Noting today's date, I was reminded of my singlehanded 3-week long race (SHTP) in June/July '06 from San Francisco to Kauai (Hawaii) ... and my onward passage north to Sitka in Alaska around the so-called 'Pacific High' off the W coast of N.America (the equivalent of the Azores High over the Atlantic off W.Europe). They are both high pressure zones which constantly move about but stay centred offshore to the west of the continents. That was my first experience of beating north into quite strong Trade Winds - a rough-and-tumble experience (literally!), the result of which was having to fix an engine which objected, not surprisingly, to seawater getting into the diesel fuel and so into its injectors.... Something I discovered when I got near to the centre of the High just after the 1st August and wanted to motor in the calms to be found there. (The Azores High looks as though it's going to pose me a problem leaving here - every time I look to see what the weather would be like for heading around Ushant and across the Bay of Biscay, the winds would be heading me - I might have to head NW from here, towards Falmouth, to get an angle on the wind to head S!)
Thoughts of 2006 led me to searching for the SHTP Belt Buckle I had salvaged from my old boat - that was a memento of the Race and all the memories surrounding it that I had not wanted to lose. It was looking rather woebegone, but a bit of time spent cleaning and polishing soon had good results & it's now placed above the chart table in pride of place!!
The photos show 'Before' and 'After' the cleaning!!
My efforts at re-positioning the fluxgate compass took a time, as expected, with having to get behind panels & woodwork in order to re-route the wire, but it is now behaving reasonably well in its new position. I presume I'll have to re-calibrate the compass once I get out of here but that's a simple matter of turning the boat slowly through a couple of 360 degrees - no big deal!
I received a couple of parcels, one with warm base- & mid- clothing layers and one with fax paper rolls for my weather fax machine. The Harbourmaster's Office are very kindly forwarding post to the marina office and they bring my post directly to the boat in a dory ... I'm really impressed by how very helpful they're all being!
The week seems to have gone by without my joblist getting noticeably shorter, although I did spend two days cutting a small hole in quite a few loose panels & fixing a locking device and 'lip' on each of them so that they can be prevented from flying about if we should broach (or worse..!). I went up the mast to re-tie some twine that had come adrift between steps and shrouds & fixed some hooks and other items in place in the cabins - minor, but important for living on board.
The latest problems to raise their heads have been a flooring problem (I'm having to repair the floor just ahead of the companionway steps until a new flooring section reaches me - probably in the Canaries), a charging problem (having checked voltages with a multi-meter, it looks as though the chart table display unit is showing the wrong information on state of charge of my domestic and start batteries, possibly leading to over-charging of the domestic bank), making sure I've sufficient cooking gas to last for several months (I'm trying to fill two empty US tanks tomorrow, with propane if possible), and realizing that with all this time I've been tied to the dock here, sorting out the boat down below (we've had some rain of late!), I've not been paying enough attention to checking on the sailing side of things. I suddenly realized that I need to deal with a few shackles, eye splices & lines ,.. I had thought all that side of things had been sorted out a long time ago... It's top of the list now!
I was delighted to get an email from the Quartermaster on board the 'Queen of Oak Bay' (a B.C. ferry that runs between Horseshoe Bay, N. Vancouver, and Nanaimo on Vancouver Island) who had very kindly spent quite a time with me last October showing me over the bridge when I was on my way to visit friends in Parksville. He emailed me because they were wondering how things are going with the new boat and when I was planning to take off. Questions I've had from quite a few people - it's difficult to explain just how many different things I'm having to think about, get organized and then achieve, what with it being a new boat with new instruments etc and also because I expect some difficult conditions while I'm on passage - I'm trying to be prepared for all eventualities!! My latest project is trying to sort out how to get good weather info when I'm in the Southern Hemisphere and far from land - with the patchy, unreliable Internet connection I have here, it becomes really time-consuming trying to sort out the various options or even just to send important emails.
I've been meaning to post this photo dating from June when I stayed over in Cowes, at UKSA, before leaving England to come here. It shows 'Nereida' rafted up alongside the famous 'Gipsy Moth IV'!!
Tuesday 4th Aug '09
Great fun and games this evening at high water with so many boats moving around. Normal to be in a raft of four these days - makes for excellent tea-time spectator enjoyment as people try to move out from within the rafts and others try to come alongside too early...! The marina staff in their dories often use the dory as a 'pusher' to help people get into position.... All good fun to watch! And I'm having a great time practising my French there being so many French boats around with the French coast so very close by. I keep feeling I should be keeping to the right on the road....!
Total waste of time yesterday afternoon - got on my bike with two US propane tanks and went a long way uphill to a local garage who'd said that maybe they could fill them for me - nada!! Quite apart from fittings giving a problem without a suitable adaptor, I'd already heard that "we only fill our tanks, no-one else's" from the Guernsey Gas company and from another source, "It's against EC regulations to fill ANY aluminium tank anywhere in Europe"....!! Oh well... at least I had a brilliant fast ride down the hill back to the marina!!
Gave gas locker a thorough clean afterwards, added another lacing eye for secure bungy fixing of tanks and will need to buy two new butane tanks since heard via email that same filling problem for US propane bottles exists in the Canaries. I don't want to run out of cooking gas whilst still on passage early next year.
Spoke to Simrad about problem with AIS not 'talking to' VHF radio for DSC communication ... useful ... Turned out that I'm missing a power lead which should have been installed in Sweden and the lack of it should have been spotted by the electronics guy working on board at Hamble Point in June.... Nothing like checking out things yourself to get things working properly...! Cable now ordered and should arrive Thursday - easy item to instal.
Spending time on computer & Internet, looking into weather/routeing options - also finding out about 'polars' (useful articles by Stan Honey), although possible that none exist for N380.
This morning had a useful visit from Andre Ferbrache who'd been recommended by Mastervolt UK to sort out my wiring/charging problem. Have now had everything checked out and wrong wiring (as I'd suspected!) put right - I'm feeling much happier that at least one thing is dealt with OK now! He suggested installing an audible alarm on the automatic bilge pump circuit for safety, so I am warned in good time should it start up - they take almost no power and it looks like an easy thing to do, assuming the boat wiring diagram will show me in which circuit to place the alarm.
Payment organized to Italy - should mean anchor chain starts its journey here by Thursday or Friday - then lots of fun & games dealing with it after it arrives next week.. "Watch this space!!"