Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Opua: moon; sextant; interesting; wit


        Reflections of the full moon on the water have  been 


beautiful here the last few nights. They won’t be tonight. A front is passing through with clouds and wind and rain. 
Although as you can see no rain was forecast for today, more is due tomorrow and Saturday.  And much more and much worse next Thursday the day I fly away. 




     
  Getting soaked to the skin on my arrival was one thing.  Once down below on GANNET I was able to change into dry clothes.  Getting soaked on my way ashore while leaving and wearing wet clothes for thirty-six hours and eight thousand miles is quite another.  
        There are several alternatives.  If it didn’t cost so much, I’d simply change my flights and leave Tuesday.  But it does.  I could go ashore and spend the last night at a motel.  I’ve done that a couple of times in the past.  But I think I’ll stay aboard and hope for a break in the rain Thursday morning.  I only need ten or fifteen minutes to row in, deflate and lock up the dinghy.  And if there isn’t, I’ll wear my lighter set of foul weather gear and take it all the way to Evanston with me and back.
        Because of the forecasts, I’ve closed shop.
        Yesterday afternoon I lowered the furling jib and stowed it and the bow sprit down below.  I still have laundry and a few other things to do to prepare GANNET for my absence.  
        I won’t try to sail to Roberton Island this weekend.  If the weather is nice, I’ll take a walk and row around Pine Tree Island.
———
        Jim and Brian wrote that the Navy’s concern about the GPS system is that the signals might be hacked or subject to interference, intentional or accidental.  I thank them.
        For reasons I’ve already given I don’t think a sextant is going to do a Navy ship much good, but this has caused me to rethink having a sextant on GANNET.
        Some of you will remember that I did have a sextant on board until it got in the way one time too often earlier this year and I gave it away.  Although there are something like a dozen GPS chips on simple GANNET—I could navigate with my camera which displays latitude and longitude—I have been slightly uneasy not having a sextant and will probably buy a new one when I’m back in Evanston.  
        If I do it will be a Davis Mark 25 plastic sextant.  
        While most of my sextants were metal, I did use a Davis on the passage from Vanuatu to Australia after my first David White was lost when CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE pitchpoled.  I found it accurate, but that the mirrors had to be readjusted after almost every use.  A nuisance, but good enough.

———

        Those of you in the United States and Canada will probably be familiar with ‘The Most Interesting Man In The World’ advertising campaign for Dos Equis beer.
        Following a comment I made in the previous post, Waid wrote a parody that brought laughter to GANNET’s Great Cabin yesterday morning:

        Winds have been known to change directions, simply out of respect.

        Officials ask him to clear them when arriving in foreign ports.

        Following his example, Father Time began doing push-ups.

        He often drinks scotch.  And when he does, it's Laphroaig.

        He is the most interesting man in the world.

        For the record, I don’t drink much beer, but when I do it often it is Dos Equis.

———

        Guy Dickinson read STORM PASSAGE recently, something that I myself am going to do again soon as the fortieth anniversary nears of my first rounding of Cape Horn, and made several suggestions that might be included on the Wit and Wisdom page.
        I did add:

       I believe in greatness, the heroic, the epic, pride, honor, and my dreams. And I believe the hardest people in the world are not cynics, but those romantics who will not compromise: who insist that their dreams become reality. I am an adamantine romantic.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Opua: littoral and pelagic; wrong Charles; sailboats?; top down; push-ups



        A few evenings ago I enjoyed GANNET’s newly vast deck, listening to music, sipping wine and watching two gannets hunt overhead.  During the hour I was on deck I saw them dive only twice and both of those were just off the fuel dock inside the marina breakwater.  Although it is a useful social construct, hard work doesn’t always pay off as gannets, millions of farmers, fishermen and poets—though I doubt there have been a million poets—know.
        From the lack of dives, I conclude that there aren’t many fish off Opua any longer, which would also explain the absence of the hundreds of terns and sea gulls who used to be my near and noisy neighbors.
        I expect the gannets flew home hungry.  They have not been back since.
        Gannets are birds of the littoral.  GANNET is pelagic, which also is the name Brian Boschma, who has provided me with his mostly below deck tiller pilot, has aptly named his company.
        Several readers have asked me about his tiller pilot.  You see the above deck component in the photo above.  It is satisfyingly heavy in the hand and appears to be built like the proverbial tank.  On a boat as wet as GANNET, it needs to be.
        There are two other components to the system, three if you count the tiny remote.
       In the upper right hand corner of this photo is the controller.   

