Posts Tagged ‘Elysium’

Elysium’s Hip

Monday, September 19th, 2016
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

Movin On Out

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

Finally! Finally we’re both well, the boat systems are all working; almost, I haven’t yet run the water maker but I don’t believe there will be any issue there, and we are just waiting for weather.  A cyclone formed NNW of us and we’re watching it. This place; Savusavu Marina has the newest moorings with 3 helix for each one and is quite well protected. Not the best protection in Savusavu but the most secure.  So we wait.

It looks like Monday the system will have moved S of Fiji and the weather will be calm. We plan on heading out to anchor off the Cousteau Resort; a pricey tourist spot that is NOT cruiser friendly, then from there head to Nisioni pass traveling along the S coast of Vite Lenua. This passage is one to have some respect for. When sv Continium was leaving the Savusavu area they had some rough weather and pulled a winch off their mast necessitating a return to safe harbor. Truth be told they screwed up but those things happen when under a bit of duress.

Well… the weather finally did as expected. We motored out to Cousteau and anchored 3 times trying to find a sandy spot. We never found one and listened to the chain gently rub on the coral all night.  Unfortunately we had to anchor in about 20 meters of water and although we have plenty of scope for our system should the anchor be “stuck” I can’t dive that deep to free it. In American Samoa we purchased an electric snorkel but that too will only get me to about 12 meters, a bit shy.

Yet we were lucky, the next am the anchor rose off the bottom with only a few minutes work tugging on the chain a couple of places it was wedged in coral.  For those environmentalists that cringe about anchoring in coral; while we do our best to avoid it, here in the tropics the coral is healthy and need no encouragement for growth. If will soon grow back and cover up any areas we’ve messed with.

We leave early the next day hoping to ensure entering the Nisoni passage about slack tide. While we hope the passage will not be as exciting as entering an atoll we understand there are rips out front and often a goodly current in the pass.

After motoring 3 hours in flat seas (preferable to the alternative here, we reach the pass and luckily we find no obnoxious seas outside and only about 2 kts of current inside the cut. We had tried to pull out the headsail when we felt a slight sea breeze forming but traveling less then 2 kts was not going to help us arrive to time the passage and currents correctly. 30 minutes later we pulled in the sail and continued our motor boat ride to cross the first barrier of our trip to Nadi for the cyclone season.

Tamiriki Anchored S Vite Levu

Tamiriki Anchored S Vite Levu

Again we could not find any sandy place to anchor. But we were blessed with almost no breeze that evening and being far enough from shore no bugs!  And again we were in about 20 m of water with a coral bottom. Around the tropical islands it is so hard to find any anchorage without the coral bottom.  A calm night with sv Spirare and sv Tamariki we all slept like babies looking forward to actually sailing on the following day.

Peter on sv Tamariki couldn’t wait and pulled up anchor first. He’s a 70 ish, and single hander that keeps up with

sv Spirare with all her colors

sv Spirare with all her colors

fully crewed, younger crewed boats.  Serge and I were waiting a bit longer for the breeze to kick in and luckily it did. We all wanted a light air day so we could have a relaxing sail with our Spinnaker ( sv Spirare ) and us our drifter.

Spirare’s went up first and they were off. I wasn’t planning on putting the pole out so we motored a little farther S hoping to achieve a better wind angle. We were not only last in putting up the sail we were soon last in the group. But we’re now cruisers and that didn’t really bother me. Not really. W/ and I thought of adding more sail to keep up but we only thought about it. We didn’t do it. We sailed with the drifter/reacher alone. No staysail, no mainsail. Even Serge is beginning to wonder if we have a mainsail. 🙂

Elysium with her drifter flying free

Elysium with her drifter flying free

The day was “quite pleasant” as W/ is fond of saying. The winds steadily increase all day long only near the end of the day reaching the point we felt it might be prudent to douse the drifter. However with one nm to go we flew it just a little bit longer and as we began to make our approach to the harbor we doused it and motored the rest of the way in.

