Tuesday 24th March 2015 - Part 1 - Only the Seriously Deranged Believe in Plans.

Jon & Carol Dutton
Tue 24 Mar 2015 01:31

Tuesday 24th March 2015 - Part 1 - Only the Seriously Deranged Believe in Plans.

Well now; as previously advertised, the cunning plan was for us to have Arnamentia Coppercoated in Opua, re-launch in mid/late March, sail about 100NM south to Gulf Harbour, haul her out again, have some snagging work done on the new teak deck, re-launch, go sailing in NZ (around the Bay of Islands and Hauraki Gulf) and then depart in May or early June for Fiji.  However, we’ve encountered a bit of a snag.

On 4th March, whilst we were touring NZ by car, the Opua Boat Yard staff needed to move Arnamentia within the boat yard to a place where the old anti-foul could be sandblasted off, before applying the Coppercoat.  They did so using the travel lift, without first disconnecting the forestay.  It isn’t a ‘given’ that you must disconnect either the forestay or backstay when using a travel lift/hoist; it depends on size of hoist, length of boat, height of mast (and angle of forestay or backstay as appropriate) and depth of keel.  And, of course, your assessment of the probability of things going wrong and the seriousness of the consequences if they do.  Of course, horrible consequences imply well mitigated probabilities.  This is rarely convenient.

However, given all the relevant dimensions in our case, on each of the three occasions that we have used the Opua hoist to lift Arnamentia we have had the local rigger do the 10 minute job of detaching the forestay before the lift and the other 10 minute job to re-attach it.  But, that’s not what happened in our absence.  Whilst the boat was being manoeuvred, it apparently swung in its slings sufficiently for the forestay to crash into the cross-beam of the hoist.  As currently configured and loaded, Arnamentia probably weighs over 18 tons.  So, both the solid rod forestay and the aluminium foil, up which the foresail is fed, were damaged beyond redemption.  


Not a happy-looking forestay

To make matters even less convenient, Swan yachts are usually equipped with the exquisite bit of expensive German engineering represented by the Reckmann roller furling system.  This, understandably, is eschewed by most other, more cost conscious, boat builders.  So, whilst obtaining a replacement solid rod forestay didn’t present much of a problem, a replacement Reckmann foil was not to be had in NZ.  It would have had to have come from Reckmann in Germany.  Provided, of course, that Reckmann still made precisely the same aluminium forestay foil that it did 25 years ago.  Unfortunately, pigs don’t fly.  So, we need a complete new foresail furling system and Herr Reckmann requires a trifling 8 or 10 weeks to get it assembled and delivered here.  We could have fitted some other sort of furling system which would have been much more readily available and the best of these would probably have worked satisfactorily for our purposes.   But, a Swan is a Swan and the firm advice from the UK was to keep it so.  We now expect delivery around mid May at earliest, by which time we ought to be preparing to depart for Fiji.  Hence, cruising NZ waters is now probably off the agenda.

So, the new plan is to have the knackered forestay bodged to allow us to sail down to Gulf Harbour to get the deck snagging work done (allegedly that work should take about a week) whilst we await the pleasure of Reckmann Yacht Equipment GmbH.  We won’t be able to fly a foresail on the forestay on the way there or back, because we won’t have the necessary luff foil, but we will be able to hoist the mainsail and set our staysail on the inner forestay.  Alternatively, Mr Perkins will be invited to get us there or Percy the Parasailor might get an outing.  With a bit of luck we’ll be on our way to Gulf Harbour by early April and back in Opua around a fortnight later.  We should be back well before the arrival of the new furling gear and may head off again to tour by car in the meantime.  Meanwhile, we’re now pushing on with the routine pre-season titivating with sandpaper, varnish brushes and all that malarkey.

Far North Holdings, which owns the Opua marina and boat yard on behalf of Far North District Council, was a bit slow off the mark in getting to grips with all this until we returned from our road trip and Jon was able to have a useful discussion with its General Manager on Tuesday 17th March - some 13 days after the incident.  He has now accepted full responsibility and is being very cooperative in resolving matters and picking up the tab.

So, what else have we been up to since we last reported on 7th February?  It’s involved a lot of driving and sightseeing in this most beautiful of countries packed with some quite extraordinary wildlife and some lovely people. The report that follows contains quite a lot of photos so we’ve had to chop it up into separately posted entries to circumvent the 2MB limit on any individual entry.  Subsequent portions of the story are labelled ‘Part 2’, ‘Part 3’ etc.

