Off season maintenance - the Poo Project

Tuesday 10 to Tuesday 17 July, Tuesday 2 to Monday 8 October, Wednesday 14 to Monday 26 November 2018

Link to Google Photos

In July, we are in Hobart for a week of work aboard on what we are calling the Poo Project. The engineer decided some time ago that we should replace all the hoses involved in the on-board sewerage system. The engineer's mate suggested that if we were taking apart the whole system, we should consider installing an on-board treatment plant. These things may become mandatory in the near future, so it seems like a good idea to do it now, rather than have to take the whole thing apart again in a year or so. So we purchase a Sani-Loo system and have it shipped to Hobart, ready to collect when we arrive on 10 July.

Without a functioning head and with stuff everywhere, living aboard would be difficult if not impossible, so we are staying at the Blichfeldts, minding their house while they are in Queensland.

Starting the day we arrive, the engineer progressively takes apart the existing system. After about four days there are components old and new and tools scattered from one end of the boat to the other, but after six days reconstruction is well under way, and we think the project should be pretty much complete by the time we are due to fly back.

Wrong! All the pieces are in place, but there is an air leak somewhere and so the Lavac pump doesn't work as it has to be able to create a vacuum to draw in flushing water. Problem is located at one of the hose fittings, but no amount of tightening of hose clamps fixes it. There is just too much of a bend in the hose in question. A rethink is required, but we've run out of time, so the project is only 95% complete.

We return in October, with a new plan. A T-fitting will replace a Y-valve, connections will be straight and we expect that will solve the vacuum problem. We are confident that 6 days should be plenty of time to make this adjustment, and we're looking forward to some other activities during our stay. We do manage a dinner and a lunch with the Blichfeldts, a dinner and lunch with Peter's colleague Rick, who is in Hobart to join Peter at a Pearcey Centre function, and a trip to the top of Mount Wellington on a beautiful sunny morning. But the rest of the time is spent working on the plumbing. After replacing the Y-valve with the T-fitting, we still have a leak - the macerator pump lets air through. Adding a ball valve stops that, but then the Sani-Loo leaks. Engineer has to take it out, pull it apart, find it is missing a seal, craft a substitute with plumbers tape. Engineer's mate is on hand to help, and we do get it finished, and have just enough time on our last day to visit Eagle Plastics with a spec for a screen to go round the whole installation. It's taken us a week to get from 95% to 99% complete. When we return there will still be a final tidy up to do, plus refitting the doors to the head and installing the new screen.

In November we return for a thirteen day stay. We arrive on the SoT on a Wednesday in plenty of time to do some provision shopping and collect our new screen and panel from Eagle Plastics. Over the next few days the engineer works on finalising electrical connections for the new system and fitting the screen and panel. This involves a return trip to Eagle plastics to do a major trim, and lots of smaller cutting exercises. The toilet has to be removed so that the new panel behind it can go in, and holes cut for various pipes, buttons and valve handles.

When not working on the boat, we reconnect with our lives down here, with Perk, Jeremy and Penny, Carl and Priscilla in the Marina, and with the Blichfeldt family and friends, with Tom and Anne, with Douglas and Robin. We also make a long trip down to South Arm to Diesel Marine to look at options for fitting a diesel heater for the boat, which is the engineer's latest idea for a project. Graham from Diesel Marine makes a return visit to look at Nahani and we all spend much time trying to work out where to place the heater (fairly straightforward) and where to run the ducting for both warm and return air (very difficult). After further thought, we decide we need to look at the possibility of putting a duct under the floor in the shed. Unusually for our boat, this floor was never designed to be taken up. It takes us about a day to find a way of doing it, which involves taking the hatches at the end of the shed apart, and then progressively cutting the floor into three pieces, and trimming the largest one down. So not only do we have the mess created by the work in the head to deal with, but we now have a collection of bits and pieces from the shed all over the saloon.

Towards the end of the stay we finally move from making a mess to tidying up. A bonus from having to empty the aft lockers in the shed is that much of what was in them doesn't go back, but goes to the on-shore shed instead, and awkward objects like seaboots take their place, making the space at the back of the shed much tidier and more manageable. Finally we are able to refit the doors to the shed and head for the first time since July, and the boat is respectable once more. The toilet roll holder and the sump pump handle find new homes and the project is 100% complete at last.

