Archive for March, 2010

Bottom Job: Phase III

After three weeks of work, the hulls are painted and looking good. I’ve had some extra help this week, which has been a big bonus as my patience started wearing thin back in Phase I! First off, Martin volunteered to fill a few cracks in the gelcoat, most of which were along the waterline. He used 2-part epoxy to which we added some high quality micro-balloon filler that I got from a friend in the boatyard in exchange for a few beers. In addition, Pascal from S/V Jonathan as well as Martin’s crew members, Anne (Dutch) and Fanny (French), all have been extremely helpful this week, enthusiastically volunteering to assist with the priming and painting. As a result, it only took two and a half days to apply the four coats of primer + paint.

Primed and ready for anti-fouling

Primed and ready for anti-fouling

The roller girls

The roller girls: Pascal, Anne, and Me

I had thought that we were going to use black anti-fouling paint on top of the blue base coat, but after seeing the shade of the blue paint, I decided to take the 14 liter bucket back to the paint factory and change it out for more blue. I think it works well with our green sail cover, bimini, etc.

The winning color combination

The winning color combination

For the most part, the remaining jobs to be done while on the hard are pretty straight forward, but there is one exception. We still have some probably very old and stale seawater dripping from the center of the starboard keel, which will unfortunately need to dry out before it can be reglassed…we’re hoping this won’t take more than a few days!

Dallas is trying to leave the various projects that he is currently working on in good standing before leaving California next week. Knowing how conscientious he is, I enjoy reminding him that regardless of where they stand, he’s going to be on a plane to NZ in a matter of days! I am looking forward to introducing him to some of the people and places that I’ve discovered here.

Last weekend I had the chance to take another excursion with my Kiwi friends, this time to the larger (than Tauranga) city of Hamilton for the annual hot air balloon festival. We also stopped by the Hamilton Botanical Gardens, a lot of which is comprised of rolling green hills that Kiwi families use as a playground, picnic site, etc. Many of the plants in the gardens could have benefited from water, but personally I’m happy that it was another beautiful, sunny day to be out and about. I’m hoping the weather will be similarly cooperative this Easter weekend for the Tauranga Jazz Festival.

The Italian Gardens

The Italian Gardens

Proof that I can still be a girly girl

Proof that I can still be a girly girl

In other news, a tragedy occurred last week that hit home to some extent. A member of the cruising community, Paul from South Africa, set off on a relatively short passage from Tauranga down the east coast of NZ to Gisborne and never arrived. After sailing around the world, he was just making the short passage to relocate in Gisborne where he was to begin working the following week. Unfortunately, he did not wait for a weather window and ended up in some very nasty seas. I had met Paul briefly as he walked his dog each evening around the marina, so I was pretty shocked to learn that he and his yacht were missing. After a week of intensive searching, his steel yacht was discovered near Christchurch, much farther south than the official search radius had extended. The wind vane was still engaged, meaning that the boat had been steering itself, and although his dog was found, Paul was not on board. None of the safety gear had been touched, indicating that he probably just fell overboard. Obviously this story has hit home with many here in NZ, and those of us who spend a lot of time on the water are reminded of the potential perils. There has definitely been more discussion lately about the use of personal flotation devices, the dangers of single-handing, etc., and one can hope that this will lead to lives saved in the future.

Bottom Job: Phase II

This week has been an exercise in persistence. I had imagined that I would be finished scraping the old anti-fouling paint off of both hulls several days ago, but it ended up taking 12 days! That’s a long time to be pursuing a monotonous and physically demanding task on one’s own, and as with anything that requires persistence, there have been moments of triumph (namely seeing the final patch of old blue paint disappear) along with moments of, well, “despair” would be too dramatic, but shall we say, “moments that sucked”.

I would have preferred to use power tools to remove the old paint, but the sandpaper on the electric sander became gritted up with paint almost immediately, and continuously using a grinder on the hulls seemed pretty hazardous not only due to the fumes but also because one false move would mean that I was down to the fiberglass. So I used a tungsten-bladed paint scraper and my brute strength (ha!). Some areas of paint seemed to be baked into the gelcoat and also required the use of a delightfully toxic paint stripper that turned the paint into a tarry substance that still had to be scraped off but was much less stubborn. 


