Leaving NZ

Over half way. And it wasn’t an easy half. Sailing in the mid latitudes is not fun. We had been informed by a retired meteorologist that if we made it N of 30 S we would be for the most part on the up and up. Not so. Here too is where not having an adequate shake down enters the equation.
 
We were N of 30. Listening on the SSB that am we were informed that we would have two fronts pass over us. For most of us tropical and sub tropical sailors that means an hour or so of crappy weather and then fair winds. Not here.
 
The first front wasn’t bad at all. I turned down wind, pulled the sails flat and ran with it for an hour. Once it had passed we came back on course. Four hours later a second front crossed our path. And it was nasty. Maybe; I ought to say NASTY !
 
We saw it coming. I reefed the mainsail and we furled some jib. The winds struck and if you ever heard of heavy air; that is what it was. The colder, dense air in the higher latitudes can be more problematic. Less than an hour later I reefed our main again. I couldn’t put the third reef in because I didn’t have the lines run. Remember: shakedown!
 
The winds kept increasing. Without the third reef heaving to in this stuff wouldn’t work. By now we had pulled in the headsail and I had up the staysail. Time to reef that. I went forward to reef it and I didn’t have it rigged right. I needed a snap shackle on the clew instead of a D shackle. I got the clew pulled down but couldn’t get the sail set right. Now this is where memory is sketchy. I didn’t ease the outhaul on the stay sail so getting it down and setting of the reef didn’t work. Frustrated and with the wind speed still increasing I furled the sail. We were moving faster than I wanted to go but with only the main up it was manageable. I’m glad we had the new main built heavier than the last and glad we had full battens. For the most part it was setting pretty and the wind vane was doing all the work steering.
 
I cleaned up around the deck. Some lines had freed themselves from the belaying pins and I secured them. After cleaning up the deck I hid behind the dodger. We don’t have a high latitude boat. We don’t have a “Florida room” as I like to call it. High latitude boats generally have an enclosed cockpit. Most of the NZ boats have enclosed cockpits I call…. “Florida Rooms”.
 
I use to laugh at boats with Florida rooms. Not any more. I understand the need. Th the cold wind, the wind chill can easily be deadly. This front stayed around for about 10 hours. Never in our 35k miles of sailing had we had conditions like that and as is often the case, a good part of it was in the dark. One improvement that worked awesome was our new spreader lights. The forward deck light and spreader lights made deck work quite safer. There was not doubt about where things were; what I could do even in the blowing rain. By midnight things had eased a bit and we pulled out some jib continuing our course N.
 
As a side note; the vessel Second Wind was about 60 nm from us and they didn’t have any of this frontal event. I say didn’t have any; I believe they said they had a slight wind increase but nothing memorable.
 
As the day wore on the winds slowly disappeared. W/ wasn’t happy because if we tried to keep sailing that put Minerva another day away. Once we were below 4 kts it was time to start the engine. Generally neither of us complain about sailing at 3-4 kts. But North and South Minerva can be dangerous sailing near them at night.
 
During high tide nothing above the water is visible. I doubt one would even see the breaking waves. There is a light on each reef but the chart doesn’t say how high it is. At least my three charting programs didn’t. Knowing the height of the light and the placement will guide you in how far away from it you are. After visiting Minerva I would say it is about 15’ above sea level and not all that bright. Tonga is responsible for the lights but I have a feeling they are maintained by the NZ Navy.
 
We needed to pass S Minerva in the day light. At least that was my wish and then enter N Minerva in day light. Attempting a night pass passage was not prudent even if one has a gps track. With the engine running we could manage our speed better and our entry time as well.
 
However; as mentioned in our previous post our engine temp was still a bit problematic. W/ was worried, knowing if we had to sail the arrival could well be dangerous. I started the engine and just as before, it rose to the correct operating temp and then kept climbing. I shut it down and waited 15 minutes. Once the temp fell below the normal operating temp I started it again and viola’ ! The operating temp moved into the correct range and we were off.
 
