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EXPLORING IN YOUR DINGHY

After owning Rapport for 16 months we now know her pretty well and have plenty of confidence in her cruising ability and reliability. Although we bought her as being “ready to cruise” that turned out to be not the case and the first three months or so were spent adding equipment and bringing up to our high standards. For the past several months we’ve cruised extensively and clocked 129 nights aboard and 329 engine hours.

A huge surprise for us has been Rapport’s remarkable economy. She’s powered by twin 375hp Caterpillar 3208s and we generally cruise around 1,400rpm giving us about 8knots. She’s capable of the 21 knots we achieved during our pre-purchase sea trial with full water and fuel plus five adults aboard, but Di and I prefer the more sedate 8-10 knots although we do regularly run her faster for up to 30 minutes in order to load up the engines. We’ve found that we’re averaging about 15 litres/hour each engine for a total of 30 litres/hour and this includes running our 7.5Kw genset for an average of three hours daily. I had honestly expected a figure nearing double this and combined with Rapport’s huge 2,800litres diesel tank capacity we have a big cruising range with refuelling being a rare occurrence. For example since our last refuel on 27 December we’ve spent 58 days cruising clocking 133 engine hours, only refuelled once and still have over 500 litres in the tanks.

Here is an edited version of an article shortly to be appearing in Pacific PowerBoat.

You can easily miss a lot when sitting aboard your boat anchored a couple of hundred metres offshore, butif you take the time to jump into your dinghy and explore the nearby coastline you’ll be well rewarded andgain a better appreciation of your anchorage, for exampleknowingwhere anyrocky outcropsand shallower patches begin(keep a lead line in your dinghy to check depths).

If you have young children aboard you can makeyour dinghy trip a real adventure for them too as well as letting them drive the dinghy and teaching them aboutabout “messing about in boats”. Last but not least, surprisingly large snapper can be caught close to inshore rocks in just a couple of metres of water using floating lines and large baits, especially in the subdued light of early mornings and late afternoons althoughI must add that we don’t like fishing from inflatables as they are too prone to being punctured by spines.

If we’re going ashore onHauraki Gulf island beaches we often take a small rubbish bag to gather anyunsightly litter. As my background is in the plastics industry we’re a bit sensitive to the inaccurate negative publicity related to what is really an issue of littering, not technology. I must say that despite publicity about littered beaches we rarely find more than the odd plastic bag orcontainer, a few bottle tops and an old jandal. Sometimes we literally can’t find a single item of rubbish. Maybe other folks are regularly cleaning up beaches too?

Here’s some examples of dinghy trips we’ve enjoyed.

Rangitoto Island’s Islington Bay is one of the Gulf’s most popular and sheltered anchorages and we’ve anchored here countlesstimes during 40 years cruising. It’s sheltered from all except S to SE winds so generally like the proverbial millpond except for some residual wakes from passing ferries and large launches. From out in the bay Rangitoto’srockycoastline looks much the same, but as you cruise close to shore a different world opens up of small coves and the remains of small jetties and launching ramps not visible from afar. At the northern end of the bay Rangitoto is separated from Motutapu Island by a narrow estuary heading north under a bridge into Gardiner Gap, a shallow bay separating the two islands. Within about twohours or so each side of high water this estuary is completely navigable by small dinghy, but be ready to duck going under the bridge. Unlike Islington Bay itself the estuary has clear water and is a good place to have a swim, though watch out for rays which often glide across the bottom searchingfor small fish and shellfish. Likewise Gardiner Gap is good for swimming close to high tide. If you beach your dinghy near the bridge you can walk east over the farm lands of Motutapu or follow a track around Islington Bay’s coastline. There used to be dozens of baches here built mainly in the 1920s and 30s and these wererusticsimple dwellings unlike many of today’s small mansions that people rather ironically still call baches.Many were laterremoved after disputes about land leases, but you can still see where they were located along with remaining chimneys and foundations. Fortunately a few baches remainreminding us how people then travelled here by ferry to enjoy their simple holidays at a slower pace of life.

Another very popular anchorage is Kawau Island’s Bon Accord Harbour. This is particularly sheltered in easterly winds and the harbour’s depth allows anchoring well up the bay’s head between Emu Point and Moores Bay. Take your dinghy on a trip into Swansea Bay on the north eastern corner up to a couple of hours either side of high water, passing through the mangroves and into the creek. It’s possible to navigate several hundred metres up this creek into a delightfully tranquil valley of bush where the only sounds are birds singing and jumping fish splashing. The water is clean and easily clear enough to see any obstructions such as submerged branches. Kids love it if you pretend these logs are in fact crocodiles and embellish the story accordingly. Up this creek are several fresh water pools, ideal for a dip to wash the salt off.

If you’re visiting Coromandel Harbour a great dinghy trip is navigating the creek to Coromandel township. Anchor your vessel south-west of the Coromandel wharf and set off about an hour before high tide. Be aware the sea can becomechoppy in strong westerlies so don’t overload your dinghy.In this area life jackets must be worn, not just carried aboard and this requirement is enforced by particularly vigilant authorities. The channel is evident and you’ll see some fairly large fishing vessels moored alongside makeshift jetties either side of the fairway. After a few hundred metres you’ll come to a bridge carrying the main road across the creek and a large area where you can beach your dinghy. The township has an eclectic mix of people (read as people who became hippies in the 1960s and got stuck in the groove) and ranks as one of the most picturesque we’ve seen whileproviding all the cruising supplies you may need. In the old days we’d often go into the pub for a cold beer, but we’re now more inclined to have a doughnut and coffee at the bakery. There’s also a very good takeaway offering tempting fish and chip lunches. Don’t lose track of time though as the creek does get shallow as the tide recedes. On our very first trip here we moored our 6 metre runabout to the wharf and were shocked to find it high and dry when we returned, giving us no choice but to return to the pub.

