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2nd Thursday in the yard

Another busy day.

Before getting out of bed I updated our main website ( removing the references to hybrid as that we no longer are. Probably once we’re up in Fiji and we’ve had some time on the new engines I intend to write a retrospective on our experience on the hybrid system and a comparison to the new.

I spent some time reading the manuals for the new sail drives and motors. I now have a good idea of servicing requirements now. There will be oil changes every 250 hours with an extra one thrown in at 50. I will have to reread and check I have all the things I need to do these jobs.

The big event of the day was the installation of the diesel motors. The crane arrived on time and the motors were lifted into the lockers in turn. There were millimetres to spare as there were guided in by Bertrand with Joel down in the locker settling them onto their bed. To get the starboard engine in I had to move one of the wind gen supports. I tided this high up to the starboard bimini support. Once the engine was in we have to reverse the work. All went well.

Looking at the weather forecast for the weekend we see 50 km/h winds forecast for our launch on Saturday. That’s a no no. Shouldn’t set off with new motors in a gale. After some discussion with the yard they’re going to try and squeeze us in today. The techs say they’ll be ready. We have a busy day ahead.

We applied two coats of primer to the sail drives morning/afternoon. We’ll try and get two coats of anti-foul on today but it will go in wet. Probably going to have to do a lot of scraping down there over the next couple of years.

I inspected the SSB ground plane and found that the corrosion was largely superficial and decided to leave it in place. Later in the day the work was finished under our bunk. The spare parts from the hybrid system went under the bunk, drawers replaced and all the stuff from under our bunk went back – all creating a lot of space in the boat. Our nest in the cabin was dismantled and our bed moved downstairs to it’s rightful place.

Derek and Alison from Kalida have agreed to take our life raft down to Auckland where it will be serviced. So that was removed and taken to their boat. I made up and printed out a map for them to find the place.

Helen and I spent a while checking the forward port locker for leaks as we know water was getting in. We knew the bridle point was letting in water so we fixed that first. We confirmed that the hatch was letting in water where the support meets the hatch so that was also fixed.

In all this we found time for Helen to wash down the foredeck and me to fix her computer cable.

As implied above the techs made very good progress yesterday. By end of day we were clearing up the rubbish under the boat. The scrap metal guy came and took away our spare motor. We subsequently learned the second motor is not going to be sent to Oz so we need that picked up too.

We’ve been left with all the purchased tools and left over parts. I had thought of buying some spare hose clamps but now have loads of them as well as many assorted bolts, nuts, washers, cable ties, etc. that weren’t needed.

Busy and exciting day ahead of us today. It’s not certain we’ll go in but the yard will try their best. One large cat goes in early then they’re hauling a monohull which has a hole in it’s side. Then in we go. If all went well earlier and we have time. Fingers crossed. Otherwise it’s Sunday.

At the end of the day it was really nice getting into our own bunk. It felt like we’d finally arrived home.

Sunday in the yard

We had very little breeze in the morning so we were able to complete the stainless steel testing. The results for the forward port support were also encouraging. Having tested the key areas we now need to run the pictures by a metallurgist for their expert opinion.

I managed to find someone in the yard who had an AIS receiver and was able to test the system. We first tested with the AIS splitter in place and didn’t see anything. I hindsight this might have been due to us not waiting long enough so this will need to be retested. After leaving the other boats AIS receiver on, going back to our boat, connecting the AIS transceiver directly to the antenna and returning to the other boat I could see Dignity loud and clear. I also managed to confirm that the boat length was indeed programmed incorrectly. In the end this turned out to be very easy to fix. While the configuration software stated it could not be reprogrammed twice, the message was referring only to the MMSID (radio license id). I can change the dimensions and ships name as much as I like.

It’s worth noting that I’m definitely getting better range/reception out of this new set up. I can see boats at the mouth of the river which we never could with our old antenna.

The rest of the day was spent finishing off the nav station. It took more time than I had imagined but I got there in the end. You can see the before and after pictures in the slideshow at the end of this blog.

