NZ South Island Journey – Blenheim

Saturday February 22 2014

Posting by Barb



On arrival to the South Island we stopped in Picton to get directions to Paul and Chrissy’s house in Blenheim (their son lives in Thunder Bay and invited Caroline and Vic to visit his parents). The couple of days we spent with them was a highlight of our trip as they wined, dined and chauffeured us through some incredible wine country!!




A wonderful meal of Blue Cod, Paua and Crayfish all harvested by Paul and cooked by Chrissy .

A wonderful meal of Blue Cod, Paua and Crayfish all harvested by Paul and cooked by Chrissy .

A tour in their backpacker's van through some scenic wine country

A tour in their backpacker’s van through some scenic wine country

The tour through Yealands Estate. Miles and miles of grapes!!

The tour through Yealands Estate. Miles and miles of grapes!!

Wine tasting at Yealands where we bought many, many bottles of wine

Wine tasting at Yealands where we bought many, many bottles of wine




NZ South Island Journey – Wellington

Thursday February 20 2014

Posting by Barb

We had an early rise and made our way to Wellington where we were to meet up with the ‘Millers’ and their rented motorhome. We made a couple of food stops on the way  and the most memorable  was Pete’s famous ‘pie’. Anyone visiting NZ has to have ‘pie’!! The selection was extensive and included smoked fish, meat and cheese, mushrooms and beef, chicken and cranberry, curried chicken and on and on.

We arrived in Wellington late in the afternoon and had a joyful reunion with the ‘Millers’. Wellington, capital of NZ, is a quaint little town with most homes nestled in the hills, some only accessible by a trolley up a steep, rocky embankment. 

ADSC_3892t DSC001646:00 am DSC00170we made DSC_3897our way to the Interisland ferry and we were the first in line. It was a beautiful crossing thanks to the sunny, blue sky day.



Land travel – NZ South Island

Wednesday February 20 2014

Posting by Barb

DSC_3889From Auckland airport we headed directly South to join my sister Caroline and brother in-law Vic (the Millers) who live in Thunder Bay Canada, for a whirlwind 15 day trip on the South Island.  Our new Toyota Corolla station wagon was well packed  with camping gear, boat parts, other miscellaneous items that were on my ‘get’ list from Ontario and our summer clothes. 

We drove on Highway 3, a snaking, narrow little road, which I now realize is probably the norm in NZ. We saw sheep pastures, cow pastures, more pastures, rolling hills and incredible coastlines.

DSC_3885-1 It’s obvious that we are in farm country when there are road signs warning travelers of turning ‘milk’ trucks!! I have a new appreciation of ‘landlubber’ Dennis as he identified and described the useful purpose of every piece of farm equipment we saw on the way. If he wasn’t a seafaring sailor he could have been a farm boy!! After 4 hours of driving we stopped at a quaint little motel and enjoyed a good night sleep as I recovered from jet lag and no sleep for 24 hours or more!!

2014 Back in New Zealand

Wednesday February 20 2014

35 44.390 S 174 20.352 E

Posting by Barb

We both spent the last few months of 2013 back home for quality time and beautiful moments with friends, siblings, children and parents. Unfortunately not together as Dennis was in Minneapolis and I was in Ontario.  On January 5th Dennis headed back to NZ with no incidents. On January 15th I started my journey back to NZ after a teary good-bye . The flights were on schedule and everything was as it should be until I tried to depart from Los Angeles. Of course I had no scheduled departing flight from NZ because I planned to leave the country on a boat. I had the documentation to prove that, or so I thought.  It included a letter from the Whangarei Marina, an original boat registration document and a copy of the NZ port of entry papers. What’s missing? Well, nowhere in the documentation did it explicitly say I was crew on S/V Landfall!! Nor could I reach Captain Dennis Ommen to verify that I was crew. What are my options? Stay in L.A. until I get proof that I am crew or purchase an outbound NZ flight. So for $450.00 I have a flight from NZ to Australia for some time in March and I am on the flight to Auckland. 

We are both back together in beautiful, sunny NZ!!  

