We’ve been a little quiet on the blog recently for various reasons. I wont go into the reasons but lets just say it’s been interesting. That of course does not mean that I haven’t been writing. On the contrary, I’ve written almost 30,000 words that I haven’t published yet. There’s a lot more to come, but it hasn’t been appropriate to publish it just yet.
If you follow us on Facebook then you know by now, that Annie and I have made our first ocean passage. This will be an abridged account of that passage. While it’s abridged, it’s a very long read. We will publish it in three parts over three weeks. Those who support us on Patreon will get the whole piece immediately as a thank you for supporting us. The rest of you, patience is a virtue! You won’t be left out, it will just take a bit longer. Also good things are worth waiting for right?
While the dream has been in the making for almost five years now, it’s been slow going. We started planning this particular passage in January while we were cruising in the Bay of Islands (I promise there’s something written about that too). At the time we were considering going to New Caledonia, but abandoned that idea after talking to many other cruisers who said they were heading to Tonga. Also since we’re completely out of money (there’s another story there, and I’ve written about that too), Tonga was the better option as we could do it with less money.
A lot of things delayed us quite significantly. I had a contract on the go which was supposed to start at the end of January but for various reasons didn’t materialize until we already left Westhaven marina, bound for Kauwau Island to do a final refit in June. It got to the point where we just had to go or we wouldn’t leave. An unplanned trip to Australia over Easter set us back a bit too due to weather and my car got stolen from the marina parking lot (there’s another story there, and yes I’ve also written about that), while we were away in Australia. So we then had to deal with the aftermath of that.
Refitting took a bit longer than expected as we had to redo a significant amount of fiberglass on Cheeky2 which we did not expect. There’s much to write about the adventures here, especially when I let the smoke out of the compass (rookie mistake, but a story for another time).
It took us far too long to get ready but eventually we managed to get on top of all the jobs that had to be done at Kawau and we set off for the Bay of Islands. This was to be our first overnight sail as we needed to experience it before the main event (there’s another story there, but again not the one you’re here for today). Lets just say that it took us two days instead of one and it was an adventure which ended with us anchoring at 3 am.
Once in Opua we had a few minor things to take care of and some final provisioning to do. We waited for a ‘good’ weather window so we could leave. We had a fantastic time in Opua but we were happy to leave.
As with everything we do, we’re not just content to have the normal or average ‘experience’. If we pay full price, we want the full ‘experience’. When you reduce your equipment down to the essentials and nothing more you get a much richer ‘experience’. What follows is an account of what happens when you set off with that crazy mindset.
Without further delay, lets get to the main event…
We checked out of Opua on Monday the 22nd of July at 10:30 am. It was surprisingly easy. We had to leave the marina by midday. We’ve become incredibly last minute when it comes to traveling and that bad habit has crept in the door with passage making. Taleisin was not hundred percent put in order for an ocean passage but the major things were done. While we were motoring out Annie was still busy below stowing stuff properly.
There was very little wind and we knew it would be a slow start. After motoring out into the bay we decided to take the new six horsepower outboard off (another story to be told here), and stow it on the forward bunk to keep it safe while out on the open ocean. This was much easier than anticipated and the water was clam enough so that it wasn’t dangerous.
Annie had prepared a whole big pot of chicken soup which we planned on consuming in the first 48 hours. This worked great for us on our first overnight passage so we thought we’d stick with a winning formula.
Once we had the outboard stowed below, Murphy paid a visit and the wind died down completely. I had placed a Scopoderm patch behind my ear as soon as I felt the slightest hint of seasickness. Unfortunately it didn’t work for me. That first night I paid the lee rail two visits while Annie was sleeping down below. Followed by another visit the following day. Annie was not feeling too good either but held it together and looked after me as much as she could. We ended up drifting and finding a few puffs of wind here and there. It took most of the night to get away from New Zealand. I spent my watch laying in the cockpit with my head on the deck box. I closed my eyes and opened them every five minutes or so to scan the horizon. This would be the first few days of night watches for me.
Once we were finally away sailing for two days our InReach finally got activated (this was a last minute addition, we got a secondhand one and there’s another story here for later). Finally we were able to communicate with Bob McDavitt regarding weather. Bob’s comment was, I was hoping you’d be further North by now.
