Captains water logged 201404.18
There is something to be said about being at the helm of a boat in the rain in near gale conditions with a faulty engine and water proof clothing that isn't. I'm not sure exactly what that something is but it wouldn't be nice. Yes, today was water logged captain day. The rain just kept going and going and going. Then the wind picked up and died down and picked up and died again over and over. In the mean time our water proof seal on the bimini failed to be water proof, much like my water proof clothes and I got soaked. At last count I went through about four towels even though I wrung them out many times before swapping for a new one.
Our GPS chart plotter is water proof too. Someone however forgot to tell the engineering department that while their product is water proof, it is not usable in the rain. So why bother making it water proof it it can only be used in dry conditions? The issue is the touch screen. They decided to use capacitive sensing instead of the more robust resistive sensing. By robust I mean fool proof. Resistive sensing won't for example trigger a touch when a rain drop hits it. Watching a chart plotter that is designed to keep you on course have the electronic equivalent of an epileptic fit while getting rained on, dealing with waves and having to prime an engine with such bad insecurity issues it needs to be squeezed gently every 30 seconds is really starting to piss me off but at the same time I look at it from an outside perspective, and since none of it is life threatening, is rather amusing.
Today, in the middle of all this action I just looked up and said, "hope you're having a good laugh Mike", not angrily but rather just appreciating the absurdness of the situation. Mike is a guy I sorely miss. He departed the Earth far too soon and had a great sense of humour and wit. I'm sure he would be just like me right now, pissed off at what we're going through but at the same time would appreciate the humour in it all.
Time to tell you all about the voltmeter woowoo theory. Sure I know it's completely nuts but lets face facts, you have to be pretty nuts to do what we're doing so you just make stuff up to stop yourself from going completely into straight jacket land. The voltmeter, yes. The boat has a voltmeter that you guessed it, reads the battery voltage of the boats battery banks. Now it got soaked and all fogged up while in Colonial Beach during some storm when the bimini that theoretically doesn't leak was removed for possible repair. It had a lot of condensation on it over the glass and as its one of the three instruments on the instrument cluster it is in your face always. Mind you, the other two don't work right. The middle one is the compass which leaked fluid and wants more before it will tell me where to go even though I tell it regularly. The right most one is an engine RPM gauge that shows something but that something is not related to RPM in any fashion to entitle it to be referred to as an RPM gauge.
Voltmeter...so I've been painstakingly drying this meter over the duration of the trip to make sure no more water gets into it and setting my hot coffee cup in it every morning to dry it out. I've been deliberately asking for two coffee's every morning just so I can put more heat into the glass of the meter and try to dry it out. In my mind I keep saying to myself, when this thing dries out we will be in decent weather. It is close. I came so very close to drying it out but it still has water on the bottom of the meter. But it's almost dry. Every day in every way, it gets better and better and better...hehehehehe 10 points to whoever gets that reference first.
So now we're at the marina we got the engine from. They couldn't do much for us today because while they were open, Yamaha was not. Something about it being Easter Friday and a public holiday. I didn't even know what day of the week it was and was very surprised that a Japanese company honoured Easter as I thought they were Buddhists or something.
So the marina has put us in a dock for the weekend and will look at the issue on Monday. The Marina is Jax Beach Marine in Jacksonville. I totally recommend these guys to anyone. It's a family owned business and the service department is just awesome. Even though they had no clue that we were coming in they bent over backwards to accommodate us. By the service department I mean that actual service department because I contacted the marina by message on the internet four days prior, and early this morning ,but the service department were not informed of our arrival. In any case, the guy that fitted the motor to the boat, Josh is doing the work Monday. I've already told him the whole story and he's pretty surprised since the Yamaha is a highly reliable engine. That's why I bought it. But he's also pretty confident that he can sort it out and have us on the way quickly.
Debbie, was wonderful just like last time in getting us a place to dock and getting us fitted in ASAP. They are the reason we came back here to have the engine worked on rather than anyone else. I was happier to prime that motor every 30 seconds to get here than go to another place where I had no idea of how we would be treated. After the last few weeks, from freezing rain and storms and engine problems an unfamiliar face that didn't seem to grasp what we were going through might have gotten to see the bad side of me as I was like a pressure cooker ready to explode. It wouldn't have been pretty, and also totally uncalled for, but there is only so much a koala can bear.
That's pretty much it. We're in a dock, it's raining but we're dry, there are no leaks, the service department is confident of fixing the problem. The only remaining obstacle is finances as we are still waiting for the transfer to get through. At this point if you don't hear from us we'll be bobbing up and down on the hook somewhere until that gets sorted because we literally can't go any further till it does. When it rains it pours...
Captains log 201404.20 Some days you're the dog, some days you're the hydrant. We're clocking up the hydrant points so far really well. If you don't understand that reference ask yourself what a dog does to a hydrant. So we stayed two nights at the marina. The first was great. Calm weather no bobbing up and down and we got a good deal of work done though Lorianne's kindle died. A common fault apparently. It's dead Jim. The display is just a series of lines but one sliver of a corner so you can tell that the CPU is still working.
I tried to fix the VHF radio as it had a broken wire but soldering it back up made no difference. It gives an error code and I have the service manual but it gives no description of the error beeps. Oh well. We have another. I put some leak detector into the fridge system and identified the leak as being in the pressed aluminum evaporator. A fun little UV dye showed a pretty major leak as the aluminium had corroded. Today I'm attempting a real dodgy solution, using JB weld to plug up the hole. I pushed it a fair bit so hopefully some got into the tube and causes a good seal. it's not like I can damage anything at this point since if this doesn't work the evaporator needs to be replaced anyway. I'm just interested in a temporary fix. Six or so months would be a good fix IMHO but I'm thinking if I get a week we should consider ourselves very lucky. The epoxy will take 24 hours to set properly so we won't know just yet how well the fix went. I fear that it will mean warm beer in the tropics and since neither of us are English it's not going to be a highlight of the trip.
Last night the wind picked up again, it bucketed down rain and thunder storms were around us. Since we're at the marina there are plenty of taller masts around and for once I had no mast envy. Then the wind dislodged our bumper/fender. Basically a sealed rubber air cylinder you put between the dock and the hull to avoid damage like scratched paint and like, as well as not sounding like someone is regularly hitting the side of the hull with a hammer. I was too tired to re-position it.
Then Gracie started howling and woke me up. Cat's noses are better than ours and while at the time I had no idea why she was howling, I was to find out soon enough. A wretched smell of sulfur mixed with rotting carcass permeated the boat. It was like being in a sewer. We were unimpressed. The wife and I nearly hurled a few times. In the morning there was a guy delivering the local newspaper to the boats and Lorianne asked him what the hell that stench was. Apparently it's the nearby swamp starting to rot. It happens once in a while and true to form we were here just at the right time to revel in it's glory. So Gracie starts trying to get away from the smell during the night and wonders from one part of the boat to another.
Now I have no idea what goes through a cat's mind in situations like this, but apparently the fastest way to any point is not the shortest line. It is the path that involves walking over a sleeping captain repeatedly using slow methodical movements and picking pressure points that are sure to cause maximum distress to the human roadway. Thinks like the bladder, the head etc. I began wondering if the ancient Chinese observed cat behavior in their pursuit of finding the best pressure points to be used against an enemy while in combat. If not I'm sure there are a few that the study of this phenomena might reveal.
Today will bring much more work for both of us. Lorianne needs to do washing and general boat clean up. I need to do electrical work, wire in the radar, hook up the engine's apparently awesome network setup that gives the chart plotter all sorts of information on it's performance. I can't help but thinking that if they only invested about 10 cents more and used a spring and ball/seat pressure relief valve I wouldn't need all this diagnostic stuff. Maybe the rubber pressure damper that is causing the first fuel pump to not deliver adequate pressure or pull a decent head was a deliberate marketing decision so they can sell you a $200 cable that connects to the boats network.
Thankfully I'm an electronics engineer so the cost to me is about $20 for wire and connectors. If the Yamaha engineers had a sense of humour the first message should be, "prime that bulb dude" then 30 seconds later, "hey, prime that bulb again dude" followed by, "This is your free forearm work out as developed by Yamaha's fitness department. Prime that bulb dude!". When the engine stalls, it can say, "hey, who turned out the lights?".
Tomorrow the guy that fitted our engine is going to try and fix it. Josh is his name and he knows engines. You can always tell when someone actually knows what they are talking about. Like most things it's not the words they use but the way they use them. Fakers just keep slipping up on the more intricate technicalities. So there you have it. Another day and more crappy weather but it's due to change tomorrow. I'll re-check my voltmeter weather gauge just to be sure. When it warms up a bit I will go outside and get the coordinates of the last three stop overs as some of you are making a plot of the path and I've been slow on getting those in.
Captains log 201404.21
So here we are at the marina where we got the engine. We thought things would go well now that we are here. I forget those words...ah yes, wishful thinking. You've all read about the issues we've had with this engine. One of you was here to witness it himself a number of times coming from Colonial Beach to North Carolina. The regular stalls, spluttering and endless priming just to keep going. So this morning Josh, the service guy comes around and checks the engine. Yamaha policy is not to take a vessel out that is having engine issues so he inspected the things that would be suspect given my explanation of what was happening. He can't find a fault. The computer says everything is ok and the engine actually behaved. So we took it for a run. It ran fine. I mean faultless. We tried everything to make it fail the way it usually does. Nothing. It just kept going. He goes back to the office and I follow afterwards.