Sailing Adventure

Friday 4/19/13    18:30
12 34.940 S
131 35.105 W 34.940S 131 35.105W

Blog posting by Barb:

It has been 37 days since we left Puerto Montt. Unless the wind dies down considerably we should be at our first anchorage in the Marquesas which will be the Bay of Virgins in Fatu Hiva.  It is described as the most beautiful island in the Marquesas. After 40 days at sea it will definitely be the most beautiful island to us!!
The last 2 days of sailing have been quite an adventure. Wednesday morning started out as per usual with calm seas and about 3 – 8 knots of wind. Dennis and I spent most of the day perusing through an ‘Offshore Cruising Companion’ book which he saved for me as he thought I would get a lot out of it. And I have learned a lot!! As it so happened on Wednesday we were discussing how to prepare for squalls and storms. The book described incidents of wind squalls that went from 5 to 60 knots in minutes and then back to 5 knots. I was hoping I would never have to experience that. As night fell the sky looked ominous. We could see threatening weather. Dennis thought it a good idea that we should prepare for the worst. We got everything ready to ‘snuff’ the spinnaker at a moment’s notice if we had to. And he called it just right. The squall came and the winds gusted from 5 to 30 in a minute but we had the sail down just in time. The 30 knots may not seem like much but it is with a Spinnaker that is only designed for 15 knots. We sat in the bow (with our harnesses securing us to the boat) when the driving rain started and we were drenched but the sail was safely tucked away. It all ended pretty quickly and we could hoist the Spinnaker again. We were not quite so prepared for the second squall and we had to snuff the Spinnaker through the 30 knot wind and rain. We got the sail down but not neatly packed away and we just hung on to it making sure the wind did not whip it out of our hands. When we thought it was safe we hoisted the Spinnaker again and everything was fine for a while. Suddenly there was another squall and this caught us totally off guard. Dennis had to steer through that one. The boat was heeled 45 degrees, water came in the cockpit, the Spinnaker was fully extended and the bottom was dragging and skimming through the ocean. This lasted for 3 long long long minutes! Dennis stood at the helm with the wind and rain raging all around us and he controlled the boat as best that he could while I sat in the cockpit hanging on as best I could. I wasn’t afraid for us or the boat but my concern was for the Spinnaker. There is no easy way to sail straight down wind with an average of 5 to 10 knot winds without a Spinnaker. So after surviving that squall we decided it was time to hoist the 160 jib and did so in the middle of the night in total darkness. The boat rocked and rolled, squalls continued to gust in all night and we got little or no sleep. To our dismay, the same happened Thursday night but this time we sailed through the night with the poled 160 jib fearing damage to the Spinnaker. It was a rough, rolly, squally night with little or no sleep for either one of us. So today we have napped and are ready for another night but so far the skies seem clear. But that could change very quickly!!

Bad day

Tuesday 4/16/13    03:30
12 44.617 S
123 47.188 W 44.617S 123 47.188W

Yesterday was a very bad day to say the least.  It all started with a very hard night, with winds blowing up to twenty knots and fairly large waves that would kick the stern of the boat around.  So when I went off watch at six am I was pretty tired.  I was awaked a half hour later when a large gust hit and rounded the boat up into the wind and the boat was suddenly heeling thirty five degrees.  Not a good thing when flying the spinnaker!  Barb had it all under control but I was awake and ended up sitting in the cockpit for another hour.  I then went to bed again and Barb woke me two hours later saying the wind had built even more, so I got up and we ended up taking the spinnaker down in the dark and putting the large jib, 160, out with the pole extended.  Then it was back to bed.  Two hours after that I woke to the boat rolling back and forth, basically rolling in the swells.  The wind had gone down to five knots again.   So it was time to take down the 160 and put the spinnaker back up.  While rerouting the lines I noticed that one leg of the bow pulpit was broken, great one more thing to fix.  Then when we hoisted the spinnaker it proceeded to just come falling out of the sock and ended up in the water dragging alongside the boat.  That let the sock go free and it took off flying free about twenty feet from the boat.  So I had to lower the sock down into the water and turn the boat into the wind so Barb could catch the sock and drag it onto the boat.  Apparently when the sail people installed the spinnaker into the sock they did not tie off the pin in the swivel and over time and use the pin fell off. So I dug around and found a different pin and put it all together.  Then we had to try and reload a very heavy wet spinnaker into a very wet sock which took a while.  Then I hoisted the spinnaker again and just when I got it up the sock zoomed up to the top taking the hoisting line with it. Now it is swinging fifteen feet off the deck.  Luckily I was able to snag it with the boat hook and pull it down before it wrapped itself around something else.  By this time I had had it.  I came back to the cockpit and plopped down and declared ‘that is it I am done I am not having a good time and I just want to go home!’  Actually it was much stronger then that but you get the idea, I was just finished!  After I calmed down and had a great breakfast, of fish tacos, I just went to bed and slept for five hours.  When I woke up I was feeling much better and not so depressed.  I would never have believed just how hard on things this constant rocking and rolling is.  The amount of work that is going to have to be done when I get to New Zealand is growing every day.  It is very hard for me to watch as the boat is slowly taking such a beating.  Not that the weather we are in is bad at all it is just the constant movement.  But here I sit in the middle of the night with the sky lit up with a billion stars and warm glow of the phosphorescent water and I feel so lucky to be here!

