[Or: We’re not going till we’re going]

It started pre Covid; a friend and I were going to sail our boats in company from Hobart to Macquarie Island, then onto the Auckland Islands and New Zealand. In 2020 Covid put an end to these plans.

This is the next attempt, just one boat (Rusalka!) going to Auckland Islands and skipping Macquarie Island.  The plan is to leave Hobart sometime after Christmas 2023, heading first to Lyttelton.

Since Covid many rules have changed. Departure to Auckland Island can only be from Bluff. And Bluff is no longer a First Port of Entry for pleasure craft into New Zealand, the nearest being Lyttelton. These 2 changes will double the distance from Hobart to Auckland Islands and the number of “waitings for weather” are now 3. Instead of just waiting in Hobart, we also have to wait for departure from Lyttelton for Bluff and departure from Bluff for Auckland Islands.

In early November I (Alex) submitted an application for entry into the Auckland Islands to Department of Conservation. Contact with the DOC staff in Invercargill gave some reassurance that the permit will be given. Even though Rusalka has been completely cleaned and put back in the water in early November, then lifted out for a last minute clean on 20 December it will have to be inspected yet again prior to leaving Bluff for Auckland Islands.


Alex will be crossing the Tasman with 2 crew, Cheryl (a Kiwi living in Hobart) and Jane (a Kiwi from Nelson).  The crew for to Auckland Islands leg will be Jane and Lucy (a Kaikōura resident).

Preparations – Boat works!

There is no end to the list of jobs to do on a boat, but preparation for a ocean passage means there are more jobs than usual.


Rusalka’s regular annual lift out for cleaning and antifoul was done in early November 2023, but we decided it was time for a major removal of all antifoul and start again. The hull was scraped back to gelcoat, new epoxy layer applied, then 2 tie coat layers applied, and 3 coats of antifoul. New skin fittings and TruDesign valves replaced older ones. A new set of bow thruster propellors was fitted.


Hull scraped and tie coat


New bow thruster props



In November we also did a regular engine service. The engine had a major service in 2022 – including overhaul exhaust elbow, overhaul heat exchanger, new injectors and new exhaust hose.


Solar Panels, Starlink, and Iridium:

We installed a new solar panel rated at 420 watts, replacing the old ones that were 170 watts.


Rusalka had an Iridium GO! already installed with an external antenna. It was decided to upgrade to the newer Iridium GO! Exec which is supposed to be 40 times faster. In this process the existing antenna cable was reused but the antenna was replaced.


Starlink: Unfortunately, I didn’t do enough research on Starlink before upgrading the Iridium system. The new Iridium GO! Exec is expensive to buy and expensive for the airtime plan plus the Predictwind email subscriptions. Using it is still “a wait for satellite connections”, use the Predictchat app for the equivalent of sms’s and the Predictmail address for emails (better still better than the previous Iridium email).

Starlink is much cheaper to install and the plans for coastal locations are cheaper, and offshore they are also cheaper as long you don’t stream movies constantly. Starlink is so much simpler to configure and get going and to use it is no hassle at all.

So, as a late afterthought, Starlink was installed. In hindsight it would have been cheaper to keep the old Iridium GO! with Starlink.


A number of other jobs were done.

The vent in the forward cabin was replaced as there was a bit of a leak.

The hatch inside the cockpit locker was damaged and it too was replaced.


The water maker raw water inlet is taken off the engine raw water. The hoses and bronze fittings were replaced.



To enter New Zealand, strict biosecurity applies for pleasure craft. A vessel that has been cleaned and inspected within 30 days of arrival meets Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) requirements. Even though Rusalka had it’s hull cleaned in early November, it was again lifted out of the water on December 20, given a final wash and photographed.


A final inspection of the rig showed all’s well.

For weather routing Predictwind is fantastic. However, Bob McDavitt, known as Met Bob, provides excellent weather routing services. Bob will assist with routing for the trans Tasman crossing.

Peter Mott from Passage Guardian will keep in touch by HF radio during the trans Tasman crossing, and possibly for the Auckland Island leg, providing a safety contact.

A passage “Transit” will be set up with Tas Maritime Radio for the trans Tasman crossing. Daily position reports will be sent to TMR.

Charts were updated. Navionics on the chartplotters is up to date. New ENC s63 charts have been downloaded onto OpenCPN. And selected paper charts will be on board, such as Tasman Sea, Foveaux Strait, Auckland Islands, etc.

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