Scraped down to the old green anti-fouling paint


I think it’s safe to say that I will never again volunteer to do a bottom job on my own, but I’ve managed to earn the respect of some of my neighbors here in the boatyard, (one of whom thinks it best not to arm-wrestle me after watching me scraping away day after day), and I’m really looking forward to seeing the finished product within the next week. Tomorrow I will do a final sanding of the hulls to prepare them for the epoxy-based barrier coating that I hope to apply on Thursday. I have to wait until a professional drops by to re-fiberglass a couple of small spots. One is a gap at the base of the starboard keel that was not water-tight and had to be ground out, and the other is a small abrasion on the starboard rudder that resulted from a fishing line getting trapped around the prop. After the barrier coat, I will apply three coats of fully ablative, Altex anti-fouling paint, and voila! There are a few other things that Dallas identified as needing to be done while we are out of the water, but he has assured me that the worst is over. It’s all downhill from here.

I haven’t had too much time to play lately, but I did take a day off last week to hang out with friends that dropped in from Raglan. They didn’t have my new phone number (I had my cell phone stolen from the changing room of the pool), but someone at the marina pointed them toward the boatyard. At 9:00 p.m. after a long day of scraping, I arose from my prostrate position out in the cockpit to try to figure out who was calling my name in a French accent from the other side of the slipway! Those of you who have seen our New Year’s pics might remember seeing Antoine who got the party started with his funk music and animated dance moves. Anyway, he showed up with his friends from England and the Czech Republic, and we went for a “catch up” (as kiwis say) at the pub. The next day we piled into my mate Marty’s 4×4 for a tour of some of the local sites–an active gold mine, hot pools created from spring water, and a lovely community garden established in an old quarry with a great view of the Mount. It was a beautiful day, and I welcomed the opportunity to spend it around cool people after spending so much time with me, myself, and I!


Antoine was happy to discover the worth of his weight in gold



They have to dig out 70 tons of rock to get 12 grams of gold dust!




Vinnie and Gabriela in front of the old pumphouse



Just another beautiful day on Waihi Beach



Mmmmm...sweet nectar




View from the top of the quarry park


In truth, while daytime has been devoted to solitary boat work, I’ve been in good company most evenings. Martin and I continue to play music together, sometimes at the marina restaurant where we have access to a piano, and sometimes in the company of Anna, his very agreeable new crew member from the Netherlands. I’m also still going to yoga and enjoying the hospitality of Matthew and Goeril who are always up for having me over for dinner and a DVD afterward. With that said, I am anxious to start spending evenings with my husband again! Only two weeks left until he returns…

Bottom Job: Phase I

Pura Vida is out of the water! We moved across the harbor from the marina to the slipway on Monday afternoon. I recruited Martin to help with the move, and we had Vincent, a 14-year-old French boy from S/V Jonathan, along as well. Getting out of the marina can be a little hairy due to the intense current, but we planned it so that we would move at slack tide, and although we didn’t account for daylight savings time, getting out was not a problem. Getting situated in the slipway was a different story. The men at the boatbuilders weren’t quite ready for us, and although Martin had our bow comfortably placed in the slipway, our stern was getting pulled out by the tide, leaving us setting perpendicular between the narrow concrete walls. Fortunately, the guys from Hutcheson showed up in the nick of time and grabbed our lines to get us straightened out.


Crew for the very short journey across the harbor


The crane haul-out went very smoothly. The only slight delay occurred when the crane operator had to bring down the chains to add on some extra length in order to clear the mast. The guys from Hutcheson had printed out the photo of our haul-out last year and copied the former set-up, with two straps placed fore and aft of the keels.

coming out

Easily maneuvering her from the slipway onto the hard


The accumulation of growth on the bottom of the boat was pretty impressive. It was even more interesting to get a closer look and see so many critters crawling around! I was glad that they came off easily with a plastic scraper but wasn’t so pleased at having to rake up the foul-smelling stuff.




Since then, my efforts have been focused on scraping and sanding off the old anti-fouling paint from the hulls. It’s a big job, but I’m getting by with a little help from my friends. In addition to Martin and Jonathan who helped with the haul-out, I’ve had assistance from friends with waterblasting and scraping (thanks Marty and Matthew!) and have had tips and loans of tools from the guys in the boatyard. It is pretty monotonous, time-consuming work, though. I’m halfway there and trying to view the glass as half-full!

