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
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Jessica departed from the east coast of Australia, crossed the equator east of the international date line, then turned S the SE heading for the Horn. At the moment she is about 2000 nm from the Horn and expects to make the rounding on about Jan 11.
Jessica obviously has good support and excellent on-board communication resulting in a lucid, concise, and entertaining web site with plenty of video clips at http://www.jessicawatson.com.au/. I have special interest in Jessica's story because I hope to round the Horn at about the same time next year and want to get a first-hand idea of what to expect; but I am sure that many others will find Jessica's story interesting.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
I recalled reading somewhere that storms do not occur within 5 degrees of the equator and I wondered what would be the hurricane risk of Golfito, Costa Rica, at latitude 9.65N.
The Wikipedia entry below states:
"The 19th and final tropical storm formed on December 7 and moved westward through the Caribbean Sea. Nineteen peaked in intensity on the 10th with 60 mph (97 km/h) winds. Nineteen passed by St. Vincent and continued westward until dissipating near the coast of Costa Rica on the 12th. When Tropical Storm Nineteen formed on December 7, it made 1887 the year with the most off-season storms (five). Nineteen is the only tropical cyclone recorded to make landfall in Costa Rica." (Bold lettering mine) See
So it looked to me that the only tropical storm to hit Costa Rica happened 122 years ago, was relatively weak, and dissipated near the east coast which suggests that it did not cross to the west coast. But then I found http://www.centralamerica.com/cr/moon/moland.htm which states near the end of the article: "Rarely do hurricanes strike Costa Rica, although Hurricane Cesár came ashore on 27 July 1996, killing 41 people and trashing the Pacific southwest in the nation's worst national disaster in a decade. Large-scale deforestation in the region contributed to massive flooding. "
If I have read this correctly the hurricane risk is relatively low, takes pressure off me to leave Costa Rica in June, and opens up the possibility of sailing from Costa Rica to the Galapagos later in the year, say October, and from there to use my westerly position and make one long sail to Puerto Montt Chile. And there is another advantage: a later departure from Costa Rica opens of the possibility of a longer stay in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico.
I've had a close look at Puerto Montt and it looks like a modern and well developed port rather than a sleepy backwater fishing village that I had expected. I googled "Puerto Montt Weather" and found http://www.google.com/#hl=en&source=hp&q=puerto+montt+weather&aq=0&aqi=g6j1&oq=puerto+montt+w&fp=cbc2f75bf9d43a8f. From there I selected the top item, the forecast for the area, and found a great Google map of the area where I could zoom in and pan around.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Last week Arnold and I visited Hansville, a quaint small town just north of Kingston.
The top photo is of the lighthouse at nearby Point No Point (http://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=110).
The log-strewn beaches are typical of this part of the world. The first beach scene looks north along Puget Sound with Port Townsend in the distance.
The bottom photos show what to me is the most interesting house of the area: the bridge section of a sea going tug that was barged over from the other side of the Sound.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
The story interested me because of its similarities to my setup and plan:
- The boat departed from Puerto Montt
- They set out on January 30, a bit on the late side of the Dec-Jan optimal time, but approximately when I plan to do my rounding
- The boat is cutter rigged
- They were moving under 25% of the roller head sail and nothing else, which is pretty much my style when running downwind in heavy weather.
- They concluded as I already have that it was too dangerous to stay on deck during those gales
- They ultimately deployed a sea anchor that sounds remarkably like my Para Anchor, although they had to go to the foredeck to set up the bridle whereas I can deploy mine from the cockpit
They got hit by bigger waves than I would have expected at that time of the year. They did not see the gale coming because to my amazement they didn't know how to use their HF radio or get weather faxes. (Huh???)
The good news for me is that (1) they seemed to be able to sail out of Puerto Montt without a problem from the prevailing westerly winds that have been worrying me (2) the sea anchor worked extremely well.
So some of my thoughts at present are:
- It looks like Puerto Montt is a feasible jumping-off place for the Horn after all
- I'll try to do the rounding in early January
- Before I leave I'll seal the anchor well cover with silicone or some other sealant and tie it down to prevent the filling up of the anchor well
- I'll remove the spray dodger before departing
- I'll probably bend the storm trysail on the mast - definitely no mainsail.
- Not sure about the staysail. I've had advice that relying on a downhaul to hold the sail on the deck when the wind gets too strong may not be a good idea. Dan at Pt Townsend Rigging said that for my boat the staysail should be sized somewhere between 100 and 120 square ft. He suggested that I have it modified with a reefing point so that I can reduce the area.
- Pass through Drake Passage about 60 nm south of the Horn
- The experience of Sea Wolf III validated my plan is to stay below deck as much as possible. If the self steering can't cope I'll heave to and strap myself down below prepared for a knockdown or rollover (e.g. torch, gloves, hacksaw, grab bag etc in hand)
- The sea anchor is a viable last resort
Full disclosure. I have seriously considered returning to Australia via the Panama Canal. During my recent visit to Port Townsend another persuasive case was made for crossing the Canal. Visits to the islands on the eastern side of Panama, south of the Canal all of the way to Columbia was highly recommended. And visiting Cuba was mentioned, which I find a very attractive proposition, particularly before the inevitable opening up of the island to US visitors. There could then be a stop in San Juan, Puerto Rico, my place of birth, then a passage well to the east to Brazil then Uruguay. But after thinking about it I realized that I would have the same old problem of the hurricane season. I would have to hang around on or below the equator from June until November 2010. During that time I could be working my way down the coasts of Ecuador, Peru, and Chile.
Driving Arnold's RX7 I made a visit to Port Townsend on Tuesday and Wednesday were I saw friends and revisited places.
The first thing that I did when I rolled into town was to visit good old Safeway for a $50 Verizon phone card and some minor things. In the store I ran into Sue Hoover and confirmed that we would meet at the co-op for lunch shortly after noon as planned. I then drove to the boat yard and visited Mark, Seth, and Zee at Shoreline Marine Diesel. I was fortunate to see Zee, who was in the middle of a fiber glass job (on a cold and damp wintry day, which could not have been easy). Mark produced the spare throttle cable that I had ordered as well as a starter switch for the SABB that was far superior than the one I had purchased in Richmond (i.e. much better water protection) at less than half of the price (less than $12). He also gave me four copper "banjo" washers for my tappet cover.
