Sunday, March 18, 2018

Finally Back in the Water

After nearly 6 months "on the hard" at Holiday Oceanview Marina, Samal Island, Mindanao, Philippines, we are back in the water. During the time we were hauled out, we spent 2 months working really hard on maintenance and improvements. The rest of the time we were traveling, including short trips to Hong Kong and Seoul South Korea, nearly 3 months in the US, and a 3 week trip to Cambodia and Thailand.

Headed Back Into the Water at Holiday Oceanview Marina

The primary impetus for the haulout, so soon after our last one, was continuing problems with the lower half of our SD20 saildrives. When we bought the boat, the saildrives had evidence of pretty severe galvanic corrosion, but we loved the rest of the boat so much that the alarm bells didn't ring loud enough. (We did get 3 years of use out of them.). But when we were in Indonesia last year, we continued to struggle with issues related to the corroded lower assemblies.

Dave thought that we could just buy the outer aluminum housing, and that would fix our primary problem. But Yanmar doesn't sell just the outer housing. So in September we bit the bullet and ordered 2 SD20 full lower assemblies. After checking with the Yanmar dealer in the Philippines, and pushing for a quote and delivery for nearly 2 weeks, we finally got a price (outrageous) and delivery "we don't know when we can deliver them". So, we finally ordered 2 new units from Mastry Engine Center in Florida, the SE USA Yanmar dealer.

We ordered the heavy bulky items to be shipped to my sister's house in Atlanta, so we could immediately arrange to ship them sea freight, so they'd be in the Philippines when we arrived back in December. But the customs laws were changing in the Philippines, and in September, when we arrived in Atlanta, it was uncertain whether we could ship them duty free. So then we decided we'd have to take them back in our luggage!!

By December when we arrived back at my sister's house to organize ourselves to fly back to the Philippines, we had received clarification on the shipping issue and decided to go ahead and ship them sea freight rather than trying to get them there in our fly-in luggage. In the end, they arrived in the Philippines intact, at a very reasonable rate, no duty required. But it took nearly 3 months for them to reach us in Davao. (We knew this when we made the decision to ship vs carry).

Meanwhile we had other projects to keep us busy. The biggest was "transom extensions" (aka enlarged swim platforms). We cruised last year in Indonesia with Ocelot, who had done this on their boat. Because we are "over design weight", the steps down the aft end of our two hulls are lower in the water than designed. The bottom step was always "a-slosh" resulting in rapid algae growth. No matter how often we scrubbed the top surface of the bottom step, it was always very slippery (and looked frightful too).

Original Stern on the Port Hull

So Dave and the marina carpenters designed and constructed a 1 foot extension on the stern on each hull that raised the lowest step to the height of the next higher step (about 6"). This did two things--make a nice wide, flat "landing area" on the stern; and raised the bottom step around 6", so it is no longer "a-slosh" when sitting at anchor in normal conditions. It also extended our waterline length another foot, but I'm not sure this is significant in a catamaran. It also added buoyancy to the aft end of the boat, so we weren't "dragging ass" so much.

The extensions were fashioned from boat construction foam and honeycomb, plus a little fiberglass and epoxy. The result was a very professional looking job and fabulous in form and function. Here is one picture of the end result:

Finished Swim Platform on the Port Hull

For a full set of photos of the extensions under construction, see this photo album: Aft Step Extension

A third major project we completed in January, while waiting for the saildrive parts to show up, was to build a big sturdy "helm seat" from the leftover foam we had from the extension project. The boat came with a low-end post-mounted wobbly plastic captain's chair. It wasn't high enough for me to see the bow of the boat (or ahead of the boat) while sitting down, and it was uncomfortably wobbly in a sea. That meant that I'd have to stand while driving (or sit in cheap wobbly plastic chairs we have on the wing deck). We had already done emergency repairs on it to make it last as long as it had.

Our friends on Tackless Too had a nicely crafted stainless steel "captains chair". custom made by a welding shop. It was gorgeous, but expensive, and heavy. Dave knew the marina carpenters could make us a great chair with our leftover foam. And they did!