        And here tucked on a partial bulkhead beneath the cockpit is the motor drive.
     
  Both of these units are sealed.  The controller could be mounted on deck.  I chose not to.  It will get wet enough where it is.
        You will also note in that photo the new location of the YellowBrick, which also is waterproof, but not quite enough to survive life on GANNET’s stern pulpit.
        Brian knows Moore 24s and sent me the system with wiring in place.  Installation was simple:  mount the below deck units, connect one pair of wires to the deck socket and another pair to the ship’s electrical system, if ‘system’ isn’t too grand a word for GANNET.
       
The remote is simple, but for me essential.  Pressing A and B together engages or disengages the tiller pilot.  Pressing A or B changes course 2º port or starboard.  Pressing and holding A or B for more than 3 seconds tacks the boat 100º.
        I am not aware of any function for C and D.  I’ve emailed Brian and will amend this when I hear back.
        All self-steering systems are affected by changes in wind strength as well as direction.  Here in the confined part of the bay those changes are so frequent that I usually have to hand steer.  I have used Brian’s tiller pilot successfully out in more open water.  It does what it is supposed to do and keeps GANNET on course.   
        The real test will be next year when GANNET and tiller pilot go pelagic.
        Here is a link to the Pelagic Autopilot site.
———
        Tim, the violin playing marathoner, recently finished reading DEAD WAKE, Eric Larsen’s book about the sinking of the LUSITANIA, and  suggested I listen to a composition Charles Ives wrote in part inspired by that war time disaster.  
        I paused momentarily after typing ‘Charles’ into the search field and Google immediately suggested ‘Manson.’

———

        A predicted front is moving through with steady rain for the past few hours and some wind.
        I don’t need to go ashore and have only stuck my head out a couple of times.  I haven’t seen any boats at the ‘Q’ dock today, but there have been several most days this week.  Of these, the first stop that many make as soon as they clear Customs is the fuel dock.  These are sailboats.  Well, they are sailboats in that they have masts.

———

        I think I’ve bought a top down furler.  I asked the woman in the rigger’s office to place the order.  I assume she did.  I’ll know for certain Monday
        I have been considering top down furlers for a while and more seriously since finding that with its lower clew the new G1 does not furl as well as did my old asymmetrical.  My only objection has been the price.  Even the smallest Gannet size units cost $1800.
Colligo reprints a PRACTICAL SAILOR review of top down furlers which mentions them as the ‘budget choice.’  
        The units in that review are bigger than GANNET needs.  I asked for a quote from Colligo for their smallest model.  The complete system comes to $1,827.51 U.S., not including shipping.  Some ‘budget choice’. For that amount I’d rather have ProFurl.
        Over the four decades I’ve sailed in and out of New Zealand, I have learned that many things, including boat equipment, is more expensive here than in the U.S., but during this visit I have found on three occasions that is not presently true.  I’m not sure why, though it may have to do with recent fluctuations in exchange rates.
        In any event I telephoned the NZ ProFurl distributor and found to my surprise and pleasure that the ProFurl Spinex 0.9 costs less than $1300 U.S.  
        Even though they don’t have that model in stock and it won’t arrive until after I fly to the U.S., I placed the order to lock in the price.  The rigger will store it for me until I return. 
———

        An email yesterday brought a smile to GANNET’s Great Cabin.

        Was traveling with my girlfriend for the first time, and she got to observe some of my strange habits. One of which was my morning pushups. She asked what exactly I was doing to which I replied "Webb Chiles' age in pushups" which just confused her more. You see I'm only 31 so I must do more than my own age in repetitions, so I do yours.