I then drove over to Port Townsend Rigging and saw Dan, Lisa, and Shannon. They were closed for business but fortunately for me they were on the premises hard at work reorganizing the place. I thanked Dan for the book on rigging that he had sold to me. I had read it it cover to cover and it had opened my eyes to the issues of rigging management. I told Dan that I had left Fremantle on this circumnavigation under the impression that the new rig was good for at least six years and that I wouldn't have to worry about it during the cruise. He told me that you can destroy a rig in 24 hours under the wrong circumstances (e.g. loose rigging with high loads). I expect to be as finicky about my rig tuning as I am about diesel fuel cleanliness for the rest of my sailing life.
Sue and I had lunch at the co-op then went to her house. After setting myself up in her guest room I told her that I would get out of her hair for a while and had what must have been a 90 minute nap on the comfortable bed. When I woke up it was still raining outside so I hung around in the comfort of her warm living room until our dinner visit to the home of "Aug" and Dianne, a couple that Brenda and I had met briefly (thanks to Sue) during our stay at Port Townsend.
We had a wonderful dinner visit to Aug and Dianne at their home in Kala Point. Aug and Dianne have the gift of producing superb wines and they have an arrangement where they trade their wines for salmon straight off the fishing boat, if I heard correctly. So awaiting Sue and me was a beautifully laid out dinner table with the center piece of salmon cooked to perfection.
Aug and Dianne are sailors with a boat and know Central America well from their many overland visits to the area. We had great conversations on boating and travel and I got good information on the climate, culture, and places of interest in the area, particularly Costa Rica. I mentioned to them Burl and Jean, who lived on Kala Point Road and would be neighbors of theirs. Unfortunately I could not recall Burl and Jean's last name (Davies) and Aug & Dianne could not place them,. I left with a bottle of their fine wine which I had enjoyed over dinner. My thanks to Aug and Dianne for a wonderful visit.
Early on Tuesday morning I was able to help Sue out by bringing her back home after she dropped her car off for some mechanical work. After a long chat over breakfast I visited the boat haven where I took photographs of Sue's boat "Quantum Leap" with its new cockpit spray dodger, as well as Robert Benoit's boat "Maya". Pachuca had been berthed next to Bob's boat and I had kicked myself for leaving Port Townsend without a photograph of either Bob or his boat.
I then went to the nearby coffee shop ("Port Side Cafe", I think.) and phoned Bob's home and left a message with his wife. Bob soon called but unfortunately time was too short and we could not arrange a meeting. I realized then that I should have telephoned Bob the previous afternoon as soon as Sue had given me his telephone number but I've had a lot a practice at not doing everything perfectly and didn't beat myself up too much. Anyway, we had a good chat and I was able to thank him again for the marvelous book on small boat adventures that he had given to me.
I also telephoned Doug Roth and told him that the refrigerator that he had repaired was working so well that we had been forced to dial back the thermostat to about 25%. I knew that with these repairs only time can verify that there is not a tiny pin hole or a small amount of moisture to cause a failure. Doug appreciated the feedback and I gave him my thanks and wished him a healthy and happy 2010.
By then it was almost noon so I returned to Sue's house to pick her up for lunch at "Sirens", a popular watering hole, with Burl, Jean, and Francis. Sue had not met these fine people and I was sure that she would enjoy their company. When we arrived the three of them were at a table having a chat over glasses of beer and it was great to see them again. Soon we were introduced to Burl's brother and his daughter, grand daughter, and son-in-law, where were visiting from Hawaii; but they were on the move and we were left on our own.
By then Sue and I had come to realize that the street addresses of Aug & Dianne and Burl & Jean placed their houses very close together. If fact, they were next door neighbors. Burl & Jean knew about them but had never met them. Anyway, it is a small world and out of this may come a visit next door for a cup of sugar.
As I had expected the conversation was interesting, entertaining, and lively and before I knew it about 3 hours had passed and Sue pointed out that time was running out for me to be able to drive back to Kingston in the daylight. The painful moment had come to once again say good bye to these wonderful three people but I promised to return one day.
Sue telephoned the repair place from her home and learned that her car was ready so I was able to drop her off on my way back to Kingston. I told Sue how much I had enjoyed my time with her and thanked her for her hospitality.
I drove back to Kingston with a home baked fruit cake from Sue as well as the bottle of wine from Aug and Dianne. On the drive back I reflected on how Port Townsend is sort of a psychic black hole for me: once I enter its influence I find it extremely difficult escape the pull of its people and its good vibes. ... Sort of psychic gravitational waves I guess.
Anyway, the last 30 minutes of my drive back to Kingston were in the dark but pulled into the carport safely at 5.30 PM.
The first photo shows Sue (left), Aug and Dianne. Then there is Arnold's RX7 with Sue's house in the background. Next is Bob's boat Maya. (Note the Monitor wind steering.) The next two are of Sue's boat "Quantuum Leap". Note the great hand holds on her new cockpit dodger. (I wish that my boat looked that neat.)
And finally, lunch at Sirens. From left to right: Sue Hoover, Jean and Burl Davies, Francis, and the well-fed Robert.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Arnold has two French-made spear guns. He purchased the small one in New Zealand. He prefers it because with only one elastic band it is easy to reload, and it is easy to fire with one hand. The larger one is older, requires two hands, and with three bands will pack a big punch. Yesterday we went to a dive shop and got fresh elastic bands for the big one. Today Arnold came up with an arrow type head that can be used on either spear gun. We are now ready to terrorize the fish population of the tranquil Sea of Cortez.
We have confirmed that the $1028.03 AUD ($972.01 USD) deposited into my Australian account a few days ago was indeed the refund from SABB for the cylinder head that I sent back to them the day before I left Port Townsend. SABB's communicaiton on this may have been bad (i.e. non existent) but their reputation as a supplier of parts for my ancient 2G engine remains excellent.
