Sunday 31 May 2015

Anniversary Onboard - Dinner Surprise

After a busy passage we did not have a lot of plans for our wedding anniversary.  However, the kids had been hatching a plan for several weeks.  They sent us ashore to the local yacht club while Victoria and Johnathan, ably helped by Jesus, cleaned up the boat and put on an amazing dinner for us.  Lucky parents !

Hors d'oeuvres and daquaris in the cockpit

Main course

New Zealand to Fiji - Passage Photos

Liz documented our passage which was to be to Tonga via Minerva but ended up being to Fiji not via Minerva so we could catch up hopefully with the other kid boats.  A bunch of photos here documenting the trek north.

Not in the tropics yet !
The only problem with catching fish is processing them at sea ...
One fish is about seven meals for the family
Cooking up Minecraft plans
And crocheting.
Are we in the tropics yet ?
Victoria easing the preventor for us.

And now tensioning the preventor
Finally flying our new-to-us spinnaker.

And of course light air means laundry day

and more laundry
High-Tech fuel gauge

On the helm

and baking in the galley

A bit windier now.

Oh yes, more comfortable now as Fiji gets closer

Jesus catches his first fish

And treats us with omelettes for breakfast
Heading down the Koro Sea
The playpen.

Looking to confirm our position with an aid to navigation

Where is Fiji ?
I think we see Fiji.

The welcome to Fiji rainbow. Note the trike lashed to the pushpit.

Wednesday 27 May 2015

Day 10 - Entering the Koro Sea


We have just past the first Fijian island marking the entrance into the Koro Sea. This gives us about 150 nm to go before we will be tied up in Savusavu.

The big question today was how many eggs, sweet potatoes, apples, carrots, etc we could eat in two days. I provisioned to have a comfortable stop in Minerva reef (ie a week of yummy at-anchor food) but instead we have been on passage for almost two weeks, so we have a generous amount of fresh produce left.

The result was scrambled eggs, fried eggs, and french toast (made with the last of Victoria's yummy cinnamon bread) for lunch and fried sweet potatoes (sort of sweet potato fries, but not really...) with pulled pork & carrot sticks for dinner, followed by apple crisp for dessert. Who says that passage food has to be boring! At one point, there were three people working comfortably in the galley. Kudos to Jesus who sliced several huge sweet potatoes into sticks while I had my off-watch nap.

The seas continued to be big & rolly, typical of 20 kts of wind. Thankfully we were mostly on a broad reach again, so the waves were generally approaching from behind. We had some good rolls this evening, though when the wind shifted forward and we had more like 100 deg apparent wind (almost a beam reach). Funny that beam reaching is such fun in the harbour where it is flat, but it is so nasty here with any sea state.

Anyway, this note is being written in the moments before going off-watch. With tweaking the course every few minutes to avoid shoals & islands, it wasn't the night to be popping up and down from the chart table! [for the sailors on the list, you may be interested to know that we do not rely on GPS solely for going around islands and dodging reefs especially in areas like this where the chart datums are usually off. Ideally we would do the navigation for these parts in daylight but the speed/time/distance for this part of the passage does not make that practical so we use our radar to get, at a minimum, line of position to give us a clearing bearing or a safe distance off. In this case I can see two islands on the radar so by taking the two ranges I can get a reasonable fix to keep us away from the reef that of course doe not show up on radar. Max] Max has just taken over in the cockpit, and it is time to sleep!

Love to all,
At 5/26/2015 3:23 PM (utc) SV Fluenta was 18°59.00'S 179°38.00'W

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25 May - On passage Day 9 - slowly getting closer to Fiji


After nine days of standing watches, I am wondering what more there can be to tell you! We had big seas this morning, blown up by the 20-22 kt winds we had over night. Thankfully these were arriving on our "quarter" (ie back corner of the boat) rather than our "beam" (the side of the boat) so they were not super uncomfortable; however, every now and again, we had one come at us from a different direction that rolled the boat a little more side-to-side, or dumped water in the cockpit (the one wave that got us wet splashed through about 5 min after Victoria went downstairs, otherwise she would have been soaked in the cockpit 'well' (the part where the feet go, and where the kids like to sit and read/play)).

Our cockpit is now very comfortable and kid-friendly. All but one of the nice folding cushions that we own has been moved to the floor and sides of the cockpit well. This gives a cozy spot for a big kid to curl up and read or for a small kid to play with toys.

