Monday, February 20, 2017

Aloha From Portugal

As we are slowly but surely planning our trip to Portugal for this summer, and I relentlessly surfing the web of catamarans - my new, we found this affordable - sizeable - french cat named Aloha in Portugal.
Too many coincidences to be ignored.

Aloha From Fountaine Pajot

Living aboard has been on my dream list for quite a while now. We tried - unsuccessfully - On 'Mobylette' - A Beneteau 43- half a dozen years ago already.
It is tricky.
Very few marinas allow for official liveaboards. Most of people 'sneak-a-board'. Which is certainly a valid strategy if you are in your twenties without money and family, but less appealing as a grown-up with responsibilities.
Living on a boat is quite complicated in places where there is real seasons. Cold is really an issue as boats are usually very badly insulated. Of course, bad weather is extremely hard to cope with.
Livingaboard is living outside before all.

Now I slowly accepted that a boat is not the best adapted house for our family - with pets and kid.
Sure people are doing it. all around the world. Mostly traveling.
Well, sooner than later Kids and petz will leave home to live their own (kid and petz) life.
And (soon-tm) will be the time to revisit that statement.

Now, Catamarans have a very appealing advantage over monohulls. They are roomy and comfortable AT ANCHOR.
This simplify a lot if you can actually be on the boat at anchorage and not rolling left and right all day long. Now, you are not relying on expensive private marinas slips for docking.
Now, you are auto-sufficient.
Making your own electricity.
Your own water.
Simpler, smaller, outdoor life.

And there is a cheery on the cake.

When the world goes deep - after the flood,
You are already floating.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Taking a Break

The main purpose of that Oahu trip was the haul-out and the bottom paint. I never did it myself, and it was long overdue. We had some damage with a previous buoy, and the old one was anyway totally inefficient.
It was meant to be an adventure, indeed.

1-2-3, Lift !
I lived on a yard before, in Oxnard, while preparing Traces for the Pacific crossing. It is uncomfortable, noisy, dusty, without easy access to clean water or shower.
This time was a bit better, mostly because the Hawaiian sun allows you to take a shower at the hose, outside, in shorts.
But the sun made it really uncomfortable to work during mid-day hours, sweating under the protective suit.

1-2-3, ready
The hard part in a bottom paint is the sanding, depending how deep you want to go. I went pretty deep because I knew I would not do it again soon. Depending how many blisters you got. I had a few hundreds of them. Started to be better at them toward the end, but I did a couple of major mistakes that took hours to fix.
Learning curve.
And I got rid of an annoying vinyl decorative band that was in really bad shape but a real pain in the butt to take off.

Sanding, Sanding, Sanding ...
The paint job is straightforward. A bit tiring for the back as the curve of the hull force you in awkward positions toward the keel, but it is very gratifying.

Voila !
Going back to the marina after the work, forced to motor all the way due to lack of  wind, I realized that the engine issue - rpm dropping slowly - likely fuel starvation - was getting - if not worst - not better.
Something had to be done.

On the way back to Ala Wai,
under (failing) engine
My first attempt to isolate the leak ended up causing another leak - major, on the inlet of the injector pump. Few days later, I eventually fixed that one with new parts, call it a day and flew back home.
Has been one month short have been off Maui and far from family, it was time to take a break.

Looking back, a lot has been done during that month, and on the 'major' items list, only few remains.

 - Engine
 - Garmin Windvane (changed to a wired one after endless disconnection issues)
 - Mast lights

Those can wait March. I need a break.
But We are closing in.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Cruising around

Without a car, simple things like picking a scuba tank become a real chore and a real issue for your back. That time, I found a solution, cruising around with the dinghy (and testing the new Honda 2.5hp 4 strokes), I went very close from the scuba shop, at the other side of the marina.
Pretty fun actually, even if I cannot plane the dinghy anymore.
(The previous 9HP 2 Strokes was way more powerful but... capricious... And heavy)


With this new ladder (WIP),
it is way easier to go back on the boatr.

Getting ready to scuba .. explore the deep.....
... of the boat's bottom.

Unrelated but I am still amazed of what you can polish on a boat.

Before / After
The bad news is that with one tank and one hour and half of scrubbing, I only did 1/3 of the boat. I am actually really scrubbing the bottom, not just a simple clean. Takes a lot of efforts.....

For the fun, a quick video.


Still dreaming about that cat.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Relentless Forward Progress

For the curious, this is the title of an ultra-marathoner guide. How-to.
Based on the title (did not read yet) it seems that perseverance is key.
Well, in that case, I am playing at the ultra-cruiser nowadays.