A trip we want to do soon is to anchor off Arkles Bay and do a dinghy trip up the Wade River to Silverdale. Enjoy your dinghy exploration and find your own favourites.

REFLECTING ON RAPPORT’S SUMMER CRUISE

This is an edited version of an article shortly to appear in Pacific PowerBoat magazine.

We set off after Boxing Day for a seven week cruise,our first stop beingMotutapu Island at our favoured anchorage ofWaikalabubu. We love that name – sounds very exotic. Here it’svery sheltered in south-westerlies and only minutes away from great fishing in the Rakino Channel.

After collecting Di’s sister, Sharonand her husband, Doug from Gulf Harbour marina we head toMahurangi Harbour. The popular anchorage here is Otarawao Bay on the port side as you enter, but it’s often used by shore-based jet skiers breaking all the rules so we head a further mile up harbour to anchor off Oaua Point at the entrance to the Pukapuka Inlet. Here it’s more sheltered and quieter, the only soundsbeing the splashes of some large fish jumping.

Spending a few days around Kawau Island we enjoy good fishing on the island’s north-east coastaroundFairchild Reef. In strong westerlies a good anchorage at Kawau isdifficult to find, the best one beingHarris Bay in Bon Accord Harbour if you tuck close to shore. But that’sgenerally crowded so we anchor at Goldsworthy Bay on the southern side of Kawau Bay findingexcellent shelter and only two other boats for company. In northerlies our preference is the very picturesque Bostaquet Bay with its great sandy beach.

A visit to the Kawau Boating Club is a must with diesel and water at the wharf, basic provisions, laundry and shower facilities available and an excellent licensed cafe where we enjoy a perfect lunch of seafood chowder and smoked fish pie. In fact we like it so much we join the club.

Most of our time is spent at Aotea / Great Barrier Island and overall it’shard to beat, providinga hugenumber of varied, safe and interesting anchorages and some great sandy beaches. It’s well supplied with fuel (although$1 per litre above mainland prices), water and storesand offerssuperb fishing. We regularly caught good feeds of snapper up to a 72cm, 7kg specimen that we returned to the sea and even caught legal snapper in five metres of water at one of our anchorages.

There must be a few crays around too as the skipper of a nearby boat gave us the rare treat of one to enjoy. We offered him a bottle of wine in return, but he preferred a loaf of bread, something we’ll be happy to trade for a cray any day.

The Barrier also has many great walking tracks taking you to scenic vantage points, hot mineral springs, kauri dams, waterfalls and the remains of a whaling station. If the arts are your thing you can visit the studios ofseveral local talented painters and potters.

Our preferred Barrier anchorages are Kiwiriki (“Two-Island”) Bay and Wairahi (“Ghost”) Bay in Port Fitzroy, Nagle Cove and Karaka Bay (where laundry facilities are available at Orama Oasis) in Port Abercrombie, the Broken Islands in settled weather, Bowling Alley Bay in north-westerlies through to easterlies and Whangaparapara in easterlies or light westerlies.

Port Fitzroy’s Smokehouse Bay is very popular and it’s well worth going ashore to see the bath house, where you can also do some laundry, exchange books and most often chat withother boaties.Fresh water is available here at high water from a hose on the grid. Incidentally water is no longer available at Forestry Bay and while there is usually water available from Whangaparapara the supply has been turned off due to low supplies.

Nearby Smokehouse Bay in Ghost Bay Barrier Gold sell manuka honey and related products from a rustic barn where you can also catch up on the local news.

Recycling can be disposed free and garbage $5 per bag near the Port Fitzroy wharf where fuel, water, ice and bait are also available. Take a short walk up the hill wherea store offersbasic supplies, beverages and lpg bottle refills. However stocks are intermittent here andthe best place for supplies is Tryphena where virtually everything is consistently available from the Stonewall Store at Puriri Bay, one of the island’s nicest sandy beaches except in strong westerlies.

The Barrier has its own private radio station working VHF channel 01 with weather forecasts at 0745 and 1745 while Coastguard can be contacted on channel 60.

In most of the anchorages we visit there areroughly 60 per cent yachts and 40 per cent motor vessels. Among the yachts it’s noticeable there are less traditional designs and more imports, including catamarans. When we started cruising in the 1980s 12 metre vessels such as Marklines, Corsairs, Rivierasand Vindexes were considered large andKennedy 46s were enormous. Now these are small by comparison with many of today’s newer vessels and it’s not uncommon to see vessels in the 20-25 metre range. Unfortunately some of these large vessels cause enormous wakes of around 1.5m, a fact that seems to escape the notice of some of their skippers.

Despiteexceptional numbers of cruisers predicted to enjoy thisholidayseason we didn’t noticeareas we visited being any busier than normal. Maybe people had less annual leave availableor was itthe relatively strong south-westerlies prevalent for much of the time – in all of our time away there were only a handful of days with light winds.

