Whangarei

In many ways Whangarei has been; un-eventful, in others the events are more personal. We’re settling in here. We’re getting use to the “big city”, many restaurants, plentiful boat parts, a plethora of services, and all the necessities life has to offer. We bought a car, joined a gym, joined a tennis club and I have ended up with tendinitis in my knee.

Summer at Riverside Marina in Whangarei, New Zealand

Riverside Marina, Whangarei, New Zealand

 

The car came from another cruiser and previously from the used car place in Opua “Cars for Cruisers”. It’s a ’99 Camry which for the most part we are happy with. And the differences between the US and countries we visit are fascinating. In NZ to transfer a car title you go to the Post Office. The seller filled out a form (free) and the buyer (us) filled out another

Wrong Way, Wrong Side, Correct Pedals.

Wrong Way, Wrong Side, Correct Pedals.

with a fee of $9 NZ. Boom. The car is now ours. Every 6 months we need to get a service check called a WOF (Warranty of Fitness) and we are good to go. We have third party insurance for a year at approx $250 NZ. Of course this does not cover any damage to our car but it does protect others and by extension us. The car has a key lock where even with the right cut dime store key the car will not start. Yet, I am sure there are ways. The car has some minor issues we need to address. But it sure is nice being able to travel farther, faster, and carry more than we can on foot. Our US drivers license is good for a year. We expect to sell the car next Dec before our license expires. Hopefully to the next generation of NZ sailors.

 

Somewhere in our extensive walks I felt a little pain in my knee. I followed the recommended procedure RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression -lax

On our walk, a view of the town basin, Whangarei, NZ

On our walk, a view of the town basin, Whangarei, NZ

on that one, and Elevation). All was going well, too well as a matter of fact. I was feeling good and at the gym which we walked to I did a full body work out including jumping rope. My knee was a little sore. We tried a massage therapist there and it was W/s turn. My knee felt good. I figured I could walk back to the boat, ice my knee, drop off our gym bags, and return to pick up W/. About 1/2 way back my knee was talking to me. I slowed down and strolled on. On the boat I grabbed the ice and elevated it for 10 minutes. Time to return. I was in mild pain but hey! I am strong, I can handle it. Again at the 1/2 mark my knee started talking to me. Well, more like yelling at me. I actually took one step and sat down the pain was so bad. After rubbing it for a few minutes and figuring it was as far back to the car as it was to the gym I could make it. I was a man with a limp. But I made it. And at our fitness center an employee had some anti inflammatory meds. I took two. I would live. W/ appeared much too soon and I would need to walk again. But I hobbled to the restaurant where we met Lewis, Alyssa, and her mom for lunch. Had some more stories to share and then returned to the boat. I was now reduced to the speed of a crawl. Stupidly I didn’t want W/ to get the car. I could make it. Almost an hour later (normally a 15 minute walk) I was on board with ice on my knee. We got the IBProfin out of our medical kit and I began the descent into a pain free world. It was not to be. While I’m sure the anitinflammatory helped keep me from self amputating my leg I was NOT pain free. That night for me was miserable. My sleep would be best described as almost passing out. Finally the dawn broke and I returned to my rehab routine. Ten days later I am almost back to full motion and 90% of the time pain free. I look forward to Tennis this coming week.

