Category Archives: New Zealand

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We Beached QUIXOTIC in New Zealand! + Tips for beaching a Cruising Catamaran

Our heads are pounding from stress and our bodies ache from cleaning barnacles but we successfully beached QUIXOTIC today! The saildrive fluid is renewed, the props are tuned and about 5,000 barnacles have been scraped from her hulls. It was a very demanding day and we are certainly exhausted now. The day started early pulling anchor in the Bay of Islands at sunrise, then we sailed around “hole-in-the-rock” and down the coast reaching Whangamumu Harbour by 10am. We were very nervous beaching our catamaran for the first time but we learned some helpful tips for next time:
First, pick a spot with hard packed sand so you don’t sink in too much. When the tide was coming back up the back of the keels dug in further and scared the hell out of us as the stern dropped a foot while we were onboard and Lyss was in the engine compartment cleaning up the mess I made when overfilling the saildrive! Second, keep the engines in forward until she takes the ground (sticks in the sand) – for us it took about 20 minutes before I could shut the engines down. Third, wait until the swell is at a bare minimum because when you are taking the ground and when you’re floating off she is going to rise on the swell and drop on to her keels and sometimes hard. It’s unnerving to say the least! We yanked her off the beach hard and drug the keels through the sand so we didn’t have more rising and falling than necessary. Fourth, and perhaps this is just us, but don’t go overboard with your underwater repairs while on a remote beach in the middle of nowhere. When I was tightening our autoprop blade with an impact driver I broke a very custom bolt and if we did not have a spare onboard we would have been resorting to our fixed (backup) props! Luckily we found a spare and I was able to fit it just as my blood pressure was boiling over…
Here are some pics of our stressful day. In hindsight, it wasn’t that bad (tell that to my pounding head!) and probably easier on the boat then coming out on the slipway / railway. Although we’d like to stay floating and keep QUIXOTIC away from land of any sort for a long time.
We’re cruising down the coast this week headed for Auckland. We were tipped off about this great beach by our friends Dave & Wendy (sv ELYSIUM) – thanks again guys! We are going to explore the ruins of an old whaling station tomorrow morning and then head further south. Stay tuned! Cheers!

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New chainplates are in! Stanchions on! Let’s sail to Fiji!

Well that was one hell of a week!!  We are elated to report that we have replaced all four chainplates and 90% of our passage prep list is complete!  I am typing this with multiple cuts on my hands from wrestling with stubborn cotter pins on our turnbuckles, but the sweet smell of victory reins triumphant – we did it, and in record time!  Let’s sail home to Fiji!  We have started looking for the right weather window and expect to sail north by mid-April.

Earlier this week we started installing the stanchions (which we had previously removed and sent down to Auckland for passivization and electropolishing) while at anchor but we kept hitting major snags.  First we didn’t have the right bolts, and then a much larger issue presented itself…  In the cyclone last year, about 20 or so boats were kind enough to give QUIXOTIC a nice little bump on their way down the creek.  Well a few of these boats snagged one or more of her stanchions and pulpits and in doing so completely ripped out the bolts, stripping all the threads on almost all of the stanchions on the port side.  The builder had glassed in the nylocks behind a backing plate so that the bolts did not stick out into the cabins – a nice system, when it works; a nightmare when it doesn’t. So we decided to drill through the backing plates and through the bolts all the way into the cabins.  But once drilled there was no backing plate in the cabin and they also came down on a curved angle so using washers as backing plates was out.  The prospect of making these backing plates – or rather wood backing blocks – ourselves was daunting. So we decided to sail for the marina and see if the local talent could work some magic and creates these blocks for us.  To our relief and amazement, on Tuesday when we put into the marina, and in less than 2 hours, SeaPower, a local outfit here, had come aboard, measured and made mock-ups, cut, shaped, ground back the interior to the glass, and epoxy glued the new teak backing blocks in! It looked awesome and the next day the mermaid carefully painted all the backing blocks and the finished product is a thing of strength and beauty that should last the life of the boat.

