Sunday, April 13, 2008

Maggie Drum is Sold and Gone

It is a sad day here in Whangarei, NZ. I just watched the stern of Maggie Drum motor down the river away from the dock with the new owners. It is raining and gloomy here which is fitting I guess. Never seen anyone else drive Maggie, at least not while I was not on her.

The new owners are Australians (Ozzies) and have a lot of seamile experience. They plan on keeping the name so she will continue to sail the seas with that name. They are the fourth owners and are very happy, as they should be. They will be taking her across the Tasman Sea when a decent weather window presents itself after going north to Opua and the Bay of Islands to wait for the passage crew. The wife and kids will fly back to Brisbane and some friends will fly over here to sail back. This passage can be very exciting so that is just as well as they are new to the boat.

I will be flying out of Auckland this Saturday, the 19th of April, and going to Denver to be with Cindy. I'll be there 2 weeks and then off to Seattle and on to Anacortes to find a house and start my new job with Anacortes Marine Electronics. Anyone coming to the area is welcome and we would love to see you. No phone numbers yet but AME is in the phone book.

We may get another boat in the future but for now will be landlubbers for a bit. Nice to have a hot shower you don't have to walk a block to get to and doesn't require two fifty-cent pieces to use. I am in a motel until my flight out.

We have been on MD since 1999 and she was like a part of the family - a very expensive part, but one that gave us many adventures that we will never forget. Fair winds and safe passages Maggie!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Taking off Sept 2004 from Washington

Picture taken by our friends, Terry and Diane, at Port Angeles in the Straits of Juan de Fuca before we took off for our trip south by ourselves. Terry was being funny, but it was a serious event for us. This was September 2004. The rest is history.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Offer and Deal on the Boat

Well, we had a showing of Maggie Drum to a nice couple who flew over from Australia to see her. They flew in to Auckland, rented a car and stayed with some friends here in Whangarei. They inspected her on Sunday all day with me (the Australian broker was in Auckland for the annual boat show but did not have time to come up to Whangarei), liked what they saw and decided to go ahead with a sea trial and survey the next day.

Monday came with high tension. I have been totally stressed out getting the boat ready, trying to get my emotions together and still find time to sleep, which was not coming as I was too wound up. The night before the showing I woke up at 2:30am and could not go back to sleep. The next night before the survey was better but I only got about 5 hours sleep. Friends helped me clean and polish the decks all day on Friday and much of Saturday while I worked down below. That is on top of the months of effort to get MD ready. I should have worked harder before to save the final push at the end.

The sea trial went without a hitch. Getting underway after several months in a slip is always a bit nerve wracking anyway. You are worried that something won't work right or else you forget something like the last dock line on the stern tying you to the boat next to you, which is exactly what happened. I also forget how to drive so it very stressful even without buyers and a surveyor on board. It helped that the buyers were very, very nice knowledgeable sailors but the surveyor was taciturn and almost unfriendly. The big worry was that he would find something to condemn the boat and prevent the sale.

The buyers had been looking for a bigger boat to replace their 38-footer. They have two teenage boys and needed more room. Maggie Drum fit the bill evidently because after the showing they confirmed the survey for the next day. They were very picky so I felt more and more confident. The surveyor came on at 9am and did not leave until 6pm so he took lots of time to find problems. In the end, he had to put something down and did find some minor issues which did not put off the buyers. They did not ask me to fix anything as a condition of sale and we verbally agreed on the deal.

There is a contingency on a sale of some property of theirs in Australia so it is not a done deal. They can walk away essentially any time before April 10th when we expect to close with funds transferred then. They have a large non-refundable deposit on the sale of their property so it looks good but until then, Maggie Drum is still officially on the market.

I will stop most of my work on the boat now after having off-loaded most all our personal gear a much of the boat gear and put it in storage. The water line came up 5 inches! We had way too much stuff on this boat. Now it will have to be shipped back to the US.

We are not completely sure what we will be doing in the US. Cindy's position with her company goes until the end of the year if she wants it. I will visit with her for a while since we have been apart since early December. Then I will most likely go back to Anacortes and settle in there with visits back and forth to Denver and then Cindy will join me in Anacortes on a permanent basis. This is all subject to change. It is nice to have options, and very nice (for us) that real estate may be coming back down to a reality level so that we may be able to get our own house again.