Although it looks finished there are still a few things left to do. The SSB control head and speaker are loose and probably need to be glued on. In the past panel the speaker was jammed in but the current hole is just the right size so I can’t do that. Because the control head is nearer the edge I can’t use the old method I used to fix it. Hence I may have to glue them on. I also have to create a hole to run the USB cable from the SSB modem. I’ll also pass the wires for our portable GPS through this hole as will pass the RS232 connector that will allow my PC to receive information from the various GPSs. I then need to connect all this up via the rotary selector switch and connect these all to the SSB and VHF radio so each unit will receive GPS signals again. In doing all this I also need to connect the new AIS to the chart plotter.

Ok. So I haven’t finished the nav station but it looks it and I feel happy with the result.

Bertrand and Joel came for the morning. They spent quite a lot of time on the rear rail which covers the join between the top half of the boat and the bottom. Turns out the weight of the dinghy and the movement at sea have pulled the parts apart. They fixed all this and did a fantastic job of it. The pics below show the separated parts (after all the current glue had been removed). Need to get one of the finished result as it looks good. I need to hunt around for what else they did. It’s hard to keep track at times.

In the evening there was a bit of a get together at the communal area to hear about some recent adventures of a mixture of Fijians and westerners who took to the sea in a group of vessels based upon traditional Fijian designs. It was quite interesting but a great excuse to get everyone together. Dave and Suzie from Sidewinder were there as were Derek and Alison from Kalida. We met a few other folks from here in the yard who we hope to see again over time.

Wednesday in the yard

We’re starting to get busy though, in hindsight, perhaps not busy enough.

In the early morning I spent some time researching travel options for Sam. In the end, the best flight I could find was via Fiji of all places. That’s now booked. He leaves Sunday, April 22nd and arrives around midday on the following Tuesday. We have promised to buy him a new laptop. Spent some time researching that with some input from John in the UK. Got some ideas but not yet bought the kit.

Helen spent a lot of time throughout the day cleaning the outside of the boat. There are a lot of tiny fungal spots all over the surface of the boat. This all needs bleaching to kill off. Round 1 is done but it looks like a second round of bleaching and washing will be required.

I spent the morning dismantling the old nav station labelling all the wires as I went and securing them so they didn’t disappear into the void behind. I also replaced the broken exterior speaker.

Looking ahead I have booked a service for our life raft. That’s down in Auckland and there is a waiting list of about 3 weeks. We are now on the list and need to drop the life raft off next week. I’m also trying to arrange a service for our chart plotter as
the cooling fan is noisy and the unit overheats if the display brightness is on full. I was given an email by the local Garmin support but have yet to get a response to the request I sent. Right now I have an external fan wired in which provides some cooling from behind.

After lunch I was picked up by the car hire company and taken to their depot. For NZ$40 we’ve got quite a large, air conditioned automatic which feels like a sedan to drive. With 140,000km on the clock it’s not spanking new but it does the job.

Once in the car I visited a recommended car radio specialist to try and sort out some sort of bracket to hold in the new radio I have. While there I spoke to him about how I might install it given that it was not going to be put in a car. I got some advice re wiring which I hoped would be useful.

While out I also picked up some ‘dye penetrant‘ which I’m going to use to inspect the load bearing stainless steel around the boat. We have noticed a small crack on one of the bimini supports so we really should do the works and check it all out while we’re in a position where repairs can be made.

Back on the boat I cut the connections to our old radio and crimped on the connections to the new one. In hindsight I wish I’d simply twisted on the power connections and tested first. With the way I have currently wired the unit, I can’t turn it off. There is a button labelled off but if I press it and hold it down, the unit goes into demo mode. I also made a mistake with how I wired the brake sensor (which disables the video functions). Obviously, in a car, watching video while driving is a tad dangerous so the unit has a brake sensor that enables the video when grounded. However, it turns out the video is only enabled if the brake sensor is grounded *after* the unit is switched on. That means I need to wire in a relay to delay the grounding.

My final task of the day was to fit new blinds over the two read berths. The starboard blind broke last year. Ours is ok but the starboard forward shower is totally broken and seized up. We get the new one and the shower will get our old one. Helen wants me to do a more complicated switcheroo involving the blinds over the forward starboard bunk. All that area is full of junk at the moment and I can’t get there so I’ve done as much as I can of this project for now.

