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LeuCat Adventures
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Year 5 Day 70 The Boat Projects Are Winding Down
04/10/2012, Bundaberg Port Marina

I rented a car today and drove our Yamaha 15hp outboard over to the Yamaha Service Center in Bundaberg. The yeoman's effort in trying to break it down and service it that Jerald (S/V Spirit) and I did a couple of days ago failed to produce the results I wanted. The Yamaha service guy said that they would not be able to get to it until Friday. With luck, it will be done either that day or Monday. If so, then our departure date of Tuesday, April 17th looks pretty good if the weather cooperates. We both are getting a little moldy after sitting so long in the marina.

While in town I did a little shopping and brought back a roasted chicken from Coles. It was yummy! Unlike in the US, they stuff their roasted chickens that they sell in the supermarket so we got a nice little bonus with the chicken.

Mary Margaret hoisted me up the mast a couple of times today. She wanted me to replace the halyard I installed last year with one that is a little bit thinner. Thus, I installed a 12 mm line instead of the 14 mm line that was there. The thinner line is plenty strong and it moves through the various pulleys and fittings a bit easier, putting less strain on the winch.

I finished a bit early today so I retired to the hammock with an ice cold beer and lounged the late afternoon away. Man that was nice! I could get used to doing that again. Once we start cruising, that is a daily custom which I relish.

Year 5 Days 68 and 69 Patches Leu
Dave/Sunny, No Wind
04/09/2012, Bundaberg Port Marina

I am sorry that I did not post a blog yesterday. The truth of the matter is there just was not much to write about so I decided to take a break. The day was spent adding patches to our shade tarp. It is now over 4 years old and we have used it exceptionally hard. It is showing its age by forming small tears that widen when the wind blows hard.

I had not realized it but the big wind storm we had right before we left to tour Australia last month caused a number of tears to form before I was able to get the shade tarp down. The cloth is simply wearing out and it is time to replace it. However, we are hoping to get one last season out of it before it gets tossed. We are thinking that we will buy more material when we return to the States at the end of this season and then have a replacement made in Malaysia. That way we get the quality material we want and benefit from the cheap labor market in Malaysia. We are not sure the tarp will last that long but we have our fingers crossed. Meanwhile, just called me Patches Leu...

Today Mary Margaret spent much of the day cleaning the inside of the boat. It is an endless and thankless task. It is especially difficult since I go in and out of the boat so much, chasing after tools, supplies and parts that I keep in the forward cabin on the port hull. This is my storage area on the boat. Each time I come in, I track something into the boat. It seems to me I had this same problem when I was a little kid and my Mom never was pleased with the amount of dirt that I brought into the house. Poor Mary Margaret has inherited this problem. I am glad that I did not have to withstand an investigation of my poor track record when she decided to marry me. I am afraid if she knew what she was getting herself in for, she would have chosen someone else. Thank God love is blind...

While she was cleaning (again) I spent the better part of the day running our reef lines. I had to remove them when I took the sail down soon after we arrived in Port Bundaberg last November. Since we had reconfigured the boom and the reefing system last year in New Zealand, this was the first time I had to run those lines by myself. I had the rigger run them in New Zealand and I did not watch how he did it. That was a mistake because now I had to carefully inspect the inside of the boom and figure out a way to run the lines. I seceded but it took me 6 hours in the hot sun. A lot of that time was undoing mistakes I made. However, I now know the various tricks that are needed so the next time I do it, it should take less than three hours. At least I hope so.

The day ended with a number of us cruisers getting together at the bar next to the marina office for beers. Karen and Frank of S/V Tahina had come in yesterday and Lori (of Lori and Ken on S/V Trim) returned today from an extended stay in the States. We were joined by Sue and Craig of S/V Serendipity and Dave and Sue of S/V Stand By Me (not the correct name of their boat but close). Ken had asked Dave and Sue to join us and share their local knowledge of anchoring and swimming spots along the Great Barrier Reef going north. Dave was full of great information and we are getting really excited of starting our cruising season.

