Wednesday, 23 March 2011

More Tiki-leaks and a lesson learned

Had an interesting night, the bilge alarm went off and the fresh water tank had pumped several hundred litters of water to the bilge, talk about panic stations.  It took a few minutes to get my head clear and figure out we were not sinking badly. I was peeved as had just emptied the whole thing out by hand at sea.  You could even see the bottom again after all the nice fresh water had slished its way through. 

The lesson re-learnt of course is that the water pump electrics must be switched off when they are not being used.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Kepple / Rosslyn Bay Marina

After a relaxed morning on the anchor at Kepple we motored over to the Marina. What a lovely atmosphere in the Marina, relaxed and friendly and small enough to feel you are welcomed as a person. The office provided me with an outside berth so I have a bit more room to get in and out, I am still nervous about manoeuvring the yacht, she does not do reverse very well, or I have not figured out how to help her reverse in the right direction.

Bilges. Yuk. When we first saw Tiki her bilges were full of water and oil. We cleared them out to an extent and there was still water slopping about, some oil and with lots of sawdust after the engine beds were cut down 4" as part of the work on setting her up. I decided to clear her out more at sea on route. This got the yacht down to the last inch and finally I discovered the bottom sump that I suspected was there. It sits as the lowest part of the bilge and of course after years of neglect has filled with oily silt. I need to climb down into it to clear the silt and then put the bilge pump into it. Means the whole bilge will be much cleaner at the end of the job of course and I can see I will need to extend to a whole new level of flexibility for this job.

To delay this we had a few beers this afternoon on the Marina veranda. Lovely. Tomorrow some jobs and parts ordering for the hydraulics and a few other things and then off to Thailand.

Keppel Island


We made it to Keppel island last night and we anchored in the most amazing bay on the south side as the wind is northerly now.
What a dilemma, the wind and forecast are perfect for continuing south to Brisbane, the yacht is settling into a good pace and Dave and I are in cruising mode. However I need to head off to Thailand to meet Heather who has booked a break for her 40th birthday. That means we will track off to Keppel bay Marina on the coast and moor her up for a few weeks before the final leg to Brisbane.
The anchorage is stunning and we a sure to return and spend more time here. There is the adage that blue water cruising is 'the art of yacht maintenance in exotic places' and the yacht next to us proves this by spending all morning running a disc cutter and sander inside their cabin. It must be a major job and i make a mental note to leave those jobs for rainy days when possible as today is just wonderful sunshine and uplifting to be on deck watching the world.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Percy to Keppel overnight

We left Percy anchorage late yesterday at 4pm. The weather had not changed and we could not get ashore at all. We had planned leaving for earlier and were delayed as the anchor chain got caught on a bommie. The tide had been catching us and I suspect had turned us in a circle overnight. We tried circling to release her, tightening up and running over the position and all to no avail. We had just about resigned to waiting the night and diving down when the weather had settled in the morning when I inched her up and she began to give bit by bit and freed off. Three hours of effort and seceded off under sail.

The night passage was overcast with some breaks of moon, strong NW winds pushed us down with maybe over 2m of swell behind us and so we averaged over seven knots reefed down. It reminded me of the English channel trips we have taken and as dawn appeared the day brightened to sunshine and warm winds now on the starboard beam. A great dry day for sailing on our way to Keppel Island for anchorage.

Last night was the first night at sea with Tiki. I reefed her down before dark and she sailed well with the wind about 30deg off the stern. She feels safe and stable, what we would expect really from a solid long keeled blue water cruiser. The swell behind us was taken in her stride and never felt uncomfortable unless we steered her off at the wrong angle. We are hand steering as we have no autopilot and this is good for me as I am learning more about how she handles as a result. I love sailing into the dawn, whatever the weather, it is the most inspiring part of the day.

I plan to sail into many more daybreaks.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Percy Group


Sunday morning. The night on anchor was very stormy, winds and gusts over 30knots. Tiki sits beam on to the wind! Upright and a slight roll. There was nothing I could do to persuade her to head to the wind and she is happiest beam on. We had 60 or 70m of chain out and it held perfectly. I had been expecting an early sail if she dragged in the night. We are on a Lee shore so we would only drag to the open sea.
The conditions are still strong and we will not be able to get ashore or anchor in west bay to go ashore, it is open to the NW so is not a goer right now. Shame. The plan will be to relax to lunch time and then head further south overnight and through tomorrow.
This should give us some coverage on Telstra as we approach the coast for an update on the weather. There seems to be no routine coverage on VHF that I can find so far.

Percy Anchorage


We arrived at Percy Group at 1845 and made to the southern anchorage in order to stay out of the northerly wind. We are here at one of the rare times that the popular west bay is untenable. We anchored in the moonlight which made life easier. We ate the fresh fish we caught and headed to bed very tired. The wind is almost howling from the north, 30knots maybe or a bit less. I can never decide if a wind gauge is useful, I have sailed so much without one over the last years I give it little attention, focusing on how the boat sounds feels under sail and on anchor. I have checked and rechecked the anchor and let out about 60m with the stubber in place in max 10m of water so there is plenty of scope. We have the place to ourselves. Tomorrow may be a trip ashore if the wind dies down and then a run south overnight to see where we get to.

