Light winds overnight

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Day 2 November 29, 2016 @ 04:45

The winds have been light and shifting back and forth all night. As you can probably see on the InReach Google map, our track is somewhat erratic. I’ve had the motor on since 2:00 am at 500 RPMs, just enough to keep us going in the right direction.

By the look of the dawning red sky off the bow we are indeed heading away from NZ. The wind has shifted to the west and along with it the sweet smell of hay and sheep. I hope the wind fills in with the sunrise.

We have some very big steep waves coming from the south west and smaller waves coming from the north east. These two sets of waves and light wind make it impossible to keep sail up as the waves shake all the wind out of the sails as each one passes. We need more wind and less sea in order to sail this morning. I’ve taken the jib in and we have two reefs in the main to stop the slatting. As you can imagine sleep has been illusive. 

I’m looking forward to the new day dawning to see what it brings to get us on our way. We aren’t fussy, we’ll work with just about anything. 

I’m going to lie down beside the motor and try to get some sleep. Just had a section of juicy orange from Gisborne. So sweet!

Will check in later.
G

Goodbye Gisborne


WEst Wind II leaving Gisborne, New Zealand

Day 1 Monday, November 28, 2016 @ 17:30 leaving Gisborne, New Zealand

Lat 38.45 S Long 178.31 E Wind:SW 10 knots, Waves: SW 2 metres, Course: 85 True, Speed: 4.5 knots, Cloud: 60%, Temperature: 13° C

Its 5:30 in the afternoon and the sun is streaming down on me as I sit at the nav station typing. I have the “iron main” on and my ear plugs in. There isn’t enough wind to sail and I want to get as far offshore as I can before it gets dark to avoid or at least see the traffic going up and down the east coast. I just spoke with Cliff. It was a short sked unfortunately as I had to put the engine on to stop the main from trying to destroy itself.

I left Gisborne’s inner harbour at noon with lots of wind and I’m sure if Peter had not helped me getting out it would have been next to impossible to leave. I chose to leave at the same time as the freighter that was in loading up with logs destined for China, so ended up doing several tight circles to kill time and stay out of the way of the two big tugs escorting her out. Once out into Poverty Bay, I had a good breeze but after leaving Young Nick’s Head off the stern the wind started to fall light. There are three swell patterns and so motoring with the main up was the most comfortable way to go and here we are with the old Perkins (engine) vibrating away.

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I had a tough time leaving Gisborne. In only a week, I had become quite attached to the charming city and most of all the lovely people who helped me do a number of difficult repairs. The first night I wandered up to the fishing club and was very quickly signed in by one of the club members. I sat outside and enjoyed a cold beer and emailed Marylou and caught up on the phone with her. I ordered dinner and when it arrived John McKendry invited me to join his family at their table for dinner. His wife Suzy and their three great children Holly, Georgia and Matt were very welcoming and I felt very much at home with them. The next morning John was down at the boat and offered to take me to get the dodger stitched and then off to the electronics shop, to see Laurie at Colvin’s about repairs to the Ham radio.

This is John’s town so he took me to meet the right people to get my repairs done as soon as possible. For an out-of-towner on a tight schedule finding the right people is so very important. I was invited back to John’s for dinner several times with offers to use the laundry and have a shower. He introduced me to his friends and they in turn invited me for dinner all the while having my repairs professionally dealt with in amazing time. Greg Pawson rolled up his sleeves and put his great gift for fixing things to work on the broken engine mount and in an afternoon we had the motor lifted, the bracket removed, repaired and reinstalled ready to go and then I had to cajole him into letting me pay for his incredible effort. New Zealanders are the most accommodating, generous people I have ever met and Gisborne has more than its share of warm friendly people.

 

112816I’m about 20 miles offshore now and New Zealand is dipping below the horizon along with the evening sun and I am here aboard West Wind II alone and feel sad to have left such good friends. I have just been on deck to roll out the jib and turn the Perkins off in the hope of sailing. There’s a school of dolphin playing around our bow. The wind is very light but hopefully with nightfall there will be enough to take us offshore and on our way again. All is well.

