google. The pictures we send in via the iridium phone are still being sent thru Picasa. I haven't figured yet how to reduce the pictures using Lightroom that will be acceptable to send thru the Iridium phone. I checked our pictures yesterday we sent for the past several VofE's. They were terrible compared to what we see on the laptop. Sorry, but its a work in progress. While we sit I'll make up a new picture CD to mail in to be posted on the VofE website.

Another day was spent driving to Te Anau (Tay Ah Now) on the west coast visiting the DOC (Department of Conservation) office. We received an e-mail from a DOC worker we met during our car travels asking where he could send a marine mammal sighting booklet for our trip to Stewart and Fiordland. While use mail when you can drive over 300 kilometers? So we did. He was surprised of course. We had a nice conversation, learned about a penguin counting expedition we may be able to hook up with if timing is right along with other trips by DOC folks during the winter. We were given a bound version of their sighting booklet including information sheets, maps and so on. Hopefully we can be a help and include pictures as well.

Speaking of pictures, I have to confess. Recently we bought a 70-300mm lens to use for our bird pictures. This allows us to reach out and frame birds in flight practically full frame giving the best possible detail. The downside of even high end non pro lenses is they aren't good in low light unless what you are taking a picture of is stationary and you are using a tripod. Only a pro lens gives this performance. Sooooo, I bought one of my dream lenses, a 70-200mmVRII f2.8 Nikon lens. Wow, what a difference!! During testing using a tripod just at dark we kept the camera body mounted to the tripod and and changed three lenses, all set at 70mm. The difference is remarkable. Two of the lenses were about the same but the pro lens opened up detail darkened by the non pro lenses. In a nutshell, the pro lens lets in more light. I could have waited to our trip to the States in October (visiting the Ft Lauderdale Boat Show) and gotten a better price but that would be AFTER the chance to photograph Kiwi birds (dusk and dark) on Stewart Island. You get the picture.

Hopefully next VofE we'll be anchored in a bombproof anchorage somewhere in Patterson Inlet, Stewart Island. Ciao.


May 8, 2009
Position: S45 48.36 E170 37.64 Carey Bay, Port Chalmers, South Island, New Zealand

Crikey dix mis amigos, we have told a small lie. To refresh, this was our closing from the last VofE. "What will daylight bring? Haven't a clue but it will be a good day...again". Shortly after typing these words and firing this drivel into space the seas picked up along with steady 30 knots of wind from behind. This is usually not an issue but the autopilot decided to take a powder and go on strike. In the past, every now and then with heavy following seas the autopilot would pop off (once a year or so). All we had to do was hit the Simrad standby button and hand steer for a bit then go back on autopilot to our waypoint and we were on our way. This was different. At times it felt like we had air in the lines and basically NO steering until we spun the wheel and got it going again. We turned up sea at just over an idle and opened the bleed valve at the steering ram and spun the wheel 40 times in each direction then closed the valve. We also repeated this on the flybridge station. We were not down a bit of fluid and had not lost pressure. (We maintain 30lbs of pressure in the Hynautic system). Bottom line: we hand steered the last 40 or so miles to Port Chalmers. Going thru the breaking surf at the entrance was exciting as well.

We're now anchored off a tiny harbor in front of a Nelson boating neighbor's house. He and his wife (Bill and Margaret from Avanti) have made the trip from Nelson in their small sailboat around 30 times in the past including this year. He is 80 years old and an inspiration to all who are slowly aging but want to keep going. He spotted us already from the balcony and called on the radio. Tomorrow we'll dinghy ashore as well as tackle the autopilot issue.

Back to the steering problem. We installed ball valves in the steering hoses just before the pump for instances just like this. This way we won't have to depressurize the system and spill hydraulic oil. We have a spare complete pump and motor, spare motor and spare brushes. Just guessing, the motor brushes are TU (tango uniform) and have to be replaced, or we have a cracked fitting and are sucking air, or, or, etc. When we figure it out we'll give a complete report.