My time in Port Townsend spanned four months and I am looking forward to seeing the people, the boats, the businesses, and the town again.
In the meantime I am enjoying a relaxing, lazy, and indulgent time with Arnold, Sandra, and Denver the Dog. (The two cats, Icepick and Indiana, are sort of in the background to me.) And what luxury to have plenty of space, warmth, secure Internet and cable TV at hand! There is nothing like the austerity of living on a boat to make one grateful for the modern creature comforts that normal people take for granted.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Ten minutes after arriving at the bus stop I boarded the No. 74 bus to the BART station and 10 minutes after that I was on the train headed down the Fremont line. I got off at the Colosseum/Oakland Airport stop, saw a sign above the exit turnstile pointing left to AirBART, stepped through a double door, and there I was at the AirBART stop. In less than 10 minutes I was on the way to the airport.
My M.O. is to arrive at strange airports early. The aircraft departure time was 12.40 PM and I arrived at the airport at about 10.15 AM. I was carrying a back pack with my valuables, a sports bag with my clothes, and my laptop. The woman at the Air Alaska counter told me that I would save $15 for the sports bag as luggage if I could fit the laptop into the sports bag and take it and my back pack in the cabin. "You're my friend!" I said and she replied with "Yea, well I need your identification now." I presented my U.S. passport.
Going through security was interesting. My back pack didn't pass muster so a TSA agent came out with it. I expected the problem to be with the electronic gizmos that I had in my back pack but their interest was in my asthma puffers, boat keys on plastic floats, and a coil of shock cord that I use to lash groceries to the bike when I go shopping.
Unless you get your hamburger from a national chain the size of the burger can vary wildly. I should have taken the hint when the woman asked me if I wanted the meat rare, medium rare, or well done. Well, cheese burger with mushrooms turned out to be in the big side. The medium rare meat patty must have been close to an inch thick. I wasn't able to finish the French fries and for the next 3 hours I felt like I had a brick in my stomach. Oh well, at least I wasn't hungry on the flight. Before I boarded the plane I phone Arnold and told him that all was going to plan.
Thirty minutes after landing at SeaTac I was aboard the airport shuttle to Kitsap and I phoned Arnold and told him to expect me at the Viking Point stop at 5 PM. I met Arnold at about 5 PM and 15 minutes later we were at his home.
Denver the dog greeted us at the door, going berzerk as usual when I first arrive for a visit. Sandra was still out Christmas shopping and we could smell the chicken cooking in the crock pot. I spoke with Stephen and Brenda at just after 7 PM and I heard Sandra arrive toward the end of our conversation. I went out and gave her a big hug. It was good to see her again. It was good to be here.
The door-to-door trip had cost me:
- $1.00 for the No. 74 bus ride
- $3.10 for the BART ride
- $3.00 for the AirBART shuttle
- $49.50 for the flight (half the $99 round trip ticket)
- $21.90 for the Kitsap shuttle (a ride of almost 2 hours)
I make that to be $78.50. I find that amazing value given that it is the holiday season.
Monday, December 14, 2009
I have dedicated today for the preparation of Pachuca and myself for my holiday visit to Kingston WA.
To be sure to be sure that there is no problem from the boisterous waters that accompany the passing weather fronts I've put double lines on Pachuca.
I revisited the plastic vent that has tormented me with leaks since I left Australia and covered the entire fiberglass-covered inlet pipe with duct tape. Hopefully that will see an end to those leaks. All three plastic "Seabird" vents on Pachuca have been blocked off. The two over the quarter berth areas are covered with plastic and tape and they did not leak during that rough passage from Neah Bay.
I'll remove the cable to shore power, turn off internal 12V power, and rely on the solar panels and wind charger to keep the batteries topped up. For the first time the bicycle will be folded up and stowed below.
I worked under the protection of two US Coast Guard semi rigid boats, each with a gun mounted on the bow. (See last photo.) I'm wondering what to expect when I arrive in San Diego waters, which presumably teem with illegal migrant and drug activity.
I am on schedule with my preparations. I expect to leave Pachuca at about 8 AM to give myself plenty of time go get to the Oakland airport. Fortunately I am pretty well over my cold.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
It has been a wet and blustery day. The wind peaked in the early afternoon, veered to the S and SW, and things have calmed down. I have visited the local shop in full wet weather gear for some lunch and Internet time.
It will be largely an indoor "igloo" day for me. I decided to do some brain work and have been studying an excellent booklet on sails and rigging that I got from Pt Townsend Rigging. Tomorrow I'll start a serious study of "Spanish for Cruisers".
Attached are photos of Rob during his recent visit and the starter switch that I replaced.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Rob took the BART to Richmond then boarded the No. 74 bus for the marina where I was waiting for him at the bus stop at about noon. It was great to see him again. Even though I had been around him only a few weeks more than 10 months ago he seemed so familiar that I felt that I had known him most my life. We walked directly from the bus stop to the restaurant in the nearby old Ford assembly plant building at Ford Point and had a pleasant lunch. I had a yummy Reuben sandwich which Klaus had introduced me to in Honolulu. We then walked back to the boat along the waterfront walkway and spent several hours discussing various things. We went over the potential stops in our sail to San Diego, many of which Rob had visited personally, and got a better feel how to go about the trip. At about 4 PM we walked to the bus stop and I saw him off well in time to get on the BART train before dark. Walking back to the boat I didn't feel too sad because Rob said that he would visit us with a friend whom I am looking forward to meeting because he has taken such an interest in this blog, after Arnold and I arrive back in Richmond on 4 January .
I still wasn't over my cold (and Rob seemed to be just getting over one of his own) so I had a quiet night and watched a movie "The Siege" with the little fan heater going the whole time. I retired at 9 PM with my latest bedding configuration: one wool blanket and fluffy sheet below me; one sheet, three wool blankets, and one spread out sleeping bag above me. Since the cold weather arrived and I developed this cold I have been looking at Pachuca as my igloo: buttoned up, kept as warm as possible, protecting me from the cold, wind, and rain outside. Well, maybe it hasn't been That bad. True, it certainly is cold, even in the middle of the day, but he wind varies but does not get too strong. Today we've had fog, drizzle, and light rain starting at mid afternoon.
