Thursday, March 26, 2009

Family Shot

Thanks Nana and Grandad for our T-Shirts. Finally got ourselves organised for the photoshoot.

Beware the White Caps

Twice in a row we have been caught be the "Mad Mile". Heading over to Anchorage on a Tuesday and then our return trip the following Thursday.

On the way over we had all sorts of conditions, hoping for the sea breeze we had headed off, only to have very light breezes made very uncomfortable by the left over swell coming from the North. We decided to motor through this as it wasn't doing anyone’s stomach any good, then slowly we came into five to seven knot breeze, with darker patches on the water closer into shore which we chased. This worked well the first time and we got a good breeze 10-12 knots for a little while before we lost it again. Playing word games with the kids and hoping it wouldn't be too dark before we got to Anchorage we again spotted more ripples on the water with a few white caps, so I decided to head for that. We went from 5-7 knots, up to 15 straight away and I thought Woo Hoo this is going to be good, next thing I know its up to 20 then 25 and I couldn't hold the boat on course. I called out to Dan and got the kids inside. Dan started to ask me to release sheets (ropes for those of you non sailors) as we had full sails up and the wind was now gusting above 30 knots. Dan put in a reef (make the sail smaller) while I was back on the helm (steering wheel) and I stopped looking at the wind gauge when I saw it say 38 knots. There were now white caps everywhere that hadn't been there before but thankfully no size in the waves as it had come up so quickly. We had released the Genoa also but hadn't furled it in and in blew around so much that the knot at the end pulled through the pulley and then it pulled out a lead block and completely tangled ropes that we couldn't use it again that trip. After about 10 minutes of adrenaline pumping we were on our way again only to have the wind settling mid 20's and finally dying away until we were at a stage we needed to motor into Anchorage as we had no wind!! As I said, a trip with many conditions.

On our return journey we left Anchorage middayish and again had "variable breeze up to 10 knots". We decided to stay along the coast as far as Marahau as the breeze seemed to be more consistent there. We were just off of Fishermans Island, it had taken us about two hours to get there and the kids and I were sitting on the tramps at the front of the boat, when Dan said we was going to head towards the darker patch of water off to the side of us in the hope for better breeze. Well did we get it! I was still sitting up the front with the kids when we got there, but it was a chilly breeze so said to the kids to come back to the cockpit where it would be more sheltered. I only just sat down when Dan was asking me to adjust the traveller (this effects the position of the boom). I still wasn't really aware of what was going on until Dan said he thinks we should put in a reef and could I take the helm. Here we go again, wind in the mid 20s, gusting up to 30. Kids inside with the dog, Dan got one reef in then said thinks he will put in two. The noise of the sail flapping around was intense and made communication quite difficult save for yelling at each other. I knew things weren't going quite right this time as it was taking ages for Dan to get the sail tensioned up when I realised he was saying we had lost our battens (fibreglass that helps the sail keep its shape). With no battens our mainsail wasn't effective, so we took it down completely and relied on our Genoa, which we had also furled in a bit to make it smaller as Dan felt we were still going too fast. This time there was another boat out there with us so was good to know we weren't the only ones experiencing this. Once we were all settled we needed to work out where we were and try and decide what to do, carry on to Nelson or turn back, was this going to last or would it die out? Dan had a wee mistake on his plotting of our position but we decided to head back to Anchorage as being the closest safe point we knew, and the unknown of what the wind was going to do if we carried on without full sails. Again by the time we were heading into
Anchorage we had lost the wind and looking back out to sea no sign of the white caps that had caused the excitement earlier.
The following day was a long trip returning to Nelson under Genoa but surprisingly not as bad as we thought it may have been, and the boat averaged 5.5 knots most of the way. We talked to a couple of people about the battens going and realised that for a sail of our size they needed to be lashed in place as well as Velcro (which is all we had) so the sail maker was contacted Monday morning and we are currently waiting for the return of our sail with eyelets and lashing to secure the battens for next time.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Able Tasman Trip. 26th February.

