Friday, October 7, 2016

First week in the life of a newborn sailor...

If you read our blog for anecdotal and sometimes comical accounts of sailing tales from the high seas, then we apologise.  On Saturday 24th September our lives changed forever for the better when our son was born.  Normal service will resume shortly; our next big passage should be in around 6 weeks time or so but until then it's wall to wall baby pictures and gushy soppy prose.

Ravi Arthur Fagg had a hard time trying to get out and in the end was born around midday by caesarian section 36 hours after my waters first broke. Fiji has a caesarian rate of around 12% as opposed to most of the Western world being in the 25-30% region and the USA even higher at 33% (WHO). They don't do them readily here but if it's absolutely necessary they can.

He was born uttering a lusty cry and continued to do so the next half hour whilst they cleaned him, checked him and sewed me up until he was brought to have his first suckle and relaxed straight in to our little family. Duncan and I have both never been so relieved.


Thus he began his lifetime of experiences. The world outside is a confusing and concerning place for a newborn and you can see it in their faces. The first touches they feel, the first smells and light; they react instinctively to begin with, moving towards or away according to preprogrammed responses.

We were lucky that I recovered so quickly from the operation most likely influenced by the extreme euphoria I was feeling to have him OK after those difficult hours. When visiting time was over at 7pm Duncan was evicted from our company by the severe maternity unit security guard. At this time due to the spinal I'd had, I was still wide awake but could not move my legs. Nevertheless I was left on my own with Ravi to take care of with no obvious way of summoning help. 

Duncan was careful to make sure I had everything I might need within reach and got me comfy before he left. Had I had a girlfriend available to help that would have been encouraged, they just had a strict no men outside visiting hours policy despite there being posters about the place encouraging father's involvement... It was sad him heading home so early and alone.

An hour or so later the nurse came to take Ravi for his first bath. Can I come help? I asked, keen to keep him near and learn what they did. Can you walk? She replied quizzically then looked back in disbelief as I slowly heaved myself after her down the corridor. My abdomen was still numb but otherwise the spinal effects had worn off. Later that night the doctor tried and failed to cannulate him so he had his first intra muscular injection poor mite.

Ravi slept his first night only waking a couple of times and being given a suckle and lots of cuddles. We both had to stay in the hospital three days for antibiotics and monitoring then finally we were allowed to go home. He had his first taxi ride in his first thunder storm but as Duncan had left all the hatches open when leaving the boat at anchor that morning, he rowed out to shut them in the thrashing rain then we all stayed in a nice dry air conditioned bungalow for our first night together. 

This was disappointing as we were desperate to be home for his first night as a family but Ravi had been suffering a bit from the heat and mosquitoes at the hospital so we thought the AC would be good where a hot soggy boat probably would not help his rash. That night at the marina bar he was the star attraction whilst we caught up with some friends. In the end Duncan went to find him to spend some Pappa time to find Ravi quite happy asleep on a Fijian lady.  His first night out at a bar.

The next afternoon we rowed out and were finally home. Duncan pulled up the anchor and Ravi went for his first sail aged 4 days old. We were only going a few miles and the wind was at our back until we tacked into the anchorage; still only with our Yankee jib; to the whoops and celebratory hollers of friends there cheering Ravi in.

We had some photos from this sail however sadly our hard drive has failed and so they are lost.  Thankfully Doug on Renegade snapped these as we sailed past him.

And Ravi helping get the anchor ready on the foredeck...

5 days old and it was time to start Ravi's passport application. We rowed in and caught the bus to the city and started the merry dance to get his birth certificate. As we're not married we were told Duncan's name could not be on it by the nurses. However, we found out there was a way; it just meant jumping through some hoops in various offices. Ravi managed this long day with aplomb. We were exhausted! 

Ravi's first paperwork and passport photo; rocking the Ramones babygrow at 5 days old!

The next day we all had a very well earned rest.  Ravi not only heard his very first Beatles album but was also subjected to his very first 'The Archers Omnibus', it was a pivotal one including Helens trial.  We were a bit behind what with one thing and another...

Grannie made him a lovely quilt to lie on at home and to take to the beach

Our sailor boy has a cyclone in the middle of his forehead!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Ganesh Chaturti!

We hear this train every night and saw it yesterday whilst out for a walk, slowly rumbling along its track bound from the fields into Lautoka, sugar city. We too have slowed down, rumbling towards our momentous trip into Lautoka when it's time to become three. It won't be long now, as the mangoes ripen on the trees our precious load grows ever more ready.

