Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall. After a six-year adventure sailing from Dartmouth to Australia, we are now back in Britain.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Exploring the Vava'u islands and maintaining the decks

We've been out in deserted island anchorages for the past few day in the eastern side of the Vava'u archipelago. Our current position is 18 deg 41.27 min south, 173 deg 57.43 west for those with a few minutes to spare on Google Earth.
The pristine sandy beaches and palm-tree islands here are beautiful so we'll post some photos when we get back to the main town in a few days' time. As always, though, it's not all swimming and sunbathing as we've taken some time to do a few boat jobs. The main one has been some maintenance of the teak decks.
For those not familiar with sailing yachts, Maunie, like most boats, is built of fibreglass which is a relatively maintenance-free material. It needs a regular clean and polish to keep it looking shiny but otherwise is very tolerant of the wear and tear of normal use. However, many owners don't like the look and feel of fibreglass decks (they can be slippery and dazzlingly white) so opt for an expensive additional layer of teak planking for a more 'traditional' look; when new it looks fabulous and provides really good grip for bare feet and sea boots whether the deck's wet or dry. So Maunie has a teak deck (now, like the rest of her, 14 years old) and the downside is that it's another maintenance project; neglected teak decks look awful and can result in expensive repairs.
Someone once told us that the worst boat to buy would have a dark blue hull (terribly difficult to keep shiny and it gets very hot in the sun) and teak decks. Maunie had both!  The first issue we dealt with via an expensive but lovely paint job but the teak decks remain as a challenge. We were lucky that the relatively light use that Maunie had under her previous owner meant that the decks hadn't been scrubbed vigorously as it's very easy to wear them down in a quest to keep them clean and a nice brown (rather than a neglected grey) colour. If you have teak patio tables and chairs you'll know the issue if keeping teak looking attractive. However, in between the individual planks of the deck is a line of black filler called caulking which allows a degree of expansion and contraction between the planks but which, most importantly, also stops any water ingress to the fibreglass deck below.
Our caulking is beginning, in a few places, to show signs of old age. Our regular deck care regime is to swill buckets of sea water across them – the salt helps to preserve the teak and will deter any mould spores that makes it turn black, whereas fresh water just encourages them. Every six months or so we also use a solution of something called Boracol (boric acid is the main ingredient) which does the same thing but also chemically cleans and preserves the wood – it's great for timber decking in the garden, by the way, to get rid of slippery moss and green slime. However, we noticed that a few patches of the deck along the caulking remained wet for a while after its salt-water bath which is a sign that the seal between caulking and teak was beginning to fail – it would be really bad to allow water to seep between the teak and the fibreglass deck below. The only fix is to cut out the offending sections of caulking with a sharp knife and small screwdriver, clean and sand the teak groove that has been exposed and then apply new caulking, using a sealant gun. Lots of masking tape and care is needed to make a good job of it and Graham spent about 4 hours in the hot sun doing this yesterday. In the longer term we'll probably have to do the whole deck (not a fun prospect) when we get back to New Zealand this November but for the moment we've sorted all of the immediate trouble spots.
The timing of this job was perfect because today we've had very heavy rain and have put rags in the scuppers (drainage holes along the side of the boat) to direct water off the deck and into the water-tank filler on the port side. So far we've harvested about 200 litres of clean rain water which would have taken the water-maker about 8 hours of continuous running to produce so that's very pleasing.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Off to Church

Catholic church, Neiafu
Yesterday we went to church in Neiafu - we picked the biggest one (Catholic, though there are plenty of denominations to choose from) and were the only white faces in the congregation of around 300 people. The Priest gave us a special welcome in English and even did an English version of his sermon (on Love) delivered directly to us and we were given a special blessing in English at the end. The rest of the service was, of course, in Tongan.

However the main reason to be there was to hear the singing and we were not disappointed.  A choir of about 40 sang wonderful unaccompanied four-part harmonies but the rest of the congregation joined in with enthusiam (and without hymn books) so the sound was almost overwhelming. The music was lovely.

