21 December 2012

It's a busted water pump

Excuse me for being grumpy for a bit.

18 December 2012

Engine part 2

It's all good news so far.

Pulling the glow plugs and injector seats didn't reveal any water in the cylinders, and so I started the engine, it started first time so it's clearly not cooked.  I had to put 6L of water into the coolant tank, clearly quite a bit had leaked out during the last run.

There was no sign of steam or smoke in the exhaust, which is good.  Also good is that there was no sign of water in the oil, although the engine oil is somewhat burned and needs replacing.  Also wouldn't hurt to replace the thermostat I guess.  No sign of oil getting into the coolant either which tends to indicate that there's no break in the head gasket.

The mystery is that I can't see where the water is leaking out.  Running the engine up to temperature didn't reveal any obvious leaks, and there was no obvious water missing from the coolant tank after I shut it down.  The mechanic suspects that there may be a leak in the exhaust gasket which could push exhaust gas into the coolant tank therefore driving all of the coolant out of the release valve at the top.

The mechanic's booked out until end of year and so I'm going to ring around for an emergency mechanic to at least have a check over to see if I've missed anything obvious.

Now where did I put those spare oil filters ...

17 December 2012

Engine Overheat

I had an engine overheat issue on the weekend.  After hearing an alarm sound from below, I found that it was the engine temperature alarm.  Slowed the engine down to idle for a short time then cut it off, but the temperature was over 100C.  The coolant water had escaped and now lies in the engine bilge.  Hopefully no major permanent damage but I will find out more on Wednesday.

18 November 2012

General Invite

Who wants to come for a day sail this summer?

General invite -- since it's my last full summer in Sydney.

I figure one day with assorted wargamers, one or two days with assorted SCA friends, I already have some work people interested in a day sail.

My general plan would be to meet at Lavender Bay some time mid morning, head either to the outer harbour and Watson's Bay or the inner harbour and the fish markets for lunch, then back to Lavender Bay by about 5pm since that's the last tender run.

03 October 2012

Sunday 14th

Does anyone want to come sailing on the 14th October (Sunday)?  I need a foredeck hand, it would be of some use if you knew how to do that.  Or at least knew what one was. :)

15 September 2012

So here is the plan

Since a few people have asked me what the plan is, and it appears to be a good idea to have one.

Part One, to New Zealand

I plan to leave Sydney in early December of 2013.  The first stop will be Lord Howe Island where I've been before of course (with Caroline, Neil and Tig on Chiara Stella, and previously on Rainbow). I will stay there for perhaps a week or so, looking for a good weather window to head east.

Next stop will be somewhere in New Zealand.  I plan to spend most of late January and February in Lyttleton & Christchurch on the South Island, where I'll kit up for the next part of the trip.  Lyttleton, at least according to the noonsite entry, doesn't appear to be the best place for a long stay, although at that time of the year I'm hoping the influence of the southerlies aren't too bad.  Neither is it the best port of entry, and so the route will take one of two alternatives:
  • If the passage looks unusually good, through the Cook Strait.  It's a notoriously bad piece of water, though, and most of my NZ sailing friends offer the simple advice "don't go there".
  • More likely as per the map above, around the top of the North Island, to Opua as port of entry, and then down the (relatively sheltered) east coast until we reach Lyttleton.
There may be a stop in Auckland, and less likely a stop in Wellington.  The latter involves braving at least part of the Cook Strait, and so I'm inclined to avoid it.

Southern Ocean Leg, to Raivavae

The next part of the trip will be a reach across the Southern Ocean and roaring forties, and then up to a port called Raivavae in French Polynesia.  This is definitely the most adventurous part of the journey, in that it involves sailing in latitudes most traversed by foolhardy round-the-worlders, and so a few people have asked me the usual "WTF?" type questions about doing that leg.  The simple answers are:
  • It's all downwind, the forties running west to east whereas the prevailing winds in more northern latitudes are east to west.
  • Given that, it's the best and fastest way of getting there that doesn't involve going around the world or beating upwind.
  • I have a big heavy safe ocean going boat and I want to try it out.
  • It sounds like fun.
I'm neither foolish enough nor misanthropic enough to tackle this leg on my own, and so I'll be taking two crew, potentially all the way from Sydney but at least from Lyttleton.  Anyone hitting this from the usual yachting sites know what's involved, so the crew will be people who know what they are doing on a yacht.

Extended Pacific Ocean Holiday

Where to from there?  I haven't really decided.

I plan to spend most of the French Polynesian leg in the Society Islands -- so places to stop will include Bora Bora, Raiatea, Moorea and of course Tahiti.

I don't plan to spend too long in French Polynesia, it has the reputation of being expensive.  On the other hand I don't plan to go anywhere fast and if I find an anchorage, a good book to read, or some code to write, then I'll stay as long as I feel like.

