14 August 2020 | Raiatea Carenage
William Ennis | So hot...
It's just past noon and we have successfully (we think) rove the main halyard. It was today's big task and we started early to get Conni out of most of the day's heat. She was up the mast by 0930 and down by noon. What an ordeal!
Again, our little endoscope played a key role, helping us determine the path of our "messenger", the small, weighted cord that Conni drops from the masthead. I fish for the cord in the mast and being able to see the damned thing makes an enormous difference. It also has a small hook attachment that one can use to steer toward and grab the cord when its seen.
Oddly, we've still got a loop of cord stuck in the mast: a small loop feeds from the exit hole and we can't remove it, so we've left it in, hoping that it falls out on its own.
We've been stymied by some problems with our new electronics. I'm a manual reader and I've read every manual for every new piece of electronics that we bought, but nothing seemed to help. There are two problems, one an inconvenience, and one a critical one.
The inconvenience is that the radar image will not overlay the chart image. As I've mentioned, radar images are difficult to interpret, but with an overlay on the chart, the entire radar image has context and is understandable without any training. In my old Merchant Marine days, I took special classes and had to pass tests to receive a radar endorsement, for example, but those radar displays were just simple TV sets with a central pivot point designating our location. At any rate, this feature, an important reason to choose the brand that we did, didn't work.
The other problem was not receiving data from our newly installed depth sounder. We depend on redundancy, so having only one sounder was a problem. Having two sounders with the same reading lent validity.
Both questions seemed to be solved by an email I received this morning after a week of pleas for help. It came from a Level 4 Techincian, and I was surprised that the two answers required such esoteric knowledge. The radar overlay seems to work now, and we have every reason to believe that the depth sounder will, too. We'll certainly know on Monday when we splash!
I began my second coat of hull paint at 1300, and completed the side of the hull that was in the shade, but I simply can't work in the sun, so I'll take a break for a bit. It's 85°F inside the boat, so is well over 90° in the sun: too hot for me. I completed the starboard/sunny side in about 1-1/2 hours, so the hull painting is done. Clever Conni read the paint can and we now know that the paint that we just applied is exactly what we wanted: ablative, antifouling paint with copper. Hurray!
I start engine work tomorrow, but at least it's something that I've done before. With luck, I'll post some photos, too. We're going to try and complete all of the tasks needed, but might not complete tasks here that we can do when we're on the water. With a bit of luck, the Carenage will let us stay in the launch slip overnight so that we can have access to our cold showers and access to land.
We'll be here until Monday.
More Work Between Squalls 8/12-13
13 August 2020 | Raiatea Carenage
William Ennis | Hot and rainy
It's Wednesday night and we're both just whipped. So much so, in fact, that I'll post this Thursday night.
Conni completed applying painter's tape to the remaining cap rail, then completed the varnish job while the wood was freshly sanded and looked great. What a feat! As we departed Marina Taina on Tahiti last year, we bought the two remaining cans of Sikkens Cetol Marine Teak, our favorite and the best varnish that we've ever used. She decants varnish into the removed ends of water bottles that we've scavenge and cut, so the can remains closed. I brought several more brushes, but she took my advice and froze the brush between uses and it's still working well. The cap rail looks great, too! It certainly dresses the boat when the cap rail is freshly varnished. It's hot, uncomfortable work, so my hat is off.
I bit the bullet and took on painting the bottom. We had contacted the Carenage earlier and they ordered some New Zealand-made antifouling paint. We ordered red, since Conni likes that color, but on application it should have been named, "Worchestershire" since it's that same brown-ish red as the British condiment. From a distance, the boat's hull looks brown! We ordered 8 liters, and we've used 2 in one coat, so we've got enough for both coats in one 4-L can. I'm sure that the Carenage will buy back the other can. We've never seen Wings with a brown paint job, so that's a bit odd, but she's been painted and that's what matters. I sincerely hope that this paint is "ablative" and wears away as the boat travels through the water or I'll have to sand it off at some point, and that the paint can handle being out of water. Some can, some can't. We'll have to see. So much of the work is overhead since I sit on a paint can to work on the underside of the hull that is above me. It's shoulder-killing work since the roller is pushed into the hull to spread the paint. My arms and shoulders are so tired and sore! It's tiring work so it's no wonder that hiring it done is so common.