Guess what? If they can't find the problem, Yamaha won't honour warranty. After much discussion I realised that it's not their fault. It's not their fault the engine kept dying and then worked flawlessly so they had no recourse other than to give me a bill. $365.
So I ask, what happens if I take off and it dies again, will they then refund my money seeing as there actually is a problem?
Apparently not! I gave up at this point before I lost it and went back to the boat.
So I thought, what if I just try to start this thing now, maybe it will fail and I can demonstrate the problem. Lo and behold the thing starts playing up. I quickly call the service department and they say shut it down and don't touch it Josh will get their after his lunch break. He gets here and hooks his computer up and it splutters and stalls. The computer didn't register anything so they can't send a snapshot to Yamaha because it says everything is good.
So I ask, now that you've seen the problem, is it covered under warranty?
Yamaha won't honour a warranty unless the service technician actually finds a fault. An intermittent fault doesn't count if the problem resolves itself before the tech and find it. I ask, "so let me get this straight, you've now seen the fault. You are a Yamaha approved tech. Yamaha still won't honour the warranty and I have to pay your costs and go with an engine that can just randomly die anytime on the trip?"
Yamaha won't warranty it unless there is actually something found even if it observed. The only way that Yamaha will honour it is if their techs come to see it themselves and the closest place is in Georgia and if they don't find anything I have to pay for their time as well which will be a hell of a lot more and we'd be better off just buying another motor given the costs involved. So there you have it folks. Yamaha officially sucks.
Oh, even though I've told them this started 10 hours after we had the engine and detailed all the things we've done they are interested in how often was it serviced. Really? How freaking often does a 10 hour old engine need to be serviced???? Ah, but it's not a 10 hour engine anymore. Well no shit. Do I have a service history? No, why would I? I service the thing myself but again I ask, 10 hours was when this fault started. It left us drifting in the middle of a busy narrow channel on the ICW. I'm intending to go across to Australia and if I need to service it out in the middle of the Pacific, who is going to come there to do it? I have to be able to do it on my own. but I go back to the initial point. 10 freaking hours is when the engine first stalled. 10 hours. Not 10 months. Not ten years. 10 hours.
No dice, Yamaha apparently wants receipts for all the stuff I bought to service it. (attendum: apparently the wife actually has all these but I didn't know)
Is this a service issue? No. 10 hours. I repeat that point over and over. If the fault started at ten hours it's not a damned service issue. It's a fault. The engine sat in a warehouse for two years. Before being released it should have been fully retested. Anything could have happened to it in that time which is my suspicion. To top it off, the motor we bought new in 2013 is a 2011 model. Apparently Yamaha starts counting the hours from when it was fitted but sells it to you like it was a new model. So we now have a motor that on the books is 3 years old yet we haven't had it even a year. If I wanted to sell it, who would want a motor that is 3 years old regardless of how many hours it has. Total cost to install this lemon: well over $8000
Net result: Yamaha SUCKS!
The only thing Yamaha doesn't suck is fuel to keep the engine running. If I get no satisfaction from this I'm making a call to Terry, the Marine. I'll video tape the fault because I know it will happen again. See if I can convince him to bring my old 15HP motor and take this one to the Marine camp and video a bunch of marines blowing the thing full of holes with small weapons fire, large weapons fire and then some artillery. Then post the whole damned story on youtube with the fault and the still under warranty engine that Yamaha refuses to acknowledge has a fault, being blown to bits. Pretty sure it will be a pretty good hit on youtube. Who blows the hell out of a under 1 year old engine unless they have been pushed to the extreme by both the engine unreliability and the manufacturers total lack of cooperation. I hope it goes viral.
But before I do that, the service manager himself wants to come here in the morning to see if he can find something. At this point I have little faith but I hope he does. I'd still rather have a real resolution to the problem but if I can't, option marine is on the cards. Oh, we need to get 8 knots out of the boat in the Panama canal or we get charged another thousand US dollars or so. This motor can't do 8 knots reliably as I can't keep up the priming when it starts to fail. The 15HP can't push more than 5.5 knots. So we also get the privilege of paying for the fact that we can't go fast enough either way. Yamaha SUCKS. Can I just say that again so the world can hear: Yamaha S.U.C.K.S. I may just have to have that as the title to the youtube video. I'll let you all know what happens tomorrow.
Captains log 201404.28 Bridges, bushflies and bait.
First off, the engine issues are resolved. You can read all about that in the Warranty Woes part of this site, so I won't repeat it here.
How does one relate bridges, bushflies and bait. Well, we do it the SpazCat way of course!
America has this wonderful thing called the intracoastal waterway, ICW for short. It's a protected waterway for the most part, sometimes very narrow and other times really wide. It runs along most of the distance of the East coast, and as a result, there needs to be bridges to connect the Atlantic Ocean land side to the mainland. Many of these are fixed bridges that have very high clearance. Others are opening types. Of the opening tyes there are two sub species: the scheduled bridge opening ones and the on demand ones. Both have someone controlling them when a yacht comes along and requires them to be opened. The scheduled bridges work on the half hour, quarter hour, or on the hour. If there is a yacht that needs it open, they contact the bridge and the bridge will open at the next scheduled opening. Pretty simple really. Bit too simple if you ask me. The reason is that a bridge operator's goal here is to open and close right around the scheduled time. Not much room for creativity or requiring much brain activity. Net result, they really don't know how to judge a yacht's speed or have a concern with the yacht accessing the bridge in a timely manner. It's all about the schedule. Be the best you can be by being punctual, punctual to the point of absurdity.
Fire seems to follow us everywhere!
Our case was a classic example. We've had bridges that wouldn't stay open for a couple of minutes and, thus, we had to wait nearly half an hour for the next opening. Now being stopped in a yacht isn't like being stopped in a car. There are no brakes so you don't just press something and it magically hold you in position. You get blown by the wind and drift with the current or both. Sometimes, it's pretty crazy holding a position, even a short while. Holding it for nearly half an hour or nearly an hour, if you have an hourly scheduled bridge in front of you, is a real nightmare at times. So, in this example, we spotted the bridge and were speeding towards it. It was going to open because there was another yacht waiting. I looked at the distance, saw the other yacht just start getting close to it, and figured I'd see if the bridge operator could hold it for a little. I was about 100 yards away, doing 8.2 knots which just under 30 seconds of a delay. Would he keep it open you ask? The suspense is peaking. Of course not. Can't wait 30 seconds more. There's traffic building. Ok, whatever. We wait over 30 minutes, because, for us, he opened late. We went on the hook further up to do some fishing, so I watched the bridge while he opened and kept traffic, during peak hour, on hold, while a big yacht slowly came through late. I guess we just weren't big enough or something. Who knows? If I had that job, I might play games like randomly delaying a yacht based on the roll of some dice. I'd have to do something to stop going insane. Maybe he was doing the same thing. St Augustine bridge, that's you we're discusting (sic) here you bunch of slackers.
Random picture of our crazy cat Spaz, living up to her name.
Then there are, on demand, bridges. These are a completely different beastie. Here, the goal of the bridge operator game is to get the bridge to open just before the yacht reaches it without it needing to change speed. Open too late and the Yacht has to slow down. Open too early and the yacht is too far, and the bridge is open for longer than required. The aim here is getting the yacht to go through as smoothly as possible and it isn't as easy as it seems. You have to sound the alarm, lower the booms to stop traffic, wait for traffic to clear the bridge, and open the bridge which takes time as well. We had some absolutely fantastic operators in Florida. These guys are pro's. You call in to let them know you'll be requiring an opening, and they get your details so Uncle Sam knows where you have been and when, and then they open the bridge so perfectly, you never have to slow down or speed up and the bridge hits full opening just a boat length before you reach it, and starts closing just after you pass it. It's like there is no bridge. They are all polite too. At least they were with us. My compliments to all you operators after the St Augustine bridge and a few before it as well.
Bushflies. Those annoying tiny little flies in Australia that can literally cover your sandwich in under 30 seconds. I'll relate a couple of stories from the Australian outback so you get the general idea. All exaggeration has been removed because it really doesn't need anything to embellish it.
The first really bad memory was in the Northern Territory with my mate Adam. I just bought a 4wd Diesel Nissan Patrol. It needed a test drive. Naturally, we decided to drive to central Australia. It's only 10,000km round trip if we go the back way via the mountains on the return leg. If you're going to test out a 4wd you want to test it right. Know what I mean? So we're cruising along, but the A/C wasn't working - one of the first things we discovered. Somewhere in the N.T we decided to stop and have lunch. We made some sandwiches and pulled over. We jumped out of the car and in about 30 seconds our sandwiches were black with bushflies. They tried going in our ears, noses, mouth, drinks and any place they could. We couldn't eat and rushed for the car. Started it up and had the windows open at 100kph for about 15 minutes to get rid of all of them.
