Marooned, 1959-style

My boyfriend Fred and I sprawled on a sandy cove of Motutapu Island, which adjoins Rangitoto in the Hauraki Gulf.

That was a fun sail across,” I commented. “I think I did alright on the trapeze for the first time.”

I didn’t say it had scared the hell out me. From my parent’s beach house at Matakatia Bay on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, Motutapu was further away than it looked. We’d sailed across the sparkling waters of the Waitemata in Fred’s new 18-foot fibreglass yacht.

“A bit more practice and you’ll be good,” Fred said, “then I won’t need to swear so much.”

Having eaten our sandwiches and collected some rock oysters in the empty beer bottle, it was time to sail home. Fred was a good sailor, or else my mother wouldn’t have entrusted me to him. Now he looked across the Gulf with a frown.

“The breeze has got up a bit,” he said presently. “It’ll be quite choppy out there. I think we’ll wait a little longer. The wind usually drops about five o’clock.”

Kinsa as a 17-year-old debutan

We waited, bored, and collected more oysters. By five the breeze had not dropped – it was even stronger. Cold now, we put on all that we had – life jackets over our swimsuits. The little beach cove tucked in between rocky promontories suddenly felt less friendly. Ever larger waves were dashing themselves against the rocks and the sun was setting.

“Mum will be getting anxious,” I said to Fred, “and I’m feeling nervous. What are we going to do?”

“We’re safer to wait here,” was his reply.

I felt like a marooned sailor – I was one!

It grew dark. In 1959 there was no way to communicate our situation to anyone. Suddenly I spotted a flicker of light on a nearby beach.

“What’s that?” I drew Fred’s attention to it.

“Looks like help to me,” he answered. “Come on. We’ll sail there under the jib. Hurry, before they leave.”

To say I was frightened as we navigated unsteadily around the rocks, guided only by the glare of foam as waves broke over them understated it. One wrong move from Fred and the yacht would be dashed to pieces and in the dark, we’d be battered and drowned. We tried shouting but the waves were too noisy. My heart was in my mouth, but somehow Fred beached us safely.

A family was there, cleaning fish that they’d caught by the light of a lantern. As surprised to see us ghosting into the cove as we were relieved to find them, they offered us accommodation for the night. We learned there was an army barracks on Motutapu and the family was using part of it for a holiday. It was the only time they’d been night fishing.

They put me in one barracks of forty beds and Fred in another and promised to try to contact my family. No food was available for us as they were leaving the next day. I found it impossible to use the shower – there was only a millimetre between freezing cold and scalding hot. I crept into my Army bed cold and lonely, hungry and miserable. Army rations, I supposed.

Next morning when I awoke, the first thing I saw were three children standing in the doorway staring in wonder at the ‘shipwrecked sailor’ in their midst.

Kinsa's boyfriend at the time, keen sailor Fred Herbert.

Later that morning we sailed back to Whangaparaoa to face the barrage.

“When you didn’t come back, we thought you’d capsized,” Mum informed us frostily. “We sent out Lew and old Jimmy to look for you.”

“Then as it got darker, other people took their boats out to help search,” Dad added, glaring accusingly at us, “but it was hopeless. They couldn’t see a thing.”

“But it was wonderful to get the phone call to say you were safe,” Mum gave me a hug. “We really couldn’t catch all they said, the connections were so difficult.”

From an old phone on the island army base to the Auckland telephone exchange, to another older exchange at Whangaparaoa to the wind-up phone at Matakatia on a party line shared by twelve others (which we were privileged to share only because my father was a doctor), it was no wonder there was a lack of clarity.

My parents must have appreciated Fred’s focus on safety rather than attempting the sail. They allowed me to go sailing with him again. BNZ

Note: The military barracks at Administration Bay is now an outdoor education camp run for school students.


VINTAGE VIEW - ONE MAN AND HIS BOATS; HARRY JENKINS, PART3 - Wartime Pacific cruises

Harry Jenkins could trace his ancestry through his mother’s side back to Sir Francis Drake. His new yacht, Golden Hind, the biggest private yacht yet built in New Zealand, echoed that pedigree.

The British Board of Trade however, would not allow the registration under that name, because there was another Golden Hind on the Register already. So, when completing the fitting out in Auckland, Baileys painted the word ‘New’ above the name on her counter, in a rather smaller font than ‘Golden Hind’. Harry offered her to the New Zealand Government, but it could see no use for her then; she became very useful later.

Although the outbreak of war with Germany in September 1939 forced Harry to abandon his planned voyage to England, he pressed ahead with a Pacific cruise, unaware that the German commerce raiders Komet and Orion were soon to be active in the Pacific, sinking ships and laying mines.

New Golden Hind racing in the 1940 Auckland Anniversary Regatta.

New Golden Hind left Auckland on her maiden Pacific cruise on October 18, 1939 under the command of Capt. John Benton, former skipper of the Bailey-built A.B. Donald schooner Tiare Taporo, Capt. F.W. Wainhouse, mate, Harry learning the ropes, and 11 passengers including some local yachtsmen. She arrived in Suva after a smart passage of eight days despite head-winds requiring assistance from her Kelvin diesel. Harry formally registered her in Suva as a British Registered Ship. The yacht then visited Samoa and Tonga, returning from Nuku’alofa after a 6,000-mile voyage on December 22, 1939.

After a spell in the Bay of Islands, Harry brought her back to Auckland for a cameo appearance in the 1940 Anniversary Regatta. In February she was off to Doubtless Bay with Gilbert Archey of the Auckland War Memorial Museum recovering moa bones from the sandhills, the first of many such scientific expeditions in which she was to become involved.

But the Pacific still called, and Harry set off on his second cruise, intended to be for three months, on May 4, 1940, with several passengers and crew. Harry said “we are just going to meander round the Pacific”. The 18 passengers and crew paid £4/10/- ($9) a week each. In hindsight, this all seems rather strange with the Dunkirk evacuation and the Battle of Britain only days in the future and when most New Zealand yachtsmen were hauling their boats out ‘for the duration’ and signing up for military service.

Charles Bailey Jr farewells Capt. John Benton at the start of New Golden Hind’s maiden trip in October 1939, Harry Jenkins between them.

The first call was at Sunday Island (Raoul) in the Kermadecs to pick up Bruce Robertson as crew and then on to Nuku’alofa.

The yacht must have come close to the German raider Orion which, on the night of June 13–14, 1940, laid 228 contact mines off Bream Head. The Canadian-Pacific steamer Niagara struck two mines on the morning of the 19th , in calm weather, and sank quickly by the bows. To assist Britain, she carried most of the country’s gold reserves, donated small arms (including my father’s cherished Lee-Speed .303) and ammunition together with 348 passengers and crew, all of whom survived.

From Raoul, New Golden Hind visited Vava’u and other islands in the Tongan group, carrying large quantities of farepaying passengers between islands. The mining of the Niagara and the evidence of German commerce raiders, or possibly submarines, must have given Harry pause for thought. But New Golden Hind carried on to Suva in July and to Pago Pago and Apia until the cruise had to be abandoned in December 1940 as the war news went from bad to worse.

With a crew of two Tongan sailors and Peter Thompsen as navigator, he sailed New Golden Hind from Apia to Honolulu in an unsuccessful effort to sell her there. Returning via Tahiti, he negotiated the release of one of the anchors from the Bounty and brought it back with him on New Golden Hind to present to the Auckland Museum. He offered New Golden Hind to the New Zealand Government again but, again, she was unwanted.

New Golden Hind in port, possibly Vava’u.

