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

Points in the Box

20 April 2013 | Subic Bay Yacht Club, Luzon, PI
As you must know from Dorothy's postings (and re-postings of Shearwater's blog) -- thanks Dot! -- Shearwater has safely arrived in Subic Bay PI after a really lovely (and sans drama) 3.5 day crossing of the South China Sea. This was my 7th trip across and could only have been better if Dorothy and the R's had been aboard too. There were fish caught (and lost), stories told (some actually true) but generally the crew was able to back off a bit from the Hong Kong craziness of getting the boat ready to go.

There's one of those sayings that goes something like: with a fixed amount of time to get a task done, 20% of the job will get done in the first 80% of the time, while 80% of the job will get done in the last 20% of the time. And that is how our task has gone the past weeks/months.

An example would be the auto-pilot which was sending error messages and blowing fuses each time we took Shearwater out to work-up boat systems: our electronics guru started with the relatively obvious stuff -- electrical interference from high current boat machinery like the windlass and bow thruster, toilets and engine room blowers. No doubt all these systems worked at the boatyard -- in fact I know they did -- but operating the systems together, under a variety of conditions is how we find out where we're going to have problems. And even then issues don't always announce themselves immediately, but creep up over time with a hint here or a hang up there. That's what the workups are about, running the boat in real operating conditions, for increasingly long periods to see what pops. The auto-pilots -- both the primary and backup had blown both their power and control fuses -- and other hints of electrical gremlins became increasingly apparent: two other, totally unrelated, small control panels stopped functioning. Inspection of the auto-pilot processors revealed damage had occurred beyond just the blown fuses; new units were very kindly supplied by the builder and David and I made a whirlwind trip into ZhuHai to pick up the units.

With new AP processors installed and all strong electric motors isolated or surge-suppressed, more on-water, real-life testing revealed there were problematic levels of power being drawn by the backup AP, when operated. And then... Blooey! Red hydraulic fluid splashed all over the steering locker as the backup steering pump blew its gasket! Leaning head-down into the bright white painted locker, i was confronted with streaks, splashes, drips and pools of crimson which some might see as abstract art, others an episode of Dexter, but for me was a gut-wrenching trip back to an episode at work I think of as "Buckets of Blood: Part One".

But why? No silly, not why B of B #1! Why did the pump disembowel itself all over the steering locker? Because, Professor Berry discovered, one of the 3 hydraulic hoses coming off that pump, when made up to the appropriate length with threaded fittings, was almost totally blocked by a plug of the hose interior rubber which had been gouged out of the hose wall when the metal fitting was swaged to the hose. In the photo only a bit of light gets past the blockage. As it turns out, a little bit of fluid could pass in one direction, less in the other. Since this was the backup AP pump, it got briefly tested at the yard, up and down the Pearl River (I was there). Prof. Berry discovered that even though functioning, there was a large power draw when operating the backup AP. he tinkered further and it finally blew. Had we not had the initial gremlins, and Berry not been so conscientious about tracking them down and persistent about questioning the power draw on the backup AP, we could easily have found ourselves hand-steering for hundreds of miles. As with the algae infestation of the diesel fuel operations (or day) tank, the AP pump hose stenosis was something that needed to be discovered before getting 2or 3 days offshore and that's why so much time and effort was spent in Hong Kong .

And one more PS to the AP issue: Berry's tinkering and questioning did not end with discovery and correction of the hose blockage. With the boat again out doing real life maneuvers and his oscilloscope on the AP processor, the professor continued to worry at something that seemed not quite right electrically, but left at the end of the day frustrated to come up with the answer. The following morning, the last day we could possibly have his assistance and still make our weather window, Berry arrived with an idea, and a fix that was simple and elegant, but required a master's understanding of the interaction of the systems to arrive at. Our just-completed crossing with zero electrical or AP issues strongly suggests he was correct.

In several of my boating books I've come across versions of "Vigor's BlackBox Theory" which is described in a Good Old Boat article thusly: "every boat possesses an imaginary black box, a sort of bank account in which points are kept. In times of emergency, when there is nothing more to be done in the way of sensible seamanship, the points from the black box can buy your way out of trouble. You have no control over how [or when] the points are spent; they withdraw themselves [frequently in the form of bad things that didn't happen at the worst possible time]". In my former life, I had many opportunities to investigate the causes of accidents -- boating, kayaking, scuba diving -- and came to a belief that most accidents don't "just happen". My observation is that there frequently were long-standing equipment problems or procedural practices which the person had 'got away with' for years, until one day, the right (or wrong) cosmic alignment of stars or bad luck led to that equipment or practice being the thing which made the difference between no problemo and disaster. No points in the black box. The time and effort spent in Hong Kong were a necessary and prudent accumulation of black box points, as well as a familiarization with the boat which could not otherwise have been accomplished.

We have a short list of items to take care of while here in Subic. I'm also getting to see friends from DavidEllis' time here which I appreciate. I am determined though to be the fastest-to-leave-Subic Seahorse boat, ever. Of course that's not a very high bar as the shortest time to date may have been 6 months. Fingers crossed, I'm hoping we're underway again mid next week.

One note from my personal log: 1900 UTC, 16 April 2013, N 15deg 48' by E 119deg 41', COG 159 True, SOG 7.6 knots, ETA Subic 10hrs
Wind and water still,
gliding across the star-lit sea;
a crescent moon set hours ago;
flocks of small fishing bancas, some with mother ships, all along our SSE course, as we cut into the coast.
It is all 'little lights' -- stars above, banca lights all around and flashes of phosphorescence in the bow wave below.
Everyone but me is sleeping through this magic moment (making it just that much more magic).
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