 

 

The best of New Zealand

sailing to Waiheke

sailing to Waiheke

We’re now home from New Zealand with great memories and new friends. My original goal of bringing West Wind II back to Canada was not realized, but the foundation for that voyage was well and firmly laid at the end of this year. In lieu of that goal we spent several months in NZ interrupted by one quick trip home and back for business reasons.

I caught up with old friends I had first met in NZ in 1969 when I was travelling with my long time friend Mike Lemche. Our Australian mate Andy McLellan whom we had also met in 1969 joined us in NZ. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to get together with both of them once more for old times sake. Once they left, I got down to the serious preparations for leaving NZ .

Our daughter Claire, who lives and works in Auckland, decided she would like to join me on the sail home, so I gladly waited until she got her affairs in order and was able to join me on West Wind II for the leg to Tahiti with one stop in the Austral Islands. She and I got provisions, gave our 72 hour notice to the Customs office and set out one morning around 11:00 am. We found a good breeze after leaving the Bay of Islands and were making good time in some fairly heavy seas when I noticed we were taking on more than a healthy amount of water in the bilge around the forward keel bolts. This was more than a little disconcerting and I decided to turn back to NZ to try and solve the situation.

When we arrived back in Opua, I was able to take West Wind II out of the water and sit her up on the hard. During the next week to ten days,  I consulted with local experts and pursued many theories. I realized the problem was not the catastrophic failure of the keel bolts but a combination of several not so obvious symptoms. West Wind has almost 20,000 nautical miles under her keel since leaving Victoria in Sept 2013, all of which are open ocean miles. She has sat at the wharf in both Fremantle and Opua for almost two years waiting patiently to return home, and at the moment she is in need of some TLC. She has many stubborn deck leaks that allow water to build up in several areas of the bilge and behind bulkheads which release a steady flow of water when she heels over and tacks. This, I misconstrued as leaky keel bolts. That is not to say that the forward three bolts, as a result of failed caulking in the leading edge of the keel where it meets the fibreglass hull, were not susceptible to allowing some water up through their threads. I was able to remedy this in the yard and it is no longer the source of water in the bilge. The hawse pipe, which the anchor chain passes through at deck level as it turns out along with the chain locker was also holding a fair bit of this water and was the source of bilge water which I originally thought was coming from the keel bolts. Once I plugged the hawse pipe at deck level and caulked some of the deck fittings the so called keel bolt leaks subsided. That was the good news.  

The bad news was it meant Claire and I would be leaving NZ past the middle of December instead of mid November as I had originally planned which had us arriving in Tahiti at the beginning of their cyclone season in an El Nino year. Not a good idea. We made the decision not to go which left both of us feeling very disappointed.

The good news was that MaryLou and Nicola could join us in NZ and fulfill our family dream to do some cruising in New Zealand.  We set off to explore as many of the islands in the Hauraki Gulf as we could. Here’s a peek at some of them.

leaving Auckland

leaving Auckland harbour

This turned out to be an adventure beyond what any of us could have imagined. We found great anchorages,

 galley view

Our view from the galley 

had lots of fabulous hikes on the islands,

hiking vistas

hiking vistas

swam every day,

Waiheke waterfront

Waiheke waterfront – plantation style

and enjoyed a fine amount of NZ’s best wines and fresh food. Best of all, we met so many great Kiwis who were proud to show us their favourite spots.

I should also mention that we did have a few problems – the starter motor went on the engine which I replaced, and we ran hard aground in the mud, all of which we recovered from but will not soon forget. New Zealand is one of those places that’s difficult to visit because it’s so damned great even when it rains for two days and blows the dog off the chain.  You soon forget all that once the sun comes back out and dive over the side into that lovely green blue water or walk up a gorgeous trail and come upon a flock of sheep dotting the rich green fields.  “It’s all good” as the ever optimistic Kiwis say, and it is.

lush pastures

lush pastures

The plan is for me to return to NZ in November to try again to do what I thought I was going to do – bring West Wind II back across the Pacific and home to Victoria.

