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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.  

February 25, 2009
Position: S40 57.20 E173 03.51 Torrent Bay, Tasman Bay, South Island, NZ

Crikey dix mis amigos, the pain is gone. Egret is no longer a Marina Queen (MQ) but a real live cruiser once again...even if we are just 20nm from Nelson. And with no glum internet news. Egret is anchored in the most popular bay in Abel Tasman National Park. Torrent Bay is the most popular anchorage because it gives the best wind protection, has good holding and a crescent white sand beach. Behind the beach are inland trails going here and there to points of interest. If we decide to stay thru the weekend we'll need good protection and holding because we have 40 knots coming on Saturday. So we'll see.

Shortly after anchoring a brandy new popular-brand 43' coastal cruiser trawler anchored nearby. Watching the brandy new dink being lowered, and the way it was being lowered, took us back to our early days when we thrashed as well. We all start somewhere and shortly their learning curve will lessen and it will get easier and easier. Also the way the admiral enthusiastically waved when they came by shows how obviously happy they are to finally be enjoying Their Time. Goodonem as they say here. If they spend a second day we'll have them over and will enjoy seeing their boat as well. So here they are changing their lives and starting their boating adventures. These lucky folks* give us food for thought and good reason for a little soapbox. *Actually, they made their own luck.

I'm drawn to financial news like a moth to light and it saddens me. All of you reading these words know more of this than we because of your media exposure. During my 30+ years in the boat business we had our ups and downs. The worst in my years was the luxury tax in the early 90s. A well known local builder (South Florida) of sport fishermen went from 800 employees to less than 20. Small and large boats were affected. This is much worse. Many, perhaps the majority of U.S. boat builders are gone, going or reduced to the minimum core. I know a lot of them and it breaks my heart. Those who survive must be financially strong and more than a recreational builder. (Disclaimer - not all recreational builders will go.) A day boat, weekend boat or 2 week vacation boat is a recreational boat. Another group of boats like Egret are lifestyle change boats. There is a difference. These are boats that can travel distances and take care of their owners in safety and in relative luxury long term (not camping out). Tied to this group of boats is the ability to operate efficiently and without major operating expense (fuel comes to mind). This group of builders will survive and perhaps even prosper. A quick internet search of yachtworld.com will show you who isn't a lifestyle change boat and has high operating costs or reflects the economy end of the market.

Now let's look at ourselves, we and you. Some of us, we're all in this together whether we have a boat or not, simply can't follow in Egret or our new neighbor's footsteps until we recover. Where this soapbox is aimed are the folks who have the ability to buy their little white fiberglass ship and don't or won't. We were no different than many of you accumulating tings as time went by and money started appearing. What we ended up with was amazing excess if you look at how we live today. We retired early and gave up what we thought at the time was about one third of our net worth if we had worked the remaining years until normal retirement. As it turned out with the increase in property values of our home and weekend house the percentage was even higher. Not much to many but a lot to us. However, it was only money. Nothing more. We wouldn't trade these past 7 years for the difference.....in multiples. One thing money can't buy is time and happiness. So how much do we really NEED? Not to stroke our egos, but need? I imagine by now you see where this is going. If you think this doesn't apply to you step back and give yourself a good look. Have a deep, big picture heart to heart with your other. Make him or her part of the decision. You know who you want to call. Pick up the phone. Do the deal. Change your life. You get the picture. We got the picture.........7 years ago.

Back to Torrent Bay and a little relief from The Box. While hiking yesterday we met an American couple with two young girls who are themselves finishing the interior of a custom NZ built aluminum catamaran. I have been admiring it at the dock. It is 62' with narrow hulls, sufficient bridge deck clearance and is ketch rigged (2 masts) with a forward steering well. They will return to the Chesapeake via the Gambier Islands, Easter Island, Galapagos, Panama, etc.

This morning we were going to invite the new trawler folks over for coffee but they left towing their dink. I'm sure we'll run into them again. Today's hiking took us up and down trails ending at Cleopatra's Pool. Ya know, that lady Cleo really got around. On the Aegean Greek island of Samos we saw the remnants of Cleo's and Anthony's summer palace digs. Prior to that in the Greek Ionian Sea we were anchored in Paxos (just south of Corfu). Just offshore between Paxos and the Greek mainland was where Tony's and Cleo's fleets met the Roman fleet of Brutus. Well, big B kicked butt. Cleo and her fleet split leaving Tony to deal with big B. It didn't take long for Tony to discover he was soon to make sooner than later history. Ton split for Paxos and left his fleet to deal with big B. Ton's fleet didn't make it. Later Cleo did the snake deal and big T got his as well. Not only that, sports fans, on the SW coast of Turkey Egret anchored in a long narrow harbor protected on the Aegean side by a thin peninsula. This was the EXACT spot where ol' Brutus hid his fleet waiting to ambush Cleo and big T. And the exact spot where a Turkish restaurateur befriended us during a morning passing by telling us all about the local history. That evening we went back to order dinner from the same restaurant. Yup, we got ripped off for two fish dinners from our friend. Ottoman dirtbag!! Geesh, how did a simple hike turn into a history lesson?

And the kayaks are returning. There is a dormitory type catamaran that takes young, and not so young I just saw, folks into the park for kayaking for the day then returning to the mothership for the evening. The yellow and red fleets leave at 8:00AM and return at 4:00PM. A second smaller catamaran support ship has racks that hold all the kayaks for the evening. It's a simple operation and gives travelers a different experience. Along the trail we met a group of international students (most are 16 years old and stay from 3 months to a year) from a school in Nelson. Primarily they were from northern Europe but with a couple from Brazil and Asia. Half of the group kayaked up the fresh water stream toward Cleo's Pool and the other half hiked in. They meet at Cleo's for lunch then reverse the rolls when they leave. What a great experience for these kids living abroad for a time.

We have hiked most of the Torrent Bay area and with weather coming we can stay, move to another anchorage on the opposite side of the bay or become a Marina Queen again. For a few minor reasons we have decided to leave in the early am before the wind picks up and to catch the tide to head back to the dock. Next week we'll look at going somewhere else. So we'll fire this VofE into space to make the weekend.