Harry was now 59 and under an official cloud. New Golden Hind’s Pacific cruises were thought to be reckless and selfindulgent during wartime and there was a suggestion that he had “stirred trouble in Tonga”. They were strange times; Harry was forbidden to take his yacht offshore again.

In fact, the Government’s Naval Board had been secretly setting up coast-watching stations around New Zealand’s southern island groups, the Kermadecs and, later, when the threat of Japanese invasion became intense, the Pacific Island groups. The first vessels requisitioned to service these stations were the strong Stewart Island-built ketch Ranui and the Cook Islands’ trader Tagua, both run ostensibly by the Public Works Department. New Golden Hind joined them in April 1942. Her luxurious fittings were stripped out and a hatchway and hold cut into her hull. A second Kelvin diesel was fitted.

Under the command of Capt. A. Cole and armed with two Bren guns, two Lewis guns and eight rifles, she was sent to the Ellice Islands [Tuvalu], frequently under observation by Japanese aircraft, to service the coast-watchers. She returned to Suva to join Ranui and Tagua on less hazardous supply missions throughout the rest of the war.

Harry Jenkins’ Fairmile Mahurangi fitted out for passenger work in Fiji.

After the war, the PWD retained New Golden Hind and she was kept busy for several years, for example, a mercy trip to Pitcairn Island, taking a party of scientists to the West Coast Sounds searching for uranium, goat hunting parties to the Three Kings and Raoul, and to New Caledonia and Guadacanal to retrieve Army personnel and RNZAF war materiel in the wind up of the bases there.

In December 1947 it was discovered New Golden Hind had dry rot in her starboard triple diagonal planking. The Naval Dockyard at Devonport repaired her. After a routine voyage to the Kermadecs in June 1949 she was laid up at Auckland. Her current role servicing our remote Pacific radio and meteorological stations was then taken over by the Navy. In October 1949 she was put out to tender by the Government Stores Board. Two months later it was announced that she had been sold to a syndicate of E Sheehan of Whangarei, Athol Rusden and R. Baker of Auckland, and sailed up to Whangarei and on to the Pacific.

In 1952 New Golden Hind was sold to Hervé and Co of Tahiti for use as a trader around French Polynesia. They renamed her Artemise. In February 1953 it was reported that she had been totally destroyed by fire at Raroia, in the Tuamotus. She was insured for 3,500,000 francs, about £16,000 in 1952 money.

New Golden Hind in workmanlike attire in post-war PWD ownership.

Returning to Harry Jenkins, his Shenandoah, then owned by Fred Chamberlin of Ponui Island, was taken over as a patrol launch by the Navy in August 1940 as Q03 for ‘outer patrol’, based at Russell and Whangarei. The Navy paid her off in March 1945 and sold her back to Chamberlin in September 1945. Subsequently she was used in the mussel trade but has recently reverted to pleasure use and is moored in Parua Bay in good shape.

Harry Jenkins had one more round with fine boats left in him. His wife Dot died in 1943. When the War Assets Realisation Board started disposing of the RNZN’s Fairmile patrol launches in late 1946, Harry, then living at Arkle’s Bay, was the first to buy one, for £1,255. It was Fairmile ML401 built in Auckland in 1943 by Charles Bailey & Son Ltd for £35,000. She was a veteran of Guadalcanal anti-submarine screen patrols out of Renard Sound. The twin 575hp V12 Hall-Scott Defender petrol engines were lifted out. Harry gave them to the engineer who removed them, and replaced them with 165hp GM diesels.

Harry renamed her Mahurangi. In typical style, he told the press that he had bought her “for wintering in the Pacific.” His real intention was to take her to Fiji and use her for inter-island passenger work. He took great pleasure in supervising the conversion. In Suva she was certified to carry 44 passengers, but, apart from an occasional charter, the work was not there. She lay at anchor for many months until Harry gave the project away at the end of 1947 and returned to New Zealand, leasing Mahurangi to local traders. In 1949 he sold her to Cook Islands owners, she eventually sank in deep water off Maina Islet, Aitutaki on February 27, 1954.

Harry lived on until June 1970. In his daughter Thora’s history she said, “Father had a wonderful innings, now he must retire from the scene and leave the building and sailing to others, but he was still talking of and living ‘boats’ until the end of his long life.” BNZ

New Golden Hind in service in the Pacific in World War II.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
I gratefully acknowledge use of the Jenkins family history, And Not To Yield, by Thora Parker, Bateman, 1987.


RUM’S RETURN

When we last wrote about Rum Bucket it was the August 2020 issue of Boating New Zealand. Quintin Fowler and his crew were caught in a bureaucratic storm while delivering the new yacht from her builder in Split, Croatia to her destination in Westhaven Marina, New Zealand. They had left her, under highly stressful circumstances, at Shelter Bay Marina in Panama, as the world went into lockdown and doors closed on their passage home.

Fast-forward to February 2022, a summer evening at Westhaven Marina. In the Member’s Lounge of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, Quintin Fowler seems very relaxed. He is with new friends he has made during a highly stressful sea voyage of an unusual sort.

The new friends are Ted Dixon and Jenny Johnson. Like Quintin, they were on the cruising adventure of a lifetime, in Georgetown, Bahamas waiting to head south to the Panama Canal and four years into a five-year stint of world cruising when the world progressively went into lockdown in response to a new pandemic threat called Covid-19.

Right at this moment, Ted and Jenny also seem very relaxed and happy. They are enjoying living on their beautiful Nordhavn 47, M/V Southern Star, in Auckland’s Viaduct Marina. They both have enjoyable work in the CBD, although they are working from onboard due to the pandemic restrictions, and life is good.

When the pandemic struck, Ted and Jenny were forced to make a difficult decision: continue cruising for another year in an unknown pandemic world, sail home to New Zealand, navigating many unknowns and problematic insurance prerequisites, or fly home and make arrangements for Southern Star to board a vessel carrier.

Rum Bucket in the Caribbean before the troubles.

At the same time, Quintin was realising that he had little chance of being reunited with Rum Bucket in the near future, and if he wanted the beautiful More 55 cruiser-racer home before the 36th America’s Cup, he would need to make arrangements to ship her back.

It seemed straightforward. Albeit for a significant fee, Quintin would finally get his boat home, without the need for dicey travel across international borders. And for Southern Star, once fuel and insurance were factored in, the financial equation was a balanced one. For both boat owners, who hadn’t yet met, it provided surety that they would receive their boat, safely and with minimal fuss.

What they didn’t know was that underworld criminal activity was playing out onboard a small sailing catamaran called Quest on the other side of the world, that would eventually play havoc with, not only their plans, but those of several boats in New Zealand and Australia.

In October 2021, Southern Star was loaded aboard the Happy Dover in Newport, Rhode Island. The ship travelled to Fort Lauderdale and then Panama, where it collected Rum Bucket, before stopping at Ensenada in Mexico, where a Kiwi-owned 62foot multihull cruiser called Kinetic was loaded – and, ominously as it turned out, Quest was lifted off.

Ted, Jenny and Quintin, and fellow Kiwi Scott Dickson, who had loaded Kinetic on behalf of its owner before flying back to NZ, avidly tracked the Happy Dover’s movements on AIS, waiting for its departure from Ensenada and anticipating its continuing voyage across the seas and into the South Pacific.

Ted and Jenny with Southern Star

But nothing happened. Happy Dover didn’t budge. For days and weeks, they individually telephoned their respective shipping agents and brokers, seeking information.

