Monday, 25 June 2012

Episode 8 Brisbane to New Caledonia


Episode 8



From our last blog we said we were clearing on the 6th of June from Brisbane and Sentinel were leaving 1 day earlier.
Well that didn’t happen!!
Danny got the latest weather the morning he was due to leave and it was turning nasty with a intense low forming off Brisbane.
It caused a week of big winds, huge seas and carnage all the way down to Sydney. There was some wild footage on the news of big seas and damage to property and some awesome tow in surfing off the Gold Coast. There was a lot of carnage in the Sail Noumea Rally which had races from Auckland and Brisbane to Noumea which left 3 days prior. One 75ft yacht broke in two!

So we left Rivergate Marina and motored up the river to Colmslie and put the anchor down for a week. It was a good decision as we still had lots to do. We had 2 problems with the new gear. The hot water system failed and we had to remove it and install and different model. Additionally the alternator wasn’t charging anywhere near its full capacity so we had a marine sparky come and install a smart charger, regulator and some decent wiring.
We also had a great daytrip into the city on the rivercats to tie up all the loose ends with banks, insurance, etc and get some foreign currency and international drivers licenses.

It also gave Lisa a chance to test all her new communication, computer and navigation software upgrades and Paul to rewire Lorelei’s music system and speaker configuration.

Eventually a suitable weather window opened and we called customs on Friday for Saturday 16th departure. When we call they said they are very busy and may not fit us in. When we said the boat name they said “Oh Lorelei and Sentinel – yes no problem, we have been waiting for you – well clear you first up in the morning at 7:30am.”  Perfect!!

Unfortunately photography is banned at the Customs and Quarantine Wharf (as it is in airports…) so we couldn’t take photos.
The officials were very pleasant and it only took 30 minutes to complete the paperwork and we were gone.

Lorelei and Sentinel nose to nose on the Customs Berth.

The tide turned at 7:30am which was perfect timing and we made the best of the run-out tide to go down the Brisbane River, across the bay and out through the north passage, exiting it at 1:30pm just on the tide turn again. The low tide and the left over ground swell from the week before made some nearly surfable waves on the bars either side of the channel and some sloppy seas getting out.  We then turned due east, set sail and went over one of our favourite spearing spots Hutchinson Shoals before heading over the horizon into the Pacific. That night gave us perfect 15 knots reaching conditions with South winds and we covered 165Nm in the first 24 hours.  The downside was we were both battling with sea sickness. Lisa was just off colour but Paul managed to spew about every 2-3 hours.

Day 2 was a bit better with calmer seas and we were still sailing strong covering another 150Nm. It was still cold and we were in full wet weather gear and sleeping on the cockpit floor in a sleeping bag.  At 1am that night we coped a 1 hour storm with some pretty strong squally winds which tested us a bit.

Lisa toasty in her new Thermals

Day 3 the wind lightened and we still headed due East to keep the wind just forward of the beam and pushing air thru the sails to keep us trucking along at 5-6 knots. The seas got better, the weather got warmer and we started to be able to live normally downstairs again. We started seeing Albatross today too.

Day 4 we woke to no wind and glassy seas with the swell along way apart – in mid ocean – go figure… So it was on with the new motor and off we went NE towards New Cal. We motored all day and overnight and were able to send emails, do computer work and have a generally great day. Lisa even cooked a BBQ for us on the back deck!

Paul also broke out the heavy tackle trolling gear to try for a big fish. As a skirt hit the water a big 2m Dolphinfish (Mahi Mahi) came ripping out from under Lorelei to have a look. We must have had a few travelling under the boat which also explained why the shallow alarm on the depthsounder kept going off over the last 2 days. They were smart though and wouldn’t take the lures.

Day 5 and a light SE wind kicked in on daybreak so we set sail again and headed the final 70Nm to Noumea. We had another fun day cruising in the cockpit, music cranked and Lisa editing videos with the highlight for Paul working out how to eat all the remaining fresh food and the 6 avocados (his favourite…).
We realized we wouldn’t make the reef entrance during daylight so in the arvo we reefed the sails to slow us down and arrived at midnight. We then sailed up and down the reef edge waiting for daybreak.

At dawn on Friday Day 6 we motored thru the Passe De Dumbea just north of the main channel. We went right past the well known Dumbea Left’s surf break and it was pumping! It was offshore and a very clean 6-8 feet with an insane barrel breaking onto a shallow reef with a long mechanical wall afterwards. Paul couldn’t contain his excitement.
As we came past the Islands in the Lagoon we could see kiteboarders riding in the crystal clear water too.