Now we switched from wind vane steering to our tiller pilot pushing the arm of the vane. We powered for a good half day and finally there was enough breeze to sail. A few hours sail, then back to powering. I ran through the starting method that worked and Minerva was our destination.
 
We passed S Minerva earlier than I wished but I did pick up the light on it. I stayed about 2 miles off the edge; closer than I wanted. By all appearances we were fine. 30 nm further N was N Minerva. Arriving in the late morning we could see some boats anchored. We tried calling Second Wind on the radio. We could barely hear them. We were using our hand held VHF as it seems our mast mounted antenna or the bigger boat VHF isn’t transmitting properly. Did I complain about a lack of a shakedown yet ! 🙂
 
As we got closer the communication was clearer and we could see the entrance and checked our charts for a match. . For the most part it was easier than some of the passes in the Tuamotus. I could see a few eddies as water flowed out of the lagoon but nothing enough to physically move the boat about. W/ powered right on in.
 
We had been told to drag a line entering the lagoon and the fish there will grab anything. Earlier in the day we had a small fish hitch a ride and ran a hook through it. Who ever told us must be a real-estate broker in Florida because it was a tall tale and we didn’t even get a nibble.
 
45 minutes later we were anchored in the lee of the S part of the volcano rim and ready for a good sleep. That was not to be. Art and Nancy offered to make lunch for us; and even to pick us up. W/ couldn’t refuse so we spent lunch with them sharing tall tales. . After, we returned to Elysium with the goal of counting stars from our berth. A great night sleep was honestly earned.
Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long
ps  As mentioned earlier I will move this to the correct date after a day or so. It is out of order so anyone wishing to check up on our blog will see it first. Cheers….

Happy Holidays…

Some doubt there is a Santa. I’m not convinced that is correct, nor will I argue the reverse. It would be nice  if there were and this year should I find one comfortable enough to sit on his (maybe I could find a cute Ms. Clause’s)  lap, I will take this opportunity to not ask Santa to give something but to take something.

We (and maybe mostly I) are news junkies. Yeah, Yeah, it is difficult to be a news junkie on a boat but somehow we get just enough of a fix to keep on going. We listen to NPR and PBS,  I peruse the various News sites. I try to stay away from the partisan ones like Fox and MSNBC but once in a long while I might look at their content and just as often laugh. What I’ve noticed this year is a lot of “Hate” coming from a lot of people It seems the Republicans Hate everything, it seems the Democrats Hate Republicans. People with Health Care Hate people without. The Religious hate all other Religions, Devout bible thumping Christians Hate Atheists and they even Hate people that think “the Bible is theology” and not the book of everything, Science is thought to be the anti-Christ when Science  is solely a means to discovery and has no belief nor direction.

Years ago we traveled in the Northern Caribbean and while in the Virgin Islands found the people there spoke poorly of Puerto Ricans.  We went to Puerto Rico and thoroughly enjoyed the people and the island; found there that People from the Dominican Republic were generally frowned upon. We traveled to the Dominican Republic and found there they had very little love for Haitians. (Oh, we too loved the Dominican Republic). We didn’t travel to Haiti but had heard that they frowned upon Cubans moving en mass to their country and in Florida where we lived the Cubans were often maligned.

I don’t know if there is a genetic makeup or cultural adaptation in people for the emotion of  Hate. It could be that without Hate we can not have love. I hope not. For that situation would surely be a sad state of affairs if those two were wed to each other. We see the results of Hate  far too often. The Rich seem to Hate the poor. Oh, no one talks like they “Hate” another but  their actions speak louder then words. Laws and programs to help people down and out, the powerful often want to cast aside, programs that provide  Food Stamps or unemployment Insurance are pushed towards extinction. Raise the minimum wage and those making millions at the top say “Oh – NO!” we won’t be able to make millions  (cloaked in the word Profit) anymore. So the rich or super rich build lavish homes and then hire security guards to ensure their safety. The rich feign paying taxes so  that any country such that it can facilitate a society that everyone can feel secure and there won’t be any need for the wire and bars and guards at the gate the rich pretend to avoid.  The rich send their children to private schools because they don’t want their children sharing space with the common citizen; oh they say because they’re “better” , but most likely it is to begin another “good ol’ boys club. There is no data showing that private schools are better at educating, Putting up walls around their property, bars on their windows all in the name of safety, all to keep those they hate and don’t want to have what they do; away.

