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Archives for August 2010

"Sorry I'm late I've got a dirty bottom"

Commuting in Style.

How to be late in style.

Matt's Nature Reserve

  • Step One leave your boat on a mooring for 2 years so there's a coral reef growing on it
  • Step Two ensure the Prop is so fouled it doesn't work.
  • Step Three paint the deck, to facilitate this remove all the fittings so no sails can be flown.
  • Step Four put masking tape over any fittings you may have missed in step three, making them unusable too.
  • Step Five ensure you leave at the top of the tide so it is against you all the way up the harbour.
  • Step Six, I know this may be beyond your control, but a head wind sure helps!
  • Step Seven, decide what time to get up in order to get the boat to slipway before work while at happy hour in a pub in Darling Harbour.

You know I miss sailing with Matt, don't worry he was VERY late for work. About 4 hours. and the tide was going out so fast the marina was getting worried about the depth at their slip way and sent the dinghy to tow us in.

Island Kea is lovely - but Steve and Katrin spoil me, they have an autopilot, its not that you don't have to fix Island Kea as you going along, but at least you don't have to steer with you feet as your fixing it. Sailing with Matt is different and kind of fun, nobody else but me and him would actually sail off the mooring* under main and bolt the bits needed for the jib on as we went along. There was a brief moment where I thought we were going to hit the rocks before Matt could get the other jib car on so we could tack. The track was covered in masking tape and deck paint.

I have to say that tacking in the morning sunshine past the Opera House and Under the Sydney Harbour Bridge  is however the BEST way to commute.

* - No the engine doesn't work! Id did actually start but it puts out a truly awesome slick of black powdery residue but the prop is mostly coral and don't work at all.

Position: 33° 51.1' S, 151° 13.3' E | Posted: Wed 25th August 2010


Click for Full Size Poster

Not content with the little YouTube clips? Want the full frontal story of Tom's Travels. Well it will be coming to YouTube soon. In several episodes. Cos when I tried to make big movies my laptop runs out of memory and crashes. Powered by Windows and Adobe, nearly as good as sticking you testicles in a blender.

PG - May contain scenes of drinking
and some Boobies. Blue Footed ones.
May induce sea sickness, please ensure
your vessel is rolling in sync with the boats
portrayed in this movie.
Images of Tom can induce Nausea and
Vomiting. Images of where he is can 
induce extreme jealousy

Episode one, 90° of world in eight agonising minutes. Banging tunes, bad jokes and poor quality voice-overs make this the unmissable video of the year.

In this Episode:

Tom leaves work, dinghy and friends for a life on the briny. Dark Forces, principally the British Airways cabin crew's Union and Michael Fish thwart him in his plan to fly across the Atlantic. Whilst at the other end their evil allies break Island Kea's mast and sabotage the autopilot.

Fortunately Tom's mates let him stay on their boat whilst the new mast goes in and its off to the Panama Canal and the Pacific ocean.

Despite tsunami alerts and dragging anchors he makes it though the doldrums to the Enchanted Isles in record time where the wild life completely ignores him.

Does this sea lion look boverd?

Poster may look more dramatic than strictly necessary...... Description is in here because the lack of a plot tool Gandalf style character in any of my videos who can explain what's actually going on.

Watch Facebook, twitter or here or youtube for when it goes up.

Next Episode is In production, and my contain decent quality footage if I can get any data of proper video camera. So far I've had to do with only my 15fps 640*480 compact cam.

Next Episode:

 "Paradise Found" Sharks and dancing Girls (no not at the same time silly), criticism of of Hobie cats. And a topless Polynesian beauty in a waterfall.

No Animals and few yachties were harmed in the making of these videos. Camera work almost all by Tom, graphics and Indiana Jones style map by Tom with flash shoreline data from Fabiovisentin.

Position: 21° 67' S, 149° 13.6' E | Posted: Fri 20th August 2010

The Great Mid Ocean Battery Transplant

Remember my last post? About, amongst other things Balmar nobby charge regulators and alternators, and our tials there of.

We had it easy.