        Excellent. 
        In a few more weeks Tom and I are going to do one more.  Just think what great shape we will be in when I turn 100.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Opua: painted



        Monday was windy.  The maximum reading I saw on the TackTick was 26 knots, but it blew 20 to 25 most of the day.  Not a day to paint, so I stayed in the Great Cabin and reread KING LEAR.  
        As I have written here before, my interpretation of King Lear is not just that he is mad, but that when the play begins he is mad and powerful and when it ends he is sane but powerless.  That when he comes to his senses he can do nothing to rectify the errors of his madness is the tragedy.  Recently I watched a film of a Royal Shakespeare Company performance of the play staring Ian McKellen and directed by Trevor Nunn that emphasized the madness and I wanted to check if my view still holds.  I think it does.
        Will got by with a lot, considering the times in which he lived.
        “Tis the times’ plague, when madmen lead the blind.”  
        An accurate description of most governments.
        And:  “Thou hast seen a farmer’s dog bark at a beggar?”
        “Ay, sir.”
        “And the creature run from the cur?  There thou mightst behold the great image of authority:  a dog’s obeyed in office.”

        Tuesday was perfect, sunny, slight wind.  I put a coat of Interdeck, International’s nonskid deck paint, on the areas where the genoa tracks and jam cleats had been removed.  As I knew it would, it contrasted mightily with the older paint, so I moved halyards, sheets, furling line, running backstays out of the way, taped around the winches and another set of jam cleats, and painted the entire deck.  This is the third time I’ve done this in the four years I’ve owned GANNET, but the first since San Diego.
        One of the great virtues of small boats is that it only took a couple of hours.
        Yesterday was also fine and I painted the vertical surfaces in the cockpit.  That took a little over an hour.

        Note in the lead photo and this one the vast expanse of clear deck beside the cockpit.  A veritable prairie of deck.  Well, perhaps not, but in time it will be rolling.
        Some sailors don’t like white decks because of alleged glare.  I do like them, both for aesthetics and because they are easier to find your way around at night.  I have not found glare to be a problem.
       
If you look closely at this photo you may be able to see that I have placed two non-skid pads to starboard of the bow sprit.  I have been thinking about doing this for a while to protect the deck from the anchor before and after it is deployed.  I would have used Treadmaster, but it is not readily available here, so this is a New Zealand imitation.
        I have repeatedly studied my lists.  There are two:  one of things to buy in the U.S. because they are easier to obtain or cheaper there; one of things to buy and do here.  Both are short and, unless I’m completely forgetting something, I have nothing more to do now.
       The weather is not promising for the weekend, but I’d like to sail to Roberton Island and climb up to the lookout before I fly back to Carol and autumn two weeks from today.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Opua: untracked



        I am no longer thinking about removing the genoa tracks.  I’ve done it.  
        Removal took an hour yesterday afternoon.  I expected that some of the nuts which had been painted over might prove difficult, but none did.
        This morning I filled twenty-six bolt holes with epoxy and when it dried added a bit of filler.  When it dries, I’ll sand and, weather permitting, paint tomorrow.
        This might not be the final configuration.  The reach to cleats on the rail might be a stretch when GANNET is heeled far over; but everything on a boat is a compromise and that one might well be worthwhile to keep lines to the side of the deck.
        Here is what the deck looked like before removal. I’m not sure the photos show how dramatic the difference is.  Any clear space on GANNET, above deck or below, is golden.

        I am struck by how I looked, or rather overlooked, those tracks for years until a question from Luis caused me actually to see and consider them. 
         GANNET and I owe this one to you, Luis.  Thanks for asking.

———

        Boats have been trickling in for a while.  One at the ‘Q’ dock every several days, but when I stood in the companionway this morning there were four, none less than 45’/14 meters.  I think the fleet migration is on.
        The Opua Marina is engaged in a major expansion.  I’m not sure of the exact numbers, but it will go from about 250 slips to 350.
        In a sign of the times, consistent with the boats at the ‘Q’ Dock this morning, almost all the new slips will be 16 meters/53’ or larger and about half will be double wides for catamarans.