After a few days in Opua, back with Andrea in her delightful Ferry Landings house, on 9th February we packed up the car again and headed of for a month long road trip around both the North and South Islands.  Two years ago we covered a lot of miles and saw a fair few places but not everything we would have liked to.  The map below shows where we went this time and the date of the first, sometimes only, night we stayed wherever it was.


Our first stop was back in Gulf Harbour to tie up a few details for our planned return there to have the few teak deck snags sorted out under warranty.  We also met up with American cruising chums Bob and Linda Hargreaves who are having a new teak deck put on Bright Angel, their Mason 44.  They were hard at work sanding down and touching up her mast but seemed grateful for the opportunity to retire to Ripples Café for a bite of lunch, a beer and a catch up.

Heading south over the Auckland Harbour bridge we put in overnight in Thames at the SW end of the Coromandel peninsula.  We liked the look of the town which in its heyday had been a thriving gold mining centre.  We will be back to explore more when we “do” the Coromandel peninsula whilst Arnamentia is back in Gulf Harbour.

For the next week, we stayed with several friends.  First were Eric and Pauline Happé in their very impressive ranch style house near Tauranga.  Eric is now a probation officer, keeping all the local hoods in order, whilst Pauline is a school administrator.  Jon had served with Eric at various times whilst in the Army and so there was much reminiscing about the “good old days” and how the British Army had gone to Hell in a handcart since they’d left.  It had, of course, never been clear to either of them how it could have anticipated managing without them!  So, no surprises with any of that. 

Next stop was Gisborne where we met up with Alan and Linda Spargo in a ‘bach’ they had rented on the seashore.  If you haven’t by now caught up with the NZ meaning and origins of ‘bach’ (pronounced ‘batch’), sorry – please consult Wikipedia on the subject of Bach NZ and try to keep up in future.  Linda emigrated from Yorkshire to New Zealand some time ago and taught in Gisborne for some 20 years, later meeting Alan from Lancashire .  Now she and Alan regularly flip between UK and NZ so as to have two summers every year – nice work if you can get it!


                                                The Spargos and the Duttons at the Bach

Our last stop in the North Island was near Carterton in the Wairarapa region.  Our erstwhile landlords in Manly, near Gulf Harbour, last year had moved there to be nearer two of their sons.  They bought an almost new house and several acres and are in their element.  Now great friends of ours, Lindsay and Raewyn invited us to stay on our way south.  It was too good an opportunity to miss.

We are enormously grateful to all of these friends who so willingly put us up, entertained us and showed us around their respective patches.  Many thanks to you all.

Leaving Lindsay and Raewyn after a couple of days we drove south to Wellington to board the Inter-Islander ferry to Picton on the South Island.  The Cook Strait was in a placid mood and a few hours later we rejoined State Highway 1 which runs all the way from Cape Reinga at the north of North Island to Invercargill at the south of the South Island.

The first stop in South Island was at Kaikoura on the east coast about 100 miles north of Christchurch. 



The limestone pavement at the end of the Kaikoura peninsula a hundred or so miles north of Christchurch.


There is a thriving fur seal colony on the Kaikoura peninsula, but on this day it was so hot that all the seals bar this chap were cooling off in the sea.


New Zealand suffered another drought over the summer this year but someone had access to enough water to nurture this little oasis in Kaikoura.  The vast majority of the country looked burnt up like the hillside on the left.


We moved on to the Banks Peninsula near Christchurch.  We had heard that it was spectacular and it didn’t disappoint.  There are several inlets which make it look rather like the English Lake District but with bays rather than lakes.  Akaroa Bay above is so large it can easily swallow up a cruise ship.  The passengers’ dollars are welcomed in the little town of Akoroa, in the middle of the photo.   Akoroa was settled by a hundred or so French who arrived on a ship shortly after Britain claimed NZ.  They liked the place so much they decided to stay.  Many of the streets still have French names.


Most of the bays are much smaller; this is Long Bay.  Whilst walking in the forest reserve here we bumped into Sue and Bob Dall from Kent.  We’d last seen them in Tonga on their boat Mawari – it really is a small world!


Some of the hostels we have stayed in have been basic, but Half Moon Cottage, a Victorian villa, in Barry’s Bay on Banks Penninsular, was delightful.  This is the view from our bedroom.

Moving further south, we spent some time admiring the Moeraki boulders.  These are formed not from the action of the sea but by a metamorphic process within the mudstone in the cliffs.


                                                         A cluster half submerged in the sea


                                      And here is one made earlier – about 5 million years ago.




Just to illustrate the scale a bit


Cracks from from within the boulder which fill with brown and yellow calcite and then erode away.




Almost totally eroded away – but they’ll see us out