Isle of Pines

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We made two trips to Isle of Pines this year, and had fun taking panorama pictures of the beautiful scenery with our iPhones. The Bugny forest along the shore of Kanumera Bay is unique in the world, and rare in New Caledonia. It is a challenge to photograph, but Steve tackled it in the early mornings during several of his bicycle rides. The views from ADAGIO’s anchorage were also due for some pano shots, as well as the view of ADAGIO from the shore of Kuto Bay.

Our friendship with Cleo and Albert and Brigitte and Tony, long-time residents of Isle of Pines, continues to prosper. They are a special source of information for us about the island and surrounding area. Their cordiality and hospitality make IDP one of our favorite cruising locations in all the Pacific Ocean. Albert continues to design and hand paint beautiful tropical clothing, with local scenes and iconography, for sale at the Boutique. Cleo shares with us her writing activities. Tony and Brigitte have begun making silver jewelery, to add to the items that they sell from their boutique.

Back to New Caledonia

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In Noumea, our friend, Chloe’ Morin of Noumea Ocean (www.noumeaocean.com), recommended an excellent rigger who came aboard and went up the mast in the bosun’s chair about eight times in all. The bottom line is that he discovered what had cut the reacher halyard. During the re-rigging in New Zealand, inside the top of the mast, the reacher halyard had been led incorrectly, and it took only one day for it to chafe through. It is no mean feat to cut through the extra strong line used for a halyard. The 20 meters of halyard then dropped down inside the mast. The next job was to fish this line out of the mast. The old halyard was end-for-ended, and a new eye splice made in the top end which was re-connected at the top of the mast. Each of the reacher sheets also received a new eye splice where a shackle attaches it to the clew of the sail. We were very pleased with the work accomplished by our rigger, George, and his partner, Charley.

ADAGIO was berthed for about two weeks in Marina Port Moselle, Noumea. The agriculture inspector allowed us to keep our New Zealand meat. I bought 500 grams of yellowfin tuna at the fish market, and resupplied our produce provisions at the wonderful Farmers Market next to the marina. The farmers market is overflowing with locally grown limes, bell peppers, pineapples, tomatoes, lettuces, bananas, mandarins, green beans, yams and much more. Imported apples, grapes and pears. It is a wonderful bounty, although the prices are high.

To sort out our huge reacher sail, when the wind was light in the morning, Steve hoisted while I spun the sail to untwist it. It had about ten twists in it from dragging under the boat. Meanwhile I sprayed with a hose as much of the sail as I could reach. The sail opened up and we were able to examine it, finding only one small tear in the fabric along the foot of the sail. We can fix that. She furled beautifully and we gave eachother another High Five!

We considered the passage from New Zealand to New Caledonia to be a sea trial or shakedown cruise after ADAGIO’s refit. If the reacher halyard proves to be the only weakness that was introduced by her refit, we will be pleased. Fingers crossed that there are no more hidden faults.

Noumea is a busy, happening place, currently with dozens of large mining trucks, on strike, parked below the windows of government offices next to the marina. Also a beautiful collection of paddling canoes lined up on the beach at Anse Vata for a festival. From our anchorage in Baie de l’Orphelinat, we have front row seats to the sunset sail boat races and the sailing school scrimmages.

It is beautiful and relaxing here. Just what we want. I am writing this from a waterfront cafe over a mochaccino, having walked here from the marina while Steve biked along the waterfront. On the way I bought chocolate croissants for lunch and a loaf of brioche for French toast.
All is well.

Passage from New Zealand to New Caledonia

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By June, numerous friends had departed for Fiji, Tonga or Vanuatu. We were following their progress on the cruisers’ web site: http://www.yit.co.nz. (Yachts in Transit). Yachts sailing to Vanuatu were laden with supplies, tools and medicines for the people whose villages had been leveled by cyclone PAM. Over the years, these cruisers had made friends with the locals who lived on many of the islands, and organized among themselves just which boats would take supplies to which remote islands. They even helped to distribute supplies that had arrived in Vanuatu by ships from other countries.

On 22 June we departed Town Basin Marina and berthed in Marsden Cove Marina, where we checked out of New Zealand, bought duty-free fuel and prepared ADAGIO for sea. On 23 June we departed New Zealand for New Caledonia. It was not long before we were joined by the first Albatross of our passage. As we sailed before the wind under jib and reacher sails during the first day, the true wind speed increased from the teens then up to 30 knots after dinner. We furled the headsails and sailed under third reefed mainsail. The wind continued to blow in the mid-twenties throughout the night with gusts in small squalls. The sea state was from astern at 3 to 3.5 meters height. We sailed 185 nautical miles during the first 24 hours.

Soon after lunch, on our second day out, we heard a loud Bang! the sound of the halyard for our enormous reaching sail parting, dropping the sail overboard, still attached to the boat by its two sheets, and to the furling drum at the bow. “All hands on deck!”