Second case - the wife and I were on a trip with our friends and their infant son, and decided to go to central Australia. It was a fun trip. Our friends, Willem and Sheelah, were in their car and we were in ours. On the way back, we decided to stop at the N.T and South Australia border and take some pictures at the welcome signs. We got about 25 yards to the signs and the bushflies hit. We were waving our hands like crazy. It's called the Great Australian Salute for all you non Aussies. We took the pics really fast and ran to the cars. Just as we did, a car load of people show up wanting to do the same thing. We were on the two way radios doing little commentaries as the fly infestation got so bad that they started screaming and running back to the car. It was hilarious.
What's this got to do with America and our trip? Glad you asked. America also has something just as annoying as the bushfly in some parts. In Daytona they are called boaters. We went though on Sunday and there were a thousand boats buzzing by. Every time they come towards a bridge they slow down so as not to cause a wake, and if you follow racing you know that when the high speed straights end in a hairpin everyone bunches up. Exactly the same here. Two dozen boats cramming to fit through a narrow bridge span. Then they would speed off once they passed it. Oddly, they don't slow down for anything but bridges.
We pulled into a small Marina called "Mike's place". I jumped off the boat onto the dock to secure the lines. Then the floating dock started bobbing up and down. Then the boat started. Then they went out of phase. Dock up, boat down and it was crazy. A power boat shot past as I was docking, creating a huge wake. Then another, and another. The boat was smashing into the dock and I was on the radio telling them to slow down. I know they heard me but they didn't care. I know they saw me waving frantically too. I asked the guy at the marina if he had a 50cal. Just prior to that, I almost fell between the dock and the boat. It would have caused serious or fatal injury if I had. He didn't have a 50 cal, but if I could get one, I would have shot that SOB's engine out under the stand your ground laws, it's my life they are messing with. Power boaters in Florida have no manners at all. In Daytona, they don't know how to spell the word. The bushflies of the USA.
We get further along and got to the Mosquito Lagoon. Unusually, unlike most of the other places that have a name describing them, this one actually lives up to it.. Not too many. Just enough to remind you why it's called that. We started fishing. We got a sea trout. Yum. Sashimi. It was good but just not enough of it for two. The wife caught some skipjack herring. Apparently it's only good for bait. People use them to catch catfish. Yes, you heard that right. People here use herring to catch catfish.
Manatee drinking water flowing off our boat.
Plenty of people on the internet tell you not to eat it, but finding someone that actually ate it is a different story. Same with sea catfish. People refused to eat them till it was "discovered" and is now served in restaurants as a delicacy. We had some the previous September that Lorianne caught and it was delicious. So were these skipjacks. Some of the best fish around. Then she caught a Lady Fish. Apparently this is the most disgusting fish you can eat.
I made it into fish cakes and the wife reckons it was the best fish cake she'd ever had. Not wanting to brag since I made it but it actually was for me too. I'll be putting up a recipe page soon so if you want to try them go for it.
I decided to fill the water tanks at Titusville and saw a huge manatee drinking the overflowing water. Then, it started nibbling on the hull cleaning it up. I took a few pictures of it. After we left there, we headed to meet Rick and I jumped in the shower...only to have the water run out. The entire water tank drained into the hull. Nice.
Tomorrow's job is to find out where the leak is and fix it. I used the portable bilge pump to drain it and now we are on the hook, without water in the tank. The other tank seems to have a blockage so I have to check that one too. Fun times. Guess that's why it's called a shake down cruise.
Later we met Rick from the Catamaransite.com Great guy. Took us to get supplies, checked the boat and will be tuning the rigging for us.
Size perspective of a manatee. They are huge.
Captains log 201404.29
We're trying to get to the Bahama's. We really are. Yesterday's issue was that the stainless steel tank split. I pulled out the hose, put some seawater in to trace the leak. It's pouring out even when I block the outlet. Since it's a fully welded tank and it came on suddenly the only real explanation is that it split. It didn't leak a drop prior to yesterday. I can't remove it as it's a total PITA. I'd also have to remove the fuel tank I just fitted a couple of weeks ago and is now full. That was a PITA to fit so removing and refitting isn't going to be easy. No big deal. We can carry more water in the hulls which will balance the boat better anyway. I never liked how those tanks were placed so far back just creating stern squat. From that point of view it's a good thing that it split. We'll carry more water where it produces a more stable ride. The only issue is that I have to connect the starboard tank to the water pump so we can have on demand hot and cold water.
That's today's job. It should be a lot of fun in this wind while we're on the hook.
I also have to go get some marine grease as the furlers need it. They should rotate freely after that. Then the rigging needs some tuning. I have yet to hook up the radar, solar and the HF properly so that is also on the list. As is mounting the table. That should just about have this boat ready at that point. Only the flotation foam and we have to go a way South to get that. I checked the fridge. I fixed the two holes that I originally found but there was three. Yay. Luckily I bought enough refrigerant to repeat the process again. If there is a fourth that pops up, I'm giving up unless I find a cheap evaporator somewhere. The engine however is running great. I just need to give it another service and we're good to go.
Captains log 201405.02
Well, the rigging was tuned well. Rick did a fine job on that. However, the jib had some UV deteriorated stitching so the jib got torn along the leech (the section from the top of the sail to the corner closest to the back of the boat). Means we need to have the jib repaired. Again, handy that it happened now, that's part of the shakedown cruise. So we need to go to a sail maker and get it repaired. Better here than halfway across the Pacific.
The other bad news is that the halyard for the jib was so bound up there was no way to untie it. I had to cut it and gave it the longest amount I could. I couldn't tie a knot into it so needed to unroll the jib. I was hoping to get it unrolled just enough to get to be able to reach the line and tie a knot into it. It was pretty calm during all this except when I got to near where I wanted to tie a knot in the halyard so we can raise the sail later. Naturally enough, the only gust of wind of the morning hits right then, blows the jib back, unfurls it all the way and the jib drops over halfway down pulling the halyard line up out of reach. Excellent! Now I have to go to the top of the mast to get the stupid thing back down.
1) Never tie the halyard the way they did, with a non releasable knot.
2) Use a shackle to join the halyard to the drum.
Time to spend the next few hours cursing the idiot that hooked it up that way while missing the obvious stainless steel shackle left there for exactly this purpose which would have made this job so easy it could have been done in a couple of minutes. Instead now it's going to take a couple of hours.
I either have to:
1) Hire a rigger
2) Buy a bosun chair, like Terry has. See picks of us on the mast.
3) Rig up a bosun chair with rope and use conventional abseiling techniques to get up and down. Realistically, again this isn't such a big deal as we had to go up there to change the globe and fit the tri light anyway. It just bugs me that everything is there to do the job properly in the first place and someone didn't. Though it doesn't surprise either of us since this is one small part of a long list of things that were done wrong on this boat even though everything was here to do it right. Ignorance I guess. Time to contact a sail maker and get the sails to them for repair. In the mean time I'll be working out the best way to do the tri light and the halyard.
Captains log 201405.03
We're at Anchorage Marina in Melbourne! Yay, we made it to Australia!!! Sadly that's not the case. Melbourne Florida is where we're at.
Met some interesting people here. Marty, who knows Rick and Terry. Know's his sailing boats and has had a lot of them. Had a few drinks with him last night. Nice guy. He confirmed the rigging was ok, which I already did but it's good to know from someone that has more experience than I do. While there's no guarantees of non failure it's pretty unlikely. Small sails, small mast and heavy rigging.
Also met another guy, John. He works at the marina here but today was his day off and he was fishing. I was preparing the boat to go up the mast when he caught a large sea trout about 30 feet away on the dock we're on. I asked him if he wanted a landing net as he didn't have one. Greatly appreciated was the reply. I started getting the landing net when some dolphins started racing to the fish he was reeling in. Before I got there he pulled it out taking the chance that he might lose it but he didn't want a dolphin to get hooked.
We had a little chat and I decided since it was early morning that I might do some fishing as well. He gave me a few tips but I caught nothing. He managed to get another sea trout in the meantime. He could cast right to where they were because he had light line whereas I had heavy line so couldn't make the distance. I mentioned that I was preparing to go up the mast and he offered to help. Sure. He's a strong guy so should be able to pull me up far easier than the wife. Unfortunately the bosun chair we had could only accept 7/16 to 1/2 inch rope, and we couldn't get the rope to go around the pulley at the top of the mast.
I was about to start rigging up some abseiling line and go up that way when he said that the marina has a high lift crane. We call them cherry pickers in Australia. He was willing to go up and do the job on his own time but we needed to get a work order for the crane. I was told $85 for the job so no problem. While he was there I gave him a new globe and the tri light to fit. Sadly, as it happens, the globe was not blown, so its a wiring issue, and the tri light turned out to be different to the one we had up there so it won't fit. Oh well.
He got the halyard line down, we hoisted the sail up and I went to the ships store to get some shackles to do the job right instead of how the previous owner did it. Turn's out that the sail had no shackles attached at all. The previous owner used 1/4 inch nylon and no doubling or tripling of the line. So if it broke the sail was coming down. Pretty crazy really. Crazier was the untie-able knot he used.
I was discussing the poor job the previous owner did and was looking for some shackles to put in. Turns out even though I bought plenty I used them all elsewhere, including the one that was there to begin with. I went to the ships store but they only had galvanised ones. John offers to drive me to another place to get some. Can't knock that. While on the way his wife phones him. She wanted fish for dinner which is why he was fishing but he decided to treat her and go out to dinner instead, so gave us the fish.
