Archive for April, 2015
Three and then some!

Three and then some

It’s been three weeks since our arrival. Wow, time flies! Original plans had the turn-around time here at two weeks. If you saw our last blog you would have learned there is nearly no wind between this position and the North Solomon Islands, 1100 miles to our first rest stop SSW (South South West). That is a problem for two reasons:

1. The motoring range of this sailing vessel is about 1500 miles. Besides fuel being expensive, the closest refueling location is another 400 miles south.
2. Low wind creates more convection (ie It’s hotter) across this transit zone. In turn these conditions mean bigger squalls and lightning; not good with a 70 foot lighting rod reaching skyward above our living quarters.

Tomorrow we will have another discussion with our weather planning service (Commanders Weather). This weather issue is abnormal. Other sailing vessels and crew (mostly husband and wife teams) trying to make it south for the opposite season are waiting for the same weather window in order to GO.

So projects continue along with schooling. As you know all work and no play makes for a dull day. Niki is busy collecting sea shells; ones with no sea creature inside. Colton is becoming a master free diver, reaching depths of 60+ feet to the deck of a sunken 100ft tour vessel. Crew member Tom is getting sailing lessons from the captain, and Gina is swimming laps over the nearby reef, spotting cool fish, eels and other creatures from the sea. Look up Lionfish on Google and check out this amazing fish she is seeing regularly.

Update on navigation gear…the captain has fixed the flukey radar problem. In the picture here he is working on the computer control box for the Auto Pilot (Jack)…..Jack likes to take indiscriminate breaks while he is supposed to be on duty, leaving the helm in standby mode. Not good!

As we wait our hope and joy in the Lord continue to grow. Family devotional time is part of our daily routine. Sunday’s sermon was on HOPE by Tim Keller, a Presbyterian pastor in New York City.

Prep continues

We have a habit of getting busy once we arrive at a new port, and then fall behind on our updates to you all. Sorry about that. What have we been doing this past week?

Upon completing the “process” of drying out the boat (see previous post), we also began researching an electrical problem with the RADAR and AUTOPILOT systems. It all started with the radar sporadically showed a ‘no data source’ error. The issue also was exacerbated when the transmit (or talk) on the single side band radio (HAM) made the autopilot switch to STANDBY mode. Initial research over several days indicated possible voltage fluctuations or grounding issues. Or both could be the culprit based on a combination of onboard testing by the captain, speaking with people in the area (other sailors and a helicopter mechanic) along with some internet research. Oh, by the way, don’t forget to appreciate your fast internet connection – it has been a LONG time since we have had the luxury.

Last night on a notion, Jim decided to check the cables on the back of the radar for corrosion. Looking deep into the female power connector revealed something unusual. It took a strong flashlight, a magnifying glass, a sewing needle and a can of WD-40 with the little red nozzle straw to reveal that tiny bugs had taken up residence inside the RADAR power cable. It took a while to flush out all the little body parts but all tests this morning, so far, reveal that the radar may be working properly. It was the ground pin hole on the plug had the most bug parts in it. Yes, that definitely could cause a ground issue.

Today is a no rain day (so far) so the captain is planning to break out the fiber glass fabric and epoxy to patch the area is the storage cubby, which was an issue since the boat was made.

ON going weather research for our next leg (Majuro to Solomon Island region) is indicating a HOLD TIGHT decision. This morning’s conference call with Commanders Weather revealed that the intended route is experiencing “unseasonable” weather conditions! El Nino or El Nina, which ever, Is causing NO wind. This makes for extra convection which in turn is producing large thunder storms along the entire 1200 mile leg to the Solomon Islands. The kind commercial aircraft fly 100s of miles around to they don’t loose their wings. Ouch!

Normally by this time, early April, the Inter-Tropical Convergent Zone (ITCZ) range narrows and shifts north. Our meteorologist indicates this is not the case this year.

So, now we wait, patiently, for God’s perfect timing!

