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Chronologically Challenged Couple Cruises the South Pacific

Welcome to our blog.  Here you’ll find stories, pictures and hopefully a little helpful information about traveling around on a small sailboat.

To some, our blog may seem chronologically challenged, but it’s really not.  You see, our resident Capricorn, Cyndi, posts everything in the exact order in which it occurred.  Rich, with his short attention span, posts stuff the moment it occurs to him.  While we’re now in Australia, Cyndi just finished her posts about the New Zealand’s Marlborough Sounds.  Rich has already lost interest in last Monday. To sum it up:

Cyndi is writing about our time in NELSON (NEW ZEALAND) in 2016.

Rich is writing about the here and now, in TASMANIAAUSTRALIA.

Rich and Cyndi

chronologically-challenged-pics

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Nelson Wineries (South Island, New Zealand)

April 25 – June 4, 2016

Like most cities in New Zealand, Nelson has its own nearby wine country. It covers an area just outside Nelson starting in the small neighboring city of Richmond and stretching north along the rolling Moutere Hills.

Unfortunately we barely got to see any of it. Nelson’s wine country is far enough away to require a car to get there, and while we rented one a couple of times, we had higher priorities both times. Still, we managed to fit in a couple of cellar doors. (Next time around we plan to do much more.)

The two wineries we did manage to visit were Fossil Ridge and Waimea Estates in the city of Richmond. By now, fall had arrived. We’re used to visiting New Zealand wineries under the warm summer sun, sitting out on a deck overlooking rolling hills (and often a calm ocean bay). But it was just as enjoyable to visit in the cooler air, the leaves a riot of color, sitting indoors with a fire burning in the hearth. Of course, there’s no bad way to enjoy wine tasting, but doing it in the fall has its own rewards.

Below a gallery of photos from our visit to Fossil Ridge, where we got to choose the wines we wanted in our tasting flight of four. We were invited to take our flight to one of their tables to do our tasting (with accompanying nibbles), all the while enjoying a view of the pond and surrounding vineyard. While nothing called to us to bring a bottle home, we enjoyed the experience so much we’d recommend a visit to the winery to order a tasting flight; then sit at a table and soak in the view.

After that we headed up the road to Waimea Estates. Here we found another beautiful venue with lots of stone, wood, and large windows, not to mention excellent wines: this time we bought three bottles. So far we’d liked the (admittedly very few) wines we’d sampled from the region, but nothing made us go “wow” until this winery today.

We’re anxious to return and visit more wineries like these. –Cyndi

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We’re in Macquarie Harbour

March 27, 2017

We made the 19 hour trip from Port Davey to Macquarie Harbour the night before last and then went to bed for the rest of the day. We still haven’t been ashore in Strahan because the wind is pretty strong right now. We made it in before this blow started. In fact, we motored in less than 5 knots of wind the entire 80+ miles. Here’s where we are…

Strahan

As we motored into town, a man on a beautiful steel sailboat waved us over. We changed course and he gave us a quick rundown on town, including an offer to use his mooring just off the town. We have met so many wonderful people in Tasmania. This is really a special place! -Rich

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The Curse Continues

March 22, 2017

Having worked through the issues in our previous post, all was pretty good aboard Legacy. It was time to do a little motoring around Port Davey, see some sights and find a good place for last night’s 15 to 20 knot easterlies.

The tour went well. The wind came up a little early and we decided to duck into Casilda Cove for the night. I positioned the boat, Cyndi dropped the anchor and I backed to set it. One HUGE problem. I forgot to pull in the long line we use to tow the dinghy.

The inevitable happened. The prop sucked the line in and wrapped it around the shaft. The engine stalled from the load. We were coasting towards the rocks with no way to stop ourselves if the anchor failed to set.

I yelled to Cyndi, “Get the anchor out!!!” She thought I wanted her to get it out of the water and started to pull it in. I ran to the bow and corrected my miscommunication in time. She let more chain out and the anchor caught. The immediate disaster was averted. We were holding well and had at least another ten feet before we would have hit the rocks!

Now to investigate the damage I’d caused. I was pretty certain that it would take a trip into the water to unwrap the prop. Maybe I’d have to cut the line off the shaft. After climbing into the dinghy (now pulled up hard against our stern), I saw I was right. The cold, dark water of Port Davey and I would soon become well acquainted.

After suiting up in mask, fins and the lycra suit we use in the tropics (we have no wetsuits aboard), I jumped in. When I was able to breath again, I dove down and was able to untangle the prop and shaft in one dive.

