Thursday, December 14, 2017

Whangarei for Fun... eventually

[Kyle]Yay! We're back in the water!


Begonia splashing in - and the sun is shining!

The guys at Norsand lifted Begonia with the trailer and then towed us to the slipway. She was eased down the ramp until she was about half an inch above her waterline. Maryanne and I climbed aboard and checked to make sure we hadn't forgotten to re-secure all of our underwater openings. All was dry, so we gave starting the engines a go. Both cranked right up and we got cooling system output water right away from the port engine. Starboard was a little bit slower, but eventually we got a trickle coming out of its exhaust.

Honestly, I was surprised either of them worked. When this boat is hauled out, the seawater in the cooling system usually leaks out. The system loses its prime and the pump ends up flailing around uselessly in an air bubble. Sometimes we get lucky, though, and there's just enough water pressure trying to get in to re-prime the pump. When that doesn't work, the only solution is to bleed the system to get the air out. It's a pain and usually makes a big mess that I have to clean up later, so I like those one in five times that I don't have to do it.

The trailer was lowered the last little bit and then pulled away. We backed Begonia through the narrow channel leading to the river. As I went to sound the horn, I got nothing. Aaarrgghhh! I was just up the mast a couple of days earlier and everything checked out fine! I was really hoping the problem was at the lower, more easily fixable end. My plans for an afternoon of finally not having to fix something on the boat were dashed. I had just boxed up all of our tools and written DO NOT OPEN UNTIL 2022 on the box in permanent marker.

About half a mile later, as we were winding our way up the very narrow channel to town, It started to seem to me like the starboard exhaust was sounding a little throaty. Maryanne checked on it and reported no water coming out at all. It seems what we saw before was the last of the pre-haulout water being pushed out. I shut down the engine to keep it from overheating. The river was much too narrow to stop and the spot the marina had assigned us would require a lot of deft maneuvering to reach so...twelve minutes after triumphantly returning to the water in our better-than new boat, we dropped anchor across from the boatyard after having limped back on one engine. Boy, that new boat smell sure did fade fast!

Knowing that boat jobs are measured in swear words, I uttered the quickest hundred I could before diving head first into the engine compartment. That sped things up. I managed to bleed the sea water system and get it all reconnected before any more than five drops escaped. Usually, I do something like lose my grip on the hose. It blasts the glasses off of my face and then whips around like an unchecked fire hose, spraying water all over the whole room. That's when I start my hundred swear words. There must be a lesson to learn here, but I can't figure out what it is...

Six minutes after dropping anchor, we pulled it up and headed back to town with both engines running. With her clean and smooth new underbits, Begonia was almost ten percent faster than she had been on the trip to the yard.


The brige opens for us, and our first views of town from the boat

We threaded our way through the narrow channel past some very nervous-looking people on other boats who all turned out to be unnecessarily clutching fenders to their hulls as we passed. We found our slip and with a little help from some volunteer line catchers, landed without incident or drama. We were finally able able to relax in New Zealand.

Except that we weren't. We still had the horn to deal with.

I started with the obvious. I had been fiddling with lots of wires installing our AIS and I thought it might be possible that I had accidentally yanked one of the hailer wires out of a connection. Nope. My next suspect was one of the connections at the base of the mast. These are all buried under the settee behind where we keep a whole lot of our food.

An initial inspection with a light revealed nothing obvious. I could see it, but not reach it. The next step was to empty everything out so I could get in there with a multi-meter and start testing circuits. Even with everything out, it's too far to reach, so I have to climb in. The only way to do this is with kind of a twisting, sliding somersault that requires me to support most of my weight with my head for most of the maneuver. Once in, I can wiggle around into a reasonably comfortable position from which to start working.


Poor Kyle

It was a hot day, though. The temperature itself wasn't too bad, but our fridge had been working hard to keep itself cold. It does this by removing the heat and dumping it under the settee. So it was a little warmer under there, but the worst part was that in order for me to fit into the space, I ended up with my head resting on the compressor, which was REALLY hot and trying to turn my scalp into bacon.

I tested the voltage. There was some and fiddling with the wires made the radio buzz, but there wasn't enough to be sure. I then tested the wires going up the mast for resistance. Almost none would mean a short circuit. Lots could mean a broken wire. I got some, which could mean anything.