Our New Spiffy Helm Chair

It was designed to be wide enough that the two of us can sit there comfortably and see what's going on at the same time. It is a fabulous addition to both comfort and safety underway. And though it looks very heavily built, the construction foam makes it very light. Plus we designed in ample storage for all our cockpit "stuff".

Meanwhile, my job was "Chief Purchasing Officer", "Expediter" and "Technical Research Officer". I spent a bunch of time on the computer sourcing both parts and information, arranging shipping, and tracking shipments. Of course, once the saildrives arrived, we found we were missing a couple of critical gaskets. So I had to find a source for them and get them to the Philippines "quickly". We ended up with 3 "rush" shipments in the end, for which we used a Philippine company called Johnny Air. They have offices in NY and California where you can send a package, and they handle the Customs clearance in Manilla and get it to us in Davao in a timely fashion (about 10-14 calendar days, usually). Neither DHL or FedEx are recommended for rush shipments of goods into the Philippines, as stuff gets tied up in Customs, sometimes for weeks and for hundreds of extra dollars in Customs and agent fees. Not sure how JohnnyAir manages, but they do.

If Dave needed to know how to do anything on the engines, or other projects, I searched online forums and Youtube for just the right information, and collated it all for him to use.

I also had a number of maintenance projects in the sewing arena. Our dinghy cover first purchased in Colombia in 2008 needed some more TLC. The sunbrella is good as a cover, but it does't hold up to the rugged use of the dinghy. Lots of plastic chafe protection added in various places, plus I had to completely rebuild the aft end of the tube covers. I also completely rebuilt/reinforced the mainsail cover/Stackpack. It needed a new 20-foot zipper plus needed a flap to cover the zipper so the UV doesn't get to it. And patches and restitching in several places. I added a second layer of cloth on the top flap of the stackpack, to provide more UV protections, and some reinforced drain holes in the bottom, so rain water wouldn't stand inside the cover.

My biggest project, which I put off and put off, because I knew it was going to be very difficult to do a good job, was to finish the cockpit enclosure I had started the year before. Before, I had done the easy part--roll-down sides--straight lines--easy peasy (but still took 2 weeks to finish). And the year before that, I had adapted the original front "window" part to our new hardtop. What was missing was the corner pieces. The way our cockpit is, there are complex curves in the corner everywhere, and I just couldn't figure out how I was going to shape the thing. It was a daunting project. But it had to be done, and there is no "canvas place" in Davao that I could hire to do it. Fortunately, my sewing friends on s/v Carina had told me that I should be using patterning material for jobs like that. So one of the shipments we got from the US was some more clear vinyl for the windows, and the patterning material and double-sided tape. Wow, that stuff is so easy to work with--after watching a 15 minute video by Sailrite, I was an expert. My corner windows turned out really well (for an amateur job).

Fortunately for me, because my sewing list was so long, there's a nice Filipino tailor with a sewing machine near the marina, and Dave gave him all the easy projects (the smaller stuff, covers, etc). Ariel the Tailor does great work. He did the cushions for the helm chair (above), as well as new covers for our Man Overboard Module, and the rope reel hanging off the stern rail, new windlass cover, and a "line bag" for the reefing lines under the boom.

Dave and his Filipino helper, Alex, also took the lids off all 14 hatches on the boat, and cleaned up everything, checked the locking handle mechanisms, checked the gaskets, and fixed the two leaky hatches.

Dave and Alex also replaced the 8 below-water through-hulls. The old bronze and stainless ones were looking pretty shaky, and a friend on another St. Francis warned us that his had crumbled in his hands when he tried to remove them. A couple of ours did the same! We replaced them with new composite through-hull and ball valve fittings from Tru-Design in NZ (sourced via Defender and shipped via JohnnyAir).

Old Corroded (Crumbling) Through Hull

Dave and Alex also did a bunch of preventive maintenance on the Yanmar engines, including rebuilding the raw water pumps, and mounting a matched set of new alternators with fancy electronic alternator regulators (designed to be compatible with a Lithium battery bank in the future). They also rewired a bunch of the start battery circuit to add an "always on trickle charge" mechanism for the start battery.

