Cyclogenesis on da Boat

Cyclogenesis is a weather term describing a small insignificant Low Pressure system that spins up creating high winds and a great deal of trouble. Not a perfect definition of cyclogenesis but generally correct.

In November of last year we lost a brand new alternator. Here’s a link for the complete debacle. Luckily; last month I found it. It was well stored under a zip lock bag of 1,000 teak plugs. The low has began to spin up. Veteran cruisers say, when you get a new item put it on and use the old as the spare. Only then will you be 100% confident the spare works. Our old alternator worked. I had taken it to Snow Brothers Electrical; one of the most respected shops in Whangarei. Alternator was in fine shape. So I figured; ok… I’ll follow advice of those before me. I stored the old working alternator and began to install the new one.

My first discovery was that the old broken; modified alternator was in fact; broken. And as luck would have it, there is a metal fabricator on site. However I was remiss in not earlier deciding to use them. After a couple of hours and a great deal of verbal abuse directed towards our generator attempting to make it work. Finally I came to a rational decision and paid the price. I had them design and make two new brackets. Two! You bet. The surest way to guarantee that there is no problem with the first is to have a spare.

But; let me step back a bit. When I dug out the new alternator it didn’t have a pulley on it. I had neglected to order one thinking I would use the pulley on the original alternator. The down side is I have tried before to remove a pulley from an alternator without success. Without a serious impact wrench it is impossible, at least for wimpy moi! Into town we go… in search of a serpentine pulley. First place I check … nope. Second place bingo. They didn’t have one in stock but could order one. I left the alternator and would pick it up the following day. Shipping in New Zealand is awesome. Most shops that need to order anything for you will have it the following day.

Back to the boat with the new alternator, new pulley and new bracket. This time I didn’t need to talk to the generator… as much. I mounted it, installed the new bracket and needed to re- install the belt. Attempting to install the old belt let loose a new verbal dialog not fit for print!

Considering all possible avenues of problems I have several belts for this system. If the belt I had been using didn’t fit… try out the others. Now; please keep in mind, installing the belt is no easy task. I put a breaker bar ( a long ridged wrench) on the idler, pull so the idler provides some slack, reach over the engine and attempt to slide the belt on the pulleys. I make at a minimum two attempts for each belt. My arms receive numerous scratches and

Changing a belt on my Aquamarine Generator

blood appears where none ought to be. I am lucky, the engine is NOT hot. After trying each belt once; some twice I am convinced we don’t have the correct size. I am guessing the pulley on the alternator is not exactly the same size as the last one. One issue of cruising the world is that there is not near as much consistency, metric vs imperial ! (A pet peeve of mine is that the politicians a few decades ago had no spine and the US tried to remain an anachronistic island in the world continuing to use an outdated, difficult to learn system of measurement. Oddly enough; politically, not much has changed in the last few decades. End of rant.) While the pulley measures out to almost identical, in this case almost isn’t good enough. I take the belt that fits closest and head to the auto stores.

At the first one I ask for the next three sizes larger than what I have. The employee measures it and indicates it’s 1060. Actually on the belt the number is a 1065. However; they didn’t have any of the step up sizes but could order them. They would have them…. tomorrow. I know there are other establishments in Whangarei that have belts. I WANT IT NOW. 🙂 I am directed to two other places. I cross my fingers.

The next place I run to is PartMasters. The counter guy checked the belt size; 1065. Ok, I want one each of the next three sizes up. He has a 1075 and a 1080. I believe they are too big but I take them anyway. Just to have the right size on our run back to the boat we try a third place looking for a 1070. No luck. At the boat I perform my engine yoga. You guessed it. More talking to the generator. Neither fit. Head down, shoulders slumped I head back to PartMasters, returning those that didn’t fit and getting even larger sizes.

Our savior heads back to the stock to grab the next two sizes. I’m now close. Yet, not close enough. They don’t have them. Damn! The closest size he has is an 1100. That is 35 mm longer than the original one but hey; if it doesn’t fit I can bring it back. At least I’m narrowing the size down.

I return to the boat, perform my yoga, I chant…. and …. bingo. It fits. Hallelujah ! Another day I’ll return and get two more for spares. One can’t have too many spares.

Earlier in the week we were getting our refrigeration up and running. We had upsized one of the holding plates, replaced a compressor, and I was checking and reconnecting all the fittings. When I removed the old; 10 year old compressor I needed to remove the High Pressure (HP) and Low Pressure (LP) lines. The LP line came off fine, but the HP fitting tore out all the threads on the pump. I didn’t care about the pump, but I needed the HP hose with the fittings. No problem. Yeah was I wrong.

