Hauling out Mr. R.
After our arrival at Onehunga last Friday we cleaned up the boat with the assistance of Cath and Jonathan. We left the boat tied up to the tug boat Tika overnight and returned the next day to meet the crane and truck people. The following video shows the process of lifting the boat out of the water and onto the truck.
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Posted by Murray on 6/03/2011 2:38:14 AM
Posted by link wheel on 8/05/2013 5:51:30 PM
RNI Leg 2 - The report I didn't want to write
There's obviously been a bit of a delay in putting our report on the blog. I would normally pen these with some zeal, but after the events of the past week that's deserted me - being completely honest. We've had so much support and so many followers though who would love to know - so the story follows.
We had a great stay in Mangonui and we started the leg relaxed and rested. If we were going to be contenders in the race overall we were looking for a good leg 2 and the prospect of some breeze, and some windward sailing gave us a lot of optimism that we could improve on our mid-fleet position.
As I posted on the blog the start was a light airs affair. As the following video shows it looked like we were going to be stuck in the doldrums again - weather that Mr. R. hates. Just before the warning signal for the race a gentle North West breeze filled in across the bay.
At the start we got away at the pin end and made ourselves a really nice lane across the bay. We held in there and were sure that our left-hand side position would pay off. We had come to learn that the probability of success of any strategy seemed to be inversely proportional to the strength of our convictions. The boats outside of us held the pressure and managed to sail around us a little until we all parked up off the headland at the edge of the bay. One by one we wriggled into the new North East breeze and the fleet stretched their legs. We were quickly delighted with the uphill performance of the boat as we managed to settle in for a nice sail to North Cape.
Of course it never works like that and before long we had some weirdness develop where there was a split breeze. Inshore there was a slightly sick South Westerly breeze and outside of us there was the fresher North-Easter. We got stuck in the middle for a while and had boats both sides of us sailing away. Eventually we punched out into the north and sailed comfortably on the wind all the way to our waypoint at the North of the Country.
As the afternoon faded into evening we found ourselves tacking along the Northern coast with a lot of boats around us. It became a circus for a while as we had a cruise liner, fishing boats and yachts coming from everywhere like space invaders. All evening the sailing was fantastic - we rumbled along the coast to Cape Reinga and bore away to head South for the first time in the race. We went around the Cape with competitors like Second Nature and Gale Force and that left us feeling like we were in reasonably good shape after the slow start.
As dawn broke we were sailing with slightly eased sails to squeeze inside of the gnarly Pandora's Bank. These shoals would give you some grief if you tried to sail straight over them. We always planned to go outside them, but true to form we changed the game plan and shot through to the East.
Once clear of the shoals we came onto the wind and settled in for what we knew would be a progressively stronger breeze. Sometimes breeze just gently rises and other times it comes in with a bit of theatre and force. This time the angry roll cloud on the horizon gave us a pretty good clue that the forecast Southerly was nearly here and we quickly shortened sail and reefed the boat down. The next video shows the front approaching. As you can see we'd learnt the lessons from previous races of doing things early and we were ready for the breeze when it came.
The front brought more wind, but nothing fresh, and some lumpier seas. Mr. R. is a boat that just loves that stuff and we settled in to a really great mode on the boat. We didn't feel overpowered with our #4 jib and a reef, the boat was going quick, we were enjoying some nice sleep on the off-watches and we were indulging in some of the little treats we had in the ration supplies. In absolute honesty - we were really enjoying ourselves and we were smitten to finally be sailing in conditions we knew were a strength for us.
The only issue that we encountered during the day on Wednesday was a small accumulation of water in the forepeak from a leaking hatch. The bilge pump kept on top of this and we found that a very short time on starboard tack seemed to clear it completely. We wondered if this should have been a concern but quickly realised it wasn't going to give us any grief.
During the day we crossed tacks with a couple of our competitors. First came Fineline, who looked pretty sorted. Even though we were both miles from anywhere we crossed within boat-lengths of them and we both gave a wave. The next boat was Second Nature. We all ended up in a three way rack-up miles offshore and we all tacked on the little shifts as they came through.