With our due date just a week away now our check up appointments have been becoming more frequent and so we sail in ever decreasing circles; out away from the city and returning back. Last month we felt brave enough to venture to the top of the Yasawa Islands.  Many of the anchorages were rolly up there so when we found Nanuya to be flat and calm we stayed longer, despite the resorts nearby.  This was where 'The Blue Lagoon' film was shot with Brooke Shields back in 1980.  It was surprisingly both quiet and convivial with beautiful water for swimming, lots of friendly cruisers passing through, a farm to visit nearby for veggies and nice walks.

Sailing Fidget on the Blue lagoon

We spent a couple of weeks anchored off more remote villages where it was saddening to see and hear how much damage had been done by cyclone Winston earlier this year.  The crops are not fully recovered and people were obviously struggling.  It must be so disheartening re-cultivating, rebuilding, and re-roofing knowing that it may happen again each year.

Somehow Fijians still manage to be welcoming when you go to pay your respects to the chief asking to be granted 'SevuSevu'.  This is a traditional ritual where a visitor presents an offering; usually Kava (in Fiji called Yaquona) a mildly narcotic root which is prepared and drunk in a ceremonial way.  In return the chief then extends the welcome of the village to share in their space.

When the supply boat from the mainland came the whole village came out to greet those returning with goodies.  Very possibly this is more of a highlight than usual with such little food available locally.

Closer to home (or more importantly hospital) are the Mamanuca islands, we stayed at Yanuya and it's nearby 'Tom Hanks Island!' where we were told much of the movie Castaway was filmed.

Also nearby the very beautiful Monuriki.  Not an easy anchorage but worth it when the weather is right.

One of the absolute delights of Fiji is that as well as the rich Melanesian culture of the indigenous population there is also the charm of the other half of the population who were originally from India and have kept their cultural, religious and traditional practices alive.  We have met people whose families were originally from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan but most were indentured from rural Northern India back when Fiji and India were part of the British empire.  It seems they were mostly brought to work in the sugar business originally and are now third and fourth generation Fijians.

Fiji is a little like stepping in to a wonderland of India nestled in to the South Pacific islands. We've met only one intermarried couple in our time here, mostly the Indians and Melanesians maintain a slight distance whilst apparently getting along pretty well.  Politics has been a problem.  At 37.5% the Indo-Fijians mostly live on the main islands and are inclined to vote for Indo-Fijian parties.  When they get into power the Melanesians and Polynesians have risen up and forcibly changed the government.  The last of four coup d'etats over the preceding twenty years was in 2009. Peace appears to be reigning at the moment with a Fijian Prime minister who is a champion of equal rights for the ethnic Indian community and a president who is of a minority outer island descent.

As anyone who has ever experienced the joy of a Hindu festival will know its an explosion to the senses. Brightly coloured powder paint are daubed on all, coupled with intricately decorated gods and vibrant sari's. Burnt incense adds to the aroma of roadside food stalls. Then there's the music and general cheer. Its hard to mistake a festival for anything but.

We were on our boat when we heard the cymbals crash and the Shehnai players start to blow a welcome for the first of many clay gods to arrive. Ganesh Chaturthi is the festival celebrating the God of knowledge, Ganesh. He is prayed to at this time so any new pursuits one embarks upon flourish. Which for us is rather appropriate.

A few days prior to us joining in on the festivities a clay model of Ganesh would have been placed in places of work, homes and temples where they are worshiped, made offerings to and entrusted with wishes. At the end of the festival the model is immersed in a body of water where it dissolves over time signifying the circle of life. We were welcomed to join in; powdered paint daubed on our faces and we were given sweets. At the close of the festivities the idols with offerings were loaded onto fishing boats, taken the other side of the reef and pushed over into the tropical azure.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The bump and grind of sailing...

We all know that life is full of ups and downs but the sailing life can often feel like it's even more dichotomous.  Apart from our good news we've been quiet for the last two months for a reason. We had a very boisterous sail from New Zealand to Fiji. 1,100 miles in 8 days without any motoring. Then we had a little accident.

I was sick for much of this journey to Fiji, mainly due to the short cross seas. We were on a reach to beam reach most of the way. Australia was getting pounded to our West with floods and high winds but we suffered from very few squalls, just plenty of wind. So we arrived both tired, and I, particularly energy depleted.