Next day. Before we get started we need to mention Egret has a non-standard autopilot pump. It's a long story but we replaced the Simrad T160 autopilot pump with an Accu Steer HRP 75 autopilot pump with an adjustable flow rate. An N46 with our Hynautic steering system (we have a VERY large steering ram) needed more fluid volume than the Simrad pump could furnish. We needed the autopilot pump to deliver enough fluid to move the rudder 20 degrees to port to 20 degrees to starboard between 6-7 seconds. The Simrad pump with the highest parameter settings could only deliver 14 second performance giving Egret a 15 degree swing port to starboard in heavy quartering head seas while the autopilot motor struggled to deliver fluid. Starting at the electrical connections we checked everything. First we took the motor off the hydraulic pump head and ran it without being attached. It ran perfectly. Next we pulled the brushes and blew out the carbon dust, reinstalled the brushes (that were perfect) and ran it again. Perfect again. Next we turned the hydraulic pump head by hand and found the problem. The motor shaft was difficult to turn. I know better than to take apart a hydraulic pump to try and problem solve. THAT is a dead end street leading to guaranteed disaster. We picked up the Iridium phone and called Washington State and got Mr Accu Steer on the line. He immediately said we had pushed the lip seal onto the shaft coupling with too much pressure in the Hynautic reservoir. The extra drag of the rubber seal against the coupling sent the autopilot into alarm then popped the breaker. We have always run 30lbs Hynautic reservoir pressure. He said 20-25lbs would be better. We removed the shaft coupling and could see the seal pushed out. Using a deep socket as a drift we carefully tapped the seal back in place and reversed the assembly. (The seal was not leaking) We did install our new spare pump motor and will keep the used motor as a spare. Soon everything was back together, steering bled and all is well again. Having ball valves installed before the pump made all the difference in the world. Depressurizing the system and losing fluid is one drawback of not having valves but the big deal is not introducing dirt into the system. One speck of dirt in a close tolerance hydraulic system could mean disaster. One thing we need to buy is flare caps and flare plugs to cap and plug the hoses and pump when apart. We have them for our fuel system but not the smaller fitting steering system.

Life is good again. Tonight its off to Bill and Margaret's house for dinner. Another door opened by our little white fiberglass ship. More to follow.

Dinner at Bill and Margaret's was a delight. We heard stories about Japanese submarines shelling Sydney (Australia) harbor during WWII when Margaret was a small child, about Hobart, Tasmania from years ago, Bill's business and so on. This is NZ history you won't find in books. It was a great evening. Margaret left to go out of town the next day but when she returns we will have them to Egret for a reciprocal dinner. We'll be here for a while. This afternoon we pulled up weather grib files and found there is a major low heading for the south of South Island (where we are heading). When that system pushes thru there is another low following right behind. Bottom line: it will be at least 5-6 days before we can get under way again. Knowingly leaving when 19+' AVERAGE sea heights with 11.2 second wave spacing isn't our cuppa tea. Ain't no heroes here mis amigos. We'll wait, thank you.

Waiting here won't be a problem. We have a great anchorage and the main street in town is just a kilometer walk away. Today we went to town and reprovisioned after taking a walk thru some neighborhoods. Most every home was neat as a pin and had flower gardens in the front yards. On the way back we stopped for lunch in a restored mid-1800s hotel. We all had the fish pie and it was to die for. We'll go back for sure.

It was another trip to town for this n thats. Along the way we visited the Robert Falcon Scott Memorial to his and his four man crew's successful attempt to reach the South Pole on January 17th, 1912, but unsuccessful attempt to return. This is a copy of Captain Scott's last message.. "I do not regret this journey, which has shown us that Englishmen can endure hardships, help one another and meet death with as great a fortitude as ever in the past. We took risks; we knew we took them. Things have come out against us, and therefore we have no cause for complaint, but bow to the will of providence, determined still to do our best to the last. Had we lived I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance and courage of my companions which would have stirred the hearts of every Englishman which we have been willing to give our lives; to this enterprise".

