Clipper Arrives as we make 2 Steps Forward and 3 Back!

Mike and Liz Downing
Sun 27 Nov 2011 12:13
The cutlass bearing has been changed (including a new housing) and the seals changed in the rudder bearing (twice - didn't quite get it right the first time), so all was ready to put the rudder shoe back on, glass over it and the work on the rudder area would be done. Didn't quite work like that. When preparing to put the shoe back on we found the core that sits in the shoe was cracked along the join. Not sure if it was caused when the shoe was taken off, or whether there was always a weakness there, but it's not good news! So more telephone calls and pictures sent to HR in Sweden. Their recommendation arrived late Friday and it means a significant amount of glassing to reinforce the whole area. It won't be a quick job. 
The weather has been mostly dry this week, but up until today, very windy. With the boats' instruments on it was clocking 40kts in the boatyard. Out at sea it was higher and we felt for the Clipper crews who were bashing into the wind and sea to get here. Clipper Round the World is a yacht race of 10 identical 68ft racing yachts crewed by people paying for the privilege. Each yacht has a professional skipper, who is paid, and 17 crew. Some do the whole circumnavigation (costing £43,070) and some do one or more of the 8 legs (costing around £5,800 each). The first boat arrived on Thursday and the last came in last night (Saturday) and by all accounts the passage here had been by far the worst passage of the race so far (much more so than the Southern Ocean passage from South Africa). They came round the South of Australia and approached New Zealand from the south. Having been here for a year and studied the weather and sea conditions, the seas south of New Zealand can be horrendous. They had an open day yesterday and we went on board, had a look round and had a chat with some of the crew. We've also talked to a few in the shower block. They were not expecting anything like the weather and sea conditions they got. It was blowing 65kts as they approached the southern tip of the North Island and for the last section across the Bay of Plenty it was dead on the nose. Not what you want having been at sea a good number of days - they are hoping for an easier passage when they leave again in a weeks' time. 
Thursday started wet, so it was a good day to go to Hamilton to collect our passports/new visas from Immigration. They had been ready for collection for a couple of weeks or more, but we didn't want to waste a good day so have been putting it off. It's just over an hours' drive and by the time we headed back the weather had cleared, so for once we got some good views. 
It was General Election day here yesterday - yes, they vote on a Saturday. They use an MMP system, a proportional system where minor parties get seats according to the percentage of the poll they get (even if they don't actually win any seats on the day). This gives allsorts of potential outcomes, however, John Key's National Party came out on top again and he will continue as current Prime Minister. They hold elections every 3 years, so it's surprising that anything gets done. With no election and no Rugby World Cup, we're wondering what will be on the radio?
The good bit - the new cutlass bearing housing (where the propeller shaft comes out of the boat)
with new bearing inside. There's no propeller as it had to be taken off to slide the old housing off and the new one
on. Sounds simple, but we have a feathering propeller, so it had to be taken apart to get it off.
The propeller in pieces! (Not including the blades which also had to come off.) In operation, when the
engine is not being used, the propeller blades feather to a position where they're in line with the
direction of the boat, so the drag is very significantly reduced. The net result is we sail faster.
The not so good bit - the bit with the 6 white circles normally holds the bottom rudder fixing, but it's
cracked along the top edge and it, and the area above it, will need to be reglassed to reinforce it.
Building a Christmas tree New Zealand style - in the centre of Hamilton.
Views of the hills to the west of Tauranga which we cross on the way back from Hamilton.
The views from the top.
The Clipper Round the World fleet.
It was Open Day on Gold Coast, so it was an opportunity to see what they're like inside.
The galley area.
Food - at least our tins don't look this bad! 
The winches are just a bit bigger than ours!
Back on our boat the sewing machine has been out and Liz has made a couple of cushions using material
collected on our road tour of New Zealand. Penguins of New Zealand - the Little Blue Penguins on
the left and a collection of the others on the right.