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Circumnavigating NZ.


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Another change of plan

Sat Sep 26 2020

It was a slow nights run.
The wind died about two hours after passing Puysegur Point. It stayed light all night and we slowly trickled along, sails slatting on the bigger rolls.
Dawn brings Centre Island two miles off the port beam and Stewart Island 10 miles to starboard. Up ahead The Bluff, the conical hill that gives Bluff its name, rises above the horizon. Astern the snow capped peaks of Fiordland recede into the distance.
The weather map is indicating that a kink in the isobars will bring strong Northerly headwinds against me for a period of twelve hours coming round Nugget Point tonight. My best option is to stay in Bluff overnight and let the isobars iron themselves out. I can refuel and see if I can hunt down something green. I haven’t seen a fresh vegetable in weeks.

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Bluff - " The Start of State Highway One"

Sat Sep 26 2020

I made it into Bluff. Not without some difficulty I might add. The harbour has a very fast tidal stream running up to 7knts at times and with wind against tide I have seen two metre standing waves in the channel. Today was about average so I was motoring at 5 knots against a 4 knt outgoing tide. If you do the maths you can see I wasn’t going very fast. It took me two hours to get from the entrance to the fuel wharf - a distance of three miles.
Bluff is also very industrial around the wharves. This area is the preserve of the fishing fleet, the oyster boats, tugs, log carriers and the odd container ship. Across the channel a giant bauxite ship is unloading at the Tiwai smelter. Suffice to say there are no namby pamby floating pontoons with soft white cushions around them. This is where real boats live, southern boats at that.
All the docks have tyres hanging down - giant mining truck tyres and with a 2.7 meter tide if you get your gunwhale caught under one of those it will sink you as the tide rises. There a giant piles of woodchips, ready for export, and on a windy night they rain sawdust and grit down on your boat. On a really windy night the stacks of empty containers blow over and you think the world is coming to an end.
Fortunately I know Bluff well and it was with a certain elan and insouciance that I navigated this hellhole of a post apocalyptic port. I called up Harbour Control and organized a berth by the Syncrolift which at least has piles which my lines can slide up and down on with the tide. I filled up with diesel and water and now I am ready to brave downtown Bluff. It can be a bit of a dodgy place, what with drunken fishermen and the like, but it’s only two hundred meters long, so a quick sprint gets you through it pretty quickly.

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Heading for the Catlins coast

Sun Sep 27 2020

Its 0430 and I left the wharf at Bluff an hour ago. It was a clear starry night with a half moon and I made my way out of the harbour using the plotter, radar and the leading lights. This time I had the tide with me and in no time at all it seemed I was clear of the channel and heading across the shallow shoal that guards the entrance on a course to Waipapa Point.
Now it may seem inadvisable to leave a safe port with a gale warning in force but there is a method to my madness.
The wind is blowing from the North, straight off the land, so the sea is flat and I am enjoying a fast beam reach. The wind will switch rapidly to the SW in about five hours and blow up to 30 knts. By that time I will be round the southernmost tip of NZ and starting to head North of East. This means I will have the wind behind me. Running before 30knts is fine. Also I will have cleared Foveaux Strait which is really shallow and has strong tidal streams all of which combine to make it extremely rough in a blow. In the deeper water it will take longer for the seas to build behind me and by the time they do I should be round Nugget Point and the wind will start to shift back to the NW - blowing off the land again.
Well that’s my plan. Let’s see how it works out in practice.

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Magpies and Nugget Point

Sun Sep 27 2020

Sunrise saw me coming up to the South Cape of mainland New Zealand. Actually it’s not called South Cape - that’s actually on Stewart Island - but its MY South Cape and I rounded it as the South Westerly came up on me in an ominous dark line of cloud, preceded by the biggest rainbow I ever seen.
I have been running before it all day now, hugging the coast so the seas don’t build too much. The wind has shifted more West now and boy, is it blowing! Dark squalls come barrelling up and blast me with 40knts. Within a mile of the shore there are two metre waves. A magpie blown off the land desperately tries to land on the boat but is tumbled out to sea. I scrape past Nugget Point which gives me a brief lee then we go charging off towards the Otago Peninsula.