The subject of sharks has been widely covered in the media since Waihi Beach’s tragic fatal attack in early January.We hooked and released six smallsharks while snapper fishing and saw several othersswimming near us or other anchored boats including three large bronze whalers just off Port Fitzroy wharf, one in Whangaparapara and one in Tryphena.On the homeward journey we also see a large shark inside Kawau’s Bon Accord Harbour. The experts say sharks are more noticeable because the water’s clearer and there’s more people around to notice them, but we’re not convinced and others aren’t either judging by thenoticeable drop in numbers of swimmers off anchored boats. There’s a strong case for not filleting fish where people are likely to swim as sharks are certainly attracted by the scraps. It’s much better to bag the frames and scraps and dump them later in deeper isolated waters, something we’re now doing and encourage others to do the same.

From the Barrier we make a side trip to the stunning Mercury Islands (25 milesfrom Tryphena) and Whitianga (43 milesfrom Tryphena) and wonder why more cruisers don’t make thisrelatively short trip down from the Barrier.Our close friends Frank and Marie are staying at Whitianga’s Simpsons Beach and join us for a three day trip to the Mercurys.

We find Whitianga’s Mercury Bay tough going for fishing, although GreatMercuryIslandprovidesus with snapper, kahawai and grandaddy hapuka.

Mercury Cove is snug in all winds except strong south-easterlies while Coralie Bay is great in westerlies and the various sandy bays along the south coast are delightfulin northerlies. Another option in strong westerlies is Kennedy Bay about eleven miles to the east on the Coromandel Peninsula. There are many other glorious beaches on the Coromandel’s east coast but most of them are only suitable for anchoring over night in very settled weather due to swell.

Around Whitianga overnight anchoring in south-westerlies is good off Wharekaho (“Simpsons”) Beach or Cooks Beach,but there are no good anchoring options in easterlies.

Whitianga is a perfectplace to re-supply and it’s generally possible to use a mooring in the harbour for this purpose, while diesel is available from the marina at mainland prices. In town is the amazing shop called Pinky’s – something like an up-market $2 shop offeringa huge range of useful products and we challenge anybody to come out of there without buying something.

On our way home we backtrack our outward voyage via Great Barrier and Kawau and cutting our planned time away by three days due to a forecast of winds around 50 knots and heavy rain. When this weather arrives Rapport is safely on her marina and we’re home once again, planning our next trip.

CRUISING WITH OTHERS ABOARD

Our cruising plan is to head up to Kawau, across to the Barrier and down the eastern side of Coromandel to the Mercury Islands and Whitianga area.

Here is an edited version of an article we wrote appearing in the latest version of Pacific PowerBoat.

After a difficult covid 19-dominated year and with lockdowns hopefully behind us, the summer cruising season finally upon us and overseas travel options restricted for the forseable future, unprecedented numbers of boaties are expected to head out to enjoy the delights of their local cruising area and beyond.

While a few old salts enjoy the seclusion that boating can offer one of the great joys of the cruising experience for the majority of us is sharing our adventures with family and friends (guests). We really enjoy showing guests around and not only are they great company, but give old destinations new life as they often discover new aspects and notice different features of interest.
But while there’s nothing quite like mates filleting the catch together over a cold beer at the end of a great day and telling tall stories about the one that got away, there can be a different sort of a catch. Guests may not be used to boats and you may not have previously have all spent so much time together in such close confinement.

Some guests may be experienced boaties, but even they need to know the peculiarities of your boat (yes and even those  of the skipper). So cruising with guests is made all the more enjoyable for all if they know what to expect and after being welcomed aboard are made fully aware of safety procedures, how things work, and the skipper’s basic “rules”.

If you’re planning to meet guests mid-way through your cruise consider that it’s generally much easier and cheaper for you if they come to where your boat is located rather than you needing to make major detours to meet them. It’s a funny thing that we seem to baulk at spending hard earned dollars on a ferry or taxi, but not even more for diesel.

With space limited on boats you don’t want guests arriving with bulky suitcases so discuss in advance what they should bring. Do they need to bring their own linen and towels? If you don’t like guests wearing shoes aboard your boat you need to provide guidelines on suitable footwear as well as clothing for the cruise (experience-based tip: guests always bring far too many clothes). Discuss food supplies to avoid duplication and to ensure any special requirements (which seem all too prevalent these days) are met. 

Find out if your guests are prone to sea sickness. If they are it can be a problem for you as well as them so make some suggestions for medications to bring along. If they are bringing children do you have suitable life jackets? 
If you intend to share costs it might be wise to mention this from the outset. For example we generally share costs for food, drink and fuel for the time guests are on board.
Particularly on a larger vessel it’s all too easy to overlook a safety briefing as being unnecessary, but a briefing demonstrates your competence as their skipper to guests and shows you are serious about their safety. Tailor your briefingto your guests’ experience levelsand at leastcoverthe location of life jackets, use of fire extinguishers, man overboard procedures and any hazards specific to yourboat. For some of our experienced guests I extend the briefing to include all aspects of taking command of the boat and use of the tender.
Most guests like to feel they’re part of the crew rather than passengers, so it’s often a good idea to encourage them to help with anything from anchoring to cleaning up after fishing to manning the barbecue. In open waters give them a spell on the helm.
Guests can be rightly concerned about weather patterns and sea conditions, so it’s best to fully explain each morning over breakfast the intended cruising plan for the day and relevant weather situation.

Two major challenging areas with guests aboard can be the heads and water conservation. Explain clearly to your guests exactly how the heads operate and what not to flush down them; dismantling a blocked head is not the ideal way to start a great holiday together! Also explain how your boat has limitations with fresh water compared with life ashore and the need to conserve water during showers (yes this particularly applies to the ladies).

