This blog is about planning and preparation for a circumnavigation of the world in a 39-foot sail boat followed, hopefully, by a diary of the actual circumnavigation. You can track the progress of Pachuca by visiting http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=VNW5980
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
The issue was my Kenwood TKM-707 HF radio. Ron asked me to telephone Gary Wood in California for advice. Gary turned out to be a real gun on SCS Pactor modems. Unfortunately he gave me two items of bad news regarding my Kenwood equipment. The Kenwood radio because of its design is not suited to use with Pactor modems. And sadly, my Kenwood antenna tuner is not useable with other HF radios. I thanked Gary for steering me away from that blind alley.
The options were (1) to do nothing (2) install a new HF radio, antenna tuner, and Pactor modem.
My initial decision was the first option. After all, is it worth $3,000 USD to be able to send messages while I'm at sea? I'm quite happy to be out there alone and my Kenwood radio is good for weather faxes, news, and SOS messages.
But then I thought more about it. From the perspective of this being the adventure of my post retirement and maybe my entire life, was I willing to forgo the ability to keep friends who are interested in my progress and care for my welfare informed on my progress in order to save some money? Was I also willing to forgo reliable daily delivery of good weather information? I'll have plenty of resources waiting for me when I get back to Fremantle regardless of whether I spend this money or not. It is now that I can use some resources.
Both Gary and Ron independently recommended the Icom M700Pro marine radio (See http://www.icomamerica.com/en/products/marine/ssb/m700pro/default.aspx ) with an Icom AT-130 antenna tuner (See http://www.anchorexpress.com/ICOM-AT-130-HF-Automatic-Antenna-Tuner-p/at-130.htm ). Ron say that he has installed 16 of these sets this year alone and that they work very well with the Pactor modems. He says that the Kenwood TKM-707 that I am using is a good reliable voice communication radio but the Icom will give me much better voice performance.
Ron will take me to West Marine on Thursday morning and we will pick up the Icom radio and tuner that was shipped for another client who didn't proceed with the purchase. He will order the SCS Pactor modem from Gary in California, and will do the installation with me doing the hack work of pulling cabling through the boat. I've asked for new coaxial cabling from the antenna, and will be asking Ron about how he will do the grounding and about the use of ferrites to minimize interference.
Ron thinks that I might get $500 or $600 for the Kenwood radio. I'll take a stab at selling it but will otherwise be happy to package it up well and keep it as a spare.
2. WIND VANE - There has been a steady flow of information between myself and Ron at Scanmar regarding measurements, questions, advice, etc. The cross tube of the davits caused some difficulty resulting in three modifications: (1) the length of the safety tube (between the water paddle and the hinge) has been shortened by two inches (2) the top of the water paddle will be at the water line, instead of the normal 3-6 in above the waterline, when the boat is at rest (3) there is not enough clearance to allow the use of the light weather air vane.
I have been assured that the first two modifications while not ideal are acceptable. I had a choice of taking delivery of one light air and one standard air vane, in which case I would have to cut off the top of the light air vane, or two standard vanes. The light air vane is for use in very light apparent winds, about 3 knots. In those light airs I can live with either hand steering or using the autopilot. I have therefore indicated a preference for two standard vanes. It is in heavy air that the wind vane will come into its own, and it is in heavy air when I will want to be safe and snug below while the boat sails itself.
There are two outstanding questions. Based on some more measurements that I sent in today I need confirmation that there is enough width in the transom to accommodate the supports that are 62 cm apart. The other question is the feasibility of installing a "swing gate" mount so that the wind vane can be swung out to the side to allow use of the boarding ladder. (See http://www.selfsteer.com/)
3. LEAKS - I soak tested the starboard stanchions yesterday and had no leaks on that side.
4. WATER TANK - I spent a tedious hour preparing a dip stick with ten liter marks for the starboard water tank. The tank held 140 liters almost exactly.
5. COMMUNICATONS - That was the shock of the week that deserves its own separate blog entry
Sunday, March 29, 2009
The excuse for last Friday night's party at The Fuel Dock was the farewell to four of us. Jimmy is leaving on Tuesday, Terry's brother Kevin is leaving, land I was supposed to leave soon but I now don't expect to leave until May so I might get a second party. There was a fourth person leaving but I didn't get to meet him.