Religion is a vital part of Tongan life so whole families attend, dressed up in their finest. Both men and women wear the Ta'Ovala, a ceremonial waist-mat made  of woven pandanus leaves that is unique to Tonga. In Tongan society the Ta-'Ovala is equivalent to a jacket and tie and wearing it shows respect to 'God, King and Country'.

Sunday Best

The view across the anchorage from the church

Ta'Ovala plus random dog tail

We'll be back out into the islands over the next few days - some more unsettled conditions are forecast this week so we'll find some sheltered anchorages and enjoy the snorkelling. Meanwhile we have a few boat jobs on the list, as ever!

Monday, 19 May 2014

The chance to rebuild the farming sector in Ha'apai

We mentioned the other day that we'd been finding out about the re-building process in Ha'apai so here's a brief outline of what we discovered:

The Ha’apai islands are off the beaten track, both commercially and for all but the most adventurous tourists (who mostly come for the annual Humpbacked Whale migration from July to September).  62 small tropical islands, only 17 of them inhabited, are home to around 8,000 people (about 7% of Tonga’s total population) and time, very broadly, has passed them by. Unknown to most of us in the west, apart from a few keen naval historians who would, of course, point out that this is where Captain Blight and 18 of his colleagues were unceremoniously dumped into a longboat by the mutinous crew of the Bounty, Ha’apai suddenly and briefly leapt into the world’s headlines on January 11th this year, thanks to the unwelcome attentions of Severe Tropical Cyclone Ian. Ian packed a fearsome punch with winds of up to 280km/h cutting a narrow but devastatingly destructive swathe centred across the most populated island, Lifuka; more than half the houses were badly damaged or destroyed, one woman was killed and 2,600 people made homeless, whilst the power of the storm ripped foliage from the normally dense vegetation and felled trees and telegraph poles with violent ease.

We dropped anchor there exactly 4 months after the event and the damage to buildings and livelihoods is still very obvious, even after the initial challenges to restore power and water and to sweep up the debris have been met. A significant international disasters-recovery aid programme has been operating successfully but a surprising number of people are still living in tents, or shacks made of the remnants of their destroyed houses. The next stage of the relief programme – the building of new and hopefully stronger houses – is yet to come, in the next few months. 

Shocked at the scale of the damage on the ground, we were, though, keen to find out if the local people have an active part to play in the restoration of their shattered island or whether (as we westerners, with a touch of disaster-appeal weariness, might be forgiven for thinking), the cash promised doesn't quite reach the really needy people and the locals get side-lined whilst international organisations-who-know-best set about their work programmes and then leave.

Salesi Kaitu'u in the EU-funded nursery

By chance we met Salesi Kaitu’u. Wearing one of the several hats at his disposal, he came aboard our yacht as the Government Quarantine Officer, responsible for ensuring we were bringing nothing with us that could harm the local flora and fauna through disease or infestation.  Disarmingly, he brought his 3 year old daughter with him and, formalities completed, he told us a little of the challenges the islands face; it transpired that his main hat is actually that of Officer-in-Charge of the Ministry of Agriculture Food and Fisheries for Ha’apai , managing a team of 19 staff. To learn more,we spent two hours with him a couple of days later and he outlined his vision for food and farming here in the aftermath of the cyclone which, to all intents, had wiped the ground clean for a fresh start. He’s an engaging man and well educated, with a degree in Agriculture and time spent in Samoa and Fiji. Before his posting to Ha’apai last May, he spent six years as an agricultural research officer in Tongatapu Island, 80 miles south of here, which is the seat of government and the centre of pretty much everything else in Tonga. 