Not just people but Nations and Governments can foster this Hate. North Korea Hates South. China Hates Japan. The US Hates all nations not Democratic even though we are not a Democracy, but a Republic!  Sometimes governments hate their own people. Syria  is in the Middle of a Civil War. Afghanastanis killing each other, Egypt, Iran, the Ukraine. Too the US tolerates the constant killing of its citizens via a variety of weapons. Oh we look to prosecute the perpetrators but we wait till they’ve harmed someone before we take action thereby accepting the crime. I’m not suggesting anything like the movie “Minority Report” but saying we allow Hate to manifest itself in so many ways that the outcomes become common place.

Talk radio spews out vitriol like  squalls in a hurricane.. Comments on blogs and news articles quickly digress to people calling each other names, “Liberal,  Commie”, “Fascist Pig”, “Anarchist”, “Stupid”, etc. What’s happened to an intelligent discourse in discussions? What are people after with the poison in their words?

I remember the movie “Liar, Liar”, with Jim Carey. Jim was bewitched into telling the truth. That one concept turned the world on its head for him. In social situations he blabbed about the ugly dress, the person that was a sour puss and constantly surly he let know. His life changed ( some would say for the better and others not). But the movie illuminated how we’ve all come to accept lies both large and small as necessary to our culture.

I could be asking Santa for a dangerous gift. I hope not, I hope that what I’m asking for would make our time on

A Fountain in Lima Peru

spaceship Earth more palatable, more enjoyable. I am asking Santa to not give anything to anyone this holiday season!  I would ask Santa to take from everyone; even if just for 5 minutes,  the emotion of “Hate”.  Take Hate and make the world a place everyone can enjoy, even if just for 5 minutes. Please Santa “Take Hate from each and everyone of us”

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Slip Sliding ….Away!

Time has a way of sliding down the ways. In the working world we dream of the weekends and vacations. On the boat we dream of a day without a project. But our project list is slowly shrinking and although our “To Do’s ” will never be zero we hope our projects will become more manageable and leave us a little free time.

Patches, our New Car with the Hobe Chaps

Patches, our New Car with the Hobe Chaps

As of late we’ve built or should I say rebuilt our dinghy chaps for the new “car”.  I took the old ones from the Achilles and modified, patched, added, tucked and sewed till there just might be more thread than fabric. We call it our Hobo dinghy and have named her Patches. She has a racing stripe and is multicolored. There is almost no new fabric in the cover and in one respect I’m damn glad of that, as today working on our painting project I have already splattered some Polyurethane paint on her.

Yeah, that’s another project; one we didn’t plan on doing as we had a contract with

W/ and Patches changing our looks

W/ and Patches changing our looks

Lyman Morris to paint the Cove stripe when we were land traveling. But Lyman Morris left us hanging; thus I have no respect for the company, zero, nada, zilch, etc, we’ve resigned ourselves to completing the project.

We had been using Poly – Glow on the Cove Stripe but re-coating it every 6 months became problematic. We couldn’t keep up with that arduous schedule. No way, no how. So now we’re using Signature Finish and painting it ourselves. We’ll see how it all comes out. Hell, it’s paint. And the worse case is somewhere down the line we paint it again. At least I’m expecting we’ll get much more then 6 months out of the project. And then….

In between rain and other projects we are working on a dinghy cover for when we haul it up on deck, turn it upside down and carry it above our aft cabin offshore. Those pieces are mostly cut and when we finish the painting project we’ll pull the dinghy out of the water and finish the cover.

Projects are one way cruising eeks it out of people. That and Grandkids.  If you have any interest in cruising for any length of time I have two suggestions for ya. First; become really good at being a “Jack of all Trades”, and second, remember what they taught you in sex education about where children come from.   We know many a cursing folk that are giving up this adventure to be with the Grand Kids!