Most guests find it important to be able to charge their devices – mobile phones, iPads, laptops etc and you need to explain how they can do this. We also ask guests to leave their phones off or in silent mode overnight to avoid interrupted sleep for others.

When having guests for more than a few days it can be a good idea to encourage them to do some exploring by themselves to provide some “time out” for all. Diane and I often take an early morning walk by ourselves for this reason.

By adopting some of the above suggestions your cruising experience with guests can be made a whole lot more enjoyable for all and with memories of a great cruise they will still be friends when they disembark.

RECENT CRUISING ABOARD RAPPORT

In early October Tommo from Caterpillar spent most of a day servicing our twin Cat 3208 engines and I spent this time with him, learning a lot in the process. They’re supposed to be serviced annually or every 200-250 hours and although they’d only done about 140 hours since the last service we needed to get the service done before the summer holiday rush. Half the cost of service is the multitude of filters, oils, anodes and other service parts replaced.

Due to covid we hadn’t used the boat since June, so in mid October did a three day shakedown cruise around Rakino & Waiheke Islands. The fishing was surprisingly good and we caught one snapper 62cm long. 

Nice snapper caught northern end Rakino Channel



We also found a few issues not related to the Cats service. 
The windlass deck switch wasn’t working so replaced that.

Rapport has a NEMA 2000 network information sharing system and we found some elements weren’t working properly. Subsequently the Furuno agents, ENL, came to the boat and quickly found the problem caused by two faulty network cable connectors which they replaced.

But the biggest issue was the recently serviced generator kept shutting down after about 30 mins operation. On return to the marina we found the 5 year old start battery had gone flat and replaced it, but that didn’t help. Our regular contractor called in a genset electrical specialist who after a couple of hours investigation found that during the service the oil pressure switch had been replaced with an incorrect type. The switch is supposed to send a signal to shut off the glow plugs after working oil pressure is reached, but this switch wasn’t doing that so the glow plugs were staying on and sucking 10 amps from the battery. Once the correct oil pressure switch was fitted all was OK.

Over Labour Weekend we took out John, Alice and our grandkids Lily, Veida & Axel. Again the fishing was good and the kids all caught their first ever fish, but what sizes. We spent an afternoon ashore at Waiheke’s Man O’War vineyard and although enjoyable was way too crowded with long delays for food.

Not a bad snapper for 4 year old Veida’s first day of fishing

We had another two weeks aboard during November, including on week with Chris. The weather wasn’t great with winds up to 30 knots and many showers, but everything ran well and again we had an abundance of snapper.

After a year of ownership we’ve logged 70 nights aboard and that’s not bad considering all the time we couldn’t go out due to covid restrictions.

We’ve postponed our Whitianga trip to around March-April.

A LOGICAL APPROACH TO MANAGING CRUISING INFORMATION

 This is an edited version of an article we wrote shortly to appear in Pacific PowerBoat magazine.

Covid-19 cruising update

No sooner had wementioned New Zealand’sreturn tounrestricted cruising late July in PMB’s last issue than the new Auckland level 3 lock down commenced on 12 August, lasting until the 30thbefore going to level 2.5 and finally to level 1 on 7 October. This time around there was no room for confusion about boating under level 3 being not permitted and now with lock downs hopefully behind us andSpring here cruising can only get better.

In other covid news there are many cruisers in variousPacific island locationshighly disappointed at not being able to come to New Zealand for the summer to avoid the cyclone season and a German crew who arrived illegally have been deported leavingthe future status of their yacht unclear. I guess many of these crews assumed they would be allowed entry and didn’t think to make alternate arrangements. Obviously there is sympathy for these crews, butpotentially arriving at various locations at different times could have represented a logistical nightmare for ourauthorities, although I guess their time at sea cruising here could have counted towards quarantine.Sympathy also for the various marine facilities and other businesses who normally benefit from the spends of these crews, reported by media as averaging $50k per vessel.

Managing cruising information

Cruising is all about maximising the enjoyment of our leisure time and the last thing we want to do out on the water is paperwork right? Absolutely, but consider these scenarios.

You call anelectronics technicianabouta problem with your radar and he needsto know its serial number. You think it’s about time to getyour engines serviced but can’t recall how many engine hours passed since the last one. You know you wrote down the weather forecast this morning, but where’s that piece of paper? You decide to sell your boat and need a comprehensive list of its features and onboard equipment. You’rein bed when your bilge pump alarm sounds – do you know how to access each seacock and through hull for inspection at night?

Asimple Information Management System can easily answer these questions as well as makingthe operation of your vessel easier and enhancing its resale value. The elements of the system we’ve successfully used during nearly forty years cruising include an Operating Manual, a Logbook, a Daybook, a To Do List and a Receipts File.

Operating Manual:when we bought Rapport last year there was no Manual and the broker’s advertising sheet lacked detail and missed much of the equipment. Now we have a comprehensive Manual comprising about forty pages describing all equipment aboard and covering subjects such as safety equipment, location of seacocks and other through-hulls, location of electrical isolation switches, functions of circuit breakers, how equipment operates, service intervals and spare parts carried. A multitude of systems makes boats complex and it’s impossible to remember everything about them, so when we do a job for the first time (eg adjusting an alternator’s vee belt tension)we note procedures in the Manual to make it easier next time. After owning our previous vessel for 12 years we were still addinginformation during our last year, maintaining it on Microsoft Word and periodically printing an updated copy for easy referral.