We had a few hours sleep just inside the reef before a blissfully gentle sail over to Lautoka. Here we started the check in process and were able to contact Sally, our friend.  Sally had arrived the previous day to visit us and was waiting with bated breath at a hotel near the airport.

Checking in took longer than we thought and once checked in we then needed to apply for a cruising permit in order to be allowed to leave Lautoka port area. Since it was now too late in the day we arranged to apply for this at a marina nearer to Sally and went to see her, arriving at her beach in the dark.

The next day the correct officials were not to be where we'd been told, so it was another day before we could apply and finally get our permission to sail to the islands. Once we were finally permitted it was late in the day. We were feeling pretty bad for Sally at this point who had already spent four days of her short holiday, waiting for it to start. Two days at not particularly comfortable anchorages and dinghying in less than ideal circumstances.

So we finally set off, poured ourselves a G and T and headed over towards an island about 15 miles away. There was a lovely breeze and we set sail with just our jib rolling along. As dusk fell so did the rain which gradually turned into a squall. We were sailing along at somewhere between six and seven knots when it started to dawn on me that I could hear and then see breaking waves then SCRUNCH.

Duncan hurtled out and rolled away the jib with eyes wild with panic. I was still holding the tiller not knowing what else to do.

We were well and truly aground with waves breaking into the reef and the boat banging up and down in place.

We tried motoring off in reverse. Wondering each time we were lifted on a wave if this might be the time we might just move backwards only to come down with a sickening crash each time in the same place. The engine stopped a few times, was restarted, then eventually whizzed away clearly with no resistance.

'We've lost the prop!' shouted Duncan against the crunching and the wind and waves. Despite the bilges at this point still being dry we decided it was time to call in a mayday as with every crash we worried for the hull.

Sally has just completed her VHF course in the uk so she was set doing this whilst Duncan and I battled about with ropes, anchors and the dinghy. Frequently checking Sally was OK and reassuring her that yes we needed help, preferably a tow but at this time did not want rescuing off the boat.

It was at least an hour and a half before we finally freed ourselves and got some water under our keel. Not before sustaining a few minor injuries each whilst deluged in adrenaline and rain.

It was our second anchor which got us out of trouble. After our main anchor, set with 100m of rope behind us hadn't succeeded we got all our available ropes out. I proceeded to tie them together and feed them out through the forward fairlead whilst Duncan rowed out against the wind as far as he could perpendicular to the boat.

As we took turns winching at the mast bringing in rope after rope we thanked our lucky stars that we had all the stuff we needed, a strong boat and each other. The tidal range is only about a metre here but we were helped by this at least going in our favour.

Once we were afloat again and still had no water in the bilge we double checked that there was enough of our huge rudder left to be able to steer. Though clearly it had been damaged and was stiff at its outer limits it appeared sufficient. Here's a picture from when we were lifted in Texas to demonstrate why we were concerned. Since our propeller was gone we envisaged extensive damage to all that lower section of rudder and weren't sure if the bottom hinge (gudgeon and pintale) remained.

Though things were still far from peachy we agreed to cancel the mayday and say thanks but no thanks to the tow which had been arranged but was standing by at the nearest marina. They had been unwilling to set out to help us until the bad weather had passed which worked in our favour as salvage rules mean that if they'd helped, they would be entitled to charge whatever they liked. Up to the entire value of the boat possibly.

An option would be to stay put where we were. Since both our big anchors were out on rope we were too concerned that either the wind might change or a rope might wear through on the coral. Our particular squall had now passed but there was still plenty of weather rumbling around the sky to make it unpredictable. Duncan and I agreed that this wasn't the best thing to do tonight. We agreed that we would sail back to the marina entrance we'd left that afternoon.

This wasn't a particularly easy option either since the weather was unsettled with very light wind at that time. We also weren't at all sure we'd be able to get either anchor back onboard. Whilst deliberating our options poor Sally was outside trying to recover from all the excitement and feeling very sick.

As suspected we couldn't get either anchor up and it was too dark to go looking to see why this was. Without use of the engine we only had one direction of pull and we were still nearer the reef than was conducive to much messing about. We agreed to buoy them with fenders with our contact details on and leave them. We still had all our chain onboard together with a tiny Danforth and big aluminium fortress anchor which we'd never used before but should technically be ideal for the soft mud conditions we knew were outside the marina entrance.