Two sea trout about 2.5 pounds each. His wife was happy and I know mine will be! He tried to get another fish, but a storm was rolling in so he called it a day and left. We decided instead of going out in a storm we'll stay another night here. The forecast for tomorrow and the next few days is perfect sailing weather. This storm, which just hit is a long band about 150 miles in length. Nasty with lots of lightning that Florida is renowned for. Better to stay here, cook some fresh fish and leave in a calm.
If I ever get a break in the storm I'll go get the fish and cook them up. Right now it's bucketing down. So that's where we're at. The sail is fixed. A great job done on it. It's up again and all I have to do is run some lines in the morning that I needed to remove to get the sail sorted. Then we're back to heading South again.
I'll let you all know how the fish was in another log.
Captains log 2014-5.05
That sea trout was fantastic. We fried it up with onions, salt, pepper and garlic powder and olive oil in a pan. There was so much we couldn't eat it all and what we ate was too much. Both of us sat around lazy for a while after that. Our stomachs have shrunk a lot since the start of the trip. Both of us are losing weight. I've got a head start on Lorianne but I'm pretty sure that she's happy with that considering the 25F (-7C or so) degrees my leg of the trip started on.
We also got to spent more time with Marty. This guy is a man of many talents. He was part of the Olympic sailing team that got boycotted in 1980 so didn't get to go. Bummer. He's had many different boats but loves catamaran's. We had a lot of fun with him. We told him we were leaving in the morning and he invited us over for a few drinks and some music. We'd heard he plays the Saxophone and must admit I was pretty apprehensive about that. I love a good sax player but few actually rate as good. Marty is in his late 50's or early 60's I'd guess. He looks nothing like what a stereotypical sax player might look like. He isn't black for one. Sorry, it's not me being racist but when I think of great sax players I imagine a big black guy that puts his all into that instrument and everyone gets the chills when hearing him play.
We had a few drinks and Marty pulls out his sax. Starts tuning it, then puts on a tape that his friend made for him so he can play to it. It didn't take long to realise that his friend isn't that great a singer, but, Marty is one damned good sax player! It was great. He played some easy going stuff then some hard stuff. After a good warm up he played Pink Floyd's, "Money". He claims it's the hardest sax song around and even when Pink Floyd played it live the sax was different because it's so hard to get it right live. Now I have a pretty good ear for music but am certainly no expert. The wife however just happens to be a classically trained singer. Normally she cringes at people when they sing or play an instrument. Not this time. She was loving it. I was getting goose bumps on some notes. That was some serious sax playing. Best I've heard live and I've heard the sax played live often. They say you need to go through hard times to play the blues well.
Marty attributes it to his divorce. Must have been a hell of a divorce if it made him play like that!
I took some pics and some video, though it's dark and I hope the audio came out. If it did I'll put it up on the website so you can listen to a small sample. We called it a night as we were headed out in the morning and said our goodbyes. In the morning we sorted out the running rigging to the sail and I put back the main sheet which I removed when I was planning to abseil up the mast. We motored into the channel and pulled out the sails. Off we went. A nice Northerly about 12 knots for the first leg. We got to about 6 knots during a few of the small gusts. It died down to about 6 knots later in the day so naturally we slowed down. Overall we did almost all the distance, about 35 miles yesterday on sail alone. It was good. The repaired sail was great. No jams, no hatches coming off nothing but quiet travel...apart from the bushflies I spoke about in an earlier post. It was Sunday so they all naturally wanted to come out from Church and buzz the sailboats, splash them with water and bounce them around with their wakes. I guess you need to do sinful stuff so you can repent it later. Glad we could help by being the victims of their terrible behaviour. Maybe it's just me but I prefer to just try and do the right thing all the time and skip the middle man...
Today we're just North of Fort Pierce Florida. We're about to pull up the anchor and head further South. Time to get the flotation foam and make this craft positively buoyant. Still have to re-plumb the water line. We've been washing in stuff saltwater but having running hot and cold water is something that you really don't think about till you don't have it anymore.
Captains log 201405.05 supplemental The wife just read my previous log and when I re-read it it sounded kind of nasty to religious people. That's not the way it was intended. It was early morning and I was half asleep so I'll clarify what I meant. There are certain people that are best described as part time religious. They are religious when it's convenient to them. Pretty sure everyone has met that type. That's who I was referring to. Those who go to Church, go through the motions but don't actually life the lifestyle. It was to those types the previous log was aimed at. Basically my opinion is you're better of not being religious in such cases and just try to do the right thing instead. Otherwise you come across as a hypocrite...a pretty accurate description really. People who actually follow their faith and do the right thing, in, and out of Church, I have respect for. They actually believe and live their life that way. Nothing wrong with that.
Captains log 201405.06
We sailed again yesterday but the winds disagreed with the forecasters 10-15 knots so we got about 5 knots all day. Some stretches were even calmer. Lots more bushflies around buzzing by close enough to splash our boat. Then they wave to you after leaving a big wake that rolls your boat around. Not sure how people can become so dumb. Maybe the Florida Sun cooks their brain's so they can't think logically anymore.
We approached St Lucie, this place has special significance to the SpazCat crew. When we picked up the boat last year in September we traveled across lake Okeechobee to get from the West side of Florida where we got the boat to the East side where it meets the Atlantic. That point is St Lucie. Yesterday, we passed that spot. That means we are now officially in new territory.
At that point we also decided to skip the dozen or so scheduled bridges between there and West Palm beach. So we made a cut straight for the Atlantic. Some beautiful blue water was to greet us. This is the clearest water we have seen on our Southward travel. Now I can actually see that I need to clean the hull of the SpazCat. It's got a lot of muck on it from the dirty waterways before.
We decided to anchor offshore. The wind was almost non existent, the swell was less than 2 feet. Unfortunately, the boat orientated itself beam on into the waves for the first part of the night. Lorianne was not feeling good and the boat kept rocking. Later in the night the sea became confused. Waves came from many directions and even though they were small it was a pretty uncomfortable nights sleep. This morning we're off to West Palm beach. It looks like the forecasters, probably better called soothsayer's, got it wrong again. Instead of the 10-15 knots they are claiming we have seen no wind at all. Dead calm. Back to motoring, at least till the winds pick up...if they pick up. It was a nice cool breeze created by the speed of the boat on motor and we enjoyed the sights and the clear water. We met a guy that was traveling the USA taking pictures of Budweiser Beer cans in all the states as a contract job. He took a picture of me drinking the can he gave me so who knows, maybe I'll be in some advertising campaign.
We saw a huge fish in the water at the dock. It was lurking around the shadows of our hull and try as I might to get some dinner, he didn't seem to want to be a part of it. This morning I finally hooked up the water from the starboard tank up to our water pump. It took much of the day yesterday emptying the hulls and re-routing the lines. Today was simply connecting the two lines but naturally I had to empty out the entire port hull to do it. A fun job that leaves no room in the cockpit.
I'll be repeating the hull emptying process again today after I get a taxi to US Composites and pick up our order of flotation foam. 80 cubic feet of flotation foam, buckets and mixers. At 60 pounds of flotation per cubic foot that gives us about 4800 pounds of flotation for a vessel that weighs close to 8000 pounds in cruising trim Sounds like that isn't positively buoyant doesn't it? Thing is, reinforced fiberglass has a specific gravity of 1.4, that means that it weighs about 40% more than water. it also means that any of the fiberglass that's under the water we only have to account 40% of it's mass. The hull is also the thickest part of the boat and so weighs the most. If we say the hull weighs about 50% of the boat, then we only need to factor the under water section as about 1600 pounds. So to make the boat float, we need 4000+1600 pounds worth of flotation, or about 4600 pounds.The other thing to note here is that with those figures we can float the boat to the water line if it gets holed...in theory. As the boat gets lower the weight of the fiberglass gets reduced as it goes into the water. Making the boat buoyant is all about how buoyant you want it. If you want it to sit lower in the water, you use less flotation. If you want it to sit higher in the water when holed, you use more flotation. With our setup, 80 cubic feet of foam plus a lot of empty poly-carbonate water bottles we've been collecting we should get about 100 cubic feet of buoyancy. Or about 6000 pounds. When factoring the underwater sections it means the boat should be near able to be holed and float around its water line. So it'll be sail-able even holed.