I took the hose to an hydraulic shop for new fittings. The first shop didn’t have the refrigeration fittings. It was at this point I realized the place where I was getting the new pulley from; Auto Tech, they most likely had the hose fittings. I am like a chicken with my head removed; running in circles! So back I went and indeed they could make a new hose. Or so they said and so …. I …. thought. The following day I returned to pick it up. They had examined it closer and discovered that on the other end, the Swedge Loc fitting they couldn’t replace. They didn’t have any and they didn’t know of any place in NZ that did. They could cut the hose and install a new end for the compressor. There weren’t many options at this point and worrying about the domino effect of micro changes I acquiesced and said …. “ok”. Cyclogensis must be winding down. Back at the boat with the old hose and new fitting everything went back together without any further need for modification. Now all that’s left is to leak check and charge the system. Oh happy day!

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Deliveries in Paradise

It started back in July. We figured since we were on this side of Fiji and it was said that June and July were the best months to sail the Yasawa’s then why not? Let’s go.  We left our comfortable anchorage at Musket Cove and headed N.
Within the first hour our Tacktick depth sounder chose to take a vacation. The display read <reset data>. What the hell is that about?  I pressed  some buttons to work my way through the menus and never found one that indicated, <reset data>. While working the buttons and trying everything I knew about electronics with just a few buttons, various combinations, etc. I came to the conclusion that the display has taken more then a vacation but has passed on.  I noticed too the battery was low. I left the display  in the Sun for a few hours and the battery was still low (it has a solar charger built in). I checked the manual and found I can actually power it up and charge it with 12 v. I tried that and at the end of the day the batteries were still low; not accepting a charge. Ok… time to move on.
Fortunately the water has quite good clarity so we didn’t need to abort our trip. Also fortunately, Fiji is one of the places in the Pacific that every island, every harbor, every passage has internet. I begin to research.
I first discover that no one has reported the same issue. I contact Raymarine, a company owned by FLIR, and ask them what to do?  Surprised, I actually receive an answer.  I turn the display on, see the error message, and the display powers off – all by itself. OK, time to move on. I’ve spent enough time messing with a dead display. The unit will not even stay on long enough to do what Raymarine suggested so I move to stage 2 of my plan. I look for an exact replacement. Unfortunately Raymarine has purchased Tacktick so the new wireless products are Raymarine. I don’t know if they have changed anything with the units and definitely don’t want to change the transducer.
I discover the Raymarine Store in Europe that sells the system with what appears to be a slightly different model and at a very reasonable price. I contact the store and inquire about shipping to Fiji. At  first they quoted me approximately 24 Euros; which is acceptable to me so I ask how to proceed. Next they inform me they are not setup to ship outside of the EU and can’t fulfill my request.  What ever happened to the global economy?   Damn!  Fortunately we have some well traveled friends so we begin asking them for help. Our nephew was at a trade show in England then so we email him. By the time we make the back and forth he is already on his way back to the US. I ask my shore support team and they come through. Dirk and Silvie’s from Germany and still have relatives there (half of me is from Germany too but I have no more relatives there).  They volunteer Silvie’s mother to be a package drop and she will then send the package on to us in Fiji via DHL.  Bingo.
I order the product and have it shipped to her. Three days later she has it and I send the address. To avoid duty on boat gear in Fiji all packages need a Fiji Rotation Number provided each boat upon entry.  I include that in the address. A bit later we get an email from Silvie, her mom has sent the package, with a tracking number. Wunderbar! So far approximately one week has passed.  We have not stopped our