Duncan enjoyed his sail back across the bay. We were very careful to keep to our outward track. Once I was confident he was OK and that the adrenaline was dissipating Sally and I had a well earned rest. I couldn't really sleep but lay still with my eyes shut trying very hard to calm down. It had all been a bit much!

The next day Duncan went to survey the damage done and came up with pretty good news. The damage was limited to surface scrapes, a gnarled up edge of rudder and a ground away propeller. Nevertheless we arranged to get pulled out at the marina. The rudder is plywood wrapped in fibreglass and would be soaking in water and we were pretty sure we'd need to order a new propeller as the chances of finding one in Fiji were very slim.

Somehow that small list of jobs became almost 6 weeks on the hard. It was hot and dusty and hard work in the heat. We had to wait for the new propeller to be made and sent from New Zealand and more bottom paint to come from Australia but mostly the time was taken up cutting back the rudder to splice in then fair in the repairs and lots of other jobs we took the opportunity of doing whilst we had chance.

 The stem was probably the worst damaged but was still ground back and patched up within the first week.

 The plywood of the rudder feathered out where we'd tried to reverse back over the coral.
Scratches were all pretty shallow in the hull and mostly on the port side as that was the way we'd between heeling.

 Not much left of the 18" diameter propeller

We cut out much more of the rudder than was damaged so that the repair would be strong. Quite deep in we found bits of coral that had been rammed in.

With offcuts of wood spliced in reshaped, filled and fibreglassed it was all ready to be painted again.

So we made our new staysail (cut down from an old bigger sail we'd acquired along the way). We finally fitted our new lexan in our centre hatch and cut and shaped our new Corian kitchen worktops. Both these jobs much better done on the hard so we could gather up the plastic shavings and dust rather than risk them going in the sea.

We were so pleased with our limestone tiles when we first fitted them only three years ago but they have not survived well.  It was a constant struggle to keep them clean and the mould and cracks were winning so when we found Corian very cheap for offcuts in New Zealand we jumped at the chance.

We scraped back and varnished our toerails and rudder cheeks. Also with the force of pounding up and down on the reef and possibly when trying to get off backwards we'd somehow managed to seriously bend Beryl (our Aries windvanes) stainless mount. Thankfully Beryl was fine so we got a local welder to cut and replace some of the struts. It's still not quite straight but much better and seems to work.

Beryl's mounting got a bit bent from the force on the servo which also was damaged and repaired with foam filler and fibreglass...

Now we're back in the water and the whole ordeal slips in to the past we've had some time to reflect on what we have gleaned from the whole affair:

We are amazed at how little damage there was given the severity of the incident. Our boat is strong and well built and we now have even more confidence in it.

In retrospect it was a mistake to try motoring off when we had sailed on at such a lick. When the engine had stopped once we should have moved to a different tactic. We've had cause to pull ourselves off and through things a few times now (though nothing like this before) and it works really well. We should remember this in future and not let urgency cloud our thinking. It's easy and quick to turn to the engine and if it works early on all well and good. However when you're really aground pulling the boat towards deeper water using an anchor and winch is a clear winner. Had we done this earlier the rudder would have been less damaged and we'd have still had a useable propeller.

We're embarrassed about the whole affair as we just shouldn't have been there. Various things conspired for us to make poor decisions but we're moving on with much more caution.

The reef we hit was on the paper chart however when we'd tried to buy one earlier that day the shop had been out of stock.  Our open cpn cm93 (freebie) charts are not at all good for Fiji, and asking around cruisers there are no charts of Fiji which can truly be fully relied upon. We were also being blasé, having been in the well charted New Zealand for a while. The way to navigate around the coral is well known to be always to move early in daylight hours keeping a constant vigilant look out and to also use satellite imagery to help see where the coral is. To that extent as soon as we can source some suitable timber we shall be making ratlines to climb high to look out as the view up high makes the water colours and breaking waves easier to spot.

We've now got Google earth downloaded for Fiji and will be getting it for wherever we go in future if possible. What we have is not all high resolution but in time we'll figure it out and when it is in high resolution it's massively helpful.

The yard wasn't an altogether terrible experience. The staff were really helpful and friendly. Whilst there we met person after person who had similar tales to tell culminating in hearing that on the 15th July the Fijian navy embarrassingly ran a ship onto a well known reef outside Suva.

