Sunday, November 22, 2009

Second wind

Definitely, it takes one week just to settle down before you can accomplish anything. Plus the fact that immediately after you arrive, there are quite a few parties to be had, just to celebrate having arrived.
I had anyway time to start a few projects, mostly for the sails, the cushions and chasing the leaks in the V-Berth and stopping them. In addition, I now have a rough idea of the town and where to go to get material for the other projects.
Today, I took time to read the comments on the blog and I realised that many of the readers do not know that I have no way of seeing these comments while at sea. All I can do at sea is posting articles via email and the sat phone but I cannot see the comments or post photos. For that, I have to wait until I have a fast internet connection and can go on the web. I apologize to all those who were hoping for a reply from me and never got it. I also thank Big Hopper for repeatedly asking for the photos, until I discovered that I had put the wrong link on the english version of the blog. You can now go back to the photo album and get the latest pictures.
Yesterday, Marie Laurence went on with her excursion and I find myself alone on the boat. I will get back to my little routine, hopefully with a little less alcohol as my body needs a rest from that. With all those brothers of the coast around me, no guarantee that I can succeed.
Last night, dinner aboard Cosinus, quiet but pleasant, with those great New Zealand steaks on the menu. Delicious.
Today, Gary picked me up to take me to his home and work a little on advertising for their upcoming National Boucan on March 4th. And tonight, I am going to have a very very quiet and simple dinner and get an early night to be ready for the coming week. As usual, there is no way I will play tourist as long as Papy Jovial is not ready to leave.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

End of part one

I know that my true destination is Sydney, but to me, it feels like this
is it for the first part of the journey, with enough time on my hands to
continue adapting Papy Jovial to her new lifestyle. I also need to take
care of leaks that, like on any other boat, have appeared mostly when we
started doing several days in a row of sailing upwind in seas that we
less than calm.
Since we arrived, time has been flying so fast that I hardly had time to
update the blog. The arrival in whangarei was as nice and pleasant as I
expected. With the wind, a few squalls, a fantastic scenery and we
arrived at Marsden Cove marina at 9:12 on Monday, 12 minutes later than
I had announced by email to the customs office. Not bad for Papy Jovial
The welcome from the authorities was really exceptional. We were worried
about the quarantine, the health authorities and all, but in fact, all
went extremely well. Yes we lost our fruits and vegetable, our meat and
eggs AND Marie-Laurence's honey, but we gained a bottle of New Zealand
white wine together with a welcome kit, so overall we did not lose.
In the afternoon, we sailed up the river and came alongside at the
courtesy dock of the Town Basin. More friendliness and welcome. We got
there in time for a cool beer while waiting for Beryl, wife of Gary
Underwood and Adela, mother in law of Nigel, who joined us for dinner.
Beer was followed by much wine, white and red. I don't know if it was
shore sickness or having praised Bacchus a little too much, but walking
down the gangway leading to the pontoon, I lost my balance, tumble and
rolled over like a pro and had my first swim in New Zealand waters.
Early next day, no waste of time. Nigel took me around to get my marks,
buy a cell phone, get some cash, visit the various yards, etc...Then we
had a nice fish and chips in a pub by the river with a wonderful view of
the entrance.
In the evening, we met at the restaurant a french crew that had arrived
on an OVNI (very nice aluminium boat) and are about to visit the country
by car. More wine, but this time, no swim.
Wednesday saw the arrival of Cosinus with Christian and Jean-Louis whom
I had missed in Papeete as I was too lazy to inflate the dinguy and put
on the outboard to go and visit them outside at anchor.
And work on Papy Jovial (cleaning and sorting out) started while
Marie-Laurence was visiting with Adela. In the evening, she had prepared
a very nice dinner that we shared aboard Papy Jovial with Nigel and Adela.
Thursday was cleaning day and moving Papy Jovial to its final berth at
the marina, until it will be time to go for a haul out. In the evening,
dinner with Susanne and Dave of the SSCA (Seven Seas) at Amici, an
italian restaurant where you get a very good pizza and a glass of wine
for 20 kiwis.
David has just started a business of Yacht maintenance and I hope that
he will be able to help me chase the leaks and take care of them. It's
a job that cannot be done by just one person as you have to hold the
screws on top while down below you unscrew the nuts.
We had moved from the welcome dock to rafting up with Cosinus, and then
directly alongside which will be more convenient to do the various jobs
that I need doing for Papy Jovial to be ready for Part II.
On major relief is that I had a professional electrician come and undo
all the bs done by the guy in Tahiti and put everything back as it
should, and as Tom had actually said it should be done. I now have shore
power with the electrical system back to where it was.
This early morning starts with the sailmaker coming to correct all the
imperfections arising out of the lack of professionalism from North
Sails Hampton. But the most important thing today is that this is
Marie-Laurence birthday and we need to prepare a party for tonight. I'll
tell you about it tomorrow . .

