These are the voyages of the sailing vessel, Wings.

22 May 2018 | Penion Tiare Nui
19 May 2018 | Pension Tiare Nui
17 May 2018 | Pension Tiare Nui
15 May 2018 | Pension Tiare Nui
14 May 2018 | Pension Tiare Nui
12 May 2018 | Pension Tiare Nui, Raiatea
11 May 2018 | Pension Tiare Nui, Bungalow C
10 May 2018 | San Francisco International Airport Terminal 2
07 May 2018 | Anchorage, AK
19 April 2018 | Anchorage, AK
06 July 2017 | Pension Tiare Nui, Raiatea
04 July 2017 | Apooiti Bay
01 July 2017 | Tapuamu and Ha'amene
27 June 2017 | Bora Bora Yacht Club
23 June 2017 | Bora Bora
21 June 2017 | Bora Bora
19 June 2017 | Hurepiti Bay
10 June 2017 | Fare Lagoon, Huahine, French Polynesia
09 June 2017 | Fare Lagoon, Huahine, French Polynesia
08 June 2017 | Fare Lagoon, Huahine, French Polynesia


22 May 2018 | Penion Tiare Nui
Better Bill
We've done quite well the past few days but that's resulted in our being so exhausted that a beer, dinner, and bed were all that we could manage. Nevertheless, Wings is beginning to look like a boat that's getting ready to sail over the Pacific for a week.

We've gotten most of the tasks done but a few remain to stymie us. The propane leak hasn't been fixed, for example, and the wind speed system is still out. Conni's furious about that, but I can't imagine how we'll fix it. I received an email today that after we returned the masthead unit for repair, they couldn't reproduce the problem and returned it to us untouched. There's not much else but the cable and there's just no way for me to fix that out here. I think that I'll look for a wireless one.

We know that the fridge does work, it will start. The main sail is installed but wind stopped the final batten install. Conni finished cleaning the plastic windows in the dodger so they're clear again. I've got to buy lumber and cut and fit the wood that we use to attach our Jerry jugs of extra fuel and water. I bought SS U bolts for the purpose but the wood that I cut and fit in Mexico many years ago is completely shot.

We've had terrible trouble updating our C80 charts. The C80 is the main chart plotter at the helm, and it's old, now. The Navionics website at which one selects and purchases chart updates is not well designed and I've been in Chats with Navionics techs for days now. Each tech adds some other layer of information to help, but "Nora" provided what proved to be THE key yesterday: she told me how to select the chart area that we need. Done! We now have charts for the trip and we've checked that they do show the detail that we need for the areas of interest to us. I'd like to thank the persistent techs at Navionics for continuing to help us with this task, especially Ariana C, who worked with me for an hour on Friday. Thanks to you all.

Conni had work to do yesterday so we got a later-than-usual start. I tried to buy the needed lumber but it was "Whit Monday" here, a public holiday: nothing open. Still, we did manage to complete a lot of small chores that needed completion before we departed but the heat and many days of continuous work took their tolls. We were in bed by 1900!

Progress, slowly

19 May 2018 | Pension Tiare Nui
Very tired Bill
The first news is that we got the starboard fuel tank cleaned, and obviously I survived. To all of the well-wishers and advice givers, thank you. I opened the tank and had much less fuel than I had remembered: poor notes and a poor memory, no doubt. I had purchased the purpose-made fuel transfer pump but didn't even start it, having only 3 gallons to remove: I used our small hand pump. The tank itself was VERY dirty with microbial corpses. I used the recommended non-spark-producing rubber scraper and paper towels (lots of them) to clean the tank. I made no headway at all on the tank surfaces beyond the baffle so we'll have to trust in luck. I do wish to think all of you who warned me about the hazards of diesel fuel fumes.

It occurs to me that my friend Andrew told me once that our blog was "unfiltered" and I guess that my discombobulation the other day is evidence of that. So be it. It was a discouraging few days and that's how we both felt. We were unable to complete several critical tasks and most things that we tried added to the list of tasks unaccomplished.