As I've mentioned before, there are four separate water tight bulk heads, four crash bulkheads and several partial bulkheads. It's near impossible to sink one of these as is, but, we both want to know no matter what happens, even if every bulk head is breached, we'll still not only float, but be able to sail comfortably. Call us pedantic. That's one of the reasons we got a catamaran. Redundancy in catastrophic circumstances. The hulls aft of the second bulkhead will be filled just above the water line. The hulls aft of the front bulkhead (the cabin area) will be filled just past the waterline but only along the edges of the hull. Otherwise we'd be walking on foam. The hulls forward of the front bulkhead will be filled like the cabin area except at the very front just behind the crash bulkheads where they will be filled fully above the waterline It reduces our carrying capacity somewhat but we hardly use the lower cabinets at all. So that's today's job, assuming I get a taxi there and have the daylight to do it all in one big hit.That's the last of the major works. After that I still need the radar wired up, the autopilot mounted, the HF radio powered up, the solar panels installed and wired up, put the bracket on the rudder that got ripped out and make and fit the drogue brackets as well as make the drogue. A good few days work but we'll be leaving the USA in a boat that's ready to take the Pacific S/V SpazCat Spazcat.com
Captains log 201405.08
The forecast for the area we're in: TONIGHT E WINDS 15 TO 20 KT. SEAS 5 TO 7 FT. So guess where we were this morning and today. Yep, you guessed it, on the Atlantic. The difference between the forecast above and what we had was that the wind was mainly from the South and then shifted East in the afternoon. Wave wise though, it was pretty spot on. There were a few over 8 feet but most were about the 6 foot mark. It was rare to see a wave that didn't go above the cabin top today. Getting out to the Atlantic was not so easy either. Waves grow as they reach shallower water and they grew tall in the inlet we used to get out. The wife didn't enjoy it at all. Our cat Spaz had enough and tried hiding then stayed a bit on the bed and decided enough was enough and wanted to be with me out in the cockpit. She's not a very affectionate cat at all. Bit of a loner but always wants our company, so long as we're out of reach to pet her. Today was different. She wanted me to pick her up and I did. Then I let her sleep on my lap for a while. Every now and then we'd get a wave that splashed us but she didn't care. We did about 25 miles on the Atlantic before ducking in, into scheduled bridge land. This slowed us down a lot but I found a nice place to throw the anchor out. It's protected from all sides, so no waves even in higher winds. Naturally as soon as we anchored, Spaz decides "touch time" is over and gets out of arms reach but close enough to make sure she can see both of us.
She's a nutty little cat. Has all manner of rules that we must abide by and she regiments it in some way unfathomable to humans. There's "touch time", when she wants to be stroked and scratched. Then there's nap time of course. There's laser time. That's where she wants me to use a laser pointer so she can chase it. "Fetch time" when she brings you a toy and expects you to throw it and she brings it back. Of course I can't forget, "whack time". Now that one is where she must whack things to make sure they are dead or whacks Gracie or us. Never hard, no claws, just a playful, "WHACK!", I got you. It's hilarious. She also had chase time but that's not possible on the boat. Gracie on the other hand has nap time, pee time and refuel by drinking copious quantities of water, for pee time.
Oh, the less fun times on a boat in 5-7 foot waves on close hauled (slightly off going into the wind, about 45 degrees on this boat), is going to the head (toilet). The most unstable part of this boat is the bow (front), so guess where they put the head? You guys are good, because it's at the front. Now trying to go to the loo when you're bouncing three feet up and down then slow rising 6 and falling back again really makes you want to hold on as long as you can...before you use the can. Glamorous sailing it is not. When we turned to go to the inlet the waves were from the stern so things calmed down significantly. It was almost comfortable. Thankfully in the Pacific we'll be in the trade winds so most of it will be either with the wind or a broad reach which is far more comfortable. None of us like being close hauled. Though it was fun for me watching waves higher than the bimini come in and feel the boat climb over then slide back down. From the top the water looks so far away, from the bottom it feels like you're about to be swallowed by the Ocean. Of course the boat just goes up as the wave comes in. It takes some getting used to when you get a big wave coming in. An interesting day though pretty tiring.
First Mate's Log 201405.09
For all the non-sailors reading this, I offer a different perspective of yesterday. We headed out of the inlet. We've grown complacent on the ICW, so I hadn't put everything away, and the windows were open. The boat started crashing like mad. Slam! Up we go. Slam! Spaz freaked out and ran to the port side to get into her hidey hole. I grabbed on to the wall and the ceiling, and our laptops, and a radio that hasn't been attached... it was like I grew three new arms. After we got onto the ocean, the washing machine action started. By this, I mean that the boat went in several different directions with no rhyme or reason, periodically slamming down, and periodically splashing through waves. One of the waves splashed into the bedroom, all the way onto my side of the bed and left an inch of water on the floor. I staggered like a drunk to shut the windows. Then I staggered back. I was asking Z how long this was going to last, when Spaz let out the most piteous yowl I've heard from her in awhile. I looked down, and she was on the floor unable to make it into her hidey hole. Small items were falling down around her and she was terrified. I grabbed her, swept her into my arms and began staggering towards the bedroom. She was torn between escaping from me and clinging to me. The latter won out until we got to the bedroom, where she leaped away and huddled at the foot of the bed. By this time, I was getting very nauseous. I managed to clamber onto the bed and collapse. It was like a sauna. The migraine I'd just recovered from returned in full force, and I lay there, sweating out all of my fluids and wanting it all desperately to stop. We were only supposed to be on this ocean bit for two and a half hours, so I gritted my teeth, wondered why I was on this trip, and wondered where I would aim if I did, in fact, have to puke. Just as I was sure we'd be entering the inlet, Z yelled out, "Hon? I have some bad news!" Turns out the inlet had a bridge that was too low in height for us to pass through, and that doesn't open. This meant we had to go another thirteen miles, or three and a half hours to the next inlet. If I'd had any moisture left in my body, I would have cried. Spaz, being wise, had already moved to the cockpit. Z got me to come out and steer while he visited the head, and he came back declaring that I needed to stay in the cockpit because it was much more stable there. He was right, but it wasn't stable enough. I'll just mention here that we forgot to make breakfast before leaving, and eating certainly wasn't feasible at this point. I managed to get down some water with a bit of iodized salt in it and two saltine crackers. At that point, I was sure I was going to need a bucket. I didn't. We gritted out the next few hours. Let me tell you - it is very weird feeling like you're starving, want to throw up and want to go to the toilet all at the same time. He assures me that it won't be like this "very often". The only thing that's keeping me on board with this trip is that it's much less like a washing machine when you're under sail rather than motoring. I'm very happy that my mother, my best friend Sonia, and my cousin Norman did not experience this particular day. Most of the time, on this boat, you don't even feel like you're on a boat. So I'm not giving up. But, it was not one of our better days. The gourmet broth Z whipped up for me when we anchored was delicious and soothing. Coupled with a relatively good night's sleep and the knowledge that I won't be on the ocean today has restored my enthusiasm. Spaz is still a bit unimpressed and is sticking to her new location of the Captain's chair.
First Mate's Log Star Date 201405.12
Mother's Day - It's meant to be a time where we honor our mothers and celebrate what they've done for us, even if it was just the act of carrying us to term. Yesterday was the best Mother's Day I've ever experienced, and I'm not a mother. My mother arrived to visit us on Saturday. After a little bit of drama with Yahoo! getting a church mixed up with a boat ramp, we were able to get Mom and put her on the boat. We headed away from Biscayne Bay and went north to Hollywood, Florida. There just isn't much, in terms of restaurants and such in the bay. We found a magnificent little Greek restaurant and had an absolutely delightful meal. The staff didn't even seem to notice how scruffy we are and treated us like guests.
Yesterday, the actual Mother's Day, Z pulled us up to the Westin Diplomat, and then Mom and I hoofed it to Walmart to stock up on supplies. I realized that we couldn't easily get the supplies back to the boat. I wasn't too keen on taking a grocery cart all the way from Walmart and through a fancy resort to get to the boat, and a taxi wouldn't have been close enough, so I phoned Z up and had him meet us at the Hollywood City Marina boat ramp. We loaded everything up. Z got started on the foam in the hulls, and Mom cleaned the kitchen. Happy Mother's Day to her! She wanted to do it though. After the day's work was finished, Z asked her what she wanted to eat for her Mother's Day dinner. Curry was at the top of her list - and something cold to drink. We pulled up anchor, sailed over to the dock where all the restaurants are, and I ran to get us some cold wine. Mom went into the Greek restaurant we'd been to previously and asked if she might purchase a side of Greek yogurt. They were happy to give it to her on the house, and that dressed up the meal nicely. Once we got back on the boat and got anchored, we enjoyed some frosty beer and watched the sun set. The weather was perfect. The heat of the day subsided, and a cool breeze washed over us as we sipped on the beer and chatted. Then Z made a magnificent curry and we enjoyed it with a refreshing sauvignon blanc.
Just after dinner, we were telling Mom how great it was to have her with us, and someone started setting off fireworks! Spaz really enjoyed those, as she's never seen anything like it. I couldn't have planned this day better if I tried. Once Mom went to bed, Z and I relaxed on the bow of the boat, gazing at the two or three stars we could pick out from the light pollution, and just generally enjoying the hustle and bustle of a city that we aren't really a part of. As we lay there, we realized this was the best day yet on this trip. Having Mom here forced us to focus on something besides the problems, because we want her to have a good time. And we realized that things are getting better all the time. Yes, it's been rough. It's been incredibly rough. I've even considered giving up a time or two. But we've made it through the tough stuff, and now we're getting to enjoy the fruits of our labors. All because Mom showed up on Mother's Day. I will never look at Mother's Day the same way again. It's not what you do in life. It's who you do it with. Z and I are really happy to have been reminded of that.
Captains log 201405.12 : The blob of Nair.
Today was get the polyurethane flotation foam in the boat day. It's spectacular to watch. You mix two chemicals, equal parts by volume and in 30 seconds it starts to grow, and grow and it keeps growing till it's about 20 times the initial volume. We did the starboard stern hull first. I cleared it all out, cleaned up the hull so the foam would stick to it then poured in the foam directly into the hull and mixed it there. Really easy. I did 3 quarts of each chemical and it expanded enough to almost complete the hull. They say it expands better in higher temperatures than 80F and we were in the 90's. A couple of more pours along the sides and it was complete. Then it was time to do the inside. The first part was easy. The front compartment in the bedroom that's used to hang clothes. Whatever, we fold clothes here and I did the same trick as the first time. Done really easy. It started getting more complicated after that.