Tackticks side by side

Tackticks side by side

cruise but W/ is anxious about the depth. She loves the data!
A few days later I check the tracking number and miraculously the item is already in Fiji . Yeah! We we will have it soon! …. Not!  It hits the shores of Fiji on July 23 and we expect it any day now. The Tacktick system was sent to the Musket Cove Yacht club which is all of 10 nm from Nadi and a short car / ferry ride.  So we wait. And wait.
After a week’s wait we begin checking at the office most every day for the package. We begin to worry…. just a bit.  Anther week goes by.  Still no package. We are planning on hitting the big city of Denarau  in the middle of August and figure we may well need to head to the Post at the Airport where the Tacktick is rumored to be.  But luck was with us.
On Aug 3rd Bale (the prima facia yacht club personelle) approaches us and indicates our package is ready to be sent over on the Mololo ferry. We pay $5 F for customs and expect to have our coveted new / refurbished Tacktick the next day.  Bingo. Almost a month after it was ordered we find it at the Yacht Club office and pay another $5 F for what I don’t really know, and I don’t really care. We have it. To celebrate I stop at the small cafe here and order another chocolate milkshake. W/ decides we need to have lunch 🙂 , so we did.
Back on the boat I open it up. Good news and bad news. Obviously I didn’t look close enough, this one while having the same wireless capabilities does not have the solar charger and needs to be wired in. Ok, so I need to run some temporary wires giving us the depth display where we need it. I can do that.  I read the instructions (yes I really did) looking for any other “gotchas”. Finding none I begin the task of setting it up.
As this is a new display on our older transmitter I need to “sync” them together. I follow the instructions and they don’t sync. I follow them again and they still don’t sync. I try our older not working mn100 display and ironically for a couple of minutes it works fine and then returns to the “reset data” screen. That tells me that the transmitter and the transducer are both working. Great! However I still could not get the new mn30  to sync to the mn100 transmitter – Horrible.
Fortunately Fiji has good (I didn’t say great) internet so I contacted my FLIR – Raymarine guy in Europe for help. An automated reply said he was on his annual vacation and wouldn’t be back for (?) . Damn!  In the email there is another address for help so I sent a new request off to them asking if the mn 30 which is my new refurbished unit will talk to the mn100 which is my older unit. The FLIR – Raymarine help guy said indeed they do and sent me a pdf of the exact same instructions that came in the box. OK, I read the instructions again and tried to follow them letter by letter.  Finally, I figure out when they say press button (1)/(Z) that does not mean two buttons simultaneously but either button only  for the requested 2 seconds. I had wondered why one of the buttons had a different symbol on it and now it made sense. Whoopie! I try syncing again.  No Luck. The worst case scenerio would be that I will need to wire in the new transmitter that I received with the unit and transfer the transducer (it is the depth sounding part) to that system.  The job is not horrible but if I don’t need to make those changes I would prefer not to make those changes.
Each time I attempt to sync making a little change I email the FLIR – Raymarine help desk what I have tried and my changes.  As we are about 12 hours difference in time I didn’t expect any answers immediately but had hoped that the following a.m. my time I would hear from them. Upon my early morning rise I hadn’t heard from them so I went about doing more research.  I first checked my original email from the FLIR – Raymarine guy on how to fix my <reset data> issue. He had a good description but it was not applicable to this situation.  Next I tried some more search terms on the internet.
I hit upon a Raymarine web page talking about the mn30 units.  More instructions, more reading and maybe I will be lucky.  In one small paragraph they talk about the two different frequencies the units use a US frequency and a different frequency for the  EU. What? Two different frequencies?  This could well be the issue. Now how do  I check. There is No information in the manual. Zero, Zip, Nada!  There was a factory reset option discussed  but not wanting to mess up the potential connection to the new transmitter I held off on using that option.  Reading further down the page I discovered they actually had a setting change deep in the menu’s that allowed me to switch the frequency response of the display. Ah ha!
I scamper to the table (my work bench) and run through the menus. Sure enough I find it and switch it to the US frequencies.  Ready, Set, Go…. I attempt to sync again. After I select the network option and the display  begins the count down. In the <join> part of the countdown I receive a new message… <add node>?  and I say …. yes….YES.  But, is it working? The process finishes and I see data. I see depth. I am connected. Yeah! YEAH!
I am elated and appalled.  Why the FLIR – Raymarine does not include this information in any of their paper documentation provided with the units I will not know. Luckily they had it on their website. When I asked the FLIR – Raymarine tech  they talked to each other even he didn’t say there are two different frequencies US  and Europe. Fortunately we are able to  again expand our horizons and move out beyond the sailing triangle of Vuda, Musket, and Denarau.

So slow
Sail far
Stay Long

Stasis

We’re now in the water and slowly working on bringing the rest of our systems online.  Mostly the refrigeration. And silly me; I look for the easy way.

While both systems; the DC and the engine driven compressor, have lost refrigerant there is still some pressure in each. Unfortunately there was very little in the engine drive system and in hindsight I would have been wiser to simply evacuate it and recharge, but I was trying to keep things simple and figured I will just add R-134a till it all works right. Silly me.

I added, I removed. I hadn’t put my professional gauges on and was using a wonky car AC gauge to read only the Low Pressure side.  I ran the system. My sight glass showed bubbles; low refrigerant. Finally, I dug out the gauges and connected them. Whoa!  I was still way low. I added another can. Still low. I ran the system and I was still low. I added another can of refrigerant and watched  the sight glass.  Finally after the can was empty the sight glass foam disappeared. But the glass was still a bit foggy so I finished the refrigerant in the can. The system ran fine and the pressures looked good.

The following run time the HP went up to about 200 lbs. Real close. Oh-Oh!  Now I have appeared to have added too much refrigerant.  Luckily  the high pressure switch did not shut down the system and as the temperature on the plates cooled the system down everything looked good. The refrigeration compressor still made a bit of a grinding noise; like rust on the clutch, but over time the noise was diminishing so I felt it best to leave well enough alone. On a boat my philosophy is simple, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.  Right now it “ain’t broke”.

