Monthly Archives: February 2024

Shades of Canvas

We bring Kim from Masterpieces in Canvas back to finish up a few more sewing projects.  We ran out of time and could not finish these two big projects last season.  Kim met us in the Norsand Boatyard where she worked with Matt to determine exactly what he wants before making a pattern.

She brings a huge roll of pattern material and custom designs each window covering.  Some windows get 2 patterns.  We are making sauleda covers for storage (they will be solid gray fabric that are not see through).  We are also making black phifertex window covers that will be our “everyday” window shades.  They will let in a little light, allow us to see outside, but will block 80% of the sun.

We also asked Kim to make us (2) side phifertex canvas sun shades for our cockpit enclousure.   These will zip on to the outside of our existing side panels and can be rolled up for storage when not in use.  So we can alternate between using the sun shade (phifertex) or the rain shade (sauleda/Isinglass) without having to change them out.

In the bottom photo, Kim is marking the snaps on the sauleda canvas window covers.  We will use these when we put the boat up for storage or when we are feeling particularly shy.  The yellow tape around the foward window is from a paint job that Matt was working on and will be removed.

And the final phifertex window covers.  We decided to go with two different grades.  The two side windows on both port and starboard are 90% opacity and the three forward windows are 80% opacity.  This will allow us to better see out the windows while the shades are on.

Sewing Projects By Us

In 2018, Matt and I made blue fender covers for our big round A4s and pencil type F4s.  See blog post dressing up our Fenders. 

Over the years the blue faded and frayed so it was time to replace them again.  Last season, March 2023 I replaced the A4 fender covers with black covers.  But that left the F4 (pencil) fenders ugly and blue.

So, it was time to replace them with beautiful black polar felt.  They should match better to our new gray color scheme and be soft on the boat.

New Line

We also purchased new line for the boat.  We bought 34m of a beautiful gray (with black/white flecks) in double braid heavy duty line for our main sheets, and 100m green mottled line with a dynema core for our spin halyard and reefing line.  While we were at it we replaced our red “oh $hit” line that we use to hold on while under way and bought 100m of 5mm dynema line for future projects.  Everything came from Nautilus Braids which provides the best customer service, quality lines, at reasonable pricess.  They custom made our lines for us!

By the way, there are no ropes on board a boat.  You will find lines, sheets, halyards, vangs, tricing lines, warps, whips, and jackstays, but not ropes.  

We will have Kim come back in early March to help us finish some really small projects:

  • Stern seat cushions over the line holders
  • (2) Line bags for our main sheets
  • (2) Recycling bags
  • (1) Remote wench holder
  • (2) Sets of 3 pockets for cockpit
  • (1) Table cover

Don’t worry, there still are a dozen other sewing projects for us to tackle with our Sailrite machine.

Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind actual live events. This blog post occured in mid-November.  We attack some beastly boat projects while on the hard at Norsand Boatyard.

Booted or Booty: NZ Visas

As an American, you can enter New Zealand with an NZeTA which will give you a 3-month visa (if you enter by airplane, cruise ship, or private yacht.)   If you plan to stay longer than 3-months, which most cruisers do, you have to then apply for a tourist visa which will give you an additional 6 month stay. Most countries will allow you to extend your visas, especially if you are spending money in their country.

However, NZ allows Americans to either stay 9 months in an 18 month period or 12 months in a 24 month period (see here).  Here is where we run into a problem and face possible expulsion from this amazing country.

Last season we arrived in early November and left in early July.  Matt never left NZ while I flew back and forth to the states several times (as my dad was very ill).  By the time we left, Matt had spent just over 8 months and I had spent about 6 months in NZ.  Well shoot.  Even if we got approval for the 12 months in a 24 month period visa that is not enough time for us.  It would have us leaving in February which is the peak of cyclone season.  So, we need to do something to fix our visas.

Booted or Booty?

Seems so strange to me that NZ would kick us out considering how much money we spent last season and this season on repairs and upgrades.  But thems the rules.  So, we had to decide…do we return and schedule a lot of work costing a lot of money with the hopes that we won’t get booted?

We decided to take the risk.  Here is what we had to do to get an extended visa.  It is a long process that wasn’t cheap.

Visit the NZ Immigration website.  You complete a very long online application, upload about a dozen documents, pay money, get a complete physical and medical check, pay more money, and wait.

