Category Archives: New Zealand

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Exploring Picturesque Cape Brett, Bay of Islands, NZ

This coastline is stunning!  As beautiful and rugged as the Big Sur coast is back home, we both voted and this stretch of coastline beats it.  I’ll let the pictures do the talking…

Great hike in the morning followed by and afternoon of boat projects.  We have at least another few days of boat labor before we feel ready for the crossing up to Fiji.  Watching weather closely to find a window to sail north.  Fiji is getting drenched this week under the very active SPCZ with a few cyclones thrown in for fun. Hope everyone up there stays safe in the deluge!

Salud,

L&A

Deepwater Cove, Bay of Islands, New Zealand

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Archway Island on the southern end of the Poor Knights

Sailing and Diving the Poor Knights Islands, New Zealand

After heading back into Whangarei to have a new floor welded on our stainless diesel tank, we managed to escape and headed back out for more exploration!  A morning hike out to Bream Head was followed by an afternoon sail to Tutukaka for the night.  The next morning we set sail for the Poor Knights Islands, a marine preserve located 12nm offshore.  After sailing past what we have been told is the largest sea arch in the southern hemisphere we dropped anchor in the lee of Aorangi Island, within spitting distance of the rocky cliff face.  Some future charter guests arrived and rafted to Quixotic.  We all donned dive gear to explore the beautiful kelp forests and swim with the schools of fish that are lucky to call this place home. After the dive, and a delicious lunch on Quixotic, we all toured an enormous sea cave (we’ve been told it’s the largest in the world) that you could almost fit a small cruise ship inside!

The afternoon saw us sailing north to Whangamumu Harbour, where we are currently anchored.  Looks like we will sail north in a day or two back into the Bay of Islands to finish passage prep for the sail north back to Fiji.

Hope everyone is having a nice long holiday weekend!

Lewis & Alyssa

Anchored in Urquharts Bay, in what was once a big volcanic caldera
Anchored in Urquharts Bay, in what was once a big volcanic caldera
Smugglers Cove
Smugglers Cove
Bream Head
Bream Head
Archway Island on the southern end of the Poor Knights
Archway Island on the southern end of the Poor Knights

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Clean bottom!  And our Fijian keel is still looking good and going strong!
Clean bottom! And our Fijian keel is still looking good and going strong!
The first time in over a year I have gone diving for fun and not boat maintenance!
The first time in over a year I have gone diving for fun and not boat maintenance!
The entrance to the "world's largest" sea cave named Rikoriko
The entrance to the “world’s largest” sea cave named Rikoriko
View from inside looking out
View from inside looking out

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Sailing north with the Poor Knights in our wake
Sailing north with the Poor Knights in our wake
Quixotic at rest in Whangamumu Harbour
Quixotic at rest in Whangamumu Harbour
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Mermaids and Waterfalls on Great Barrier Island

The title of this post just described the recipe for a perfect day on Great Barrier Island.  A 7km hike up to the natural hot springs followed by a hike up a treacherous trail with very slippery mud and moss to reach the ultimate payoff: a secluded picturesque waterfall.  Despite the freezing cold water, and the fact that we didn’t even get in the hot springs, we both jumped in for an invigorating dip under the falls.  The afternoon came to a close with a stroll back to Great Barrier Lodge for an afternoon dessert on the patio overlooking Quixotic riding peacefully to her anchor.  What an awesome day!

Reluctantly sailing back to Whangarei tomorrow for some last-minute repairs and to buy some additional spares before sailing north back to Fiji in a few weeks.  It’s been amazing out here and it won’t be the last time we visit.

Stay tuned for an incredible video of dolphins riding our bow wake and for passage prep updates!

Lew & Lyss

Whangaparapara Bay, Great Barrier Island, New Zealand

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Bioluminescence Ballet and Exploring the Barrier

We just witnessed one of the most amazing natural scenes.  Tonight we turned on the blue underwater lights that usually draw fish to the boat.  We knew this bay was extremely healthy and full of fish but we had no idea of the scale that would be drawn under the boat.  We went outside around 10pm and hundreds of fish were schooling under the boat,  There were smaller schools around the boat that were just outside the blue underwater lights but were illuminated by natural bioluminescence.  We watched in awe as the schools danced a ballet and the smaller schools would blow apart and come back together as they were hunted by predator fish.  We extinguished our lights and continued watching in awe as the captivating bioluminescence fanned out into ever smaller schools as the fish  very slowly dispersed.  One of the most magnificent natural events I have ever been fortunate enough to witness.  And the icing was the glassy conditions, kiwis calling from the hills, the clear sky and thousands of stars, as Great Barrier Island is a dark sky sanctuary.

