04/11/2012, East Boyd Bay, New South Wales
We went to bed by 7:30 last night. I was thinking that maybe we should rename the boat the "SS Leisure World". But we were both really tired following the passage from Hobart.
Shawn had downloaded a couple of recent episodes of South Park and we were both falling asleep during those.
We slept through to 7 this morning when the VRM guys in Eden got on the radio and announced that they were open for business for the day. I had forgotten to turn off the radio last night.
The first order of business today was resolving the engine cooling problem as we would need the engine if we had any problems with our anchor dragging and we always try to be ready for that.
We emptied the lazarette of all the stuff we have stowed down there. I was surprised to see how wet it was in the lazarette and I think most of it was condensation caused by the cold water we had just sailed through.
My initial theory was that the problems with the cooling system was some sort of obstruction in the water inlet line but I disassembled all of that and did not find any problems.
That left only the rubber impeller on the raw water pump on the engine and that did turn out to be the problem.
The water pump on our engine is very difficult to get at. We have to remove all the stuff we have stored under our pilot berth and I have to just about stand on my head to see through a narrow opening the builder provided so I can get to the pump and remove the cover plate. The impeller is a rubber paddle wheel that spins around inside the pump an moves sea water through the heat exchange on the engine. The heat exchanger functions very much like the radiator on a car and transfers engine heat from the fresh water circulating in the engine block to the sea water that is brought in by the raw water pump.
Anyway, the impeller was obviously the culprit as it was totally devoid of the rubber vanes that move the water.
I had a spare on board and managed to get it installed and reassembled the pump.
All was well. It's hard to describe the joy that one can associate with something that sounds as mundane as water coming out with the exhaust when the engine is running, but that is what we felt.
After the engine problem was resolved we kept at our other tasks to put the boat back in order after our rough passage.
Our reward tonight is chicken wings for supper. Shawn makes great coleslaw which provide the vegetables for a totally balanced meal. All it takes is a couple of my home brews to raise the carbohydrates to the nutritionally acceptable ratios.
Tomorrow we will move over to the anchorage at Eden so we will have access to the services in town.
04/10/2012, East Boyd Bay
The most difficult passage of our voyage is over.
Yesterday afternoon we completed our 400 mile passage from Hobart to Two Fold Bay on the SE corner of mainland Australia.
We saw the roughest, if not the largest, seas we have experienced so far and the wind at times reached hurricane strength but only for a few minutes at a time.
The water was blowing off the tops of the waves creating spume that smashed against the pilot house windows for several hours. I had seen pictures of these sorts of seas but they were usually taken from the deck of a ship in the southern ocean.
The passage was complicated by the fact that our engine was unusable for battery charging due to a cooling water problem and the wind generator could only be run when the wind was below 25 kts, otherwise it would overheat.
We lost the use of our staysail before the strong winds hit us. There is a strap of dacron webbing that attaches the sail to the top of the furler. The strap failed due to sun damage. We were planning on having the sails maintained when we get to Sydney and knew that the exposure to the Austral sun was taking its toll.
We did most of the passage with a reefed genoa which makes the boat very uncomfortable downwind. Reefing the genoa consists of rolling it up part way on the roller furler (sort of like a window shade) and that makes the center of force for the sail move up the forestay the more the sail is rolled up. This causes the boat to yaw and roll quite a bit. Its very difficult to sleep with the boat rolling badly and by the night before we arrived I was so tired I could not keep my eyes open when hand steering by the compass. I know that being unable to keep your eyes open is a common expression to describe fatigue but, in this case, it was literally the situation. Fortunately our intervals of extreme fatigue were not synchronized so Shawn was able to steer when I got to that point. If we had not lost the use of the staysail we would not have had this problem with the rolling preventing sleep.