We've gained a new pet. This is midnight rambler (because he has sticky fingers) who must have come aboard whilst we were on land. We're welcoming him and hoping he'll help us deal with all the bugs which plagued the marina we were doing our repairs at, particularly the cockroaches and ants.

Now we're eventually out sailing the Yasawa islands as intended. I've finally finished sewing our flag for Fiji and we're enjoying frequent swims and gradually getting things ship shape.

This is a Waloo or Spanish mackerel, since getting away from the busy areas the fishing had been great!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Impetuous three...

Once upon a time in a land very far away there lived a handsome young(ish) man named Duncan who dreamed of setting to sea.  He bought a little boat and repaired all the old wooden parts so that he might have many adventures and learn about the ways of the sea in the great Mediterranean.

He sailed his little boat far and wide through many different countries and across the great Mediterranean. He visited all kinds of lands and met lots of interesting people but always he felt a little bit lonely. When he looked up at the stars he wanted someone to share his marvel with and when he walked in the mountains he wondered if he’d find anyone who loved to travel as much as he did. When he discovered the delights of wonderful local markets he wondered if he would find anyone who enjoyed the simple pleasures of a really good meal and who would love drinking and being merry with as much gusto as himself.  He knew that not everyone likes to sail and that lots of people get frustrated with living in the small space which a sailing boat affords. He also knew it takes an unusual kind of person to be happy when you're always needing to fix things and make do with what is available in far flung lands.

Then one day he was chugging his canal boat up to a mooring spot and a young(ish) girl called Ruth bounded out of the boat next door to help him. He didn't need any help but was glad to meet an enthusiastic friendly boater.

He wasted no time in getting to know her and they discovered they had lots of things in common. Ruth had never been sailing but was very excited to find out all about it as she loved living on her narrowboat and relished the challenges and joys which that life gave. She'd traveled by land to many places but never dreamed that it would be possible for her to own a boat that could cross oceans. They started to dream of making a strong safe home together which could have the freedom to go wherever the wind would take them and stay as long as they liked in their own home.

They read lots of books and learned what they could but alas they had no such vessel to set to sea in. As luck would have it they heard of a boat that might suit in a far off land so they packed up some food and trudged off through the virgin snow that lay on the ground on the start of their journey to Impetuous.

When they found Impetuous it was very clear that she would need a lot of work before she could take them upon adventures on the high seas. Lichen and algae adorned her dulled hull.  A strong wicked wind called Ike had swept over where she lay and stolen much. They thought long and hard about whether all this work would be worth it and took themselves off to New Orleans to glean some wisdom from the wizards of Jazz. As the clarinet and trumpets weaved their positive notes through the afternoon sun they could see that though the journey would be arduous, Impetuous would indeed be worth it.

Undaunted over the next few years the industrious couple breathed life back in to Impetuous. With the help of a kindly man, an old wise man and the magical golden rasta. Every Sunday they listened to the wizards of jazz to help prevent their enthusiasm from waning. Like a flower in spring time she rewarded their toil by revealing her beauty once again until the day came when they finally moved her to the water. A few months later she finally got to sail once more and when the couple listened to Impetuous through the sounds of her lovely mast that they had built and shaped with their own hands they could hear that she was thrilled to be back where she belonged and she promised to take them far in safety in return for all the work they'd put into helping her.

They had a party to show people around and say thank you for all the help they'd been given by their neighbours and friends. Eventually all was ready and they set off upon their journey to explore the world in the only way they knew how. By boat, using the graceful power of the wind.

And so it came to pass that the couple went exploring. From their first big passage to the big blue, to the great sweetness and mountains of Guatemala they explored a corner of the Caribbean. Even once they had aventuras sin impetuous amongst the Mayan ruins at Tikal. A big highlight was when they visited Cuba, they learned much about different ways of finding happiness and heard much more heavenly music to spur them onwards. They lived their dream and Impetuous rewarded them with being a beautiful vessel that looked after them as the seas rose.

Before long both themselves and Impetuous felt as one and they were ready for adventures anew. And so they intended to pass through a narrow canal that separated the continent of the Americas into a different sea and venture again.

But there were trolls who guarded the entrance to the canal. They threatened to set loose the hungry crocodiles that patrolled the canal on anyone who didn't abide by their laws. Our impetuous travellers bargained with the trolls giving them pieces of gold and agreed to take three elves who had been stranded on the east coast. They also took a clever pilot who knew the deadliest stretches of the canal; past the Dungeons of Noriaga and the rapids where the two oceans meet. With the help of all four they weaved themselves through the canal pacific bound.