The day before this major faux pas we joined a Tennis club. We had walked to Kamo, a nearby town that was only about 8km away taking about 20k steps to get there. That is where my knee began talking to me. But then it was in quiet whispers. We didn’t find the club but found the address of the club secretary. After a brief introduction she offered to give us a ride back into Whangarei. On the way she showed us two closer Tennis clubs. Anyway, we joined Mairtown Tennis. Five all weather courts (astro turf) with 12 tons of sand brushed in each court. Tennis balls they have, a ball machine they have, hoppers with balls they have; and all those included in the cost of our membership. They don’t have any clay tennis courts in NZ. The good news is that it doesn’t get slippery when wet and it is easy on the body. Not as easy as a clay court but much better than asphalt. W/ was able to play right away and I expected to play in two days as my knee was almost healed. That was until I abused it further. Now a week later I’m finally able to feed some balls to W/ and volley some. But running was still problematic. So I wait. I hope, hope, that this Tuesday I will be able to play with the Veterans (retired players) that play in the morning. Some things just don’t change. At Innisbrook and River Crossing (our old clubs) that was the situation also. (I have a problem here) One characteristic of NZ is our language differences. The language of the country is English but the words often have slightly different uses. W/ and I chuckle with every new one. Minnow; not a fish, a young boy or girl. Cheers! A way to say hello or goodbye and sometimes thank you. Kid Sharing; when separated parents have custody of children and they live with one one week and the other another week. Jandals; we call them flip flops. Stomping; more of what W/ does when hiking. Bach; a summer cottage and we don’t know where this permutation came from. Driving; we drive on the wrong side. Take away, a doggie bag.

With our car the most egregious thing we’ve done is hit the curb- twice. The turning ratio on the Camry is so different from our other cars I ran over a curb once and another time W/ brushed a curb. We tell each other to look right and stay left. That is our mantra driving. When entering any roadway; traffic from the right will nail us first and we need to stay left to avoid head on collisions. When leaving one place we had visited in the country I naturally took the right side of the road only to come upon a resident driving on “my side”. Fortunately neither was traveling at any speed and all I got was a smile and a finger wave not to drive on the wrong side. Whew! While we drive on the wrong side the steering wheel and driver is on the “wrong” side too! This makes life a further challenge adapting to the new perspective. Fortunately the accelerator and brake are in their correct positions but the indicator blinker lever and windshield washer lever is reversed. More than a few times have we indicated a turn by turning on our wipers. We are getting better at everything. Luckily we are not in the big metropolis of Auckland and the traffic isn’t hazardous to our driving, nor visa versa. I look forward to the time when while driving I can see a little more of the country side. Now I am focusing only on staying centered in the left lane.

Ah…the boat. Just to be clear we are NOT moving here. A few years ago immigrating to NZ would have been easier. Now the bureaucracy makes it quite difficult for retires to become permanent residents. Not that we would want to, we’ve not experienced a winter here and from what we understand Winters are not fun. Winter fun is in the S. Island. Thus we’ve been looking for a Home Sitting experience. During the winter months we hope to watch someones pet(s) and take care of their home while they travel. House sitting will solve our “freezing butt” issue. Thus if the water is close to 0º C (32º F) the boat will be ….. FREEZING! and if anyone has stayed on a boat during cold weather knows, it gets damn cold inside a boat. While you can warm the air up some, the water temperature becomes a huge heat sink. The boat temperature moves steadily towards the water temperature. Additionally we can leave the boat a mess while completing a few needed changes. We expect to haul the boat out of the water during this time.. staying on board then is not our cup of tea.

 
Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Lost

In academia 97% is a great score. On a boat, sometimes it’s not good enough. We keep quite a few spares aboard. You never know what you will need and where. Since we have over XYZ of spares we keep an inventory of them. The inventory is; I would guess 95-99% accurate.

Preparing to leave Denarau from Musket for our prep to NZ W/ noticed our house batteries were low. I didn’t understand how that could be since we run the generator twice / day. We use it to primarily to keep the refrigeration / freezer at the proper temperature. The by product of this procedure is the batteries stay close to fully charged.

In the am I checked the battery charge as the generator was running. Oh-oh! There was no charge! Damn!