Application Process

Reach out to us if you are interested in learning how to properly complete this application or hire an immigration agent to assist you.

The application inquires about standard information on you, your boat, and your spouse. They ask about your health, financial status, criminal background, and more.  Nothing is sacred.

It requires proof and uploads of financial status (past 3 months), proof of the value of the boat (insurance documents work), proof of marriage (if applicable and applying as a married couple), scans of passport bio page, boat registration, temporary import entry (TIE), and completion of the INZ 1224 form.

In addition you have to upload a photo of yourself in front of a non-white, solid color background, not smiling, with hair behind your ears, solid color shirt, and a very specific pixel size.  It was such a pain to get this just right.  The system rejected a dozen of our photos!


NZ is a socialized medicine country which means they don’t want their tourists to be a burden on their society. Our visas required us to get a complete physical.  We went to Rust Avenue Medical as they were able to get us in quicker than White Cross in Whangarei.  Even though it was quicker, it was still a 2-week wait.  This was rather a long process and took us about 2.5 hours and cost $300USD per person.  They did a urine test, checked our vitals, asked us a dozen questions, asked us to do basic physical activities (bend over, touch toes, etc…), eye exam, listened to our heart & lungs.

From there, we walked two buildings down the road to the pathology lab and had a full blood test run (including for Hepatitis B & C, HIV, Syphilis, HvA1C, and full blood count).  This took about 45 minutes, no appointment needed, and cost $250USD per person.

Next we went to TRG Imaging which is next to White Cross in Whangarei.  We had to get chest x-rays.  We walked in without an appointment and were done within 15 minutes, the cost $250USD each.

The medical facilities all uploaded the results to the immigration website.  Within 24 hours we were notified that immigration had all of our results.  Now that is fast!

The Waiting Game: Visas 

It is a bit nerve racking as you wait for your visa approval.  Supposedly, if your application is submitted and is in process you don’t have to worry, even if your NZeTA expires.  But that is a big “supposedly”

The other interesting thing is that our NZeTA visas are good for 2 years.  So, our NZeTA is valid until 29 September 2024.  Which means technically you can enter, leave and re-enter for another 3-months as long as this NZeTA is valid.  But what I don’t know is how this works when your standard tourist visa expires.  Surely their system shows that we have both an NZeTA and a tourist visa and we try to enter on the NZeTA with an expired Tourist Visa they will stop us?  So many questions….

We finally had a reply three weeks after our medical records were submitted to immigration.  The email was non-descript and short.  It did not have any hints as to whether we will be denied and booted from NZ or accepted to stay.  I opened the attachment with such trepidation and anxiety!  

Kicked Out ?

We were ACCEPTED!  Thank God!  Not only that, but we were given a multiple entry (so I can fly back to the States).  Usually this type of visa is a one entry visa meaning you only can enter once and being that we were already here we could not leave and come back during this visa period.  So, lucky for us we got multiple entry so I can fly back to the states and return to my boat.

We feel so blessed to have been approved and look forward to exploring the NE shores of NZ!

Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind actual live events.  This blog took place in November.  Several beastly boat projects get completed in the last blog post.

Varnish, Varnish, Varnish

Varnish is a very repetitive process and it requires a LOT of patience which I have very little of.  These projects try my very last bit of sanity, but I got it all done over several weeks.  Over the years, we have put oil and stain on our exterior teak wood.  We have teak on our 2 cockpit hatches, 6 steps on the sugar scoops, hand rails along the cabin top, rails on all 4 sides of the bimini, 2 princess seats, and 8 pieces in the cockpit.  Lots of teak.   If you are a cruiser, you will notice I did not mention the teak toe rail as there is no way in he!! I will touch those.

Matt has wanted to varnish the wood for a long time and every time I go to stain or oil any of the teak he complains.  So, I finally agree to try my hand at varnishing.

Varnish / Awl Wood

We have talked about varnishing some of our teak pieces for years.  But varnishing is time consuming and takes a lot of patience (which I don’t have).  Now that we are in the yard and we removed the bimini hand rail and the cabin top hand rails we’ve decided it was time to give it a whirl.

Project 1 of 3 Varnishing  Projects are the (2) hand rails that run along our cabin top (about 12′ or 3.5m), (2) aft bimini rails and a flag pole.