So, it was a very fruitful haulout. We were scheduled to launch March 15 during an appropriate high tide window. But we didn't get the final gaskets until a couple of days before that, and Dave and Alex still had to put the engines together!! Amazing that we could go in on the 17th, just 2 days late!! (Dave is AMAZING).

Whew! It's great to be floating again!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Panama Canal Costs - Updated 2018

We just had friends complete a Caribbean to Pacific transit of the Panama Canal, and they did a great post on their transit costs. Thought I'd put it in here for the record. Bottom line was just over $2,000 USD, including some crew visa costs now eliminated. Their boat measured out at just under 50 ft, just like ours did.

Totem's 2018 Panama Canal Transit Costs

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Rice Wine for "Out There" Cruisers

This is for our friends cruising in the Bahamas, central South Pacific, Indonesia, and any other cruising grounds in remote places without reasonably priced stocks of wine.

Another cruising boat we met last year, Gaia, from Holland, gave us this recipe, which they passed on from another cruising boat. I include below the original recipe, and then what we did that worked for us.

I had previously looked into "making wine" a bunch of times over the past 10 years of cruising. But the instructions always seemed so complicated. For example...there was a huge debate on the forums about which esoteric wine yeast to use. It always put me off. And who had wine yeast aboard when you got desperate for some wine? And, didn't it take 2-3 years before the wine was drinkable?

This recipe is diffent--so simple--and 2-3 weeks to yield drinkable wine. For a bottom-shelf wine drinker, with no other recourse to wine, it's a pretty good solution--extremely affordable, and the ingredients are probably already on your boat.

Why would we make our own wine? When we were in Tonga, a TERRIBLE bottle of white wine was $25 USD! (if you could find one). In Indonesia, at least in the outer islands, you can't find wine, at all. In the Bahamas, liquor is not bad, price wise, but beer and wine is outrageously priced. So here goes.. original "sailor's wine" recipe, and exactly how we brewed on Soggy Paws last year in Indonesia.

Sailors rice wine recipe (original recipe)

Rice wine recipe makes 10 litres
1 kg white rice, washed and skim off the bugs
2.6 kg sugar
12 litres water
2 teaspoons yeast

Add options:
2 handfuls of raisins
2 lemons thinly sliced

Other add options:
Cranberries instead of raisins
Cherries instead of raisins
Oranges instead of lemons
Pomelo (sweet grapefruit)

You have to find out the quantities and flavours you like best.

Stir daily.
Cover with cloth or wrapping plastic with an elastic. So air can go out if necessary, but not in. Fermentation takes +/- 2 weeks.
Siphon into sterilized bottles. Let sediment settle for several days till the liquid is clear. Siphon into serving bottles.

To sterilize the bottles:
Just 1 or 2 drops of Betadine(Iodine)in a cup of water. Just let it in the bottles and container till you start using them. Use more water and Betadine for your container.

Here is what we did on Soggy Paws last year in Indonesia.

For a gallon jug (US Measures)
1.5 cup rice
4 1/3 cup sugar
water to fill gallon jug
2 tsp plain old bread yeast
1 slice lemon or lime (or ~ tsp or 2 of some bottled lime or lemon juice)
7 cranberries or raisins mixed

Don't cook the rice, just rinse it enough to get the bugs out (if necessary), and throw all the ingredients together in your brewing container.

I brew in a 1 gallon apple juice container, with the cap on very loose, and sitting in the sink in the head. WARNING: Big problems if you tighten the cap too much--it definitely needs to be able to off-gas! I did have a one gallon jug that we tightened up the cap, and it got a little too excited and sort of exploded and made a mess in the head. The jug and fermentation is much more volatile early on, and then tapers off. So if you are sitting for a week, good time to start a new jug.

I brewed in my jug for 2 weeks exactly (I tape a piece of blue tape with the due date). I tighten the cap, shake the jug well, and then loosend the cap again, at least once or twice a day.

My Rice Wine Brewing Kit

When it came to "siphoning off" to bottles, I did that one time with a proper siphon hose and decided that was too much trouble. I ended up just pouring my 2-week-old fermented rice wine from the gallon jug into the "clarifying" bottles, gently, using a funnel, and leaving the sludge in the bottom of the jug. I did filter what I poured off through a fine-mesh plastic filter (a plastic filter, a little cotton cloth, or a paper coffee filter might work also). What I used is the red "filter" in the foreground in the picture. I labeled my clarifying bottles 1, 2, 3 because the first one was easier to keep the sludge out than the last one. The #1 clarifying bottle generally had a little less "sediment" in it, and took less time to clear up. (In the end, for a thirsty person, it didn't matter).