At this point I left resolving the two radio issues until the next day as I was feeling a bit tired. So I pulled out a new toy I’d ordered from the US and brought to us in the UK by Ben. It was an XBox 360 with the Kinect motion sensor. The latter enables one to interact with certain games using body movements and gestures. Despite all the clutter and restricted floor space (our bed is currently in the main cabin keeping the bunks clear) I managed to get it going. Both Helen and I spent a fair amount of time ducking, dodging and jumping. We both worked up a bit of a sweat and it was fun. And that is the idea of it. Sometimes, when we don’t get off the boat, we don’t get a lot of exercise. Maybe this a way to do it.

I actually felt a bit guilty postponing the radio work for a bit of fun but after writing this blog I think I had a busy enough day.

When I was out and about, I ran into (not literally) David from Sidewinder. Turns out they’re on the hard just down the road. We should be able to meet up with them this Sunday as there’s going to be a presentation here in Norsand in the evening by some folks who have been sailing the Pacific on traditional catamarans.

We were also contacted by Elana who we first met, with partner Dave, in Antigua while watching Obama’s inauguration. That seems a very long time ago. Turns out they’re here in New Zealand and the upshot is we’re meeting in town this evening. Should be nice to catch up.

On the subject of bumping into people, the day we arrived at the yard we bumped into Dave and Alison from Kalida. They’re here in the yard somewhere. We never did get to meet them in Fiji so we’ll just have to make up somehow.

In the evening Helen and I went on our first provisioning run. While we have the car we need to get all the heavy stuff onto the boat as it will get a lot harder later. This included everything Helen could find on special offer plus a trolley load of wine. With respect to the latter we are essentially loading up to last from March to December. Even with Helen’s reduced weekly target of 4 bottles a week that’s still quite a few boxes. We’re now about 20% done on that front.

After provisioning we picked up some noodles in town and made our way back to the boat. We loaded the food aboard but left the wine in the car. We finished the day sampling one of our wines, eating our noodles and watching an old Bruce Lee movie. Helen didn’t make it until the end.

This morning I woke up about an hour and a half after yesterday so I’ll count that as progress. Helen, having woken for a while, is back asleep. It’s still dark outside even after writing all this.

You may have noticed no mention of the French technicians. That’s because there was nothing to say. I do have communications the strongly suggest they’ll be here today. One thing I’ll need to do is have them work out a new splash date and get this arranged. With a three day delay to the start of work I doubt we’ll hit the original target.

Back to Taveuni

Once we had enough light to see we raised our anchor, set the sails and headed off to the pass out of the lagoon. Inside the lagoon we were flying over moderately flat water. We knew the pass was more than wide enough but the speed at which we approached it made it feel quite narrow. Soon we were through and heading downwind and west. With a combination of broad reach and wing on wing on each tack we made it all the way to Taveuni. We had wondered if we’d stop at Nanuku Reef but at the time the sky was overcast so we figured losing a day to snorkel there wasn’t worth giving up the wind.

As we approached Taveuni I was keen to try out the improved internet over the Vodafone network. I ran into problems doing this which may be explained either through my data service expiring or my stick being incompatible with the new service.

When we arrived at Taveuni we saw Kalida (last seen in New Zealand). I was keen to get ashore and buy more data so as soon as we’d tidied the boat we dropped the dinghy. We first headed over to Kalida to say hello to Dave and Alison and see if they wanted to join us ashore for dinner. They were partied out and had hoped for a quiet evening. We recognised the feeling so after a chat we headed off ashore.

Unfortunately they don’t sell (or at least don’t know if they’re selling) data packages at the store here so we reverted to plan B which was to bring our laptops ashore later to surf at the nearby restaurant (Tavetave or something – we can never remember the name) that has a connection. We did pick up a few essentials and some veges to last us until we get to Savusavu where, incidentally, we now know our charger has arrived.

It was still too early for dinner so we headed back to Dignity to wait it out. We went ashore just before 6 only to learn that the buffet dinner started at 7. That was good though as we were able to sort out all our internet things to do before dinner. This included uploading all our photos and updated our blog entries. So if you’re interested, go back in the blog all the way to our Naivivi entry to see our albums.

The buffet dinner was excellent. We ended up chatting to a honeymoon couple from Colorado, Laura and Ryan. It was nice to have their company for the evening.