We were aiming for a lovely weekend in Totaranui with four generations of family enjoying the last of the summer weather. Someone had other ideas. Beautiful day on the Friday and you would expect a good sea breeze to help us on our way. Unfortunately that died away and we were left to motor at a conservative 3 knots, so were just not going to make it all the way up the bay and changed plans to head into Anchorage instead. This was really lovely, just the aqua packer and two other boats in the bay, a great evening for our first night under anchor.
We knew the forecast wasn’t very favourable, but didn’t think it looked too bad Saturday morning so headed up to Totaranui in a SE 10 knots, which was very manageable for us. But just an hour later off of Totaranui (knowing there was no way we were going to be able to get in there) the wind had picked up to a steady 22/23 knots gusting up to 32 at times, with rain and worsening sea conditions. Plan B and C, head on around Separation Point and on to Tarakohe or try for Awaroa, which according to our cruising guide would be sheltered in this weather. With the kids on the floor in the saloon, two of the them feeling less than fantastic, and one very wet skipper and an extremely nervous (ie. scared) first mate we decided on Awaroa which was only 2 nautical miles (N.M.) away. We had our first attempt at reefing the main and furled in some of the Genoa and made our way back into the wind towards relative calm. This was very unpleasant with lots of motion, poor Paige had to catch the office chair before it headed down the steps as no breaks on its wheels. By this stage everyone had on life jackets and I was in damage control with picking up the odd bits and pieces that had made their way to the floor. Fortunately even in all the motion, the eggs, fruit bowl and all the piled up plastic wear were still in place. Not sure of length of time but at one stage we were losing sight of the land with the low cloud, but didn’t want to be too close with the strength of the wind.
We made it into the southern end of Awaroa tucked in behind the head at about midday, where I picked the perfect anchoring spot and we regrouped with a cup of tea/coffee and food. It was reassuring to have another vessel also tucked in there with us. Our afternoon was spent drying out, watching a DVD and playing a board game while the rain continued outside. A wee break in the weather saw Dan and Paige take the new dinghy over to the shore for a fossick around just before tea. We had come in on a high tide and watched with nervous anticipation the rocks around us as the day went on but were exactly in the middle of the so no worries there. What did happen though is at about 7pm the NW wind change forecast for Sunday came in and we were now on and exposed lee shore. Again thanks to our choice of anchorage we were far enough in the little bay to be out of the worst of the waves, but at the lowest tide we only had 1.2m of water below the boat which meant waves breaking around us. This made for a very uncomfortable 12 hours, with Dan and the kids feeling the motion. Not much sleep was had over night especially with the near hourly checks on the instruments and outside to ensure we were still in the same spot. The anchor and bridle system was excellent. It was very disconcerting having your feet hit the end of the bed when the boat was pulled up but reassuring all the same that we had stopped! It was also good to look out and see the anchor light of the other yacht and no we were not alone in all of this.
Sunday morning we could still see the white caps in the distance and breakers around the rocks, but the motion continued and no one was up for any breakfast. Dan went back to bed for about an hour while I entertained as best I could and kept an eye on the weather, which did seem to ease, so at about 9.30 we decided to head back to Anchorage. We decided that just the Genoa would be fine for a run down the coast, but after inconsistent breeze, we hoisted the main just as the breeze picked up again and flew into Anchorage doing 10/11 knots. Another lovely afternoon and following morning was had, walking the beach, exercising the dog on the wee private beach, watching the kids swim explore and let their imaginations run wild. Dan had a breathtaking swim after the dinghy as his knot came undone! He was very grateful the breeze took it too the shore and not the other way! Jazz learnt to use his new lifejacket (thanks Jo) but wouldn’t follow me as intended but followed the dingy as it had the tennis ball in it! We also need to teach him NOT to keep swimming in front of other people or boats!
After lunch Monday thought we better get back to reality and recharging the batteries so had a go had getting the anchor up by hand, just to see if we could, which we managed most of the way and headed towards Nelson with a light 5 knots from the North. About four hours later we were wallowing at one knot seeing the breeze on the water to the north and south of us while we were in the middle of a calm spot. At this rate we figured we would be back in Nelson about 8am Tuesday morning! We had a nice time eating ice blocks, playing Lego, sunbathing, reading books and catching a kahawai. We had gone all of five N.M. by 4.30pm when we could see the white caps coming. About ten minutes of "confused" sea conditions then we were off. At 5.10pm a strong SW had arrived up to 22 knots and settled at 15 knots. Again great for us to head home doing 10-12 knots of boat speed, with the kids playing cards on the table and we were back in the harbour by 6.30pm. The only thing about this was getting into our berth as we had not done this in a SW before and it was low tide. Pretty sure we kissed the rocks, but have not been able to assess if any damage yet. The kids were great crew following instructions and fending off when able and staying out of the way when needed. The previous times had put them in good stead for knowing what needed to be done.
The weekend was a real mix for us with some fantastic times and some not so great ones, but we learnt A LOT! Most of all how we all work together as a family and a team especially when in trying times. There is now another long list of jobs to do, things we need and others that are on the "would be nice" list which we are slowly working through.

Up Date

Hello to you all our there who must have thought we have dropped off the face of the earth. January was a work month for me and the first two and a half weeks of February saw Dan doing some repair work on another catamaran for some friends, so we weren't getting out and about much. We have also started home schooling the kids in this time.

On the boat front we were disabled for over two weeks by not having any power getting to the Port motor, which after numerous emails and phone calls to a completely different time zone our long suffering autosparkies managed to sort out for us. This limited the evening sails but as soon as we were up and going again took advantage of the great weather and headed out most days after work for tea out on the boat and a swim, usually off of Tahuna beach or Haulashore Island.

Since then we have had a couple of longer trips away, one of which I will also post about today and our current one where we are now in Takaka enjoying staying in a house with all the mod cons, while Dan does the smelly job of putting down some flooring in the saloon, to replace the taped down cardboard that we have been living on! He has also been busy finishing water and black tanks, making our table, and getting closer to putting on all the fiddles on the shelves. We are now in the berth we are meant to be in as that has been completed, and every time we go out we find a little something else to do, such as elbows on the drain holes to stop the water coming UP them it a wave hits us right. It is not very pleasant to have cold water forced up your shorts leg when you least expect it!

The next couple of months will hopefully be spent cruising around Tasman Bay and the Marlborough Sounds before we will need to settle back into work for the winter.