And while we wait, we plan to fill the diesel tanks, which is not as easy here as it is in the states. Some very precise maneuvering and plenty of dock lines to keep us off the concrete pilings and managing all of this during high tide conditions should be somewhat of a challenge. We also need to fill our propane tanks, gasoline jerry cans, and likely take on potable water. Gina will do one last load of laundry and refill the food cupboards, then we will depart….only after the weather services says it is safe to go!

We agreed to check back with our weather router next Monday to see if the upper air (jet stream) is beginning to shift in our favor. There are at least 7 other boats here waiting to make the transit south.

Tomorrow we will show you some pics of the Majuro area and fill you in on some local customs.

wind map

Dryin’ out … mostly

If you have ever been in a tropical downpour you’d know first-hand the
phrase ‘it was raining buckets’. And with buckets coming down you can
be certain new leaks are found. We do not believe this boat has ever
seen rain like that.

This past week, time has been spent catching up on rest, learning about
the area, and getting some laundry and other chores done. One such
chore is seeking the paths of fresh rain water making its way inside the
ceilings below deck….namely over the crew bunk and also over the
navigation station where the ship radios reside.

The major leak was coming from the cockpit area near the helm. The
resulting water sloshing back and forth across the deck, while underway,
from the repeated deluge of rain squalls found its way into all the
nooks and crannies above. The cockpit area has seating with stowage
under in the way of cubby holes. All the gear and canvas got soaked.
In the process water was going below into the living area. The crew
bunk ceiling was awash with water and it could be seen streaming down
the walls from where the headliner made its connection, heading toward
the bilge….that is, what made it past the bunk foam mattress and linens.

While rain was an issue, taking the breaking wave over the aft deck with
a hatch partially open was a bigger problem. That is sea water…rather
salt water. Very bad stuff to have inside the boat; it got all over the
mattress, linens, walls, dress drawers, cloths….you get the picture.
Salt water tends to never dry out. The salt holds the moisture from the
air and very soon mildew and mold can set in.

Fortunately there have been some “dry” days while we had the crew change
over. With less bodies on board we opened up everyplace we found rain
and sea water, laying everything out to dry. This cleaning out process
has been ongoing as we find Majuro a very rainy place. We get stuff
out to dry and open up the hatches for air circulation, then need to
gather it all and close up as the rain blows through….followed by
sunshine and then rain again. Repeat several times each day!

The culprit turned out to be a flaw in the fiber glass layup when the
boat was built (1988) in the lower port side cubby stowage hold. Water
like that has never flooded this area before. Once the ceiling below
was taken down it became very clear where to look for the problem up above.

Today happens to be a no-rain day so we are getting some work
accomplished correcting this problem. Since things are getting dry we
can begin to address the issues. This includes caulking some seams to
channel water differently and next to re-fiberglass the cubby area. It
was cut open a few days ago to help with the dry out process.

In any case, we find ourselves in a very nice area. The Marshall
Islands are a protectorate under the US Government. There is even an
USPS office here, as well as an Ace Hardware and Do-It Best home center.
But NO Dairy Queen! It kinda feels like home only hotter and wetter.

The best thing is $.75 cab rides anywhere you need to go, however the
place is small enough you could walk….if it’s not raining buckets.

More to come as we turn our attention to the next leg SSW toward the
Solomon Islands….down under!


So Long….and….Hello!

It was hard to say so long to Richard and Bruce (the two salty sailors from Anchorage). They had to go back to school and work respectively. Spending a little over a month together in such a small space, we had all become like family!

There are barely words to describe all the ways they helped us arrive safely in the Marshall Islands. We will never forget the rain shower that soaked Bruce while he was at the helm and the time that Richard hand-steered through a squall for over 2 ½ hours. That’s just to name a few of the experiences shared! Colton and Richard made many lifelong memories to add to their collection from time our families spent together last season in the Sea of Cortez, MX.

Needless to say, we are thrilled and honored to have had them as a part of our journey!

Now, we say hello to our newest God-provided crew member, Thom Wagner. He arrived in the Marshall Islands early last week and will be with us to Papua New Guinea. He arrived in time to color Easter eggs and celebrate Easter! We enjoyed a great sermon covering the Last Supper. Thom is jumping right in helping the captain with chores and straightening out some issues. They always come up you know.



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