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Cruising on Destiny
Dry inside
John and Shauna
16Oct2011, Covers finished

We had a couple of quotes from various marine trimmers to do the clears for our new hardtop, and settled on Quality Covers to do the job. This was on recommendation from Mick Lee at Lee Sails, and we were a bit apprehensive, never having seen any of QCs work. But we needn't have worried - within 21 days of the quote Cam from Quality Covers had us bring "Destiny" to his work berth and the work started barely a half hour after we tied up. He said it would be done in a week - well, we just chuckled and thought "Yeah, sure....".
In a manner most uncharacteristic of the marine industry generally, he got it all done in five days. We had to swallow our words.
The covers are great - very snug fit, well designed and extremely well fabricated. We used an American semi-rigid material fore and aft, for durable absolute clarity.This is a polycarbonate which is somewhat flexible but can't be rolled. These clears, fore and aft, are never rolled so that's fine. The stuff is absolutely clear. On the sides we have used standard Vibac clear material so we can roll and fold them underway.
Cam has done a nice job with zip covers and fastenings, so good that even Shauna is happy. The only pain is the price, which always hurts but in this case was no more than other quotes. I guess we will only learn about the durability after a couple of years' cruising. Here are some pics.

18Oct2011 | Sarah
Your pictures are so pretty :) I'm very jealous right now. . . xxx
Home = spend
John and Shauna
08Oct2011, Sydney

It's just about impossible to spend money in a pristine, uninhabited bay on Pentecost Island: even if you want to, you can't find anything to buy let alone anyone who will take your money. But here at home, spending is a piece of cake! It happens just automatically - mostly boat stuff but all the other temptations of First World life - music, meals out, clothes and electronics - these things all get in for their cut. We are doing our best to resist but we have to spoil "Destiny" while she's languishing here in the cool days of late winter and early spring. So, as well as the hard top for her cockpit we have just finished, we have splashed out and had a new mainsail made - Ian MacDiarmid did a great job and it is so nice to have a sail that works as an aerofoil that pulls us cleanly into the breeze, rather than as a blousy sock that smothers the breeze and heels us over. We have changed the reefing points a bit to allow a deeper second reef and have made reefing itself a little easier with the tack points given direct access to the reefing horns.
We had a test sail with Ian, and both he and we were mighty pleased.
Tomorrow we are taking "Destiny" to Blackwattle Bay to have the clears made up for the hard cover - Cam promises us it will take just a week - we will see!
Last night we had Dave and Mel Gunn ("Sassoon") over for a curry - they are back in Sydney having left "Sassoon" in Rebak Marina in Malaysia - they are, like many cruisers up there, not sure what to do next with the choices being a bumpy and long journey around South Africa, mulling around SE Asia for another season or two going nowhere in particular, and the unthinkable passage to and through the Red Sea. They are tied up next to our old and dear friends Barry and Mags on "JJ Moon". Barry is now whole again after occupying the doctors of Britain for a few months.
Pics of the new main, some interesting shots of the Harbour, and also of Opening Day for the season at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, can be seen by clicking here.

Topless no longer!
John and Shauna
09Aug2011, Kirribilli

Today it happened - the top was ready to lower into place. It's a pretty big and unwieldy bit of gear, so the sideways crab-shuffle down the dock was a source of apprehension: in the event, all went well and everything sat exactly as it should do: the fastenings slid into place nicely and the mainsheet went through its mousehole right where it was intended. Shauna is as happy as a clam, and we all feel a sense of accomplishment. Kevin swears he will never look at such a job again.
The line of the top is really slick - not anything near as boxy as we had feared, and it almost looks part of the original design.
John will finish connecting up the wiring for the lights and stereo on the weekend and then we'll have a chat to Beryn at Patton's to get the clears cut and sewn.
Have a look at the new pics - click here

19Aug2011 | Sarah
hahaha "happy as a clam" I love this expression!! The new top looks fantastic :) I cant wait to see it and come cruising with you soon xxx
04Sep2011 | Mitko Stambolieff
Fantastic blog. Great to see you at Amys party.We will have to catch up soon
The Job Part 3
John and Shauna
15Jul2011, Kirribilli