No big deal just a PITA. I’ll pull out the spare and put it on, then get the older one rebuilt in NZ. We check the inventory. We carry over 1,000 different items on our boat spares inventory. This does not count tools, or fasteners. Nor does it count daily supplies for living such as food, clothing, books, etc. I ought to have two spare alternators listed (the 200 amp for the generator and the 100 amp for the Perkins. Neither are in the inventory! Damn! Now it is time to hunt through the spares in our lockers. We locate the smaller alternator we purchased in American Samoa. I have included an example of inventory one-locker in that locker in this post. We correct the inventory by adding the alternator and keep looking for the larger one. We have not yet found the alternator. I remember ordering it and paying for it. I can not for the life of me remember putting it on the boat and storing it. Oddly, I have believed for the last three years we had it as a spare. But I (we) can’t find the alternator. We pulled out, cleaned and replaced gear from most every locker in the next two days. and we still can’t find it. Plan B.

So… fortunately we are where there ought to be a place to repair and rebuild them. I took it to a shop in Lautoka recommended by another cruiser. The windings needed replacing, it needed new brushes, and a couple of other little things. Cost is about $200 ish US. Well, At least we will have it working for our trip to NZ! Once there I will get another replacement and make sure it ends up in my dirty little hands and stored on the boat.

Monday I take the alternator to Lautoka for repair. By Wednesday I have it back on the boat. Thursday it is on the generator and working…. not as it should. The shop indicated that the alternator needed to be rewound. Ok, rewind it. They had a machine to rewind it. Great. When I went to the shop I had him show connect the alternator up to make sure it worked. I didn’t want to make the trip for nothing! But the shop is not what I am use to. The employees were pleasant. The equipment was marginal. They didn’t have a dummy load to dump the current into. All they could do was connect it to a battery with a small light to act as regulator and a battery to read the voltage. The shop didn’t have the equipment to tell me if the alternator could put out it’s full amperage. There was charge and the battery voltage rose to 14 v. It took me a 1/2 day to get to the shop and return to the boat. In the end I have paid for an alternator that isn’t 100%. But, it is easy to reinstall and will keep the batteries up as we make our way to NZ. Hopefully soon. We are getting itchy feet.

And yeah, the database has been updated. Now it might be 99% accurate. What is missing? I don’t know. An old friend liked to say “You don’t know what you don’t know”! I believe the same applies here.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Even the Best aren’t Perfect

For some reason our water alarm stopped functioning. It is an Aqualarm and for the most part a real engine saver.  We added it in Panama. When the water flow stops the alarm screams at us. The light quit working after about 100 hours of use. So what. We never stare at the panel anyway and I don’t care about the light. But the alarm screaming definitely informs us the cooling water has stopped. We count on the alarm to let us know that the engines heat is removed. The water alarm sounds well before any engine over heating alarms and that saves the engine.  But, the alarm quit working.

I contacted Aqualarm and asked for advice. They indicated removing and cleaning Aqualarm Sensorwith WD-40. I don’t carry WD-40 on the boat and I can’t find any in Savusavu.  I will do my best to inspect and clean the sensor. Working with plumbing is not something I love. This is an adventure in how few curse words it takes to complete the repair.

Luckily, the removal went ok.  I shut off the seacock. We don’t want to flood our home and sink. Then I removed the switch emptying  the water from the hoses into a catchment container. W/ disposed of the salt water back into the sea.  Once removed we check over the hose clamps and replaced one that was suspect. Out of the three clamps, the one that looked in the best shape is one that failed.

W/ Cleaning the Aqualarm Sensor

W/ Cleaning the Aqualarm Sensor

We cleaned the sensor with Vinegar and Q tips.  There is a piece that slides back and forth on a spindle. As the water pushes down the piece moves indicating that we have positive water flow. We cleaned around it, moved the disk up and down several times and soaked it in Vinegar.  When the vinegar wash was clear I made sure the disk on the spindle moved freely.  Back together it goes.

Once I connected the sensing wires we checked to ensure the alarm was “screaming”. It did.  I finished the plumbing and tightened the hose clamps. Two small drips. I tightened again. One small drip.
I left the little drip hoping the older hose would snug up a little more over time. I am always concerned about over tightening clamps. One drip every minute or so will not sink the boat in one night.  Maybe a couple of months but not one night.  I left a paper towel under the drip to gauge the amount.  That evening we ran the generator and the alarm worked like new.  It screamed when the key switch was activated and once the engine started the alarm went off. Sweet!

