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.



  1. I just watched the movie called ‘Finest Hours’. Good movie. I can’t imagine how terrifying that voyage was for the people involved back in 1952. We just get a taste of it in the movie. Travelling the oceans is not something I want to do for sure. To be honest, i have been on one 18 day cruise through the Panama Canal with Holland America over 10 years ago now. Totally enjoyed that except for the rough Pacific waters on the way back up to Victoria. So i applaud your braveness and sense of caution to get back out there in a safe sailing vessel.
    Will enjoy reading about your new adventures in November. All the best till then!
    Holly in Chilliwack, BC

  2. Sounds like you made a good decision and made some wonderful family memories as well. Welcome back to Victoria.

  3. wayne vk4xg says

    Hi Glenn
    Thanks for the info i wondered how you fixed the leak etc look forward to hearing your signal nov 2016 all the best to you all, cheers wt.

  4. Robin Elworthy says

    “Life is what happens to us when we are busy making other plans”
    A bit of leaky water gave the family the kind of times that make life worth living – glad to know it happened that way for you – a reward for being thorough!!

  5. Welcome home Wakefield family!!! Sounds like a perfect end to this chapter, excellent memories for you all. Looking forward to seeing you.

    Lynn & Pete

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