Salesi is optimistic that the portion of foreign aid that’s been targeted at agriculture will be the lever he needs to make sustainable change from the almost-subsistence levels of farming that existed here prior to Cyclone Ian. He plans something that will feed the people better and, at last, give Ha’apai an opportunity to export valuable crops such as vanilla rather than accept the current one-way traffic of often poor quality and unhealthy imports. In the immediate aftermath of the cyclone his team set up a nursery, with EU financial support, to grow and distribute 40,000 vegetable seedlings so locals could start their own kitchen gardens and the next 40,000 now growing in the nursery will go to the islands’ schools to get the youngest generation actively involved. The first tranche of financial aid from New Zealand (about £100,000) has resulted in the arrival of an old but serviceable tractor, plough and fuel from Tongatapu to prepare land for bigger-scale cultivation; the first crop (200 acres of sweet potatoes) is in the ground now and a trial of Irish potatoes is about to follow, whilst the tractor is currently making a slightly precarious tour around the outer islands on the deck of a small boat. 

Salesi’s vision for the future of Ha’apai agriculture is clear and he has the Governor (the King’s representative, a man not to be trifled with) on his side. Even before the disaster, the Governor announced a plan, last December, to move all agriculture in Ha’apai to an wholly organic system; after all, reasons Salesi, the outer islands have managed without chemicals and fertilisers forever and so the farmers and growers on the bigger islands just need to relearn the traditional methods of maintaining the rich fertility of these volcanic soils. His enthusiasm is infectious and, though he acknowledges the significant challenges he faces, you can’t help share his positivity. ‘In the long term’, he says, ‘despite all the damage and hardship we've had to live with, we’ll come to regard the cyclone as the best thing that could have happened to Ha’apai.’

We met Salesi the following day and gave him a selection of old yacht ropes to distribute to local farmers; with any fences, such as they were, flattened by the cyclone, the ropes will be very useful for tethering animals. Salesi and his wife Muni invited us for supper that evening and we were treated as honoured guests with a full Tongan feast with a spit-roast pig as the centrepiece; it was a great evening.

A very substantial supper!

Saturday, 17 May 2014

More photos from Tonga

We are so pleased to be here - in this morning's radio net one boat reported winds of 55 knots last night and Stormvogel 'like being in a washing machine' with 30-35 knots and 3-4m waves. Heidi and Pete should reach a calm anchorage in Vanuatu later today and sound as though they are ready for a rest!

Anyway, a few more photos from Ha'apia follow:

Tonga Development Bank, in need of some re-development

Secondary school children at lunchtime

Even the bed was damaged

Still living in a tent, but proud

One of the many pigs wandering around the village

Dairy farming, Tongan style

Another pig at the Ministry of Commerce, Labour and Tourism office

Friday, 16 May 2014

Moving up to Vava'u

The weather forecast for this weekend looks as though it might be a bit challenging.There's a 'convergence zone' low pressure system heading right for us which will bring lots of rain and, possibly, some very heavy rain squalls.

So we set sail from Ha'apai (where sheltered anchorages are few and far between if the wind goes around to the north or west) last night and had a brilliant sail up to Neiafu in Vava'u. We were here last October and the main anchorage is very well sheltered so it's nice to be back. Compared to Ha'apai, Neiafu is a bustling metropolis (which we thought very basic last year so it just goes to show your viewpoint is based on the last port!) so plenty of options to eat out and to take a large sack of laundry ashore! Interestingly our friends of Kiapa who cleared in at the capital in Tongatapu are also heading here to avoid the bad weather so  it'll be good to see them.

The plan now is to spend a few days sitting out the weather (and rig water-catchers to take advantage of the rain) and then we'll head back to Ha'apai to continue our explorations. 

Photos to follow.

Monday, 12 May 2014

A few photos from Cyclone-torn Pangai

We've spent a couple of days exploring Pangai and the neighbouring island of Uoleva. Here are some photos (if the very shaky wifi in Mariners' Cafe works!).

The fish market, its roof peeled off

A new hardware store with the flattened remains of a house in front of it

After 4 months, there are still families living in emergency-relief tents

The well-funded (and  tructurally sound) Mormon Church survived the storm and was a place of refuge for many villagers at its height.