For the next couple of days we watched it. I now have enough refrigerant left to do a complete recharge but that is it.  I do have a new compressor to install if I need to.  That would mean dumping what is in the system, evacuating, and recharging the system with the end result that I have no more

Refrig Comprssor on Generator

Refrig Compressor on Generator

refrigerant for spares. Oh, I can buy refrigerant here; but not in the small easily stored cans, only in 10 kg containers. That makes storage a bit of an issue.  The other issue I faced is that of evacuating the system.

While I have a vacuum pump, it runs on 120v 60 cycle electricity. The electrical system here is 240 volts 50 cycle.  Which means I need to run the pump on ships power for about 3 hours and that is near the extent of my battery bank. My minimal solar will not keep up with the power drain of evacuation.  As I would be evacuating the system attached to  the generator I don’t want to use the generator to charge the batteries. Too many spinning belts too close to where I would be working.  Now, if push came to shove I could do it; but right now I’m being nudged and not shoved. Patience, I will be patient. I WILL BE PATIENT! 🙂

While working on the refrigeration systems we were talking to Simon (the activities directory – sort of for the Boatshed Restaurant).   Simon presented a couple of  events that we attended.  During the Fijian History lesson we brought up the idea of visiting some of the places he had mentioned.  He was all for creating a tour and we tentatively  cleared it with Adam the Marina manager. Simon set about scheduling transportation and accommodations for  8-10 cruisers.  W/ signed up 8, one ended up with an infection from of all things gardening. and so we were down one couple.  Six of us went on a unique tour from Vuda to Suva and back.

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

Hell Part II

I was going to first take care of the generator and while all of the pieces were out change the water pump in the Perkins. With the generator out I would have easier access to the pump. Since we’ve had to order a battery charger  for 240v 50 cycle I needed to make our time at the dock worthwhile and that entails changing the Perkins water pump out now which entails first draining all the coolant from the engine, then me ducking my head under the generator platform while laying on the Perkins and pulling the pump off.

Draining the coolant is easy but just not fun. The drain is behind a large coolant line and above the starter motor. It is just low enough that I can’t get a hose on it and direct it to a container, it is in a small enough space that I can’t get any container of size to catch the coolant; although I try. Most of the coolant drains in the engine sump where we have to suck it out with my handy dandy boat hook sucker and then W/ mostly mops up the rest and we then wipe the area down with soapy water to remove all the coolant. No matter what, coolant seems to get on everything!

Normal Engine work on a Yacht

Normal Engine work on a Yacht

With the coolant out I can wiggle into my prone position over the Perkins and remove the pump.  Fortunately it comes off without a fight.  Four nuts, 1 bolt and two hose clamps. We have it removed and then I plan on reversing the procedure to install the new identical part back on. It is a drop in replacement. If only I knew.

I add a little silicone gasket sealant to the rubberize gasket TAD sent with the pump. I install it, NOT!  The new pump doesn’t sit flush on the gasket.  There is a bolt holding the pump flange on to the Perkins that gets in the way of the new pump housing. I check the original pump and see that it too had been modified. DAMN ! Same vocabulary as before. With the pump removed we (mostly W/ ) clean off the silicone, get the file out and I mark where I need to remove the excess metal.  As I’m heading down the dock I talk to Jim on sv Intentions and he makes my day by telling me he has a small grinder that I can borrow and it will make quick work of that job. An hour or more work has just tuned into 5 minutes thanks for a fellow cruiser! I grind a bit and then dry fit the pump, something I obviously should have done the first time. The pump now barely fits and it is tight. I grind a little more and am now happy with the fit!  Perfect!

We again add a small amount of sealant to the gasket, leaning over the engine, head down, slippery fingers from the silicone, W/ hands me the nuts and washers (hoping I don’t drop any into the engine sump) and I slip them on the studs and tighten down the pump, hook up the hoses and clamp them,

Perkins 4-236 Waterpump On

Perkins 4-236 Waterpump On

reattach the coolant lines,  brackets, and then tomorrow when the sealant is cured I will add coolant. The following day I add coolant and while the thermostat isn’t open I only get to fill the header tank but there is a smallish hole by the thermostat that coolant can drip down to fill the engine. I get about a gallon in and have to wait. Another day and I look for a leak (after having added another

Perkins 4-236 Broken Gasket

Perkins 4-236 Broken Gasket

quart of coolant) and come as close to tears over an inanimate object as I have ever come. There is a little drip at the bottom of the pump. I must remove the pump and to do that the engine needs to be again drained and all the coolant cleaned up. Still close to tears!

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stayt Long

One Hell of a Day!

Saturday we were going to make  some water. The water here at the Ark Anchorage is beautiful and we are down to about 30% capacity. Started up the generator, started the water maker, set the time and sat back. About 10 minutes into the process I began to hear something a little different. A minute or so later I began to hear the engine lug and went to check. Knowing that the engine (generator) is on her last legs I figured it was working too hard and gave it more fuel. It came up a few rpms and then continued to lug down quite soon stalling out. I checked things out in the engine room. All looked good. Started up the generator, runs fine. Started the water maker (WM) and she runs for a few seconds then lugs down. Damn! Damn! DAMN!

