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Code Blue – Update 2-21-17 New Zealand February 21, 2017

Posted by steveandjudy in Code Blue 2017.
Waitangi - 100 ft Waka canoe landing

Waitangi – 100 ft Waka canoe landing

To: Code Blue Folks,

REMOTE VAN KEY – While visiting another boat on the dock a couple of us were talking with Mark the owner. I was playing with my van keys a bit with my left hand. Soon the Van remote control key fell onto the dock and bounced into the salt water. It had a metal ring and a 10” long blue tape with my name on it left over from having the brakes worked on. Mark didn’t recommend diving for it as it is a very silty mud bottom and the water is pretty yucky here. You can’t see more than six inches and once you touch the bottom you have a silt storm with no visibility.

Another boat had a heavy duty magnet on board as others had used it before. They weren’t home. I found out about another boat “Plan Sea” on the other side of the marina having a big magnet too. I called on the radio and they did have one and were on the boat. Took my bike over and got the magnet. Came back to Marks dock and after four sweeps with the magnet on a line in about 10 feet of water it came up with the key ring attached to the magnet after about an hour from when it was dropped. At least I could use the key to open the van mechanically now. We only have two keys. The other one won’t remotely open the doors but the battery is good for a backup.

I took the key back to my boat and flushed it with fresh water and opened the inside. Major mud inside and it had lots of little electronic parts. After flushing I patted it dry and left it in the sun to dry by evaporation. Rich from s/v Plan Sea, recommended putting it in rice grains for a day or two to really get the moisture out. Humidity inside the cockpit was below 50% due to the sun. I tried that for several hours and put it back together. Then took it up to the van. Abracadabra it worked both unlock and lock. I now have a float on the key and once in a while I wear a retainer key chain with keys attached to remind me of why a janitor wears one. I tried this magnet method with the same magnet when I dropped a steel clamp while working on the solar panel job. No such luck and with deeper water. Even with a five pound weight on top of the magnet to get it to go down into the mud/silt better. I gave up after several hours and sessions at low tide. On another note some close neighbors of ours on the dock here were missing their bicycle in the morning. We’re at the far end of the dock with better bikes before this one that was missing. After several hours of using a dinghy anchor on a line and other methods they were able to pull the bike out of the water about 9pm. We didn’t know about local magnets being available then.

NEW SOLAR PANELS – I had been talking with Eric on Pied-A-Mer about his soon to be surplus solar panels he would have for sale. He’s had gen set and Honda generator problems since before leaving Mexico originally planned for 2014 and didn’t leave until 2015 due to these problems, and finally has decided to go to solar panels on his catamaran in a big way. We struck a deal end of November and I ended up with his two 50 Watt SP50-L semi flexible lightweight Solbian panels and two booster GVB-8-Pb-12V Genason lead-acid controllers. All about 4 years old.

I visited the local scrap metal collection place hoping to find some aluminum that would work for the project. The one closest doesn’t sell any scrap metal to the public. The worker there thought a yard out in Kamo about 8 miles from my boat sold to the public. So we went out there. Sure enough they do and we found some that might work Dec 19th, seven kilograms worth for $2.50 a kilo for $17.50. They pay a dollar a kilo if you want to sell it back to them. I bought some more aluminium (note the spelling and pronunciation difference [al-u-min-ium] here in Kiwi land) at a wholesaler here Ulrich Aluminium. They closed just before Christmas with no sign and didn’t open again until Jan. 12th due to extended holidays. Five meters worth of 1” x 3” x 1/8” (3mm) thick, U channel for $116.93 NZD. At first upon looking up the owners- manual for the controllers we noticed we could hook them up in series and save on wiring. Later we learned that the controllers don’t work in MPPT function if you do this. So I ended up putting in a large common ground wire as the arch tube is getting pretty full with wire and this would save putting in another pair of wires instead. Finally I ended up getting the panels working as MPPT panels on Feb 7th for a total of $430 in gear plus the original $230 cost of the panels and controllers from Eric.