Why people are so afraid to give their children the freedom of creating their own lives’ painting I’ll never know; and I am thankful of the ignorance. That and I’m happy my mother never tried to live my life for me. Oh; she’s tried at times to run it, or tell me what to do but as she has had  a full and adventurous life of her own she’s left me time to make my own mistakes and muddle my way through to create my own portrait. In that respect she’s been a true jewel. Why the current crop of parents and grandparents feel they can’t trust their children to live without them I don’t know. I’ve often said Sesame Street had something to do with it but I think it may be much more and much deeper; so much so that I have difficulty with the a misty fog engulfing my brain as I think about it.

And the second group of cruisers leaving this adventure are just tired of working on their boats. Boats are work. And anyone reading my ramblings know how much we work on the boat. I’m guessing we average about 20 hours / week but am really afraid to log it and see. Cruising is one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had for the least amount of money earned. Actually it cost a bundle just to have the excitement of working on a boat with a new vista every so often. But the really, and I mean really the key is I believe that the boat must be as simple as you can stand it. Ours is simpler then most but much more complex then our last boat. We don’t have a fully integrated navigation system, we don’t have Radar; but we do have a generator, refrigeration and freezer; we keep most of the exterior teak varnished, we have a large  battery bank (not grand by todays standards but 4x’s the size of our last boat) and  lots and lots of wiring, it all adds up to constant care. The dinghy we have now is larger then we ever had when we cruised  Principia around the northern Caribbean and we have two outboards for it. One smallish one for putting around the harbor and one for exploring farther and diving more often.  Teak decks take a lot of attention and we conscientiously chose to not have any. I know too Mike and Sue on Infini actually removed theirs prior to leaving and I’ve never heard any regrets from them about the choice.  Steve and Kim on North Star had their Teak decks removed in Cartagena as well as the Teak Handrails. Sure, Teak Decks look great at boat shows or with a paid crew to work on them daily but here in paradise… they generally look like hell.  People try to keep them looking good but the effort is akin to sptitin into the wind.  We have Teak on the bowsprit platform and while it takes less then an hours work every few months it only looks good about once every 18 moths and then for; if we’re lucky,  a month or so. Then too we have a simple rig,  a cutter with a simple Famet Roller Furling.  You can’t get much more basic then them apples. But we see boats with Mizzins and they have all this extra stufff (4 to 6 more chainplates, shrouds, turnbuckles, rigging) all for a pretty sail that really, really doesn’t do much, all adding extra cost and extra time to the adventure.

So we travel on; always taking baby steps but reaching towards our goal of floating west. We’ve no children to suck us back to the US, we have a boat W/ and I can mostly care for and more adventures in our future to look forward to.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Frisked Like a Criminal

Now just to let you know, I’ve not been arrested. But getting on our flight to the US both W/ and I were frisked.  I find that abhorant.

As much as I HATE flying on commercial airlines, as a cruiser it seems that we just simply must fly sometimes. We’ve actually added trips to the US to our budget. Family, friends, and boat needs all demand this particular adventure.

We made our reservations way in advance to ensure a fair ticket price. We arrived at the airport at the suggested time and began the process of checking our bags. I had to pay for one extra bag. Last year we flew farther for less and carried more! Fuel prices are the same, the economy has been flat, but Airline prices have surged.  This year we had to pay for an extra bag and the check in person wasn’t the most understandable. Although all three bags equaled less then 150 lbs one bag was 52 lbs and one was 47 lbs she made me repack them so they were all less then 50 lbs.  I had weighed them at the hotel but the toiletries we added plus an extra pair of shoes bumped the one over 50 lbs. The weight  switched we finally had the checked bags OK’d and we moved to the gate.

There we watched as everyone boarding the plane was frisked. I mean everyone. Little old ladies, kids, and dolls.  There were no public cavity searches and I’m thankful that I didn’t witness nor participate in one, however every carry on bag was opened and contents of all pockets were emptied and checked. What surprised me most was when one person pulled out a pack of cigarettes they sat on the counter and were never looked at.  Aren’t cigarettes considered a possible for a slow fuse.