We all are looking to leave the marina in a week or so (for each of us it depends on how our respective boat projects go). Thus, there could be a mass exodus starting next week.

Year 5 Day 67 A Spider’s Lair
Dave/ Sunny

Warning! Warning!! Warning!! If you have a bad case of Arachnophobia (fear of spiders) do not read today's blog.

When we returned to Leu Cat last week, after exploring Australia, we discovered that our boat was covered with the dead remains of these tiny mosquito-like bugs. The first thing I did was wash down the boat to remove these little suckers. Since then, every evening when it gets dark, these bugs come out and are attracted to the lights in our salon. They are so small that they find ways to come in even though we have our hanging screen door on. We have since made it a habit to close the sliding door, which is behind the screen. This has worked to keep the bugs out of our boat but they congregate outside of the door, in our stern cockpit.

During the night, they die and fall to the floor so in the morning, I have to take our vacuum and vacuum them up. However, they seemed to have also attracted spiders onto the outside of our boat. I have tried to wash the spiders down from their webs that they spin and flush the spiders into the water. Unfortunately, this has been a losing battle. When we went shopping the other day, I bought two large canisters of bug bomb so I could spray the outside of the boat to get rid of them. However, the last couple of days it has been too windy to use the spray.

This morning, the wind had died down so I grabbed the canisters and went outside. When I did, I felt like Frodo, the main character of the movie, Lord of the Rings, when he entered the lair of Shelob, the huge spider. Soon I was covered in webs with spiders dancing all around me, licking their chops. I was the biggest dinner they had seen since Sam recued Frodo. I had visions of a black mass of spiders marching down the deck of the boat, getting ready for their feast.

Fortunately, I had brought my 3 foot long machete with me and hacked clear of the webs before the moving mass of black spiders reached me. OK, OK, so I am exaggerating a little bit but you get the idea of how bad it was. Yuck!!! I methodically sprayed down the deck, the safety net that covers our lifelines (which were truly covered with webs) the dock lines and the fenders. It took both large canisters and by the time I was done, the place was littered with dead and dying spiders. There must have been a couple of hundred of them. Double Yuck. I then spent the next hour washing down the boat and flushing those nasty things into the water.

I just can't figure why Mary Margaret decided to stay inside the salon all day but I suspect that it might have something to do with the screaming and yelling I did while battling those nasty little critters...

As I worked throughout the day on some of our minor but time consuming boat projects, I would spy a spider or two that have escaped my morning battle. I took great joy in individually killing them. I know that I will need to spray down the boat a couple of more times before we are fully victorious in our battle with the Arachnids since I killed a number of nests that contains hundreds of babies but I am sure that I may have missed a few under the bridge deck between the two hulls. However, it is a 1000 percent better and I am determined to win this battle. Fortunately, we have not found any inside our boat so we sleep well at night.

Year 5 Day 66 S/V Spirit
Dave/Mostly Sunny
04/06/2012, Bundaberg Port Marina

After working on more boat projects today, Mary Margaret and I went over to S/V Spirit to have sundowners with Jerald and Anz, our Dutch friends. We first met them in Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador in 2009. Since then, we have bumped into them in the Marquesas and Tahiti in 2010 and last year in Port Villa, Vanuatu. They have just returned their boat to the water after keeping it on the hard here during their trip back to Holland.

It was great catching up again. They speak very good English and we enjoyed their company very much. Mary Margaret had made a guacamole dip and Anz made a salty and crunchy Dutch taco like chip that was delicious. The last time we had such a chance to get together was in Ecuador since each of the other times we bumped into each other, either we were just leaving or they were. Such is the life of a cruiser.

They too will be sailing to Darwin and then Indonesia; however, they probably will not join up with the rally. They plan to end the cruising year in Thailand and may end up staying there the next year also. Like everyone else, they wish to continue on to the Mediterranean but are not yet sure how to get there. The pirate situation around the Red Sea and Indian Ocean has everyone evaluating various options.