So there you have it. A major soapbox and food for serious thought, a bit of ancient history, and a small intrusion into The Life. Ciao.

 

February 24, 2009
Position: S41 15.62 E173 16.86 Nelson Marina, D27, Nelson, South Island, New Zealand

Crikey dix mis amigos, it feels like we have gone back to work. Soon after arriving in Nelson we started working on our NZ visa extensions. Because we plan to stay a little over a year we need a special extension requiring a full physical including blood and chest x-ray. We accomplished this during one very busy day walking quite few kilometers back and forth between three doctor's offices. While we were waiting for results we flew north to Opua to retrieve the HBC (Honda beater car). Our good friends on Vision dropped the HBC at Keri Keri airport. We drove to Opua and said our goodbye's to vision (Jan & Kerry) for now then headed south. The next day we crossed the sometimes impossible (because of weather) Cook Strait (between N and S Island) on the interisland ferry then drove to Nelson via a 'short cut'.....at night. If the short cut were a string you could pull straight we traveled a greater distance than from New Zealand to Africa. All the while driving with the HBC's dodgy headlights. Geesh. A day after arriving back the results were in so we were off to Christchurch (on South Island's east coast) hand delivering the package to an immigration officer. It was worth the 5 hour drive. Unlike our friends on S/V Bear's experience in Auckland, the immigration person was super helpful. The few minutes we spent explaining our 'yachtie status' were well worth the trip. She printed the forms we included in our visa package allowing yachties special immigration exceptions to stay longer than customary for a fly in visitor.

The reason to mention this personal busyness it to let you know some simple realities of cruising. I remember once reading a very long term cruiser figured they spent 6 months of their lives sitting hat in hand in various customs, immigration or whatever government offices waiting for thises and thats. We haven't found this to be true these days with officials in virtually every place we visited more in tune with cruisers. Some, like the French, have VERY outdated procedures however the officers involved have been most helpful guiding us thru their archaic bureaucracy.

New Zealand has a point system for long term immigration (nothing to do with our yachtie visa extension). Bottom line for Mary and I is they don't want us long term. We are to old, don't wish to work, buy or start a business. We are allowed to be in NZ 9 months during any 18 month period with normal simple visa extensions (as are fly in visitors). Most yachtie folks travel north to the islands (Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu, etc, and return south to NZ with the seasons, austral summer (NZ) and winter (islands). You can do this forever with no visa issues. While in Auckland for the Nordhavn doo we met a high placed NZ politician who follows VofE. After talking boats for a bit, I took the opportunity to get in our 2 centavos worth about us living in NZ some day when it is Our Time and resigned to simpler cruising, N and S to the islands plus NZ coastal cruising. To make a long story short there is a bill he feels will be passed within a reasonable time to suit folks like us. We wouldn't be given resident visas but would be given a special visa if we meet certain simple criteria. We have to be self supporting and be able to prove it AND have health insurance. The bottom line here is what they are looking for is exactly as how we described ourselves. All we want to do is live and spend money in NZ and not be a burden on their social services (schools, health, etc.).

After arriving in Opua mid October we have traveled quite a few kilometers (no miles here folks) exploring NZ. We have driven from top to bottom of North Island and now have done a number of kilometers in the upper third of South Island. We have enjoyed land touring so much we are thinking about upgrading the HBC to a real car for our next 10 or so months here, but that is another story. I once wrote I felt US and Canadian cruisers should spend their first long distance miles crossing the Atlantic as did the NAR connecting the dots of Bermuda, Azores then on into Gibraltar spending the next few years in the Mediterranean. I still feel this is true giving a mix of ocean crossing in relatively short hops then the rewards of the Mediterranean rim countries. However, in your long distance, long term plans New Zealand is not to be missed. If you do not plan to cross an ocean on your own bottom and ship your boat I would consider shipping to New Zealand first before the Med. You will experience simpler cruising moving north to the islands and back vs crossing an ocean. From NZ or Australia (just 1000nm west) you can work your way west using the traditional cruising seasons on your way to the Med. It is so hard in words to describe the places and feelings we have experienced here and there but NZ is certainly up there and is simple connect the dot downhill (downwind) cruising to get here from the US west coast or Mexico. Once here in New Zealand within 5-7 days by ocean capable powerboat you are in the islands to the north or Australia to the west. The Mediterranean is simpler cruising and diverse, however this N/S/W area based out of New Zealand is even more diverse. Once in the islands, cruising is simple with short distances between anchorages and even between island groups. The island groups run roughly south to north and are short distances, east to west, from each other. The island areas to the north are in the SE trade wind belt. Last year was an el Nina year with reinforced trades however by waiting for weather to diminish (with NO schedule) you could easily flit back and forth between island groups with easy cruising and little wave bashing. In late October or early November you wait at the south end of your island group for suitable weather then run hard south to New Zealand.

After reading dreary internet news these past days we are going to take proactive measures to end the pain. Yup, we're going to quit the marina queen deal for a bit (ending internet access) and go cruising nearby to do some hiking and sightseeing. No news is good news as they say in the cruising business. So we be gone. And where we go and what we see won't be a secret.

Now for a VERY worthwhile announcement. Cruising buddy and N47 Bluewater owner Milt Baker is hosting a new Yahoo Groups website called Nordhavn Dreamers (ND). While we N owners enjoy a closed (to all but N owners) Nordhavn Owners Group website along with size specific N Owners Groups offshoots, this new website is open to N owners, owners to be and enthusiasts. ND is a worthwhile website to glean specific information for when its Your Time. Join this Yahoo Group and give it a look as we and over 130 new members joined during the few weeks since Nordhavn Dreamers' announcement. http:groups.yahoo.com/group/nordhavndreamers

So there you have it. A little NZ visitors and immigration information, worthwhile time investment strategy, and a fun and worthwhile announcement. Ciao.

