Thursday, October 30, 2014

Opua: GANNET's new look and the anti-GANNET

        During these past few days I’ve made a few minor modifications to GANNET that I had been considering while crossing the Pacific Ocean.  That’s her above.  All that freeboard should make a dodger unnecessary.  What do you think?
        My friend Louise is a traveler.  Two or three times a year she endures long flights to distant parts of the world where she takes photographs that she shares with a large following on her flickr page.  She is just back from Oman, where among other places she visited a boat yard where they still build dhows two at a time, side by side.
        The finished product above.  The starting point, wood outside the boat yard and some intermediate stages below.

        I thank Louise for permission to share the photos with you.


        Speaking of photos, an article of mine about the passage from San Diego to Hilo is in the November issue of CRUISING WORLD, illustrated mostly by photographs taken off San Diego in February by another friend, Steve Earley, including this one.

        I have not seen the article myself.  Steve emailed this to me.  CW changed the title.  They are my words, and I like the editor’s choice better than the one I used.  I never know what people will react to or how and I almost deleted that section from the article thinking it might be too extreme.  And then I thought:  I’m sailing GANNET.  Nothing is too extreme.


        Boats have been coming in from the islands increasingly.  Three days ago at least ten were on the ‘Q’ Dock during the course of the day, though never more than four at a time
        I was standing in the companionway, Central Vertical, just before sunset when one of them about 38’ long pulled away from the outside of the dock and made a U turn to go to the far end of the marina, taking her past GANNET.  I could hardly see the boat for all the stuff cluttering her deck, from an upturned rigid dinghy on an angle at the bow, her stern on the cabin top, to a Tower of Babel scaffolding near the stern, supporting solar panels and various antennas.  In between were lines, jerry cans, and a lot of other unidentifiable stuff.  It would not have been possible to take two steps without stumbling over something.  I took a couple of photos, but I’m not going to run them.  That boat is the anti-GANNET.


        We left San Diego on May 20 and arrived in Opua on September 20, which was September 19 in San Diego.  That is 122 days by San Diego time.  Of those, GANNET was on passages 59 days and daysailed 4 more in Tonga, being underway a total of  63 days.

        One evening the wind and currents opened up a clear shot from our mooring to Pine Tree Island.
It has, of course, a Maori name, and was also once known as Plum Pudding Island.  Those of you who have been following this journal for some years already know that it became Pine Tree Island early last century when a local settler planted seven pine trees there, one for each of his children.  I’ve always liked that story, and still do.  He and his children are long in their graves, and all that holds what is left of the island together are the roots of the pine trees.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Opua: from readers, including Christmas Gannet Pye

        From Bill in the UK came questions after my entry about a serious mistake.

        Do you consider GANNET insentient? Logically she is, but does the fact that we habitually imbue vessels with a gender suggest a different emotional relationship? 
        To me the two man-made objects that seem most alive are boats and musical instruments made of wood.  
        Some of my boats seem to have had definite personalties.  EGREGIOUS was like an outrageously beautiful and homicidal woman who would make love to you and then might at any moment murder you in your sleep.  Life with her was exciting.  CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE I thought of as a small fiercely indestructible dog, if not the terror, then the terrier of the sea.  GANNET has her own personality, too, though I'm not certain yet how to define it. Certainly it has something to do with quickness of acceleration and motion.  
        However, having said all that, and intentionally always using the feminine pronoun even for a a boat named after a man as with CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE, I don't think of them as truly alive.  
        In Neiafu two other solo sailors said to me at different times, "I love my boat."   I said, "I refuse to love anything or anyone who can't love me back."  So although I almost think of her as being alive, the 'almost' is key.  I don't love her or any other boat.  I do have great respect for the men who designed and built her.
        Many sailors give names to their self-steering vanes.  I never did that either.

        How do you navigate across the Pacific? I appreciate that's a bit of a broad subject. I'm guessing these days GPS and the iNavX does a large part of the work. Do you still have a sextant aboard, and do you still keep paper charts of where you expect to find yourself?

