Stackpack Re-do….

June 3rd, 2020

Another One Bites the Dust

Yep, we’ve checked off another project on our list. The Stackpack we made in Fiji was HUGE! I followed the instructions found on the web and those too on Sailrites pages. They were all helpful. I believe the real issue was new sail stiff sail cloth with the full battens didn’t sit on the boom well. Thus, my measurements were … quite generous.

Two years in, the sail cloth relaxed a bit, it packed up smaller and the bag was, well; baggy. That and we really didn’t like how our full boat awning fit over the lazy jacks that were built into the Stackpack. Thus off to the google library I went. Actually I prefer Duck-Duck-Go because they don’t track you.

There I discovered a track I could sew into the cover and then slide a bolt rope into the track and hang the awning off of it. Unfortunately I could not locate any of the Keder Track in Australia. I did find it on Sailrite’s site

Keder Track Stitched in the Stackpack

and in NZ. I ordered it from NZ. The Keder rope slide I was able to locate here; about 45 minutes by car from us.

First order was to measure how much to shrink the Stackpack by and remove the pack. W/ and I (mostly W/) did a lot of seam ripping. The zipper top was good. The bottom needed a change as the slots for the reef lines were just not long enough. With the pack in pieces we then laid it out on the pier and marked off the amount to be removed. We cut and burned the cloth edge to eliminate unraveling. Next the difficult part.

We needed to sew in the new sewable track, the top zipper piece and the side panel. We had made the decision to break the track into pieces that fit between the lazy jack lifts. Am I glad we did. If not the project would have had to fold in 10’ sections. Now we have roughly 5’ sections do deal with. The track had been stored in a circle (that was how it was shipped). I had unpacked it and laid the track out on deck hoping it would straighten. It was still all curly. It wasn’t like wood. It was difficult to get all the pieces lined up. The basting tape we had would not hold everything together. I thought of using staples. I had seen other canvas makers use them but don’t have an industrial staple gun that has strong enough staples. W/ and I struggled putting all the pieces together and feed through the sewing machine. Remember the track had a twist to it and we needed it straight. I tried straightening by heating it and that helped … a bit. The track was still not “straight”. Too, this is where I appreciate canvas / sail makers. They have a large flat surface and sit in a pit with the machine and the material flush. After which they feed it all through the machine and boom; done. W/ held up one end, I tried to hold the middle and feed and sew. We did make it through one side and very frustrated as well as relieved. Frustrated that this project is on the large size for doing on a cruising boat. Relieved that we had it half completed. We needed help.

One advantage in the cruising community is that others are often there to assist. All you need do is ask. Co-opting a fellow cruiser we were better able to manage the 18’ run. With Dan (our fellow cruiser friend) and W/ we managed the huge piece much better. Still I wish I had the canvas makers floor.

I informed W/ “I don’t ever want to do this again”! W/ said she had heard that before and chuckled … just a little.

Put together we were ready for the installation. Again we found help from Dan. First he hauled me up the mast to run the lift lines. W/ says I’m dead weight and doesn’t love cranking me up the mast! Go figure… 🙂 When we removed the pack, one of the lift lines jammed at the upper block. Once both lines were down I could measure them. I didn’t like the stretch we had in the lifts. Thus I will add a small Dynema line (it stretches like wire but is soft and flexible). Once they were in place Dan hauled the mainsail up, W/ fed the bottom of the pack into the boom and I slid it on. In place

Our New Modified Stackpack

we began attaching the lazy jacks. Hauled in the lift line and dropped the sail. Sweet, the sail slid into the pack like it was expected. Zip it up and begin the final adjustments of the lifts. As it was it would have been functional. I don’t really know of any differences in the lifts have any practical consequences. I wan’t going to find out. We spent a couple of days playing with the lengths and finally I felt port and starboard were close enough. I measured and cut the lines, W/ seized the ends with heat, tied them on the Stackpack, sat back and contemplated our next project. It is a big one, redoing the refrigeration system.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

 

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Wrong Diagnosis…

May 7th, 2020

There is a life expectancy for hoses. I’ve heard varying amounts of years quoted. And yet I have never seen a “hose warning” label, ex “this hose is good for XX years”.

What I’ve been watching for awhile now.

Another cruising friend had informed me I had a leak in my generator. The hose next to it has a long oil like substance dripping down it. Smugly I said, I know, I can’t find the leak.

I saw the mess about 2 years ago. I had placed cardboard on the hose with wire ties trying to identify where the leak was coming from. I ran the water maker. Moved the card board. Still the oily mess made it’s way down the hose. I moved it some more and looked for any oil being spit out by the new generator. i still couldn’t find it.

