About Us

Welcome to our blog, describing our voyage aboard Bravo, a Kelly Peterson 46 sailboat with homeport in Seattle, Washington. We headed south in 2010, destined for Mexico and beyond. Cheers, Adam and Cindi


"As for me, I am tormented by an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts." -Herman Melville, 1844


Monday, November 9, 2015

"Here comes the sun, little darlin' "

Apologies to the Beatles, but it does feel great to feel spring blooming here in New Zealand.  Days are long, and the longer "fine spells" are welcome after the winter doldrums.

Life goes on in a rainy boatyard.....not always so glamorous!!!
It's hard to believe it's been 3 months since the last post, but life really has felt a bit like the Kiwi version of Bill Murray's Groundhog Day.  The days blend into weeks and then into months, w/ a fairly regular routine....We're still out of the water, and living in the boatyard.  So the projects continue....boat work till the afternoon, then off to the gym, groceries, dinner and a movie.....repeat....

Cindi's recovery has gone reasonably well.  She continues with her excellent physical therapist, undergoing all types of manipulations and exercises, including acupuncture for both the back (helps heaps) and arm (ummmm...not as much).  The back is much better.  Her arm break didn't set quite correctly, so she's looking into options.  Possibly see a surgeon when we're back in Seattle for Thanksgiving to look into arthroscopic possibilities.

Rugby:  ALL BLACKS, Baby!!!  It's been rugby fever here in NZ, as the All Blacks won the World Cup for the 2nd time in a row (held every 4 years).  In the pub for the final game by 4:30 am to get a seat for the 5am start.  Great game, great outcome for NZ.  A real sense of pride for a little country of 4 million to win an international event like this. Richie McCaw and the boys got the job done in style!!!







Boat projects have grown as we take advantage of our year off in NZ, and the great exchange rate to get work done.  Here's the update (sorry, may be dull, but it's what the Bravo's do these days!!!)

Propeller shaft:  While repacking the stuffing box (important bit that keeps the sea water out of the boat, a good thing), we noticed a fair bit of corrosion of the shaft under the packing, a bad thing.  When stainless steel is wet without oxygen, it is prone to crevice corrosion which can extend deep.  Apparently we've been hauled out of the water so long, with water trapped in the stuffing box but not circulating, that it was the perfect breeding ground for this sort of thing.



Calling in a trusted mechanic for a look, he took a quick glance and right away said "I sure as hell wouldn't trust that thing to go to sea"!!!  Not a good thing.  So we needed a new shaft (1.5" diameter by about 9' long), new cutless bearings, and a new dripless shaft seal.  Done!

Rudder:  While working on the prop shaft, we spent a lot of time at Bravo's tail end.  Looking at the rudder one day we noticed a lot of hairline cracks on just the port side.  Grinding off all of the antifouling paint didn't give us a clue.


It ain't pretty work!!! 
Waddaya think.....remember "Back to the Future???


Not sure what the deal was, but it couldn't be good.  A rudder is not something you want to fail when it's blowing like stink in a big sea, which, of course, is when it most likely would!!!  So we decided to remove the rudder and do a bit of exploratory surgery.  Not an easy job.

The rudder lives below our bunk.  So the first thing to do was remove the bed to access the top of the rudder shaft.  Then all of the steering systems needed to be removed before Mr. Rudder would drop down.


















Finally, using the jack out of our van, (aka Dirt Bravo) we lowered the beast to the ground.  Inspection proved really puzzling.

Fred Flintstone rudder repairs underway.  See the bog depth on the right.
The port side, with the cracks, had been faired with up to about 1/2" of bog (hard putty used to smooth the fiberglass).  Why?  And why none on the starboard side?  It looked like it had been there since new, over 30 years ago, but hard to say.  And why was it cracking now?  A fiberglass rudder typically has a stainless steel internal frame to transfer the steering loads from the shaft to the rudder blade.  Was this stainless steel giving us it's last gasp??   Do we need a new rudder?????   Ughhhhh.....


We chipped away the excess bog to figure things out.  It took Adam a few days of chiseling, at the Fred Flintstone Academy of Rudder Technology (fFART).  Then we drilled a bunch of holes into the rudder to figure out what the internal condition looked like.  The stainless steel looked ok, but there were some large voids where there would ordinarily be a rigid foam core.  WTF???