This morning, after 10 hours in the sack, I decided to dedicate the day to sorting out the engine starting problem that I had encountered a few days previously - where I got the engine to start only after repeated hard pushes of the "start" button. Mark from Shoreline Marine Diesel in Port Townsend had inspired me to action with an email describing how to go about fixing the problem, and after some reflection I had realized that to do nothing was irresponsible, subjecting me to risk of loss of Pachuca if I could not start the engine at a crucial time. I decided to dedicate the entire day to working on this starter button problem. I dedicated this much time because I know from past experience that I do this sort of work to a schedule, with an anxiety-driven urge to cut corners, I will totally screw it up.
The first task was to slowly and methodically take everything out of the port quarter berth, including its mattress. Only then could I get enough room to have a chance of working on the switch in that cramped area. I then took photographs of the backs of the instruments and their wiring in the quarter berth area, drew a diagram of the instruments as they presented themselves in the cockpit, and drew a diagram of the wires attached to the two poles of the starter switch (thick green wire on one pole, a whopping four wires on the other pole: black, two brown, one orange). The hard part was unscrewing the two bolts that held the wires to the poles. The screws had been undisturbed for a long time and corrosion had taken its toll.
I removed the switch and hit the road on my now-indispensable bicycle. I visited Whale Point hardware and picked up my 2010 Nautical Almanac. I also pick up some crimp-on electrical connectors that were to come in very handy later. I then bicycled to KMMI and presented the switch asking if they could supply a replacement. The fellow at the counter asked what it was from and I replied that it was the starter switch for a SABB diesel. At that he said that he could not supply it. I told him "It is just a switch.", reading from its side not "SABB" but "Assembled in Mexico". He could not help me but was kind enough to give me the name of a fried who might be able to help me. I then peddled to West Marine and found a switch. I asked the man to compare the diameter of the thread of the new switch with my old one and he produced an adjustable wrench as a caliper. I purchased the switch for $28 and returned to the boat. On the way back I stopped at Burger King and got my two Junior Whoppers at $2 for lunch.
At the boat it didn't take me long to realize that fixing four round wire terminals with the short screw would not work, so I made an extension where the four wires were joined to the extension with one bolt and then only one terminal would be fitted to the switch. This worked fine. The engine started with very little pressure on the new starter switch, which indicated to me that the old switch had probably been badly corroded inside. (Lord knows how old it was.)
Anyway, I had installed a new starter switch, the engine was starting beautifully, and I was feeling better about Pachuca and myself.
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Wednesday, December 9, 2009
To date I've been using my Toshiba laptop for my off-boat internet work. Because its battery is totally dead I have been bypassing the local shop, which supplies Internet but no AC power, to make the 2km trip to a coffee shop that provides coffee, lunch, internet, and electric power. Unfortunately their wireless services has been unavailable for two frustrating days so I decided to use my little Acer machine here at the local shop. That has worked very well. The Acer has lived up to its promise of more than 2 hours of battery power. Hopefully my blogging and email efforts will be a bit more regular from now on.
The other communication issue concerns the Acer-Sailmail-Pactor-HF setup. I get intermittent failures where Sailmail reports that it has lost contact with the Pactor modem. This invariably requires a full machine reboot. My fear is that the problem will go "hard" in the wilds of Patagonia. This morning I had a snoop at the cabling and confirmed that the computer is connected to the Pactor and the Pactor is then connected to the HF radio. So if there was really a problem between the Pactor and the computer the first thing to look at was then one cable between the two. I took out all of the cables from the back of the Pactor and sprayed them and the sockets with that CRC terminal spray that Arnold had recommended. I wiped off what I could with a paper towel and have left it all to dry. I then gave similar treatment to the computer end of that cable. I then recalled that the Pactor had been delivered with a cable that was not quite long enough for comfortable use. I had then gone to Radio Shack and gotten a longer one, which turned out to be an ordinary printer cable. The point is that I have a spare cable on board and if the problem persists I will swap in the original cable and see how that works. Failing that the next step will probably be to replace the Acer with the Toshiba and see how that works out.
Likewise the "Cold" in the title refers to two things. The top half of the USA seems to be under the spell of a winter "storm" and I must say that life here at the marina has been very cold. I figure that the temperature is hitting about 5C in the middle of the night. In the morning the jetty walkways are covered with slippery frost. And during this I am battling my own cold, with the usual syndrome of lethargy, rough throat, a bit of a cough etc. I mentioned it to Barry yesterday and he said that two fellows further up the jetty are experiencing the same thing. I am very much looking forward to the Sea of Cortez, and I don't care how hot it is supposed to get as the summer approaches.
I've been trying to purchase a chart of the south end of South America that covers the Horn and the Falklands. If all else fails I need to be able to navigate through Drake Passage the old fashioned way. Whalepoint couldn't help me, KKMI couldn't help me, West Marine couldn't help me. The West Marine guy gave me the number of the West Marine "Superstore" in San Diego saying that they can print the chart out (in color) on demand. I phoned San Diego today and they print only NOAA charts of US waters. Great. Maybe I can round the Horn using the globe of the world in Pachuca's cabin. ... The woman at West Marine did refer me to another nearby business that stocks "all kinds of charts" but I'm not holding my breath.
I've just received a message from Arnold and it looks like he has booked the same Alaska Airways flight that I am taking for my return to Oakland. He will be in 22A and I will be in 21A just in front of him. Maybe we can play games with the flight attendant.
(Note: The next blog entry contains Pachuca's cruising log.)
Apologies for the formatting problems but the blog software insists on presenting data its way. The "knots" represent average speed for that leg.