We suited up in wet weather gear and went forward to examine the situation. The sail was streaming out, between the hulls, in the water under the boat. Our first concern was that no lines become entangled in our two engine propellers.

Using our super sharp serrated boating knives, we sawed through each of the two sheets, allowing the sail to be held only by the tack of the sail attached to the furling drum just forward of the main beam where our two anchors are stowed.

At first we thought that the best thing to do was to cut the whole thing loose. Then we saw how relatively peacefully the sail was streaming out along the inside of the port bow. By alternating between the two anchor windlasses, and each with a long line, we were able to bring the sail aboard, bit by bit, over the main beam. With much cleverness and skilled problem-solving, not to mention a lot of hard work, we were able to save our expensive sail and still retain all of our fingers and toes.

For something like this to happen is of course a real Bummer. However, we are grateful that the episode occurred in broad daylight rather than at “0-dark-thirty, and with a few showers rather than thundering rain, to rinse off the salt spray from the bounding seas surrounding us. We lashed the sail securely onto the foredeck, waiting for morning daylight when we could sort it out and stow it into the starboard bow locker. It closely resembled a large zebra pelt, the new white sail fabric striped with black lines from ADAGIO’s new black anti-foul paint. We motor-sailed under reefed mainsail and starboard engine, until morning when we hoped the winds and seas would settle down a bit.

On 25 June, at 0600 hrs, beginning my 6 hour watch, I wrote in the log, “Wind still up in the mid to high twenties. Seas over 2 metres. Sky is beginning to glow in the east. Our position is just to the SSW of the Tui Seamount, the Kiwi Seamount and the Three Kings Ridge. We are motor sailing directly towards New Caledonia. Seas are still a bit rough. Sailing under 4th reefed mainsail, which we will hoist to first reef when the sun is shining.”

Forecast was for increasing seas and decreasing wind over the next 24 hours.
We covered 169 nautical miles during our second 24 hours out. Albatross continued to visit, including a sizeable Wandering Albatross. Flying fish landed on deck and occasionally smashed against a window, leaving behind a telltail splotch of slime and scales. We hoisted the mainsail and unfurled the jib, making for a more comfortable ride, occasionally surfing on a wave at 10 to 14 knots boat speed.

With many changes in true wind speed and true wind direction, we were kept busy adjusting our course. During our third day, we covered 189 nautical miles. By day 4, we were sailing under a bright blue sky, before 2.5 m seas, with true windspeed in the teens.

When we were ready to reef the mainsail, we discovered that the halyard would not feed up the mast to lower the sail. Perhaps the main halyard was fouled inside the mast, tangled up with the broken reacher halyard. It did not take us long to pull some of the reacher halyard out through the hole where it fed into the mast, thus freeing the main halyard. Whew!

After each passage we have made to New Caledonia, rains have washed off the heavy layer of salt crystals that covered ADAGIO, and this was no exception. Albatrosses had visited us at sea, always appearing when the wind is strongest and seas highest, making photography a bit difficult, but a pleasure to see. A pod of welcoming dolphins joined us as we entered the Southern Lagoon. From our bow pulpits we tried to work out their social status. There were four “guys” who competed heavily for prime positions on the port bow wave, knocking each other about at times. A Matriarch and a young dolphin stayed together near the starboard bow, and out of the fray. A seventh dolphin of medium size flitted back and forth between the two groups. I imagine she was a young female. Who knows? They were certainly having fun. I whistled and sang to them. From time to time a dolphin would turn on its side and look up at me. Wooo Hoooo!

Visits with Friends and Kiwi Birds

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We continued to visit with our cruising friends whose boats were in Whangarei, and we enjoyed the Ocean Cruising Club BBQ get together, during which an OCC award was presented to six-time circumnavigator Web Chiles.

Our long-time friend, Eva Brown, now living in Nelson, NZ, visited the town of Russell in the Bay of Islands, where we were neighbors for six years. Eva looks wonderful. Her face is bright and she is energetic and cheerful. Dorothy joined her for a day and, just like old times, walked with Eva through Russell, and up some lanes she had never seen. It was a very enjoyable reunion. We visited our mutual friend, Heather Lindauer, then Clifford Whiting, New Zealand’s most famous Maori wood carver and teacher, and Murphy Shortland, who did the historical research for place names on the IPIPIRI map that Denis Brown drew and painted.

Heather Lindauer looks bright and healthy. She brought me up to date on the St Johns Ambulance group. Heather told us about the current exhibition of 40 portraits of Maori chiefs and their wives being displayed in Berlin. The portraits were painted by an ancestor of Heather’s late husband, Linty. The portraits had been cleaned and restored by an expert, and it is the first time the 40 portraits have been out of New Zealand. Eva and I browsed through the catalog from the exhibit, with Heather telling us about each chief. Some were peacemakers; some were great warriors. The portraits are a New Zealand treasure that, when not traveling, are on display at the Auckland Memorial Museum.

