Our First Ocean Crossing – Part 2
Preparing Pendana

Dr James Ellingford documents his experience and knowledge gained in preparing Pendana, a Nordhavn 62 for his family’s very first ocean crossing.

Excitement in the Pendana camp is beginning to build with the day of departure fast approaching for our planned trip to New Zealand this month.

My wife, while excited, is, however, starting to show signs of ‘praying to the powers that be’ for a pleasant trip as she knows firsthand what unpleasant sea conditions mean and the idea of combating them for six days is more feared than root canal, without anaesthetic on her front tooth!

Weather we don't wantOur children are getting incredibly excited and as it was decided that they would be on watch with the adults they are not only looking forward to being part of the experience but also looking forward to staying up late at night.

I truly believe that on long passages it is important that the children be included, involved and take some responsibility for the safety of the people on board as we cruise across the Tasman Sea.

It is imperative that the children enjoy the sense of satisfaction and achievement that will come once we make landfall in New Zealand. For them to feel that they were responsible for Pendana’s safe arrival and part of the journey in some way is very important for us.

The watch schedule has been decided and after much discussion it was agreed that my wife and daughter Abi (12yrs) would take the 6:00am to 10:00am watch. I will follow with our youngest daughter Bianca (8yrs) from 10:00am until 2:00pm and professional Captain and general all round nice guy, Mark James, would run the 2:00pm to 6:00pm shift. These shifts will be repeated throughout our journey until we reach New Zealand.

Bianca on WatchA well planned departure from Australia and arrival to New Zealand is not only a legal requirement but, in my view, it is imperative that one considers carefully all the requirements for legal exit and legal entry. I must confess to being thoroughly impressed when dealing with both Australian and New Zealand Custom’s officials who have been nothing but incredibly helpful.

A few pointers that have come to light during my research of how to achieve this is the fact that once we have our port clearance here in Sydney to depart, we can purchase fuel tax and excise free, prior to departure.

While this may not mean much to those whom use sail, for us it will be a considerable saving as we will be loading some ten tonnes of fuel (approx. 10,000ltrs) prior to departure so any saving will be appreciated. At current rates we look to be saving around 45 cents per litre or in other words $4,500.

Also, it was made clear from New Zealand Customs that it was important to have our hull cleaned prior to departure or face the potential consequence of having Pendana lifted out of the water in New Zealand to have her hull cleaned at our expense. As Pendana regularly has divers under her giving her a clean I will be using them to prepare Pendana’s hull prior to departure so as not to fall foul of New Zealand Custom’s requirements.

The process to clear Australian waters, enter/exit New Zealand waters and re-enter Australian waters is listed below.


Departure from Australia

Contact: sbo@customs.gov.au one week prior to departure. Drop anchor in Sydney Harbour where customs will board Pendana. Call customs on 8339-6613 to request port clearance and a Form 43 (to enable tax and excise free fuel). It is important that departing vessels have ready both the vessels registration papers and passports for all those aboard.


Arrival in Opua, New Zealand

Main New Zealand Customs number is 649 927 8240.

Have ready for New Zealand Customs the hull (clean) certification letter and passenger passports.

Provide advance notice of arrival 48-72 hours from New Zealand waters and fly the Q flag (a yellow quarantine flag) inside 12nms. Email yachts@customs.govt.nz and feedback@customs.govt.nz to advise position and likely arrival time. Customs New Zealand Phone in Opua is 649 300 5399, Bio-Security Phone 649 909 3019.

Notify Ministry of Primary Industries of arrival Ph: 649 402 5946 or Ph: 64 29 909 5504 (after hours) also email: mqsopua@maf.govt.nz.

There are a number of forms and items that the New Zealand authorities require to be completed and shown. Below is a list of these:

• Advance notice of arrival NZCS 340

• Inward Report (C1B)

• Import Entry Documentation

• NZ Arrival Passenger Cards

• Valid Passports

• Last port Clearance i.e. Sydney Customs Clearance

• MAF Master Declaration


Departing from Opua, New Zealand

• NZ departure card

• Outward Report (C2B)

• Yellow copy from Import Entry

• Registration Certificate of vessel

Craft Advance Information (NZCS345) 72 hours, notice of departure: email yachts@customs.govt.nz.

Obtain Certificate of Clearance once all above is done. Getting the clearance process correct is, in my view, very important. After all, if you can’t clear and enter a port properly then perhaps one shouldn’t embark on the journey in the first place.


Arrival in Australia

Advise Australian Customs both in Melbourne and Sydney up to 90 days prior or to be safe simply notify them the day prior to departure from NZ and again 96 hours out from Australian waters prior to arrival. yachtreport@customs.gov.au. Email must provide the following information:

• The name of your craft

• Craft's Country and Port of Registration

• Your intended first port of arrival

• Your estimated arrival time

• Your last four ports

• The details of people on board including name, date of birth, nationality and passport number

• Details of any illness or disease recently encountered

• If you have any animals on board

• If you have any firearms on board

• Call Melbourne office 03-9244-8973 and Sydney office 02-8339-6613.

• Complete Small Craft Arrival Report. Note: Australian Customs will notify Quarantine of arrival on your behalf.

With the customs process all arranged and ready the day of departure simply can’t come soon enough. That being said there is still the weather and route to think through very carefully.

One thing I have learned over the years is that I have no ability to forecast accurately and, as such, we have decided to engage the services of Fleet Weather in the USA (www.fleetweather.com).

Fleet Weather’s mission, through its unique brand of “Hands-on” ship routing and weather forecasting is to achieve the best blend of marine weather safety and efficiency for the ship’s Master. Fleet Weather meteorologists employ the latest global computer models, satellite imagery, wind, wave, sea-ice and ocean current data to achieve the optimum route recommendation, given the vessel’s stability, load, and schedule.

Fleet Weather is about one thing and one thing only, providing accurate daily forecasts to private and commercial mariners to help keep them and their crew safe at sea. I must say it is a huge relief to have a company of Fleet Weather’s capability and heritage watching over us as we cross the Tasman Sea.

I want to add that if for any reason whatsoever we do not get the right weather window then we simply will not be going on this trip. I strongly believe that bravado and sticking to plans in the face of a bad weather forecast is for those whom clearly have yet to experience the real power of the sea.

There will be no heroics aboard Pendana as the reality of being stuck in heavy seas and strong winds hundreds of miles from shore is not wasted on me.

I am pleased to say that all is set and we are now officially ready to cross our first sea and are looking forward to a successful crossing and a wonderful time in New Zealand.

The plan at this stage is to write the final instalment of ‘Our First Ocean Crossing’ for Afloat magazine from New Zealand after we have arrived safely. The final instalment will deliver the realities of being at sea in a relatively small boat, the reaction of the crew aboard and the sense of satisfaction and emotion that came from successfully navigating this notorious piece of water.

Once again, if you are a seasoned mariner and have any final words of advice feel free to email them to me at james@pendana.net.

Until next time, safe travels.