In exasperation I decided it must be the hose. It is degrading. Put “change out hose” on the list. And as most yachties know, when you start one project others soon rise from the sea. Since I was working in the engine room; it actually felt more like I lived there. I figured it was time to replace the hose. BTW that hose is over 19 years old. It was on the boat when we purchased her. And as 1 1/2” wire bound hose is a pretty standard boat hose I was lucky the marine store here had it in stock.

As work progressed on the engine, I was near to where I could  easily replace to the hose. I say  easily but if you love messing around in boats you know;  nothing is easy. I had one marine yard mechanic say in a war between a hose and the owner; the hose often won. I am ready to tackle this job. But wait!

Mike and Jenny were coming by on their exit of Australia. Mike is one of my shore support team members you may hear mentioned  every so often. They too own a sister ship of Elysium. So as any Captain does, they like to look over what changes have been made and see what

Oily, Messy, slimmy, Yuck

 ideas they wish to “steal” from another’s boat. 🙂 Mike looks in the engine room and say’s “Oh you have a cockpit drain hose that is degrading”. SMH Why didn’t he stop by a year or so ago and tell me. LOL. Anyway, I tell him my odyssey and I see that smile on his face. Yes, I know he was laughing inside at my bending over backwards trying to find a leak when all the time it was an aged hose.

That hose is with us no longer. Sent to the trash heap. I flushed out all the salt water with buckets of fresh. Closed the seacock and drained the left over water out of the hose. Then tore into it with some choice english vocabulary not taught in public schools. With the hose out, I could warm up the new hose ends and connected the fittings. Add some new clamps, and bingo! Ensuring no leaks I open the seacock for the drains. Finally, no more black gooey stuff running down the hoses and messing up my engine room and it does not leak. Oh Happy day!

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

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Boat Yoga

April 25th, 2020

Boat Yoga is a real thing. And no, it is not serenely listening to someone guide you through downward dog, the warrior, or a Sun salutation. It is bending, contorting to reach at full stretch while being upside down, sideways, or in a full body twist in a stuffy engine compartment, reaching the stud to slowly turn the nut on the bolt. All the while hoping and praying the nut does not slip out of your hand and enter the gates of hell, otherwise referred to as the bilge.

I’ve been doing a lot of boat Yoga lately. And I am here to tell you …I don’t like it much.

When we arrived in Australia we had two big projects in mind. One, redo the cooling system on the Perkins, and two get rid of the holding plates, divide our refrigerator and freezer into three compartments. Since, we’ve added a third job, redo our lazy jack lines on our new stack pack so we can easily rig our full boat awning. That, will be an interesting project.

Since we are on limited contact here in Australia during the Covid crises we’ve focused on the engine. I do the yoga while W/ provides the serene commentary. She also is the tool gofer. I watched the Trans Atlantic Diesel (TAD -not TED) video a few times familiarizing myself with what to do. We ordered the gear and paid duty to Australia. From the office we schlepped it to the boat. Stored in the boat we’ve been walking around it for a few weeks. W/ said it is time. Get to work Dave. 🙂

Our trusty Perkins with the original header tank.

Examining what I needed to do, I thought this would be a good time to repaint the engine. Lewis and Alyssa repainted their engine on their Island Packet. How hard could it be? What a horrendous, good choice. Horrendous because while we have better engine access than most other boats (say under 70’), it is still close to impossible reaching every spot.

I started by removing the old cooling system components. That involved draining the coolant out of every piece, unbolting it, and removing all the hoses. Some parts I missed finding the drain cock and coolant ended up in the engine sump. New Yoga move; cleaning the engine sump. Sans coolant, I began removing parts. We stored them on the aft deck. I was expecting the install to go well but just in case I wanted a fall back. It would have been an ugly fall back cleaning and re installing them.

Once they were off we washed the engine with a degreaser. Again more water in the engine sump and again more of the yoga pose “Sump Clean out”. To clean the sump we first used a small oil change pump to pump out as much liquid as possible. Then I laid on my belly and reached as far as I could with a rag for the rest of the water. Then again on my belly I reached with a wet spirits rag (not the drinking kind) to clean up any oily scum left behind.

With the sump clean we put on two coats of etching primer. The boat smelled like a paint shop. We put the primer on and then ran away. Two coats of primer took approximately 6 tries to complete it all. Again; once again I was reaching under the engine to the full extent of my limbs and rolling primer across the bottom of the engine pan. Then we did each side front, back, and top. W/ mixed and I painted and we both cleared out of the boat when finished. Epoxy primer is nasty stuff.