It is easy for armchair sailors to second guess this statement and expedition in general but in the end it boiled down to very courageous men giving their all in their quest for adventure. Everyone should have adventure in their lives. Perhaps not as bold an adventure as Capt Scott and his crew, but adventure as defined by ourselves*, no matter how modest but adventure nonetheless. Anything less is sad mediocrity. *You may fool others but you can never fool yourself. You get the picture.

Returning to the boat we stopped by Bill and Margaret's for tea and biscuits. After a nice chat we had a soggy ride back thru the drizzle. Bill and Margaret are coming to Egret tomorrow for lunch and an Egret travel favorites slide show.

Checking the weather gribs this afternoon I think we'll be here a while. There is 50 knot SWlys coming north along with a swing to nearly equal southerlies a day later. Carey Bay in Port Chalmers is an all weather anchorage and we're VERY happy to sit, thank you. Enjoy the weekend. Ciao.

May 4, 2009

Position: S45 19.76 E171 16.06 (34.3nm off Tararoa Head entrance to Port Chalmers/Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand) *

*This is the approximate latitude when in the northern Chilean Channels last year we rescued a local dog abandoned starving on an island. We named her Chonos for the local Chonos region. In the end we couldn't keep her so we found her a great home with a Chiloe Island family.

Crikey dix mis amigos, Egret is at sea once again. It is 0520 (5:20AM for Dirt Dwellers), both Mary and Dick (our NZ mate Dick Anderson) are off watch. The glow of Christchurch is off to starboard, the stars are out and the seas are kind. Exactly 24 hours ago Mary had the anchor snubbed in place and we were on our way to Akaroa on the south side of Banks Peninsula, just SE of Christchurch (South Island's largest city). Akaroa is where the French established their first settlement in New Zealand attempting to add NZ to their list of colonies. It didn't work out. However, Akaroa today still retains some of her French origins. More on that later.

When we left our anchorage yesterday it was black as ink. Very black ink. We had both radars running, zoomed way down to two different scales (1/2nm & 3/4nm). We knew from our trip into Queen Charlotte Sound electronic charting was very close. Let's start at the beginning and explain why our alarm went off at 0415 and we were under way at 0520. Tides. Think of Queen Charlotte Sound and its parallel sister channel, Tory Channel, as a tuning fork with a handle. The falling tide enters QCS from the north and flows south down the sound and into the handle. The falling tide ALSO runs up Tory Channel to the north (actually the channels are tilted more NE/SW). So, the fall runs both N and S at the same time. And the tides rip. The NZ Nautical Almanac listed the tide swing to incoming at Tory Channel entrance at 0821 yesterday. We needed to be at the entrance just or shortly before slack, but not too early because the falling tide rip extends 2nm out into Cook Strait. We had a predicted 15-20 knots of wind from the NE that would stand up the rushing, outgoing tide. It was 15.2nm from the anchorage to Tory Channel entrance. Simple math and what you gotta do in order to hit the entrance correctly.

And there is more to the story. There is a VERY serious low pushing down from the NE that will pass Cook Strait 40-48 hours after we passed. There is also a southerly system pushing up from the south arriving 24 hours after we arrive in Akaroa. Bottom line: if we wanted to move further south and tuck in before the southerly pushed through we needed to leave when we did or stay put for another 4-5 days. So we left.

The first part of the trip out of the anchorage and half way up Tory Channel was a thriller. Poor Dick is getting a first hand lesson in cruising and has skipped a few grades. First he got mashed when we left Nelson, and now we were navigating in ink. NZ navigational lights are first class and intuitive. And they match the electronic charting. (We haven't seen this accuracy since leaving the States). So with the radars doing their deal (radars never lie), electronic charting keeping our little red boat mid channel, the NZ navigation lights blinking away and Dick's hair standing on end, we slowly made our way up the channel until the early morning light dimly outlined the surrounding hills. All was well. Riding the current rip out into Cook Strait was a bit choppy but expected. We also bounced a bit until we turned south out of Cook Strait and got into deeper, not so tidal water.

