Friday, 27 April 2012

Up and away

This afternoon we fly to Wellington, to meet my brother Cam and his wife Jenny for a few days in their new (about a year old now) house at Otaki Beach, up the Kapiti Coast. We'll return on Monday evening, so we should get most of a day in the city, if we can find somewhere to park our bags.

The flights might be interesting. We're travelling in ATR72 turboprops both ways, and they fly at 4000m approx; just right for the turbulence from today's strong NW winds over the Southern Alps. It could be a bumpy ride up the Canterbury and Marlborough coast.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Boating - maybe

Waiting to see if any of my accomplices want to go boating on a beautiful day. The excellent Lyttelton Port Company weather station says it's a 3 knot NW at 8am, just perfect for putting Julian's launch in the water. An interesting graph from the tides page shows the effect of a big high pressure system - the actual height is lower than predicted because air pressure is pressing down on the ocean surface.

Will we get there? It's hard to say. Watch this space.

[Update] Yes, we went and launched the MV Hawes and had a grand time - until the motor starved of fuel and died. It could be a clogged fuel filter, or possibly fuel hoses that were sucking air; we still had over half a tank of petrol. After stripping and checking everything we could find, we had to be towed in by a really nice guy in his flash power boat. It's a great wee launch though, and shows promise.

Captain Julian in his wheelhouse.
The unnamed launch was originally a 22ft Caribou trailer yacht.
We went all over Lyttelton Harbour before being towed home.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Space on the brain

It's been a good week for Space Station (ISS) spotters.
The International Space Station
Thanks to the very helpful NASA sightings page, I've been able to walk out the front door and see the bright objects race across the sky, lit by the rising sun. I say "objects", plural, because this morning the ISS had a follower; the Progress 46P supply rocket. It was about 5-10 degrees behind the ISS, far less bright, on the same orbit path. It's well worth the effort to rise a bit early on a clear autumn morning to watch.
Progress supply vehicle

Friday, 13 April 2012

Life according to Doonesbury

There's a whole sub-plot going on about this guy's fantasy(?) life, but this particular strip appealed to me. How many kids have similar non-trophies in their bedrooms, dating from the "self-esteem movement"?

Monday, 9 April 2012

There and back

We had a brilliant sail on Lyttelton Harbour yesterday, in perfect cloudless autumn weather. We started in the lowest low tide I've seen there, so low that we could see parts of the launching ramp that we'd never seen before. We threaded our way through the large number of Sea Scouts having a major regatta; there were lots of sailing cutters and Sunburst dinghies, with several hundred kids having a great time.

We tacked up the harbour in strange sea conditions; there was a large rolling ocean swell, piling up into 3-4 metre waves in shallow areas, with a strong incoming tide and a chop on top, and wind around 15-20 knots. The boat felt like it was sluggish, though we actually made good time to Camp Bay. We had intended to tie to a buoy there and wait for Chris Hutching to join us in his little bilge keeler Henry Salad, but we couldn't find the club mooring. We sailed back down to Purau, and sailed into the bay where we could see Chris still rigging his sails. We had a rather circular time there, trying to pick up a buoy, as this close-up of our GPS track shows.

Grab the buoy! Oops, missed it,
we'll have to go round again!
As we pulled down the sails and started eating lunch, Chris motored over and tied up behind us, then hopped on board to have his lunch and a chat. By then it was 1.30pm, and Schroeder and I were on a deadline; we had to be back in town for our crew Darren Armstrong's engagement party, starting at 5. So we left Chris to motor to the Heads then sail back, and we sailed out to the middle of the harbour before turning for home. By this time conditions had improved greatly; the tide had come in and the wind had dropped to around 10-12 knots. The big rolling swell was still coming in, but the chop had disappeared, so the run back down was in perfect conditions.

We had the boat packed away by 3.30pm, and were home by 4, ready to shower and go out to Darren and Amber's party. Needless to say, we didn't stay late; after a day of sun and sea air, a few drinks had me yawning. Heather had been busy gathering treasures from the garden at River Road, so she was weary too - it was home for an early night.

Some photos of Chris and Henry Salad, to finish.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Easter so far

Gardening, boat maintenance (maybe a sail tomorrow), a bit of TV watching, and I'm half way through Keith Richards' autobiography, "Life". That's a good weekend so far.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Semi exotic weekend

We went to see the current big hit movie for the grey and creaky set, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, on Friday night, but it was sold out. We had a meal at a crowded pub in Riccarton and went home to plan a repeat visit.

On Saturday morning I bought advance tickets, and we showed up for the Saturday 6pm session to join the stream of 60-plus people yet again packing the theatre. The movie was OK, but not great, in my opinion. It was also a bit long, and I found myself checking my watch in the second hour. A strong cast of British stars carried the rather weak story along, but I won't be rushing to any similar efforts.

On Sunday I fitted a new outboard motor bracket to my boat, and organised a new tarpaulin cover; a job that's been due for a while. Now back for a 4 day week at work, then after Easter I start a stint as AV group leader.