 

February 12, 2009

Crikey Dix mis amigos, today we have a special VofE that includes nothing of historical interest, geographical interest and no wave bashing. Today is a bit of a rant, or should I say, an explanation of what VofE is all about and who we think we are (Mary and I). This was predicated by a recent posting about the recent Nordhavn get together in Auckland. This was obviously a promotional discourse which is well and good and what it should have been. However, in this discourse Mary and I were called "heroes". This pushed an unhappy button. However, in the big picture perhaps it was a good thing because of this single word we'll try to explain, as clearly and in detail as we can, what Mary and I are doing.

To me, a hero is a person like Sir Ernest Shackleton. And not because he made several voyages in extreme conditions to explore the Antarctic. Sir Ernest and his crew were professional sailors and explorers who took what was to them an acceptable risk for their ventures. He was a hero because of his voyage by small launch from Antarctica where they abandoned their ship to Elephant Island where he left the majority of his crew, then traveling on to South Georgia Island and crossing a near impossible mountain range to a whaling village for help to rescue his crew back on Elephant Island. He was successful and did not loose a single man against the most impossible odds. He is a true hero.

A couple who crosses an ocean today in a small purpose built powerboat, in the luxury we enjoy and with all the safety features we have aboard are NOT heroes. We are simple voyagers. One of thousands who do this as well, power and sail. If you wanted to choose a hero figure pick a single hander in his or her small sailboat, with no budget and nothing aboard but the most basic items. They are out in the weather, take risks we wouldn't think of, travel at a snails pace and arrives days or weeks later in the same anchorage as we. If someone went up to one of these persons and told them they were a hero they would look at you like your were crazy. There were just two small powerboats out of over 450 boats who cleared into Opua, New Zealand this year we are aware of. Obviously the balance were sail who ALL had a more difficult trip than we two.

Percentage wise, those of you who are still home working and driving on the interstates or in busy cities take a far greater risk of harm than we cruisers including the single handed sailboater. I promise you don't think of yourselves as heroes because you survived another day driving to and from work. I know when we were dry sponges in our dreaming stages, well before we ordered our little white fiberglass ship we absorbed every written word from cruisers 'out there'. We were in awe of them and their adventures. Now we have cruised these past 7 years we can tell you we are just like those cruisers who wrote our inspirational words, and you reading these words are just like us. I have written many, many times what we do isn't difficult. We have worked hard to subtly explain what we do and paint a picture that is easy to read to give you confidence to take the first step. If you take this first step, and learn in baby steps, you too will see exactly what we are talking about. At that time you will realize what we are saying is true and you ARE like us, and we like you. From then on it just gets better and better.

Lets get to the bottom line what Voyage of Egret is all about and who Mary and I think we are. Voyage of Egret is our gift to you. We don't get paid for these words and don't expect to. The Nordhavn folks have been good enough to let us use their website to get our message across. It is our goal to encourage you to enjoy what we have these past years. To us it doesn't matter if you buy a sailboat, coastal powerboat or an ocean capable powerboat. You don't have to cross oceans to enjoy the water. What is important is being on the water. Mary and I are no different than you, EXCEPT we took that first step, nothing more. Then the steps grew longer as will yours. And as we said, there are thousands of mom and pops doing just that. Are these thousands of mom and pop's heroes? No. Neither are we.

(if you look for the H word and can't find it, I wrote in the day I read it and asked it be removed)

 

February 11, 2009
Position: S40 57.11 E173 03.46 Torrent Bay, Abel Tasman National Park, South Island, New Zealand

This is such history we will repeat with promised Waitangi festivities pictures

Crikey Dix mis amigos, have we been lucky or what.............so far? Our little white fiberglass ship is at sea again, this time taking us to NZ's South Island, first by taking us north up and around the top of North Island then south down North Island's west coast. Our destination is the town of Nelson on the NW corner of South Island, three days from the start (510nm). We just cleared the two capes at the top of NZ's North Island (North Cape and Cape Reinga) It is rare two large bodies of water meet peacefully at a point of land (Cape). Both have their own agenda's and personalities. In this part of the world the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean. Egret is now in the Tasman Sea for the first time, another small step west, another small adventure.

However, let us start at the beginning. N55 New Paige's final guests left while in Auckland so now its time to take New Paige to Nelson so Kimberly, 11, ( called Paige these days at her request - so NPK is now NPP) can attend her first classroom since being home schooled these past two years. NPR (New Paige Roger) was lucky enough to recruit a local N enthusiast (Grant) to join him for the trip. Grant's dream boat is a N52 but things got drawn out and later the current economic business took away the ready market for his current boat. NPR and Grant ran north from Auckland thru a bit of slop to join Egret waiting in the Cavalli Islands. There is some tough weather going on in places including a squash zone where a SW swell meets a NW swell pushed by a front. So we agonized over gribs and internet weather last night (NPR has internet via his cell phone dealie) We decided to give it a go at daybreak. Before daybreak the next morning (today - Sunday) we both were doing our homework and because of little wind shown on the gribs (none more than 20 knots) and super wide wave spacing off we went. Well, what a dream trip so far. When back in Auckland we took on more fuel for just this trip. With just one reasonable stop in around 500nm we decided to keep the hammer down and run hard. And we are. Egret's happy little Lugger is singing away at 1750 RPM. We have been making between 7.8 to 8.6 knots. However this blinding speed comes at a steep price (gasp). We are guzzling fuel at 3 GPH (11.4ltr/h) instead of our usual 1.4-5gph/6 ltr/hr. The current gods as well as wind and wave spacing gods have been as good as they can be.

So we're rockin along watching the sea come to life in the early am. Sea birds our out doing their deal, the little petrels are dancing over the waves, a pod of N. Island's HUGE dolphins made a show in the bow wake and (we think) a pod of pilot whales were making their way south. A little later we hit something with a BIG BANG. I was doing nap chores at the time with MS on watch. I ran to the salon door and looked out back to see what we hit and saw a fin flopping in the wake. We turned around and came up on a large, around 250lbs (115kg) sunfish. Sunfish get up to 1000 lbs and are one of the craziest fish in the ocean. Its as if you took a parrot fish, flattened it top to bottom a bit, cut it in half then stuck on a tiny tail. Then you added two long flipper like fins top and bottom. These ferocious beasts slurp jelly fish by the jillions. Jelly fish aren't particularly fast swimmers and the sunfish's speed matches its prey. They float in the current happily slurping away with their fin flopped over like a very lazy shark fin. We felt terrible but of course there was nothing we could do. I believe it slid down the side and hit a stabilizer fin. Hopefully we just rocked its little world and it will recover.