From French Polynesia it's downwind sailing most of the way back to the Cook Islands, Niue, Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and then Australia.  Along the way I plan to visit some of the off-the-beaten-track places such as Suwarrow atoll and some other islands and coral cays -- inhabited or uninhabited.

I don't have a fixed date to return to Australia, and if I do then it will most likely be Brisbane or Cairns.  However I'm thinking that arrival in French Polynesia will probably be April or May 2014, and I may stay for an extended period in Vanuatu and so it will probably be mid 2015 or 2016 before I reach Australia again.

For all of the above (after the Southern Ocean leg) I will be sending out regular updates, and inviting friends (new and old) to join me for a week or two's sailing, or longer, whatever takes your fancy.

The stay in Australia will be to hide for a cyclone season or two, and then continue over the top, to Darwin, Indonesia, perhaps the southern Philippines, perhaps parts of Malaysia, and then to the coast of Vietnam.  In Vietnam I plan to visit Nha Trang and Sai Gon (Ho Chi Minh City) and renew my acquaintance with people there, and perhaps stay a while.  The next major port of call will be Singapore, via the Gulf of Thailand and the islands there.

None of that has dates planned yet, I'll do that after I reach Vanuatu.  Perhaps.

08 September 2012

Heading out to Chiara Stella for most of the weekend for some maintenance.  Starting on the long process of packing down to live aboard.

To whit, I have some stuff that's going cheap and/or free:

Free to good home:  Dell XPS M1530 laptop, 15" screen (not widescreen) around 1650x1050 resolution or something like that, 4GB RAM, dual core, 320GB hard disk, webcam, etc.  It's 3-4 years old but it was a reasonably high end model at the time.  It currently has an OS of some kind on it but I can stick either Ubuntu or Win7 Pro on it (it came with Vista, you don't want that).  The battery is past its use by so it best runs off AC power.

Cheap/make me an offer:  Toshiba 15.6" widescreen laptop, I forget the model number.  8GB RAM, i7 8 core CPU, 750GB HDD.  Standard 15.6" resolution which is 1366x768 or similar.  Currently has Ubuntu on it but I have disks to reinstall Windows 7 Home Premium.  Good but not great battery life.

I can throw in a few games:  Europa Universalis II and III, something total war, virtual skipper, some headphones, spare cables, etc.  If that cat doesn't stop trying to attack and slay my new monitor I'll throw her in for free too.

09 June 2012

Don't ever buy anything electrical, mechanical, or anything that involves engineering, carrying the words "Made in France".

I have no idea why I fell for it again.  New furler required so I decided to buy one of the same brand to match the existing one, perhaps to make carrying spare parts easier.  Dumn idea, very dumn.  Should have bought something made in Australia, or somewhere sensible like Germany (although I don't know of any German made furlers).

7 screws.  3 different head types -- 2 philips/pozidrive, 2 flat head, 3 allen/hex key.

Of the 3 screws with hex key heads, there were 3 different sizes.  2 metric, one imperial.

Who does that?  OMGWTFBBQ!

Anyway, I'm not naming the brand, those of you who have some familiarity with sailing gear can probably guess, but never again.

17 May 2012

New Dinghy

I'm quite happy with the new Achilles dinghy that I purchased, so I'll spruik them a bit: http://www.inflatableboats.com.au/

The model that I purchased is this one: LS-4 which happens to come in red exactly the same as Chiara Stella's hull.  Also there is an inflatable floor option which is easier to stow than the wooden floor so I went for that.

23 April 2012

Just to prove that sailing isn't all about sitting on the foredeck sipping cocktails

I spent most of last weekend upside down in a bilge cleaning out the remaining contents, after having replaced the bilge pump switch the weekend prior.

I also replaced the foot pump in the heads which had broken and torn off the bulkhead.  I'm not convinced about the fixings this time, I'll have to have another look later when I'm less tired.

I also had a rigger come out to measure and quote on a few items.  Replacing one halyard winch, cleaning and servicing two others, fitting a furler to the babystay, and replacing the guardrails.  This all just to remind me that boats are mostly about spending money.

Still, if I didn't enjoy it I wouldn't do it.

15 April 2012

Work Day

Another tiring and somewhat frustrating day.

The plan was to pick up some replacement oars (one vanished, assumed sunk) for the dinghy, row it to shore, clean the bottom, row it back to the boat and roll it up back into its bag on deck.

When I got to Whitworths I discovered that they no longer stock those oars, or any spare parts for that brand of dinghy, or that dinghy, or any spare parts for their current range of dinghies (which are cheap glued PVC but the oars would have fitted).  So I picked up some cable to fix the bilge pump and headed out anyway, figuring I'd motor to and from shore instead.

