November 10, 2010

This is a Doozy

Are you guys ready for a story....???? Cause this is a doozy! Ok, so it is 1:00am in the morning and we are about 45 miles from New Zealand and I am just finishing my watch. It is a beautiful starry night with zero wind. The water is like glass. In fact it is so glassy the stars are actually reflecting on the water like I have never seen before. Absolutely gorgeous night, aside from the fact that we had the roar of the engine running for the past 20 hours.

I had just given Graham a five hour sleep window and he was in the galley getting suited up to come up and trade off with me. Well just as he is about to climb the stairs the engine starts to make this strange rattling noise. In unison we both ask each other what we had done. Once we realized that neither of us had done anything, Graham quickly pulls off the stairs and flings open the engine room doors and sees that the engine is leaking oil so he quickly flicks the engine off switch. Dead quiet fills the air.

I knew better than to start yabbering at this point. He was in the zone and grabbed his tool bag and mirror and began rooting around for the problem. How many times have we been in this situation where something goes wrong and I think it is the end of the world and Graham quickly resolves it. I have actually come to believe he can spin miracles so I think at this point I was believing he was going to get it going again asap.

Unfortunately this wasn't the case this night. The problem was bigger than we could solve with the parts and pieces we had on board. The good news was that we weren't in any danger. We were basically just sitting in the dead calm and wondering how the heck we were going to make these next 45 miles into New Zealand without wind and no motor. We decided to do a shout out to any cruisers and see if anyone was in vhf range. Sure enough a cruiser on another boat (that shall remain nameless) came back and we let him now our issue. He said that not to worry he had checked the weather files and he was sure that soon enough perhaps within a day or two we would have enough wind to sail in! LOL.....I was thinking to myself....OMG I am not bobbing out here for another 2 days only to get wind at 25 knots coming at us on the nose to bring us in and without an engine! Regardless we thanked him for answering on the radio and his advice and we said we would check in on the radio in the morning.

We knew our friends on the boat Shannon (remember the boat Alex wrote about during the Lobster Hunt) were about 5 miles behind us but they weren't answering on the vhf. We decided to try them one more time and sure enough Alina replied. She asked what our options were and we told her they were to wait for wind or get a tow. Graham said that if they were able to tow us that would be great but that they had to feel comfortable with it and we totally understood if they weren't. We told her to go and discuss with her husband and two friends on board and let us know what they decided. At this point I didn't expect to hear back from them for awhile but within seconds the Captain on the boat a young guy named Kevin came back and said it was absolutely no problem for them to tow us and that he had done it before. He told us that he had a heavy 200 foot line and that he would make a bridle off the back of his boat with it and pass us the line to tie to the front of our boat. He said that since their running lights weren't working they would appear out of the darkness beside us in about 1/2 hour and pass us the line. I couldn't believe how awesomely generous and confident he was. He wasn't him'ing and ha'ing about anything. It was just no problem and he was on his way. I ask you.....How lucky are we???

So within the hour of discovering our problem Shannon appears out of the darkness just as they said they would. They turned on their deck lights and we could see the four young energetic crew members on deck. I wasn't sure how it would all play out because even though it was dead calm there was still the ocean swell. They came close enough for Brit to toss us the line. It was so strange to see this all as if they were on a stage with lights on them surrounded by darkness....The heaving of the line could of been taken straight from a scene in a movie. Graham caught the line and tied it to the front of the boat and then we all waited to see what would happen.

Sure enough the line went tight and we were off! We locked the wheel in the center and Shannon rev'd up the engine and we were making 4 knots which is unbelievably shocking given they only have a 40 hp engine. As the sun came up we began to get a little wind and Shannon put up their sails and our speed increased to just over 5 knots. At this point the dolphins arrived and the kids and I sat on the bow with our breakfast and watched the dolphins jump and Shannon sail and the rope pull us along! Way cool!

The wind continued and we decided to try putting up Artemo's sails while still tied together and see what happened. We started with the main and sure enough more then we moved to the Genoa and before you know it here we are sailing at 7 knots tied to another boat!!!! Can you believe it???? Never in a million years would I have thought that this was how we would arrive in New Zealand.

As we began our final approach with only 5 miles to go we began to get a bit nervous that we weren't able to get ahold of someone from the marina to help us bring Artemo onto the Quarantine dock. Finally with less than a mile to go we get word that a fellow is on his way in his dinghy to help bring ARtemo onto the dock. We have absolutely NO idea how it is going to play out. I do know though that anytime we have docked it is always stressful and now we are going to try without an engine!

Within moments a high powered dinghy comes zooming out with a fellow named Pugsy in it and he is all business. No times for hello's we are in a ferry channel. He ties up to our starboard stern and tells Graham to untie from Shannon. It all happens so quick that Graham and I are like....."For real"???? We weren't sure how he was going to be able to control Artemo like this but he was so confident that we undid the lines and they proceeded ahead of us onto the long dock.

Pugsy then brought Artemo up and was asking Alex to let him know how many feet he was away from the dock and he managed to dock us beautifully with ZERO stress. Probably our best docking yet! LOL. Again I ask you....Can you believe it? How lucky are we???

We arrived at the dock at 2:30....we hardly missed a beat even without an engine. We feel very grateful and thankful to the crew of Shannon and the quiet confidence of Captain Kevin. We will never forget these four remarkable easy going folks. Thank you Kevin, Ken, Brit and Alina! You guys are THE BEST!

Once we were cleared with NZ customs (fyi....totally a breeze) Pugsy came back and tied back up and moved us to a dock in the marina. He was all smiles now and man what a great guy. The kids and I are going to come up with something nice to bring him. maybe not the way we envisioned arriving in NZ but hey we won't soon forget it. As Graham and I stood at the bow on those last few miles reflecting on these past few years we were filled with mixed emotions. This has been one hell of a ride. We do feel sad as you sometimes do when a chapter of your life begins to close but we are all excited about the next page and the page after that and so on. It feels right....we are on the right path....our goals and focus now are to explore New Zealand, enjoy time with family here, fix up Artemo for sale and then to come home and surround ourselves with family and friends!

ps....Today Graham began having a deeper assessment of the problem and is hot on the trail of resolving it. I have no doubt he will have a solution very soon and begin the implementation of his plan! On a side note New Zealand is even more beautiful than I remember. Rolling hills green grass beautiful bays and coves...stunning. I bought Graham a present today it is a Lord of the Rings location guide and once our boat issues are resolved we are going to begin planning our middle Earth tour! Very exciting.


  1. The Acreage - Fort MacleodNovember 10, 2010 at 6:20 AM

    Maybe not exactly as youu wanted to arrive but you will certainly never forget it - and you all got there safe and sound. You had lots of people cheering you on - I know you were always in our thoughts and prayers. Congratulations
    Dad and Cheryl

  2. WooHoo!! Time for a celebration. You made it!
    Enjoy your adventure in 'middle earth'.

  3. Certainly a chapter in your life you will never forget. Congradulations on your safe arrival and I cant wait to read the second half. Trese

  4. julie, you never fail to deliver a great story! congrats to you four on making it this far, and all the best in the days, weeks... years to come!
    sam, rebecca and kids

  5. It is comforting to know you guys are in such good company. Karma is a wonderful and powerful thing. Looking forward to coming out sooo much!!

    Happy belated Birthday Millird!!

    Love Rob

  6. Hi Julie - great adventure - great to know that the world is still full of wonderful people helping other wonderful people - they say that 'like attracts like' and you and your family have demonstrated your generosity and kindness time and again. Enjoy New Zealand - it sounds lovely.

    Jackie S.