Frisked and boarded we were ready for the flight to the US. There we again went though the criminal ordeal. While we had been in a controlled environment the entire time, plane, US Immigration, baggage reclaim , US customs, US Immigration, baggage re recheck, then Frisk again at the gates I don’t understand it. Where would we have been able to acquire weapons or explosives anywhere down the line?  But someone’s bucket of money and irrational fears seem to drive the need to treat people like criminals.

We boarded our final flight and were thankful upon arrival in Florida that our family was there to greet us.  We made it, back to the land of instant everything. Now to catching up, returning parts, purchasing parts and relearning why we don’t love the life of a dirt dweller.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Almost

One of my goals this season had been to ensure the boat could  cruise a full  year without major issues. A major issue is one I can’t fix and forces us  to  high tail it to the nearest port where we can effect repairs.  We didn’t make it a full year but we came close.  We have had a few rather serious (not catastrophic)  issues.  The exhaust elbow in the generator has a smallish 2 cm crack.  I  fixed the crack with JB Weld that held  for a bit but it didn’t last more then 3 months and so I’ve re JB Welded it and put a cover over it so there is no spray, only dribbles. Till we get to the marina it will remain 1/2 fixed.

Then, the genset’s heat exchanger began to leak.  It’s an older style heat exchanger and now looking back I see where I could maybe have lucked out and recognized there was a Zinc in the heat exchanger.  Two of the three pictures in the Aquagen instruction manual identify a drain at the bottom of the exchanger and the third one now shows a Zinc.  The solder has  been etched away and now I has a leak.  I’ve since rubber clamped it shut so it will not leak and will send it back to Aquamarine for repair when we get back to the states. In the meantime I’ve ordered and received a new heat exchanger, a new model and it has a Zinc of which I need to  purchase many more and make sure this doesn’t happen again.

The High Pressure pump (HP) on the water maker leaks.  My error.  I had found difficulty with the original boost valve (it was of a lawn sprinkler valve and I had put the valve in  vertically when it needed to be below water level and horizontally – not well documented in the manual), so I had replaced it with a manual valve.  One time running the water maker I forgot to turn the valve on to start the system and this caused excess cavitation in the HP pump. Thus a small leak. I called Dan (of Aquamarine – and that is one great thing about the company — I can speak to him about any issue most anytime), and he indicated that I needed to get a new gasket kit.  I now have that and a spare and will replace it when I get to Shelter Bay Marina. It’s the rainy season now and we can catch plenty of water.

In the last 2 weeks  the Aquagen began to crank over ever so slowly and finally it just wouldn’t turn over the engine. I knew we had plenty of power and suspected the starter we had fixed (almost) in Panama City. There they didn’t have a replacement starter but we found one that appeared the same size  and I put that starter motor in  the housing I had. However; I don’t believe the front bearing was ever replaced.  The starter worked but it took about 5 seconds on the glow plug and then it required about 5 seconds to turn it over before the generator would catch and 90% of the time or more I would hear teeth grinding as the starter disengaged. Well the replacement finally wouldn’t do the job.

Thinking ahead while back in the states I purchased a new replacement starter for this engine and had kept it as a spare.  Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.  I replaced the Panama City starter and viola!  I turned the key and the generator started just like new!  No longer did I need to hold the glow plug on for 5 seconds, in less then a second or two she fired right up. Sweet.

And about this same time I had taken some refrigerant out of the engine driven system and bought some fuel from a gas station in town. The refrigeration system was overcharged some and we were having to run the generator longer then we needed. When it’s running correctly we run it approx 45 minutes in the am and 45 minutes in the pm. With the overcharged state we were needing to run it approx  80 minutes am and pm. The extra time was a PITA. So I pulled out  approx 5 psi and the generator ran fine that evening; the refrigeration plates pulled down faster, but not yet perfect.  The next day we added 25 gallons of diesel to the tanks.  The next time we ran the generator to pull down the plates in the freezer and the ice box things began acting weird.  The rpms on the generator began to vary and once they went so low as to stall the engine. I suspected the new fuel.

