Follow by Email

Friday, September 11, 2020

REFRIGERATION FOR CRUISERS

Our last post prompted a question about refrigeration from a reader in France, so here’s a few comments on that subject.

When we were in the Med meeting fellow cruisers (the vast majority of whom were aboard sailing yachts) one of the most common discussion threads was the difficulty of keeping house battery banks charged. In virtually all these cases the cruisers with these issues had battery powered refrigeration. Modern technology has certainly reduced refrigeration’s power requirements, but there’s no doubt it’s still likely to be your biggest current draw.

Boat refrigeration is powered in one of the following ways:

1. An engine driven compressor – this is very efficient, but only operates when your engine is running. Usually the same compressor powers both a refrigerator and freezer. There can be issues with controlling temperature as in some installations items in the refrigerator section will freeze if the system is run too long.

2. DC power from battery bank - is efficient but results in heavy current draws,

3. AC power from generator and/or inverter. Very efficient but note that quite a large inverter is needed due to refrigeration’s high start up current draw.

4. A combination of above - is ideal.

I haven’t included LPG powered refrigeration as with a pilot light it’s regarded as unsafe for marine applications.

Whatever system is used stainless steel lined appliances seem to work better than plastic lined ones and those with built-in brine plates make them even more effective. A big advantage of systems 2 and 3 is they invariably allow for continuous operation on shore power using a battery charger in the case of DC or an inverter generally passing current directly through to the appliance in the case of AC.

On our last boat we used AC power from our genset or shore power and found that worked extremely well. Depending on the ambient temperature and the number of people aboard (more people = more “drain” on refrigeration) we ran the genset for about 60-90 mins morning and evening. During that time we’d also charge the batteries and often do some washing, heat the hot water tank and use the water maker.

Rapport has an Engel refrigerator (with a small freezer section) in the galley powered both by AC and 24V DC plus a combination refrigerator / freezer powered by an engine driven compressor. The latter works fine if you are cruising every day, but if anchored or staying in a marina for several days we had no freezer without running an engine for a couple of hours a day, so we decided to install an AC powered freezer on the flybridge. On boats we prefer chest to front opening freezers. The latter are more convenient to use but in our view not as effective. Where possible and mainly due to price we believe it’s best to use standard household appliances so we chose a 220V powered Haier HCF101 chest freezer with 101 litres capacity costing only $439 (about 242 Euros). We installed a double AC power point in the flybridge and the freezer is protected from weather by the flybridge's vinyl screens. When on shore power our inverter passes incoming AC current directly through to connected AC appliances. Underway with the engines charging the batteries we use the 4.1Kw inverter to provide AC power and at anchor we also use the inverter while using the genset to periodically boost the batteries. We find the refrigerator and freezer combined draw less than 5 amps. Since our cooking is electric we need to run the genset during the evening in any case and can then also heat our hot water and sometimes use our water maker.

This is the compressor driven chest freezer located in the cockpit


The compressor driven refrigerator is in the saloon (the freezer is on the other side of the bulkhead)

The Haier AC powered freezer on the flybridge with new power supply to left


A few tips we've found useful:

1. Pack your refrigerator and freezer as full as possible to make them operate more efficiently. Use different sized bottles of water to use up any spare space.

2. Turn them OFF or down during the night to conserve battery power. When not being opened they lose little temperature overnight.

3. Use your thermostat - when you have charging power available turn the thermostat down (ie colder) so the appliance runs more or less continuously and when you have no power turn it up so it runs less.

4. Use your freezer to freeze bottles of water. Each day or two put some in your refrigerator to help keep its temperature down. As the water bottles thaw use them for cold drinking water and replace.

5. If you have more food and drink to keep cool than your refrigeration capacity allows use your freezer to freeze a few bottles of water and freezer pads, then store additional supplies in an Esky, changing the bottles over every couple of days. This is particularly good for bulky vegetables and salads as well as wine and soft drinks (beer needs to be colder!)

6. Cans of drinks store more easily, are easier to dispose of and seem to get colder than glass or plastic bottles.


Saturday, September 05, 2020

RAPPORT UPDATE

Our last post spoke too soon as no sooner had I mentioned NZ’s return to unrestricted cruising than the Auckland level 3 lockdown commenced on 12 August until the 30th. This time there was no room for confusion as all forms of boating were clearly identified as not permitted.

Well Spring is here if you go by 1 Sept, or nearly here if you go by the Equinox of 23 Sept. Regardless the cruising is going to get better.