We’d been enjoying Tonga. We spent one day at a Tongan feast with Haniteli at the Botanical Gardens. Liked him and the area so much we scheduled another day to visit the gardens and hear of the history of Tonga. Haniteli was the Minister of Agriculture and in that capacity had many dealings with the previous Kings. A 2 hour tour easily turned into three and then during lunch he kept up the story telling. Lucy (his wife) had made a coconut cake for desert and what can I say, it was good! We left there under the care of James our reserved Taxi driver who transported us both times (we had asked for him) to the Gardens and back.

Wednesday and Thursday we did some holiday shopping in town looking for unique gifts that were importable and securing some fresh stuff for our trip to the Ark.

The Ark anchorage is where the previous King of Tonga had often visited to swim. A pristine anchorage with golden hue water colored form the rising Sun, this small art gallery with a few moorings sits gently floating tied near to shore. We picked up a mooring and met Sherri and Larry, owners and now citizens of Tonga.

Saturday evening was a beach fire with food shared and there we met some of the temporary / permanent / seasonal residents of the Ark Anchorage. And there too I told them our tale of woa. But by this time I had diagnosed the issue as a short in the feed wire to the clutch and figured it would be a simple fix. I thought I saw that the wire had chafed on a pump bracket and all I needed to do was add some heat shrink and keep the wire from shorting out. Boy was I wrong.

Sunday; a day of rest, found me working in the engine room. Upon further investigating I saw that the wire to the clutch had a small rubber stopper that was to protect it from chafing and I couldn’t get that back in without removing the entire unit; WM pump and large alternator. To remove the clutch I need to remove the WM pump, disconnect the alternator, disconnect the water hoses to the pump, take the belt off the generator and then lift it out gingerly, hand the item to W/ ; which will max her out weight wise and then bring it to our dining table for continuing the disassembly repair.

With the removal completed my hands were black with belt dust and oil.  Changing the oil on the WM pump is not the most precise- easy job; a design failure of the Aquagen system IMHO, and so with the two mixed together; belt dust and oil everywhere everything we – mostly I, touched turned black. I must have washed my hands a dozen times and even with Orange GoJo they still remain the hands of a mechanic not of a sailor.

Dining Table Workbench

Dining Table Workbench

Getting the clutch off should not have required a gear puller but indeed I needed one. Fortunately Dirk and Silvie had brought one from the states when they had helped us through the canal so out it came and eventually off the outer clutch housing was removed. I could see that the clutch had moved in close enough to the magnet that it was rubbing on the housing, heating up and then acting as a brake slowing the engine down. Checking the system the day before I did notice that the clutch was HOT, too hot to keep my fingers on and that helped me diagnose a shorting restarting of the clutch as a problem. Now that I thought I knew the source of the problem I figured that I could clean it up, and set the clutch to the correct distance off the magnet and bingo; we’re back in business.

Once the pieces were reassembled I needed to figure out if I ought to put a new belt or leave the old one on. When the system is pulling a 100+ amps the belt screams so we decide to put the new belt on. However upon closer look I see the belt will drag on the alternator fan so I decide to keep the old belt. I was thinking I could put a washer under the pulley and then use the new belt. No way could I budge the nut on the alternator.  Ok, back to using the old belt.

The complete removal, cleaning resetting the clutch took almost 4 hours non stop. W/ my boss doesn’t follow US work rules so breaks were definitely at a minimum 🙂 . Lifting the two items  off the generator mount, bringing it out to the table to work on and reinstalling it was back breaking work. I was sitting on the main engine bent over, laterally moving about 30 lbs of mechanical gear and setting it, securing it on

Clean Hands (?)

Clean Hands (?)

the generator platform. Finally everything was back in place. We started up the generator; that ought to go well as I didn’t touch any of the wiring with the starting system, and the first thing we heard was a light screaming of something belt related. I looked, I searched I figured we can live with that. We started up the WM pump and that too was working fine but we still had the light screaming. Oops; the pump system shut down. I felt the clutch housing; it was hot. DAMN!  I look closer and see that the clutch has again slipped to where it is tight to the magnet rubbing. It’s getting late and we have a dinner reservation. Time to clean up and reset the thinking / planning process. As cruisers often say; our future is written in sand at low tide.  Our generator is the heart of our cruising life. It provides us ample energy, cold drinks, extending the life of food stored in the freezer, and of course water. What will we do now?

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Yipee!

I can’t believe it. I thought I was going to have to replace the fresh water pump on the ol’ Perkins 4-236.  But nope!