The picture shows the final installation. Click on this "after" pic to see the "before" and "during". [Top]

Moving berths, B5 to F12

Friday 14 December 2018

link to Google Photos

When we arrive in Hobart on Tuesday 11 December, we are dismayed to find that the large wooden motor cruiser which has been berthed behind us for all the time we've been in the RYCT Marina, has been replaced by an even larger modern fibreglass motor cruiser, which sticks out about 2m further than the old boat, with a big anchor on the bow. When we reverse out of our berth, the Captain has to steer us backwards between the boat in this cross-wise berth behind us, and a pontoon used by dinghy sailors. He needs to go well back into this space, to give us room to turn the boat through 90 degrees as we go forward and head towards the channel between the rock wall and B arm, without going too close to the boats on that arm. It is always tricky, but with a bigger boat in place, it goes from very difficult to almost impossible unless it is a flat calm. We decide that we need to do something, or we will spend the entire summer waiting for the right conditions to get out of the berth. We have a look at a new marina in North West Bay (much too exposed) and the Derwent Sailing Squadron (sorry, full up) before asking whether there is any other option in the RYCT. To our surprise and relief, there is. Berth F12 has just been vacated, and we can swap. F12 is the last double pen at the end of an arm. It is much further from the clubhouse, but we will no longer have to negotiate the narrow, shallow channel past the rocks, and our prop walk takes us in the right direction for a 90 degree turn as we reverse out of the berth. And the other boat in the berth is a small but solid fibreglass boat, so much less of a worry than the heritage wooden boat that we've been sharing a pen with for the last few years.

Friday morning has the oppressive calm-before-the-storm feeling in the morning, but as it is absolutely still, we grab the opportunity to move. First it's round to F12 to put some temporary lines there ready to pick up when we come in, and to look for someone to help us. A couple of blokes on a racing yacht are having a long discussion about tactics for the Sydney-Hobart race, but when we interrupt them they agree that they will be there for a while and will help us as we come in. Back to B5, and we make an easy exit as conditions are perfect and there are no little boats on the pontoon. But when we get round to the new berth, there is no sign of our helpers (later we see them in the clubhouse) and we are in difficulties as the wind is blowing us off. Fortunately someone comes to our aid, and we do get ourselves tied up safely, but not before running the pulpit into the light and water bollard, and breaking the light cover. Mate says rude words about people who promise to help and then just walk off. Very un-Tasmanian behaviour!

The remainder of Friday is spent moving our lines from the old berth to the new, and settling in. We find the new berth is much quieter, and we think the long walk is doing us good, so we're happy to have moved. Saturday we collect the cockpit grating which has been at the Blichfeldts while being mended and oiled, provision the boat and do a bit of other shopping. We have hopes of going out on Sunday, but there is a major thunderstorm forecast, so we have a quiet day erecting the pole that the pickup lines hang on, filling up with water, visiting the Tip Shop for more reading matter. It is a sensible decision, late in the afternoon the heavens open and we have 25mm of rain in an hour or so, with some thunder and lightning. Our first exit from the new berth is postponed until Monday. [Top]

First Channel trip

Monday 17 to Friday 21 December 2018

link to Google Photos

After almost a week of preparation and a change of berth, we finally get out of the marina and down the Channel. On Monday we wake to a lovely sunny morning and decide to go, despite a forecast of showers. Getting out of the new berth is almost stress-free and by 8am we are passing the Garrow light and waving to the Blichfeldts on their balcony. The showers do eventuate, but they are passing. They are followed by the predicted increase in the wind around midday, but by then we are comfortably moored in Sykes, having our first coffee of the day. The rest of the day is windy, cloudy and cool, so we relax, and enjoy a roast dinner in the evening.

The weather gradually improves on Tuesday and by afternoon it is warm enough and calm enough for the mate to don a wetsuit and make a heroic investigation under the boat, as the engineer is worried about a clicking noise we can hear when the engine is going. She finds nothing worse that a few mussels colonising the prop, which she removes with an oyster knife. As the forecast is for the wind to go to the north-east, later in the afternoon we slip the mooring and motor round the corner, past the fish farms, dodge the Bruny Island ferry and head into Apollo to pick up a mooring there.

We enjoy a beautiful warm sunny day in Apollo on Wednesday, beginning with breakfast on deck. After lunch we launch the dinghy, get the outboard motor out of its winter storage in the lazarette, and go across Apollo Bay on an oyster gathering trip. By the time we are both bleeding from minor cuts we have about a dozen and a half which we think is plenty, and we return to the mother ship, enjoying them later as an entree before a good steak.