The next morning I went in the engine room before running the generator. Working in the engine room after a diesel has run is like working in a sauna.  The paper towel was soaked. In the sump under the main engine exhaust there was about 10 liter of water.  Normally there is one or two liters underneath the Aqualift exhaust. This is due to the daily condensation of our refrigeration system.  The end result is we added 5-8 liters of water.  We clean the sump and I  attempt to fix the drip.

I identified again the drip off the pump. The other drip was no more. Good. One clamp worked and the other never closed the gap. The shields hose I am using is showing its age and getting stiff. That is why I was hoping with  a tight clamp the hose might adapt and close up any gaps. While the hose may have adapted some it didn’t seal any gap. The next step is to tighten a wee bit more.  And that is exactly what I attempted to do.

I tightened, then tightened some more, and finally tightened more until I realized that the clamp is broken. I can tighten all I want and the drip will not stop.  W/ digs out our box of clamps. We carry almost a 100 spare clamps sized for a 1/2” up to a 3”. One thing that surprises me is how many clamps we seem to replace in a year, every year.

Practical Sailor had a clamp evaluation in Feb of 2013 (page 18) that gave AWAB clamps the best score.  On a  boat when life depends on small things we take no risks. Our last purchase of replacement clamps were all AWAB.  The clamp that Failed AWAB clampjust failed; AWAB. It goes to show, even the best isn’t perfect. The screw piece that attached to the band let go.

I replaced it with, you guessed it, another AWAB.  I screwed it down. I still had a small drip. I tightened a bit more. Still a small drip. I went to my clamp bank. I found a narrow 3/4” clamp (not AWAB) to add to the hose. I was able to clamp it just inside the ridge at the end of the fitting. I tightened it.  No noticeable drip but a wet spot when I touch the towel to the fitting. I tightened both just a little more. Finally, dry. Bingo.  I leave my wrenches in the engine room. I will check later today and check the tightness tomorrow ensuring we have no leaks.  As a reward, W/ and I have massages this afternoon at Una’s.  Life in paradise. Can it get any better?  🙂
Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Elysium’s Hip

Hip tied in Fiji

Hip tied in Fiji

Most evenings you will see Elysium’s  dinghy tied securely to her hip.  The only times she is sleek and trim is for passage making; offshore. That is when our dinghy (car) is packed and flipped upside down on the aft cabin top.

We use a Wichard Dinghy lift strap that attaches to two points on the stern and one on the bow. The strap is adjustable.  If we lift the dinghy with the 15 hp vs the 2 hp verses sans engine the angle sets are all different. The nylon strapping does tend to stretch. We want her to hang a little bow high allowing any rains to wash and drain. We’ve had the dinghy hanging safely in over 30 kts of wind.

Some boats haul their dinghy up higher than we do and set them against their stanchions. We avoid the stanchions feeling that they do not provide a solid continuous support for the tubes. We also don’t see any reason to bring it up higher out of the water. Other cruisers hold the dinghy off the boat with a whisker pole. The farther off the beam you hang the more heal to the boat you have.
We find storing our dinghy about midship, securing the transom on to our boat ladder mount and the bow to a mooring cleat up forward ensures that it is stable. Further, with the dinghy out of the water over a meter it becomes it a bit more difficult for anyone to board the boat.  Swimmers are not able to “grab and go”.  Without the dinghy in the water to climb on the deck it is too high for an easy reach or step up.

Hip tie Stern

Our Hip Tied Dinghy on the stern.

We hang it not just for our security but the security of the dinghy. As far out of the water as it is makes the easy removal of the dinghy more problematic.  I don’t say impossible because thieves that really want something will find a way. With the dinghy out of the water, tied fore and aft it would take an individual a few minutes climbing around on our boat to free the dinghy or engine and they first must get on the boat. If a thief wanted only the outboard it too is difficult.  Lifting and moving 100 lbs over your head while standing on another boat in the water is a feat for Superman.

