Matiu/Somes Island - 11 Feb 2020

posted 12 Feb 2020, 22:52 by Geoff Head   [ updated 14 Feb 2020, 01:44 ]

Crew: Geoff, Graciela, Jonathan, Kathy, Mark and Allison.

Forecast: Northerly 15 knots but 20 knots about the south coast, easing to 10 knots everywhere late morning and to variable 5 knots around midday. Becoming southerly 10 knots this afternoon. Sea moderate about the south coast this morning. Fine apart from areas of cloud,morning and evening.

The day started out overcast with 15-20 kts northerlies but after morning coffees at Mojo Chaffers and consideration of the forecasted improvement we decided to go ahead with the sailing. We rigged up the No. 3 Jib and with one reef in the Mainsail we cast off from the berth at 1130 hrs. With Mark doing a great job on helm and Geoff on main sheet we raced north-east at around 6 kts on a close reach into in 19 kts of wind. Had to change course at one stage to avoid the ferry coming in.

Arrived at the club mooring at 1223 hrs. Only excitement was when the boat hook fell in the sea. Mark bravely volunteered to jump in the water and save it. Well done Mark!

After lunch on the mooring we cast off at 1344 hrs and sailed on a broad reach back to Wellington on a broad reach with Jonathan on helm expertly handling Halo doing about 6.5 kts arriving at Chaffers Marina at 1432 hrs.

Wgtn Harbour Sailing & Raft-up - Sunday 29 December

posted 30 Dec 2019, 01:21 by Geoff Head   [ updated 8 Feb 2020, 17:06 ]

Crew: Geoff, Ken, Grant, Lorna, Murray.

Forecast: Northerly 10 knots, rising to 15 knots this morning, to 20 knots gusting 30 knots early afternoon, and to 25 knots gusting 35 knots in the evening. Sea becoming rough in the evening. Fine apart from morning cloud.

Departed Chaffers at 1117 hrs and after hoisting the Mainsail and No. 2 Jib we tacked up the the harbour with Grant on helm, Lorna on mainsheet, Geoff, Murray and Ken on trimming. At about the Korokoro buoy we turned downwind and did some Spinnaker practice with the medium kite. First hoisted on a port tack then did a spinnaker gybe to starboard tack. Then a second gybe back to port tack. We then dowsed the spinnaker and stowed into the front hatch, keeping the sheets and halyard connected. We then hoisted the spinnaker again (successfully) directly from the front hatch.

We then contacted Temptation for a raft-up location and as the wind was increasing to over 20 kts we put in the first reef in the main and later the second reef.

Had a nice raft-up and lunch break with Temptation then sailed with Ken on helm back to Chaffers with No. 3 jib and 2 reefs in the main coping well with the 20 to 25 kts gusting over 30 kts.

Docked Halo back at Chaffers at 1615 hrs.

RaceQs Action Replay:

Sailing on the Endeavour - November 2019

posted 3 Dec 2019, 12:24 by Geoff Head   [ updated 9 Dec 2019, 14:56 ]

As a young lad I loved reading the Hornblower novels and always dreamed of adventures sailing the oceans on tall ships. So when the opportunity came up to join the HMB Endeavour for the four day Picton to Wellington section of the Tuia 250 expedition around New Zealand, I signed up without a second thought.

The Endeavour was docked next to the Picton Interislander terminal and we met on the wharf at 0730 hrs for a welcome talk and the opportunity to meet some of the other crew. There were 36 of us volunteers (12 women and 24 men) and we were split up into three watches named after the masts; Foremast, Mainmast and Mizzenmast. We carried our gear aboard and after being shown around the ship we started our safety briefing and training. The first challenge was to climb aloft. The first time we were all very nervous. As you take that first swing out onto the rigging your heart is pounding, your legs are shaking and your brain is desperately telling yourself not to look down. The last section you’re actually climbing outwards but you concentrate on overcoming your fear and eventually make it up to the top without mishap. The main mast is 39 metres high and when you get out to the topsail yard arm it‘s totally exhilarating. Of course by the end of the trip we were all running up and down the rigging like pros.