Victoria treated us to gingersnaps today - we had some candied ginger onboard (supposedly good for seasickness, but we have had neutral results) so she cut that into tiny pieces and baked them into cookies. When I took the second tray out of the oven, all her carefully arranged balls of cookie dough had jammed themselves together on the low side of the oven.

Johnathan spent a lot of time snuggled with Benjamin watching the same five cartoon episodes over and over. We have created a little bit of a monster in Benjamin in that if he so much as sees the iPod, he gravitates to it and wants to watch videos; however, as the saying goes, "desperate times call for desperate measures", and when one or the other parent is sleeping and needing quiet nearly all day, he is getting more 'square-eyes' time than he likely will again. So it goes. Soon he'll be playing on beaches and swimming in lagoons; in the meantime, we are doing what we need to for everyone's sanity. Both big kids have been really patient with him throughout the passage (although we have heard, "oh, you BABY!" in an exasperated tone of voice at various times throughout the trip, when he has done something especially unhelpful to the big kids' stuff.) On the bright side, all this video watching brings back memories of a year ago when Benjamin was willing to snuggle on their chests for hours at a time. It is really cute to watch three little heads cozied up together on the bench.

Once off the bench, it is funny to watch Benjamin toddling around the boat. He has quickly learned to lean 'uphill' into the rolls, and he has kept his footing through some pretty lumpy conditions. As with last season, he simply gets on with playing, oblivious to the conditions or sea state. He doesn't even look puzzled when his world rolls from side to side.

Tonight, we are on a broad reach (as deep down wind as we can go without poling out the genoa, which we think we will do tomorrow) headed for the Koro Sea and Fijian waters. Once we get there, it is about 140 nm across the sea, then another 10 nm across the bay to the marina at Savusavu. The seas are reasonably calm, with the usual sea state when it is blowing 15-20 kts. It is so much easier going downwind in these seas than beating our way through them up wind! The boat is reasonably flat, but every few minutes a wave comes a little more broadside to us, which gives us some good rolls. At least we are now used to the motion. Everything that needs to be secured is either tied down or already on the floor (or both!), and all the cupboards have tea towels and pot holders stuffed into them to keep the glasses, bottles, and pots & pans from sliding around and making noise. If you know my normal housekeeping, you may choke to read this, but all the dishes are put away as soon as a meal is finished. The drainer is lashed to the kitchen tap, and the pressure cooker and kettle are lashed to the stove. These are slightly different preparations from the bedtime tidying habits one needs in a house!

Love to all,
At 5/25/2015 4:23 AM (utc) SV Fluenta was 22°26.46'S 179°33.52'E

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24 May 15 - Passage to Fiji - Day 8 - Enroute Fiji!


The nice thing about being on a sailboat is that we can pick our destinations - even when we are on our way to another destination! Such was the case this week: we were on a perfectly lovely passage to Tonga, approaching Minerva, and beginning the countdown of a few days til we would be back at Big Mama's Yacht Club, when we (I) got it into our heads that perhaps it would be better to visit Fiji all season this year and visit Tonga next year. Even though I assumed that we would meet new kid boats once we got to Tonga, most (all) of our friends from last year were going to spend the early part of the season in Fiji, before moving on to other destinations. The pull of heart and friendship outweighed the pull of logic and planning, so after a quick consult with Met Bob our weather router, we adjusted our course for Fiji.

The "weather window" for Fiji turned out to be a bit dirty, you might say. Unlike the clear sparkling glass of the weather window we had for Tonga, we have had some lumpy conditions once we turned for Fiji. We spent last night beating to wind (the wind was coming to us *directly* from Fiji, and we were hove-to, rolling in the swell all day today waiting for a front to pass and the wind to swap W-S-SSE. Tonight, we have had mixed conditions (to the point that Max even had to motor through some low winds and swells during his evening watch) and for the last few hours, we have been on a broad reach and heading within about 30-40 deg of our course.

Assuming no further changes in our plans we expect to arrive in Savusavu on Friday, where we will spend a couple of days clearing in and provisioning, then we will join our friends on Exodus, Nautilus, Nirvana, and maybe others, in the Lau Group for a few weeks.

Of course, we could have headed for Fiji directly two weeks ago - this would have been much simpler! The thing is that it didn't really hit me how much our kids were going to be missing all their friends (and to be honest, how much I would be missing the keeping-our-sanity contact with the moms & dads) until we were well on our way. We could have carried on to Tonga (which is beautiful, and where we would have known one kid boat with younger kids, and several non-kid boats) but we made the choice to put more importance on friendship than on keeping to our plan. Tonga will still be there next year. It has been a bit of an ordeal to get on a good course for Fiji mid-passage, but we are now heading in the right direction. It is easy to pay lip-service to friendships, but it feels good to demonstrate to our kids that we can also take action to sustain them (and it is never too late to change course). Seems to me that this is food for thought in any context...

