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ENJOY YOUR WINTER CRUISING

We’ve owned Rapport now for a year and a half, finding her to be a great cruising vessel, however when you buy a pre-owned boat you inevitably make compromises compared to your perfect desired boat. In our case there were three compromises, which I’ll discuss.

1. Rapport has a large flybridge with full headroom and our compromise here was having plastic clears as opposed to glass. Particularly facing forward, glass is a big plus especially in heavier seas when there’s a lot of spray reducing visibility. However Rapport’s clears are exceptionally good being polycarbonate which appears to retain its clarity for longer than vinyl and we’re just about to treat these with RainX-Plastic which should considerably increase visibility with rain or spray. In general we’re pretty happy with these clears and won’t consider glass as an option until it’s time to replace the clears.

2. We prefer gas cooking to electric. There’s a lot said about gas safety issues, but we’re perfectly comfortable with professionally installed lpg systems with gas detectors. The main plus with lpg is you can cook without running a generator. Rapport has electric bench top hobs and a convection microwave. It took a while to get used to the convection microwaveand while Di says she would still prefer a “proper oven” we find it adequate, supplemented by an electric frying pan. To avoidhavingto start the generator just to make a morning cup of tea or coffee we bought a small bench top single hob “Gasmate” stove. This uses disposable lpg bottles which are cheap and last one or two days. We also use this for boiling vegetables etc. There’s no problem using electric cooking while the main engines are running and charging the batteries. Using the generator for cooking in the evening is also not a problem as we often need to run it to charge our house battery bank, particularly if we haven’t run the main engines that day. In the summer most of our cooking is on a lpg BBQ and we really enjoy using that. So in conclusion we’ve adapted and will continue with the present system.

3. As you will have read in our last posting we really enjoy using our dinghy and ideally wanted a 3m rigid-hulled inflatable with a 15hp 4-stroke outboard, lifted on board by crane. Rapport came with an old TakaCat inflatable that after a few weeks we literally threw away as it had so many air leaks. In any case its 6hp Mercury outboard was too heavy for us to comfortably lift on and off the dinghy.

As Rapport came without a crane and we needed something in a hurry that the two of us could lift onto the foredeck cradle we bought a very lightweight (33kg) Aquapro SLR 2.6m rigid-hulled inflatable with a Honda 2.5hp air cooled outboard. We had one of these Hondas in the Med and found it to be super – very reliable and nearly always starting first pull. This package has worked well but was always a temporary solution. We’re now going to sell the Aquapro/Honda and upgrade to an approx 3m rigid hulled inflatable with a 15hp 4-stroke outboard. This will give us planing ability with at least two adults, more room when we have often have four adults aboard, longer range and better rough water capability. Not to mention much more fun! Bear in mind that on a typical coastal cruiser your inflatable is also your life raft in a worst case scenario. In order to lift this dinghyaboard Rapport we’ll need to install an electric crane and we’re researching whether we can store the dinghy on a new rack to be built behind the flybridge (preferred option) or on the existing foredeck rack. Also researching which inflatable to buy and whether to fit a Honda, Suzuki, Mercury or Yamaha outboard – watch this space.

ENJOY YOUR WINTER CRUISING

In many European and North American boating locations Autumn is time to winteriseyour boat and leave it until Spring, however in Auckland there’s no reason not to swap shorts and tee-shirts for jeans and sweatshirts and enjoy most of what cruising has to offer throughoutourwinter.

Average weather statistics willsurprise you. For example Auckland’s average daytime winter temperature is 14-15dC while bycomparison popular cruising destination Scotland has an averagesummertemperature of only 15-17dC. Also surprisingly, on average January is Auckland’s windiest month while the least windy are March and May throughAugust. In Auckland showers are more prevalent than constant rain and the weather out among the Gulf islands is invariably sunnier than on the mainland. For example we often look back from Waiheke basking in the sunshine to see the mainland shrouded by cloud.

Auckland is New Zealand’s most populous boating area where the Hauraki Gulf’sMahurangi Harbour and Kawau Bay to the north-west, Great Barrier Island to the north-east and the string of islands from Rangitoto to Ponui in the south offer safe shelter in most weather conditions all year round.

Cruising in winter offersless crowded anchorages, good fishing and also means using your boat regularly, thereby reducing the chances of unexpected problems. I often see owners starting their diesel engines at the marina during winter, however engineers tell me there’s no substitute for using your boat regularly and working your engines under load at normal operating temperature, which can’t be achieved in the marina. In fact I’ve been told that starting your engines without loading them can do more harm than good.

The winter nights are of course longer from around 1800 to 0700 hours. We find keeping warm not an issue with heat from the galley, an electric fan heater powered from our generator and a portable gas heater. Other systems such as diesel heaters are also available. Ensure adequate ventilation when using gas heaters to avoid dangerous build ups of carbon monoxide.