The only thing we can think of is that the port side of the rudder was facing the sun for the whole summer. With the black bottom paint it did get very hot, every day.  Perhaps the expansion/contraction of the thick bog finally did it in, causing the cracking.  Until we get a better explanation, that's our story and we're sticking to it!!!


Working with trusted shipwright Kris Dyer, veteran of the builds of the last two Kiwi America's Cup boats, we decided to fill the rudder with expanding epoxy foam, reglass the whole shebang, and call it good enough.  Hopefully this will be the right call!!!

Pencil lines show extent of voids that we probed with a wire


Propped up and ready for foaming

Kris pouring in one of many foam batches


Foam fully filling all the voids


4 layers of biaxial glass all around


Baking the whole rudder in makeshift autoclave to post cure the epoxy
After baking the rudder for about 8 hours (only burned up 1 space heater, and you can see the red water bucket in the background "just in case"!!!) we've been busily fairing both sides.  It's getting very smooth, so we may be ready for a trial fit tomorrow.

Planning the new sail
Other projects include new sails by sailmaker Dave Parr w/ Caliber Sails.  He built our new genoa this past season while we were in Fiji (measured before we left), and now we're having him build a new main, as our old one, after 12 years and MANY miles, didn't look like it had too many ocean miles remaining.









The fabric is plotted by the computer onto the fabric, ready for cutting
Coming together
We're also building a new nav station, as the old one was getting badly cut up over the years by the changing electronics.  The new panel will neaten things up a lot.  Cindi the varnish queen has been hard at work in the shed that we've commandeered, with both sewing and varnish projects.  And we're getting all new upholstery made for both the interior and cockpit.  Bravo's definitely stylin' these days!!!   Summer has finally arrived, it's TIME TO GO SAILING!!!

Another barrel of IPA ready for bottling!!!

We're now off to Seattle for our annual 3 week visit, then be back to Whangarei in early December.  With any luck we'll finish up the projects and be back in the water before Christmas.  Plan is to cruise around New Zealand until May.....stay tuned!


Friday, August 7, 2015

Mid winter update




Wow, it's been over two months since the last blog post.....time really does go by (though maybe not exactly "flying"!!!).

So, what's the news, on the different fronts here in Whangarei?

1.  Cindi's recovery is going extremely well!!!  Physical therapy has been very good, and the 2x daily PT exercises are quite intense and seem to be having good effect.  Her back is much better.  The arm break healed with a bit of misalignment, unfortunately.  While not disabling, it can be a bit painful if she moves it the wrong way.  Hopefully continued therapy will help it improve.

 2.  We've moved back aboard!!!  2 weeks ago we left our Marina Motel dirt dwelling, and moved back aboard Bravo.  The ladder was a bit intimidating for Cindi at first, as you might imagine, but the stomach butterflies have pretty much gone.  While we're not great fans of boatyard living, it really feels great to be back home.

3.  Project status:

Cindi's the undisputed varnish queen here in the boatyard, as we've commandeered more space for indoor project refinish work.  Companionway ladders, instrument coaming boards, bits and bobs of trim, all are getting her attention.  Sweet as!!















Electrical:  The new panel is nearly complete, just awaiting the arrival of new meters, a new product design supposed to be released for shipping any day.  But it looks and works great, a huge upgrade from the 30 year old jury rigged equipment.































Instruments:  All installed, and talking to one another like old friends!!!



Fractured glass ground away, center mold in place waiting for glass
Keel repair:  Glass repair complete, fairing done!!!  Just need to wait about 1 more week until it cures so that we can put on the 10 coats of epoxy barrier coat and 2 coats of anti fouling paint, and we can cross that one off the list!!
















10-15 layers of glass per side












Glassed and faired, strong as new!!!



Sweet As !!!


Mast:  Mast is fully rewired, and crane stepped it back in place without a hitch!!!  New furler for inner staysail will make foredeck work in a blow that much easier!!!































Wires, then mast are S-L-O-W-L-Y lowered into the deck







 Other projects we've taken on include a new nav station (over time as instruments and radios get replaced, the old panel was looking pretty cut up), addition of VERY strong stainless steel anchor points at the transom to handle the loads of our new emergency drogue anchor, a new lithium house battery bank, new bilge pumps, and new sails.  Bravo is making the most of our time (and pocketbook!!) spent in New Zealand.....