There was deafening silence until a whole month later, they heard that the ship had been detained in Mexico – but no explanation as to why or for how long. This was on the same day that Ted and Jenny were released from MIQ.

Eventually, news broke with the Mexican media reporting that 200kg of cocaine with a street value in the millions, had been hidden on board Quest.

“The ship was called the Happy Dover but here in New Zealand the boat was known as the Unhappy Dover, and also at times the Ship of Broken Dreams,” jokes Quintin. “This was January 2021, the America’s Cup was about to kick off, and after nearly a year, Rum Bucket was no closer to home.”

Weeks went by, and sensing trouble, Quintin made it a mission to track down others in the same situation and was put in touch with Ted and Jenny by his crew member Jo Clarke who located them on Facebook, as well as Scott Dickson who was overseeing the shipping of Kinetic on behalf of its owner.

“We got a therapy group together,” Quintin jokes. “We figured that together we would have more influence, and be able to get much information. We were told the boat should be released after a court date, and then nothing happened. A month would go by. The America’s Cup happened. We were told another ship was coming in six weeks. This happened three times.”

Rum Bucket with a racing crew back home in Auckland.

Finally there was a concession from the Mexican authorities and the owners were offered the option of waiting for Happy Dover to be released, or having their vessels offloaded. Southern Star was also offered transport to Florida.

The ‘therapy group’ continued to convene at the appropriately named Swashbucklers in Auckland, and eventually a new ship named Happy Dragon was offered by the shipping companies as an option to carry their boats home. By this time, with the Cup and over done with, they feared that a voyage to New Zealand was a less and less attractive option for the shipping companies.

“In the end we watched on Marine Traffic as the new boat, the Happy Dragon collected our boats from Mexico. We saw it arrive at dock and then later pull away with the pilot boats,” recalls Jenny, who received many hugs and congratulations from her work colleagues at the moment when this happened.

While Jenny and Ted maintain a pragmatic perspective about the experience, it was a highly emotional time. Not only had their world cruise, one they had spent years preparing for, been cut short, the boat was also their much-loved home and without it they relied on the generosity of friends for accommodation.

“We have gratitude for the wonderful years we did have cruising, but that time was highly intense and stressful,” says Jenny. “When we left Southern Star in Newport Rhode Island, all our possessions were onboard and we just had a bag each, thinking we’d see the boat again in a few weeks. Little did we know.”

They happily followed the progress of Happy Dragon through an unexpected detour to Australia, and through to Auckland.

Quintin holding Rum Bucket’s first trophy, for the RYNZS Night Race to Kawau.

Now, after 17 months of separation from his boat for Quintin, and 11 months for Ted and Jenny, you might think that is where the story finishes, and it almost does – but not quite.

Happy Dragon was due to arrive in Auckland with its precious cargo around the middle of August. Had the boat stayed on its original itinerary, it would have docked days before the Level 4 lockdown commenced on 17 August.

But thanks to the unexpected stopover, it finally docked at the Port of Auckland on 24 August, when the country was firmly in the grip of stay-at-home orders. Negotiating to release the boats to their proper berthage was just one more hurdle for both sets of beleaguered boat owners to jump through.

Ted and Jenny had ample time to prepare Southern Star for the trip and the boat arrived in very good condition except for a fouled hull from its weeks in the Mexican marina. Quintin, who had left the boat in a hurry 17 months earlier, wasn’t so lucky. The boat was filthy, the backstay had been disconnected and parts lost, the bilge and showers were seized and there was water egress into the sail drive. He says it seems the boat was hit by lightning and, so far, he has spent more than $25,000 repairing broken electronics and replacing batteries.

But no matter the challenges and obstacles, it’s apparent that the boat owners are delighted to be reunited with their boats. The challenges of the years are not forgotten but are now behind them, and out of it they have made new friends too.

As for the Happy Dover? At the time of writing the vessel is still where Rum Bucket and Southern Star left her, in the port of Ensenada. If you have a moment, take a look on Marine Traffic just for fun – it may still be there now. BNZ

Rum Bucket is a regular at Wednesday night races.


Rust never sleeps

According to the musician Neil Young, “Rust Never Sleeps”. Young must have been a boat owner, because certainly rust, or more generically corrosion, never stops trying to eat away at any metallic object on your boat that’s in contact with salt water.

It does this relentlessly, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. And the process is not linear – something can look good and solid for a long period of time, and then very quickly deteriorate, developing pits and holes before starting to lose strength and eventually crumbling away.

About six months ago my fibreglass-hulled launch was hauled out for an overnight job – fitting a new transducer for the fishfinder. At the same time, we gave the hull a quick clean and checked her over. The antifoul was holding up well, just over halfway through its effective life, although the props had lost some of their protective coating. Since it was only a quick haul out, we could not re-coat the props, but they still looked solid so we expected no problems.

A typical prop nut anode

Fast-forward four months, and at the end of a crayfish dive I did my usual maintenance check of the boat’s running gear before I climbed back on board. I was horrified to find two small holes had appeared in one propeller, going right through the blades on the starboard side. The leading edges of the blades were also badly pitted and thin as tinfoil in places. Something was eating the bronze! The port side propeller, on the other hand, looked fine, with no corrosion whatsoever.

Pulling an 11m launch out the water is not a trivial process, and since we had just come out of lockdown there was a long backlog for haul outs at the marina. So, first thing was to try and identify what was causing the corrosion on the bronze propellor – and more importantly, limiting any further damage until I could pull the props off for repair.

As every boat owner knows, anodes are the ‘big guns’ when it comes to protecting against corrosion. These are usually zinc, although sometimes aluminium, and they are sacrificial metal blocks that are kept in electrical contact with every metal component on the hull. Then when saltwater sets up the inevitable galvanic process, the item that starts to corrode away first is the anode. Once it wears down you replace just that one component, saving all other metal items.

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I knew my boat still had good anodes, since that is one of the items I checked during my dive. I re-checked all my electrical bonding straps, which connect the engine, drives etc to the hull and anodes. All of them seemed good, with nothing obviously loose. Time for an expert opinion. I made a call to Half Moon Bay Electrical and booked an urgent galvanic protection survey.

The process is, conceptually, quite simple. An electrical meter is used, with one probe in the water next to the boat and the other used to make electrical contact with various components of the boat. The meter measures whether current is flowing between the item and the surrounding sea, how well they are bonded together and how effectively the anode is working. The test showed all was within expected parameters, with one exception – the starboard drive shaft and propeller assembly had no electrical connection to the rest of the boat.

That drive shaft is connected to the engine through a flexible coupling, essentially a big plastic polymer ring that prevents engine vibration being transmitted to the drive. This means that there is an electrically insulating rubber surface between the metal of the gearbox and the driveshaft. Similarly, the shaft runs out of the boat through a cutlass bearing, again made from a plastic polymer material that prevents the shaft from making electrical contact with the stern tube.

A typical prop shaft anode

Quite commonly in this configuration there would be a twopiece zinc anode bolted tightly around the shaft in the water end of the assembly. However, on my vessel there is less than 10mm of shaft between the tube and propellor.

Another common protection is to have an anode that attaches directly to the prop nut, but again, my launch has no provision for this. This configuration has been unchanged for the seven years I have owned her and this issue has not arisen before.

Discussing the issue with Simon Jennings from HMB Electrical, he advised that a two-pronged approach was best. First was to get some form of electrical protection onto the shaft. The second was using a prop coating like Prop Speed or a similar product. It would physically protect the surface of the bronze.