I think we will stay here a while longer.  We summited Hirakimata (Mt. Hobson) yesterday with new friends Ben and Ashley (s/v Nahoa) and there are a few more trails to conquer.  Oh, and those natural hot springs are calling our name..

22 March 2018

Port Fitzroy Harbour, Great Barrier Island, Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand

36°12’13.7″S 175°20’26.0″E

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New QUIXOTIC hats and logowear for the 2018 charter season!

Splashed!! QUIXOTIC 2018 Refit Recap

After months of hard work, late nights, stress, a pile of cash and heaps of sweat-equity, Quixotic is back in the water and ready to sail north back to the islands.  She just spent the past four months in a specialized catamaran boatyard undergoing some repair and upgrades.  We had our fair share of challenges, triumphs, setbacks and achievements but in the end more things went right than wrong and last Saturday we lowered her keels back into the Whangarei river in New Zealand and order was restored.

We are now enjoying our first night at anchor since lifting out in November; it feels amazing to be swinging on the hook again!  Our view has been transformed from boatyard to lush green rolling hills set above  glistening turquoise water framed by white sand beach.  Tomorrow we sail for Great Barrier Island for some much-needed and well-deserved rest and exploration.  We still have some items on the never-ending “to-do” list, but we can now chip away at a more relaxed pace than the unsustainable pace we set in the boatyard.

Quixotic is in the best condition she has ever been in.  We completed an extensive refit and made some structural and safety upgrades to her hull and rudders.  We also completely upgraded her charging and electrical system with help from Scott at Empower Electrical and his apprentice, non other than Laura Dekker – the world record holder for being the youngest person to sail solo around the world!  It was really cool to have her aboard and get to know her.  While the list of upgrades is extensive and would fill multiple blog entries, here are just a few I can recall off the top of my head:

  • Drop rudders, cut open and fully-inspect shaft and internal stainless, re-install and re-grease
  • Inspect and weld stainless skeg heel fittings, grease and re-install
  • Reinforce skegs with multiple layers of new epoxy and fiberglass
  • Clean, and rebuild props and change zincs
  • Install new stainless swim ladder
  • Upgrade block for boom crane
  • Replace all bearings in main traveller
  • Install new scoop intake thru-hull for watermaker
  • Seal access ports on swim step
  • Remove stainless water tank, weld new floor, re-install
  • New LPG regulator, pigtails and tanks
  • Epoxy seal and paint port engine bilge
  • Epoxy seal and paint around both rudder quadrants
  • Epoxy paint starboard engine room
  • Sand and apply five new coats ablative antifouling to bottom
  • Re-seal entire rub rail with 3M UV4000 sealant
  • Replace hose into starboard water heater
  • New port water heater
  • Re-bed liferaft hatch
  • Re-bed portlight in port forward head
  • Remove sails, take to loft, inspect and minor repairs, new bolt rope and new battens
  • New fresh water pump
  • Install new 300AH Lithium battery bank with BMS (Battery Management System) (Sinopoly Cells with Orion Jr. BMS)
  • Install twin Balmar 614 smart alternator regulators and valeo alternator upgrade kits
  • Install new Balmar “Centerfielder II” to balance twin engine charging
  • Completely replace and upgrade all main battery and charging cables with tinned marine-grade 70mm cable
  • New charge and discharge bus bars with auto ON/OFF remotely controlled by BMS
  • Pull all old wires behind nav station
  • Replace DC cables for inverter and install inverter auto cut-out switch controlled remotely by the BMS
  • Remove all genset wiring (with 250A charge capacity, who needs a noisy, smelly, genset!)
  • Install fuses to all main busbar wiring
  • Install Yanmar wiring harness amplifiers
  • Fabricate a new stainless emergency steering tiller
  • Aluminum weld line chalk on boom and main grab rails on swim step
  • Replace engine belts
  • Rebuild engine raw water pumps (bearings, seals, impellers)
  • Replace engine air filters
  • Replace saildrive fluid
  • Inspect 316ss anchor chain
  • Service and grease all seacocks and clear intakes
  • and many more items that we are now forgetting…

