D & D Nagle aboard MV DavidEllis

27 May 2020 | Elfin Cove, SE Alaska
16 April 2020 | Elfin Cove, Cross Sound, Chichagof Island, SE Alaska
10 July 2019 | Elfin Cove, Alaska (or in Aussie:
18 March 2019
19 September 2017 | northbound Verney Passage, west side Gribbell Island
30 May 2017 | Photo is Meyers Chuck, north of Ketchikan AK
29 August 2016 | on-the-hard, Wrangell
19 November 2015 | almost there
16 November 2015
15 November 2015
11 November 2015 | Shearwater - Bella Bella, BC
10 November 2015 | photo is approaching Bottleneck Inlet
01 November 2015 | Wrangell, Alaska
17 September 2015 | Juneau to Petersburg
19 July 2015 | Wrangell > Petersburg > Tracy Arm > Juneau
28 June 2015 | Wrangell, AK (still on the hard)
03 March 2015 | Ketchikan

Wade's fishwrapper

19 April 2013 | subic bay
Wade Biggs
Saturday, March 30, 2013

One good thing about this weather, I've been thinking these last few days, is that at least I can use the term "monsoon" with absolutely no chance of being accused of hyperbole; this is monsoon season in Hong Kong and the quantity of water that's falling from the sky would satisfy anyone's definition of the term. Aboard the motor vessel SHEARWATER the four of us who are to be crew are in the boat for the evening and finally dry. We've spent this day, as we've spent so many of the last month, shopping for boat parts, services, and supplies in various sections of Hong Kong. Today we were in a subsection of Kowloon, walking the streets looking for hardware in the pouring rain. Here there are no Home Depots, no Ace Hardware stores, no centralized place of one-stop shopping. There is an amazing wealth of stuff to be had but it must be painstakingly searched out while walking through the deluge between hundreds of specialized shops spread out over many city blocks. Someone described this section of town as being a Home Depot disassembled into separate departments and scattered over a large area. I'm surprised that each narrow stall can do enough business to stay solvent; the specialization is so extreme that if you want to buy, for instance, a water pump, there is a narrow store front open to the sidewalk that sells only pumps. If you want a hose to connect to your pump, you must walk to the hose store, which can be some blocks away. If you want a clamp to fasten your hose to your pump, yep, another store specializing in clamps. In spite of the weather I'm excited every time we come here. For a tinkerer such as myself this is heaven; time and again I have remarked "if only there were a store like this in Seattle!" Walking between the pump store and the hose store we pass more open-fronted stalls, each with its tarp awning hanging over the sidewalk in a seldom-successful attempt to shelter the passersby from the incessant rain; the cable and chain store, the LED light store (not incandescent lights, just LED lights), the ball bearing store, the hydraulic fittings store, the electric motor store, the block-and-tackle store, the pressure gauges store - no, I'm not exaggerating. There are far too many of these categories for me to remember at the moment, but if an item is needed there's a good chance it can be found in this section of town. However, there is a dark side to this shopping bonanza of mechanical parts, and the buyer must beware. For instance, it's common knowledge among the vendors that all the local boaters, boatyards and repair shops want parts in stainless steel; the alloy 916 stainless in particular is prized as it is strong and rust proof. As a consequence every piece of stainless hardware in every bin in every shop is plainly stamped "916". Usually it will retain its luster until the second or third day after installation on your boat, at which time the telltale streaks of rust begin to appear. But the price is right and a little rust can be tolerated if it's the one part needed to finish an important project.

Mike and proprietors of well-stocked Hong Kong marine store.

It seems there is no end to those projects either; by the time we will get under way for the Philippines I will have been in Hong Kong exactly one month helping to prepare the boat mechanically and electrically. You might ask how it is possible for four experienced guys to spend a whole month working on a new boat just out of the yard, and the answer is, it isn't. It can't be done in a month. The owner has been here for three months beginning the work, and was joined by two others a month before I arrived. The "Not Really a FishWrapper" email detailed some of the problems that needed attention and some of the work that was done, so I see no need to list every item we have worked on. Suffice it to say that between the four of us we have put in six man-months of work since the boat was officially launched, and that's not including the outside professional help the owner has had working for several weeks now on autopilot and other electrical problems. Some days it seems we take one step forward and two back when one problem's solution leads to the discovery of yet another glitch.

But Hong Kong has not been all work and no play by any means. In spite of the heat, the rain, and the preparations for departure we, the crew, have been making some time for ourselves as well. Perhaps it's time to introduce the crew of the motor vessel Shearwater and put a human face on this story. The owner is a retired MD who lives in Seattle, a friend of one of my friends. David has had boats before but as I understand it mainly for fishing. He is an avid fisherman and I was not surprised to see that some of the gear already aboard when I first arrived was a pair of deep-sea fishing rods and salt water reels. He's also an accomplished cook and I've been enjoying some great meals aboard. This is a huge leap for him, building his own boat in China and preparing to deliver it himself to Seattle. I put the blame for this aberrant behavior squarely on the shoulders of our mutual friend David, whom I shall call Michael or Mike from now on. It's what his wife Dorothy calls him when he's behaving, and it will eliminate confusion. How Mike and I became friends is another story for another time, but because I have been cruising with Mike and Dorothy aboard their boat on several offshore passages, he recommended me to David as the third crewmember for this trip. Mike is an interesting guy, having built a sistership to Shearwater several years ago in the same yard in China. He and Dorothy lived aboard while cruising in Asia for four or five years, then brought the boat to Seattle by way of Japan, the Aleutian Islands and Alaska.