One BIG deal is current issues off the two capes. With any wind at all the waves stand up and in places are overfalls (shown in places on the charts). As we said before we were soooo lucky. As the bottom shallowed in a few places our speed dropped into the high 6 knot range but for most of the trip across the top of the island was a non event. The two capes are like two bulges on either side of a long narrow peninsula. With its blunt cliff face, North Cape reminds us of Cabo (Cape) Froward at the southern extreme of the South American peninsula bordering on the Straits of Magellan. (the weather here was a bit kinder) Including shallows and land the two capes are about 25nm across the top. It is late afternoon, in 2.1nm we will be making our turn south to our next waypoint, a weather bail out point near Plymouth on the west coast, then the final turn to Nelson. If the weather is acceptable and the front pushing up from the south is on schedule (two days after arrival) we'll straighten the line and dive straight into Nelson. We'll see what tonight brings.

The next morning. My kingdom for a piece of non moving land and a tripod. When I came on watch this morning the bright yellow full moon was low to the west. The yellow moonbeam stretched to Egret. Exactly in the middle of the moonbeam was a bright red running light from New Paige. I tried to capture the scene but there wasn't enough light and the shots came out jittery. Then the water turned red for an bit in the east with the rising sun. The sea birds are back doing their deal and a pod of pilot whales just swam by. So now we know it was in fact pilot whales MS saw yesterday. Our speed thru the night was in the mid to high 7 knot range with a tiny bit of spray on the windshield glass. The ride is gentle with just a slight up and down motion. Apparent wind is 3.9 knots. MS is dozing off watch and I just made a bit of coffee. Life is good at sea. AND the maritime weather forecast last night said we can expect this weather for the next two days. Oh happy days!

The next afternoon and just 56nm to go. It appears this will be a dream trip thru to the end. Yesterday afternoon was more of the same with slight winds and seas as was last night. Today we had a gentle soaking rain for a few hours washing away any salt. As we neared the bulge of land near Plymouth fog set in, coming and going with various ranges of visibility. We have had but a single radar target and it stayed over 5nm away. We have passed into the roaring 40's south latitude. Fortunately it hasn't been roaring but it did bring royal albatrosses out. We have seen 6 so far. Royals are the largest of the albatross family with a wingspan over 11' (3.5m) for an adult male. Our Swedish buddys we first met in Mar del Plata, Argentina are sailing to South Island as well. They left at approximately the same time as we but from a harbor slightly north of our anchorage. In our little wind situation and currents going up and over the top of North Island they have been getting killed on speed. We are more than a full day ahead. They will have to divert to Plymouth to wait out the coming weather or take a chance on getting killerated. Its not the high winds that will be tough on them, or us for that matter if we got caught, it is the wind and currents of Cook Strait that is the issue. High winds at sea along with high seas are no big deal. High winds, with high powerful current driven seas ARE a big deal. However, Lindisfarn (Linda's Farm) are experienced cruisers, have no schedule and will do just fine. We are making such good time we are arriving around a half day early. This means we arrive later this evening. Entrance to the marina is a shallow water affair with twists and turns. There is a nearby anchorage we can enter at night, Torrent Bay in Tasman Bay, then move to the marina in the morning.

We are getting close to the end of our 90 day visitor's visa and need to get our extension sorted. Our American friends on Bear got treated poorly in Auckland by an immigration employee so in the end re-evaluated their plans and decided to sail to Australia instead. One immigration employee having a bad day doesn't mean the system or government is bad but certainly New Zealand as a whole lost their anticipated spending during the year they expected to stay. We will persevere because we really want to spend time here. We also need to fly back to Keri Keri airport (near Opua) and retrieve the HBC (Honda beater car) and drive it back down to Nelson. We plan land cruising as well as boat cruising during the rest of our time (10-11 months anticipated) in South Island.

Anchor in Torrent Bay we did. We entered in a misty rain using radar and the chart plotter, and NO help from the full moon. There were boats anchored against the beach (we couldn't see at the time) so being cautious we anchored well away from the gang. AND paid the price by rolling like an egg all night. NPR was lucky enough to find the last reasonable spot in the line with other yachties. No matter for us. Sleep all night was lovely. Mary and I got up early for a cuppa and to see the sights before leaving early to catch the high slack tide in Nelson Marina. During our time we will return to Torrent Bay, during the day this time, and spend some time hiking in Abel Tasman National Park (Torrent Bay is just one of many in the park). This last bit is being written in Nelson Marina but we'll give the coordinates from last evening for Goggle Earth.

Nelson Marina is a slice of good ol' New Zealand South Island hospitality. The marina manager, Chris Hawkes, is super laid back and has been a big help already allowing Egret to move into an easier to enter and exit berth as we cruise off and on during the coming months. The docks aren't the newer modern docks of Opua Marina but they will do just fine. AND we have wifi. So life is good, not that it hasn't been bad, and we will settle into our new home for the coming months (except when we're off cruising). Tonight its dinner with the New Paige crowd and a final dinner with super crewman Grant who helped NP with the trip down. For you Miami boat Show crowd, just do it. Write the check and change your lives. Ciao.

 

February 6, 2009

Position: S35 18.71 E174 07.53 On anchor in Opua Harbor, North Island, New Zealand

Crikey dix mis amigos, its a small world. While in Auckland for the N doo we had visitors stop by. They are an American couple from Maine aboard a largish steel ketch named Bear we met in Pythagoras Harbor, Samos, Greece. Samos is a good size Aegean Greek Island off the middle west coast of Turkey. We rented a car and invited them to join us for a little inland exploring. On the NE coast of Samos are two high mountain villages connected by a goat trail that shows on one map as a road. Well, off we went up into the hills then higher. Soon we ran out of pavement then the 'road' turned into a rocky path we followed higher and higher. At one point we forded a shallow stream then headed even higher. Finally we ran out of clutch. The little 800cc rat car gave up. The Bear folks in the back seat wuz freakin. So they and MS got out and hiked back down the hill. I opened the door in case I had to jump and rode the brakes back down. So then we took the easy way to the next village and the Blue Chair restaurant in the tiny (50 square meter) town square. The Blue Chair is another story. As a footnote, the next year our oldest son, Scott Jr and his sweetie flew into Samos and this time we rented a Suzuki Samurai 4WD and finished the trail. Number1 son and his sweetie wuz freekin as well. And again we ended up at the Blue Chair. Great memories.

