So, so we go!
11 April 2013 | Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter, HK
When Lillie graduated from high school we took a trip on a Turkish Gulet, sailing on what our captain referred to as the "Agency" ? (turned out to be the Aegean Sea). His frequent refrain, using the little English he spoke, when we were about to get underway seems particularly apt for our current situation in Hong Kong-- "SO, SO, WE GO!!!!"
• 6 years of dreaming
• 2+ years building Shearwater, a George Buehler designed Dieselduck 462, built strong and safe to take us across the Pacific Ocean by Seahorse Marine in Doumen, China.
• http://dieselducks.com/ http://www.yachtworld.com/seahorsemarine/index.html
• 3 diesel maintenance and repair courses at Alaska Diesel Electric with Bob Senter, an amazing educator and coiner of the phrase "a service opportunity".
• A Captain's course to pass exam for 100 ton near coastal license, and a celestial navigation course which is necessary to convert the license to all oceans at Crawford Nautical School in Seattle. Thank you Patsy and all the Crawfords!
• Bedtime reading of books like, "Voyaging under power" by William Bebee and "Boatowner's illustrated Electrical Handbook" by Charlie Wing
• Shopping trips to Fisheries Supply, West Marine, Captain's Nautical, Hatton Marine, Sure marine, Boat Electric, SeaMar, Hardwick's and numerous web sites to buy gear and spares which I shipped by barge to Hong Kong in 2 huge crates and 3 pallets--special thanks to Barb from Hatton who developed lists and supplied spare parts for my engine and generator and arranged to ship all my assembled gear out of their company! She is the best.
• 6 trips to Hong Kong and Doumen, China during the process of building and commissioning MV Shearwater with help from Marine Surveyor extroadinaire, Ray Wolfe.
• Time spent on the boat in Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter and Hebe Haven Yacht Club in Pak Sa Wan, Sai Kung learning about the boat and planning to become self sufficient for the 9000 mile trip to Seattle!
• Debugging the boat, which although beautifully built, is like every new boat with many complex and interconnecting systems which must be used to reveal "issues' (service opportunities)--which we would rather remedy in Hong Kong than while bobbing in the mid Pacific. It is not like buying a car off the assembly line as each boat is essentially custom built and like any machine, is subject to failures. The trick is to identify likely points which could malfunction and procure spares to cover that possibility. The hope is that if it doesn't fail in the 6, 12, and 24 hour runs we do while here, it is likely to last for a long time if well maintained. Crossed fingers, toes, and eyes.
• Finding food, water, fuel, lube, coolant, diesel biocide, pumps for air conditioners, fresh water system, bilge, and toilet, tools of every description, the most beautiful stainless steel shackles, pulleys, wire and saddle brackets, electrical supplies, electronic parts, fuel fittings and tubing, lines, fenders, dinghy and outboard to name but a few -all in Hong Kong, which does not subscribe to the Home Depot school of centralization. There are innumerable tiny shops which sell very specific items and we are becoming experts on finding the shop, communicating to non English speaking staff , drawing pictures and diagrams, and tasting the sweetness of victory as we leave with a 5/8" fuel fitting with barbed connector and a length of flexible fuel hose! Awesome!
• Taking care of boat papers, Marine department hoops to jump through, trip insurance for Shearwater, and planning for upcoming ports of call-- arranging for entry procedures, finding courtesy flags, making sure fuel is available, and taking screen shots of upcoming harbor entrances on Google Earth.
• Rigging pfd's (personal floatation devices), trying on survival suits, running salvage pumps, and performing safety drills including procedures for dealing with fire, man overboard, lightening protection, heavy weather preparation, night traffic management, sea anchor and drogue deployment, EPIRB management and abandon ship to name a few. (don't worry mom)
• And last but not least, coming together as a crew, working together and earning trust, appreciating each other's contributions and expertise and enduring finely honed senses of very dark humor???. Much more on that later.
We really are close to heading off. Weather has turned a bit stormy but it looks as though this weekend may be opportune to cross the South China Sea to Subic Bay, Philippines, a 4 day crossing, where we will regroup, do final provisioning and head West. You can follow the weather at http://passageweather.com/ We are in the Northern Pacific and you can see 7 day forecasts for wind, atmospheric pressure, and wave height for the initial leg between China and the Philippines.
A few acknowledgements and thanks:
First and foremost, thanks to my family who have supported me in this process in every way imaginable. I love and appreciate you more than I can express! Miss you all but see you soon!
To Bill, Stella, and Fido at Seahorse and all the managers and crew-- it has been a pleasure to get to know all of you and witness the construction of such a fine craft and become part of the diesel duck family.
To the live aboards at Hebe Haven Yacht Club, especially Aiden, Tjasa, and Nela, Dave and Karen, Kevin and Irina, and Andy and Kate. Thank you for redefining the concept of hospitality, sharing your encyclopedic knowledge of boat systems, guiding us to Yau Ley, letting me share in the experience of surgical strike missions to the Mong Kok hardware district, and welcoming all of us into your enviable live aboard lifestyle in this beautiful place.
All the Diesel Duck people including Andrew and Celia, Anders and Christina , Jef , Kurt and Marcia, John and Jeri, Don, and Randal.
And finally to Dave and Dorothy Nagle. Who knew when I stumbled onto their boat in Lake Union, Seattle, that I would be here, poised to sail on Shearwater home from China! They have become first and foremost great friends but their enthusiasm, teaching ability, generosity, exhaustive emphasis on safety and professionalism, and expertise through experience have made this journey possible for me--there is no way I could have done this without their help, despite a lifetime of boating on a smaller, less complex scale. Dave has rounded up two of his good friends, Wade and Roger, and the four of will take the boat to Hawaii before taking a break on the way to Seattle. You will hear all about them and their background and talents in future posts. Check out Dave's blog at:
It chronicles the adventures they have had on their Diesel Duck over the last 6 years and has postings from our preparations here as well.
O.K. The blog is started. Will post with details and pictures when we have internet access in port. Underway, we will post daily reports of weather and conditions via a satphone which has limited data capabilities. Next blog entry will describe final preparations and our projected course and time table.