Monday, May 29, 2017

_______________ BANKS PENINSULA - TURANGAWAEWAE _______________

The word Turangawaiwai in Te Reo (The Maori Language) means "The Place Where I Stand". This is a reference to where a person has their formative years. It is the geographic place that has formed them. The area of Banks Peninsula and the city of Christchurch in the province of Canterbury in the South Island of New Zealand is my Turangawaiwai.

I was prompted to do this post because of the very good series 'COAST NEW ZEALAND' which is currently showing on TV1 here in New Zealand on Monday nights.

This link is to a 'Coast New Zealand' episode that focuses on Banks Peninsula.

To get the link to work Shipmates, just click on it and then sign up which only involves typing in your email address and a password (You can then watch 'TV1 On Demand' ad infinitum.

Moving from the left in the picture - The mighty Waimakariri River, the city of Christchurch with its esturary opening out to the sea and the unique Banks Peninsula formed from two ancient volcanic cones. This is where I lived, had my being and was formed not only by the social fabric of the society that I was raised in, but by the very landscape itself.

The sea, the peninsula, the estuaries, the plains and the distant Southern Alps - they all paint a picture that is part of my story.

We all have our own precious, formative story. We all have our own Turangawaiwai.

Friday, May 26, 2017

__________________ 'MARINER' - A WORK IN PROGRESS _________________

 I have stripped the deadwood of its fiberglass covering. When the timber is dry it will be re-fiberglassed.

To dry the timber out along each side of the keel and deadwood I have set up a fan heater at either end of a long plastic tunnel. It gets warm enough during the day in the tunnel that if I had the inclination I could plant and harvest some tomato plants.

This is the stern fan heater. I have had both fan heaters going constantly during the day for about a week now. I will use a moisture meter to give me some idea of when to apply the fiberglass.

My good mate Bernie gave me this stainless steel spring loaded boom vang. He had two and said I would be helping him out by taking this one off his hands. It fits so well it could almost have been made specially for 'Mariner'. One good aspects of these rigid vangs is that you can dispense with a topping lift if you want to. Bernie won't take any money for the vang, only saying "...... Just buy me a beer".  So I will buy him a couple of dozen (which he will insist I help him drink a few of) and stuff a large donation to his yachts rum ration locker in his back pocket when he's not looking.

Today the modifications to the bow fitting were completed. On the left is an extension piece that fits over the existing bow roller flanges, incorporating the existing roller and providing another roller further forwards, keeping the now self stowing anchor clear of the boats stem.
On the right we have added two tangs above the bow roller complete with a removable captured pin. This allows mooring ropes etc to be held securely without them slipping off the roller. The whole fabrication matches the existing sturdy bow fitting being made of quarter plate stainless steel.

I am well pleased with the alterations to the anchoring system ably designed by Terry and fabricated by Victor one of his very skilled engineers.

For those shipmates who know the literature, Victor is the son of Paul Farge who sailed on 'Kurun' with Jacques-Yves le Toumelin from Morocco to Tahiti, being the first part of Toumelins' famous circumnavigation which featured in his book 'KURUN Around the World (Rupert Hart-Davis 1954). Needless to say I had a good old talk with Victor about his late father whom I knew well.

'Mariners' new self stowing 'Delta' anchor is held in place by a couple of bungy cords rather than pinning with a bolt. In very hard windward weather where there may be the possibility of burying the bow in solid green water I will stow the anchor on deck tied to the samson post.

Today the diesel mechanic Jeff turned up with a new set of engine beds, mounts and propeller shaft. We had a good chin wag about the engine which may be ready to install next week. Things are looking up.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

____________________ MEMORIES OF MAGGA DAN _____________________

This morning I helped Jeff the Diesel mechanic remove 'Mariners' propeller shaft. He arrived this morning with some good news about the motor (It's in good condition) and a truck full of tools.

This whole propeller shaft removal marlarkey wasn't easy. Before we had progressed very far the shaft got stuck in the strut bearing. We had to cut the upper part of the shaft to remove it. The lower part of the shaft that was frozen in the strut bearing was removed with a long steel shaft come battering ram and a sledge hammer. None of this work was a pretty sight to behold.