Other than boat work, we've been going to the nearby gym every day to try to stay a bit active through the winter.  We have gotten out for some local hiking, and this weekend we'll head up to the Bay of Islands to celebrate our 25th anniversary at the 3 day Jazz and Blues Festival.....8 venues, heaps of tasty sounding acts.....should be a great time!!!

Adam's been racing on Sundays with a fun local boat.....nice to remember how to sail again!!!  Good crew, good fun!

The 2nd batch of IPA brew proved as tasty as the first, so it will be nearly time to brew up the 3rd barrel!!!  

Our house has not yet sold, unfortunately.  Many have seemed in love with the place, except for the roof.  An old shake roof, we knew it was likely in need of replacement.  It just seemed to throw up a big red flag at all potential buyers.  So we've decided to replace it, and put that uncertainty to bed.  The work will be done next week, and fingers are crossed it will do the trick!

Back in Whangarei, with any luck we'll splash in a month or so, living on the water once again!!!  As you can probably tell, New Zealand immigration approved our request for a 1 year visa extension due to Cindi's injuries, so we've become "instant kiwi's" for a year.  We really love NZ, and there are LOTS worse places to hang out!!!  All is well with the Bravo crew.

View from the deck of our boatyard bach (vacation home).


Sunday, May 31, 2015

The beat goes on in Whangarei

As most of the fleet has left NZ for warmer climes, the good ship Bravo is holding down the fort here in Whangarei. 

Cindi's recovery from the accident is well underway.   She's not used to this degree of immobility,and at this point the biggest risk is death by boredom!!!   Thursday marked 6 weeks since her fall, and a visit to the clinic for x-rays and evaluation.  The news was pretty good.  Healing of the bone in her arm has progressed enough to have the cast removed.  Yeah!!!  Unfortunately it didn't wind up exactly in it's original orientation, and as a result, the radius bone is now a few mm shorter than it was before.  Likely will be fine, but could cause some issues down the road that a "simple" surgery could repair.  Ughhhhh.....  But at least getting free of the cast is a big relief! 

As for her back, the orthopod told her she could begin to wean off the brace.....The bits of the crushed vertebrae are largely done healing, and will continue to solidify over the next 6 weeks.  Will then be more x-rays and another progress evaluation.

While quite hot, the Xena the Warrior Princess look will hopefully soon be a distant memory!!!

The best news was the doc's opinion that Cindi will be able to go back to the voyaging lifestyle after physical therapy has been completed!!!!   YAY!!!!!   She will hopefully start P.T. next week.


With use of a walker, Cindi's been getting in a 3 mile walk around the waterfront on a walking/biking trail nearly every day, rain allowing.  Adam joins when back from the boatyard. 


The pile of cones waiting to be sewn!!!
Cindi's also been busy on a project, building a series drogue for the boat from a kit that we brought back from the US.  Made up of 139 sewn cones on over 300 feet of rope, the repetitive project is perfect for whiling away some hours stuck indoors. 















Projects back at the boatyard continue at a rather relaxed pace.  Currently underway:
-  Install of new B&G instruments, including forward scanning sonar, wind, depth, speedo, and chart plotter, all on the new NMEA 2000 data backbone.

depth/speedo/temp on left, forward scan sonar on right

-  Install of new electrical panels and battery monitor system

Old panels removed, circuits labeled, waiting for new panels.....Yikes, what a mess!

-  Install of new lithium house batteries
 -  Replace all mast wiring

Rewiring largely complete.  Ladder in background was site of Cindi's fall, from top.

-  Change fixed inner forestay to roller furler system, and retrofit the 2 staysails for the new system.
-  Install 2 new vhf radios and antennas
-  Nav station redesign and rebuild
-  New main and genoa sails
-  New "stack pack" main sail cover
-  Keel repair and bottom paint
-  Remove and rebed all port lights ("windows")
-  New stainless steel mesh "washboards" for the companionways to allow ventilation and security

Back at the motel apartment, Adam's inner geek called out, and he put a portable ham radio antenna outside the terrace.  He talks to friends back in Hawaii, Canada, and the Pacific NW every other evening.


Also time to brew a batch of IPA, just bottled last week ago.  Fingers crossed for a tasty brew!!!