The HMB Endeavour was launched in 1994 and is a replica of Captain Cook’s vessel in which he circumnavigated New Zealand in 1768. It was built to resemble as close as possible the original ship. Hull length is 33 metres, draught is 3.6 m and displacement is 550 tonnes. The deck below is known as the ‘18th century deck’ which has accommodation for all crew and officers. The 36 voyage crew sleep in one big area and we were shown how to rig up our hammocks ready for our first night. The 16 professional crew and officers have bunks. The deck below that, which on the original ship was the cargo hold, is known as the ‘20th century deck’ which houses the modern facilities including mess room, galley, bathrooms, and engine room. The ship, when not under sail, is powered by two Cat 405 hp diesel engines with feathering props.

We were introduced to all the sails and ropes. There are multiple sail names such as mizzen course, sprit topsail, fore topgallant plus the multitude of lines used to control the sails and yards such as brails, buntlines, clewlines, braces, etc. Learning them was a challenge and really a matter of practice. If you weren't sure they said, “just give it a tug and see what moves”. All the ropes are made from natural fibres and the methods to coil and belay them onto different cleats or belay pins are very specific. The first time I secured a rope to a cleat I did the usual lock off on the final turn and was severely told off. “Never lock off a line on a cleat!” Didn’t get a chance to ask why but I guess it’s to make it easier to undo in a hurry. Often we had to just do what we were told without questioning. While orders were often shouted and abrupt there was never any swearing, sarcasm or rudeness - even when you stuffed something up.

The master was a super mariner and real gentleman named Frank Allica. He advised that the voyage plan was to sail to Tasman Bay and Golden Bay subject to variation due to wind conditions. The Endeavour can’t sail less than 90 degrees into the wind so if you want to go north in a northerly wind you can either give up or start the engines. A luxury Captain Cook never enjoyed.

With a light northerly breeze we left Picton motoring with both engines at just over half speed up through Queen Charlotte Sound. By the time we rounded Walker Rock off Cape Jackson the northerly had built to 35 knots and the wind was screaming through the rigging. At that stage the captain made the prudent decision to abandon rounding Stephens Island and instead to find an anchorage in Pelorus Sound for the night. We went into Orchard Bay on the leeward side of Forsyth Island where we learned the complex process of lowering the massive anchor and then testing that the ship was holding well. We let out about 100 metres of rope (no chain) in about 20 metres depth of water. Even though we spent the night at anchor there was little rest. Every two hours a couple of the watch crew would be woken up to have a turn on anchor watch.

Early next morning we learned that the plan was to sail east back towards Kapiti Island then down to Cloudy Bay. That evening I was on watch from 4am to 8am as we sailed south. The night was pitch black except for the stars and the compass light. It was nice to pick out the red lights on the Makara wind turbines on our port side and the leading lights of Tory Channel entrance as we passed it. Helming the ship to a compass bearing under sail doing 7-8 knots in a starlit night, and later glorious sunrise, was living the dream.

Captain Frank then made the decision to abandon the rendezvous with Cloudy Bay to avoid a long motor into the gale force northerlies back to Wellington. Instead we sailed east over to Palliser Bay to anchor for the night just offshore from the Wharekauhau luxury lodge. The next morning we weighed anchor and set sail for the Wellington Heads where we were joined by the rest of the Tuia 250 fleet including the two waka from Auckland and one from Tahiti, HMNZS Wellington, and the Spirit of New Zealand tall ship. It was wonderful to see the Evans Bay yachts Temptation, Coriander, Airlift and Grenadier join the flotilla as we did our grand entrance around the harbour during which I had a bird's eye view from up the mast on the topsail yard.

So was it a good experience? It was no cruise ship. We worked hard, learnt heaps and slept little, but it was certainly one of the highlights of my life and something I’d recommend to anybody who gets the opportunity.

Ward Island with Clark Family - 3 Mar 2019

posted 13 Jun 2019, 23:00 by Geoff Head   [ updated 22 Oct 2019, 16:35 ]

Crew: Geoff, Louise, Nick, Lucas, Chelsea

Saturday Fun Sail and Raft-up - 18 May 2019

posted 13 Jun 2019, 20:19 by Geoff Head   [ updated 20 Oct 2019, 17:10 ]

Crew: Geoff, Peter, Colin

Forecast: Northerly 15 knots, rising to 20 knots gusting 30 knots late morning, and to 25 knots gusting 35 knots this afternoon. Sea becoming rough this afternoon. Cloudy periods.

