30 March 2014

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -43.359716 LON: -179.669833
Timestamp: 2014-03-30 11:49 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-43.359716&lon=-179.669833
YOTREPOS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Going South

We've changed course to run slightly south of the Chatham Islands,
rather than north of them which was my original intention. It looks
like there will be some contrary winds for a few days, with the
strongest of those north of the islands. We've had to motor throughout
the day and will do so overnight tonight because there is almost no wind
happening at the moment.

I'm hoping that the long range forecast gets revised, I really don't
want to do 2-3 days more motoring past the Chathams.

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -43.142000 LON: 178.433183
Timestamp: 2014-03-29 20:11 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-43.142000&lon=178.433183
YOTREPOS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Becalmed in the Roaring Forties

For the last 2 days we have been making very slow progress -- almost no
wind so we've been motor-sailing during the day and then shutting the
engines down to drift during the night so we can get some sleep. That's
been more or less successful although it means we only covered 44
nautical miles in the 24 hours until now.

Predictwind says that there is more of this to come so we're stopping
for breakfast now before changing the sails to motoring configuration
for the rest of the day.

I'm not going to risk the wrath of Poseidon by saying something silly
like "more wind would be good".

Crossing the date line, now only 70 miles ahead, will feel like a milestone.

28 March 2014

Sofa So Good

If every southern ocean transit was like this more people would do it.

We had to motor for about 5 hours out of Lyttelton before we picked up a
good tailwind, since then it's been varying between 10 and 25 knots and
right behind us. Making good progress as the tracking links will show.
We should close in on the half way point between Lyttelton and the
Chatham Islands late tonight.

Predictwind routing and weather service seems good so far.

27 March 2014

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -43.267616 LON: 174.140150
Timestamp: 2014-03-26 20:45 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-43.267616&lon=174.140150
YOTREPOS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

26 March 2014

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -43.610916 LON: 172.772633
Timestamp: 2014-03-26 06:06 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-43.610916&lon=172.772633
YOTREPOS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Out the door

Departing Lyttelton Heads now. Southern Ocean here we come.

20 March 2014

Updated itinerary

Here is an update of my current itinerary for anyone who is interested (or who I have sent an earlier copy to and wants an update).

It looks like the most favourable weather window to leave Lyttelton will be in the morning of Wednesday 26th March.  I should know more by this weekend.

04 March 2014

Through the worst of it

With area winds forecast to drop (!) to 34 knots by midnight tonight and then to 25 knots by 7am tomorrow, I'm through the worst of it.  I set up 3 lines from various strong points on the boat (I have samson posts fore, centre and aft) to the mooring buoy, one of them is showing signs of chafe but the other two are fine.

The anchor shackle broke -- once again -- I previously broke one part way across the Tasman, but this time I have the advantage of having tied a buoy to the anchor.  The buoy is still floating nearby and hasn't been gathered up and blown away by the winds, so it must still have my anchor just below it tied with the length of line I used, so it's just a matter of waiting for the winds to abate and going over in the dinghy to retrieve it.  It does mean that I don't have a back up plan if the mooring drags tonight, or if the tie lines break, but it shows no sign of doing that and the winds are less now than they have been for the last 24 hours.

I'll clearly have to invest in a better brand of shackles.  This one has snapped through the D ring, on heaving up the anchor chain I retrieved the top half but not the bottom half of the shackle.  I suspect my other one broke in the same place.

I have started the engine and I'll leave it running through the night in case there's a breakage that means I need it.

There was an annoying leak in the tiller joint which was causing water to pool through the joint and drip onto my bunk, I have plugged it up with goo for the time being so it's no longer dripping but I'll have to pull it apart and fix it properly when the weather is dryer.

Holy Sharknado, Batman!

I thought I'd tied everything down but I'd forgotten about the dinghy.  It was just tied to the side of Chiara Stella with a bow and stern line.

The wind picked it up and threw it up over the guardrails where it came to rest on the doghouse roof:

There were also 2 small fish in it.  Bandit is chewing on one of them now, the other has gone back to join its friends.

The worst is apparently yet to come, around 2-3pm today according to Predictwind.  MetService suggests that the worst has already past but they have long since lost my trust.

03 March 2014

Dug in

I have my new Manson Supreme anchor down as well as tied to the 4t mooring owned by the club.  It seems that this is the safest anchoring spot, although I look like I'm close to the shore it's where I've been since I arrived according to the GPS.

True to form the predicted SW winds are currently blowing from the NE, which makes this a lee shore, but that could be the lee effect from the shoreline.  Both are forecasting gusts to 50 knots tonight.

02 March 2014

Diamond Harbour again

Wind forecast for the next few days isn't good, metservice has a gale warning out with predictions of up to 50 knot winds locally, while predictwind has a forecast of 25 knots in the inner harbour for Monday evening and again up to 35 knots on Tuesday afternoon.