Leaving the Cavally's we stopped to drift fish where our SV Vision buddy told us to give it a go. We ended up catching a beautiful fish about 3lbs or so that looked like a show grouper. It was all red and orange with many spikes, spots and large fins. Spooky and beautiful as well. Already tasting a grouper dinner we did a quick fillet and release. When going thru magazines trying to identify this critter we came upon an article written by a Dr of Fish, or something like that, saying how their group members have turned in these different strange and rare fish. Our fish was pictured among others. They have caught and documented 3. Geesh. We killed the nautical equivalent of Snow Leopards. It turned out to be a speckled scorpion fish. I know regular scorpion fish are dangerous for some reason so we killed the fish for no reason. (we are not going to take a chance and eat it) The Fish Dr had an e-mail address in the article so we wrote him an e-mail giving the particulars (location and depth) and apologizing for the kill. It ate a nuclear chicken (artificial bait....no fooling, that's the name) in 100' of water on a broken bottom (lotsa bumps and humps for you non fishermen).

The trip back to Opua was a super calm affair. We made good time with the happy little Lugger barely turning over until the tide swung at the last part of the trip, slowly reducing speed from 6.8 knots to 5.4 knots. After arriving we got a voice mail message on the cell saying our new 95 amp alternator for the wing engine is in. Tomorrow (Tue) we'll pick it up and see if it fits. We also got an e-mail from South African friends on sailing catamaran Grace (we met the Grace crew, mom-dad-3 boat kids, in Tahiti and traveled loosely together to Tonga) saying they are flying to NZ and will be in Nelson (NW coast of South Island - where we plan to winter) in less than 2 weeks. So we need to be looking at that to get together. We were originally planning to go to Wellington first (SW coast of North Island) so you can see how we and every cruiser are always changing their minds about this n that.

Waiting this morning (Tue) while MS is down below nursing her first cuppa in bed, I was editing the past few days pictures. Most pictures we take for ourselves. Just another pretty picture doesn't mean anything to you but does to us by taking us back to that day or event. Its usually somewhat difficult to pick what we think you enjoy the most for the two pictures we sent with each VofE. Just in today's pictures we have pictures of small jagged islands off headlands that were so green they looked like they had been enhanced by photoshop. Then there was the fish picture with its reds and oranges, and petrel type birds walking on water (literally) feeding on tiny tings. Until I cropped the pictures I didn't realize how they are able to hop from place to place. They are a tiny black bird with skinny legs but super large webbed feet. They turn into the wind, raise their wings and hop along the surface with their feet. Behind Egret are two boat kids (BK's) aboard a 43' Mason sailboat, Momo (built by PAE and first cousin to Egret). Both BK's were born during this cruise. The youngest (4) was holding a line attached to a plank the older (6) was standing on above the boom and pulling her back and forth. So we snapped those pictures. Momo is the boat who furnished a home made smoker back in Suworrow Atoll in the Cook Islands. The swabs (two teenage guys with us from Tahiti to American Samoa) and I caught enough fish in a couple hours to feed the entire anchorage (16 boats) Momo smoked every fish. So pictures and stories are intertwined. What you see are just pictures. What we are saying here is we do the best we can but you really need to come see for yourselves. And bring your camera. OK, I'll lay off but you get the picture.

Bummer, the new Bosch alternator wasn't close to fitting. The mounting was all wrong. Now we wait for the shop boss to get back and we give it another go. We got a call today and Circa Marine is returning the CIB after measuring and photographing. The next stage is for Circa to see if it is feasible to produce them at a reasonable price. Double what we paid for the Livingston would be fine by me. We'll see. If we do in fact buy one we'll give our impressions after sea trial. If it works well, and I'm sure it will, we'll include the contact details in a future VofE for those of you looking for a great dink. With the excellent exchange rate between NZ$ and US$ it would be reasonable to purchase and ship ocean freight to the States.

So guess who wrote back? Yup, Dr Fish.

SCOTT,

Thanks for your email and record. You should eat the fillet, then it was not a waste to catch the fish. I think this is the first record of this species taken by plastic lure. Best wishes, CLIVE.

So we did. AND, our buddys on Bear (first paragraph) are anchored next to Egret here in Opua. Small world indeed.

A couple days later. Well, lets see. The Bear folks came over for dinner along with the Vision crew. Since we left Bear in Greece they have put in quite a few miles. Now however, they are on a 2 year schedule to get back and see the grandkids in Maine. So in the morning they left for Australia and ultimately around the bottom of Africa and back into the Atlantic......again (3d time).

We finally came up with a resolution on the wing engine alternator. It is as good as it can get. We fit a Nissan Pathfinder 110 amp, 12V alternator (part #A13705) that bolted right up using the original bracket. I made a heavier positive wire between the alternator and the starter (8 gauge) and had to make two jumper wires from the feed at the bottom of the alternator to fit into the Yanmar plug. We are so lucky because first of all 110 amps is the absolute largest alternator you can run with a single 1/2" pulley. (the new belt size is 13mm X 990mm) Also there is a second wire on the original positive wire from the alternator to the starter that has to be cut and a ring terminal fitted. Bruce Fuller from Seapower here in Opua (next to Cater's Marine Store) stayed on the project until we had a resolution. His mechanic, Tomo, also helped with the generator and injector change on the main. Super service and jobs well done.