Di and I rarely do cruises under several days and prefer cruises of ten days or more. With this in mind our next project is to cruise for about a month from mid October to re-visit one of our favorite areas, the eastern side of Coromandel Peninsula including The Mercury Islands and Mercury Bay. For part of this time we’ve rented a berth at Whitianga Marina for a very reasonable $40 per night (in the Med we’d pay three or four times this) making it easier for family and friends to join us. I plan to cover that trip extensively in the Blog and we’ll also be publishing an article in the Pacific Powerboat magazine about it.

I want to talk a bit more about our new Salthouse 52, “Rapport”.

When we bought the boat we definitely knew she had “good bones” and presented extremely well with extensive upgrades including engines and gearboxes removed and rebuilt 900 hours previously, new Furuno electronics, recently added water maker, new house and start batteries and exterior repaint. The survey confirmed her good condition, but as they invariably do it also identified a few issues needing attention.

Over the last few months we’ve attended to these issues as well as a host of other improvements to convert her from a full-on game fishing boat to a comfortable cruising boat. Much of this process has been making existing equipment work correctly.

Some of the more major projects have been:

1. Projects we expected to do:

-Purchase of new Aquapro SLR 2.6 rigid alloy hulled inflatable with Honda 2.5hp 4stroke outboard to replace the poor condition RHIB that came with our purchase

-The pulpit was poorly mounted and attached only to the teak decking rather than being through bolted.

It was removed and tidied up, an access hole made in the fore peak so the pulpit could be bolted to the alloy deck, the teak deck was thoroughly dried and the pulpit was properly and rigidly bolted down in a bed of sealant

-Paint blisters under the beltings (where the hull meets the deck) on both sides were opened, the alloy underneath ground back, treated for surface oxidation, filled, faired and painted

-Replacing cutless bearings

-Installing a high volume sea water wash down pump in the cockpit

-Sourcing new spare pumps for fresh water circulation, sewage holding tank discharge and grey water holding tank discharge. We always prefer to have critical spares like these on board

-Upgrading safety equipment including extinguishers, flares, lifejackets, EPIRB, hand held vhf, binoculars, smoke detectors and horseshoe buoy

-Installing Venetian blinds in saloon to protect furnishings from sunlight and provide more night time ambiance

-Installing a 101L capacity electric freezer on the flybridge so that we’re not totally reliant on the existing freezer with its engine driven compressor and have an operating freezer while in marinas

-There were no tools aboard so we put together a very comprehensive tool kit including some power tools plus a wide range of chandlery items for undertaking on board R&M

2 Unexpected projects:

-Installing new Maxwell 3500 VWC windlass complete with spare electric motor

-Replacing a non-working alternator

-Replacing PSS prop shaft seals with Kiwi seals including replacement of all bearings. At this time the prop shafts were also crack tested and straightened by Henleys, then realigned. The props were checked and found to be in good shape

-Comprehensive service of genset including installation of primary filter, recondition of heat exchanger and some electrical work. Supply of 220V charger for genset battery

-Replacing all Teleflex hydraulic steering hoses and many fittings

-New batteries for second house battery bank mainly used for powering 12V equipment

-There was a large amount of electrical work to make existing equipment function correctly, rewire breakers that didn’t perform their correct function, instal new power outlets etc

Apart from the above PSS shaft seal issue we’ve not encountered any problems during our ownership except for a leaking fresh water circulation pump (solved with a new outlet fitting), a loose wire on our genset’s starting circuit and a failed high voltage shunt which turned out to be redundant and not needing replacement.

So now we’re down to a final few projects including an exterior sun shade for saloon bow facing windows, cockpit canopy, safety rails around flybridge access hatch and gas assisted struts for an extremely heavy lazarette hatch. Then hopefully all set for 2020/21 cruising.



Monday, August 10, 2020

CRUISING UPDATE


When New Zealand moved to lockdown Level 1 on 14 May we became one of the few countries to allow unrestricted cruising once again, while the Australian situation continues to vary by state with some restrictions still in place.
More recently several other countries, mostly in the Med, Caribbean and South Pacific have followed suit, but there are various restrictions in place relating to isolation, quarantine and screening. 
For example Fiji has opened Nadi’s Port Denerau, but visiting crews must have had a minimum of 14 days quarantine at sea, have tested negative for covid-19 before departure to Fiji and be screened on arrival.
Most Australasian cruisers owning vessels overseas have chosen to forgo this year’s cruising because of confusion about regulations, difficulties booking return travel and the need to quarantine on return. There is also a general concern that circumstances can change very rapidly and cause major issues for those in the wrong place at the wrong time.