Once the very fine sediment falls to the bottom of the clarifying bottle, the wine looks clear, and looks very much like white wine. Then siphon or pour gently off to your serving bottles. It takes at least 3-4 days for the stuff to settle to the bottom of the clarifying bottles, and the milky wine to turn clear. But if desperate, you don't have to wait that long! Chill well, and it's a decent substitute for that evening glass of white wine.

I have found that I have quite a bit of left over rice in the gallon jug, which I rinse and re-used for the next batch, adding a bit more rice to make up the difference. I keep meaning to email Gaia to see if they do too, and whether that means I didn't do the ratios right, wrong rice, or whatever (but what I did worked, so...).

Also, my wine ended up a little sweet, almost like a dessert wine. But it is OK if you don't have anything else!! But while I had any other wine left, I mixed the rice wine with my remaining wine. Sometimes a brew was sweet enough that I added a little water. It always helps to chill it really well. But in my opinion, it was totally drinkable, and certainly better than paying $25/bottle for terrible wine.

My wine would probably be less sweet if I let it age a little, but it never made it that long...

Once I ran out of the wine I brought with me, I started making a 1 gallon jug every week or two. By the time I decanted it the gallon jug into "clarifying bottles", this turned into three 1 liter Paul Masson clarifying bottles. Once decanted to 750 ml "serving bottles" (leaving sludge in the bottom), it would make about 4 standard 750 ml wine bottles. With 2 1-gallon Jugs, and 3-4 Paul Masson bottles, I always had enough to share with my (also desperate) friends.

I never bothered testing the alcohol level--it was a good enough facsimile to wine that I wasn't worried about perfection.

I did use the Betadine method to sterilize the jugs and bottles.

Try it, and see how it works for you!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Updated Tuamotus Current "Guestimator"

Many thanks to both s/v Brindacier and m/v Starlet who both updated the tide tables in my old "guestimator" and sent in a copy. Both are included in the zip file, which can be found here:

Cruiser's helping cruisers--I love it!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Short Sightseeing Trip to Cambodia and Thailand - Part 1

We have wanted to visit Thailand forever, and it is especially easy to do while already in SE Asia. Dave also had a hankering to see Angkor Wat, in nearby Cambodia. Plus, our Philippines Visa on Arrival is only good for 29 days, and then we need to renew or fly out. Renewals these days cost $75 USD per person. So we figured we'd fly somewhere, using that $75 USD as a subsidy for our trip.

Getting Ready for Another Adventure!

Before we left the US, we booked a round trip flight on Air Asia from Davao to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Having an outbound ticket from the Philippines when we flew in from the US also maded airport check-in and arrival, on a one-way ticket from the U.S., much easier. Because SE Asia is used to backpackers and yachties traveling through on a one-way ticket, going from country to country, it's much easier to talk your way on the plane from Kuala Lumpur than it is from LAX.

I spent a week in December making up a rough plan for our trip. I emailed the plan to several friends who had been to both places and asked for input. The major addition to our initial plan was to plan to go to Chiang Rai (a 3 hour bus ride from Chiang Mai) and spend at least a few days there. So, here is what we planned, and we were pretty much able to execute this plan. January is peak tourist season, so I felt like I had to pre-book the major things, to make sure we got to where we wanted to go, and had a place to stay when we got there.