We tried trailing the dinghy for a year or so behind our boat at night. Most nights we could hear the water slapping up against the dinghy hull. If something wakes me up and I don’t hear the dinghy water slap  the dinghy may well be missing.  This necesitates getting up and checking on it. On super calm nights I would be checking more than sleeping!  Too, hanging off the stern invites an easy theft.  Chains don’t ensure safety either. Another cruiser lost theirs at night while they slept. The dinghy and motor had been chained to the boat. The thief cut the boat chain, floated away and then stole the engine. The dinghy was recovered early that am. The motor was gone forever. Earlier on we lost our dinghy in the Bahamas (fortunately we recovered it and the thief was arrested). The dinghy was trailed astern for the evening. If the weather isn’t optimal the line(s) you have cleated may come free. Tension cycling might well loosen the lines from the cleat. Attachment points could well chafe through.

Hip tying eliminates all these issues. For us this method of protecting the dinghy is the smartest move we can make.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Making Life…More Comfortable.

Keep it fresh.

Keep it fresh.

Dorades.  We installed several dorades when refurbishing the boat and they have been one of the most valuable cruising additions; and for the most part maintenance.

On our last boat we didn’t have any dorades.  On rainy days and offshore; depending on the wind direction, the boat would become musty and sometimes smelly (I hate to say that) inside. At times the boat felt like a closed up closet.  On Elysium our dorades keep the boat well aired. Sometimes we actually have too much fresh air.  For times with too much air, I fabricated a simple closure that allows us to regulate the amount of air.

Dorade Interior Vent

Dorade Interior Vent

One would think that openings to the outside might bring unwanted water or flying pests in. I constructed the dorades in the traditional style with a tube extending 1” above the divider in the box.  I have 3 drain holes at the bottom of the box that allow any water to flow out without entering the boat.  In any weather, and in any sea we have never had a drip of water below. And while there is no screening in them Mosquitoes, No – See-Ums, and Flys appear to not find their way in. We do have screens for the hatches but that is all. The ports stay closed during intense times of the flying critters.

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

Into the Light

The new Kubota works. And… it works well. I started it up and only had one small leak in the diesel return line. Tightening the hose clamp solved that issue. I love easy solutions with engine issues.  I’ve been running it for about 3 hours / day, easily loaded at between 5 and 30 amps for the first 10 hours. I was varying the rpm’s beginning at 1500-1800 and every new hour raising the amount. I’m now at the recommended rpm’s of 2800 and have been loading it up to 60 amps.

While I’m close to 25 hours everything is working perfectly and I AM A HAPPY CAMPER.  We’ll move off the dock and onto a mooring at Savusavu Marina. While there are three Marinas and one individual that provides moorings here; Savusavu Marina has brand new moorings with 3 helix screws, new chain and shackles, for each of their moorings. IMHO the most secure moorings in the field.

We pull off the dock and grab a mooring ready for the next 25 hour generator run and begin to look for a weather window heading west.  We’re all of 150 miles from our cyclone resting destination and need to get a move on. We have a reservation for November and I am getting a tiny bit concerned. For most of our cruising weather is our guide. But now we have a schedule and schedules and cruising are like oil and water. At times quite dangerous but mostly benign.

There are two areas we need be cautious with and ensure we have the correct weather, the Nasonisoni Passage which has a slew of rip currents out front and a nice flow of water down  the middle of the channel in the wrong conditions, and the Bligh Waters where the wind funnels between the two big islands and often is 10 kts higher than predicted with corresponding seas.

To top it all off, now a cyclone has formed N and a little W of us making any travel on the water rather iffy. We don’t like pushing our luck when we don’t need to. So we stay securely tied to a hurricane mooring and wait. We wait, and wait, and wait.

