Gettin Ready to Leave

September 24th, 2019

Clearing out of Vanuatu was akin to running a maze. First I had to head down to the commercial wharf. Then I located Customs, fill out a few pages of paperwork. Didn’t understand one of the questions and left it with the customs officer who directed me to the Port Captains office; in another building. I climb up to the second floor and wait in line. Another cruiser (who shall not be named) is having a disagreement with the port captain about the costs. SMH! Cruising is not as free as it once was. Everyone in the office knew he would loose but he persisted for a another 5 minutes. I understand he was already there for about 15 minutes prior to my arrival. Eventually, he left to find an ATM and get the money he needed to pay for the stamp he needed to show to the Customs Officers for the clearance paper he needed to prove at the next port that he is an above board visitor.

For our paper work to leave Vanuatu I paid approximately $150 US. After the port captains office I was directed to the Immigration office. Another short line there and 15 minutes later I had the stamps in the passport indicating we were legal to leave. From there I went back to the Customs office where we received a paper indicating that the boat was cleared for another foreign port.

Two hours later I was back home to Elysium. We began to prepare for departure. First W/ and I would head to the store and pick up any last minutes items we needed to fill our stores. This as well as empting our wallets of the final Vanuatu currency we had. That completed we returned to the boat to ready it for off shore.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

September 23rd, 2019

We got lucky. Well, maybe; we’ll see. We wanted to see the Loyalties. The problem is that they are up wind from Noumea where we are required to clear into the country. Some people rest there for a day or so but that’s not really our style. We prefer to be legal. John; the owner of the GoWest Rally part of the DownUnder Rally universe, sent us an email indicating that the dates for clearing into the Loyalties has changed.

Rally organizers often group enough people together to pay and have the officials fly to a popular cruising destination for clearance. Due to inclement weather John changed the dates for the rally and they just so happen to coincide with what looks like a good weather window for us to leave from Vanuatu to New Caladonia. Tomorrow we check out.

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Sail Far
Stay Long

My Story

September 20th, 2019

This am we’re taking our laundry in for the last time in Vanuatu. Getting ready to go. I head up on deck to ready the dinghy. We always hip tie the dinghy at night. It doesn’t make noise in the chop and is slightly more difficult for someone to “borrow” the engine or take the entire thing for a joy ride.

These definitely do not float!

I release the bow line and turn back to put the drain plug back in and release the stern line. My head brushes an awning line and flips my prescription sun glasses overboard. They are my last pair. They are now in the water. Our mooring is 120’ feet deep. They are sinking. Not much time for thought.

Our electric snorkel will not allow me to get much below one atmosphere; about 30’. With a scuba tank that gives a bottom time of only about 10 minutes at that depth. There is not much light at that depth. They are not floating straight down.

I jump in. Fully clothed. I jump about 6’ away from them so as not to disturb where I see them. The water is cool, not cold. By now I would estimate they are one meter down. I dive down and must open my eyes. I am glad the water is clear. But, salt water burns the eyes a bit. However, I need to see to reach them. They are still sinking. I reach for them and miss. Depth perception under water and with my needing prescription eyes is not good. I miss. Seeing my hand pass in front of them, I swim close and luckily I reach them the second time. Relieved I swim towards the surface smiling. I have saved my glasses. Now I’m wet and cold.

Glass with a Life JacketI dry off, put on a dry cloths and we finish launching the dinghy. When I take in the clothes I shower off with fresh water. Now my glasses have a float attached to them.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Damn Rain

September 15th, 2019

I could never live in Seattle. I know, I know. Never say never. It is just that I am not a fan of rain. Oh, it is sometimes nice. A drizzle on the roof top at night; cabin top in my case, seems to enhance sleep. But during the day. YUCK!

We’ve had three days of rain. Ok, I know I’m whining a bit. Those in Dorians’ path had it much much worse. For me, this was bad enough. We don’t like to get off the boat. We walk. Walking in the rain in a city or even a remote village is not fun. Muddy  and wet. We don’t like to track dirt onto the boat. We leave footwear in the dinghy. Thus for the most part we are boat bound.

In many respects that is not a bad thing. I read, play chess on the computer as well as other games. Hang some on social media and try to complete some small inside boat chores. Enough is enough. I want some Sun.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Duh…. It’s Broken

September 10th, 2019

W/ could easily be a Dowser. One who finds water with a wishbone like branch.  If there is a drop of water somewhere in the boat she will find it. Which; by the way, is a good thing. Water is to be kept outside the boat if you wish to stay afloat.

She opened up a locker the other day and said “Dave, why is this wet”? I know my day will change from that point on. There were some drips from the seacock for the forward head sink. When we refurbished the boat we put in all new Groco seacocks. Those are the gates between the ocean and inside the boat.