Jeff confessed to "a bit of a buggered shoulder" as he handed me the sledge hammer for my turn and after a lengthy session I confessed to "a bit of a 'tweaking' going on in my post quadruple heart bypass wired up sternum" and handed the sledge hammer back to him. But after us two old buggers had endured an exhausting time sharing the sledge hammer the work was completed and the offending piece of prop shaft fell out of the strut.

This afternoon I completed the cleaning of 'Mariners' oily bilge and wiped down every inch of the inside of the hull. When I arrived home my work clothes were only fit for the rubbish bin.

This cleaning job had me thinking today about the 'Magadan' and a holiday job I had one Christmas holiday period in the dry dock at the port of Lyttleton in Christchurch NZ in the late 1960s. Some of the work was down in the bowels of the dry dock scraping barnacles off ships, while other work (Which I found a bit scary) was in the bowels of the ships themselves cleaning out the bilges.

The bilge jobs required working in the cramped space between the ships floor and the bottom of the hull. It wasn't possible to sit up straight and as we pulled long electrical leads with our lights we shoveled oily sludge into a bucket. Crawling through the small holes in the ships web frames from one compartment of the bilge to the other was an unedifying and claustrophobic experience I never want to repeat. I remember the lights going out once for a brief time - not a good moment.

I can't picture in my minds eye any of the ships except for the 'Magadan'. When I found a photograph of her on the internet she looked pretty much as I remembered her. I probably remember her because she was a "Russian" ship and this period of time was at the height of the Cold War in Europe. The 'Magadan' was on her way to Antarctica. Our job was to clean out one of the 'Magadan's large boilers. This was a better job than bilge work as it was possible to stand up in the boiler when working and was a lot less claustrophobic. We spent a few days chipping rusting slag off the insides of the boiler returning home each night looking like Victorian chimney sweeps.

Memories shipmates, memories.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

_____________________________ SAM I AM ____________________________

A floating boat is a moving living thing. A boat on land is like a big stranded fish; beached and immovable by the wind and waves. My yacht 'Mariner' lifted out recently by the boatyards' Trav-lift is a solid immovable object going nowhere fast.

The landlubber boat knows the fun's up for a while so she sulks a bit and conspires to a bit of non lethal companion way ladder tripping, the barking of shins, the scrapping of knuckles and the banging of heads. The landlubber boat tries hard to look neglected, grimy and slightly worse for wear. It's the boats way of making sure that the skipper gets on and does the requisite work. The floating interruptus of ones boat is not something to be taken lightly.

If Sadie is the cleaning lady then I guess Sam is the cleaning man. Call me Sam. Sam has been cleaning solidly now for three days. What have I been cleaning I hear you ask? Well Shipmates any part of 'Mariner' that you can see in these photographs is either waiting to be cleaned or has been cleaned within an inch of it life. The engine bay and the bilge have been the most difficult to clean because the engine had dumped a lot of oil in these areas at some stage. This oil mixed with a certain amount of water from the dripping stern gland had on a few hard chance sails spread the dark oily mixture liberally throughout the bilge up to and beyond the waterline level. Yep, great stuff, but Sam the man has been up to the challenge and I may get my own back one day by installing an electric boat engine - see how you like that my little one cylinder 11HP Arona Diesel with leaking sump seals.

A few days ago Sam the cleaning man extended his cleaning skills to those of an agricultural mechanic of sorts by helping the local diesel mechanic remove the engine. The cleaning of the engine bay I can assure you Shipmates raised the term 'Blood, Sweat and Tears' to new heights. The frustration of finding myself jambed into a confined space with an evil smelling cleaning rag elicited fantasies of running out onto the close by walkway and giving 'Mariner' away to the first gullible person. Happily the feeling past in the afterglow of receding pain as I applied ice to the head bumps, plasters to the cut fingers and dug out the congealed oil in my eye sockets with a spoon.

Today was the beginning of the downwards cleaning slope. If you ever come across a downward cleaning slope then beg, borrow or steal it with both hands and stash it away for a future cleaning day - they are worth their weight in old rags, kerosene and sugar soap.

Today I cleaned the small forward cabin with its toilet area and now have only the bows of the boat with its chain locker left to clean. It should be relatively easy work. I was pleased with how the toilet area cleaned up this morning. Sam was pleased as well. He has been a tower of strength and as robust as a pair of 'Pams' brand 'Easy on and Off' yellow stretchy cleaning gloves.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

_____________________ The STARLING Heads North ___________________

This is how she was when she arrived home - full of potential and a rotten plywood. A good lesson in not purchasing without inspecting.

