Marsden Cove, New Zealand (Inzud)
By: Kerry We’re baaa-aack! Tied to a dock for the first time in five months. We arrived in Marsden Cove, NZ on Thursday evening, exactly six days and 12 hours after leaving Fiji, And we arrived with a mast this time, so figure that’s gotta be a win!
Regular readers would be disappointed if there wasn’t at least ONE incident to report, though, right? Never fear!
The day before we left Fiji, Verdo went up the mast to do a rig check and discovered that the gennaker halyard block (the pulley that holds our biggest headsail up) was distorted and the pin attaching it to the head of the sail was bent. With no time to replace the block before departure, we jury-rigged another pin and put the sail back up.
Several days into the trip, we went to use the sail for the first time. It lasted all of about a minute before the block exploded, dumping all 125 square metres of sail into the briny. Damian and Verdo managed to haul it back on board without any damage. All good.
The fun started when we tried to hoist it again. Because we couldn’t furl or contain the sail prior to hoisting it, we had to get it to the top of the mast as quickly as possible and then try to get the flogging acres of sail and miles of sheets (ropes) under control as quickly as possible.
So we got it hoisted without a problem, but it wouldn’t be that easy, would it?
As with everything on this boat, there is a lot of power, size and area that’s difficult to manage short-handed when it goes pear-shaped.
The sail was flogging wildly, and hence so were the sheets (attached to the clew, the outermost corner of the sail). Somehow, the flailing windward sheet (a very long rope) managed to loop itself under the leeward hull and jam itself into the dagger board casing on the bottom of the hull. Another case of ‘you couldn’t make this s**t up’.
We stopped the boat as best we could (it being the middle of the ocean and all), and I dived in and tried to free it. No luck. Verdo joined me, but the two of us couldn’t shift it. So it stayed there for the rest of the trip as we pondered various ways of trying to get it out. It meant we didn’t have a starboard dagger board for the rest of the trip, which cramped our style to windward, but compared to losing a mast, it was minor!
On another positive note, Damian’s leg started to heal properly the minute we left the tropics and his ‘bullet hole’ is now looking a whole lot better. Spoiler alert: I will post a couple of photos of it at the end of this for the medically curious, but if you’re at all squeamish, skip them!
This stretch of ocean between New Zealand and the tropics is regarded as one of the most treacherous on the planet. Of the four crossings we’ve now made of this Black Hole, this one was by far the easiest. For starters, we had Verdo as our crew: having a reliable and experienced third person on board, rather than just the two of us, made a huge difference in terms of reduced stress and sleep deprivation!
The weather was also a lot kinder than previous trips. Although we close-reached all the way (the wind never went aft of 60 degrees apparent), it never went above 25 knots true and we only had one day of crappy seas, so well and truly manageable compared to previous trips (see here, here and here).
And for the first time, we also buddy-boated with another boat: Kiapa, another 52-foot catamaran. While they’re the same size and both cats, Kiapa and Sel Citron are quite different boats. Kiapa is designed by Melvin and Morelli: it’s a light-weight, go-fast cruising cat, whereas we are about twice as heavy, thanks to a different construction and having quite a few more creature comforts. (Lionel, Kiapa’s owner, likes to call us the ‘fat chick in lycra’).
Nevertheless, we pretty much paced one another: Kiapa pulled away from us in light airs, but in stronger winds, we kept pace and had a much more comfortable trip in the rough stuff. It was great having the company and we stayed in VHF radio and visual contact all the way until the last night, when Kiapa peeled off to Opua and we continued to Marsden.
One bonus of buddy boating is the opportunity to take photos of each other under sail – the first time we’ve ever seen ourselves with sails up! These were all taken on the same day – easy to see the difference some weight makes… And this was on a light air day! Thanks to Graham Keating on board Kiapa for the pics of Sel Citron.
We felt a bit like the homecoming queen arriving: the marina staff, friends on other boats, even Customs and Biosecurity know us and gave us a warm welcome. It almost feels like home!
PS The gennaker sheet is now free from the dagger board, thanks to the combined weight, effort and brute strength of Damian, Lionel, Steve (Citrus Tart) and Graham (Maunie/Kiapa). Thanks, fellas!
PPS Here are some pix of Damian’s golf wound – close your eyes and move on if you’re squeamish! Never underestimate a coral cut. See background details here.
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