The live music was great as usual, with Albert in the middle and two friends. Live music is better when it is intimate and being played by people who are having fun.
Terry honored us all by performing a hula dance. She is a real sweetie: warm and caring. The still photos do no justice to the grace and expressiveness of the hula.
The fourth photo is of Jimmy and Kevin.
The unit would not come on. I read the manual over and over but could not see a procedural fault.
This morning the radar was still on the fritz so I decided that before I called in some help I'd better check every simple thing that I could think of. What had changed? Well, I took out the new navigation cartridge and that didn't help. I took the ST60 wind vane off the Seatalk network in case it was snarling up the data flow. That wasn't it. There had been some recent rigging work done so I went up the mast and made sure that the radome was intact and the connection firm. No cracks on the radome, connection was good. I then opened the panel behind the chart plotter and checked for any obvious loose connection. There was none, and the radar still wasn't working. The last shot in the locker was the junction box where the cabling from the mast is joined to the cabling through the cabin. Nothing obvious there. However, I left the connectors hanging out, switched on the radar, and Voila! I could see. Must have been a flaky connection but I could not find it.
I put everything back together again and oops, radar yes, but GPS no. The boat's position was not being displayed on the chart plotter. OK, back to the rear connectors of the C120 and firming them up. Yep, I now had position and radar. I put everything back together, powered down then back up and all was still well.
Wally recommends contact spray on every connection.
That was another manifestation of what I call the Pachuca Tango, which is real simple: two steps forward and one step back.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Opinions of my wind vane plan from my fellow sailors has ranged from "It's a great decision" to "You would have been suicidally insane to have gone out there solo without one."
For information on the Monitor wind vane see http://www.selfsteer.com/products/monitor/index.php.
To give myself plenty of time to install and bed down the Monitor and to take advantage of the improving weather over the North Pacific I have delayed my departure from Hawaii until the first week of May.
Yesterday Wally and I went to a map shop and I picked up a 2009 nautical almanac which I will need for celestial navigation, pilot charts for the N. Pacific, and a pad of universal (i.e. for any latitude) plotting paper.
Lenny dropped off Navionics cartridge 12XG which contains the charts for:
"Covers entire US west coast and Baja to Cabo San Lucas, Hawaii and Alaska from Dixon Entrance to northern Alaska including Dutch Harbor and the Pribilof Islands"
This will thus provide me with charts from Hawaii to Seattle and then down to Baja California.
The leak repairs that Arnold and I did to the cabin ceiling and port stanchion over the head have been successful. Soon I will test the starboard stanchions, particularly the one over the wet weather closet.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
My friend was apprehensive but neverthless decided to sail to Hawaii solo, along a circular course to the south to avoid a wind dead zone.
His friend decided to take as crew someone that he had met at the dock (Mistake No. 1). He decided to sail the direct route to Hawaii, right through the dead zone (Mistake No. 2). He didn't check his provisions before departure (Mistake No. 3) and on the water discovered that he had been wrong in assuming that his wife had provisioned the boat.
My friend arrived in Hilo expecting to find the Colin Archer waiting for him because it was a much larger boat but there was no sign of it and nobody had seen it. Two weeks later his friend arrived alone in the Colin Archer after a passage of about 80 days. He had run out of food, was emaciated, and was in terrible condition. Oh yes, and the cat was missing too, so my friend figured that he had eaten the cat.
The fellow said that he became so frightened of his crewman that he was afraid that he might be killed while he was sleeping. So he dropped the guy off on a deserted island with a bag of rice and left him. It wasn't quite as bad as it sounds. The island was named Cocos, 300 miles of the coast of Costa Rica, where scenes of Jurassic Park were filmed. There was plenty of water and coconuts and one could rely on one annual visit from the Costa Rican navy. (See http://performersandprograms.com/program.cfm?id=2031®ion=9) Hopefully the guy got off the island sooner rather than later, but then again he might still be there happy as a cochon en merde surrounded by waterfalls, lush vegetation, and plenty of fish life.
