On Saturday I fly down to Tahiti on a one-way ticket. I will be joining my friends Eric (the proud Captain who just bought the boat), Johnny, Jason & Emily on the beautiful Outremer 55 Light Catamaran, Zephyr. She is currently lying at anchor off Marina Taina, Papeete, Tahiti. We plan to provision her up, pull anchor and sail east to the Tuamotus. After a week or so in the Tuamotus we will either sail for the Marquesas or Hawaii; destination to be driven by the weather. The 2,500 nm passage to Hawaii should take about 10-12 days – the Zephyr can post 240+ nm days and can sustain speeds above 10 knots. It should be a very exciting and fast ride north.
We are going to be in the South Pacific during the tail end of cyclone season so we will be watching the weather forecasts very closely. Right now there are some nasty cyclones developing over Vanuatu and headed between New Caledonia and Fiji. There is another one developing and headed for Tonga. They usually track SE so should not become any concern to our planned routes. But watching a 105+ knot cyclone on the weather maps certainly encourages vigilance in our weather monitoring.
Weather-wise, barring any nasty tropical storms, it should be a pleasant sail north with the prevailing wind on or just forward of the beam. I’m really hoping the weather Gods smile on us upon approach to Hawaii because it has been just nasty here the past few weeks. Right now I am getting rocked around in our slip with 30 knot winds whipping through our rig. We do not want one of these strong northers to be blowing on approach. So everyone do the trade wind dance when we get close and wish us light easterlies for our landfall.
Wish us fair winds and calm seas and follow our voyage at the link below. Eric is bringing a quadcopter with GoPro so look forward to epic aerial video!
I’ve been working on the boat day and night for the past month. I start when we rise and work until Alyssa gets off work around 10pm. It was fun in the beginning but I’m getting burned out on projects and luckily Ellie is almost ready for sea again. Half of the projects were fun quality-of-life improvements, the other half were strength and safety items, and I kept finding more to add.
In the quality-of-life improving category we have installed the following:
1) Brewing setup
2) New swinging screen doors for companionway (I broke out the tinted plexi and installed mosquito screen – came out awesome and allows great airflow through the boat)
3) Stereo remote control in cockpit (volume control from hammock – oh ya)
4) Saltwater pressure water tap at galley sink (we estimate that half our water usage is from dishes – this should buy us another week before having to run the watermaker)
5) Red LED light over nav table (priceless under way)
6) New fans (turbo fans for $17 off amazon – they sound like blow dryers – we’ll let you know if they are still working when we land in Oz)
7) New 0.5 micron drinking water filter (high quality drinking water filters for our new sparkling water system of course)
8) Bleached and cleaned the entire fresh water system
9) Installed new digital thermostat for fridge (gotta keep that beer cold!)
10) Added a flag halyard block under port spreader (to fly burgees)
11) New music has been downloaded to add to our library (our MP3 library was extensive but totally lacking music recorded after 2000 – this has been reconciled)
We also acquired a new complete kiteboarding setup, inflatable paddleboard (thanks Slove!), and a used digital SLR camera AND a GoPro to film this epic upcoming season.
In the safety department we have:
1) Reconditioned the powder-coated steel propane tanks (I hate these but they don’t make aluminum or composite tanks that fit our propane locker)
2) Renewed the cooling system on the engine
3) Oil change, racor filter change and new belt
4) Installed new Raymarine AIS receiver unit (the old one was only working intermittently)
5) Installed new masthead VHF antenna (for no reason it turns out – I later found out the connector at the back of the VHF was poorly installed and shorting itself out. Oh well, moving on.)
6) Bought and spliced in 225 feet of new 5/16″ galvanized G43 anchor chain (and then figured out the old chain was also G43….I thought it was Mexican generic crap but turns out all chain in North America is now made in Mexico and considered ‘domestic’ … Lesson learned the expensive way.. I managed to sell the old chain on craigslist for $300 so am only out $500 and now we have brand new chain)
7) Replaced a temporary plastic coupling in fuel vent line with a permanent brass one
8) Inspected and oiled the steering system cables and chain (it’s sooooo smooth now!)
9) Cleaned and lubed the autopilot
10) Bought, and installed at the helm, a Raymarine A65 chartplotter I found on craigslist for $250 (I finally broke down and decided to buy a chartplotter because the cm93 charts we have on our laptop-based Open CPN program had very little detail for the Line Islands and didn’t have nearly the detail I wanted for Fiji, so we are now set up with the latest and greatest)
11) I finally shimmed the boom vang (not so much a safety issue as much as an annoyance at sea with that incessant clicking)
While I was up the mast replacing the VHF antenna I also noticed a single strand break on our aft starboard lower shroud so I ordered new wire and a new mechanical HI-MOD fitting. When the parts arrived I went up the mast, dropped the old wire, put spectra line in place to stabilize the rig and laid the old wire on the dock to measure the length. Turns out it was not a single strand break but three! Good thing we caught it. Looks like we will need to be watching the rigging closely this season. We plan to re-rig in Australia; it was new in 2011 but has seen over 20,000 miles since then! Anyway, while I was hammering the wire out of the stubborn old fitting that did not want to release the wire, the $80 fitting slipped out from under my hammer, flew off the dock and promptly sunk! I wasn’t even mad – probably wouldn’t have been able to get the damn thing out anyways. So we have ordered another Hi-Mod terminal which should arrive on Monday.
So, replacing that shroud should be the final project I complete before departing for Tahiti on Friday. It better be because I’m running low on boat bucks! Forget about waxing the hull myself – life is too short – it’s hot as hell here – and Alyssa’s making money – we’re gonna pay some guy to do it.
Between March 7th and the beginning of April I will be helping a friend sail his Outremer 55 catamaran up to Hawaii. Once I get back to Hawaii we will provision Ellie up, sell the roach car and get the hell out of dodge! I want to visit Kauai first then make our way south to the Big Island again to clear out and then sail for Fanning Island in Kiribati. Unfortunately we will not be allowed to visit Palmyra Atoll due to budget constraints in the oh-so-well-run US Government; LAME!
Here are some pics of my latest projects. These were taken with our new camera; a craigslist special by the way – Canon DSLR for $70…not bad right?