Both Conni and I will apply another coat on Friday, allowing both paint and varnish a full day to dry and cure. Our complaint with much of the work that the various Carenage staff has done is the insufficient drying/curing time they've allowed between coats, resulting in poor endurance at premium cost. Of course, they're in a hurry to complete the job, but it produces a poor result. We hired them to sand the cap rail to remove the poorly adhered and expensive German varnish that they applied only two years ago.
Dominique, owner and manager of the Carenage, returned yesterday from another boat rescue in the Tuamotus. He told me stories of the three most recent boat salvages that he's performed and I thought them interesting enough to pass along.
During a recent storm, two sailboats had anchor chains break: I've NEVER heard of that, but it certainly got my attention. One was a French-made, 51-foot Outremer catamaran, one of the best in the world. The other was a 52-foot, Beneteau Oceanis, a fine monohull boat. Both were badly damaged, of course, going up on a local reef. The first was worth 1.2 million Euros, he said, so the insurance company gave him "white card" to repair the boat. It took me awhile to realize that he was translating "carte blanche"! At any rate, his reputation is so good that they sent no surveyor to look over his shoulder and accepted his offer of 60,000 Euros to repair the boat. Since Outremers have symmetrical amas or hulls, he cleverly took the mold of the non-damaged hull and used that to replace the damaged hull. Wow! They had to rebuild some bulkheads and there was a lot of work to tab in the new molded piece, but it worked. They got the engine running, strung some lights and, accompanied by his new tug, he brought her to the yard where he'll repair her and return her to the owner. The insurance company will be pleased.
The Beneteau was surveyed as a total loss, so when he pulled the boat from the reef and returned her to the owner, the owner suddenly didn't know what to do with her. Nevertheless, the owner was so impressed with Dominic's skills the he offered the boat to Dominic: US$4000! OK! Dominic patched the boat enough to get her home and now she sits in the yard awaiting repairs. He said that he'd sell her but use her in the meantime.
The third boat is another catamaran owned by a Papeete charter company. She is nowhere near the quality of the Outremer, and her hull is very thin, so is very badly damaged. I'm certain that a photo of her damage is on our site within the last two postings. She also went on a reef but the small local company couldn't afford to total her. They had a sister ship sent to the yard for a paint job and while she was out of the water, they waxed the hull that was damaged on the other boat, made the mold, and will use that to replace the damaged hull. Conni and I are unsure how the mold will fit inside the smaller hull since the new piece is a mold, but I've yet to ask Dominic about the process.
Thursday: We started the day by trying to re-install our main halyard, the rope that raises and lowers the main sail. I hauled Conni to the mast head and we tried for several hours but could not get a good lead down the mast and out the exit. It was very frustrating and we were both in terrible moods. We'll try again tomorrow, then get to work on our bottom paint and cap rail varnish.
I worked on cleaning the terrible mess of wires and such in the "man cave" after I removed most of the old network wiring and installed the new. I could hardly get into the place without pulling something loose. After some frustrating time, I began to make some headway and after a few hours had things in some kind of order. It looks much cleaner since NMEA2000 uses only a "backbone" cable off of which are "drop" cables": Run the backbone and attach drops where needed.
I also re-assembled the dis-assembled return fuel manifold. I bought new parts and some sealant, and I carefully followed a photo of the original manifold, so I hope that all is well.
Conni spent her afternoon injecting "Git Rot", an low-viscosity epoxy made to penetrate damaged wood and restore its integrity. I'm sorry to say that we need a good bit of it around our mast base where years of leaking have caused significant damage.
With any luck at all, we will spend the weekend completing the last chores, and be launched on Monday.
Wish us luck.
Dodging the Rain
11 August 2020 | Raiatea Carenage
William Ennis | Soggy
Thank you, friends and family, for the wonderful birthday wishes. I enjoyed reading them way out here in the far Pacific. It reminded me of your importance to me.