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Land Ho !

It is Nigel who won the double ration of rum (he opted for a glass of
water) when he was the first to sight the Three Kings. At that point we
were motoring, but as soon as Cape Reinga came into sight, the weather
changed for the better altought some heavy rain came through today after
lunch. Otherwise, we are now running with just the genoa on the pole and
doing 5 to 6 knots nicely towards Marsden Point. Feels like a week-end
outing. I expect to enter the Marsden Point marina between 7 and 9
tomorrow morning, do our formalities and get to the Whangarei marina
early afternoon. Everybody is looking forward to a nice hot shower and a
full night sleep.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Yesterday afternoon I felt the boat acting strangely. Going up on deck,
I found the rigid boom vang on deck. All the screws attaching the mast
fitting to the mast were gone. We suspect corrosion as no protection
against electrolytic corrosion had been put when installing the mast
fitting. So we installed the spare halyard as topping lift and that will
do nicely for the only 2 days that are left before arriving.
For the day, we have covered 119 miles over the ground and we have North
Cape almost in sight (90 miles) and Marsden Point at 224 miles.
We have to eat as much meat as we can, since we know that the health
authorities in New Zealand are likely to confiscate all meat, fruits and
veggies left when we arrive.
I also have a ton of documents to fill in and I expect to spend quite
some time tomorrow doing that once we are in flat water in the lee of
the land.
We are again motoring with a SW wind of less than 6 knots. We should get
a following wind of 15 knots or more once we turn the corner beyond N. Cape.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lazy wind

Motoring, motoring and more motoring. In the last 24 hours we have been
motoring for more than 20 hours. It sucks ! And despite threats of gale
force wind from the SW, we continue to crawl forward in less than 10
knots wind. We are less than 200 miles from N.Cape, but I have a feeling
that getting there will be harder than pullilng teeth.
Not much to say otherwise. Yesterday, I have been allowed to get into
the galley and prepare mayonnaise for the potatoe salad that
Marie-Laurence had prepared together with a breaded Mahi Mahi.
The gribs are not all that good for tomorrow either and we may have to
do more motoring. So to save fuel, we keep sailing in this weak and
sickening wind. For the last day, we have covered 127 miles, and thanks
to a redrawing of the course to Marsden Point which saved 7 miles, we
only have 339 miles left to get there. I dare not guess and ETA any more.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Non identified floating object

Wind variable and weak. We spent the whole night adjusting the sails and
the wheel angle to help Firmin do its job, but all that for a not so
good result.
This morning, around 4 a.m., Nigel came down to wake me up and as he
went back on deck, saw a light very close to us on the port side and
moving rapidly to the stern and then disappear on the horizon on the
starboard side behind us. We both saw the light but are totally unable
to explain what it was. We concluded that it might have been a
submarine, but even that does not sound very credible to me. The mystery
has not been solve.
For the day, we have covered 108 miles over the ground and closed on
North Cape by 103 miles. It is better than yesterday, but the grib files
are not very cheerful. Although we are currently doing 6.5 knots on a
direct course, I am expecting to have to motor for a full day starting
tomorrow morning. After that, if we are lucky, we should get enough wind
to get to North Cape and then Whangarei.
Marie-Laurence started to venture outside the domain of domestic chores
and got her first sailing lessons from Nigel. It is just as well as I am
the worse teacher you could thinkg of. Anyway, Marie-Laurence held her
first watch and I am confident that she will progress rapidly.
In principe, we have 580 miles to cover so I still think that we might
arrive on the 16 or the 17th.

Monday, November 9, 2009


We got at the right position to tack back to North Cape, but the wind
played tricks with us and as soon as we tacked, it changed direction so
that we were sailing right back to Noumea. On top of that, it had
slackened to less than 10 knots, so we decided to start the engine and
do some east south east to try and catch a wind with some more south in
it. This happened at 4 o'clock when we were able to put u the sails
again and head for North Cape. So first we were robbed, but then I
reckon that we got lucky and we are making good way. Obviously, we will
have to wait for the numbers tomorrow but I am beginning to believe that
we might be able to arrive on the 16th.
Today, we covered 118 miles over the ground (in 23 hours) but it is
still almost impossible to tell how much distance is left. I estimate
689 miles but it depens very much on whether we can go direct or play
with the wind. In the last 23 hours, we closed on North Cape by 13
miles. I don't think we ever did so little, but this was in the plan.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Back to normal