Today was a holiday marking the anniversary of a treaty signed between the government and Maori chiefs (indigenous Polynesians). We joined the festivities in nearby Waitangi. Typical of programs like this was a steady turn of events with the highlight being huge war canoes paddling on parade then beached and the Maori men performing a Haka (native war ceremony) on the beach. Guess who was right in front and took 522 pictures for the day. This is a new record by twice for YT and we have just begun editing. A lot of the pictures was motor drive work trying to captures the fierce expressions, chants, eye rolling with bulging eyes, trembling, and the customary sticking out of the tongue (meaning I'm going to kill you then eat you). All this is combined with native dress, war clubs and full facial tattoos. Wild to say the least!! Mary said a little girl standing next to her started shrieking when the men started their chants and routine. We are so lucky to have witnessed this ceremony put on for themselves (Maori came from all over NZ we were told) with so many different participants. This was the Real Deal and not a canned event for touristas. In addition to today's picture we will have more from this historical event.

South Florida has one of its biggest events of the year just around the corner. The Miami Boat Show starts Feb 12th and runs through the 15th. Wouldn't this be a great year for you to fly down and put in an order for your own little white fiberglass ship? Or get a deal on a brokerage boat? Only then will you get some relief from this drivel and start on your own adventures. Who knows, you may end up someday writing your own drivel to encourage others to take up water.

Lastly, a shameless commercial and writer's privilege. My fishing partner for many years is selling his pristine, perhaps better than new, 38' Eastbay (made by Grand Banks). "Anita Cay" just arrived in Ft Lauderdale from her summer home in the Chesapeake. She is perfect, turn key and completely upgraded with new electronics, canvas, icing glass, upholstery, turbos, intercoolers, props, batteries, and so on. Her varnish and dark blue hull sparkle. You get the picture. Ted Robie at Nordhavn Yacht Sales in Stuart, Fla has the listing. Reason for selling? Buying a N.

We leave tomorrow heading up and around North Island then down the west coast to Nelson in South Island. But that's another story. Ciao.

 

 

February 2, 2009
Position: S35 00.51 E173 55.98 Wai iti Bay, Cavally Islands, North Island, New Zealand

Crikey Dix mis amigos, we're under way again. This time from Great Barrier Island to Opua (north on North Island). Yesterday we sat out a little front that blew thru and are now enjoying running down sea in a gentle 1 meter swell. We are making such good time (7.4 knots@1500 rpm) we'll push on to Opua tonight. We'll arrive just at dark.

During the Auckland Nord get together we got some positive feedback from several VofE followers. They specifically mentioned they enjoy the technical information and two of them said they kept a separate file for the tech items. This really made me feel good because when we fire this drivel off into space we have no real idea who is reading and what their interests are. We try to accommodate the minuscule feedback we receive. We made two changes a while back to try to improve VofE. A school teacher wrote in saying she had her classes follow VofE for the history and geography (and perhaps a bit of adventure). So we try to add more of that information keeping her classes in mind. A second item was we spent three days anchored in the Chilean Channels with a REAL writer, Americans Beth Leonard and her husband, Evans Starzinger from S/V Hawk. Beth has authored 5 books and has written many, many magazine articles for sailboat magazines and is my favorite long distance boating author. After reading her latest book, Blue Horizons, a collection of magazine articles put into a book format I made up mind to try and do better. Blue Horizons won Beth the National Outdoor Book Award. www.bethandevans.com Bottom line, here is some more techno stuff.

A short while ago we passed the entrance to Whangarei harbor, a small, bustling port city north of Auckland. Previously on the way south to Auckland we dropped off the CIB (catamaran ice breaker dink) at Circa Marine to see if it is feasible to duplicate in aluminum. We threw in a custom change based on experience. When boarding your boat in a heavy chop at times it's difficult to get from the dink to the swim platform. So my idea was to put a false floor in the bottom of each hull and leave the back part open at the transom to fill with water and stabilizing the dink with the extra weight. It would also be good for fishing. As you get on plane or lift the dink, the water would immediately exit the tunnels and off you go with your light dink. Our dinghy is a Livingston 12', extra wide - extra high side fiberglass model that weighs 220lbs (100kg) without the console or engine. Our engine weighs just 112lbs (50kg) (30hp Yamadog commercial 2 stroke engine), and the console and steering probably another 40lbs. The only extra weight is a removable 6 gal (23ltr) fuel tank and our junk. There is no battery. We have had a number of dinks on Egret and the catamaran has been the best of the large dinks. It is the largest, most stable 12' dink you can readily buy. Most catamarans have different issues like excessive sneezing out the bow (when air compresses between the hulls and you hit a wave, spray 'sneezes' back out from between the hulls and gives you a shower) or splitters that don't work properly. (As water passes between the hulls it gets compressed and rises) If the splitter, like a third very small hull that doesn't touch the water near the transom, isn't shaped properly the outboard engine doesn't get clear water to run. If the water is aerated the engine can also overheat. The Livingston does these things well. Egret's Livingston was also built to an inexpensive price. We certainly got what we paid for, however, with the abuse we have given it in the Chilean ice and elsewhere the CIB is getting tired and its time for a change.

Circa Marine is building the 64' aluminum extreme powerboats (my words) for Steve Dashew. These single engine boats appear to have a single function. Go to sea, and stay at sea as well as high latitude work. If ice gets in the way....oh well, bye bye ice. The construction is tank like with a 32mm stem and 12mm bottom plating. These boats are a smaller version of Steve Dashew's, Wind Horse, featured in Passagemaker Magazine a while back. Pretty cool if that is what you want to do. www.setsail.com

We can give you a preliminary report on our new 12V refrigeration from Isotherm. We bought models CR200NV38B, fridge/freezer combo with a narrow freezer door on the left side, and freezer model CR090FV397. Both are 12V/24V only. The same models are available in different AC voltages. The Isotherms have a brushed stainless steel finish instead of the teak panels of the Sub Zero's. We had to do some minor carpentry work to make them fit so they aren't a simple plug in replacement for the under counter Sub Zero's. I ran the wires myself (8 gauge per the rep) and added two 20amp breakers to the electrical panel in the pilothouse. The wire run was simple by removing the overhead panels in the master stateroom (held in place by industrial velcro) and an inside panel behind the fridge (Sub Zero). We have found they are not as efficient as the brochure stated. But of course the stats were at 75 degrees and where do we get a constant 75 degrees? But in any case they are WAY more energy efficient than the Sub Zero's plus we gain 17% in the inverter conversion to make 115V from 12V. We could have gone three full days without a generator burn by just using the solar panels on the three sunny days (600 watts total). But we didn't. We NEED hot water for showers so we caved and ran the gen for an hour to make hot water and RO water. We did give up our ice maker of the Sub Zero's. With the Isotherms we have to freeze water in shallow sandwich type plastic storage bins until we can find a suitable ice tray dealie. The BIG, BIG plus is independence from the inverter. Now if the inverter fails the only important thing that runs off the inverter is power for the laptops. We have a separate small inverter that runs off a 12V cigarette lighter plug as a back-up. Isotherms are available from lewismarine.com at a discounted price. (where we bought ours) If they don't have the model you want in stock they can have it in stock within a day.