We waited for the near gale to abate before doing any more engine work. I didn’t want to be without ships power just in case we dragged anchor or someone else was dragging anchor down on us. So while the winds blew steadily 25-30 kts gusting to near 40 in the harbor we just hung out on the boat.

Towing sv Barbarella

Towing sv Barbarella

Sadly we watched as a friends 65′ boat broke free of its mooring and needed to be towed off the mud shore.  Unfortunately, the boat is so big that none of the cruisers could really assist. His anchor alone is 225 lbs and it would be impossible for anyone of us to carry it in the dinghy to set out a kedge. So Dick (the owner) went and hired some tugs to come pull him off and he is now resting comfortable at the marina (if it can be called such) here.  Finally, today the winds abated enough for me to feel comfortable taking the engine off line for a couple of hours.

Remember this all started in Penhryn when we first heard the ticking. After Steve on sv Lady Carolina came by with a mechanics stethoscope which by the way didn’t find the issue, we identified the source.  We pulled off the belt to the alternator, water pump and flywheel. When we did that the ticking was no more. Great! Now I know it is one of those three items. Actually, the fly wheel was not in the mix as is was turning without the belt. Thus it came down to the alternator, belt or water pump.

Thinking ahead I had ordered a new water pump while in Penhryn. Luckily their internet is quite adequate and operating 90% of the time or better. So when we arrived we had the water pump within a few days.

After working with Steve I realized I needed a spare alternator and as this wasn’t like the US 30 years ago I needed to order that too. So I found what I thought was a great company Great – Water who sold the same high quality AmpTech alternator that I had and I ordered that. They indicated it would be shipped as I requested, via USPS Priority Express; however, they had it drop shipped from the manufacture and they shipped it UPS Sure-Post.  What a mess. After waiting a month for it I contacted Great – Waters both by email and by their web contact form. Only their web contact form provided me some relief and I was able to get them to ship the alternator the way I had asked the first time and I received it in less than a week.

Today I switched out the alternators. Ran the Perkins for 25 minutes and …. and…. get this…neither I nor W/ heard the tick, tick tick that occurred not quite randomly but frequently.  Woohoo!  One less job to do here. Now; we are down to receiving two packages and then looking for a weather window to head to Tonga. We’ll be able to move again. I feel whole!

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

Headin’ South and a little West

Day 1: We upped anchor about 9 am after a good breakfast and running the generator. We wanted to be out of the pass before the tide switched; better to wash out than fight the current getting out.  While we waved to the residents of Tetautua I don’t think any were up and about or they just weren’t watching. Understandable but too a little disappointing.

We tooled across the harbor listening to our engine. The click we had started to hear was becoming more noticeable and I counted 2 / second at about 1,200 rpms. So I emailed that info to our shore support team and received a cryptic reply from one that he could not believe; since I’m an iPhone guy, that I didn’t have the strobe on the phone and did not have the tach set accurately.  Damn! I never thought to look in the App store but now I will add that to my list.

Even if the engine would have quit here we could have sailed out and if the winds are to do what history tells us we could sail all the way to Pago Pago, American Samoa and into the harbor and anchor; all under sail.

We did make is successfully across the lagoon under diesel power and leaving the pass a pod of dolphins waved good bye to us. Fish here were in a feeding frenzy and had we been up to it we could have dragged a line and caught at least something. But we were most concerned with getting our sea legs and setting the boat right for the trip South and West.  Too as we exited the lagoon the water was swirling about on the ocean side of the pass, boiling and turning over as if at the base of a waterfall. The lagoon water must be a bit higher than the ocean to create this effect. That happens because the wind driven waves are pushed into the lagoon over various shallow places in the atoll and the exit points are smaller than all the entrance points leaving the water level in the lagoon a tad higher than the ocean. When you are talking about trillions of liters of water pouring out a few small openings you end up with the whirlpools full of small fish just outside the door, a smorgasbord for lunching by the larger fish.

We set the Yankee, adjusted the wind vane and laid back with our books. It was looking like a fine day as we sailed on we looked up every so often to see our home of 5 months disappear below the horizon. We will miss our friends and life on the atoll.

Day 2: Yesterday we clocked close to 100 nm and while it’s not near our best day we were satisfied with the results. The sailing was easy and the ride a little uncomfortable. The seas as usual were not our friend and with the lighter than expected winds combined with left over swells from what looked like 3 different directions we were pushed around a bit. The movement of the boat necessitated always using one hand to hold on to the boat as we moved about below. The winds dropped off today and our second days run was in the low 80 miles.  W/’s been warming up the meals she had planned and the brownies I’m trying to stretch out for as long as I can. We’re feeling more normal and our sea legs are sprouting but I’ve not yet felt like putting a fishing line into the water. I hope maybe to tomorrow. Progress!