Once primed I was able to install a couple of pieces of the new cooling system. I would add, then paint. If I put it all on at once then I wouldn’t be able to paint the hidden areas. Getting the Perkins paint color right was a wee bit of a problem so we opted for Ford Blue- close enough.

Add a part, paint, add a part paint. This alone took a couple of weeks.

The Bowman Kit from TAD installed few hitches. But, there were two gotchas. I’m close to the end of this project. All the large pieces are on and I’m completing the raw water system. I needed a pipe wrench. Yeah, I didn’t have one, had not yet needed one on this boat. Now I needed to remove the outlet nipple on the raw water pump. TAD had sent an elbow to install. Bunnings provided a new pipe wrench, after giving them some money. After removal I tried to fit the elbow. Oops. No room to rotate it. Now I need to loosen and rotate the pump to add the elbow. The problem was the bolt / nut on the pump had rusted so badly I couldn’t get a wrench on them. Yes, I’ve had a little drip on the pump for the last year or so.

Once removed the pump screamed at me to rebuild it. With some colorful

Rebuilding the Jabsco Pump

language aimed at the boat gods I was able to get the 4 nuts to the pump gear off. Then I could remove the entire assembly. I could now add the elbow. Remember the leak. Now is a good time to fix the Jabsco 10970 pump. And that was a fiasco.

Ok, I needed to take it apart. Dummy me. This next mistake cost me some extra dollars. I went to the Yanmar / Volva shop and the owner said he would help once I got it apart and had the kit to put it back together. He never indicated what I needed to do to get it apart. Well, I thought the pump had cup seals like in my last engine. Not so! I took the impeller out and expected to slide off the Jabsco shaft from the pump housing. Don’t try it! The screw up will cost you almost a boat buck ($1,000). I could not take the pump apart with the tools I had on the boat. A machine shop could. I took it to machine shop and they kindly put it on a press and pressed out the shaft from the pump. Great! I had it apart and the inner pieces were a mess. Next I had to find the parts to order. The mechanics out there will already know how I screwed up!

Luckily there is a Jabsco dealer down the road. I took the pump to him and we ordered the parts. Next week (yes another week passed) I received the kit and some of the instructions on putting it together. BTW, Jabsco’s exploded diagram is; how can I say it politely- crappy. Gordon (the Jabsco dealer) suggested I use Loctite 515 – for the rubber seal. I like that stuff. Yet I didn’t like how the seal set. It was crooked in the pump. If I was of average intelligence I would have stopped right there. I would have questioned someone more knowledgeable. You can tell I didn’t. I greased up the shaft (another error) and slid the other parts on. Put the impeller in and the cover back on. Time to install it on to the engine.

I put the gasket sealant on and then spoke with the boat gods. I was not pleasant. Getting the gear lined up with the housing and the four studs was a cluster…… . Finally it was on and snugged down. The elbow fit perfectly the connection TAD provided didn’t. I needed to add a length of hose.

This was only the second gotcha I’ve found in the kit. Finding US imperial hose in a metric country is not my idea of fun. Eventually I found some that would work. Not exactly what I wanted but I remember what the Stones Said; “You don’t always get what you want, …. You get what you need”.

With the pump installed the raw water system was completed and tomorrow I would test it. I don’t like testing things in the afternoon. If something screws up I’m working in the evening trying to fix it. That makes a mess in the boat, W/ is not happy and I’m beyond tired and cranky. So I wait. Tomorrow came and I opened the seacock letting water into the engine. Almost immediately, the engine passed water to the engine sump. Oh were the boat gods ears ringing then. I close the seacock and need to remove / redo the pump. I am not happy.

Time to call in the big guns; my shore support team; Mike and Dirk. Using WhatsApp I contacted them and then we did a video chat. They helped me get it all apart and the diagnosis was that something at the bottom of the pump was amiss. The rubber thingie ought not be hanging on the shaft out of the pump. Time to take the pump back apart. There I discovered my mistake in choosing a lubricant.

I couldn’t get the shaft out of the mechanical bearing. To do so I used a rubber mallet and lightly tapped the shaft easing the parts off. (If you believe “lightly” tapped I have some swamp land to sell you!) The water proof grease I used gummed up the parts already and that is why I needed to tap it out. Tapping it out broke the surface of the ceramic bearing and I would need to replace it. As the gods are now getting back at me I couldn’t replace just that bearing, I needed to buy an entire new kit at $150 AU.

Once apart and cleaned up I took the entire pump to the Jabsco dealer. In all hubris I told him that it looked like the rubber piece was missing something. I was wrong again. I ate my words. The pump was missing something. When we had it on the press and pushed the shaft out I broke off the bottom bronze flange of the pump! I would need a new pump. The pump alone new in Australia is $1,200. The body which is what I needed is about $700 plus AU. Gorden thought he might have a used one he could clean up and sell me. He did and I gladly paid the $200 he charged for it. Now another week passes by, awaiting the next kit shipment.

