Friday, 20 May 2016

NZ-Fiji Day 7 - Watermaker woes - fixed!

Hello!

It's the wee hours of the morning again - and for the first time in days, we are sailing! We have just "rounded the corner" SE of South Minerva, and have started heading NNW towards the western side of North Minerva. We had reduced our motoring speed from 6 kts to 3 kts for the last few hours, and I was able to shut down the engine as we turned. We actually want to go slowly, as we need daylight to enter the lagoon, so the gentle wind of about 5-6 kts that has filled in is perfect to ghost us along at 3-4 kts. For once, I am grateful for the current against us! It is funny to think of reefing in such light winds, but I may need to do so if it picks up at all. This is one of those moonlit evenings under sail that we dream of when we are ashore. The temperature is comfortable, the sea is flat, and the only sounds are the lapping of the waves against the hull and the hum of the "gnomes" in the lazarette (who gently coax Fluenta to sail in the right direction).

As an aside - I forgot to mention that we had nearly two knots of current helping us yesterday - I only remembered when we had more than a knot against us earlier today. We win some and we lose some.

Today was another motorboat day. Max had hopes of sitting and reading in the cockpit [or doing a celestial class], but some funny bubbles that wouldn't clear in the watermaker had him wearing his sleuthing hat all day, investigating his favourite subject: plumbing! It turned out that the problem *wasn't* caused by the filter bowl where he had just changed a filter, or by the leaky fitting into the filter that he took apart to add some teflon tape (that was part of it, but not the fix). He followed the bubbles back through the system, and found that the input valve that we use for pickling the system had a warped fitting. Bypassing the valve and wrapping the resulting (somewhat ill fitting) joiner with Rescue Tape and two hose clamps did the trick, and we were back in business making water in the afternoon [this is kind of ironic as I commented a few months ago that our watermaker is almost new: I have replaced both feed pumps and the membrane and overhauled the clark pump (twice if you remember the saga from last year) and all that was left was hoses and valves ... Max] This was lovely, since the combination of lots of power and lots of water meant pre-arrival showers (for everyone but Johnathan, who refused on the basis that he had already had one this week; given that he is a ten-year-old boy who will likely be swimming (and therefore showering anyway) by tomorrow, I let him off).

We are hoping to anchor in North Minerva tomorrow morning, and we will spend a few days there (hopefully snorkelling, etc) waiting for favourable winds before heading to Fiji.

Love to all,

Elizabeth
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At 2016-05-14 1:45 PM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 23°54.40'S 179°00.50'W
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At 2016-05-14 6:36 PM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 23°39.82'S 179°03.32'W

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Thursday, 19 May 2016

NZ to Fiji Day 6 - Albatross!

2230L 19 May 2016

Hello,

Victoria has gone to bed, and it is Johnathan's turn to be on-watch with me. Earlier in the evening, Victoria and I spent some time "singing-through" one of our songbooks while the rest of the family was below. The sound of the engine made sure that we didn't keep anyone awake who was sleeping (and it let the bashful non-performers in us feel that we were singing for fun and not putting on a show!)
For the last few days, we have fallen into a routine where Max gets his big sleep in the evening and the morning, and I get my big sleep during the day. This certainly makes my days go by quickly, and means that I don't have as much of Benjamin's help when I am alone on watch in the night. It is kind of funny to miss a good portion of the family time during the day, but I really enjoy the individual time in the quiet dark with Victoria and/or Johnathan when the rest of the boat is asleep :)

I woke from my off-watch this afternoon to great excitement: an Albatross had been spotted flying near our boat. Even Benjamin was excitedly saying, "abatross! abatross!!" We didn't get much in the way of photos, but I guess it did a couple of passes of the boat, and then went on his or her way. We visited the Royal Albatross Center near Dunedin (South Islsand) on our New Zealand camping trip, so V & J were pretty familiar with the context of this bird's journey. The other huge bird who overflew us today was an RNZAF P-3 Orion, checking in with each boat in the area. Even though we have hardly seen another boat since we left (maybe 2-3), there seemed to be plenty of vessels in VHF range of the Orion, so we will have to watch ever more carefully for traffic as we all (likely) converge on Minerva.

Max (and Miriam) also talked to a German boat this afternoon. According to our AIS receiver, they were going unusually slowly. It turns out that they were experiencing engine problems [failed injector pump - not something you can fix at sea and I have never heard of anyone carrying such an expensive spare], so they were very matter-of-factly waiting for wind. They have plenty of food and lots of time, so they will fix their engine when they arrive in Tonga, and no, thank you, they didn't need any help [but they appreciated us checking in to see if they needed anything].

We are slowly feeling the transition to the tropics. The days have been warm all along, but the nights are starting to catch up. That being said, we (especially I) still need fleece layers in the cockpit tonight, but I have not enclosed it with as many clear panels as on previous nights, and we have left a hatch open into the saloon. It seems hard to believe that in a couple of days we will be snorkelling at Minerva Reef, and a short while after that we will be sweltering in Fiji!

You may be wondering how we pass the days on board. I made a trip to a marvelous second-hand bookshop in Whangarei when we were there a few weeks ago, and replenished our kids' book cupboard. Victoria and Johnathan have a book on the go all the time. When they are not reading, they are busy building in their various Minecraft worlds. Since it has been so flat, we have been doing a bit of school (Brave Writer copywork, and Life of Fred math ... these are new resources that our SelfDesign learning consultant recommended, and we are loving. If I had Internet, I would include links, but the sites are easy to find ... suffice to say that our home schooling is going much better now that we have found a system that is a better fit for our family!!!!) Tomorrow, we have some celestial nav on our proposed "to do" list. Last but not least, I almost forgot to mention Benjamin ... he keeps everyone busy [Benjamin and I spent time building in a fort out of cushions in the cockpit]!

We continue to drag two fishing lures, but we are not seeing many fish. Since we finished the two that we caught almost simultaneously off NZ, we have been eating chicken that we canned in Auckland. We are hopeful for something tasty when we approach the Minerva Reefs.

