Saturday, April 30, 2011

We are off!

Not a great beginning--showers all afternoon--but we're leaving.

We cast off at 0245 UTC (4:45 local time), and are still in Pearl Harbor (I'm taking advantage of our last bit of internet to post this).

Forecast is for lighter winds for the next couple of days.

More later...
Sherry & Dave
in Honolulu, Hawaii for the winter
At 4/30/2011 2:07 AM (utc) our position was 21°22.26'N 157°56.27'W

Friday, April 29, 2011

Leaving Tomorrow (Friday)

Our new toggles arrived today at noon (Yahoo!). This now put the pressure on us to get everything else done so we can finally make our escape tomorrow.

I did my final veggie run this morning and spent all afternoon washing and packing veggies carefully into the fridge. (Wash, soak in a mild bleach solution, air dry thoroughly, wrap each item carefully in a paper towel, and pack into a 'green bag'. Then try to find space to put it where it won't be too cold or too hot or next to something it doesn't agree with. See the Cruising Chef Cookbook).

I still have 3-4 piles of stuff drying on the table that need to be wrapped up and stored before we leave. (and there's no room left in the fridge :( Lets see, do we take the chocolate out, or Dave's tubes of 5200... hmmmm...

Also while on the veggie run, I stopped by the Post Office to mail a big box of miscellaneous stuff back home. The biggest thing in the box is an antique sextant that Dave picked up at a Flea Market, but the rest of the space is filled with souvenirs and stuff that we just don't have any place to store on the boat. I also mailed a backup hard drive to my daughter for safe-keeping. Should the worst happen on passage, at least we'd save the pictures!!

We sent the big box via old-style parcel post--it will go by boat from here and Pony Express to Florida--delivery takes 2-6 weeks. The small parcel went Priority Mail--the best deal for shipping stuff in Hawaii (UPS and FedEx are outrageous). For only $4.75 it should be in Cincinnati by Monday, and if you pay for your shipment online, you get a tracking number just like FedEx and UPS (see

To add to the 'fun', while in the check-out line at the grocery store, I got a call on my cell phone from a nice lady in England who wants to rent our Melbourne Harbor Condo for two weeks in September. So part of the afternoon (amidst all the other things going on) I spent working up a rental contract, and trying to process a credit card payment from the UK for a deposit. Sheesh!!

Dave spent the afternoon stowing things on deck, and taking advantage of the last free running water we'll have in a long time. He filled the tanks and washed down the deck and cockpit.

Between the two of us, we generated another dock cart full of trash and giveaway stuff.

We are not taking our toaster or the coffee maker--they both went on the "Free Table" at the marina. As much as we both love the convenience, they are impractical items on an anchor-out energy budget. And they take up too much space, and get so seldom used when away from the dock, that we'll just do without. For me it's back to boiling water in the morning, and making my coffee in a coffee funnel with a paper filter sitting on top of the coffee cup.

Without a ready supply of bagels, Dave will live without the toaster (French baguettes are hard to fit into a toaster slot).

The microwave has again reverted to a "Faraday Cage" for our miscellaneous electronics (protection against lightning).

After posting on Facebook that we were leaving "within hours" we got calls from both kids (who rarely call us). Dave's son Chris and my daughter Nicki both called wanting to talk one last time before we go off the grid again.

We finally completed the deal on the car a few hours ago, turning the keys over to our buyer (who has been very patient--thank you Richard). We will really miss that car--5 big thumbs up for the Toyota Rav 4L (1997), a really nice sport utility vehicle.

Dave has said all week (jokingly) that we can't leave until the Royal Wedding is over... that may turn out to be true, but we packed our TV up today, so we won't be able to watch it!! (too busy anyway).

We'd like to get out early in the morning, but neither of us will be ready to leave before noon-ish. (Honestly, we'll probably be lucky to leave before dark).

Sailors have a superstition about leaving on Friday, but if we go on UTC time, we can leave early tomorrow afternoon and not be leaving on a Friday. (And, personally, I fail to see the logic in passing up a good weather window for a superstition... no matter how many sea stories I've heard about disasters caused by leaving on a Friday.)

Still Waiting for Parts

We did all the stuff we needed to do to get away yesterday, and were dismayed to find that our parts didn't make it here yesterday (it was a long shot, so we weren't that suprised).

We went down to the NOAA office at the University of Hawaii and got a personal weather briefing from the weather guys, and got a chance to ask a few questions about patterns and weather products. They were friendly and helpful, and interested in our trip. Looks like we have a nice window for departure for the next couple of days.

