Sydney's long summer continued well into March this year which allowed me to get quite a lot of work done. I'll start with the electricals and work down from there.
On the doghouse roof there are now two new flat solar panels. Rob from Keppelena helped me fit them when there was finally a day which was neither too wet nor too windy. I needed the flat ones with the aluminium backs up there because occasionally I need to walk on them -- when packing away or setting the mainsail. 2 x chinese made 80W flat panels sourced off eBay for around $300 each, plus a cheap 15A MPPT controller also from eBay for around $45 and I now have more power coming into the batteries than I know what to do with (this is in addition to the existing 75W panel and 100W wind generator).
The wiring for the 100W towed generator is also complete now so I have that in line with the 100W wind generator for a bit of a boost under sail. The towed generator is going to give me the best performance while the boat is making way -- which it will do a lot of downwind, and of course the wind generator won't perform at its best downwind so they complement each other nicely.
This gives me enough power to run the small fridge pretty much constantly while at anchor or on the mooring, but to give me enough power to really run everything I've decided to fit some more solar panels on the aft rail (there's a stainless steel construction above the pushpit around the back of the boat, already mounting the radar and wind generator). I figure I'll need to get some steelwork done up there, so I figure I'll need to find somewhere to do that.
The other piece of steelwork that needs doing before the major trip is the pulpit around the front of the boat. Years of repairs, bashing, cutting, filling and painting have now meant that it's about half steel and half bog. So the entire thing needs to be cut off and replaced, preferably in stainless (and the welding to the foredeck will be half of that job.
So the decision has been made -- Chiara Stella and I are heading to Newcastle in early September to take up a berth at the Newcastle CYC. There are 3 steel manufacturers within a stone's throw of the marina there and they all seem to be willing to do the work and eager to give me quotes once I get up there. So I'll be looking for crew for a short jaunt north around late August or early September, as soon as winter dies away and we get a good weather window basically.
I'll stay in Newcastle for the 3 months before heading off around the Pacific so I've started packing up the flat in order to move out a few months earlier than I'd planned. Everything that I need to keep (including a stack of boat spares) is being packed into boxes to ship to my brother's house in WA before I head off, and that's a laborious enough job. I will need to store things for a while and so I'm cataloguing everything that goes into storage. Most of the work now is de-cluttering, and with the assistance of eBay and Freecycle I've managed to get rid of an amazing amount of stuff. The last remaining big items are the bed (probably a chuck-out, actually, the mattress is basically shot), my one large wardrobe, a bookshelf, and the futon sofa. I haven't decided what to do with each, most are too big to be shipped economically and since everything that gets sent will need to be sent again (possibly to Singapore or elsewhere in SE Asia) I don't want to keep anything that I can't ship a second time -- so that probably means the furniture items have to go.
Back to the boat. Other things that have happened include:
- Acquiring a stack of jerry jugs for carrying spare fuel/water, courtesy of Andy and Jane who have headed off on their own adventures around the Mediterranean.
- Spliced up new mooring lines. My splicing skills are improving.
- Chucked out a heap of junk that had been festering in the forward cabin.
- Took my new tent on board (Mutha Hubba, from Paddy Pallins, should be ideal for camping on tropical islands) and repacked the locker that stores this stuff.
- Fitted a new windvane to the top of the mast. The legs had fallen off the old one.