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Liferaft Test, Part 4
Thu Dec 11 12:03:00 EST 2008

Now that the liferaft had been inflated, a check of the functionality and expiry dates of all the equipment inside (sitting in front of the raft in the picture) was done.

The sun canopy has been pulled down over the liferaft in this picture. Underneath (not shown, but inspected), are pockets that hold water to keep the raft relatively stable.

The flares, flashlight and batteries were out of date and replaced, and the expiry dates on all equipment were recorded in the liferaft logbook.

The test is not finished at this point--a few days must pass without the raft deflating to be able to certify it. I expect to have the raft back aboard sometime next week.

Liferaft Test, Part 3
Thu Dec 11 12:02:00 EST 2008

Liferafts have a bad reputation for not always inflating. I was glad to watch my raft successfully inflate, then dismayed at the continuing hiss of air out of what I thought was a manual inflation valve. The air was actually from an overpressure valve, as the CO2 cannister is apparantly larger than necessary to inflate the raft at room temperatures, so the raft vents the excess air out. After a couple of minutes, all the noise stopped, and the liferaft remained inflated.

Liferaft Test, Part 2
Thu Dec 11 12:01:00 EST 2008

I got to do the honors of pulling the inflation cord (which causes the gas bottle to inflate the liferaft) to test that the whole system worked. With a bang and a lot of hissing, the liferaft began inflating....

Sun Dec 21 13:52:44 EST 2008 | George Ray
How great to get to know your life raft up close and personal. It looks good in the pictures.
Liferaft Test, Part 1
Thu Dec 11 12:00:00 EST 2008

Periodically, liferafts need inspection. The period seems to vary by either manufacturer or country. Bombard, the French company which made the liferaft on Issuma, wants inspections done every three years. Argentina expects them to be done every year. By Bombard standards, it was almost time for my raft to be inspected, so I took it to a local chandlery that said they could do it.

I checked Bombard's website, and they don't seem to have any authorized service stations in South America. I figured it wasn't that important to have an authorized service center inspect it as long as I could be there to see the inspection done (there are horror stories of inspection stations claiming to inspect rafts but really not bothering to). The local chandlery (Costanera Uno) actually sent it off to a liferaft inspection company, IDP, located outside the center of Buenos Aires. After a few taxi rides, I went into a converted house where the inspections were done.

In the picture, the liferaft has been unpacked from the plastic box (not shown) and plastic bag (on the right) that it normally lives in (the plastic bag surrounds the liferaft inside the plastic box, and keeps water out of it).

Mon Nov 8 15:33:51 EST 2010 | Herby Marina
dear friend, next time send it to use, that you cant inspect, and share some mates.
Sat Dec 6 12:00:00 EST 2008, San Fernando, Buenos Aires, Argentina

I motored Issuma upriver to San Fernando (a suburb of Buenos Aires) last week. Yacht Club Argentino was kind enough to let me use their location in San Fernando, which has haulout and repair facilities.

San Fernando and the surrounding area has thousands of pleasure boats, and seems to have several fibreglass boatbuilding companies, and several chandleries (yacht equipment stores). The picture above is one of the local chandleries. I don't think the horse eating the dandelions has anything to do with the chandlery, but it seemed to make for a nice picture.

Buenos Aires, Argentina
Sun Nov 23 12:00:00 EST 2008

After a pleasant trip up the Rio de la Plata, we docked at the well-appointed facilities of the exceptionally helpful and hospitable Yacht Club Argentino.

Buenos Aires is a very pleasant and exciting city to be in. People are quite relaxed and friendly.

George is now flying back to his home and boat in Southport, North Carolina.

I am in the process of arranging to haul the boat out of the water and get a bunch of work done. I expect to be in this area for the next 2-3 months.

Mon Dec 1 7:47:37 EST 2008 | bonnie
Ah, so much nicer a place to be for December & especially January & February than NYC. You guys have a wonderful time. Please keep posting pictures of warm places!
Rio de la Plata, Argentina
Wed Nov 19 12:00:00 EST 2008

We had a great tailwind for the sail up the Rio de la Plata to Buenos Aires. The river (Rio de la Plata) is mostly shallow, especially the farther up one gets, and full of shipwrecks that must be avoided (most of which are marked by cardinal buoys). Because the river is shallow, the waves do not get high, but get steeper instead, so we kept the dropboard in and the hatch closed much of the time to keep the occasional breaking wave from splashing inside the boat.

On our last night, we ended up spending most of the hours of darkness tacking back and forth, trying to keep the boat in place, rather than let the tidal current carry us further up the river. This was done to delay our entrance to Buenos Aires until daylight.

La Paloma, Uruguay
Mon Nov 17 12:00:00 EST 2008

The beach at La Paloma

La Paloma, Uruguay
Mon Nov 17 6:00:00 EST 2008, 34 40'S:54 10'W

To sit out a pampero (strong SW wind in the Rio de la Plata area) Saturday, we came into La Paloma, Uruguay.

