I am out of NZ. I had a rough passage
, which took more than twice as long as it should have. When the wind
is strong it is impossible to sail against, and my course is limited to a small range. I was blown east of raoul and nearly to tonga
before the wind
dropped and shifted enough to allow me to make it west.
I was on a 60% head sail and no main for the first 9 days at which point I was within 100 miles of tonga
and had sailed over 1000 miles then had to sail about 1000 more miles to reach vanuatu
which took another 8 days in much more favorable conditions.
Now that I am outside NZ jurisdiction I am no longer afraid to tell the truth as I no longer fear having my boat taken away using force with threats to arrest and deport me based on what I do or say.
I must inform you that I feel my safety
and well-being was seriously compromised by poor decisions made by maritime NZ and customs
and immigration. I also have lost
panel and a month of my time as well as a lot of undue stress.
I was denied clearance to leave NZ for over 3 weeks based on the assertion by a customs
officer who has no sailing experience that my vessel was "unseaworthy" because it did not look like what he is used to seeing. Eventually maritime NZ threatened to deport me and I would lose my boat if I did not allow them to put it on the hard
and inspect it.
proved there was essentially nothing wrong with my
boat, but took 5 days to complete and another day to finally decide
I should be allowed to leave.
I was forced to leave 6 days into a weather
window or risk losing
my boat and everything I own as the next window may not occur for
well over a month much longer than the 7 days I was given.
This pushed me onto a low pressure system which caused for a time moderately high winds (35 knots gusting 45 knots) at the peak of which for a time, some large swells (taller than the mast) arrived from the south and created breakers over a meter high across the sea which I took several direct hits. A large solar
panel was smashed, it's secondary function as a storm shudder proved useful or I would have lost
my windows, and many electronics
The whole boat shuddered, and some plywood
in the interior
snapped as well. I believe this is the type of wave strike which could break and sink boats and then kill people.
At the time I feared for my life, knowing the weather
I set out in was not as I would have liked, but hurried to leave as it still seemed a lot better than dealing with officials any longer. From my digital anenometer, the the wind was stronger than predicted, and much worse than what I had been waiting weeks for only to not be allowed to sail in.
Initially there was _nothing_ wrong with my boat and no reason to stop me from sailing when conditions were better.
In fact I had been trying to gain clearance for over 3 weeks prior in various other weather windows which proved more suitable as well.
None of the repairs
completed were actually needed. I did not really need a bottom job, my bottom was clean when they hauled me out. I was not able to make the repairs
in the way I would have, instead was given the
direction of an experienced boat builder
Based on the wear of the acetol rudder
bearing piece at the base of the rudder
, I could probably have circumnavigated without any serious failure. It was fairly loose which raised concern but I believe unlikely to fail. This triggered the motivation to pull the entire rudder out and check the top as well. In fact the two repairs (rudder overhaul
and installing additional running lights) proved worse than useless as due to overcast conditions I was unable to run the new incandescent light relying instead on my already installed LED running lights.
During the rudder overhaul
, the bronze shaft was sanded to remove corrosion
and then sanded more to make it look new which made it no longer fit tightly in the piece connecting to the tiller. After a short time at sea it had loosened to about 15 degrees of play between rudder and tiller despite the nut being tightened as much as possible. This is a dangerous amount of play and seriously compromised my safety
. I should never have been forced to overhaul a rudder so soon before going to sea, especially when it was not required. This caused the boat to steer a less straight course and put me in much more vulnerable positions to waves as well as backwind the sails
occasionally and cause excessive wear on the piston hanks and forestay.
In moderate conditions, my boat can keep a course on just the wind vane
without using the main rudder as the servo oar is half the size of the main rudder and much farther aft in the event of complete rudder failure. I also have a sculling oar which can act as an emergency
rudder. For this reason I don't think a potential rudder failure is a great concern as I can wait out the high winds on drogues.