For two days we didn’t leave the boat. It was cloudy and spitting rain for almost 36 hours. In the buckets we had sitting on deck we found close to 30 cm’s in them. By the time the cyclone had moved S and a wee bit W of Fiji it was falling apart. Good news for us because that meant less wind and after a day or so smaller seas.

The first part of the trip involves us traversing the Koro Sea. Our track would take us along the S coast of Viti Levu making it a lee shore with quite often reflected waves and then the timing of the Nasonisoni passage would be almost as critical as in passages in the Tuamotus. Ah what we look forward to. The sweet joys of sailing on a schedule. NOT

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

So Dumb

I generally pride myself on having a wee bit of intelligence. That coupled with being goal oriented and  slightly obsessive / compulsive in a few things (not counting spelling) has helped to keep  us out cruising.

However yesterday I came upon a bit of a shock.  Any long term blog reader may well remember that in Panama we spent a lot of time and money repairing our generator. We were not entirely successful in a perfect repair but ironically the generator we worked on is still plugging away.

When we had returned from our sojourns to the states, Guatemala, and Peru we set about to ready the boat for the Pacific. One thing I had replaced was the Aqualift muffler. After discovering that

Correct Operating Orientation for an AquaLift

Correct Operating Orientation for an AquaLift

the generator needed more care than I could give it; Greg at ShelterBay was called in to help.

Here my memory gets a bit foggy. I don’t think we (Greg or I) ever removed the muffler although I know we disconnected the hoses going to it. After the semi success (we never were able to get one of the head bolts to torque down all the way) I remember feeling that the generator was taking a bit longer to fire up. I chalked that up to maybe the compression was a wee bit off because I couldn’t get all the head bolts torqued properly or who knows what. I know mechanics will say

Aqualift Correctly Oriented

Aqualift Correctly Oriented

there is nothing magical about diesels but for me there always seems to be little differences and if they aren’t magical there is something else that effects their personalities and I don’t know what it is.

Fast forward to now.  One of the issues we’ve had in playing with the system is that we need to manually turn on the regulator. I don’t want it coming on with the key switch and pulling full power before the generator has warmed up. So we run the Kubota for about 3 minutes then at full rpm’s I or W/ switches on the regulator.  (I have ordered the temp switch to do this automatically but will not be able to install them until we pick it up in American Samoa). This entails daily going into the engine room and flipping the switch. Yes I could have installed it somewhere else but when I received the new temp switches all my time would have been wasted. Four times a day W/ or I enter the engine room and turn the regulator off or on.

Fast forward to yesterday.  I was going into the engine room to flip the switch on and looked at the Aqualift muffler; really looked at it, and found that the hose running out of the boat is connected to the port on the muffler that indicates “IN”.  Shit!  We shut down the generator and I began the task of turning the aqua lift around.

An hour later we were finished.  Although the exact task took about 15 minutes, on a boat nothing is easy.  We had to get all the tools out and there is nothing like a shop on a boat. In one locker we have all our nuts and bolts. In another locker we have the most used tools and then in a third locker we have sets of wrenches.  Basically two out of the 3 lockers were emptied and sitting on the floor and berths of the boat. I was in the engine room asking W/ for this tool and that. I removed the hose clamps and even replaced one that was giving me some concern. Once the hoses were removed I removed the shelf, dropped the muffler down, emptied the water out of it, reversed it and connected it back up. I had wondered  why the muffler seemed extra full of water lately. Now I know why. I suspect that the extra water added more back pressure to the engine exhaust and now I hoped that the little generator would start easier. Once reversed I slid the muffler back on the hoses, put the shelf back on, and tightened up the hose clamps. Finally I replaced any of the wire ties I had had to remove to have easy access to the various parts.  Start ‘er up!

Viola!  She seemed to start easier. Was it my imagination?  W/ confirmed that the start time appeared less but we will see after a few more starts if she continues to start as easy.  And as I’m writing this a day after I found the mistake and corrected it, yep W/ and I believe she’s taking about half the normal start time to fire up.  It’s nice when something actually works out.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long