When I got to Chiara Stella I discovered that the dinghy fabric had indeed died at the front (it had been threatening to do so for some time but was basically still OK as of last weekend) and so it was no longer worth salvaging.  4 years for a PVC dinghy seems to be about the norm (the manufacturers generally say "good for 7 years" but only warranty them for 3) so I will ditch it and get one of these instead:


Hypalon definitely seems to be the go even in Sydney.

Fixing the bilge pump was successful, it was a corroded connection in the cable (again).  Re-cut the cable and re-joined with heat shrink and silicone tape.  Also there appears to be a fair amount of sand in the bilge -- I'm guessing it's found its way down there since NYE when a few people arrived on board with sandy feet.

The other things I had on my list to do were to measure the aft mattress (it needs replacing, and I have found some under-mattress aeration to use) however I forgot that.  I will probably just bring it out at some point and take it to the foam booth to get re-cut and re-made, and have it measured for the aeration there.  Also to set up the canvas awning which I ran out of time to do.

Sailcorp continue their spectacularly appalling run of outs with the tender service -- started to call them at 4:15 to get the 4:30 tender, finally managed to get hold of someone at 4:45 who told me I'd missed the tender (which had clearly not run as I was watching it sit on their dock the entire time).  Some grumpiness later I got picked up, avoiding having to spend the night out there.

I also picked up the wash pump from the heads which had broken a few months ago, and also I figure I'll need to add a service kit for the Whale 25 manual bilge pump to the list of things I need.

27 March 2012


Things I got done this weekend included vacuum cleaning, rust chipping and painting (base of the forward coaming under the doghouse), and removing rubbish.  I also discovered a canopy that could be used for catching rainwater and redirecting to the tanks -- I'll have to figure out how to set that up.

Chiara Stella goes up on the slip tomorrow for antifouling and replacing the zinc anodes.

23 March 2012

How do you get by without broadband internet?

The first step to solving a problem is to admit you have one.

Hello, my name is Del and I have a problem.  It's called the internet.  It features highly in my list of things to achieve before I set sail.

So I started on building a list and have been maintaining it, and I use rememberthemilk to keep building it and crossing things off.  It occurs to me that I'll need something like that to take with me, and so having wifi on board means I can secrete a small server somewhere about the ship to serve web pages and host that sort of stuff.  Problem solved.  Building that goes on to the to do list.

The rest of the to do list looks a lot like this.  In no particular order.
  1. Dismantle the rear main hatch and fix leaks.  There was some small seepage around the edges last time I was at sea.
  2. Fix the new float switches.  I think I will abandon the plan of getting a float switch pair fitted and just use the single electronic switch at the bottom of the bilge.  I just need to convince someone very slender to fit it for me, it's going to be a stretch of a job.
  3. Get the rigging inspected.  I expect it's basically OK but it needs inspecting anyway.  There are probably some swages that need replacing but the steel looks to be in good condition.
  4. Replace the dead Danish VHF with something like the Icom IC-M505, or maybe the M504 which is similar but cheaper.
  5. Fit an AIS unit, the front runner being the Icom MA-500TR.
  6. Investigate satellite email options.  Leave this until nearly last, prices appear to be dropping all of the time.
  7. Consider replacing the HF unit.  The current unit works fine although it doesn't support email over sailmail, but I'm inclined to shelve this in favour of satellite.
  8. Fit a furler to the babystay so that I can have a furling staysail as well as a furling genoa.  Makes for easier sail trimming from the cockpit.  I will need at least 2 additional cleats in the cockpit but that's no biggie.  The last quote I got for a Profurl C320 was $1699.  Of course I'd then need to get a new sail cut.
  9. Replace the guardrails with uncoated stainless wire.
  10. Replace all of the galley hoses.
  11. Replace all of the toilet hoses.
Starting about this weekend, with cutting, measuring, and thinking.

22 March 2012

Updating some more

I'm going to start using this sailing blog thing a bit more, so feel free to add it to your list if that's the sort of thing that floats your boat (bad sailing pun there).

So I have formed a plan to finish work at the end of next year (2013) and set off on a big sailing adventure.  That's nearly 2 years away and although that might sound like a long time, there is an almost endless list of things to do before going anywhere.

Chiara Stella is now a registered Australian Ship (O.N. 859995) with an MMSI (503518300) which means that it's now legally able to sail the high seas and check in at foreign ports (without the Australian ship registration it could sail but not leave Australian or international waters).  That took about 3 months to get sorted out, and was the first in a long list of things that needed doing.

More on the rest later.

21 March 2012

Another test post

I have added this blog to the NetworkedBlogs application on facebook, and so in theory blog posts should come from here to my facebook profile. Let's see if that works.


Testing from the blogger app for android