_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Marcy home Walvis Bay Angling Club club AFASyn Ushuaia Marcy and crew

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Ready to leave Opua!

Today was a big day for Marcy! The mechanic came out to the boat today and finished (sort-of) the job on the engine and we're up and running again. We'll need to come back after Christmas as a few more parts need replacing but in the meantime we're on our way.

We can hardly wait to untie the dock lines and head out to see this bay that we've heard so much about. We'll make one more trip to town tomorrow, get a few groceries and be off to quiet anchorages where photo ops will no doubt abound. On every walk and trip to town so far we've forgotten the camera or neglected to pull it out and use it. The weather is warming up and small anchorages are calling. If we don't get some scallops soon we could be accused of all talk and no action!

We have a few new photos and we'll post them as soon as we have a good enough connection.

Cheers for now!


Sunday, November 18, 2007

approach and arrival NZ (Ginger)

Our passage to NZ was fast and relatively painless, overall. We enjoyed an 8 day 2 hour passage and only had one day where it blew a full gale. Even though we had no engine our batteries stayed charged with the self steering vane doing most of the steering and the solar panels pumping in lots of juice as the days got longer on our way south. The last 36 hours of the trip the seas got steep and the wind strengthened. We sailed upwind for almost 24 hours with our storm staysail and 3rd reef in
our mainsail which was the perfect combo for the 30-35 knots of wind. In the steep seas we rolled gunwale to gunwale at times and it was important to have as much sail up as possible to minimize the roll. We took a lot of waves over the bow and the bedding around the forward hatch completely failed. We had water pouring in over our v-berth and fortunately had the ubiquitous blue tarp handy to cover our gas generator stored up there on the floorboards. We also had a few port leaks which resulted
in water pouring from the high side of the boat in the port, across the saloon table and onto the settee on the other side. We took water in through the anchor locker hatch as well and for the last 20 hours of the trip were hand bailing quite a bit. Our strainer on our main bilge pump kept clogging and the sucking foot on the pump is only long enough to reach the port side of the boat anyway. As most of the passage was spent on port tack it was easier to just hand bail the water. We vowed to
avoid hand bailing ever again if possible and added items to the fix-it list. Needless to say as we approached the Bay of Islands and the seas calmed we were quite happy to be heading to shore. We enjoyed the company of 4 other boats on the same passage checking in to a radio net twice daily. Every boat had challenges and it was a spirit lifter to hear everyone's struggles as we were all out there together.

As we came into the bay we notified customs that we were without auxiliary power. We asked by radio if we had any options other than the customs dock if we couldn't make it to the dock under sail. There can be a strong current in the bay and the wind was directly on the nose for the last mile. The authorities verified that there were no options other than the quarantine dock so we continued on. We had to tack a few times to reach the dock and at the end customs guys came by in their beefy RIB
to push us, but we didn't need any help as Marcy executed a perfect docking under sail. Good thing, as we had a huge audience from the yacht club next door watching our arrival. It was definitely a high point of the trip to have our friends cheering our arrival from the yacht club deck. We arrived at 7PM Sunday night so we spent the night on the quarantine dock and were cleared in Monday morning. Within 10 minutes of the customs officials arriving on the dock we had the phone number of one of
the officers and an invitation to dinner at his house when we're in Auckland. Maybe the black eye helped with sympathy. We've never had such a welcome to a new country. They let us sit on the quarantine dock all day until slack tide in the late afternoon when Volare and Noorderzon towed us to the other end of the dock with their dinghies. Champagne was then in order!