Under the stairs needed to be filled but it would have flowed into the bilge and we are using the bilges to hold bottle water so don't want them filled. Unfortunately I couldn't do the first trick as it also slopes towards the bilge so it would have just flowed straight into where we don't want it. Getting access was near impossible and the MIL and I devised a plan. Lets pour the stuff into a garbage bag and mix it in there. Then I'll face the open end of the bag towards where I wanted it to flow while holding it back from expanding into the bilge. It was risky, worth a go since we saw no real other alternatives. We mixed the batch and threw in the open end and I held it back. It worked perfectly.
The same thing needed to be done on the other side. We mixed another batch and did the same thing. Naturally things didn't turn out so well this time around. The foam poured out and lifted the open end past the point where I wanted. The result with me holding the bag in place was that the hot oozing and fast expanding foam covered my hands. Panic set in as we didn't want it in the bilge. The MIL was getting new garbage bags so I could keep the pressure up without getting more of it on me. The foam kept oozing out, just like the scene from the movie, "The Blob". Eventually it stopped and I had a hell of a mess on the floor, the sides and my hands. Cleaning the boat was easy and pain free. Cleaning my hands was neither.
Now our female readers would probably know what Nair is. The sticky stuff that is used to rip hair out, like waxing. Women aren't as hairy as men. Getting that stuff off the back of my palms and forearms was, interesting. It sets really fast, sticks like glue and doesn't like to be removed without taking any hair it has touched. I tried acetone, not that effective. Paint stripper was more effective but it was also like pouring boiling water over my hands. After much scrubbing with soap and water the pain subsided. Though my hands are still covered to a large degree and where I did manage to remove it I now have no hair left. A perfect hair removal product, other than you can't get it off that easily. Insanely enough, we didn't stop there. We were having too much fun to let a little issue like impromptu hair waxing to stop. I started singing, "Hello pain my old friend"... the Simon and Garfunkel remix. The wife joined in as did the MIL. We completed the inside work to a large extent and the major work left is the port hull in the stern. That's going to be tomorrow's job. At least it'll be easy compared to the one bad pour. After watching that foam expand today we all wanted to make bread. Time to make some bread and paprikash for dinner then I reckon.
Captains log 201505.13
A sailors life and weather windows.
With the MIL (mother in law) on board it made me realise that most of the email list/readers have never and probably never will live on a boat so it may be hard to relate to what happens with life on board. So I'll try to describe it. The best way to explain it is like living in a big truck and travelling around the country but because the truck is big, you can't take it places where people can take cars, so all you can do is stay on freeways. No side streets or even large roads. It's freeway or nothing. What you find on the freeway is the occasional fuel stop with limited selections of food and high priced fuel.
To go shopping we have to find a place where we can dock that is near some shopping center. By near, I mean within a mile or two. Any further than that you need a taxi and taxi's charge phenomenal rates here. To get the flotation foam was four miles from where we were berthed. It cost $70 return trip. If you need a $20 part it suddenly becomes a $90 part and takes much of the day. It's no longer a case of driving down and getting what you want, it's finding a place to dock, calling a taxi, waiting and finally getting back. Basically you want to limit the times you need to get supplies.
Today I had to walk about 3 miles to get some basic parts. The whole thing took about 6 hours. Time the bridges, find a dock, walk, walk back, wait for bridges and then go back on the anchor. A whole day lost just to get a few things.
The next thing is space. Living on a boat is like living in a one bedroom apartment that has no electricity or running water. If you need water you either have to buy it, a trip to a marina, make it if you have a water maker ($2000-$8000 so no we don't have one) or collect it from rain water. If you want electricity you need to either use 12V from batteries or use an inverter or generator. We have an 1100 watt inverter. It runs the batteries down quick so you either need a wind generator ($2000 for anything worth getting), solar panels (we haven't mounted them yet) or run the engine and burn fuel at the rate of about a gallon per hour. Needless to say we want to mount the panels up quickly with fuel prices at over $5 per gallon. Both water and electricity get used quickly if you're not careful. The incident with the "Blob of Nair" required running water and that took 18 gallons in about 10 minutes. We have a 35 gallon tank. Thankfully we are used to being conservative with water so can make water last a long time when we have to. The exception is drinking water and we have over one months supply on board if we don't ration.
Washing dishes is done in sea water, which is remarkably effective. We have a sea water pump but I haven't needed to hook it up yet. That will be used for general washing and showering. You only rinse in fresh water On a boat like ours we have head room in the hulls but not the cabin. If we open the the top we have a full headroom area in the shape of a U. To get from the bedroom to the toilet which are both located on the opposite ends of the "U" requires a long walk. Two people can't comfortably walk past each other in any section of the U so you always need one person to move so you can get to the other side. usually that means the bottom of the U is the cross over point. To get to the bottom of the U shape requires going up two steps as well. It's one of the disadvantages of a smaller catamaran. You get the space but it's not all easily accessible space.
From the above description you are probably imagining a really small boat. It's funny, sometimes we look at it and think, wow it's small, other times we think, wow this is big. It all depends on what you are wanting to do at the time. Going from the bedroom to drop the anchor you think it's big. if we are in different hulls the distance between us is further than the length of some of the boats I've owned, about 13 feet. The cockpit is huge. It's bigger than most boats that are about twice the length of ours. It can seat about ten people with elbow room. Moving round might be an issue with that many people but you can seat them! The cabin can seat 8 with elbow room or sleep two in separate bunks. It can be made into a king sized bed as well. There is another single bunk available but we're using that to store cat food and their kitty litter box. As a weekender for five it would be pretty acceptable. A week might be pushing things. For two it's comfortable for an extended period if you are around places to stock up. If you aren't you tend to use the space quickly to store supplies. Even so we've still managed to store a years worth of food for two, a years worth of supplies for the cats and put close to 5000 pounds of flotation in. It's the constant unload and reload to get to things that is the issue rather than the space to store it. That's life living in a confined space.
The other differences are that you are constantly moving. Waves bob you up and down and you do get used to it but oddly after getting used to it you also can get land sick. Sitting down somewhere on land makes you feel like you are moving. It is however all tiring. I've been on the boat now full time since March 16th. Almost three months and another 7 or 8 to go to get to Australia. Though it will be completely different in a weeks time. We'll be on the ocean. No phone, no internet or easy access to anything. The only communication will be to key people via HF email. These people will forward our messages to everyone else. The reason for this is that it's a very slow process and we can't clog up our email. The same service gives us weather updates and forecasts and allows us to talk to people around the world, if you have a SSB marine radio or a HAM licence.
The next big thing is that in this lifestyle you are intimately connected with the weather. I constantly check weather as it impacts life on board significantly. I suppose many would argue not that significantly since we launched in sub zero temperatures, had to shovel snow off the boat just to be able to stand on the deck and faced freezing rain and icy water splashing us. You may have a point but we're not insane so don't want to get into huge winds or waves. So we look for what is called weather windows. Where the weather will be favorable for the intended crossing. Like the Gulf Stream. Get it right and you've got an easy trip to the Bahama's. Get it wrong and it's going to be a real nasty ride. Better to wait a little and go for the easy ride.
So that's life on a boat. Very small space, lots of bouncing around, seasickness till you get used to it, it takes about three days. That's the bad stuff. The good stuff is however really good. You get to see things most people can't even imagine. You get freedom in a way most people can't comprehend. Seeing dolphins on your bow, seeing blue water so clear the Sun shines rays that go 30 feet deep. The bio-luminescence, where the sea glows at night. Even flushing the toilet you see glittering from the sea. Being close to the wild life in their own habitat. We've seen hammer head sharks swimming around our boat. Caught two accidentally in another place. The sea food is so tasty. Cooking a fish that is as fresh as possible is so good. Sashimi (raw fish) like the Japanese eat is amazing. We both love sashimi and fortunately know how to make it.
I've read several times that more people have climbed Everest than circumnavigated. Now I've been thinking about this and I call BS. Maybe circumnavigating on your own in a small boat or some other disclaimers. While we're not circumnavigating we are travelling a long way. Let's call it a half circumnavigation. It's not something many people want to do. For many it may be the last thing they would want to do. But we'll do it and try to have fun as much as we can and finally things seem to be starting to get better. We're having more and more fun as more things get sorted out.
Before I forget, hello to all the people at Colonial Beach Marina where we were berthed since September last year to March this year. A great bunch of guys there, Eric, Randy, Cigar man (you know who you are) and the owners there, Brian, Paula and their son Andrew. We had a lot of fun there and you guys helped us out a lot so thank you. Have a drink for us this Friday...like you need an excuse but I've given you one anyway.
To frineds in Oz, we'll be seeing you pretty soon and we can do some fishing on this huge ocean going vessel. If I can get a schedule going with Adam who is a HAM operator, we can have a chat while we're at sea
Captains log 201405.15 Diamond in the rough.