Alright, because it has been a good 2 weeks, a special super long super boring list of the fixes/work on this damn boat.

Before the sunset.

Second time I redo the water pump gasket.

Third time I redo the tank inspection plate.

Fourth, or fifth time the transmission oil drain gasket

Those cloth pins, all stainless, are amazing.

We found a bit of time for a sea trial for the "fix" for the engine.
Sailing was nice, motoring was NOT nice. Fix did not work at all.

Finally fixing the toilets cover (Two years ago ?)

CWR Hawaii. Paradise of the rigger. More later.

Liferaft service. Getting ready for the next trip ?

All good. I feel lighter of 1300$.

Molly's Art to decorate the cabin

Removing the life lines, the boat feel naked.

Paradise of the metal worker. More later.

Garmin GNX wireless was a failure. Up to the mast, Back to the factory.
We are going wired. Ouch. More work to come.


During. The sell a kit 'DYI lifelines'.
Time consuming but saving big bucks. (Rigger estimate 1000$).

After. No coating. Cheaper, and less subject to rust.
Little rough on the palm though.

To run one cable I had to pull put 150' chain and my old tackle ground.
150' pounds !

That's how I like it !

Just in case you thought the aft was better.

Windlass cables, across all boat. Awg2, Big & heavy, 100A.
Tooling for crimping is Hammer style.

Hard to see, but that's the solenoid of the windlass.
Had to pull one battery out. Dealing with awg2 cables is not easy.


After. We broke that two years ago. It was time.
Those first weeks on Oahu, I have mixed feelings. The arrangement of not working too much on the boat, training as possible and work normally makes it way easier. Downside, the work on the boat go slower. O surprising.
I was fearing the moment to finish the electrical work on the windlass but so far I am 80% in, and it seems to go very well. "Professional Installer Only". Well, I guess I am a pro.
Disclaimer : Did not try it yet :)
The engine is still my biggest problem. Unreliable at best,  we could not really work on it because I need it to go to the haul-out next week for the bottom paint. Really annoying.
I don't talk about the electronic. Back to Garmin, Jeez. 50 ft mast ? Really ? just good for a dinghy IMHO.
But the other stuff - Double solar panel, the ladder, the various gaskets, the windlass, progress is good.

Next week will be key. Windlass. Bottom Paint and Yard.
If I hit that, only the engine will be on 'Major' issue list.

Oh yeah, nowadays, I dream of more space, less work. Just need 500K$.

Seawind 1600. Comfortable. Fast. Expansive.

Sacrilege ?

Monday, January 9, 2017

Ala Wai Chilling

 As typical for this time of the year, there is the Aloha Gym Fest, and to support our troops, we bring the guns, and the boat to Oahu for a few days.
With the engine slowly dying, and a windy marina it was a stressfull early morning.
Actually it has been quite a while since I sailed Traces, and I was up for a a busy morning, between winds shifting, fuel leaks and other enjoyments.

This was not the Vendee Globe, but quite sport for me. Wind direction was way more on the beam that you would expect, there was a lot of North in those NE Trades. Was there any E at all ?

A bit rough in Kaiwi Channel, 
even with "only" 20 knots of wind,
and 9 feets of swell 

Well, sailing the islands is always the same. Not enough wind. Too much wind. and always on the nose. Which convinced me that I really need this engine fixed :)

Arriving at night at Ala Wai, it was easy-peasy, glassy enough that the engine did not cry too much. 1000 rpm is the max I can expect at this point, and that ain't much.
I have unlimited Tow with BoatUS, just in case, and it has been a while since I used them.
No concern to get towed time to time. 
That's part of the sport. 

Chilling in glassy Ala Wai Harbor

Already working on some projects the day of the arrival. 
Bimini extension was not finished.
Dusted of my Boat Land ride. Cruise it,  baby.

I setup a few rules for this stay on Oahu.
I usually try to do too much, between the normal day of work, the boat and the rest.
I always start saying I am gonna hold a month and break down after few weeks, tired and upset.
This time, life balance will take precedence.
Few rules I am gonna try to enforce
   - Train every day like at home.
   - Work in good conditions - I just signed off for a full month at a coworking place that is awesome.
   - One Boat project at a time, time permitting - mostly late afternoon.
   - Take the time to do the groceries, and shop around
   - Go on some surfing trips during the week end that time.

For that, the actual projects I want to be tackled are actually few :
   - Emergency items (Fuel & Transmission leaks, etc...)
   - Bottom paint at the end of month
   - Windlass electrical
   - 2nd Solar Panel setup
   - Safety for the liferaft
   - Engine Fuel Pump

The rest can wait.
That's the theory.
Let's see how that hold up.