Once through the canal they set off on their Pacific crossing. For five whole weeks they sailed towards the setting sun with only themselves and their friends the stars for company. They caught fish to eat, listened to the wizards of Jazz on Sundays and were very very happy. They dreamed of the islands to come, scattered like their friends the stars above, throughout the Pacific, that they would visit.

Above the ocean spray the cliffs rose steeply and they realised that they had found their way across the biggest stretch of sea they might encounter. Eager to discover these beautiful wild new lands they meandered the Marquesas, Tuamotoes, Society islands and Tonga.

They knew there would be a time soon when a viscious wind would streak across the tropical isles and to escape from it they would have to venture south to a land of snow capped mountains and fjords where though it would be cold, they would also be safe. They looked around the beautiful bay of islands, visited a wise retired world sailor and celebrated the new year with many of the young adventurers they had met along their way who gathered together in Auckland.

But somehow Impetuous still whispered to them, her mast spoke of more adventure and the couple were not a bit tired. Down further and further they sailed deeper in to the roaring forties where the wind howled like an angry wolf and the sea boiled like a cauldron. But they were safe in Impetuous and she looked after them just as she'd promised.

Together they sailed all the way around New Zealand; visiting the magnificent Land of Fiords and Island of Stewart before they headed north again to tuck Impetuous up for a rest amongst the Great Sounds of Marlborough.

After some work and visiting their friends and family in England they were once more ready for more travels. Since they'd learned much during their adventures, they now knew that they needed less to carry on as long as they wanted. The time had now come when the two travelers were so happy with their lives on the ocean that they thought it would be fun to have a family on Impetuous.

The next time they saw one of their friends; a star, falling to earth, they made a wish upon it; that the last of its light might spark a new life with them. And do you know what, that's just what happened. So very soon there will be Impetuous three exploring the world.

To be continued...

Saturday, May 28, 2016

A Conspicuous Lack of Logic...

We're back in Whangarei town basin, having now sailed all the way around this beautiful and sometimes windy country. Whangarei is a convenient place to stock up and get parts for the boat before we head back to the pacific islands. The town is quite small so all shops and useful businesses are close by. We've been doing an awful lot of ordering and buying around town, a job made significantly quicker, easier and more fun with our new folding bikes.

We have been pretty busy getting Impetuous ready for the off as well as finding a little bit of time to have fun with some friends who like us left their boat in New Zealand whilst they went back to Europe to earn some pennies. So busy infact, that we haven't written a new blog. Fortunately we have a story from the last time we were here that we never got round to posting. Now that we have our new foam mattresses, various pretty, hefty and useful bits of bronze and new kitchen worktops ready to shape and fit at a later date its time to go. We set out towards Fiji on Sunday.

There are some facts in this watery life upon a boat that need no explanation. Why a boat floats or for that matter why they sink. How altering a foil in the water; the rudder, affects the direction a boat travels in and why rocks are bad.

There are other details that though they may take a little pondering over, are essentially perceptible. The ebb and flow of the tides and their relationship to the moon and sun or the necessity to trim sail to take best advantage of the wind direction.

But occasionally there is a phenomenon which evades all reason! There is a conspicuous lack of logic. For example, How the concept of sailing to wind, can usefully be explained by the analogy of squeezing a dried pea between a thumb and forefinger, why some people motor when they could be sailing or why boat hooks are not always made to float if dropped.

There was undoubtedly a look of disbelief as the pole that had slipped beyond the tentative grasp of Ruth's outstretched arm fell in to the harbours still, murky water and didn't float. Petulant with frustration Ruth muttered a number of choice expletives, which basically boiled down to 'why doesn't that float'.

Everyone has dropped a boat hook at least once in there life, surely. Undoubtedly, more often realised that they were lucky not to have dropped it. Before long I was cynically pottering around town looking at potential replacements and it dawned on me that perhaps there was a conspiracy amongst boat pole manufacturers. Deliberately manufacturing them to sink, thus ensuring future sales.