        I almost entirely navigated with my iPad mini and iNavX.  The almost is that at times I checked position as well as COG and SOG on the Garmin Quatix watch.  And because I have a waterproof case for my full size iPad I use it in the cockpit when I enter harbors.  I also have a different set of electronic charts in my laptop for which I use a Garmin eTrex as the GPS input, and I turned it on from time to time to be sure it worked.  But I could have done it all with the iPad mini alone.  One great thing about the mini is that I can put it in the bin at the head of the pipe berth, wake up at night, reach back, pull out the mini and in a few seconds see our speed, course, and position without even getting up.
        I do have a sextant aboard, but I haven't taken a sight on this voyage.  I don't have paper charts, which are expensive and bulky.  I do have a paper map of the world stowed away in one of the waterproof boxes, so that if everything fails I can still find my way roughly. 
        GANNET is the first boat on which I don't have dividers or a parallel ruler, standard navigation tools.  I also don't have the Air Sight Reduction Tables or the Nautical Almanac.  They are in an app on the iPads.
        If the GPS system goes down completely and both my iPads fail--both live in waterproof boxes--then I'm going to have to do it the old fashioned and keep a good lookout.


        Gary in the hills that call themselves mountains in Arkansas wrote that he bought the same LED light at Walmart that I bought here and for the same price, $8 US.  He also points out that there is a magnet on the back that can be used to secure the light to appropriate surfaces.  I didn’t realize that is what the metal disc is.
        I now have two and they are my cabin lights.  I don’t have them on much, but the standard AAA batteries included have not yet needed to be replaced.


        Recently two readers—Brent in the U.S. and J in Australia—have written about the virtues of butyl tape.  It seems to me that someone else did a while ago too, but I can’t find the reference.
        Here are a couple of links:

        While this man is selling a product, I am sufficiently convinced so that I will buy a roll or two while I’m back in the U.S. and in the terrible prospect that I have to rebed the forward hatch again, I’ll give it a try.  
        This is something I really hope I waste my money on and never have to use.


        From James in the Adirondacks came a link to a new NOAA site, Earth is Blue, about U.S. marine sanctuaries.  Click on the Photo of the Day and you get another page.  The site has only be operational for a few days.  Whether it is worth a daily or weekly visit I do not yet know.
        Also from James came a great deal of information about gannets, most of which I did know, but not this:

Gannets make tasty eating, and have not always been protected by law. Māori used to harvest the young, and at Christmas in 1769 the naturalist Joseph Banks, on board the Endeavour with Captain James Cook, made these entries in his diary:

‘24. myself in a boat shooting … killing cheifly several Gannets or Solan Geese … As it was the humour of the ship to keep Christmas in the old fashiond way it was resolvd of them to make a Goose pye for tomorrows dinner.

25.  Christmas Day: Our Goose pye was eat with great approbation.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Opua: flowers on the hill.

         I walked up the Opua hill today.  A kilometer/.6 mile, all steep incline.  Great exercise rewarded with beautiful views over the bay and an abundance of flowers along the way.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Opua: silence

        Complete silence.  
        I hold my breath to check.  There is no sound.  How rare is that?  To be in silence with boats and people not far away.  Even at sea, where there are no unnatural noises, seldom is there silence.  GANNET makes noise as she moves through the water.  The wind sounds against the rigging.  I pause again.  Not a sound other than my touching the keyboard as I type.
        The sky was cloudless as the sun set behind Opua hills.  Now through the companionway is darkening blue slate.
        A cold wind blew from the south most of the day.
        The old Avon has remained inflated, so I pulled the new one onto the foredeck, scrubbed and dried it, deflated and folded it, and stowed it below on the port quarter berth.
        I think that old Avon must be the one I bought shortly after I bought THE HAWKE OF TUONELA, which would make it twenty-one years old.  The rub strip had come loose from the bow, so I glued it back in place with contact cement.  I’ll use it now until I leave; and if I can find space for it in the stern, I may take it with me when I sail on.
        I stop and take a small sip of Laphroaig.
        I have drunk less than usual this week.  For three days I had nothing beyond tonic and lime.  Aboard GANNET only is this open bottle of Laphroaig given to me by a friend, another unopened I bought myself, and two boxes of wine, one sauvignon blanc, the other cabernet sauvignon.  Perhaps I’m just tired of box wine.
        I had to check to see that I left Neiafu on September 9, forty-six days ago.  At dinner time tonight I opened the fourth and last jerry can of Tongan water.  Each holds 5 U.S. gallons/19 liters.  But to avoid spillage at sea, I don’t fill them to the top.  So 4.5 gallons/17 liters times 3:  13.5 gallons of fresh water/51 liters has lasted me forty-six days.  I often eat ashore in port and so don’t always use two cups for freeze dry food in the evening, but I wash my morning measuring cup and spoon and toothbrush in fresh water, where at sea I dip them in the ocean, so I think the usage balances out.  I do get additional liquid in the form of fruit juice, tonic, wine, spirits and sometimes beer.
        I’m still on the second of the five monthly bags of freeze dry meals.  I’m getting toward the end, but it will last until I fly away.  As some of you will recall, I had not inventoried the freeze dry meals I already had aboard GANNET and found almost fifty.
        I also had four gas canisters for the JetBoil on board before I brought a case of twenty-four with me on the train.  I have in six months only used five canisters, though the one on the stove now is about at an end.   The remaining twenty-three should easily see me through the circumnavigation.
        The sky is dark through the companionway and I can see a star.  And there is noise:  an outboard motor, no doubt on a dinghy.  I wait for it to fade away.  Its wake laps against GANNET.
        And then another outboard.
        I want this to end in silence.
        I wait.
        I wait.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Opua: six months in a crawl space; a serious mistake; absurd; boring