———

        Those of you in the U.S. are watching the baseball playoffs and college and pro football totally unaware that to a few nations, New Zealand among them, the only sporting event going on now is the Rugby World Cup in England.
        The NEW ZEALAND HERALD’s online site has the usual sections:  world; national; entertainment; technology; travel; sport.  Rugby is more than ‘sport’ and has its own section.
        I don’t know of what sport this story was first told:
        Two fans are discussing an upcoming contest and one says, “We’ve got to win.  It’s a matter of life and death.”
        To which the other replies, “Oh, no.  It’s much more important than that.”
        In New Zealand rugby is.
        I was here eight years ago when New Zealand was upset in a World Cup quarter final by France.  The front page of the NEW ZEALAND HERALD’s print edition was bordered in black.
        New Zealand played France in a quarter final this morning and crushed them.  I listened on radio.
        They meet South Africa in a semi-final next weekend that I believe will be telecast in the U.S.
        I hope my friends in other nations will forgive me:
        Go, All Blacks.
        Go, Cubs.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Opua: pizza night; widiest



        A lovely spring day.  Not for sailing—there was little wind—but just to be alive and on the water, or even the land, which I visited twice.
        I’ve been doing minor boat chores.  This morning I oiled GANNET’s small amount of wood, including the tiller, then rowed ashore and walked up the Opua hill.
        I wore my Apple watch, but it really isn’t up to the real versus the artificial world.  
        In the activities app there is ‘rower’ not rowing, ‘stair steeper’ not stair climbing.  The watch is created by and largely for those who work  in offices and for whom physical activity is not natural.  The watch failed to understand that walking in sand on North Carolina’s Outer Banks is more strenuous, though slower, than walking on Evanston’s flat sidewalks.  Today it failed to know that climbing up Opua Hill is also different, as is coming down.
It did tell me that I made it up in 8 minutes and 55 seconds.  Not bad.  Particularly since I haven’t been walking much.  But it said I used 15 calories which is a gross underestimate. 
        I was surprised that the climb was relatively easy.  I was certainly huffing and puffing by the time I reached the top, but I kept moving right along.
        The watch gave me no credit at all for walking back down, which took over 10 minutes.  As I have noted before I take smaller steps going down than up and I wasn’t pushing hard.
        I showered, bought a smoked chicken and brie sandwich at the General Store and rowed back out to GANNET, where I ate on deck in order to give the oiled floorboards more time to dry.
        The General Store makes pizza from 4 to 7 several nights a week.  When I was climbing Opua Hill I had to take an extra notch in my belt to keep my Levis from falling down, so I decided I needed a pizza and rowed in at 5, ordered, walked to the Cruising Club where I had a gin and tonic with the luxury of ice while waiting, returned for the pizza and a bottle of red wine, rowed back to GANNET, where I again ate on deck, accompanied by Vangelis’s THEMES in stereo on the Megabooms, while watching the start of the Friday night race.  
        It happens that several people this week have told me, nicely, that I am mad.  But consider.

------
        The lead photo was a foggy morning yesterday or the day before.
        This was sunset at Paradise Bay a week ago.  A resemblance of light, but not the same.  
        The last entry had a photo of Cape Brett and Piercy Island on my way to Whangamumu.  This is in very different light on the way back.

        And here is a photo showing the running backstay passing through the new folding pad eye.  You can also see where the old jam cleat was removed.

        Luis in Lisbon, Portugal, noticed in a photo that when in use the running backstays go through blocks on sliding cars on a genoa track and asked why.  The answer is that the track was on GANNET when I bought her, doesn’t leak, and so I’ve left it.  At the forward end of that track I’ve put sliding cleats for spring lines and for the jib and gennaker furling lines, though I don’t slide them either.  The track has just been an existing base.  However, since Luis asked the question, I’ve been eyeing those tracks.  What can be removed ought to be.  I could get rid of all but the forward few inches of the tracks by installing u-bolts for the running backstay blocks.  
        I might.  I’m still thinking about it.

———

        As I have noted here before, I have googled this and come up with both Wellington and Perth/Fremantle, Australia as the ‘second windiest city’ in the world, but never have been able to discover the first.  
        Wellington has a very good case.
        So does Perth, which isn’t even mentioned in the article.
        Chicago isn’t even the windiest city in the U.S.  Boston is.  And the average isn’t all that high.
        Most boats are designed to sail best in less than fifteen knots of wind because mostly that is what there is.
        Here is the current wind map of the United States.    Note the average speed.  

        It is night time there; but on most days the average is not much higher.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Opua: Whangamumu or bust



        It was almost ‘or bust.’