During the course of the day it became apparent that these really were our conditions and we were going very well compared to the other boats. We are a longer, narrower boat and we should have been a bit quicker. What really surprised us was how settled the boat was and how we didn't drop any speed or height as we progressively shortened sail and de-powered the boat. We didn't have to push the boat or ourselves hard at all.
At the end of that day the 6 o'clock radio sched brought confirmation that we'd done pretty well. As night fell we were going through the motions and we starting to feel hugely upbeat about our prospects on the leg.
Our last sched position before the dismasting, 1800hrs Wednesday
So at this point we were out there living the dream, but it was all about to go pear shaped...
Just before 2200 we changed watch. I'd had a couple of hours sleep and it was my turn to sail and let Matt have a rest. We swapped over and just as we'd been doing all day we tonked along doing between 6-7 knots. The breeze was about 20 knots and the seas were a bit lumpy and confused. I spent a few minutes sussing the angles of the swell and found that pinching the boat a little into the breeze gave us a better angle to the waves and slightly less speed and power when we hit a bump. I prepared myself for a couple of hours of sailing when all of a sudden we hit two waves in succession. The waves weren't large, the bumps were actually quite innocuous and not really conspicuous for any other reason other than the popping sound that accompanied the second one. I looked up at the rig and I had the most rotten, gut-wrenching feeling as I realised that the rig had failed and we had a broken mast.
My immediate reaction was surprise and I remember saying out loud to myself "there goes the race". I yelled to Matt that we had a broken rig and he scrambled out of his bunk.
As Matt came out of the hatch the rig was mostly still standing. The 'Upper' shroud that supports the side of the mast and the top of the rig had let go, but the secondary, 'lower' shroud was supporting the remaining section. Matt suggested that we try to save whatever we could of the rig and I scrambled forward to see if I could pull the headsail onto the foredeck. It only took a matter of seconds however and a second bang saw the remaining rigging break free and the mast slumped completely over the side of the boat.
In an impossibly short amount of time Matt grabbed the hacksaw, bolt-cutters and some pliers from down below. The danger of having the mast hanging over the side of the boat is that it can damage the hull - which of course can create a whole new set of problems when you're way out at sea. When it was evident that we couldn't save any of the rigging the priority became to get rid of it.
Right in front of us the motion of the rig in he swells was causing the section to shear off from the deck. The halyards, electrical cables and hydraulic lines were all that were connecting it to the boat. We furiously hacksawed, chopped and otherwise freed all these lines. The severed hydraulic line created a fountain of slippery oil that covered the decks. We had to get on our hands and knees to move around the boat.
Bit by bit everything fell clear of the vessel. We freed everything from the bow first and moved back - this wasn't planned, but it's just the way it worked out. There was a bit of stress when we realised that the mainsheet, runners and backstay were the last items attached and that they'd caused the rig to slip towards the back of the boat where the propeller and rudder might be damaged. I can remember chopping through the backstay with the hacksaw like a man-possessed. Once that was free the whole lot sank really fast.
Hacksaw in hand, I looked up from watching the sinking rig, looked forward across the decks and at that moment the reality of the dismasting sank in. Matt and I were in disbelief and we swore over and over again. We felt dudded to lose the mast like that in those circumstances. There was also a sense of apprehension that, while there was no immediate danger to us or the boat, we now had a mission on our hands to get back to dry land.
We tidied up all the sheets and remaining remnants of rigging. The oily decks and the really crappy motion of the mastless boat made this job not fun and it seemed to take an age. Once everything was clear we started up the engine. At this time we discovered that the engine controls had been mangled in the dismsating - probably from having a line twisted around them. Matt showed some engineering skills to jury-rig a manual throttle for the engine using the sailors trusty friend - VB (venetian blind) cord.
We got underway doing about 3 knots into the swell and breeze. A quick look at the charts revealed that the closest safe harbour was New Plymouth - more than 150 miles away. There are other harbours up and down that coast, but none really suitable for yachts, or bad weather.
We contacted the race organisers, Taupo Marine Radio and Matt's wife Cath to let people know what happened. Despite losing the rig and all our radio communications we had a sat-phone, which turned out to be an incredibly invaluable thing. While we had spare aerials, etc. we found the convenience and ease of use of the phone to be absolutely indispensible. I strenuously suggest to all offshore sailors to carry one of these on board during passages like this.
