Work Progresses as the Clipper Fleet Depart

Mike and Liz Downing
Sun 4 Dec 2011 11:48
Work on the skeg continues - it had kevlar around and now it also has carbon fibre. The important addition is that the carbon fibre goes all the way down to the bottom of the skeg, so over the cracked area and inside the bottom rudder fitting. We hope this will give the strength needed in the right places. It's been worked on every day this week, but rain towards the end means it will continue next week. The windscreen panel has been fitted. That was a leap of faith - there is a huge amount of sealant involved so you only get one shot at it. To help, a duplicate of the glass panel was made in plywood and 3 of us, Liz, me and the boat builder here, practiced how we would get it in the frame (not easy as the top and bottom frames cross when unscrewed and the heat treated toughened glass needs to be gently bent to fit). Once we had practiced it a few times and had a plan, it was time to do it for real and luckily it worked. It's been severely tested today as it's been teeming down with rain. There is a small leak in one corner and more sealant will have to be added, but it could have been much worse!
Bunnings, New Zealand's equivalent to B&Q, is a good 20 minute walk away. The walk there yesterday (to get 10mm olives, for compression joints used to connect our washbasin taps in the 2 heads) took a whole lot longer. The reason - a seagull! It had got caught in a fishing line which it had managed to wrap several times round its leg and wing and then round a wire fence over the water. So it was hanging upside down over the water struggling to get free. This was part way along the route, so it was back to the marina to try and get help, but none was available, so the seagull was given up for lost. But on passing it on the route again, it didn't look that far out and the water didn't look that deep, so shoes and socks off, trousers rolled up above the knee and in for a paddle. The fishing line came off the fence okay, but it took quite a while to figure out how to get if off the seagull. It did come off but the bird was exhausted, so taken back to the boat until the SPCA (NZ's RSPCA) could come and collect it. There is always something that makes everything take longer than it should, but this was new one!    
The Clipper fleet departed today for their next leg, the race to the Gold Coast in Australia. You could pay to go out in a local boat to follow the Parade of Sail and see the start of the race close up, but it was overcast with poor visibility, so we gave that a miss. Just as well as it started to pour with rain and has been pouring ever since. Along with others we did listened to the speeches and watched as the yachts left their pontoon berths in the marina. The wind is 20kts or more from the north east, so they'll be beating into it, and a rough sea, as they head up the east coast of the North Island. Nowhere near as bad as when they came in a week ago, but still not pleasant if being lashed with horizontal rain! (And they don't have a sprayhood to hide under like we do.)  
The rough sea has disturbed some oil that had collected in the bilges of the Rena and there's now an oil slick heading for the beaches once again. Everyone thought the danger of oil had passed. So perhaps all the work delays that have kept us out of the water are not such a bad thing after all!   
The skeg - a dry fit to check it will all work. Carbon fibre, going into an epoxy mold, which is going into
the bottom rudder bearing (in 2 halves that are bolted together). 
From the other side, but with the mould having been ground and faired.
The final skeg, almost ready for the final fitting of the bearing (to be bolted and faired-in with epoxy).
The plywood dummy window fitted. It will come in handy should the window ever break again - God forbid!
The new window in place.
Container ships just across from the marina. Tauranga is New Zealand's largest commercial port.
This helicopter flies over us several times a day to go to/from the Rena, with its lifting line hanging down.
It uses this to pass goods to/from the ship, but it can't lift containers - there's a huge crane barge out there to
do that. 
Some of the 10 Yachts leaving the marina - each is named after (and sponsored by) a place around the
world. New York in this case.
Qingdao - in China, the prettiest of the lot with its red dragoon!
And finally Gold Coast, Australia which has won all 5 of the races so far to get to New Zealand.  
Yachts milling around outside the marina in the gloom waiting for the Parade of Sail to begin.
The marina is not far from the end of the runway, so with all these tall masts around, this plane has to
be careful not to get too low!
The yachts are in V formation and heading down the harbour for the Parade of sail before leaving for
the race start line, and the 8-12 day passage to Australia.