Heading to Percy Island Group

Wind moved to the north east as forecast early morning and Tiki lay quietly in the anchorage.
Left at 0530 and now on route, fair wind behind us and tracking 115 towards Percy with 15 knots. Weather dry and Tiki is having a chance to dry off after yesterday.

We have lost a tank of diesel into the bilge, 150L about as it is empty. We were on a hard tack two days ago and so there may be a leak in the top of the Starbord tank. Port side is good and engine seems to be getting more predictable and manageable. Still is really hard to turn over in the morning. Working on this bit next so will read later this afternoon.

Tiki is balanced really well which is good as the steering is still slack and drifting despite having bled her three times, maybe the pistons need new seals. Another job.

We are on course for Percy at dusk. Wind still to north east so gybing down to the island to keep up speed.  Caught first blue water fish today. One hour ago, a tuna, about a foot long and it's now in the fridge ready for eating. Not sure if it is too small to take having just thought about it. Will go and check the guide. (there is no minimum size for tuna species - H)

Kate lives on Percy and Dave knows her well as he spent a month on the island working. Looking forward to meeting them as have read much in the papers.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Sailing south - sail performance update

Running along in great weather, wind from north west so just behind the port quarter. Cloudy and warm. Can just make a track with all sails up. Have not tried running with sails goose winged yet. Must buy a parachute soon.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Scawfell Island Sanctuary anchorage - more Tiki-leaks

We arose at 0530 to up anchor from what was a calm and relaxing nights anchorage at Goldsmith Island. The engine ran for a while and then engine stopped. There was no fuel and we sailed south as I finally figured out that the starbord fuel tank was empty. What happened to the 150L that has disappeared? It would transpire that it has leaked from somewhere and emptied to the bilge. I changed tanks, bled the system and off the engine went.

We planned to go direct to Percy overnight if all went well. Weather fair, overcast and wind moving around to the east for the journey. Contra to every forecast there was monsoon rain for about five hours from 10am until 4pm. Also no wind. We motored down and then decided we did not fancy doing this all night and so detoured to an anchorage.

We anchored at Scawfell Island in Sanctuary Bay and to little wind, flat sea along with two other boats. Tiki is drenched outside and little better inside, we found some more horrendous leaks over the galley. The biggest problem was the main hatch that was leaking and then when you open it to go below huge amounts of water pour in off the boom. There was no way to stop it so the main cabin is soaked, maps got drenched, seats damp.

Glad to be anchored up and trying to dry out. Even here we had the great experience of enjoying another motor boats' loud rock music (they were 200m away at least) and then the joy of them helping us see in our cabin all night with their special spotlight ranging around the bay and into the yacht portholes for no apparent reason. Beyond that a very special anchorage to return to.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Dramas Sailing to Goldsmith Island

What a day! Setting off this morning at 0545 was simple, a calm quiet and warm morning for us to slip the lines and start heading south. The sails were soon up and and pushing us along in the WSW breeze. Despite having checked and rechecked the rigging,lines and sails several times it was a relief nothing broke or fell down during the morning. We headed along to clear water and tacked around to travel south along long island, just making a bearing close to the wind as we could go.

Dramas unfolded on the starboard tac as the bilge line was not taken high enough above the water line and so began syphoning water in, then i found the fresh water tank breather pipe had been cut off short somewhere in her past life and drained to the bilge on a tac. Good for easing the tepid bilge smells at least. No worries these are easily fixed and I set to it with plenty of spares and materials on board. Of course the wind died and so we began to motor a while which made my repairs much easier until the engine died as well as an attempt to keep me on my toes.

For the first day at sea this was getting interesting so it was moving swiftly onto diesel repairs after a session of pipe fixing. We were drifting over some sandbanks, at low tide, that theoretically gave us less than 1m of water under the keel. Well, the tide would come in if we bump them.
I suspected the diesel system needed a good clean through so I started at the tank to check fuel input, then the electric pump, then checking each seal and changing the primary filter, testing for good fuel, to the mechanical pump and check again, then the second filter change and then to the injectors. She had not been used for a while and this set up the engine to work again so I put it down to the filthy fuel filters from tanks that had just been wired brushed free of years of sediment and rust build up.
At last we settled down and got on with sailing south again as the wind picked up.

Our first evening we anchored at goldsmith island. Arriving at about 1730 we used the guide to place ourselves in a good position. Unfortunately we got too close in and ended up in 2m of water. Tracking around it was obvious the bay shelved steeply in places down to 16m in a long channel just off the beach and not noted in the guide. We moved out beyond this channel and anchored in about 6m. We had 15kn of wind and yacht was sitting good in the bay. I will make a sketch of the bay from my soundings and add them to the guide for future. We are the only yacht here and the island is uninhabited. The difference between this coast and Brittany or UK is stark as we sit in the cockpit. There is no one to go ashore for!