On the sailing front, this is our most unusual passage ever. Recently we have had days of motoring interspersed with minimal sailing. Today was another in this vein. We motored for most of the night, sailed for part of the morning, and we have been motoring ever since about midday. We currently have 2.0 kts of wind; in general, it is 1 kt gusting to 5 kts and the sea is again absolutely glassy. For the moms who worry: we have more than sufficient diesel to motor to Minerva. We expect the wind to fill in while we pause at Minerva, giving us a mostly-sailing passage to Savusavu, although we will still have some diesel for that passage as well. Max and Johnathan transferred the last of our jerry cans into the internal tanks this afternoon. Max is constantly vigilant regarding our fuel consumption, as we have one tank that the others feed into, so it is a juggling act to use the various tanks on a rotating basis. Diesels do not like the introduction of air into the fuel lines [air is compressible unlike diesel so the injector pump and injectors, which rely on precise prssures do not work with any air in the system], and running out of fuel by emptying a tank means bleeding the engine in seven places. Over-filling the aft tank by not switching back to it soon enough means a diesel leak into the bedroom (we know this from the stain that was on one of our cupboards from the previous owners when we bought the boat!) Suffice to say that we are always counting down the hours until we next need to switch fuel tanks! [as part of the spreadsheet I use to manage the boat I have a fuel page where I track fuel usage, consumption rates, and fills plus other thing like amounts of biocide to add when filling. Max]

That's about all the news of the day ... we hope this note finds you in good spirits,

Love,
Elizabeth
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At 2016-05-14 2:36 PM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 35°43.41'S 175°24.64'E
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At 2016-05-14 7:23 PM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 25°12.60'S 179°38.92'W

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Wednesday, 18 May 2016

NZ to Fiji - Day 5 - Shifty winds

Hello,

0500L 19 May 2016

I will keep this short, as Victoria is on watch with/for me. We woke her at 0400 to stand watch with me so that I have an extra set of hands if/when Benjamin wakes up. Yesterday, he woke as I went on watch at this time and stayed awake! It is nice that Victoria and Johnathan have different rhythms: depending on when we need the extra help, we can call on the one who likes to be awake in the late evening or the one who likes early mornings :) Victoria is keeping a close eye on the wind, as we are motoring, and if it comes back up with any strength we will sail again.

It has been that kind of day - the wind was forecast to drop off around noon, but we still had 6-16 kts until well after midnight. Each time it dipped, we wondered if *this* was the end and we would have to start the engine, then a few minutes later, it would build back up to well over 10 kts. We have generally had the wind behind us (and in fact, we used the poled-out genoa for much of the day) but it came forward in the evening (causing us to stow the pole before dark), then fell back behind us again overnight (causing us to wish that we still had it out). If we have any wind in the morning, I suspect we will raise it again, but we decided to "make do" without it overnight, as it is heavy and awkward to maneuver... Miriam stayed up for both of our overnight watches: she came on with me in the late evening, then stayed up through Max's midnight-4am watch. It was good to have an extra pair of eyes/hands, as we were "hand steering with the autopilot". In other words, we were keeping the autopilot on wind-hold, but then we were tweaking the direction in order to keep ourselves on course as the wind shifted. Why didn't we use "auto" to keep it on one course? The winds were so shifty that we couldn't always hold our desired course, so the boat sailed better when we kept it on wind-hold. It kept us on our toes to continually calculate between the true wind direction, the apparent wind direction and the course over ground to keep ourselves on the fastest course towards our way-point. Although the seas got a bit lumpy and confused by midnight (in time for Max to come on watch), we had pretty settled conditions, and at times were charging/surfing down our rhumb line with 15 kts of wind, and the swell, behind us. Hand steering would also have been an option, but in the fluky winds, it seemed more prudent to let "Sammy" drive.

Why all this effort to steer a fast course? We are hoping to get to Minerva Reef ahead of some heavy (or at least heavier) weather and big swells. This means that we need to get to the reef entrance when the light is high (ie approx mid-day) as we are back into waters with lagoon entrances, bombies, and sketchy charts. We will have a person standing at the bow as we enter the reef and cross to the anchorage. If we miss our window, it is likely that we would have to keep heading straight for Fiji. We are all pretty motivated to make the window!!

That's about all the news for tonight. Everyone is in good spirits, but we will be glad to get there!

Good timing, as Benjamin is calling me ... it's 5:30 and he is ready to go on-watch for the day!

Love,
Elizabeth
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At 2016-05-14 4:23 PM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 27°45.98'S 179°09.43'E
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At 2016-05-14 10:26 PM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 27°14.24'S 179°22.85'E

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Tuesday, 17 May 2016

NZ to Fiji Day 3-4: A little bit of everything

16-17 May 2016

Greetings :)

We have seen a little of everything in the last couple of days, from winds too light for our spinnaker and a 12-hour motorboat trip to 20 kts with agitated seas that had us hanging on and enduring. Our current state is that we are running downwind with our genoa poled out, and the seas have settled considerably. This point of sail is known for being rolly; it is certainly living up to its reputation, but it is not a terribly uncomfortable motion.

Yesterday morning, I ended my night watch with dropping wind, and woke Max to hoist the spinnaker in the daylight. It is always a tough call for me between waking the off-watch and keeping the boat moving, but when the wind reduced from 8 kts to 6 kts, I decided that it was time. Ironically, we went through the exercise of hoisting the spinnaker, only to douse it again a few minutes later when we went down to 2 kts of wind. Soon we had under a knot, and the surface of the ocean was glassy. This was the beginning of a motorboating day.

The upside of motoring in a millpond is that it generates hot water, so we had early-in-the-passage showers to take advantage of the calm conditions. While I was enjoying a long off-watch sleep, Max and the kids repaired some tiny holes in the spinnaker (in Victoria's words, "we just acetoned it and stuck sail-repair tape on it" - I am sure that this is a typical area of expertise for a 12-year-old!), Max optimized our new alternator-regulator setup, and he transferred the diesel from our jerry cans into the internal fuel tanks. This is much easier without the boat pitching and rolling!! We had also planned to make water with all the engine power we were generating, but this will be a job for another day: the filter was pretty nasty after we filled our tank in Auckland harbour, and somehow the usual introduction of air caused by changing it took longer to clear than usual. Once we got it sorted, it was evening, the wind had come back up, and there was no longer an excess of power to use. Oh well.