Time to string the hammock and ease back into the good life.  That “to-do” list can wait until mañana :)

Lewis & Alyssa

-Urquharts Bay, Whangarei, New Zealand

She was a painting machine!
She was a painting machine!
One of the many coats of new antifouling paint
One of the many coats of new antifouling paint
Scott from Empower Electrical installing the new lithium battery bank
Scott from Empower Electrical installing the new lithium battery bank
The famous Laura Dekker; head buried under our nav table installing the new charging system
The famous Laura Dekker; head buried under our nav table installing the new charging system
New rudders all greased up and ready to install
New rudders all greased up and ready to install
Lifting her up to fit the rudders
Lifting her up to fit the rudders
Installing the starboard skeg heel fitting
Installing the starboard skeg heel fitting
The Mermaid carefully installing the rudder heel fittings
The Mermaid carefully installing the rudder heel fittings
New rudders and heel fittings all installed and ready for action
New rudders and heel fittings all installed and ready for action
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New QUIXOTIC hats and logowear for the 2018 charter season!

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Ahhh....back at anchor!
Ahhh….back at anchor!

 

And she's out!

Kia Ora from New Zealand! We’re Hauled Out! + Pictures

Kia Ora!  Coming to you live from New Zealand, 15 feet above sea level, aboard the good ship Quixotic: Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends and family!

We have so much to be thankful for this year.  Thank you to all our amazing family and friends for all their love and support.  Thank you to all our amazing guests who have helped make Quixotic Charters an amazing success in only the first year.   We are thankful for our health and well-being.  And lastly, we are thankful for the amazing vessel Quixotic, for taking care of us and seeing us safely through rough seas and across oceans and for being our luxurious private floating island.

After arriving in New Zealand almost a month ago, we spent some time exploring the North Island; hiking, glamping, exploring.  Then we set sail down the coast and linked up with friends along the way exploring hidden bays and hiking some amazing terrain.  Then we spent about five days docked downtown in the Whangarei town basin getting our fill of city life.  Now we find ourselves hauled out at Norsand Boatyard, where Quixotic will be for the next few months as we travel back to the states for an overdue visit with family.

The haul out went well and we are now scrutinizing every inch of Quixotic for any sign of stress or fatigue after beating her up over the past year and a half since launching in Fiji.  But all is going well and Quixotic will leave here in phenomenal condition once again and ready for the 2018 charter season!

Happy Thanksgiving to our family and amigos back in the states.  See you guys soon.

Lewis & Alyssa

24 November 2017

Norsand Boatyard, Whangarei, New Zealand

At the peak of St. Pauls rock
At the peak of St. Pauls rock
Hammock time on a private peninsula above Whangaroa Harbour
Hammock time on a private peninsula above Whangaroa Harbour
Check out this cool leaf insect!
Check out this cool leaf insect!
Thanks again Simon for lending us your very fun M1!
Thanks again Simon for lending us your very fun M1!
Falls on the Kerikeri river
Falls on the Kerikeri river
Fresh oysters at the Old Packhouse Farmers Market, Kerikeri
Fresh oysters at the Old Packhouse Farmers Market, Kerikeri
Happy girl on the Kerikeri river
Happy girl on the Kerikeri river
Fun with friends Jose and Owen in the Bay of Islands
Fun with friends Jose and Owen in the Bay of Islands
Sunset over Whangaruru Bay
Sunset over Whangaruru Bay
It was really nice to finally have a competent boat yard in charge of the haul out!
It was really nice to finally have a competent boat yard in charge of the haul out!
And she's out!
And she’s out!
FINALLY - Someone else gets to clean the hull!
FINALLY – Someone else gets to clean the hull!
They lifted her up high enough to drop both rudders out.  They said they were the best supported rudders of any catamaran they have ever seen!
They lifted her up high enough to drop both rudders out. They said they were the best supported rudders of any catamaran they have ever seen!
Where we are now. A quiet nice little corner with a view of the mountains and the river. It even has a nice little picnic table in the grass nearby.
Where we are now. A quiet nice little corner with a view of the mountains and the river. It even has a nice little picnic table in the grass nearby.
I was determined to find a tiny leak that was finding its way in.  We used a vacuum pump and green food coloring in fresh water to find it and it's now dry and will be re-glassed when we return. 100% dry hull again!
I was determined to find a tiny leak that was finding its way in. We used a vacuum pump and green food coloring in fresh water to find it and it’s now dry and will be re-glassed when we return. 100% dry hull again!
Mermaid in her riding gear. Vacuum pump on the skeg in the background.
Mermaid in her riding gear. Vacuum pump on the skeg in the background.
We bought a scooter!  "Traded the van for it, straight up" - We have been making a lot of dumb and dumber jokes. But it's great for getting to the gym and back!
We bought a scooter! “Traded the van for it, straight up” – We have been making a lot of dumb and dumber jokes. But it’s great for getting to the gym and back!
Hammock under way while going 10+ knots!