Sea birds were doing their deal as well. Yes, we took lotsa pictures. We now have pictorial proof of the differences between Royal and Wandering Albatrosses, male and female Grey Head Albatrosses, along with pictures of Cape Petrels and Sooty Terns. I had to capitalize the birds' names because when you see them in flight they deserve to be capitalized. We saw a single Orca Whale surrounded by dolphins in the late afternoon. An unpleasant sight was dozens of logs floating here and there. Worse yet was the three LARGE trees we saw floating. Recently there has been flooding with heavy rain washing the logs downstream and into the ocean. When it got dark we throttled back to 1400RPM from 1550RPM, just in case. When it gets light again we'll push it back up. We still have a comfortable time margin to arrive in Akaroa during daylight so no problems there. The sky is juuust starting to lighten to the east. More to follow.

The birds were back with the new day. Even more this time along with small groups of fairy (blue) penguins and a type of small brown shag (cormorant) we hadn't see before (Spotted Shag). Along with birds came two types of dolphins including an endangered small species. The seas swung behind us during the night giving us a bit of push south. In due time we entered Akaroa harbor. You can't imagine how pretty it is chugging up the long cut into Banks Peninsula to Akaroa. Akaroa is in a bay to the north, not at the head of the cut like I expected. We had a brewskie to celebrate our arrival and good luck just to be here. Tomorrow we'll dinghy ashore and see what Akaroa is all about. In the meantime its up to the boat deck to fit heavy nylon mesh to the bow of the dink for extra protection. There is ice in Egret's future so we'll prepare the dink for down the road.

Akaroa's main street along the waterfront is typical of small tourist towns we have seen virtually everywhere in our travels. Local shops that gave towns their identity have given way to highly profitable el junko shops catering to visitors clamoring for a piece of what used to be. However, behind the Made in China shops is a small community retaining their French heritage. The three of us wandered the back streets looking at early homes and even snapped a few pictures. Imagine that? Before we dinghied in we pulled up the grib weather files and saw we had a calm weather hop to our next stop of Port Chalmers, around 140nm further south but we needed to leave soon. There is weather coming in 3 days. Originally we planned to stop in two additional, day hop, ports along the way but they are fair weather anchorages only. Our choices were to spend 5-6 days in Akaroa and the surrounding area or take the easy weather hop. So we split spending only a few hours in town. However, Mary and I promised ourselves to return by car for a few days to see the sights.

We rode out to sea in the flybridge thru the Akaroa channel enjoying the sun, a cuppa and a snack of French bakery goodies. Once offshore we had gentle swells from behind. The apparent wind was 2-5 knots. Ho hum. Another tough day at sea with the birds. We have enjoyed good weather the entire trip so far.

It is just before daylight now. The seas have increased a bit in height and have moved almost directly behind us. The apparent wind has jumped up to 15 knots (20.5 true) so we gave the Naiad knobs a twist and all we have is a little tail wagging. No biggie.

What will daylight bring? Haven't a clue but it will be a good day........again. Ciao.


May 1, 2009
Position: S41 15.82 E174 02.62 Waikawa Bay, South Island, New Zealand

Crikey dix mis amigos, Egret is no longer a MQ (Marina Queen). We are anchored in a small cove on Durville Island surrounded by mussel farms just north of French Pass. (S40 51.65 E173 54.20) We are expecting storm force winds tomorrow in Cook Strait* so we are tucked tight with a line ashore and TK, (Egret's 110lb (50kg) bad boy anchor), pulling uphill in the steeply shelving bottom. *we have to briefly enter Cook Strait before entering Queen Charlotte Sounds and its protection. Cook Strait has sent many boats to the bottom so we'll pass on the rough weather, thank you.

The trip thru French Pass turned out to be a non event but the potential for issues would start just an hour or so later. We are just a day after a new moon so the tide is ripping in both directions. We left the dock early to catch the tide at the pass. While passing N55 New Paige they came out to wish us a good trip along with their guests Grant and Raewyn from North Island. After clearing the inlet we immediately stuffed Egret's nose into 2 meter seas whipped up by the overnight wind. Oh well, at least we were under way. After reaching deep water the seas laid down a bit and off we went.