Some after thoughts:
- I wonder if his wife really had provisioned the boat then stealthily de-provisioned it just before her departure
- Anybody got a good recipe for cat stew?
I thanked him for his good sailing and the help that he gave with work on the boat. I certainly meant it. He was a fast learner, reliable, and blessed with more caution than I am. He also made a great contribution with his electronic and electrical skills. We both have good memories of our experiences in the sails from Fremantle to New Zealand to French Polynesia to Hawaii.
Unfortunately it is well known that the confines and discipline of cruising life can put stresses on relationships that produce bad results between even the best of people. Cruising lore is littered with tales of broken marriages, and fractured friendships, and much much worse. I'll be relating one person's tales in my next blog.
I will be sailing on to Seattle and looking forward to seeing Arnold and his family again and hopefully have their company in sails to Victoria, Vancouver, and the San Juans.
I had an opportunity to have as crew an enthusiastic young man (in his mid-twenties I think) who works for GreenPeace, loves sailing, and is anxious to sail to Seattle as crew. After taking advice from Dieter, who has turned out to be a phenomenally good source of advice to me, and reflecting on the options I recognized that I want to do the sail solo. I am really looking forward to it. Also, I figured that I've got to go solo sometime and I'd rather do the initial solo sail on the relatively easy passage to Seattle than along the coast of Central or South America or, worse, the Horn. Dieter agrees that the sail to Seattle is easy during the right time of year (e.g. no intervening islands, reefs, pirates) although the approaches to and through Puget Sound will require vigilance due to the shipping traffic.
When I think of it, when we were at Hilo, Dieter, Richard, Jeff, and Tim were all single sailors. Arnold and I were the exception.
My departure date is uncertain. I have decided to install a servo-pendulum wind vane self steering system on Pachuca. I would prefer to make the installation here in Hawaii and to that end I am willing to delay my departure until mid-May. Otherwise I will arrange to have the unit delivered to Kingston and depart for Seattle in early April.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Today Arnold and I installed C-Map into Jimmy's laptop. The lower photo shows the impressive array of computing power on the table in the porch behind the shop. Jimmy at his HP running XP on the left, Arnold at his HP running Vista in the middle, and my Toshiba running XP on the right.
Oops, while writing this Mike's Compaq laptop has been set up for some troubleshooting by
Arnold. On the middle photo, left to right are Robby, Terry, Jimmy, Arnold, and Mike.
This morning I did some fiberglass work. I fiberglassed a layer of cloth over the vent leading to the galley then thickened the resin into a past and filled in the leak area in the cabin ceiling. About two hours later I mixed up another small mixture and put on a second layer over the vent and filled in one remaining crevice in the ceiling area. When I return to Australia I will replace the Micky Mouse dorade with a real one and put in a fan which will clear the air over the stove. The lower photo shows the fiberglassed vent.
After lunch I replaced the plastic vent over the head. The upper photo shows the vent opening, the old plastic rim, the new one, and the solar-powered fan that can be fitted over the opening. Normally we have the fan in place but for rough weather we remove the fan and insert the cap. The old cap and rim were in terrible shape: cracked and scored. No wonder it leaked so badly that we had to seal it with silicone sealant when sailing in rough water.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Three days ago Arnold and I began the task of rebedding four of the starboard stanchion bases. (We are not bothering to rebed the forward stanchions over the chain locker. Fortunately we decided to do the work of cleaning the teak bases at the patio behind The Fuel Dock. Soon Jimmy from a boat berthed in front of the patio took an interest in what we were doing and before we knew it he had produced a small sheet of "Star Board" so that we could replace the cracked teak bases that had seen better days. "Star Board" is a marine grade plastic-like product much like those plastic cutting boards for the kitchen. It is made for supporting winches and other deck gear. The thickness of the sheeting was almost identical to that of the teak bases. Jimmy provided a jig saw for cutting the bases and Phil provided a belt sander for rounding off the corners and edges. We produced 10 new bases, enough for every stanchion, though we used only 5: four for the starboard side and one for the port side stanchion above the head which was still leaking. The other stanchion bases will be replaced according to need and opportunity.