We concluded our motoryacht day with "Mexican Night" in the cockpit: we used the last of our Kawahai to make ceviche and we used some of the chicken that Victoria and Miriam had canned to make burritos. I didn't manage to get it served by sunset (5:30) but even in the dark it was tasty!

As I came on watch last night after dinner, the wind was building in one of my favourite configurations - we were on a fast close-reach in a minimal sea. It feels like Fluenta is a horse galloping towards a favourite stable. Throughout my watch, the winds backed and built, so that by the time Max and Miriam came on in the middle of the night, we were broad reaching, and the seas were growing. They saw winds into the low 20's. The motion was safe but not comfortable: we had had our holiday, and now we were back at sea!!

This afternoon, we did one of those jobs that shouldn't be a challenge, but it still feels like it will be: we hoisted our spinnaker pole so we could pole out our genoa (ie the sail was flapping and flogging because it was in the wind shadow of the main sail, and we used the pole to hold it out straight on the windward side of the boat so it could fly in clean air; this is sometimes called sailing wing-on-wing). The reason I find this daunting is that the pole is big and heavy, it takes four lines being rigged to get it into position, and I have a fear (based on inexperience, not necessarily on reality) that it is going to fall on someone's head or knock someone (Max) over at any moment). With Miriam as an extra pair of hands at the mast, myself at the helm, Max at the bow, Victoria on lines in the cockpit, and Johnathan below with Benjamin, it went incredibly smoothly. One of my goals for this season is for this to become an easy, second-nature type of job that we just do when it is the right thing to do, without having to convince ourselves that it is worth the bother. Hoisting and launching our outboard engine used to be similarly daunting, and now we just get on with it when we need to :) Like any new habit, it will just take time and practice. Hoisting the spinnaker pole was certainly worth the effort: it only took us a few minutes, and soon both sails were filled and driving the boat. Despite the lumpy seas, we were sailing comfortably in about 12-17 kts, and basically pointing towards Minerva Reef.

The last couple of nights (with or without ideal sailing conditions) have been beautiful for the chance to sail under the moonlight again. The moon is waxing, the sky is clear, and there is so much light that it just seems like a bright, gray day (each one longer than the last). We are seeing bioluminescence again, too, so all in all, it is nice to be back out on passage. Of course, I suspect that part of my enjoyment of these windy, clear evenings comes from the fact that we can lower our new "clears" to block the wind, rain, and spray, leaving us in cozy comfort in the cockpit. Believe it or not, I haven't even been cold!!! We still marvel each day at how glad we are to have had them done on Opua this season. (On a funny note - we have had to incorporate jibing our clears into the routine for jibing the mainsail: we have been enclose the upwind side, and leaving the down wind side open so we can access the deck and adjust lines, so now we have to roll up the panels before we jibe.

Evening watches have also provided the opportunity for some neat conversations with Victoria and Johnathan. Max & Miriam have gone off-watch after supper, leaving the kids and me on watch. Benjamin has been falling asleep in my lap much earlier than usual, so the big kids and I have just been chatting for a few hours. I never know what to expect; last night the topic was university, and what it would be like to go, what programmes are offered, etc. (Of course, they were asking about the relative merits of the two schools that Max and I went to so I have to put my biases aside and try to answer fairly!) We have friends with kids who are already at the school-choosing stage, but it seems surreal that we are already having these conversations as well.

As for Benjamin, university is a long way off, but he is talking up a storm now, and even Miriam, who translates from baby-talk to English to German can generally understand what he wants. It is especially funny to hear him throw some of the more coloquial phrases into his speech (eg "whatever!", "no problem", "I'm fine"). He likes to look for "gnomes in the tunnel" (ie the mysterious drivers of Fluenta who hide in the aft lazarette aka the autopilot), and he is very possessive of my lap: "do 'way 'Toria" or "do 'way Johnny" (go away Victoria/Johnny) when one of them is encroaching on his space! He is always repeating what we say to one another, but with a hard "a" in "says": Johnny says it; Daddy says it. One of his favourite games on passage is to pretend to spray water. When he is 'sprayed' we have to watch behind him, as he will collapse as if he has been knocked over, regardless of what he is going to fall on! Needless to say, it is a lot of work keeping him entertained, but he also entertains us!

On that note, it is (Wednesday morning and) time to raise the spinnaker again, so I will sign off for now.

Love to all,

Elizabeth
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At 2016-05-14 10:38 PM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 29°08.14'S 178°47.79'E
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At 2016-05-14 10:49 PM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 29°07.68'S 178°48.11'E

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Sunday, 15 May 2016

NZ to Fiji Days 1-2: Farewell NZ and fish for dinner!

Greetings,

It seems like a *very* long time since I have sat at the laptop and sent out a note. I hope you have enjoyed all the photos Max has been posting in the meantime!

We left NZ early on Saturday afternoon, 14 May, with beautiful sunny weather. There were loads of boats out sailing in Auckland harbour, and it seemed a fitting way to depart the "City of Sails" after almost two months in the area. We even found ourselves passing through the fleet of a Saturday afternoon race! Our passage up through the Hauraki Gulf was smooth and fast, with our boat speed getting up above 7.5 kts. Although this passage will be slightly longer than if we had left from Opua (as originally planned), it was nice to have the sheltered waters of the Hauraki Gulf for Miriam's first day at sea with us. We even received a departure gift of a pair of Kawahai fish as we passed out of the Gulf. Our departure last year from Marsden Cove (Whangarei) straight into the open ocean was a bit less enjoyable...

