Fiji - Post New Zealand Repairs
LOVE the new mainsail
If we had known what a difference a new main sail would make we would have got one before we left
the United States. We can now do 5 - 6k in 8 - 10 k of true wind. Light air sailing is now a breeze.
The new main is much bigger than the old - 60 rather than 50 sq. meters. We will have to relearn
New Zealand Repairs
Whew, made it to New Zealand. That's 9500 miles of wear and tear. Below are the latest maintenance
highlights for our little floating home. (This time Richard has graciously typed up his thoughts, say Yeah!)
Blown Main Sail
The main ripped horizontally between the first and second reef so we spent most of the last passage
double reefed. We had no idea how old the main was and the local sail maker said all the stitching was
shot due to UV damage. Anyway it was a timely demise, since it had always been the plan to get a new
main in New Zealand. Our new main will be a proper catamaran full roach main and a bit larger than the
old one. The old sail was somewhere just under 50 square meters and the new one is 60. We might
see a 200 mile day yet...
Ack... The old Trojan 105 (6 volt) batteries bought in Honduras were only 2.5 years old, but they just
would not hold a full charge anymore. The consensus was that Central American battery suppliers get
older US batteries and sell them a bit cheaper. It is likely the batteries were actually over 3 years old.
The sides of the old batteries were bulging a bit and hard as a rock ( a sign of sulphated batteries) and
the hydrometer showed only just above bad when "fully" charged. All of these are signs of impending
new battery purchase. The local battery guy said you need to get these up to 14.7 volts at full charge to
desulfate them on a regular basis. If you don't the grid basically gunks up and the battery gets a much
shorter life span. So we got new batteries (same kind) and cranked up the voltage on the solar
controller to 14.7 and life is much better now.
Don't even get me started on this! Who designs a saltwater cooled (no heat exchanger) generator?
Actually Fisher Panda does... The cooling jacket on the cylinder had failed (rusted through) a few
months ago, spraying water everywhere. We had our own personal engine room rainfoest. JB weld can
only hold back the flood so long then out came the water again. So after 3 months of emailing and
complaining (Auckland, Germany, New Zealand, etc.) I finally found someone to give me some answers
and find some parts. The replacement parts (new cylinder, rings, head, etc.) will cost more than a new
portable generator, but I already have this one and really like having a generator. I hate putting hours
on the engines just to charge batteries. The generator is made for this and uses less fuel. Hopefully
with these new parts the unit will be good for another 10 years or it will become a mooring at some
island... Part of me wants to chuck it anyway just to save weight on the boat. I still want to meet the
designer and kick him! Who designs a unit with the zinc on one side and the impellor on the other?
Basically to change the impellor you have to take it off the engine mounts, rotate the unit, have kid size
fingers, and lots of luck. Dumb I say. I was reading about some new unit made in the US that is fresh
water cooled and has all the main things on one side (zinc, oil fill, filter, impellor, etc.). What a neat
idea. If I was in the US I might go for it, but shipping to New Zealand is not at all cheap.
What a scary thing to think your radar is working just fine on a squall filled passage only to find out it
can't see land when you can! Basically the magnatron failed in the dome so nothing was being
transmitted. The failure mode makes you think it is working (all the screen displays look normal and
everything looks fine), but you will never see a target! I think the radar guys need to work on this issues
in a major way! A simple check on how much power the unit is drawing in transmit would alert the unit to
a failure. Apparently this is not done by any radar maker (that is what the repair guys say)
Post Puddle Jump Breakage
Boats are extremely generous in their ongoing effort to provide projects for the otherwise superfluous
captain and crew. Our boat had 2900 miles to think up things for us to do. All the vibrating, chafing,
rattling, and throwing of stuff by the first mate takes its toll.
Click here for the Post Puddle Jump breakage report
Underway: The First Six Months
As any boater knows, the repairs don't stop after leaving the dock. Actually, they seem to multiply. Below
are some of the things that ceased to walk during our first 6 months and our solutions. (Note: Sometimes
the solution was to ignore the problem for a very, very long time.)
Click here for the first 6 months
Before wandering off into the sunset, we thought it a wise idea to putter through the boat and inspect,
well, everything. From through hulls to wiring, plumbing to hatches, we poked and prodded it all. The
result was months of redoing, fixing and generally learning about, well, everything again. Whew!
Click here for some of the highlights(?) of our findings and solutions.
Fiddling with the Boat
Australia Repairs & Upgrades
Luckily (knock on wood) no major repairs had to be done here. I replaced all the engine injectors,
more for preventive measures crossing the indian ocean than because it was needed. Check your
engine exhaust elbows for corrosion and scale on the inside. I am trying to tighten up the rig a bit
(top half of mast is not stiff enough). I changed all the running lights to use LED bulbs and save a
ton of power now. I will haul and change out the rudder bearings (one rudder is loose). Mostly it is
just little annoying things and trying to get a boat ready for anything crossing the indian ocean. I
expect this crossing to be far from anything as far as parts are concerned. Finally bought a new
1000 square foot light air asymetrical so we should be able to fly now. We did all the safety things
(liferaft repacked, epirb battery replaced, new flares, update ditch bag, etc.). Basically kick the tires
and look under the hood kind of things...
Things done differently for the second voyage...
I am trying out some higher R value insulation for the fridge that is foil backed. So far it seems to make a
big difference, but then we are not in the tropics yet so time will tell.
I finally tossed the poorly designed excuse of a genset that fischer panda made. Now we have a portable
Yamaha generator and are pretty happy witf the weight saved! It is a bit of a pain to store and move to
the cockpit when you need it, but so far we have only used it 3 times in the first month so not too bad.
Once again I am trying LED lights on the boat. Unlike the first time when they were West Marine LED light
fixtures that failed, this time I am using just LED bulbs. If they fail I can always just put the xenon bulbs
back in instead of having to change out the whole light. Hopefully technology has advanced and they
won't fail now.
I replaced the anchor chain and went to 260 feet instead of 200 this time. Already it came in handy when
we anchored off Isthmus cove (catalina) in 70 feet of water. I can justify the extra weight by the 200 or
more pounds saved on the genset:)
I finally found all white plastic faucets so no more corroding "marine grade" shurflow faucets that are
heavy and poorly made.
I went with slightly bigger trojan batteries this time so now we have a house bank of 780 amp hours.
Maybe we won't have any low voltage issues with the fridge this time around.