The bottom photo shows a rebedded stanchion base with plenty of sealant to ensure that no water can penetrate the deck. The excess material can be easily removed after a few days when the sealant has cured to a rubber-like consistency. In the middle is one of the discarded teak bases. On the right is a "star board" base ready for future use.
The top photo shows the underside of the base that I had rebedded with black sealant a few weeks earlier and had still leaked through one bolt. Note how I was a bit too cute with the sealant and almost missed surrounding one of the bolt holes. Note also a crack in the lower left portion of the teak base.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Yesterday Ron Uryga made the repairs to the Profurl furler. The two screws holding up the extrusions were replaced with four new ones, which involved drilling and tapping. He explained why the original screws kept falling out, bending, and stripping their threads and says that he has corrected the problem.
Ron also went over the entire Raymarine ST60 wind direction problem with us. He went up the mast and attempted to calibrate the unit then moved the wind vane to various positions while we called out the readings below. He validated all of the work that Arnold and I had done and concluded that the unit was faulty and should be replaced. Ron, by the way, has had extensive experience with Raymarine equipment. He commissions all of the Beneteaus that arrive in Honolulu, and they are equipped with Raymarine instruments. On the basis of these findings I have sent an email to Raymarine diplomatically asking them to resolve the problem, like SOON. I may publish that message later.
Arnold and I plan to take a day off and board the No. 42 bus to visit Pearl Harbor tomorrow.
I took the clip with my photo camera, so the quality is limited.
I lived in Hawaii two years during the early seventies and suggested that we stop in Punaluu, near the North Shore, and visit the apartment complex where I lived during my first year in Hawaii. I was a Marine at the time stationed in MCAS Kaneohe Bay, and I drove the 25 miles between Punaluu and Kaneohe Bay twice each working day. It was considered a long commute but the drive was pleasant (beaches on one side; mountains on the other), and I enjoyed every aspect of life in rural Punaluu.
My daughter had taken pictures of the complex during a visit to Hawaii in 2000, so I was pretty sure that the the building still existed. But, after 35 years I wondered how much I would remember of Punaluu and the rest of Oahu. Unfortunately, I didn't remember much.
I vaguely remembered the Pali tunnel and Kam highway but did not recognize anything in the part of Kaneohe Bay that we traveled through, and in Punaluu I had to ask directions to the apartment building where I once lived. The only thing I clearly remembered during the trip was Chinaman's Hat, a small distinctive island that has not changed.
The first photo shows the beach near the bus stop in Punaluu where got off the bus – the road on the right is Kam highway. We described the building we were looking for to one of the young fishermen, and he directed us about one mile down the road to the other end of Punaluu.
The second photo shows Robert near the bus stop, probably trying to figure out what to do next.
The apartment/condo building was easy to find. When I lived there it was the only multi-story building and the only modern building in Punaluu. Since 2000, when my daughter visited, another apartment/condo complex was erected next to the building I'd lived in, so now there are only two multi-story buildings in Punaluu.
The next two photos show the side of the building with the studio apartments, where I lived. The other side of the building has the larger two and three bedroom apartments.
The building had recently been built when I moved in and was originally intended to be a hotel. However, the developer encountered zoning restrictions during construction and had to convert the building into condominiums and apartments that were leased or sold to the public. So the complex, with its swimming pool and elevators, resembles a hotel.
Note the newer condo/apartment complex in the left side of the top photo.
The next photo shows the front of the building. As you can see in the photo, the far side of the building has the larger apartments with balconies.
The next photo shows the beach behind the complex. I would often spear fish along the distant reef and heard the pleasant sound of waves in my apartment every night.