Pachuca Cruise Log
From, To, Distance NM, Sailing Days, Stopover, Travel Days, Departure Date, Arrival date, Knots, "From" Coords
-------------- -------------- ----------- ------------ -------- ----------- -------------- ------------
Fremantle Albany 325 5 3 8 03-May-08 08-May-08 2.71 32S04, 115E44
Albany Esperance 210 2 3 5 11-May-08 13-May-08 4.38 35S00, 117E57
Esperance Port Lincoln 780 10 12 22 20-May-08 29-May-08 3.25 33S52, 121E54
Port Lincoln Adelaide 165 2 9 11 10-Jun-08 11-Jun-08 3.44 34S40, 135E51
Adelaide Kangaroo Isl 70 1 3 4 28-Jun-08 29-Jun-08 2.92 34S48, 138E39
Kangaroo Is Wilson's Prom 500 5 1 6 02-Jul-08 06-Jul-08 4.17 35S47, 137E47
Wilson's Prom Eden 214 3 14 17 08-Jul-08 10-Jul-09 3.57 39S04, 146E26
Eden Opua 1207 15 43 58 24-Jul-08 07-Aug-08 3.35 37S04, 149E54
Opua Raivavae 2200 26 11 37 20-Sep-08 15-Oct-08 3.53 35S19, 174E07
Raivavae Tahiti 390 5 26 31 21-Oct-08 27-Oct-08 3.25 23S52, 147W41
Tahiti Hawaii (Hilo) 2260 18 7 25 22-Nov-08 10-Dec-08 5.23 17S33, 149W34
Hawaii (Hilo) Oahu (Hon) 160 2 151 153 18-Dec-08 20-Dec-08 3.33 19N44, 155W04
Oahu (Honolulu) Neah Bay 2275 29 127 156 22-May-09 20-Jun-09 3.27 48N22, 124W37
Neah Bay San Francisco 770 10 24-Oct-09 02-Nov-09 3.21 37N55, 122W27
Avg Speed Knots 3.6
Dist Sailed Nm 11526
Days Under Sail 133
Lay Days 410
Days Away 533
Monday, December 7, 2009
I was resigned to dedicating half of the day to visiting Hilltop Mall to sort out the telephone issue. During week days the trip requires a bus change each way which adds to the travel time. Just before I began preparations for the trip to Hilltop I did one more check and found that the $60 had been credited, about 20 hours after the $60 had been keyed in. I figure that a server or router must have gone down on Sunday because these updates have been automated and I normally get a phone message confirming the account increase within minutes.
I then went over in my mind the engine wiring harness that I may have disturbed when replacing the oil filter and could not visualize the cause of the no-starter problem. Without sliding back the engine cover I turned on the key next to the navigation table then went topside to try starting the engine. In the cockpit I must flip down a toggle switch (Australia, possibly because everyone there is below the equator walking upside down, uses the convention where "down" is on, and "up" is off.) and then push the start button which is under a rubber cover to protect it from the weather. Nothing happened. So I pushed the button hard three times and the engine started on the the third thumb thrust. Trust the cockpit switch to hiccup after I've stressed the wiring harness below, just to confuse me. I ran the engine for 10 minutes then shut it down and checked the oil level which was Exactly at the top mark on the dip stick. I then restarted the engine and ran it for 20 minutes with the gear in reverse to stress it a bit and had a look at the fuel vacuum gauge which was pegged at the low end far, far below the yellow range which indicates a need to change the filter. (Mark had looked at the Racor primary fuel filter bowl and commented on how clean the fuel looked.) I looked down at the engine thumping along at 1000 rpm, thinking at the robust flow of cooling water, tight alternator belts, fresh crank case oil and filter, topped up transmission fluid, clean fuel filter, not-too-drippy stuffing box, and felt pretty good. The SABB diesel was running like - well - a well-oiled machine.
By then I had decided to accept brother Arnold and wife Sandra's invitation to spend Christmas and New Years with them at their Hacienda in Kingston, Washington. It wasn't a difficult decision since I greatly enjoy their company; they have a big, beautiful, comfortable, and warm home set in several acres of land; they have a great dog; and have cable TV (in that order). But it was a "game changer".
First of all, Arnold had reaffirmed his desire to accompany me in the Sea of Cortez for spear fishing and other delights of that part of Mexico. That meant that I would not depart from San Diego until after New Years so that Arnold could spend the holiday at home with Sandra So I figured that leaving Pachuca in Richmond until New Years would delay our arrival in Mexico only about two weeks (the few days to sail to San Diego plus a Fudge Factor.) Then there was the question of Pachuca. I could see that it was too risky to sail to San Diego on a schedule (never sail to a schedule!) to meet an airplane departure and also find a safe, affordable berth for Pachuca. The only practical solution was to leave Pachuca here at the marina in Richmond which I knew to be safe and watched over by Barry, Barry & Joyce, Jim, and other residents of the jetty whom I may not know formally but will know me. So after conferring with Arnold I booked Pachuca for another month at this Marina until 5 Jan 2010. I then visited "single" Barry (Barry Crandall is his name) and got his OK to use his secure wireless internet. On Barry's boat I booked a return flight with Alaska Airways for an all-up cost of $99 USD. By Australian standards that is really, Really cheap flying. I fly out of Oakland( which I didn't know existed until Mark told me by phone this morning) on Flt 341 at 12.40 PM on Tues 15 Dec and arrive at SeaTac at 2.45 PM. For the return to Richmond I fly out of SeaTac on Flt 344 at 12.50 PM on Mon, 4 Jan 2010 and arrive at Oakland at 2.56 PM.
After that I'm not sure. Arnold has indicated that he will sail will me from San Francisco, which will be of great comfort and assistance on the leg to San Diego. Assuming that he arrives in Richmond a day or two after I do it is likely that we will set sail from Richmond by maybe Jan 10. San Diego is only about 450 nm from San Francisco. If we sail "outside" and directly we should be there in about 5 days (15 Jan). But if we decide to take the coastal-hoping route the trip may take about 10 days, with arrival in San Diego of about 10 Jan.
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Sunday, December 6, 2009
I started off the festivities by starting up the engine and putting a load on it by placing it in reverse at 1000 rpm. While this was going on I tightened up the stern gland and shot 25 squirts of grease into it, reducing the drip to about one drop per second. After running the engine for 30 minutes I turned my attention to the oil change.