Normally my props are well coated, and as mentioned, I have not had this issue before. But on my dive, I noticed that the starboard side had lost a good part of its coating, possibly due to poor application. And now I have this big problem.

By articulating the brush, gravity can provide the necessary wipe force on the shaft

 

Graphite brush soldered to the copper – not neat but solid!

Removing the props, repairing the damaged area, rebalancing them and then finally re-coating both props will happen when I can get her hauled out the water.

In the meantime, the only option for electrical protection is what is called a bonding shaft brush. Because the shaft is spinning, any electrical connection needs to make contact with a rotating surface. Electric motors do this all the time, with graphite brushes that make an electrical connection to the rotor contacts. The graphite conforms to the shape of the shaft and then provides continuous connection through a copper wire. The graphite slowly wears down over time, but since they are not metallic at least brushes do not corrode.

Unfortunately, although BEP Marine makes a generic model bonding shaft brush, I was unable to find a local supplier with any in stock. That would mean an overseas purchase, shipping costs and delays. Looking at the detailed pictures of their product, I realised it would be relatively simple to make, requiring just a strip of solid copper and suitable-sized starter motor brushes.

Finished installation.

Both of which turned out to be quite easy to source. Copper strip is readily available from industrial electrical suppliers where it is used for busbars. Again, supply issues limited what I could get, but a piece of 6mm x 19mm copper would do. Ideally, a thinner strip would have been better. I also had to buy 1.5m, so I now have plenty of spare copper for future projects!

Starter motor brushes are easily obtained from automotive stores, but I bought the biggest and cheapest version I could find on TradeMe to go with the sturdy double copper wire for soldering. For $20 I got a set of four brushes, and these proved to be exactly the right size (20mm wide and 9mm thick) for my copper strip.

Making the unit was a simple job of cutting a 50cm strip of copper, notching the end for the copper braid to fit through, then soldering the wire to the strip. This was well beyond the capacity of a soldering iron, so a small blowtorch was used to heat up the copper enough to melt the solder. And finally, I neatened up the edges and drilled some bolt holes for mounting.

Access was difficult

At this point I realised a small modification was needed. The graphite part of the brush needs to stay in continuous contact with the shaft, which means it needs to be under a small amount of pressure to allow for movement. Not too much, however, or it would wear away very quickly. Either a small spring or gravity was needed to maintain that pressure. I considered whether the natural springiness of the copper would be sufficient but decided this was too unpredictable.

Instead, I cut right through the copper strip about a third of the way along and soldered a short length of copper braid across the gap. This created an articulated joint that would allow the weight of the brush end to maintain the required contact. I scrounged the braid from a spare welding earth clamp I had at home.

The orange plastic coupling is an electrical insulator.

Installing the brushes was theoretically simple since I just had to drill two holes in the engine mounting frame and bolt it in place. But, of course, securing it was a contortionist’s nightmare, taking much swearing and sweating. Eventually the job was done, as can be seen from the pictures.

Time will tell how effective this will be, and I am not sure whether I should have painted the raw copper to prevent it also corroding? When I haul the props off in a few weeks’ time I will review the installation and make any changes needed.

Total cost was around $120, but now I have enough copper bar and two spare brushes to make another complete set. Anybody else need one? BNZ

This is how a propeller should be protected – with a thorough coating of Propspeed.

ONE FAMILY’S BOATING JOURNEY - Faulty heads and Wi-Fi solutions

Sailing the great expanse of water that surrounds New Zealand offers a sense of liberation and independence that is hard to dismiss. There’s a pull in its promise of ‘beyondness’ and adventure that is undeniable.

To entertain the very idea of sailing the wide, wide ocean as a family, we first had to learn to sail beyond Gulf Harbour. But even before that we had to get on the water.

Most of you will agree that 2021 was a very long year. Like normal it was 365 days, but in those 365 days Covid lockdowns became a lived reality. Coming from Cambridge, we did not bear the full brunt of the lockdowns as Aucklanders did (I offer my humble thanks for your amazing efforts), but we still found ourselves impacted by them. As a business owner and as it is also for sailors, unpredictability can stuff up the best laid plans.

I’d had Sauvage on the hard through winter for maintenance and paint work but found myself in the stressful situation of not being able to return to Auckland to get her back on the water. With increasing costs in mind, I was thankful the good folk at the marina office offered us a towing solution – two small craft towing Sauvage to its berth.

I temporarily installed the new Mobile Data Router-WiFi device atop the solar arch.

By December 2021, the long and the short of it was that my wife Kirsten and I desperately wanted a break and were ready to go – to go anywhere, just not here!

Truth be told, my feet had been itching to get back out on the water since the previous autumn. Every extension to the lockdowns just increased my desire to explore and feel some freedom. So, I planned for our first outing after lockdowns were lifted – a nice long sail down the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, which first meant a whole heap of improvements to Sauvage. I spent my time planning and sourcing new or replacement kit for her: a watermaker, a solar arch, solar panels, lithium batteries, an electric toilet (I had to use the batteries on something!), and a tri-colour anchor light.

Our plan was to head up to Gulf Harbour the first week of December to install the new gear. But to my consternation, the lockdown dates were extended through until December 15th. Covid lockdowns kept thwarting my best-laid plans!

Installation of the solar arch.

The time I’d set aside to install the kits before sailing, hoping to get everything working myself without too much help, all but disappeared. That’s the reason for wanting to get off the hard earlier – you can only spend your money once…

In the end, shifting dates got too much for me and I asked the team who fabricated the Solar Arch to install it. They were able to visit Gulf Harbour and measure up Sauvage for the arch – I had already provided my vision and several mind-mapped boards which they used as input for what became a beautiful, sleek stainless arch, all securely attached to Sauvage.

With hindsight, I am so pleased we did this. It makes a world of difference when you’re away on the boat for a period of time.

As you can imagine, I was emotionally more than ready to be out on the water with its promise of space and freedom. We arrived at the marina on December 17th to find the rest of our kit waiting for me. Although I had an estimated a week of work to install the new gear, my feet got too itchy and I wanted to be somewhere ‘out there, where it’s not here’ on Christmas Day, so I said to Kirsten, “Let’s just go. I can install everything once we’re gone”.

Head with backwash

That was my first mistake! In my heart of hearts, I knew trouble would find me, but I was on a mission and so just before casting off, I unbolted the forward head (toilet) and took it to the dumpster. Let me tell you, removing a 30-year-old toilet with 30 years’ worth of ooze is a nasty job.

In the process, I discovered the reason for the backwash that had pushed me to swap the head out in the first place – the combination of switches, gears and tanks was mis-configured and could have been easily fixed… “Oh well,” I thought, “the new toilet can be our COVID treat!”

We had a working aft head (one of the reasons we bought Sauvage was because it had two heads), so while I did the forward job, all five of us would share the aft toilet.

Starting with an uncooperative head and moving on to a very uncooperative through-hull valve.

On arriving at Great Barrier, I busied myself in the forward bathroom, preparing and planning the installation of the head. Oops! The old head had a different sized waste pipe – normally easily addressed, but not on Great Barrier Island a few days before Christmas Day. I didn’t panic, though, and thought to myself: “we have the aft head, we are all good and when we get to Whitianga next week, I will get the parts and install it then”.

The sea gods surely have a sense of humour because a day later the very cool – and in the 1980s very futuristic – vacuumoperated aft head stopped vacuuming! Not to be beaten (by the situation or my wife), I unscrewed the wall panels to get to the manually operated vacuum where, sadly, I found the issue – a split pipe oozing fresh deposits.