I have the new bearing kit, the new pump body and am putting it together. This time I clean the shaft and use no lubricant. As long as the pump has water in it I am told all will be fine. My shore support team informed me of the recommended lubricants: glycerin or liquid soap. Anything water soluble . Next to install on the engine. This time, instead of putting sealant on first I make sure to align the gear. Then I add sealant and still struggle a bit to get the gear housing aligned and on. This time the process was much easier.

Now get this. When I removed the pump the second time I put four nuts on the platform for the aft head. That was about a 7-10 days ago. I’m putting the rebuilt, painted housing on and look for the nuts. I can only find 3. THREE! I guess the gods were paying me back. W/ and I search everywhere. We check the engine sump, we search the head floor, we search the engine room floor. We check the socket used to remove the nuts. The nut remains hidden. This is an imperial bolt with fine thread. I am in a metric country. I don’t have much hope. Luckily there is a serious Nut/ Bolt store 10 minutes from here. Oh… Happy Day! They have them. I buy a couple nuts and lock washers. Who knows if I will need an extra.

Once installed we are again ready to test the raw water system. I open the seacock. Water enters. Looks ok. W/opens the after hose that cools the shaft log. No leaks. Well not with the pump. I am getting a little water out of the top of the old…. old raw water filter. I have ordered a new raw water filter From Amazon. (Note: three weeks later I look for my order and Amazon cancelled it and never informed me- May the gods spite Amazon) The old strainer is a Perko and they don’t even show parts (gaskets) on their website anymore. To check the contents and clean the strainer I need to empty the entire bowl with water. What a PITA. So I’ll wait a bit and deal with the weep later when the new strainer arrives.

At this point all new hoses are also on the engine. New exhaust elbow, new exhaust hose to the aqua lift muffler, new raw water hoses all the way around. Things are looking good. The engine paint indicates to wait 5 days before running. That I’ll do. At that time I will need to flush it with a couple of fresh water rinses and then add new coolant. Once completed; we’ll crack open a bottle of champagne. This has been one DAMN BIG project!

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

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Not Always Fun….Always an Adventure

February 18th, 2020
It’s been a long time. A long time since writing my last post and a long time writing the blogs. It’s not that I don’t have much to say. I do. It’s that, life, living, cruising gets some in the way of writing these posts. They are not just off the cuff. I do put thought into them. I can’t seem to get in the swing of writing brief, frequent posts as some of my other cruising friends do. I can’t seem to make it a daily or weekly note and post updates. Sorry.
That said, since Fraser Island we’ve come a long way in activities and a short distance in miles. We hung in the St. Mary’s river with two other cruising boats, played tennis in Tin Can Bay, navigated the Wide Bay Bar and moved down to Scarborough Marina where we’ll hang for a minimum of 3 months. Oh, we also watched the fire works from South Bank. What an event! While here, we’ve reconnected with some friends from the states of 17 years ago, spent some time with them, bought a car, joined a gym, and another tennis club.

 
As far as the boat is concerned we began the list of projects. We ordered a new cooling system for the engine; a Bowman heat exchanger kit from TAD, we’ve completed one sewing project, attacked a wee bit of the varnish and for our comfort we purchased a portable AC unit.
 
There are different types of cruisers. There is the commuter cruiser that returns to the states every 6-9 months, and the tourist cruiser that hits all the highlights in an area.  Then there is us. We are slow cruisers. We want to meet the locals,  share our stories, experience how it is to live in their country, taste test their foods, and ok; see a few of the sights. We’re never going to see them all.
 
Bonna; a mate on the boat Good News is from the Philippines. She loved to tell everyone there are 7,000 islands in her country. Well, if we anchored at each island for just one day; that’s 20 years of cruising. You can’t see it all. So; we don’t try.
 
Sailing in Australia is, well, not the countries highlight. If one chooses Tasmania the anchorages are great, the scenery awesome and the wx; much too cold for us. We hear the Whitsundays are great cruising grounds. We’ve not cruised there yet. The rest, as far as I”m concerned is not for the faint of heart. Crossing bars one must watch the winds and the tides. Anchorages are packed full making holiday parking lots look empty. Katie M told us recently that they couldn’t even get into an anchorage as there were so many boats there. The anchorage outside our marina has no protection from the ESE to the NNE. The trades blow right on through. Thus we’ve joined the marina crowd. When we head out we will seek some cruising time in the Whitsundays. For now, it is marinas and projects.
 