Sanding, Sanding, and More Sanding

The first step is sanding several times with 80 grit then sanding several more times until all of the old stain and groves are gone.  Then you follow it up with more sanding using 120 grit sand paper which smoothes the surface further.   

Removal of All Dust Particles 

Then I wipe everything down with MEK (some heavy duty nasty stuff to remove the dust particles).


Next step I apply Awl Grip / Awl Wood Primer.  The yard informed me that I should be using a new bucket and brush for each step and each coat, so I did (seems wasteful). 

The primer goes on smoothly and turns the wood a rich, beautiful color.  This is a clear primer so we were surprised at how dark it made the wood.  Can you see the long cabin hand rails hanging from the metal boat support?

Applying Awlwood Gloss

Once the primer was dry (24hrs) I applied the first coat of Awlwood gloss.  You can either apply one coat each 24hrs and then sand down, apply MEK, then apply 2nd coat or you can try multi coating in a single day.  Guess which one I tried — multi-coating (lack of patience, remember).  I was only able to apply 2 coats in the first day.  So, the next day I had to hand sand each piece with 320 grit paper before starting the next 3 coats.

Once these dry for 24 hours I sanded them all again with 600 grit paper and put on the final 6th coat.

Project 2: More Varnishing

I also varnished the (2) cockpit handholds, two teak hatch frames, and the teak on both helm seats.  There were years of layers of stain on these pieces of wood.  I would do a light sanding before staining, but they had not been taken down to the raw wood in ages.

And now they are beautiful and shiny.  For some reason the wood looks more red than it is in realy life.  The wood color is more like the lower left photo.

You’ve Got to Be Kidding?

One day after Matt installed our beautiful new varnished hand rails along the cabin top, I stop to take a photo and notice something horrible!  The teak around the sides and front of the bimini are simply awful looking with old stain.  And on top of that the small teak rail along the cabin top (just below it) looked crappy too.  And since I had the varnish out again, we decided to do the two princess seats and the teak backing to our wench handle holders.  Great, varnish project #3!  Keep in mind it started out with one piece and now has blossomed into 18 pieces!

The teak rail along the bimini top can’t be removed (unlike the aft portion of the rail) so it makes it very difficult to sand.  Most of it has to be done by hand.  This is the same case for the rail along the cabin top.  This project has truly destroyed my hands, nails, and back!  I am upside down a lot trying to get the pieces that are seen from the cockpit.  

I was so irritated that I started sanding without taking any before photos, but trust me the wood needed either stain or varnish.


Man oh man this was difficult to sand these pieces.  Most of the trim was near our non-skid (which really hurts the hands when you hit it), gelcoat which scratches easily from the sand paper, a metal rail (painful on the hands) and or screws, bolts, knobs.  You can see from the top photo that the bimini rail and the small rail below it had to be varnished to match the beautiful hand rails along the cabin top.

The two princess seats really need new teak but it is not in the cards yet.  Maybe when we get to Indonesia.  So, we sand down the old stain and do our best to make these seats look better.  Here is the raw wood.

Back to the Process

A good swipe of MEK is applied to remove all dust particles and anything that might muck up the varnish.  Primer is applied and then 24hrs later the varnish process begins.  Awlgrip’s product Awlwood allows you to either multi-coat or apply one coat every 24hrs with a sanding in between coats.  I couldn’t possibly sand 6 more times. So I decided to try multi-coating again which only requires 2 more sanding sessions.

The end product came out nice, not my favorite and certainly not my best work, but it will do for now.  I am not a varnish person. I don’t like doing it and I am not a fan of the end result.  But Matt likes it so there is that.  Just not sure who will redo all of this in 5 years when it starts to look ratty???

The front section that is flat was fairly easy to do despite the non-skid and gel coat issues.  But the insde was tricky with the rails, the ledges, the uneven surfaces.  You see this from the inside of the cockpit (bottom right photo).  This kept getting loads of bubbles which required more sanding.  Truly a beastly job.

After what seemed like months of sanding and varnishing (it reality it was weeks), everything has been varnished (except the toe rails).  

Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind actual live events.  This blog occured in early December while we were on the hard in Norsand Boatyard.  Don’t miss out on some of the beastly projects we got completed in the yard in our last blog post.