Category Archives: Boat Details

Leaks: Drip, Drip, Drop

Maybe that is a bit of an overdramatization…but we do have several leaks that recently started.  The fun part is trying to determine the source without tearing the boat apart.  But sometimes you just have to tear it apart to put it back together.

Same problem causing multiple leaks.  We were seeing leaks at each corner of the boat.  Originally, we thought it was caused by the seam between the deck and hull.  Then we thought it was where the stanchions meet the deck.  Next, we checked the drain area where our lines originate.  Ah ha!  There it is.  The angled 90° drain, that connects to the drain hose, needs to be replaced in all 4 corners. 

It took Matt months to find the right size angled drain that fit the 19mm hose and had a 31mm drain opening.  He ordered 4 and replaced the largest leak at the starboard bow first while we were in Fiji.  Being in New Zealand during this unusual rainy season has moved the leak project up to the front.

The top white drain is the original defective drain.  The larger white drain is the replacement that works in the two bow locations.  Unfortunately, the larger white drains are too tall for the aft cabin drains so we went on a hunting expedition to find new ones.  We tracked two new drains down in the South Island and had them shipped up to us in the North island (grey drain).

Both angled drains are leaking in the back and both are over beds.  The one in the master leaks right over Matt’s head and the one over the office leaks over the corner bed.  Fun!  These two locations require us to tear down the ceiling panel to access the drain.

Master Cabin Leaks

We removed two of our ceiling panels and found three leaks.  The main leak from the drain, then another leak coming in from a new solar cable we installed a few years ago (they didn’t seal it properly) and the third leak was coming from the ignition panel.  The good news is we could access all of them.

Cyclone Hale

Just after we removed all ceiling panels, we learned a cyclone was coming.  This is good and bad news.  Good in that we will see exactly where the leaks are coming from, but bad because it’s a cyclone for goodness sake!

For those of you who don’t read weather systems, here is another visual of the flooding.

Cyclone Hale changed directions a little bit and ended up over Coromandel.  Basically, we received a lot of rain and winds of about 40kts.  We are pretty protected in the marina so we felt relatively certain we would be ok.  Dressed in our foulies.

But other parts of New Zealand (like Coromandel) did not fair as well.  Once Cyclone Hale passed, we resumed our leaky project.

We replaced the angled drain and put epoxy all around it.  We then resealed the solar cable and we resealed the ignition panel.  All three leaks in the starboard master cabin are considered done!

Port Office Cabin

The port office cabin leak is the same leak as the master bedroom cabin  Ah ha!  There it is.  The 90° angled drain.  So, we removed more ceiling panels to see the source.

Wowza, evidently there has been a slow leak here for awhile as it was pretty moldy and gross.  Matt had to break away the thickened epoxy (without damaging the hoses).  It was a dirty job that is for sure.  Once we replaced the drain, resealed everything back up and called this project done.

But don’t let me over simplify everything.  These projects took months to complete.  Partly because we had to wait for spare parts or wait for things to dry (as it often rained in Whangarei).  But mostly because these were all really huge jobs.

Also, the removal and replacement of the ceiling panels is a massive job.  It takes great patience to remove a single panel (to ensure you don’t damage it) so we can use it as a pattern to make the new ones.  Then it takes several days to remove all of the old glue and glue residue from the ceiling so that you can adhere the new panel.  The glue and glue residue all have to be removed if we plan to reuse panel.

I thought about doing a blog post on the ceiling panels as it is such a huge job but man that would be boring!  This is what our poor forward cabin looks like as we do all the work in the office.

Cyclone Gabriel

Seriously, we came to New Zealand because it is “out of the cyclone zone” but here we are – again faced with a much larger cyclone aiming for the north tip of the north island  – right where we are located.  Evidently, this is the fist cyclone to actually hit land (cyclone skirted around NZ, but never technically hit land).  The bottom image is the wind speed that Matt tracked during the cyclone.  Topped at 55kts which is the worst winds we have ever seen.

Everything flooded all around us with the tides rising over 3 meters and covering the streets, walkways, and pontoons.

Roads were shut down with damage, collapse, landslides and fallen trees.  A week after the cyclone over 400 people are unaccounted for and the death toll is climbing.  We were lucky in that we had no damage, but Matt was well prepared.  We removed anything that could be ripped off by the winds and stowed it all inside.

Events from this blog occurred in mid-January 2023.  Our blog posts run 6-8 weeks behind actual events.  In our last blog post we rebuilt the windlass – do you know what that is?

Rebuilding the Windlass

Our windlass is a vital part of our boat as it controls our anchor and anchor chain.  It allows us to use the motor to raise and lower our 100 meters of 10mm stainless chain and 33 kilo spade anchor.  We replaced the motor, gaskets and a few other small pieces in Costa Rica 2019, but we have not taken the top portion of the windlass apart for some time.

We were having issues with the windlass as it was drawing too much power to operate.  Something was causing friction or issues making the motor work too hard which then overloaded the batteries.  Never a good thing to have the boat shut down as you are trying to bring up the anchor.

Getting Started

In order to work on the windlass we have to disengage the anchor chain.  However, we did not want it to drop into the marina water so we ended up securing the anchor and chain to the bow roller.

We ordered new gaskets, o-rings, a sure clip, and a bearing from Lewmar (which took forever to arrive).  As Matt was taking everything apart he realized that the spacer had rotted.  Well shoot!  For some reason, Lewmar has stainless and aluminum pieces put together which is odd as these two materials don’t like each other.  