Exploring Great Barrier Island, Surfing Downwind to Whangarei, Running from a Cyclone

Life has been exciting the past week!  We sailed out to spectacular and remote Great Barrier Island and did some incredible hiking and kayaking.  While out there we saw a weather window to sail to Fiji so we left immediately and had an amazing downwind sail back to the mainland! We made 50 miles in under 5 hours, had dolphins dancing in the bow waves and were regularly hitting 10 to 11 knots surfing (controllably); we even hit 12.2 knots on one exhilarating surf!  It was an amazing day of sailing – check out the video below (if it’s not uploaded yet, check back later). 

After sailing into Whangarei, we started watching Cyclone Cook as it tore through New Caledonia and set its sights on New Zealand. They have shut down schools, ferries, even bridges and have been evacuating people.  The eye is expected to pass right over Great Barrier Island with winds to 80 knots!  We are glad we’re not there.  We are tucked into a small bay 5 miles up the Whangarei river; we have 150 feet of chain out in 15 feet of water and have rigged a huge bridle and snubber system to take any shock loads.  With any luck the eye will stay offshore and we should make it through unscathed.

We have submitted out departure notice to NZ Customs and Arrival notices to Fiji.  We will give the seas a couple days to lay down after the cyclone and we plan to depart Saturday morning.  As of now the forecast is calling for light air from aft the beam for most of the passage north to Fiji. We will take on some extra fuel as I expect to burn at least 100 gallons motor sailing for 3-4 days.  It looks like 15-18 knots on the beam or just forward the beam leaving on Saturday and then light to no wind on Sunday.  Monday, it will start to fill in from aft under 10 kts.  Then Tuesday through Thursday morning it should be great sailing with high teens wind on the beam or just aft.  At this point the two models are contradicting each other – one model calls for a convergence zone to form at our expected position on Thursday with winds to 40 knots in the squalls. But the GFS model calls for steady wind from the SE.  We will hope the GFS is right and will watch it closely on the passage north.  If we must divert to the NW around the convergence we will do so because the forecast calls for light air north of the convection and we can sail into it and make up some easting then. 

So that’s the plan at this point.  We have checked all our to-do boxes with just a few more things to prep for the passage.  Yesterday we braved the weather, donned foul weather gear, loaded the dinghy with laundry and headed 2 miles across the bay in torrential rain.  Our friends Dave and Wendy (sv ELYSIUM) were so awesome and came to pick us up and help us run some errands.  We did all our laundry, hit the grocery store for provisions, had a great lunch with D&W, and then put all our fresh laundry and provisions into garbage bags.  We bailed the dinghy, threw all the laundry and provisions in and then headed out across the bay in the dark and driving rain.  We managed to find the boat, lifted the dinghy and were very happy to be back aboard our dry floating palace.

Stay tuned for passage updates and wish us fair weather for the passage.  We can’t wait to get back to the warm tropics!  Here are some pics of Great Barrier and the downwind sail back to the mainland.