So I have left my berth at the marina and headed across to Diamond Harbour to pick up the club mooring.  It should be much more sheltered over here, there is no shelter in the marina from SW or SE winds (or anything else for that matter).  I should be back in the marina early on Thursday morning, it looks like it should have blown out by then.  Meanwhile I'm going to sit here and hold on tight.

There were a few minor dramas leaving the berth, as the wind shifted 180 degrees and strengthened just as I was untying ropes, so I now have an untidy mark in my paintwork down the starboard side.  Hopefully no further damage while I'm here.

01 March 2014

Some people aren't going to like this post

but hey, when has that ever stopped me?

I've been in Lyttelton for a couple of months now on and off, travelling in to Christchurch about 2-3 times per week for shopping and various other reasons.  Today I went to a whisky festival and took some extra time to walk around the city afterwards.  Also, over the last couple of weeks I've been reading the newspapers, watching the rebuild process and following local politics a bit.

Both Christchurch the city and Lyttelton the port town were heavily damaged in the 2010 earthquake, Christchurch to the point where the CBD basically ceased to function and was "red-zoned", which meant that everyday people were prohibited from entering while the necessary demolition work was completed to take down the unsafe buildings, and some propping up to make the remaining buildings safe.

As a result of not having a CBD for so long, Christchurch has basically learned to live without one.  The CBD is now open again, except for a few roadblocks and lane closures where some limited amount of construction (road and/or building) is happening.

I say "limited amount" because, despite the fact that three years have gone past since the major earthquake, there really isn't very much reconstruction happening.  The city is full of empty building blocks, boarded-up buildings, half started foundation works, etc.  Some of these have for sale signs on them but most of the CBD doesn't exist any more.  There aren't queues of traffic waiting to pass at the various roadblocks, there aren't queues of traffic at all.  Many of the buildings that look fit to occupy aren't occupied.  Most of the construction sites have limited amount of activity on them, and some are showing signs that there has been no activity for a year or more.

There's this thing called the "Re:Start Mall" in the centre of the city, on the ruins of one of the major shopping precincts of past.  According to the signage it contains "great caf├ęs and a mix of speciality gift stores" in fact it's a themeless assortment of retailers hanging by a thread, operating out of re-purposed shipping containers and the graffiti-endorsed patched up remains of the buildings that didn't entirely collapse.  Sure it might be interesting to view the sort of things that can be done with a few shipping containers and some ingenuity, but the partially permanent, partially transient effect gives one the impression that this is just never going to get fixed.

Behind all of this, of course, there's a bit of politics.  There's this Canterbury/Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Authority, headed by a government minister with almost limitless power.  Along with that limitless power is a limitless reluctance to do anything, mostly because he's an appointee of a conservative government which is mostly interested in what size tax cuts it can offer to rich Aucklanders so they can afford that second Jaguar, and not particularly interested in spending money to fix Christchurch.

On the other side is a city council that seems to be more interested in how many political points it can score in arguments against the CERA, and despite being on the progressive side of politics and quite interested in fostering the rebuild, it doesn't have the money or personnel resources to be able to do it alone.  The big money comes from the national government and that government isn't really that interested in spending very much of it.

Then of course there appears to be the (government funded) national earthquake insurers and on the other side the various commercial insurance companies.  Neither of which are actually interested in funding any of the rebuilds either, they are each mostly interested in ensuring that the other party funds the rebuild.

So although one would expect that, in this recovery phase, the city would be a great place to work if you were a builder, plumber, engineer, or architect, in fact it's just a great place to work if you're a lawyer (and in fact I suspect that most of the money spent here goes into the pockets of lawyers in Auckland, and hence to Jaguar).  Perhaps if you're in the health industry, or any of the industries servicing the nearby agricultural sector then it's OK too but I suspect that the agriculture and forestry industries (Lyttelton port is full of logs) are really the only things from keeping the local economy from collapsing completely.

5 years ago, Christchurch was a beautiful city.  Right now, it's just munted.   It has the potential to be beautiful again.  I think that a large number of people need to come to the realisation that unless the PTB pull their collective heads out of their collective posteriors, that's just not going to happen.

I witnessed a local bus station attendant today tell a couple of foreign tourists that there was nothing for them to see or do in Christchurch, and that they should head either north or south.  I've seen or heard that happen at least 2 or 3 times since arriving here.  On one occasion two travellers were looking for work (just seasonal stuff, fruit picking or farm labouring) and they were both advised by a local to head for the north island.  That's quite sad really.

There's a national election this year.  That gives the opportunity for change, however it appears that the latte-sipping Jag-driving spin doctors have enough of a hold on the national political conscience that the change isn't going to happen for at least another 3 years, hopefully by which time people will start to realise that it's been munted for quite long enough and do something about it.

I'd hate to see a serious political riot here but that's just what it might take.