Oops, something is not right!  The oil pressure gauge is reading low; 20 psi and we never run that low.  I go to check down below. Nothing seems amiss in the engine room. No oil spraying anywhere, all caps firmly in place. I head back up worried. Seems with engines now I am almost always worried. Peter yells over and we can’t hear what he’s saying. I think he is saying we have no cooling water. Fortunately we are in the harbor where there is almost no wind and good water so we shut the engine down. He then indicates we have a sheet (line) in the water and I pull in the sheet and start the engine. Now the oil pressure gauge indicates what we normally see.  Whew!

After we’re anchored Serge swims over. We had picked up a small Tuna on the trip and were sharing it with the our two traveling boats. He swam just because he didn’t want to put the dinghy in the water! How lazy can we all get.  He lost a bet the other day with Joann; Serge saying it only takes 15 minutes to nest and store it and Joann saying more like 30. Seems women often have a much better estimate of the work required around the boat than us guys.

Serge tells me he too has had an issue with the oil pressure senders and he actually has installed a T on his port with a pressure gauge attached. When the panel gauge reads funny he can just check the one that is physically connect.  Another project to add to the list 🙂

As the breeze continued to die and we settled in for the evening, we looked forward to crossing the Bligh waters tomorrow. The other two boats were splitting off not having our schedule and heading to Kadua while we were taking this opportunity of lighter than normal winds to cross this stretch of unruly water. Normally the winds are 10 kts more than predicted and the seas higher. We hoped to sail but if worse comes to worse we are prepared to motor.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Yin Yang (Part 1)

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Taoism provide an interesting outlook  on life. A way to see the good in the bad, a perspective. We met Logan (L) and Caroline (C)  when they arrived at Shelter Bay Marina. Captain and Mate or Swab and Boss depending on who you talk to. They were taking the boat Blue Whale across the big ditch; the Panama Canal in about a week, and as happenstance would have it were looking for line handlers. W/ and I had been talking of the need to make a transit before we take our boat through and thus fate brought the  4 of us together. We signed on to be slaves to the Blue Whale and we would be transiting in about a week.

Two days before the transit it rained. This wasn’t really a bad sign as we’re in the rainy season. Logan and Caroline or as Caroline prefers, Caroline and Logan, were prepping the boat. Wash, wax, polish, have measured for the canal authorities (you pay by length) , get tires (used as fenders) and long  lines. The tires are to protect the hull and the lines needed for a transit must be  150′ in length. Intelligently they then purchased some T shirts from the KMart of Colon; Madison, for about a buck fifty each. One for each tire. One must protect the hull. The walls of the locks are much rougher than the hull of pleasure boats.

One day before the transit it rained. Still, not a bad thing. In Panama it tends to rain mostly for two or three days,  then clear up for a beautiful and hot day, maybe  two.  The Whale with her dinghy on the davits was too long and put them into a different cost group, needing an expensive pilot instead of the more reasonable adviser so they removed the dinghy to store it on the foredeck.  Stacked on 3 huge fenders the dinghy would ride upright from the Atlantic to the Pacific pointing the wrong way.

The day of the transit we were preparing Elysium for our absence and moving aboard the Whale. We’d baked some Brownies (in reality W/ baked and I ate) as of course brownies being a quality  Junk food is in one of the major food groups and necessary for any passage. We helped C/L put T’s on the tires and tie them off along each side. Karen and Mark had now joined us and assisted in the final prep of the Whale.  Boats transiting the isthmus  need to have  one Captain, and a minimum of four line handlers. We actually had a spare line handler.