Hoisting our New Cal and Quarantine Flags

Looking North from  Noumea - a lot more mountainous than we expected

Damn! Under surveiance already...

We called the marina to assist with customs and quarantine and they said just anchor up where you can and dingy into the office and get further instructions. Pretty casual we thought so we anchored in Noumea Harbour, cleaned up, made Taco’s and headed in after lunch.

When we took the dingy in, we tied up, walked 20 steps to the Marina office and entered. When we got inside we both started swaying and found we couldn’t stand and actually got quite sick so we had to sit on a couch for 5 minutes to recover. We have heard of being land sick before and jokingly had a few mild cases and with friends that come onboard too but nothing like that.

French is the official language and we had fun trying our newly learnt phrases. The marina gave us a map to walk to the 3 places for Customs, Immigration and Quarantine which just happened to be on the other side of town. So off we went through the city trying to find these places.
To cut a long story short we had a blast in town, got lost, tried to ask people for directions in French, nearly got run over when a car went thru a red light at a crossing (and it’s left hand drive here), and stumbled upon an annual kanak music festival in the town centre.
If we were in town like that in Australia before clearing customs they would lock us up!!

FYI: Kanaks are the local indigenious population and outnumber the whities about 10 to 1 at least.

Immigration was fine, customs was closed until Monday and reportedly very short staffed and quarantine organized a nice lady to come down to meet us and we took her out to Lorelei. All in all she let us keep most things only taking the avo seeds and the apple cores, a few other seeds and the un-popped popcorn. We kept all our dairy, meat, ice cream and F&V so we were stoked.

Saturday morning were went into the city again to explore more and first went to the daily fresh seafood and F&V markets just around from the Marina.

Want a Muddie or Two??

We have heard various reports about prices in New Cal and we are pleasantly surprised. Most things are cheaper or on par with back home.

Emmanuel guess where? Have you been here?
Like my patriotic Shirt...

Saturday arvo and evening was Fete De La Musique in Noumea which is basically Noumea’s version of the Big Day Out, only larger, more spread out and best of all – free!
They closed off half the city streets, had 9 stages within a short walk, 70 bands, a Big Top, street performers, fire twirlers, rides, food, etc, etc and it was sooo much fun.
The music was anything from Soul, local Kaneka and lots of reggae thru to our favourites, ska, hard rock and metal.
We saw some awesome bands, some great Reggae with up to 9 band members and insane bass guitarists using 5 and 6 string bases. The only minor problem was we couldn’t understand a word.
Being in the Reggae crowd was a spin. We were 2 of only a few whites among the huge Kanak population. 95% of them wore a least one piece of clothing/apparel that had the traditional reggae/Marley/rasta colours of black, yellow, red and green. We felt like we were in Jamaica not New Cal. Even their cute little kids had afro’s, tight plaits or dreadies!

We finished the night on a high down at the Cruise ship terminal stage with a powerful 3 piece called Hollow that sung strangely enough in English and would put Creed to same.
We got home late, totally stuffed but grinning like Cheshire cats.

Our new favourite band “Hollow”

Sunday was a right-off with cleaning and washing – the boat, the clothes, us, etc, etc…

Monday Paul did the first service on the gearbox and then it was into Noumea to explore again and finally (officially) clear customs.
In the arvo we went to the Museum which was fantastic.

SUP New Cal style. I wish mine was that big – the paddle silly…

Once back onboard we connected our new Wifi setup and bing, up comes a stack of sites, most for free – perfect. So I’m uploading the blog while we have a chance.
Tomorrow (June 26th) we are back into town to provision with meat and F&V at the local markets before heading out to Ilot Maitre for some kiteboarding and then onto Amedee Island for some surfing the reef passes and diving on the countries first scuttled French Warship the La Diapossette lying in 26m. It’s a little smaller than the ex HMAS Brisbane but still should be a lot of fun.
From there we are heading down to the Isle of Pines then up the East Coast and onto the Loyalty Islands.

So that’s it….

Overall we are extremely happy with how the crossing went.
Without sounding blasé we feel we coped quite well with the passage and could have comfortably kept going if we had to. We were only really just starting to get into a proper routine.
We did door to door in 6 days or 5.5 if you don’t include the10 hours sailing up and down out the front waiting for daybreak.
This was a lot less than our estimated time frame and we did just on 900nm for the crossing.
Unfortunately we just received an email from Danny and Carol onboard Sentinel letting us know they turned back on the first night and are now safe in Brisbane again.