The  Methodist Church wasn't so lucky 
One of the many fishing boats wrecked
This morning we spent a fascinating 2 hours interviewing the head of the Ministry of Agriculture Food and Fisheries on the island who sees the cyclone (and the aid that has followed) as an opportunity to revolutionise a previously very small scale agriculture system on the islands. He's led the drive to adopt organic systems. Graham hopes to get some interest for a newspaper article (watch this space!).

Thursday, 8 May 2014

NZ to Tonga - final day and a vote of thanks for Bob

The last 20 miles of sailing into the anchorage off Pangai, Lifuka Island, were lovely. We'd expected to have to motor into wind for the last 3 hours but a helpful wind shift allowed us to make our intended track close-hauled as we sailed past tiny islands and the white water of submerged reefs. Our nervousness at the potential inaccuracies of our electronic chart were allayed when we did a radar check: we can overlay radar onto our chart screen so that radar images from solid objects show as pink splodges and these pink splodges were exactly aligned with the islands shown on the chart.  Well done to Captain Fielding and his chaps aboard HMS Penguin back in 1898, and to those unsung heroes who've updated his cartography to align with GPS positions since.
At 13.30 local time,  8 days and one hour after we departed Opua, we anchored off Pangai. The 1,136 nm passage was completed at an average of just under 6 knots  which was very pleasing, considering we'd had some slow sailing in the first couple of days and the decision to leave last Wednesday proved to be a good one. A goodly amount of credit for this goes to our weather router Bob McDavitt in Auckland – you can find out more about him and what he does on his website www.metbob.com He gave us (free) weather outlooks every 2-3 days in the week or so leading up to our departure and indicated that Wednesday might be good if we were happy to motor at the beginning. We then asked him for a detailed weather routing for the passage which came as a table of figures, confusing at first glance, which gave us our expected position (a 'waypoint') each day and the wind, waves and surface air pressure at that point; it gave us a best sailing course and our expected speed to navigate the fastest route through the weather systems.
Each day as we were sailing, we'd compare our arrival time at the daily waypoint with Bob's prediction (we were generally a few hours ahead, thanks to better than expected speed in the light-wind zone) and noted the actual weather conditions as we arrived and it was immensely reassuring to find they were very similar to the forecast. We sent a quick update email to Bob every couple of days and he would send a 'quickie'  (free of charge) reply to 'carry on' or, towards the end, to alter course for a more direct route as a possibly troublesome weather system had safely passed to our south.
All in all a brilliant service which gave us the confidence to leave Opua when several people (who are probably now wishing they'd joined us as they are still there) were shaking their heads about the possibility of a nasty low pressure system; it cost us only about £40 which was money very well-spent. When we arrived, we sent a final email to Bob who replied, "Thanks for your report and well done on your long voyage , you have the privilege and bragging rights of being the first cruising boat of the new season that I've helped get to the tropics."
Our attempts to clear-in yesterday were thwarted by no answer from the Port Captain on vhf so we dinghed ashore to find his 'office' (a small room in a sort of public waiting room at the ferry quay) open and empty. The town is still a mess after the cyclone - though we suspect it looked almost as messy before. Industriousness and civic pride don't seem to feature strongly in the Tongan makeup so, as well  as the  buildings with no roofs, there's lots of general litter and  untidiness. There is evidence of foreign aid – shiny yellow earth-movers in fenced compounds not doing anything. The locals seemed nonplussed at the arrival of, probably, the first foreign yacht of the season. Like the people we met in Vava'u last year, they are happy to chat if you make the effort to go and start the conversation but otherwise look as though they hadn't really noticed you! We'll look forward to trying to get to know them – probably easier on the smaller islands where the villages are just a few houses.
Hopefully we'll be able to complete the formalities ashore this morning so can legally explore ashore!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Interim update