Another Fish

Sunday 4/14/13    23:00
13 06.163 S
121 10.219 W 12110.219W    (link fixed now)

Last night we caught another fish.  We had only had the line out for a little while when Barb saw it jump into the air.  I was down below doing dishes, the diligent galley slave that I am.  So I grabbed the video camera and went on deck and filmed Barb as she hauled the fish to the boat.  There is not a lot of playing the fish that is being dragged at six knots and you have him on a 500 pound test rope.  It is mainly meat hunting.  But never the less it is a little bit of excitement in our day.  Barb kept saying it was not very big at all, but when she got it to the boat it was over feet long.  So I gaffed the fish and hoisted it onto the cockpit were I spent the next two hours cleaning it.  It is really hard to clean a four foot fish, balancing it on a one gallon bucket while the boat is rolling back and forth.  It wants to slide this way and that.  I also need a longer filet knife if I am going to clean things like this.  The meat of this fish was totally white, while the meat of the tuna was as red as beef.  If the tuna was just sitting in a bowl you would think it was.  We ended up with two fillets that were about three feet long and at the thickest part about two and a half inches thick and eight inches wide.  A lot of meat to say the least.  So we fried up some samples last night, fish sandwich for breakfast, and fish tacos for dinner tonight.  We have froze about half of it and will have more fish tomorrow. We did all this while we were still making are 150 miles for the day.  We are still fling the spinnaker almost continuously. At times during the nights when the apparent wind pipes up to twenty knots it is a little much but I seem to be able to keep it under control. It tends to make for very long nights though.
I think that I am ready to get off the boat and walk around for a while.  The lack of sleep and constant movement are starting to work on me.  At times I feel a little too isolated and Barb catches the brunt of that.  I try to sleep some during the day but that is not always that easy.  Today Barb tried to shake me to wake up, but I didn’t wake even when she shook me.  I miss being able to call friends or just stop by and see them.  Sometimes it makes me homesick.  I miss you all!!!

Crossed the 100th parallel

Tuesday 4/5/13    20:00
14 26.343S
108 50.372W 26.343S 108 50.372W

On Friday evening we crossed the 100th parallel while we were gorging ourselves on some delicious Tuna sushi. We had the seaweed wraps, the wasabi, the Kikoman soya, Ginger pickles and of course the raw Tuna but we didn’t have the sushi rice. So we used ordinary rice and didn’t cut the sushi rolls but ate it like a burrito. But it tasted just like sushi should!! We probably ate the equivalent of about 60 Tuna sushi rolls.
We have had the spinnaker up now for the last 4 days and will probably have it up until we reach the Marquesa Islands. That’s the only way to sail straight down wind. Not much to do except the occasional tack as we negotiate sailing thirty degrees either side of straight down wind. Now we know why they call this sail the milk run but it’s a good start for me with my very little sailing experience.
We have settled into a routine. Dennis takes the first shift from 10:30 pm to 6:30 am while I sleep and then I take the 6:30 am to lunch time shift while Dennis sleeps (he doesn’t need as much beauty sleep). The wind gusts seem to happen more frequently at night so Dennis is better equipped to handle those in the dark. We are still on Chilean time so now the sun rises at 10:30 in the morning and sets at 10:30 at night. We will soon have to start adjusting our time not that it really matters to us.
Every day we empty out the bunks, bring the cushions outside for the day and hang the sheets on a clothesline Dennis made. We vacuum the cushions prior to bringing them inside. We look like the ‘Beverly Hillbilly’s Clampets’ on water. But our efforts are working as we have gone a night or two without bites or very few. We just can’t stop until we reach land and we can fumigate!!
The weather is tropical now so we spend most of our days in the cockpit and enjoying every minute of it! I am, of course already golden brown, but Dennis is taking a little longer to tan. He has to do it in layers but I don’t see that happening as he lies in the shade every day!