The calm of the afternoon of sailing was in stark contrast to the intensity of the previous week. In addition to the hours of provisioning, stowing, equipment checking and passage nav planning that typically precede a voyage, we were also travelling back and forth across town for kite boarding lessons (which kept being cancelled due to lack of wind - it seems that "el Nino" was having some fun with NZ weather and it was unseasonably calm). In general, I don't mind spending hours at the beach watching for white caps, but it was hard to be in two places at once, and while I was out not-kiting, no one was buying and stowing the groceries! The funny thing is that all month long, I had a sense that the lessons would occur, that we didn't need to worry, but my optimism was tested, since after the first few lessons in mid-April, the next good windy day was the *very* last day before we left. On the bright side, it was a day that was well worth waiting for, and we both finished on a high note, with a fantastic day on the water. At one time, I counted a dozen kites in the air, and almost that many more in various stages of preparation in front of me on the grass. I found it particularly inspirational to be out in the same area where people were zipping by doing jumps and tricks while I was learning the basic skills; I have a long way to go, but I was holding my own and controlling the kite in gusty conditions (this was in stark contrast to my previous lesson where in similar conditions, I was totally rattled, and wondering if I might never try it again!) I was mostly practicing the beginner "body dragging" techniques, but Max had graduated to riding on the board and zooming across the bay :)

The sale of our van was another "last minute" detail that tested our both our optimism and our persistence. It turns out that the only taker for a 23-year-old minivan with almost 300K km on it (not to mention balding tires and duct tape holding some of the trim in place) is a scrap yard. I found one that would not only come to the marina and pick it up from us, but would pay us slightly more than the one to which I had driven to find out that our van had reached "end of life"; I arranged for the van to be collected at 5pm on Friday afternoon (ie the last appointment on the last day before we left). Somehow, there was a mixup, and at the appointed hour, the flatbed driver was across town and heading home to dinner; there was no possible way he would come back to get the van. With NZ Customs booked for 0730 the next day, his offer of coming on Saturday morning at 1000 didn't help! When I pleaded my case with their office, speaking with the rep who had made the original booking, I asked that, at the very least, he send someone to take my keys; he personally agreed to come on his own time later in the evening, as he would be in the area anyway. This seemed like a win-win situation - I would have the van for the last grocery run, saving a 10-minute walk with bags of fruit & veg, and it would be off my hands before bedtime. There was another wrinkle waiting, however: once again, the appointed hour came and went, with no sign of my new friend. I was starting to wonder how this would play out, but since he had given me his mobile number, I just started calling. It looked less than promising, as he had changed his plans, and not come to our area after all. I didn't much like the suggestion of leaving our keys and banking info so they could collect the car and send us the money after we had left! Fortunately, a few minutes later, I got a text that my friend would make a special trip across town, right then, despite the late hour, and sort it out. True to his word, he came straight over, cash and receipt book in hand, and by the time we went to bed, we no longer owned the van that had taken us to Bluff and back! Mistakes had been made, but this young man stepped to the plate and made things right.

Given all this excitement on our last day, we actually called Customs and left them a message that we would like a couple more hours in the morning; when we called back at 0605 to confirm that they had received our message (and would not be coming to the boat at 0700), the fellow was surprised that I was awake again: "Didn't you just call us at midnight??". It was nice to see a human face on a government institution. Every minute of the morning was spent stowing and lashing items into place. While we were kiting, Miriam, Victoria, and Johnathan had spent the day doing the pre-passage cooking that I usually do, so we had rice, pasta, muffins, and pancakes to take with us on the journey; these things all needed to be arranged for easy access in the fridge in case no one felt like being in the galley for the first few days. By the time the Customs folks came by in the late morning, pretty much everything was ready for our departure. For the first time, we had made a "passage planning" white board, and it was fun to see all the tasks checked off :) We even remembered to take a crew photo on the dock before our neighbours helped us to cast off our lines.

Everyone is adjusting well to being back on passage. Victoria and Johnathan have spent lots of time explaining various aspects of sailing to Miriam (we remind them regularly that she has taken a course and done many day-trips so it is not all new to her). Benjamin is totally at ease. He was less than enthusiastic the first time we put his harness back on him, but he has gotten used to it now, and doesn't complain when we make him wear it (which is good, as he wears it all the time, including when he sleeps below).

As usual, sleep is a key aspect of off-shore passage making. Apparently, we had a beautiful sail up through the Hauraki Gulf yesterday, but I didn't see much of it, as I went off-watch with Benjamin when he napped shortly after our departure from Pier 21. Max and I were both really tired going into the passage, so our night watches were a bare 4-hours each last night; these will get longer over the next few days as we get more rested, and accustomed to being awake at all hours.

By this morning, when I woke Max to go on-watch, the wind was really light (6-8 kts) so it turned out to be a perfect spinnaker day. We woke Miriam to tell her that we needed to take her sleeping companion (ie the sail) from the V-Berth, and by 0900 we were flying it. Again, I describe the glorious day of spinnaker sailing from a second-hand perspective, as I went to sleep once the sail was flying, and didn't emerge from my bunk until 1630. With the exception of a couple of no-wind motoring periods, Max, Miriam, and the kids had flown the spinnaker all day. As for me, I felt rested for the first time in ages!

By dinnertime, the wind had dropped, the spinnaker was stowed, and we were motoring. The sea is like glass, the sky is clear, and we are trying to remind ourselves that it is not always like this at sea!!

When we raced with Nirvana back in January, one of their other friends brought Kawahai sashimi, so we tried some with our fish tonight. We felt pretty spoiled with a first course of sashimi, and a second course of Kawahai cooked in butter served with brown rice and broccoli, all enjoyed in the moments after the sun sank peacefully into a flat sea. It was a tasty way to start the passage :)

The kids, Miriam, and I played "Who am I" for at least two hours this evening while Max was off-watch; she is a really good sport for playing their games with them :)

It seems that it will be a light-wind passage to Minerva Reef, then a trough will go over us, and we should have wind from Minerva to Fiji. Time will tell ...

Love to all,
Elizabeth
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At 2016-05-14 12:07 PM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 34°01.70'S 176°03.88'E
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At 2016-05-14 1:12 PM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 33°56.26'S 176°06.81'E

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Thursday, 12 May 2016

More Auckland - Passage preps, Monkeys, Lancasters and Yet More Cake

Yes ... still in Auckland.  A really nice city in a really nice country but we are ready to get back to Fiji.

Provisioning has been a major task as we may be 18 months before coming back to a first world country.  That being said we have had some time to be tourists too with trips to the zoo and the Transportation Museum.

Another highlight has been Nirvana's visit on their way back to the US and visiting NZ friends (Sud-Ouest) we met in the Marquesas who know have all the grown up stuff like a jobs and a house.

We have moved out of the marina and are now anchored out in front of downtown. Very scenic and convenient but not too comfortable with the ferry wake and the weekend powerboaters.

And of course, more birthdays ... this time mine and Victoria made an amazing cake.

Photos ...

The view from the anchorage

The view from the anchorage

Nirvana stops by on their way to the airport!  So sad to see them go.