 
Just to give one an idea of Australian navigation fun. There is channel north of where we are, near Cairns. One can navigate it during High tide. During low tide it is a cattle crossing! There are many bar entrances and exits to protected waters here. When the tide is going out and the winds are blowing ashore standing waves occur. They are big waves that look squarish and often break. Boats have been flooded, rolled and sunk trying to cross a bar at the wrong time. There is a group of people that volunteer at the Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) . They provide info on the condition of the bars. Getting across one of the bars isn’t the only thing to be concerned with. It is getting back in. Some boats have had to wait one or two days before entering a bar. People have died crossing at the wrong times. We are extra cautious.
 
Anchoring too is exciting. We anchored in the Mary’s River near it’s mouth. While the winds blew up the river we rarely laid to the wind. The current with the 2 m tides directed the boat. The current was often 3 kts. That is 50% of our normal boat speed; and we are not even moving, only the water. Anchoring we need to take the tides into account. Two meters tide (about 6’) means we need to add about 12 m more of chain / rode when dropping our anchor. That in turn means we’ll move in a larger circle during low tide. Further to complicate things; this river has a flood plain of about 10 meters (yes you heard me 30’). So if for some reason it floods from excessive rains inland, we would need to move somewhere else. Flooding brings debris like logs down the river. All threatening to up our anchor and damage our boat.  With that high of water we might even pull our anchor out and become part of the debris.
 
Settling (even temporarily) in a new country adds another set of problems. All marinas in Australia require a $10 million liability coverage. Our insurance liability doesn’t go that high. We needed to get more insurance. We contacted some companies and they wanted a new survey. We prepared for that and were ready to haul and get an updated survey. After a couple of days searching we found reasonable 3rd party insurance coverage for 10 million dollars. We will most likely haul and get a new survey when we do our yearly haul here in Australia. Then we can get the Australian full comprehensive coverage. In some countries insurance companies will not insure a foreign flagged vessel. And getting that much coverage with a US company gets to be quite expensive if one can even find it now. Many US companies have opted out of covering US vessels so far from their home port.
 
New Aussie WheelsAs I said we bought a car. That too came with new challenges. In NZ we had a signed title. With one page of paperwork we went to the post office, presented them with the paperwork and boom, the car was ours. Here we needed 3 forms of identification as well as a local mailing address. Our friends provided us with the mailing address.  We are fortunate that they are here. A week later we picked up a 2007 Honda CR-V. The newest car we’ve ever owned! Remember; we’ve been traveling for 12 years now.
 
One of the biggest challenges we have had cruising is with our bank cards. We would love to switch to the bank (USAA) our cruising friends have. They have one that supports veterans and their families. They understand people are mobile. I’m not a veteran but my father was. And sadly, he passed many years ago. I need a living immediate family veteran to qualify. Anyway, our credit union is as good as one can expect considering we don’t fit into a category of standard retiree.
 
They send the CC to our home address. Well, we’re not there. Because of that the CC gets destroyed and our account frozen. CC’s and debit cards is how we acquire the needed funds for cruising. Gone are the days when cruisers carry boat loads of cash to move from country to country. We have a good contact in the bank and he suggested we switch our home address on the account to our Aussie address. OK, no problem. We do online banking with a VPN. (We use Express VPN and if anyone wishes to use them please acknowledge us; we get an extra month-sorry shameless sell). Anyway I go to make the change and the profile page will not accept a 4 digit postal code. Aussies only have a 4 digit code. We again contact the bank and our “guy” is able to get one of their computer people to put in the 4 digit code. At this point we don’t have a working CC but do have working debit cards… so far. We’ve taken enough cash out to carry us through till the new cards arrive. Now that the address is right the bank will send out new cards to this Australian address. Unfortunately they don’t send them the way the best way – DHL. They send it snail mail. Three weeks later we finally receive the cards. Now to activate them.
 
When we call they ask for information from us to verify it is us. W/ gives them the info, but when they ask for our home zip (remember Australia doesn’t have a 5 digit zip) we give them the Aus postal code. Also remember that this is in our profile. No good. The computer program they are inputting to doesn’t accept this 4 digit code. They want 5 digits, even though it is now in our profile as 4 digits. We are lucky, the employee at the bank was able to make a work around to activate the card. We’re back in the game. Almost. Now we need to wait for the debit cards. Again that takes a few extra weeks. We have one but the other isn’t in our pocket yet.
 