Running the generator with the refrigeration compressor (RC) on, we heard some significant changes in engine rpms. It seems that both W/ and I are extremely sensitive to small sounds and how they end up telling me to find what’s wrong.  We shut the system down and I figured the fuel filters were getting clogged. Fuel was the last thing added and the last change to the engine.  Diagnosing issues on a boat isn’t a lot different from diagnosis in terms of computer issues or I suspect any other field where one has to problem solve.  It is a lot like playing 20 questions. As long as you ask simple questions and learn the answer you can solve the problem. Working on several things at once and then trying to  identify  the issue would  easily have me fumbling all over the place. That is exactly what happened. Since the fuel was the last thing I did it was the first place I looked to solve the problem.  I was hoping to make it to our respite in Shelter Bay Marina before a lot of this smaller maintenance work, but as  teenagers today say “Oh Well”.  So before I figure I needed to, I first chose to change the Racor fuel filter. I changed that filter and the next time we ran the generator it did the same thing; varying engine rpms by about 300.  Ok, next change the fuel filter on the generator. and I did that.  Now the fuel getting to the generator will be crystal clear and yet the same issue occurred. Last thing in the fuel system would be the fuel pump. I had a spare. Whoopee!  I changed that too.

This time while running the generator and the RC when the engine started to bog down (damn it’s still doing the same thing)  I shut the RC off. Viola!  The generator ran as expected.  What the $#%#$ !  I wasn’t expecting this!  Now I know there is an issue with the compressor.

Thinking I still have a bit too much pressure in the RC system I pull out approx 5 more PSI and I email Mike on Abake. He actually has training in refrigeration systems and I email Dirk on Lison Life who knows more about mechanic issues on engines than I do.  The consensus seems to be that I have a RC that is soon to become  toast. DAMN!  (I actually have a more colorful vocabulary marching through my brain but do try to keep this blog PG).

In this process of checking the RC out I had hooked up the gauge set and ran all the numbers. They were well within range if not a little low on the HP side. To get a full set of numbers when the engine began to bog down I tried reducing the rpms a bit. I went down to 2500 rpms.  Again, Viola!  There was no more bogging down on the system and running the RC an hour gave me a full pull down on the refrigeration plates as well as a working set of numbers.

With Mike and Dirk saying the same thing that the issue was the RC I contacted Roger in Panama City to help locate a replacement. Roger is a Panamanian that is cruiser friendly. He had worked at the Panama Yacht club till it closed. Since then he’s made a career out of assisting cruisers in transporting and securing supplies.  He speaks fluent English and obviously Spanish  and he knows where the places are that cruisers need to stay afloat and happy. While he searched in the city  I called Sanden International in the USA and got the run around trying to connect to a real person on the phone, then found out they know almost nothing of the Sanden unit I have except they don’t make it anymore and they have no idea where a supplier is in Panama. So much for them being “International”!

So I waited. Roger called about 4ish  and had  found a similar Sanden sized correctly and hopefully W/ will pick it up today. While I wait for her return  I changed the oil in the genset and ran the RC successfully at the lower RPM. I’m wondering now if I run it at full rpm if I’ll still get the engine bogging down. Time will tell.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

The Land Beyond

Westsail is going through a site change and they’ve located, or rather Bud has located two old promotional videos that the corporation had made in the ’70’s . I found them such a hoot to watch, stepping back 30 years to see the boats, the places, and to hear the ideas narrated by the designer of the Westsail 42 and 43 – Bill Crealock.

For those interested, here are the two videos from whence my dream and consequently W/s dream found sustenance .

If you’ve watched them you found the title of this blog in the second video. There too was a comment that resonated with me: “while our living space has shrunk to 40 feet our horizons have expanded to the world”.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

The Difference betwen Men and Boys is the size of their…..Mistakes!

