Hello from the Heartland (and my list of most important boat equipment)
07/30/2008, Joplin, Missouri, USA
As Steen said, the crew of Radiance is temporarily split up. Malou and I are in Joplin, Missouri visiting my family and friends. Malou is almost four and hasn't seen her grandparents here since October of 2006. Even though the crew is not together, it is great to see Malou spending time with my Mom and my aging Dad.
I will probably start a separate blog about what it's like coming back to the Midwest after living on the West Coast and after traveling across the Pacific Ocean, meeting people from other cultures with different lifestyles and viewpoints. I would like to explore the ideological differences as well as similarities between people living on the American West Coast with those living in the Heartland. I grew up in Missouri and have a little insight into the mindset of the hard-working, no-nonsense, generous and sometimes skeptical attitudes of the local population.
The other reason for the blog will be to write about the lighter topics of what Malou and I are up to, and anything we think might be of interest.
On another note: some answers to the question of Most Valuable Boat Equipment.
I think Steen and I would both agree that in addition to the obvious necessary equipment onboard, like working sails and sturdy rigging, our most valued piece of equipment on board is...
1. Wanda, our self-steering wind vane. It is an Aries, purchased used, our second one actually; the first one was stolen along with our old Toyota Camry station wagon which happened to be full of boat parts.
We also used an electric AutoHelm 4000 coming down the U.S. west coast when we were motoring, but had trouble finding a replacement belt after our belt broke somewhere in...? I don't remember where.
The next few items are listed in no specific order of importance.
2. Watermaker: definitely glad we bought it. We used it all the way across our first passage from Mexico to The Marquesas. We tried to only consume the watermaker water as we made it, saving our 90 gallon main water tank for when we were either low on power or when we arrived in an inner harbour near other boats and didn't think the water was clear enough to use the watermaker. We continued to use that system and it worked very well for us. Every time we made a little passage of a couple days or more, we tried to use the watermaker, which did two things: 1. Saved Steen from having to pickle the watermaker, (which you need to do if you're not going to use it for awhile (ask Steen for definition of 'awhile'), and 2. Gave us more freedom as to how long we could stay at anchor in one place without having to worry too much about water. I think Steen also occasionally poured the watermaker water into the main tank to top it up. Otherwise, we just kept it in jugs in the fridge.
We bought our watermaker supposedly 'new in the box' at the Fisheries Swap Meet in Seattle. It was sold as a Power Survivor 40 , but is actually a Power Survivor 35. ( I notice there is one currently for sale on Craig's List Seattle). We functioned well with the 35, but Steen might want to shed more light on what he thinks is sufficient watermaker capacity.
Note: for us it was great using the watermaker when we were sailing because we had an effective tow generator that trailed behind the boat, wired to the batteries, that powered the watermaker and anything else we needed. That tow generator converted into a wind generator but wasn't as effective, partly because of the design and partly because it wasn't always windy enough in the inner harbours or bays to be effective.
3. Speaking of water: something we did not have, unfortunately, was a proper water catchment system; meaning durable fabric specifically sewn and designed for catching rain water and diverting it into a water tank. We tried using lightweight sail fabric from our old torn drifter sail, but it was way too light and would either rip or blow around in a breeze. For those times when we were in a crowded bay or in not so clear water and couldn't use the watermaker, or were low on power... and were in a torrential downpour, we would have LOVED to have a good rain catchment system. We would recommend putting some thought into this if you're planning on being at sea or at anchor somewhere.. anywhere for a long period of time.
4. Think Power: Wind and Tow Generator and Solar Panels
I have to end this posting now, but will get back to it later.
Back with a few more things we thought were necessary:
5. Mosquito coils. We must have used 100 mosquito coils by the time we got to New Zealand. I think we bought most of them in Mexico. Can you buy them in the islands? I can't remember but I think so - (I know we bought some in Fiji). I'd recommend stocking up just in case.)
6. Tamanu Oil helped keep the horrible no-no sand flies from biting. This is a seriously annoying and uncomfortable problem in parts of Mexico and in parts of the Pacific Islands, including New Zealand. I bought some freshly made tamanu oil in The Marquesas, because of a tip I received from a local in Nuku Hiva, Marquesas who saw the horrible state of my sand-fly bitten legs. I see that you can buy it online too. I don't know the quality of the stuff online, but I'd say it's definitely worth the seventeen bucks to find out. Also, when you get to the Marquesas, buy some freshly made. I paid about fifteen dollars for a bottle that is still half full. It doesn't take much oil to work. A fellow cruising friend used Avon Skin So Soft lotion to help keep biting bugs away. It might be worth having onboard also. And general mosquito and bug repellant is recommended too. And the lightest weight sunscreen you can find. You'll probably sweat it off, or else be so hot, you won't want anything on your face, but try anyway.
7. LED bulbs: We love our Sensi-bulbs that Steen ordered on-line. They give a warm light and use virtually no power. Steen will have more info on those.
Ok. That's my list.
8. Add a sunshade of somekind. We used our torn drifter and it worked well for that unless it was windy.
9. Also some kind of awning for the port lights would have been great. Sounds dumb, but when you're boiling up inside and it's pouring down rain, it would have been heaven to be able to open the ports.
10. A fan: how could I forget that? We had the Mexican bus driver's version. We could have used something quieter.
You get the idea? It's about comfort, and I'm not talking luxury; I'm talking livability without going crazy.
And don't forget a good digital camera and laptop.. and a backup laptop.
Oh! I forgot
11. our Icom SSB with Pactor Modem. Definitely worth the money. It's a lot of money, actually, but we never regretted it, not one minute. Weather forcasts and Email communication onboard is invaluable.
Ok that's really all for now.