New entry                      photo Kevin Boyle

 We've finally decided to sell our house.  It wasn't an easy decision, but keeping it as a rental from the other side of the world was just proving too much of a headache.  The Seattle market sounds good for selling and it's a great time of year to do the deed.  It's been a lot of work to get it ready from here, installing new flooring, designing a new entry, landscaping, etc., but it should go on the market next week.  A great team of builder, landscaper and realtor are making it possible.  Fingers crossed for a quick sale.  (If interested, don't be shy!!!)
New entry           photo Kevin Boyle






So that's the news from Whangarei.  Mostly good on Cindi's recovery.  We still await word from NZ immigration officials that we'll be able to extend our stay by a year to complete physical therapy, as our already extended visas expire in less than 2 weeks!!  Winter is rapidly approaching down here, but June 21 is just around the corner, bringing a promise of longer days to come.  We look forward to continued adventures and exploration in New Zealand in the coming year. 

Cheers, all, and thanks for the good wishes!


Will sign off with a couple of fun emails that had us cracking up:

Poem by Cruiser Poet Laureate Pat Ganz (sv The Rose)

There once was a  woman caught in a clam
She said "Damn! Damn! I'm caught in a clam"
Out stuck her head
Out stuck her feet
But all stiff in the middle the two couldn't meet.

IF she got an pesky itch on her toe
She called to Adam who smiled don't you know
A little to the left
A little to the right
He'd scratch and tickle till she giggled all night

And when they finally opened that clam
She said "I'm a wee bit taller I am!"
She stood so straight
And she felt so great
She could tie her own shoes and sail first mate



OR.........this one, by the Rev Glen Simms, never at a loss for words:

Down in the Land of the Kiwi,
Lies a most intrepid sailor named Cindi...
Now I can't tell you why, but she decided to fly,
And the "tail" had a terrible ending....


Cheers mates! 










Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A BAD day at the boatyard

For the past several weeks, since returning from our south island road trip, we've been hard at work getting BRAVO ready for the coming year of cruising.  (Adam took a quick trip to Seattle to start readying our house to sell, but that's another story!!!)  We are still hauled out of the water, living in the boatyard, working on a large number of projects.

A few of days ago Cindi was climbing down the ladder from BRAVO, carrying a bucket in one hand.  We climb up and down the ladder at least 20 times daily.  But this time, one or 2 rungs down, she somehow slipped and fell to the ground below, perhaps a 3 meter fall.  She landed on her butt, with her hands back behind her.  Adam was still up on board and didn't see her fall, another cruiser saw her lying on the ground and came running.  Cindi was curled on her side in a kind of loose fetal position.  She was in severe pain, we could tell she was badly hurt.  I got the phone, called 111 (the Kiwi 911), and got an ambulance immediately.

They were very professional, got an iv started for administration of pain meds as the rain began to fall, got her on the back board, and into the ambulance.  Off we went to Whangarei hospital ER.

Initial x-rays showed that she had broken her left arm, just above the wrist, and had crushed the L1 vertebrae.  They reduced the fracture in her wrist and casted it (LOTS of pain meds and nitrous oxide made it barely tolerable.....(when Cindi says the pain is 11 on the scale of 1-10, you know it's tough).  Then back up to radiology to confirm the wrist was set ok, and check the spine with a CT scan.  Yes, very clearly showed a crunched vertebrae.

They admitted her to the orthopaedic ward, still in a lot of back pain, although happily the arm felt much better after the cast went on.  Good IV drugs got the back pain to relieve quite a bit.  The orthopod on duty said that she would likely just need a back brace, kind of a corset on steroids, and this would be confirmed by the big-cheese orthopod later.

The first night she didn't get much sleep due to pain, and the 2nd day wasn't much better.  Pretty scary.  But by the 3rd day she had made a remarkable recovery as the spasm of the initial injury went down, and they fit her for the brace.  She was feeling much better, very little pain, just needing tylenol, and was able to get out of bed with a bit of help, and make her way to the head using a walker.  A huge improvement.  Yesterday she went most of the day without even needing the tylenol!!!




Unfortunately her doctor said yesterday that he doesn't want her released with just the soft brace; he ordered a hard "clamshell" type TLSO brace (
thoracolumbar sacral orthosis !!!) to be molded onto her.  Basically it's a ninja turtle suit, (or Xena, warrior princess!!!) w/ front and back halves velcro'ed together.  Will really keep the spine straight as it heals.  This was molded yesterday afternoon, should be ready for sea trials today.  