October 6
Paradise Bay

        I have Paradise (Bay) to myself.  That does not often happen.
        I took four hours to make ten miles today.  Tomorrow I will try for sixteen.
        I had GANNET ready to sail, except for raising the mainsail and dropping the mooring, at 10:00 a.m.  A sunny and pleasant but windless morning.  I finally dropped the mooring at noon.  The tide was coming in keeping our bow to the north and the slight wind was from the south, so I raised the main with the wind behind us, went forward and dropped the mooring and we headed north, slowly, on a dead run.
        After a half hour I was able to raise the jib, and not long afterwards the wind swung from south to north, heading us and increasing slightly.
        I tacked and tacked GANNET, at one point almost running over a gannet preoccupied with preening his feathers.  It took me an hour and forty-five minutes to be off Russell, a straight line distance of less than four nautical miles.  Then the wind increased again for a while and we sometimes saw boat speeds of five knots.
        As I sailed past Roberton Island I considered calling it a day and going in, but glided on and got the anchor down at Paradise at 4 p.m.  
        I write after a satisfying Back Country roast chicken dinner with mashed potatoes, a plastic of red wine at hand, and Pablo Casals playing the Sixth Bach Cello Suite in stereo on the Megabooms.
        My projected  course tomorrow is two miles north to clear these islands, eight miles east north east to clear Cape Brett, six miles south southwest to Whangamumu.
        The forecast is for almost no wind much of the day, but filling in at fifteen to twenty knots from the north late.  Tomorrow north is good.
        I’m going to the companionway to watch the sun set behind islands to the west.
October 7
Whangamumu

        GANNET had a sixteen mile day.  For a while I wondered if it would happen.
        Now that New Zealand is on summer time, dawn isn’t until after 7 a.m.   I was awake at first light at 6:30 and was standing in the companionway with a cup of coffee when the sun rose from behind Urupukapuka Island at 7:26.  Except for raising the mainsail and anchor, GANNET was ready to get underway at 8:30.  And then I read, sticking my head out the companionway from time to time looking for any sign of wind on glassy water until 10:00 when a faint breath reached us and I raised the anchor, which came up clean as it always does at Paradise Bay.
        No sooner were the anchor and rode deployment bag stowed on one of the failed companionway curtains made last year in Hawaii than the breath of wind gave its last feeble sigh.
        I considered anchoring again, but we were in no immediate danger of going aground, so I choose to ghost and drift and glide, playing the faintest of wind, tacking slowly between islands, hand steering most of the time because conditions were too changeable for the tiller pilot.
        In two hours we covered not quite two miles and had almost cleared the islands when the the glassy surface of the bay darkened with three or four knots of wind from the north.  
        I made a final tack, cleared the last rock off Urupukapuka, set a course for Piercy Island just off Cape Brett, engaged the tiller pilot and ate salami and crackers for lunch.
        The wind continued to strengthen to seven or eight knots and I began to believe we might reach Whangamumu after all.  GANNET heeled slightly and began making five and six knots on a close reach across rippled water.  Hardly astounding, but lovely enjoyable sailing, particularly after hours of one knot or less.
        Ahead of us a sailboat rounded Piercy Island coming from the south and heading in, but that was the only other boat sailing on what had become a fine afternoon.

        I gybed east of Piercy and set a course south.
        The Bay of Islands is sparsely populated.  Beyond Cape Brett it is a wilderness of high land dropping precipitously into the sea and not populated at all.  It is a realm of birds, as once was all of New Zealand, soaring, diving, bobbing on the surface.  Hundreds were sitting and hovering off an exposed ledge.  You sense that you are again in the ocean, not a bay, however wide its mouth.
        Erratically blocked or funneled by the land, the wind gusted to eighteen knots and dropped to zero, and I began to consider my approach to almost landlocked Whangamumu Harbor four miles ahead.
        Usually I furl the jib and approach an anchorage under mainsail alone, but the last half mile to Whangamumu’s narrow entrance is between two peninsulas which I thought might block the wind, so I kept the jib set.  A good decision made for the wrong reason.

