I arrived in New Zealand December 27th to begin the move aboard process on the new Iron Lady. Steve Parsons, our long time Captain, has been engaged by Circa Marine to do the commissioning of all the new FPBs including 78 1 Cochise and 78 2 Grey Wolf. Steve was also aboard Cochise on the transit from NZ to Panama and aboard Grey Wolf for her first cruise to New Caledonia. He also spent 3 days with us in Pittsburgh in early December which, in addition to having a good bit of fun, was a great opportunity to review all the items I had purchased for Iron Lady and sent to NZ as well as review additional items we would need to source. As such, we had a substantial leg up on getting Iron Lady ready to cruise.
Steve and I spent the first week moving aboard thousands of pounds of gear including everything from spares to tools, bedding, artwork and decorations. Car and van load after van load of stuff which Iron Lady just seemed to gobble up with her tremendous storage capacity.
Anxious to get on with things, we headed off for 3 or 4 days of cruising locally. The yard was on holiday from December 20th to January 8th so we wanted to get some more hours on the boat before their return and break as much stuff as possible so they could deal with all the inevitable infant mortality issues. First it was up the coast to Whangamumu – a beautiful little anchorage. The following day is was a run down to the Mokuhinau Islands where we tried our hand at a little snapper fishing (without success – it was pretty rough). Then on to Great Barrier. A major blow was forecast and Met Service kept upgrading the forecast to a full 60 knot blow from a passing 985 Millibar low.
It seemed like all of Auckland was anchored up in Port Fitzroy in advance of it. When you looked at the boat density and the quality of their ground tackle, it had all the makings of a night of bumper boats as one after the other dragged anchor. We stopped briefly and threw the dink in the water so I could buy some more bait at the local store – the dinghy dock was even worse with pure chaos as people tried to land. Once back to the boat, we quickly moved a few bays to the north where there was just one other sail boat, good protection and lots of swinging room. The herd mentality seems to apply to boating as well.
We broke out the rods and boated a bunch of snapper – two of which were invited to join us for dinner. After dinner, the evening forecast update had only gotten worse projecting a number of days before the low moved on and the wind dropped. True to our mission, we had begun to experience a number of new electronic issues – one of which took down both of our radars and the second of which compromised the effectiveness of our hydraulic stabilizers. After a good bit of discussion, Steve and I agreed it would be better to be at the dock then trapped at Great Barrier and possibly lose valuable time needed for Circa to work on our issues.
Around 9 PM we pulled the hook and headed for South Pacific Gateway Marina – our home for now. Those who have followed us for awhile may remember that the old Iron Lady was commissioned at NZ Ship Repair which is just up the road from Pacific Gateway. Our affectionate name for Ship Repair was Ship Despair. Pacific Gateway sounds like a bit more of a going concern but it really is just a working yard as well. They do boast a painted palm tree on their office and a few painted fish on the shoreside head but that is as close as gets to luxury digs. We finally made the dock at 0300 in flat calm conditions. We must have looked like a bunch of squirrels coming down the harbor with our noses planted against the glass watching for the channel marks in addition to using our chart plotter.
Turned out we had made the right call as the winds rapidly built the next day to 60 knots with higher gusts.
Since then we have continued the move aboard and Circa has been addressing our laundry list of issues. Deb arrived last Saturday and we are now prepared to head out and put more time on the boat. Hope to be off the dock this afternoon. Winds are up again and we have seen 25 gusting 35 but it should be dropping by tomorrow. Hopefully there will be some residual swell so we can get in some surfing – early indications are that Iron Lady will be very good at it.
People have been prodding me for some pictures as well so I did take some time and shot a few yesterday. Much more to come but for now, I will just throw some in the post and identify where they were taken.
Several shots of the galley area. Tall cabinet is the refer, adjacent to that under counter are two large freezers,Cooktop is induction and under it is a full sized dishwasher. Aft counter area has storage, oven with micro and other small appliances.
Salon area including the lower helm and a partial view of the L shaped settee.
Matrix Deck overview showing seating including day bed and remote portable helm in the pedestal.
View of the Matrix Deck helm area.
Aft deck showing our big inflatable dink, rowing dink and BBQ area.
Aft swim step and storage lockers.
For the technically inclined, the Port Systems room in the lower companionway.
What Steve Dashew calls the Executive Lounge – the lazarette that sports a double berth, wet head and complete workshop.
More next time.