(OK, in the interest of full disclosure, the water was 64° F – or 17.8 C for those of you who still think the metric system is a pretty neat trick. I guess that’s not that cold but my testicles didn’t see it that way!)

Back aboard I took the first of (spoiler alert) what would be three hot showers. After I was warmed up, we tried the engine. For about twenty seconds, all was well. That was before the horrible squeak started coming from under the boat. My theory was that some line fragments worked their way into the cutlass bearing which overheated and grabbed the prop shaft. I thought that if I got back into the water, this time with scuba gear, I could probably pull out the stray line and trim the damaged cutlass rubber away. But before doing that (maybe I was just procrastinating), I wanted to get a look at the prop shaft coupling at the rear of the engine.

It didn’t look right. I couldn’t turn the shaft by hand and it looked like the flexible coupling between the engine and prop shaft was being pushed out of alignment. I removed the coupling bolts and the prop shaft shifted about an inch and a half to port. That’s bad!

I quickly developed a theory as to why this was the case. The theory, unfortunately, turned out to be correct. When the line wrapped, it yanked the shaft to starboard as it was secured on a starboard cockpit cleat. The force bent the prop strut to starboard, forcing the coupling on the engine end to port. That was very bad news.

The good news is that from what I was able to determine from turning the prop shaft (with great difficulty), it seemed that the prop shaft itself was not bent.

My plan was to get in the water, look the situation over and if warranted, secure a heavy line to the end of the strut which I’d run to the port side of the boat. Running it though a couple of turning blocks and to winches, I’d hoped to be able to pull the line hard enough to bend the strut back into the proper position.

A brief scuba dive and another hot shower later, we were ready to start winching. Cyndi watched the alignment below and I cranked the lines, using one of our big main winches and our electric cockpit winch. The forces were tremendous and scary but the process was working. After several pulls, we finally got to the point that the couplings would line up after the line tension was released.

I bolted the shaft back to the engine and checked the alignment. To my relief and surprise, the alignment was perfect. After getting in the water again to remove the line, we could give the engine a try. After a second scuba dive and a third hot shower, we fired up the engine.

I don’t know if you can imagine the relief when everything in our drive train was smooth and quiet. Sailing out of this small, tight bay without an engine would have been difficult at best. Sailing all the way from this remote corner of Tasmania to a place where we could haul out and make repairs would have been no fun at all. As it is, I’m pretty confident that we can continue on with the cruise as planned. We may need to replace the cutlass bearing during our next haul out (next year), and maybe check the strut alignment (I’ll rig some kind of laser pointer tool to check it out), but for now, all seems well. Whew!

Hey, and now I can say I’ve been diving in Port Davey! -Rich

Some random notes:

Why did this happen? Two reasons: I made a mistake and Remo fell down on the job.

Who’s Remo? That’s somehow short for “Reminder Lizard.” He’s a plastic gecko and when we have the dinghy trailing behind the boat, or a fishing line out, I ask him to sit on the throttle lever to remind me not to back without bringing in the lines. The little wires in his body are giving out and now he slips off the lever. I don’t always notice and so, you see, I mostly blame him!

Why are you telling us all this? Several reasons:

I don’t want you to suffer under the illusion that I’m perfect…

Or maybe, by telling you the story of how I was able to solve the problem, I want you to see how smart I am, or…

Maybe I just wanted you to take comfort in the idea that if I could solve this problem, anyone can.

What’s the mood like on Legacy? Very good, actually. We both took it in stride and went about our repairs in a pretty good mood (despite what I look like in the picture Cyndi took of me in the water). I give Lexapro a lot of credit for this. Both of us started on a very low dose a few years ago in Tonga and we’ve kept it up ever since. I’m a big fan. I think it counteracts some of the symptoms of aging in my brain. It doesn’t change who I basically am but I feel much less anxiety and stress and generally enjoy life more.

And the final reason I share all this stuff: I want you to see what real life is like out here. No Pollyanna stuff here. You get the good with the bad. Cruising life is good but it’s not perfect. It’s only life, after all.

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Problems, Problems, Problems

March 18, 2017

(Sorry if this comes out as one long, run-on paragraph. It’s another symptom of our communications problems. I’ll fix it when we get internet again.)

We must be cursed. Maybe it was some old lady that I failed to help across the street. She put a hex on me for my failing. Maybe it’s the universe saying “You have it too good. Here comes some crap to balance things a bit.” I don’t know. I just know there are things that could be better right now. Here’s the story.

First, shortly before leaving Hobart, our computer crashed. It looked like one of our hard disks failed. I tinkered with it for a little while (OK, more like a long while) and got it working. Part of getting it working was reinstalling Windows and its cursed updates. That broke other things. I’ll get to that in a minute.