        I thought about waiting to bring the anchor and rode on deck until I was inside Whangamumu, where I expected I could heave to and do so more easily, but decided to do it in advance.  I waited until the wind was relatively steady, engaged the tiller pilot, and pulled the deployment bag and anchor on deck through the forward hatch.
        The deployment bag has a clip that I attach to the lifeline and a velcro closed opening in the bottom so that the end of the rode can be cleated.  Always a good idea.   I pulled the twenty feet of chain and about fifty-five feet of line from the bag and cleated it off to the starboard bow cleat.  I installed a small bow roller on GANNET’s starboard bow, which is useful in holding the chain part of the rode off the hull when raising anchor, so I anchor from that side.  Concerned that the anchor might fall overboard when we heeled in a gust I lashed it to the pulpit with a sail tie.
        As we made the turn to the west between peninsulas, instead of fading as I expected, the wind accelerated and backed to the northwest, gusting hard, heeling us far over and rounding GANNET up toward nearby rocks. 
        I let go the mainsheet, depowering the sail, and continued mostly under jib alone, being knocked down, bobbing up, tiller in my left hand—a round of applause for physical therapy—playing the main sheet with my left.  
        Whangamumu appears to be an ancient volcano whose northeast side has been breached for a few hundred yards/meters.  With jagged rocks and shelves the entrance seems narrower.
        Inside the harbor the wind continued to gust.  GANNET was making six and seven knots.  In a lull I engaged the tiller pilot and went to furl the jib, a process that only takes seconds.  I had just uncleated the furling line when a gust knocked us down and spun us toward the shore.  I had to drop the line and move back to the tiller, able to do so more quickly not having to step over a traveler bridge.  GANNET back under control, I went to furl the flogging jib, whose sheets had wound themselves together in a Gordian knot.  
        Inside the harbor the wind was coming from the northwest.  A white sailboat about 30’/9 meters long was anchored close in to the ruins of the old whaling station.  I like it out in the middle.  Fully battened mainsails are almost impossible to depower completely and we were still making four knots, faster than I like to anchor, but I knew we’d be stopped by the wind when we turned into it.  We were arriving right at high tide.  When the depth finder read 26’, I made the turn, dropped the tiller pilot arm onto the tiller pin to keep the tiller amidships and went forward, again made easier by the new cockpit configuration, and dropped the Spade, feeding out the rode with my hand to where it was cleated at 75’.  The Spade dug in instantly.  I moved aft and released the main halyard, lowing the sail, before returning, uncleating the rode and feeding out another 75’/23 meters.  The wind is forecast blow twenty-five knots from the southwest tomorrow and I may let out more.  Pulling in rode on a boat as light as GANNET is easy.
        The anchor was down at 3:45 p.m.  
        We had taken almost six hours to make fourteen miles.  It is good to have a fast boat.

October 8
Whangamumu

        Almost sunset and I have the harbor to myself.
        A power boat came in late yesterday and anchored close to the west end.  Both it and the sailboat left this morning.  Both were far away from me, yet there is a satisfying difference in being alone rather than in company, the difference between being on a truly deserted island and one on which you just can’t momentarily see other people.
        A brief period of rain early this afternoon, but the sky is now only partially cloudy.  The wind has been gusting 20 to 25 knots.  I let out the anchor rode to the 180’/55 meter mark.  The strongest wind is predicted for later tonight.  A few minutes ago while standing in the companionway a gust heeled us far enough I was afraid it would spill my plastic of wine.  But then there are lulls when the wind drops to less than five knots.
        GANNET’s Spade anchor is well set.  Handling it and the mostly line rode is a pleasure.  All chain rode is better, but GANNET can’t carry the weight.  Neither could CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE.  On GANNET I have ½”/12mm line, which is stronger than needed but provides an extra margin for chaff.  That there is something down there sawing through your rode is the uncertainty and concern about line.
        I have sailed more engineless miles than some who have built their reputations and made a religion of it.  I had EGREGIOUS built without an engine.  CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE did not have one.  The diesel on RESURGAM died on the Caribbean side of Panama and we sailed all the way to Australia before we replaced it.  I’ve never powered more than an hour here and there at sea, and then usually only to stabilize a boat being thrown about in leftover seas with no wind.  That you have to power through the doldrums is simply not true.  I’ve crossed the Equator now, I think, thirteen times without motoring.  If you are a sailor and have a boat that sails well, you only need an engine for the last hundred yards/meters in harbors that are set up with the expectation that all boats are powered.  
        GANNET is an almost engineless boat.  The Torqeedo is in the stern and I’ll drag it out sometime, maybe before I leave here, just to see if it still runs.  But I must admit that there is a satisfaction in doing it all under sail:  sailing on and off the mooring, on and off anchor, even yesterday spending two hours making two miles in almost no wind and then sailing into a knockdown gusty harbor.
GANNET is a beautifully natural boat.  Even with the Torqeedo, she runs only on wind and sun and my muscles.
        Suddenly quiet.  The wind has dropped to two knots.  From where I am sitting at Central I look out the companionway and see by the length of shadows on trees on the hills that the sun is about to set.
        I like it here.  I long have.  I’ve sailed in on RESURGAM, THE HAWKE OF TUONELA and GANNET.  I don’t know whether I’ll leave tomorrow or stay another day.  I’ll decide in the morning.