And since the sale of the boat is not a done deal all of this may change. We will put MD up on the hard here and come back the next season if she doesn't sell now and we will continue cruising after a year off. So you will have to stay posted to find out "the rest of the story".

Saturday, March 01, 2008

What's Up with Maggie Drum?

Well, you haven't heard much from us in the is space since the middle of November. The reason for that is we have been trying to come to grips with whether to sell the boat or keep going. The last several passages have been a bit of an ordeal for me (Joe) as I seem to get seasick and stay that way for the duration of the passages rather than just a couple of days as is the more usual pattern for most. It probably doesn't help that passages to and from New Zealand have a deserved reputation for being rough. Not always, but lots. Ours have been in the lots category.

Also, I have become a little bit disenchanted with throwing boat bucks in to the water in exotic places keeping the boat operational and up to snuff in third world countries. Many people seem to thrive on the challenge of it all but after the affair with the starter in Vanuatu, broken shrouds, broken this and that, it seems to have gotten to me.

It has been a very difficult decision. Witness to that is I refused to write about it, or even tell close friends and family about it, for several weeks. There was the distinct possibility that we could change our minds and keep going. And we still might. So how's that for being decisive? the problem is that there are many, many good reasons to stay out here and keep going. One major one is whether we can sell the boat in the midst of a global financial crisis that is affecting Australia and New Zealand as well as the US. Real estate is taking a beating right now here and people are not as optimistic for what basically is a non-essential major purchase and hobby.

Cindy is back in Denver working for her old employer of many years as a contractor or some major system upgrades. She has basically made the dream possible financially beyond our meager resources when we started out. Initially, back in 1999 when we started the dream, we mistakenly thought we had sufficient funds to go for several years without too much trouble. Wrong!! We don't seem to have the budgetary fortitude to get by with what we had so we have both worked off and on from the start. This also has been a strain on our lives as we live apart for several months of the year. However, we also live together 24/7 in a boat (think very small motor home size) with no "space" the rest of the time so may be that isn't so bad.

So, the boat is for sale. You can view the ad and photos on Yachtworld. com at: There are actually some good pics of the interior of Maggie Drum that you may not have seen before. MD is listed with an Australia broker at, the idea being that Oz has a bigger economy, more people and more money than NZ and it is close enough that people are willing to travel to see a boat over here, and may be even avoid paying duties on the boat for a bit if they don't need to take it to Oz in the short term. Other Ozzies have done that and keep the boat here in NZ and cruise the Pacific islands during the seasons.

Flash: just (right now) got a call from the broker saying that a couple of coming next week from Brisbane to have a look. They had actually written up an offer in January then rescinded it the next day before the ink was dry having concerns about the age of the boat and price vis a vis the prices in the US and Canada for the same model/age. Note: boats of this "age" are actually better built than the "clorox" bottle boats that are being mass produced today with extremely thin hulls and fittings to save cost and weight. The stress level just went up on me as I now have to rush to clean up the boat and finish a few last minute projects.

I also plan to publish on the blog in the very near future photos from our trip to Vanuatu and Fiji of last season. Vanuatu was a highlight of our travels so far. We absolutely loved it there. Not a perfect paradise but fun anyway as you would have gathered from our past blog entries.

I have hurt my back again so will just take some more medication and start cleaning up.

Cheers as they say here....

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Safely in Whangarei at the Marina

Hi all,
We got in to the marina yesterday and had a full, full day washing the top of the boat (you would not believe the salt caked on it) and had a really, really fun BBQ party at the regular Sunday night BBQ here at the marina with some old and new friends.

Also got our car delivered and that was great. Rented a big storage unit to start pulling stuff off the boat so we can work on the insides (varnish, etc.). Also looking at interviewing for some jobs here, one this week and some possibilities. We'll see if that makes sense or not. Going back to work will be hard but the cruising kitty is getting bare.

More later when all settles down. We are so happy to be here.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

209 Nautical Miles to Go to NZ

We are motor-sailing, really just motoring since the light wind is dead on our nose, but with light seas, also almost on our nose. I recalculated fuel and it looks like we can get in on fumes if the wind does not pick up, which it might. We'll go to plan B then which is to tack off to sea and back again to get in to refuel in Opua at the Bay of Islands. The B of I is one of the premier cruising grounds in NZ and we have not been there. We are on a schedule (hate that word!) though as we need to get to Whangarei asap. I actually have a job interview lined up with an electrical company that wires boats. I got this through emailing a specialty recruiter while in Vanuatu. Not sure what will happen with that.