         Two weeks from now I will be 7,096 nautical miles from here, bearing 057° True.  I have a waypoint at our condo and read the distance in iNavX.  I will have lived aboard GANNET continuously for six months.  I’m getting pretty good at it and better all the time.


While I don’t like heights, I often think that my sailing has much in common with some mountain climbers and I enjoy reading books about climbing.  I just finished a good one, SOLO FACES, a novel by James Salter.  It is well written and I liked it well enough to download another of his novels, A SPORT AND A PASTIME, which apparently is about a love affair not mountain climbing, but Mr. Salter makes the mistake of calling mountains ‘malevolent’ and ‘treacherous’.  He also uses the word ‘conquer’.  If you’ve been around here any length of time you know what I think of that.  
We don’t conquer, we transit.  Mountains can’t be treacherous because they have never given any reason for trust that could be betrayed.  They aren’t malevolent.  The ocean is not cruel or angry.  They are insentient, simply there, and the universe destroys us with eternal indifference as byproducts of its own unknowable harmonies.
I know I’m repeating myself.  Saying once again what I wrote almost forty years ago in STORM PASSAGE.  But it seems to me a critical distinction, and I’ll keep on until people get it right.


Why would a solo sailor have two dinghies? Perhaps he dreams of catamarans.
Rain which was supposed to fall stayed offshore and today is sunny and pleasant.  After applying more Deks Olje to the floorboards, the companionway partial bulkhead, and the tiller—none to the bilge this time—I rowed to the far dock near the dinghy rack, dragged the old Avon down to the water, inflated and scrubbed it, scabbed the little fiberglass dinghy as well and locked it up again, then towed the old Avon back to GANNET where we will see how long it remains inflated.  If it is still firm tomorrow, I may deflate the new Avon and use the old one for the remainder of my time here as well as the final row ashore.


YACHTING WORLD in England asked for a photo of GANNET in New Zealand.  I took this as I rowed in this morning.


Many years ago the woman who was then a part of my life and I flew through Hong Kong on our way from Singapore to California to see my grandmother.  One evening in Hong Kong we went to have a drink at a bar at the top of a tower seventy or eighty stories high.  The night view over the lights of the harbor was spectacular.  I asked the young man who served us if he still noticed it, and he said that he didn’t.  It had become common place.
Repetition is boring, but being on the water, being here in Opua, never becomes common place to me.  I am aware of it, how much I love it, unceasingly.  And so you risk being bored because I am going to mention that wonder from time to time.
I’m also going to post sunset photos, though I try to resist. 

These two were taken consecutively the other evening.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Opua: an impressive double; oiling the bilge

        A few days ago in an interchange of emails about music he had suggested I might like, a friend casually mentioned that he was resting, having run a marathon that morning, before playing violin in a community orchestra concert that night.  Quite a double.  
        Tim runs several marathons a year, and said that he didn’t that morning ever hit the wall, feeling good both mentally and physically.
        I trust the concert went as well.
        His musical suggestion was “The Seasons” by Tchaikovsky.  I downloaded a performance by Vladimir Ashkenazy from iTunes—still to me a minor, or perhaps major miracle that I can do that on a mooring a few hundred yards from land on the other side of the world; and Tim is right.  I do like “The Seasons”.  It doesn’t sound like Tchaikovsky, but more like nocturnes or preludes.  There is one short piece for each month.  June and October are my favorites.