Just a quick update to say that our destination is in sight. We're in the Ha'apai group of islands (lots of tiny palm-tree islets amongst the bigger ones) and have about 20 miles to sail to Pangai (the Clearance Port) on Lefuka Island. We had a brilliant sail last night and today is warm,  sunny and breezy – perfect.
It'll be a busy day with some intricate pilotage between the islands, followed by anchoring and then the process of clearing in with the authorities so a full blog update probably won't be posted till this evening.
A tired but happy crew on Maunie

NZ to Tonga Day 8 - Wonderful Trade Wind Sailing

Position at 23.30 UTC Tuesday 6th May: 21 deg 53 min south, 175 deg 43 min west
Distance travelled in the last 24 hours: 154 nm
Sailing became a little frustrating last night as the wind showed signs of dying, causing us to hand-steer and do some mental arithmetic as to how far our remaining diesel would  take us if it came to having to use the engine. At one point Dianne was glued to the wheel as a huge rain squall came over and soaked her; she stayed at her post and was amazed to find that her fleece top dried very quickly in the warm breeze that followed it.
Thankfully, though, this morning has dawned bright and sunny with a blue sky dotted with little fluffy clouds (this is a recognised metrological term, usually abbreviated to LFC ) and the sun-polished waves are alive with flying fish; best of all, the wind has returned to about 16 knots so we're charging along with a sparkly white wake. It's now properly warm so we don't expect the fleece tops to make another appearance and the solar panels are, for the first time on the passage, really earning their keep as the batteries are now fully-charged.
As dawn broke we saw the solitary island of 'Ata about 17 miles to port and we're looking forward to seeing the low island of Tongatapu ahead of us later this afternoon.
During this morning's radio net we learnt that Kiapa is safely arrived in Tongatapu and that several other boats have set sail from Opua; in all there were 13 boats at sea and it sounds as though the Customs team at Opua will be busy with more departures in the next two days. A couple of boats radioed in from harbour, including our Canadian friends Tom & Kim on 'Exit Strategy' from Auckland, nearly a thousand miles away! They are flying home to Vancouver this weekend for the northern hemisphere summer so will leave the boat on the hard, returning to her in November to restart their travels.
Happy birthday to Mick and Barbara (for the 6th)!

Monday, 5 May 2014

NZ to Tonga Day 7 - Sleep at Last!

Position at 21.30 UTC Monday 5th May: 24 deg 15 min south, 176 deg 59 min west
All's well aboard Maunie and, finally, exhaustion has led us both to better sleep off watch so we're feeling a bit brighter than we were yesterday. We've had a good sailing wind all night though it's taken us a while to get the sails balanced so that Winnie can steer without the need for regular human help.
We're now less that 300 miles from our destination so hopefully just 2 more nights at sea before we arrive on Thursday, as long as the wind stays with us. We've been looking at our paper chart of the Ha'apai islands of Tonga and, though it was printed only 3 years ago, it looks like a museum-piece. It was surveyed by Captain A. Mostyn Field, RN, aboard the H.M. Surveying Ship Penguin in 1898! So the depths are in fathoms (6 feet) and the chance of any accurate alignment with modern GPS is remote to say the least so needless to say we'll be approaching the area with very great caution.