Ironically, back in the  late ’70’s  when W/ and I were first looking to purchase a sailboat we had taken our first vacation to Wrightsville Beach N. Carolina and then on to Florida.  In Wrightsville Beach we looked at the hugely popular Westsail 32 and went on a demonstrator sail there.  The Westsail Corp had recently opened up a new production facility there and had what they called a “Cruising Center” where one could see the boats, sail on one, and buy one; all of which we wanted to do. So we paid our money and a character not much older then us, Skip Fry, took us out for our 3 hour sail, AKA the Gilligan tour. It was a nice day, Sunny, relatively calm seas and we came away with the belief we could do this and this company  had a boat for us. We had wanted the 42′ Center Cockpit (the one we have now)  but Skip in a quite lucid moment had said “How soon do you want to get outta Dodge”?  We could maybe, just maybe have bought the 42 and  completed the interior; however, the 32 was more doable for a young couple like us, and the 28 would have availed us of leaving Dodge; well, we could have left much sooner. But the 32 it was and we ordered and bought and sailed  Principia for 15 years and sailed her about 25,000 nm in that time.  We never saw Skip again.

We were checking out C/L on their website as  I’m sure they were doing the same of us, when I came across an entry on the message board of an older Blue Whale site by…. Skip Fry. Now there can’t be many people in the world named Skip Fry so I asked Logan. He said, yeah, it was the Skip Fry who was associated with Westsail way back when.  Such irony that he took us on our first 3 hour sail and he was actually  to come do the canal transit with us. But, unfortunately Skip had some shore side duties that called and he wouldn’t be able to make it down for the transit. Thus Karen and Mark from Susurra were invited. Mark accepted and then Karen acquiesced (she was feeling a little under the wx) and so the 6 slaves of the Whale were gathering to take her from the Atlantic to the Pacific (the Blue Whales true home – Pun intended).

In the am of Day Zero we had the tires on and the supplies loaded, it was blue sky’s, sunny, and looking like she’d be a sweet day to begin a  transit.  We had a group lunch to discuss methods and responsibilities of each station, expectations of the placement of the Whale in the locks and to share in a few more stories. We left lunch satiated and gathered any final items we needed prior to our meet on the Whale. Our transit time had been pushed ahead two hours over the last two days, today it was pushed  back two hours and we would depart around 3 pm to head out to the “flats”  and there we would  pick up our adviser.

The adviser is the individual that connects with the Panama Canal lock masters and tells us what to do. Logan gets instructions from him (I’m not sure if there are any female advisers) and relays anything we need to us.  The adviser has the paper work on the Whale and for every boat / ship  transiting the canal during our passage. He knows who will be where and where we need to be to keep the function of the canal running as smoothly as possible. We were now to pick him up at the flats about 6 pm. We expected to be there early and were told in fact to be there early (I guess some boats just never show up, and so… we… would… be… there… early.

Lines cast off and pulled aboard, tires with the T’s  out, we motored out of the marina to the flats with an ominous looking  sky.  While the morning teased us with a beautiful day, the afternoon was looking to heavily spritz us.  L/ pushed the speed of the Whale a bit and we arrived at the flats about 3 minutes  before the rain and a little wind. Anchor down L/ called the canal control center on channel 12 and told them we

Wendy, Karen, Mark hoping the Rain Clears

Wendy, Karen, Mark hoping the Rain Clears

were in the anchorage area and ready.  They advised us that now the time of arrival for the adviser would be 6 pm.  Now an hour later than when we had left. About 6 we called again and the adviser would soon come. He arrived  about 7 pm and we picked up the anchor. (Note to self:  I need to get our deck wash down in place before we make the crossing in Elysium.)  The mud we picked up off the bottom I”m sure was imported from the Chesapeake Bay. It stuck to the anchor chain like glue and smelled like; well- I’ll save you the olfactory imagery. The only way to remove the mud was to flush with copious amounts of water. Another 30 minutes gone by, the anchor stored, the adviser was now on board and we motored out to cross the isthmus.

