They say a man can’t live by work alone so it’s not been all work and no play. More work on Sea Bear yes, a SS bash plate for the bow. I thought the existing anchor a little on the light side so a new 15kg Manson supreme anchor with 50 m of 8mm graduated chain and 50m of 14mm anchorplait rode to complete the new anchoring arrangement. I replaced a lower shroud which was mysteriously bent. Stripped re-painted and re-assembled the pumps for the heads and cleaned and regreased the seacocks. Stripped and overhauled all 8 winches.
For a break I headed north in the van up to Maitai bay on the Karikari peninsular. I had been there before but such a beautiful place and good campsite it was worth a second visit. A lovely spot for a swim and I also took a long walk along a deserted beach then a track up to Tapakakeno hill with great views up and down the coast.
I also visited Puheke beach and walked up Mt Puheke again good views. I hadn’t been my intention but I found myself drawn to visit Cape Reinga, almost the most northerly point of North Island. It is wild empty country up there.
A steepish gravel road for which NZ is famous for took me to a campsite at Tapotupotu beach.
Next morning it rained so I headed back south but stopped awhile at the Te Paki giant sand dunes, the rain stopped and I had an exhausting climb up the highest dune, one step up then sliding backwards in soft sand.
Te Paki sand dunes
Resumed working on the boat, much cleaning, some revarnishing. I fitted some lazy jacks to help handle what would be a very slippery and stiff new mainsail. Refitted the stripper rope cutter to the propshaft. Rebuilt the spare autopliot with new drive belts. Eyespliced a chain hook to a length of 3strand rope for an anchor strop. Stripped and greased furling system.
Checking over the engine, I replaced the water pump hoses, decided I needed a new water pump for it. Took off the monitor self steering for a crack in the tubing to be repaired.
More cleaning, cutting back and polishing the gelcoat of the topsides and cabin so Sea Bear looking much better.
Starting to think of the coming sailing season it was time to review my stock of charts. Another trip in the campervan down to Auckland to visit the chart agent and buy some charts and pilot books. I took the opportunity to visit the Waitakere Ranges to the west of Auckland, I had been rained off here last year. It was a shame that quite a few of the tracks were closed due to Kauri dieback disease but did get a nice walk in through the forest. Off then to Piha beach, a great west coast beach famous for its surf, Walked up Lion rock.
Piha Beach from Lion Rock
Another walk up the Kitekite valley to get to the Kitekite falls. The plunge pool at the bottom was just too inviting so a bathe was taken – refreshing the verdict.
Next stop was Karekare beach, a short walk through trees to the black sand beach. The sand was just too hot for my bare feet. It’s a big empty beach with wild surf and dangerous rip currents so I didn’t swim here. Back over to the East coats and Snell’s beach then up to Goat Island marine reserve. The idea was to swim with the fishes but soon after arrival a rain squall turned up, heavy rain and a choppy sea. A section of gravel track over the hill took me back northwards, this one not dry and dusty but muddy slippy and running with water and it rained all the way back to Whangarei and most of the next day too.
Good weather soon returned though, it is still very warm here in the day, still shorts and vest weather but you can feel a gradually change of the seasons, the nights are drawing in and the odd morning is a little chilly at first.
I thought that by now I would have already been back afloat, but there is still awhile until the end of the southern cyclone season and the time to sail away from NZ. Most of the work is now done on the boat but there are always little jobs like checking the navigation lights still work – ah well then lets check the deck plugs, ah a bit of corrosion, a broken wire sounds simple but takes hours to fix, my soldering iron is not working so a visit to the second hand tool shop for one, new plug needed – off to the chandelery for one, before you know it the day has gone.
I swarmed up the mast today to check all the standing rigging swages, clevis pins and split pins and lubricate the halyard sheaves. The climbing know how helps here and a harness and a shunt on a tied off halyard makes it safe enough.
Sea Bear now has a rear arch fitted. A process that started way back in April has now come to fruition. I had a local fabricator make me up a stainless steel tubular structure which is now fitted in place.
New rear gantry fitting
Next step is to mount a solar panel on it.
At last after much work over the winter Sea Bear is back in the water. The stormy weather of the early part of the winter had delayed progress a little, but now just about all jobs were done. As well as the usual maintenance, the old standing rigging had been replaced, a new furlex fitted, and whilst the mast was down I had mast steps fitted and some clutches to make halyard control better, the old jammers on the coach roof which had proved not so good at jamming, were also replaced with clutches.
The refurbished cockpit
The teak laid cockpit seats had been refurbished and looked like new. The CQR anchor had been relegated to backup duties by a new Mason Supreme anchor, we were getting all modern and up to date you see. Below decks, the old engine mounts, one of which was well and truly shot, had been replaced. I had fitted a new AIS transponder and replaced the depth and log instruments with more modern versions and all internal light bulbs replaced with LEDs and finally a water filter fitted for the drinking water.
In the boat yard ready & waiting for launch.
It was now just a matter of getting her put back in the water. I’ll confess I find launch day about the most stressful day in the sailing year. It’s not just the hoist but what the weather will be like, the waiting and have you remembered everything.
Craned into the dock