Tomorrow, Jerald will be coming over to Leu Cat to help me service our Yamaha 2 stroke 15hp Enduro outboard. Except for minor maintenance I have never worked on it and he will show me a few tricks that he has learned.

Year 5 Day 65 A Day For Provisioning
Dave/Mostly Sunny
04/05/2012, Bundaberg {Port Marina

I am afraid today was not a very exciting day. We had rented a car from the marina and drove the 20 or so kilometers into Bundaberg. Once there, we spent the better part of the day going from place to place, collecting things that were on our "We Need" list. Since today was the day before Good Friday, the town was packed with people. Everyone was doing the same thing we were since most stores and banks would be closed from tomorrow through Monday for the Easter holiday.

I needed to go to one of the banks to deposit our Sail Indonesia Rally fee. Yep, we are biting the bullet and will be sailing in our first real rally this year. Not a pretty thought since we are not really rally people. We have sailed in two other "Rallies" before, but both were rallies in name only. You really sailed by yourself and the rally was really just a name for all of the parties you got to attend at the end of the cruising season destination you were sailing to. These two rallies went from Tonga to NZ and from Vanuatu to Bundaberg.

However, the Sail Indonesia Rally is a multi-stop rally with planned festivities at each destination. Thus, boats tend to leave each port at the same time. We have heard many nice things about this rally and since the rally people handle the majority of the paperwork we need to have to sail through Indonesia, we thought we would give it a try. One of the really bright points of this trip is that our former cruising friends, Portia and Steve (formerly of S/V Dream Caper), will be joining us in Bali for a couple of weeks. We can hardly wait to see them again!

We ended the afternoon at Coles, a large supermarket, where we loaded up with a number of goodies. We will go shopping for provisions one more time before we leave Bundaberg in the next week or two.

To conclude the day, we returned to Bundaberg for dinner at the Brother Sports Club. Thursday night is their roast night and it is only $4.95 per person. We had been told that it is very good and were anxious to give it a try. While the meal was good, we had visions of thick roast beef dancing in our heads. Alas, the meat was thinly cut and was in bits and pieces. It had been slow cooked at low temperatures so it was very tender but not as flavorful as our imaginations had envisioned. Nevertheless, at $4.95 for a complete dinner, it was a pretty good deal.

Since everything is closed tomorrow, we are projecting that it was be a restful day interspersed with work on the never ending list of minor boat projects...

Year 5 Day 64 Getting Old Is Not For Sissies
Dave/Sunny And Some WInd
04/04/2012, Bundaberg Port Marina

Today all of the hard work that we have been doing on the sail, out in the intense sun, caught up with me. Coupled that with the "heavy on the fresh veggies and fruits and light on the carbohydrates and fats" diets that we are on, I feel exhausted. OK, maybe an itty, bitty, tiny fraction of the exhaustion is also old age creeping in. Naw, that can't be it. We are as old as we think, not as old as we feel and I only think positive thoughts. I am still only 20 years old in my mind, even though my body is constantly disputing that thought!

Anyway, I worked only at about 30% of my usually level today and did not accomplish very much. If I had been smart, I would have just stayed inside and rested all day. I actually believe that I am just feeling the effects of too much sun since I did not use any sunscreen yesterday and did not wear a hat. How stupid is that!

Tomorrow, we are renting a car and going back into town. We need to start our serious provisioning for this upcoming cruising season. Since we are going to be in Indonesia and Malaysia, there are certain things that are best bought here in Australia. We could wait until we get to Darwin but we understand that things are so much more expensive up there and there will be lots of other cruisers stocking up there. Thus, for the longer term provisions and basics, we are going to load up here.