We also went down to U.S. Customs to get an official clearance paper. French Polynesia (we hear) doesn't need it, but you never know when you might end up somewhere else. $19 and 10 minutes of paperwork, and we have an official clearance out of the U.S.

We made a couple of more stops downtown at the usual places (City Mill, etc). One last thing on our list was an electronic rat zapper. We don't have rats, but it's always possible... Someone said that it's also good for 'B-52' type roaches (the big ones).

We also did our last laundry (gosh, I'm sure going to miss those washers and dryers!).

I was all set to go get our last round of Groceries (veggies, milk, eggs, and bread), but waved off on that when there were no parts in our mailbox.

So that's item number one on my list today.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Departure Wednesday or Thursday Maybe?

Sigh... we were aiming for leaving Monday (our revised revised schedule), but Dave went up the mast yesterday to replace the last of the 30-year-old rigging toggles, and found that the last 4 are a different size than the rest. So the new toggles we have won't work. He's called the machinist who made the new ones, and asked him to rush fabrication and shipping of the right size to us on Monday. Realistically that pushes our departure schedule out to Wednesday or Thursday.

Meanwhile, we are still working off the rest of our list. Here are just some of the things we've been doing in the last week:

- Took the propane stove out on the dock over to replace the thermocouple in the broiler, and give the stove and the stove area a thorough cleaning.

- Major rework on the Exhaust Riser (a key part of the engine) to repair a leak and to engineer the new one to reduce the source of the leaks

- Checked the underwater surfaces. We didn't need to do any scrubbing--the new paint we put on in January looks great. We have just a little slime which rubs off easily. We'll let the water movement (assuming we get going soon!) take care of that. The prop has been 'bagged' and so has no growth on it.

- Repacked the V-berth, stowing the foredeck awning, the kayaks, and the folding bikes, as well as 4 Rubbermaid tubs of food, miscellaneous spares, and 'trade goods'.

- Completed a full rigging inspection, from the top of the mast to the bottom of the chainplates

- Renewed the spreader anti-chafe boots

- Added a new cleat in the cockpit to make it easier to handle 2 roller furlers at once.

- Finished and rigged up lifeline 'spray guards' to help keep the cockpit dry

- Paid a visit to the local life-raft repacker, who is making expired SOLAS flare available to cruisers for free (these normally cost $75-$100 EACH)

- Reviewed our 3 'Abandon Ship' bags, checking the GPS and VHF, updating the batteries and flares, and refreshing ourselves on what's in there (and what's not).

- Had 2 long Skype calls with a friend who just spent the winter diving in the Marshall Islands--taking notes for our future adventures

- Multiple trips to West Marine, POP Marine, City Mill, Home Depot, Walmart, Kmart, Costco and Grocery Stores for parts, supplies, food, etc

- Stowed all the stuff we bought and made enough notes on the computer so we have a chance of finding it again. I've opted NOT to make a detailed food stores list this time (too time-consuming to do accurately and too much effort to keep it accurate as we use up stuff). We do keep fairly accurate 'spares' lists, though, especially for the deep dark spaces that are hard to get to.

- Unloaded the last of the 'stuff' out of the car and stowed it onboard, so the car is ready to turn over to the new owner.

- Installed the new wind sensor on our weather station

- Tightened jib track bolts

- Picked up some spares at West Marine for friends already in French Polynesia

- De-installed and shipped our old AIS receiver to the new owner.

- Dave is still working with the guy we sold the old refer equipment to--advising him on installation issues

- Money management--getting bills prepaid, credit cards paid off, making sure there's enough in the bank account to cover expenses for up to 2 months of no-internet

- Ongoing management of real estate issues back in Florida

- Arranged an agent to facilitate our check-in in French Polynesia

- Ongoing gathering of weather and routing information, planning the trip, and navigation strategies. This leg will be 2,000 mostly hard on the wind (ie wet and bumpy for 2-3 weeks).

- Ongoing twice-daily radio contacts with our friends already at sea

Still to do by Weds:

- Installing the new Vesper Marine AIS we bought a month ago.
- Do backups on all the computers, and mail a backup drive back to Florida for safekeeping
- Full operational check of the primary nav computer, which has been stored for the last 6 months
- Download a Google Earth cache of the places we plan to stop between here and Tonga
- Receive and install the 4 final rigging toggles
- Check and re-seal minor leak-prone areas on the deck
- Order some stove parts for spares (ship to Florida in case we need them later)
- Rig up the Monitor wind vane
- Unbag the propeller
- Finalize and pay for our boat insurance for the year
- Turn the car over to the new owner and cancel the car insurance
- Final 'groceries' trip for fresh veggies, bread, milk, and eggs
- Final phone calls to family

Fortunately we did our re-fueling just as gas prices started to rise. Dave made 4 trips to the gas station for gas and diesel in jugs in March. (Diesel at the marina is now selling at $5.25/gallon!!) We are fully topped out.