So it was 'needs must'. Here she is all frames and chines and still more plywood to come off!

 Fully restored and ready to go. I had a great time rebuilding and racing this little boat.
 But sadly I was too heavy and physically too big for the boat so I reluctantly advertised her for sale on NZTadeMe.

Today the new owners - The Kerikeri yacht club came to pick her up. They will use as part of their highly successful childrens Learning To Sail programme. I don't think I could have wished for a better home for her. I am very glad she will be continually sailed rather than sitting somewhere deteriorating.
........... and then she was gone ....... into the night on her way north. Sad, but it's good not to get too attached to things - even a boat that I put my heart and soul into restoring.

Monday, May 8, 2017


Today was a bit of a watershed. Karl the haul out manager introduced me to Jeff who renovates marine diesel engines. He is able to do the whole 'Whoa to Goa' - engine beds, mounts, shaft, prop, stern gland, engine, electrics etc, etc. I am pleased that I have found someone who can do the work locally here in Whangarei  especially as I am now confronted with the unexpected work that is required concerning the water ingress around the keel. But I am a bit sad that a swash buckling engine-less pirate raid north is not now required. Cussing parrots on shoulders, bottles of rum and roaming the Spanish main will have to be put to one side for more basic things:

Today I bought a new anchor and talked to Terrry a stainless steel fabricator wizard who will modify 'Mariners' bow fitting to make my new anchor self stowing. For years I have pulled the Danforth onto the deck under the lifelines and secured it to the anchor bollard. At 65 years of age I don't want to endure these gymnastics any more and will be doing other modifications to make my retirement sailing a whole lot easier, namely:

1 - I will get Brendon from 'Canvas and Covers' (who made an excellent boat cover for my Zephyr 'Slipstream') to make a 'Stacker system' for the mains'l complete with Lazy Jacks which will ensure that the (to be modified) fully battened mains'l can be tamed with ease.

2 - Install a roller - furl jib system. This modification has been a long time coming and will make stowing the jib a synch.

3 - Install a removable inner fore stay (with High Field lever) to which I can set a small jib (including a storm jib) which will be installed aft of the roller furler. This system is something I have seen on my good mate and companion Zephyr centreboard dinghy sailor  Bernies 39' Cavalier  yacht.

4 - Relocate the current mains'l sheeting track from the bridge deck to the cabin top just in front of the spray dodger.

5 - Change the current folding canvas dodger to a rigid dodger  - again Bernies Cav 39 'Morning Mist' has a good example of a rigid dodger.

All of these modifications will make retirement sailing safer, drier and easier.

Bernies Cav 39 "Morning Mist' (Above in photo) is hauled out at the moment in the same boatyard as 'Mariner' which has meant that the 'Apres Work' beer sessions elicit oceans of talk about racing our Zephyrs together, the upcoming Zephyr Nationals next year and the whole gamut of keel boat and centre board sailing - great stuff. Us old yachtee buggers need a good dose of this sailing camaraderie.

This photograph of Bernies yacht shows a good example of a cabin top mounted mains'l track system. It also shows a good example of the only kind of rigid spray dodger that I would ever contemplate fitting. The frame of the boats old canvas, soft, folding dodger has been used as a pattern for the rigid one. The stainless steel frame of the soft dodger is used as a building armature or mold. Thin plywood is bent and glued over the frame, building up layers of plywood until its final coat of fiberglass cloth and resin - the mold has been removed and is not part of the completed dodger. It means that a more streamlined look is obtained as opposed to the more 'boxy' versions that occur when the vertical and horizontal planes of the cabin truck are used as reference points.

Working on Mariner; Modifying Mariners old dinghy tender into a gaff riffed day sailer; Working on my Zephyr 'Slipstream'; fixing up Mariners new small lightweight tender .......... I might be retired but I have never been busier!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

__________________ MARINER HEADS NORTH (Part 2) ___________________


As if a forest of barnacles wasn't enough at haul out time, I found some very small cracks in the hulls fiberglass sheathing that had a small amount of water seeping out. When I peeled back some of the fiberglass I found damp wood around the seam between the lead keel and the wooden keelson. Water has got in under the hulls fiberglass covering and traveled along the length of the keelson and up into parts of the wooden cold molded hull.