We continue to enjoy cruising aboard our Salthouse 52, Rapport and since purchase in late November have logged 50 nights aboard, despite staying off the water during lockdown Levels 3 and 4. 
We’ve spoken to several cruisers who went out to Waiheke, Great Barrier, Kawau and the Bay of Islands during lockdown and while most of them were approached by police none of them were required to return home or stop cruising, so it seems the only real issue would have been a question mark over insurance cover.

Our most recent trip has been eight nights in early June to Waiheke’s “bottom end”.
We arrive aboard at Hobsonville marina with our friends Frank and Marie on a dismal Saturday morning and head to Westhaven to refuel. We mainly use the flybridge helm and after berthing at the fuel dock and going below I notice the bilge pump warning light activated at the lower helm. 
After lifting our bilge hatches I find sea water coming in sufficiently to activate the pumps. 
At this point we have no idea where the water is coming from and as a precaution contact Coastguard in case additional pumps are needed and it turns out Paul, the Coastguard skipper is also a marine surveyor. We can’t definitively find the source of the leak, but Paul finds a loose hose clamp on the outlet side of one the bilge pumps and we can see some water back flowing into the bilge. 
After we tighten the hose clamp the leak stops and we clear all of the water from the bilge – problem solved right? Well, no.
We refuel and depart for Waiheke with a bilge hatch left open to monitor the situation. After about ten minutes Frank appears telling me there’s sea water in the bilge again. Damnation or words to that effect are said as we head back to moor alongside the fuel berth to have another look. We agree the problem must be related to the engines as there was no water ingress when they weren’t running. 
Sure enough we find the port “dripless” shaft seal’s plastic water lubrication fitting has broken and water intended for lubrication is going into the bilge. Frank suggests a temporary repair using Selleys “Knead-It” fast-setting epoxy putty, usable in wet conditions (every cruising vessel should carry a tube or two of this) and 30 minutes later the repair is complete.
By now it’s late Saturday afternoon and with a gale warning in place and heavy rain predicted we decide to spend the night back on our marina monitoring the repair and awaiting better conditions. Two days later we head off for an excellent six days cruising with our temporary repair lasting well. One highlight was drift fishing in the Firth of Thames finding plenty of hungry snapper at most times of day and states of tide. Another was Waihehe’s Mawhitipana Bay, better known as Palm Beach where set back from the beach’s eastern end is the delightful and relaxing Arcadia cafe reminiscent of the rustic tavernas we enjoyed during our Med cruising and having a superette next door selling most supplies.

After our return I organise repairs to our shaft seal. I’ve never been a big fan of dripless shaft seals with a rubber bellows because if the bellows fails the consequences can be catastrophic. 
However to be fair I’m told they’re widely used commercially.
Our shaft seals are about six years old and the manufacturer recommends installing a replacement service kit after this time. It turns out that for not much more than the cost of the service kits we can instal the very robust and low maintenance Kiwi shaft seals, so we go down that path. 
These seals incorporate an electronic alarm to detect a high seal temperature – normally caused by an issue with the supply of cooling sea water.
I’m also unhappy with our bilge pump monitoring system and instal a loud audible alarm so we’ll know immediately a pump is activated and can then turn the alarm off while we check its cause.
Hopefully these problems are now resolved, but no doubt others will follow!




Tuesday, March 31, 2020

CRUISING ACTIVITY GRINDS TO A TEMPORARY HALT


CRUISING ACTIVITY GRINDS TO A TEMPORARY HALT

How quickly situations can change. Just a few weeks ago we all watched TV news in amazement as parts of China went into total lockdown and thought that could never happen here. The humorists among us joked that if it happens we could all go boating, but sadly it seems not.
The first affects on boating were overseas, as when international borders were closed to travel this applied to pleasure boaters too. By mid-March some countries including France and Greece had placed a complete ban on all movements of recreational boats and closed harbours and marinas except to ferries. Cruisers with boats located overseas started canceling their overseas travel as there was no point in traveling if they couldn’t use their boat and soon after that travel became virtually impossible anyway.
This applied to the very disappointed Queenslanders who bought our boat Envoy based in Greece and who will now probably have to wait until next year for their maiden cruise.
In mid-March people aged over 70 were asked to stay home and on 27 March New Zealand went into lock down.
At first many people thought this situation may provide an ideal time to go boating and fishing but this has since received some clarification.