Logbook:This is where we note information of lasting interest that you might look back on. For example with great friends Bill and Sue you cruised to Man O’ War bay and had an enjoyable afternoon ashore at the vineyard. The next day you crossed the Firth of Thames catching some nice snapper mid-way, anchored off Coromandel and all went up to the township in the dinghy for fish and chips, nearly getting caught out by the tide on the return trip. We note down engine hours each evening, but only mention weather in the Log if it’s unusual and memorable for example a still sunny day in the middle of winter or a wind shift that causes an uncomfortable night.. If you want to (and you’re brave enough to) keep a record of money spent on the boat, the back of the Logbook is ideal forthis.

Daybook: We use this instead of writing information down on different scraps of paper that always seem to get lost. Information included is weather forecasts; route planning; fuel and water tank levels; refuelling details; engine oil pressure, water temperature and charging voltage;notes about maintenanceand information about planned boat projects. For example we’re researching an improved bait and filleting station so we’ll do our internet research noting relevant points in the Daybook so our information is all in one place.

To Do List: I guess most boat owners would use such a list and it’s really self explanatory. A cruiser’s dream is to have nothing left on their To Do List.

Receipts File: Keep all your receipts together in date order for ease of reference. When you eventually sell your boat many prospective buyers would want to see this and it helps reassure them that you’ve used anorganised approach to maintenance.

Using a system like this is not burdensome and on the contrary adds to the joy of cruising.

REFRIGERATION FOR CRUISERS

Our last post prompted a question about refrigeration from a reader in France, so here’s a few comments on that subject.

When we were in the Med meetingfellow cruisers (the vast majority of whom were aboard sailing yachts) one of the most common discussion threads was the difficulty of keeping house battery banks charged. In virtually all these cases the cruisers with these issues had battery powered refrigeration. Modern technology has certainly reduced refrigeration’s power requirements, but there’s no doubt it’s stilllikely to be your biggest current draw.

Boat refrigeration is powered in one of the following ways:

1. An engine driven compressor – this is very efficient, but only operates when your engine is running. Usually the same compressor powers both a refrigerator and freezer. There can be issues with controlling temperature as in some installations items in the refrigerator section will freeze if the system is run too long.

2. DC power from battery bank – is efficient but results in heavy current draws,

3. AC power from generator and/or inverter. Very efficient but note that quite a large inverter is needed due to refrigeration’s high start up current draw.

4. A combination of above – is ideal.

I haven’t included LPG powered refrigeration as with a pilot light it’s regarded as unsafe for marine applications.

Whatever system is used stainless steel lined appliances seem to work better than plastic lined ones and those with built-in brine plates make them even more effective. A big advantage of systems 2 and 3 is they invariably allow for continuous operation on shore power using a battery charger in the case of DC or an inverter generally passing current directly through to the appliance in the case of AC.

On our last boat we used AC power from our genset or shore power and found that worked extremely well.Depending on the ambient temperature and the number of people aboard (more people = more “drain” on refrigeration) we ran the genset for about 60-90 mins morning and evening. During that time we’d also charge the batteries and often do some washing, heat the hot water tankanduse the water maker.

Rapport hasan Engelrefrigerator (with a small freezer section) in the galley powered both by AC and 24V DC plus a combination refrigerator / freezer powered by an engine driven compressor. The latterworks fine if you are cruising every day, but if anchored or staying in a marina for several days we had no freezer without running an engine for a couple of hours a day, so we decided to install an AC powered freezer on the flybridge. On boats we prefer chest to front opening freezers. The latter are more convenient to use but in our view not as effective. Where possible and mainly due to price we believe it’s best to use standard household appliances so we chose a 220V powered Haier HCF101 chest freezer with 101 litres capacity costingonly $439 (about 242 Euros). We installed a double AC power point in the flybridge and the freezer is protected from weather by the flybridge’s vinyl screens. When on shore power our inverter passes incoming AC current directly through to connected AC appliances. Underway with the engines charging the batterieswe use the 4.1Kw inverter to provide AC power and at anchor we also use the inverterwhile using the genset to periodically boost the batteries. We find the refrigerator and freezer combined draw less than 5 amps. Since our cooking is electric we need to run the genset during the evening in any case and can then also heat our hot water and sometimes use our water maker.

This is the compressor driven chest freezer located in the cockpit

The compressor driven refrigerator is in the saloon (the freezer is on the other side of the bulkhead)

The Haier AC powered freezer on the flybridge with new power supply to left



A few tips we’ve found useful:

1. Pack your refrigerator and freezer as full as possible to make them operate more efficiently. Use different sized bottles of water to use up any spare space.

2. Turn them OFF or down during the night to conserve battery power. When not being opened they lose little temperature overnight.

3. Use your thermostat – when you have charging power available turn the thermostat down (ie colder) so the appliance runs more or less continuously and when you have no power turn it up so it runs less.

4. Use your freezer to freeze bottles of water. Each day or two put some in your refrigerator to help keep its temperature down. As the water bottles thaw use them for cold drinking water and replace.

5. If you have more food and drink to keep cool than your refrigeration capacity allows use your freezer to freeze a few bottles of water and freezer pads, thenstore additional supplies in an Esky, changing the bottles over every couple of days. This is particularly good for bulky vegetables and salads as well as wine and soft drinks (beer needs to be colder!)

6. Cans of drinks store more easily, are easier to dispose of and seem to get colder than glass or plastic bottles.


RAPPORT UPDATE

Our last post spoke too soon as no sooner had I mentioned NZ’sreturn tounrestricted cruising than the Auckland level 3 lockdown commenced on 12 August until the 30th. This time there was no room for confusion as all forms of boating were clearly identified as not permitted.