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A new challenge

Sun Sep 27 2020

The lights of Dunedin show bright off to port as we approach the Otago Peninsula.
The wind has died to 15 knts which is a relief after a rather intense day. Its means we wallow along in a very ungainly fashion as I am not putting up any more sail. I am sticking with the one third genoa that has seen me through
the day. I know there are squalls out there in the blackness just waiting to pounce.
Its freezing. That wind is bitterly cold. I got up on the foredeck and rotated the wind deflector so I could light the diesel heater. I need to dry some things out. For my stupid act of the day I left the quarter berth porthole unlatched and a wave filled the cockpit. It burst open the porthole and firehosed my bunk. My nice warm burrow is now a soggy mess. I am not a happy Marmot.
Just to make life more interesting the engine can no longer be used. This morning the overheat alarm went off. I quickly diagnosed that the water pump was no longer pumping. It’s a mechanical pump- not belt driven. I took the face plate off and found three of the vanes had broken off the impeller. No problem - I fitted the spare, all nicely lubed up with silicon grease, and started the engine. No water. Took it apart again and checked I had everything fitted correctly and tried again. Nothing. I took the faceplate off and turned over the engine. The shaft did not turn. This is a pretty good indication that the shaft has sheared. I spent an hour lying on the floor undoing the impossible to get to bolts that hold the pump on the engine. All this as we rolled and heaved through the waves, tools and bolts skittering around me. Pump in hand I could see it was fine but when I looked inside the engine I could see the yoke that the pump shaft slotted into had sheared off. That’s terminal.
So I am a sailing vessel now, pure and simple, and I am going to have to sail all the way home. Which is OK - but I did like having an engine.

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Into the vortex

Mon Sep 28 2020

Its sunrise and I am about 6 miles out from Moeraki. I am semi hove to with the tiller lashed to leeward and a scrap of genoa sheeted hard in, making about 3 knts.
The reason I have slowed down is that my Grib files show a nasty little vortex developing around my position and lasting about six hours. The winds are going to be very intense and a bit contrary in the north easterly quadrant up ahead, directly where I want to go. They shouldn’t be so bad where I am so I am hobbling along waiting to see what happens. When it passes I will have a good angle to run for Banks Peninsula.

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We were sitting in Wangamumu at anchor last night with some 40+ kn gusts and almost flat calm water thinking of this 77 year old fellow out there on the edge. I am heartened an uplifted by his good natured approach to all that he is sailing thru, he inspires me and my life feels  somehow larger for how and why he is doing this trip. Time for me to make that donation...

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11 minutes ago, Fogg said:

He’s 77??? 😳

Yea... I think so. A few days ago I went to look at biographical info on him and what is a fascinating life....

He started out cutting his teeth working at a navel design firm working on nuclear submarine and frigate design got his navel architecture ticket but decided designing and building a 20-somthing foot trimaran back in the 1960's was more like it and took off across oceans, then a stent as captain and 1st mate fighting nuclear testing in the Tuamotu in blockades, then doing sail training on square riggers, ticket there and doing youth sail training... A bunch of other stuff thrown in along the way and somewhere I picked up a date of birth around 1944... but I could be wrong He is an inspiration and well over age 70 for sure!

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How come this guy has flown below the radar for most of his life? By which I mean he’s not exactly a household name but seems to be a Kiwi sailing rockstar.

Am I right in thinking that most of us here have never heard of him before?

He seems to be a massively quiet achiever who has missed the headlines of other kiwi sailing achievements.

I’ve only lived in NZ for 20yrs so maybe you guys knew about much earlier?

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Mike Delamore grew up on Great Mercury Island before moving to Waiheke in 1966 when his family bought the Matiatia Farm. After travelling around the world across both land and sea, he returned permanently to Waiheke in the 1980s to raise a family and work on what would become the Fossil Bay Farm, as well as establish the Waiheke Island Steiner School and Kindergarten.

After a long career in sailing that included time as a Fullers ferry captain and helming Super Yachts across the Atlantic, Mike retired from professional sailing several years ago to focus on his accommodation business, Fossil Bay Lodge, and traverse the canals of the United Kingdom each summer in his canal boat, Morgana.

Mike has more than 20 years of maritime experience and has travelled over 50,000 miles at sea from Alaska to the Antarctic. Mike holds Superyacht Master 3000Gt and NZ Offshore Master Unlimited marine tickets and is a qualified RYA tutor and examiner.

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