We had planned a ten day family cruise for late May and as departure approacheswe watch theforecast with some consternation. The approaching weather system isso unusual that the media describesit as a “weather bomb,” caused by a ridge of high pressure in the eastern Tasman Sea combining with a deep low pressure trough north-eastof the North Island to cause south-easterly winds in excess of 40 knots and exceptionally high swells in excess of four metres. A gale warning is issued forthe Hauraki Gulf, but only a strong wind advisory forthe Waitemata harbour, so we modifyour plans to avoid the outer Gulf and enjoy the Waiheke area.

We leave on a Friday afternoon in a light south-easterly breeze and cruise to Owhanaki Bay on Waiheke’s north-west-coast. Here is perfect for the forecast strong south-east winds and we find only a handful of boats anchored here providing us with plenty of all-important swinging room. We’re cautious about this as having anchored many nights over the years in adverse conditions our only problems have ever been caused by other anchored vessels coming adrift and hitting us. The rocks either side of the bay’s entrance are awash with a larger than normal swell, but where we’re anchored there’s just a gentle lift. With the wind predicted to increase to 25 knots we elect to stay here for the next couple of days finding it perfectly comfortable and secure.

ByTuesday it’s a beautiful sunny day, albeit a bit colder as the wind increases and temporarily shifts a bit to the south. We anchor off Oneroa Bay, slightly further east, where our family members join us having arrived by ferry at Matiatia. We want to cruise east to the Waiheke Channel and it’s decision time. Do we take the route to the north of Waiheke enjoying the sheltered northern coast, but risking heavy south-east seas when we turn south into the Firth of Thames, or do we cruise east along the Tamaki Strait on thesouthern side of Waiheke expecting a large wind-driven chop for most of the way but no heavy seas? We elect the latter and cruise south down the west coast of Waiheke in tranquillity before turning east at Park Point into the full brunt of a steady 35 knot south-easterly gusting into the 40s. Although the wind-driven chop is about two metres high it’s directly on our bow so Rapport’s 16 metre hull handles the conditions well at about 8 knots with plenty of spray but little discomfort and with conditions gradually improvingas we approach the Waiheke Channel. Normally with a south-east wind we’d anchor in Ponui Island’s Chamberlin’s Bay, but with the exceptionally strong winds we find residual swell from the Firth of Thames so anchor slightly further to the east in the more sheltered Te Kawau Bay.

During the next few daysthe south-easterly isfar too strong to venture out into our favoured fishing areas of the Firth so we seek out new fishing spots in the more sheltered waters ofthe Waiheke Channel finding two locationsthat provide plenty of action.

Faced with the “weather bomb” it would have been all too easy to cancel our cruise, but we enjoy ten great days away confirming that winter cruising even in poor weather can be enjoyed.

Charleston Arrival

Photo courtesy Pierce and Janet Guyer We completed the final leg of our passage from Horta to Charleston in the same conditions as we started, with light winds, calm seas and great speed. In the middle, we had two weather systems to contend with, including the first named storm of the year, tropical storm Ana….

Into the Storm

In determining our route from Ireland to Charleston this May, we had a number of choices. The naive option was to proceed directly from Ireland to Charleston, taking roughly the opposite route to our 2017 passage from Newport, RI to Kinsale, Ireland almost four years earlier to the day. But a near-steady procession of intense…

Azores High

The most direct route from the Azores to the US is an 1,800-mile great circle route to Bermuda (the red dashed line above), then a 600-800-mile run to the US, depending on our landing choice. The problem with that routing is that the winds predominately blow from the west, on the bow, and we would…

Horta

Horta has long been a stopover for ships crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Explorers and settlers arrived in the 15th century, followed by trading ships in the 16th through 19th centuries, and most recently, ocean-crossing pleasure craft. To accommodate the increasing numbers of these smaller boats, a large 300-slip marina was constructed in 1986. It is…

Azores Arrival

We got our first glimpse to the Azores archipelago on the morning after our eighth night after departing Dublin. We reached the port of Horta shortly after day break and proceeded to our berth in the commercial harbour, with views to the historic town on the opposite shore. The protocol for pleasure craft arriving into…

Ireland to Azores

In late April, we continued our journey home with a 1,330-mile, 8-day run from Ireland to the Azores. We departed Dublin in strong winds, but those settled within a day and we had reasonably calm conditions most of the way. We initially were planning to start the Atlantic crossing from south Ireland, but many ports…

Dun Laoghaire

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River Liffey

The River Liffey runs through the center of Dublin and has long been a source of water, recreation and commerce for the city. Trade along the river was recorded as early as the Viking days and the first bridge across was built in 1428. Up until the 1990s, cargo ships transported Guinness for export from…

Dalkey

Dun Laoghaire harbour was constructed in the early 1800s from stone quarried at nearby Dalkey. The old railway used to transport the rock is now a popular walking path, “The Metals”, leading to the town of Dalkey and on to the quarry in Kilkenney Park. Dalkey is an appealing town with many pubs and two…