We've been anchored for a few days in Hollywood Florida, about half way between Miami and Fort Lauderdale. We looked at the weather, we were out of water and decided it might be time to go to a marina for the thunderstorms due to arrive for a few days. After looking at places online, at $3 a foot, so at 27 feet we were just shy of $90 per night then you have to pay for power as well bringing it up to close to $100 per night just to stay in your boat. Pretty crazy when you think about it. Can't be more than a few dollars for power and they offer services like laundry but it's by coin machines. So really you are paying for docking at that rate and nothing more. We were anchored only about 500 feet from Hollywood City Marina for the last few days and their website said they had no laundry facilities so we really didn't want to stay there since we'd just have to find another place for that. We don't want to wash our clothes in the water here as it's not what I'd call clean but it's also not that dirty. Ok for a swim but not sure if I'd want to wash clothes in it.
Anyway, $3 per foot is just plain offensive imho for simply getting to access a laundry that you have to pay for anyway so we decided to try the Hollywood City Marina. They charge $1.25 a foot, includes power and unlimited water and as it turns out, they put in a laundry but it wasn't updated on their website. WooHoo! So we decided to try it for a night. Turns out this is one of the best marina's we've been to. The bathrooms are spotless. The Showers are like in an expensive hotel. The place is immaculate. The staff were really friendly, unlike the hell hole called Charleston City Marina (better known as this place sucks and is full of a-holes). Oops, did I say that out aloud? I know I really didn't mean to mention I'd rather sit in a bath of battery acid than ever visit "CHARLESTON CITY ASS-H.LE MARINA" again.
This place is nice. We don't have to worry about lightning since there are far taller boats here. I just can't get over the cleanliness of the place and the friendly staff. It's like they love their job and that job is to help you in any way they can. If you're travelling near Miami it's a few miles North, has access to a row of restaurants that you can dock your boat at and the prices are fantastic as is the food. We went to a Greek place, docked the boat and had a nice dinner for mothers day since Justine (MIL) was with us. Great food, pretty reasonable prices and great staff. The next day we went to the Taco place across the road, still docked at the restaurant alley and just crossed the street. Cheap meals and so damned good I have to go back before we leave the USA. It was that good. At the laundry of the Marina today, Lorianne and Justine met a guy who is a chef at a place called the "Tub". Turns out they were listed in the top 20 places to eat a hamburger in the USA. He gave them some advice of when to go to avoid the busy shifts. They do a 13 ounce hamburger, that has me written all over it. Maybe I should ask for two beef patties and have a 26 ounce burger. About a kilo and a half of meat in real units. I'll let you know what it's like. It's also really cheap from what they were telling me. Can't say enough good things about this place. We've had fun while on the hook, got clean showers and bathrooms when in the Marina and we filled all our water bottles and washed down the boat. Even the incessant rain hasn't dampened our spirits. I'll take a picture of the tender (dinghy) as it's almost ready to sink. Ok, not that bad but it's half full of water in a days worth of rain.
We made a nice hot and sweet curry today. Tried the freeze dried turkey instead of chicken. While pretty bland straight it absorbed the flavours well and it was a curry as good as I could make with fresh ingredients. You really couldn't tell it was freeze dried food at all. While the girls were doing laundry I was programming. Still a long way to go to finish but I have to finish all this before we leave the marina. That's the other reason we berthed here since to run the computer for so long I'd have to also run the engine and at over $5 a gallon in most places it's almost the same price to stay in a marina where power is available. Cheaper to stay here if you factor oil changes and service. Another couple of days and I'll be done. Since I can't actually test the programs it's far more stringent writing the code. I have to check everything multiple times and have to write several revisions for each in case one fails as I won't be around to sort out the problems. After that I can get back to the regular things like sorting things out on the boat. Assuming this rain ever stops.
Due to a mishap while sailing with Rick, our hatch got ripped out. The rope got caught under the hatch and Rick pulled it snapping the plastic hinges. I got replacement hinges but hadn't fitted them yet and with this rain we found out that the broken hinges were now leaking badly. So Lorianne's side of the bed is soaked. I got out there in the rain to sort it out until I can do a proper fix, which stopped the leak for now but the bed however is not going to be a joy to sleep in. About a gallon (3.7 litres or so) came through the hinge and covered the floor after soaking the bed. Not impressed but at least its fixed for now. Almost all good news. We didn't get hit by lightning, though it struck everywhere around us. I mean light and sound almost the same time so within a couple of hundred feet.
Nothing like that time we were in a severe storm on our regular shooing trip and literally had tree's exploding less than 100 feet from us, but still pretty freaky when you have this big aluminium pole sticking in the sky begging to be hit by a big lightning bolt. Which reminds me, Hi Brendan, Sue, Christian and Lisa. Can't wait to get back to Oz and visit you guys again. Might even sail up to Robinvale...ok probably not. After 11,000 miles of being on the water I'm thinking that might not be such a hot idea. But I'm looking forward to some lamb. I've been craving that since I got to the USA. I'll cook up all the stuff I did at the restaurant if you supply the lamb. I'd offer to shoot some goat and cook that but I know Brendan wouldn't touch those stinky things. lol
While cleaning the boat yesterday I got my feet soaked for a long time. If you recall the "Blob of Nair" incident, it also covered my feet. So I decided enough was enough and grabbed a stainless steel wire brush, the kind you use to clean slag on welds, and scraped my feet. Got everything off, all the polyurethane from my skin and toe nails. The wife panicked, she didn't need to. My feet are now like Batfinks wings. I didn't even feel the stainless steel bristles as I scrubbed my feet. If you don't know who batfink is you'll have to look it up. Batfink and Karate, one of my favorite cartoon shows. My feet looked so good the wife called her mother out to look at my feet. That's a really weird thing now that I think about it but, damn they looked good. I reckon I could be a foot model with feet like that. Selling shoes to Sasquatches or something. There might be a market in that...yes I have big feet. I have trouble finding big shoes in the USA that fit me and seem to always go a size too small because I can't be bothered to try and find a pair that's the right fit. Still, you know what they say about men with big feet. Something about them tripping over them a lot which describes me perfectly.
Captains log 201405.20
Today was an early start. We're still at Hollywood City Marina in, well, Hollywood Florida. Yesterday we bit the bullet. Getting taxi's is too expensive and we're nowhere near places to get supplies. So Lorianne walked over a mile to rent a car. She got blisters on her feet due to her sandal's to show for it. We drove around to marine discount places. Kind of an oxymoron really. Marine discount. I want you to just think about that. One U bolt, 1.25 inches wide, 2 inches tall and about 1/4 inch thick, $16...What exactly are they discounting? I needed a minimum of 8 and ideally 12. Two of which needed to be a little bigger. No thanks. I'd rather chew seaweed and braid rope with it than pay that. More strangely, I know how to do that...
So while looking at the discount supplies, I found the clip that our table had to fasten it to the bulkhead. We lost one part of the two part clip somewhere between Colonial beach and here. The price, $75! I had to show the wife. Her mouth just dropped. To manufacture it's probably in the order of $4. I actually know machine shops in Australia that would make a one off unit for cheaper. As an example, years ago I needed a 50hp shaft that sheared for a Mercury motor. I priced it and it was close to $1000. I took the parts to a machine shop and they made a new one, a one off, not production run, for $200. I rest my case there. We did buy a windex. I thought $40 was pretty expensive for some spry to clean windows but it turns out it's actually a device that tells you where the wind is blowing from. Just kidding, it is called a windex but I knew what it was so don't email me complaining about my lack of knowledge. I like to play dumb. After that we went to Home Depot. I found the U bolds, in stainless, the same as the "Discount Marine" place. $2.50 each. I decided that I wasn't going to spend 2 days printing brackets for the solar panels and waste the plastic filament for the 3D printer. It's actually cheaper to get the U bolts instead and we still have the filament if we need it in an emergency while at sea. Picked up a few more things which took much of the day. A cab would have cost us over $300 if we did it that way. Instead the total came to about $70 including insurance.
Speaking of insurance, I found a place that does haulouts for $100. They power wash the boats hull as well. While I was booking it in the guy asks if it's for an insurance assessment. I say no, I just want the hull cleaned and want to fit a part to the rudder which will take about 10 minutes. Ok, I'll call you back when the service manager comes in to confirm the booking. So I get the phone call and the guy says, we need the details of your insurance cover for the haulout. I'm like, I can't get insurance because the boat is 30 ears old and I tried and everyone knocked us back. So he say's they can't do the job. I'm like, so let me get this straight, you want me to insure my boat in case you screw up and drop it, then I have to claim it on my insurance. Isn't that what YOUR company liability insurance is for? Apparently their insurance insists that we have insurance so they don't have to pay for it. The net result is the customer has to insure his property himself to cover their possible negligence. Got to love the marine industry. But wait, it gets better. Remember he asked if I was I was hauling out for an insurance inspection, well, how does one haul out an uninsured boat in order to get it insured? The answer lies in, haulout insurance. So you get haulout insurance to haul out your boat so it can get inspected so you can get insurance and the marina pays liability insurance to an insurance company that insists that the owners are self insured so they never pay out. Who says the insurance industry is all f'd up???? At that point I had enough, I don't mind paying $100 if it's going to save me some time and effort but if you want me to bend over while jumping through hoops that really are just solid circles, you can go shove that where the sun don't shine. I'll just beach the catamaran and do it myself.
