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Day 1,029 - Gulf Harbour, NZ (S 36° 06 E 175° 25)
16:13hrs - March 25th 2010
Drifted Off Course

I tell myself that this is all only temporary, and I believe me too, but the thing is, in the last few weeks it seems we have drifted a long way off course, and our cruising lifestyle seems very, very distant indeed.

With Dream Time out of the water and being operated on, her exposed shaven hull modestly hidden under a canopy of tarps that stretch from her decks to the concrete ground, her cabin littered with tools and gear, and the daily routine of grinding, fumes and dust, we've been forced to move out. Home for us now is a small one bedroom apartment up the road.

We drive down to the marina for our daily visits, making excuses to see Dream Time - to take another photo, to check on her progress, or to talk to the team of boat builders working on her, but in all honesty we go not for her benefit, she's in great hands, but we go rather for ours.

You see, with Dream Time out of the water and out of commission, living in an apartment and owning a car, we feel a long way away from the freedom of our cruising lifestyle. But thankfully we can see the top of Dream Time's mast from our balcony, it's not much, but it's like a beacon, a little reminder that while we may not be able to continue cruising just yet, salvation is not far away.

 

 
 

Capturing our adventure with the new Panasonic SLR GF1 Lumix Camera
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Day 1,023 - Gulf Harbour, NZ (S 36° 06 E 175° 25)
08:19hrs - March 19th 2010
Project Osmosis - Part 2

Welcome back to our ongoing Osmosis Diagnosis series.

In Part One we shared with you the sad news that our beloved Dream Time had been diagnosed with osmosis - an unfortunate result of saltwater seeping in through the outer layers of barrier coats, epoxies and fiberglass. In this episode we'll be discussing not only how to cope with the emotional trauma of realizing that your boat has developed a potentially expensive rash, but how to cure it.

We've come a long way since we made our unfortunate discovery, but now I'm happy to report that Catherine, myself and Dream Time are all in a much better place to begin dealing with this problem. To begin with, Dream Time was relocated to the osmosis area of the yard, the surgical ward, where she'll undergo her treatment and recovery over the next 8 - 10 weeks. And Catherine and I went on an intensive 2-day geothermal spa retreat in Rotorua, where for hours at a time we soaked away our troubles in 107° mineral pools. We got Zen, and returned to Dream Time smelling of sulphur, but feeling relaxed, revived, oozing with positive vibes and ready to face the project.

So step one: We recommend taking a long, calming and soothing breath, preferably in a geothermal pool (or a hot tub if one is unavailable) and get a little perspective.

Once you're composed and thinking logically, rather than emotionally, decisions can be made. And they're quite simple really, if you have severe osmosis (determined by the number and size of blisters, the moisture readings in the hull, and how deep it's penetrated) you can choose either:

1. Denial: Ignore the osmosis problem altogether, cover it up with a little paint and continue sailing
   (a option only advisable for casual daytime or weekend cruisers).
2. Temporary fix: Dig and gouge out the blisters one-by-one, filling the voids with epoxy as you go.
   (This does not really solve the problem, rather just addressed the symptoms).
3. Permanent fix: Completely remove the contamination and rebuild the outer layers to prevent future
   heartache - our treatment of choice.

Step two: Determine how severe the osmosis really is and decide which solution is most suitable for you - the type / age boat you have, and the kind of sailing that you do will help you arrive at a decision. And, of course, decide what's the most cost-effective and affordable solution for you.

PHASE ONE - REMOVE THE CONTAMINATION:
The first phase to solving our osmosis diagnosis is to plane the hull by completely shaving off the outer layers of epoxy and fiberglass with an industrial-sized electric shaver. It's a week's worth of grinding and noise, but it's already paying off. We've removed approximately 3mm on the starboard side and reached the inner, drier layers of fiberglass where the moisture readings have dropped significantly, from 30+% (considered "wet" with the Electrophysics moisture meter) to under 12% ("dry").

Once the entire hull under the waterline has been shaved, Dream Time will be allowed to thoroughly dry out, either naturally or with a little help from a hot vacuum pack that will heat small areas of the hull and literally suck the remaining moisture out from the deeper layers of fiberglass.

But we're not quite there yet, so stay tuned and we'll see you next week when more of our Osmosis Diagnosis project is revealed...

