Our latest entry always comes up first...

Click this link if you want to start at the beginning of our trip from
South Carolina (where we bought the boat) to Lake Ontario Click this link:

If you want to see the story of our 2 1/2 year project getting
Blowin' Bubbles ready for our life on board click here:

If you want to start at the beginning of our trip:
START OF TRIP - July 2014
2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

Saturday, January 28, 2017

We Are Going Cruising.....

Welcome to our Blog. Our latest entry always comes up first... 
Click this link if you want to start at the beginning:
If you want to start at the beginning of our trip:
If you want to see the story of our trip from South Carolina
(where we bought the boat)
 to Lake Ontario Click this link:
After 3 very busy and VERY expensive months we are leaving the dock here in Whangarei on the rising tide tomorrow morning (Monday).  It has been a very frustrating few weeks and we will both be glad to return to the world we feel more comfortable in.

Living on the hook (anchor) is for us a place where we feel most at home and most at peace.  In the last 90 days we have made as many of the repairs and improvements to Blowin' Bubbles as we can.

We have spent almost all our savings and even had to reach into our "emergency" fund to replace a transmission that it turns out didn't need replacing...

That's right, After spending almost $6000 we installed the new transmission only to hear the exact same noise it was making before we started.  We called the mechanic back from Whangarei Marine Services, who in the end just shrugged and admitted he must have been wrong in his diagnosis......

I am pretty sure this is the last time we count on a so called "expert"....  

We now have a spare ZF 63 transmission/gearbox on the boat if anyone needs one.

Oh, and the problem seems to be endemic to this configuration of engine and transmission (Perkins/Hurth ZF) and the most likely culprit might be the drive (damper) plate.  They cost about $200 - $600 in the USA ... That would have been good information to have BEFORE we bought this transmission....
Our Drive Plate
We are going to leave with the noise.  Our dock neighbor, who it turns out is a REAL diesel mechanic, thinks we will likely be OK. And if the problem escalates will help us sort it all out... Thank you Selwyn!

Our plan at the moment is to cruise the east coast of New Zealand's North Island and possibly visit the South Island if time and weather permits.  We are really looking forward to this!

Our last sewing project was to make a cover for the 2hp engine...

We will spend the day getting ready to return to sea...

More soon....

Friday, January 20, 2017

NEW Dinghy Davits....

After many months of planning, we are now the proud owners of new Dinghy Davits...  First, some background.  We had some VERY heavy duty davits on Blowin Bubbles.  They were in place when we bought her in 2010.  During the 3 year refit, I replaced and beefed up the backing plates.

For the last three years they have served us very well.  With the purchase of our new (and heavier) dinghy, we decided it might be time to re-think the whole system.

When we were in Bora Bora we met up with our friend Andy, the editor of Latitude 38 magazine.  He was on board a bareboat charter catamaran.  When he went to put his dinghy away, he simply cliped it on and pushed a button, and away it went....  NICE....

So, they say the best ideas we ever have are the ones we steal, so I had a careful look at the system on his rental boat, and set about the task of re-deigning our system...

Jump ahead to November last year, when after 3 or  4 failed sketch ideas, we settled on a design that we thought might work.  With our sophisticated (sic) drawings in hand we approached a few fabricators here in New Zealand, only to find out that they were happy to make it, but the least expensive one was going to be around $3000!

Out of the question.... So not yet defeated, we went to our friends at Steel & Tube, and specced out the stainless and were surprised when it came to $220.  OK, maybe we might just pull this off.  We went next door to a place called Absolute Steel, where Simon and his wife Sue agreed to weld up our project at an hourly rate, which they though might end up being between $300-400...  AWESOME!

The catch was that they were overwhelmed with business before Christmas, so we agreed to wait until they came back from their shutdown.  Last Monday, they were back and built our unit first thing.  After a few consultations, and a few minor modifications, they completed the whole thing for $470 (including delivery)...

We had a few blocks kicking around and used two of them. We purchased an ATV 1500lb winch, which came with all the wiring and even a wireless remote control for $170.  Add to that a few bits and pieces, we bought at the swap meet in Opua for $20.

Total cost for the build:  $880 NZD! less the $350 I got for the old ones = $530 NZD!

I cut down the mounting plates from the old davit system and spent 5 hours drilling 4 holes to accommodate the 10" bolts that acts as the hinges for the whole thing.

We installed the 15hp engine on the new dinghy and now have everything tucked away nicely.

Fuel line off the floor and extra fuel filter installed....

Fuel Tank in bow, and locked under our new anchor/accessory bag.
This morning we did the big test and are thrilled that it worked flawlessly!

A FUN project....  More soon....

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Feeling Overwhelmed!

This week has been just problem after another.  We finally received the replacement CV joint ($2000 NZD) and installed it with Tom's help...  OK, he installed it and I handed him tools....  We started the engine and put it in gear....
The old CV joint!
The NEW CV joint! (I just painted it to try to keep the rust at bay...)

We heard a really horrible sound at idle speed, in both directions.....

Apparently, when we had the mechanic assess our problems back in November, the horrible noise made by the CV joint covered the horrible noise in the transmission. We had short lived hope that the problem was in the drive plate between the engine and the  transmission...  Nope. It turns out that we most likely damaged the transmission when the motor mount bracket broke.  The engine ran at a bad angle and likely caused a bearing to go in the transmission.

The new motor mount bracket and motor mount.
That meant we had to fix or replace the transmission.  Fixing stuff around here seem to be very difficult and VERY expensive.  They charge $80 per hour for labour, and everything seems to take a very long time....

