Whangarei

We haven’t exactly just sitting around here in Whangarei … we have been using the time to do some maintenance.  For the first couple weeks we were moored at the ship yards’ jetty, but last night on the high tide they hauled us up onto the hard.    This morning the team water blasted the Hull and sanded it back.  The antifoul that was on the vessel was in reasonable condition and probably could have lasted another 12 months, but because we want to go to Fiordland later in the year we decided to clean it and put a new coat on.  Vessels are required to have a “clean hull” permit to cruise in the Fiords, it is one way to prevent the spread of unwanted aquatic organisms.    What we did discover though when we hauled it out was that a number of bolts holding the rudder in place were loose !!!!!!!!!!! whether they weren’t tightened sufficiently in the ship yard during construction or whether they have worked loose (we have done over 17,000 nautical miles  since leaving Hong Kong) we will never know.  WE will be retightening and securing them in a way that means they cannot work loose.  The thought of what might have been puts a whole new meaning on a rudderless ship … I don’t want to think about it.    We hope to go back into the water next week and when that happens we will make plans, until then we are enjoying the “winterless north” (that’s a myth), the freedom of level two and the maintenance work.   

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A nostalgic walk

A nostalgic walk. After an extended period at sea, we are enjoying the opportunity to stretch the legs. Whangarei has to be one of the best places for boat/yacht lover’s to walk.  Last night we walked down the river and discovered the old coastal scow Te Aroha. It was a sorry sight, it sunk (several times) at its moorings in 2015 while being restored. To see it brought back many memories.  It was built in 1909, reputedly from one Kauri log at Totara North, Auckland by T Lane and Sons. It entered the Cook Strait service and by all accounts did over 10,000 crossings of Cook Strait. It was sold to Capt. Tim Phipps in 1976.  That was my first encounter with her. I was a Fauna Conservation Officer for Wildlife Service in Invercargill. We had discovered Kakapo on Stewart Island in early 1976 and it was decided to build 6 x Portable Bivi’s (huts) and place them at strategic places around southern Stewart Island so we could continue the survey work year round. These huts were built by inmates at the Invercargill Borstal. The question was how to get them to Port Pegasus. I discussed this with Tim who had the Te Aroha in Bluff standing in for the Stewart Island Ferry Wairau which was out on annual survey. He agreed and we loaded the six huts one Friday night and he sailed for Port Pegasus. Bill Black from Te Anau flew down the next morning and lifted them off.  Te Aroha was later sold to Mike and Dee Pigneguy from Auckland. They advertised trips in the Hauraki Gulf on her. When we formed Heritage Expeditions in 1985 it was one of a number of vessels we chartered to offer coastal expeditions. Other destinations included Fiordland, Stewart Island and Marlborough Sounds.  It was good but sad to see her in such a sorry sight.

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Opua

We are writing to you from Whangarei. We arrived here from Opua yesterday (Friday) after a very pleasant 10 hour journey. After the protracted entry formalities were completed we went to anchor at Te Hue Bay outside of Opua and made new plans. Our first objective and obligation was to repatriate our two foreign crew members, getting flights and additional visas was complicated to say the least but we achieved it and both have left the vessel to enjoy a few days on land before flying out. Secondly we were keen to use the time under level 3 to get some repair and maintenance work done. We are hoping that under level 2 we will be allowed to cruise future afield.  We applied to the authorities (it appears the Health Department is the appropriate agency) to relocate 76 miles south to Whangarei and the Oceania Marine Shipyard to do this work. This approval came through Wednesday evening and we left early Friday morning. We will start the work here on Monday.

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New Zealand

“Whatever Dream ends where the Heart intends?”.  Three weeks ago we were dreaming of tropical Islands today I write to you from temperate New Zealand.  Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t complaining, it is great to be back, there is nowhere else I would rather be right now. We appreciate the work and the many people who facilitated our journey from Papua New Guinea.  PNG is a beautiful country, with many many beautiful people and huge potential for cruising, but under the current State Emergency we felt it was not the best or safest place to be. There was a very real risk of burglaries and attacks from “Rascals” as food and supplies ran low in the villages and towns. Local Police were patrolling the area and had ordered us to a specific anchorage where they could keep a closer eye on us. We believed it was time to leave as did the other two yachts that were there with us. They were both Australian registered and left for Cairns.   We arrived in Opua yesterday after a 2200nm journey. It took us 14 days, overall the weather and sea conditions were good. The two crew were given NZ visas on humanitarian grounds (thankyou NZ) as there was no other way out of PNG for them.  We were all considered to have “self-isolated” during the voyage so we aren’t confined to the vessel.  What now ?? we aren’t sure, our first task is to repatriate the crew to their respective countries.  Simon and I would like to get Strannik to Lyttelton for some maintenance work before making any more plans. Watch this space.   

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Half way to New Zealand

As I write this we are abeam (west) of New Caledonia, we have less than 1000nm to run to Opua. We are over halfway home.  The weather and sea conditions so far have been good.  The first few days south of Papua New Guinea were exceptional,  for the last couple days though we have experienced the expected South Easterly trade winds of about 20 kts and unfortunately near enough to right on the bow.   The forecast for the next few days looks promising.    We are not quite sure what to expect on our arrival in NZ.  If you thought getting information on what you could or couldn’t do during Lockdown was hard .. you should try getting it from overseas, especially when your situation is just a little out of the ordinary.  We have two foreign crew members on board and we are a New Zealand owned but Cook Islands registered yacht???????.  We have lodged a formal application for arrival and any exemptions that might be needed with the relevant authorities through our lawyer in NZ but to date haven’t had a reply… too late now and there is nowhere else to go but home.   We will keep you updated. Stay safe stay well. 

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