NZ to Fiji Passage Update – Day 3 – Sloppy Seas

Morning all,

We have sailed 170 nautical miles in the past 24 hours. We are 530 nm from Whangarei and 660 nm from Savusavu.

I had a bright idea to get us far enough east to catch the 20 knot winds that were forecast to blow alongside a low….what could possibly go wrong?  Well we did find the wind last night and we also found some horrible washing machine cross seas that have been punishing me ever since.  That low must have kicked up some decent seas because they are short, steep and from two directions mixed in with the regular 20 knot wind waves.  It’s making for some brutal progress. I gave the engines a rest last night and we drifted downwind at 5-6 knots under full jib. The seas would raise us up then break and slam into the leeward hull and shake the bridgedeck violently.  Then we would surf down a wave then get caught in a trough then the same peak, break, slam again. This repeated itself all night until this morning when we thought it was just too hard on the boat so we turned the engines back on to keep up pace with the waves and try to reduce the number of big slams.  Now we are surfing at 8-9 knots down the wave faces but still getting stuck in the troughs going 6 kts, the engines work hard to pull us out and then we go over the cresting peaks, some break and some don’t, then we race down the next face at 8-9. The impacts are less violent at speed but the funny thing is that now we are going too fast to use the jib much.  The jib luffs when we surf but fills in the troughs so we still have it out.  We thought about flying the asymmetrical spinnaker but the motion is too quick when we rock over the crests of the breaking waves so we haven’t tried to fly it yet.

We were heading NNE to Minerva but that put the mixed seas too much on the beam so now we are heading north.  May not be able to make Minerva unless these seas lay down by tomorrow.  There is also some southbound current here that is aiding and abetting these seas in their attempt to break up our catamaran.

Other than the pounding the seas are giving our poor cat, she is running well with no visible or apparent damage.  We topped off our fuel yesterday from jerry jugs so we still have at least 75 gallons in the main tank and another 30 in jugs.

Looks like these winds will stay stiff today and into tonight.  Then the forecast calls for easing, which will be nice.  I also see 1 meter waves when we reach Fiji – that will certainly be nice!

Last night I made a rookie mistake.  I was in the head sitting on the toilet.  Out of habit I reached up and opened the port to get some fresh air.  Well about a minute later an enormous wave slammed into the side of the hull and funneled a huge amount of ice cold seawater into the port! I was immediately soaked from head to toe and the head filled up with about 6 inches of water and the shower pump started pumping it out.  I was in shock but screamed from the cold!  I was looking in the mirror as salt water dripped from my hair and my soaking wet long sleeve shirt.  It managed to get on the ceiling and cover the entire head!  What an idiot move Lew!  The chaos woke the Mermaid and let me tell you – that’s playing with fire!  I took a hot shower and washed all the salt off.  And the soaking wet TP roll was tossed overboard.  In hindsight it was pretty hilarious.

I have learned three things in the past 24 hours. First, stay the hell away from potentially big confused seas – that means any low that could kick up a short-period mixed swell.  Second, our cat sails WAY better with wind in the high teens on the beam or 20 knots on the quarter; 18-20 directly aft is not enough wind to keep us moving over 6 knots with just the jib.  Third, don’t open the port in the head in rough seas, idiot.

Hopefully our update tomorrow will tell of much improved conditions. Wish us luck.


-South Pacific Ocean

23:45 UTC
27 46.7S, 178 39.4E
Wind: 20 knots SSW
Seas: Disgusting. Breaking. 12-15 ft from what seems like all directions – barf
Water temp: 74 F
Clothes: Board shorts and t-shirt


New Zealand to Fiji Passage – Day 2 – Calms!

Hey all!  After bashing to windward for a day and a half and seeing just how much salt we could carry, we found some squalls to wash most of it off and are now becalmed.  The swell is still with us but the wind has gone. We are motoring up and over the mixed swells, but luckily they are long enough period that we are keeping great speed and not slamming anymore.

We have sailed 190 nautical miles in the past 24 hours.  We are 359 nm from Whangarei and 829 nm from Savusavu.  We are also only 194 nm from the Kermadec Islands..

We are loving the new engines! We have been averaging 8 – 8.5 knots with both engines around 2200 RPM.  I just brought them up to 3000 for 5 minutes and we were doing 10 – 10.5 Knots (we must have some favorable current as well)!  Luckily for our new engines those speeds are not sustainable due to lack of fuel economy. But we have had the engines going for 33 hours now and we have consumed approximately 50 gallons. That’s about 0.75 GPH per engine – not bad.