        The rain moved east Sunday as forecast.    
        Rain fell for twenty-four hours, torrentially for a couple of hours late Saturday night.  The forward hatch did not leak a drop.
        Yesterday I applied Deks Olje to GANNET’s wood, including the new floorboards, the two part Avon oars in which I have used a hole saw to cut holes in the blades so they can be locked up, and the tiller.  The line I used to tie down the tiller while underway wore the Deks Olje down to bare wood.  The tiller will never look quite as beautiful as it did.  But some scars are honorable.  And I hope to be forgiven for quoting again one of my own lines:  Life is the process of turning baby smooth skin into scar tissue.  Even on tillers.
        Before rowing ashore this morning I applied Deks Olje to the bilge.  
        This was not the plan.  I was trying to put a second coat on the floorboards when I accidentally knocked over the can, half of which flowed into the bilge.  Better there than on deck.   
        I sopped up the flood with paper towels, then went on deck and applied another coat to the tiller.  I added a third to the tiller this afternoon.
       Despite both hatches being open and a pleasant breeze blowing through The Great Cabin, GANNET smells strongly of Deks Olje, and so, I expect, do I.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Opua: settled in; done and to do; a poem not mine

        This is not a serious storm, just a band of rain that should pass through by tomorrow, but I am settled in for the duration, well prepared with a spinach and feta quiche, a Mediterranean salad, a good book on the Kindle, AN OFFICER AND A SPY by Robert Harris, a retelling in novel form of the Dreyfus Affair, and, thanks to David MacFarlane, a replenished supply of Laphroaig. 
        I took the above with the GoPro facing north during a lull in the rain a little while ago.  GANNET’s shrouds do not arc.  That is a function of the GoPro’s extreme wide angle lens.
        Please notice how nice the deck looks.


        Surprisingly I’ve been in Opua four weeks today.  
        In that time I have gotten GANNET pretty much back in shape.  Rewired the solar panels.  Rebedded the forward hatch.  New floorboards.  Reattached the port pipe berth.  New blocks for the running backstays.  Lubed the winches.  New floatation cushions.  New cabin lights.  Bought a back-up solar regulator.  Painted deck and cockpit.  Rearranged cabin stowage.  USB outlet.  Bought a great bucket.
        Before flying away in a little over two weeks I still need to apply Deks Olje to tiller and interior wood, including the new floorboards, clean and test the two old dinghies on shore, dry a few items, and attack some mold.  New Zealand has an excellent product, Exit Mold, and needs it.
        Still on my list, some to be taken care of here when I return, mostly items to be bought in the U.S.:
            four replacement tiller pilots and a pedestal support
            two replacement LuminAID lights
            USB plugs—not as significant since I wired the USB outlet 
            leather patches for Sportaseat
            replace boom vang line
            replace lifelines—I use ¼” Amstel line which is strong enough to lift four times GANNET’s weight
            replacement pillow cases
            epoxy sticks
            replacement headlamp(s)
            three replacement solar panels—two have failed and I think a third may
            replacement hand cranked flashlight
            long sleeved shirts
            replacement LED flashlight
            contact cement
            two replacement Dartington Chrystal Exmoor glasses
            winch pawl oil
            replacement electric razor
            floss threaders
            send Yellowbrick for repair
            replacement toothpick holder
            replacement day water bottle  
            Apple lightning cables
            replacement plastic measuring cups from Target—not used for measuring
            three Blue Performance sheet bags—two to replace smaller bags in the cockpit; the other a bag that has torn
            replacement battery operated electric fan
            tighten tiller to rudder head bolt and be certain I have spares
            have masthead Windex replaced
            Lapsang Souchong tea
            haul-out and anti-foul

        As is obvious most of the items on the list are to replace those that failed, fell overboard or were otherwise destroyed in the past 6,400 miles.


        After reading the previous post one of the myriad Davids who peruse this journal amused me with the following.  I thank him for permission to share it with you. 