We were aboard our boat Rapport in Coromandel Harbour when the lockdown was announced commencing a few days later. We decided to head home to comply. A strong north-westerly had built a boisterous chop in the Firth of Thames, so we set out when the wind dropped early on the last morning before the lockdown when the conditions were perfect.
Arriving back at our marina we found many boat owners busy loading supplies and intending to head out before the lockdown started. Several of them commented to us that they “don’t know if this is allowed or not”. One person says he’s loaded his boat with supplies so “has to go”. Another says that his and other families intend to “group isolate” in their boats on the water. Generally there was a festive atmosphere, like Boxing Day when boaties load up and depart for their holidays.

On 24 March Coastguard sent an email message to their members and part of this reads:
We have has a lot of calls and messages from the public asking if they’re able to go out on the water during the lockdown period; our answer is no”.
This is based on the fact that by going out on the water you could potentially get into trouble and require assistance, putting Coastguard or other authorities at risk during the lockdown.
In Marlborough the harbour master has declared that boating is not permitted during the lockdown and that patrols will ensure this is adhered to.
The situation was further clarified a day or so later on TV news when fishing and boating were specifically advised as non-permitted activities. Several boating clubs have advised boating is not allowed and one of Auckland’s biggest trailer boat launching areas the Outboard Boating club, has closed its facilities for the duration of the lockdown.
Just today our marina emailed berth holders saying it has noticed an increase in people coming to the marina to do maintenance or just to visit their boats and stating it is not permitted to come to the marina for any reason during the lockdown.

Even as of 31/3 I can’t find any information online that expressly forbids boating (except for trailer boating), but my view is boating now would be irresponsible – why?
- It ignores the advice of Coastguard, other SAR authorities and boating clubs
- If we are over 70 it’s a no brainer, we are required to stay at home
- We are only permitted to travel for essential purposes including to and from designated essential work, buying food and obtaining medical services - so travel to and from the marina does not qualify
- It’s not practically possible to pass by other people on marina berth fingers and maintain a social distance of over two metres and this risks spreading infections
- To attempt to go boating would contravene the spirit of the lockdown (as well as possibly the law)

It will be interesting to see if people attempt to treat this Easter as a normal one and head to their marina to go cruising.
Anyway one week of the period has almost passed so it hopefully won’t be too much longer before boating returns to normal.



Tuesday, March 17, 2020

TAKE CARE OF YOUR DIESEL

The corona virus issue will have a major effect on cruisers and many will be canceling their plans to join their vessels overseas for the northern hemisphere summer. Their major concerns are the risk of contracting the virus, the relative inadequacy of medical facilities in some destinations, uncertainties about medical insurance and repatriation in case of illness, difficulties for their visitors to travel and return to their country of origin, the difficulty in returning should any emergency occur at home, the large scale closure of cafes, restaurants and tourist areas of interest, possible difficulties in obtaining technical assistance should the crisis worsen and the general uncertainty during what is currently an escalating phase.

This is an article we wrote published a while back in Pacific PowerBoat magazine.

Since a large number of diesel engine problems are fuel-related we should always follow best practice procedures in managing our fuel supply; the key areas to consider being monitoring, filtration and rotation.

Fuel Tanks and Filtration
All tanks require an air breather to equalise internal pressure during changes in fuel level and should ideally have a removable inspection port enabling access for periodic inspection and cleaning. The tank's outlet should be situated as low as possible to avoid the accumulation of water and contaminants in the bottom of the tank.
Filtration starts with a “primary” filter to separate any water present and clean the fuel before it reaches the engine, where a replaceable on-engine “secondary” filter provides a final clean before fuel is supplied to the injection pump. If water accumulates in the primary filter's clear inspection bowl we need to identify its cause and resolve the problem.
Many primary filtration systems have a vacuum gauge to indicate when the replaceable filter cartridges should be changed. In any case they should be replaced about annually as the paper filter media can deteriorate after long term diesel immersion. Sometimes it's hard to tell if this gauge is working (Envoy’s needle rarely moved) and you can check this by slowly closing the engine's fuel supply valve (not the return valve) with the engine idling in neutral. You should see the gauge's needle begin to rise confirming a vacuum is present. Every boat should carry several spare filters and every skipper should know how to change them.
While diesel sold throughout Australasia is generally high quality and contamination is rare, this is not always the case in other countries and long range cruising vessels often have a further filtration (or “polishing”) system to polish all fuel into one designated tank (often called a “day tank”) which solely supplies fuel to run the engine(s). The excess fuel from the engine(s) also returns to this tank. Most commercial vessels also use this system.
A long range cruising vessel also generally has a dual primary filter installation so that a filter cartridge can be replaced underway.