Unfortunately the fine weather doesn't last. It rains gently all night, and there is another wind change forecast so we get up early (for us) and return to Sykes Bay. For the first time for ages we have trouble picking up the mooring and we are both cold and cross by the time we do. But the motor has warmed up the hot water, and after a hot shower and a hot chocolate apiece, all is well again. We spend Thursday hunkered down in Sykes, and make an early start on Friday to return to Hobart. We are expecting to have our first sail on the way back, but the forecast southerly doesn't eventuate and we motor all the way. We have a couple of false starts getting into the new berth, but even with that it is less stressful than getting into our old one. [Top]

Chasing the Sydney-Hobart maxis

Friday 28 to Monday 31 December 2018

link to Google Photos

After a week of socialising (80th birthday Friday, Juleaften at Blichfeldts on Monday, drinks with the Galaxsea crew on Tuesday, lunch in the Club for the start of the Sydney-Hobart and evening drinks with Blichfeldt Danish visitors on Wednesday, drinks with our new F-jetty neighbours aboard Indian Summer Thursday), we get up at sunrise on Friday, throw on our clothes and head out to see the Sydney-Hobart leaders come up the river. We are off the Garrow at 6:30am, and off Blackman's Bay when Wild Oats XI heaves into view round the end of South Arm. We watch her tacking (downwind), and about the time she passes us Comanche and BlackJack appear, and sail up neck and neck. Comanche is less than a minute ahead as they clear White Rock Point, but then BlackJack throws another tack and heads into the mouth of Ralph's Bay, while Comanche stays on port tack toward Crayfish Point. We think that Blackjack has made a smart move. We motor back up the river as the two yachts diverge, and are close enough when they finally come back together again to see that we are right: Blackjack is now ahead, and manages to hang on to her lead until the finish line. As we turn back downriver we get a lovely view of the maxi Infotrack coming up in fourth place. After that it's an excitement free motor back to Pierson's Point and down the Channel, where we finally unfurl a sail, but to little effect. By morning coffee time we are safely moored in Quarantine Bay, and ready for a rest.

We stay in Quarantine for the next two days, doing some minor boat maintenance in lovely sunny weather. The captain does some work on the anchor washdown pump and replaces the hose, then replaces a worn halyard on the lazy jacks. The mate touches up all the brightwork, sanding and varnishing. She also makes another underwater investigation trip, removing a few more mussels from around the prop and rudder, and giving the speed log wheel a spin, as it's not currently functioning. In between we laze about, read books and relax. On Monday 31 December we leave early to return in time for New Year's Eve festivities. The forecast southerly is very gentle, but at least we put up the jib in the river and motor-sail home, rather than motoring the whole way. Re-entry into the berth is fraught but even if you turn to soon, as we did, the situation is retrievable without any damage to anyone. [Top]

Norfolk Bay and beyond with Julie

Wednesday 9 to Wednesday 16 January 2019

We have Nahani set and ready to go on Wednesday before heading to the airport to collect Julie. We come straight back to the boat, wait a short while for some gusty weather to pass over, and then head out, motorsailing down river, round the Iron Pot and past Betsy, but then have a really good run up Frederick Henry Bay, through Flinders passage and round to Monk Bay, where we anchor for the night.

Thursday we have a lazy sail across from Monk Bay after lunch, and pick up Anthony's mooring in Murdunna (with a bit of difficulty). We take the dinghy ashore and walk up to the Murdunna Roadhouse, where we indulge ourselves with icecreams, and buy oysters which we have as starters after we return to the boat. Friday the wind is strong and keeps changing direction, so we stay in Murdunna which is all-weather.

It's still blowing on Saturday morning, so we defer departure until lunchtime. We have promised Anthony that we will leave the mooring with the rope looped around so that the eye-splice at the end is on the buoy, but we find this is impossible to do from the bow of Nahani. We contemplate trying to do it from the dinghy, but eventually decide that the simple answer is for the mate to be in the water when Julie casts off, ready to wrangle the rope into place, while the Captain keeps the boat under control. The plan works, providing entertainment to captain and crew as they watch the rope-wrangling. According to the crew, she looks like a seal as the mate lies on her back in the water using arms and legs to manage the rope and buoy. She swims back to the boat, re-boards via the ladder, and we are off for a rough trip down Norfolk Bay under motor, as it's still blowing quite hard from the south. Once we reach the shelter of Cascades beach we are able to make a comfortable dinghy trip ashore to join Sue's beach party for the remainder of the afternoon. In the evening we return to Nahani where the Blichfeldts join us for a dinner of party left-overs.

On Sunday we enjoy a sunny morning at Koonya, then head to Eaglehawk Neck as the wind comes up. Unfortunately the easterly is funneling down the bay, making it an uncomfortable anchorage, so we abandon the idea of going ashore for a walk and head into Taranna, pick up a mooring, then take a walk there.