The first problem was that the manual pump that I had purchased for $16 would suck out only dribbles of oil. Over and over I would position the thin tube down the dip stick hole to where by measurement I knew the bottom was, only to get a feeble dribble worthy of a ninety year old man. (Twenty years ago I would have said "a sixty year old man".) So what did this macho independent self sufficient world circumnavigator do? I asked for help!
Barry came over and try as we may we were not making much progress. Then I pointed out another tube further aft and I wondered if that may not be the place for extracting the oil. We looked at the tube and it curved down below the engine out of sight. I am terrified of doing things I know nothing about and that is where Barry came in. He said to unscrew the cap and have a look. I then mentioned a mysterious pumpy thing in my tools below the navigation seat and have a dim recollection of being presented with it by the mechanics at Fisherman's Engineering in Fremantle after my request for an extraction pump. The memory was so dim that I wasn't sure if I was imagining it. The pump had no insertion rod or tube but merely a nut. I tried the nut on the tube on the engine and it fit. I started pumping, and before I knew it I extracted 6 liters of oil from the engine sump. Ever since Fremantle I have had the means of extracting oil from the engine sump and didn't quite know it.
We then looked at the oil I had purchased and realized that I needed two containers, not just the one that I had purchased. That meant a return to the shop for more oil and a solution to the problems of the funnels that I had purchased being two large for the small openings into the engine. Barry returned to his boat (I owe him a few beers.) and I decided to remove the oil filter. Oops, there was no room between the end of the filter and some sort of engine fitting to insert the band of the wrench. Also, my pre-pay telephone was down to less than $3 and only on weekends (today is Sunday) does the no. 74 bus go to the Hilltop Mall where I know there is a Verizon agent so I broke off my effort to modify the oil filter wrench to visit Hilltop for the telephone prepay and anything that I could find at Walmart.
The $1 bus ride got me to Hilltop, many miles away. At Verizon I paid $60 prepay and got a receipt. I then visited WalMart and found an oil filter wrench that fits over the filter like a thin pipe wrench for only $2.88. I also noticed cans of CRC "QD Electronic Cleaner" that Arnold had recommended and purchased that too. From there it was to Burger King for two Junior Whoppers at $1 each and that put me back at the bus stop for the next hourly no. 74 bus with 15 minutes to spare.
On entering the bus I asked for a transfer (at an extra 25C would you believe) and got off at the back of the auto parts place where I purchased two more gallon containers of oil (giving me enough spare for another change further down the track) and a funnel with a small outlet. I used the transfer to get on the next no. 74 bus and soon after that I was back at the marina. The entire operation took about 3 hours and cost $2.25 in bus fares and $2 for lunch.
Using the new tool I was soon able to remove the old fuel filter and soon had the new filter on. Putting the new oil in turned out to be very time consuming (well over 30 minutes) but I managed to get 6 liters into the engine, bringing the level to just above the "full" mark. The manual states that 6.5 liters are required if you have changed the filter, but my plan was to run the engine for a while and see where the oil level would settle to.
Except that the engine would not start. It wouldn't even try to start. The starting circuit was on and the oil pressure alarm was screaming but when I pushed the button the solenoid would not be activated. I looked around for loose wiring but had no success. By then it was well after dark, it was raining, I was cold, so I slid the cover back over the engine, put the flooring back in the aft section over the stuffing box, put everything away, cleaned up the oily pumps and tools, then poured myself a stiff bourbon. After that I went for a shower through the rain.
Maybe I should have paid a mechanic to do the job. ... No ... Not really. I've got to learn how to do this myself and I'm sure that I'll be faster next time. Besides, I don't want to find myself in the future at the mercy of some questionable mechanic in some far away place who will put whatever he has at hand into my SABB engine.
My telephone still shows only $2.51. So where is the $60 that I put in? I know that it is Sunday, but I don't think that the Verizon computers will have been in church since 2 PM. If as I fear it is still $2.62 in the morning I'll have to find my way back to Hilltop tomorrow. (Remember that I said I got a receipt? :-)
On a brighter front is the view. I commented to Jim last night that I will always remember the view of San Francisco that I get whenever I emerge from my cabin into the cockpit. There it is: a million dollar view of the City of San Francisco perfectly framed between a small but high on the left and Ford Point on the right. I see the city during dawn, sunset, bright sun, rain, even thin fog. Sometimes she seems close and large, sometimes she seems distant and small. Sometimes she is clear and open, sometimes shrouded, mysterious and inscrutable. .. A bit like a woman - oops!, I mean person!
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Stephen here !
Technical problems, no-one wants them!!
There may be a slight gap in Bob's blog postings.
Hitch A) The main Pachuca HF radio is down, so Bob can't post Blog updates from Pachuca
Hitch B) He may not be able to use onshore internet (to post on the Blog) because of bad weather. They're expecting flooding.
On the bright side (this is my very poor humour);
at least if it floods it's good to be on a boat, right?
Will keep things updated as they progress.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
"Single" Barry (to distinguish him from Barry and Joyce in the next boat) had loaned me a 12V electric pump for sucking the sump oil out of the engine but I took the opportunity to purchase a manual one for $16 that should do the job. The idea is to have my own so that I am able to change the oil whenever it is required.
Later in the morning I rode the bicycle to Whale Point hardware and got a refund on 5 courtesy flags that they had double ordered. I am left with the following courtesy flags: Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, Chile, U.K., South Africa. The U.K. one is for the Falkland Islands. It is unlikely that I will visit all of those countries, but I must be prepared to show courtesy and respect wherever I may go. I also picked up some badly needed funnels for the engine and transmission oil work. The 2010 Nautical Almanac that I requested has not arrived yet.
After lunch I did some minor tasks to prepare the boat for sailing. I reinstated the mainsail reefing lines and extended the chest high "Dieter" perimeter line to the inner forestay so that I've got something to hold when crossing that dangerous gap between the mast and inner forestay.