So it's been a hard few days, encamped under the hull with chisel, mallet and a huge amount of  patience and elbow grease removing the fiberglass in the offending areas on both sides of the keel. Tomorrow I will tape to the hull a plastic tent of sorts around the keel and place a fan heater inside to dry out the timber. Then it's a sequence of sanding, filling, sanding again, fiber glassing, fairing, sanding yet again and painting.

I began building 'Mariner' in 1975 and she was launched in 1979. This makes her 38 years old, so I guess a problem such as this could be expected in the high stress area around the keel where nearly two tons of lead is bouncing around and trying to wrench itself free. 

As with all issues to do with boats the sensible thing is to face these sorts of problems head on and just get on with it; which is what I am doing. But it has put a bit of a spanner in the works and delayed sailing up to the Bay of Islands to get the diesel engine restored. 

Never mind, considering all the grief in the world my problem with a yacht can certainly be defined  as a  'first world problem'...... I am well acquainted with all my blessings and have them all counted.

Friday, May 5, 2017


Massey philosophy student Nathan Hawkins at Cambridge University


There is a standing joke between Nathan and I whenever we are engaged with a third party or more in conversations about philosophy and the meaning of life etc ...... I often joke at an opportune time (which is usually when Nathan has stated some idea that he has plucked from the stratospheric recesses of his mind) that  of course "I taught him all that he knows."But of course the truth is that Nathan talks and I struggle keep up as I take notes." Read on:
"Brick wall or sliced pie? It maybe a crude analogy, but it captures how we might understand the structure of the Universe, says Massey University Bachelor of Arts graduate Nathan Hawkins. He is about to embark on doctoral research on the topic at one of the world’s top philosophy departments.
Last month he was selected for a 2017 Gates Cambridge Scholarship (established by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) to support his PhD studies in philosophy and formal logic at Cambridge University, one of 55 from more than 5000 top applicants around the world. It’s his second such scholarship – he’s currently completing a Master of Philosophy at Cambridge with the support of a separate 2016 Gates Cambridge Scholarship, having just completed his masters at Massey’s School of Humanities.
From studying philosophy by distance through Massey University from his Whangarei home last year to gaining two prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarships, Mr Hawkins explains via Skype from the revered British university how fundamental questions about the Universe might be explained by logic.

Back to bricks, pies and how they apply to metaphysics (a branch of philosophy exploring the fundamental nature of reality). “The bricks are each part of the wall, while the slices are each part of the pie, but there is a difference between the cases,” he explains.
“The wall is derived from its brick-parts, but the slice-parts are derived from the pie. We might then wonder, which is the case with the universe? Are the parts of the universe fragments of a unified whole, or is the universe the sum of its primitive building blocks?”
A universe of multiple fundamental building blocks (the wall) is the philosophical position of Pluralism, while the fragmented universal whole (the pie) is its opposite, Monism. In the 20th century Pluralism has largely been assumed to be true, although recent discoveries in quantum physics have led to this assumption being questioned, he explains.
The way we answer this question affects our understanding of the workings of reality – is everything interconnected or is it all loose and separate? In other words, does the world consist of gunk or junk? (Both are valid philosophical terms used to describe different consequences of the competing theories). The debate between the two positions plays out in the philosophical field of metaphysics, although it draws heavily on evidence from physics, mathematics, and logic, Mr Hawkins says.


Questioning and revisiting ideas and theories on the profoundest of issues is a personal quest for this Cambridge philosopher, sparked originally through his own faith journey and encounter with the writings of Northern Ireland theologian and philosopher Peter Rollins. A love of mathematics led him into logic – all part of his intellectual artillery in getting to the crux of his doctoral study.
For the 36-year-old British-born New Zealand citizen who married Kiwi Charlotte Hawkins (nee Smith), his exploration encompasses more than just the physical dimensions of what we call reality, but includes maths, ethics and divinity.
The lure of philosophy is, he says, that it “questions the things we think we know, in order to examine the foundations of those ideas and see whether or not those beliefs are reasonable. I’m peeling back layers of assumption to the nub of the issue and asking – is reality fundamentally complex?”
Mr Hawkins – who graduated from Massey with a double major in maths and philosophy – says he must develop his own logical language as a precursor to his PhD. This involves creating a new alphabet, rules of grammar, the intended meaning of logical sentences, and the principles that govern truth in the language, the groundwork for which he’s done in his near-completed Cambridge masters.
Enter Set Theory (the theoretical basis of all mathematics), Predicate Calculus (the logic of objects, their properties, and their relationships), Modal logic (the logic of what is possible and what is necessary) Quantum Entanglement and host of other mind-boggling terms. “We have certain ideas about reality – I believe that the world is a complex, interacting whole but I want to see if I can model that to see if that idea makes sense in terms of structure [maths and logic].”