We have a splendid sailing day on Monday, with a southeasterly taking us up Norfolk Bay, turning more easterly as we head to Frederick Henry Bay, then northeasterly as we head for Storm Bay. Half way down Frederick Henry Bay the wind drops, then goes southerly, so we motor-sail to Cape Contrariety, then sail past Betsy Island and the Iron Pot, across to the Channel, then tack down to Barnes Bay and moor in Quarantine. It's still warm enough when we arrive at about 5pm for the mate to have a swim. We enjoy a sunny evening and morning in Quarantine, and the mate decides to have another swim before we leave, this time with mask and weight belt so that she can have yet another go at getting the speed log working. After that she takes a brush to the weed and other growth along the waterline of the boat. When she re-boards, she finds that the brown scum on her hands, arms and bathers is alive - some kind of sea lice? She makes an immediate return to the water to try and slosh them off, and finishes the job with a hot shower and total immersion of the bathers. After that it's time for lunch, and then we drop the mooring and head back to Hobart, sailing most of the way and with the speed log functioning at last. The captain is nervous about getting back into the pen, so when the wind increases as we approach the RYCT Marina, we chicken out and go and anchor near the Casino until the wind eases. When we return, the Brownscombes are there to help, but the Captain makes a near perfect entry to the pen so they aren't needed, except to cheer as we make our first really successful arrival in our new berth.

We have timed our return well, as there is a big thunderstorm that evening, rain overnight and Wednesday starts cool and gloomy as a result of smoke from fires started by lightning strikes. The Brownscombes join us for a splendid lunch at a winery, by which time we are back to warm sunshine. In the evening we try out the built-in DVD player in our newly purchased 12v TV, and on Thursday we farewell Julie, taking her to the airport for a midday flight. [Top]

To Cygnet and Dover

Friday 22 to Wednesday 27 February 2019

After a frustrating fortnight or more when the fires in the Huon Valley made sailing in the Channel unattractive, if not impossible, and a ten-day return trip to Melbourne, we finally leave the RYCT Marina on Friday for the first time since mid-January. The forecast is for north-easterly winds, but we have the usual mix, motoring to Bonnet Point, motor-sailing into a headwind down the Derwent, motor-sailing and tacking against the wind in the north end of the Channel. We finally cut engines when we are off Apollo Bay, and sail slowly down to Little Fancy, turning the engine on again when we lose the wind altogether with about a mile to go. We are anchored mid-afternoon, when it is still hot enough for the mate to go for a swim before doing some clarinet practice and making dinner. There is still enough west in the wind to make Little Fancy a bit rolly, but we are comfortable enough there overnight.

We begin the next day motoring into a southwest wind on the nose as far as Simpson's point. We are interested to see how sheltered it is inside the point when the wind is coming from the southwest, so we stop there and have a pleasant lunch in good shelter from the wind. By the time we finish the wind has shifted to the southeast as forecast, the anchorage is getting less calm, and we head off again, round the point and down toward Gordon. The wind isn't that strong, or that favourable, so we motor sail until we are south of Huon Island, then sail northwest into the Huon River and up the estuary to Port Cygnet, anchoring in time for tea.

On Sunday we take the dinghy to the Port Cygnet Sailing Club jetty and walk into town. The town is very much alive, almost all the cafes are open and doing good business. We note several new ones that have appeared since we were here last year. We shop for a couple of staples that we are running short of (teabags and gin), lunch at the Lotus Eaters, pick up some shirts for Peter, books and DVDs at Re-find, a favourite second-hand shop. We walk back, have a cool drink at the yacht club before taking the dinghy back to the boat. We are ready to go at about 4pm by which time there is an easterly breeze - perfect for heading down the estuary. Except of course, it doesn't last - we have a bit of easterly, a bit of westerly, and quite a lot of nothing much, so it's motor-sailing again. In the mouth of the Huon there is more wind but we are sailing to windward, so we leave the motor on until we clear the point and head to Dover on a beam reach, doing a comfortable 5kt. At the mouth of Port Esperance we douse most of the sails, leaving just the headsail up as we run in past Hope, Faith and Charity islands. By the time we reach the mooring the wind has dropped out making pickup easy, and we are in time to watch the sun set over Anderson's Peak as we have our g&ts on deck.