After cruising the D’Entrecasteax Channel, we left Recherche Bay on the 60 mile trip to Port Davey. As usual, I’d plotted a course on the computer and as we were leaving the bay, I plugged it into our chartplotter. As is my routine, I scrolled along the route to make sure we weren’t going to have to sail over any rocks or islands and to my surprise, I found the Navionics chart data disappeared about half way to Port Davey. Crap! We were just leaving a bay with no internet so there was no way to update the charts (which shouldn’t have needed updating as I got everything we’d need this season some time ago).

We’d resolved to use our iPad (which does have the detail on its version of the Navionics charts) for our navigation needs. Cyndi’s optimism about possible stray internet waves convinced me to take a look and to my surprise, we found 4G service just outside bay. We slowed the boat to a crawl and I took about a half hour to install the Navionics chart updater software and re-download the charts we’d need.

That done, we still didn’t have the missing details. Oh well. The iPad it is then. A few hours out, as I was playing with the chartplotter, I turned on the “Fish n Chips” view. Surprise – charts! That’ll work. (Yes, Fish n Chips is its real name. I didn’t make that up. I couldn’t come up with something that lame! It took the expert marketing team at Navionics to think of that.) Issue #1 resolved.

Enter issue #2. This morning, with no internet anywhere in the extremely remote Port Davey, we turned on our satellite phone for a weather forecast. No joy. It seems updating Windows killed the simple little email program we use to send and receive email via the sat phone. I tried reinstalling it (clever me – I kept the install file). No joy. It needed an internet connection to install. Maybe a different email program? I had others I could try.

A program called iScribe installed just fine but wouldn’t connect a sat phone call to send the email weather request.

I tried making a call with the sat phone – a diagnostic first step. No joy. I got a message that said “emergency calls only!” I guess my minutes must have expired. I usually get a notice before that happens.

A trip trough my computer was fruitless as I couldn’t find anything that wouldn’t require an internet connection that would tell me when I purchased the most recent stack of sat phone minutes. Aaaaarggh!!!

I don’t think we’re doomed yet. I can probably send and receive email, including weather forecasts with the HF radio (HAM radio) via Winlink. I haven’t done it in a while because the sat phone is just so easy (usually). If all else fails, we’ll just listen to the VHF weather forecast. We don’t like it but if that’s all we can get, it’ll have to do.

But that might be problematic. We checked in with Tas Maritime Radio on our way here and told them we’d check in again when we arrived in Port Davey. So far, I haven’t been able to make contact with them. I’ve tried VHF (they assured me that they had good VHF reception from Port Davey), and I’ve tried the HF radio frequencies they monitor. No joy. Could our VHF have a problem? Could our HF radio also have a problem? (Not likely. The issue is probably just the mountains around us and the remoteness of this place.)

Do you see why I think this must be the result of a curse?

(Obviously, you won’t be reading this until sometime after our communication issues are resolved, but it feels good to whine about it now.)

Update: March 22, 2017

To be fair and balanced (what, you thought I was Fox News!?), I should report the stuff that’s going very well.

First, I’m surrounded by beauty (and I’m not just talking about Cyndi here!). Port Davey is truly amazing, and we’ve only just scratched the surface. Our first bay was at the base of a very large and very beautiful mountain. A short walk up a hill on the other side of the bay revealed stunning views of the pyramid islands near the entrance to this channel as well as an amazing view of Legacy at the base of Mount Stokes.

We timed things very well. Just a few days ago, this small bay had 40 boats, all part of an around Tasmania rally. They cleared out just before we got here.

And we did get our communication working via HAM radio. We’ve been able to get weather pretty easily. We’re not really liking the weather we see coming, but at least we know what’s ahead. -Rich

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Incommunicado

March 18, 2017

We’re off from Recherche Bay to Port Davey, a route that will take us along the bottom of Tasmania and the furthest south Legacy’s ever been. This will likely be the last internet we’ll have for the next two or three weeks. I’ll update occasionally using our satellite phone. -Rich

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Nelson’s Parks and Gardens (South Island, New Zealand)

April 25 – June 4, 2016

Parks and gardens lend an undertone to the feeling of a city, even if you never get around to visiting them. I’ve definitely noticed the nicest cities always have beautiful parks, and places that lack them (like my home town of Los Angeles) can feel a bit barren. Nelson, not surprisingly, has some lovely parks.

(Click to enlarge/scroll through any of the photo galleries below.)

The town of Nelson sits sprawled out under a hill called Church Hill. There are steps that lead up to the beautiful Christ Church Cathedral, which sits at the top and is the only structure on the hill. The rest is parkland which is, arguably, the most beautiful in Nelson.

