It’s a Hard Life

Eric often says that one year of cruising puts ten years of wear and tear on a boat, and though I hope we don’t look it, sometimes it feels that way for us, too. So one of the reasons we’ve been eagerly anticipating our six-month stay in New Zealand is that it gives us the opportunity to lavish some much-needed TLC on all three of us. Now Corroboree is hauled out and “on the hard”—as opposed to the “fluid wet”—at Norsand Boatyard in Whangarei, a friendly riverside city and major marine center.

Let the pampering begin!

Hauled out at Norsand Boatyard

First, we bought a car, a 2000 Toyota Estima 7-seater van that we have named Sage for her greeny-gold color. She’ll be perfect for hauling groceries and boat supplies, ferrying us and our kids around when they come at Christmas, and taking Eric and me to the far reaches of the North and South Islands when we go exploring. Many cruisers arriving in New Zealand for the cyclone season buy a car and then sell it on leaving, and Sage’s previous owners were a Dutch cruising couple who used her to tour the country and write magazine articles for travel magazines.

Our new wheels

Next, we bought a spanking new iPhone XR. My old phone had been unusable since the battery exploded several months ago, and Eric’s phone was locked to AT&T, which has not served us well since we entered the Pacific. Back in Samoa, a toll-free AT&T customer rep cheerily informed Eric that he could get his phone unlocked at any AT&T store. “We’re in Samoa. There is no AT&T store here,” Eric explained. This puzzled her greatly. Samoa? No AT&T store? “We’re in Samoa in the South Pacific, 6,000 miles from the USA,” Eric clarified. Still no comprehension. Finally, he spoke to someone who told him he could unlock his phone online. No, you can’t.

So we struggled along with the old phone until New Zealand, but getting the new one to work wasn’t a breeze either. It synced fine with Eric’s computer but didn’t “recognize” mine, and when Eric sought to rectify this problem by following instructions on the internet and on the phone itself, the result, many frustrating hours later, was that the XR destroyed all the personal data that had been entered for us at the iPhone store. Now we couldn’t make or receive calls or access the internet or our email on the XR at all. We returned to the store where they repeated the set-up process all over again. Success! Now Eric can’t put down his new toy.

Next up, new computers, as the old ones we’ve been lugging around are sputtering at death’s door. We are lucky they haven’t fried themselves long before this. They are also big, heavy and cumbersome. Other cruisers, on their slim, trim lightweight pads, eye us dubiously when we set up our dinosaurs in a marina lounge. Clearly, their expressions say, these people are Neanderthals. And it’s not that you can’t buy computers or smart phones or any other technology in Panama or Tahiti or Fiji. It’s the time it takes to install all the programs and apps and ensure they’re running smoothly. Here in NZ, we have the time to do it all properly.

Other TLC for Eric and me includes eye exams, new glasses and some new clothes. Warm clothes, since even though it’s almost summer here, New Zealand can be downright cold. Meanwhile, we’ve been spoiling ourselves repeatedly at the grocery stores. Oh, the grocery stores! Though we certainly haven’t gone hungry anywhere on our voyage, our choices have sometimes been limited, the quality unappetizing and the prices high. Now we have a veritable cornucopia of mold-free produce from which to pick: broccoli and cauliflower, crisp yellow, red and green peppers, “rarities” like parsnips and asparagus. Most prices are lower than in the US. An enormous head of iceberg lettuce costs about a dollar, ditto a plump avocado. New Zealand being a dairy country, a kilo of Edam, Colby or aged cheddar is all of $6.50.

Don’t forget the wine. There are over 500 wineries in New Zealand, most of them boutique operations, and you can sip a really nice chardonnay or merlot for as little as $6-$8 a bottle. Plus, there is an abundance of Aussie and overseas vintages. We were so awed by the wine aisle in the grocery store that we actually counted the floor tiles to measure the length: 125 feet. And this is a double aisle, with chilled wine on the opposite side and a smaller section of beer. So, over 200 feet of wine, six shelves high. Since we never, ever drink any alcohol when at sea, perhaps we can be forgiven for rhapsodizing.

Choices, choices–a section of the wine aisle

It’s a good thing food and wine is so inexpensive, because when it comes to pampering Corroboree, money is flying out the portholes. We have already ordered new sails. Her current sails are 12 years old, and the mainsail ripped on our voyage here, a sure sign that it’s time to replace them. Likewise the jib boom, which got damaged over a year ago in a squall in the Caribbean and finally cracked in two. The mast itself has been taken down to get new wiring and replace the broken mainsail track. Corroboree’s bottom will be repainted and a persistent leak near the rudder repaired. A new head with holding tank will replace our composting toilet, which didn’t work in practice as well as in theory, and we might splurge on a new stove as well.  