Conni and I worked on the new engine instrument panel. As we mentioned, it was something for which we had planned so had performed measurements and made templates. Still, the reality of doing work with all hand tools makes slow going. We had create a template for the adapter plate for the panel. The cutout in the cockpit was, naturally, a different size and shape from what the new panel needed, so we knew that we needed to cover some of the old hole. The fabricator did a fine job, but we had to create a new cutout in the adapter plate to mount the new panel, and even with an oscillating saw, it required patience, time, and careful measurement. After cutting the hole, I'd grind a bit of plastic and hand the plate up to Conni for a fitting. She'd make notes on where to grind next and pass it down to me. I was working off the boat, of course, to eliminate a huge mess of plastic chips and powder resulting from my work. Finally, we decided that the instrument panel fit well and we next went to fit that assembly of panel and plate into the pre-existing cutout. After 3 hours of work, we now have a usable new instrument panel for the new engine.
I have tried to post pages to our site, as you know, but the slowness of our Internet here has been overwhelming. I simply quit last night, disgusted that I couldn't even reach the web at all! My site host's nearest usable website is in Singapore, and I never even got to it. I tried this morning with complete success, so perhaps that's the key: early in the morning here.
We worked the remainder of the day, with Conni working on the cap rail during the rain squalls and I worked on connecting the engine control wiring. Since the work for installing the depth sounder and fairing block were below the boat and inside the boat, we were able to finally get that project complete. We planned the entire project, discussing who would do what, and I still forgot to wear the protective gloves to keep caulk off of my hands! Have I mentioned how I detest working with caulk? It required all four hands and both brains to get the various pieces in place and tight, but we finally got the main hex nut tightened just as the caulk began to cure. Whew! I cleaned a bit of caulk from the fairing block and we installed the core and connected the unit to our NMEA2000 network. Done! We've not installed every piece of new electronics that we bought, and when we used the engine key, the lights and buzzer sounded, so that system is also working.
All in all, it's been a successful day, having completed the installations, leaving the remainder of the maintenance to complete. I'm still working on the chock re-install, I've got to paint the hull bottom in antifouling paint, and I've got some engine maintenance to do. Conni's got 2/3 of the cap rail to complete, returning to the masthead to rescue our main halyard, and a multitude of other tasks.
Nevertheless, we're getting there.
I have forgotten to mention that we have a pair of Mynah birds living close by. They are beautiful birds but their singing and mimicry are surprising. We've enjoyed their contribution.
Cake Day in Paradise!
11 August 2020 | Raiatea Carenage yard
William Ennis | Too hot to work in the sun
As we took our showers tonight, I was sitting outside the little shower building, a shabby affair with 50°F water and a bare toilet, and admiring the setting Polynesian sun. It was so still, not a breathe of air moving, so the water reflected everything. There are a lot of sailboats at anchor here (trapped by closed countries to the West), so there were signs of life: several flashlights nosing around on their evening inspections, silhouettes moving in front of ports from below decks as families congregate. Bora Bora dominates the horizon in that direction, with its characteristic skyline: the west peak shaped like a volcano, and the east peak looking more like a sad, bent over top hat. The sky was spectacular. I could see the Southern Cross, of course, but the sky transitioned from deep red at the horizon, through orange, yellow, a specific green section, then to the deep blue of a South Pacific night sky. The entire scene was breathtaking and also very tranquil. I was grateful to be there to see it. Gratitude provides satisfaction and happiness.
I reached the age of 71 today. It certainly seems old: I could fool myself that I was still "older middle aged" when I reached 60, but 70 and beyond brooks no fooling. Interesting, that.
I am grateful for my friends, and am grateful to have so many. I have a specific couple of friends in Anchorage, both of whom have been close friends for 30+ years. Jonathan set out to make this remote birthday a bit special, and holy smokes, did he succeed! Last week, he "cold called" the local Raiatea office of a worldwide charter company, spoke to the manager, and SOMEHOW convinced him to procure and deliver to me two cases of beer and a bottles of wine! JG, as he is known, emailed me to expect a visit, and since he knows people everywhere in the world, I thought no more about it, little guessing what ensued.
Fredrick Dofre, the aforementioned manager, arrived this morning, knocked on the hull, and invited me to come down. I realized at once that it must be Jonathan's friend, so eagerly climbed down our ladder to say hello. "Come with me." he said, and I did. When he slung open the cargo doors of his company van, there sat two cases of Hinano and two bottles of good French wine! He smiled and I stood there speechless!
So, Jonathan, thank you for your supreme generosity and creativity. It was a grand gesture and we are deeply touched. I, and we, hope that we expressed our appreciation in our call to you. Linds, thanks.