We originally set off south, heading for Taranaki, but after consultation with people ashore it seemed that a better option for us was to head inshore towards the western shores of Auckland. The thinking was that we may be able to cross into the Manakau Harbour, but if that turned out to be impossible we could get more diesel fuel to give us a better safety margin for a passage south.
Maintaining the slow speed to save fuel we started the long haul back towards the shore. It was wet and lumpy and the only footage we have was a 'Blair-Witch-Project' style video I took, which came out spooky because I was trying to keep the camera dry!
By Thursday afternoon we were closing in on the coast and the plan was that a tug, the Shamrock II, was going to make it's way out of Kaipara Harbour, transfer some fuel across and then stand by us for the evening. This plan was aborted however when heavy seas stopped the tug in it's tracks and it pitchpoled trying to get out of the Kaipara Bar. We were resigned to the fact that we'd be on our own for the night. We decided to stand offshore in deep water and slowed right up - so we only had enough speed to hold our course and position.
It was a long night. The evening was punctuated by aircraft flying overhead towards Auckland airport and some seriously good stars. We got the odd wave over the deck. It's quite amazing how foreign and barren the cockpit of the boat is when you don't have the usual ropes and rigging to hold on to. Trying to go nowhere on a vessel at sea without any sails is quite uninteresting and it gives you too much time to think about the cold and lack of sleep.
At day-break we were getting pretty anxious about whether we could go through with the plan to cross into Manakau Harbour, or whether we were facing another couple of days of slog to New Plymouth.
We were in contact with two people throughout the course of the morning. Evan the lighthouse keeper, perched high on the hills above the harbour entrance was relaying advice and information to us about the state of the bar. Down below Nick the salvage expert was waiting in his aluminium work boat on the other side of the bar. The picture being relayed to us was a bit mixed and up until the turn of the tide it sounded very doubtful that we could take the boat through breaking surf across the 4m deep sandbar and into port.
The change of tide brought a change of fortunes for us however and we started to get some rather more optimistic reviews from Evan about the state of the Bar. By 1130 hrs we had a bit of a now-or-never situation. We had too little fuel to wait around for the rest of the day, the breeze was forecast to come up and for the first time we had a positive review of the surf conditions - so we bit the bullet, lined up our transit points, revved up the engine and made our way towards the shore.
To say we were relaxed about this would be a lie. We know the reputation of these bars and we were expecting to get knocked around a bit. We had the wash-boards in and we constantly kept checking our line with Evan. He was awesome - it was like someone talking down a rookie pilot from the control tower ("pull up you're too low"). With some guidance and reassurance we made it through surprisingly unscathed and before we knew it we had met the other boat and we were heading in the heads of the harbour.
A combination of the relief of getting to safety, the beauty of the upper reaches of the harbour and the sudden improvement in weather conditions once inshore conspired to immediately release us from the stress and tension since the dismasting. For a while we even forgot the disappointment of the race and just enjoyed the moment.
Around the early afternoon we had made it up the harbour under tow all the way to Onehunga wharf. We tied up next to a tug boat and got the boat cleaned up. It was great to see Cath waiting for us on the dock. I was able to ring Australia and report that we were ashore.
We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Evan, Nick, Taupo and Auckland Marine Radio, the race organisers, insurers and everyone else who so willingly gave us assistance. Our predicament was never a life-and-death situation, but this sort of thing takes you a bit out of your comfort zone and the help we received was really invaluable.
I'm writing this on the ferry back in Sydney, travelling back home from the office. There's a bit of a sense of anguish about the lost opportunity caused by the rig failure. After the preparation, expense and hard work it all seems a bit cruel. We had sailed this race 100 times before we set off to do it. When you were out for a walk, commuting to work - all we thought about was the pursuit of this dream and it's really, really sad that it ended the way it did.
The upshoot of course is that we're safe and the boat will be fine. Coming ashore and learning the extent of the Christchurch earthquake was shocking and it also puts in perspective the triviality of our own misadventures.
Check back over the next few days and I'll post some videos and pictures from the boat move on the following day.