Well Spring is here if you go by 1 Sept, or nearly here if you go by the Equinox of 23 Sept. Regardless the cruising is going to get better.

Di and I rarely do cruises under several days and prefer cruises of ten days or more. With this in mind our next project is to cruise for about a month from mid October to re-visit one of our favorite areas, the eastern side of Coromandel Peninsula including The Mercury Islands and Mercury Bay. For part of this time we’ve rented a berth at Whitianga Marina for a very reasonable $40 per night (in the Med we’d pay three or four times this) making it easier for family and friends to join us. I plan to cover that trip extensively in the Blog and we’ll also be publishing an article in the Pacific Powerboat magazine about it.

I want to talk a bit more about our new Salthouse 52, “Rapport”.

When we bought the boat we definitely knewshe had “good bones” and presented extremely well with extensive upgrades including engines and gearboxes removed and rebuilt 900 hours previously, new Furuno electronics, recently added water maker, new house and start batteries and exterior repaint. The survey confirmed her good condition, but as they invariably do it also identified a few issues needing attention.

Over the last few months we’ve attended to these issues as well as a host of other improvements to convert her from a full-on game fishing boat to a comfortable cruising boat. Much of this process hasbeenmaking existing equipment work correctly.

Some of the more major projects have been:

1. Projects we expected to do:

-Purchase of new Aquapro SLR 2.6 rigid alloy hulled inflatable with Honda 2.5hp 4stroke outboard to replace the poor condition RHIB that came with our purchase

-The pulpit was poorly mounted and attached only to the teak decking rather than being through bolted.

It was removed and tidied up, an access hole made in the fore peak so the pulpit could be bolted to the alloy deck, the teak deck was thoroughly dried and the pulpit was properly and rigidly bolted down in a bed of sealant

-Paint blisters under the beltings (where the hull meets the deck) on both sides were opened, the alloy underneath ground back, treated for surface oxidation, filled, faired and painted

-Replacingcutless bearings

Installing a high volume sea water washdown pump in the cockpit

-Sourcing new spare pumps for fresh water circulation, sewage holding tank discharge and grey water holding tank discharge. We always prefer to have critical spares like these on board

Upgradingsafety equipment including extinguishers, flares, lifejackets, EPIRB, hand held vhf, binoculars, smoke detectors and horseshoe buoy

-Installing Venetian blinds in saloon to protect furnishings from sunlight and provide more night time ambiance

-Installinga 101L capacity electric freezer on the flybridge so that we’re not totally reliant on the existing freezer with its engine driven compressor and have an operatingfreezer while in marinas

-There were no tools aboard so we put together a very comprehensive tool kit including some power tools plus a wide range of chandlery items for undertaking on board R&M

2 Unexpected projects:

Installing new Maxwell 3500 VWC windlass complete with spare electric motor

-Replacinga non-working alternator

-ReplacingPSS prop shaft sealswith Kiwi sealsincluding replacement of all bearings. At this time the prop shafts were also crack tested and straightened by Henleys, then realigned. The props were checked and found to be in good shape

-Comprehensive service of genset including installation of primary filter, recondition of heat exchanger and some electrical work. Supply of 220V charger for genset battery

-Replacing all Teleflex hydraulic steering hoses and many fittings

-New batteries for second house battery bank mainly used for powering 12V equipment

There was a large amount of electrical work to make existing equipment function correctly, rewirebreakers that didn’t perform their correct function, instal new power outlets etc

Apart from the above PSS shaft seal issue we’ve not encountered any problems during our ownership except for a leaking fresh water circulation pump (solved with a new outlet fitting), a loose wire on our genset’s starting circuit and a failed high voltage shunt which turned out to be redundant and not needing replacement.

So now we’re down to a final few projects including an exterior sun shade for saloon bow facing windows, cockpit canopy, safety rails around flybridge access hatch and gas assisted struts for an extremely heavy lazarette hatch. Then hopefully all set for 2020/21 cruising.