Yep, ok; toys too. But mistakes  seem so much grander when we age.  More then that I always believe I did follow the “manual”. Dirk on Lison Life always said “RTF…M”  Read the F….. Manual. You can figure out what the F means. And at times like this I’m haunted by the old saying of the 3 most dreaded words an adult can hear at X- mass time:  “Some Assembly Required”.

I figured I’d read it and re-read it and read it again. But as in a test I remember taking in oh say 8th grade about “Directions”; obviously I’m still that way.  The Directions test goes on to about 20 easy to answer qsts like; what your name, what is today’s date, what kind of clock is on the wall. I thought I had died and gone to test taking heaven. I could do this and I was good at answering these questions. The last question was more of a statement; when finished yell, Finished and Stand up.  Maybe not those words exactly but something to that effect. So I was in the top couple of my class, I yelled and stood up as did most of the class.  But really I wasn’t in the top ten, more likely the bottom.

I skipped the “Directions”. In the directions was the sentence “Read the following questions, when you get to the end, turn your paper upside down and put your head down”.  Had I read the directiions then I wouldn’t have made a fool of myself in the 8th grade, math class. I’m still making a fool of myself.

We left about 10 ish am, traveling loosely with IB and Becca on Passport to Bonaire, NI;  part of the ABC’s. Were were to skirt along the N coast of Venezuela and then make Bonaire in about 3 t0 4 days. Things were going as well as could be expected on this 400 nm passage. The first day is always tough, getting your sea legs, getting use to a different sleep schedules (we keep someone awake on the boat offshore 24 hours per day, getting use to different foods (quick and easy) and cleanliness (we’re not entertaining the Queen so we don’t need to change our shirt 3 times a day).

Things were going smoothly, the windvane was steering nicely, we had enough wind and in a favorable direction the boat was moving with out to much unwanted motion, what more could we ask for?

About 10 pm we blew out a shackle on the  windvane. I just couldn’t believe it. So I go and dig out a replacement shackle (yeah we had one)  and I hang over the transom in the dark and I get the shackle on with the clevis pin and a new retaining circle clip. Hook up the windvane and set it back up.  Then I retire. It’s W/’ s watch. About 15 minutes later we hear a “ping”; the boat always seems to make weird noises at night and we keep moving. A bit later ( I can’t sleep) I stick my head out the hatch and W/s hand steering. She said we had a wind shift.

Missing Oar in Water

Missing Oar in Water

Ok; I go to reset the sail on the windvane and look down, there is NO OAR in the water!  None! Nada! Zilch! Impossible!  I go and tell W/, I’m dazed!  I can’t think straight! Never could but that doesn’t matter.

Imagine you’re driving along and coast to a stop with your car. The light turns green and you put your foot down on the petal, the engine roars and you go no where. What the…….. . You mess up traffic, get out of the car and look under the hood. The engine is there, the transmission is no more. It’s gone. It is not laying in the road 10 m back, it has simply disappeared. That’s how I felt.

The oar that powers the windvane is gone. I know where it is. It is 9,000 feet down on the bottom of the Caribbean Sea. Some may think I’m a god, others may think that I think I’m a god. No matter. I’m not nor have ever professed to be. Even if I was a god I couldn’t dive down 9,000 feet to get the oar and then once on the bottom I would need to see it. No light down there, no locater beacon. It’s gone. Done, Over, it is no more.

What this all boils down to is that we now have to steer by hand. Sailing a boat and steering by hand for short periods of time is fun. Short; an hour, maybe two, but  3 1/2 days by hand. Ouch!  That hurts. What can we do. It’s dark, We’re tired. Not much we can do. Time to sleep; tonight we’ll hand steer, we’ll use the stars and our compass. And I’ll look at solving the problem in the am.

Go Slow
Go Far
Stay Long

Cruising Costs

Mike always said “It costs what ya got”!  Dirk called us “High Rollers” (I guess cause there are times we use marinas? .  Don’t know where exactly we fit in the group of cruisers we see around here. I know there are yachtsmen  here that spend in a week what we’ve spent in a year.  Of course; no one would say they’re “cruisers”; except maybe, the superyacht owner. 🙂

Everywhere you see costs debated on the cruising boards; how much can I get away with, what boat do I need, etc?

I completed a first full year expense analysis for our boat and our lifestyle  and it came out to $48,554.38.  You can check our website for details on where much of it went and during what months. Please keep in mind this doesn’t count any cost of purchase or depreciation of the boat as we cruise. Salesmen like to call that the cost of ownership!  🙂

We started out in the Bahamas for the last calendar year. A great deal of our low cost stores had been depleted and we love to eat out – mostly lunch – but some dinners. We then moved to the Chesapeake where we had planned on purchasing a new hard top dodger which we did from Canvas Creations. We stayed at a Annapolis Landing Marina (which we thoroughly enjoyed) which was also Annapolis priced. We also added a great deal of supplies to our boat there; two new computers (one to run the Pactor Modem and one to be a ship’s back up for navigation), we added AIS, new stabilizing binoculars, some custom SS stuff and more track for our head sails. It all adds up. We also hauled the boat there, fixed a potential sinking problem and cruised the area.

From there we sailed offshore to the Virgin Islands where we damaged our furler and a sail; fixed that in the VI’s and then began our trek south of  the hurricane belt for the next hurricane season.

So there you have it; our expenses for the first year ( I may be a thou shy as I know there are some expenses we missed. Keep in mind this is on a big 42′ boat and covers two people.

One thing that has helped our budget is the ability to put away money for a rainy day fund. In condo’s in Florida they call it a reserve. We’ve been doing that to the tune of $1,100.00 / month so when we have an issue I draw out of that fund. Now I’ll be able to see if I’ve budgeted that correctly or need to add more. Would be nice to reduce the amt but I doubt the boat will let me. 🙂

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Elysium’s Little Brother is “Jonah the Whale”

We’re constantly amazed how much this boat holds. Our last boat a Westsail 32 held ungodly amounts of stuff. We never wanted for space. But we had been working so much on Elysium that we were actually wondering if it would hold the same amount. I knew we had almost double the lockers and openings (Principia -our last boat had almost 50) but some of these storage areas seemed smallish.

Well, not to worry, W’s packing and she keeps telling me we have more room even after we empty one of our storage rooms out from the house. The boat is sitting at least 8 cm s lower right now and I figure we’re about 80% loaded. Eight cm on our boat translates to about 2,000 kg’s. We’re getting close to being fully loaded and ready to go.

It’s tough waiting and tough getting it all together! I can’t believe when I read how some other sailors just “sold it all” and then loaded the boat and went. We’ve been selling it all for about 2 years now and loading the boat for almost 2 months. Of course some would say we work slowly. Yeah, the’re right, the fable of the “Tortoise and the Hair” must have had some effect on us as we grew up!

Fair Winds

Day Zero!


To mark the occasion I shaved my beard off! Yep for one day I had a naked chin. (I’m going to immediately grow it back). And this then is weird. I had a great day but still worked. I tried to eliminate loose ends as much as possible, my school rented me a Segway (People Mover) to tool around on the last day. What a blast! I went into rooms and invited students (those w/ work completed) to ride and some of their teachers.

As the day wound down the school organized a “clap out” where every student and faculty member of the school lined up and clapped – high fived me as I rode by. By this time I was getting the hang of the Segway and rode the line hands free while giving high fives on both sides. What a blast. What a great school. I will miss them all.

However; we move on and like leaving one anchorage and traveling to the next I know that life holds an abundance of continually new experiences. Odd to hear me optimistic eh? Odd for me too.

However; it is both good and bad that life is finite. It is exactly that limited existence that provides meaning to what we do. And it is knowing that there is a limit to life that drives us to savor as much of the beauty and culture and people our spaceship Earth has to offer.

Now it’s on to finishing a few projects on the boat and packing. We hope to be casting off in the next two weeks but Mother Nature will ultimately determine our course and speed.