The real reason to perform repairs was to "play along" with maritime NZ
plans and make it seem like the boat really did have problems and that
maritime NZ had made the right decision to put my boat on the hard
require unspecific repairs. (to be determined after the boat was on the hard) which proves they did not have any relevant reason, they just intended to find something wrong. Putting me back in the water
the next day would have made them look stupid. Every boat that leaves could have major work done on it of some kind to improve it, but performing it last minute without testing the repairs was dangerous and worse than doing nothing.
I realize now, that this whole thing had nothing to do with my boat
not being seaworthy
. This is simply an excuse to mess with me. Maybe
some of the people in maritime NZ had good intentions, and certainly the
vast majority of people around in the boat yard did, but keep in mind I only encountered one person from maritime NZ, one from customs and another from immigration. Everyone else involved was in Wellington and I never met them nor did they ever see my boat.
The real motivation for all of this is that my boat had many rust stains and
as well and dirt all over it from my gardening experiments. I had
firewood drying all over the decks and I do not keep a "tight ship".
I explained that this enhances the natural beauty of my vessel, and I am
not using excessive chemicals and resources for things that are not important I also had many plants growing on the boat, and many non-standard modifications.
In NZ a country which requires most students to wear a school
you are taught at a young age that it is wrong to look different,
and everyone should look the same. If someone is different,
they are discriminated against and punished for it. I can finally
understand why the feminists in Wellington seemed so extreme.
Evidence of this is obvious:
I was told I should pressure wash my boat even after I explained that the
ocean would be doing this, and does absolutely nothing to improve it's
state. I was given various toxic chemicals to remove mold
and rust from my boat. I normally do not "tape" my waterline before painting the bottom as it generates extra rubbish, but this was needed as well.
I was informed by the official that next time I should paint
and I would not "arouse suspicion" which also does absolutely nothing
to improve the boat, only spreads toxic chemicals onto it. Someone else
pointed out that my "plants weren't gaining me any points" while this,
may be true, I believe all of the problems in the world can be solved
a garden, and I stand by my plants. In fact I am eating from my garden
over the course of the passage
and the plants did grow along the way.
visa rules in NZ are unfair to visitors by yacht.
I needed to overstay my visa because I wanted to experience winter
in New Zealand
. I believe this is a reasonable request for a visitor
to have, however, the current
visa system makes it impossible to legally
do so as arrival by yacht is at beginning of summer, and departure
at the end, (to avoid sailing in cyclone season) so to experience winter
requires staying 18-20 months, and visitor visas are not granted
for this duration. I think it is fairly unreasonable to deny
experiencing an entire season to visitors especially as I had been
craving winter from so much tropical heat.
I had been told by two immigration officials (in wellington and palmerston
north) that if I overstayed for a few months it would not be considered a
big deal. I also know of several cases where other people on yachts overstayed for a similar period with no concern. There are over 16,000 people overstaying visas, and it was explained to me that they choose to target certain individuals.
As a further analogy so you might understand why I believe injustice has been dealt:
If someone gets a parking ticket, would you then proceed to strip-search them for illegal contraband? In other words.. if someone breaks a law does this give enforcement the right to break all other laws about completely unrelated issues? Overstaying a visa has nothing to do with a boat being sea-worthy or not. Foreign boats have no requirements. Making requirements for them violates international law. This was proven in the high court of New Zealand
in Sellers vs Maritime Inspector in 1998.
The Custom Official's initial judgement was based on outside
appearance. This type of logic is equivilant to judging a book by it's cover.
This view would allow a boat like Nina (recent tragedy with 7 lives lost)
to sail without question as it did. Nina was immaculate from the outside.
I asked for clearance 5 different times over a period if 3 weeks.
I was legally entitled to clearance each time and every time denied.
Eventually my clearance was granted by someone else.
I urge any boaties to consider checking in at ports
other than Bay of Islands to avoid encountering this unreasonable person, or request a different officer at initial contact as he is unqualified for these duties.