0 Comments on: Blog EntryFriday 25th February, 2011
The good news is that Matt and I successfully crossed the Manakau Bar around midday today and made our way up to Onehunga Wharf. Thanks for all your messages of support.
At around 2200 on Wednesday a shroud fitting failed and we lost our mast. I'll give a detailed account of this later, but from the moment this happened our race ended and we had to change mission to getting ourselves and the boat back to shore.
We were relieved to get back today, but now we are on shore we can reflect on a shattered dream. We both put so much into this and it was cruelly taken away. We wanted to sail into Wellington, our old home town and we wanted to win that leg.
I'll put a detailed report of our race later on.
We'd like to thank all our families, friends, supporters and sponsors who followed this blog.
0 Comments on: Blog EntryTuesday 22nd February, 2011
RNI Leg 2 - Waiting for the start
We've got out early and we're waiting for the start. There isn't a breath of wind.
We take the anchor of the bow and stow it below so we always give ourselves a bit of extra time.
The forecast is light for today and we may get a bit of southerly breeze tomorrow on the west coast. It doesn't look like we'll get anything hairy. Some breeze would be very welcome!
Everything is good otherwise. We're stocked up on chocolate, peperoni sticks and some other food. We're looking forward to seeing everyone in Wellington.
16 Comments on: Blog Entry
Posted by Paul Hardiman on 22/02/2011 6:33:40 AM
Posted by Cath on 22/02/2011 7:26:17 AM
Posted by Murray on 22/02/2011 8:30:53 AM
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Posted by Murray on 23/02/2011 12:15:23 AM
Posted by Dianne, Kelvin and girls on 23/02/2011 5:28:18 PM
Posted by Cath on 24/02/2011 3:49:08 AM
Posted by cath on 24/02/2011 6:21:36 AM
Posted by Murray on 24/02/2011 6:43:23 AM
Posted by Cath on 24/02/2011 11:32:14 AM
Posted by Paul Hardiman on 24/02/2011 6:10:53 PM
Posted by Cath on 24/02/2011 7:14:35 PM
Posted by Simon M on 25/02/2011 7:37:49 AM
Posted by Cath on 25/02/2011 9:41:18 AM
Posted by Murray on 25/02/2011 9:52:56 AM
Posted by Brent on 26/02/2011 6:08:29 AM
RNI Leg 1 Report - An Emotional Roller Coaster
We're finally away on our big race. The leg we have just sailed was a tricky one. The race overall was a bit of a emotional rollercoaster as we had a succession of wins and loses tactically.
The race start was a great occasion. The Devonport wine and food festival was on ashore. The got a really seriously good gun for the start, which had flame and smoke as well as a massive bang. 'Word' to whoever had the idea to use the howitzer for the race. I hope that it made it back to base safely and wasn't stolen by wine festival party goers.
For the start, we decided to avoid the mosh-pit at the pin and try and sneak through to leeward. This would have worked well but the tide had us sweeping down much too fast towards the line and we had to hold up bit to avoid being over early. We were stoked to be away, but left ourselves a bit of work to do after the start (Morale Reading MR = OK).
Before we knew it we had hoisted the big chute and gybed off down the Rangi Channel. There was very little breeze and it was one of those patterns where no one good get a lead because they'd sail up to the edge of the breeze and stop. This trend continued all afternoon and it was funny to have every kind of boat, from the biggest and quickest down to the oldest and slowest sailing in a pack.
The first big decision came as we approached Tiri Channel. The fleet began to split into two groups - one in the east and one, where we were in the west. There was no breeze at all in the channel and we decided to bail out and switch sides. This turned out to be a good call and when the two groups converged we had a small lead over some of our closest competitors. (Morale Reading MR = Better than Average).
We'd managed to get through all the sail changes required in the course of the day well. We calculated ten changes in the course of the afternoon. Every choice worked well for us and we were pleased with our work. It was a hot day however and we were ploughing through our water supplies replacing lost fluids.
In the early evening the breeze filled in finally and with a good ten knots of breeze and downwind sailing we could sail in a mode that is very good for Mr. R. We carried the big red spinnaker, nick-named Elmo by Emily, all the way up the coast. We seemed to play the shifts well as we sailed past the Hen and Chicks and up towards Tutukaka. We would have been in very good shape in terms of the race overall at that point. (Morale Reading MR = High).