As we approached Eden I called the VMR (volunteer marine rescue) station and asked about conditions in Eden's harbour, called Snug Cove, and, as I expected, the radio operator said the anchorage was quite exposed to the SW conditions and we would be better off in East Boyd Bay on the south side of Two Fold bay. So we sailed the boat to anchor by tacking across the bay and into the anchorage. The anchorage is behind a wharf that is used by the Australian Navy and the last time we were in Eden the VRM guys were on the radio frequently reminding boaters that the anchorage was off limits while Navy ships were at the wharf. We got lucky and there was no ship at the wharf when we arrived. Since I doubt the Australian Navy is in the habit of of publishing its schedules I am assuming we can get thrown out of here at a moment's notice.
Tacking across the bay was a challenge because the boat sails like a pig upwind on just the furled genoa. We probably should have put up the main before the started tacking but I dont think either of us had the energy. There are also wind shifts in Two Fold bay that make taking a challenge.
As soon as we were anchored we pulled the Honda Generator from the lazarette and put it up on the bowsprit to start charging our batteries that had suffered significant discharge during our passage. We left the generator going when we turned in for the night at 7:30. I was not awake to hear when it ran out of fuel.
We are supposed to have another day of strong SW conditions although we cant feel them in this anchorage. When the south westerlies die out we will probably move across Two Fold bay to Eden where we will have access to the hot showers on shore, grocery stores and a hardware store.
Here is a list of the damage we suffered during this passage.
1. Our staysail is out of service for the time being. It suffered no permanent damage.
2. One of the Dacron straps that attaches the genoa clew to the stainless steel ring for sheet attachment has come loose. I ill have to inspect this to see if a short term repair is required before we move on. One of the handiest tools I have ever had on a boat is a little device called a "speedy stitcher" . It is an awl like tool with a wooden handle that lets you sew sails with a chain stitch to repair them underway. You can use heavy marlin for the thread (or dental floss works, too) and stitch through multiple layers of sail cloth and webbing at the corners of the sail. The alternative is an industrial strength sewing machine and we could never figure out where to stow one.
3. One of our boat hooks disappeared.
4. One of the cabin doors got ripped from its hinges and needs repair. One of the reasons we need a hardware store is that some of the screws were actually bent when the damage occurred. They are really tiny screws and cheesy little brass hinges. We had drop boards that fit in the hatch so we were able top close things up. But its a real pain to have to pull several boards from the hatch every time we want to go on deck.
What lessons did we learn.
We wont be tempted to sail this far south again. Tassi was worth it and we knew that crossing the bottom of the Island was the farthest south we would go on our circumnavigation. But neither of us has any interest in any more high latitude sailing.
We will remove the dorade vents from the cabin top when we go to sea. We have plates that thread into the deck fittings to seal them up. If we had removed the vents before this passage we would not have taken water below decks. Shawn told me water had come in through the vents once before on our way from Vanuatu to Australia last year. I was asleep at the time and did not know that had happened.
We are convinced that we made the right decision by not trying to sail across the Great Australian Bight at this time of year.
We also learned that we are really really glad that this is a pilot house boat. We cant imagine how much worse this passage would have been if we had been forced to sit out in the cockpit to hand steer. It was cold enough in the cabin where we were relatively dry.
Today we will start working on the task of getting the boat back in order for the next leg of our trip up the coast to Sydney. It looks like there will be a few calm days that will delay our departure from Eden. I dont think either of us is sad about the forced delay.
04/09/2012, Bass Strait
We are now just over 100 miles from the anchorage in Eden and still experience weather that is much heavier that was forecast.
Our engine is still our of commission so we are hand steering to conserve battery power.
The problem with the engine seems to be some sort of blockage on the water inlet line and its not really practical to empty the lazerette to get to the appropriate through hull fitting and hoses to resolve the problem. At this point I am planning to wait until we are anchored to take on the problem.
We are trying to run the wind generator as much as possible to put some power back into the batteries but the wind in the squalls is so intense that we have to keep turning the generator off to keep if from overheating.
In addition to windy rainy and cold we had hail this afternoon in one of the squalls that passed over us.
We should get to Eden late tomorrow afternoon. Once there I can use the Honda generator to charge the batteries while I get to work on the engine problem. Once we are in a settled situation I will be surprised if the repair takes much more than an hour.