We are now out of the area of strong SE wind and the boat is starting
again to look like a cruising boat. We even, for the first time on this
trip, had lunch together in the main cabin. The wind has slackened a
lot, still being from ESE, but we are expecting it to start veering to
SW this afternoon and tonigh, so that we can go about tomorrow and head
for Norfolk island at first, then gradually turn towards North Cape.
Marie Laurence has now established her authority over the aspect of the
boat and her crew, and is gently inciting us to keep everything looking
civilised, clean and orderly. I find it super pleasant. As for Nigel, I
already said it, he acts as a super pro and is a very precious help for
me in helping with setting up the boat and taking the proper options.
For the last 24 hours, we have covered 134 miles over the ground.
Impossible at this point to tell how many miles are left to get to our
destination. I believe that we have 850 miles to go and that we will get
to the Marsden Point marina in the morning of the 16th to do the arrival
clearance before sailing up the river to the Whangarei marina.
Today, we moved the clock forward one hour to be at the same time as New

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Into the wind

Second day at sea. As predicted we are having to sail into the wind and
on a course that would take us 300 miles WSW of Norfolk Island before we
can tack and sail back hopefully towards North Cape. The forward part of
the boat is somewhere between humid and wet and Marie Laurence moved
back into the main cabin and had a good sleep last night. She is still
holding up very very well and I hardly have to venture into the galley.
The force of the wind continues to go up and down, from 10 knots to 35
and we keep having to adjust the sails. A strong swell has developped on
our beam and we are rolling quite a bit. We expect to stay on that
course until November 10th and then tack. After that, we will still have
some 750 miles to go and we are hoping that no nasty weather will
develop north of New Zealand.
If the gribs are correct, the wind should drop a little around midnight
tonight and we should possibly steeer a better course.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Under way

First day not brilliant. We covered 122 miles over the ground but we
know that we won't be able to go to Whangarei on a straight line but
rather we will have to aim for a position west of Norfolk Island and
wait for the wind to switch to SW to tack and aim for the north of New
This first day at sea has seen Marie-Laurence behave like a seasoned
sailor in terms of staying active and able to help with work on the
boat. Nigel is almost a professional sailor and I rely on him to help us
choose the right options.
It is almost impossible to define the distance left to cover as I have
not idea how far west of Norfolk the wind is going to take us. We have
20 to 25 knots of wind, now from ESE but supposedly about to veer more
We chose not to sail too close to the wind, first for comfort but also
because we go faster and the name of the game right now is to get as
much wouth as we can before the wind shift.

Busy time in Noumea

I knew that more would happen here and I wanted to stay longer in Noumea
than in Tahiti. But the weather being what it is with 4 to 6 weeks
cycle, I must leave on Friday after hardly a week here.
First we had this fantastic evening the day we arrived then an evening
with my niece.
After that, I wanted to take the excursion to the Amedee lighthouse, but
my adviser for the weather, Bob McDavitt told me that November 6th was a
good day to leave, and I dont want to stay beyond November 15th which is
the official opening of the cyclone season.
On Sunday, a man of great reputation who was a brother of the coast and
used to be a member of the Cousteau team passed away and everybody here
was very much saddened and shocked. In fact, the church where a service
was given without much advertising, was completely packed.
After that, everything went very fast. Do all the provisionning,
departure of Jean-Francois on Sunday and Claude on Thursday, welcoming
my new crew, Marie Laurence and Nigel, chase the sailmaker to get the
main sail before Thursday night (I got it at 5:00 P.M.), and we were on
the last evening.
There was a very nice evening at Louis Seguin (Vent en Panne for the
Brothers of the Coast) with the local crab on the menu, very much on a
par with our Chesapeake Bay blue crab.
Friday morning, we had to finish setting the main sail, do the last bit
of provisionning, especially veggies, do the immigration, customs and
harbour master clearance, pay the marina, top up the fuel tank and we
were out by 12:20.
But as soon as we were in what they call here the lagoon, but is a body
of water wide open to the seas, it became obvious that I was not going
to be able to implement my plan to go to the anchorage that I had used
coming in to gain some east. Instead, since we were doing hardly more
than 2 knots again the wind, I decided to go out and exit through the
Amedee light house. And at 15:00, we were out in the open seas, with 6
foot seas, 25 knots of wind on close haul, so again not very comfortable
but we are able to be on a direct course to Norfolk Island, which is not
too bad,
I believe my crew tonight will be on a liquid diet, so I will enjoy my
cocktails and dinner by myself, Maybe tomorrow will be more festive.