L&A

“The Nook” Anchorage, Parua Bay, Whangarei, New Zealand

Keeping the new kayak away from the creepy crawlies!
Keeping the new kayak away from the creepy crawlies!

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Many river crossings - one of which swallowed my stbd foot!
Many river crossings – one of which swallowed my stbd foot!

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The view from the 1,000ft peak was incredible - this pic does not do any justice...
The view from the 1,000ft peak was incredible – this pic does not do any justice…
It's NZ so of course it was raining....which added to the excitement climbing down the slippery muddy trails!
It’s NZ so of course it was raining….which added to the excitement of climbing down the slippery muddy trails!
The majestic Kauri trees were awe-inspiring!
The majestic Kauri trees were awe-inspiring!

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Mermaid on the bow watching dolphins while we were surfing at 12 knots!
Mermaid on the bow watching dolphins while we were surfing at 12 knots!
Surfing at 10 knots!
Surfing at 10 knots!
Hammock under way while going 10+ knots!
Hammock under way while going 10+ knots!

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Riding out Storms in Auckland and a Spinnaker Run out to Great Barrier Island!

Brief update – We rode out a storm in a marina north of Auckland and survived unscathed.  We spent a night in the city and even managed to do some (free) gambling in a casino en route to a Doctor’s appointment. We met some circus acrobats who were sailing a 33-ft steel monohull that his Dad built in the 70’s.  We dodged huge tankers and flew the spinnaker 40 miles east to Great Barrier Island, where we are for the week.  We had a weather window to sail to Fiji but it was slammed shut by a cyclone that is spinning in Vanuatu, New Caledonia and headed SE towards NZ.  We are looking at the next window that may come end of this week. If so, we will sail to Whangarei or back to Opua to clear out.  This week we will be hiking and kayaking the amazing and rugged (and very cold!) Great Barrier Island.  Stay tuned! Cheers!

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Anchored Kiwiriki Bay behind two islands that the sun sets between - gorgeous!
Anchored Kiwiriki Bay behind two islands that the sun sets between – gorgeous!

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Tight squeeze in a tight pass - entering Man-o-War Passage!
Tight squeeze in a tight pass – entering Man-o-War Passage!
Spectacular Port Fitzroy, Great Barrier Island!
Spectacular Port Fitzroy, Great Barrier Island!

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NZ to Fiji Passage Prep Continues – Watermaker Commissioning

While in New Zealand we have been taking on water from a dock-side hose, which has been very convenient. This is the first time since leaving California that the water on shore is safe and drinking-quality. In Fiji we don’t have that luxury, so a watermaker, or desalination unit, is a necessity. While here in New Zealand we “pickled” our watermaker, which means we flushed the unit out with fresh water and then put a mixture of sodium metabisulfite and fresh water into the membranes. This prevents any biological growth in the system during non-use. So now that we are leaving NZ we needed to clear out the pickling solution and get the unit running again. We plan to use it on passage to ensure the Mermaid gets plenty of hot showers (trust me this is crucial to a happy and successfully passage just as much as replacing those chainplates!)

When we bought QUIXOTIC she had an older Village Marine watermaker system in the engine compartment of her port hull; and it was the port hull that went swimming for two weeks after the cyclone. So, we didn’t have high hopes we would be able to save the high-pressure pump and electric motor; although that didn’t stop us from trying! We had the local Fijian shop “rebuild” the 110v AC motor which included a re-winding, new bearings and some cheap spray paint to cover the rusting case. Shockingly, it wasn’t done well and they didn’t even replace the capacitors so we gave the motor an expected life of 2-3 months tops. The high-pressure plunger pump that was coupled to the motor may had been salvageable had we serviced and ran it immediately upon getting possession of the boat. Unfortunately, little things like making new bows and keels got in the way and when we got to the high-pressure pump it was completely seized up and not repairable in Fiji. Luckily, we have some great contacts in the marine watermaker industry who sold us the previous unit we enjoyed so much on Ellie during the previous three years of cruising.