Friday 4/5/13    20:00
        17 16.306 S
        99 38.762 W 16.306S 99 38.762W

Finally caught Fish

Dennis woke me up early Thursday morning to let me know that he had just pulled in a fish hooked on our trolling line and that I should come out and look to see if we wanted to keep it. It wasn’t a Tuna. The fish was about 3 feet long but shaped like a snake with huge eyes. It was not pretty. It was also dead so we decided that we did not want to keep that one. But at least it gave us some comfort that the lure we were using was attracting fish. We also decided that trolling in the nighttime, when we may not be watching the line, was not a good thing to do.
By mid day the winds had died down and we had to switch from the 160 back to the spinnaker. That meant less rolling and a smoother sail. Dennis noticed that there were some small metal filings on board and made an assumption that there was something going on with the pole we were using for the 160. So you know Dennis, he is all about maintenance to prevent major issues that could result in expensive repairs. So we tore the V-berth apart, dug out tools and parts and proceeded to take apart the pole on deck. Dennis on one end doing the fixing and me at the front of the boat holding and pulling the pole at his command. He did find the problem and he did fix it and it is better than before!! But the way the wind is now, it may be a while before we use the 160 again.
So at 8:00 in the evening we were both sitting on the cockpit enjoying the smooth sail and the sunset and I was contemplating heading down below to heat up left over for dinner. When I got up I noticed the trolling line seemed to have something on the end. I gave the line a little pull and sure enough we had a live fish. We had made the line extra long so that the lure was well behind the boat so it took a little while to pull the line in. I was halfheartedly making jokes about what ugly fish we may have on the line this time. Halfway in Dennis exclaimed “It’s a Tuna!!”  Well that changed everything. Now the pressure was on me to get that Tuna on board. I managed to get it to the side of the boat so that Dennis could haul it in and then I gave him the line. We had previously rehearsed what our roles would be so we would be prepared if by chance we did catch a Tuna.  But all that flew out the window for me and all I could think of was getting that sucker on board. But luckily Dennis remained calm and had to give me very simple instructions of where and how to get the gaff put together. I took the line back, walked towards the front of the boat to bring the Tuna close so that Dennis could hook him with the gaff. And it all went according to plan. As Dennis lifted him out of the water the tuna flicked himself off the hook and line but luckily landed in the cockpit. What a beautiful 20 lb Tuna!!! Stay tuned for pictures in our photo album which we will post when we have internet. Dennis did a great, but very amateur job cutting off our Tuna steaks and we now have enough Tuna for a while and even managed to freeze a couple of meals. We did not waste much!! Within 3 hours we were sitting back and eating the freshest Tuna steaks we ever had that we fried with nothing but a little olive oil and some fresh limes sprinkled on top just before serving it up!! Wow is all I can say! And tomorrow we plan to make Sushi.
It was an experience of a lifetime.

Not Rolling

Wednesday 4/3/13    15:00
18 10.931 S
95 10.116 W 10.931S 95 10.116W

Finally after two weeks of rolling in eight to ten foot following seas it has let up a little.  I am sure that if it goes totally dead I will long for the high winds again.  We are sailing along on course at about five knots with only seven to eight knots of apparent wind.  It is surprising that a person can sleep when your body is rolling side to side and the boat is creaking and moaning.  Just imagine taking your kitchen and tipping it thirty degrees one way and then slamming it thirty degrees the other. Stuff is always banging and clanging around.  There is always that one can or jar that clinks up against a cabinet.  Then when you climb out of your bed it quits then just as you fall asleep it starts again, it can drive you totally nuts.
We have developed a way to hang the generator from the boom so it is gimbaled and does not tip over, which it did when we were hit by a particularly large wave.  The thing kept running lying on its side as I scrambled up to shut it down.  The only thing that happened is oil ran into the air cleaner and chocked of the motor.  When I got it started again it started smoking like crazy until it burned the oil out of it.  Because the auto pilot has to work so hard to keep us on course in the rolling seas we seem to have to run the generator at least twice a day to charge the battery. Without the generator we would have to take turns steering the boat and that would have been a challenging sail for the next 2 weeks. Every day there is something to fix.
Yesterday we saw a pod of False killer whales (that’s their real name according to our Nature book). They are about 12 feet long. They hung around the boat for quite a while swimming alongside and then diving under the boat. It is always amazing to see them up close in the wild. There are also schools of flying fish that seem to all take off in unison and fly about 5 feet. Every morning we find a few on deck.
I am surprised just how much easier it is with another person on the boat.  I actually get a chance to sleep five or six hours at a time.  And having someone to talk to makes a big difference and Barb does not let me forget to eat.