I wanted to post some photos of the birthday goods, but since I must post via Singapore, it was more akin to sucking peanut butter through a straw to get anything to upload. I'll try again tonight.
We did get a lot done today. The young man who was sent to sand the carpal to prepare for our varnishing job has done an outstanding job with his sander, so that heinous, hot job is done. Conni completed varnishing about 1/3 of the cap rail after the temps dropped yesterday, but must apply masking tape to the remaining work before the varnish. I worked on the new instrument panel. Unlike the new instruments, we knew that we needed to install the new panel so had taken measurements and fabricated a cardboard pattern for our local fabricator. The new acrylic outer door fit so well that I had only to add a handle. The adapter plate for the new panel, on the other hand, required a bit of finishing. The basic shape was correct but a lot of plastic had to be removed for a good fit, then that nice panel had to have most of it removed to allow the new instrument panel to be inserted. All of the measurement and cutting was free-hand, so it's not perfect, but Conni pronounced it satisfactory. I'll get the thing installed tomorrow and the engine cable connected.
The yard also sent a guy to complete the requested work on the depth sounder fairing block. The anti-rotation bolt hole in the hull from the old transducer needed to be filled and I don't have the tools that tI needed, so depended on the yard for the work. That's done so I can sand the area smooth and get that task completed. I've still not heard from B&G about the cause of our various instrument problems, but I'm hoping that I do prior to splashing on Friday or, more likely, Monday.
Conni pan-fried another small steak tonight and we each had a Hinano from Jonathan's largesse. Cheesr, JG! We also polished off the remnants of a nice bottle of red from our fancy birthday dinner at Villa Ixora Friday evening. All in all, a fine 71st birthday aboard Wings in the South Pacific.
We Move Aboard
08 August 2020 | Aboard Wings
William Ennis | Hot and windy
Conni had scoured the Internet for recommendations for a restaurant dinner, and found Villa Ixora, on the sea side of the Tepua Bay barely outside of downtown Uturoa. When we arrived, there were a few vehicles, but when we departed, it was full! And we know why: superb meals, excellent service, lovely surroundings. What a nice break in our routine.
The setting was lovely and understated. Our server spoke superb English, thankfully, and was vivacious and entertaining. They serve one of the best Mai-Tais that we've ever enjoyed, too. Duck for Conni, and New Zealand steak for me were the main courses and each was exquisitely prepared. Conni had read that the business was opened by a French couple, the husband formally trained as a chef. We certainly believe it. If you're in search of a fine meal, this is closer and more highly rated than Opoa. Conni's thought that after a cocktail and half a bottle of wine, it was unsafe to drive from south of Faaroa Bay, dodging chickens the entire way.
Conni continued to prepare the boat for our move onto her, and worked on the varnishing project, while I worked on the small display box and its wiring that holds the old autopilot controller and the new "shows lots of stuff" B&G Triton display. We need to be able to easily remove the box since there are locations where theft is an issue, as well as the removal requirement at season's end. I purchased a special watertight through-bulkhead fitting for that purpose. It connects to a NMEA2000 cable from the Triton, then to a NMEA2000 drop cable on the outside, providing just the kind of connection that we were seeking. My largest bit was 7/16", so the 1/2" fitting required some hand-filing to fit, but it was quickly done.
Due to poor planning on my part, I did not have a properly sized grommet for the old SeaTalk1 cable that connects the old autopilot controller to the remaining and abbreviated SeaTalk network, and also transits the box back. I'll have to tape over the opening and bring a better grommet next time.
I also cleaned the depth transducer hole of old caulk, a job early accomplished by the same burr grinder that I've used before. With Conni's help, I also drilled the hole for the anti-rotation bolt for the new depth transducer. The guy who cut the fairing block did such a great job that there's little for the caulk to fill, so when I drilled the hold, using the fairing block as a drill guide, the bit went cleanly through the hull and into the upper part of the fairing block. Both pieces of fairing block are used to maintain the transducer in its vertical position. Unfortunately, the old bolt hole didn't get filled, so we're out of luck for this weekend unless I can find a way to complete that job. Damn.
Conni and I busied around the bungalow in preparation for departure. In a single load, we had moved to the boat, then another trip to complete provisioning for a few weeks, anyway. We're officially boat people!
