08/08/2012, Indian Ocean
My big project for today was cutting a hole in the wood work to install a new switch panel for some lights in the cockpit area. Now we can switch on the gas grill light and the, soon to be fabricated , wind vane light. At our next stop Ill add a lazarette light over the steering gear so we can see how all of that is working without the need of a flashlight.
Shawn did some more laundry and cleaned up the cabin. I had already cleaned up the sawdust in the pilot house and in the process of doing so discovered that our vacuum cleaner is dead. It was a DeWalt shop vac that has given us good service. I bought it during the outfitting stage of this adventure before we left the states. I was going through a period when I was cutting a lot of holes in the boat and making lots of saw dust.
It was working fine when we left so we brought it with us even though it took up a lot more space than we wanted. So, as I said to Shawn today, "We have come into some new storage space". We have to be sure to fill the space before we leave or stuff will be shifting all over the place as the boat rolls.
Back when my brother Jim was accumulating our purchases for the care package he mailed to Darwin I started looking a smaller vacuums on Amazon.com and was quickly bewildered by all the choices and by trying to keep the reviews straight. I got so distracted by the shopping process that I never ordered anything.
A lot of the rechargable ones got good reviews but we need one that recharges of 110 volts since that is the AC power we have on the boat. So buying a rechargeable one here in Oz is not an option for us.
I also read a couple of good reviews for 12 volt dust buster sorts of appliances but I had a couple of those in the past and they all behaved like they had asthma.
But our friend Brian and Claudia on Skylight had a 12v shop vac that Claudia credited with the immaculate condition of their boat. So Im back in vacuum cleaner shopping mode and will listen to and appreciate any advice.
Unfortunately cheaper appliances do not tend to come with multi voltage chargers. I have had the same problem with electric screwdrivers. I suppose that when a manufacturer is working on products where pennies count the cheapest power supply possible for every market is the right choice.
Shawn went snorkeling today and said the clarity was a lot better since the phosphate loading had been stopped for a couple of days.
We took the dingy ashore for hot showers at the harbor masters office building.
That was our big adventure for the day. Nobody cleans the mens room on the weekend and some kids must have had a wet TP fight in there. It was a mess, not really dirty, just a mess We also had to chase a crab out of the shower. I hope it was not one of the endangered ones. It was actually very beautiful. The water was hot which made up for a lot of the shortcomings.
This afternoon the Navy got on the VHF and announced that they were having live fire practice not too far from the island. Now there is a navy warship doing doughnuts outside of flying fish cove so I guess they are giving driving lessons to someone. \ There was another load of refugees brought in this morinng. They were on one of the Customs Service boats named Triton. We had run into triton at Ashmore reef where they were donating some wraps to the cook on the Ashmore Guardian. Now they are out here rounding up refugees.
They had built a shack on the foredeck on the boat (ship?) and there was an awning outside the shack. The refugees were standing under the awning. There were probably only about 30 of them (only one bus on the pier to transport them after they were landed). They brought the Triton right into the cove and off loaded the refugees into tenders to get them ashore.
Tomorrow we should be able to use the internet again. We also need to get fuel and a few groceries. Our plan is to take care of those chores tomorrow and them take it easy on Tuesday and depart on Wednesday.
08/08/2012, Indian Ocean
Between yesterday and today we have pretty will handled all our boat projects here at Christmas Island.
This morning I finished putting locktite on all the threaded connections in the wind vane attachment system and Shawn got another batch of laundry done and dried.
We replaced the dacron control line for the wind vane with some spectra line I bought in Darwin. That turned out to be a lot more of a project than I anticipated. There are a couple of small holes the line has to pass through and the spectra was a lot harder to get through the holes. There are two holes in the cockpit where the control lines pass below deck. For obvious reasons we want that to be a reasonably tight fit. The other place is where the lines must pass through some holes in a stainless steel quadrant on the wind vane. In both cases the spectra line as a lot harder to work with.
Maybe a diversion is in order to explain why we want to use spectra line in the first place.
The control lines from the wind vane take the entire load of the steering efford (and probably a lot more at times) and even the little bit of stretch that dacron has can make the steering effort sloppier than we would like. Spectra is a high tech line that has very little stretch. It's also a lot stronger than dacron but that is not really an issue for this application where the size of the line we use has more to do with what is easy on our hands that the strength required.