Yesterday was a bit better. On Thursday, Conni and spent most of the preparing to caulk the mast collar, the ring of stainless steel that surround the mast as it penetrates the deck. A "mast boot" seals the mast to the collar but we finally ascertained that our severe leak was between the collar that the deck. She had caulked it, but had to prepped the work sufficiently. After conferring with me, she went to work with sandpaper and acetone, spending several hours on the task. I agreed to apply the sealant a Sika product unavailable in the US, so unknown to us. Oddly, we received no rain on Thursday night, but Friday night it rained as hard and as long as I can remember and the area around the mast was bone-dry this morning. Way to go, Conni!

Our teak decks are screwed to the fiberglass deck, and the screws are countersunk, allowing a teak plug to seal the hole, The "bungs", as they're called, often disappear, for some reason and they need to be replaced. I've taught myself how that's done and replaced 4 of the things today.

Conni erected the dodger, the covering our the companionway. She ran a few halyards, and the main sheet. She worked for hours on removing the blue masking tape that was applied during the varnishing. It's laborious and hot work.

One of my other main tasks was to replace a loose screw in the gooseneck. The gooseneck is the metal fitting that hold the horizontal boom to the aft side of the mast. There are 4 machine screws and one was stripped. I removed the other two easily but the fourth and final (what is that always the case?) remained tightly stuck, even with banging from our impact wrench. It was part of our despondency yesterday, and I worried about how to remove it. This morning, an inspired thought: We're trying to securely attach the boom to the mast and I've got a very tight screw. Why would I loosen it? So, I left that one alone and tackled the loose one. I'm replacing a 5/16 machine screw with a 3/8 one, so I had to drill the boom (the gooseneck fits into the end of the boom, so the boom is outside it) to 3/8, then switch to a 5/16 to drill the old threads in the gooseneck to tap size. Naturally, I had to haul out the Honda generator to power my working drill, but it's what one must do with 110VAC tools in a 220VAC world. My new 3/8 tap was done with the job in 30 seconds. A 3/8 machine screw is a hunk of stainless! The head is so large the it won't seat perfectly on the curved surface of the boom, but it'll work and its strong.

Our remaining frustrations are the leaking propane system and the wind speed gauge. I'm sure that at some point, we'll fix the propane leaks, but I think that the wind speed system is probably out for the duration, even after a factory repair this season. We've got an ocean crossing this season and having wind information would be, you know, helpful.

I'll get a page posted on the site, tonight or tomorrow.

Tough Days

17 May 2018 | Pension Tiare Nui
VERY tired Bill
We've been stuck in the room during the mornings, dodging the torrential downpours, and arrive at the boat by 0900 or so. A team of guys, led by Afu, is putting varnish on the teak cap rails. It's a German polyurethane varnish: primer named G4 and topcoat named YACHTCARE G8-SUPER polyurethane clear varnish. It's not sold in the US so it's impossible to find out anything about the product. It's sold only to professionals, so I hope that Afu is.

We're not finished with the bloody propane system. We could make no headway in stopping leaks and I hope that I haven't permanently distorted the brass fittings. It's not like we can stroll down to the local hardware since our stuff is SAE and the stuff here is metric. I've been back and forth with Oatey technical support and they FINALLY said that we should mix the paste by kneading the tube. Now they tell me! We'll try tomorrow. Yesterday, we were so frustrated that we vowed to hire it done, but there's no one here to do it. Sigh.

Last year, the wind speed transducer failed. After exhaustive analysis, we determined that it was the transducer at the masthead, not the wiring or display. I returned the part for repair, it was returned, and after mounting it, we still have no wind speed. Damn! I'm unsure of my path from here, but I'll try something. It's not critical, but it is a sailboat and knowing wind speed could be handy. Raymarine, the company that made our electronics, was sold to FLIR and they've withdrawn support for the old products.

I loaded a current chart on the chart chip for our venerable Raymarine C80 chart plotter but the C80 would not recognize the chart. I am hoping that there's an easy fix, but who knows? I have no idea what the problem might be since I've loaded charts like this for many years. I've planned an on-line chat for tomorrow morning.

Our new solar charge controller is in Los Angeles, according to the site, and we're supposed to receive it on Saturday. Hmmmm.... Perhaps, but we'll be fortunate to receive it on Monday.