Diesel contamination
For a boat owner the mention of diesel “bug” invokes about the same amount of consternation as osmosis. All diesel carries bug to some extent and the presence of water encourages growth, hence the need to reduce condensation in fuel tanks by keeping them as full as possible. The bug is a fungal organism called Hormoconis resinae (H.res) and is a bacteria not an algae (which would require light). It can normally be seen in filter bowls as black spots or stringy matter. Water and/or hazy, cloudy fuel is also a sign of possible pending problems.
Another issue is asphaltenes (sticky black tar-like particles) which can start to form after about 90 days in unstabilised fuel. You can tell the difference between asphaltenes and other contaminants by collecting a black particle from the fuel filter and putting a drop of acetone or thinner on it. If it begins to melt it’s an asphaltene particle from old, degraded fuel. Bacterial particles also emit a sulphur dioxide (rotten egg) smell.
Aboard Envoy we had a New Zealand-made De-Bug unit installed in the polishing system's fuel input to reduce the chances of diesel bug and either by good luck or good management we never encountered the problem.

Fuel Stabiliser
We always used a fuel stabiliser when refueling to reduce oxidation, increase lubricity and reduce fuel injector pump and injector wear. It's important to add the correct levels of stabiliser and especially not too much. While stabilisers act as antioxidants they also gradually break down any asphaltine particulates and it's important this occurs only gradually and not suddenly as could happen with excessive additions. Also if too much stabiliser is added any water present may emulsify in the diesel and pass through the filters into the injection pump and injectors where it could cause damage and corrosion.
Additives that deal with water fall into two categories:
The first encourages its mixture with, or suspension in fuel so the water is captured by a water separator or goes to the engine to be vaporised in combustion. These are known as emulsifiers or dispersants or suspension additives. The second category encourages its separation from fuel so it can be drained from a tank or filter. These are demulsifiers.
Some engine manufacturers prohibit using the first option, so only use additives recommended by your engine supplier.

What about bio-diesel?
New Zealand's bio-diesel has a 5 per cent “bio” content (sourced from tallow) and isn't generally sold at marine outlets. Bio-diesel is slightly more hygroscopic than standard diesel although at the five per cent level it is very similar to standard. An industry source informed me that while bio-diesel should preferably be used within six months of purchase it contains additional antioxidant and shouldn't be a problem for up to twelve months. Some commercial operators regularly use bio-diesel and report less emissions and longer periods between filter changes, however unlike privately owned vessels theirs are in frequent use and constantly turning their fuel over.
Maritime New Zealand recommends checking with your engine manufacturer before using bio-diesel. In the Med the commonly sold fuel is 15 per cent bio-diesel and we've used this up to two years after purchase without any issues.
The key point is whatever fuel you are using, monitor it and always use your oldest fuel first.


Tuesday, February 04, 2020

OUR CRUISING MOVES FROM THE MED TO AUCKLAND


This is an edited version of an article we wrote for Pacific Powerboat magazine.
We return to Auckland from Greece last October after leaving Envoy, our beloved Nordhavn 46, for the last time. We owned her for 12 years, spending more time aboard than at home during that period and cruising over 26,000 miles along the spectacular coastlines of Italy, Greece, Albania, Montenegro and Turkey plus many dozens of their offshore islands, providing fun and adventure for ourselves, family and close friends. From May Envoy will continue cruising under the Australian flag of her new Brisbane-based owners.
We immediately start searching for a new boat and provide a brief to several brokers. We’re looking for a planing monohull power vessel with single or twin diesels and shaft drive(s); around 14 metres long; preferably constructed in GRP later than 1990; with an enclosed full-height fly bridge; with comfortable accommodation for two couples; in excellent mechanical and reasonable cosmetic condition throughout. It must have sufficient water and fuel capacity to provide a generous cruising range; a sturdy RHIB with outboard; excellent ground tackle; generous cockpit space; two seawater flushing heads; shore power operation of refrigeration, hot water and battery charging; lpg gas cooking; satellite TV and be fully equipped for cruising.
We consider dozens of boats and inspect around 20, none of which seem to meet our needs.
More on this after we ponder on our time in the Med.