Cook Strait Crossing Picton to Wellington - 21 Feb 2019

posted 26 Apr 2019, 21:14 by Geoff Head   [ updated 20 Oct 2019, 17:24 ]

Crew: Geoff and Graciela

Forecast: Wellington Marine: Northerly 15 knots. Rising to northerly 20 knots gusting 30 knots by late morning, and to 25 knots gusting 35 knots about the south coast this afternoon. Morning cloud, then fine spells. NIL warning for COOK.

We had a couple of relaxing days in Picton during which Geoff was able to do planning for the Cook Strait Crossing. The goal for Easterly Crossing is to leave Tory Channel two hours after tidal stream commences setting East. The NIWA table shows the tidal stream begins setting East at 1122 so we needed to be heading out of Tory Channel at 1322 hrs. Based on previous trips we should allow 3 hours to sail from Picton to Tory Channel Entrance. The weather forecast for Thursday was strong northerlies, not much swell but rough seas. It was predicted to get worse over the next few days so the decision was made to go for it. Geoff changed the mainsail rigging for number 1 and 3 reefs, checked the storm jib was ready, checked the dinghy was secure, fuel tank full and we were good to go!

On Thursday morning after final checks of the forecasts (and a final coffee!) we set sail from Picton at 0950 hrs, logged our trip report with Maritime Radio, and motor-sailed into the headwind up Queen Charlotte Sound avoiding the ferries, then turned right at Dieffenbach Point into Tory Channel. We arrived at Okukari Bay near the Tory Channel entrance and waited for a while to be sure the tide had turned. After calling 'All Ships' on ch. 16 to announce our intentions we motor-sailed through the entrance at 1300 hrs with the mainsail triple reefed and #3 jb rigged but not hoisted. The turbulence was manageable and the tide had obviously turned east as our speed over ground was over 11 kts as we passed the gap between West Head and East Head.

After clearing Tory Channel we hoisted the #3 jib and set the course to 130 degrees (true) aiming to be about 3-4 miles from the coast when passing Karori Rip to avoid the worst of the rip. Two other yachts left Tory Channel just ahead of us and I was curious to see they sailed on a course much further south than us. I even wondered if they were going to Cape Palliser.

The northerly increased to around 25 kts and with the possibility that it could keep increasing, we dropped the #3 jib and hoisted the storm jib. Even with just the storm jib and three reefs in the mainsail we were ripping along at 9-10 kts in a broad reach. The boat felt good but we were pleased not to be over powered.

As we approached the southern edge of Karori Rip the sea become very rough. It was manageable though, as the wind and the tide and the seas were all running more or less in the same direction as the boat. Also the swell was not as big as we have experienced on previous crossings.

Once we passed Sinclair Head at 1530 hrs and turned NE towards Barrett Reef Buoy it was a different matter as we crashed our way though the waves at around 5 kts motor-sailing through the Heads into Wellington Harbour. We noticed the two other yachts which were heading towards Baring Head had now tacked into the Heads well in front of us.

We arrived back in Chaffers Marina at 1815 hrs, elated to have completed another Cook Strait crossing safe and sound, although rather wet!

Total trip distance 52 nautical miles, elapsed time 8.5 hours.


D'Urville Island - Ship Cove - Picton 18 Feb 2019

posted 11 Apr 2019, 21:13 by Geoff Head   [ updated 20 Oct 2019, 17:27 ]

Crew: Geoff, Graciela

18 February - Catherine Cove to Ship Cove

Forecast: Southerly 18 kts easing to south-westerly 15 kts.

We woke up in the morning at Catherine Cove to the wind and choppy sea which hadn't abated from last night. Rather than row the dinghy ashore we called the Wilderness Lodge and told them we would pay for the mooring via internet banking. No problems. Departed at 1030 hrs. Called Marlborough-Nelson Radio to log a trip report. They suggested that when we arrive at Ship Cove we should close the TR on Ch. 1.

By the time we had left Catherine Cove and reached Clay Point the weather had cleared nicely. Perfect blue skies conditions, calm seas and 13 kts of tail winds. We connected up 'Ernesto' and set the course for Cape Jackson with full Mainsail and No. 3 Genoa. Put the fishing line out with the spinner trailing behind us. Ever hopeful!

We now understand how the tides work at Cape Jackson. When tide is coming in to Picton it is current is flowing east to west at the cape and vice versa. See image below. High tide in Picton today was at 1449.