            Webb Chiles profiles
            As he whiles away
            Miles, across oceans,
            Like ancient sundials
            On tropic isles
            For wandering exiles,
            And … Smiles.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Opua: a short introduction to Webb Chillys; timing; three modest improvements

        A reader sent me a link to a two minute YouTube video review of THE FIFTH CIRCLE.  Although the narrator mispronounces my name, she mostly uses my words, some of which I had forgotten, but I stand behind them.
        My last name comes from my stepfather who legally adopted me after my father committed suicide when I was seven.  I was born Webb Tedford.  ‘Chiles’ rhymes with ‘miles’.


        My timing was impeccable.
        Yesterday was a perfect painting day, sunny, dry and with little wind.  Today is not.  So fortunately I painted the deck yesterday with International’s non-skid paint, InterDeck.  ‘Non-skid’ is optimistic.  You can still skid on it, but less than on standard paint.  Treadmaster, which I have in the cockpit, is much superior.  I don’t have it on the entire deck because I don’t want the weight and the expense.
        The only defect yesterday had for painting was in painting white on white with the sun directly overhead.  I couldn’t start until 10:30 when the dew had completely dried from the deck.  I expected today to find areas I missed, but haven’t so far.
        Another virtue of small boats:  GANNET’s deck takes slightly less than one liter/quart.


        I have made three modest improvements to GANNET since arriving in Opua.

       Sailors, particularly small boat sailors, become interested in certain odd subjects, such as buckets. 
A good bucket is hard to find.  Most are flimsy and have useless handles.  A sailor may need a bucket, or buckets, for various purposes.  I once famously—sort of—bailed seven tons of water daily from EGREGIOUS with a bucket for months.  On GANNET at sea the head is a bucket.  Actually the head has been two plastic buckets one inside the other for structural integrity.  Last week Steve of ROVER drove a borrowed car to KeriKeri and invited me to go along.  At a hardware store he found a sister bucket to the one above, and I bought this one.
        It is a bucket of stainless steel beauty and reassuring strength.

        I have an electrical outlet on each side of The Great Cabin.  
I usually plug a small inverter into the one to port to charge those objects such as my laptop, the Bose speaker and my electric razor that have their own plugs.  And I usually put a USB adapter in the one to starboard to charge those objects such as my iPads, iTouch, Kindle, that can be charged by USB cords.
        In the chandlery the other day I saw a USB outlet, bought and installed it.  This one says ‘Narva’ on it, but fits perfectly into the hole cut for the previous Marinco outlet.  
        It is always satisfying to simplify.

        I also found this 24 LED light in the chandlery.
        It is very bright and operates for considerable time on three AAA batteries.  In addition to the 24 LEDs on the front, there are 4 in the end, and you can switch between them.
        The light is not waterproof and feels a bit flimsy; but at less than $10 US it is good enough.
         I still plan to bring a couple of LuminAIDs back from the US.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Opua: inverted

        The predicted perfect weather is here.
        Only one boat was at the Q dock this morning, and that was a power boat.
        Yesterday I painted the cockpit. 
        Far from perfect, it passes one-eyed old man standards and looks decidedly better than it did.
        I had my evening drink on deck.
        A minor disappointment, along with my former mooring no longer existing, is that there are no gannets hunting over this basin.  To paraphrase Francois Villon, where are the gannets of yesteryear?
        The only two I’ve seen were the pair that soared across GANNET’s bow as we entered the bay.  
        Today is t-shirt weather.
        I’ve prepped the deck to paint it with non-skid tomorrow, removing loose paint with a putty knife and sandpaper.


        One overlooked virtue of small inflatable dinghies without outboards is that after rain, you simply flip them over rather than bail out the water.
        Another is that you can leave them upside down for an hour or so and kill whatever is trying to grow on the bottom.
        The day is sunnier than it appears in the photo.
        The dinghy is again right side up.
        And I will be having my drink on deck again this evening.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Opua: 40; 6; logs