Day 3: In the am I usually fire up the SSB and using the Pactor to connect with either Sailmail or Airmail to get the new Gribs. I’m not sure why I do this as they are computer predictions of the weather and they are so often missing what is going on locally that the whole situation frustrates me, but I still do it.  W/ turned on the SSB for me as we started the day and her first words were “Oh-Oh”.  The Icom 802 didn’t switch on.  Time to see what the issue is. I’ve never had occur before but for most of our years cruising we had the SSB connected to a circuit breaker (against what the manual says), and on the trip from the Galapagos I figured to follow the manual. In the Galapagos I made the change and  connected the radio directly to the hot power post.  So I start to investigate; I check the connections and they all seem solid, I check the fuse and it tests good.  I put the fuse back in and hit the switch – Boom!  the radio has power.  In one of my emails to my shore support team both Mike and Dirk tell me they have had their radios lock up too and had to depower the connections and then connect them back up.  Oh well, something new to keep in mind. Fortunately for the rest of the trip we had no more issues with the Icom.

Today I gave in and drug a lure about 50 nm+ and nothing, not even a bite, nor nibble. There just doesn’t seem to be any fish here. We’ve not even seen any other boats around. None, Nada, Zip!

Broken Bracket

Broken Bracket

Day 4: Last night W/ thought the generator sounded noisier than usual. Well; since we were beginning our night watch and there was no immediate need to start a project that could be saved till we are both rested and there is light out I would look at it in the am. With first light I found the adjustable bracket for the alternator had broken. Just @$#%^^@#$ amazing!  The belt was still on and had a bit o’ tension I figured we could run it under reduced load and since the only thing we really used power for last night was the sailing light (1 amp) and the iPad (another amp or less) the batteries wouldn’t have been drawn down much. First I pulled off the bracket so it wouldn’t rattle back and forth then we charged the batteries and ran the refrigeration compressor. That done I set about to create a Willy Wonka – Rube

Aquagen Broken Bracket ready to reinstall

Aquagen Broken Bracket ready to reinstall

Goldberg repair. I had enough play in the bracket I could shorten it a bit and put it back on.  W/ and I set about to drill a hole in each piece and then I would pin it with a bolt.  And that we did, while the boat rocked and rolled, W/ held the plastic cutting board over the bucket (I didn’t want to drill into the boat) and I balanced as well as possible and we drilled. I drilled a bit; W/ added a small amount  of oil to the bit tip. What seemed like an hour later we had two holes drilled in the SS bracket. I then inserted the bolt and a locking nut. Later in the day when the generator had cooled down I would put the bracket back on.

We weren’t flying along but we were making progress to our destination. Today I dragged two lures in the water and had no strikes. However; when I retrieve the lures  some of the plastic fringe was missing on one of them with my only conclusion being that one pescado had decided to taste test before swallowing the whole thing and after said test decided this was not the fare he wished.  Again a day without a nice fish.

Day 5: I have the bracket replaced and it’s doing its job. I still have the generator turned down because when we tried to run the alternator at greater power the belt was screaming at us. Neither of us love to hear that talk from the system and more so I don’t like the belt dust that a slipping belt creates.

About an hour after sunrise I hear my fishing real zing!  A fish. I grab the rod and yell at W/ to get my fishing belt. I get the rod out of the holder and look for what we have hooked!  Wow! A bill fish. This will be fun. As we’re only traveling about 3 kts I just hoped to stop the fish and then drag it through the water eventually killing it so I can bring it aboard.  But stopping the fish was never in his future. He jumped several times all the while my line was still ripping off the real.  I was getting close to the end and yet the entire time I was increasing the tension on the real trying to stop the loss of line.  I had it cranked up as far as it would go and then the line reached the end where everything sat in stasis for a few seconds only to reward the fish with a “Ping”. He just snapped a 100 lb test line.  As Dirk says, “You don’t really want a fish that big anyway” and ironically fate decided the same thing. No fish, just a fish story.

Day 6: The winds have really, I mean really died.  We are now floating. All sails are down, the helm is tied off and the only movement we have is from the waves and currents. Unfortunately the seas have not died near as fast and so we are bobbing around much more than either of us would wish.  Today we make all 20 some miles. We attempt to sail 3

No Puffs even in the Middle of the Pacific Ocean

No Puffs even in the Middle of the Pacific Ocean

times and have a grand ol’ speed of about 2-3 kts at the best of times. During the second try sailing I noticed I could see a small patch of blue where red should be in our drifter. A part of the seam either chafed or let go. When the sail is down I will stitch it back together.  I download a very large area GRIB and discover that 300 miles south of us the trough that had run to Samoa from the higher latitudes has formed into a L pressure system. Fortunately it’s 300 miles S. Unfortunately it has cut off our winds. Fortunately it is 300 miles S. Unfortunately it throws up squalls and sometimes

Fixing a seam on the Drifter

Fixing a seam on the Drifter

thunderstorms. For the last couple of nights we’ve been watching a wonderful lightening show south of us. Now we know the cause. And it was wonderful because it was 300 nm  S of us.

