Work, Work, Work….. it’s time for a spa day, for both of us!

Since our arrival to New Zealand there has been 2 objectives to accomplish:

  1. Get our beloved Northern Lights generator working again.  This has been on our list since Fiji and after 3 different opinions and lots f leg work…were were able to get the part shipped to Auckland and courier to Opua.  The generator is very important to us as it runs our stove, water maker, and air conditioning among charge our batteries which we have been without since we arrived in Fiji on September 22nd.  We had the use of SV Me Toos portable generator (thanks to them) to be able to travel throughout Fiji but decided to get the work done and part delivered to New Zealand where there is an official Northern Lights dealer.
  2. Eliminate the water intrusion inside the boat.  After the passage to New Zealand and the “indoor pool” we experienced, we were no longer able to rest assured until we could at least abate the water that was able to come inside our boat.  We have always, as most boat do, have weeps of water and thus far we have never had a major problem…until now!  We are not the only ones who figured out how bad our boats leaked…but we were on a mission to figure it out and fix most if not all the issues.
  3. All other projects we wanted to do got put on hold….

Northern Lights Generator – Many electrical tests later, it seemed as though it was the rectifier and the diodes that went out on our generator.  The original diagnosis was the windings…which is deep inside and would require us to disassemble the helm and pull out the generator…something we did not want to do.  The rectifier, though difficult to get to, was at least “outside” the main mechanical side of the generator and could be accessed without pulling the whole damn thing out!  Thank goodness this worked : )

Here is the old rectifier and the 6 diodes….when the guys pulled it out we were relived to see 2 diodes were fried…if they weren’t that means the problem could not be the rectifier and we would have to keep digging. The rectifier (though this knowledge s above my paygrade) has something to do with the electrical field created to produce electricity…which is why we couldn’t run any system/stove/oven. Otherwise, mechanically, the generator ran fine.
While we had this section of the generator “open”…we decided to replace this bearing…because why not?!

Hatches – We always knew these leaked a little bit but never have we seen this much water come through during our passage here.  We had no idea if the hatches were indeed original but now it was on the top of our list to change out.  Easier said than done!!!!  Things are metric here in New Zealand (and almost everywhere else in the world) and finding a match, including the radius of the corners, were going to be tricky.  We finally found a brand that could “possibly” fit, we threw money at it and crossed our fingers.  Sure enough the radius was fine but the new hatches had a flange where our original hatches were a flat bottom.  Of course we couldn’t have know that until we committed and took off the old hatch.  With threats of rain at any time…we were blessed to have gotten all the essential work done on all 3 hatches during days it was sunny.  Lucky again.


Original hatch view from the outside
Original hatch view from inside
Opps…flat bottom on the old hatch. Trevor had to go to the hardware store in Kerikeri to buy a router to carve out for the new hatch flange to get it to set in the hole…..
But first…we had to peel off the old varnish to be able to get a good seal on the perimeter of the hatch.
Then sand, and sand again…..
Trevor routed out where the new hatch would sit inside the hole…otherwise we would’ve had to cut off the flange on the new hatch…We considered it but went with Trevor going back to woodworking….I don’t think he enjoyed like he use to : )
Then varnish, let it dry, sand, varnish again, let it dry, sand again…repeat until you have 7 coats on.
Almost done varnishing
Hatch install….using marine silicone, which gives a little and we want this as the boat is in constant shifting while underway.
Complete! We put silicone around the perimeter of the wood hatch to deck as well. Here is a top view.
View of new hatches from the inside…so clear!!!!

Running lights – We lost our starboard bow running light (green) as the waves yanked it off its mounting bracket and wires.  We need these for navigation so other vessels can tell where we/they are in relation to each other (whether they see red for port or green for starboard).

Original Port (red) light. It was original and we loved them as they were bright with LED lights and large. It also looked pretty with stainless steel encasements.
Yup…something definately missing here
We looked everywhere and could not find what looked to be what we originally had so we just caved and got both port and starboard lights to match. The trick was trying to use the existing holes and keep the lights straight to mount the new lights on. This will work…though less pretty.

Wind Turbine – The wind turbine is a love/hate thing for me….we lost the first wind turbine back on our crossing the pacific when it blew up in a major squall and we had parts flying off and onto the deck until we got a replacement in American Samoa…almost 4 months later.  We replaced the broken turbine back in August….all good…until we crossed to New Zealand.  The main topping lift had a few lines from our Dutchman system tied onto it due to not reconnecting it.  On my defense, I had wrapped it pretty well before hand but obviously not tight enough.  For some reason, when Trevor raised the main, the lines were untied and caught on one of the blades and ripped it off…thank goodness it didn’t hit anyone…AND thank goodness we kept the spare blades from the old turbine.