From my standard prone position of reading I am now called forth to attend to a “drip”. We moved the gear around the seacock out of the way and I see the drip is coming from the handle. The seacock opens and closes fine. Whenever we haul we grease all the seacocks ensuring that each one will open and close on the boat. One never knows. These are the Groco Full Flow Seacocks.

I get out the tools I need to clean the handle and ensure the “leak” becomes a thing of history. I put a wrench on the bolt and loosen it. It turns awfully easy! Seconds later I discover why. It is broken. How the hell did that happen?

The bolt (Part #15)  only keeps the handle on. The handle comes off. Luckily the seacocks are designed such that they work fine without the bolt holding the handle on. Just a little care needs to be observed to ensure the handle fits over the tap to turn the inner SS part. And offshore we close down that head anyway so I rather doubt there will ever be an emergency there.

What to do? As we’re not sinking and as the seacock is functioning I am going to wait until we are at a facility where if something happens we can haul the boat.  Currently the fitting that is to keep water out is the “nut” (Part #11)  is not  easily moved. The part that shuts  the water out is easily moved. I tried.  I don’t want to add heat to the fitting and damage something while it still works and we’re in a developing nation. I sprayed it liberally with PB Blaster. When I work on it again I’ll make sure it can be unscrewed and we are also in a position; should the worse case happen we can be hauled for repair.

I have three possibilities on what happened.  First, I over tightened the bolt. Highly unlikely. I’m pretty good at knowing when tight is and this is not even one bolt that needs to be torqued. It only holds the handle on. Second, we had some repair work in Fiji and the repairer was in that locker doing some glass work. I don’t know if the worker removed the handle to make it easier for him or not. He might well have really put some muscle into reattaching the handle. Third, the bolt had a flaw. I’m going with #2, or #3. Either way, it needs to get fixed and it will be; just not right now.

 

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Do they Move?

August 26th, 2019

Everyday we tie up to the dinghy dock. And every day those tiny little black creatures with a hundred pointy spines move about creating a new image. Each day for a week I captured a photo of where they’ve gotten to and here is the show.

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Sail Far
Stay Long

Back to the Big City

August 21st, 2019

We’ve moved back to Port Villa. Here we will wait for a weather window for sailing to New Cal.  While we wait we will continue to enjoy some of the restaurants, the market and the calm anchorage. Too, we will get on with the yearly varnishing we do to keep the teak from drying out and a modicum of keeping Elysium’s good looks. We’ve run into some sailing friends from Whangarei (Eagles Wings) and new ones on Ceva and Kia.

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Sail Far
Stay Long

A Late Night Surprise

August 3rd, 2019

We’re getting ready to retire (to bed) and the refrigeration high pressure switch shuts everything down. Usually that is from a lack of cooling water. However not moving I would be surprised. When we move and flush the aft toilet air gets into the refrigeration cooling water and creates a vapor lock…sometimes. Yes I know the thru hulls are not placed the best. This is where Westsail had them.

I go to investigate. I move some of the boat stores around the pump so I can check the pump. The system has equalized enough that we can run it for a few minutes. I attempt to bleed the air out. W/ turns the system on…. nothing. We attempt that method a couple of times. It seems there is no water going through the pump. I do have a spare pump but am NOT interested in doing this change before bed!

The aft toilet is on the same thru hull system. We pump the toilet and it to is getting no water entering! Now, I’ve  isolated that it is NOT the pump. That may be good. We’ll see.

I close the thru hull and open up the strainer. Out slithers a mucus membrane; possibly part of a left over jelly fish. I pull the strainer and W/ cleans it. Just to note, we clean the strainer about 2 x’s / year. We did this last in Vuda Point Marina when we haul for the yearly clean up and prepare for offshore.

Moon Jelly FishOnce the strainer was clean I began to clean the innards of the seacock. We fill with water and siphoned out all the crap that was there. Besides that i discovered that there were barnacles growing about the opening that enters to the hose that feeds the system.

I’ve never really checked those before. It looks like now I need to pull the entire strainer off the seacock and ensure that the feed to the hose and the hoses are not housing more barnacles. I clean the opening as best as I can, install the strainer, put the cap back on and open it up.

It immediately fills with water. That’s a good thing. At least there is not a fish / creature that is stuck to the outer opening of the thru hull. I bleed air off the line to the refrigeration pump. W turns it on and I watch to see if water is shooting out my bleed line. Bingo. It is. I close the valve to the pump and water begins running to cool the pump. W/ checks outside to ensure that the water is making it all the way through and “Yippee” we’re back in business. We clean up the engine room, wash up ourselves and finally, again, begin to ready ourselves for counting sheep.