We made good time to the first set of locks but there we had discovered we’d been pushed back another hour. The locks don’t stop for much, rain being one thing they don’t stop for; but, rain will slow transits  down and so we had another wait. We were going to lock through behind a smallish container ship 700′ or so and they were having some difficulty getting it lined up to slide into the lock chamber.  Now close to 9 ish  (three hours later than our appointed time) we were slowly entering the first of 3 chambers that would raise us close to 100′. Once in the chamber and the doors closed our jobs would now be coming on line. W/ and I had the stern quarters, Mark and the Boss (Caroline) were on the bow. Small lines with a tightly tied knot and a small weight inside called a Monkey Fist came flying (were thrown at the Whale) from the lock walls. Bow lines first and then the lines for the stern.  Everyone tied the Monkey Fist to the 125′ lines and the handlers on the wall pulled the Monkey Fist with the now attached boat lines back up to the bollards.  One of my knots let go! Oops. Franscisco (our adviser for this part of the trip) then helped, picked up the Monkey fist when it was tossed to the boat and I watched how he tied the fist to the line; a simple square knot.  Now I know!  Locking up is the most difficult part of the transit.

When one locks up the line handlers get to work – literally. We were passing through what is called “Center Chamber” and so each corner of the Blue Whale had a line running to a bollard on the lock wall.  As the boat rises, the lines slack, and the handlers (of which W/ and I were two of them) had to pull in the slack to assist in keeping the boat in the center chamber.  There are three chambers we traverse rising approx 30′ per chamber.  In one I watch as the water came in and we rose approx 7′ in 30 seconds. That’s moving!

In the 2nd and 3rd chambers we rose about the same speed and W/ and I were getting feeling the strain of the wet stiff lines while  continuously adjusting  the  lines trying to keep the Whale in the middle.

Going UP!

Going UP!

Fortunately this was the last lock for the day and the last lock going up. We slowly followed behind the container ship staying as far astern of his prop wash as possible. Fransisco (our adviser on this leg) has us immediately turn outside the channel and head to a mooring buoy to the East. There we side tied to the buoy and about 10:00 pm we were finished with 1/3 of the transit. One third by work, not by distance. Of the 80 nm trek  we’d gone less then 8 nm.  A little after 11:00 pm. our adviser was picked up and we were discussing if we needed to eat or sleep.  Food won the first leg but sleep eventually overtook us. We fell into our berths around midnight for a short sleep.  The adviser for day two was arriving approx 6 am. Hopefully, that’s Caribbean time.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Cruising Addictions

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

You know, one thing about cruising and being retired is that you have time to do with what you want. Not always, but quite often.

The other day I actually opened up my FaceBook act. I really don’t have a great deal of love for Facebook but so many people like it that you are almost dragged into using it. Almost. I opened it of my own free will. Then, there was a connection from my tennis coach that I hadn’t seen in a few years. He has my email, we’ve  Skyped a couple of times (texting) and yet he seemed adverse to using just plain ol’ everyday email. So I accepted his “friend” offer and now we’re slightly more connected. He’s currently in Austrialia, getting  married and if we’re lucky; when we get there, we’ll be able to see them again. But I wonder.

I then replied to a couple of other communiques I had on facebook and the flood gates were opened. When I told W/ of all the requests we had (don’t get carried away it was only in double digits 🙂 ) she commented that it’s like a Virus. And that is so.  Facebook gets hold of one friend and tries to tie them all together! But I digress.

W/ decided that if I was there she should be too. I helped her set up an act and off she went. I think she now has more “friends” than I do which for any of you that know us is to be expected. But she’s gotten so carried away that she put up a bunch of pics that I’ve neglected to show. I was going to get around to it sometime!  So she’s been addicted the last few days putting up the pics in Facebook. Since they are public and it saves me the work of posting the pictures elsewhere here is the list: People we Met, Shopping, Our Elysium, Me and My Gal, Cool Stuff (W/s opinion 🙂 ), Anchorages, Beaches, Wendy, Volunteering, Ocean Rowing, Gals, Tours, and Animals

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long