THE LIVE-ABOARD CRUISING LIFE
Owning four boats ranging up to 12 metres in Auckland since the 1980s we’d cruised extensively during weekends and holidays and dreamed of enjoying great destinations until we tired of them rather than needing to meet work timetables.
We bought Envoy in 2006 and by the time we reached normal retirement age of 65 we'd already enjoyed six years of the live-aboard cruising life. This isn’t for everyone as there are many competent, dedicated weekend cruisers who wouldn't want to spend more time at sea than ashore, but for those who have the live-aboard passion there’s generally nothing to stop you joining the many thousands of cruisers living aboard all manner of boats in various parts of the world.
We chose to cruise the Med. With an area of 2.5 million square kilometres it’s surrounded by three continents - Europe, Asia and Africa and 22 countries with highly diverse cultures, languages, cuisines and standards of living; their histories representing the cradle of western civilisation. It has thousands of islands with nine having areas over 1,000 square kilometres; the largest, Sicily, is home to over five million. Contrary to perception the Med can get mighty rough, but there’s plenty of good shelter and you’re rarely over 50 miles from the nearest land.

Many people have told us they’d love to live aboard and the reasons they didn’t are generally among the following:
Experience levelseveryone starts somewhere, so take small steps first and learn from your mistakes. Coastguard and the Royal Yachting Association run excellent courses to gain practical and theoretical skills.
Mechanical abilityit usually isn’t the big things that fail and you will soon learn to deal with handling the smaller problems assisted by a comprehensive range of tools, spare parts, equipment manuals and chandlery. There’s competent technical assistance available in most parts of the cruising world.
Handling rough seas – this becomes easier with practice and many cruisers travel thousands of miles over many years rarely if ever encountering dangerous seas.
Navigation – sextants are long gone so it’s not difficult with today’s GPS-based electronic equipment and this is an area where courses will greatly assist.
Seasicknessmany cruisers start off getting seasick but wean themselves out of it and medications can assist.
Weather and tidesthe internet provides mostly reliable forecasts and good planning will enable you to find shelter or a marina to sit out the worst weather.
Manoeuvring and dockingpractice makes perfect and a bow thruster will greatly assist docking.

If you decide to embark on the cruising life there are numerous issues to consider mostly falling into these categories:
How long will you be away each year – we and the vast majority of power or sail cruisers see little point in sitting out the winter in a marina (after doing it once) and most spend several months away then return home to see their families and friends and enjoy the southern hemisphere summer.
How many years will you cruise forthe short answer is as long as you are enjoying it and health, finances and other circumstances permit. About five years would be typical.
Dependent familymost of the cruising community are in the age group mid-50s to mid-70s without school-age children and cruisers living aboard with children are rare. When we started cruising we each had an elderly parent who accepted our absences, appreciated our regular phone calls and enjoyed our home visits.
Family and Friends – of course you miss your family and close friends, but some may be able to visit you and share your cruising experience. Being home to see them for a few months during the year keeps these relationships intact.
Workmost cruisers we have met are semi or completely retired. A fewer number of younger cruisers take time out from the work force intending to rejoin it later.
Your homesome cruisers elect to sell their home to provide funds for cruising while most others rent it out, get house sitters or leave it vacant.
Compatibility and confidence – some people may speculate you won’t get on well together as a couple spending so much time in the confines of a boat. Only you will know if this is correct or not and we probably all know people where this lifestyle would be doomed to failure.
Healtha reasonable but not perfect standard of general health and fitness is required for the live-aboard life reinforcing the case for starting the cruising life sooner than later. Health insurance is preferable.
Pets – overseas regulations concerning transportation and quarantine of pets are less strict than in Australasia and there are generally fewer restrictions concerning pets on beaches and in restaurants so some cruisers take their pets along. We decided to cruise pet-free for additional flexibility.
Comfort aboard – this will of course vary by vessel. When yachtsmen came aboard Envoy they were amazed at the living space available compared to sailing vessels of the same length and we didn’t get wet, cold or wind-blown.
Capital and living costs – the size, age and condition of your vessel determines its capital cost. Remember that bigger isn’t always better as larger vessels have dearer maintenance, marina and insurance costs. We found that living costs such as food, beverages, household supplies and personal spending were about the same while cruising as when at home. Maintaining a boat overseas was dearer due to the higher cost of parts and greater distances travelled. There was also the cost of travel to and from our boat and additional fuel costs for the longer distances cruised. Excluding living costs maintenance was our largest cost, averaging about six per cent of Envoy’s estimated value each year.