The most famous parkland is Queens Gardens, a smallish but very pretty botanical garden. This is the park which seems to draw in the most people.

Then there’s the small but significant Anzac Park, more of a square really, with a war memorial and lovely gardens.

The surprise park, for us, was one we stumbled across while walking around town: Albion Square, a historical reserve. It has some small historical structures, but what made it so special to us was its collection of exotic and fascinating pine trees. The square isn’t all that big, but the magnificent trees and peaceful surroundings make it will worth a visit!

Overall, a key to Nelson’s charm is it’s devotion to plants of all kinds. Trees are everywhere, flowering plants spill over from hanging baskets on the lampposts, and gardens are nurtured. It really makes it stand out as a particularly beautiful place. –Cyndi

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Good-bye Hobart (Cyndi’s Version)

March , 2017

After three weeks in one of our new favorite places, Hobart, it’s time to continue on down the coast of Tasmania. We’ll sorely miss that fantastic city, but we should have some interesting cruising ahead as we go south through the D’Entrecasteaux Channel. To our right will be an area of orchards, farms, and rivers, (or so I believed. Let me try that again now that we’ve seen it…) To our right would be tree-covered mountains (the orchards and farms are hidden behind them), and on our left would be the golden-grassy Bruny Island. People certainly seem to love this area; we hope it lives up to its reputation.

While we’re cruising the area, I’ll be hopping back a few months to finish my posts about the Nelson area of New Zealand.–Cyndi

A kangaroo following his new friend (who just happens to have a handful of food) at the Tasmanian Devil Unzoo.
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Adieu Hobart

March 13, 2017

This was the scene as we got ready to leave Hobart early this morning…

Departing Hobart’s Constitution Dock

It didn’t take the three weeks we stayed in Hobart to fall in love with the town. It was close to love at first sight. We’ll miss you Hobart!

We’re heading south and then hopefully, around the bottom of Tasmania and up the west side. The clock is ticking on both our visa (expires May 4th) and the season of settled weather (expires any time now). We’ll see as much as we can in the time we have left and already have plans to come back to this wonderland. -Rich

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A Brief (ok, not so brief) Tasmania Report from Cyndi

March 6, 2017

We haven’t been blogging much recently as Tasmania has been keeping us really busy. Now that we’ve settled into Hobart for a awhile, we’ve downshifted to a slower pace (although with all the boat work we’re doing it’s not exactly restful).

So far, we’ve learned lots of things about cruising Tasmania and busted through some major misconceptions. Why the misconceptions? Because blanket statements stem from knowledge of year-round conditions and “schedule cruising” (participating in boat races, boat shows, regattas, etc.), and not true seasonal cruising.

For example, the Little Girls on Legacy would never, ever, venture to Tasmania in December’s blustery late spring conditions nor would we ever, ever cross the Bass Strait on a pre-set schedule (as those crazy Sydney to Hobart racers do). That’s for manly men unafraid of the sea, of discomfort, of death. We’re afraid of all of those things and try to avoid them by treating the sea with a lot of respect. Thus while other sailors can regale you with tales of sailing through gale force winds and storms, our tales will center around the specials on the pub’s lunch menu that day.

Below, some of the things we heard most often from mainland Aussies before we headed down this way, and what, in fact, we’ve found.

1. “It’s so cold down there!” We heard this one over and over again, and it surely does get cold in the winter. The summer? No, not really, at least no colder than the north island of New Zealand. Both places are subject to the occasional southerly system that can bring chilly night and morning air, but unless it’s a rainy, windy day, the afternoons are generally warm and pleasant. I can sum it up by saying since being here, we’ve used our heater on a handful of mornings, but I’ve yet had to dig out my long pants.

Since arriving in Hobart we’ve had a long period of very warm days; so our fans are on, our hatches are open, and we appreciate air conditioning when we find it. It looks like we’ll enjoy this weather for the foreseeable future. I do realize when we get to the west side of Tasmania, we’ll see a lot more rain. For the time being, it’s been one warm, sunny day after another.

2. “It’s so windy there.” We’ve found that in Tasmania (at least in the summer) it’s no windier than anyplace else we’ve been. No matter where we go in the southern hemisphere it’s always the same: there are calm days; there are breezy days; and then there are days with more serious blows. We watch the weather and plan accordingly. The winds, when they do come, are no stronger here than elsewhere we’ve been.

We have, however, found one particular challenge that none of our guidebooks really addressed: the wind is especially changeable here, switching direction at least once during the day. This doesn’t matter in all-weather anchorages, but all-weather anchorages are almost nonexistent on the east coast of Tasmania and the Furneaux group of islands to the north, which was where we started our cruise here.