        A glorious morning here.  A sunny and windy afternoon.
        I rowed ashore at 10:30, did laundry, had a Kiwiburger at the marina cafe, and bought yoghurt at the general store for dinner.  The Kiwiburger had on it an egg, beets, lettuce, tomato, onion and who knows what else.  More than enough food for me for the day, and I didn’t quite finish it.
        I made it ashore yesterday as well, primarily for a hot shower.
        You have to put a $2.00 NZ coin/about $1.60 US into a slot for five minutes of hot water.  Usually that is enough; but it felt so good yesterday that I turned the water as hot as I could stand and indulged in a two coin shower.  
        Two boats were tied to the Q Dock this morning; three yesterday with a fourth of maxi size anchored out though there was ample room even for her to come alongside.
        The forecast here is for fine weather for the next five days.  Such a forecast is rare for New Zealand, particularly at this time of year, and not to be wasted.  Assuming those in the islands have been paying attention, they should have left several days ago.  
        The fleet may arrive this coming week.
        I have decided to take advantage of the good weather not to go sailing, but to work on GANNET.  Her cockpit needs painting, so does her non-skid deck, wood needs to be oiled, and some things still need to be dried out.


        Being boat bound by rain Friday, I wrote answers to questions for an interview at a new website and in doing so realized that I am coming up to the fortieth anniversary of one of the most important days in my life.  
        On November 2, 1974, I pushed the engineless EGREGIOUS away from her slip at Harbor Island Marina in San Diego for what became my first attempt at Cape Horn.  As those of you who have read STORM PASSAGE know, I didn’t make it then.  Nor on my second attempt either.  But I did on my third a year later.
        What is so important to me about that day is that it clearly marked the beginning of the third part of my life, a difference I have noted on the poetry page between ‘longing’ and ‘being’.  Perhaps I deceive myself, but I like to believe that I’m still in the ‘being’ phase of life, not just remembering.
        This is the third part of my life, with childhood being the first until about age 21.  The second, young adulthood.  Both of those were longing.  Both, but particularly the second, preparing.
        So November 2, 2014, will be a special day for me.  A day I’ll honor and remember.


        I’ve received several emails recently asking where I’m going next and if I’m going to continue the circumnavigation.
        Where I’m going next is back to the United States.
        Someone wrote, “After a quick refit, you can soon be on your way again.”
        That is true.  GANNET and I could sail next month.  But I am not a simple sailor.  I might even be a rather complex sailor.  And I’m flying back to be with Carol, whom I love and miss and haven’t seen for six months.
        I will return to GANNET next March, arriving in Opua on the 19th.
        As I have written, there have been moments sailing GANNET when I’ve thought:  this is too hard.  But I’ve thought that many times before on many boats and know it passes.
        I am engaged in what, time and chance permitting, will become my sixth circumnavigation.  I think I know how it is going to go for the coming two years, but not where I will close the circle.  San Diego, Honolulu, Neiafu and Opua are all possibilities.  Everything so far may have been a six thousand mile preamble.
        When I’m ready, I’ll post my plans.


       The five GANNET passage logs can now be found on the logs page.  If interested, scroll down past those of the fifth circumnavigation to GANNET.  New ones will be posted as usual in the journal and added to the log page as they happen.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Opua: just in time

        A raw and rainy day.  The temperature has remained in the low 50s F/ 11 to 12°C, but feels colder and has penetrated my aged bones, my left shoulder in particular which has been painful ever since I used that arm to steer the last day of the passage.  
        I had planned to go ashore today and do laundry and then sail to some of my favorite nearby anchorages for a few days.  Painting can wait.  But that didn’t happen.  Maybe tomorrow.
        A hot shower would have been nice too, but that didn’t happen either.
        I am sitting in the Great Cabin wearing fleece with a sleeping bag as a lap robe, a plastic of whiskey at hand.  Unfortunately not Laphroaig.
        The good news is that my newly rebedded forward hatch has not leaked.  I did see a few disconcerting drops of water on the cushions, but then realized that they were condensation fallen from the overhead.  This rain is by no means the equivalent of waves washing over the deck; but before the rebedding, there would have been puddles beneath that hatch.
         The photo was taken this morning shooting through the closed companionway.  The shadow is the boom.  The red, the American flag tied to the backstay.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Opua: winched

        I disassembled and lubricated the Harken 20.2 winches yesterday.  The starboard winch turns with noticeably greater resistance than the port winch, and removing the shaft on the starboard one was almost impossible.  I finally managed by using vise grip pliers.  The shaft to port came out easily.  These are solid pieces of steel and I can see no marks or distortions on the one to starboard.  I did not think to try to switch them at the time and am not going to disassemble them again now.  Both function properly.
        All that is left on my to-do list before I leave is to paint the deck.  While the paint on the topsides is fine, the paint on deck is not.  Perhaps a combination of waves, sunlight and lines. 
        I might even go sailing again one of these days.


