Nelson, New Zealand 2016
Good Friday 25 March 2016
Been back in Nelson 4 weeks now. It has been a difficult time financially, but a fun time catching up with friends around town .
I will have to take Alvei back to Terakohe and return to the States to make some money.
Crew numbers were less than half the normal amount. Cash flow was very low. I also made the mistake of giving several people a free ride. At least three of the freebees stole things from the tool room and other crew. One was American, the other two were Ni-Van; it was a remarkable disappointment.
We cleared Port Vila Customs on Christmas eve with me and three crew. Normally it is 70 hours of motor sailing to clear the south east end of New Caledonia. This time the main engine had consumed 100 litres of lube oil after only 26 hours. I had to shut down the main engine to save the remaining 70 litres of oil for the New Zealand end of the passage. Nelson was 1460 miles away.
A few days later a tropical storm was upgraded to Cyclone Ula. She held us in southern Vanuatu waters with southerly winds for the following 3 weeks as we sailed in a lazy figure eight track dodging one island after another and waiting for a wind shift.
At one point we were being pushed into the island of Ile Mare in the Loyalties. I was forced to use the main engine to stay clear of the island. Then on a starboard tack, the header tank toped up from 70 to 160 litres of oil. (I still don’t know what that was about.) However, we had enough oil to spare we could motor sail to clear New Caledonia.
With that difficulty behind us we then had cyclone Ula headed our way. Ula was 130 miles east of us when she backed to the southwest, then headed south and away from us. At her closest, the wind was barely over 30 knots with a deluge of rain.
After that it was business as usual. Three weeks later when we were a few hundred miles from Nelson, category five, cyclone Winston was thrashing Fiji with 200 knot winds. By the finish it became my longest passage of 63 days at sea. Noon to noon 2600 miles sailed.
We entered Nelson Harbour a few hours after sunset on a moonless night. Nelson Harbour Radio instructed me to use the inside finger pier at the south end of the Main Wharf, starboard side to the wharf. As I turned toward the pier the flood tidal current set Alvei crashing into the south end of the Main Wharf.
If I had known there was a flood tide I would not have attempted a starboard side docking, but rather change to the port side to stem the tidal current.
I usually finish a sailing season with 10 to 12K in hand. This year it was $300 dollars. Our usual berth at Calwell Slipway at $50 dollars a week now cost $50 a day. I found a berth at the Aimex dock for $42 a day, plus $8 for electricity and here we are again.
After visiting Terakohe, the council has agreed to let Alvei have the end of the finger pier at $22 dollars a day. They are even going to drive a couple of new pier piles to stabilize the end of the pier for us.
The old dock where Alvei was tied up is still there ten years later. They say they will put in sheet piling and fill the area with rock and sand.
Next I need to find a boat to crew on that will also provide a bunk and food with the job. I will need about 15k to pay off the bills by the time I get back to NZ next December. Looking forward to a change of scene and not being poor for a while.
Meanwhile, one of the crew set up an AirBnB account. We are now an unofficial bed and breakfast. Charging $20 dollars a day with muesli and cabin bread in the morning. We’ve had 5 people so far, an Aussie, two Germans, an Argentinian and a Japanese carpenter. Collected $390 last week, it’s a start.