I feel sorry for mono hull owners at this point as they can't exactly beach their boats the way we can. Dawn brings a new day and we have the parts I need and the wife goes to return the car and walk back again...with those blisters. In the meantime I'm cutting brackets for the solar panels and drilling holes. The cockpit looked like a work shop. Thankfully we still had power tools I could use. It would have taken a long time by hand. The wife returns and I was about 3/4 of the way through the first panel. She has a little break before I put her to work holding the U bolt while I lift the panel up and slot it into the U bolt she is holding up. It went pretty smooth. In no time we had one panel up. I then made the brackets for the other panel and put that up too. Next was wiring. I didn't have the right length to make it all the way so decided to wire the radar up as it had a really long power cord that might leave excess for the solar panels. Sure enough, it did. So we wired the radar, tested it, fitted the solar panels and wired them in. All done!
We now have 450Watts of solar power on board. Now most of you know I'm an electronics engineer. People I meet ask what I do and I say, I'm an electronics engineer. So why is it that some people insist on telling me how to do electronics work when they barely know their way around the simple end of a MOSFET? Yes that's an electronics device I randomly threw in to demonstrate my humble skill at electronics terms. This particular time I was told that with 450Watt solar panels that I would need 0 guage cable to reduce the voltage drop because if there is 1 ohm in the wire that is a lot of loss. Um, yeah, 1 ohm is a lot of loss but 0 guage cable (basically welding cable) is a huge overkill. I started to explain but apparently I'm wrong. I mean, hey, I can actually design a CPU from first principles, associative and direct mapped caches in discrete circuitry, I've designed motor controllers for DC, AC motors and have been in the power industry for years as well as being a lecturer in electronics engineering. What the hell would I know about ohms law??? Sometimes you just have to give up and just not bother. Which is what I did.
So I wired it up in the spare radar cable power lead which was 12 guage (like medium speaker wire) and I hid the wiring which was easy for the most part but wouldn't be if I used 0 guage which is about 5/8 of an inch thick (including insulation) and would require two runs. So I power it up, and I'm pumping over 18 amps into the batteries (at 5pm in the afternoon) and that's limited because they are near charged. The system should deliver about 35 amps at full Sun. All on 12 gauge wire!!! Good to see all those years of study and experience could be put to good use.
For any readers out there wanting to try the same thing, don't. Or if you want to, email me. You can get away with it in certain situations. In our case I ordered the solar panels with this in mind. If you just mix and match it may not work for you at all. Our panels put out 70V to the MPPT controller, a bit over a 5:1 voltage ratio so the solar panels only put out about 7amps at maximum power while delivering about 35 amps to the batteries. Don't try to figure calculate the figures I gave since it's not a linear curve. The net result is I can use smaller cable in exchange for a slightly higher loss. About 20Watts at peak power. So I get about 430Watts instead of 450Watts. At 200W its about a 10watt loss. Less than running a couple of small instrument globes.
Enough of the technical rubbish, after that we smell something. It was disgusting. I checked the head, no leaks, I found out one of our International marine batteries collapsed and was drawing 15 amps and boiling over. Good product. We bought them last year in September and one failed in under a year. The label says, "Marine dependability". Another oxymoron I'm sure. With our time frame we can't get to the store to get it exchanged under warranty and even if we did it would cost us more than going to Walmart and buying a battery. Oh well we have two now instead of three. At least we don't feel like throwing up from the smell. I installed our SSB HF antenna but didn't wire it yet. It got pretty late so I figured call it a night and have a shower. When I get back to the boat I ask the wife, isn't that our tender (dinghy) blowing away? Yep, the rope securing it got cut when it got caught on the steering linkage bolts and it was slowly drifting away.
I'm thinking to myself, I just had a shower and now I have to jump in to get the tender. Wifey to the rescue! She offer's to get into her bathing suit and swim out and get the thing. Cool I thought. Two showers in ten minutes is weird. So the normally empty marina now has people come out and I'm standing dry at the dock and the wife is in the water rescuing the tender. Great. There goes my man card. lol
She brings it back but can't tie a knot. I feel vindicated on some level that I know how to tie knots. I've actually got an obsession with knots. I've been studying them for a long time now. I can tie knots most people have never heard of. About 30 knots plus many more derivations and two of my own creation. I was right proud of myself tying the tender back up then noticed that no one was around. Typical. Wife gets all the glory and a nice relaxing swim as well. I get to work all day then look like a typical metrosexual that can't change a tyre.
It was a fun day though and we finished it off with a nice curry we cooked up. Our weather window looks like Friday-Saturday to cross the gulf stream. We no longer have time to cruise the Bahama's so are going East/South East past them, and then turning South West for the windward passage between Haiti and Cuba on a run to Panama. It avoids going straight into the trade winds so will be more comfortable but we miss some great cruising grounds.
First Mate's Log Star Date 201405.14
Heavy sigh. Here I am, two nights away from leaving the U.S. and heading back to the country I've fallen in love with: Australia. It's been rough. Many people that I respect (deeply respect) and love, are against this endeavor. I understand, but it doesn't change the fact that I have to do it. My mother brought me up to do what I think is right no matter what anyone else says, including her. Some think that Z is my svengali, and he's happy to pretend that's the case, but the truth is, I've got a limited number of options, and I am convinced that this is the best of those options. It's the best way to get me and my cats to Australia, and, in spite of what many of you think, I believe it's the healthiest way. I've already lost 15 pounds in the seven weeks I've been aboard, and the cats love it...And yet, I have doubts. I won't deny it. I have fears and doubts coming out my ears.
It's going to be scary to be on a 27' boat out in the middle of the ocean with no land in sight, and seven miles to the bottom. And I have the power in this equation. Even now, with everything we've invested in this, if I told my husband I couldn't do it, he would abide by that. He'd argue with me for several hours, but if I said I really couldn't do it, he would abide by that. So that's what is going through my mind this night, two nights from leaving the U.S. He is off visiting with a friend, and I'm here cleaning the boat and cooking a little dinner. Ah, life on a boat. Just making the bed takes a half hour. Allow me to elaborate.
One of the things I will deeply miss for the next six to seven months, is my connectivity to the Internet. Some people think that social media is isolating us. That may be true for some, but it is definitely not true for me. Not only did I meet my soulmate online, I have expanded my education and become quite fond of being able to look up anything that comes to mind, whether it be the specific definition of a word or the history of something I'm writing about, or even, analyzing names for various characters in my writing. But back to making a bed. Z left to go visit a friend and give him some things for his boat that we no longer need. I decided to stay behind in order to get certain things cleaned up and prepared for tomorrow. We had originally planned to leave tomorrow, but we still have to visit the U.S. Coast Guard and get an exit paper stamped, so we've had to delay until Saturday. Luckily, we will still have a good weather window to get to the Bahamas. We ran out of Internet recently and had to refill. Since we're only here for a few days, this has given me the luxury of watching some videos and not being as conservative with the data usage, because once we're gone, we can't use it anyway. I'm not sure how I ended up watching various YouTube captures of The Voice Australia the The Voice UK, but I've found this particular reality show really inspiring, and it's been a good way to stave off the extreme heat and humidity we are facing.
So, after Z left, rather than getting right to work, I indulged in watching some more videos. Watching young people reach for their dreams brings tears to my eyes, and it reminds me that I'm doing exactly the same thing. Many of you don't know this, but I've suffered from a severe case of writer's block for the last decade due to having a play I wrote stolen. It's still being performed today, and I get no credit or compensation. I'm not one to be a victim, but something about that just dried me up for over a decade. But now, I have several ideas brewing in my head constantly. Perhaps I'm a glutton for punishment, but I'm certain being out in the middle of the ocean, with no distractions, is the ideal way to get some stories written. I also used to sing, so watching people on The Voice, just go for it, has inspired me on many levels. Music is just... perfection. I watched for awhile, but then the call of making dinner and getting things cleaned up grew so intense that I had to stop.
I started by whipping up some flour tortillas, talking to myself in my faux English accent that all of my American and Australian friends are amazed by, but which is nails on a chalkboard painful for my English friends. Ah, accents.. While the tortillas were resting, I made the bed. The top half of the bed is no problem. It's like a normal bed. The bottom half is a different story. There is a six inch area between the bed and the ceiling. You have to be on the bed to make it as it's impossible to reach from the floor. Did I mention I'm claustrophobic? That's actually my biggest fear about being on the ocean. Contrary to popular belief, claustrophobia isn't just being in small, confined spaces. It's about being trapped. I will be trapped on this boat for 30 to 45 days, and I hyperventilate every time I think about it. I look at it as one more fear to face.
Anyway, I have to take my glasses off, stick my head two feed under this six inch space and force the sheet over the mattress. I failed the first three times I tried, and made Z do it. The last time, I had my mom on standby cheering me on. Tonight, I did it on my own. But it was a total bitch. I, now, officially hate fitted sheets. Now, I must get to scrubbing the floor... maybe after a few more of The Voice videos. After all, the floor will still be here when I'm in the middle of the ocean, and Internet will not. I love all of you that are against this trip. I know you care, and that means so much to me even if I can't change my path based on your reservations. I know you'll just think I'm lucky at the other end, but since I know we're prepared, I'm content with that, and I have faith that you won't have to think we were foolish, because we really are prepared for any potential disasters.
First Mate Out