With no time to spare we went ashore (we're tied to the breakwater dock so we have to use our kayak to get ashore) checked into the marina and arranged to have our engine worked on all before 5PM. The following day there was an announcement on the morning radio net that someone with a car was going to the butcher, hardware store and grocery store and had room for one more rider. Peter stayed on board cleaning up the boat and rinsing salt water off every surface while I took advantage of the ride.
The closest town is over 6 kilometers away by car so it was a great treat to get a ride to get the necessities - meat, beer and veggies. With the shopping done and lunch taken care of it was time to get a local phone card and arrange for our dinghy to be repaired. I called the local dinghy repair company which is about 30 minutes away by car and Tim, the guy fixing our dinghy, said that his father was at the marina right then and could pick up our boat. A quick jog, paddle, loading of the dinghy
in the kayak, paddle and delivery to the car and project #2 was underway. Meanwhile our social calendar was filling up, Don, from Sand Dollar, had caught a large tuna on the trip here so he arranged a dinner at a local restaurant. Every day ashore has been seeing friends we haven't seen in weeks and/or months and also meeting people from boats we've heard on the radio but never met. It was an exhausting and exciting time to see another friend every time we went ashore. Of course, sharing stories
and catching up were in order with every reunion. The following day was for laundry, showers - finally! - and more boat straightening. We received one lost package from Pago Pago but it wasn't the missing towing/wind generator, rather it was a beaten up box of books from Amazon. Half of the books were already re-shipped by them so we had a round of email with them to figure out how to return those. Thursday we got a ride with Paul from Blue Stocking and went to explore the towns of Kawakawa,
Kerikeri and Pahia. This was Peter's first trip outside of the marina. The countryside is rolling and green. We have seen our share of sheep now and have determined that the narrow shoulders, steep hills and fast cars do not lend themselves to biking here.

Wednesday was a very stormy day and we mostly stayed aboard. There were steady winds at 35-40 knots in the marina and our hearts went out to our friends from Ruby Slippers and other boats who were still at sea and on their way in.
Friday, our wedding anniversary (thanks for the emails) we were planning to go out to a celebration dinner but were invited to a party in Russell at Terry's house. Terry and his wife Chris are the owners of Mufasa. We last saw them in Pago Pago and we enjoyed a nice evening in their beautiful home catching up with them and the other boats who came to dinner.
Today we decided we needed a few things at the grocery store and some exercise. We did our first tramping today. No that doesn't involve makeup and small clothes, we walked the trail to Pahia. This was the first time we've had real shoes on since last September and my feet complained bitterly, in fact they're still complaining. We walked for 5 1/2 hours and are sure that we must have walked at least 14k in that time. For us, who have been unable to walk more than a mile due to heat and inclination
for the last year, this was quite a feat. We're back on board soaking our feet tonight and planning our boat projects for the upcoming week.

Have I already mentioned that the climate, people and countryside here and fantastic and we're thrilled to be here? It feels a little bit like New England and a little bit like San Juan Islands. We're looking forward to exploring. We heard there's an island in this bay where a person can snorkel for scallops and get the limit of 20 in about 15 minutes. Situations like this are exactly why we have shorty wet suits on board!
Thanks for all the emails and well wishes on our passage.

PS: Does anyone read 48 North? Will someone save the November issue for us?


Monday, November 12, 2007

In Opua NZ

All is well, we are tied to a dock in flat calm water. No internet yet and tough radio communication. More soon...