Post script: The refrigeration ran for about 30 minutes and then stopped again. I checked outside and there are jelly fish floating all around. We’ll be good till morning. Ah… the adventures of cruising. 🙂

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

 

ps  A few days later the Moon Jelly Fish were so thick one could imagine walking on them across Crop of Moon Jelly Fishthe water.

Spares…

July 8th, 2019

We carry a lot of spares. I had once teased a co -cruiser that they needed a sailboat trailer to carry their spares; but I think we are at the same place now.

Yesterday one of the lenses fell out of my good new glasses. I tried that magic stuff: JBWeld to fix them and that lasted one day.  Thus, I began to search through our spare glasses.

I found some new spares. Wow. I also found a new spare pair of Sunglasses that are prescription.  How lucky that was?

As I’ve now had glasses for a few years on the boat there is one critical observation I’ve made.  Do NOT get any of the additional coatings the shops want to sell you. Polarized, no, glare, no, anti red eye, no. The reason is that over time; it has been about a year for me, the coatings begin to wear off or the glue degrades making the glasses unusable. For a cruiser out and away from the big city where one can easily spend  few hundred and get some new ones, this can be a dangerous issue. Ok, so you can’t see into the water as well, get some big polarized glasses to fit over your prescription ones.  Be more cautious in shallower water. Yet the worse case is that reading charts could well cause one to make a bad decision. Do yourself a favor, get several good pair of prescription glasses, some tinted, some clear and avoid any of the coatings they want to sell you. In the end you’ll be able to safely cruise where ever you wish to go. And…

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

A Tourist to Yasur

July 7th, 2019
Port Resolution Yacht ClubWe left promptly at 3 pm. I know it’s rather rare in the Pacific where people often refer to island time for appointments. The road was like what one would imagine driving on the Appalachian Trail (AT) is like. W/ described the AT as all Rocks and Roots, This was all lava rock and gullies from erosion. At times we hit 40 kph, but for the most part we traveled about the average speed of a bicycle. An hour later we were at the entrance to Yasur.
 
There we paid our 10,000 VAT each (approx 100 dollar) to visit the volcano. Included was a brief Kava ceremony. There we were asking permission of the local chief to visit Yasur (the volcano). After there was a native dance. 30 minutes later we moved to the next stage.

Yasur

We climbed in the back of a truck to ascend the slope of Yasur. I call them cattle cars. Approx 15 of us / vehicle. W/ was lucky enough to sit in the cab. There she conversed with the driver as well as had a A Disney Like Experienceperfect view of the climb. Along the side of the road there were volcanic vents of steam. Yes; this is an active volcano and as such is actually said to be dangerous. I figured it is no more dangerous than driving down any interstate in the US.
 
20 minutes later we parked, doned our hard hats, received a some more instruction and hiked the last 200 meters to the rim. Already the sulfur smell was present. We could see the steam / smoke rising from the lava field. The guides informed us to use the W side as the E side was randomly bombarded by lava rocks. No one argued with the guide.
A few years ago the tour was shut down when the volcano became more active. Lava was thrown from the pool to the parking lot. Volcanos are rated from 0-5. Zero is for the most part I think inactive and 5 is; holy shit-stay away! Currently Yasur is a 2. At 3 they cancel the tours. I felt a little lucky that we would see it at it’s most active for non volcanologist.
 
At the upper parking lot we could hear Yasur, we could smell it and every few minutes we would see liquid rocks thrown in the air. However we could not see the lava pool form where we were. If one had a drone; for another 10,000 VAT you could fly it over the pool. I wonder how many drones ended up lost down in the lava pool.
 
We toured at Sunset when the views are more interesting. The lava plums light up against a dark background. The darker sky and the active lava creates mother natures fireworks. Friends told us to bring hats, scarves, face mask, and goggles. We did. When they went three years prior they indicated that the dust thrown up stuck to every part of their body. Luckily we were on the up wind side of Yasur. I only had grit in my mouth a couple of times and we never had to wear the face masks and goggles.
We did have layers of clothing on. At the top of Yasur it was blowing about 15 kts and at that altitude (the volcano top), it was quite cool. Two hours later everyone was getting cold. . People started to head down towards the cattle cars and the ride back to the tourist center. The tourist center provided us a few snacks, restrooms and a covered area. There we availed ourselves of the facilities and changed clothes. Ready again for the Disney ride, back to the boat.
 
At Port Resolution we climbed down the steps to the dinghy. We hauled it into the water (the tide is about a meter here) and with a headlamp navigated through the reef out to our boat. How we avoided striking any of the reef at night I can only guess. The tide was higher than when we arrived. Lucky . So far, this has been our best volcano experience and I rather doubt we’ll ever get to see the lava pool any closer. I’m not sure I want to. But like a bug to the flame; one never knows.
 
Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long