On that note, I will sign off.

Love to all
At 5/23/2015 11:10 PM (utc) SV Fluenta was 24°35.00'S 179°44.00'E

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Monday 25 May 2015

23 May 15 - On passage - Day 7 - Headwinds


A short note tonight because it is getting lumpy. Winds are only 15-20, but they are on the nose, which is not really comfortable.

We had a fun afternoon - Benjamin missed shower day yesterday, so we gave him a bath in one of our blue tubs in the cockpit. He sat, leaning against the side of the tub because the boat was heeling, and played with his stacking cups for ages. It was lovely, warm, and sunny, so it was a nice way to break up the afternoon (and to combat the heat rash which is already beginning to develop on his neck & back).

Jesus is such a delight to have on board - he and Johnathan played an iPod version of "Risk" for a good part of the afternoon (with great shouts of laughter and disgust errupting from them as they each tried to take over the other's part of the world), he cooked dinner (curried chicken that I canned in NZ), and kept Benjamin safe while I had a quick after-dinner pre-watch nap.

It is pretty easy to get out of synch with our sleeping - I had a later than normal night watch last night because I woke Max to haul up the main in the middle of his off-watch, then I had a later sleep-in this morning which meant no need for the usual afternoon nap. Meanwhile, Max was on watch from about 0300 until well into the morning, which meant that he needed a longer sleep during the day ... all to say that we pay close attention to crew fatigue and adjust accordingly so that we are each getting the sleep we need, even if it means that not every day looks like the one before. Many boats (but probably few cruising couples) have more rigid schedules, but our flexible approach is working for us.

My thoughts about the sea are not as poetic tonight as they have been (it is no longer molten glass that we are gliding through) ... but still, the sky (mostly clear, with the odd heavy cloud) looks down on us, and the stars are completely unperturbed by any trials below. It is a good reminder, I think!

With that, I will sign off and wish you a good evening (morning)!

Love to all,
At 5/23/2015 9:48 AM (utc) SV Fluenta was 24°42.00'S 179°48.00'W

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21 May 15 - Passage to Tonga (possibly via Minerva) Day 5 - Motorboat day

[Note that this should have been released prior to the "Day 6" letter ! Max]

Greetings from "Motor Vessel" Fluenta,

We started motoring last night just around midnight, and it is likely that we will motor well into tomorrow (approx 48 hrs). We started at 6 kts, and were really pleased with our fuel economy (after overhauling the injector pump and re-adjusting the angle of the propellor blades, we are using noticeably less fuel than last year - for those who care, it is less than 1 gal/hour, which is in line with what others with our engine generally get, and which we hadn't been achieving). We are now going at just over 6.5 kts, so we will cover slightly more distance in the next 24 hours. The wind is expected to fill in late tomorrow.

The seas are flat, with subtle, but constant, ocean swells. The view is mesmerizing - the gently rolling ocean stretches away from us in every direction like a carpet, while we go up and down like a pony on a slow motion carousel, and the sky is clear, with either small puffy clouds or wide swaths that look like white cotton that has been combed and stretched - and it was sunny enough to dry diapers between noon (when they got hung) and 4:30 (when it was starting to get dark/damp). Now that it is dark, the milky way stretches from one horizon to the other like a rainbow of stars, and the rest of the sky is densely packed with still-unfamiliar constellations. When we were in Whangarei, the Southern Cross looked as if it was on its own in a patch of black sky; here at sea, it is almost hard to pick out because its stars have so many neighbours. (Aside - the wringer that my Dad & Max overhauled during our off-season is working super-well, and with its new bolts, I have managed to mount it really firmly between our kitchen sinks, unlike last year, when it was always a little loose an precarious. In the spirit of "use what you have" I use 2"x6" pieces of green "scrubby/toughy" sponges(the kind meant for pots) under the brackets of the wringer when I mount it, so it doesn't slip, and I am able to tighten the (new, stainless steel) bolts snuggly without marking the sink).