CRUISING UPDATE

When New Zealand moved to lockdown Level 1 on 14 May we became one of the few countries to allow unrestricted cruising once again, while the Australian situation continues to vary by state with some restrictions still in place.
More recently several other countries, mostly in the Med, Caribbean and South Pacific have followed suit, but there are various restrictions in place relating to isolation, quarantine and screening. 
For example Fiji has opened Nadi’s Port Denerau, but visiting crews must have had a minimum of 14 days quarantine at sea, have tested negative for covid-19 before departure to Fiji and be screened on arrival.
Most Australasian cruisers owning vessels overseas have chosen to forgo this year’s cruising because of confusion about regulations, difficulties booking return travel and the need to quarantine on return. There is also a general concern that circumstances can change very rapidly and cause major issues for those in the wrong place at the wrong time.
We continue to enjoy cruising aboard our Salthouse 52, Rapport and since purchase in late November have logged 50 nights aboard, despite staying off the water during lockdown Levels 3 and 4. 
We’ve spoken to several cruisers who went out to Waiheke, Great Barrier, Kawau and the Bay of Islands during lockdown and while most of them were approached by police none of them were required to return home or stop cruising, so it seems the only real issue would have been a question mark over insurance cover.
Our most recent trip has been eight nights in early June to Waiheke’s “bottom end”.
We arrive aboard at Hobsonville marina with our friends Frank and Marie on adismal Saturday morning and head to Westhaven to refuel. We mainly use the flybridge helm and after berthing at the fuel dock and going below I notice the bilge pump warning light activatedat the lower helm. 
After lifting our bilge hatches I find sea water coming in sufficientlyto activate the pumps. 
At this point we have no idea where the water is coming from and as a precaution contact Coastguard in case additional pumps are needed and it turns out Paul, the Coastguard skipper is also a marine surveyor. We can’t definitively find the source of the leak, but Paul finds a loose hose clamp on the outlet side of one the bilge pumpsand we can see some water back flowing into the bilge. 
After we tighten the hose clamp the leak stops and we clear all of the water from the bilge – problem solved right? Well, no.
We refuel and depart for Waiheke with a bilge hatch left open to monitor the situation. After about ten minutes Frank appears tellingme there’s sea water in the bilge again. Damnation or words to that effect are said as we head back to moor alongside the fuel berth to have another look. We agree the problem must be related to the engines as there was no water ingress when they weren’t running. 
Sure enough we find the port“dripless” shaft seal’s plastic water lubrication fitting has broken and water intended for lubrication is going into the bilge. Frank suggests a temporary repair using Selleys “Knead-It” fast-setting epoxy putty, usable in wet conditions(every cruising vessel should carry a tube or two of this) and 30minutes later the repair is complete.
By now it’s late Saturday afternoon and with a gale warning in placeand heavy rain predicted we decide to spend the nightback onour marinamonitoringthe repair and awaitingbetter conditions. Two days later we head off for an excellent six days cruising with our temporary repair lastingwell. One highlight was drift fishing in the Firth of Thames finding plenty of hungry snapper at most times of day and states of tide. Another was Waihehe’s Mawhitipana Bay, better known asPalm Beach where set back from the beach’s eastern end is the delightful and relaxing Arcadia cafe reminiscent of the rustic tavernas we enjoyed during our Med cruising and having a superette next door sellingmost supplies.
After our return I organise repairs to our shaft seal. I’ve never been a big fan of dripless shaft seals witha rubberbellows because if the bellows fails the consequences can be catastrophic. 
However to be fair I’m told they’re widely used commercially.
Our shaft seals are about six years old and the manufacturer recommends installing a replacement service kit after this time. It turns out that for not much more than the cost of the service kits we can instal the very robust and low maintenance Kiwi shaft seals, so we go down that path. 
These seals incorporate an electronic alarm to detect a high seal temperature – normally caused by an issue with the supply of cooling sea water.
I’m also unhappy with our bilge pump monitoring systemand instal a loud audible alarm so we’llknow immediately a pump is activated and can then turn the alarm off while we check itscause.
Hopefully these problems are now resolved, but no doubt others will follow!

CRUISING ACTIVITY GRINDS TO A TEMPORARY HALT

CRUISING ACTIVITY GRINDS TO A TEMPORARY HALT
How quickly situations can change. Just a few weeks ago we all watched TV news in amazement as parts of China went into total lockdown and thought that could never happen here. The humorists among us joked that if it happens we could all go boating, but sadly it seems not.
The first affects on boating were overseas, as when international borders were closed to travel this applied to pleasure boaters too. By mid-March some countries including France and Greece had placed a complete ban on all movements of recreational boats and closed harbours and marinas except to ferries. Cruisers with boats located overseas started canceling their overseas travel as there was no point in traveling if they couldn’t use their boat and soon after that travel became virtually impossible anyway.
This applied to the very disappointed Queenslanders who bought our boat Envoy based in Greece and who will now probably have to wait until next year for their maiden cruise.
In mid-March people aged over 70 were asked to stay home and on 27 March New Zealand went into lock down.
At first many people thought this situation may provide an ideal time to go boating and fishing but this has since received some clarification.
We were aboard our boat Rapport in Coromandel Harbour when the lockdown was announced commencing a few days later. We decided to head home to comply. A strong north-westerly had built a boisterous chop in the Firth of Thames, so we set out when the wind dropped early on the last morning before the lockdown when the conditions were perfect.
Arriving back at our marina we found many boat owners busy loading supplies and intending to head out before the lockdown started. Several of them commented to us that they “don’t know if this is allowed or not”. One person says he’s loaded his boat with supplies so “has to go”. Another says that his and other families intend to “group isolate” in their boats on the water. Generally there was a festive atmosphere, like Boxing Day when boaties load up and depart for their holidays.
On 24 March Coastguard sent an email message to their members and part of this reads:
We have has a lot of calls and messages from the public asking if they’re able to go out on the water during the lockdown period; our answer is no”.
This is based on the fact that by going out on the water you could potentially get into trouble and require assistance, putting Coastguard or other authorities at risk during the lockdown.
In Marlborough the harbour master has declared that boating is not permitted during the lockdown and that patrols will ensure this is adhered to.
The situation was further clarified a day or so later on TV news when fishing and boating were specifically advised as non-permitted activities. Several boating clubs have advised boating is not allowed and one of Auckland’s biggest trailer boat launching areas the Outboard Boating club, has closed its facilities for the duration of the lockdown.
Just today our marina emailed berth holders saying it has noticed an increase in people coming to the marina to do maintenance or just to visit their boats and stating it is not permitted to come to the marina for any reason during the lockdown.
Even as of 31/3 I can’t find any information online that expressly forbids boating (except for trailer boating), but my view is boating now would be irresponsible – why?
– It ignores the advice of Coastguard, other SAR authorities and boating clubs
– If we are over 70 it’s a no brainer, we are required to stay at home
– We are only permitted to travel for essential purposes including to and from designated essential work, buying food and obtaining medical services – so travel to and from the marina does not qualify
– It’s not practically possible to pass by other people on marina berth fingers and maintain a social distance of over two metres and this risks spreading infections
– To attempt to go boating would contravene the spirit of the lockdown (as well as possibly the law)
It will be interesting to see if people attempt to treat this Easter as a normal one and head to their marina to go cruising.
Anyway one week of the period has almost passed so it hopefully won’t be too much longer before boating returns to normal.