Our friend Anne from the catamaran THREE SIXTY BLUE and her nephew, Ian, arranged a private visit to the Whangarei Native Bird Recovery Centre. Robert, the founder of the centre, took us on an extensive tour and introduced us to two Kiwi birds, one that he takes to schools to introduce to children, and a younger Kiwi that had been rescued. Normally nocturnal, these Kiwi birds were habituated to daylight, allowed us to pet them, and to photograph them poking their long beaks into the grass to catch worms that they located beneath the soil with their hearing.

ADAGIO’s Refit after 15 Years of Cruising

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While we were visiting California, our boat builder and team had been busy removing all the deck hardware and spars from ADAGIO, in preparation for her repaint. We had already wrapped mattresses in cling wrap, and stored many items off the boat in a rental shed. Soon we were working in the boat yard every day. There was much to be done, and we enjoyed the company of our boatbuilders.

After the paint was dry, in early February, the hardware was piece by piece reinstalled onto the decks. We had our fingers crossed that all systems would be operational, as they had been before being removed.

We replaced the bolt rope track slugs for our mainsail, and doubled the original number of slugs in the area of the track where the slugs had pulled out in 2012 as we sailed from New Caledonia to New Zealand. According to our navigation log, on 7 November, we had been beating with first reefed mainsail into 5 m seas when the wind piped up from 20 kts to 30+ kts and we reefed down to the third reef. We did not notice the damage to the slugs until we were berthed in port.

One of the issues under discussion was the finish for the new rear bulkhead windows and restored door. We followed Steve Eichler’s recommendations and are very pleased with the results. Other aesthetic and practical decisions had to be made, including the position of the ADAGIO graphics on the topsides, the color of the boot stripe, and the color of the non-skid paint on the decks and aft steps. We are pleased with all the decisions we made.

The newly painted topsides were mirror-shiny, as we had requested a final proofing coat be applied. The painters had done a beautiful job, Then the anti-foul paint was applied to the bottom of the hulls.

Never a dull moment, as, in early March, Cyclone Pam passed along the east coast of New Zealand, bringing high winds, heavy rain and flooding. No worries where we were living in Onerahi, and where ADAGO was in the shed in the boat yard. Unfortunately, the islands of Vanuatu were devastated.

By April, the mast and boom were on supports alongside ADAGIO, so that we could easily access the internal wiring, the mast track, run the halyards, etc. Steve greased the props, before the painters applied Prop-Speed anti-foul. I continued to polish and grease the rigging screws and tangs. It was time to reinstall the running rigging and to continue cleaning. Lots of cleaning.

As our team was completing the reassembly of the mast, we once again had to juggle our schedules around yet another loooong weekend that New Zealanders are so fond of. Our rigger reserved a crane to hire. We re-stepped the mast on Tuesday, 23 April, and launched ADAGIO the following Friday. The ANZAC Day holiday weekend began on Saturday, 25 April. Fortunately, the kind people at Town Basin Marina found a berth for us, where we could continue the refit tasks that did not require a boat yard.

Back to New Zealand

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Dorothy’s birthday found us back in New Zealand and some fine hiking out to Smugglers Cove at Bream Head near Whangarei Heads, outcropings of cores of ancient volcanoes which have been highly eroded and shaped into sculptural shapes, high up in the air, overlooking the entrance to Whangarei Harbour, where we have brought ADAGIO for her refit.

Our rental flat was located in the peninsula community of Onerahi, south of Whangarei, where we enjoyed fine waterfront walks, views of dinghy races and sensational sunrises making it really easy to pop out of bed each morning. The Whangarei Farmers’ Market provided us with the most delicious fruits and vegetables and the new “Loop trail” proved to be a wonderful bicycling and walking route. Our friend Commodore Tompkins visited us from Waipapa where he was finalizing the refit of his yacht FLASHGIRL.

Our favorite coffee shop, Caffeine, displayed some of Dorothy’s watercolor paintings, and Dorothy supplied them with fresh flowers from the market.

New Year 2015 in California

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Our year began with a New Year’s celebration at the California home of our daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren. We visited the new Anderson Collection museum at Stanford University, as well as the enormous iron Serra sculpture. Our granddaughter displayed her riding skills, and we enjoyed our grandson’s senior year of high school. Our friends, Joe and Kathy of the sailing catamaran KATIE KAT entertained us, and we visited with more wonderful relatives who came for a visit while we were there.

After we departed California, we received news that our grandchildren were outdoing themselves. David peformed on his cello in the Menlo-Atherton High School Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in NYC. Sarah won top honors in dressage at her first horse show, and scored well in jumping. David graduated from high school with a special academic award.