These are the voyages of the sailing vessel, Wings.

09 June 2017 | Fare Lagoon, Huahine, French Polynesia
08 June 2017 | Fare Lagoon, Huahine, French Polynesia
06 June 2017 | Fare Lagoon, Huahine, French Polynesia
05 June 2017 | Fare Lagoon, Huahine, French Polynesia
05 June 2017 | Fare Lagoon, Huahine, French Polynesia
01 June 2017 | Marina near Uturoa, Raiatea, French Polynesia
30 May 2017 | Tapuamu Bay, Taha'a
26 May 2017 | Mooring at the Hibiscus Hotel, Taha’a, French Polynesia
22 May 2017 | Pension Tiare Nui, Raiatea, French Polynesia
20 May 2017 | Pension Tiare Nui, Raiatea, French Polynesia
18 May 2017 | Pension Tiare Nui, Raiatea, French Polynesia
17 May 2017 | Pension Tiare Nui, Raiatea, French Polynesia
16 May 2017 | Pension Tiare Nui, Raiatea, French Polynesia
14 May 2017 | Pension Tiare Nui, Raiatea, French Polynesia
13 May 2017 | Pension Tiare Nui, Bungalow D Raiatea, French Polynesia
13 May 2017 | Pension Tiare Nui, Raiatea, French Polynesia
12 May 2017 | Los Angeles International Airport
08 May 2017 | Anchorage, AK
01 May 2017 | Home
31 August 2016 | Home in Anchorage

Splash Friday!

23 May 2018 | Pension Tiare Nui
Anxious Bill
We had some important completions yesterday and some frustrating times, too.

As I mentioned yesterday, while torquing a propane fitting to stop a leak, the wrenches slipped and the end of the wrench punctured the fitting: the fitting that connects to the tank! I found some old fittings aboard Wings and then we went on the hunt for something to cap one of the tank lines. Plumbing store? No, nothing but EU fittings. Nautisport, the nautical store? No, nothing but EU fittings. Everyone said that there was no chance of finding SAE fittings. We weren't hopeful. We had been told to stop in the Chinese-owned hardware store, and there, as luck would have it, we did find some bouchons: caps. We cobbled together a bushing to adjust size and a cap to seal the branch. After an hour of trials with the sealant and arrangement, we finally got a workable propane system. Perfect? No, but workable. I couldn't get the cap to seal on the bushing so Conni came up with the idea to use Teflon tape. She used overlapping strips in the cap and around the bushing threads to seal the cap.

The new solar controller actually arrived in Papeete this morning. FedEx has been coy about sending on to us, demanding ever more paperwork, but perhaps tomorrow it will arrive. We'll have solar power, anyway.

Our wind speed instrument is still broken, and I'm afraid that it will remain so, but otherwise, things seems to be getting better. We asked the yard owner, Dominque, to help, but he's had other project of more importance. Grrr.

We plan to splash the boat on Friday, tomorrow. Tonight will my last entry for a while since we'll have no connections other than the SSB.


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!

One step, one back

22 May 2018 | Pension Tiare Nui
Distressed Bill
This was a tough day. I received an email from instrument maker, Raymarine, with the results of their testing of the masthead wind transducer. I returned it after we had trouble with wind speed last season, and they kept it for a while then returned it. There were no test results in the box, so I thought that they had repaired it, but the email that I received today said that the technician had been unable to reproduce the problem. Damn! If I had known that, I would have pursued some other solutions, but I thought that I'd replace it at the masthead and all would work. Nope. To say that Conni was angry is an understatement. She's so low-maintenance, has so few demands about things that I felt terrible to disappoint her about this. I mean, she lives in this primitive bungalow and never complains and all she wanted was the damned wind instrument to operate. Man! I guess that I should have pursued more information from Raymarine about what they had done, or not done, but made the assumption that they had fixed it. Damn, they charged like they had fixed it.

We've asked the Carenage owner to contact some Raymarine folk here on the island, and I hope that he can help.

We found the propane leak!

I did it. Last Friday, while zealously torquing the fitting that connects the system to the tank fitting, the wrench slipped, evidently, and punctured the fitting! I've never heard of such, but I'm a newbie to propane systems. Still, I'm surprised that the brass punctured so easily. We have some options that we're pursuing, but we're now face to face with being in a metric country with SAE fittings. We were trying again to stop the leak and were trying to locate the source, and Conni said, "It's the fitting! There's a hole in it!" With the gas off, I removed the fitting, and sure enough, there was a puncture hole with the square shape of a 7/16 open end wrench end. Yeah, cool.

This morning, we drove the 200m to the local SOPOM lumber store and, with our terrible French, bought two pressure-treated 2x4-12s. I mention the dimension since that's how they were labeled in the yard, and sold. They allowed us to cut them to reduce length and we were able to drive back to the Carenage without having the lumber dragging on the road. Conni departed to buy provisions for our departure, and I stayed and worked on the racks for holding our gas, diesel fuel, and water Jerry jugs. The old wood, as I mentioned, was rotted by sun and salt water. The mild steel U-bolts that I had bought in Mexico before the 2013 crossing were rusted so badly that I could break them by hand, easily by hand. After a long search, I was able to find some stainless U-bolts of proper sized and that's what I used. With the SS U-bolts and pressure treated lumber, perhaps we'll have some longer use out of them.

Dealing with the punctured fitting would be a non-event if we could stroll into town and buy another. Here, knowing that getting anything from the US is a 2-week proposition, at best, we're struggling for options and workarounds. Cruising: Doing boat repair in exotic locations.

We plan to splash the boat on Friday.

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
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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