Taking down the mast; broken camber spar

I used to ask myself what we were doing wrong that our boat seemed to be in constant state of breakdown, until we discovered that virtually every cruising yacht we met had a similar, and often longer, list of upgrade projects and equipment failures. And Corroboree deserves the expenditure for putting up with us as we learned to sail her and for bringing us safely this far. For those who are interested, I’m including at the end of this post the work order Eric prepared for the boatyard. It is a masterpiece of planning and organization.

Obviously, the work on Corroboree means a lot of labor for Eric and me as well, so the one thing above all we have promised ourselves is that we will take plenty of time off to play. There are hiking trails, waterfalls, and forests all around Whangarei. There are museums, historical sites, shops and restaurants. We’ve already booked tickets for the kids and us to tour Hobbiton, the movie set from the Lord of the Rings, which was filmed in New Zealand, and we hope to make a dent in those 500 wineries. I suspect we’ll spend a lot of time just drinking in the beautiful scenery. From volcanos to fjords, this country is stunning.

A hard life, indeed.


1) Haul boat out of water, clean bottom, and apply new bottom paint.
a. Prepare bottom to remove old bottom paint
b. Prime and repaint the bottom with new anti-fouling
c. If possible, I’d like to use Seahawk Biocop TF, color green #1234-1

2) Remove the mast from boat for repair work, touch-up paint, new wind instruments, and rewiring.  Reinstall mast into boat when repairs and upgrades are done.

3) Install new mast wind instruments along with new hull units for speed log and depth sounder.  (Perhaps an electronics subcontractor is best for this work?)
a. The wind instruments are 30 years old and don’t work anymore.
b. Install new wind instruments, central circuit control unit, and new helm readout.
c. Provide and install new speed log and depth sounder complete with new helm readout.

4) Rewire the mast for Masthead lights, Deck/Steaming light, VHF antenna.
a. The current wires in the mast are loose and they slap around inside the mast when at anchor. They need to be tied to a cable to keep them still.
b. Run new wires as necessary, including the new wind instruments.
c. Tie new wires to a new keeper wire, say 3 mm dia. stainless steel wire, that should be through-bolted to the masthead fitting above, and to the inside of the mast down low with a flat-head machine screw, washers, and locknut. This wire also to have an open-body turnbuckle at the lower end equipped with Sta-Lok style attachments.

5) Drop the rudder, repair rudder skeg, and reinstall rudder.
a. I believe there is a leak in the keel structure ahead of the rudder neck bearing that at the hull that is allowing water into the hull. This has to be sealed. Once sealed, reinstall the rudder.
b. Disconnect the steering cables from the quadrant and remove the quadrant.
c. Remove the lower bearing at the bottom of the skeg.
d. Drop the rudder and remove from hull.
e. Remove the rudder neck bearing and gland.
f. Clean and sand the entire back of the rudder skeg including up into the hull and keel.
g. Seal and recoat entire back of skeg with epoxy and fiberglass.
h. Sand, fair, and prep new fiberglass for new anti-fouling paint.
i. Prime and paint skeg all around with anti-fouling primer and paint.
j. Reinstall rudder with neck bearing and gland and bottom bearing.
k. Reinstall the rudder quadrant on rudder shaft and reconnect steering cables.

6) Provide and install a wet head.
a. We have a composting head that we are not happy with, so going back to a wet head with holding tank.
b. Size a new plastic holding tank of about 20 gallons and site inside the boat. Two locations are available, either in the original space in the head underneath a cabinet, or in the cockpit locker.
c. Determine plumbing for holding tank, fabricate and install. This will involve the plumbing for the discharge from the toilet, the discharge from the tank to overboard (use current engine exhaust through-hull), a pump for the overboard discharge, a new deck fitting for the holding tank discharge to a pump-out station (stbd. side deck), and a tank   vent (through-hull stbd. side, or through the transom.)
d. Size and install new toilet in head. Sea water connection is available close to toilet.

7) Change the location of the engine exhaust through-hull.
a. It is below the waterline on the starboard side at the moment, and it should be located above the waterline same side in approximately the fore/aft location.
b. Locate a new 1½” (38 mm) dia. through-hull fitting and seacock, and install with wood backing plate similar to existing on starboard side above and near to existing through-hull.
c. Keep the existing through-hull fitting for use as the overboard discharge for the new holding tank.
d. Connect new longer 1½” (38 mm) dia. exhaust hose from muffler to new seacock.