Trevor up the mizzen mast to change out the blade. you can see it broken

Back Stay and SSB Insulator – We witnessed our lower shroud both on our mizzen mast and main mast have a lot of play while we were under way on this passage.  We knew our rigging had shaken so much under tension from the wind we had we got a rigging inspection as soon as we got here to Opua.  We have plans to replace our lower shrouds later but what needed to get fixed was our backstay on our main mast.  Our SSB radio insulator is bolted through our backstay and it had multiple cracks and if it broke, it could disconnect our backstay..which is BAD!!!! So we got a took down the old one and ordered a new insulator and had a new backstay fashioned.  

Old SSB insulator with cracks… the cracks were on both ends of the insulator
Trevor up the main mast disconnecting our old backstay. It was a game of how do we keep the mast tight while it is being repaired and how to lower the huge cable (the backstay) down without damaging our dodger/bimini. Also we had to loosen up the tension of the masts so we could actually undo the connectors to the backstay. Trevor, in all his madness, fashioned halyards and lines connects to the deck and rails and all came down in one piece..including Trevor.
Of course the wind picked up while he was up there and the pin wouldn’t come out so easily so we had to have a sting to get him more tools and lubricant up the mast. Hence the string flying around…..
Before photo of the rusted connectors from our backstay…..
All cleaned up and ready to go back up.
The new backstay wire with new SSB Insulator attached.

Toe Rail – WOW….such a newbie mistake!  Back in Fiji, we had our varnish taken off thinking labor was cheap and water was getting stuck between the cracking varnish and wood and we didn’t want the wood to rot so we thought we were doing us a favor by taking the varnish off and leaving our teak toe rails to “grey” (go natural).  Well….this is where most of the water seeped through…as the varnish was taken off, so did the caulk between the toe rail and the deck so water was able to seep through and run down the inside of the boat soaking everything in it way: cushions, food, clothes, rugs, floors, everywhere!  So we had to re-varnish it…something any cruiser dreads….Varnish work!  We had to take the track, on top of the toe rail, off to be able to properly sand and re-varnish the toe rail.  Not a small job!  Trying to get to the 40 screw and bolts from inside the boat required us to disassemble cabinets and empty out entire spaces for WEEKS (because you had to get them back in).  Let’s just say our boat looked like a tornado hit it.

Trevor unbolting the track….the thing about this or any boat jobs is that you think all you have to do is “unscrew some bolts”…well…there is corrosion, some won’t budge, and you can barely get a tool on it….
disassembled cabinets after being cleared out…you can see all the bolts shining through. There is about 6 inches to get your hand up and onto the bolts below to hold while someone up top is holding/screwing out the screw. A 2 person job…..
After getting the bolts out, Trevor had to “lift” the track off but we needed leverage. So he rigged a halyard to the track while I put tension on the halyard using the main winch, letting it loose and then tightening it up making sure we didn’t bend the track itself….and we finally got it off.
Tape off before sanding the teak down, sanding it down with 80 grit, then 100 grit, tape off again to varnish…sand, varnish another coat, let it dry, sand again, varnish, let it dry again…repeat for 6-7 coats…..
we did one toe rail at a time….Here is a view of the difference between each side. The left is the teak toe rail gone “grey”…on the right, newly sanded and varnish…quite a difference…
had to clean up the track itself before putting it back down again…this is the before photo
Tracks after we sanded and scraped off all the goo and old varnish off, and coated it with protective aluminum paint….almost new.
We had to take off all the stanchions so we cleaned those up too from all the rust that had accumulated…finished photo
Toe rail without the track on, newly varnish and caulked both inside and outside of the toe rail
With everything back in place, Trevor decided to make new lifelines out of Dyneema line, stronger than the stainless steel wire we had as lifeline before and we are able to see the wear on it now rather than guess and look at the rust developing at the turn points. Trevor spliced everything himself….
Bow connection for our new Dyneema lifelines. You’ll notice it is just lashed…this is because Dyneema stretches over time and you want to be able to re-tighten them. We asked a few folks and they all agreed we left enough room for a long time to re-adjust them.
This also meant we needed new gates made so off to the chandelier Trevor goes to get new pelican hooks and rings to make gates for us.

External charge controller for the Alternator – One of the few things that DID make the list that didn’t have to do with the generator or water intrusion was an external alternator regulator.  This thing changes the voltage generated by our alternator to “step down” so we don;t burn out our battery bank.  I guess what happened is when the engine runs and the battery bank is already fully charged, the alternator sends 14.2 volts to the battery bank which is really high…when we only need a lower voltage charge.  So this thing will step down the voltage so we don;t burn out our new batteries purchased in 2016.