Nirvana stops by on their way to the airport!

Now those are serious hamsters.

The super cool NZ Tuatara.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuatara  Had to go to the zoo to finally see one.

Dangerous zoo animals.

Bad hair day

The side of the my birthday cake by Victoria

The top of the birthday cake.

Some of the provisioning in the background

and a bit of kiting.

a rare Lancaster bomber

This is blurry because Benjamin snuck into this cockpit and I couldn't get him out other than by dragging him by his ankles before security showed up.  There was plexiglass on both side except a six inch gap.

There are some many boats in New Zealand that they need to stack them.

Our berth at Pier 21

Lot of racing to watch especially as one of the marks was near the boat.

Lot of canning for the passage.

Waffles prepared by Victoria and Johnathan for Mother's Day.

Benjamin studying up for Fiji.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Six Month Maintenance Summary - New Zealand Edition - The Sequel

As promised in the last maintenance summary, here is summary of the maintenance conducted since we arrived in New Zealand.

Of interest, we have been cautioned not to publish such lists as, in the very distant future, when we may want to sell Fluenta the potential buyers may be scared off because they will discover cruising is actually a fair amount of work.  Perhaps, but the reality is that any complex machine used in the harsh marine environment will need lots of maintenance.  Further, it is not only old boats but even likely more frustratingly, new really expensive boats that need constant maintenance (was listening to stories of an almost new multi-million catamaran that spent most of the season in the yard ...).

What is nice about this list is that there some capital improvements to Fluenta that will make her more pleasurable to live on and sail:

  • Rain enclosures:  Peter from South Pacific Marine Canvas did an excellent job designing and building us a rain enclosure around our cockpit.  It is designed so that the boat can be sailed with it partially up and works together with our UV panels.  Peter has logged many miles sailing and was great to work with.  We had been planning this project for several years but waited until we found someone we could trust to do the job.  Liz had bought all the material last year when a canvas shop closed.
  • Battery Charging:  Another project that has been on the books for several years.  At anchor we are pretty much energy neutral with our big solar array and wind generator.  Any battery charging shortfall or the occasional battery equalisation is done with our great little Honda 2000 petrol powered generator at anchor.  On windward passages the wind generator steps up to the plate and again makes us close to battery neutral even with our big autopilot (for example, from the ITCZ to the Marquesas we did not need to run the Honda or the engine to charge). Downwind is another story altogether though.  We have used the Honda at sea but it varies between being merely inconvenient to just plain impractical.  Our old alternator set up on the diesel propulsion engine was okay but not optimized for battery charging at low RPM's.  As we cruise at about 1400 to 1500 RPM on the Perkin 4.236 so we are not spinning the alternators very fast.  Our new system has two 120 amp alternators working together controlled by a Balmar 612-Dual regulator.  Using the Balmar belt regulator function I have derated the alternators to reduce the load on them and still get about 155 amps at a high idle.  Perfect for charging our big house bank (940 amp hours at 12V) on passage while still sailing.  As well, we get the maximum charge during the short periods we run the engine to enter and leave anchorages and tight passes.  There is still the stock alternator that charges the separate engine start battery.  This project of course led me look closer at the rest of the system and clean up or replace many of the power busses in the rest of the electrics as well as add new alternator brackets.
  • Sink Drain Pump.  Okay, this doesn't sound too exciting but it is ... twice, yes twice we have had departures delayed as the sink drains have failed.  The lovely sink drains that I had sourced in back streets of Mexico and Fiji did not like the fact that they would be exposed to sea water depending on the heel and load of the boat.  Also, as the old system relied on gravity to drain the grey water to the sea a quite amazing ecosystems would grow in the pipes requiring much effort to clean.  In the new system there is a big gulper diaphragm pump that pulls the grey water out of the sink, sends it up and over a vented loop and then down to a thru-hull.  Now no sea water comes back to the sink, nothing appears to be growing in our lines and a failure of the sink drain would not cause the boat to sink.  Of course, now that the sink drains are not exposed to salt water they should also last a lot longer.
  • Shower drains.  Really, I do not like plumbing but ... our old shower drain system was crazy.  There was a barely downwards slope to a big grey water tank.  This results in constant plugged lines and a smelly grey water tank that takes up too much prime storage space.  Now we have another diagram pump that pulls the water out of the shower and sends it through a vented loop and overboard.  Now we have more storage for wine and rum and hopefully now I can spend less time unplugging the shower pipes.  We also did away with a float switch so there is one less part to fail.
  • Rigging:  Rigging is a lot more fun but the only addition here was to reduce the friction in the system by putting some better blocks in systems that seemed to have more friction that they should.  Not really a capital improvement but we changed how our the vang is rigged to reduce the twisting load on it and replaced some of the tired component.
  • Non-Skid: Most of the deck is teak which is great non-skid but I added a bit of non-skid tape in a few areas where I regularly would step on gelcoat.
  • Heater: Kind of a funny project since we spend most of the time in the tropics but I recommissioned the diesel heater.  This time last year in New Zealand we were wishing it was working but a combination of better weather and the rain enclosure means we have not used it yet.
  • High Water Alarm: It is funny how little projects can make a difference.  Set above our two electric bilge pumps is a independent high water alarm connected to a really loud alarm and bright warning light.  The bigger electric bilge pump also has an audible alarm so we should never need the dedicated high water alarm.  At sea however, after we do a big roll to port, the old mercury filled float switch would set itself off for a short second. This short second of ear piercing, blood pressure spiking sound is not good for ones health even if you know it does not mean you are necessarily sinking (if we are sinking we should have the big electrical pump alarm first and then the high water alarm).  Our new alarm is solid state and has a few second delay so there will hopefully not be anymore false alarms.  Sleep on passage is precious.
  • Iridium Go:  Addressed in a previous post.  This is to complement our high frequency radio and Pactor modem.
  • Staysail Recut:  We also had the staysail recut to work better in strong winds.  Could be argued that is is corrective maintenance but anyway it will be nice to have this sail working properly.
We also contracted out tasks less this year which is nice especially considering the issues we had last time in New Zealand.  We had problems with the diesel shop (who with prodding fixed the issues under warranty), compass shop (we fixed the issues ourselves but no refund from the company), and worst, the water maker debacle last year (note: recommend sending your Spectra watermaker direct to Spectra in the US rather than risking wasting money with Enertec here in New Zealand).