Jan 8 - Fly Davao to Kuala Lumpur
Jan 8 - Overnight at Tune Hotel KL Airport
Jan 9 - Fly KL to Siem Reip (v early morning flight)
Jan 9-11 Explore Siem Reip / Angkor Wat
Jan 12 Siem Reip to Bangkok ($30/8hrs by bus $60/2hrs fly)
Jan 13-14 Bangkok
Jan 15 Daytrip by van to Ayutthaya
Jan 16 Bangkok to Chang Mai day train (all day) or 1 hr flight
Jan 17 Rest/get oriented in Chang Mai
Jan 18-26 Chang Mai and vicinity / touring, etc
Jan 27 Chang Mai to KL, overnight at Tune Hotel KL Airport
Jan 28 Fly KL to Davao

Our Planned Whirlwind Trip to Cambodia and Thailand

We should have planned for more time (or fewer bucket list checks), but we had other considerations... one was getting all the work done on Soggy Paws, and the other was the schedule for visa renewals in the Philippines when we returned. For the first two months of your time in the PI on a tourist visa, you can only do monthly renewals. After 2 months, you can apply for a longer extension (2 months at a time, presently). We wanted to be in the Philippines for the first 2 months, and apply for a 2 month extension, before we left Davao at the end of March. So January 28th was about the last we could fly back in from Thailand that wouldn't hold us up in March.

So after 29 days aboard in the marina in the Philippines, working feverishly on boat projects, we took off on Jan 8 for a little R & R in Cambodia and Thailand.

After an uneventful flight direct from Davao, we spent a short overnight at the The Tune Hotel at the Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) International Airport, and were off early in the morning for our flight to Siem Reap in Cambodia. The Tune Hotel at KLIA is a great spot for an overnight stopover. You can walk to it from the International terminal. All the other hotels require a taxi or bus ride into downtown KL.

Cambodia (Siem Reap & the temples of Angkor)

Since we were on a fairly tight schedule, I had pre-booked a Tuktuk (motor tricycle) driver/tour guide via the internet, using a recommendation from a TripAdvisor blog. Mr. Sulu TukTuk Tours turned out to be a fantastic choice. Sulu met us at the airport, took us to the hotel, and then off for the first day's touring, starting with a stop to get our permit. He spoke good English, and was polite and not pushy. He knew where to go to minimize crowds, yet still get us to all the major attractions in our 3 day visit. He picked us up at the airport, took us through 3 days of touring, and took us back to the airport on the 4th day, all for the pre-arranged fee of $80 USD. We have since recommended 2 other travelers to him and both felt the same way we did. Click the picture below for a link to his facebook page, and contact him there, or email him at

We bought a cell phone sim card in the airport, even though we were only going to stay 3 days--to be able to contact our driver, the hotel, use the internet, etc. It only cost $10 (text, voice, and data already on it), and was well worth having.

Our Siem Reap hotel I'd booked off and it was a fairly new establishment, and located on a back street, but not far from the main tourist part of town. A guy who was teaching hospitality at the local college, bought a 5 room "hotel" to reap some of the tourist dollars, and also help train his students in hospitality in the real world. The hotel room for 2 people, a queen sized bed, with private bath, air conditioning, and breakfast, cost $36 USD TOTAL for 3 nights (Siem Reap Phan Villa). As an exploding tourist destination, there are plenty of $100 per night hotels in Siem Reap, but we didn't need to spend that kind of money on a place to sleep!!

Our Hotel in Cambodia

It was only a short walk to the tourist center of Siem Reap.

The Neighbor Bringing His Cows Home

Ankor Wat was amazing--similar to the Pyramids of Egypt; the Mayan structures we'd visited in Guatemala, Mexico, and Honduras; and the Inca structures in Peru, we just couldn't believe that such fantastic structures could have been built so extensively back in the day before big cranes and modern building techniques.

With $60 3-Day Tickets in Hand, Headed Out to our First Temple

Dave and I together took 630 pictures in 3 days. This is one of the reasons it has taken so long to produce this blog! (sorting through the pictures, trying to remember what we were taking pictures of) But below are few pictures to give you the gist of the magnitude of the Khmer empire at one time. We did 2 days of touring temples, and then spent our last day on a trip to the lake, and somehow also squeezed in a couple of hours at a small "World War II" museum. We kind of lost track of which temple was which, so I'm not going to try to name them below, but just show you some pretty pictures.

Unfortunately, we hadn't done any studying at all about Cambodia, the Khmer Empire, or the history or culture, so we felt pretty stupid at times. We did buy a $10 book from a vendor at the first site we stopped at, but then never had time to read it carefully. So for those of you starting out where we were, here's a very brief recap.