I investigated a method for setting up a downhaul for the staysail that I said that I would not use again. It would be easy: snatch block on the turnbuckle at the base of the inner forestay, line from the peak of the sail around that block and fed through the section of the line organizer and rope clutch currently occupied by the spinnaker downhaul, which I will definitely not use when sailing alone. I had noticed that the staysail dropped very easily with its piston hanks on the wire. I figure that in a heavy wind I could drop the staysail from the cockpit and hold it down on the deck with the downhaul and sheets made fast. This may be worth doing because the staysail is very good in 30-35 kt winds and is superb for heaving to. I'm thinking of sailing the critical part of the Horn with the storm trysail and staysail permanently set up, rolling the headsail out for moderate winds.
The weather is definitely getting "winterish". Jim returned after only one week away and noticed the difference. Last night I dug out another blanket for my bed in the V berth at the forecastle. The city is expecting serious rain on Monday and there are preparations for flooding.
Tonight Jim and I will visit Single Barry's boat to watch "Double Jeopardy".
Tomorrow morning I'll have a go at changing the oil on the diesel if it isn't raining too hard.
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Friday, December 4, 2009
Two uncertainties remain: (1) getting the engine oil changed (2) the weather. Once the engine oil has been changed I'll probably go on "weather watch" for an exit. In the meantime I'll do some minor preparation tasks such as topping up the LPG cylinder.
Even though the coastal hopping route to San Diego has attractions, and I've gone to the expense of purchasing the cruising guide for Southern California, my inclination at present is to swing out and make San Diego in one loop, passing outside of the Channel Islands. I know that there are advantages of coastal hopping, including great sight seeing. However, because I am sailing solo I'd like to minimize the dock work. Also, Pyewacket reported many cray pots along the coast. I don't want be caught at night near the shore with little wind and unable to motor because of the crab pots. It would also be nice to avoid the ship congestion in the Santa Barbara Channel.
I expect to spend 10 days at the "Police" dock in San Diego. In order to get certain things done (e.g. spear gun) I want to avoid being there during the Christmas-New Years holiday. To complicate things, there may be a reason (that I'll explain later) why I might want to depart from San Diego after New Years.
What does this add up to? Dunno. Fuzzy Future.
After some reflection I realized that my difficulty was very clearly articulated in Robert Pirsig's gem "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". I like the superficial "romantic" view of Pachuca: strong, fast, great lines, well equipped. This is the view that vendors try to project and buyers accept at their peril. I avoid to a fault the "realistic" (not sure if that is the term that he used) view of Pachuca's inner workings and her grubby little secrets, e.g. the world of leaky decks, blocked toilets, propulsion problems, etc. But there I was again, dragged kicking and screaming by reality.
I started with the pluses. I had had the good fortune of Mark doing an 850-mile house call to re tension the cylinder head bolt tension - a very important task that must be done correctly. I was fortunate too in learning from him of maintenance issues and mechanical weaknesses in the propulsion system. (Don't shoot the messenger, praise him!)
Then I told myself that if I had wanted a large and well-equipped boat with near zero risks of failure I should have spent $400,000 on a brand new boat.
As fate would have it, I am re reading "My Old Man and the Sea", the story of father and son team David and Daniel Hays rounding the Horn in a 25-ft boat that they mostly built themselves. Their enumeration of the advantages of a small boat (e.g. simpler, more reliable, easier to handle, shallower draft) strongly resonated with me who had seen those same advantages when I was planning this circumnavigation in my 27-ft boat Angie. I have no doubt that a circumnavigation with Angie would have been mind-bogglingly cheaper than with Pachuca. I'm pretty sure that the sails and rigging would have gone the distance, and there would have been no refrigerator, engine, autopilot, etc to fail. She was so dry that the bilge had never had salt water in it and I used to sweep it with a brush and pan. But it would have been a much slower and much harder (frequent sail changes) boat. And it would have been riskier too, with no radar, chart plotter, AIS, HF radio, life raft, etc. It is all about tradeoffs.
At this point of life there are so many forks on the road of life to look back on that it is pointless to dwell too much on what ifs. Things have happened as they have happened and that's the way it is.
On balance I think that the Pachuca Way has been best for me, at 66 years of age and comfortably cashed up. The Angie Way would have been more suitable to Robert Morales, Lone Sailor, aged 45. The "lone" part is important. Pachuca has enabled me to sail in the company of good crew and to get to know great people and places that would not have been otherwise likely. The clincher is that Pachuca led me to the community of the Fremantle Sailing Club, which as become surprisingly important to my life in Western Australia.
That's the way it is.
That resolved I got moving. I spent a lot of time clearing out the port quarter berth so that I could look for the part number of the throttle cable at its cockpit end. As Mark had said, there it was in white lettering: Morse 330 4.25M. While I was at it I cleaned off the area with bleach and took an inventory of the storage area below the bunk. I then did the same thing on the starboard quarter berth, this time to find the transmission oil.
Mark confirmed by telephone that the automatic transmission oil that I had found was indeed the correct one for the transmission. I used it to top up the transmission. While I had the engine cover off I tensioned the belts on the 160-amp alternator. Seth at Shoreline in Port Townsend told me by telephone that the oil filter is a Baldwin B229 (which can be cross matched to another brand) and the engine oil is Delo 400 - 1540. I then checked my stock of fan belts and decided to purchase another pair, noting their part number. I had plenty of fuel filters (2 microns).
I then got on my bike and headed for the KKMI chandlery at the Richmand Boat Yard. That was my first visit to KKMI and it turned out to be a very productive one. They don't stock Morse cable because they and their customers prefer Volvo ones. The man showed me how easy the cable slides. 5.25 meters equals 17.2 ft and they had an 18-ft cable in stock (part number VOP3851052). He said that the end points and cable diameters are all standard. So my biggest worry, a spare throttle cable, had been resolved. I also purchased the engine oil and before I left I got the name of an independent mechanic who may visit the boat to change the engine oil (My big problem is sucking the oil out.) and filter and possibly repack the stuffing box.