Due to wonders of modern technology and Lisa’s hard work you can now track our passages and/or log on anytime to see where we are with a great NZ based yacht tracking software called Yotreps from Pangolin.

The link is: 

Our new HF call sign is VJN3883. For those that understand sail mail email and its protocols’ – our sail mail email is the same…
Shauna our Pactor modem is working a dream!!! To have email mid ocean and be able to download the weather Grib files is soooo good and we feel it has improved our safety and given us a much better ability to weather route (which is exactly what we did on the passage heading due east for the first 3 days).  Many many thanks from both of us.

Our next blog post will be from wherever or whenever we can log onto somebody’s free Wifi…..probably in about 3-4 weeks time.

Cheers for now from a very happy and excited Team Lorelei – Paul and Lisa.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Episode 7 - Moreton Bay and the Rivergate Refit

Episode 7


Hi all. Welcome to episode 7 of our Blog. Sorry it’s been so long since the last post. Well if you wanted stories of palm trees, sandy beaches on deserted Islands and underwater photos then you will be disappointed!   (You're probably sick of those pics anyway) We have just completed a major refit on Lorelei, so if you are still interested then read on……

Since the last blog we returned to Moreton Bay in Brisbane and spent a few weeks in the bay. The weather was absolutely crap for the whole time but we made the best of it.

We spent a few days at the sandhills on Moreton Island sandboarding, kiteboarding and fishing. The Tuna in the bay were thick and we had a blast throwing lures for them, especially from the kayaks on light tackle.

OK maybe one or two fish pics for this post...

We decided to head south to meet the Baddiley family at Canaipa for Davids birthday. We had a great weekend with them and their friends Tony and Nic.

Curlews at Canaipa

David and Maddies ex Pilot boat “Sandy Cape

After Sandy Cape left we spent the next day there with Lex and Carol (David’s parents) and their beautiful boat “Celestial”

Drinks and Nibbles on Celestial

From there we headed up into the Brisbane River to slip Lorelei.

Those that have been reading our blog would know that we had engine starter motor problems in Port Douglas and water pump issues in Cairns.
We really struggled to get parts and soon realized the motor in Lorelei must have been second hand when it was installed into Lorelei when she was built as it is an older motor than the boat and parts are difficult to obtain – especially in less developed countries! So the decision was made in February to do a major refit and repower Lorelei as well as overhaul the engine bay and complete drive train at the same time. We spent a lot of time researching as to what engine to repower Lorelei with.
The obvious choice was to contact our friend David Baddiley in Brisbane as his family Marine Engineering business is highly regarded and perfectly located at the Rivergate shipyard/marina on the Brisbane River.
David is a big advocate of the new John Deere Marine engines for our particular application and we were very happy with that and the order was placed back in March.

Heading up the river past the commercial area.

Under the Gateway Bridge

Going into the slip and being lifted out is always a nerve-wracking experience but all went OK.

After the staff pressure washed the boat we came to our final rest place on the stands right in front of Dave’s shed which was a perfect location – and our home for what turned out to be 8 long weeks…!!!


First we set out to remove the old engine. This involved lifting out the floor in the centre cockpit, removing the binnacle (the post the holds the steering wheel) and all the steering cables. The binnacle was only held on by 4 bolts but it took over 6 hours to remove. Not a great start…

Once the floor was removed it gave us excellent access to the engine bay so Paul started the long task of removing all the bits out of the bay,  breaking down the engine and getting it ready for lift out. We had sold the engine on Ebay and so we had to make sure it was all labeled properly for re-assembly.

What a mess!!!


On the Monday of week 2 we organised a crane to lift the old engine out. The crane driver was great and it all went well.

After the engine was out it was time to tackle our first problem and setback we had found a few days earlier. When we lifted the floor out we found some rust in the gutters than run down the sides of the floor to drain any water. We knew we had some rust but it was a lot worse than we expected. We got Carl who is Baddiley’s Steel fabricator in to have a look and the decision was made to remove them and install new ones. Easier said than done! We had to grind the old ones out which put a layer of grinding dust right through the boat and was impossible to contain.
We then contacted Paul’s brother Rod who fortunately has a steel fabrication company on the NSW Central Coast. We had him make some new bent gutters out of 4mm thick stainless steel plate that are 2.4m long and TNT them up to us. It took 109 tonnes of pressure to bend the plates on his 120 ton press.
From there Carl welded them back in and we painted them.