As we neared the cape we noted a few other boats travelling in the same direction and our speed over ground was averaging 7 kts so that was a good sign we had it right. We passed the gap between Cape Jackson and the lighthouse at 1343 hrs with no problems at all except for a large powerboat called 'Bellarosa' cutting in at high speed between us and the cliffs. Rather dangerous I thought and I waved to him to slow down but he just gave me a cheery wave back. As soon as we had cleared the point and entered Queen Charlotte Sound our speed slowed down to 5 kts as we hit the outgoing tide from Picton.

We sailed down to Queen Charlotte Sound towards Motuara Island. As we neared Ship Cove at 1500 hrs we saw 'Bellarosa' again, this time tied up at the club mooring. We slowly approached the boat and noted that they didn't have a club pennant flying. Geoff politely asked them how long they would be there as we wanted to stay the night on the mooring. The response was "Oh we'll be gone in 20 minutes. Just go over to the jetty and wait." Mmm. Well we didn't have any choice so we motored to the jetty and waited about an hour until they finally roared off.

We then tied up at the Ship Cove club mooring and had a lovely restful evening. Geoff had a swim and did a bit of hull inspection and checked the prop. (We had noticed a vibration at low revs in gear since leaving Motueka). All looked fine though I did think the prob shaft could be a bit loose in the cutlass bearing.

19 February - Ship Cove to Picton

After breakfast and a visit back to the jetty for a walk around and use of the DOC toilets, we departed Ship Cove at 1100 hrs. Once we got into the Sound we found 20 kts northerly blowing down our necks. We tried different sail options and after an unfortunate gybe decided to sail with two reefs in the Mainsail and no jib. Made our way down the QC Sound with strong following seas at relaxing speed of about 5-6 kts. Arrived at the Picton Marina at 1445 hrs while Graciela was having a little nap so Geoff berthed the boat single-handed. No problems.

We enjoyed a relaxing couple of days in Picton with walks and swims while we prepared for the last leg of our trip back to Wellington. Gerard and Rose came down to the boat for drinks and snacks one night and we had a lovely catch-up with them.

Motueka - French Pass - Catherine Cove - 17 Feb 2019

posted 5 Apr 2019, 21:00 by Geoff Head   [ updated 20 Oct 2019, 20:42 ]

Crew: Geoff & Graciela
Forecast: Northerly 10 to 15 kts rising to 20 kts in the afternoon.

The previous night after stocking up on provisions in Motueka, Geoff had a chat with the local secretary of the yachting club about our plans to sail across Tasman Bay and transit French Pass. One small concern was that we may arrive at the pass too early for the slack water at 1850 hrs. He suggested that a good place to wait for the tide is Punganui Bay just south of French Pass where we would find a good anchorage and a TBCC club mooring. Great advice.

Departed Motueka Marina at high tide 0940 hrs. Called Marlborough-Nelson Radio on Ch. 4 to make our trip report. Beautiful early morning light and no wind at first as we motored into Tasman Bay with 'Ernesto' set to a heading direct to French Pass. The predicted wind arrived eventually and we turned off the engine and sailed with full Main and No. 3 Jib.  Wind increased more and seas become a bit rough so we put first reef in the main for comfort, making good speed at 6.5 to 7 kts.

We watched the Spirit of Adventure also sailing across the bay and wondered if Gerard was on Master duties. Then great excitement, a large school of dolphins came and joined us. They ducked and dived around Halo and kept us company for ages. There must have been about 20 of them. By this time wind was getting up to 20 kts so we put a 2nd reef in the main as a precaution.
We arrived at Punganui Bay 1645 hrs. We tied up at the club mooring and we waited for the tide to turn at 1853 hrs according to the NIWA tables.

At 1832 hrs we left the mooring and motored over to French Pass. We made our call to 'All Ships' on Ch. 16 advising our intentions to enter the 'narrows'. Two other yachts were transiting with us at the same time in the same direction so we were in good company. As we passed the narrows at 1851 hrs we noted that there was a some south-to-north current eddying around the lighthouse indicating the tide had already turned. We noted our SOG was 6.5 kts increasing to  7.5 kts as we came out the other side. No problems with eddys this time.

The northerly continued at about 20 kts as we sailed up Admiralty Bay with 2 reefs in the main (and no jib) arriving at Catherine Cove at 1945 hrs where we tied up at the  Wilderness Lodge mooring. 

A pretty long day and after a good dinner we both slept very well with Halo rocking around on the mooring in the choppy seas.

Total trip distance Motueka to Catherine Cove - 46.55 Nautical Miles.