As an aside, one of the things I have really grown to enjoy on the boat is the ‘number 8 wire’ mentality – if you are somewhere not close to anywhere, you have to make do! The best I could manage, after attempting but failing (in the most disgusting ways!) to patch, bypass or replace it with a bodged pipe, was to admit I could not fix it.

It went everywhere! A manual bilge pump was great to pump out the nooks and crannies.

Even worse, I discovered that the valve in the through-hull black water outlet did not actually close properly. Over the years some internal components had rotted away! I had to bodge around this problem more effectively to stop a gush of seawater coming in, turning it into a regular drip, which requiring a daily run of the bilge pump for all six weeks of the sail. However, in this case good management was as good as a solution!

Well, having almost stopped the new leak and eliminated any further encounters with fresh human waste (by stopping people depositing any), we were left with no working heads. Hello bucket!

Yep, for the next week we used a bucket. From that moment on, I suspect we went to the toilet about a third as often as we had previously! Nothing like having to manhandle your poop to make you want to make less… We got to Whitianga. A five-minute trip to shore and a visit with the very helpful team at Longshore Marine and I had the metre of pipe required so we could complete the installation of the forward head. One hour later… aaahh, the pleasure of sitting on a freshly installed head and contemplating life! I commissioned it immediately.

The good news – after you have replaced a head you really get to understand how it works.

Now that I have made a long story long, a onesentence gem for everyone: complete improvements and installations on shore. It’s painful not having access to the parts you need for a simple job!

While on Great Barrier I did install the new lithium batteries and the watermaker (which came as a kitset with every part required in the box). Thankfully, this was a simple job.

Finally, and very importantly when starting a six-week boating trip with three kids, for everyone’s sanity I had invested in a decent mobile router/WiFi device and a strong antenna. For a family on a boat, good, reliable internet is fundamental to a successful extended trip.

The floorboards had to come up to clean up the mess.

As I come from a telecommunication background I used a bit of back-knowledge and got a Teltonika RUT950 Dual SIM LTE Router and a QuSpot LTE, WiFi & GPS Antenna, which are specifically designed to work together. A single sealed unit, I installed it on the Solar Arch on the transom, up high to get the best mobile signal, and well placed to beam the WiFi throughout the boat. We got a Skinny data SIM to install in the unit and went online to purchase the unlimited data pack. This meant the kids could access the internet to surf the web and message their friends in the evenings and during rest times – happy kids, happy wife, happy life!

There’s more information about the WiFi installation on our Facebook page in case anyone wants to repeat my successful solution. BNZ


Miami International Boat Show 2022- South Beach Soiree

Supersized and reimagined, the 2022 Miami International Boat Show served up a veritable banquet of new boat launches. Boating New Zealand’s Craig Ritchie was there to see it all first-hand.

In the face of plummeting covid infection rates, a new ownership structure, new event features and all-new venues including a return to South Beach, expectations ran high for the 2022 Miami International Boat Show (MIBS). In spite of some breezy weather on opening day, the show did not disappoint, with a surge of new product launches helping to attract an estimated 100,000 visitors over its five-day run.

This year’s event – the first under a new management agreement between the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show producer Informa Markets – now includes the formerly separate Miami Yacht Show and Superyacht Miami events under a common Discover Boating Miami International Boat Show banner. With four in-water venues, plus the newly-renovated Miami Beach Convention Centre, the 2022 MIBS was by far the largest on record with boat builders accordingly pulling out all the stops.

Boating New Zealand brings you a sample of the new models coming soon to a dealership near you.

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1970s Offshore Power Boat Wars - THUNDERSTRUCK

Gerard Richards revisits his youth, represented by a decade-long monohull battle for racing supremacy between the V8 inboard and multiple outboard monohull rigs of the seventies.

The 1960s, the turbulent decade of revolution that challenged the status quo, was just about to end, but its legacy lived on.

Growing up on Auckland’s North Shore and turning 14 in December 1969, I was perfectly positioned to soak up the kaleidoscopic shift in hot-rod, car and boat racing culture. Loud, brash and dressed in metallic/dayglo colours, it was ‘in ‘yer face’ and we loved it!

Jetmark’s chequered career included a couple of second places, as well as fires and sinkings...

My mates and I were into slot cars, pushbike racing and model power boat racing. One of our tribe suggested we ride our bikes from Mairangi Bay to Devonport Wharf in to take in the 1970 Atlantic six-hour power boat race marathon in the inner harbour. Duffel bags were crammed full of sandwiches, plus warm jerseys and oilskins, since our prime spectating location was exposed to all the elements.

The earth shifted for us that day! We were blown away by the visual and sonic impact of the thundering V8 inboard-powered racers and their multi-outboard rivals as they leapt into the air over the swells, brushing close to our wharf vantage point. The world was never quite the same again…

Spinner Black’s Turtle

 

This adventure became a compulsory ritual for the next five years, with us hanging out at the wharf for the two Auckland races on the National Offshore Power Boat Championship calendar, the Atlantic 100 and the Atlantic 6-hour Marathon.

We were V8 racing addicts, it would be fair to say, seduced by the mighty Mustangs and Camaros we’d seen on local racetracks in the late 60s. We transferred our allegiance to them on the power boat racing scene too. The heavenly thunder of a racing V8 on song was a spiritual experience for us back then.

Jim Mackay’s Topaz

Outright speed seemed to favour the Chevrolet V8, the favourite power unit for boat racers of the day, but not always the most reliable – the outboards purpose-built for the marine environment often proved more robust, particularly in heavy seas.

Fibreglass was the amazing new material of the 60s and 70s that really helped fire up the pleasure boat and offshore race scene. Light and strong, it enabled the creation of some of the fastest boats of the era.

V8 POWER ON THE RISE

Bill Stevenson, with his sleek yellow state-of-the-art offshore racer Mystic Miss, was breaking new ground with his triple 135hp Mercury-powered outboard rig. This was the cutting edge of the day, taking design and power to a new level. He and his crew of Drew Gordon and Gordon Holmes were the outfit to beat in 1969-70, with convincing wins in tough conditions in the 1970 Gisborne and 1969 Wellington 100 races.

But the mighty hot-rodded Chevy powerhouses were starting to make their presence felt in 1969. First up was Brian Millett and Bruce Perris, bringing their V8-powered Kitten home second to Tiger Hunter – twin 135hp Mercury outboards – skippered by John Meredith and Colin James in the 1969 Gisborne race.

A breakthrough win was achieved by Willie and Dennis Coughey from Auckland, with Panic Mouse in the 1969 Atlantic 100. Based on a Bertram hull and built by John Haines of Haines Hunter fame, it was equipped with a highly-modified 327 cubic inch (cu in) Chevy V8.

Willie told me: “It was fitted with big heads, needle roller cams, was balanced and built by top engine builder Kevin Lamb”. This was taking dedication to a new level, in a racing category that was initially intended for commercial pleasure boats…

With his brother Dennis on the trim tabs, stabilising the boat in the big swells out the back of Rakino, Willie remembers they mowed down Bill Stevenson’s Mystic Miss’s lead, reaching speeds as high as 70 miles an hour (61 knots/113kph). They ran out easy winners from another emerging V8 legend Tara Too. There was some talk Tara Too was closing the gap, but Coughey remembers they deliberately throttled back over the closing stages. They also went on to win the Rotorua race that year.