Anyway, the problem we encountered was that spectra line does not behave the same way as dacron line when cut with a hot knife. Dacron melts as its cut and the outer cover of braided dacron fuses with the inner core of more coarsely braided dacron so the cover does not slip on the core. When I cut the spectra line with a hot knife both the spectra inner core and the dacron outer cover cut just fine but they dont fuse together so the cover is free to slip back along the core.
When we tried to push the spectra lline through the tight spots the core would slip through and the cover would remain behind.
There may be a more sophisticated work around for the problem but without internet access I came up with a solution that worked for us today. After I cut the line I took out my handy speedy stitcher and sewed the cover to the spectra core. Then I took the thread through the end of the spectra line and used it as a messenger line to pull the spectral line through the tight spots. Taking a file to the holes in the cockpit also helped.
So a project that I expected to take half an hour took two hours. But it's done. The new blue spectral line looks very pretty and clean compared with the old dacron line it replaced.
The whole effort was made a lot easier because Shawn was able to get down in among the steering machinery and thread the line through a few places that are very hard for me to reach.
Everything looks nice from below decks but the proof will be in the steering on the next leg of our Indian Ocean Adventure.
Once we were finished with the wind vane project we got to put all the plastic boxes of stuff back in lazarette. It is amazing what a positive impact clearing the deck of all that stuff has on my attitude. I always feel like we look like "Sanford and Sons of the sea" when we have the contents of the lazarette on deck.
After we finished that job and had lunch I took a look at the next thing on my todo list and said "screw it" and we went snorkeling.
Someone had told us that the water clarity was better on the windward side of the phosphate loading station so we took the dingy over there but did not find the visibility any better and there just was not much to see.
So we took the dingy back to the boat and snorkeled around the area near our mooring. The guides say this is some of the best snorkeling on the island. That's too bad. It's not very good.
The visibility is not very good, probably because of dust from the phosphate loading station and the coral is not all that interesting or healthy looking. There is a distinct band just down wind of the phosphate loading station where there is a lot of dead coral. Our guide to us that the phosphate plant had no detectable impact on the coral. Im skeptical.
I also noticed a thick layer of dust on our solar panels. We have only been here for a couple of days so I would have to assume that on an annual basis the phosphate operation must be dumping tons of dust onto the water here in flying fish cove.
I'll get some pictures of the solar panels tomorrow morning.
The phosphate operation employs about 115 people. That does not seem like enough jobs to justify the damage the operation is doing to the marine environment to say nothing of the large areas of land that are stripped clean of all vegetation so back hoes and bull dozers can harvest the phosphate. Apparently the upper managers gave themselves half million dollar bonuses last year. That caused a strike because they did not give bonuses to the workers. If there is enough profit in the phosphate business to allow those sorts of bonuses its easy to understand why some folks want to keep this operation going.
The only remaining chore of any significance is taking on fuel. That is something we wont be able to do much about until Monday so tomorrow will just be little projects and goofing off.
08/08/2012, Indian Ocean
We spent the entire day on the boat dealing with maintenance issues that we want to take care of before we head across the Indian Ocean.
On top of the list was determining what the problem was with the wind vane. As it turned out the problem had an easy fix. A bolt that attaches the control lines to the steering quadrant backed out of the eye nut and let loose. The threads were fine and the fix was easy. Used some locktite on the threads and expect it will hold for a long time.
I also pulled some wires for our new switch panel that Ill install near the hatch into the pilot house. The new panel will let us control the gas grill light, a new light for the wind vane, and the switch for the wind generator.
I also found a secure place for our backup battery.
Shawn did some laundry to make sure we had clean tee shirts and bedding for our crossing.
It was a very uninteresting day but we got a lot finished which always feels good at the end of the day.
I was too tired at the end of the day so I started the diesel to make hot water for showers instead of taking the dingy to shore. the swell is bigger today that it has been. Its not so bad that I could not work on projects but landing the dingy would have been a little more difficult that on previous days.
I also called Australian Immigration to see if we could get a short extension on our visas so we could stop at cocos keeling on our way to Mauritius. I was supposed to get a call back from someone in the office at Perth but never got the call. I had to stay on hold for almost half an hour to talk to someone. I guess Ill have to do that again on Monday. Its a long shot but would sure take the edge off the 3000 mile passage if we could do the first 500 miles and then get a couple days rest at cocos keeling before pushing on . It would be good to fill the water tank there, too.
Im tired this evening so Ill cut this a little short today.