People cruising the east coast have to think in terms of all-weather “areas.” This means that in certain areas, there’s always a place you can pick up and move to when the wind changes. The good news is that with modern weather forecasting, you can pretty much know exactly when that will happen. The bad news is you have to spend a lot of time planning, and not just your next move but several moves ahead. It’s rare to be able to stay in a spot more than a day or two. Some days might entail a couple of moves. The worst is having to move at an inconvenient time and anchor in the dark. And while any given move might only be a couple of miles, that can be a long couple of miles in choppy, gusty conditions.

I should hasten to add here that much of the effort of planning and moving came about because I had my heart set on visiting certain places. Other cruisers often opt to get down the east coast quickly, skipping Flinders Island entirely and making only a couple of stops en route to the south side of Tasmania. Thus, they avoid the planning and moving hassles entirely. Almost every place we’ve been can be seen by car; we just chose to do them in our own boat. After spending three weeks cruising Flinder’s Island and the east coast of Tasmania, we can say it wasn’t the most restful cruising, but for us it was totally worth the effort–it’s a fantastic and beautiful place.

Since crossing under the south side of Tasmania, we’ve had anchorages that pretty much have all-weather protection. Now that we’re in Hobart, we don’t worry about the wind at all. We’ll soon be moving on, and time will tell what that will bring.

3. “The Tasmanian people are, well, somewhat rural.” (This has not been said as a compliment.) I have to say we’ve found exactly the opposite: Tasmanians seem particularly worldly, sophisticated, competent and intelligent. They’ve also been some of the nicest people we’ve met anywhere. If there are any pocket areas where cousins have married cousins, we sure haven’t come across them.

In fact, if there’s anything that stands out about the Tasmanians, it’s that they may have the most intense foodie culture we’ve ever encountered in our travels. Tasmania has the best seafood, beef, dairy products and produce in Australia. They also specialize in making craft beer, gin, single malt whiskies, and wine. And they know how to make the best of their bounty with some of the best cafes, restaurants, markets and food festivals in Australia. Not surprisingly, Hobart is packed with eateries ranging from the finest of restaurants to small cafes and takeouts. But Tasmania in general is the sort of place that has incredible cafes in the most out-of-the-way places. These places thrive because Tasmanians will travel to visit them, and they do seem to love going out to eat. I have noticed that even though the streets seem overrun with bars and restaurants, they all seem packed by 5:30pm. I remarked to someone that every night here seems like Friday night, and she reminded me that it’s summer, and people are making the most of the good weather. I suppose she’s right, but I suspect places are still pretty busy in the winter, that while people may be crowded around fire pits and heat lamps, it’s still pretty festive.

As for personal misconceptions, I’d always pictured Tasmania having lots of misty forests, big mountains, dense greenery and barren windswept areas. There are certainly areas that fit those descriptions, but what we’ve mostly seen so far are white-sand beaches with clear turquoise water bracketed by boulder strewn headlands. There’s also dense coastal eucalyptus forest and lots of pastureland, Near Hobart, we’ve found golden grassy hills and vineyards. We’ll see more rainforest and mountains as we head west, but for now I’d say Tasmania has been more about beaches and dry coastal vegetation than misty forests.

In all, between the scenery, the wildlife, the people, and the food, Tasmania has certainly become one of our favorite cruising destinations. It has its challenges, but the rewards are great. Right now, we’re tied up smack in the middle of downtown Hobart at a place called Constitution Dock and feeling pretty thrilled with it. It’s right in the hub of the city, surrounded by great historic buildings, boats, and eateries, close enough to enjoy the energy of the city but in a reasonably quiet corner with not much pedestrian traffic. We can understand how so many people who come here never leave. We’d be tempted to stay indefinitely if it weren’t for that time limit on our visa. We’ve already decided to return here in the future: there is so much to see that one season isn’t enough.

Below, a sampling of photos from our trip between Wineglass Bay and Hobart. (Click to enlarge and scroll.) –Cyndi

And here’s an interactive Google map showing where we’ve cruised in Tasmania so far…

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We’re Still in Hobart

February 27, 2017

Legacy is on the right side of the picture. Click for larger version.

We’re tied up at Constitution dock in Hobart, Tasmania. Besides exploring this wonderful city, we’re doing a bunch of boat projects that need to be done while we have access to parts and supplies. We’re also waiting for a package from the US with some critical parts. Once they’re all installed, we’ll keep heading south to the bottom of Tasmania. -Rich

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