We all sat in the cockpit one afternoon and realized that WW II is our magic carpet and that she still has many adventures left in her …as do we.

rain dance

rain dance

We hope you’ll join us again in November for the adventure of the voyage home.

Thanks for being there.

       

At anchor in Kaiarara Bay, Great Barrier Island

Dec 28 7:15 am.   Kettle’s on and we’re anchored off Port Fitzroy in Kaiarara Bay on Great Barrier Island. Beautiful anchorage with natural wild hills and trees down to the water’s edge.

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The sounds of the birds breaking the silence across the mirror smooth bay as the sun comes up over mount Hobson through light morning cloud.

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 The smell of the forest is sweet in the air. There are several sail and motor boats scattered in the bay all pointing in different directions with their anchor chains hanging directly down from their bows. Very peaceful and still.

Yesterday morning we left our lovely anchorage and went up into Whangarei harbour past the oil refinery and the commercial docks to the Florida canals style community call Marsden, where we topped up with fuel then headed back out and across Parry Channel through the Hen and Chicken Islands with 40 miles to Great Barrier Island. All the islands we pass have steep volcanic terrain and scrubby natural green coverage and are uninhabited.

There were many rocky outcroppings which all seemed to have the face of an angry or sleeping man carved in them.  The crossing was a straight line over a moderate sea with a very light headwind and clear sky with fluffy white sheep clouds. We motor sailed from noon till we made land fall around 6:30 pm. Along the way, Jurassic Park peaks of Little Barrier Island kept our eyes occupied on the starboard side most of the way. This island resembles the ones of French Polynesia with steep mountain ridges and valleys and foliage that looked like it had been draped over it in one big blanket.

This was one of Claire’s must see spots in New Zealand. Along with seeing a place for the very first time from a sailboat, it was very exciting for her and for me. Everyone we talked to said that the islands many sheltered anchorages would be packed with boaters at this time of year but so far that has not been the case. 

Last night we were treated to another magical entrance by the moon, its bright white face rose above Mount Hobson the highest peak on the island, through the trees that fringe the mountain top before breaking out above their canopy and filling the bay with bright moonlight. Half an hour before that, the sun filled the horizon on the other side of the bay with many shades of red silhouetting the jagged landscape and sending its fiery light reflecting across the water of the bay to West Wind II.

This is a magical place and we feel lucky to be here. Our plan for today after breakfast is to row ashore, climb Mount Hobson and explore this amazing island.   

Love and fond regards from Claire and Glenn

Glenn receives Endurance Award from the Ocean Cruising Club (and in person February 28th)

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I was very honoured to recently receive the Ocean Cruising Club’s  ‘Endurance Award’. I proudly share this award with my wife MaryLouise who has selflessly supported me through my triumphs and agonies over these many years and nautical miles, and who created this Going Solo blog with my daily reports for the benefit of thousands of sailors and supporters. 

UPDATE:  Glenn will receive his award in person from the local chapter of the OCC in Victoria on February 28th. We’ll post photos shortly thereafter. 

Read the full OCC Media Release.

OCC AWARD for Endurance

Arrived safely in the Bay of Islands

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Jan 2, 2015

Glenn arrived safe and sound in Opua in the Bay of Islands this morning around 10 am. While he cleared Customs on the quarantine wharf, I sat on the wharf opposite anxiously waiting. After an hour or so, the lovely NZ Customs officials ferried me across to West Wind for our long awaited and sweet reunion.

We’re visiting dear friends, Mike and Deb Carere in Kerikeri tonight. We’ll sail around the Bay of Islands for 4 or 5 days, then head to Auckland to visit our daughter, then head home.

What a journey it’s been. Thank you for sharing it with us. 

All the best,

Glenn and MaryLou

 

Land HO!

Dec 31 @ 0:2:20

Dec 31 - 2

I’ve just finished my afternoon radio sked with Ted VK6NTE near Biningup WA. and Wayne VK4 XG in Brisbane. They were both good copy to me but Ted only had light copy on me so I spoke mainly with Wayne who always has 9/5 copy and booms in here across the Tasman.

