Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Opua: A Failed Power Boater or My Neighbor has a Helicopter


        Because the Torqeedo was already out, I powered most of the way to Russell yesterday.  There was no wind at 11:00 a.m. and the tide was against me.  If the Torqeedo had been stowed in the stern, I would have waited, but I wanted The Duke of Marlborough’s calamari for lunch, so I whirred north on glassy water beneath a sunny sky
        The distance is about 3.5 nautical miles from mooring to the Russell anchorage.
        About halfway there a few knots of wind ruffled the water, but it was coming from ahead.  I had checked the Torqeedo readout not long after I dropped the mooring and it said I had a range of 5 miles at the 2.5 knot speed I was making against the tide.  I’ve never powered that far in GANNET, so I thought, why not?
        The ‘Why, not?’ appeared in a beeping alarm from the Torqeedo about a quarter mile from where I wanted to drop anchor.  I thought an alarm sounded when the battery charge dropped below 30%.  If so, I didn’t hear it.  When I leaned back to check the charge, it was only 5%.  And two hundred yards/meters later the Torqeedo ceased whirring.
        I raised the mainsail in maybe three knots of wind and anchored under sail behind the above vessel.  We were the only two boats anchored beyond the moorings:  The Big and The Great.  GANNET is The Great.
        Fortunately they did not use the helicopter while I was near.
        I pumped up the Avon, rowed in, calamaried, had a red current and blackberry ice cream cone, shopped, and rowed back to the very pretty small sloop.  Since I anti-fouled and polished her, I  spin the dinghy around as I approach and row stern first the last few yards/meters so I can admire her.
        This morning a few knots of wind came up around 10:30 and I raised anchor.  Under mainsail I sailed toward Pahia, preparing the new asymmetrical and ProFurl furling gear.
        The primary difference between the older Facnor furler and the top down ProFurl is that Facnor includes only a head swivel and a drum at the tack.  The sail furls up on its own luff.  The ProFurl has a torsion line covered with small black rotating plastic balls, about 2”/5cm in diameter, and the sail furls onto it.  I thought that I could hoist the furled sail and the ProFurl.  Unfurl the sail.  Then furl it onto the ProFurl.  I was wrong.  Everything hoisted, the sail wouldn’t unfurl.  Everything lowered to deck and stuffed through the forward hatch to be sorted out back at the mooring.
        We pretty much rode the tide back to the mooring.  Our speed never reached three knots.  And GANNET is a fast boat with a clean bottom.
        My concern as we approached the mooring was that I would misjudge—lightweight GANNET carries little forward momentum—and that we would be swept past the mooring and be unable to sail back.  That didn’t happen.
        After lunch of chorizo salami and crackers, I began to re-stow.  I had a lot to do.  The Torqeedo shaft and recharged battery to the stern, its tiller arm to a bag forward; the anchor and rode from the v-berth to the bow; and removing the G2 asymmetrical from the ProFurl, unfurling it by hand, then re-attaching its head and tack to the ProFurl; and squeezing sail and furler into sail bag.
        The G2 is a big sail for GANNET.  Standing in the companionway, I had a lot of sail cloth in the cabin and a lot more in the cockpit.  Eventually I got it unwrapped from itself and hope I have reattached it to the ProFurl without twists.  We’ll see next time it goes up, which might be here on the mooring on a calm mornng.

———

        Forty years ago this afternoon:

        At dawn I turned us back toward Auckland and we slowly limped past Rangitoto Island and into the harbor on a bright, warm day.
        My first impression was how quiet it was for a commercial port on a working day. I was surprised at how many sailboats were swinging at moorings in coves along the shore. I shouted at a man aboard a yacht powering by, asking where I should go to clear with Customs. My voice sounded strange to me. He was the first person I had spoken to in 150 days. He directed me to wharves at the foot of office buildings in the center of the city.
        In San Digeo I routinely sailed the engineless Egregious in and out of her marina slip, but I had not tried to stop her for months. The space between the wharves was wide enough, but the wind was patchy. I sailed back and forth twice, looking the situation over. Several sailboats were rafted up to the wharves. I lowered what was left of the mainsail and sailed in under jib alone, made a U-turn back into the wind, and came gently alongside a big ketch.
        It was a few minutes before 2:00 P.M. Some office workers watched me. I asked one of them to notify Customs of my arrival.
        A city and a nation in which I knew no one. Within three hours, fate began to bring me to Suzanne.
        I swarmed up the wharf pilings and stood on land. The transition from five months of sea and solitude was that quick and that easy. No cultural shock. No earth moving beneath my feet, as some people claim after voyages, but I have myself never experienced. (With GANNET, I have.)

       I believe that calls for a sip of Laphroaig this evening.