October 9
Whangamumu

        A pleasant and quiet afternoon.  Mixed sun and clouds.  Light variable wind.
        We had a few gusts last night, but it was mostly quiet.  The strongest wind passed through yesterday afternoon.
        I still have the harbor to myself.  I thought I heard voices a while ago, but couldn’t see anyone.  Perhaps hikers somewhere on the hills.
        I did a little maintenance.  Fillee a gouge in the wood around the companionway.  Disassembled and lubricated the starboard cockpit winch which does not turn as freely as the port one.   My efforts didn’t seem to make any difference.
        I also sanded down the filler I used to plug four bolt holes in the deck where I removed two jam cleats that were on GANNET when I bought her.  They were used in setting a standard spinnaker.  I had been using them to tie off the running backstays when daysailing, but bought some folding pad eyes and installed them a few inches further forward so the boom can be let out farther.  Removing the jam cleats results in four less bolts for me to hit my head on in The Great Cabin and two less objects to trip over on deck.
        After praising the virtues of sailing engineless, I dug the Torqeedo and outboard bracket out of the stern and put them in place on the transom.  It started right up.  It is perhaps the least offensive of all motors.  Nearly silent, odorless, and starts with one finger push of a button.
        I’ve left it in place and will use it sometime tomorrow.
        Late this morning our position had changed significantly relative to where I put down the anchor.  I did not think it had dragged—with her low windage and weight, GANNET produces little strain on an anchor—but wondered if the rode had snagged on some underwater obstruction.  I pulled it in to less than the 60’ mark and it hadn’t.  With 180’ of rode out, the diameter of our circle of swing is bigger than a football field and it was low tide with only 20’ of water beneath us rather than 26’.  I let the rode back out and tied us off this time at 150’.
        Obviously I’m staying here today.  I’m enjoying the solitude and the tranquility.  

Evening.

        I am no longer alone.  Two sailboats have come in, both under power and anchored close to the shore at the west end of the harbor, and three small power boats have anchored near them as well.  Small figures are moving about the beach.  Tents have been set up.  Today is Friday.  A fine way to spend the weekend.

        I was standing in the companionway sipping Brokers Gin as the second sailboat came in and listening to Loreena McKennitt sing, “Dante’s Prayer”, one of the pieces of my Requiem.  Some of the lyrics:
            Cast you eyes on the ocean
            Cast your soul to the sea
            When the dark night seems endless
            Please remember me


       
The foliage on these hills is impenetrable.  You would have to ax and hack your way every step.  A few elegant white skeletons of dead trees are surrounded by wild exuberant green life.  To the north, one tree breaks above the others and reaches higher for the sun and sky.