Between the 8th and 13th centuries, a succession of first Hindu, and later Buddhist kings created magnificent temples in stone. Each temple was bigger then the next, but all had elaborate carvings, honoring Hindu gods, detailing victories in battle, and honoring Buddhist principles. The final two temples, and the biggest, were Angkor Thom in about 1200 AD, and Angkor Wat, around 1250 AD. After about 1300 AD, the Buddhist temples were built out of wood, and few survived. There are about 100 temples scattered around in Cambodia. In our 2 days of temple touring, we were able to briefly visit 13 of them. I'd love to educate you more about each temple, but honestly, it kind of all blurred together. Knowing a bit of Hindu lore would be useful before visiting, as most of the symbology at the temples were Hindu. Here are a few of the pictures we took:

Typical Temple Layout (Bantai Srai Temple)

Looking in the Gopura Oriental at Bantai Srai

Inner Temple at Bantai Srai

Dave Standing in front of the tail of a Naga (snake) being pulled to churn the underworld

Unfortunately, the heads on the men holding the (very large) tail of the snake have all been "looted".

Lots of Reconstruction Work Going On in Various Temples

Angkor Wat Is So Big, It Is Hard to Photograph!

The Monkeys Were Always an Attraction

The Apsara, an Iconic Hindu Image, Adorned Every Temple

Images of Buddha Also Adorned the More Recent (but still old) Temples

An Hour Long Line (We Passed!)

The Entire Football Field-Sized Wall Was Carved with an Elaborate History of Battles

Just One of the Inner Temples in the Large Complex

A Naga (7-Headed Snake) Guarding the Causeway
to Angkor Wat

My Favorite Temple (Bayon)

Another Temple with Elaborate Scenes Carved in the Walls

Trees Are A Major Problem in Restoring the Temples

Another Temple! This One Guarded by Lions

A Helpful Guide Pointed Out This Stegasaurus
(Methinks a Joke by a Restorer?)

Thankfully, Our Last Temple (Preah Ko)

Templed Out
After two long days and touring 13 temples, on our last day in Cambodia, we went out to see Lake Tonle Sap. It is the largest fresh water body in South East Asia. Its dimension changes depending on the wet and dry season. During rainy season from June to October, the lake is filled by water flowing from the Mekong with 45 feet in depth and expands the surface of 10,000 square Kilometers. In dry season from November to May its size 3,000 square kilometers with 6 feet in depth and water flows backwards, from the Lake to the Mekong, in and out flowing is the natural phenomenon occurrences.

It Being Dry Season, It Was a Long and Dusty Ride to the Lake

Boarding Our Private Tour Boat

The Engine

The Steering Wheel

The Drive Train and Propeller

Houses with Big Stilts

Was There Any World War II Action?
Dave can't pass up a war museum, especially one that promises World War II memorabilia. It turns out this one had much more modern stuff. But we still enjoyed poking around.

And we did all that in 3 days!! Then it was on to Thailand!

Sunday, November 5, 2017


We're in the USA from mid September to mid December, and one of the things at the top of my TO DO list is to renew my USCG 100 Ton Master's license. It's quite a process and includes having to document my "at sea" time over the last 5 years (and make sure it adds up to 360 days or more). Fortunately, I have remembered to make a photo backup of our logbook for each year. So I had all the info I needed at my fingertips. If you don't have enough sea time, you have to take a class instead. Fortunately, our roaming around SE Asia has produced enough sea time to qualify.

In addition to the 5-page application and the sea time documentation, I needed to get a physical and a drug test, pay the US Government $140, and explain why I didn't need a Transportation Worker ID Card. Quite a process. Anyway, today I emailed the whole package as a PDF file to one of the USCG's Regional Exam Centers. This starts the process.

Last time I renewed, my package was rejected for several reasons and it took me nearly a year and several submissions to get my license renewed. Hoping I did a better job of preparing the package this time.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Doing Fine - Back in the Philippines

I keep meaning to get on with the remaining blog posts on our time in SE Indonesia, but we are back in the boatyard in the Philippines with a long list of projects, so I haven't got around to it yet. Hopefully I will soon.