Thursday, November 08, 2007

"Adventure Marcy" Day 7 (people pay to do this?!) Friday 11/9 1:40PM Ginger

Yesterday started like any perfect summer day in Puget Sound. At 5:30AM it was overcast, 75 degrees and there was a refreshing drizzle falling. Light winds, calm seas and the promise of some wind later. After a great spinnaker run we motored all night Wednesday night as the winds died at sunset. So, as I was on watch enjoying the rain the engine room exhaust began to smell strongly of engine exhaust. This is easy to notice as the engine room air blows straight into the cockpit. Further, upon
closer investigation there was also dirty soot coming out with the smelly air. We shut the engine off and a few hours later when it had cooled off Peter then got to work to see what was going on with the engine. Of course we were on port tack sailing up wind so the boat was heeled over and the tools and the problem area on the engine were both way down hill. Peter went to work checking and tightening things and unfortunately found that one of the exhaust manifold studs was broken. That's a mouthful
to repeat on the radio and I'm trying to tell people who actually know what that is so I needed to get it right. It just doesn't fly to say the bolt thingy on the side of the engine broke off. I keep stopping myself from saying it's the exhausted-man-stud on board, but he's OK. The skies cleared the wind filled in and we were making OK progress toward NZ. Mid-morning an NZ Orion search and rescue plane flew over to check on us and the boats that were near us. It was amazing to see them do their
fly-by 300 miles out at sea and Peter had a short chat with the pilot confirming our eta and telling them we had no engine. As the day wore on the winds increased and the seas grew too. It's lumpy again and unfortunately our course is directly up wind. In the evening we took in the jib and set the staysail. In the process Peter was setting the running backstay when the line got stuck throwing him off balance. At that very moment a wave sent him airborne toward the cockpit. I should have known
he would land on his feet but I was reaching for him to keep him on the boat as he was thrown toward me. In the end his elbow is every so slightly sore and I have a black eye. Hopefully it will be better by the time we go out to dinner next Friday for our anniversary. (I'm planning ahead for when I've moved on from the four basic food groups - crackers, bananas, hard boiled eggs and shortbread cookies.) The night was capped off by a mysterious green flare off our port side which I now believe
may have been space debris coming down. This morning was spent bailing the bilge (as usual) and fixing heads. We've found that we have two fine options aboard Marcy right now. The aft head has an "issue" with the seas so it's more of a bidet, not too bad if it's just salt water but...we've closed that seacock. The forward head has a fun little twist that one can multi task with a salt water shower from the port above while one is sitting on the throne. It's very exciting. We've had reports
that the wind should be more easterly tomorrow and we're hoping for that shift. There are gale force winds predicted for the area we're headed to on Monday and we're hoping to get in before it builds to the forecast 40 knots. In the last 24 hours we have sailed 102 miles and made only 56 miles headway toward NZ. Spirits are good aboard and we're looking forward to landfall in a couple of days. We've been checking into the Seafarer's net as well as a net with 4 other boats out here. Misery loves
company and we've all had our share of challenges. One boat has prop shaft problems and has to replace breaking bolts if they motor so they're trying not to. One boat has a leaking center board so they can't use it (really bad problem for up wind sailing) and they have old sails that aren't in the best shape for this kind of sailing. We're holding our own with the other two and it was fun to cross tacks with Sand Dollar (skipper Don is a Dr. from the Seattle area) yesterday a couple of times.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Over half way to "En-Zed-land" 5:30AM 11/7 (Ginger)

The sun is just coming up and we're over half way on this passage. After the first two days of fast sailing we enjoyed a full day of spinnaker sailing yesterday. As evening approached our wind died and we doused the spinnaker and started up the engine for the first time since leaving Fiji. Many of the boats just ahead of us started this passage by motoring for the first two days so we're feeling lucky to have almost caught up with them (we left a day or two behind them) and to be motoring for
the first time now. It was time to give the batteries a little boost anyway. The nights are still a chilly 75 degrees and the days have been beautiful. Though the temp on the deck was 102F yesterday afternoon there was a chill to the breeze that made us think of spring at home. It feels as if the breeze may be picking up a bit from the north so today may be another fantastic spinnaker day. We've been monitoring a net with a few boats from Fiji just ahead of us and today we'll check into Russell
Radio as they'll notify customs when we're within 48 hours of arriving. It feels close now, just 500 miles to go. Peter had a creamy chicken tarragon dinner to celebrate our half way point last night. This is good news as the chicken was home canned and would have been confiscated in NZ. As we just used 12 hours of fuel we've got about 48 more hours we could motor if needed. Sailing is so much more comfortable hopefully we're through the high pressure area of light winds and can sail again.
(The barometer say's we're steady at 1017 mb just like last night but who's looking at that!) We're practicing our Kiwi and hoping not to say anything considered polite at home and extremely rude here! We've learned a few phrases to avoid but now that they're on our minds maybe we'll blurt them out by accident!


Sunday, November 04, 2007

This is not a vacation... it's an adventure! (Ginger) 22 deg 02 min S 175 deg 08 min E

So, finally, over a year into this trip we have come to an understanding. I will stop looking for Mai Tai's on every beach and will know that when the cabin is swarmed by hungry sand flies it's all part of the adventure! This is my new mantra as I swallow another stugeron pill for sea sickness. When we left the marina we were anchored next to some friends we met in Samoa. They went across the island by bus and we watched their boat and had the use of their dinghy. We decided after working like
crazy to finish boat jobs that it was the perfect time to get groceries and check out of the country. Many boats that had been poised to leave Fiji for the last month took off for NZ Friday and we decided to follow Saturday. Michele and Carol got back from Suva at 3P Saturday and by 3:30 we were underway and checking into the Seafarer's Net. We motored through the pass in the reef just after sun set and as dark approached we raised the sail on our course for NZ. We've been close hauled ever since.
Our first day we went 150 miles in 10 - 15 knot winds. By yesterday afternoon the wind had picked up to 20 knots and we had a second reef in the main sail. At sunset last night Peter reefed the jib and we rocketed along in 25+ knot winds all night. We went 100 miles from 3:30P to 3:30A and it looks as if we'll turn in a 180 mile day today. The weather still looks good. We have some lighter winds in the forecast and are hearing reports from boats just 100 miles ahead that they're in them with
calmer seas. When we finally slow down the less jerky motion will be welcome. The wind is expected to come from the North North East tomorrow or the next day and we should be able to head straight for Opua. There was one small (but important!) island we needed to miss and we passed it 30 miles to the east a couple of hours ago so we've got open ocean for a while and we're enjoying the ride. The nights have been cool and we're already wearing fleece and poly pro at night but we've still got tropical
sun during the day and cabin temp about 90 degrees. The flying fish are out and the sun is on the waves and now that we're getting our sea legs again we're reminded why we're out here.