On day three we encountered some heavy weather and decided to heave to. We did it while there was still day light and got some rest while the rough stuff blew past. Once Taleisin was hove to and we went down below, the change in motion of the boat caused Annie to visit the lee rail. After my third visit I decided that the Scopoderm was quite likely not working for me and removed it. I switched to Sealegs but had to crush them in my mouth and hold it as long as I could to try and get it absorbed into my body. That seemed to work rather well. The only problem is I would be consuming them like tic-tacs for the rest of the voyage.
When the rough stuff passed we finally managed to get a nice day of sailing in. We both felt better and were quite hungry. Annie said she felt like mashed potato and disappeared down below. After some time she handed me a bowl of mashed potato in the cockpit. I have to say that it was quite possibly the best mashed potato I’ve had in my entire life. It could be that Annie had somehow managed to produce the absolute best mashed potatoes the world has ever known or it could be the fact that we’d hardly had anything to eat for three days due to being seasick. I guess we’ll never know.
Annie also produced some chicken tenders which we had on bread, I swear it was fit for a king! We had a really nice sail for the entire day. Then things started to pick up a bit. I sent a message to Bob asking what’s up with the weather as he’d told us to sail North West until the wind shifts. Bob then proceeded to route us clockwise around a low pressure system. Things just got worse for us so we decided that we’d rather not continue to sail and heave to, wait for it to pass and then hopefully we can ride the high pressure system that was following. This time we had to do the procedure at night and we were much better at it than the first time. Both times we put the para-anchor out as we couldn’t stop Taleisin fore-reaching. The second blow was worse than the first, but we managed to get going again sooner than the first time. At this stage we were five days into the journey and had only managed to sail about two hundred nautical miles from New Zealand.
Once we got going again we entered a high pressure system and Bob told us to sail North West until wind shifted. We had a fairly nice sail until we lost the wind early in the morning the next day. This is when we noticed that our battery wasn’t charging so there was something up with our solar panel that we lashed to the dinghy. When we finally went to investigate we discovered that during all the ‘drama’ the terminals got ripped clean off. The panel was flush with not so much as a tiny bit of ribbon cable sticking up. We had another two panels down below so we swapped them out and started thinking about how we could fix the broken panel. It was a nice calm day with very little wind for the most part.
I noticed that the other panel wasn’t charging the battery either so I went on a troubleshooting spree. This involved me having to pull the battery out from the mount I made and lashed it to. It was a rather involved process and it was also quite hot. We were still dressed for the New Zealand winter as we hadn’t had warm weather yet. As a result, I had sweat dripping from me at a rate that made it look like I just stepped out of a shower. I did the only logical thing and stripped down to just my underwear. After the appropriate amount of cussing for a job of this description and a couple of false starts I managed to get everything ticking over!
Since it was clam and I had an idea on how to fix the solar panel I decided to give it a crack. In order to appreciate the moment I’ll try to describe the scene. I’m sitting on the settee, just about stark naked, dripping in sweat. The table folded open with the solar panel on top of it. I’m holding a Stanley knife in one and and a flashlight in the other underneath the panel so I can see where the ribbon cables are. I’m slowly trying to cut through the first layer of plastic on the panel to reveal a bit of the cable so I can try to re-attach it. After about fifteen minutes of struggling and cussing appropriately (I think it’s mandatory to get jobs like this done, if you can’t do it due to having to concentrate ask someone else to just stand there and cuss on your behalf; I think that will also help), I managed to get the three cables exposed enough to deal to them. I spent a bit of time checking everything with my multi meter to figure out what gets attached where.
Still dripping with sweat and half naked, I dug out the little 150 watt inverter and soldering iron (this was an impulse purchase but turned out to be extremely useful). The boat was rocking since there wasn’t much wind but the swells were at least consistent. Now I’m trying to balance the soldering iron on the table while holding the required bits to solder on again. Luckily Annie came down to hold things for me so I could solder the cables together. Looking at the mess before me, I now had to somehow ensure it isn’t too vulnerable. Inspiration struck when I realized that it was originally stuck down with 3M 5200 and I happened to buy a tube of 5200 the day before we left. Just in case I needed it. But the problem was holding it in place long enough for it to cure. The terminal box doesn’t sit flat and the gap is now huge because of the three blobs of solder.
To be continued…
Share onTwitter Facebook Google+ LinkedIn
Some users have asked to be emailed when we post a new adventure. We have a simple solution for this, for those who wish to receive email updates you can subscribe to our mailing list below.