Even in New Zealand where we have been able to usually buy just the right bolt we have needed improvise a bit.  Wendall and I filed down this set screw (grub screw in NZ) to fit the furler

Checking out the view ... and the rig plus changing out some blocks

Victoria has been splicing up some soft shackles which she has for sale.

Johnathan adding grommets to our RHIB seat bag with help of the kids from Nirvana.

Maintenance to the halyard blocks.  Should be less friction now.

We have replaced a lot of the old wiring this year.  Victoria fits better into the spaces than I do.

Even Benjamin has got into the maintenance game. Here he is fixing one of his cars.  I am in the background replacing yet more wiring.

Here is the output from the spreadsheet.  It is cleaned up a little bit and colour coded as follows (there are a few errors in the colour coding but coloured tables and Blogger do not play well together so I am not going to tempt fate and correct them):

  • Green:   Improvements
  • Yellow:  Preventative Maintenance
  • Red:       Corrective Maintenance 


Date Maintenance Periodicity Category
23-Nov-15 a/p rudder response failure - reset brushes

26-Nov-15 check alternator belt tension 25 engine
26-Nov-15 Oil (100 hrs) - 7.95L of oil 125 engine
26-Nov-15 WM Flush filter - broken bowl and leaking intake
WM
26-Nov-15 burnt wire bundle under alternator - cut out and replaced approx 16 wires. Added conduit plus hose chafe protection

26-Nov-15 panel around SSB

26-Nov-15 propane solenoid

26-Nov-15 pump out engine pan

27-Nov-15 Oil Filter Change 250 engine
27-Nov-15 nmea 2000 power - new cable

27-Nov-15 shower drain wiring - replace bilge pump - rule 800

27-Nov-15 tidy up nmea 2000 connections

30-Nov-15 renew mast boot
rebed
30-Nov-15 Rigging check - NSR
rigging
01-Dec-15 rebed and add insulation - staysail halyard block
rebed
01-Dec-15 rebed mast collar
rebed
01-Dec-15 rebedding - emergency tiller access
rebed
01-Dec-15 rebedding - hyd hose
rebed
01-Dec-15 renew caulking - mast collar
rebed
01-Dec-15 deck wash hose adapter

02-Dec-15 ball bearing block for main halyard
rigging
02-Dec-15 non-skid - dorade trunk

03-Dec-15 check engine hoses 12 month engine
03-Dec-15 Outboard 15 hpanode 6 mon outboard
03-Dec-15 outboard 15HP zinc anode replacement
outboard
03-Dec-15 outboard handle and foot
outboard
04-Dec-15 oil leak - oil cooler hoses
engine
04-Dec-15 NZ flag repair

07-Dec-15 RHIB - Tube patches
rhib
07-Dec-15 flag halyard

08-Dec-15 RHIB - remove/replace shackle
rhib
08-Dec-15 check fuel filter bowls Monthly
08-Dec-15 hull/Prop clean - checked - okay Monthly
08-Dec-15 Prop/shaft zincs - checked - okay 2 mon
08-Dec-15 vent cap for gas jerry can

09-Dec-15 RHIB - New lines - chaps
rhib
10-Dec-15 watermaker strainer clean
WM
10-Dec-15 check charts for next season plus ipad charts, paper charts, navionics big chip, Coastal Explorer charts

11-Dec-15 engine water strainer 30 days Engine
11-Dec-15 Engine zinc - replaced 30 days Engine
11-Dec-15 Oil cooler zinc - change next month 30 days Engine
11-Dec-15 mainfurl - Grease the grease nipple on the aft end of the spar. 2 Mon Grease
11-Dec-15 Windlass - bimonthly 2 Mon Grease
11-Dec-15 Outboard 15 hp grease 6 mon
13-Dec-15 replace reefer strainer - used old spare

17-Dec-15 charts for chartplotter - refund on Cmap and new Navionics XG50

17-Dec-15 Nautical Almanac download - 2016

18-Dec-15 stanchion repair
NSR
18-Dec-15 rebed stanchion port above computer cupboard
rebed
18-Dec-15 rebed stanchion port above fwd galley cupboard
rebed
18-Dec-15 staysail repair/recut
sail
19-Dec-15 remove bad grounding wire to aft lights
electrical
19-Dec-15 replace dodgy splices to port aft ceiling lights
electrical
19-Dec-15 resplice ground wire to port aft reading light
electrical
20-Dec-15 replace port aft reading light
electrical
20-Dec-15 terminal block behind galley - corrosion and burnt connector
electrical
20-Dec-15 ball bearing block for furling line
rigging
20-Dec-15 replace sheave - pole uphaul
rigging
20-Dec-15 15hp outboard throttle cable replace

20-Dec-15 grease outboard throttle cable

21-Dec-15 chafe protection - oil cooler hoses
engine
21-Dec-15 chafe protection - transmission sensor wire chafe protection
engine
21-Dec-15 pressure water pump - replace power wires.

21-Dec-15 Stbd Genasun MPPT - replace

22-Dec-15 Beauchat speargun - new shaft lines

22-Dec-15 cmap marshall is charts for CE - big laptop

23-Dec-15 clean nav laptop fan

27-Dec-15 rebed - window fwd head
rebed
27-Dec-15 check fuel filter bowls Monthly
27-Dec-15 hull/Prop clean Monthly
27-Dec-15 Prop/shaft zincs - good - uncovered gunk 2 mon
28-Dec-15 rebed fittings above SSB
rebed
28-Dec-15 rebed toerail outboard of sailing cupboard

28-Dec-15 slice wire outboard of sailing cupboard

29-Dec-15 deck leak - stbd side above tin can cubby
rebed
29-Dec-15 rebed midship cleat stbd side

29-Dec-15 rebed stanchion outboard of stbd book cupboard

29-Dec-15 rebed toerail outboard of stbd book cupboard

30-Dec-15 mock up rain catcher

01-Jan-16 shower drain - not draining

02-Jan-16 WM - plugged intake ?
WM
02-Jan-16 fix battery connection - IR thermometer

02-Jan-16 WM - change prefilter

02-Jan-16 WM - repair intake bracket

03-Jan-16 Battery water - fwd - 60 days 60 days
03-Jan-16 Update PC predict wind

04-Jan-16 MOB light - new bulb
MOB
04-Jan-16 MOB light - new D cell x 5 12 mon MOB
04-Jan-16 Battery water - aft - 60 days 60 days
05-Jan-16 RHIB - seat bag grommets
rhib
05-Jan-16 genoa furler furling line - replace - 91' at 2.61/m
rigging
05-Jan-16 Bimini - bend frames

05-Jan-16 reglue chafe guards on RHIB

06-Jan-16 engine raw water to pump hose clamps - replace - wire insert rusted
engine
07-Jan-16 anchor shackle - check and replace seizing

07-Jan-16 tighten engine mount bolts - port aft and check others.