To regress a bit we bought a Samsung monitor to use for processing photos on the new Lightroom II software as well as using the monitor for navigation. Well, what a mess. In a nutshell only one of our multiple laptops were compatible with the monitor. In the end we had everything working perfectly. I took it apart and moved it to the pilothouse, hooked everything up including the GPS and it worked perfectly again. The next day the laptop wouldn't boot. Long story. The laptop is with New Paige to get fixed and we are using our usual stuff and will carry on with it until we return. WHY??? Geesh. However, we are determined to conquer this techno mess and VofE readers will be the beneficiaries.

It's dark now and the rare Kiwi birds are calling to each other. Kiwis are nocturnal birds so our chance of seeing one here are about nil. However, we heard in Stewart Island kiwi's may occasionally be seen during the day walking the low tide beaches. We'll see. Next morning...no kiwi birds on the beach at daybreak.

Early morning in the anchorage there was little wind and according to the local VHF weather forecast we had a 12 hour window before the northerlies hit. Tide timing was right so we gave it a go with the option of returning to the anchorage.. Outside the protection of the island archipelago the water was benign and off we went riding the tide. At the entrance to the N/S Queen Charlotte Sound there was a tide rip extending north into the strait that looked a bit iffy. We rocketed along reaching 10.4 knots thru the rip then had to go a bit east into calmer water before making the turn into the sound. Fortunately the falling tide enters Queen Charlotte Sound from the north so we rode the tide south to our overnight anchorage in the NW arm of Endeavour Inlet (S41 05.74 E174 11.06). The sound was named after Capt Cook's famous boat Endeavour who spent time nearby three different times during his South Pacific travels. Then came the wind. And more wind, gusting to more than 40 knots. We anchored in 62' and dropped 250' of chain in good holding. We kept an anchor alarm set all night along with a GPS drag alarm. It's early morning now, breakfast is over, the gen is putting amps back into the batteries after last night's movies, the watermaker is pumping out sweet water, and life is good. I don't feel comfortable leaving the boat in this much wind anchored so deep so we may take a short ride to the town of Picton where we can anchor in shallower water and dinghy ashore for a look around. (A small catamaran ferry just got bashed into the dock during a 30+ knot gust as it approached to pick up passengers from the local resort.)

Leave we did and are now anchored in Waikawa Bay (S41 15.82 E174 02.62) (next to the town of Picton). We had a pleasant ride down to this anchorage with a few wind gusts booming thru along with a bit of rain. Last night we had a half hour of 35+ knots of wind so both Mary and I were up on anchor watch for a short time then set the GPS drag alarm and both the shallow and deep depth alarm. No problema. Today brought a soggy walk in the rain into Picton (40 minutes). With the sun out we walked the Picton docks looking at the old wooden narrow launches (powerboats) and snapped a few pics. Lunch was in a now aground 105' flat bottom trading scow built in NZ in 1905. The hold area was the restaurant. The scow traded around NZ all its life except for 2 years during WWII when it was attached to the American contingent in the Solomon Islands. Returned and restored after the war she started trading again in the South Island to Wellington (North Island) trade crossing Cook Strait approximately 15,000 times. She was rolled twice, driven ashore 15+ times and had 15+ major emergencies such as propeller shaft snapping, etc, one death and three fires. She was retired from commercial service in 1965. Interesting. Returning to the boat we ran across a marine store with a super inventory so we bought a few goodies. Tomorrow we'll measure the head hoses in the forward head and replace them with new. (Groan.)

A deep low is currently passing over the top of South Island and is why we aren't heading south just yet. Lows in the southern hemisphere rotate clockwise. On the approach we had northerlies and as the low passes to the east we'll have easterlies then strong southerlies until Friday or so. The ocens grib files this morning showed 3.5 meter (11'+) seas on the nose. We'll wait, thank you.