Click here to learn more about Osmosis Solutions Ltd. >



         
 


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Day 1,020 - Gulf Harbour, NZ (S 36° 06 E 175° 25)
19:12hrs - March 16th 2010
R&R in Rotorua

Life on a boat, while often perfect and lovely, also has its own unique collection of headaches and dramas, the dreaded osmosis being an unwelcome one of them.  So when we were given our unhappy osmosis diagnosis last week there were a few bleak and gloomy moments when we realized that because of how long the repair process was likely to be, all the plans we had made for the next sailing season would now be in jeopardy. But ironically the very nature of the trip we have chosen to take means that the unexpected can, will and often does happen at fairly regular intervals so, while at the time, our diagnosis and treatment forecast felt like a big fat downer, it was in fact just another nautical bump in the road.  And so in the wise words of Neville J. Hockley we turned our frowns upside down, and figured out a new plan. 

The first part of the new plan involved a few hours drive south to Rotorua to indulge in some r&r in the glorious geothermal mud baths and hot springs. My goal was to spend the entire time soaking in some steamy mineral pool gazing quietly at the sky, but we found Rotorua to be full of other fun things to do.  So we visited Whakarewarewa, a Maori thermal village complete with an obligingly energetic geyser, and we also spent a sunny afternoon wandering around the museum and Government Gardens. But the priority was definitely the entirely restorative Polynesian Spa with its 26 hot mineral spring pools, where we spent our evenings watching the sunsets over the lake while soaking meditatively in a variety of steamy mineral pools pondering and discussing the ‘new plan’ - which we now understand, may or may not happen, we’ll just have to wait and see.




     
 


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Day 1,017 - Gulf Harbour, NZ (S 36° 06 E 175° 25)
18:31hrs - March 13th 2010
An Unfortunate Discovery - Part 1

Our journey has taken an unexpected and unwelcome direction. Instead of making the final preparations for our departure north in a few weeks, back to the tropics - the swinging palm trees, bath-warm waters and idyllic anchorages, we'll be spending the next 10 - 12 weeks, autumn weeks, in New Zealand working on Dream Time.

You see, five days ago we hauled Dream Time out of the water for a routine hull clean and to apply a few fresh coats of antifouling paint, only to discover that our hull, under the waterline, is riddled with blisters (the equivalent of a car covered in deep rust spots). Ordinarily such a discovery on a 30-year old sailboat wouldn't be that surprising as many fiberglass boats develop blisters eventually - formed by moisture penetrating through the outer layers of paints, barrier coats and eventually the fiberglass. But what makes this discovery so disappointing is that we had addressed this very issue before we left New York three years ago and had expected the restoration work to last the lifetime of the boat.

We're not entirely sure why the problem has reoccurred, but the bottom line is we have two options: the first - ignore the problem and keep sailing, blistering rarely develops into a structural issue and as Dream Time is built like a tank we were told by a fiberglass expert that she'd probably be just fine. But Dream Time is our home and we have, at the pace we're sailing, at least 8 more years of cruising ahead of us, and as we're in a part of the world where we can address this problem properly (and get a 10-year guarantee on the work) we're going with option 2: to restore the hull to better than new condition so we can sail away confident that we have done the right thing.

We'll chronicle the steps of the project here on zeroXTE, so for any sailors out there who have the misfortunate of diagnosing the same problem, perhaps our story will help.



 


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Day 1,011 - Gulf Harbour, NZ (S 36° 06 E 175° 25)
18:31hrs - March 7th 2010
And We're Back

‘Back’ in this case being back in New Zealand.  Apologies for the blog gap but we have been on the road and usefully occupied.   Having Dream Time securely tied up in a safe marina in New Zealand gave us the opportunity to travel back to the UK and America to visit much missed family and friends and we took
4 weeks out  to enjoy the experience.

Having such long gaps between visits back home always makes for interesting trips, and no matter how long we have, there never seems to be enough time, and I always leave wanting more. But this visit was particularly special with so many things to celebrate, like new additions to the family, namely Claire and Tim’s beautiful baby Colm, Sarah’s well deserved law school graduation, Harry’s prestigious chorister position at St. Paul’s Cathedral, my dearest friends much anticipated joy filled pregnancy, and my fathers continuing strong health in the face of an unhappy diagnosis.  When our time was up and it was time to go, it was strange leaving, understanding fully for the first time, that as much as our lives evolve and change while we sail the sea from year to year, so does everything else. I used to think that whatever I left behind kind of stayed the same, stayed where I could find it, but this trip really showed me that everything changes, life and lives change, usually in a happy way, but sometimes not.  This trip was especially sweet because I finally understood that, and fully enjoyed the happy.

Tomorrow morning at 8am Dream Time will be hoisted out of the water and set up on dry land to have her bottom paint freshened up and her hull waxed and polished ready for her trip up to Fiji in May, and while she is busy doing that we will be off exploring glaciers and fjords in the beautiful but a bit too chilly for my liking South Island of New Zealand.  Apparently our goal is to make friends with a Kiwi bird in Stewart Island, wish us luck!