Buying your live aboard cruising vessel
Relatively few cruisers take their boats from New Zealand or Australia and the European new and pre-owned boat market favours buyers with ample choice available. Most types of boat are suited to cruising the Med and we even met one couple in Greece living aboard a six metre outboard-powered trailer boat on which they’d cruised from Germany. However the majority of live-aboards are found on sailing yachts or catamarans, mostly up to about 14 metres.
Do your research by reading, visiting cruisers' blogs and talking with live-aboard cruisers.
Consider the location of vessels for sale relative to your intended cruising area.
Bearing in mind the boating adage that everything that can go wrong will eventually go wrong, she needs to be engineered for maximum reliability with redundancy of systems and a well-planned inventory of chandlery, tools, key spare parts and documentation covering equipment carried aboard. Make sure you have reliable ground tackle and a rugged RHIB (this is also the life raft for most cruisers).
Exercise caution in your financial dealings as some buyers have lost funds sent overseas to fraudulent sellers.
Be sure to get a qualified surveyor to check your vessel prior to purchase as many insurers require a recent survey and he/she may identify costly and time consuming problems.

Understand local regulations
Allied to the issue of the location of the boat you purchase is the complex one of port of registry, particularly if local overseas taxes haven't been paid.
A New Zealand or Australian registered boat can remain in EU waters up to 18 months at a time without paying VAT. You can place your boat in Customs bond during your winter layover and this period is not included in the 18 months. Before the 18 month period expires it's only necessary to leave EU waters for a few days to re-set the 18 month clock. It’s a good idea to get specialist advice for your circumstances so that correct documentary procedures are followed to minimise liabilities.
Familiarise yourself with other relevant regulations such as the Schengen Treaty which currently limits visits by New Zealand passport holders to three months in each treaty member country and Australians to three months total in all member countries (most but not all EU countries are members).
Many countries require cruisers to use agents for clearing-in and out. Even where not required it’s a good idea to use agents as they save time, have useful contacts and may be able to offer advice on extending your stay and minimising your obligations. They are also extremely useful if you encounter any major problem with authorities, such as when our EPIRB activated accidentally and we needed special permission from Coastguard to continue on to a port where our safety equipment could be surveyed.