No it isn't.
All of the above is in addition to the safety equipment we have on board, like an Epirb and a 6-man life raft (wish we had gone with the canister instead of the bag), and what else? a Preventer for the Mail sail, SOSpenders PFDs, good tethers.
GPS and backup GPS. We actually miss our ancient Magellan. It was huge and easy to read from the helm and we liked it's features. Steen will know the model number. If any still exist, they could probably be picked up for cheap.
Steen? you can take over before I ramble on too much. But I know you're busy working on the boat, so we won't be too hard on you if you don't answer right away.
OK. Take care.
Don't get all exited now. Nothing new
07/22/2008, Brisbane, Australia
The photo above is from Manihi Atoll.
This may sound a little strange, but I have never read our entire blog from start to end. Tonight I read a little here and there. And I have to say, we have had one heck of a trip so fare. Those of you that checks our blog on a regular basis know, that something drastic must happen for me to write. Well, something drastic just happened. The little crew on Radiance has been split up, after 20-month under the same deck. Angela and Malou left for the united states a few days ago. For the next 90 days Radiance and I are going to be in Brisbane by ourselves. I would like to write something for the blog, but I am not sure what to write about. I could write about:
- Why did I see a Coke bottle float around 2000 miles off-shore, but could not catch a fish
- The most difficult job in the world, Boat designer. The same cruising boat that has to sail safely straight through a storm must be also serve as a comfortable home at anchor. Sometimes you have to keep the outside out, and sometime you need as much of the outside inside.
- What does it take mentally take to live and travel in 37 feet of Fiberglas.
- A good friend of ours said about all the cruising friends that we say good bye to "I wish I could live on the same street, with the kids and see them grow up, with the 20'something and see them select a mate and settle down, with the adventure and think up a new adventure every day.
- The simple complexity of a sailboat.
- Why 3-year olds make good sailors.
- Our favourite place in the world. Manihi atoll. And why it is so difficult to write about.
- What equipment do you really need onboard.
But I would really like you to bring some topics to write about. So let me know, and I may give it a try.
The Brisbane Powerhouse
An American in Australia
...and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.
from 'America' by Katherine Lee Bates 1913
07/04/2008, Brisbane, Australia
This Fourth of July message is dedicated to the memory of
1943 - 2008
a member of our extended family in Chicago, Illinois, and a kind and generous host of many a Fourth of July family gathering.
More praise for Brisbane
In our earlier posting about Brisbane we forgot to say that we have also explored some of the city parks which are much more than just parks. - think interactive water elements, palm trees, ponds, gardens, a sandy city beach, weekend markets, buskers (street performers), well-designed playgrounds, and interesting birds and one big reptile.
We have to catch up on our photos. For the past week we have been 'doing' things rather than looking through a lens. Now we need someone to follow us around with a camera.
Short posting, but we wanted to say that sometimes we are asked how we learned to sail. We always reply that we learned from our neighbor Fred. Fearless, he went out with us newbies and taught us how to manuever a 22,000 lb. full-keel boat, what to look for in sail shape, when to let out the sheets, how to work the throttle. Also to not worry - there was plenty of time to tack; we wouldn't suddenly hit shore while still a hundred yards away with twenty feet of water under the keel. The reason why I'm so comfortable at the helm is initially thanks to Fred. Your words of advice still run through our minds.
A week in the city.
06/24/2008, Brisbane, Australia
We have had a good first week and have been very busy.
(Our wireless internet connection is currently unreliable, so I lost the posting I just tried to make.
It wasn't very long and basically said the following:)
-We have been busy orienting ourselves to our new surroundings.
-We've been carrying Malou, or coaxing her, all over town.
-Been looking for and acquiring bikes, with a child carrier
-Making travel arrangements.
-Researching local job opportunities. (We hope to stay in Brisbane for a little while... a year or two, not sure)
-Brisbane city planners have been making good decisions.
-and that there are no photos this time. Our camera memory chip was affected by electro-static charge and we lost some photos and movies. it should be ok again now, but we are a bit camera-shy. We Will take some more photos soon. There is a lot to see here.
More next time. We will continue to be pretty task-oriented for the next few weeks so our blog postings may be few, but we will try to get some city photos posted as soon as we can. Take care and thank you for the comments.
Night in the city.
06/17/2008, Brisbane, Australia
Steen made an excellent dinner and we ate in our candlelit cockpit... the Story Bridge, the city lights, the reflection off the water, people and ferries coming and going. Like sailing under the Golden Gate, or playing with stingrays in Moorea, we agreed that the journey up the Brisbane River at sunset, arriving in the city as the lights came on was one of the most unexpectedly wonderful and amazing things we had done during our journey so far.
06/17/2008, Brisbane, Australia
The city sparkles and we agree this is one of the coolest things we've ever done.
Staying out of the way of the little night ferries, we anchor just down from the bridge, in the light of the tall buildings right across from us.
We get to go underneath.
taking photos while steering.
06/17/2008, Brisbane, Aust.
As the sky becomes pink and the southeastern shore gets bathed in warm light, we start to see skyscrapers in the background, around the many bends.
We start keeping a heads-up for the City Cat Ferries, (catamarans), who run up and down and across the river taking people home from work or out to dinner at riverside restaurants...
We round one of the last bends and there is The Story Bridge, outlined with picturesque lights.
...and established palm-tree lined residences
06/17/2008, Brisbane, Aust.
The river narrows and starts to meander.
Around the next few bends we see some older homes mixed with new, climbing up the banks on both sides, and some impressive waterfront developments with walkways, restaurants, city ferry docks...vibrant and healthy looking neighborhoods. Our hopes of finding a well-planned and user-friendly city have been kindled.