The pole in question was a particularly fine example. Telescopic stainless steel tubes, a handle that the designer, clearly capable of having lucid thoughts, had riveted on; Its usually the handle that slips off the pole, that results in the poles loss. And a variety of interchangeable heads to collect: hook, brush, mop etc. Giving one all the enchantment of a child collecting a Worzil Gumage toy. But best of all we kept the boat hook head in a drawer, so when, and admittedly rarely was I asked, 'where is the boat hook?' I really could legitimately say 'Second drawer down of the chart table.'

Still with an edge of cynicism and melancholy about our loss I tried to look on the bright side. Several years ago I had bought Ruth a bronze boat hook head, maybe now was the time to marry it to a pole. Now you're probably thinking one of several things. How lucky Ruth is to have a boyfriend who buys her pretty pieces of bronze, perhaps, Or maybe. Bronze, lovely alloy, great for marine applications, not generally known for its inclination to float.

As it happens it was I who was lucky to have Ruth as a girlfriend, for whilst I searched listlessly for a replacement pole, Ruth searched stoically for the lost one. With mask and Fins she scoured the drop zone until triumphant she emerged from the murky effluent rich depth clutching her very own Excalibur, complete with detachable head.

So now we are a two pole boat. There, lashed down amongst the dinghy mast detritus, are the boat hooks. Poking out like twin exhaust pipes, But somehow poles apart. One made from buoyant wood, the other a product of a different age, a salesman’s dream, with its multiple sell 'head variations', contractability and its negative buoyancy. Safely stored away is the boat hook head in the second draw down of the chart table ready for me to tell an unsuspecting guest where we keep our boat hook. Or rather the spare, because now we will use the one that floats. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

We've Turned our Dorades Around...

Dorades are those funnel shaped protrusions you sometimes see adorning the coach roofs of boats. The idea being that they funnel air, but not spray, down into the boat keeping it cool and ventilated. As the sun set early after another beautiful but cool day in the Abel Tasman, we thought it was time to turn ours around. They were wafting us with cold air that sent us scurrying for our jumpers and thinking with more urgency that we must head north.

We'd had our shake down cruise. We'd seen a little of Pelorus Sound including Duncan Bay; listening out for the mating calls of the deer. We'd transited French pass and had spent a few days in the Abel Tasman national park, meeting with friends new and old. But autumn was here.

Duncans bay

Sailing in the Tasman Bay

Mending the depth sounder by Adele island, it's co-ax socket had pulled off

Torrent Bay and the Anchorage, Abel Tasman

After spending a quiet night in D'Urville island, with a light and favourable forecast we set off for Wellington. Wellington has an infamous reputation as a wind factory but we both had fond memories of the city so we wanted to pay it a visit. We were also running perilously low on eggs!

Windy Wellington certainly lives up to its name; it took us fourteen tacks to beat our way in under double reefs. Then after our brief visit we were whooshed out by a forceful wind; fortunately it was behind us this time. The forecast had been for 15kn but the gale we encountered was strong enough to break another of Beryls (our Aries wind-steering mechanism) wooden vanes. This one had barely been used but probably snapped because we were hand steering so it was held still against the wind. Good job we're not short of spare ply to make more. Certainly, New Zealand's South island is beautiful but it has cost us dearly in these vanes.

Shock horror, one night in a marina in Wellington.  Very nice showers!

We find it easy transitioning between our lives on Impetuous and back on our narrowboat. We never particularly miss anything whilst in either one of our homes. But there are some things you forget how much you enjoy. When I let the fishing line over and within minutes saw the huge splash behind the boat as an albacore tried to free itself from our hook I instantly remembered the thrill of fishing. It got off unfortunately as did the next two; both about a meter from the boat, but we did land two more. One weighing in at around 15lbs which I know is not gigantic but certainly fills our fridge and has now filled our bellies for over a week.

The next destination was Napier, where we spent a couple of days meeting up with a childhood friend who has emigrated there and his family. We also enjoyed lots of walking along Hawkes bay and around the art deco neighbourhoods. We stocked up at some of the fantastic speciality shops that both Wellington and Napier have to offer us keen cooks, in preparation to head back into the South Pacific.

Despite crossing back from the sub 40° S the dorades are still facing the wrong way. We have a 'to buy' list for jobs we'll be doing over the next 6 months or so, and a few little jobs to complete before leaving New Zealand in the next couple of weeks. We're spending the weekend on the lovely Kawau island then we'll press on to Whangarei back to the metropolis and other boaters. Its amazing to think that in all the six months we have spent down in southland we only met one other foreign couple.