Aspen have had no lecy for days. Their genny is out and neither of their nobby. Charge regulators would charge the battery. Jackamy met up with them mid ocean. By this time their engine was on, even when sailing because if it stops then it would never restart. For over 24 hours it was going well then the voltage started to drop on the engine battery. Cars need electricity to run, spark plugs and that. Diesels do not. In theory at any rate. Old school boats you needed electricity to start (starter motor) and you pulled a lever on the injector pump to stop it. No battery required. Island Kea has a n electric button to stop the engine, again, no electricity required. Many boats these days have a solenoid that comes on when you turn on the ignition, so when you turn it off it cuts the fuel off at the injector pump. Great handy convenient. But its uses power....

Next to Aspen's aid was Simanderel. Boxing here in and providing escort and nav. Enchantress and us were just behind her. Me and Steve are now Balmar charge system experts. But given Aspen's power situation and the massive power consumed by SSB sets we were waiting till we got in VHF range.

Despite being in mid ocean its flat as a board out here. OK mid oceans a bit rich, were 80 miles from the Great Barrier Reef. 200 from Mackay. So flat indeed that Enchantress along side and transferred 2 fully charged 110Ah (amp hour) batteries across. Steve on aspen stopped his engine, removed all his flat batteries connected up one of Enchantress and off she when.

Much to everyone's surprise, his charge system woke up and now he's motoring with a fully charged battery and a working alternator.

He did ask us why this could possibly be, we had decided since he'd tried 2 charge regulators.

Position: 19° 38' S, 151° 32' E | Posted: Sun 15th August 2010

Indiana Jones and the Trough of DOOOOOM

Well this is another interesting passage. With incidents a plenty.

We left in 30 knots of wind, hammering along in rough seas. As that died away we approached the "Trough of Doom". The boats ahead crossed it earlier, glad we missed that bit. However we had the anticipation. This trough was for us a shift from 10kns breeze from the north east to 20 knots from the South West in about 5 minutes. Radical.

Miss Tippy hit it and lost both Main and Yankee. They're short of fuel with only the jib left. they had a 180 degree wind shift with 45 knots in only a minute. That's enough to wreck the day of even an Oyster 57. Others had similar experiences. The trough was moving at about 15kns in an easterly direction so with an all day radio chat we had a pretty accurate picture of when it was going to hit.

As I say for us it wasn't too bad.

We had our share of incidents.  Yesterday morning about 12 hours before the "Trough of Doom" the wind dropped and I started the engine. I remember it well it was about 3:40am. alarms shrilled throughout the boat. Bilge alarm. This is not entirely without precedent. Every time we run the genny we have to pump as it leaks. We fitted and tested a new automatic switch to pump it for us. Doesn't work, in this case that was a blessing. A jubilee clip had given out on the engine and was pumping salt water all over the place. It looked bad but in the end it was no biggy. New clip and some quality time in the "hobbit hole" an oily salty rubbery smelly area between the engine a fuel tank and the genset. And we had the engine running again.

 Boat Alternators:
Boat batteries are frequently deep cycle
or Gel based and sensitive to over charge
in addition they're often depleted. Cars
are always thin plate start batteries. Usually
just in need of a top up.
Therefore we and many others have a BIG
alternator, to charge the batteries. But it
would cook them if it ran for 2 long.
Therefore are alternator can vary its output,
kicking out loads of power at the start and 
then cutting back when the batteries are full

We dried off the nobby external regulator for the alternator. It was in a puddle of salt water.

No electricity bad, and yes though it came to life it stopped charging almost immediately.

Given that there's going to be a new Generator fitted in Mackay, you can see how little faith we have in the old one. And the main battery charger (used to charge the batteries off the mains, or genny). Also got splashed we were concerned.

After much cleaning and polishing we were about to give up and hot wire our alternator to  just run unregulated. When we cleaned some extra salt paste of the gap between the unused battery temp pins and the earthed casing. TTL logic, If I remember rightly is default high but is easily pulled to a 0. Thus making the smart regulator think the batteries were overheating and backing off.

3 1/2 hours late fithy and exhausted I got off watch and went to go to bed. Self prescribed medicinal rum administered.

If you wonder what the hell the Indiana Jones reference was about, well wonder no more. I've often intended (read wished) to do a little animation, like the air travel sequences of the Indiana  Jones movie, but with a boat moving over the map. I tried it for a new feature length video I'm working on (coming to a Christmas stocking near you, or possibly youtube). Working title "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Ocean". Its comming along quite nicely if I do say so my self....