Now our minds are focused on getting to Savusavu. We don’t want to miss out on some of the really nice (we hear) anchorages round here as we may never get the chance to come back this way. So we’re heading off to the island of Rabi (Rambi) for 2-3 days after which we’ll make our way to Savusavu aiming to get there by the middle of next week so we have time to get in, do our stuff and clear out before next weekend.

4th Thursday on the hard

I hope this is our last full day ‘status’ report of life on the hard. There’s an expression : “Life is hard in the yard.” It’s true.

  • Wrote a launch checklist.  Having played around with the underwater bits I want to be sure we catch any leaks as early as possible.
  • Tied on new jib sheet protector.  This is a line tied from a couple of meters up the mast down to the deck to keep the jib sheets away from the mast and being damaged.
  • Installed new clamshell scoops.
  • Visited the Town Basin Marina to confirm our intended Friday (that’s today !!!!) arrival and discuss location.  Bumped into Darusha/Steve from Scream and Christa from Lileth.
  • Tested the freezer.  Not exactly a hard task.  I simply turned it on.
  • Put sea anchor away.  Even though it needs another wash we’ve properly packed it in the bag and stowed it ready for unhoped for use.
  • Cleaned deck/dive locker.
  • Connected other end of exhaust hose (ie, the end not ultimately attached to the new through hull)
  • Helped install the new anchor guard
  • Tested the starboard motor.  In doing this we had one of those “Oh No” moments.  The zinc on the end of the prop was wobbling and so was the end of the on which it sat.  Was the nut (the one we’d had pinned onto the shaft) on wrong?  Was the shaft bent?  I took two and a half expert oppinions and the general sense was the prop was running withing a hairbreadth of true and we had no problem.  Phew.
  • Attached and raised anchor
  • Collected the new sails.  In doing this I discussed options with the sail makers for the fitting.  End result is they’re coming to the boat in the yard at 7:30am this morning.  I took the sails as there was a possibility the boat may already be raised by then making it more awkward to get them aboard.

In the afternoon both Helen and I were both awash with fatigue.  Perhaps it was coming down from the adrenalin of the wobbly nut.  After three weeks of dust and dirt and being a day from launch, the possibility of being delayed was not a pleasant one.  But we kept on and energy did eventually renew.

One other event which could have been a lot nastier than it ended up occurred when I was taking a hard drive over to Tahina.  I took a short cut under the some boats and was just about to jump a ditch when the firm footing for my take off turned out not to be firm at all.  I plunged into the ditch arresting my fall with my shin on some rocks.  There were scratches and numbness down my leg but no extra joints.  The hard drive and my bones were intact so all else was secondary and a relief.  Karen and Frank tended to my condition by preparing soapy swabs to clean the dirt out of the wounds and giving me a big band aid (which later took off a lot of hair) for the main bash.  I refrained from taking any further short cuts for the rest of the day.

The external work is now more or less complete. The anchor guard is now in place and the anchor chute epoxied. We’ve had bigger screws put into the mast based and have had propspeed applied to the props and shafts. Bar one small section on the starboard side the sides of the boat have been polished.

The main entertainment for the day came from the launch of a multi million dollar power cat which didn’t go as smoothly as it could.  The truck bringing it to the yard fractured in a few places and they had one big mistep (it appeared) when they placed it on the ramp above high tide.  While it was interesting to watch from time to time our main interest in seeing it launch was to know there was no bloody great boat stuck in the ramp we’re due to exit on Friday (today !!!!!).

Towards the end of the day I dropped of a case of beer for the workers as a thank you.  Turned out to be very welcome as Peter is taking them down the river this evening for a ‘booze cruise’ and this will add to the party.

We finished the evening by sharing grilled sausages and veg with Dennis and Allison from Kalida.  We had a good time together and the evening ended off with their sharing some of the Fiji experiences and our taking notes on places to go.


Today, if you hadn’t guessed, is launch day. The sails will go on. The polishing complete. The dinghy raised. The boat raised and rudders fitted. This afternoon we’ll be off.

Oh.  How can I forget.  I uploaded pictures of the concert/wetlands walk from last Sunday (you’ll need to go back).  And I’ve uploaded some pictures of the boat work.  Here.

I have a few more pictures to add and take so I’ll republish this album when it’s complete.