Just for the last two days 15 and 16th it has been raining mostly for 48 hours. My solar production yesterday was only 57 amp hours even with the new panels. 22 amp hours short of what I needed plus another 45 used over night. Today the sun came out and we were fully charged by about 12:30pm. Last few days now 21st has been good early. Doing about 100 plus Amp hours.

WAITANGI DAYS – is a holiday weekend celebrating the British and Maori people signing a treaty in 1840. The treaty grounds are near Paihia, (Bay of Islands) north of here about an hour by car. Five of us went up by our van on Feb. 6th. Enclosed are some pictures from that Monday. Lots of Maori dancing, singing and Waka (canoe) festivities took place.

Our cable controller for fuel and gear shifting has been having problems. A local mechanic checked out our tranny and thought it was good and pointed the problem to our throttle. Just take out the old one and put in a new one. He was too busy and thought I could handle it. He showed me the screws to take out and thought they had one in stock. A couple of weeks later I get a text message from Sue asking if we wanted her to order one up. I text back that Glenn thought there was one in stock and yes I wanted to get one. Sure enough they have one in stock and I stopped by to pick it up. The only thing is they can’t get one like I used to have as their sources say they aren’t made anymore. But one for Volvo Penta will work with some adjustments which Glenn didn’t talk about. Part number (P/N) 1140095 control mechanism for side mount only $202.28 NZD. When I took out the old one I can see right away I have a problem getting the new one in. Ah, the adjustments part. Just drill out the four mount plate rivets, remove the mount and should work just fine Glenn says when I stop in for a consultation. He just happened to be in to get some parts for a job he was working on. Before drilling the rivets and not being able to return a unit I couldn’t use. I checked with making a template and sure enough it would work but I’d have to install it in the lower mount location thread holes. Eventually I got things back together and could see the old lever would not work. I needed a new P/N 1140093 sailboat lever handle PC-741 mount kit only $91.91 NZD. After putting it together and apart several times we tried the handle and things are much firmer, maybe a bit too firm. Glenn thought some CorrisionX oil down inside the cables might help so I’ve taken some heat shrink tubing put it on the fuel cable and letting the oil drip into the cable by filling the top part of the heat shrink. At first it’s been taking the oil slowly but progressing. Now it’s just about stopped after only an ounce or so and won’t drain any more in. I can’t activate the cable unless I take out the heat shrink. We’ll see. Maybe work the cable from the motor end. Ah, The motor end worked good. The engine mount for the fuel connection is rusted up pretty good. I got a can of WD-40 from another boater to spray on a nut that is thoroughly rusted. I’ll try to loose it after a day or so. I can spin the bolt and nut but not able to loosen it yet. Waiting for a six point socket from another boat.

Steve and Judy
s/v Code Blue
Whangarei, NZ – Plan to visit Fiji again starting in May probably for Savu, Kandavu Is, Yasawa Is, Mamanuca Is, etc. then, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Australia.


 – s/j –



1. Marie - February 21, 2017

wow,,.you’ve been busy. Thanks for the updates. Marie & Greg

2. duck1wheat - February 21, 2017

I just ordered a magnet for the boat, been talking about it for years.

3. Cissy - February 22, 2017

I love the magnet idea! It is amazing how resourceful one can be when faced with a challenging boat situation.

Glad that Cathy and Roger came for a visit!

I am thinking of NZ in October. Will you be back then? It would be great to meet up with you both for lunch.

Hugs, Cissy Adams

4. David - February 22, 2017

Good to get all your news – busy busy. Carol and I in Auckland now so email us if you are going to be down this way. Carol flies home Mar 4th and I go to New Plymouth then for kitesurfing
Carol and David
PS What is the best time to sail Fiji to NZ (info for friends)?

5. michelle hollister - March 19, 2017

We just wanted to hi! Glad you both are doing well.
S/V Ingrid Princess

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