We reported before we had to have service men come to the boat twice to get the fridge up and running. The service manager in Florida gave us the run around to get warranty payment. So we are still working on that. This said, I would still buy them again. I'm sure ours was an isolated instance.

And now techno guys, we'll get into inverters and battery charging. This whole 12V fridge/freezer deal is linked to having good batteries. We bought new Lifeline AGM batteries here in New Zealand and what a JOY it is to have REAL batteries again. As good as they are they need to be charged. Also in New Zealand we bought a stand alone, 100 amp Victron 50/60 cycle battery charger to use while on shore power (50 cycles). The Victron charger really stuffs in the amps when you plug into shore power. Better than our back-up Trace inverter.

To digress just a bit, our main Trace/Xantrex inverter (SW2500) got damaged when a Whale type fresh water fitting let go and sprayed RO water on the SW2500 while it was running. Quite a light show I might add. The inverter portion still worked but the charging circuit was out. So in Tahiti with the help of the N50, Flat Earth crew we removed the 90lb Trace and installed our older but somewhat lighter back up inverter. Its a long story but the back up inverter is an old RV unit with a smaller battery charger than the SW2500. We sent the damaged SW2500 Trace to the ONLY Trace/Xantrex dealer in NZ when we arrived in October. Nothing happened. Nada, zip. So while in Auckland where these guys are located we had the tech bring the SW2500 to the boat where he could get 60 cycle service (his excuse). In a nutshell there could be two things wrong but he doesn't know which one or how to test without replacing two expensive electrical boards. Bottom line. We have the Trace back aboard and we'll take it to Australia next year where we'll try again. Yup, typical great service from Xantrex (this isn't the first time).

Back to the present. When battery charging the other day before HOT showers we ran both the Victron and Trace chargers at the same time. We have a separate circuit breaker so we can turn the charger in the inverter on and off. While on shore power (50 cycles) we turn the inverter charger off and when using the gen (60 cycles) we turn it on. WOW, were we stuffing amps into the AGM's with both chargers combined. I'm sure you have read AGM's can take basically all the amps you can stuff in at once. For the time being life is good.

To help explain the 50/60 cycle difference we'll pass along what we know to be relevant. U.S. and Canada have 60 cycle, 120/240 volt service. If you travel in just these waters 60 cycle service is all you need at 120 or 240 volts depending on the size of your boat and electrical needs. The rest of the world we have been so far uses 50 cycle, 220 V service. Two items in Egret's 240V panel are either/or 50/60 cycle, the air conditioning system and hot water heater. The 240V washer and dryer are NOT 50 cycle compatible and can be used only by running the generator (240V - 60 cycle) or on U.S./Canada shore power. This is the reason for the stand alone Victron 100 amp 50/60 cycle battery charger and the separate circuit breaker (switch) in the inverter/charger to turn on-off the battery charging circuit. (the Trace inverter charger is NOT 50 cycle compliant) All 115V - 60 cycle items (TV - DVD player, etc) aboard Egret are powered by the batteries by way of the inverter with one exception. Our watermaker has two large 115V pumps (supply and high pressure) that run solely off the generator (and not shore power).
If your eyes have glazed over, as mine would have in the beginning, take the time to try and sort this information. Put together this picture in your mind or draw it out on paper. Its not difficult and you need to know the difference between 120V items and 240V items (if you are a US or Canada boat). And if you plan to travel abroad you need to know what we explained about 50 and 60 cycle service. There are a number of US boats in New Zealand that have to run their generators or main engines at the dock for battery charging as if they were at anchor. THEY did not do their homework before leaving home. If you commission a new build long distance boat ask your builder to make the boat 50/60 cycle friendly.

Lets get to the bottom, bottom line of what I would do if starting over. This would be perfect for Egret but perhaps not another similar size boat in a different situation. (Please keep in mind I am the LAST person to take electrical advice from. However, these are changes I would make to Egret based on our liveaboard experience and what we are working toward)

  1. Have fresh Lifeline AGM batteries.
  2. Buy the 12V Isotherm models we mentioned above if you have undercounter units. (or larger if you have the room as well as a second freezer.....not to be aboard Egret, we don't have the space)
  3. Because we don't need the large inverter with 12V refrigeration (vs 115V Sub Zero's), I would buy two Xantrex (yes -groan) PROsine 2.0 inverter/chargers (2000 watts each). The PROsine are True Sine Wave and weigh just 26lbs. They have an internal 100 amp battery charger. They would be mounted side by side. I would have a cross-over switch to use either/or inverter, OR if the supplied remote panel lets you shut off one inverter that would even be better. Without seeing the panel I don't know. (this would allow you to keep one INVERTER portion as a back-up). I would have a second switch linking the PROsine BATTERY CHARGERS together producing a total of 200 amps at 12V.
  4. I would buy a 160amp Victron 50/60 cycle stand alone battery charger instead of the 100 amp we just bought.
  5. I would add more solar if we could find room on top to fit extra panels.

What I didn't mention above, and Egret has as part of her long distance electrical compliment, is an isolation transformer. I know basically how it works, and know you need it but it is beyond my expertise to comment on it.