This is what it looks like…it took 8 hours to install…..they originally told us 2 hours….I guess it was more complicated ….as always!
We needed a new alternator to accept this external alternator regulator…..we so did…..we had 2 backups which are at the shop still….they need to be modified to accept this new thing. Unfortunately they guys, don;t know why we are burning though alternators…we don;t know either….hopefully they will figure it out.

Auto Pilot – While drying out the boat, Trevor found 5 gallons, alone, just under our bed where the autopilot pump and hydraulic rams are.  He also noticed a leak in the hydraulic hose that connects to the rams (we fixed the rams back in Fiji).  So got a new fitting and Trevor installed it.  We then had to “bleed” the hydraulic system of air bubbles which requires us to turn the wheel back and forth and keep the psi to a certain pressure.  Side note:  When we were entering the Bay of Islands and making landfall, we turned off the autopilot to hand steer for a bit…well to our surprise, the wheel kept on turning and wouldn’t stop….which meant we had no steering ability!  So we thought…..we quickly turned the auto pilot back on, as that seemed to be working…. we positioned ourselves to hand steer and clear of any obstacles (again this was in the middle of the early morning) and finally the wheel stopped and we could steer by hand.  The wheel was slow to react but at least we had steering.  Trevor thought it was air bubbles in the system we never got out back in Fiji and since we had been using the autopilot during the entire passage, the pump at the wheel never got all the air bubbles out.  At that point it didn’t matter….now the steering feel great and without any give or “soft” spots…we think we are all good!

Trevor putting back the hydraulic line and refilling the system with hydraulic fluid. Can you see the spray of fluid to the right of the photo?
We also have to bleed where the hydraulic fluid comes to the wheel so at our helm, Trevor is bleeding here too.

CPE- What did Kimi do?  Well I took 40 hours of CPE to keep my CPA license online.  I would have to wake up about 4:30 on days that I had signed up to take webcasts as the classes are on EST.  The first class I forgot that I was a day ahead of the US and was all ready to go…data full, coffee made, notebook in hand….but no class?  I emailed the company and they were like: “yes…it is on schedule for tomorrow…”….crap!  Oh well, I got it done, thank goodness, just in time to renew my WA license next year.


All back together – Finally, after 3 weeks of straight work…almost with a few days off here and there, we got everything finished that we had to for now.  We still have lots of little projects but we are scheduled to be down in Whangamata to meet my sister, Lisa and her fiance, Jake and his family there for Christmas.  My mother and step-dad are also coming to spend a few days of the new year with us before taking a cruise of Australia and New Zealand.  we are all meeting up in Whangamata and I can’t wait to see/meet everyone!

Looks like we hardly did anything…but trust me…we did : )


  1. OMG, I have two thoughts. 1. Anybody who thinks it would be a breeze to sail to the South Pacific in their little boat should be required to read this first. 2. Yall are SO lucky to have Trevor, a guy who with his life experience can fix anything with with a paper clip and bubble gum like McGyver

    1. I know right? I don’t know what I would do without this guy….though at times it’s not so smooth…it’s a marriage right?! lol

  2. All I can say is holy Whangamata! We hope to hear it all again in person when you return the Pacific North West. Love and Canada-sized hugs coming your way. Lori and Ed

    1. OMG we would love to see you and Ed again in person…whenever you are done working…come and visit! Merica hugs back at ya!!!!

  3. I can’t even imagine how hard it must have been to sit down to FORTY! hours of CPE when there are so many other essential and/or exciting things to do. I’m not sure I would have had the mental fortitude, so good job, girl! Along with having to be on the job as First Mate and helpmate to Cap’n/Chief Mechanic & Shipwright Trevor! :^D Love to you both XOXOXOXOX

    1. Jan, I know you feel my pain…. but it had to be done : ) I hope t get an earlier start on next years CPE here in NZ so I don’t have to do all 40 in such a short period of time…only me to blame for it! Hearts to you!

  4. Wow!! Great stories guys! So glad you got so much fixed in such a short time and still had time to play AND go to school! We miss you guys tons and think of you often. Just today we said “when/where in the world will we meet up with Kimi & Trevor again!?!” Merry Christmas! I’m wearing your hat Kimi! 🎅🏼

    1. We miss you both too (and the furry ones)…. We hope you both are still enjoying Mexico, we dearly miss that community but we must keep moving…let us know your cruising plans for this coming season?! Can’t wait to hear about them!

  5. Wow no wonder you are going sailing you both need a day off. Lol. Hmmm where’s the Spa stuff. I didn’t see any Paws nor Claws! Have a great cruise.

    1. Ohhh Deb, believe me…the spa is on the priority list! Both of our backs are hurting and need a bit of “me” time…. sounds like you both are incredibly engaged in the French Polynesia life… so good to hear! It’s hard to get so engaged when you have to keep moving around but…I guess it will have to do…you can’t see everything : ) Miss you both!

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