10-Jan-16 outboard - clean carb bowl

10-Jan-16 outboard fuel line- replace fuel hose - o ring not sealing

10-Jan-16 propane tank - leak at valve fitting. New fitting ?

11-Jan-16 oil pressure buzzer

11-Jan-16 Sink drain

11-Jan-16 sink drain pump. New Jasbco diaphragm pump

12-Jan-16 van - 12 V socket x 2
van
13-Jan-16 replace aft head light with LED
electrical
13-Jan-16 rebed deck hardware - kids cabin - padeyes
rebed
13-Jan-16 rebed pole up haul block
rebed
13-Jan-16 rebed fittings in fwd passageway - liferaft cradle and three padeyes

15-Jan-16 check forestay extrusion for tight setscrews - tightened top one.

17-Jan-16 Engine zinc - looks good 30 days Engine
17-Jan-16 Oil cooler zinc 30 days Engine
17-Jan-16 clean grey water tank and bilge

18-Jan-16 pickle WM
WM
01-Mar-16 predictwind app for ipad

06-Mar-16 reglue inside veneer fridge lid

07-Mar-16 Engine zinc 30 days Engine
07-Mar-16 Oil cooler zinc 30 days Engine
07-Mar-16 Force 10 oven knobs

07-Mar-16 Prop/shaft zincs 2 mon
08-Mar-16 rope clutch - mast
ap
08-Mar-16 vang - replace lower fitting
nsr
08-Mar-16 Vang - twist ?
rigging
08-Mar-16 vang clevis pin - new cotter pin
rigging
08-Mar-16 Battery water - aft - 60 days 60 days
08-Mar-16 Battery water - start battery - 60 days 120 days
08-Mar-16 Outboard 15 hp gear oil 6 mon
08-Mar-16 teak deck clean

09-Mar-16 alternator spike suppressors - Balmar
engine
09-Mar-16 bilge clean

09-Mar-16 repaint and mark anchor chain

10-Mar-16 anchor roller - replace port side roller with cylinder or cone ?
NSR
10-Mar-16 bimini - water proofing 6 mon
10-Mar-16 clean water tanks 12 mon
10-Mar-16 Pressure water filter 4 mon
11-Mar-16 BCD pressure valve - take apart button and service
dive
11-Mar-16 Diving regulator service
dive
11-Mar-16 aft cabin stbd reading light - new bulb
electrical
11-Mar-16 clean corrosion from #1 house bank alternator positive to fuse box
electrical
11-Mar-16 Alternator regulator MC612-Dual
engine
11-Mar-16 clean reefer strainer and bowl 2 Mon reefer
11-Mar-16 rain enclosure for cockpit
sewing
11-Mar-16 replace reefer strainer

11-Mar-16 windlass cover - add front snap

12-Mar-16 clean ground leads for house bank alternators
electrical
12-Mar-16 new alternator - Bosch 120A - alternator #1 - no output, burning smell, glows !
electrical
12-Mar-16 new alternator - Bosch 120A -- alternator#2 - replace - low output
electrical
12-Mar-16 alternator x 3 and starter - check wiring 125 engine
12-Mar-16 check alternator belt tension 25 engine
12-Mar-16 mainfurl - Grease the grease nipple on the aft end of the spar. 2 Mon Grease
12-Mar-16 Windlass - bimonthly 2 Mon Grease
12-Mar-16 Windlass Service - preseason service - every 6 mon 6 mon Grease
12-Mar-16 Outboard 15 hp grease plus corrosion spray on throttle cables 6 mon outboard
12-Mar-16 Navionics app

12-Mar-16 Wind gen - increase V max to 14.4

13-Mar-16 RHIB Tubes - patches
rhib
13-Mar-16 replace MOB light
safety
13-Mar-16 hull/Prop clean Monthly
13-Mar-16 Mildew clean - cabin and cockpit

14-Mar-16 anchor shackle - check and replace seizing 3 mon
14-Mar-16 clean DST sensor

18-Mar-16 15hp throttle adjustment ?

18-Mar-16 Inspect lifelines 12 month
18-Mar-16 lifeline chafe guards adjust

18-Mar-16 speargun - new lines

20-Mar-16 check fuel filter bowls Monthly Engine
20-Mar-16 Fuel Filter - Primary 250 engine
20-Mar-16 Fuel Filter - Secondary 250 engine
20-Mar-16 Transmission oil change (every 400 hrs or annually) 400 engine
22-Mar-16 corroded wire - energy monitor
electrical
22-Mar-16 check alternator belt tension 25 engine
22-Mar-16 alternator belt - engine bank

22-Mar-16 alternator regulator - change absorption time and FFL

22-Mar-16 alternator regulator - change to Deep Cycle

22-Mar-16 alternator regulator - check by removing sensors

22-Mar-16 alternator regulator - check oil pressure signal

22-Mar-16 Battery water - fwd - 60 days 60 days
22-Mar-16 chartplotter - clean NMEA0183 connection

22-Mar-16 chartplotter - more slack in cable

22-Mar-16 clean engine pan

22-Mar-16 oil drain pump impellor replacement

22-Mar-16 shower drain system improvement - jabsco gulper pump

22-Mar-16 WM overflow - add a bracket

23-Mar-16 alternator adjustment brackets - Balmar
engine
24-Mar-16 alternator x 3 and starter - check wiring 125 engine
24-Mar-16 heater - test (Half Moon Bay)
heater
24-Mar-16 Autopilot - check bolt torque 3 mon Lazerrete
24-Mar-16 autopilot brush and hyd fluid check 6 mon Lazerrete
24-Mar-16 Lubricate steering cable 6 mon Lazerrete
24-Mar-16 Steering cable tightness - check quarterly 3 mon Lazerrete
24-Mar-16 heater wiring - repair