Looks like she may be released this afternoon (Tues) or tomorrow.  We've found a studio apartment near the marina to rent as she recovers, likely 2-3 months or so.  By then it will be mid winter here, not a good time to sail away, so will need to work with NZ immigration on our visas.  If possible we'll stay in NZ into next summer (cyclone season in the tropics), and spend our 3rd summer here, before sailing on a year from now, say May 2016.

Wow, things can sure change in a blink of an eye!  But we both realize how lucky Cindi was in the grand scheme of things.  As one of her great nurses said (herself a cruiser!!), "bones heal".  It appears that there was no nerve damage, so liklihood of a full recovery is good.  Pretty amazing....with all of the adventures we all have, and to get hurt falling off a goddamned ladder!!


So that's the news for now.  Boat projects continue, albeit at a bit slower pace.  New electrical panels, new instruments, mast pulled yesterday for wiring and conversion of inner forestay to a roller furler, keel repair, plumbing upgrades, much varnishing, the list goes on.  More to follow.....

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The great kiwi myth.....

Wrapping up our great visit to the Catlins region, we made a quick stop in the small city of Dunedin.   In the late 1800's, as a result of several gold rushes on the south island, Dunedin was a happening place, the largest city in the country, and a hub for industry and commerce.   Although now officially the 4th largest city in New Zealand, Dunedin has a nice laid back vibe, due largely to the 2 universities in the city, and is loaded with heaps of historic charm. We liked it!

The old Dunedin train station is an eclectic piece of architecture, dating back to 1903.

















"Age to Perfection.....Positive Aging in Action".......great tagline, they saw these old farts coming!



After Dunedin, we said farewell to Glen and Carol, and pointed Dirt Bravo back south, to cross to the southernmost of New Zealand's 3 largest islands.  Stewart Island, we'd heard, is THE place to go to see kiwis, New Zealand's most famous and iconic birds.

We met up in the little town of Bluff with cruising mates John and Kathy from m/v 'Mystic Moon'.  Like us, John and Kathy were doing a long road trip exploring and hiking around the country.  Bluff was an interesting place, definitely "the end of the road".



Stewart Island in the distance, from Bluff overlook


Official bottom of New Zealand's south island


The stretch of water between Bluff and Stewart Island is considered among the roughest in the world, as the Pacific Ocean meets the Tasman Sea, on a natural ocean shelf only about 100 feet deep.  The little catamaran ferry was specially designed for the rough seas that occur in all seasons.






Workers at Bluff cannery "wet fish department" on their "smoko"

After the short ferry ride, we arrived in the town of Oban, the only real town on Stewart, and were met by Ang, who drove us to our hotel/cabins.  Pretty sweet spot, we got to sleep on a real bed, in a building, no less, for the first time since leaving Auckland several weeks earlier.  What a concept, gotta say, we get it, that bed was comfy!!!

Lots of kaka's, a New Zealand parrot, hung around our cabins.  Yes, there really is a bird named the kaka !!!  And these bad boys are not at all shy!!!













 We spent a nice morning on neighboring Ulva Island, hiring Ang through Ulva's Guided Walks.  She was a great guide and naturalist, and did a terrific job of showing us a lot of the birds and plants of the island.  Ulva is a national park and bird sanctuary.  It was declared rat free in 1997, and, with no predators, has been used since as a sort of holding pen for many of New Zealand's rarest birds and plants, some of which are nearly extinct anywhere else.  It was a beautiful spot, though we were a bit underwhelmed at the populations of critters.  But a great hike nonetheless.



Water taxi (blue boat) waiting to shuttle us over to Ulva



Tiny orchids



A "weka", a large brown flightless bird.   The closest thing we came to seeing a kiwi


Mother weka and two chicks



Supposedly a kiwi footprint, we're convinced that the guides tramp around after the tourists leave with "kiwi stamps"


Though we heard that Stewart Island is home to 15-20,000 kiwi birds, we went out kiwi spotting all three nights we were there, and never saw one!!!  We're convinced that the damn things are just chickens with a Photoshopped beak.....who knows???

But we did several nice hikes on Stewart, and recommend the visit to anyone exploring the south island.  It's not a cheap trip, but the overall laid back spirit of the small isolated island community is really pretty cool.....


Guinea fowl





Kathy and John, with his favorite Stewart souvenir and trusty compadre.