If by chance you are wondering about the daily detail in this VofE, let us explain. VofE is about what it is REALLY like to cruise from a single mom and pop couple's perspective. Instead of generalities about this and that we try to give you a clear picture including inland travel and so on. It's all part of the cruising deal (The Life). When using this information nearing Your Time to help you decide to be an undirtdweller (cruiser), we don't expect you to do what we do. You will find your own way and do whatever makes you happy (the bottom line of all cruising). Like we do. Sooo, while on this winter cruise south we'll give you the detail. You get the picture.

Along with dolphins in the bow wake, beautiful sunsets, and free spirit cruiser buddies come the realities of cruising. Today our NZ guest Dick Anderson and I changed the head hoses in the forward (guest) head. What a #@^$#%^&(^ job. Old head hoses are STIFF and don't want to come off the fittings. Grrrrrrr squared. So lets start at the beginning. With a holding tank system you have FIVE (5), 1 1/2" (38mm) hoses. One from the toilet discharge to the vented loop (a vented loop is a U shaped piece with a siphon break/one way valve at the top for toilets that are installed near or below the waterline), a short piece of hose couples the vented loop to a Y-valve which directs the toilet discharge either overboard thru a seacox or to a holding tank, a hose from the holding tank overboard thru a pump and the 5th hose is from the holding tank to a deck fill where the tank can be pumped out by a honey barge or dockside pump. Before starting to remove hoses flush lotsa fresh water thru the system overboard. The first hose to take off is from the vented loop to the toilet (at the vented loop). Removing the vented loop from the wall makes it much easier to get the hoses off. We removed that hose, dried it with paper towels and duct taped it shut. With two folded work (bath) towels under the hose to toilet connection we removed the hose, held it high, dried it off and taped it shut. Then the entire piece can be thrown away. When you are measuring new hose make sure the length is EXACT because there is NO room for extra hose. We repeated this on the Y valve side where the hose goes to the seacox. Being a lightly used guest head this hose was nearly perfect. The hose from the head to the vented loop was NOT perfect. Large flakes of scale inside the hose acted like a check valve from time to time stopping the discharge and backing up the toilet. All this sounds easy. It isn't. First the job requires removing bathroom storage shelves and access panels. Then a couple drawers and the mattress to the guest bed for access to the seacox hose along with moving the spare parts stored in this compartment. It requires patience AND time. Also, make SURE you are removing the right hose. One trick is to cut the hose 90 degrees behind whatever fitting. To remove the stub piece from the fitting we heated a small paring knife with a soldering torch and cut/melted thru the short piece to get it off the fitting. MUCH faster this way. Another trick is to leave the new hoses in the engine room near the generator while battery charging, or in our case near the wing engine while we were running that. Put the hose ends up (near the heat) and the warmed hose will be much more pliable than a cold hose. If you are doing this where it is sunny and warm, putting the hose in a black plastic garbage bag leaving it outside helps to soften it as well. Do NOT use a heat gun. Your chances of ruining the hose are VERY high and now the hose is to short. (Been there, done that) And yes, close the seacox (it's below the waterline)...duuuh if you don't. And IF you don't, be sure and rescue your cell phone to call the insurance agent. You be sinking. And when you DO get your insurance check, buy a motorhome and give the rest of us a break. You get the picture.

Tomorrow it's changing the master head toilet to vented loop hose. Geesh.

Its tomorrow and we changed the %$#^*^$( hose. To make it easier next time we did a a bit of woodwork allowing the hose to be pulled thru the cabinet. Yup, we got out the hole saw and drilled a couple grande holes near the Y valve then used a wood file to finish the job. Where the holes overlapped into the cabinet we now have a custom duct tape cabinet bottom. In about 20 more years we'll have it all figured out.

So there you have it. A bit of cruising and sharing a bit of %$@##%^^(*&^ pain with us. At least it didn't cost YOU any blood. Ciao.


Ed. Note - The glossary of Egretism terms will be posted on the Captain's Log home page for easy reference.





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