Tara Too was designed by Rex Henry and driven by the legendary Ivan Boyce in its winning years. Mechanical problems precluded any outright success in 1969, but 1970 saw two wins in the Atlantic 100 and later in the season at the very rough Wellington race. Built of heart kauri, with metal reinforcement, Tara Too was a strong, heavy boat, but this probably accounted for its excellent handling in tough conditions. Fitted with a 427 cu in Chevrolet Corvette V8 engine, with twin Holley 780cf carbs on an Edelbrock quad-ram inlet manifold, it was not short of power. Once reliability issues had been sorted, it took the 1971 offshore season by storm for Ivan Boyce and crew. Wins included the 1971 Atlantic 100 and the 1972 Taupo 100.

1972-73 saw the revenge of the multi-outboard rigs. John Meredith’s 3 x 140hp Mercury-powered Formula, Max Johnson’s twin Mercury 135hp Miss Comsec and Mick Sheridan’s twin 115hp Johnson Stinger-powered Vista Nicolette scored the lion’s share of the honours that season. Meredith took Formula to victory in both the 1972-73 Gisborne races, the 1972 Wellington BP 100 and fourth in the 1973 Atlantic 100. Miss Comsec won the 1972 Atlantic 6 hours and Clipper Commander, powered by 3 x 125hp Evinrudes, took victory in the 1972 Atlantic 100.

Mystic Miss leads the field in the rough at Wellington.

The inboard V8 opposition, included some interesting runners like Jetmark, a 350 cu in Chev V8-powered jetboat built by Bill Hamilton’s Hamilton Jet company, Tara Too, which was beginning to lose its edge, Hugh Fawcett’s Terrific Chev V8, plus the first appearance of Chev Camaro circuit racing legend Spinner Black, with his original 427 cu in Chev V8-powered Turtle.

John Meredith’s, 140hp triple-Merc powered Formula was the class act of the era though, particularly in rough conditions, heading out the opposition, if not necessarily with outright speed, but certainly in resilience in adverse seas. This mighty boat’s later incarnations included Bonz Formula before it was later skippered by Roger Ward under the new name Raro in 1977-78. BNZ

ROLL CALL OF OTHER NOTABLE BOATS

While the boat combos I’ve mentioned were the heavy-hitters through most of the 70s, it would be unfair not to mention some others that saw a slice of the action.

Accident prone Jetmark, a 350 cu in Chev inboard jet from Christchurch, scored a good second place in the 1970 Atlantic 6-hour Marathon and second place at Gisborne, 1972. She also sank twice, caught fire once and had multiple engine failures...

Paeroa’s Hugh Fawcett’s 350 cu in Chevrolet-powered Terrific, looked terrific and ran well – while it was running... Second place, Gisborne 1973 and fifth place, Gisborne 1974, were its best results.

Pathfinder skippered by Ian Reeves of Rotorua scored multiple Queenstown victories through 1971-73.

Big block V8-powered Shaft, later Mt Cook Airlines was second at Akaroa in 1973, fifth at Rotorua and sixth at Tauranga, 1974.

More honourable mentions next month.

Racers came in all shapes and sizes

The power of movement

The keenest anglers often spend an inordinate amount of time catching live bait before heading out on a serious mission. That’s because they know predatory fish find something that’s wriggling and appears injured very hard to resist.

However, as a now reasonably dedicated lure fisherman, I can’t help smiling to myself and feeling a little superior when my friends and I charge past guys milling around inshore trying to catch live bait, all the while cursing those uncooperative mackerel. It feels as if I’m cheating!

But, for lure fishers knowing just how to bring different lures to life is key to fishing success – and it’s quite an ask when you consider how many different lures and lure fishing techniques there are these days.

So here’s how to get the best from the more popular lure types, to ensure you present the most wriggly, erratic moving and injured looking offerings possible!

Slow jigs encompass a wide variety of lure types and colours, but they each rely on the subtle movements of their various appendages to attract bites. A pair of small, sticky-sharp assist hooks do the catching.

METAL JIGS

While there are thousands of different metal lures, the most important fall into either the ‘flutter’ or ‘knife’ families, with many more in various forms fitting somewhere in between.

FLUTTER JIGS

Flutter jigs have broader, flatter sides that make them weave when lifted or retrieved and flutter and flash erratically when dropped. The speed at which they’re drawn through the water, their descent angle and how far they drop determine how effectively these jigs work.

Yo-yoing basics: If planning to ‘yo-yo’ your lure near the bottom, lift and drop the lure repeatedly next to the boat where you can see it to determine which movements – speed, lift and drop amplitude – work best. The longer the drop distance, the more chance the lure has to flutter like an injured fish. However, some of the lighter, broader jigs move so erratically they are hard for predators to catch, especially in low light or turbid water conditions. It pays to experiment with yo-yo movements as fish temperament and preferences can change dramatically day to day.

The angle of the lure’s lift and drop is very important, too. When the lure is worked in a (reasonably) vertical plane, the slack line provided by the dropped rod allows the lure maximum freedom, so it can behave as it’s designed to do: falling erratically and flashing nicely.

However, pull and drop that same lure from a 40-degree angle and you’ll have a very different result, since the lure is now being pulled along by the drifting boat, keeping the line relatively taut through the rod drop and compromising that allimportant freefall and flutter.

On the move: If the lure is cast and retrieved (or trolled), try first dragging it from the rod tip through the water next to the boat to see how it behaves at different speeds. You want it weaving seductively, not waggling sluggishly or, at the other end of the spectrum, spinning like a propeller!

Pete Francis with a snapper taken on a Lucanus slow jig.

KNIFE JIGS

Long and streamlined, these lures are often (but not always) used to target kingfish, their slim form ensuring they drop easily through the water to quickly reach bottom – or wherever activity is showing on the fish-finder.

Their speedy descent means they are only rarely taken on the way down (but it does happen, sometimes by exceptional specimens!). Instead, knife jigs rely on a retrieve technique called mechanical jigging.

This involves reasonably fast, repeated lift-and-drop rod motions accompanied by simultaneous single rotations of the reel’s handle. This keeps the lure in a state of constant rise-andfall motion, but cleverly allows it to stay in the prime bite zone – usually the water column’s lower third or half – for longer.

An alternative knife-jig technique, called speed jigging, races these streamlined jigs up through the water, with just the occasional stab of the rod to add some erratic motion to the lure.

A heavy metal flutter jig took this snapper from under a workup. Photo: Josh Darby.

SLOW JIGS

Slow-jigs epitomise movement, albeit in a very leisurely way!

The slow-jig family comprises three main types: inchiku, madai and tai rubber (more commonly known as kaburas or sliders). Inchiku-type lures tend to be long and slim with an assist-rigged plastic octopus/squid dangling somewhere mid-body. Tai rubbers are chunkier with the ‘head’ designed to separate from its rubber tendril-adorned assist rig during its descent. Madai lures are similar in form to tai rubbers but their tentacled assist rigs are fixed to the lure.

Although the slow-jig’s lure body can entice bites, especially with inchikus, it is usually the dangly bits that draw the bites, especially when they’re brought to life by the appropriate rodand-reel movements.

Interestingly, this is one of the few times in the world of fishing techniques when slightly too much weight is much better than too little, especially when fishing in depths over 30m. For slow-jigs to work well they must get down to the bottom quickly and then stay there - where most snapper tend to be!

Next, the assist-rigged ‘goodies’ are brought to life, in one of two ways...

Most slow-jiggers steadily wind up for around 3-6m, with the flow of water imparting life to the tendrils, making them wriggle enticingly.

Light-tipped rods smooth out the lure’s action and provide some insurance against small assist hooks ripping out or bending under pressure. Photo: NZ Fishing News.