Our new motor also turned up during week 2. For those that like the specs it’s a John Deere 4 cyl. 150HP 4.5L turbo charged and all mechanical.


During week 2 we also started some other projects like dismantling and overhauling the anchor winch.

Dave and his high tech tools……

That week was also Dave’s dad Lex’s birthday. We went to his house one evening for drinks and out for dinner. Lex is retired and has just restored a beautiful little timber boat which was built for the family movie “Narnia”. He has named it Narnia and will soon be taking it to the Timber boat festivals.

WEEK 3 & 4

Let then fun begin…
Now began the task of cleaning the old engine bay. It was an absolute mission!! First Paul had to thoroughly degrease it, completely rewire and hide the existing wiring that we wished to keep and the same with the plumbing. These had to be secured under the floors of the galley and workshop on either side of the engine room.
Next we had to sand back all the old paint, grind and treat any rust spots and rust proof the whole engine bay with a black rust proofing paint.
Then we had to prime it and Coat it with an Epoxy Gloss White 2-pack.
We divided the engine bay into 4 sections (2 for the floor and 2 for the walls) and each section required 7 coats ( 3 black rust sealer, 1 primer and 3 white coats). So 28 coats in all taking 3 hours each. You do the math….
Either way that’s all Paul did for about 2 weeks and was well and truly over it by the end. And the paint cost – over $2750…

The painting at about the ½ way stage.

You reckon Paul had a mission of a job – wait till you see what Lisa was up too….

Another project was to remove all the old antifoul off the hull. Antifoul is a thick paint and over the years it has built up to a very thick coating and was starting to flake of making re painting difficult so the decision was made to remove it. The best way is to have the hull sandblasted but it is a messy job and an OHS&E nightmare. The quote was 4k to build a tent over the boat and 10k to have it blasted. We could not justify the cost so looked at other options. First we tried grinders in 6”and 9”with various pads and discs but all it did was smudge and burn the paint and the dust cloud was terrible even with a tent we built. Antifoul is terrible toxic stuff and after a day we felt crap even with full suits, respirators and masks.
Scrapers seemed to work but would take about a year so Carl came up with a wild invention to modify a pneumatic hacksaw blade into a scraper and we hooked two up to the compressor and off we went. It worked for the top half but not the bottom.
Shaun from Stella Engineering a few bays up saw Lisa at work and offered her the use of a pneumatic needle gun that has about a dozen metal rods out the end and managed to vibrate the paint off. It worked a treat but was very noisy being metal on metal. So Lisa spent the next 10 days removing the paint. None of the guys had ever seen a girl using this tool before let alone 6-8 hours a day for 10 days. They were amazed and Paul coped a stack of flack for not appearing to help…!!!

During week 4 Lisa had finished removing the paint around the stern tube near where the propeller is located. As Paul was walking past he spotted a still wet spot and wiped it clean. The next day the wet spot was back and weeping rusty water. Paul got a grinder and took it back to bare metal and the drips got worse. A little more grinding and bang – a hole straight through the hull. We called in the experts at Harrops engineering who do steel repairs to large commercial vessels. They did an ultrasound test to reveal the metal was thin over an area around the stern tube. Paul was given the task to cut a hole in the hull to discover what the problem was.
There’s something a little crazy about cutting a hole in the side of your boat about 1 meter below the waterline but it had to be done.
Once cut we found some concrete inside had been exposed to moisture as the expoy coating over the top had broken away so we had to remove all the concrete – with a jack hammer!!!

Once all the concrete was removed, Paul had to treat all the rust, repaint and get it ready to seal back up. We also had to cut a smaller hole on the other side for access too.

Adam from Harrops Engineering then came in and welded it all back up.

At the end of week 4 a very unusual vessel arrived at Rivergate for slipping, a tall ship named the Duyfken. As you can image it drew a lot of attention.

The Duvfken is a replica of the Dutch ship that first recorded and charted the Australian Coastline in 1606. She was built in Fremantle and launched in January 1999.
Her full time crew were great people and they gave us a tour through the boat.

Now that’s a winch!

Imagine clearing customs – “Do you have any guns onboard sir. No but I’ve got these big arse cannons!!”

The bricks on the floor are the original ballast stones from the old ship from 1606.

WEEK 5 & 6

At the start of week 5 we finally had the engine bay ready for the new engine and the crane was called back in to lift it in.

Now the task of aligning it and fitting out the engine bay began.

Meanwhile Dave and the boys were in the shed building all the new custom bits to go back in.
Dave turned us up a new shaft and couping on the lathe to suit the new prop.