We were having intermittent problems with the engine. I'd changed one fuel filter (which appeared fine), and suspected the other two needed to be changed, but was hoping to get the boat into port before doing so. By the time we got close to the port, the wind was about 25 knots, and we were motorsailing, noticing the engine was having a lot of trouble. There wasn't a good place to anchor, and it was bouncy enough, in an increasing wind, and we were tired enough to not want to try changing the fuel filters right there.

Traffic Control in the port had earlier told us we would go to a mooring when we arrived, and to call back when we were closer. Just outside the entrance to the harbor, after dropping the one sail we had up, and motoring into flat water, we called to say we were about to enter, and they told us we were to go to a dock. There followed a mad scramble to get docklines and fenders ready. The engine had lost a lot of power, and I really wanted to get tied to the dock quickly, before it failed. As it turned out, just downwind of the dock, the engine stopped, and both docklines that were thrown missed. As we blew off downwind, I restarted the engine, and found it did not have the power to retry getting upwind to the dock.

I asked if we could take a mooring, and they said we could. We had trouble getting the anchor ready to drop (wanted the anchor ready in case we couldn't reach the mooring), as the winch had become very difficult to turn after getting sprayed with salt water for the last six weeks at sea. George managed to get the anchor chain out of the locker without the winch as I approached the mooring buoy. I couldn't make the turn into the wind sharply enough with the power I had to clear a nearby boat, so I eased off the throttle for another attempt. Upwind, on the foredeck, George interpreted this as we were unable to make headway, and dropped the anchor. This was just as well, as the anchor held us away from the rocks that were 100m downwind.

The prefectura (harbor master) was very helpful, and came out with their launch and towed us to the dock. There was a Uruguayan navy ship nearby, and several sailors came out to assist. We got lines on the dock from about 6m (20 feet) away, but then the keel, which was locked down, went into the mud and we stopped. The keel is raised by a winch pulling a steel cable around some pulleys. Unfortunately, the cable broke when we tried to raise the keel. So we settled into the mud, 6m off the dock.

As we worked on replacing the winch cable (we had a spare), the prefectura kindly tied a wooden rowboat to the dock and to our boat, so that we could get to and from the dock. Two mechanics from a nearby fishing boat came over to help with the engine, and showed us that both the fuel filters were full of water and what seemed to be Sikaflex. The way the fuel system works on this boat is that fuel is pumped from the main tanks through a Racor water-separating fuel filter (which should take out almost all the water, and which I had changed, and which had only a little water in it), to a day tank. From the day tank, it goes to two more filters, one of which is also a water separating one with a metal bowl (so you can't see the water by looking at it). These two filters were the ones which had the majority of the water in them. The day tank is an old plastic tank, and it had been repaired earlier with some kind of sealant, but had started to leak. We had patched it up with Sikaflex (a sealant), but it appears that the fuel dissolved some of the Sikaflex we put in and some of it ended up in the filters. Draining the water and replacing the filters solved the problem, and the engine was running well again.

After replacing the winch cable, we got the keel up, and several navy men assisted us in pulling the boat closer to the dock.

So we got the warm welcome that visitors are assured of (according to the crusing guide) when visiting Uruguay. People are exceptionally nice here, and it is quite a pretty seaside resort area. It is quiet now, just getting ready for summer, which starts next month.

Thu Nov 13 1:00:00 EST 2008

Earlier I mentioned AIS (Automated Identification System). This is a relatively new standard that involves ships transmitting name, position, course and speed information automatically. All ships over 300 tons are now required to have AIS transmitters. This basically means all cargo ships, but only the largest fishing vessels.

We installed an AIS receiver in the Canaries. I bought the only one available there at the time, called an "AIS Radar" by the vendor, NASA Marine Ltd (a UK marine electronics company). The name is misleading, it has absolutely nothing to do with radar.

On the screen, the cross in the centre is the receiver (my boat). North is up. The circle with a line behind it is the ship detailed on the right, the HEBEI INNOVATOR. The direction the line attached to the circle comes from gives you some visual idea of how close the ship will come to you. On the right you can see the course over the ground (COG), heading, speed, position and range (distance away) of HEBEI INNOVATOR.

There is an alarm that sounds (usually) when a ship comes into range. Occasionally the unit will display a target, but never sound the alarm. It is not clear from the minimal instructions that came with the unit why the alarm does not always sound. Despite that, as long as you periodically have a look at the screen when in poor visibility, it does a great job of alerting you to the presence of ships. We usually are alerted by the AIS before we see the ships--typically they show up on the AIS when 12-16 miles away (mostly because the antenna is mounted fairly high up).

Thu Nov 13 20:01:41 EST 2008 | George Conk
Interesting - because both Bernard Stamm and Alex Thomson (Vendee Globe racers) have been in collisions in that past three weeks.
Thomson (Hugo Boss) has now retired. Stamm had to return to port to repalce is boswpirt.

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