He says being at the University of Cambridge, home to past philosophy greats – including Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein – has a distinct Harry Potter feel to it. He’s based at Gonville & Caius (pronounced ‘keys’) College, founded in 1348 and one of 31 colleges at the university, which celebrated its 800th anniversary in 2009. It’s also the college of celebrated theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking, who Mr Hawkins has seen eating in the dining hall, where all the members must wear black academic gowns.
Another cool aspect of being a Cambridge scholar is the fascinating, if surreal, conversations. Forget the weather – from the scientist developing ink that collects solar energy so you paint your car and just go, to the woman researching how to turn off the chemical trigger that causes our brains to age, another training fruit flies to obey external commands and the pioneering PhD astrophysicist living on packaged foods to prepare for his one way trip on the Mars One mission and is “super excited to get blasted off to Mars and never come back” – small talk at Cambridge can be other-worldly, literally.
And while his own research might seem a tad esoteric, he maintains the study of philosophy is enriching and rewarding.
“Philosophy is something a lot of people can do and enjoy – it’s self-reflection, it’s contemplating the mystery of our own existence,” he says.


Philosophy also helps develop critical thinking skills that not only “help people not be duped by advertising” but can fortify us for societal challenges. “We are entering time of political demagoguery and unique economic challenges where we need to think outside the box and find fresh answers for difficult questions.”
Mr Hawkins’ former lecturer Dr Adriane Rini, from the School of Humanities, says winning admission to the Cambridge PhD programme “is itself a terrific recognition of Nathan’s abilities. The Gates Scholarships are extremely competitive. Excellent research is the first consideration, but the Gates also requires evidence that recipients are ‘using their intellectual gifts to make the world a better place’.”
She says her former student never shied away from the hard stuff in his scholarship, and is a true Massey success story as all of his studies were as a distance student. Mr Hawkins’ recognition as one of the world’s top philosophy students is something she and her colleagues “and the philosophers at all the other New Zealand universities” will be celebrating, she says.
Mr Hawkins starts his PhD in October on the same day his first child is due to be born, a coincidence perhaps and one he may just see as a signal of the “internal relatedness of all things.”  "

Monday, May 1, 2017

__________________ MARINER HEADS NORTH (Part 1) ___________________

One of the absorbing parts of being a boat(s) owner is being involved in all the required maintenance. The current job relating to my yacht Mariner (above) has been on hold for far too long and is to do with the engine. Long story, short - I was going to re-power with a brand new engine but have decided for a number of reasons including cost to get the current engine restored - hopefully to its former glory. As the restoration will take place in Opua, Bay of Islands by the team at Sea Power Marine Services, and as the engine is not working, an engineless coastal passage is required to get the boat to Opua  from our home port of Whangarei. So today Mariner was hauled out as I begin the first part of preparations for the trip north.

Mariner was kindly towed from her mooring in the Hatea River to the Riverside Marina haul out area by Brian who is in charge of the Whangarei Marina Trust - he is a sort of port Captain. He completed the job with consummate skill. His services are going to be crucial in getting Mariner below Te Matau ā Pohe (Whangareis' lifting bridge) and down into the lower reaches of the river so that we can make sail.

There was a couple of years build up of barnacles and slime that was partly removed by water blasting. The forward part of the hull in this photo has been water blasted which has removed the slime. All the little white spots on the hull that are left are a forest of tough little barnacles that we had to remove with scrappers - hard work. After removal of the barnacles the hull was wet sanded.

The white topsides, deck, cockpit and cabin are in reasonable condition and only required a good clean with a brush and hose. I thought I would be able to quickly anti-foul the under water section tomorrow and relaunch the next day, but there are a few little fiberglass jobs that will be required on the hull first. The weather forecast is looking good, so I hope there is a big enough rain free weather window to get all the work completed.