Building those biceps

I look forward to posting photos of a new and improved Pura Vida in a week or so.

End of Summer

It has been a while since I’ve blogged. I guess I’ve assimilated into a routine that resembles the fact that I’ve been stationary for three months, but I still feel privileged to have quite a bit of free time in an awesome place. As Moana from the Marquesas would say in his broken English, “It’s good. I like.” The best aspects of being here for me are the sunny days on the beach and the nice people that I seem to meet nearly every day.

Robin, the new friend of the day, is a great example. She was warm and genuine and interested in hearing about our life aboard Pura Vida. She was surprised to meet an American cruiser due to her observation that as Americans don’t tend to value the “overseas experience” (OE) like they do here and in Europe. It’s hard to dispute her observation; after all, only about 25% of Americans have a valid passport and have been out of the country. Personally I think this is a shame since the OE can broaden one’s perspective, particularly if done at a young (18-25) age. However, I also understand that there is a lot to see and do within the U.S. and that American companies do not tend to offer a significant amount of vacation time (and definitely not a “career break” with job security while one is traveling) like they do in other countries. When I mentioned this to Robin, she said that kiwis tend to just take off and say, “alright mate, maybe I’ll be come and work for ya when I get back.” It’s a pretty laid back culture, I’d say.

The summer culture here in Tauranga is all about the outdoors. The brochures were totally accurate in portraying it as a haven for water sports recreation. I thought Southern California had a beach-oriented culture, but the kiwis here take it to a whole new level! It seems like nearly everybody is involved in some water sport, whether it’s surfing, kayaking, paragliding, kiteboarding, racing sailboats, or game fishing. With all of these recreational options, it’s no wonder that the people here are so friendly and down to earth.


Typical day on the beach at the Mount



Kiwi kids backflip off the rocks at McLaren Falls

Though I don’t really participate in any of these activities, I’ve been taking advantage of every opportunity to take a dip in the ocean. The water is pretty warm right now, but I don’t know how long it will last now that the nights are getting colder. I’ve tried surfing a couple of times but need to take a lesson before I get frustrated and quit. It’s not nearly as easy as they make it look!


Simple as

My favorite experience in the water thus far was over the weekend when I went with some friends to swim with Manu, the local celebrity dolphin that is in the wild but well known for hanging out with people. It took a while before we located him, driving around from bay to bay, but there he was, hanging out with his current favorite toy, a blue and white boogie board. He was a good distance from the shore, though, and there were some sizeable waves coming in, so getting out to him was probably my most challenging swim ever. It was well worth it, though, to get up close and personal with him. I was really surprised how large he was and how effortlessly he could jump and dart around us while protecting his precious boogie board!  


Looking for Manu


Hanging with friends at an outdoor concert

When I’m not in the water, I’m going to yoga or doing this and that on the boat. I finished varnishing all of the exterior woodwork (doors, rails), and I’m pretty pleased with the aesthetic improvement. I also advertised my cleaning services a while back on the local grocery stores’ message boards (people really use them here) and had one taker, an elderly Japanese, samurai-looking fellow who teased me most of that day in his broken English as I cleaned up cobwebs, cigarette ash, birdseed and feathers, etc. It wasn’t too bad actually, and I’m hoping for some more jobs. I also auditioned with Martin to play a gig at the restaurant here at the marina. I think they are going to try to get us in on a Sunday afternoon.


Spiffing up Pura Vida

It has been tough to be away from Dallas for so long, but we are now at the half-way mark in terms of the two month absence. Friends and family may have noticed that we just had our one-year anniversary. As I reflect on the first year of our marriage, it’s hard to believe how much we’ve experienced and grown as a couple and as individuals. Having this time apart and spending more time working (particularly Dallas) reminds us both not to take our experiences together for granted.

It also means that we are really looking forward to our next round of adventures. I’ve started preparing for our next passages by looking into the clearance formalities for the countries we will be visiting (Indonesia is particularly complicated) and trying to find items that we’d like to have (e.g., spearguns, cruising guides, vegetarian canned food). We are also making plans to bring our friend Colin Murphy on board in May! Colin is a great guy who we have known since college, and we are really excited about sharing his company and seeing Fiji and Vanuatu through his photojournalistic eyes.