24-Mar-16 replace a/p brushes - new ones 18mm, old 6.5 mm

25-Mar-16 alternator - move ground wires x2 to battery negative

25-Mar-16 Binnacle bolts and duralac on binnacle

25-Mar-16 compass leak

25-Mar-16 compass light wiring

25-Mar-16 vang attachment - new bolt at boom

26-Mar-16 clean or replace ground terminal post in battery compartment
electrical
26-Mar-16 clean positive post
electrical
26-Mar-16 high water alarm with time delay like water witch
electrical
26-Mar-16 remount heater fuel pump
heater
26-Mar-16 Lubricate steering chain 6 mon
26-Mar-16 voltage drop in ground

28-Mar-16 battery connections clean - aft

29-Mar-16 start bank alternator shunt - replace
electrical
29-Mar-16 alternator common ground - clean

29-Mar-16 alternator shunts -clean and replace with power post

29-Mar-16 Honda generator - dynmea start cord plus "marinized" with stainless steel bolts etc

30-Mar-16 diode isolator - move and new wires

01-Apr-16 a/p top hyd fluid
ap
01-Apr-16 Autopilot - check bolt torque 3 mon Lazerrete
01-Apr-16 Lubricate steering cable 6 mon Lazerrete
03-Apr-16 covers on positive lugs x2 in engine compartment

03-Apr-16 dent in paint port fwd - from mooring

03-Apr-16 honda generator - overspeed ?

03-Apr-16 mom8 attachment'

03-Apr-16 Outboard 15 hpfuel filter - clean 6 mon
03-Apr-16 Outboard 15hpsparkplugs - new 6 mon
05-Apr-16 Genoa furler - replace liner on bottom bearing, drill and tap new fastening to 8 mm. Make teat screws x2, add 10 mm grubscrew to hold drum down
rigging
06-Apr-16 saloon table strut bolts - short with thumb area

07-Apr-16 dent in fibreglass - companionway

07-Apr-16 HF ant wire - renew - SSB GTO15 connection - battery lug to bulldog clamp. Fill lug with solder and cover with heat shrink 12 mon
07-Apr-16 redo crimp on aft port battery ground - 90mm2 to 8 mm terminal

07-Apr-16 sup pump - new handle

08-Apr-16 heater ducting repair
heater
09-Apr-16 battery connections clean - fwd
electrical
09-Apr-16 new positive bus instead of power post
electrical
10-Apr-16 calibrate barometers

10-Apr-16 patch old SUP

12-Apr-16 Iridium Go
Iridium
12-Apr-16 update Iridium Go Firmware
Iridium
13-Apr-16 fix sea boots - heat gun

14-Apr-16 check fuel filter bowls Monthly Engine
14-Apr-16 engine water strainer 30 days Engine
14-Apr-16 Engine zinc 30 days Engine
14-Apr-16 Oil cooler zinc 30 days Engine
14-Apr-16 Honda Generator - Fuel Filter 6 mon Generator
14-Apr-16 Engine coolant change 13L 12 mon
14-Apr-16 port aft scupper blocked

15-Apr-16 Honda generator - Clean air filter 6 mon Generator
15-Apr-16 Honda generator - oil change 6 mon Generator
15-Apr-16 rain defector on dodger

18-Apr-16 furler - check top bearing
rigging
18-Apr-16 port spin block replacement
rigging
18-Apr-16 rig check - upmast

19-Apr-16 Honda Generator - spark plug CR5HSB NGK 12 mon Generator
19-Apr-16 Essence of Salts for heads

19-Apr-16 stove - aft burner thermocouple grounding - cleaned contacts and added 3xwashers to protect surfce

23-Apr-16 add longer floater line to anchor rode
anchor locker
23-Apr-16 extend anchor rode rope to bitter end
anchor locker
23-Apr-16 new nav laptop

23-Apr-16 RHIB – new dingy tank. Install new fittings

23-Apr-16 Vesper - AIS USB isolation

24-Apr-16 portable watermaker – annual maintenance 12 mon Safety
24-Apr-16 Review Ditch Bag contents 12 mon Safety
24-Apr-16 panel under stbd electric winch

24-Apr-16 SUP mount install

24-Apr-16 table temp repair

26-Apr-16 Iridium Go - copy emergency contacts to contacts from Sat Phone
Iridium
26-Apr-16 confirm emergency numbers in Satphone 12 mon Safety
27-Apr-16 new sea strainer for engine raw water
Engine
27-Apr-16 Overhaul winch - Anderson 12 mon winch
28-Apr-16 check engine mount nuts 50 engine
28-Apr-16 engine air filter check 125 engine
28-Apr-16 engine water strainer 30 days Engine
28-Apr-16 v berth hanging locker - won't latch

03-May-16 Iridium satphone activation
satphone
03-May-16 reregister satphone with GEOS SOS
satphone
04-May-16 dodger clean

05-May-16 check fuel filter bowls Monthly Engine
05-May-16 check fuel filter bowls Monthly Engine
05-May-16 Battery water - aft - 60 days 60 days
05-May-16 clean speed sensor

05-May-16 hull/Prop clean Monthly
05-May-16 Prop/shaft zincs 2 mon
06-May-16 rain enclosure - fixes

07-May-16 Alternator regulator - buzzer goes off
alternator
07-May-16 alternator regulator - set deep cycle flooded, max batt temp 43, max alt temp 100, absorption 3 hrs, min volt low
alternator
07-May-16 alternator x 3 and starter - check wiring 125 engine
07-May-16 check alternator belt tension 25 engine
07-May-16 top up oil at 4803.6 topped up from just over half way to full on dip stick
Engine
07-May-16 Replace Iridium Go antenna adaptor
Iridium
09-May-16 mainfurl - Grease the grease nipple on the aft end of the spar. 2 Mon Grease
09-May-16 Windlass - bimonthly 2 Mon Grease
09-May-16 Watermaker carbon filter 6 mon WM