The last photo shows me next to the complex entrance (yep – it's time to start jogging again)
Punaluu has grown a bit. There is now a Subway in a local shop, and we had an excellent lunch there before catching another bus for Honolulu.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Ron visited on Thursday to fit the intermediate (D2) shrouds. The upper photo shows the new stays at the top. Note the open turnbuckles on the new says vs the closed ones on the old ones. Closed turnbuckles are considered obsolete around here. The open ones allow better inspection and avoid the danger of trapped water. The other photo shows Ron at work sewing the leather cover at the end of the cross tree.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
One of the most irritating leaks on Pachuca is an on again - off again drip from the port edge of the cabin. The water drips onto the end of the bunk just where the head of a tired sleeping crewman will be. (Grrr!) Arnold and I dropped the middle liner of the cabin ceiling and began testing with a water hose. This section remained dry and the water was coming in just aft of that liner. We removed another smaller panel and located the leak. The "turtle" or "garage" that houses the sliding main hatch has two drain holes that will allow water in as well as out. Also, water can find its way into this section through gaps around the sliding hatch where it enters the turtle whenever there is strong rain hitting the boat from aft or there are sheets of water sweeping over the main hatch during heavy weather sailing. Unfortunately there is a leak between the deck area below the turtle and the interior of the boat.
In my opinion the best way to seal this leak is to remove the companion way instruments and then the turtle and main hatch and make the repairs from above. However, this is too big a project during this cruise so our plan is to allow the area to dry naturally then use a heat gun to make sure that everything is really dry. Then we will use Sikaflex or a similar sealant to plug the leaks from below. We are confident that this will work and success will represent a significant victory in our apocalyptic guerrilla war of survival against these Leftist Jihadist Fascist Tree Hugging Lap Dog Fundamentalist Criminal Communist Terrorist Insurgent Leaks and Their Running Dogs. (Did I leave anything out?)
Two photos are of the port and starboard sides of the exposed section of the cabin ceiling. You can see the opening of the cabin vents, which turned out to be innocent of leaks. The thick black cable is of the old Koden radar unit. We took the opportunity to cut out this section of redundant cable. The round bolted plates are two of the four foundations for cabin-mounted winches. This must be part of the design of an IOR boat to be raced by a crew of strapping young men. Fortunately Pachuca does not have any cabin-mounted winches. I have no desire to ever have to climb onto the cabin and crank a winch handle with one hand while holding on to dear life with the other as sheets of water are sweeping over the top of the boat.
The lower photo shows the problem area, at the corner where the turtle curves down onto the cabin. Below the square of wood is a horizontal band of fiberglass that forms a channel behind it. The water wells up from openings at two corners of the channel and works its way onto the head liner then runs across to the edge of the cabin. We plan to flood these corners with Sikaflex. At the top right you can see evidence of an earlier leak patch-up job which was successful.
At the end of our jetty is "Dorcas", a large schooner. I understand that she has a ferro cement hull and languished in neglect for many years before new owners began her restoration.
In the distance to the right of Dorcas you can see the blue hull of John Down's Columbia 43, "Impulse", at The Fuel Dock.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
1. During the last heavy rain we identified the source a steady drip of water on the navigation to be the window. The next morning I re-bedded the window and flooded the interface with plenty of silicone sealant. There was no drop during the next rain.
2. It looks like the Raymarine ST60 wind unit is now working satisfactorily. It was returned from the support site in England with the cryptic report that all components were working OK and the unit was properly aligned. Initially I took that to mean "no fault found". But when we re installed the unit and found it to be working correctly we concluded that a fault must have been found and corrected. Because the unit was under warranty the problem cost me nothing - other than malfunctioning from New Zealand where I had pruchased it to Hawaii, and $60 USD postage for me to send it to England. (Grumble grumble)
3. Because the ST60 had been declared OK I bedded the above-companionway instrument board with silicone sealant this morning.
4. We replaced the CR2 lithium batteries on our "lifetag" man overboard bracelets and checked out the entire system. Once we were satisfied that the system was OK I sealed the base station, which we had to move to the above-companionway instrument board for better range, with silicone sealant because it is not supposed to be exposed to water. (When the base station was in the cabin the unit was unusable because it would go off in the middle of the night when the helmsman was behind the wheel.) Each bracelet had one CR2 battery, with brand name "Yun Tong", made in China. For the sort of serious money that I paid for the system you would think that Raymarine would supply a name-brand battery just to make the customer feel good. The original batteries lasted about six months and I hope that these will last longer. I have two spares on board and will probably get more in Seattle.