Our current location is Holiday Oceanview Marina, Samal Island, Davao del Norte, Mindanao, Philippines, and we are fine and healthy. We had a great time cruising Indonesia--they have made amazing progess in making it easier for small private yachts to cruise their beautiful islands. The new boat performed exceptionally, well even in the leg from Halmahera to Bitung, N Sulawesi, where we were close-hauled in 40 knots of wind with opposing current. The new Soggy Paws is a dream to sail, though much less rugged than our CSY.

Blog Posts I'm missing so far:

- Coast hopping from Triton Bay to Misool
- Misool back to Bitung
- Bitung to Samal Island, Philippines

Our original plan was to spend the summer in Raja Ampat again, but in June we discovered that the new seals that Dave put in the saildrives were leaking, and the leak got progressively worse. To fix the problem, we'd need to haul out somewhere, and there isn't a reasonably-priced haulout yard in Eastern Indonesia. And Samal was only about 800 miles downwind, plus we could get much better provisions in the Philippines than in Indonesia. So we spent late June and July coast-hopping back to Samal.

We emailed the Oceanview Marina yard in early June and requested a haulout as soon as they could accommodate us near the end of July. The yard is chock-a-block (though the marina is not), but they managed to juggle spots in the yard to haul us out a few days after we arrived. We have pulled the saildrives apart and are now trying to source parts.

There is a Yanmar dealer in the Philippines, but they mainly sell tractors and not small yacht engines/saildrives. So after 3 weeks of trying to get some technical questions answered, and get a quote and availability for our saildrive lower units, we gave up.
We got the quote with "If the parts ship from Singapore, they will take 10-12 working days to arrive, if they ship from Japan, they will take 15-20 days to arrive, but there are none in either Singapore or Japan." WTF? After finding they'd have to ship the parts we needed from the US, we have decided to buy the parts from a US dealer. Due to the fact that the Philippines don't acknowledge "yacht in transit" status for duty, they may well come back with us in a suitcase! Note: Primary reason we are contemplating replacing the whole Lower Housing Assembly (aka Lower Unit) is that the aluminum housings are pitted from galvanic corrosion. We tried to repair them on our last haulout, but the pitting is bad enough that the seals weren't sealing well. Since we like to do the "far from everywhere" cruising, we feel it's best to replace rather than keep dealing with the issue, and risk a major problem somewhere where we can't deal with it.

While back in the marina and hauled out, Dave also decided to get the excellent fiberglass workers in the yard to make a 1 ft extension on our sterns. This is primarily to raise the bottom step. With a little too much weight aboard, our bottom step on the sterns were always wet, and grew slippery green slime at an amazing rate, making the step very dangerous. We are raising the bottom step to the level of the next step up, plus adding a foot, which will hopefully add some buoyancy back there. And it will make large flat landing area--good for a dive platform. The yard guys are nearly done with the project. Pictures soon!

I am meanwhile working down the fairly extensive list of canvas repair items and upgrades (bleah! I hate patching old canvas) Plus sourcing parts, googling for troubleshooting tips (Raymarine Wind Inst and Seatalk / PC connector), making travel reservations, updating Compendiums, and keeping in touch with our wide world of friends at home and in the cruising community. It's a full time job!!

We head home to the US in mid-September for a 2 month visit, with plans to try to see all our family, and catch the SSCA Annapolis Gam, Annapolis Sailboat Show, and Melbourne SSCA Gam (by car).

For several reasons, we have also decided to alter our 2018 plans. We will put our PNG/Solomons trip off for another year, waiting for a compatible buddy boat to make their way east from Malaysia to go with us. And it seems a shame to blast away from the Philippines without having actually cruised here. After watching our friends on Mokisha work their way through the central Philippines (on Facebook), it rekindled our interest in cruising and diving there. Plus there is a lot of "inland touring" in SE Asia we still haven't done. So our loose plan is to try to see maybe a little of Australia, and some of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam by land, and cruise central Philippines by sea.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Website Back Up!

Sorry everyone, my web host upgraded their servers and broke the web server that served the website. The site was down for several days. It seems to be back up now. Thanks for those who let me know.