We've both been working like fiends to accomplish the tasks on our list. The heat takes a toll on me and Conni has some severe sunburn on the back of her neck and backs of her ears from her hours sitting at the masthead yesterday. We did successfully replace the anchor light bulb with an imaginative and well-executed product that converts the singe-mode anchor bulb into a triple mode bulb: a 360° white for anchoring, a REAL tricolor with red-green-white sections, and SOS white blinking, and all without changes in wiring. How? One controls the bulb's mode by switching the power on and off: one ON is anchor, second ON is tricolor, third ON is SOS. It's an LED bulb and all of that can be controlled. At $100/bulb, it's not cheap, but other vessels can see a tricolor announcing our presence when it's 80-feet in the air. It's easy to justify that much safety expense.

In our records of last year, we learned that we splashed next Tuesday. There's a VERY remote chance that we'd be ready, but not much. We're just slow this year because of terrible weather an so many problems.

We've been fighting a leak around the mast for several years, and Conni has taken the task on herself to fix it. She worked in 2016 and had a partial fix, but this year the boat was wet after every rainstorm. Damn! She went back to work today, and I think that she's got it done. Keep your fingers crossed! She did an outstanding prep job and a two-step caulk job, so I think that we might have the leak controlled. I wish we could say the same for our propane system.


15 May 2018 | Pension Tiare Nui
Beat Bill
It's been pouring since late night and we're holed up in the bungalow. It's been a torrential downpour, a Prince William Sound rain, for Alaskans in the know, accompanied by 30-40mph winds. Why go out in that mess?

Results! We finally received responses from two of the main contacts for a new solar charger: the company that originally sold the failed unit to us, and Hamilton Ferris, an old friend-of-a-company that made the towed-water generator that we used for many years.

Northern Arizona Wind and Sun, the company that sold the failed unit, had only one marine-grade charge controller and it did things that we didn't need and was commensurately expensive. The unit from HF was less expensive and made for the marine environment. No electronics that the company has provided have ever failed because of the environment, although the two generators for our towed-water and wind systems failed through years of use. We made a quick decision on the HF unit. Eric, our HF contact, even supplied a Paypal link to make things easy.

At any rate, the shipping was as much as the damned unit, but it's supposed to be in Papeete in a few days, and perhaps it'll arrive here before we depart. Wish us luck on that. Otherwise, I'll be wiring the panels directly to the batteries and have to re-wire the panel connections to get them to 12 volts. I sure would hate doing that, but I can.

If it clears, we've got plenty to do, but as I sit here, all I see is rain-heavy clouds whipping past the mountains.

We did finally depart from the Pension. We had tried to buy more refrigerator insulation for our aging unit, but SOPOM, the local builder's store, was closed for lunch. Ahhh, the French... We did, FINALLY, find the little burger joint, "Tonton Burger" open. It's become a running joke with us: will Tonton burger be open? Usually the answer is a resounding, "NO!", but today at lunch they were, so we had our obligatory Tonton cheeseburger, fries, and Orangina. It's no wonder that hamburgers have taken the world: they're great!

We finally arrived at the Carenage and other than some "runaround showers",as we call them, since we do that as we close open hatches and ports and then it clears in 30 seconds, it was clear enough to work above deck. Conni continued her Flitzing, and I changed the main zinc, and accomplished a few other tasks. We did start our testing of the new propane system, too. Fail! We tested the first two joints that I had made, and both leaked audibly. Damn! I had learned on-line that the threads don't seal the joint, but the sealant does, so one must carefully apply the sealant to the root of the male threads. Obviously, I had not. We're using a material called "MegaLock", an Oatey product. No company is bigger in the sealant industry than Oatey, and MegaLock was recommended at the company that fabricated our new system. OK... I'd never done this kind of work and just accepted the recommendation. MegaLock is more like toothpaste than anything that I've ever considered, but it's supposed to be good. We just haven't been able to use it successfully, and we feel that it was operator error. We'll try again tomorrow. We did get one joint tested as non-leaking, but there are many more to go.

The varnishing is going well. The Carenage crew sanded off the old varnish and applied the first coat or "couche", of primer. It isn't cheap so we hope to get a few years out of it. I think that it looks good.

After the frustrating experience with the propane leaking, we headed home. I read email and found that Eric from Hamilton Ferris had our unit in the mail already! What service! It should arrive during the weekend, but I suspect that we'll be lucky to receive it before we depart. Regardless, if there were a chance for our receiving it, Eric made that happen and we're very grateful to him. I spend a terrible night last night, awakening several times to plan how I was going to get the panel output to the batteries with no controller. My original plan was squashed by the same Eric who said that the device that I had planned to use was not designed for that use. Back to the drawing board.