Dave loves creating food from our fridge full of pasta, meats and wine so we soon settle down for a relaxing evening with a glass of wine and then a session of bleeding the steering hydraulics out to clear the air that is in them. It is making steering harder work than it needs to be and I have a feeling we will need a complete service to eliminate this.

Plan to leave at 0530 in the morning as light gets up and I go to sleep with the anchor alarm set on the iPad. Life's good.

Whitsundays sailing - departing Airlie Beach

We are underway and great sailing. Engine broke down once already, now fixed by inboard mechanic at 1300.
Left Airlie at 0545 in light wind, dry and SSE winds 10-15 knots, dry and sunny.
Wind gone to SEE and 15knots. Great sailing at 1530, planning to anchor on Goldsmith Island at 1745 ish.
Short first day, sailing really well at 4.5 knots beating to wind and very comfy on deck and inside cabin.
Steering is difficult and system needs bleeding again. Engine problem was fuel filter and mucky fuel. Will keep an eye on and poss filter tanks overnight to clean remaining crap out of them.
More updates later.

Sent from my iPad

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Finally ready to get sailing

After what has been a huge amount of effort over the last month the boat is finally in a decent enough condition to get ready to depart for Brisbane. Over the last week in the Marina the engine has moved to a state where it can be sea trialled. This afternoon we went out in the bay and ran the engine for an hour to make sure it works okay. All seems well and Brett left with advice for further work and maintenance over the coming weeks. It will take some more attention on my part to make sure the Perkins becomes reliable after a long period of neglect.

We are back at the Marina for the evening and planning to leave at first light in the morning. This is the culmination of a lot of sweat and effort. I have lost at least 8kg in the last month, that was definitely needed, we have reinvested at least 12k in Tiki, that was also needed and I have learnt huge amounts about yachts which was also needed. Next step is to start the 600nm journey to Brisbane and find out how she handles at sea.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Yacht Tiki - ours!

This buying a boat malarkey is pretty stressful. The emotional pull of a potential new home that has all the credentials to make our blue-water cruising dreams come true adds to the excitement, and to the level of impatience.

I am amazed at how quickly this boat grabbed hold of us and continues now to engage us entirely. We had looked at so many - over 30 in 3 months. There was an immaculate Ganley, a beautiful Morgan 38, run-down William Gardens, several Roberts refurb projects, Swanson 42's, a long list of custom built steel and ferro varieties and even a selection of multihulls to balance us... we even got to placing offers on a couple which thankfully did not eventuate as, well, our hearts were definitely not in them.

And then there was Tiki, a Young Sun 43. Described by Greg in the Brokers office as "not on the market yet but nearly finished - fully refurbished just waiting for the new cushions that have been ordered". "Let's go take a look and see how she looks" says Rachael our Broker and we jumped in the car to add another to the long list viewed over the Xmas week.

The rain was falling and the tidal creek which cut the boatyard off from the road was rising as we pulled into Edge's boatyard situated in the
depths of the mangroves in Airlie Beach. There on the hard-ground was a beautiful double-ended canoe hull complete with full cruising keel, cutter rigged with sexy bowsprit and, well, what more do you need?!

We climbed the work ladder leading up to the centre cockpit to find a slightly different boat to the one we were expecting. She was nowhere near completed and our hearts sank. The timber decks had been removed and left unfinished. The teak railings had been smashed during transit in several places.
There was abandoned rubbish and rusting tools everywhere we looked. Oh lordy-me what a mess.

The hatches were rotten and unsecured so it was easy to open her up and look inside. The rain was as torrential inside as it was outside due to the number of large leaks. It was like exploring a magical wet cave, with rainwater filling the bilges up to the solid teak floorboards which were all exposed. There was tropical mould everywhere and the spoils of the previous owners belongings which had succumbed to a "submerging event", including the galley supplies so various critters had happily moved in and made the place their roach-ey new home. Nice.

This is where I re-iterate the part where a boat 'grabs you', as even in this terrible state I thought she felt absolutely gorgeous and I couldn't get the smile from my face. I could see through the superficial to what was truly important to us. Her spacious sleeping areas forard and aft each with their own heads, a light and airy space to relax in the saloon, a great galley, amazing solid teak carpentry, she even had a separate workshop area crying out to store dive tanks and more.

Here is where Neil would add in the important observations about engine / sail inventory / seaworthiness etc which were duly noted as we rushed around trying to take it all in. Heavy rain and rising creeks and the realisation that this boat was nowhere near ready to be on the market meant the visit was very short. I never thought that it would be exactly one month later we would make an offer to buy her, and a month after that before she was all ours.

How amazing!

Above: the aft deck contained piles of mooring lines, fenders, detached bimini covers and various boat debris

Below: The centre cockpit contained mostly cardboard, discarded rusting tools and general rubbish preventing any drainage.

Below: Neil takes a contemplative moment to write down the list of jobs in order to price things up and make our offer. Forard has a basket of rotting / wet food left on deck, the purple basket has broken glass and there is a spare portable toilet by the mast. There were actually 3 portable toilets onboard in addition to the 2 plumbed heads.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Fender pricing

Here we are in Airlie chandlers getting a feel for local prices. This fender is 11 x 30 inches can't you tell?