In the end, we have ordered a NEW transmission from the USA and hope to see it sometime around the end of the month. Why, you might ask, do we order it from the States? The cost of a new transmission here in New Zealand without installation - $10,000 NZD... Our cost from the States including shipping - $6,000 NZD.  The only downside so far is that the company where we bought it used UPS for shipping.  Based on our experience with UPS, we can only hope we eventually get it.

Here is the old transmission in the cockpit.  I have removed all the bits we will need to put on the new one.  Unfortunately, by the time it arrives, Tom will be gone.  I am desperately looking for someone to help me install the new one when it gets here..

We re-installed the genoa and it looks great!  For the first time in our sailing life, all our sail covers MATCH!

I also made a replacement surround for the fish cleaning station...

We have sold a few things we don't want or need any more.  Here in New Zealand they have a local Buy/Sell site that everyone seems to use.  For the most part it has worked well for us.  That said, in December we listed our old dinghy davits for sale with a starting bid of $500.  They are worth about $3000 new.  We didn't get any action so when this guy offered us $350 we said, what the heck, and took it.

This was on December 24, 2016.  It took half a dozen emails, and 2 weeks before the guy who bought it finally transferred the money to our account.  YESTERDAY, his parents finally picked them up! (January 18th, 2017).  Today I get an email from the idiot, saying they weren't in excellent condition, and that he wanted his money back!  Really? He claimed that between yesterday afternoon and 7 am this morning he had an engineer inspect them and that one of the welds on one of the bases was faulty, AND he has a quote from a welder that it would cost $250 to "fix"...

Those davits have lifted our dinghy since 2010, and I am sure they were in service many years before that by the previous owner....  This is all we needed this week.

As politely as possible, I have told him "All Sales Final" and to stop bothering us...  We will see....

Anyway, hopefully things will start going better this week....


Sunday, January 15, 2017

A CRAZY Busy Week....

Welcome to our Blog. Our latest entry always comes up first... 
Click this link if you want to start at the beginning:
If you want to start at the beginning of our trip:
If you want to see the story of our trip from South Carolina
(where we bought the boat)
 to Lake Ontario Click this link:
Shelley and I would very much like to be off the dock here in Whangarei before the end of the month.  In order for that to happen the last of our many projects needs to get finished..

So in no particular order are some of the things we have been up to since our last post..
As you know we have a new dinghy and outboard.  The dinghy is made with PVC and will degrade very quickly if we don't somehow protect it.  Most cruisers cover the top of the air tubes with some kind of canvas or Sunbrella (tm).  

Making these "chaps" is incredibly difficult.  Because every dinghy is different there is no "off the shelf" solution, so for every dinghy, custom chaps must be made. The position of handles, oar locks etc. are always glued on when the dinghy is made and they don't necessarily even line up on either side of the SAME dinghy.

You can imagine then, that the cost for these chaps is EXPENSIVE!  Usually a good sailmaker or canvas shop charges for a boat our size is around $1200...  I guess compared to the cost of replacing the dinghy in 2 years, not a bad deal, however with the overwhelming amount of money we have spent since arriving here in New Zealand we were really stuck for a solution.  I have done many canvas jobs on our boats over the years, but was sure that this was way too complicated and difficult for my ability.

Enter our VERY good friend Phil from UK Sails here in Whangarei.  We first met Phil in Tahiti when he was a part of the New Zealand team who spoke to us about what New Zealand had to offer as a cruising destination.  
Phil... (UK Sails)
I met up with Phil because we needed some sails repaired.  If you remember we blew out our asymmetrical spinnaker and our gennaker (a really big genoa).  Both of these sails were our only light wind sails, so we were hoping we could repair at least one of them..  When Phil looked at them, his only comment was "no worries mate"  and for a VERY reasonable price, fixed them up as good as "new"...   He also replaced the Sunbrella cover for our genoa.  

When I asked him about making the chaps, he said that if I wanted to try making them myself, he would help with "free" advice.  We bought all our materials from him and AMAZINGLY we have a set of chaps that we think look pretty darn good.

With more than 16 cutouts, it has taken me just under a whole week, but we are the proud owners of a very spiffy set of dinghy chaps!

If you ever need sail work done in this part of the world, all I can say is Phil from UK Sails is a genius! 

Just for fun I also made a cover to protect the new outboard...

Today we also learned that our new dinghy davits should be ready this week.  We hope to install them as soon as we can back into the slip, which brings us to  Whangarei Marine Services.  They are the folks who worked on our cooling system.  They were also given our CV joint which goes between our transmission and our prop shaft.  At first they told us it was going to cost $10,000 to replace it!!!! We said forget it, and miraculously it became $1,800...  Still way more that it is worth.  We can source it in the USA for $600, but after our last shipping fiasco, decided to bite the bullet and get it locally.

On December 14th we were promised the part in 10 working days (or about 15 real days with Christmas).  It is now January 16th and NO CV JOINT!!!!  We have given them until tomorrow, before we re-think our options.  And we can't back into the slip without the CV joint back in the boat... 

The other business here in Whangarei worth mentioning is Steel and Tube.  Darren, Ethan and the rest of the crew have been amazing.  They have supplied us with all our stainless steel for all our projects.  Always a decent price and always delivered in a reasonable time, these folks are great.

As usual, it is not ALL work...  Last weekend, Shelley, Tom (s/v Watermusic) and I went on a hike/picnic to the Whangarei Quarry Gardens.  With beautiful flora and fauna, 

We also end on another happy/sad note...  We put "Goldie" the car up for sale late last week and today she was purchased by a lovely man from up north, who will give her a good home...  Now we have enough money to pay for the CV joint!

More soon!