Our friend, Kelly, emailed today to reiterate what LaVerne had said about the dangers of diesel vapor. He's an engineer and BP efficiency expert, so knows of what he speaks. We've known him since before we were married. If you think that it doesn't matter if people read, I can promise that it does. Thank you all

Another Work Day

14 May 2018 | Pension Tiare Nui
Tired Bill, again
We were awakened this morning by a call from Conni's dad, LaVerne. He wanted to warn us about the dangers of creating a spark when we were cleaning the starboard diesel tank. 30 seconds of Internet search confirmed that the diesel fumes were highly explosive and could be ignited by a spark. Neither of us dismisses anything he says, anyway, but that kind of call was enough for us to change our planned method of cleaning the tank bottom. We soon visited the Carenage store and bought a rubber scraper to loosen sludge from the tank bottom. Thanks, LaVerne.

Yesterday was productive with the exception of our attempts to get the propane delivery system installed. As chief mechanic and maintenance guy, I dropped the ball years ago by not getting the entire propane delivery system, tanks to stove, replaced. Shoot, it's 34 years old! A leaking propane system is a danger to everyone aboard.

Last year, Conni and I removed the entire system of regulator, solenoid, fittings, and hose so that we could have a duplicate made. There's always a catch, and the catch was that the parts were not the same size and space is a premium: the type of regulator was no longer made, and the solenoid was different. All I could do is buy what I could find and hope for the best. I couldn't even perform a "dry fit" until we arrived in Oakland since several parts that I couldn't find in Anchorage were sent there. Unfortunately, yesterday I forgot to bring my photos of the original system and we just couldn't recreate the sequence of parts with what we had.

On looking at the system last night on our return to the bungalow, we saw instantly what we needed to rearrange and things looked promising. This morning, we were able to arrange the parts to work, but we'll need some hoses re-fabricated for a better fit. Still, I think that we'll have a functioning system. One of the elbows is not hard-tight, but it's tight and we have good sealant on it. We'll check for leaks with a match tomorrow. Just kidding! We'll use soapy water to find bubbles.

A word about Conni's help in this project. Getting the sequence of parts right was a daunting task. I approach it differently: I stare at the parts and rotate them mentally to find the arrangement. Conni grabs the parts and starts playing with them like tinker toys, and she've VERY good at it. I got the parts and all, but her sense of spatial relationships is exceptional. It's something else that she does well.

The GPS antennae, one for the AIS (Automatic Identification System) and one for the chart plotter, look like mushrooms, so that's what we call them. I got the two installed yesterday, along with the LifeSling, a rescue float with rope attached to the boat. Each task that we complete moves us forward.

We've received no word from sources for another MPPT, the solar charge controller. I think that I can make something work, but I'd love to have heard from some of the sources.

Conni has most of the stainless tubing cleaned and the bimini erected. She has had to become a master at working on the zippers since the plastic swells and she is forced to file the zipper teeth for them to mesh.

I contacted the Carenage a month ago to order some specific varnish for us since we knew that the teak cap rails needed the work. The Carenage has sold this varnish in the past, so I thought that ordering ahead of time would solve the inevitable supply problem. Not so fast! For reasons that elude me, I got no response from several emails and the varnish did not get ordered, forcing us to buy some expensive stuff that they recommended. We'll see. the price is not as important as the quality, of course. The yard hands applying it have done a good job of sanding and applied two coats of primer today. They'll wait until tomorrow for a top coat, then the next day for another, but it already looks better.

The Carenage itself seems to be running a bit better than before. The yard is cleaner and the workers on our boat took pains to clean after themselves, not a practice we've seen before but much appreciated. There are many fewer derelict boats in the yard, and they're the bane of all yard owners. The boat owner croaks or can't fetch the boat: happens all the time. The yard owner has no ownership papers on the boat, and can't dispose of it, but it brings in no money and uses space. I'm sure that there's a legal proceeding to follow, but it's probably not cheap.

I cranked up the Single Side Band (SSB...a marine Ham radio) and got it working. That' s a relief. It's our source of weather information and communication when we're out on the blue, so getting it working is essential. It's not like using a sat phone in that one must consider solar interference and the fact that different frequencies are better at traveling specific distances. Each station has 4-6 frequencies, too. I have to relearn each year.