NZ to Tonga Day 6 - Pursued by a large cat

Position at 03.00 UTC Monday 5th May: 25 deg 49 min south, 178 deg 02 min west
Distance travelled in last 24 hours: 162nm
We've had some good sailing in the past 24 hours, as the mileage testifies, but it has been a trifle rolly, with a swell of around 2.5m, and we've needed to give Winnie a helping hand quite a few times. Even so, we continue to marvel at her ability to keep the boat pointing in roughly the right direction whilst we get on with other things; it's hard to imagine how hard it would be without her.
We've kept ourselves busy with culinary delights – the chilled lasagne we made the day before we left was very tasty and the oven shelf below it was used to bake some muffins, whilst the running of the generator last night to recharge the batteries allowed us to run the bread-maker for very good ham sandwiches at lunch today.
We're both feeling as though we could do with our own batteries recharging, however. For some reason neither of us has been able to get decent off-watch sleep so we're decidedly weary and in need of some distractions. Luckily a very pleasant distraction arrived this morning in the shape of Kiapa; amazingly their track from Whangarei put them just a few miles behind us at this morning's radio net and a couple of hours later they spotted our sail directly ahead of them.  They came past at great speed so Graham took lots of photos to give them when we meet in Tonga.
Speaking of Tonga, the southern island of Tongatapu lies just 340 miles ahead. We don't plan to stop there as the port of Nuku'alofa doesn't have a lot to entice the sailor, even though it's the capital of the country. Instead we'll pass by and sail a further 85 miles north to the Ha'apai islands and the main (only) town of Pangai. Ha'apai was devastated by Cyclone Ian in January so we hope that the international aid programme has lived up to its promises but the natural beauty of the many reefs and islands is said to be stunning.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

NZ to Tonga Day 5 - Proper sailing at last

Position at 22.00 UTC Saturday 3rd May: 28 deg 17 min south, 179 deg 58 min east
Distance travelled in last 24 hours: 137nm
The promised SE winds have finally arrived, after teasing us yesterday – we had enough wind during the day but had to motor-sail during most of the night. We now have a good steady Force 4 (about 13 knots) on a beam reach (the wind coming at us from 90 degrees to our starboard) – perfect conditions as we have relatively fast boat-speed without the heeling over that would accompany a headwind or the relentless rolling that's the penalty of a tailwind. The re-built Winnie the Windpilot is coping well, though a reach is never her favourite point of sailing so every now and then we have to give her a hand if a change in wind speed makes the boat want to round up into wind. The Kermadec Islands are 120 miles to our starboard – they belong to New Zealand and we think there's some kind of scientific station there (originally a radio station in the days before trans-ocean cables and satellites) but if anyone can Google them and let us know, we'd be grateful. We do know that yachts aren't supposed to stop at the islands but people have in the past and been welcomed as a novelty by the handful of people stationed there. 
Whilst our boat speed is reasonably good – we're averaging about 6 knots  - we've just had it put into perspective on the morning radio net. Lionel and Irene, who normally sail from Perth,  Australia,  have a pretty awesome 'Gunboat' 50ft cruising catamaran that's specifically built for long ocean passages. We met them a few times en route from Panama and admired the boat but this morning we decided we didn't like it so much. They left Whangarei (further down the coast from Opua)  the day after we set sail and they reported sailing at an average of 11 knots this morning so expect to overtake us today and arrive in Tonga in 2-3 days' time, whereas it'll take us 4-5 days! Just not fair!
We also chatted to a few boats, including Stormvogel, still in Opua this morning and they were not enjoying a chilly, foggy start to the day. The weather window that they all hope for (next Tuesday) now doesn't sound brilliant so some are already talking about waiting an extra week which would be a bit demoralising (harbours rot ships and men, as you know). We're keeping our fingers crossed that they do get away next week.