Or do what I do: a very slow mechanical-jigging action (one turn of the reel handle for every gentle lift and drop of the rod) for around the same distance off the bottom. These rise-and-fall movements get the lures’ assist rig undulating seductively and prove hard for fish to resist.

In both cases, resist the urge to strike at every nibble, as this generally results in lost tendrils. Instead, either wind slightly faster or lift the rod a bit to add speed, forcing the chasing predator into making up its mind.

Either it will grab harder and hook up, or it will bail out. If it’s the latter, no worries, as it (or one of its mates) will most likely have another go.

Before we move on, a recommendation: it really pays to have an extremely soft-tipped rod when using slow jigs. Their bendiness smoothes further the movements you make making the languid movements of the tendrils/tentacles especially enticing.

Finally, an overall recommendation: don’t overdo the strength of your trace: the thinner the trace diameter, the better your lures’ natural action. Go too thick and the lure becomes less attractive.

However, you don’t want to constantly break off either, so be sensible. Try: 20-40lb fluorocarbon for jigging lures of 30-140g; 20-25lb for soft-baiting; and 80-120lb for kingfish knife jigs weighing 200-400g. BNZ


THE PLACE TO BE

The South Island has a huge diversity of opportunities for trailer-boaties who are prepared to explore. With some difficulty, Tom Fraser whittles down his favourite locations to just five spots you might also consider visiting.

I’ve been fortunate to use a trailer boat throughout the South Island, from Lake Te Anau in the south to Golden Bay in the north. The boating opportunities are as diverse as the locations – from mountainbacked alpine lakes right through to golden beaches and warm saltwater bays.

Listing my ‘favourite’ five boating destinations has proven challenging because every place I visit is unique and memorable in its own way. But, for the sake of this article I’ve tried to include a bit of diversity and I’ve also taken into account the ability to undertake activities for the entire family.

It’s hard to leave Lakes Te Anau and Brunner off this list, I purse my lips as I omit Golden Bay, and I know my mate Craig will shun me for ignoring the waters near Kaiteriteri. In fact, some readers may find some of these locations unusual, but I think that sums up the fact that boating experiences mean different things to different people.

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Glenorchy, Lake Wakatipu

GLENORCHY, about 45 minutes’ drive from Queenstown, is a stunning spot from which to explore the top half of majestic Lake Wakatipu. It’s a big lake to explore. With a length of 80km it is New Zealand’s longest lake and at 291km2, our third-largest. The lake is also very deep, with a maximum depth of 380m. Its floor is below sea level.

The boat harbour at Glenorchy has very good facilities for such a small location; an easily-used slipway [boat ramp], wharf and shelter. It’s a very popular destination for jet-boaters wanting access to not only the lake but also the Rees and Dart Rivers.

Glenorchy also provides access to the Von, Greenstone and Caples Rivers for those wanting to chase wily rainbow and brown trout in a truly wilderness setting. The fishing in the lake itself is often underrated: trolling from a boat is popular and so too is working the shallow areas of the lake by casting from the shore or from the boat. Rainbow and brown trout are present, as well as landlocked salmon.

If you’ve watched the Lord of the Rings movies, you’ll be aware the scenery of the area is nothing short of spectacular. Beech forest merges into tussock basins while snow-capped peaks rise steeply from the lake shore in every direction.

As with all inland South Island lakes, the nor’west wind dictates boating opportunities. And here it can fair punch down the valley, creating a nasty chop on the lake as well as lifting a fair bit of dust off the Dart riverbed.

The village itself offers plenty for those not wanting to boat and there’s a range of accommodation options available, from houses to camp sites and even the luxurious Blanket Bay Lodge.

WRITER’S TIP: Boat early, before the nor’wester gets up.

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Kaikōura

How many places in the world offer the opportunity to pilot your trailer boat just a few minutes off a beach with snow-capped mountain peaks rising skyward from the coastline and be surrounded by dolphins, whales, seals and some of the most special seabirds on the planet? Kaikōura is such a place.

It’s not a spot to water-ski or pull up on a beach to picnic, but if you want to observe and be a part of some of the most exhilarating scenery and wildlife – not to mention fishing – then you simply must tow your boat to Kaikōura for at least a weekend.

There are numerous boat launching options: you could utilise one of many natural gaps in the rocks that some boaties braver than me use in calm conditions, or you could join the Kaikōura Boating Club and use one of its private ramps. But most boaties will use the public ramp at South Bay. It’s busy but it’s sheltered and wide, with a gradient suitable for any vehicle – and there are washdown facilities.

Within five minutes of departing the marina you can find yourself surrounded by large pods of dusky and Hector’s dolphins. If you’re lucky you could even see a sperm whale, humpback whale, southern right whale or other cetacean species that frequent these waters. Seals adorn the rocky shore while Hutton’s shearwaters, Westland petrels, wandering albatross and other seabirds watch quietly as you steam by.

The reason for the presence of all that wildlife is simple; there’s an abundance of food for the bird and marine life due to the close proximity of the deep submarine Kaikōura Canyon. It’s located around 800m off the coast, stretches for over 60km and reaches depths of more than 1200m. The Canyon is part of the Kermandec Trench system which extends far out into the Pacific Ocean. The canyon's biodiversity hotspot and the currents that rise from the depths provide rich feeding grounds.

Kaikōura Peninsula itself juts into the Pacific Ocean and is often very exposed to wind and swell. The rocky coast both north and south of the peninsula are just the same. it can be very rough in northerly, easterly and southerly conditions and many people have been caught out. The problems is that if the weather - or - wind turns nasty there are literally no places you can run to for shelter except the marina.

The fishing's not as good as it used to be, but for those prepared to observe, learn and spend time on the water there are still many wonderful opportunities. Perch and blue cod are the staple species throughout the area, but there’s plenty of bluenose, hapuka, tarakihi, gurnard and moki to be found. Kina, paua and crayfish are easily harvested beside State Highway 1, which twists its way for 100km along the coastline. Free-diving and scuba diving are highly popular along the coast, but it’s important to note the boundaries of Hikurangi Marine Reserve.

WRITER'S TIP: There are lots of crayfish pots marked by bouys, so keep an eye out when you're boating because you don't want to become entangled in one!

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Marlborough Sounds

YES, WITH 1500KM of coastline, the Marlborough Sounds is a huge area to cover in just a few hundred words! There are three main bodies of water – Queen Charlotte, Kenepuru and Pelorus Sounds – and each is worthy of visiting in its own right. Perhaps the greatest attribute of this area is that there’s always somewhere sheltered to boat in or visit no matter what the weather conditions are.

The three main marinas – Havelock, Picton and Waikawa – all have firstclass facilities for boaties exploring the area, including slipways, wash-down facilities and cafes. Numerous smaller slipways and facilities are scattered throughout the sounds.

Havelock is the logical base from which to explore Pelorus Sound, the largest of the sounds, snaking south from Cook Strait for about 55km. Pelorus has several major arms, notably Tennyson Inlet, Tawhitinui Reach and Keneperu Sound. The head of Pelorus is very shallow and great care should be taken boating there as the tidal range in this area is up to four and a half metres during spring tides. This makes it important to stay in the marked channels, particularly as you transit in and out of Havelock Marina.

Picton and Waikawa are the logical bases from which most people explore Queen Charlotte Sound. In some places, Queen Charlotte runs parallel to Keneperu and is only separated by a couple of hundred metres of steep, forested hills. The entire Marlborough Sounds has a rich history and there are plenty of places and opportunities to experience it. These include Ship Cove in Queen Charlotte Sound, the site where Captain James Cook spent significant time during his voyages to New Zealand. In Tory Channel you can go ashore and wander through the remains of whaling stations, while at Blumine Island old military relics can be explored.