While the stanchion project was in full swing we removed the running backstay chainplates (that we found cracks on last week) and delivered them to NSR (a local rigger) to create out of new 316 stainless steel stock.  Cutting chainplates and polishing them is one of those projects that we can’t do ourselves and this was sure to cut into our funds, which it certainly did!  While they were duplicating the running back chainplates we supported the rig with halyards and extra lines in preparation for removing the main chainplates.  We were under a bit of time constraint because there was rain forecast for the weekend through all next week and it was going to blow hard – not good for an un-stayed rig!  So we put major pressure on NSR and they said it could happen by Friday but no promises.  On Wednesday we got the running back plates back and had them installed by the evening, running backs tightened and the starboard main chainplate off.  We delivered the starboard plate to NSR by 8am Thursday morning and then had the new one (3mm thicker) back to us by 3pm and by nightfall QUIXOTIC had a new starboard chainplate.  We repeated this same procedure today (Friday) and had the last bolt cranked down and last bit of 3M 4000UV sealant cleaned up as the first rain drops began to fall and the skies darken – MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!  Then it was a few more hours in the rain tuning the rig, cranking the Mermaid up the rig to remove the temporary stays and then putting everything away.  But we did it, as planned, and the rig is 100% again and ready for the elements!

There are heaps of other items we ticked off the list this week.  Not the least of which was completing the 50 hour service on the new engines.  I did all the service myself but brought in the professionals to teach me how to properly check and adjust the valve clearances; now that I know how to do it myself I will do so going forward.  We also had new 316SS exhaust risers made for the new engines.  Our mechanic, Brian, suggested it and we agreed it made sense.  See, the stock elbows only dropped 10mm or so and the port one had a flat section where raw water can settle and the concern was in big seas if we fell off a wave the water in the waterlock could slosh up into the engine.  So being extra cautious, we had the new high rise elbows made and I have installed it on the port side, where the angle was much more of a worry than starboard, where the angle is much better and less of a concern to me.  It looks awesome and should provide a good 3-5 years of service before the sulfuric acid eats through the stainless.

A funny story about installing the new exhaust port and flapper…  So we didn’t want to be rushed when we dried out on the hard (for the first time) so we decided to replace the broken exhaust port while in the marina – in hindsight, perhaps not the best choice in the world.  I stood on the dock and the exhaust port was clearly 3-4 inched above waterline – cool, I can change that no problem!  Famous last words right?  Well I removed all the 6 screws holding the port in and removed the hose from inside the boat.  Then I got everything ready to put in the new one: Sikaflex 291 black – check, new 316SS screws – check, new port – check, sandpaper – check, acetone – check. We were ready to pull the old one and put in the new one, I had the Mermaid there to assist and even thought to have towels just in case there was a wake.  Well, the moment I had the old port off and there was a huge hole in the boat with the screw holes exposed, an enormous dredge barge with a big backhoe as an oar roared its engines and stared heading our way – uh, oh!  Alyssa called it to my attention just as QUIXOTIC (which has an un-stayed rig mind you) stared rocking and pulling at her lines.  I saw the wakes and yelled for the towel.  I shoved the towel over the port and screw holes and held on for dear life as the wakes overtook our position and QUIXOTIC rocked up and down.  All the while I was swearing and pulling my back holding that damn towel over my previously dry port and screw holes!  When the chaos abated, I removed the soaking wet towel and somehow I managed to keep the port and screw holes dry.  We managed to complete the install of the new port and new flapper with only a few more close calls. Another box ticked off the list!

Tomorrow we will wash the boat, fill our water tanks, pay the marina and get the hell out of dodge.  We plan to gunkhole down the NZ coast to Auckland where we will pick up a new hobie hard kayak.  Thanks again to our friends Jason and Emily (sv LYRIC) for falling in love with our inflatable hobie kayak and buying it from us to take home as a souvenir!