Mike, hard at work aboard the Shearwater.

The fourth member of this expedition is Roger. He and Mike were police officers together in Sonoma County in California and working partners for thirty years. Roger admits to having less sea time than the rest of us but he makes up for that in other ways. He's quite a capable guy, responsible, naturally, and skilled with his hands, and does a superior job on whatever we set him to doing. Here Roger is floating at the end of the starboard stabilizer pole, which we have lowered to working level for him, adding new rigging and revamping some of what was there. This is a vital system for our safety and comfort during time at sea, and the original fittings were not to our liking. There will be more about "flopperstoppers" in later FishWrappers, but if you are interested in how it works a Google search on the more correct name "paravane stabilizers" will take you to pages of information and photos. (And while you are Googling, remember to look up "diesel duck 46-2" for photographs of our vessel.). Roger has an interesting theory about his role aboard. Being a Star Trek fan (the original low-budget Captain Kirk TV series) he pointed out to us that occasionally a fourth crew member would beam down to some alien planet with Kirk, Bones, and Scotty. He was the "Expendable Character" and inevitably was shot by a Klingon, or fell into a lake of boiling lava, or was eaten alive by some wiggly extraterrestrial. For some reason the Fourth Crewmember always wore a red shirt. Roger won't wear red, and it took some persuasion to get him into that small boat. "Please, General Custer, I don't wanna go...)

In spite of all the hard work and frustrations of the last month this crew has gelled into a cohesive unit. Mike and I were known quantities, having sailed and worked together for a month at a time on several occasions. David is easy-going and fun to be around, with lots of funny stories of life in the medical profession. I have my own tales of life as an airline pilot, and Mike and Roger can keep us in stitches for hours with "cops and robbers". We laugh a lot. Lying on my back in the engine room and trying to reach a nearly inaccessible spot with a screwdriver while looking around the corner with a mirror on a stick I'd sometimes have to stop to wipe the tears from my eyes from laughing at their barbs. Maybe that's why the work is taking so long. In a month I can remember only one evening when the mood was heavy and nobody smiled. Even the long, hot, smelly, dirty and oily two unexpected days that we disassembled and cleaned the main fuel tank couldn't get us down and we quipped our way through that ordeal as usual. But the "autopilot night" was bad. For the first time it looked like all our efforts had been in vain, that we couldn't get replacement autopilots in time to make a reasonable departure from Hong Kong before the typhoon season approached. We were seriously making plans for us to fly home to the States and abandoning the crossing this year. In the end, though, the yard did come through for us and "found" two replacement units in their warehouse. We had them the next day, and the last really major hurdle was past. In all that time, the good and the bad, not a single cross word was said by anyone of the crew. I have been in some bad crew situations, both in the air and on the water, and the importance of a compatible crew cannot be overemphasized. This is going to be a good trip.

At the Hebe Haven Yacht Club they threw us a "How can we miss you if you won't leave?" barbecue party on the docks. I have new friends there, and Mike has a number of old friends too, from the time he and Dorothy spent in Hong Kong half a dozen years ago. We have been invited to dinner parties, some at the club, and some in private homes. We attended the Hong Kong Sevens one three-day weekend, a rugby contest with the popularity of a Superbowl and tickets simply unavailable but for the season passes we were given by friends. Mike used to play rugby and with someone there to explain the rules to me the evening was very interesting. It's as full of strategy as American football but a much faster game with a lot more action.

All considered, it's been an incredible month. Lots of work, lots of new friends, and lots of fun. There wasn't time before our somewhat rushed departure last week to get a FishWrapper off, so this is being sent from Subic Bay in the Philippines. Another FishWrapper should follow in a day or two, now that the crush of mechanical and electrical work is all but over. What we will be busy with now is provisioning for the long haul and cleaning up a few remaining items on the punch list, and maybe relaxing a bit before departing the Philippines for Palau. We have been welcomed into the Subic Bay Yacht Club as guest members and the facilities are world class. I will send some photos in the next FishWrapper along with the story of Shearwater's first open water crossing. It's interesting, so stay tuned. Wade

PS- Thank you to everyone who sent me personal emails. They provide a great feeling of connection with home. I love hearing from you but as I've mentioned before, please do not reply to this message. Instead start a new message addressed to . Replying to this message will overwhelm the slow email system here and may make it impossible for me to communicate at all. Thanks.
Vessel Name: DavidEllis
Vessel Make/Model: Diesel Duck 462 (Seahorse Marine)
Hailing Port: Sebastopol, CA, USA
Crew: Mike (Dave) and Dorothy Nagle
Home for us is Sebastopol, CA, USA, where children, grandchildren and surviving parents still reside. We lived aboard in SE Asia, except for short visits home spring of 06 til fall 09, primarily in China, Macau, Hong Kong, Philippine Islands and Malaysia. [...]
while building, commishioning and shaking down, the boat was the 'ends'; now she's become the 'means' to explore new places, live there awhile, get to know folks before moving on. "David Ellis" is named after David J. Nagle & Ellis D. Peterson, Dave & Dorothy's dads. Both have passed, but [...]

Who: Mike (Dave) and Dorothy Nagle
Port: Sebastopol, CA, USA