Monday, November 1, 2010

Tonga to NZ, Day 7

Time: 1 November 2010, 1200 NZ time (+13)
Position: At the docks, Opua Marina

Hello, all!

We have safely arrived in Opua. It was a remarkably fast passage.

Some statistics:

Time: 6 days, 3 hours
Total distance: 1023 miles
Distance sailed: 1020 miles
Distance motored: 3 miles
Average speed: 7.0 knots
Fuel used: 3 gallons (12 hours of engine idling for power generation)
Best memory: sailing into the Bay of Isles, hand steering in 25 knots of breeze, watching the sun rise behind us, lighting Cape Brett up in a warm red glow.

We had our share of equipment breakage. Probably the most serious was with the running rigging. A car on the mainsail track failed, creating a flutter in the luff that threated to damage the adjacent cars, but fortunately never did. More serious was the chafing problem on the top spreader that eventually forced us to sail with two reefs in the main the last 2 days. We also had a near disaster with the roller furler. Late on Saturday, Bill noticed a frayed spot on the furling line, up near the bow. When we investigated, there were only a few strands of the line left. If it had parted, the whole sail would have unfurled --- in 25 knots of wind. Not good. We tried fixing it, but the sun was going down and it was very difficult working at the bow. Bill was up at the pointy end (I was cowering at the shrouds 10 feet behind shouting encouraging, but no doubt annoying, words) alternately getting lifted eight feet above the water, then plunged down into the waves, trying to tie a new line on. We finally gave up and decided to sail the rest of the way under just our double reefed main. Despite having so little sail up, we still made good progress, maybe 5.5 knots (instead of the 7.5 or so if the jib was working).

Customs was easy and pleasant (they come out to the boat and even carry your garbage back!)

The first order of business was to get some New Zealand money. There is no ATM in Opua, so I decided to ride Bill's bicycle into the nearby town of Paihai, about 8 km away. Bill's bike is one of those fold-up jobs with tiny 12" wheels. The roads are narrow and windy, so I decided to wear the climbing helmet we have on board. I probably cut quite the amusing figure: tall lanky guy on a clown's bike, legs akimbo, peddling like mad and weaving uncertainly with my bright orange helmet. As I peddled along, I wondered what would happen if I had an accident and the police investigated. They'd find this unshaven guy in filthy clothes who hadn't taken a shower in over a week on this ridiculous bicycle. Total bag guy.

-tk & Bill & Kathy

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