While all that is happening we’re ordering stuff for the boat. When one orders stuff on line and puts in the CC info, merchants often make sure the address matches the CC info. Again, since this is a US card and we are in Aus we have a 4 digit post code. Merchant stores don’t like that. Orders are denied and kicked back. More issues ensue. Luckily, before we left I set up PayPal and that has been a fall back. To keep things as simple as possible we often order from Australian web stores. One order I made was cancelled when they discovered that the card was a US card with an Australian address! And when cancelled they never told me. Three weeks later I’m investigating where our stuff is. I discover that the order was cancelled and refunded. No charger or refund showed up on the card.
 
On top of all that, since we knew we were buying a car and planned on being here awhile, we opened a local bank account. It is much easier doing business having a local bank. (BTW, NZ and AUS banks are far ahead of the US banks for electronic funds transfers). We first went to one bank and opened an account. Spent an hour doing all the paperwork. To add money we wrote a check from our account in the states for deposit. Their policy dictated that before we deposit a foreign funds check we needed to have an account for 6 months. Even though we would not be able to use the money until the check cleared and the money was actually in the account! On to another bank we go. This one is a sister bank to the one we used in NZ. All good. We open the account and deposit a check. Almost three months later the check still has not cleared. We discovered yesterday that they never got it sent off because the bank individual didn’t have us “endorse” it. The check was to be deposited in our account. SMH!
 
And we needed the money to buy the car. We (both of us) got up at 2 am to call our bank during their business hours and make an international wire transfer. Finally, something went smoothly (still it was at 2am), and 3 days later we had the funds. Oh, isn’t cruising fun? Not really- always fun, but definitely -always an adventure.
 
Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long
 
 
 
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4 Wheelin on Fraser Island

November 23rd, 2019

Yep, there is a speed limit on this beach

Beach Speed Limit

We took a tour; unlike Gilligan it was longer than 3 hours. And unlike Gilligan; we eventually returned to our destination. The day prior Laura, W/ , and I found the 4 Wheel Drive (4wd) auto rental place. We signed up. To drive one of the rentals on Fraser you need a drivers license and to watch an hour video on “Driving on Fraser”. Honestly, it was quite good and informative. We watched it, paid our deposit, informed that Dick, who would be the main driver needed to watch it too. Otherwise we would be leaving later then we wanted to…. in the am.

It didn’t matter that much. We were there promptly at 8 am and the agent was quite busy. Between 8:30 and 9 am we were on the road. Dick had watched the video and the agent cleared the car. The “road” is a lie. Yes, It was asphalt as we left Kingfisher Bay. As we reached the top of the rise the road changed to sand ruts. And ruts is putting it mildly. Dick switched on the 4 WD and we crawled, bumped, shaked and shimmied across Fraser. The ride made any of Disney’s adventures seem sane by comparison. Forty-five minutes later we had crossed the 15 km wide island. No bruises but quite tenderized bums. There the ride eased. We switch into high gear and flew along this Australian Highway. Yep, the beach is a highway with an 80 kph speed limit. Our rental company told us our limit was 60 kph. Anyway, it would be crazy to go 80 kph. That is unless you are a plane flying low. Yep. The beach too is airport worthy. We passed three landing areas.
Driving at high speeds on the beach was fun. For us, 60 kph on a beach is high speed. We traversed several washes. Places where water was running out of the sand mountains or those in the Western US would say hills. We stopped first at Eli Creek. A pure fresh water creek that was said to be drinkable. Drinkable at least above the area that people are playing in it. 🙂 Neither W/ or I availed ourselves of ingesting the cool liquid. We walked in the creek and enjoyed the party like atmosphere around the mouth. John and Leanne on Songlines told us in the past they would camp there for a week or so. That was before it became a popular mecca for locals.
Cooled off and refreshed we again headed N on the beach highway to the wreck of the Maheno. A luxury liner that was headed to the scrap yard years ago. A cyclone struck it and the towing vessel offshore and the tow line blew apart. The Maheno ended up on Fraser and has laid there ever since. The story has a few people losing their lives trying to recover it. Since, it slowly is working its way deeper and deeper into the sand. Currently I hear three floors of it lie below the beach.
The Pinnicals were quite pretty but no climbing. Climbing will break the sand and destroy their effect. We took some photos and reached the Northern terminus of our trip; the Cathedral. There we had a light lunch and rested our backsides. I asked one of the employee’s at the Eco resort we had lunch at, about it. He said that they called it the Cathedral because from afar the cliffs look like one. But, he indicated he never could see the resemblance. Neither could we.
Back down the beach we went, dodging a few airplanes, climbing through creek washes. Dick; our designated driver drove through a dozen or so washes. We passed also passed the spot where we crossed from the. Our southern terminus was one of the few towns on the island. About 50 people live there! 🙂 Again another snack, restrooms, and a break. After which we cut back across the island towards Lake McKenzie.
Lake McKenzie is one gorgeous lake. Crystal clear water, white sand beaches and no trash. Food and drink are not allowed at the lake. Only people. And people, still bring problems. They put on sun screen as well as perfumes and skin oils that are contaminating the lake. There are no fish in the lake, a few turtles, and frogs. It was a wonderful stop. We had melon (100 m up from the shore) in an enclosed wire compound. That compound keeps the Dingo’s out. Trash either taken with you or placed in Dingo proof containers in fenced in eating areas. Lake McKenzie is one of the most idyllic areas we’ve ever been to. After a swim and some sustinence we continued our trek back across Fraser to Kingfisher bay. There we will fill up with diesel and return the vehicle.
Diesel for the day ran a bit over $75 Aus. We turned the car in and had it checked over. Our attendant was happy we didn’t have any damage. Three out of the six vehicles out that day came back with damage! I tell you; the sand track was rough. Luckily Dick was adept at driving in sand. He had experience biking off road in Utah and much of that experience transferred. Our agent indicated the tracks were beat up due to people bringing all wheel drive cars. Those vehicles create ruts and the washboard effect. In case we wish to do this again, she indicated that after the rains start the track will smooth out and be packed, much like the beach. For now, one day of bouncing up, down and sideways is really enough for me.
Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long
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The Tourist Dance