Conni and I both pushed hard to move from "project mode" with nothing but equipment and tools everywhere to a livable boat with places to sleep and cook. We've got a bed and the galley is mostly clear. The fridge is on, thank heavens, and most things are working as they should. We checked the damned propane a few days ago and that system is also working. Our AC outlets are tripping breakers in the yard, and I can't reset the breakers myself, so I'll have to work on them on Monday. I have no immediate ideas about what the problem might be. All I can think of doing is disconnecting the AC power at each outlet and seeing what happens. There are 5 on port and another 5 on starboard, so it's not a huge number, but sheesh!
I completed the display box (it holds the new Triton display and the old autopilot controller) and finally got everything connected. Unfortunately, the autopilot didn't power up, so perhaps it's gone, a complete surprise and unpredicted. If it doesn't spontaneously spring to life, we're simply going have to hand steer this season. The larger question is what our plan will be for next year without an autopilot, and we haven't decided: new autopilot? new or rebuilt controller?
This is our first night aboard. Conni's got music on and we split a beer, baguette, some great Camembert, and olives. That woman can make a party anywhere with almost anything.
More as we can.
07 August 2020 | Pension Tiare Nui for the last time
William Ennis | Hot, some rain
We're moving to the boat tomorrow, and with any luck at all, it will be our last week in the yard. We expect to splash at week's end. Three weeks of very hard work...enough!
Yesterday, we finally collected all of our new electronics and got them connected to the network, Our depth finder is not functioning since its name is not on our chart plotter's list of possible sources. We have a service note in to B&G, of course.
Everything else worked well. The new electronic compass/GPS was immediately on-line, as were the radar and chart plotter. Our surprise was how well the AIS functioned, a third party device on a B&G network. It functioned better than it previously did, with its new NMEA2000 connection, and it delivered good positions on tens of local vessels, including all of the other information that they transmit on the AIS signal. I suppose that the higher bit-rate of the new network accounts for some of that, as well as a generally more robust network.
As a side note to that robustness comment, we are trying to incorporate our old autopilot into our new system. As I was removing the old SeaTalk1 network wiring, I noticed that the shield/ground wire leading to the old autopilot was black with corrosion, unusable. Replacing and re-stringing the wire cost us a new hours, since we had to continue to snip wire until it was shiny, but it was necessary. NMEA2000 connections are sealed and no wires are exposed, so I expect much enhanced performance and endurance.
The E22158 Raymarine translator device that converts SeaTalk1 into NMEA2000 is installed and my homemade cables seem to be working. When I powered it, it showed a light code pattern that I didn't understand, so I powered it off quickly. A reassuring email response from Raymarine told me that the code meant, "healthy", so I'll continue that experiment.
I downloaded all of the updates for our new gear and at some point will install them. It's always a hazardous exercise since a mistake in their programming our our primitive facilities could lead to instrument failure. I'll probably wait until season's end to proceed and if the updates fail, I'll cart them home.
There is a space under the cockpit that Conni has christened the "Man Cave" since I spend so much time in it. She's convinced that I have lounge chair and big screen TV, but the reality is far from that. Regardless, it's fairly protected space and the only space large enough for our electronics and such to be mounted: I've used it for years for that purpose, in fact. Since I'm removing so much old wiring, cutting cable ties to release wires, the place is simply festooned with hanging wires. Of course I've got to crawl in there today and get things re-attached, and this does provide an opportunity for simplification of the various wiring runs. I'll spend some time in there today.
Conni made dinner reservations for us a top-rated restaurant tonight. It's our first meal out since arriving and we move to the boat tomorrow. it's much more primitive living since a boat hull out of the water is hot and the showers at the yard are primitive by any standards. Still, it'll only be for a week, we hope, and we've done it before. I'm unsure of the quality of communications we'll have there and we'll have no transportation, so blogs might be few and far between. I have a few photos of new things to post but photos of places and things that I've posted in the past are uninteresting and the work we've done on cabling is simply not worth the effort.
Conni is working on everything. She's got the inside as livable as she can make it. In the hot sun, she's scraped old varnish in preparation for re-varnishing. She always lends a hand, and more importantly, her brain, on other tasks. In almost every case where I say that I've done something, she's been there in one way or the other, helping pull wire or providing her analysis. It's been a team effort.
With luck, I can write again about our move tomorrow. Wish us luck.