We had a bit of a scare yesterday but all is well right now. I thought I found a leaking through-hull which would be a hazardous to your health situation. If it had failed entirely or if we could not keep up with the leak we might have had to abandon ship. Not a pretty thought. And, to make life more interesting still, our main day-to-day bilge pump failed. The bilge pump takes any stray water out of the bilge where it collects and dumps it over the side. We do have a bigger backup pump which we call our high water pump. It works but I have it rigged up to only go on manually but it does have a high water alarm that goes off if the water gets high, which it did. That will put the fear of all that is mighty in you. Not good especially when you have an active leak, which we did have, just not the t-hull.

When we lost the water pump belt the other day, I did not notice the belt broken so checked the raw water pump impeller. The impeller is a rubber pump vane that does wear out and I have had to replace it a couple of times over the last three years. But when I found the impeller OK I put the cover back on it but it had some salt encrusted on it and prevented a good seal, or at least it started off sealed but leaked later, badly. That was the source of all the water in the bilge and led to me thinking the t-hull was leaking. Water was sloshing around in the bouncy, bouncy of the wild seas yesterday and I was looking under and over with a flashlight on my knees and thought the worse. Last night we took turns turning the bilge pump on and off manually every 15-30 minutes else the alarm would go off. The worry of course was that the leak would get faster than the pump or that the pump would fail. We like to have backups up and running at all times for stuff like that.

Today, with calmer seas and no wind, I looked in and found the water leak source, double-checked the non-leaking t-hull and found a fuse gone on the main bilge pump which probably overstressed the fuse from running constantly. All is working now and if we don't run out of fuel, or the winds don't get too nasty again, we will clear in with Customs at Opua in two days, refuel, then head on south to Whangarei if the weather cooperates. This has definitely been one of the more challenging rides we have had. The 3000 mile trip from Mexico to the Marquesas was a cake walk compared to getting from and to NZ. It is famous even out here and some people avoid it. That is why most of our American buddies refused to come back and headed off to Australia where they report it is VERY expensive. Oh well, you choose your poison. We are too broke so are suffering with the rest of the Kiwis coming back home.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Better Progress Today

Last night at 2am the wind suddenly shifted from the SE to more S, allowing us to tack from our course going SSW to one going ESE, a much better course. This would take us over the top of Norfolk Island although we had no plans to stop there. We were changing watches and it was Cindy's turn and I was much tired and may be a little grumpy so didn't really want to do a major sail change when the bunk was calling me. But you can't ignore something like that as it doesn't just go away because you are a little tired.

It was blowing about 22kts at the time but the seas were not too bad, but it was still difficult to get the bow around to the new tack. We dealt with getting the main boom over to the center, then reefed in the jib, then tried to turn the boat but she refused to go around all the way despite full rudder. I turned on the engine and let it warm a bit (not having actually tested the new belts out yet so a little nervous about that) before putting on the power to help turn us around. It still was balky but made it. All of a sudden we lost steerage though and we were going in the completely wrong direction. By the way, there was a little scare during all this as one of the other boats in the group that left on the same day from Noumea all of a sudden appeared out of the dark on an almost collision course with us, crossing in front of us already on the new tack we wanted to go on. They did not have a good watch out and we could have had a collision on the very lonely wide open seas after 400nm of sailing. Go figure. We called them on the radio and they finally answered and said "how nice it was to see us" as if it were an every day event.

In any case, we had to jibe the boat instead of tacking again to get it around on the new tack. It was great to be going in more of the right direction for NZ as our previous course would have taken us to Tasmania and no where near NZ. We thought the wind would change but not until 12 hours later so it was early. We got the sails squared away and I laid down for a well-earned sleep and then couldn't being all keyed up from the activity. I am still tired now the next afternoon.

But, we have had a great day of sailing, on a good course, crossing very near Norfolk and leaving it behind. We cannot point in to the wind as much as we would like, or as much as the boat we almost hit, so will take longer than they will to get there. It is about 340nm to the northern cape of NZ and then another day to get to the river up to Whangarei, so about 4 days off still provided the winds are favorable. I think they will be some of both so who knows. At least the sun came out and we are making good progress. I may even sleep tonight. If I could only shake this nagging seasickness. I don't seem to get over it very easily, but Cindy is doing fine.

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