November 16th, 2019
We finally broke down and did a couple of tourist things. We shared a rental car with Vagabond and went to a turtle laying beach.
 

First Time Lawn Bowling

W/ first time Lawn Bowling

On the way there we passed a Lawn Bowling club that said open to the public and kids eat free on Fridays. We had a kid with us. 🙂 Sweet. She didn’t eat. 🙁 Anyway, one of the members took a shine to Dan (Canadian) and he kindly encouraged us to try Lawn Bowling. Not knowing any of the game he explained much to us. All except how to score. The balls are balanced funny and not really round. Thus if you roll them down the green, as they slow down they curve right or left. If you try rolling them on their flat sides they bounce part way down and fall short. We tried a few. About 20 tosses in W/ hit the “jack”. She was first to strike the target. Immediately following her I hit the jack. All of us came close at one time or another but that was it. After we sat and chatted for a bit, then hit the road to our destination for the evening: turtle beach.

 
Other cruisers had come across nesting sea turtles recently at this beach. This is our second time in attempting to see turtles nest. The first was in Granada. Currently we’re 0 for 2. We’ve seen turtles hatching and returning to the sea in two places in Mexico. But; never nesting.
 
As a consolation we spoke with the Turtle volunteers. Interesting info. One volunteer has been doing the watch for decades. He told us of fisheries that have required fishing vessels to install turtle doors in their nets. This allows turtles caught to escape and survive. At the time the turtles nesting on the beach where he watches were close to 200 / year. Now 15 years later they are close to 600 / year. The eggs are in the ground for 8 weeks then hatch. Each nest contains about a 120+ eggs. And the females may nest 3 or more times per season. Out of a 1,000 hatchlings, one survives to adulthood. Not good odds. I hope we have better odds in seeing a nesting sea turtle in the future.
 
Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long
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New Country, New Challenges