I then left for Whalepoint hardware, where I picked up my southern California cruising guide, Spanish for Cruisers, and a lot of flags - more than I had expected. That night on the boat I found that I had about 6 duplicate flags and I think I know how that happened and hope to resolve it with them.
At the end of the day I felt better: I had the spare throttle cable, had retensioned the fan belts, topped up the transmission oil, and had taken the first step to have the oil changed. And besides, Barry and Joyce had invited me for dinner at their boat the following evening.
My game plan with the engine is to go as easy on it as I can until I return to Fremantle. I have confidence in the engine itself but am concerned about the propeller shaft, its bearings, and the stuffing box. In Fremantle I will have all of this looked at.
On Wednesday Barry told me that he had completed his work on my "stack pack" sail cover. Together we put the cover, which is attached to the boom with slides, on. Then we bent on the full batten loose-footed mainsail and tied on the lazy jacks.
Barry had done more than simply repairing chaffed areas of the cloth. He strengthened the corners of the openings for the mast steps, added cloth on each side of the zipper near the mast, and added a flap that covers the peak of the sail. Zipping up the sail cover near the mast where the sail stack goes up was always difficult. However, the problem became worse when a second slide was added at the peak of the sail back at Port Townsend. This was an excellent measure that I support, but it had the unforeseen effect of raising the height of the stack, making it extremely difficult to fully zip up the sail cover and leaving the peak of the sail exposed to the sun.
Barry, a self-taught canvas man, has solved these problems.
At about 5 PM Mark Jochems, Principal of Shoreline Marine Diesel in Port Townsend, arrived with his tools to tension the head bolts on the SABB diesel. It was good timing because my records show that I had put 45 hours of running on the engine since the heads had been fitted. Mark got to work and soon that job was done, with at least 2 of the head bolts turning for their proper tension.
Mark gave me a mild scolding for not having checked the transmission oil. ("I'm not lazy, I'm just terrified of screwing it up" I replied.) He patiently showed me what to do and we found that the oil level was at the bottom of the stick.
He noted that I had a very drippy stern gland. I told him that Zee and I had noticed a lot of play in the propeller shaft during our sea trial and Mark said that it would have been a good idea to at least re-pack the stuffing box while the boat was out of the water in Port Townsend.
He wasn't happy about a bend in the throttle cable. I told him that I hadn't been able to get full revs out of the engine lately. I gave him the OK to straighten out the cable, even though it might weaken it, and all of a sudden the throttle was easier to move and I could take the engine up to 1700 rpm instead of the 1200 before. Mark didn't think that the cable would go the distance and advised me to get a spare. He told me to look for some numbers in white lettering at the other end of the cable. He also gave me a potentially very important advice to go easy on the throttle and to not use the lever to exceed the cable travel. (So from now on, instead of stopping the engine by pulling back hard on the throttle lever I will use the proper shut off cable which I had replaced in Fremantle and rarely used.)
He also thought that an oil and filter change would be a good idea, given the recent work on the engine.
Afterward we drove to the nearby Italian restaurant and had a couple of good meals (chicken breast for him, veal for me). The house red (merlot) was surprisingly good. It was good to sit and chat in the warmth and comfort of the restaurant.
Before I got out of his car back at the marina I thanked him again for taking the trouble of making the drive to Richmond through heavy traffic and doing the head tension work after a full day of class with Volvo. I really appreciated it.
The photo is shows Mark holding the work light over the engine, which he's just put back together.
At about 2 PM we took the good old 74 bus to BART then had a fast and easy ride all the way to the airport, with one change of trains. When the train doors opened at our destination we were, like, right there at the airport. We took one of those automatic airport shuttle trains to the terminal and were lucky in finding the Canadian check-in desk open with no customers. After the formalities and check-in of luggage we had a light meal at Subway. It must have been about 7 PM when I waved Brenda goodbye as she passed through the security area.
Brenda safely away I left with some concern that I would wind up at the Richmond BART station well after dark, which I had been advised against by several locals. My concern grew when approaching the Richmond station I could see no other passengers in my car, the one behind, or the one in front (gulp!) Fortunately there were enough people moving around the station and the bus transfer area to make it look safe enough to wait for a bus. My fallback plan was to run like hell for a rank of cabs 30 meters away.
On the bus ride back I told the black bus driver who had gotten to know Brenda and myself that I had just seen Brenda off to Australia. She said that she had a brother in Australia. I asked what city, expecting a reply of Sydney or Melbourne. "Perth" she replied. Her brother was a US NBA basketball player who had to quit because of injury and has been a basketball coach in Perth few years. I presume that he coaches the Perth Wildcats. He is called "Doc".
That evening I got a call from Stephen confirming that Brenda had made it to Sydney. Later that night got a phone call from Brenda who was safely home.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Brenda just cannot help herself. Last night we walked to the park at the south end of the boat harbor and as she expected found a mud flat with plenty of feeding birds.
Brenda's dedication has paid off. Since landing in Seattle she has identified 78 species of birds new to her, and is trying to identify several others that she has seen.
The top photos show the Western Seagull at work. The boat harbor floating jetties provide a seemingly endless supply of fresh mussels to the birds. The birds dig out the mussels, take them into the air over the concrete jetties, then drop them to crack them open. They can trash F Dock's main jetty (which is wider than the spur jetties) in days. But the way I see it, it their payback for us trashing their environment.
The bottom photos show the yesterday's twilight scene with Brenda at work.
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- Jessica Watson
- Costa Rica and Hurricanes
- Visit to Hansville
- Rounding Cape Horn
- Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
- Visit to Port Townsend
- Denver the Dog
- Spearguns and Refund
- Visiting Port Townsend
- In Kingston
- Preparations for Departure
- Stormy Weather
- Visit from Rob and Starter Button
- Communications and Cold
- Cruising Log
- Engine OK and Kingston for Christmas
- Sump Wars and City Views
- The Pachuca Blog hitch
- Steady Preparations
- Fuzzy Departure Plan
- Instrospection and Getting On With It
- Mainsail Back Up and Head Bolts Tensioned
- Brenda Back In OZ
- Bird Watching To The End.
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