Around dawn we started to lose the pleasant breeze that we had encountered and before we knew it boats were coming around us like space invaders. We managed to wriggle away a couple of times, but our luck ran out and a pack of them managed to pick up a private breeze and extend a mile or so out in front of us. This was a blow, because for the rest of that day it helped a lot to be in front. If you were more north you got best and first use of the breeze while the boats behind wallowed a little. (Morale Reading MR = Frustrated).
We had to work very slowly up to Cape Brett in a lumpy sea with very little wind. The combination of no wind to fill your sails and the rocking motion of the swells means it's very hard to obtain motion and keep it. We didn't really find a good set-up to get a rumble on - we tried all kinds of set-ups in the course of the day, but we found every time that sailing high, having the pole-forward and keeping the sail strapped in seemed to be the only way we could keep motion on. Some of our competitors seemed to make sailing in these conditions look easy and others looked as out-of-sorts as we were. As luck would have it the wind kept shifting behind us and we were forced to sail all the way across the face of the Bay of Islands at about 3 knots of speed. All the way we had the banging, flapping and rolling motion - which can drive you a bit nuts. (Morale Reading MR = Breaking out the euthanasia kits).
After trying everything to get the boat going to no avail we decided that we should eat and drink. After some rocking filled rolls, pepperoni sticks and a cold beer (we carry some for emergencies like this) everything seemed to be better. (Morale Reading MR = Happy campers).
As night was approaching we sailed in towards the Cavalli Islands. We could go inside or outside of these. I'd like to say we were very strategic about the decision, but if anything the breeze made up our mind for us as a wind shift made it tough to go around the outside. We rumbled in towards the Cavalli Passage in a little posse of three boats. As we got in there the other two lost their nerve and tried to tack away. We kept going and we quickly got a little break on them. The wind died as we got to the channel but the tide was flowing through and we had the good fortune of being sucked through on a little 'river' of flowing water. With a nice hot meal, a spectacular combination full-moon-rise and a sunset, plus a small gain we felt that we'd got a lucky break. (Morale Reading MR = Confident like we'd just walked out of an Anthony Robins Seminar).
As an evening land-breeze filled in the settled conditions meant we could have some watches and get some decent sleep. We managed to crank it up along the shoreline with our code 0 sail on. When the angles and breeze are right this is a quick set-up and we were really happy to chew up the last few miles. (Morale Reading MR = Stoked and Rested).
The finish at Mangonui was a bit of a mine-field for us as we had a few mis-steps trying to pick our way down the shore to the finish. There are a couple of reefs that ended up right in our way and every time we tacked to avoid them the breeze dropped out or changed direction suddenly. We finally made it into the finish around 4am. (Morale Reading MR = Relieved and Pleased).
In the wash up we were right in the middle of the fleet. When you consider the ups and downs we had during the race we were pretty content with where we ended up. We now have a benchmark and three more legs to prove to ourselves that we can do better.
On the boat we are enjoying a high standard of amenities and catering. Our crew favourite, bacon and egg pie is going down well. We consume mental quantities of chocolate and fruit. The standard of humour is high and we haven't had to repeat any sailing stories yet.
I'm writing this at anchor in beautiful Mangonui harbour. We've had a great reception here from the locals. We also had a fortuitous hook-up with Andrew, Jodie and Jack Thompson - friends from Australia who are coincidentally holidaying here this week.
Tomorrow we have a briefing at 7am and the race starts again at 10am. We'll have a good sleep tonight and make sure we're ready for a big few days ahead.
That's all for now from the good ship Mr. R.
2 Comments on: Blog Entry
Posted by Sue Woodley on 21/02/2011 6:18:09 PM
Posted by Brad Greenrod on 22/02/2011 7:29:43 PM
Leg 1 - Results
We anxiously had a look at the results and it turned out we did OK. We knew the bigger, faster boats would have done well and we suspected some of the slower boats would have got better breeze to get in - and that's how it worked out.
We ended up in the middle of the fleet (36 boats):
- 12th on line
- 17th on handicap
- 7th out of 16 in our division.
We are motivated to try and improve on these during the next few legs. We reckon we can with a bit of luck and hard work.