We have been working 12 hour days and drop into bed exhausted every night.

I can't wait to get to sea!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Still in Hawaii for a Few More Days

We are continuing our non-stop preparations to leave, but just aren't ready yet. Making lots of progress, though. Yesterday we took the big foredeck awning down and hoisted the roller-furling sails. We now look more like a sailboat than we have in 6 months.

Our cabinets and refrigerated spaces are stuffed to the gills after about 6 $300 trips to the grocery store. There is no room for anything else, and quite a bit of lightweight stuff (potato chips, which cost about $10 a bag in French Polynesia) in bags out on the settee.

We have the car pre-sold and the new owner has been warned that we are days away from departure.

We are watching the weather--and our friends leaving. Infini (see link to their blog below, left hand side) left Maui yesterday, headed for the Marquesas. Sea Flyer, who left originally April 2, but experienced some rigging problems, left last night from Hilo. Windy City and Reflections are still doing what we're doing--working like heck to get stuff done, and leaving 'any day now'. Realistically WE won't be pulling away from the dock until at least Saturday.
Sherry & Dave
in Honolulu, Hawaii for the winter
At 3/1/2011 6:32 PM (utc) our position was 21°22.26'N 157°56.27'W

Friday, April 8, 2011

Soaring on the North Shore of Oahu

One of the other really fun things we have done in the last month is go soaring (gliding) with Honolulu Soaring on the famous North Shore of Oahu.

Getting Ready to Go Up in Sky Surfer

This was another totally awesome tourist adventure. The airport is just inshore from the beach, and right next to some high cliffs. So the soaring on the updrafts along the ridgeline was really cool, and then when we got high enough, we went out over the ocean to look for whales.

Great Shot from the Tow Plane
Photo by Rob Host

Once we got to 1000 feet and detached from the tow plane, I got to take the "stick" (drive the plane) for a little while. It has been a long time since I've flown an airplane, and I was really overcontrolling. The glider is so light that it takes a feather-light touch on the stick to keep it on course and level.

After a few minutes of totally concentrating on the instruments and keeping the wings level and staying in the up-draft, I finally handed the controls back over to the instructor so I could relax and sightsee.

Dave Getting Ready for His Flight

Dave Flying Over the North Shore of Oahu

Dave and I each got our own ride with an instructor, but they also have a plane that you can go up with two people together (and a pilot), if you want to.

Lining Up for the Landing

I really recommend checking out Honolulu Soaring (aka The Original Glider Rides) if you're on Oahu and want to do something different. And if you don't have a rental car, they'll arrange transportation out from Honolulu for you.

And a big Mahalo (thank you) to Dusty and Sam and Claudia and Rob (all from Woodstock Properties) for setting this adventure up for us. Going up in a glider has been on my 'bucket list' for a long time!!

Dusty, Claudia, and Rob at the 49er for Breakfast

After our glider rides, we had a chance to explore Dillingham Field for awhile. Skydiving, gliding, biplane rides, instruction, oh my!! Just my kind of place! (sigh... there's never enough time to do everything I want to be doing!!)

This was NOT Our Plane!!
Photo by Claudia Host

My Next Flying Adventure

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

3 Days in Kauai

In late March we took a few days out of our busy 'preparations' schedule to fly over to Kauai for a whirlwind visit.

Dave and I at Hanakapi'ai Falls in Kauai

We would really have liked to take Soggy Paws over and stay for a month, but that just isn't in our plans. The best time to actually cruise the Hawaiian islands is in the calm summer months, and by summer we plan to be in Tahiti and Bora Bora instead. (To see our updated cruising plans: Click Here)

First, a few specifics of getting there, where we stayed, and the costs involved:

- We flew Island Air from Honolulu r/t for $150 each
- We stayed at the Kauai Sands hotel for $70/night (this is an older slightly downtrodden resort, but has perfectly reasonable accommodations--clean enough, decent beds, hot water, fridge in room, convenient location)
- We rented a car from Budget for 3 days for $44/day (incl taxes)
- We took a helicopter tour with Island Helicopters for $170 each

Our first few waking hours in Kauai were inauspicious--we visited McDonalds (breakfast and internet), Walmart (bought some "slippas" (Hawaiian for flip flops)), and Costco (bought Lunch), but after that, the rest of the visit was awesome.