Yes I know its not finished.... Its a work in progress. You'll have to "da da daa daa, dur dur" along to it in your head till I get hold of the music.

Position: 18° 37' S, 157° 32' E | Posted: Fri 13th August 2010

Maths Problem

Doctor man he say:

  • Take one tablet ever 6 hours 4 times a day.
  • Apply cream 3 times a a day.

Now we're at sea, that means watches. We do watches of 4 hours each, with 2 2 hour watches ("Dog Watches") between 4pm and 8pm.

Day one I was on watch Noon till 16:00, 20:00 till midnight. Yesterday 08:00 till 12:00, 18:00 till 20:00. Today 04:00 till 08:00.

What's the optimum time to take my medication?

We missed the Earthquake and small Tsunami in Port Villa by a day. Gaultine and Briet are still there but ok. Lucy Alice was right over the top of it by all accounts. Made boat wobble very strangely. Pete and Margie from Peragrina were on the main street of Luganville in Santo, further north and felt  the ground shake. We were oblivious till Steve got an email.

Mind you its Rough out here, and blowing 30 knots. So you'd be hard pushed ton notice.

Position: 18° 40' S, 162° 23' E | Posted: Wed 11th August 2010

Never judge a man by the size of his Namba

Big Namba

Desktop Wallpaper FAIL

The Namba is a Penis Sheath worn in Vanuatu (not by me I hasten to add). They really do still exist, the photo right is one I took at the Land Diving 2 years ago. Its one of my stared photos in Picasa. For those of you not yet users of Windows 7, one of its built in features is a desktop wallpaper changer, I outputted all my best, I.E. Stared photos from home, and installed them on my work PCs windows 7.



Picture if you will, a female member of staff is having trouble with something, enters the IT office, asks for help, I begin to search for her problem, minimise all windows leaving the desktop and the 2 fellows right in all their hi res original glory. On both monitors.

There are time when you've just got to keep a strait face and carry on.

The Aunt Sally above is probably the best I've seen the others are below, the righthand one is, I admit photo shopped and is, I hope, soon to be adorning the Brighton Sailing Club notice board. hope Jim and Toby don't find this post first.

Icelandic Woman

Trouble 't hobiecat mill

I'm going strait to hell for this one. Though given the multitude of sins I've committed and the price of printer ink maybe I'll bankrupt the bastards.

Position: 17° 44.6' S, 168° 18.8' E | Posted: Wed 4th August 2010 |

Hapi 30 aniveseri blong independens


You only as old as the country you feel. This ones a youngster at 30. Its the 30th anniversary of independence at down town Port Villa. Damn is it great. Maori pre-match huka meets X-Faxtor, Pontins, talent show stroke royal variety performance.

New Caledonia Dancers

Traditional dancers, from all over the Pacifc. Tae Kwon Do demos, through to 4 guys is drag dancing very badly. In the middle were the international Women's group. I cried I really did. They were fabulous, as was the compare. Neither they or the guy in charge hand the faintest idea what was what. The women were from many countries. Introduced by a Chinese (probably) woman. Who's English was band and accent so stereo typical comedy racist accent I wouldn't even dare say it. She got lost, forgot Thailand, introduced Vietnam at least twice, Fiji too.

Compare tried to help. Badly, he kept naming countries, then falling back to "Beautiful, Powerful" over and over again, interspersed with an incomplete or repeated list of participating countries. The suddenly as the Vietnamese women walked passed he just went "Wow nice hats" "I love your hats".

The trip over here was rough, despite it being over 500 miles and us leaving at 12:30 Monday we got here just after dawn on Thursday. Fast. Most boats came through pretty well. Briet and Chisel have damage, mostly due to large  quantities of salt water getting where they shouldn't. We've no generator. This may not come as a shock. Bloody alternator seized again. While we were trying to free it off, we looked at the broken voltmeter on the main panel. In doing so every last bit of electrics bar one light and the engine ignition (separate battery) died. Its flickered before, turns out the connector for the main DC circuit breaker had a huge cable on it - obviously, and couldn't take the strain. We've bypassed it and all is well. Were all very happy we broke it here and now. Not at sea in the middle of the night, twas on its way out already better now than later.

Position: 17° 44.6' S, 168° 18.8' E | Posted: Sun 1st August 2010

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