2 Comments on: Blog Entry
Posted by Paul Hardiman on 21/02/2011 11:45:16 AM
Posted by Cath on 21/02/2011 1:36:45 PM
Finished Leg 1
We finished a couple of hours ago and we're now at anchor in Mangonui harbour. Our result will be OK - there's a lot of boats still at sea and there's less wind out there than outer space.
The sailing this evening was nice, with just enough wind and favourable tide to keep us moving. There's an intense full moon which illuminates everything.
We're both good. We had solid two hour sleeps earlier on so we're feeling pretty fresh. However, it will be great to recharge the batteries and then set off again.
I'll put a full report of the leg up tomorrow.
5 Comments on: Blog Entry
Posted by Cath on 21/02/2011 4:50:48 AM
Posted by Emily on 21/02/2011 7:01:56 AM
Posted by Tim on 21/02/2011 7:08:45 AM
Posted by Mandy H-P on 21/02/2011 9:09:19 AM
Posted by Murray on 21/02/2011 10:13:48 AM
Leg 1 - Day 2
Last night we staged a come back and had a very good spell heading up past the Hen and Chickens. Things turned a bit funky around Tutakaka Head and a few boats caught us up and busted through.
The morning brought very little breeze as we wriggled our way up towards Cape Brett. We've found a real achilles heel of the boat is light airs running, and that's what we ended up doing all day!
Lots of people in the Bay of Islands will tell you it was an amazing day up here at the beach, but for us it was a bit excrutiating as we spent the whole day sailing across the face of the Bay.
As I write this we are working our way through the Cavalli Islands in a light, flukey breeze. You have to work for every mile in these kind of conditions. With about 50 miles to go we hope to be at the finish before day-break.
There was an amazing sunset and moon rise tonight. We enjoyed a great casserole meal and some excellent snackage. Because of the hot weather and hard work we've carved through our water supplies, but we've got enough to get us to the finish.
We've had no real events to report on the vessel. We've been busy thinking up nicknames for our competitors and cracking jokes about stuff only interesting and funny to us.
Thanks for all your messages. We love hearing from you all. Lot's of love to Emily and Freya - who will be missing their Dad like I miss you.
Tomorrow we hope to report that we've finished the Leg!
2 Comments on: Blog Entry
Posted by Mandy H-P on 20/02/2011 9:04:26 PM
Posted by Cath on 21/02/2011 1:07:04 AM
Leg 1 - Day 1
The start was great but we didn't have a great start! It's awesome to be underway.
We've been through about 10 sail changes in the past six hours. The weather has been tough, with light breeze - we gone from hero to zero and then back again!
At the moment we're sailing past Cape Rodney in a nice breeze. The fleet is still bunched up, so the big boats are only a few miles in front. There's no one in front of us who shouldn't be so we are a happy boat.
Love to both our families. Hope everyone is having a good weekend.
Stand by for more news from the good ship R.
11 Comments on: Blog Entry
Posted by Murray on 19/02/2011 5:43:23 PM
Posted by Cath on 19/02/2011 6:22:47 PM
Posted by Murray Woodley on 20/02/2011 4:53:15 AM
Posted by Murray on 20/02/2011 4:55:19 AM
Posted by James Grant on 20/02/2011 6:00:58 AM
Posted by Judy Rohner on 20/02/2011 7:36:53 AM
Posted by Paul Hardiman on 20/02/2011 7:51:37 AM
Posted by Mandy on 20/02/2011 3:53:21 PM
Posted by Brent on 20/02/2011 5:26:48 PM
Posted by Murray on 20/02/2011 6:28:55 PM
Posted by matt Flynn on 23/02/2011 8:06:07 AM
We've planned, raced and dreamed of doing this for almost two years and now it's finally here.
We've got up to a stunning day in Auckland, a great forecast and we're all good to go.
Thanks to Cath, who's been in this up to her eyeballs in so many ways. Thanks to Mandy, Emily and Freya who are home alone yet again.
We'll do our best for all of our supporters and do our best to share it with you on this site.
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
-- Mark Twain
1 Comments on: Blog Entry
Posted by Paul Hardiman on 19/02/2011 7:11:05 AM
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