It is still overcast and light grey, not too low and nothing angry in the sky at the moment. The wind is a steady 15 kts from the north and we have full yankee andtriple reefed main and doing a respectable 6 knots. The wind is supposed to build to 20 kts from the NNE this afternoon and then swing around from the Southeast around 10:00 tonight. I am at present Lat 34 49 S and Long 172 27 E which puts me 20 odd miles off 90 mile beach. This is the same beach I hiked up at the same time of year by myself in 1969, 45 years ago. I remember it vividly as if it were yesterday. The die was cast by then and nurtured over a lifetime to bring me back to this same beach across many oceans.

3 capes

This morning was a morning to plan my rounding of Cape Reinga and two other Capes, Cape Maria van Dieman just to the west of Cape Reinga and North Cape just to the East of Cape Reinga. I have set a series of four way points to guide me around this narrow and prominent land which marks the Northern tip of the North Island of New Zealand. My first way point marks a dangerous sand bank that elbows out some 15 miles from land called Pandora Bank. I am hoping to clear that around 08:00 tonight then if the wind has filled from the Southeast by then I can run before it around the next three capes and come out to the east coast of the Island some time in the morning. It is about 120 miles down to the bay of islands from there.

I won’t get much sleep tonight but it is an exciting time and I have a great deal of anticipation about these next few days. I should be able to make the land inan hour or so, as a matter of fact you may hear me announce this great moment when I see it. “Land Ho!”

I will let you know my position as I bag each Cape. Not long now ….