Monday morning we go ashore and walk into Dover, which seems a bit livelier than when we were last in town. We are pleased to find the bakery cafe is back in operation and stop for coffee and cake. The cakes are good (although we miss the raspberry tarts which were a speciality of the previous bakers) but the coffee looks and tastes like muddy water. We resolve that next time we will try the coffee shop in the rather pretentiously named Southgate Shopping Centre, which looks much brighter and better patronised than it has previously. On return to Nahani the wind has gone to the south as forecast, so we head out, preparing for a brisk sail across the south end of the Channel. We prepare to put sail up before we get clear of Esperance Harbour, as it is always blowing hard just at the mouth, and this is when things start to go wrong. We think it advisable to put the second reef in the main, but find that we can't get the second reef strop on the hook without major sail rearrangement, which we probably should have done before we started. Captain thinks that there is enough wind for us to make progress with just the staysail (it's blowing about 27 knots), but as the mate hauls up the staysail, the snap-shackle unsnaps from the head of the sail and jams in the block, leaving the sail fluttering on the forestay. No option but to pull the staysail down again, wrestle it back into the sailbag, and then to use the headsail. We start cautiously with the sail only partially unfurled and with the engine still providing power to cut through the rising seas, then gradually ease out more once we're past obstacles like the fish farms. Once we reach Gordon we are on a run, and the headsail alone is now sufficient to take us up to Barnes Bay at around 5 knots without motor. After a good sail we are moored in Sykes Bay by 5pm.

We spend a quiet day there on Tuesday as it is cold and windy with occasional showers. Some time back the captain noted that our fifth water tank never gets emptied, so decided to empty the five tanks in reverse order from the usual. Some time later, we forgot about that plan, and started from the normal direction. As we are showering on Tuesday morning, we discover, for the first time ever, that we are out of water. We have just enough for essentials like cups of tea and coffee, but we and the dishes go unwashed for a day.

On Wednesday morning sunshine and calm weather return and we motor up the Channel and motor-sail up the Derwent in a gentle breeze. When we reach the Marina it's blowing about 10kt from the SE, which is just enough to make getting into the pen tricky, and it doesn't go well. We are a bit shaky by the time we finally get the boat in place with all lines secure. It's been an enjoyable time out, spoilt a little by the untidy berthing, the knowledge that we have a halyard jammed near the top of the mast, running out of water, and by the discovery that the oil seal on the prop shaft is leaking oil. We address the first issue by thinking about and testing out different positioning of lines for pickup as we come in, refill the water tanks and do the overdue dishwashing, but decide the other two problems can wait for another day.

Postscript - two days later: With a bit of very clever work with ropes and halyards we get a loop of rope around the snapshackle that is jammed in the block at the top of the forestay. The loop is a noose which we pull tight, and then, to the mate's surprise and the captain's delight (it was his idea), the noose holds on the shackle and we are able pull the shackle loose, then use the halyard to lower it back to the deck. We don't have to find someone to go up the mast for us - hooray! A second win comes when we find the oil leak is coming not from the shaft itself, but from a loose hose clamp on the feeder pipe. Easily remedied, no drama with having to remove the prop shaft to replace a leaking seal. [Top]

Down the Channel with the Evans

Thursday 7 to Sunday 10 March 2019

We collect the Evans from the airport on Thursday morning, shop for provisions and are ready to leave about lunch time. We exit the berth in a gentle northerly, with the usual combination of motor-sailing down the river and the top of the Channel, then having a pleasant sail to the Quarries, with a bit of serious wind just after we decide to strike sails and motor the last mile or so.

We are well sheltered in the Quarries from the strong southerly change forecast for Friday. We take the dinghy ashore and walk up to the cliff top late morning, in time to see the contrast between the wind and waves on the west side of the promontory and the calm on the east side where we are moored. We are back on board just before the rain accompanying the change sets in.

On Saturday it is flat calm, warm and sunny again. We motor back up the Channel and across to Ford Bay, where we pick up a mooring and go ashore for a delicious lunch at the Bruny Island Cheese Factory. Not only do we enjoy the usual offerings of cheese, but also sample the beer from the bar that has been added since we were last there. Replete with lunch we motor back across to Kinghorn Point and round into Apollo for the night.

We have wind on Sunday, but all from the wrong direction, so it's motoring all the way back up the Channel and the Derwent Estuary to the marina, where we make a good landing with the northerly breeze blowing us on to the jetty. We are in the berth in time to go for lunch at the Frogmore Creek Lounge, visit the Mawson Hut replica and take the Evans to the airport in time for their late afternoon flight. [Top]

Port Davey

Sunday 17 March to Thursday 4 April 2019

Port Davey is enough of a voyage to warrant a page of its own. [Top]