Year 5 Days 62 and 63 Opportunity Lost And Then Regained
Dave/Sunny and CALM
04/03/2012, Bundaberg Port Marina, AU

Yesterday was spent dong an assorted group of small boat projects. None of them very critical but a number of them addressed various nagging issues that crop up on a boat after a while. An example is replacing a head pump plunger that was squealing and leaking each time when used. It did not matter how much silicon grease I would add to silence it. The fact of the matter was, it had just plum wore out and needed to be replaced.

We have been hoping for a day of calm winds so we could put up the mainsail and insert the battens. Calm days are a rarity here since we either get the southeasterly winds which are starting to dominate this region now, or we get the land and sea breezes. However, last evening, right at dinner time, the winds stopped. Thus, as soon as dinner was over, we threw on the outside deck light and pulled up the main, confident that we would be inserting the battens.

Alas, it was not to be so... As Mary Margaret hoisted the main, I discovered that I had failed to reattach one of the batten cars to the sail track that holds the sail to the mast. Damn!!!! I was so pissed that I had missed it. This meant that I would have to remove the small section of track that we had repaired right before our trip around Australia and reinsert the batten car after I loaded the batten car with new bearings.

This is not a quickie thing to do so I told Mary Margaret to drop the sail and I would work on this the next morning. We went to bed with smoke coming out of my ears. I was concerned that I had missed my rare opportunity of no winds.

This morning I woke up at 0500 with dawn just starting to break. The air was still calm so I went on deck to immediately start working on inserting the batten car. I went on deck so quickly that I by-passed shaving, brushing my teeth and my morning coffee. Fortunately, I had remembered to put my swimming suit on...

Within an hour I had the batten car re-installed and hoisted up the sail since the wind was still nonexistent. 5 hours later, still with no wind, I had installed the 3 bottom and longest of the battens. It is a real chore doing this by one's self. It would have gone much faster if I had a tall helper but since my loving wife is just 5 feet two inches, she would not have been able to help push the battens in while I shook out the sail to remove the various creases that prevent the battens going in smoothly.

Thus, I had to do all of this by myself, a foot at a time. By 1100 I was exhausted and overheated. However, three of the five battens were in.

At 1500 I was rested enough to continue but I really needed help. The fourth batten was just not cooperating so I did ask Mary Margaret to come up and help out. She immediately saw the problem and being the brains of the family came up with an ingenious solution. She suggested that I use our wire fish. This is a long, flat wire that I use to "fish" electrical wires through tortuous routes. Following her suggestion, I climbed the mast steps, snaked the wire fish through the batten pocket until it came out the other end and then taped the batten to the wire fish. With Mary Margaret holding the batten, I pulled on the wire fish and in no time, the batten was in place. Hooray!!!! And all thanks to my life mate!! She may not be big in stature but she sure is big in brains!!!!

Now all I have left is the top, short batten and I can do this even if the wind is blowing since only a little bit of sail needs to be pulled up to install it. This I will tackle tomorrow.

Techno-Tip Of The Week: Installing Battens

As you read above, Mary Margaret came up with a great little trick to help smooth out the winkles in a sail as you try to push the battens through the batten pockets. This problem is manageable without her trick if you have two tall people who can work at each end of the sail and pull the sail taunt while you push the batten into the batten pocket. However, on our boat, the boom is up high and to reach the working part of the sail you need to be at least 5 ½ feet tall.

If you don't have two tall people or if you are working by yourself, this trick works great. What you need to do and use your fish wire and thread it through the batten pocket. You will still need to work the sail a bit to ease the wire through the creases in the sail but it is a lot easier than pushing a thick batten through the batten pocket. Make sure the end of the wire is bent back and then taped so that there is not a sharp end to cut through the sail.

Once the wire is through, then just tape the batten to about a foot of the wire and pull the wire back through the batten pocket until the batten comes through. Now just guide the end of the batten into the batten car. Once that is done, you can install the plastic batten end to the leach side of the batten and tie it down or do whatever you need to do to close your batten end. Prettcy neat, Uh?

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Who: Mary Margaret and Dave Leu
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