UPDATE @ 15:30

~~~~~~~.)~~~~~~~”Land Ho” __________!!!!!

This is a feeling so very unique, after crossing The Tasman for the third time, making land fills my whole body with joy and excitement. I am tingling all over. There were dolphins at the bow and we surged ahead as I sprung on deck bare foot and let out a reef to free another 100 square feet of sail for West Wind to turn into knots. She eagerly pushed the waves aside and joined the dolphins and myself in the celebration.

There is a wonderful earthy smell filling the air and the line on the horizon gives way to a smudge that gradually comes into focus. The land is low and gently undulating with a soft green hue. Off to the port side it rises to the Cape not yet discernible at this distance. I will continue into the bay for an hour then come round onto starboard tack and work my way past Pandora Bank and off to the Cape.

Wonderful to be on deck now with some new horizon to focus on.

 

Closing in on NZ

Dec 31

 

Happy New Year All

Lat 34 52. 41S Long 172 08.51E Course 80 T Speed 6kts Wind N Waves NE 1 m Temp 18 C Cloud 100% Baro 1013 Miles in last 24 hrs: 130 nm Miles to Cape Reinga: 33.3

All is well

Harnessing the beast

Dec 30
Dec 30

It’s truly amazing how the slightest change in wave pattern has such an impact on WW II’s  course as well as her health and well being, not to mention the crew’s health and well being. Last night I was caught with a rising wind around midnight. The trauma from WW II’s 6+ knots of speed crashing through the big seas that were slowly and stealthily being lifted by the approaching northeast gale, was way too much for both me and the boat. I had a double reefed yankee and triple reefed main presented to this building force and in my head the first option was to get rid of the main then slowly roll the yankee in till I felt comfortable. Although the atmosphere below was hard to take during the build up to this point, it was nothing like those forces I faced when I slowly worked my up through the hatch and out into the storm.

It is after midnight and the air is filled with spray and wild howls, very dark but for a halo of light from the mast head running lights. I snap on my safety tether and make my way to the mast on my hands and knees, waves constantly breaking over the high port side deck. Standing up at the mast I snap on to my pad eye on the port side.I slip free the two sail ties on the deck level grab rail and put them in my teeth ready to tame the flapping mainsail as I release the main halyard and bring it down hand over hand, one hand always holding on to the mast, I take the main halyard and doubled it around a cleat below the main headboard and snugged up the halyard and flipped the handle on the clutch that secures the halyard and also the head of the main so it will not be snatched by the gale force wind that screamed at me like some great beast’s intimidating roar. I flip to the other side of the mast and work my way out on the boom making sure my footing is secure. The first tie comes easy from my mouth and I lasso the hysterical main in quick order and synch it up nicely. The next tie had to go further out on the boom and to the very limit of my safety tether.  I have to bear hug the rest of the main and slip the tie from my mouth and secure it before the wind grabs the free end and pulls it out of my reach.  All the time I am coaching myself out loud very controlled and forcefully saying, ” You can do this Glenn, you can do this.”

Back in the cockpit I take a moment to savour the storm that fills my space. Now the yankee has to be rolled in. This is done fairly easily in the cockpit, but the furling line does not lead well and I can see it’s going to chafe on the furling drum. This means a trip up into the bow to put a come along around the line and pull it away from the drum and secure it to the deck. This is a hands and knees job slowly but surely up the windward side of the deck and into the pulpit. The bow is pitching 10 to 12  feet every 15 seconds and scoops swimming pools full of water and pitches them at me, and finds its mark every time.

I have my head down trying to thread a line around the the furling line and through a loop welded to the bow fitting. It’s awkward and takes several tries. I can feel the water running back down my rain pants and into my boots as I struggle to brace myself against the pulpit. After a considerable struggle I’m satisfied that the line will not chafe through during the night. The last thing I need is for the yankee to completely unfurl into the clutches of the gale where in very short order it would be shredded by the lethal talons of the gale.  My mouth is as dry as parchment and I have worked up a good head of steam in my rain gear.

Down below, I give myself two ‘atta boys’ (sp?) and a cup of hot chocolate. After pumping the bilge I hit my bunk and try very hard to drown out the noise and find some peace.

Editor’s Note: Too much information! 

 Lat 35 13. 698 S Long 169 18.153 E Course 94 T Speed 6 knots Wind NE 15 Waves NE 2m Cloud 100% temp 18 C Baro 1016 Miles in last 24 hrs: 130 nm Miles to Cape Reinga: 158 nm

All is well. Thank you very much for being there for me. It is much appreciated.

 

Pelagic life off New Zealand

Dec 29
Progress here is painfully slow and it’s beginning to wear on me so I’m trying to keep occupied. The wind has just stopped completely and we are becalmed. Once upon a time I could take this, no problem, but not so much now.

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Fairy Prion. Source: Wikipedia

I have been doing some research about these quick little birds that are the only birds around the boat for the last few days. I have finally identified them as Fairy Prions. Identifying pelagic birds is a bit more difficult than terrestrial birds because they never land or stay still. I have three sea bird ID books on board and the Prion is in two of these books. Identifying then by site of course is first, but it is amazing how close the different types of birds are. There were three different types of Prions but only the Fairly Prion was shown on the identifying maps as being any where close to the northern end of New Zealand. They are  smaller than our sea gull at home and a little bigger than a Bonaparte’s gull, similar in colour, but with more light grey than white. Their flight is some what erratic but they have no trouble with the big waves darting back and forth. They also are the only birds I have run into that make a sound. Its a cheep cheep and sounds like a young chick rather than a mature bird. They always seem to be together with at least one other and often three or four.  Their wing tips and tail have black bars on them. At the moment they are it for the birds around the boat and are very welcome. I imagine when and if I ever get closer to shore there will be many other types of birds.

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Striped dolphin. Source: Wikipedia

The dolphins around the boat last evening were Striped Dolphin according to my Princeton Field Guide to Whales and Dolphins. I thought there were two different types because of the size difference but the guide suggests they are a combination of adults and juveniles, which makes sense.  Their distinctive markings are a pale grey stripe leading from their bill back down their body which is almost black. This stripe looks like it was air brushed in place.

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Krill source: Wikipedia

The other thing I saw in one of my deck watches last night was thousands of illuminating red eyes switched on by WW II’s wake. This I imagine could have been krill. I also passed a shark the other day just lazily swimming along this tell tale fin cutting the water in a lazy pattern.

The fickle wind is back now and we are coming your way slowly but surely. Life can be very interesting and beautiful out here but one thing is for sure you must take it as it is – sometimes beautiful, sometimes becalmed but always all around you. I sure could do with a chip of choclate. Maybe I can settle for a graham cracker and Nutella.

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Graham Cracker Source: Wikipedia …just for fun