Two of the 3 days we were there, we spent most of the day hiking. The first hike was in the Kalalau Valley (all the way to the end of the end of the Waimea Canyon road, and then on the trail to the Pihea lookout and down to the Kawakoi Stream). The drive up was really nice and we made several stops at lookouts to take pictures, and ate our Costco lunch at one scenic overlook. We didn't get on the hiking trail until after lunch, so we did have to hustle some to get all the way down to the stream. But once we turned the corner at the Pihea lookout, we were the only ones on that that trail, and so had the whole lush place to ourselves.

One of the great vistas along the Pihea Trail

We got back to the car in enough time so that we made it back down to the beach road in time to catch the sunset, and drive out to the Barking Sands Missile Tracking Station before dark.

The second hike was out on the Napali Coast (to the end of the road at the east end of Kauai), and we hiked all the way into Hanakapi'ai Falls. (The first picture above is at the falls). I actually got Dave out of bed at 6am to get on the trail early, so we'd have time to make it all the way to the falls. We were almost one of the first people at the falls, and got to go swimming before it got overrun with hikers (brrrrr!)

The 3rd day in Kauai we drove around--stopping at the old lighthouse and making many stops along the road between where our hotel was in Kapa'a and the roads end at Ke'e. We again grabbed a salad at Costco before setting out, and had lunch on a picnic table in famous Hanalei Bay, watching the surfers and the tourists.

Awesome View of the Napali Coast from the Helicopter

For our anniversary, Dave booked us on a one-hour helicopter tour of Kauai, and though it was pricey for budget travelers--it was the highlight of our trip. After calling all 5 helicopter tour places, we settled on Island Helicopters--partially on price and availability, but also because we had gotten a couple of recommendations from people about them. They originated the Kauai helicopter tour business over 30 years ago, and are still offering a fantastic ride for a good price. Dave negotiated us into the front seat of the helicopter and we got some great photos. The benefit of the helicopter tour is that there is so much of Kauai that you can't see by car, and it was awesome being able to hover in remote valleys. As we flew over various places, our pilot commented "There's where they filmed the water fall sequence in Jurassic Park 2..." etc etc. (lots of movies have been filmed on Kauai).

Jurassic Park Falls from the Helicopter

It was a great trip--wish we'd allocated more time--I'd love to go back to Kauai some time and do some more hiking and enjoy the beaches at a more leisurely pace. It's far enough out of the normal tourist circuit that it has a much more laid back flavor to it than Oahu does.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Frigoboat Freezer Final Notes

We've had a little time now to monitor the freezer and here's our report. With the freezer half full with frozen goods, and at a steady state, with the temp set to 10 degrees on the digital thermostat, and ambient temperature around 78-81 degrees, we timed the operation for a couple of hours and made the following notes:

1. Normal temperature stays precisely between 10-12 degrees.

2. Average run time is around 11.25 minutes on and 8 minutes off, though in the middle of the day (at around 82F ambient), the run times extended to about 13 minutes on and 8 minutes off.

3. The Smart Speed Controller normally runs the compressor at the lowest speed and the system consumes 3.1 amps at that speed while running. (using our Link 2000 amp meter).

4. Average amp usage per hour is 1.82 amps per hour, making for a total estimated 24 hour consumption of ~45 amps.

In a different test, just checking the Link 2000 amps used overnight with almost nothing else running on the boat, we used 15.8 amps from 11:30 pm to 7:30 am. This translates to 47 amps on a 24 hour basis. Ambient temps in the boat were 78-80.

We do not yet have a ‘run time’ meter on the compressor, but this would be the best way to monitor how things are going without watching the cycling of the box. The compressor is so quiet that it’s hard to monitor unless you’re sitting right in front of it.

Our freezer space, located under the dinette table, has dimensions of 20.5” long x 12.5” wide x 22.5” deep for a total freezer volume of 3.3 cu ft. There is 3” of ‘blueboard refrigeration foam’ insulation all around except 2” on the top. This equates to ~R22 insulation (using Nigel Calder’s figure of R6.5 for the blueboard and a few R’s for the wood) except about R15 on the lid.

Net space gain in the freezer by Frigoboat conversion: ~.85 cu ft (from removing the bulk of the holding plates). This increased our ‘usable space’ in the freezer by about 40%.

After we recorded the statistics above, we used our handy-dandy Laser Digital Thermometer to check the temperatures in various parts of the freezer, and found that we really didn't need the thermostat set to 10 degrees. We have since nudged it up to 18 degrees. This should reduce the run time a little, and still keeps everything hard frozen.