NZ to Tonga Day 4 - A new crew member

Position at 00.00 UTC Saturday 3rd May: 29 deg 56 min south, 178 deg 39 min east
We're delighted to report that, since yesterday morning, we've been sailing for most of the time. At a sedate pace, it must be said, but it's lovely to have the silence. The engine on Maunie (a 56hp, 4-cylinder naturally-aspirated Yanmar 4JH3E diesel, if you're curious. Thought not.) is a pretty good installation in that it's mounted below the floor in the pilot house in a sound-insulated compartment so it's relatively quiet but, even so, after a few hours the noise does get on your nerves. Incidentally, before we left Opua we filled up the tank with fuel and it came to $170 (about £88); alongside us at the other pump was a 50ft blue-water motor yacht. Their pump stopped when it reached $999 (the credit limit on the self-service system) and their tank wasn't even one-third full!
So we've been making 5-6 knots in a north-easterly direction and after 3 days and 5 degrees of latitude, the temperature is already warming up. The duvet will be packed away soon we think! The sea has turned that lovely mid-blue of the deep Pacific and the wildlife is already starting to thin out. We had a dolphin escort on Day 1 but no sightings since and only the deep ocean skuas can be seen in the skies now. Apart from a little visitor we had yesterday, that is. A Swift, no doubt on some incredibly long migration, flew around us looking exhausted and even landed in the sea with his wings spread out on the surface. He managed to take off again and landed on the outboard motor on the stern rail for a couple of hours rest. We tried to tempt him with water and crumbs from freshly-backed muffins (a new night-watch snack!) but he just seemed to want a bit of kip and flew off a couple of hours later. Hope he makes it to wherever he's heading.
We are both slowly adjusting to the watch system and sleeping better off-watch but it'll take another couple of days before we do that wonderful fast-asleep-as-your-head-hit-the-pillow trick that only comes with tiredness bordering on exhaustion.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

NZ to Tonga Day 3 - If you're thinking about it, now's the time to do it.

Can you guess what this is?!
Position at 22.30 UTC Thursday 1st May: 31 deg 51 min south, 177 deg 05 min east
Sir Chay Blyth (round the world sailor, ex-Paratrooper and founder of the Challenge Business which put ordinary people into extraordinary steel global racing yachts) had a number of sayings that he would share liberally, whether they were asked for or not. We still repeat his 'Chafe is Your Enemy' when checking the sails and rig and his 'Trim, trim, trim' when looking to coax a few extra tenths of a knot out of the boat. The one we use most, though, is "If you're thinking about it, it's time to do it" which applies to all sorts of things aboard a boat. If you're thinking that maybe it's worth putting a reef in the sails, do it now ; invariably if you wait, the wind will get up more and make the process more challenging.
It also applies to boat maintenance, too. It's very easy to look at some frayed stitching or a bit of chafed line and think 'I must get round to that' only to find that it fails a day later with much more difficult consequences. We've just paid the price for not following Sir Chay's advice fully.
The photo, above, is of our fresh water pump which resides in a small (of course) space under the floor behind the engine. It draws water from the main tank and pressurises a ring main servicing the taps in the heads and galley; the red tank is an 'accumulator' which has pressurised air on one side of a flexible membrane and water from the pump on the other and its job is to provide a steady flow of water so that the pump runs smoothly and doesn't stop and start repeatedly when a tap is opened. Anyway, a week or so ago we noticed that the pump was getting louder when its pressure switch detected the need for it to run and then took longer than normal to re-pressurise the system. We'd bought a spare pump, just in case, and Graham had checked that it had all the necessary fittings to replace the old one.
Of course, it crossed our minds that it might be a good idea to swap pumps before we departed (If you're thinking about it, etc.) but the old pump was still going and we had a lot of other things to do. Wrong! Yesterday afternoon the pump died completely so Graham had a fun hour extracting it from its hole under the floor, replacing the old pump with the new one (and, of course, it's a different pump so new mounting holes needed to be drilled) and refitting it all. Luckily the boat wasn't rolling too much but it would have been a lot easier if we were still moored in the marina! The good news is that it's all working again.
Apart from this hiccup, all's well aboard. We're still motoring but the weather files show nice south-easterly breezes tantalisingly close ahead. As we hinted in the last blog, it feels wrong to set off on a passage knowing that there would be a couple of days of diesel-burning at the very start but what we didn't say was that our NZ visas had just expired so we faced an expensive ($330) and tedious process to apply for extensions if we did decide to wait a week for the next weather window. The authorities were at pains to reassure us that they wouldn't kick us out into unfavourable conditions but a couple of days of motoring in light wind could hardly be described as hazardous!
So we'll make the best of what we have;  running the engine allows us to run the watermaker and enjoy hot showers whilst we wait for the wind.