We talked about it for a bit and did some more tests, all with the same results. Eventually, we decided that maybe the horn had just gone bad. I would have to find one and replace it during the week. Grr.

Before I started the process of extracting myself, which is worse than going in because I have to push myself out with my burned head instead of just resting all of my weight on it like on the way in, Maryanne had one last go at fiddling with the radio's settings. She selected the horn and pushed the button. No sound. She told me which setting she was on and confirmed the volume was up.

“Which volume?”

“The radio volume.”

“What about the hailer volume?”

Pause, “There is no 'hailer volume' setting.”

I had more experience with this than she did, so I wriggled out of my hole with her pulling me hard by my legs. It was awful. Every ten seconds or so, I would get stuck so I couldn't move either way and I really did think I was going to have to break a bone or have the Fire Department cut me out to get free – maybe both.

Once I was done, I fell into a heap on the floor because I had been twisted into a pretzel for too long. Once I was done with that, I went to the radio and turned the hailer up. It worked just fine!

I then calmly climbed off of the boat onto the dock and then had a good, cathartic fifteen-seconds of jumping around punching the air and swearing a lot. Our neighbors seemed not the least bit concerned. They also have boats.

So here's what happened:

Almost every marine radio in the world has the capability to monitor more than one frequency at a time. Ours was supposed to, but never has. Maryanne decided to finally focus her considerable talents to address the problem. She found some engineer at the factory who talked her through some elaborate setup process. The fix worked, but then we lost our AIS (Vessel traffic display). When she fixed that, the dual watch stopped working again. After much more back and forth, she finally got told how to do the double secret factory reset. That fixed everything, but set the default hailer volume to zero. Not only that, but when the volume is at zero, the volume indicator disappears, so unless you are experienced with adjusting hailer volume, your only hope would be to happen on it by chance. Which rocket surgeon thought that one up?

So now we really are back to 100%, at least until tomorrow.

Time to enjoy life not in the yard. We hung out with other cruisers, attended a birthday party, (not mine) and attended a pot luck in the rain. We loaded up the boat with cartload after cartload of food on a multi-day provisioning trip. Most people are going to Opua, which is just up the coast, so we raised a few eyebrows as we put months of food aboard.


Pretty Whangarei

We took one day (and many part days) for being tourists. We took the trail up to Whangarei falls, which is reached via a path by the river. We had ridden the part of these wide, paved paths near the marina before, so I thought the trip would be a couple of hours by bike. We had just barely cleared the town when we encountered our first set of stairs. We abandoned our bikes and continued on foot.


Exploring the fern trails and waterfall


Begonia in the marina,and the beautiful Pōhutukawa (New Zealands 'Christmas' tree) is in bloom all over town

The trail turned out to be longer and steeper than I had expected. There were also lots of interesting side trails that switchbacked their way out of the steep canyon. The views were great. The forest was reminiscent of a Pacific Northwest rain forest, only with a lot of funny, Dr. Seuss plants. By the time we eventually made it back to the bikes many hours later than expected, we were all-over sore.


The city of Whangarei (most northerly in NZ)

Before we left Whangarei, we spent a couple of evenings with other boaters. One evening aboard 'Jadean' to celebrate Kim's birthday, and another evening with a nearby boat (Red Max) who had already visited Chile. They were great company and they gave us lots of good advice. Their photos of their trip really got us excited about going. The next morning, Red Max came over and gifted us their paper charts of the area as a send off.

{Maryanne: We filled up with provisions for Chile while in Whangarei (we could wheel the shopping cart from the grocerey store across the street right to the boat, so that was easy), but we also made time to do something fun every day. We had fish & chips, and a nice Thai meal out, we ambled and ate ice cream, and caught up with at least 10 other boats that we've seen in this years Pacific passage who happen to be in Whangarei at the same time.}

High tide was at sunrise, so we had to leave then. We went down the river to where it widens out by Norsand and had the anchor down by 7:00, glad to not be waiting for a haulout. It rained most of the day, so we were looking forward to some quiet time with not much to do.

Maryanne decided to do a quick sewing project and the thing mushroomed into a whole day affair of fixing and re-fixing the touchy machine. Five hours later, all we had to show for the effort was a canvas bucket cover. If she ever asks, remember; It's the most beautiful bucket cover you have ever seen. {Maryanne: Actually I made two, but Kyle isn't that observant.. ha!}


Morning calm at anchorage

No comments: