Overwhelmed: Shipping

Yep, I feel it; at times… quite overwhelmed. I then hide behind my Free Internet Chess Club (FICS), tennis, and computer solitaire games, like FreeCell, Spite and Malice, and Bejeweled. I’ll try to break some of the things we’ve been doing down into manageable parts. And to that end my first is shipping.

While New Zealand is a great country for boating they don’t have everything. That means that you often need to have supplies sent here. There are 5 ways to accomplish this. What method you choose depends on what you wish to bring, how much of it you want, and what size and weight it is.

The easiest, not necessarily the best is each country’s Post Office. For us we never used it. Quixotic had parcels sent by the Post and were charged $50 NZ / box. One box was so small customs let slide. Other cruisers recommended Youshop.

Youshop is a NZ post freight forwarder. They provide a shipping address (Currently in Oregon) to send your purchases to. Once purchased you input the Tracking number, the invoice and the price paid. There; if needed, they will consolidate your shipment, and forward them on to NZ by land or sea. You do pay before they ship it. There are size / weight limits on what YouShop will ship. They are fast. Roughly two weeks from order to door and they will ship right to the Marina or address you are staying at. They take care of all customs and quarantine paperwork. We’ve used them twice and been satisfied both times. One key element is to keep the order under $400.00 nz.  If over you involve at a minumum a $50 customs charge.

The final two are for heavier, bulkier, and more specialized goods. KiwiShipping from the US and Ocean Freight.

KiwiShipping too has a forwarding address in the US you ship your products to. Your goods arrive by Ocean freight. You load your pdf’ed invoiced goods to them, they advise when the item has arrived and when it will ship. They will hold the item until you have all your stuff there and pay them, then ship as a group. We were able to ship some specialized varnish with them . Varnishes are Hazmat and they had no issue with this nor asked for any special paperwork. We did ask them in advance about shipping paints and varnishes. They said as long as it was a small quantity there would be no issue. We shipped approximately 4 liters from one company and 2 liters from another. From front to back this process took about 6 weeks. Again they took care of customs paperwork and costs. Once here in NZ we paid Mainfreight to transport the goods from Auckland to Whangarei for a minimal fee.

And lastly Ocean Freight. We didn’t arrange the shipment, our supplier did. We shipped a group of batteries.

NZ_Customs

They arrived less then two weeks after departure from the point of origin. But; they were stuck in customs in Auckland. This necessitated travel to Auckland to pay the shipping company, (roughly $500 NZ) and then to locate the Customs Office. At customs we paid another $50 NZ to clear them for a “Yacht in Transit”, which we are. We needed the invoice, Passport, Temporary Import Permit (TIP) received when a yacht enters the country , and the receipt from the shipper to receive clearance for the goods. Once we had clearance we proceeded to another place,

Warehouse in Auckland

the warehouse where we could pick up the batteries. Luckily we have a car and with that, one tank of gas, one day’s time (no tourist stuff in Auckland); we were able to save the cost of a Customs broker. Another cruiser had used a customs broker for an almost identical shipment; his cost $500 NZ plus the extra fees.

Depending on what you want to bring into NZ there is a method that will assist you in acquiring what you need. With the shipping in and out and around NZ we’ve been immensely satisfied with the service.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Relationships

We’re back in the water. Yep; the boat floats and now we begin to work on the systems that make our cruising life possible. From the time of our arrival till in the water was 15 days.

From the time of our departure to the time we arrived to put the boat to bed was 10 days. We have a few more left till we are ready to move out of the marina into the cruising life.
All in all; I figure it takes about twice the time to deconstruct compared to construct. For example; lee cloths.  To remove them I used a pair of dykes, cut the wire ties and untied the end tensioners. Threw out the wire ties, rolled it up and stored it below. Total time; approx 30 minutes.
To put them back on; I dug out the wire ties and put 15 on each cloth. After retying the tensioners I needed to cut the tails of the ties. Finally I threw the tails out. Finished! Total time a little over an hour.

Bare Gell Coat Bottom

Bare Gell Coat Bottom

We didn’t do the bottom work choosing instead to hire the young bucks.  We’ve worked enough boat grunge jobs in our life and continuing to expose our bodies to toxic chemicals is not our idea of looking to a bright future. Purchasing anything in most cruising destinations is oft times problematic. I have NO IDEA where to find a Tyvek suit. Besides it’s hot here and wearing one would be detrimental to my attitude. We needed Denatured Alcohol, not found in the marine store.  Mineral Spirits; they had to order it, #10 crimp on wire connectors – only in a kit, a pencil zinc – NOPE.  Some of this is just basic supplies for any working boat yard. Not here. I am damn glad we had most of the materials on board.  But whew,  we were running close to out in some

Second coat of Barrier

Second coat of Barrier

departments.
Which brings me back to time. I am not saying that the supplies are impossible to find in Fiji. I understand that denatured alcohol is available in town; a half day round trip away. Somewhere they might have the zincs, I could order them and they might well be in next week; maybe. 🙂

Bottom Finished

Bottom Finished

Yet; for the most part -if you plan on leaving the boat for any length of time consider this formula:  It takes two – three times the days required to put the boat to bed  to wake her back up again and give her new life. Two to Three times.
Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Do the Shuffle

Progress comes in small steps; especially when you are looking to splash.  We shipped boat gear from the states; way… back in March. I drove from our dirt dwelling down to Miami and after locating the Vanguard warehouse dropped 24 boxes; 450 lbs, worth of gear off to be sent to Fiji. We had weighed them and had the dimensions and each box was labeled. Our agent said the only thing we couldn’t ship were the flares. Odd; all ships are required to carry flares but to ship them; I guess,  is just too dangerous. Ok; we pulled out of the box of flares returned them to WestMarine.  This was almost two months ago.  Once I returned home  from the trip we received an email from Vanguard letting us know that before they could even move the material from Miami to LA and load it on the ship they needed the HazeMat forms filled out. We had sent all the MSDS sheets to our agent and thought we were good to go. Not!  The agent pointed us to some very sparse information on completing the Hazmat forms and we gave it the good ol’ US try. Filled them out and sent them in to have them returned to us as… incomplete.  Now at least we had the Hazmat contact for Vanguard and we called and talked to him. While he was picky as hell he was a tremendous help. We redid the sheets and sent them again, and again, and again. always needing fewer and fewer changes but still needing some. Finally, finally, he said it was correct; and we were good for the supplies to begin their move. If we ever need to ship more supplies to Fiji I would do my best to use Marine Warehouse as they deal world wide and know all the ins and outs of shipping all things boating. But, as we had some custom canvas work done and Marine Warehouse tries to avoid the  shipping others “goods” we elected to do this ourselves.

The ship was scheduled to arrive April 26th in Lautoka, Fiji. Our flight was to arrive in Nadi on the 28th and if things went to plan we would be in the water in less than 10 days.  That is; if things went well!  We arrived without incident (not sick with typical Airline colds)  and tired, checked the boat and happily the boat survived Winston. We un-packed and arranged to have our heavy work completed by Yuve Marine, we were ready to have our floating home back in the water. W/ called the agent in Fiji. The ship with our 24 boxes  is not yet here. She called the following day, they expected it next week!  The ship arrivd in Suva Monday, about 5 days late. Our stuff is in Suva and now we are told it will be in Lautoka Wednesday; “we’ll call you when it is ready to be picked up” they said. W/ calls everyday not wanting to slip off their radar. Wednesday, it’s not here, now we are told maybe Friday; if not Friday then Monday, they are shipping it by ground from Suva to Latoka. Finally;  our gear is in Fiji; bad news, we don’t have it yet and we are waiting for it to continue the work on the boat.  Finally…. Friday arrives, W/ calles and yes it’s here… “come and get it”.

We locate a taxi; and arrange transportation to Lautoka. Jackie on  s/v JeanMarie tells us we need a TIN number and we can apply for it at the post office. We head first to  Customs  at the post office where we fill out some forms and are told we now need to finish the process by heading over to the main Customs office 2 km away. We go there and have a great experience filling – finishing the forms, receive our stamped copy and head finally to the Pacific Agencies warehouse (our Agency – Agent) to pick up our gear.  After passing over more money we receive a piece of paper to give to the warehouse to collect our supplies. All smiles we head around the corner to the warehouse and wonder of wonders; our supplies are all there, stacked up nice and neat. I hand the employee our paper and he tells me we need Customs to release it. Smiling I pull our our TIN number and hand it to him and

24 Boxes Approx 500 lbs Made it to Fiji

24 Boxes Approx 500 lbs Made it to Fiji

he said they still need a customs agent to inspect and release the gear.  Dummy me, I would have thought when it first entered the country all boxes – crates – etc  would have been sniffed by dogs and inspected by God! But no, not here; in Fiji, they require the consignee to be present when it is inspected.  Ok, so we wait. Customs has been called; two others show up and now three of us are waiting for the Customs officer.

Finally, he shows up… a bit surly. I think we interrupted his tea. He inspects one box and we left an invoice in it, accidentally, and he now wants to know the value of all the goods. Really; what does it matter, it is all for a “Yacht in Transit”  and duty free but he is not happy we don’t have invoices for everything. Neither are we. He disappears for 10 minutes and returns telling us we need to go the the main Customs office at the docks.  OK, fortunately an agent from Pacific Agencies will met us there where we will meet with another Customs agent; we assume higher up. After locating the office and finding an agent he asks for our boat papers and our list of what is what. We tell him we need the material for the boat because of stuff that happened with Winston and getting the boat ready for sailing again. He is quite pleasant telling us that the laws have changed in the last two years and back then it would have cost us 200 $F but now Fiji has streamlined the process for us and there is NO more cost. Wonderful!  He stamps the paper for releasing the goods and said their computers were acting up; they would send a form to Vuda Point Marina for our signature when everything is working. For now; however, the goods are ours to take to the boat. Yippee!

Leaving he Cyclone Pit

Leaving he Cyclone Pit

We take two trips back to Vuda. The driver and I load up most of the supplies and we take off while W/ sits with the others chatting up the Customs agent and the warehouse men. Actually; she was able to

Ready for the next Step

Ready for the next Step

sway them to a more friendly attitude and when we returned to pick up the last load they were kind enough to load the rest without my help.

Yeah, our paint is here; we’re ready to begin!  The boat is moved out of the pit and now on stands. We are making progress, shuffling a bit but moving in the right direction.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Boat Shows – NO MORE!

I hope I can remember this. No more boat shows!  We went to the St. Pete show in November. It wasn’t up to it’s usual. There seem to be fewer and fewer supplies attending these shows than in years past. And … since we were back in the Land of Instant everything  we decided to visit the Miami Interntational Boat  Show. Two thumbs down… for both shows.  We’ve been to the St Pete show so many times I have to remove my shoes to count. The Miami show I’m guessing about 7 or 8 times.

Miami International Boat Show

Miami International Boat Show

Neither show had the manufacturers I would have thought to be there.  There were a lot of power boats and very few affordable sailboats. Yeah, if you have well into a six figure income you might be able to swing the purchase of a boat but even then….. Most of the sailboats shown were actually for the charter trade. The manufacturer’s want you to assume the risks and then use the boat up  in chartering for 7 years after which time you receive a well used; and abused boat; free. Yeah right! Free! After again you sink a few 100 grand more back into the boat it may well be cruise ready.  Nothing is free in this world.

I expected Schaeffer Marine to be there, NOT. Groco, NOT. Henri Lloyd, NOT.  Even Defender Marine who I fondly remember at all the boat shows doing a great business was NOT there! The list is so long I won’t bore you with it.  Too, both shows seemed smaller. Oh, the Miami show still

required more than a day to see it but quite easily we were able to see all the exhibits and displays in less than 2 days.  In years past it required a good three days or more to walk the show and talk to a few people. Too, some of the exhibitors  we wished to talk with didn’t have enough representatives for the people interested in their gear. A friend waited at one exhibit; started to talk to a representative, the rep said just a second he needed to say something to another customer and after 5 min or so didn’t return. My friend shook his head and walked away. No sale!   Disgusting!

They are not cheap or better yet, not reasonable. Yeah you spend a day there; ok, I get that. But for the two of us to attend cost was over 100 bucks (two days) and we spend approximately 2 1/2 hours each waiting for transportation between venues. Ok, I paid to wait. Fool me once shame on you,

Wendy talking Boat Stuff

Wendy talking Boat Stuff

fool me twice….. you know the rest.  On the third day we just hung out. We were volunteering for the SSCA booth and our slot was in the pm. The people were slowing down, we were slowing down but we still had enough energy to talk with show visitors.

Every show we’ve attended in the past years we’ve at least broke even at the event.  Yeah, we’ve always spent a bit of money there but here even though we were ready it wasn’t really possible, not for a set of cruisers.  The cost of staying anywhere near the show is exorbitant and always before

Wendy and Jack on the Cay

Wendy and Jack on the Cay

what we saved with all the “show discounts” for the most part paid for our trip. No more. Discounts were minimal or non existent on many items. We ran into a few cruising friends but we don’t really need a boat show to have a get together. No, for us. I expect this to be the last US boat show we attend. I don’t know about NZ or Australia. Maybe they will have boat shows like those we’ve had in the past in the US, where manufactures and suppliers all were in attendance, all showing their wares. I hope.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

The Plan

Move the boat back to Neiafu, Vava’u

At the big city we need to see if there are any serpentine belts for sale. We figure the worse case scenario is that we belt directly to  the alternator and skip running the Water Maker.  This option keeps us running as we do most of the time. We run the water maker about 2 hours / week is all. The difference is that we will need to fill up with local or rain water. We have a water catchment system but now we are entering the dry season. Who knows however; with the El Nino’ year upon us we may just receive enough rain anyway.

In Neiafu we will hopefully find a place to purchase / replace the bearing for the clutch. The bearing  sounds like it is dragging a bit. Running the generator with the clutch there is no easy way for me to tell if it is the bearing or the clutch. Note: I said easy. Yes I could adjust the clutch out a bit and run it again but  that is a great deal of work  and if I have it all out I might as well just replace the bearing. If I can replace the bearing then we’ll see if I can adjust the clutch housing better to run for a few hours at a time.

Also I need to modify the Alternator so the belt doesn’t drag on the fan. For this it we need to shim out the pully an couple of mm’s. I expect I’ll find someone that can remove the nut on the pulley as I tried and couldn’t get it to budge.

Finally I need to modify the generator plate so I have better adjustment in the alignment of the unit with the generator.  When we repalced the pump in Panama the new pump (recommended by Giant) is a little larger and they say better for this application then the one provided by AquaMarine. Currently I have a great deal of difficulty replacing the belt and as would be expected (unpleasant language) when ever I need to remove or change the belt for any reason. Modifying the plate for a better adjustment would make this process easier and will not require near as much elbow grease or PG rated language.

Put it all back together and cross my fingers. That’s the plan. We’ll see how it all pans out once we arrive and begin tearing into the system.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Thoughts on American Samoa

Cleaning the Waterline...Again

Cleaning the Waterline...Again

First, because of the weather and anchorage we were not fond of American Samoa (AS). We spent three fair length wind / weather events there which jailed us for the most part on the boat. The anchorage is quite messy. The water is quite dirty, the dinghy docks “sketchy”, and the people although friendly when approached seemed rather dour from afar. And…on top of all that, it rains constantly.

We tried to get a tour of the Starkist Tuna plant and that went nowhere. Sandra ( Cassandra.Satele@StarKist.com ) was pleasant when we (Steve from Carolina Lady) and I went to visit and she passed us off to Mr Lavea   ( Michael.Lavea@StarKist.com ) who, while he emailed a couple of times, never followed up and ignored both Steve’s ; from Lady Carolina, and my emails. We were a group of 9 with 3 middle school / high school aged children who would have benefited from the educational experience.  In the end I even contacted Starkist USA through their website and emailed the General Manager: Sangdong Kwon ( Sangdong.Kwon@Starkist.com ) of Starkist AS who never responded either. I didn’t expect him to respond personally  but not having any response from a secretary or from Michael was quite a disappointment.  This experience makes me wonder what Starkist is hiding and personally I will now avoid purchasing any Starkist products when ever possible. In my life I’ve toured many manufacturing plants from Alcohol to Potatoe Chips and every company has been more than accommodating. Star Kist, for some reason, was not and all we received was a run around wasting our time and theirs. Shame on Starkist!

The AS anchorage was slippery. While we were there 5 boats dragged with every type of anchor. A Rocna dragged twice, a Spade once, a CQR once, a Delta once and one large Navy 200 kg mooring anchor. Because of a switching wind no one deployed a Fortess or Danforth. We were lucky we never dragged but we came close. After hearing Steve’s tales of woe (sv Carolina Lady) we became a little worried about our own anchor and put out a Tandem anchor rig. I have a 60 lb CQR for the main anchor and we backed it up about 50′ behind with a 85 lb Luke fisherman. I figured even if the winds picked up enough to lift the Luke, it would be a heck of a kelt on the all chain rode. We were the third boat there to have a tandem rig deployed and none of the boats with two anchors deployed either as a tandem or a  Bahamian moor ever dragged. One boat on a mooring broke free of the mooring and had to be removed from the shore via a tug (   insert link here).  The middle of the anchorage appears the slipperiest and from all appearances the dragging is not all because of the bottom quality but because of what is on the bottom.

When sv Lady Carolina dragged with the HUGE Navy anchor and he picked it up to re – deploy it he found, wire, plastic, clothing, and an old old bicycle with the anchor trip line all wrapped up.  The tsunami from ’09 appears to have washed every item people leave in their yards  into the harbor and with the water quality as murky as it is; to our knowledge, there has not been any effort to clean it up. I even watched other boats when cleaning their anchors to redeploy them just dropping what caused them to foul back in the water. Shame on them!  When we picked up our anchor, the Luke on our tandem rig had wrapped some cloth around the shank. When we picked up the primary anchor the shank had a good size piece of plastic wrapped around the shackle. Had that plastic made it to the anchor horns we would have been moving across the harbor too! The flotsam has been taken ashore and disposed of properly!

The best anchoring bottom in AS appears to be on the south 1/3 of the anchorage. If one is interested in wi-fi then stay as far east as you can and the Blue-Sky signal will be stronger.  (There is a 30 ‘ bump in that area that has coral and m/v Domino wrapped his chain around a head and had to dive the anchor when they were leaving). We never used the alternative ISP (I think VCX) as another geek cruiser said they lost  / fired their network guy and the system was quite problematic at the time often having a 50% packet loss.  Unless you are sitting on top of the various hotspots for Blue Sky (McDonalds, Sadie’s, DDW, etc.) don’t expect any awesome speed. On the boat I would have burst to 150 mb/s but for the most part I was at 20- 60 mb/s. On Elysium we use a high gain antenna system from Island Time Wifi that allowed us to share the connection to the tablets, phones and computers aboard.

With the Blue – Sky wifi there are some issues to be aware of. First, if you purchase data on a tablet it is only good for 15 days, not 30. There is as of this writing no 30 day data package and to add more data you must take the SIM card to the Blue Sky kiosk or their store and have them add more data. It is not possible to do online. Obviously as time transpires I would assume this will change. Second: if you use the Blue Sky wifi (which is the best deal) the connection is time bound, not data bound. And although you can purchase the time in a day,  a week or one month increments you can easily extend the time by logging out when you are not using the network. We easily had our month card working for 6 weeks and we had a lot of time left when we left. When we left we gave ours  to another cruiser so they could use it. So if you are new to the harbor you might wish to find someone leaving and politely see if they have any Blue Sky wifi cards they won’t be using.

There are two areas to tie your dinghy, one by McDonalds on the eastern – south end of the anchorage and the other by the public ramp on the southwest end. Depending on the winds and the waves in the harbor each has their own good / bad characteristics. I have heard that the dock by McDonalds will sometimes lock the gate later in the evening but we never knew of that occurring while there. The dock on the SW end is used by a couple of local Tuna boats and can become rather messy at times.

There are plenty of Laundries and the closest is by the SW dinghy dock up towards the Chinese groceries – which are quite good for supplying. The Laundry up the hill a bit farther on (it has a Laundry Sign on the second floor of the building) is much quieter and we preferred that one. Dorah who owns the laundry said she would let us use her wifi but after our first contact we never saw her again to get the password. 🙂

There was often a Taco night at the Mexican place on the corner by the park (SW corner dingy dock) but do not count on it happening. While the owner / employee’s are quite nice, about 1/2 the time they had private functions and didn’t reserve any area for the cruisers. Taco’s are a US dollar each ( I enjoyed them but some cruisers complained a wee bit about how their stomachs reacted to them), Beers 3 or 4 bucks.  On Tuesdays a group of us walked around to the Pizza place on the N side of the harbor and for the most part it was a good value. There are NO deals here like in Mexico where you can feed a family of 4 for $5 !   We enjoyed Sadie’s by the Sea’s Goat Island Cafe, which is the old Rain Maker Hotel. It was priced a little more for the tourist but we found the food to be good, the view enjoyable, and overall a  fair value.

Boat supplies are next to non-existent here. Mee Won has the best grouping of small boat supplies but even there you are rolling the dice to find anything specific. At the Tool Shop; on the water front of the harbor, there was 3m  5200, and a good supply of general hardware; after all it is a hardware store. At the True Value across from Carl’s Jr (a typical fast food restaurant) we found chip brushes that were quite reasonable. Steve on s/v Lady Carolina needed some new deep cycle batteries and there were none on the island available for purchase. It seems that for most parts people ship in whatever they need. The Yamaha shop only carried new engines and spark plugs.  There are some boating products at the Purse Seine company and they are willing to bring supplies in for boaters that are more problematic to ship compared to the Post Office. Purse Seine told me that they have a container leave the states every two weeks and I could order and ship through them. Total time to order and receive I don’t know but they are worth looking into. You can find some stuff for yachts there but they mostly supply the Tuna fleet and the boating supplies there are big, Big, BIG!  I did pick up some spare small shackles and some diesel fuel conditioner as well as some oil pads. However; you don’t buy most products individually as we had to buy 100 oil pads!  Shackles and fuel conditioner were sold individually but any line is all by the spool!

Most cruisers stop in AS for the US post office, not the tourist stuff. Shipping parts in is best via free Flat Rate boxes but sometimes you must be persistent in acquiring your package. I said persistent, not aggressive. We had ordered some CHEAP prescription glasses from Zenni Optical (I can’t recommend them as they are CHEAP) and they came from Hong Kong.  I received a tracking number from Hong Kong Post and it never transferred to a US tracking number so I didn’t have one to provide the Post Office. Finally after several attempts to locate the item one of the employees asked exactly what I was after and she looked more thoroughly through the boxes. Another employee had written my name wrong on the package when my name was correct on the shipping label but she did find it and we finally received it.  To make your time there more efficient have the packages gathered at a friends and repacked to ship – USING THE FLAT RATE PRIORITY boxes that are free at any post office and have them  shipped  to AS before you cross to AS.  Any package in Hawaii by Thursday will be in AS on Saturday. Saturday afternoon you can go to the door behind the Post Office and pick up the packages. Of course if you love lines you can wait till the week day and go to the front desk to ask for your packages there! 🙂

The local transportation is quite good and the vans / busses are each unique. Ask the driver if they are going by where you wish to stop and they will make sure you arrive there. Ask them too about returning or you may have a bit of a walk to catch the next bus as they will often go out of their way to drop you at the door.

Cost-U-Less will provide you with return transportation if you spend $300 or more. You must check with the manager; Mr Benson, prior as that service is not always available and while W/ and Carolina received one ride on a Saturday they say the service is only Monday through Friday. It may be that they spent way more then the $300 minimum and it does make the trip easier and more fun with other cruisers. Of course when you combine a couple of cruisers who are preparing for the land of less, jt becomes quite easy to spend a LOT more then $300 and Cost U Less  is much happier taking one trip.  W/ and Carolina would take a bus to KS Mart (another good grocery), purchase what they wanted there, walk to Cost -U-Less and purchase the bulk of their supplies there and then get the gratus  transportation back.

One caveat is make sure you have money / and or make sure the credit card machines are working. While we were there the credit card machines were on vacation for a week. Business’ had to turn away any CC purchases during that time. However some of the ATM’s still worked. We used the ATM exclusively at the Bank of Hawaii. We’re not sure how long that bank will be there as I understand they are wanting to pull out of AS.  Should you be planning on working in AS and want an account you must open it up in Hawaii as the Bank of Hawaii in AS is not opening any new accounts. The only bank remaining will then be the Bank of New Zealand.   There are two ATM’s in the bank of Hawaii  but only one ever worked during our stay. If you stop at the ATM during the day expect a line of between 3 and 18 people and some individuals will use multiple cards to get their cash. While there are ATM’s at the NZD bank, the Carl’s Jr mall, the airport, and the hospital, the one at the Bank of Hawaii had the cash more often than any of the others. Only once while we were were there was it out of cash and the others seemed to be out of cash more than not (reports from locals).

Flower Pot Rock

Flower Pot Rock

We wanted to hike the national park some and unfortunately while there we either had boat errands that needed to be completed during the nice wether or we had inclement weather and didn’t wish to go mudding on the trails. To hike to the top of one of the mountains and have no view was not on any of our lists.

May your stay be more pleasant than ours. As I said, when people ask us where our favorite place is I can not say; but should they ever ask where our least favorite place is I now have an answer.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Ouch!

We had ordered heaps of stuff while in Penrhyn. As out of the way as the atoll is they have good; relative to most of the pacific islands, internet.  So the last 6 weeks there we had ordered spares as well as some new things we needed, had them sent to one of our shore support team members and she consolidated them to send on to American Samoa when we left.

USPS Priority Only

USPS Priority Only

About a week before we left we asked her to go ahead and send them suggesting the USPS Flat Rate boxes and Priority Mail.  She wasn’t able to send with the Flat Rate boxes but luckily  she sent with priority mail  (we hear horror stories of not sending supplies Priority Mail) and we didn’t figure that would be too problematic-or costly. It wasn’t problematic because she had packed well but turned out to be more expensive.

Any future cruisers visiting AS be sure to have anyone in the states shipping you supplies to use the FLAT RATE boxes.  I include  pictures of two almost identical sized packages. The one is

Priority vs Flat Rate Priority USPS

Priority vs Flat Rate Priority USPS

sent priority mail; insured and it’s cost is $81 where as the FLAT RATE is about $18 with the same amount of insurance.  Lesson Learned. If at all possible; ship in a USPS FLAT RATE box to American Samoa!

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Preparation, Preparation, Preparation

Like locations in business, preparation in cruising is of paramount importance.  And we’ve been preparing for too long. Or so it seems.

We are in Isabella, Galapagos and ready to head to the Marqueses, a tad shy of 3,000 nm . Remember a nautical mile is greater than a mile and much greater than a kilometer.

The final count down actually starts a couple of days before the anchor rises. We begin stowing things in places they won’t decide to go on walkabouts. We notify our agent of when we plan on leaving to begin the paperwork process and we complete last minute provisioning and to clean the bottom.

W/ went with 3 other boats to the “farm” where one can purchase fresh produce. She arrived back with melons, bananas, pineapples, oranges, limes and a few other things I can’t remember. Stowing some of the items like the melons just isn’t really possible so we wedged them in under the table hoping they would stay.  We don’t have large secure spaces for melons and we planned on eating them soon.

While W/ went to the farm I hired 3 kids from Amphitreetes to clean our bottom. They did an excellent job but while near the end the Park personnel  stopped by and said  I couldn’t do that, I needed to go 40 nm offshore to clean the bottom. We stopped… for a bit.  While mostly we’re rule followers this one I couldn’t abide by.  The port captain’s boat bottom was cleaned in the harbor just the day before. Every boat that has left this anchorage has been in the water cleaning their bottom and in San Cristobal we cleaned the bottoms.  All this was after being checked for a clean bottom coming into the Galapagos.  I understand they don’t want foreign organisms invading their shores but as we arrived with a clean bottom everything on the bottom was of Galapagos origins.  And to add insult to injury while we were touring the Darwin Center in Santa Cruz there were some Darwin employees cleaning the science center boats with …. Bleach.  Bleach is one of the most hazardous materials in a saltwater environ.  So I’m sad to say …. the guys finished cleaning the bottom.  IMHO what is good for the Goose is good for the Gander!

With those tasks completed our agent informed us we needed to take our paperwork to the port captain’s office for our outbound clearance. Mostly Latin countries are the ones requiring outbound clearances so after lunch at a local restaurant I wondered over to the port captains office for our “zarpe”. I find humor in so many things and here during our hour wait to complete the outbound clearance the Port Captain  wanted our exact time of leaving; I said 6 am not wanting him to say “come back tomorrow” if I would have said noon.  Then he wanted our time of arrival in the Marqueses as if we had a jet and could time it to the nearest hour. He’ll we’ll be lucky to time it to the nearest week!  One would think that mariners would understand the vagaries of weather and breakdowns on a boat but not here…so I just gave him a whatever date 20 days out is.  Besides, the French don’t give a hoot about any outbound papers any other country gives you. Most countries don’t require a zarpe and I’m not fully sure why zarpe’s still exist other then “because we’ve always done it that way”, which is one of my pet peeves.

With Zarpe in hand we returned to the boat for final preparations.  There we spent the following time moving items, stowing items readying items in the boat for the passage. We pulled out our Reacher and left it in the forward head ready to deploy, I shut the seacocks in the head because we don’t use that area off shore, we made up our sea berths with our new lee cloths, pulled the ladder and tied it down, pulled the fenders and secured them on the back rail, pulled one solar panel, removed the aft cowls for the vents, readied the wind vane, tied gear down on the deck and the most difficult task, raise the dinghy, deflate it, cover it and secure it. The dinghy alone requires about two hours to  completely stow it. But, we do take short breaks, after all this work. 🙂

Dinghy Loaded

Dinghy Loaded

As we have now transferred the dinghy to the deck we see the Port Captain out cruising the harbor taking notes.  The week before when the island was in the throws of a fuel shortage we never once saw him cruise around.  The Galapagos has to be one of the few places that Latin time does not fully exist. One boat was in the anchorage 2 days beyond their said departure date and the Port Captain visited the boat and restricted them to the boat.  No other country we’ve visited has been nearly that anal about time of departure even though all seem to want an exact time on any paper work. l guess it is just that there is an area on the form for “time of departure”  so like any good drones that space must be filled in.

Fortunately we were close to pulling our anchor  and planned on leaving soon anyway. Nothing was said but I did see in the Port Captains office on a white board the list of all the boats in the harbor and symbols I’m assuming of having cleared in and out.

We continued on with our preps, said goodbyes to the other cruisers in the harbor, pulled anchor and left.  Now some might think that the preparation is finished at this point. Not so. There are always things one has missed. an errant piece of fruit decides to take a walkabout, lines need to be rearranged, watch schedules decided on, meals organized.  Much of this can be done before you go  but Rosan Rosanadanna from SNL said “There is always something…” and she’s right.

Too we need to get used to a new boat motion. Rather then the gentle rock of a boat at anchor we’re moving erratically in 3 dimensions. I was climbing up the companionway once and went to push off for the next step, the boat immediately moved down as well as forward

3,000 nm to Go

3,000 nm to Go

and I never even had to push. It was like I magically was lifted up to the next step. Then the boat rose with the new wave and I was suddenly on Jupiter where my body weight had doubled. Hang on or you become a living pinball in a wooden box with a table, sink island and cabinetry to bounce off of.  Walking without help I looked like a drunk sailor after a good night on the town. And there were times I tried to. Even moving 2 meters I would find the immediate need to lean on something or sit down.

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

Penny Wise and Pound Foolish

Most would say we’re crazy. Not for sailing, although with sailing too most would say we’re crazy. We’re crazy to order parts from the US and have them flown in by FedEx.  Yeah, we’re doing that, flying spares into Panama.

Oil Pressure Switch

Oil Pressure Switch

We have an oil pressure switch that isn’t functioning correctly. I spent all day Monday traipsing around Colon looking for a replacement. All this adventure cost was 1/2 day and about 5 bucks taxi fare.  I couldn’t find one and as stores kept saying just around the block or just in town or just out of town I finally had had enough and took the bus back to Shelter Bay.

There I decided to call the maker of our generator / water maker  (AquaMarine) to ship me a spare. Not just one spare but 3. We’re heading into the Pacific where supplies are minimal and far, far away.  And ordering 3 parts would give me a working part and two spares.  Cost for the parts $100. Cost of shipping $80.

Now that sounds like a lot. Of course I could maybe save 20 bucks on buying the switches in Panama City; that is, if I can find them. This is how I figure. The cheapest route to Panama City  is about $5 per person. If W/ chooses to go with me then we’re up to $10.  Next I need to get around in the city. If we rent a cab by the hour and we’re lucky we could pay $10 / hour  so estimate 3 hours before I get too tired looking for the pressure switch or I find the part. If I buy them then I now need to return to Shelter Bay.  Cost the cheap way is again $5 for me and if W/ went along another $5. Then once we’re in Colon we can hopefully get a taxi to take us; it;s now dark or close to it, take us to Shelter Bay; cost if we’re lucky $25.

As a summary, if we’re lucky the minimum cost would be $65, and the maximum on the cheap would be $75.  And remember, there is no guarantee we would have the part. We could well be out $65  or $75 and a days traveling and still not have the oil pressure switch.

And so it goes, I order the parts and have them flown in. At worst, this cost me a difference of $15 for shipping and at best I will have saved $65 just by not taking the chance of finding the part in Panama City. What would you do?

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long