8) Repair bent stern pulpit stanchion.
a. We bent one of the stanchions of the stbd. stern pulpit in the Panama Canal.
b. Remove the stbd. pulpit for repair/rewelding of the stanchion in the pulpit.
c. Reinstall the pulpit.
d. We also lost a bronze mooring chock in this accident.  I will purchase a new chock and install it myself.

9) Rebore bronze mast collar for ½” (12 mm) dia. bolts.
a. The bronze mast collar casting has 3/8” (10 mm) mounting bolts in it. I’d like the casting bored out for ½” diameter (12 mm) bolts.
b. Supply 6 new ½” (12 mm) dia. stainless steel bolts of appropriate length (100 mm or so) with large fender washers and lock nuts.

10) Rebore bronze mast heel fitting for 3/8” (10 mm) or ½” (12 mm) dia. bolts.
a. Similarly, the mast heel casting is bored for 5/16” (8 mm) bolts, and I’d like these bored out to 10 or 12 mm dia. These fasteners currently are lag screws into the wood sole, and I’d like to change those to machine screws that screw into Helicoil (or equivalent) threaded inserts into the cabin sole wood structure.
b. Supply and install new threaded inserts (Helicoil or equivalent) suitable for wood cabin sole.
c. Supply and install 6 new 10 mm or 12 mm dia. bolts of appropriate length (40 mm or so).

11) Repair boom at boom bales.
a. The mainsheet boom bales (3 of them) have elongated their through-bolt holes in the aluminum boom. Those holes need to be cut out and new, thicker inserts welded in place and new bolt holes drilled. These can be done as 6 individual inserts for each bolt each side, or they can be ganged into 2 single units each side.
b. Cut out elongated holes in sides of boom at the boom bales.
c. Fabricate new inserts and weld in place with full-penetration welds all around.
d. Bore new bolt holes through the new inserts.
e. Reinstall the boom bales.

12) Fabricate a new CamberSpar jib boom.
a. On the way down from Fiji, we broke the jib boom; it sheared in half at a micro-crack.
b. Make a duplicate boom of same design as original. There are two end fittings that can be transferred to the new boom. If possible, a slightly heavier wall thickness would be desirable, but I don’t know what is available.

13) Fabricate a new stem chafe plate.
a. We would like a stainless steel chafe plate, about 600 mm long and wrapping around the stem about 50 mm each side, to be made up for proud fit on the stem.
b. Make templates as necessary for form-fitting chafe plate.
c. Install chafe plate on stem with 3M-5200 adhesive caulking.
d. If deemed necessary, a few (2 to 4) stainless steel screws can be provided to positively fix the stem plate onto the wood of the stem. These have to be really well caulked to revent water getting into the wood stem.

Finally, there are other repairs and service items that we will handle ourselves, such as new sails, outboard motor servicing, life raft servicing, and other miscellaneous jobs.


1. Touch up varnish inside the boat, including sealing wood at port (& stbd.?) deck prism with epoxy resin, thinned with acetone.
2. Replumb the sink drains with new through-hull fitting for galley sink, and use old through-hull for head sink.
3. Remove the sump. Re-use the sump pump as a bilge pump.
4. Fix the water faucets with new seal washers.
5. Strip the old varnish from outside surfaces (toe rails & hand rails). Sand wood to fresh surface and color.
6. Mast (other than above)
a. Fix deck/steaming light short.
b. Fill and fair gouges along the track.
c. Fix the sail track?
d. Purchase and install new Tides sail track?
e. Seal bottom edge of mast with new epoxy and veil.
7. Reseal forward hatch (recaulk lens, and/or buy new seal). Same for main hatch?
8. Install new hawse pipe for port anchor.
9. Rebed all mooring cleats with fresh caulking and new fiberglass back-up plates (to be made).
10. Get outboard motor serviced.
11. Get liferaft serviced.
12. Change oil and oil and fuel filters in main engine.
13. Cut large floor panel in two. Dress edges with new epoxy and a cleat on one edge.
14. Sand down and redress the mast step wood surfaces, and 4 other floor panels.
15. Recoat 5 floor panels with new epoxy.
16. Clean upholstery with Febreeze or equivalent.
17. Install new roller parts in autopilot ring.
18. Fix boom outhaul—is it jammed?
19. Fix rubber edge of dinghy port side with protective white rubber.
20. Restitch Bimini zippers in front panel.
21. Patch wear spots in Bimini top.
22. Bore new drain holes in cockpit coamings, line with epoxy and PVC pipe sections.
23. Install new kick plates on main stairs.