The new prop is an amazing piece of German engineering.
It’s a 4 blade feathering Variprop with an adjustable pitch.

The idea is when we are sailing the blades turn to face forward to create no drag and also the stop the gearbox spinning and causing excess wear.
When you go forwards with the engine the blades turn to the correct angle and off you go.  However when you go into reverse the blades then turn around 180 degrees just like you would have put the prop on backwards effectively giving you much better control and torque in reverse. We have it set for 15 pitch in forwards and 8 in reverse for now but it is easy to change in about 1 minute underwater. 

In feathered sailing mode

In forwards

In reverse

Lisa had also been busy and had completed removing all of the old antifoul and had sanded and primed all the exposed spots.

At the end of week 6 we had the tie coat on the hull and ready to antifoul.

One night we had a little visitor, a small possum. It had been running around on the Duyfken the week before and the crew loved it until it started stealing their food and jumping on them in the middle of the night. It didn’t like our steel decks (and my camera flash) and only visited once.

Some of the sunsets from the Marina overlooking the Gateway Bridge were awesome. The bridge lights actually change colour each night.

WEEK 7 & 8

By week 7 things were starting to take shape.
We rolled on the new antifoul – all 30 litres of it !

We serviced and re-assembled the rudder stock & rudder and prop speeded the prop.

Dave K who was doing all our timber fitout had turned up with our new teak cockpit floor. It look fantastic and we are so happy with it. We installed our revamped and freshly painted binnacle.

Dave with the base for the new galley drawers.

Tagging the anchor chain.

Dave greasing the prop and doing a final check.

Other things we did that week was fit the new liferaft, re-fit the renovated anchorwinch, install some new paneling in the guests bedroom and the front toy room, Install the new PC based depthsounder and 20” monitor for it and install WiFi onto the boat.

By the end of week 8 we were ready to go back into the water. Finally!!!


We still had a lot of cleaning up to do and some final finishing touches so we decided to stay on the service berth at Rivergate for an additional week.
During that time Steve from Marine Diesel turned up with a stack of instruments to test the new engine, do some sea trials and sign it off for warranty.

Lisa’s parents Jack and Carol and Paul’s parents Diann and Ron also came to say goodbye and we took them for a river cruise into the city.

The “Pacific Dawn” coming past our boat.

Here are some photos of the finished engine bay. A big change from the old one…


 A very happy Lisa with Dave and her new Galley drawers

So far initial trials have indicated Lorelei is about 20% quicker both at top speed and cruising speed under motor. The new motor is also much quieter and smoother. Fuel consumption is a little more than the old motor but not much considering the jump up in size to 150hp. We are hoping to sail a little more efficiently too now there is less drag from the new feathering prop.

So all in all it was a roller coaster ride on the slip and an absolute mission and like all vessel refits it went over time and over budget – but hey – that’s boats!!
We are very glad that it is over and now feel extremely confident with Lorelei and her ability to get us around the world both safely and comfortably.

A HUGE thanks goes out to a lot of people who made this refit successful.
Firstly to the Baddiley family, Dave, Paul, Lex, Carol and all their family who made as so welcome and helped us out immensely in so many ways.

To their staff Carl, Grant, Jess, Kieren and all the rivergate crew. Thanks a million guys!!!

To Dave K  - the best timber shipwright in town – You know how happy we are with the changes – thanks heaps mate…

To Kristy and Steve from Hose Supplies Australia. Great help and a lot of fun during our almost daily visits….

There’s heaps more but they all know who they are and our thanks goes out to them.

So by the time you read this, we will be on our way to New Caledonia and then onto Vanuatu. We may miss the Solomons this year as we are running a little late and may end up there as part of next years plans. We will probably sail from Vanuatu back to New Zealand early next year to resume our planned timetable.

Last night (Monday the 4th June) we visited Danny and Carol on Sentinel who were 30 meters from us sitting on the Customs and Quarantine dock ready to leave for New Caledonia. They will have a 24 hours start on us. We had some farewell drinks and nibbles for them and wish them a safe voyage and fair winds & seas.

We will be clearing customs at 8am on Wednesday 6th June.

Apologies to all our friends in Brisbane who we didn’t catch up with. We did 15 hours a day for 65 days straight to make this happen and time just got away….. come and visit in the Pacific instead…… RC&KW this means you too...

Our next blog should be in about 4 weeks time from New Caledonia and this time it will be far more exciting with some great stories and pics we hope.
Cheers for now – from a very exhausted (and broke) but happy Paul and Lisa.

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