Given the enormity of this area, it’s only fair to expect that each part has its own idiosyncrasies – wind, currents, tides and so forth, so if you’re considering spending time here – or in any of the sounds – the online Marlborough Cruise Guide is a superb resource to engage. There are plenty of areas designated for water sports and many private and DOCadministered campgrounds from which to further explore these areas.

The Marlborough Sounds is a playground for many people every year, and for very good reason.

WRITER’S TIP: Make the effort to explore different waterways. For example, if you’re staying in Picton, tow the boat across to Havelock and explore Pelorus Sound.

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Piopiotahi, Milford Sound

FRANKLY, MILFORD SOUND should be on every reader’s boating bucket list.

Yes, being in Fiordland, it’s exposed to extremes of weather, so it pays to pick your weather ‘window’ as it can be very unpleasant when the weather cuts up. Boating here requires a fair bit of planning and a modicum of good luck, but strike it right, and it’s an experience you won’t ever forget.

The drive from Te Anau with a trailer in tow takes about two hours but the spectacular scenery along State Highway 94 is a key part of the overall experience. The highway is very well maintained and towing your boat is no great issue, although the going can be a little slow on some of the narrower and steeper sections. You’ll often see jetboats being towed through to the Hollyford River.

The slipway at Deepwater Basin in Milford Sound is in good condition, although at low tide large trailers have been known to fall off the end of the concrete ramp. It does surprise me just how popular and busy this slipway can get – at Waitangi Weekend last year there were well over a dozen trailers of varying sizes parked in the carpark, giving a good idea of just how popular and accessible the area has become for recreational boaties.

Many people use the slipway to then explore further afield than Milford Sound itself; I’ve spoken to a number of people who have boated down to Poison Bay, Sutherland Sound and even Doubtful Sound. Undertaking anything like this clearly requires a great deal of additional experience, planning and preparation. But, such journeys are regularly undertaken and you just need to watch YouTube to see how popular it is.

Departing Deepwater Basin, all vessels follow the south side of the sound as they head towards the open sea, returning via the northern side. Exploring the sound in your own boat offers a very different perspective to being a passenger in one of the many tourist vessels that travel the sound. The sheer enormity of the mountains rising immediately out of the ocean is quite breathtaking and the sea and bird life, including orca and dusky dolphins, is remarkable.

Fishing’s the main reason many boaties use Milford Sound, but there are key considerations to consider.

A Marine Reserve covers roughly half the area inside the sound, including the northern coastline from Dale Point to Freshwater Basin. No fishing is allowed within the marine reserve and there are also restrictions on which fish can be caught elsewhere in the sound. For example, taking blue cod from waters within the sound is not allowed, but you may catch them outside in the open sea.

However, there’s plenty of tarakihi and even groper available in the sound and, once you venture into the open sea itself, the options really open up. Plenty’s been written about the fishing opportunities in this part of the country.

If you strike the area on a calm, bluebird day you do truly feel blessed. But even on a calm day an onshore sea breeze often whistles up the fiord in the afternoon, and when you have an outgoing tide as well, the conditions can become very choppy.

The last couple of years have provided a wonderful opportunity to visit Milford because so few tourists have been able to visit due to Covid restrictions. The drop in traffic, people and aircraft has been quite remarkable.

If you’re considering taking your boat into Milford Sound, I’d strongly suggest checking out the Fiordland Marine Guardians website, which has a raft of resources available. The work that this group does to help manage and protect Fiordland is phenomenal.

WRITER’S TIP: There’s no Coastguard unit near Milford. Make sure your equipment is in good working condition!

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Lake Ohau, Mackenzie Basin

IT’S A GEM but seldom associated with serious trailer boating. This is perhaps because this 54km2 lake about 30 minutes from Twizel in the Mackenzie Basin is highly exposed to the predominant nor’west wind, which can thunder down the valley to create large rolling swells that pound the exposed beaches!

Admittedly, Ohau’s always been very popular with jetboaters because of easy access to the spectacular Dobson and Hopkins Rivers, but only in recent years has the lake become more popular with other boaties. That’s probably because of the huge growth in boating across all the lakes, including Ruataniwha and Benmore.

Lake Ohau is just that little bit more isolated than its neighbours, with limited and very basic facilities and just a few simple slipways serving this deep, cold stretch of water. All of them can be exposed to wind. The nor’wester can spring up suddenly, changing the water from flat-calm to rough in a matter of minutes.

I grew up enjoying summer camping on the shores of Lake Ohau and have vivid memories of nor’west storms battering the campsite, my father outside the tents at night banging in more pegs and fixing ropes while us kids pulled our sleeping bags higher around our ears, veering between excitement and pure terror.

Like so many of the lakes in this breathtaking part of the world, Ohau is a great spot to find a beach and spend the day picnicking, fishing and skiing.

The lake is home to good numbers of rainbow and brown trout, as well as landlocked salmon, that can be targeted from the shore or a boat. The top part of the lake is usually more productive for fishing but heavy rain can see the flooded Hopkins and Dobson Rivers discolour the lake for several weeks, adversely affecting the fishing.

WRITER’S TIP: Take insect repellent, especially if you’re launching from Round Bush.


Share the pain

Fuel prices are much in the news lately. As markets around the world react to the appalling actions of Russia in Ukraine, oil prices are rising fast and fuel supply is becoming constrained.

For New Zealanders, that translates to pain at the fuel pump and marina bowser, something the Government has tried to address in the short term by reducing the excise tax on fuel. This will certainly provide some relief, but with war in Ukraine raging and international sanctions on Russia tightening, oil prices look set to keep rising. Any benefits of the lower tax may soon be swallowed by higher international fuel prices.

Higher fuel prices are not good news for boaties, or anyone else for that matter. The economic knock-on effects will be felt by every sector, but it’ll be us – the ordinary citizens of New Zealand – who pay the price.

For the next few months, I suspect some boaties might think more carefully about how often they take their boats out, or how far – which is a shame after enduring two-and-a bit years of pandemicdriven disruption. Many of us were only just getting back into the swing of boating.

Sailing vessels will be less affected of course – the wind is free – but even for the rest of us who love boating, I’m guessing fuel prices would have to really skyrocket to keep us off the water. Anyway, there are many ways to reduce the fuel bill.

Slowing down is one. Just backing off the throttle by a few hundred rpm can save a lot of fuel and every vessel has a sweet spot where speed, fuel burn and distance covered align. Likewise, boating in rough conditions uses more fuel, so avoid it if you can, and don’t overload the vessel – more weight equals more fuel burnt. Another fuel saver is trimming the boat for optimal performance.

Amongst the trailer-boating fraternity, sharing the cost of fuel is quite common – everybody onboard contributes, not just the boat owner. It makes a day on the water affordable for all, especially when fuel prices are high.

Perhaps we’ll see more of it?

As I write, there is no sign the glorious, sunny autumn weather is going anywhere fast, though a break in the relentless easterly breezes that buffeted northern parts of the country through summer would be welcome. With shorter days and daylight saving about to end, perhaps the easterlies will relent long enough to enjoy some boating in pleasant conditions before winter sets in!

Autumn is one of my favourite times on the water, especially those calm days when the sun is shining (but not too hot) and the fish are biting. I’ve always got room in my boat for a couple friends willing to pay their share of the petrol!