Well this job has definitely turned into a longer, more complex one than anticipated - but then don't they usually! Notwithstanding, we are pretty content with the line and look of the top as it's shaping up. We've had a good run of dry, clear weather which has made the work quite efficient and pleasant for all concerned.
It's just not possible to take a sleek, curved and relatively elegant canvas and stainless cover and replace it with a rigid, GRP house without losing some of the lines we loved, but Kevin has done a great job of shaping the various intersecting and sometimes competing curves into a coherent whole.
We have taken the targa arch and the blank off, and Kevin is crafting final detail and adding a small rain gutter to the outboard edges in the workshop.
Poor old "Destiny" looks like someone has given her a bad haircut with a chainsaw, open cockpit exposing the liferaft and helming station to the world. So uncomfortable are we with this strange appearance that we won't show you a picture of it!
We have decided to fit LED lights inside the roof of the cover - Kurt at Electric Boat Parts was his usual knowledgeable and helpful self, showing us a good range of options. From these we chose some quite compact but bright Hella lights, which have a reasonably good range of illumination, unlike many LEDs which are sometimes very directional. While we were at Kurt's showroom we picked up some very nice-looking Italian cabin fans to fit while we are alongside. Additionally, some new stereo speakers will go at the aft end of the roof to replace the rather ancient-looking ones we have currently on the bulkhead of the cockpit.
John ran cabling to hook up the AIS to the Raymarine C120W and it works very nicely, with a good audible alarm with a flexible Range of Safety setting. We must say, however, that the AIS interface on the Australian Navy "Endeavour" program, which we have until now used to navigate, is definitely a more graphic and intuitive add-on.
Fortunately, the Comar AIS we have has two outputs - one USB for the laptop running "Endeavour", and an NMEA 0183 to inform the C120W. So we have complete redundancy and independence of the two systems - PC and Raymarine. Speaking of "Endeavour" - our licence dongle, which is now a little over 4 years old, broke in two pieces - the tail came away from the USB end: the active portion of the dongle is a small button inside the casing - to get a new plastic casing to put the button in costs $110!!! Thanks a lot, Australian Navy Hydrographic Office.
There are a few more progress photos of our progress in the gallery - click here to view them.
Cheers for now from us!

The cockpit cover saga: Part 2

Another sunny, clear and mild day in Sydney - perfect to continue with the design-and-build-on-the-run process that is shaping up to be our rigid cockpit cover. The stainless bows and fabric covers are now off and the blank of the roof is sitting more or less as it will. The other bits - forward arching supports and aft pillars - are taking shape. It is quite a complex design feat - many curves and lines in various directions to be hopefully united in an aesthetically-pleasing whole. As a one-off, "Destiny" doesn't have a simple, off-the-shelf pattern we can turn to. In any case, our requirements are probably quite individual and different to those other cruisers might have.
We are running two conduit channels inside the core to carry light cables aft so we can really light up the interior.
Kevin's knowledge and experience (especially in design) have been invaluable although we're sure he will value them for us!!
We are feeling quite chuffed now that we can see how it will work out, at least in outline. We'll keep you posted - especially look forward to comments from "Saw Lee Ah" and "Wombat". Look at the pics - click here.