So, we rang Rich over at CruiseRO watermakers and asked him for some advice. We had one of Rich’s systems on Ellie and loved the simplicity and complete lack of extra electronics and microchips (that could fail and are hard to replace in foreign ports around the world). We discussed our current setup and decided that we could still use the membranes and low pressure pump (it’s a submersible 110v March pump) but Rich was going to supply us with a great discount on a new 110v AC motor coupled to a brand new stainless high-pressure plunger pump. This setup would utilize our three membrane housings and produce 25 gallons per hour of fresh water. CruiseRO was extremely helpful along the way and were even patient enough to go back and forth on email a dozen or so times to figure out exactly what fittings and sizes we needed to run new hoses to our existing membrane housings. They shipped us out a new pump and motor along with new high-pressure hoses and new pressure gauge and valves.

We received the new motor and pump and after an afternoon of re-arranging some plumbing and a little wiring we had a working watermaker unit and could finally throw away the camping style emergency drinking water filter we had been using during the entire boat rebuilding saga! We sure don’t miss that thing hanging in the cockpit!

I really like the system we have now because none of the components are proprietary to a single watermaker brand or company and the entire electrical complexity consists of two on/off switches and lastly, I can repair most of the components in any port in the world. The high-quality motor is dead simple and any competent shop (outside of maybe Fiji) can fix or re-wire it. Everything is valves and switches and very simple and we produce about 25GPH, which allows us to fill our 100-gallon tank in under 3-4 hours. We can also run the watermaker on a relatively inexpensive Honda 2000 portable generator if/when our tired inboard genset decides to crank out its last stroke.

Rich at CruiseRO has also been excellent to us for after-sales support. On Ellie he drove down to San Diego to help us fix a membrane issue before we sailed for Mexico. He has also been there to answer the phone when we are calling from some remote atoll with a (most likely) self-inflicted watermaker issue. But he’s always been able to help us get everything going again and always in record time. Thanks again man!

We will keep reporting on how our system holds up and if we end up going to larger membranes at some point for more output.

Here are a couple pics of our dead-simple system and the CruiseRO pump and motor combo we are talking about.

Cheers,
Lewis & Alyssa

Waiheke Island, Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand

The entirety of the electronic watermaker systems....  don't judge - I did this in Fiji with very limited supplies!  Now, it's working so well I think we'll keep it :-)
The entirety of the electronic watermaker system…. don’t judge – I made this in Fiji with very limited supplies….and it works great!
The three main membranes with a CruiseRO gauge and pressure valve
Our CruiseRO electric 110v motor and general pump high-pressure plunger pump.  The right hand side is our pre-filter housing (that I am going to make a bracket for when time allows). The background is the valving system for fresh water flushing and the carbon-block filter to remove chlorine from the fresh tank water before flushing.
Our CruiseRO electric 110v motor and general pump high-pressure plunger pump. The right hand side is our pre-filter housing (that I am going to make a bracket for when time allows). The background is the valving system for fresh water flushing and the carbon-block filter to remove chlorine from the fresh tank water before flushing.
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Jammed Propeller but Still a Great Day Cruising Auckland, New Zealand

After exploring Kawau Island – awesome hiking and even exploring an old copper mine – we sailed down the coast and anchored near Gulf Harbour in Auckland. The next day we sailed into the harbor to pick up our new kayak but the day went a little differently than we planned…

After breakfast we pulled anchor and motored into the marina and tucked into Fairway Bay marina, a small boutique marina nice enough to let us lay alongside to pick up the kayak. Well, once the Hobie dealer arrived we knew there was an issue because the kayak on top of his black land rover was yellow – not the red one we requested! He apologized for the mistake and we made plans to meet down the coast nearer to his store….so we took on some fresh water and tossed off the dock lines….and then everything went sideways…

