Into the water!
24 May 2018 | Pension Tiare Nui
Anxious and excited Bill
This little Pension room is small and sparse but it becomes "home" in short order because of the relief from work that it affords. On Monday, we decided to take a drive around the island simply because we'd seen nothing but the boat yard, the Pension room, and the inside of our rental Fiat Panda for 9 days. We're reaching 14 days tomorrow and it's time to depart.
Conni creates a little home life for us, complete with cocktail time and hors de oeuvres. We have Internet for blogs, communications, and ordering parts. The room has air conditioning for comfortable, relatively bug-free sleeping. Life goes on.
When we go into the water tomorrow morning, we'll be on our own again. It's the yard time that's so difficult. Once we're on the water, crowing roosters (yes, they're still active and a nuisance) bugs, and boat yard heat are gone. Immersing the hull in cooler water is so much better than hot, boat yard air. There'll be no AC, but we have fans, breezes, and natural ventilation. We'll be fine.
We think that we might receive our solar charge controller tomorrow, and we'll have solar power for batteries. We've got the generator for main charging, and the engine when we're moving. Things are looking better on that important task.
I think that Conni and are resigned to having no wind information. We don't like it, but there's little that we can do but "reframe". Having definitive wind speed data helps decision making, of course. We're always conservative, but numbers help.
The propane system is working, although we'll have to close the tank by hand after every use. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but we'll have to get in the habit. Still, Conni's menu and food choices are usable. She's not a sandwich eater like I am, so the thought of five days of sandwiches, three meals a day, was unpleasant. Didn't sound so bad to me.
The fridge is working, and staying cold. We moved most of our food into it today since we learned this afternoon that they'll splash us no later than 0900. We had asked for afternoon, but as I said, they've got some catamarans from the local Moorings (an international charter company) that take priority in time and effort. We haven't felt the love. It'll make it a rush for us, getting ready to splash by 0900, but that's what they've scheduled. They'll move us out of their little launch slip and leave us for a few hours, then return us to the launch slip so that we can complete preparations to move somewhere, anywhere. We need to inflate the dinghy, fill our water tanks, stow gear, and mount the jib, among many other tasks, but then we depart. We're ready to be shed of the yard.
We spent some time today registering for the local Wifi company. They've got hot spots on many local islands and we've used their stuff before. We badly need weather information since we're so close to leaving. A day earlier or later means that we hit bad weather or no-wind weather, either undesirable. Conni looks at weather in three locations at three time: a day out of Raiatea, at midway to Rarotonga, and a day from Raro, at our estimated times of arrival at each, and we decide what departure day will minimize the worst conditions. It's the best way of planning, but it requires access to the best weather that's available. We've also bills to pay and blogs to post.
We've decided to depart from this island, Raiatea, rather than sailing to Bora Bora. Why not? We just haven't thought of it before, but they've got a Gendarmerie here that can clear us. It's also a bit closer to Raro, a tiny bit closer, than Bora Bora.
I was working on the winches today, disassembling them to stainless steel shafts and bronze gears. One-speed winches are no problem, but damned if I don't still have trouble with the big two-speed ones. I am careful to disassemble only clumps of attached parts, clean, lubricate, and re-assemble. STILL...I had to disassemble the damned thing three times to get it re-assembled correctly. My first problem was that one of the interior housings didn't fit another, and of course it should have. It required a bit of work just to realize what the problem was, for heaven's sake, then some careful sanding with fine paper eventually allowed the pieces to mate properly. Jeez! I've got one more primary, the big two-speed ones, remaining. The one I cleaned today certainly needed the cleaning.
Our port-side fuel tank looks clean and the diesel looks great, but we don't trust them. We replace filler O-rings yearly, now, and we think that's the biggest difference. If we do have some motoring through no-wind days, we'll need fuel, although at US$5/gallon, it's not cheap. We've paid as much as US$12/gallon, so it's better than that.
We've found a Papeete rock and roll station that has a repeater here in Raiatea, so we've got some world rock to smooth the work. Working in the cockpit with some nice tunes from around the world has been relatively nice.
The tentative departure dates are either 31 May or 1 June, depending completely on conditions. That means that we'll have to be near Wifi on a regular basis and I'll be able to tell post some blog or photos. I've also got to inform the Cook Islands Immigration Service of any changes to our arrival.
In the water tomorrow and our last night on land for a long time!
23 May 2018 | Pension Tiare Nui
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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