John and Shauna
05Jul2011, Spending it big in Kirribilli, Sydney

As winter bites us hard (this is the first cold season we've had in four years, and John's not happy), we are setting about a few major boat jobs that we have been saving both time and dollars for. We were very pleased at our post-cruise haulout to find the hull and underwater gear all in perfect shape - the Hydralign prop is still nice and tight and there was far less growth than expected (we had done a really thorough job of sanding, smoothing and priming the previous time).
A few brief afternoon sails and a lovely weekend with son Matt and Jane up in Bantry Bay, then on with the jobs....
We have always navigated on a laptop in the nav station, with input from our Leica Navigator GPS and a Comar AIS (the Comar is a great unit!). This works well, but John has always felt the need for a nav display in the cockpit at the steering station. So we looked at various options - settling on the Raymarine C120W Widescreen - good sized display and capable of dual display (radar/chartplotter, chartplotter/highway display etc) and also able to input and display video, AIS, MOB alarms etc. We like to support local dealers and, if possible, manufacturers. But......
The lowest price we could get in Sydney for the unit, without charts, was $5,000 AUD. We finally bought one, complete with charts, on-line from (an on-line chandler in Connecticut that we have used before) for the USD equivalent of $2,500 AUD! It arrived by tracked FedEx courier within 5 days and even after GST was paid we were thousands ahead. It's sad that we were really forced offshore, but those are our hard-earned after-tax dollars. Same story for the NavPod housing - $500 here plus $150 to cut for the C120W, online $375 pre-cut and ready to install (getting the steering pedestal grabrail altered to suit the installation was nearly double that cost: $720 for a bit of welding and polishing). Aussie tradesmen are very good but they really do themselves a disservice sometimes.
So now one of the big jobs - the cockpit hardtop! For a couple of years we have felt that since we only ever take the covers and clears off to clean or repair them (and they often do need a bit of work) we might as well have a full hard cockpit cover. This will be permanent rain and sun protection, whilst allowing John to scoot across its top to tend the main and lazy-jacks. So we enlisted Kevin Hudson to help us do the job. Designing the thing proved more difficult than we had expected - lots of factors to consider such as aesthetics (pretty important - you see a lot of nice cruising yachts ruined by a boxy, ugly hardtop), function, not hitting heads on the way in and out, attachments for side clears, internal light fitting points, headroom.....
We are making the top and supports with 25mm Divinycell foam cored GRP. Should be strong enough to park the helicopter on! We are at the stage of having a blank cut for the top and some tentative moldings for the front and sides - it will all be coming together over the next week.
Next job will be a higher-capacity watermaker, and we will then be installing the Hydrovane self-steering (because we have hydraulic steering both the Aries and the Monitor are not suitable).
Meanwhile, we spent some time with our dear friends Mike and Lynn from "Wombat of Sydney", who have now left and are on an express run to South Carolina, where Lynn's dad is starting to cause some health concerns. Amongst all this we have visited our older son Tom and his girl Amanda in chilly Canberra.
Another very good friend, Joe Walsh the yacht rigger, has had a tough time recently. Joe is 60 years old but still a very competitive road racing cyclist. He has had two accidents this year. The second was a severe one, resulting in fractured C1 and C2, and requiring a 6 hour neurosurgical operation. Amazingly Joe has suffered only the mildest of deficits - a bit of weakness and loss of fine movement in his left hand. He was immobilised at the scene by a doctor and paramedic who were also in the race he was competing in. Considering the commonest result of those fractures is instant death and the next commonest is quadraplegia, Joe is a hell of a lucky man. Whilst he is a long way off climbing masts again, he is at least back at the yard supervising his boys.
We have put up a few pics of progress on our jobs - click here to have a look.
Cheers from us in chilly Sydney!

06Jul2011 | obelians
Thanks for the news.... look fwd to see you next time. Drooled over the big screen plotter. Great to be in touch via email skype and your blog. xx H&D
08Jul2011 | Tea Bag
Pffft. Chilly Sydney.
13Jul2011 | Sarah
I love this picture of you John :) looking forward to seeing the boat all finished!
Still alive!
John and Shauna
27Mar2011, Sydney

Yes, you're correct - it has been a long time between drinks for the blog! Just after we last wrote, we caught a strong NE to Sydney in one hop. Our friends Bob and Marion came up to Coffs to make the passage south with us. It was pretty lumpy all the way and poor old Bob was sick from Korff's Islet to Port Jackson - two days. We kept him hydrated and shackled him to the backstay on one of the aft seats we use for reading and relaxing underway on passage. Then, as soon as we rounded North Head and found calm conditions, he was back to his normal talkative self until we tied up at the Squadron.
Only a day or so after making it home, our son Tom, who is at university in Canberra and works part-time in hospitality, was seriously assaulted without any warning or provocation by a customer and had to be hospitalised for surgery. He has since had further surgery and seems to be on the mend. So we have really, as you can imagine, been 100% pre-occupied with this business - driving back and forth between Sydney and Canberra and arranging the best specialists for Tom. The culprit has been caught and charged.
There have been some significant birthdays - Shauna is now 50!!!!!! She ain't happy about that either.... We had a great birthday bash for her in the Bennelong Room at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron. It was a memorable night.
Our niece Sarah turned 21 on the same day so it was a double celebration, and then Sarah had her own show at the Dural Country Club a couple of days later - lots of family and old friends.
Meanwhile we are full-on into the Surf Lifesaving scene again - John instructing the IRB trainees and driving the duck on patrol, Shauna keeping the First Aid situation under firm control and instructing the Advanced Resuscitation trainees.
Our dear friends Mike and Lynn from Wombat are currently in the States - they were over there for Christmas and returned but a family illness took them back again - we expect them back in Sydney in a week or so. Before he went home for Christmas Mike installed an electronic antifouling unit on Wombat, and seems pleased with the results so far. Time will tell.
We promise that, now things are more stable and Tom is mending, we'll stay in touch more regularly.
Cheers from us.

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Destiny's Crew
Who: John and Shauna
Port: Sydney, Australia
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Sunshine on blue water, twelve knots on the beam.... The trades are blowing gently and we're sailing like a dream..... Sipping from the cup of life and getting mostly cream....

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"Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats" - Ratty to Mole in "Wind in the Willows"