From a practical point we'll first try to get the Trace SW2500 repaired in Australia next year. If not, we'll donate it to charity as an anchor and buy a single PROsine 2.0 and use it as our primary inverter/charger keeping our now-in-service Trace as a back up.

(added days later) More techno stuff. In a recent e-mail from our cruising buddys on N47 Bluewater, Milt Baker told us how Heidi and Wolfgang Hass aboard N46 Kanaloa don't have a generator and simply use solar and a large alternator on their wing engine. This set up works well (4000 hours on the wing) because it has carried the Hasses over 70,000nm and two circumnavigations. The Hasses have simple holding plate refrigeration that doesn't require the amps of Egret's Isotherm units. Pretty amazing!! AND they are in Mexico still cruising and heading west. So, guess who went into a flurry of action trying to duplicate their wing set up? Initially we were going to try to fit a 160 amp, large frame Leese Neville alternator. This however would involve machining a dual crankshaft pulley, machining a second pulley to be bolted to the water pump pulley, having custom injector tubes bent to clear the large alternator, AND doing some woodwork moving our just moved and remounted wing/gen battery. Geesh. THEN we found out Kanaloa has a small frame, single pulley 100 amp alternator. Bottom line. We have a Bosch 95 amp alternator coming in a couple days that is inexpensive and bulletproof according to the engine shop. Other than a belt change and one other small modification it will (should) be a bolt on change. This would give us an excuse to run the wing more often and give us a reliable back-up to the generator. (not that the Northern Lights generator has ever failed)

When you look at all (ALL) of the above what you see is back up to back up. For coastal cruising this isn't as important. System failure isn't a catastrophe but an inconvenience. It equates to your car quitting for whatever reason and you have to deal with whatever. An inconvenience in the big picture, but nothing more. When long distance cruising and you are 'out here' you MUST be able to keep going. New Zealand is a huge exception but in undeveloped countries or countries where importation of outside goods is near impossible, the ability to keep going is paramount. Some mechanical items can be fixed most everywhere because trucks and busses are kept running by skilled (well OK, sometimes somewhat skilled) mechanics. The biggest issue is communication ( language, particularly on a technical level). Items like inverters, specific boat items, anything to do with 60 cycle or mechanical items outside the trucking or household norm are near impossible.

Now a little relief for you non-techno folks. We're coming up on Cape Brett and the turn into the bay for Opua. There is a hole in the rock where tourista boats, and most every local, drive their boats thru for pictures. However, today's following sea's have been standing up as we reach shallower water. I think we'll give the hole in the wall a pass until the thrill is somewhat diminished.

We arrived in the anchorage just at dark. We circled the area like a couple charter weenies looking for a place to drop the hook. Most boats are on moorings and the water is to deep for a reasonable scope in between the moorings. In the end we took our usual safe precautions and anchored away from everyone dropping lotsa chain and backing in TK. The downside beside a long dinghy ride to shore is we don't have wifi. Oh well, there are greater tragedy's.

Ya know, sometimes it feels good to gloat. We try to keep gloating to a bare minimum because we realize the far majority of you are still dirt dwellers waiting for Your Time. This particular gloat is directed to those of you who have reached Your Time and are still dirt dwelling. After the flurry of the above techno tings off we went with our buddies on Vision's lat/longs for their two favorite fishing spots in the Cavally Islands, a couple hours north of Opua. We are anchored in Wai iti Bay (be sure and click on Goggle Earth of Egret's position), the sun is going down and a few stragglers are moving in to anchor. We find most Kiwis as a rule way better than average boaters because they USE their boats. And why not? This place is beautiful and from most every east coast town on North Island, a few minutes away from the marina or mooring you are in paradise. Of course there are exceptions. Like the guy next door (in a beautiful, salty yacht - sailboat) who just pulled in, dropped the pick, threw a few handfuls of chain on TOP of the anchor and attached a to short snubber giving him about a 1 1/8th scope at high tide. He DID NOT back in the anchor. He DID jump overboard for a swim. If the weather swings from his direction we will be wearing this yo yo's boat later this evening. Geesh. However, back to gloating. Lets see. We took a hike up the hills in front of the anchorage and a little beach exploring in the bay next door picking up low tide scallop shells MS (my sweetie) says she is going to turn into gifts. Back to Egret for a splash of Mount Gay, a little musica on the boom box (literally - boom box), burgers on the barbie, dinner in the flybridge and a little picture taking of the gulls wrangling for goodies. Its REAL good mis amigos.

Tomorrow (Sun) is a hike along the high trail to the north end of the island. (this is a wildlife refuge) Lunch on the trail then back to the boat, up anchor and go out for a bit of drift fishing. Back to the anchorage for the evening and perhaps a sundowner in the flybridge along with a fresh fish dinner (we'll see there). So you can see the sorry state of affairs we are in. And our cruising buddys. Just a bit better than CNN. You get the picture.

Sun PM. We did the hike. We went up and down the 4 (four) hills to the bay on the other side of the island. ALL 4 hills. At the bay MS (my sweetie) found a secret, low tide opening into a small hidden bay. While we were snacking our afternoon entertainment popped up. Eight charter guys were riding toward the beach in their inflatable dinghy from a charter sailboat. When they got close we saw three arms raised and pointing at the small surf. Here's what happened in order of events. They slowed down, like that was going to help. The bow hit the beach on an angle. The next wave turned them sideways (broached), the next waves tried to fill their little dink. The pilgrims scattered thru the water to the beach. All the while the outboard engine was slamming up and down in the sand with each wave. Pretty cool unless you were the charter folks who owned the dink. We met them later on the trail. (we smoked by them while they were huffing and puffing) They are 8 nice guys from Canada on a two week charter.

So we hiked back up and down the 4 (four) hills. The water bottle was frozen when we left and took a looooong time to melt. We felt like Arabia Larry, or something like that, emerging from the desert during WWI. After returning to Egret we ate a quickie lunch then tended to nap chores instead of fishing. Later it was lamb on the barbie and dinner in the flybridge. Tomorrow we'll fish a bit before returning to Opua and retrieve our new alternator and helping the Vision crew take the boat to the boatyard.

So there you have it, a techno feast and a little of The Life (cruising life) 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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