Day 7: Becalmed again. With the drifter back 100% we’re able to fly it again without concern. We look forward to moving again. Some might ask why we don’t motor and had the engine been running perfect and we had adequate fuel we would have. We have about 40 gallons of diesel saved for the main engine and since I don’t know exactly what the tick, tick, ticking is I want to save the engine for the final entrance to Pago Pago. Today, trying to move in the direction we need to go we made 8 sail changes. Our boat is not set up for the fast easy sailing like some boats where you push a button and roll up a sail or roll it out. I believe in the KISS method of cruising (Keep It Simple Stupid).  I’ve seen too many in mast furling problems to have a system like that in as remote a place as the Pacific. I reef the main, I throw the reef out, we hoist the drifter, set the pole, douse the drifter and store it below deck. We put up the staysail and reef the main; all the while trying to find the right sails to keep moving.  Early afternoon we again sit, sails down, going nowhere. By now however the seas had dropped to nothing matching the winds and Neptune was undulating like a giant breathing while sleeping on it’s back. We rolled slightly but moving on the boat was close to being anchored in the lagoon.  By evening we had some breaths of air and were sailing again.

Day 8: Sailing in light air is magical. Sailing at night too has it’s own magic and if you combine them you have one of the rare moments we all love. We were making about 3 kts on a flat sea with stars shining brightly framing the Milky Way.  For 5 hours we were in Heaven.  By early am we were again becalmed and this would be our last time. We have now crossed the line to the last 100 miles to go. I’m thinking that if we get within 50 miles of Pago Pago and there is still no wind we will fire up the ol’ Perkins and take the risk.

Day 9: Much like the earlier days we were making progress but it was in the 2-3 kt range.  My fishing wasn’t going all

Even the Birds liked the Lures

Even the Birds liked the Lures

that well but I did drag two lines and one spinner on a sinking rig.  Somewhere in the late am we hooked a white fish only to be surprised when we pulled it in it was  a beautiful Tropic Bird.  The good thing about Neptune is nothing goes to waste out here so we gave her back to the sea.  Damn. Lures out again later in the am I got another strike. This fish I never saw. By the time I reached the rod the line was ripping out like a marathon runner had grabbed it.  I again tried to increase the drag stopping the fish but he would have none of that. Out the line ripped and at the end I could see the line stretch and then “Ping”, it parted.  Damn!  Only one lure left. And to my chagrin while the line had paused at one point and I stupidly put my thumb on the real, the fish had decided to make another run at freedom leaving me with a nice friction burn on my thumb.  Now I’m down to only one lure and one good thumb. The blue and white lure had to be the one to catch something. It hasn’t received much notice and I’ve not used that color much but since it’s my last lure I’m trying it. Mid afternoon we get another hit. Since we now only have one line to worry about I go to grab the rod and W/ is watching the end seeing what fish we might have.  She later reports it as some wide bodied silver fish. But as in my other scenarios this one too rips off all my line even as I tighten down the drag on the real. I am afraid I have both reals now burned up and will have to check them in port. Af the end of the day, I have 4 lures now in Neptune’s hands and no fish.  Some exciting fishing but nothing to take pictures of.

Day 10: After the squall last night and clicking off quite a few miles while the stars passed slowly overhead we were both up in the am contemplating our arrival. We had two options; if the winds stayed we could go for it and if it became to dark we could heave to offshore. If we were close enough to dusk we could motor in. Dirk (part of our shore support) had indicated that the harbor is safe to enter at night -he however did not, and the author of a cruising guide said that he had entered the harbor at night when the power was actually out. But night entrances are often fraught with dangers and if we could we would like to enter while the Sun still lit the way.  We decided to go for it.  We shook out one reef in the main (we still had one in. We pulled out the Yankee and added the staysail. We were making 6+ kts for a good part of the am with the winds slowly dying out. But; we were closing in. Early pm we saw the mountains of American Samoa and we felt we could make it in and anchored while it was light yet. About 3 miles out the winds had lightened enough that we started up the engine and I began furling the sails. Passing through the outer reef we were greeted by another pod of Dolphins. Either they beat us here or their cousins told them of our impending arrival. The site of them swimming near the boat, surfacing and diving filled us with the joy that comes when when you have shared your time on the ocean with them. We cleared the outer reef and both of us were quite relieved. We still had light, the sails were furled, and we were motoring towards a good night’s rest. We entered the harbor proper and moved to the back where the small boats (like us) were anchored. There we dropped 200′ of chain with our trusty CQR  in about 35′ of water and sat down elated and exhausted. One of the best things about any passage is the first night’s sleep. I’m reminded of how I slept in high school or college. Like a baby!

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long