I have decided to take some time off from my online consulting business so we can relax and get ready to sail north.  We will be taking some much-deserved relaxed sailing time down the coast.  We’ll write again before we take off for Fiji.  In the meantime, please continue to spread the word about QUIXOTIC Charters!  We have made some bookings this week and keep in mind that the limited time offer of 20% off ends May 1st!  Come hang with us in Fiji!

Cheers,

Lewis & Alyssa

Opua, New Zealand

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The hottest Mermaid stainless polishing woman no money can buy!
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See how much higher the new elbow is vs stock
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Badass install with fiberglass lagging tape to prevent too much heat transfer to engine room. Note how high the water would have to flow to enter the engine:
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Teak backing blocks epoxy glued to cabin top
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As seen after the Mermaid paint treatment
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Final product!
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New Chainplate and new stanchions!! Done and done and gorgeous!
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Had to cut the rub rail a few mils to fit the new chainplates
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New chainplate on!
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Mermaid was crucial in the acetone and prep and clean department!
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Her expression says it all
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See us in the reflection??? We did it!

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Storms, Rain, Friends, New Anchor and Cracked Chainplates – Preparing to Sail to Fiji!

We are preparing to sail to Fiji in a few weeks and have begun our passage prep in earnest. The past week was storming so we put in to the marina. We put a tarp over the engine compartment and I spent two and a half days hunched over completely renewing every system on the generator – happy to report our efforts paid off and it’s running great now.  One step forward and two steps back though because upon closer inspection of the 20 year old chainplates, we found cracking on both running back chainplates and one stress crack on the port main chainplate.  We can’t sail to Fiji with cracking chainplates so we have removed the running back plates and had them re-made. We will be removing the main chainplates next week and having them made as well.  Should be an exciting exercise to support the rig with halyards and spectra line!

Our friends Jason & Emily (s/v LYRIC) were visiting last week and we all did our best to find activities in between torrential rain and generally crummy weather. We went kayaking, hiking, fishing, exploring, sailing, wine tasting and dining. It was a great visit.  Thanks again for all the help on the projects guys! Jason: we couldn’t have re-bed the pulpits and that new hatch without your humor to keep us entertained!  And the fish we caught will live in infamy as the largest guppy ever caught in the bay of islands!

Our new anchor arrived and is currently buried in the mud below us!  We are delighted to report that Spade Anchor has decided to sponsor us!  We loved our Spade anchor on Ellie so much but the price tag was prohibitive to buying one for QUIXOTIC.  Luckily Spade Anchor responded to our request for sponsorship and gave us a huge discount.  They air-freighted us the new anchor from Tunisia and after a few weeks in transit our new favorite anchor arrived!  The 55lb Rocna we had is a great anchor but (in our opinion) the Spade is better. It is 65lbs and has lead in the tip to help it bury deep in the sand/mud/rocks/shells/etc. The absence of a roll bar helps it keep digging deeper when pulled and it’s less likely to foul.  So far so good – we’ll keep reporting!

The rest of our to-do list is only one page long this time and includes items such as new chainplates, rig tune, replace hatch, install stanchions and lifelines, seal engine rooms, service engines, dry out and replace saildrive oil, re-commission watermaker, install that missing mid-ship cleat, etc.  We figure 2-3 weeks of work and we’ll be ready to sail north to Fiji.

Tell the weather to be nice so we can bed some stanchions and replace those chainplates!

Cheers,

L&A

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It hasn’t been ALL work and no play….
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Painting new gelcoat around the hatch before bedding in the new frame
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New Spade Anchor!! Picture taken before assembling..
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Assembly complete! We used a nylock soaked in red locktite on the bolt and then put three passes of stainless seizing wire to ensure the bolt can’t back out.

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20 years of stress loading and then a cyclone have condemned the chainplates. We are replacing both next week.
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Can you spot the crack?

 

We're anchored in the small bay below. Tucked behind a massive rock wall!