TAKE CARE OF YOUR DIESEL

The corona virus issue will have a major effect on cruisers and many will be canceling their plans to join their vessels overseas for the northern hemisphere summer. Their major concerns are the risk of contracting the virus, the relative inadequacy of medical facilities in some destinations, uncertainties about medical insurance and repatriation in case of illness, difficulties for their visitors to travel and return to their country of origin, the difficulty in returning should any emergency occur at home, the large scale closure of cafes, restaurants and tourist areas of interest, possible difficulties in obtaining technical assistance should the crisis worsen and the general uncertainty during what is currently an escalating phase.
This is an article we wrote published a while back in Pacific PowerBoat magazine.
Since a large number of diesel engine problems are fuel-related we should always follow best practice procedures in managing our fuel supply; the key areas to consider being monitoring, filtration and rotation.
Fuel Tanks and Filtration
All tanks require an air breather to equalise internal pressure during changes in fuel level and should ideally have a removable inspection port enabling access for periodic inspection and cleaning. The tank’s outlet should be situated as low as possible to avoid the accumulation of water and contaminants in the bottom of the tank.
Filtration starts with a “primary” filter to separate any water present and clean the fuel before it reaches the engine, where a replaceable on-engine “secondary” filter provides a final clean before fuel is supplied to the injection pump. If water accumulates in the primary filter’s clear inspection bowl we need to identify its cause and resolve the problem.
Many primary filtration systems have a vacuum gauge to indicate when the replaceable filter cartridges should be changed. In any case they should be replaced about annually as the paper filter media can deteriorate after long term diesel immersion. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if this gauge is working (Envoy’s needle rarely moved) and you can check this by slowly closing the engine’s fuel supply valve (not the return valve) with the engine idling in neutral. You should see the gauge’s needle begin to rise confirming a vacuum is present. Every boat should carry several spare filters and every skipper should know how to change them.
While diesel sold throughout Australasia is generally high quality and contamination is rare, this is not always the case in other countries and long range cruising vessels often have a further filtration (or “polishing”) system to polish all fuel into one designated tank (often called a “day tank”) which solely supplies fuel to run the engine(s). The excess fuel from the engine(s) also returns to this tank. Most commercial vessels also use this system.
A long range cruising vessel also generally has a dual primary filter installation so that a filter cartridge can be replaced underway.
Diesel contamination
For a boat owner the mention of diesel “bug” invokes about the same amount of consternation as osmosis. All diesel carries bug to some extent and the presence of water encourages growth, hence the need to reduce condensation in fuel tanks by keeping them as full as possible. The bug is a fungal organism called Hormoconis resinae (H.res) and is a bacteria not an algae (which would require light). It can normally be seen in filter bowls as black spots or stringy matter. Water and/or hazy, cloudy fuel is also a sign of possible pending problems.
Another issue is asphaltenes (sticky black tar-like particles) which can start to form after about 90 days in unstabilised fuel. You can tell the difference between asphaltenes and other contaminants by collecting a black particle from the fuel filter and putting a drop of acetone or thinner on it. If it begins to melt it’s an asphaltene particle from old, degraded fuel. Bacterial particles also emit a sulphur dioxide (rotten egg) smell.
Aboard Envoy we had a New Zealand-made De-Bug unit installed in the polishing system’s fuel input to reduce the chances of diesel bug and either by good luck or good management we never encountered the problem.
Fuel Stabiliser
We always used a fuel stabiliser when refueling to reduce oxidation, increase lubricity and reduce fuel injector pump and injector wear. It’s important to add the correct levels of stabiliser and especially not too much. While stabilisers act as antioxidants they also gradually break down any asphaltine particulates and it’s important this occurs only gradually and not suddenly as could happen with excessive additions. Also if too much stabiliser is added any water present may emulsify in the diesel and pass through the filters into the injection pump and injectors where it could cause damage and corrosion.
Additives that deal with water fall into two categories:
The first encourages its mixture with, or suspension in fuel so the water is captured by a water separator or goes to the engine to be vaporised in combustion. These are known as emulsifiers or dispersants or suspension additives. The second category encourages its separation from fuel so it can be drained from a tank or filter. These are demulsifiers.
Some engine manufacturers prohibit using the first option, so only use additives recommended by your engine supplier.
What about bio-diesel?
New Zealand’s bio-diesel has a 5 per cent “bio” content (sourced from tallow) and isn’t generally sold at marine outlets. Bio-diesel is slightly more hygroscopic than standard diesel although at the five per cent level it is very similar to standard. An industry source informed me that while bio-diesel should preferably be used within six months of purchase it contains additional antioxidant and shouldn’t be a problem for up to twelve months. Some commercial operators regularly use bio-diesel and report less emissions and longer periods between filter changes, however unlike privately owned vessels theirs are in frequent use and constantly turning their fuel over.
Maritime New Zealand recommends checking with your engine manufacturer before using bio-diesel. In the Med the commonly sold fuel is 15 per cent bio-diesel and we’ve used this up to two years after purchase without any issues.
The key point is whatever fuel you are using, monitor it and always use your oldest fuel first.