October 10
Opua

        The exit from Whangamumu this morning was easy.  With light wind coming down from the hills to the west and an outgoing tide, I had the anchor up at 9:15 and was out the entrance a few minutes later under mainsail.  
        The exit was the best part of the day.
        The wind forecast to be eight to ten knots from the southwest died within the first half mile.  I rode the outgoing tide and played the slightest of breaths to move GANNET away from the inhospitable rocky shore.  
        The two other sailboats that had come in last night departed not long after me and motored past us with friendly waves, one turning south, the other continuing north as we sat rocking gently.  
        We sat most of the morning off the same headland south of Cape Brett until finally light wind filled in from the north heading us.  I was glad to have it.  Sailing in any direction is better than drifting.
        I had been seriously considering the possibility that we might not be able to reach any anchorage before night fall, in which case I would have tired to ease GANNET offshore for the night.
        At one time it looked as though we might be able to sail between Piercy Island and Cape Brett, but the wind backed and forced us to tack outside Piercy.  
        We were finally beyond Cape Brett at 1:30 in the afternoon, taking four hours to make good five or six straight line miles.
        The day was overcast with a solid layer of low cloud and the breeze was cold enough for me to put on a Polartec.
        I had Brian Boschma’s  mostly below deck tiller pilot in place, but hadn’t been able to use it much in the morning when we had no steerage way.  For the eight miles from Cape Brett to the north end of Urupukapuka Island the wind remained steady on a very close reach and the pilot performed exactly as it should.
        Just beyond Urupukapuka the wind suddenly backed to the southwest as forecast and as suddenly increased to 20 to 22 knots.  GANNET heeled lee rail under.  I released the mainsheet with one hand while grabbing the tiller from the tiller pilot with the other.  
        After a day of one inch ripples, or glass, the bay was covered with white caps and one to two foot waves into which GANNET slammed.  I’m tall enough to reach the low side of the cockpit with my feet, but it was more convenient to brace against the new pod instead.
        I hand steered the rest of the way and the wind headed us the rest of the way, west when we wanted to go west, south when we wanted to turn the corner north of Russell and go south.
        There were possible anchorages, but Russell, the lagoon at Roberton Island and Paradise Bay are all open to the southwest.  Pahia was tenable, but I thought I could reach Opua before last light and even that I could find our mooring in the dark, though I didn’t want to have to put that to the test, and pressed on, tacking all the way and playing the mainsheet even after I managed to partially furl the jib.
        We made it to Opua at last light.  The sun was already below Opua Hill.  
        Just north of the ferry crossing I lowered the Torqeedo into the water instead of continuing to short tack in what were now light headwinds and an outgoing tide.  I engaged the tiller pilot while I furled the jib and lowered the main.  The Torqeedo whirred along quietly.  For an engine it is almost likable.
        I picked up the mooring after 7 p.m.  Taking ten hours to cover twenty-six miles, though tacking we sailed father.
        GANNET was not in full passage mode with everything secured in place.  Yet she had repeatedly heeled rail down on both tacks.  The V-berth was a shambles
        I sorted it out, stowed the anchor and rode in the bow, went back on deck, lifted the Torqeedo from the stern though I left it in the cockpit for the night, put on the mainsail and tiller covers, moved spare halyards and the running backstays from near the mast.
        By then it was dark.
         I went below and sat at Central.  My neck and shoulders were sore.  I poured myself a well-deserved gin.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Opua: intentions on a windy afternoon


        John of ANAHERE, the Golant Gaffer I admire, told me a good story of the days when he was a delivery skipper ferrying newly built French boats from the factory to Caribbean charter fleets.
        On the way across he and his crew pulled into a marina at one of the Canary Islands for a pit-stop.  When after a brief period they were preparing to leave, the owner of the boat next to them questioned the decision with a less than optimum forecast.  
        John made the crossing without problems, almost immediately got on a plane and flew back to France to pick up another boat.
        They pulled into the same slip at the Canary Island Marina and the same boat was still next to them.  The owner said, “Ah, so you turned back.”
        John explained, and soon he and crew were off again. 
        Reaching the Caribbean they flew back for a third boat, pulled into the same slip in the Canary Islands and found the same boat beside them, but now wearing a “For Sale” sign.

———

        From Saint-Exupéry’s WIND, SAND AND STARS:
Flying is a man’s job and its worries are a man’s worries.  A pilot’s business is with the wind, with the stars, with night, with sand, with the sea.  He strives to outwit the forces of nature.  He stares in expectancy for the coming of dawn the way a gardener awaits the coming of spring.  He looks forward to port as to a promised land, and truth for him is what lives in the stars.

———

        A sunny and windy Opua afternoon, gusting 20 to 25 as forecast.
        I rowed in to have lunch with a friend and do laundry.  In was downwind, coming back to windward, so I took my foul weather parka and a trash bag to protect the laundry; but I was able carefully and slowly to stroke my way to GANNET without getting wet, a modest triumph in a sailor’s life.
        If the forecast continues to be accurate, I will sail tomorrow probably to Paradise Bay, go around to Whangamumu on Wednesday, stay there Thursday and possibly Friday, and sail back Friday or Saturday.
        The tracking page is:  http://my.yb.tl/gannet.