5. Yesterday we replaced the gas detector sensor in the lazerette with the new one that Brenda sent from Australia. Arnold helped with the threading of the cable to the gas detector base station in the galley. This morning looked at the failed unit and to my surprise the wiring leading into the sensor slipped out with little effort and was heavily corroded. Arnold and I think that the sensor - which was replaced sometime after I purchased Pachuca - is OK and the problem was with the wiring. I've stowed that sensor with a note to remind me about its history. Arnold and I think that if we reconnect the cable to the sensor with good joints it should work fine.
6. The winch parts arrived today from Australia. I hope to put the sixth winch together tomorrow. I had to make a fundamental decision regarding parts - get a few spare parts on the assumption of limited life of the winches, or a broad set of spare parts on the assumption of being able to keep the winches going indefinitely. In spite of the corrosion problem which I think that I can deal with now that I know about it, I decided to get a broad set of spares which will certainly see me through the return to Australia probably years beyond that.
7. The replacement intermediate "D2" shrouds are ready. Ron will visit Pachuca to put them up. He will also repair the Profurl roller furler now that the parts for that have arrived.
The winch and rigging items above represent the last major work tasks during our stay in Hawaii.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
One can take the No. 52 bus out of Honululu, up the middle of Ohau through two tunnels and over the mountains to the north shore at Waialua Bay, then to the east to Turtle Bay at the NE tip, then down the east cost through Kahaluu, Kaneoche, and back to Honolulu. Trip takes about three hours offers an extensive experience of the terrain and daily life. The cost is $2 per person. I know because Brenda and I did it.
We'll probably also take the No. 40 bus along the south side of the island, past Pearl City, Waipahu, Makakilo, then up the west coast to Makaha for another $2 per person.
For the $2 you get one transfer, which means that you can get off the bus at some pleasant seas side town as Brenda and I did, have lunch, look around, then get on the next bus to return to Honolulu.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
The winch drama is resolving itself well. John Coupland of Marine Agencies Australia can supply me with almost all of the winch parts that I requested. The replacement pedestal extension and one set of roller bearings were sine quibus non for the salvation of the 6th winch and John was able to supply them. I am in the process of ordering a healthy set of spares (at a price!) which coupled with the other spares that I already have on board should see me through the circumnavigation.
One useful task that I have completed concerns the water tanks. Arnold and I seemed to consume water at such a rate that I suspected either a leak or less tank capacity than I had calculated. I eliminated the possibility of a leak simply by filling the tank and checking to see if it was still full a week later. I then got some doweling and starting with an empty tank I would pour in a carefully measured 10 liters of water, dip in the dowel, then bring it back up and mark the water line with a hack saw. The end result was a dip stick calibrated for every 10 liters, and the tank had almost exactly 140 liters of water as I had calculated. Now we will be able to plumb our tanks while the sea is calm to get a good indication of our water supply.
Last week I noticed that the starboard battery was not strapped down. It is a large and heavy battery and if we have a knockdown, rollover, or pitchpole we'll have enough material flying around to have to worry about the batteries too. So I spent some time putting two straps on the starboard battery and a second strap on the port battery.
I took the boarding ladder off about two weeks ago and had Lenny do some remedial work on it. The ladder is now back with new rubbers on the supports.
I dropped the cockpit spray dodger off at a sail maker to re-stitch a zipper that had torn off and put a blue vinyl patch over the corner where the boom had frayed the material. He did a great job. Today I repaired two press studs and the spray dodger is ready for duty.
The three big repair tasks on the agenda are:
1. Reinstallation the 6th winch once I have received the parts
2. Completion of the rigging work by Ron, who is waiting on parts for the Profurl roller furler
3. Attempt to get a good alignment of the wind indicator
4. Re-bedding of the starboard stanchions and one of the port ones.
Arnold will be back in Honolulu in three short days and we sail for Seattle in four short weeks.
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- Solo Sailor
- Departure Date
- The Fuel Dock Computer Center
- Three Small Jobs
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