        It has been overcast here since yesterday, but with only a trace of rain.  
        The photo was taken two evenings ago.  
        I like this mooring and am glad to be on it.  However, one disadvantage is that when I take a photograph to the east power boats are unavoidably in the foreground.
        There is no one on any of these boats.  I’m out here alone.  The evenings are wonderfully quiet.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Opua: rebedded; redinghied; SHIP FEVER

        The morning was windy, but not as windy as other parts of this country where it was blowing 70 to 75 knots.  Here only about twenty and as forecast it eased at noon to become a warm and pleasant afternoon.
        This low stayed south of us and on Sunday I rebed the forward hatch.  
        I removed it easily enough with a putty knife and thin screwdriver; then cleaned the old sealant from it and the deck.  I had used LifeCalk which peeled away with the use of putty knife and screwdriver; but I was surprised to discover that some LifeSeal I had later applied trying to fix leaks from the outside adhered much more tenaciously to both fiberglass and aluminum.  It was extremely difficult to remove.  LifeCalk is terribly messy stuff to work with, at least for me.  I end up with it on my hands, tools, and other surfaces where it should not be.  It took me almost as long to clean up as to bed the hatch.  LifeSeal is not.  In the unthinkable event that I ever have to rebed that hatch again, I will use LifeSeal.  However, this time I already had three tubes of LifeCalk and used it.
        I applied a double bead, one on the outer edge of the hatch, one on the inner.  I applied a bead of LifeCalk to the threads of each of the seventeen bolts that secure the hatch.  I tightened the bolts only hand tight so that I would not squeeze all the sealant out, and today intended to tighten the nuts more, but everything seems solid so I decided not to.
        I don’t know if this has done any good.
        It was the right thing to do.


        When I sold THE HAWKE OF TUONELA, I informed the buyer that I had two dinghies locked in the dinghy rack, a tiny fiberglass one that I usually used for my last row in before flying to the U.S. and the first row back out, and an old Avon RedStart that I used on my final row in from THE HAWKE OF TUONELA during a brief lull in gale conditions when I knew I couldn’t row the fiberglass one.  I mailed him the key.
        Last week when I walked past the dinghy rack I checked and found the dinghies are still there.  So I took a hacksaw, dinghy pump, and another lock ashore with me after lunch, and sawed through the chain.
        After two and a half years both dinghies are filthy, but serviceable.  I pumped up the Avon and all three chambers held air.  It wouldn’t fit back into the rack fully inflated, so I had to let some air out.  Sometime I’ll pump it up, clean it up and tow it out to GANNET to see how long it remains inflated.  It only has to for about ten minutes to get me ashore when I fly to the U.S. 

        A handful of boats have cleared in since GANNET’s arrival.  It is still early and most of the fleet will not arrive for another month or more.
        GANNET is certainly the smallest.  This, on the Q Dock this morning,
is the largest so far.  I’m not a good judge of the length of big boats.  She is at least 80’ to 100’/25-30 meters, perhaps even more.  Both she and GANNET fly the American flag, the big and the small.  I started to write ‘the great and the small’, but in this instance the small is arguably the greater.  Too big for the marina, she has anchored not far away.  As courtesy to my fellow sailors and countrymen I should row over and invite them to boxed wine in the Great Cabin this evening.  Well, perhaps not.
        Opua’s Quarantine Dock is the easiest to approach of any I know in the world.  You can go inside or outside and have 200 meters in which to stop.


        I’m sure I’ve mentioned Andrea Barrett before.  She writes excellent short and long stories with a common, though sometimes tenuous link to science.
        I just finished rereading SHIP FEVER.  
        The title piece is about efforts to deal with the typhus epidemic at Grosse Isle, Canada, brought by ships carrying immigrants escaping the Irish famine in 1847.  It is a powerful tale told exceptionally well.
        When life is hard for me on a passage, I don’t consider what other sailors have done.  I do think of what people have endured during war or on immigrant ships or slavers.
        By comparison, what I do even on hard days is easy.