I disassembled and cleaned the windlass, and got it reassembled. That important but very dirty task is done.

We decided not to replace the refrigerator this year, so I removed the insulation on the top door and Conni installed new insulation. I'm sure that it'll make a difference. Since we've planned an engine replacement for next year, it made sense to do that work while the engine work was proceeding. That's the theory, anyway.

My tools have taken a beating here. I work continuously while I'm here by keeping them dry and by applying a thin coat of Corrosion Block, my go-to lubricant and anticorrosion material. Even with that care, my screwdrivers, all 30+ of them, were almost beyond recognition on our return. A painstaking scraping, a dip in Ospho, a drying, then an application of Corrosion Block seemed to rejuvenate most, but the cheaper ones are badly pitted. I may be forced to store them in a Ziplock, sprayed with Corrosion Block to reduce the hour I spent this year in working on them.

I wanted to mention the superb work that our boat keeper, Ludivine, has done. Each week since we departed 10 months ago, she's opened the boat and scrubbed everything. The boat has never been in better shape and we have her to thank. As Conni mentioned several times to me, Ludivine's work has saved her several days of scrubbing, an unpleasant task in better conditions. She keeps the batteries topped off and pumps the bilge when needed. She knows no English, but she knows about Google Translate and that's how she communicates with us. At least once a month, she sends photos of the boat's interior to show us how she looks. We both sincerely hope that she'll accept another year's work. Thank you, Ludivine.

Our First Day

12 May 2018 | Pension Tiare Nui, Raiatea
Tired Bill
We were both exhausted, even after extended naps yesterday. Conni had prepared our first evening appetizer spread, with Hinano beer as the centerpiece, and luscious French cheese and baguette. We get the same cheeses, but these were so much superior: I think that it's the Pasteurization. At any rate, we were asleep pretty early.

We arrived at the yard at 0830, and started immediately to work. I worked on the propeller lubrication and Conni worked on cleaning the stainless tubing in the cockpit. With that clean, we could mount the two solar panels and get them out of belowdecks.

She got the tubing clean with her Flitz, and we got the panels mounted, and I connected the wiring for a first test. Smoke billowed from below the cockpit: thick, acrid electrical fire smoke. We quickly disconnected all electrical fees: AC and the panels. Conni grabbed a fire extinguisher.

The solar charge controller had failed and burned, almost to a crisp. Damn! For readers in the know, I have been using the panels in series since I installed them. The power from the panels is sent to a device that uses a process called Maximum Power Point Tracking, a process that maximizes current to the batteries regardless of other factors. It increases the usefulness of the panel output about 30%, or so the story goes. This device is the second, since the first also failed. It's just the wrong environment for it, I'm sure. The maximum voltage that could be available to the MPPT is when the panels are wired in series, so it's not that, although the wires are clearly marked and I've used the system for 5 years now. When I broke into the device, all the main wires were fine other than the panel positive: it was melted. With the panels in bright sun, they were "hot" and there must have been corrosion between the wires and the terminal in the device, and that converted the electrical energy into thermal energy and toasted the damned MPPT.

After working a few more hours, we quit and made a necessary shopping trip and got some local currency.

Back at the Pension, I spent several hours working on a replacement, but shipping and time are my enemies. I can probably jury rig something, but I'm not happy about it. We'll need those panels!

Tomorrow, another day of work, with more to show for it, I hope. It's always something.

Oh, yeah...happy birthday, Mother! 92 years have been good to you. I love you, we love you. And happy Mother's Day tomorrow!
Vessel Name: Wings
Vessel Make/Model: Passport 40
Hailing Port: Anchorage, Alaska
Crew: William Ennis and Conni Livsey
About: We've been married since 1991, and both retired from our respective jobs (teacher and attorney) after long careers. We live in the most exotic of the United States: Alaska. We cruise on Wings for half the year, enjoying our home state the other part of the year.
We've sailed Wings South from Alaska since August, 2010. We joined the BajaHaha from SoCal to Mexico in 2012. We joined the Pacific Puddle Jump in 2013 and crossed the Pacific Ocean. Wings "over-summered" in French Polynesia. We continued our journey through western French Polynesia, Rarotonga [...]
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