The very talented Mermaid Chef prepared a delicious Easter dinner for us yesterday. We started with appetizers: deviled eggs, brie, veggies, brown rice crackers and of course the dips.  Then for our main course she roasted a chicken stuffed with onions and potatoes in a herb butter sauce.  A side of sauteed garlic spinach and garlic bread completed the plate.  We shared a glass of red wine while the sun set over the open water and threw bright hues of orange, red, yellow and pink into the southern skies.  It was lovely.

We have both caught up on sleep now that the seas have calmed down. The forecast is calling for another day or so of light wind that will clock to the south and slowly fill in.  We should have wind from behind by tomorrow (spinnaker time!).

Hope everyone is having a great Easter back home. Hi to the family!  We love you and miss you!


23:50 UTC
30 31.7 S, 177 50.4 E
Wind: 5 E
Seas: 4-6 wind waves and 14-16ft SE swell 10 sec.
Water temp: 71.5 degrees F
Clothes: Shorts and t-shirt!




NZ – Fiji – Passage Update – Day 1 – Happy Easter

Coming to you live from the catamaran QUIXOTIC on her passage north back to the warm waters of Fiji!

All is well. We have sailed 183 miles in the first 24 hours.  We are 174 miles from Cape Brett (Whangarei) and 1,000 miles from our destination of Savusavu, Fiji.  We left Whangarei Harbor at noon and motor-sailed over enormous seas that were kicked up from Cyclone Cook.  The tankers were all anchored outside the harbor as the conditions were too severe across the bar for them to enter.  It was hair-raising going up and over those mountainous swells and eerily reminded us of the scolding we got outside Lono Harbor on Molokai in Hawaii. Luckily, this time they didn’t break..

Yesterday the seas were rough and confused and bouncing off the mainland and all the offshore islands making life uncomfortable. Lots of slamming as we were pounding our way to windward. Seas were much worse yesterday afternoon while making our way offshore – but have eased a bit, which is better.  Wind was fickle yesterday afternoon and into the evening – raise and drop the main numerous times as squalls stole our wind and were forced to motor without sail at times because the cat was jerking in the mixed swell and slamming the sails open/closed.

After enjoying the first unobstructed sunset since the passage to New Zealand, we found steady wind last night from the NW at around 15 knots apparent.  We are sailing close-hauled into it and making 7.5 – 8.0 knots SOG on a course of 35 degrees (NNE – NE).  True wind 11-13 kts.  Full main and full jib with engines on ticking over at 1600 RPM, Apparent Wind Angle (AWA) 45 degrees off the port bow.  Seas have calmed down a lot, which is really nice. The swell is still with us but 10 seconds or so and the wind waves are down to about 7-9 feet.

Happy Easter to all.  The Mermaid is going to be cooking up an Easter Feast this afternoon.  She vetoed my idea of hiding fresh eggs all around the boat – something about the mess…


0016 UTC
33 15.1 S, 176 05.9 E
035 T
8.6 KTS
Seas: sloppy – 7-9 ft wind waves mixed with 10-15 ft SE swell
Water temp: 66 (It was 59 when we left – burrrr!!!  Clothing: Last night: Long pants, socks, sweater, windbreaker, full foulies (burrr!!!) Today: Shorts and a sweater



And We’re Off! New Zealand to Fiji Passage!

Writing from the Quarantine dock in Marsden Cove, Whangarei, New Zealand.  We clear out of the country within the hour.  Skies are bright, clear and abundant sunshine.  Wind out of the WNW at 18-20 knots.  Will plan to sail NE until it lightens later tonight then turn more NNE to get away fror NZ before more northerly winds fill in tomorrow.  The run is about 1,200 nautical miles. We expect to arrive in Savusavu next Saturday (if we don’t stop in Minerva for some diving).

I rigged two new fishing hand lines – one with a SKABENGA Minion lure and the other with a cedar plug.  They both have steel leaders so the huge fish don’t steal our lures.  We have high hopes for catching some monster tuna and mahi on the way north.  Sushi time! 

Stay tuned for passage updates that we will try and send every 1-2 days.  Wish us fair winds and CALM seas!


Lew n Lyss

Rigging the hand lines! Yup – I’m sitting on jugs of diesel – 60 extra gallons to be exact. We have new engines – let’s USE ‘em!
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.


“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!


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


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!


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!


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!


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


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!



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.

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.

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.

Milford Beach, Auckland, New Zealand
36 46.01 S, 174 46.30 E




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!



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!


Lewis & Alyssa

Opua, New Zealand

The hottest Mermaid stainless polishing woman no money can buy!
See how much higher the new elbow is vs stock
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:
Teak backing blocks epoxy glued to cabin top
As seen after the Mermaid paint treatment
Final product!
New Chainplate and new stanchions!! Done and done and gorgeous!
Had to cut the rub rail a few mils to fit the new chainplates
New chainplate on!
Mermaid was crucial in the acetone and prep and clean department!
Her expression says it all
See us in the reflection??? We did it!