Thursday, November 01, 2007


We’re preparing Marcy for the passage to New Zealand.

First on the list, we stopped at Vuda Point Marina for a quick haul and bottom paint job.

We tried to keep up with cleaning the bottom, but it was a losing battle.

Marcy Peter and kayak

We figured new paint would make the passage go faster.

The marina digs holes in the ground for yachts to spend the cyclone season out of the water. It also makes for easy painting – you don’t have to reach as high with the roller.

ready for the stands

We were pleased to find a little building with showers just a few paces away from Marcy


While we had plenty of fresh water, we pressure washed the deck and repainted the marks on the anchor chain.

chain painted, deck clean

The painters, Baobab Marine, were easy to work with and did a great job.

Baobab at work

While the paint dried, we explored the area. Sugar cane is brought to the refinery by a narrow gauge railway that runs right by the marina. This car derailed one morning.

sugar cane train car

cane train tracks

As pleasant as the haulout was (we’ve never had a swimming pool, café with free internet, and two restaurants available at previous haulouts) we still breathed a sigh of relief as Marcy was relaunched.

re-launch Fiji

Back on the water, we headed for the nearest quiet bay to prepare the boat for what might be a rough passage. We checked the rig, added a line for the third reef in the main, and hanked the storm staysail to the stay. To avoid worn spots we swapped the self steering lines and jib sheets “end for end”, and repaired small chafe holes in the mainsail. As we worked, the VHF radio constantly crackled with yacht conversations. This part of Fiji is a jumping off location for yachts of many nationalities that are heading to NZ or AUS to avoid the cyclone season. Many are nervous about this notorious passage, and the talk is all about the weather, which boat has left and was forced to turn back, what the best time to leave might be, and on and on. The tension is palpable.

Ginger checking lashings

We had filled fuel at Savusavu so that was one job already done.

Savusavu dock

Ginger is busy working on the shopping list. Tomorrow morning we go into town to visit customs and the grocery store. Then we will be free to head out to sea.

Ginger shopping list

As we watched the sunset, we realized that Marcy wouldn’t be anchored in a tropical bay again for over six months. We made a mental note to dig out the foulweather gear (stored deep in a locker since the California coast) and went to bed early.

Saweni Bay sunset



As we departed Savusavu some ladies rafted by in great style.

Ladie's Day out Savusavu

A daysail took us to the island of Makogai. As pretty as this island is, the really spectacular scenery is underwater.

Giant clam Makogai 1

Makogai fish 1

We were given a tour of the marine reserve where tanks are used as a clam nursery. The larger clams can fend for themselves out in the lagoon.

Sara explaining clams Makogai

The island was a leper colony closed in the late ‘60’s. The remains of the buildings, including a jail and the “first movie theater in the Pacific” were interesting to explore.

Open air jail Makogai

Makogai outdoor movie theater

In the water, we found that the clam beds literally had beds! The bed frames from the leper hospital were recycled for the effort to nurture clams.

giant clam bed

clam beds Makogai

We learned that the clams actually contribute to the water clarity by their constant siphoning.

giant fish Makogai

giant clam Makogai 2

The waters were teeming with fish. Peter is behind this school of barracuda.

barracuda and Peter Makogai

anemone fish

Makogai fish 2

Makogai coral 1

Makogai coral 2

Makogai coral 3

Makogai fish 3

Makogai fish 7

Makogai fish 5

Makogai fish 6

Makogai soft coral

It is just as well that such interesting scenery was available underwater, because it just got warmer and warmer onboard Marcy. It was a relief to jump overboard!

hot day on Marcy at Makogai

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