Never Start a Passage on Friday

Well sometimes, no matter what you do, things just don’t want to fall into place. That is what happened to us as some of you noticed on the FindShip app. We had finally checked out of New Zealand and were so happy and excited to be on our way. The winds were favourable and we were speeding along the northern coast of New Zealand. We had left our anchorage about 5:00 in the evening on Friday and watched a beautiful sunset as the temperature started to drop. The wind died some as well and we started the engine to keep our speed up while transiting the coastline. The sea was still running a bit rough from the week of storms along this coast and as the wind now dropped the boat began rolling and the main was banging back and forth. It made it very difficult to sleep for both Kay and I. The night passed very slowly as we stood our watches, three hours-on, three-off.
Suddenly there was a loud BANG and a crash! What the Hell was that I yelled as I ran up on deck. It was still dark, very early morning hours. What I found was the main boom had come lose from the main sheets. Literally broke the ½” stainless steel bar that formed the bail, which the main sheet blocks attach too. The welds had finally given way under the force of the main boom banging back and forth during the night. Now, of course, in the dark, without much sleep, we had to get a line around the boom, which was swinging with such force we didn’t even want to be on deck. You can’t just grab the boom and hold it while you tie it off. It would simply knock you out into the ocean. Finally, after several tries, we managed to get one end of a line around the outer end, just past where the sail ended, and when it swung back towards us we grabbed the line and wrapped it around the aft winch. Then we started cranking the winch to get it under control. Once we had it calmed down a bit we also put a line from the end of the boom up to the bow of the boat, which held the boom out. This is called a preventer. At last we could sit for a minute and take a deep breath. Wow! That was dangerous.
With the boom now under control, we jury rigged the main sheet blocks back on to the end of the boom and all was well onboard. The sun was rising. Time for breakfast!
After breakfast we were alerted to another life-threatening situation when the shackle at the base of the main sheets had come loose and now the boom was throwing this huge block around like a medieval mace. Scary!!!!. Keeping well out of the way of this lethal weapon, we managed to get it under control and replaced the shackle. Note to self. Must wire the pin!!
Later that morning I said to Lane “Gosh, Lane, how come the cockpit is so slippery?” We found diesel spilling out of the tank vent. Pouring out!!! The obvious reason seemed to be that the aft tank had been overfilled, and with the sloppy seas, diesel was spilling out. So Lane simply closed off the vent valve.
We continued motor sailing for a while until the engine gave a few sick sounding coughs, then died. What now????
The winds were steady and we were sailing along nicely. Lane was absolutely exhausted so went below to sleep for a couple of hours and would tackle the problem when he was more refreshed and after lunch.
On investigation, we had been running on the aft tank and somehow, we had managed to shut off the return valve and created a blockage in the fuel system. So, Lane spent the next 2 hours in the engine trying to bleed the system, but no luck. Nothing, it seemed, would get the fuel flowing. Maybe we had done further damage?? What more can we do?
Our options were to carry on for 5 more days to Noumea and sort out the problem there, but really it was more reasonable to turn back to Opua, just in case the problem turned out to be more complex. So, at 1500 we decided to turn back.

Another overnight sail but we enjoyed pretty nice conditions back down the coast (that we were beginning to get very familiar with). As we sailed into the Bay of Islands there was SV Phoenix with Collin and Akemi waiting for us. They had learned through Find Ship that we were returning and they came to meet us in case we needed help. When the wind completely died we were grateful to accept their offer of a tow into Opua, seven miles away where we dropped anchor. Sunday night dinner of Roast lamb, mint sauce and vegetables at the Opua Cruising Club finished the day beautifully. All is Well that ends well!
Today we sorted out the engine and fuel issues and are once again getting ready to set sail. The weather looks good for heading out tomorrow night or Wednesday morning. There is a very cold and windy storm blowing through New Zealand now. We’ll see what happens.


  1. Oh dit donc !!! C’est incroyable !!! Sorry Lane – I’ll continue in English. What an incredibly unlucky start to your trip, with so much going wrong. A good thing, though, that all of this happened so close to home, so at least you could manage to get everything sorted and repaired more easily.
    Best of luck, and we look forward to the next instalment.
    Bisous – Love,
    Joan & Claude

    1. Unbelievable really but we are fine. I hope our next instalment is a little less exciting.

  2. Mon dieu, quelle histoire! Third time is a charm, as they say. Safe sailing.
    Bisous, karen and henry

  3. NZ wants to keep you.any way,they can have you for a little while longer.wish you well for speedy repairs and a trouble free exit next you all from your toowoomba family.they all say HI.

    1. It sounds like tough luck but it makes for a great story. I hope the rest of your journey is smooth sailing (both literally and metaphorically).

      1. Thanks Jay,
        It’s great to know you are following us. Give our love to the family.
        Lane and Kay

  4. Wow..what a really unlucky start! But you did well to go back and sort everything out. It seems that you are being tested by the Pacific and you have past these tests so from now on you should be fine…
    Charlotte et Serge

  5. I’ve got the FindShip app, but am unable to find you. I’ve been looking under Mai Tai; any suggestions?

    1. Hi Steven,
      You will find us listed under “SV Mai Tai” or use our mmsi number; 512000379

  6. Quel cinema! Your spirits together will overcome all obstacles but Mon DieU! I hope that is the END of ALL your troubles, especially with flying booms and blocks. Take care and here’s to fair winds at your stern. All the best dear friends,
    Trish and John

  7. No worries- third time is a charm- last time we left Honoluk we lost our furling gear 500 miles out- big decision- keep going to Raiatea 1500 miles or turn back- so as am sure no surprise back we went 500 miles to weather to Honolulu for the fix. Off we went for the third time and all went well- at least you were close to home- shit happens!! I wish you a great passage once the kinks are out!! Great to reconnect. Safe sailing – Trudy

    1. Thanks Trudy,
      It’s nice to know that shit happens to others as well. We don’t want to be the only ones. Really good to hear from you.

  8. Blimey, you two are so tough!! My idea of a complete nightmare to have the boom slamming around out of control, let alone a flying block and fuel problem when one is tired after a bad night. As others have said, third time lucky so hope no scary incidents next time, otherwise NZ clearly wants you to join us next year.

    1. Thanks Sally,
      There were a few moments we seriously thought we might be sailing with you after all. It was a good thought! However, we must push on. Even though we may arrive late for the start of the Sail2Indonesia Rally. We have notified the organisers of our situation.
      Lane and Kay

  9. Oh my! An inauspicious beginning. It’s as well you are both such experienced sailors. Thank goodness! All the best for the second attempt.

  10. Good News Lane and Kay…by the time you get everything fixed (or re-built) you will have a new boat ready to take on anything. Best to have these issues come to light somewhat close to home rather than the middle of no where. Besides, this makes for great stories as you tell all your adventures to all your.
    Hope things start turning your way and you have smooth sailing going forward.

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