November 14th, 2019
Cruising is not a piece of cake. Besides the offshore sailing, the next most challenging aspect is preparing to live in a new country. If you are a speed cruiser; one who joins the ARC or one who has taken a year or two off of the work routine, you might fly through a country that none of these prepartions are needed.
For those of us taking our time and finding joy in the experience of a new country, this next bit is for you.
Aside from the clearance in procedure our next step is to clean the boat. Often that means a marina or access to water and washing machines. While there are those that envision cruising as living in a bathing suit -that is not reality. Nights are often cool and in some cases cold. We’ve worn long underwear with two or three layers and fleece on top and on top of that even full foul wx gear. And while we don’t wear our foullies all the time, there are times that an errant wave will splash the boat and spritz one with salt water. All those need to be washed. Everything salt water touches. In the boat we attempt to localize areas that salty clothing goes. If it is beyond our smell tollerance we place it the wash pile and pull out more clothes. We usually have 2 loads of clothing when we finish with a passage. Then another two loads of our “crew covers” that protects our interior fabric and cushions. Getting salt on foam cushions usually involves replacement of that foam.
After washing the boat, the gear, and our clothing; the next step entails getting local currency. Once we have money in hand we have two new tasks: Fresh fuit and veggies as well as replacing any meats a country may have taken for destruction, and finally communication.
For communication we rely on a local SIM card. In years past WiFi was the preferred way to connect. Now getting data through the cell phone network is the easiest. Once the phone’s have cards we usually buy or sometimes get one free a MiFi device. That device acts as router for a SIM card and one can then connect all the devices up on the boat to the MiFi and it’s just like home.
And last; depending on how much time you expect to spend in a country it comes down to money. Here in Australia we expect to spend about 18 months. It’s a big country and we would like to see a few of the tourist places. That and join a tennis club, visit friends, and make all boat projects easier. To complete those task we need a car and to get settled comfortably we need a bank account to pay all the local bills.
Yesterday we went to open up an account. NZ was and I assume Australia is far ahead of the US in banking. In NZ if we wanted to pay anyone (business or personal) with an account on any bank in the country we could easily through online banking. In the US we can only move money through accounts at the the same bank. Sad, I know. In NZ we used Westpac. I was happy with them and everything worked perfectly.
We go into Bundaberg to set up an account. The only Westpac in town is moving and the branch is closed for two days. We’re getting ready to move South so I am not liking this. Some of the locals said they like the Com Bank. With the Com Bank one can do much of their banking needs at the post office.
And so…. we stop in there to set up a new account. We spend roughly an hour getting the employee all the needed info, visa stuff, tax number, address in Australia, sign this form and that form. After which we wrote a check to add money to the account. All looked good until she checks the banks rules for foreign checks. A check over 5k Aus requires a few extra bank procedures so we elect to write one for under 5k Aus. Again, all looks good until she discovers that even though we expect to wait until money is in the account, the bank will not accept any foreign checks until the account has been open for 6 months! A circular Cluster F——. You know what I mean. How can we start an account and put money in and use if for 6 months if we can’t deposit a check for six months. We don’t want to hit the ATM up daily to take cash out and then put it in a local bank. THAT, is not making our life easier.
In the end we cancelled the account, deleted everything and walked out frustrated. Tomorrow we will go to the Westpac and try to get a local account. I am hoping even if they say we need an account for 6 months they will accept our over 6 months Westpac account in NZ. We’ll see. It is close the final task we need to do for a successful stay in …..Oz.
Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

ps  We went in Friday to set up the new account and they made an appointment for us to return …. Monday. Further I know I’ve left out some cruising updates and well hopefully get to fill a few in as time passes.

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Les Loyalties, New Caladonia

September 28th, 2019
A fascinating island; Lifou. The bay is HUGE! and we are anchored in the lee of Drueulu. This community has one business; a bakery. The commercial center on the island is about 30 minutes by car  and on the windward side. Ironically there is a wharf and marina there. Entering that side would not be the most fun. There the trade winds keep it exciting. Thus they have the resorts that focus on kite surfing, wind surfing and dinghy sailing.
 
Having completed the paper work; expedited by the Go West Rally organizer, we went for a walk ashore. The island culture (Kanak) has been bickering; in some cases fighting, the French since their arrival. People on the island are not overly gregarious like Fiji. They are more reserved. We walked along in solitude and noticed a majority of homes having a round cement like structure with a thatched roof. John (the village chief) later told us that upon a marriage this is the first structure built.
 

Photo by Wendy. A family community building

It is to house not only the new family but the extended family community as needed. On the second day of our visit we had a gathering at the village. This had a fire pit in the middle; two sets of doors and many mattresses. The doors were even short for the local population. Short doors demand of an entrant to bow or stoop. This was to show humility.

 
But I jump too far ahead. The day following our clearance we made a trip to the commercial center, there to refresh our stores, get local money at the only ATM on the island, and acquire a phone card for internet and communication.
 
The money here has a similar relationship to the $’s on Vanuatu. 1,000 CFP equals $10 US. The phone card is from the OPT their only telecom company and mail service. The data usage and connection is the poorest of the the main island groups in the S Pacific. One dollar US gets you one hour of connectivity. Four dollars US gets you 24 hours. The problem with the 24 hour choice is that the first 200 megabytes is full speed but after that it is throttled.
 
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Sail Far
Stay Long
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Headin’ South

September 26th, 2019

The trip was not fun! We waited for about 4 more weeks than some other sailing friends of ours. They left and we thought the winds will still become more favorable. They did; 4 weeks later! SMH. And they didn’t stay favorable for the entire trip. All of one day.

David from Gulf Harbor Radio indicated we might have a good trip as the winds don’t often blow long from the East. The East winds would give us a broad reach all the way to New Caladonia.

We had cleared out, loaded up the dinghy and by 7 am cast off the mooring lines and headed out of the anchorage. Sails hoisted (reefed mainsail and Jib) we were moving fast; fast for a yacht in the perfect direction. I’m not going to re-write what I said in our Predict wind track. If you want further detail of our frustrations you can read them there. About 30 hours later we pulled in to the anchorage at Lifou and there we waited for the officials for clearance.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

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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

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