Hiking the Duke’s Nose! – Whangaroa, NZ

Pictures below from an epic hike today to the top of the “Duke’s Nose.” We had to use a chain that was bolted into the rock face to climb the last 100 feet to the top but check out the amazing views we were rewarded with!  

We keep trying to switch gears and work on our project list that is literally staring us in the face…..but when the weather is amazing, fishing epic and hiking spectacular it’s REALLY hard to get motivated…  Maybe tomorrow….

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We're anchored in the small bay below. Tucked behind a massive rock wall!
We’re anchored in the small bay below. Tucked behind a massive rock wall!
Spot the face and nose on the peak behind! Called the "Duke's Nose" We'll hike to the top!

Amazing Hidden Bay and Sailing into Whangaroa Harbour

Sometimes you duck into a bay you found on the chart and strike out, other times you find a hidden gem and make lasting friends, we found the latter.  A kayak, a hike, a visit ashore and aboard QUIXOTIC, and an amazing dinner celebration that lasted all night. This morning we pulled anchor and waved goodbye to our new friends and made our way to Whangaroa Harbor, with a fresh kingfish in tow! Check out the pics below to see how amazing this place is. The Duke’s nose is awesome and we plan to hike it this week. Stay tuned. Cheers

Anchored in a spectacular bay! Can't name it though because we were sworn to secrecy by the owners who we are proud to call our new friends!
Anchored in a spectacular bay! Can’t name it though because we were sworn to secrecy by the owners who we are proud to call our new friends!

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If we had a house in NZ this would be the site!
If we had a house in NZ this would be the site!
Gorgeous coastline
Gorgeous coastline
Entering Whangaroa Harbor
Entering Whangaroa Harbor
Whangaroa Harbor
Whangaroa Harbor
Spot the face and nose on the peak behind! Called the "Duke's Nose" We'll hike to the top!
Spot the face and nose on the peak behind! Called the “Duke’s Nose” We’ll hike to the top!
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Lost Pictures from Visits with the Pirates and with MamaRina!!

Going through our camera and realized we hadn’t uploaded pics from the great times we had a couple weeks ago with Bruce (SKABENGA), Glenn & Debbie (BEACH ACCESS), Chris & Lila (PRIVATEER) and of the awesome visit with MamaRina (FYFM), Alyssa’s Mom. We had a blast with you all!  Thanks Bruce for the help running those engine wires! Glenn for the epic margaritas! Rina for hauling boat parts, for all the birthday fun and the great visit!  And congrats to Chris and Lila on the newborn baby boy!  Here are some pics of the visits and of the mandatory party that ensued when tres Pirates get together!

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Hooked our first Kahwai!

A Perfect Day in the Cavalli Islands, New Zealand

We woke to a subtle motion at anchor off the town of Russell. Tired from a great evening with good friends but the excitement and anticipation for the day ahead wakes me. The bay was engulfed in a thick layer of fog and the sun had yet to grace us with its presence. We fired up the new engines, lifted the anchor and motored out into the grey morning. Alyssa prepared breakfast while I rigged the fishing gear and set two Skabenga squid lures out on the end of the lines. I dodged weekend fishing traffic as we motored over long rolling swells towards open water; we were headed for the Cavalli Islands, a three hour sail north. As we rounded the sentinel rock that guards the north entrance to the Bay of Islands the reel went screaming and we fought in a fat skippy tuna!  It would be the first of five fish we would catch on the way to the islands including a nice fat Kahwai upon our arrival in the islands.