OUR NEW VESSEL IN AUCKLAND
On Westhaven’s hard stand a broker shows us over a boat which like so many others looked reasonable on paper but quickly proves unsuitable. Disappointed, we wander down to Oram’s sales berth and stumble across a very well presented Salthouse 52 equipped with twin Caterpillar 3208s.
She’s called Awesome and that’s our impression too as she’s by far the best presented vessel we’d seen.
Launched in 1993, she’s been owned by a boating professional for offshore game fishing including several trips to the Three Kings. He’s also overseen extensive recent improvements including a rebuild of the engines and gearboxes just 900 engine hours ago, new house and start battery banks, new exterior repaint, new teak cockpit decking, new Furuno electronics and new carpet throughout.
However there’s quite a few variances from our wish list.
Firstly she’s 16 metres, but we’re impressed with her three sleeping cabin layout and generous space accentuated by her 1.96 metre headroom and we soon find that getting a suitable marina isn’t as difficult as we’d expected.
We find that Awesome is an alloy boat, so research this to satisfy ourselves while our surveyor makes additional checks including ultrasonic testing of the hull to find she’s very sound throughout with an “above ground” earthing system to minimise electrolysis.
We don’t like the imported RHIB with an inflatable floor, but plan to use it for now and replace it with a locally built rigid hulled design during winter.
Cooking is electric, but the vessel is equipped with a generator. Nevertheless we invest in a portable lpg gas stove for the galley, so we can at least have our morning cuppa’ without needing to start the generator.
The only major downside was she wasn’t fully equipped for cruising having not been used very much in the previous 18 months, so after purchasing her in early December we set about updating safety equipment, buying new bedding, galley supplies, barbecue, tools, spare parts, fishing gear and a proverbial 101 other items.
On the plus side Awesome has some additional equipment including long range fuel tanks providing 2,900 litres capacity which is sufficient for over 500 miles cruising, a fuel polishing system, an engine oil changing system, a recently fitted water maker, a bow thruster, underwater lighting and throttles and autopilot controls in the cockpit in addition to those at the lower and upper helm positions.
Although we don’t mind Awesome’s name we decide to change her name to Rapport – the same as our last boat in Auckland.
So the purchase is finalised and we enjoy a couple of weeks cruising the inner Gulf – Waiheke, Rotoroa, Motutapu and Mahurangi.
We call Coastguard with our trip reports, a service not provided in the Med and it’s great to know that if we have any problems they’ll assist with no strings attached, unlike in the Med where you need to get your vessel cleared by a surveyor after being assisted by Coastguard.
Although we find the fishing slow we manage to feed ourselves and enjoy smoking some fish ashore over a few late afternoon beers. The sandy beach is pristine, litter-free and without the numerous deck chairs and loud music found on many sandy beaches in the Med.
We’re not annoyed by boats moving too fast through anchored boats as found in the Med, except for some jet ski operators at Mahurangi.
Our RHIB had been stored deflated in the lazarette at the time of purchase and when we inflate it we have to repair one leaking seam. Later we encounter more leaking seams and soon totally lose confidence in using this RHIB so return to Hobsonville marina to buy a new one.
Back in the marina I ask one of the contractors to check out our windlass as it’s making a banging noise. It seems the stripper plate is hitting the underside of the gypsy. When they pull the windlass apart they find the circular plate containing the keyway is also damaged, so the windlass is removed to their workshop for inspection. We find it makes more sense to purchase a new windlass rather than invest in the repair of an old unit and delivery is going to take about three weeks, so our initial cruising was short lived.
During our short cruise we’d discovered a few other minor niggling issues – probably as a result of little use in the last eighteen months and these are largely resolved during the wait for our new windlass after contractors return to work in mid-January.
At time of writing this article we’re about to set off again, hopefully with teething issues resolved.
Our last boat Envoy attracted a lot of admirers on the dock or at anchor and we’re now finding the same with Rapport. Of course we still have a few other additions and alterations to transform our boat from Awesome – the full-on game fishing boat to Rapport – the comfortable cruiser, but that’s part of the fun of boating.

Monday, December 02, 2019

NEW BOAT NOW IN OUR LIVES

The purchase of our new boat has now been finalised and we take over ownership in the next few days.
While Envoy, as a full displacement vessel, was perfect for the Med, we never intended to buy such a vessel here. Instead we have been looking at planing or what are commonly called "semi-displacement", although I'm told this term is not technically correct as a vessel is either planing or it's not.
We planned to buy a boat around 14 metres and looked over around 20 without finding anything that really suited us in terms of either design, space or condition until we found "Awesome" by accident when we wandered onto the Westhaven sales jetty of a broker called Orams Marine.
We saw Awesome sitting there with a For Sale sign, went aboard and within minutes felt she was the right boat for us. At 16 metres she is a little larger than we intended, but she has the advantage of three separate sleeping cabins and two bathrooms/Heads. Much of our boating will be with other couples aboard (or Chris aka MacGyver of course) so this is perfect, She's powered by twin Cat 3208 diesels and has a generator and water maker.


Although Awesome has a leading designer - Salthouse, she's built from alloy, which was a complication for us initially as we knew little about larger alloy boats although realised that many rugged commercial vessels are alloy. A rigorous in water and out of water survey including ultrasonic testing of the hull detected very few issues and a sea trial with a GoughCat engineer aboard doing tests verified the engines as being sound. In fact both Cats and their Twin Disc gearboxes were reconditioned in 2014 and only have 600 hours on them since.
The previous owner has used her mostly for offshore game fishing and she's done many trips to remote places like the Three Kings as well as Cook Strait crossings and a voyage from Picton to Auckland. Awesome has additional fuel tanks for long range so can carry nearly 3,000 litres of diesel, which should give a range of over 500 miles at lower speeds.
During the sea trial fully loaded with fuel, water and five people aboard she achieved 21 knots wide open throttle at 2,800 rpm, but her usual cruising speed on the plane is around 15-17 knots and 2,200-2,400 rpm.
We expect to use her off the plane quite a lot, cruising around 8 knots.
We'll be berthing her at our preferred marina - Hobsonville (previously called Westpark) and will be changing her name to "Rapport", the same name as our last boat owned in Auckland in partnership with our always-missed great friend Brian.
Awesome doesn't have much gear aboard so we've been busy buying tools, spares, galley equipment, bedding, safety equipment etc.
Hoping to start a two week "shakedown" cruise this weekend.