Nelson - Motueka - Abel Tasman National Park 11-16 Feb 2019

posted 24 Feb 2019, 00:23 by Geoff Head   [ updated 20 Oct 2019, 20:44 ]

Crew: Geoff and Graciela

Sailing Nelson to Motueka 11 Feb 2019

We flew to Nelson from Wellington and arrived at Halo in the Nelson Marina to discover the 12 volt house batteries were completely dead as a result of the stereo being left on plus the solar panel (and the whole boat) being covered in a thin layer of ash from the recent Nelson bush fires.  After trying unsuccessfully to re-charge the batteries overnight we decided to replace the two batteries. Luckily Burnsco had them in stock. That day I had arranged to meet with my old mate Dave Waring. He was a great help getting the new batteries from Burnsco as well as getting rid of the old ones plus swapping out our LPG gas bottle. That night we had a lovely meal with our friends Jim and Lindie.

The next morning, after a particularly good coffee at the local cafe (Kush Coffee) we left the Nelson Marina at 1015 hrs and set sail for Motueka. With only 5kts of wind we hoisted the No. 1 Genoa and motor-sailed out of the harbour and towards Motueka. Eventually the wind picked up to 10 kts and we were able to turn off the engine and enjoy beautiful sailing cose-hauled across Tasman Bay. The wind continued to increase to over 16 kts so we put in the first reef as a precaution. 

We reached the entrance to the Motueka estuary at 1250 hrs (high tide was due at 1400 hrs) and with Graciela on helm we slowly followed the marker buoys all the way up the river to berth at the marina at 1330 hrs. 

That evening we had a delicious swim in the open air salt water pool on the edge of the Motueka estuary.

Hiking Abel Tasman National Park - 12 Feb 2019

We took a break from sailing to spend 5 days in the beautiful Abel Tasman National Park. As well as good hiking and kayaking and comfortable accommodation in the Wilsons lodges we enjoyed wonderful weather with plenty of swimming opportunities.

Day One 
Boat trip Kaiteriteri to Totaranui.
Hike Totaranui to Awaroa. 
Accommodation at Meadowbank Homestead.

Day Two
Day hike across Awaroa Inlet to Historic Steam Engine track.
Accommodation at Meadowbank Homestead.

Day Three
Hike Awaroa to Onetahuti Bay
Kayaking Onetahuti Bay to Torrent Bay.
Accommodation at Torrent Bay Lodge.

Day Four
Day hike to Anchorage, Pitt Head and Te Pukatea Bay.
Accommodation at Torrent Bay Lodge.

Day Five
Hike Torrent bay to Marahau.
Bus back to Motueka Marina.

Nelson - Motueka - Nelson 17-18 Jan 2019

posted 19 Jan 2019, 00:46 by Geoff Head   [ updated 20 Oct 2019, 20:45 ]

Crew : Geoff and Tunch. 

While resting in Nelson and after Peter had returned to Wellington, Tunch mentioned he was keen to take a bus trip to Motueka to visit a friend who has a Kebab shop there. Why don't we sail there Geoff suggested! 

We did a route plan on OpenCPN and figured out we could get there in 3 hours at 5 kts. We then checked the weather forecast and the tides and noted that high tide would be at 1913 hrs. We then called Alan Noble of the Motueka Boating Club (027-663 3995) who was very helpful and confirmed we could have an overnight berth at the Motueka Marina. He also gave us some local knowledge about entering the estuary; "Just follow and keep to the left of all the channel markers on the way in. You'll be fine!'  

We cast off from Nelson Marina at 1450 hrs, out through The Cut, rigged up the Mainsail and No. 2 Genoa,  and set Ernesto to steer us across Tasman Bay to the Motueka entrance. The wind gradually decreased as we headed north with our speed dropping from 7 to 5 kts. As we entered the estuary Tunch took over helm while Geoff kept a close eye on the chartplotter and depth sounder as we crept up the river at 3-5 kts. Our SOG suddenly increased to 7 kts as we passed the wharf due to the tide still coming in though the narrow channel. We then spotted Alan and he waved us in to our berth.

OK time for a kebab! Tunch's friend kindly came down to the marina to pick us up and take us in to town and generously shouted us a delicious kebab meal. 

The next morning high tide was at 0808 hrs we set off at 0845 hrs and sailed back to Nelson arriving at 1140 hrs.

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