I am still trying to update the backlogged posts and organize pictures to add to the posts Ive already posted on our eastern Indonesian adventures in the past 5 months. We are currently in Ternate (actually anchored in the neighboring island of Tidore), and leaving this morning for an overnight passage to Bitung. We plan to check out of Bitung in a few days and head north back to the Philippines, where we'll leave Soggy Paws for a trip home this fall.

Tidore, Halmahera, Indonesia

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Waterfall Bay, West Papua

We finally left Triton Bay, headed north, on June 29.

Waterfall by the Sea

Our first stop was "Waterfall Bay", 45 nm northwest of our jumping off point of Blumpot Bay in NW Adi Island. Friends had told us this was a very cool stop, because you can anchor right next to the waterfall that falls down into the ocean. Because it was SW monsoon season, this "off the waterfall" stop was probably not a viable overnight anchorage. But we had a potential anchor spot scouted by Ocelot, tucked up in the point near the waterfall.

We left early and made good time for about 3/4 of the way, but finally the wind died and we had to motor in. Fortunately, we arrived mid-afternoon and had plenty of time to look around. The potential anchor spot recommended by Ocelot was too constricted in our opinion--in a cut with fast flowing current in fairly shallow water. We backed out and started looking around. We ended up spending about 2 hours poking around. Everything we found was (typical in Indonesia), either too shallow or too deep, or too constricted by rocks/reefs. To complicate matters, there were a couple of fishing boats anchored around, and being by ourselves, we were a little leery of anchoring too close to them (security issues).

Indonesian Fishing Boats

We ended up anchoring at 03 55.27 S / 132 48.91 E in about 65 ft of water. There was some current here, but not too intimidating, and usually flowing out the cut, so we hung toward the west. We backed down hard because our stern was in about 10 ft, and there were a few coral heads nearby. But we had pretty good swinging room. The wind was pretty calm, so we felt pretty safe in these tight quarters. In NE wind season, anchoring outside, to the west of this spot, would be a better anchorage, as there's a big sand spot there. There is no cell phone signal in this bay. And the fishermen never bothered us--they seemed to anchor and sleep during the day and leave to go fishing at night.

All the Fish Around Our Boat, Teasing Me

There were tons of small fish swimming around our boat. I tried fishing for them with some shrimp on a small hook, but they always managed to steal the shrimp and not get hooked. But kept me entertained for awhile.

We spent the next two days enjoying the clear water and exploring around the bay. While Dave did maintenance, I scrubbed the bottom of the boat (something we didn't want to do in the potentially crocky river waters). We took Soggy Paws over to the waterfall and anchored in a beautiful sand spot just off the waterfall (03-53.45 S / 132-29.30 E), and then dinghied over to the waterfall and snorkeled around.

Waterfall Anchorage

We also explored in the dinghy along the wall SE of the waterfall, and found some nice snorkeling and some caves.

Exploring Caves

Then we picked up anchor and went looking for the "World War II Gun Emplacement" waypoint that someone had given us. We needed to make water, so slowly motored around the rim of the bay. Dave even took off in the dinghy for a half an hour while I motored around in racetrack mode waiting for him.

Alas, when we arrived at the bottom end of the bay, there was no gun emplacement there. We later discovered that this whole set of waypoints for the Misool area that a friend had given us was mostly inaccurate (whether deliberately, just sloppily done, or whether taken off an inaccurate chart, we don't know). After an hour of slowly poking around in Soggy Paws, we finally anchored the big boat and set out in the dinghy.

Bushwhacking Around, Looking for Gun Emplacements

After carefully combing the shoreline, and doing some bush-whacking, we finally found some remnants of a WWII gun, but only the carriages--looks like someone had carried off the barrels of the guns.

The Gun We Found

The Other Gun Carriage

This anchorage (03 57.32 S / 132 50.65 E) is in fairly shallow mud/sand and well protected from the E, S, and W. If you were expecting a big blow from the south, this would be a good hidey-hole.

Nice Protected Anchorage

But go in slowly, and not too far, as there is a very shallow hard-to-see reef in the very bottom of the bay. I think we were in about 10-15 feet. Even for a WWII buff, these "gun emplacements" were not very exciting. We almost spent the night here, but were a little worried about bugs and no wind, so we scurried back to our original anchorage.

The next morning, we headed further north.