End of Year Delay

New problem. This spacer was not available anywhere in NZ, USA, or Europe!  Evidently Lewmar would not be manufacturing more of these pieces until end February (it was December when we discovered the problem).  If we were to wait, the part would not get to us until April or May. That would mean that we could not leave the marina as we would have no means to anchor which was simply unacceptable.  So, we decided to take it to RH Precision Engineering to have a new one fabricated.

Rob at RH Precision was wonderful!  We dropped the sad little spacer off on Friday before Christmas and he called us on Wednesday 28 Dec to tell us it was ready!  And on top of that he only charged us $100NZD and 2 beers!  We would have spent hundreds of dollars more had we ordered it from Lewmar.  And it is beautiful and works perfectly!

We discovered the culprit was a rotted cord deck which held the spacer.  Sea water had seeped into the wood, rotted it out and kept the spacer wet.  So, Matt had to dig out all of the rotted wood, let it dry out, then filled it with epoxy.

We were finally able to complete the windlass project after 3 weeks, mostly waiting on parts.  Now, we should be able to anchor without putting too much stress on our batteries.

Events from this blog occurred in late December and early January 2023.  Our blog posts run 6-8 weeks behind actual events. We upgrade Sugar Shack with lithium batteries and Starlink in our last blog.

A New Ticker: Lithium Batteries

House batteries are the heart of our boat that keep everything running.  Our AGM gel batteries are only 4 years young and probably have another 3-4 more years of life left.  However, we are in NZ and we finally have access to lithium batteries, expertise to install and knowledge of how to re-program C-Zone for the new lithium batteries.

Matt has always known we would switch to lithium batteries; we were just waiting for the right place to purchase them.  I think he started talking about switching to lithium back in 2016, then again considered switching when we replaced all the electronics in Costa Rica after the lightening strike.  But in the end we waited…until now.

We contacted several dealers and settled on Cleagh Limited because Matthew Duckett has a significant amount of experience and expertise with C-Zone and Mastervolt.  We are a Mastervolt boat so for the most part it “should” be a plug and play with the batteries.  However, we have to update C-Zone and all of our electronics which will take a day or two.

Also, the Mastervolt warranty and our insurance both require a licensed electrician to do the install which is where Matthew Duckett comes in.

As a dealer, he was able to secure our Mastervolt MLI 12/6000 at a very reduced price.  We saved hundreds of dollars!!!  So, far loving this guy!

Removal of the AGM Dry Fit Batteries

We currently have (8) Sonnenschein Batteries A512 12V 115A Dryfit 500. They are long-life batteries that are similar to AGM but much better.  They each weigh in at about 42kilos / 93lbs.  Hope to sell these guys to recoup some of our money.

Installing the new Mastervolt 12/6000

The new batteries look like beasts when they arrive, but in actuality they will take up a lot less space and weigh much less than our original batteries.

We are replacing 8 Sonnenschein batteries with 2 Mastervolt lithium batteries.  These are slightly bigger but they weigh considerably less at 49 kilos / 108lbs.  So we are removing 336kilos / 744lbs and adding  98kilos / 216lbs.  This is a weight savings of 238kilos / 524lbs!  That is significant on a boat!  yeah us.

It is an awkward space to be in as you have to work around the “seat holes” upside down.  Both Matt and Matthew were in the hole for the better part of two days.  Matt Mitchell is in red shirt (middle photo) and Matthew is bottom photo.


 Matthew connects up with Tim who works at Mastervolt and has to review and certify our system.  It took a few tweaks, but after a few hours we were totally configured and up and running.  This is a screen shot of Matthew’s computer as Tim was diagnosing and reviewing our systems.


Originally Matthew thought it would take 2 weeks to complete the entire job, but then he amended it to 1 week.  As it turned out, it only took 2.5 days because Matt did a lot of prep work in removing the old batteries, reconfiguring the wood slats that hold the new batteries in place and built the strap system that secures the to the floor.

Feeling super excited to see how our power consumption, usage, and recharging improves with these beautiful Mastervolt batteries!

And look how much room we have for storage!

Time to Stay Connected: Starlink

As most of you know, we struggle with internet connectivity especially in the remote places of Fiji and French Polynesia.  Here in New Zealand we have had great access, but we won’t always be in the land of plenty.

Starlink was running a discounted special here in NZ at the end of 2022.  We couldn’t resist since it was almost half the price of what the units were selling for in the U.S.  Matt was like a kid in the candy store when the big gray box arrived.

He ordered the residential unit and will add portability when we leave NZ.  He also ordered the ethernet box which he plans to butcher to make work on 12volt.  

The unit does not draw a huge amount of power, but it is more than we expected.  Luckily our new batteries can handle it!

In an effort to save some money, we downgraded our Iridium Unlimited plan for the next 4 months.  We will most likely reinstate it when we move to Tonga in May just as a back up in case Starlink does not connect while underway.

We have seen really great speeds.  In the first image you can clearly see where we started using Starlink vs the local marina wifi and our Vodafone connection.

Not the prettiest solution for our dish, but it works while we are on the dock.  It has to be free and clear of obstructions and away from our solar panels and radar.  So, for now, here she is.

This could be a game changer for us!  Stay tuned.

Events from this blog occurred in mid-January 2023.  Our blog posts run 6-8 weeks behind actual events.  We enjoyed the Highland Games in our last blog, did you read about it?