I was backing us out of the side-tie in very confined quarters (around some beautiful and very expensive yachts) and at that moment, the thought crossed my mind that if we were ever to have a prop/transmission issue, now would be the time it would happen. I really hope it wasn’t my worried thoughts but a moment later I shifted the port engine into forward and instead of a gentle forward propulsion I got a hard shift into gear and a very violent shaking! I tried to shift into reverse (as there was another motor yacht less than 8 feet from our bow) and it wouldn’t go into neutral but instead it was a hard shift into reverse and more violent shaking! I wasn’t able to get the port transmission into neutral but I still had control of starboard so I asked Alyssa to look in the engine compartment and inspect the cable linkage. She was scared half to death as the engine was shaking pretty violently so I immediately decided to shut that engine down. I focused on using starboard engine and getting us out of there. I calmly (at least I tried my best to stay calm) said to Alyssa that we lost port engine, the prop was jammed, and that we only had starboard to get us out of there. Luckily, we had enough way going (forward motion) to slide between the docked boats and get out onto the main fairway. Once we were in the main fairway I radioed the port control for the marina and apprised them of our situation since there is a lot of traffic in this marina and we were now limited in our ability to maneuver. I also asked if we could land on an end tie to make repairs to our prop and they assigned us a location that I did not feel comfortable landing at. They sent us a small tender and he stood by as we exited the marina (to keep way) and came back in to come alongside the fuel dock. It was a somewhat crash landing on the fuel dock as we only had starboard engine but no damage was done and we were tied alongside without too much drama.

I knew immediately what had happened – it was our haphazard prop adjustments made 90 miles north of here when we dried out the cat and thought we would go above-and-beyond and “adjust the props”. My suspicion was that the blade I adjusted had tightened itself to the point of locking the blade and that was what was causing the issue on the port side – a suspicion that was later confirmed.

For those not familiar with Autoprops – they are amazing (when they work). The propeller blades automatically feather to allow the engine to deliver optimal load and maximize forward thrust at any given RPM and it also feathers to allow for faster sailing. It’s an ingenious piece of engineering, that was compromised by some amateur on a remote beach with the help of an impact driver and improper torquing …. more on that later….

So, as retribution for my mistake, I donned the dive gear and went overboard. Alyssa carefully had all the required tools lined up on the swim step (we rebuild an Autoprop in Fiji so were very familiar with the process). I removed the prop and once it was aboard we rebuilt the entire prop and replaced all the races and bearings. Once we finished the prop was better than it’s been in a decade. When rebuilding the prop we figured out that when I used the impact driver to tightened the locking nuts, the torque spec was not very high. This part is hard to understand if you have never rebuilt an autoprop but I will go on for those who have (Hi, Dave).  I used the impact driver because that was the only way to get a “bite” on the tapered locking bolt that holds the blade adjustment in place (a regular wrench would just spin the bolt) . But my mistake was that I then didn’t follow it up with a torque wrench and tighten to spec. So my hypothesis is that the lack of torque on the set bolt allowed the blade to spin the hub and tighten itself to the point of locking the blade in a fixed position, which caused major issues for us in those tight quarters! And as a reminder – 100% my fault!

We carefully torqued each lock nut and bolt on each blade and after replacing all the bearing races and ball bearings we were very confident we had done the rebuild correctly. I even used red threadlocker – for good measure and per the manual. I then jumped back in the water and re-installed the prop. I also carefully inspected the starboard prop, which we will rebuild this year as well.

After fueling up (we were on the fuel dock already, remember), we exited the marina and headed south. The Hobie dealer was going to meet us hours earlier so we re-scheduled and he ended up kayaking it out to us in the evening! We enjoyed an amazing sunset off of Milford Beach, where we are anchored.

Looking back on the day, it actually wasn’t a bad program.  We got to watch a parade of beautiful boats pass us while on the fuel dock making repairs.  The Autoprop needed a tune-up anyway.  I got to go diving.  It was sunny and warm.  The boat is fueled up. We have our new kayak.  It’s funny how a boat problem can be turned from crisis to “just another day afloat”. I love this life.

By the way, we are definitely in the city. This beach reminds us of San Francisco blended with Newport Beach. We were told the homes on the beach are at least $5 million each! We can even see the Auckland Skytower in the distance. We’ll have to do some city exploring before heading back to Fiji. Doesn’t look like great weather for departure in the next week or so – but we are watching closely and plan to leave on the first great window. In the meantime we may head out to Great Barrier Island – our friend on Cavalo said I can’t miss it, so I think we’ll go do some ‘splorin!

Here are some pics from the day and also some shots we took while exploring the Whangamumu whaling station ruins.

Cheers,
L&A
Milford Beach, Auckland, New Zealand
36 46.01 S, 174 46.30 E

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