We dropped the hook in 18 feet of turquoise water over sand behind a long crescent bay with a beautiful beach completely made up of polished river rocks. By this time the sun was out in full force so we applied the sun screen, donned wide brim hats, launched the kayak and set off for shore. We hiked an hour and a half to the very top of Motukawanui Island and enjoyed a spectacular 360 degree view from the open ocean, waves crashing on rocky pinnacles, white sand beaches fronted by turquoise water, lush green islands and the mainland behind us, covered in pine trees and green rolling hills. The sea breeze kicked in as if on cue and cooled us off before making our way back down the mountain to the beach.  We spent some time sitting on the pebbles soaking in the natural beauty and peaceful isolation that come with having the entire bay to yourself. We leisurely peddled the kayak back to QUIXOTIC and I passed out on the nets while Alyssa prepared lunch. The weather is perfect with the sun on you and the slight sea breeze its heavenly. We both had smiles on our faces as we enjoyed lunch on the bow nets while listening to the waves crash on shore. It sure feels good to finally enjoy the boat we have worked so hard on over the past year. The work is far from over but today we’re taking a much-needed lay day.

The agenda this afternoon is equally brutal. I see hot showers, a hammock, a gorgeous sunset and a delicious fresh-caught dinner in our future so time to sign off.  Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.

Cheers from the Cavalli Islands!

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Hooked our first Kahwai!
Hooked our first Kahwai!
QUIXOTIC in fish fighting mode!
QUIXOTIC in fish fighting mode!

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Turning our backs on the old stubborn blocks and looking towards the future!

Repower Complete! New Engines in!

Engines are in and repower complete! The past week has been non-stop hard work for both of us but it has finally paid off and we’re out enjoying the amazing new engines and running them hard to properly break them in. We came out on the slipway (railway) for four days and used our boom crane to pull the old engines and lower in the new ones. We have brand new saildrives and every single hose going into or out of the engines is brand new. We even ran all new fuel lines and put in a new filtration system at the tank. I’ll let the pictures below tell the story. Look for an video in the next day or two of our first trial run and tour of the beautiful new engines!
We’re headed to the Waitangi Day celebrations today to soak in some Kiwi culture. It’s a big deal as this is where the treaty between the local Maori tribes and the British Crown was signed back in 1840. Dances. war canoes, band performances, marches, food and fun. 
Cheers from aboard the refit QUIXOTIC!
Hauling out on just the keels was a stressful experience!
Hauling out on just the keels was a stressful experience!
The hull was completely covered in barnacles despite having 6 month new Micron 66 on the bottom
The hull was completely covered in barnacles despite having 6 month new Micron 66 on the bottom
Signing for the new engines!
Signing for the new engines!
They're here!
They’re here!
The tractor brought them right below QUIXOTIC and within reach of our boom crane
The tractor brought them right below QUIXOTIC and within reach of our boom crane

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Out with the old!
Out with the old!
Our boom crane coming in extremely handy
Our boom crane coming in extremely handy
Engine room sans engine and saildrive
Engine room sans engine and saildrive
oooooo, ahhhhh, new saildrives!
oooooo, ahhhhh, new saildrives!
First glance at the new engines
First glance at the new engines
How often so you get to sit between 4 Yanamr engines!
How often so you get to sit between 4 Yanamr engines!
Turning our backs on the old stubborn blocks and looking towards the future!
Turning our backs on the old stubborn blocks and looking towards the future!
Chris from Privateer helping guide the new engine in
Chris from Privateer helping guide the new engine in
Guiding the new block down into the starboard engine room
Guiding the new block down into the starboard engine room
Mermaid and her art projects
Mermaid and her art projects
New engine bolted down and ready for wiring and hoses
New engine bolted down and ready for wiring and hoses
The cradle we came out on. It was a railway
The cradle we came out on. It was a railway
Balanced perfectly on her keel alone
Balanced perfectly on her keel alone

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View from the new dinghy as QUIXOTIC is lowered back into the water
View from the new dinghy as QUIXOTIC is lowered back into the water
Strapped dinghy's to the side to guide her back into her slip for final prep before firing the new engines up
Strapped dinghy’s to the side to guide her back into her slip for final prep before firing the new engines up
New starboard engine hooked up and ready for service
New starboard engine hooked up and ready for service
New port engine hooked up and ready for service
New port engine hooked up and ready for service