The highlight of today was the bread that Victoria baked (pretty much by herself). We used the recipe for whole wheat bread in the Fanny Farmer cookbook (that was aboard when we bought the boat ... good thing I kept it when I bought the Joy of Cooking app for the iPad, since it is not working!); however, the mix of whole wheat flour to white was "whatever we have on hand" as opposed to the 1:2 in the cookbook. When I went for my off-watch afternoon nap, she had a bowl of dough; when I woke up, the first tray of braided bread was coming out of the oven, followed by another braided loaf and a yummy cinnamon version of her own concoction (loosely based on Auntie Sarah's yummy bread). This will not be her last batch, I am sure (and now that Max & my dad have fixed the sparker on the oven, she is allowed to light it herself, which makes her even more independent).

It was calm enough this afternoon that Johnathan and Jesus sharpened our knives with a kit that we got at Lee Valley Tools last year. The knife is mounted in a little bracket, which has guides for several different grades (angles) of blade, and it comes with three different sharpening stones. That they managed to do this while Benjamin played at their feet speaks to the conditions today!

Jesus has been learning more and more about the boat and how we do things; he has also spent hours watching Benjamin, preparing meals, and washing dishes. He volunteered to do his first solo night watch tonight since we are motoring, and he has also been in the cockpit while Max and I have been on watch but down below. Given that he was starting from scratch when we left the Town Basin less than a week ago, he is doing pretty well!

You might be wondering when I am going to start describing all the sea creatures we have been seeing ... well, we are wondering when we are going to start to see them! As with last year, there has not been much in the way of wildlife to be seen above the surface of the ocean. We have caught one fish, and two have gotten away (just as well, as the freezer & fridge is already full). We will start fishing again tomorrow, and we will see what we catch. We are hoping to see whales once we get to Tonga, so we will keep you posted :)

That is about all the news for tonight. We are well & happy & all speaking to each other, no one is seasick, everyone's tummy is full tonight of our albacore with rice & veg (we have a tasty but limited menu at this restaurant...), and we are looking forward to arriving in a few days, either at Minerva (becoming less likely) or at Tongatapu (becoming more likely).

Love to all,

At 2015/05/21 9:06 AM (utc) SV Fluenta was 28°18.00'S 179°06.00'E
At 5/25/2015 1:44 PM (utc) SV Fluenta was 21°34.00'S 179°56.00'E

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Friday 22 May 2015

22 May 15 - Passage to Tonga (not likely via Minerva) - Day 6 - Still motoring

[Note that this post should be read after the Day 5 post that follows]


We are still motoring on a glassy blue carpet. It was a good day to do some tidying below decks in preparation for turning this floating campervan back into a sailboat in the next few hours. I collected all the foulies & fleeces - we don't need them at the moment, but we are not necessarily done with them yet - and even swept the saloon floor! When the wind fills in, it is likely to be on the nose, so it could be harder work for the last few days of the passage.

I am not sure I can describe the water as we glide through it. The colour is a deep, deep blue, and it is so smooth at times that it is like we are moving through molten glass. Even the kids were exclaiming to each other about it today.

With the engine running, we had loads of (hot) water, so it was shower day today. (Yes, we can shower on passage, and No, we don't do it very often). We have had continuous problems (ie since Mexico) with the shower drain (one time it was Lego in the hose, but Max blew that through ...) and today was no different. Usually, Max opens up the floor of the saloon to access the grey water system, but since we are on passage (and we have bags and bags of food & supplies stowed there) we used a simpler solution to clear away the water from the shower floor - we used our portable bilge pump into a bucket. Plumbing can wait til Tonga! It may be that there is a length of hose that will need to be replaced, but we will make do with what we have as long as possible, as the "proper fix" would involve removing and re-fiberglassing the entire shower floor. Not fun!

It is kind of like we have sailed into spring from late winter. When we left NZ, I needed two tops, two fleeces, foulie bottoms, a foulie jacket and a woolen cap for night watches, in addition to my life vest and tether (try nursing a cranky baby, who is also bundled for the cold, with all those layers, and you will see why we have headed for the tropics!). It was not much warmer in the daytime. Now we have daytime temps into the mid-20's (shorts & tshirts are more the order of the day) and it is just a little cooler at night (I still need a fleece). I am wondering how much longer we will be sleeping under our duvets and blankets...

No extraordinary kitchen accomplishments to report today (although we are continuing to enjoy Victoria's bread from yesterday). We vacuum-packed some regular deli meat in NZ, so we are still enjoying fresh wraps at noon time (Jesus is a whiz at laying out a tempting buffet of veggies, cheeses, and meats). Dinner was an all-you-can-eat smorgasboard (ie leftovers - pork & rice, fish & rice, and fresh veggies). I have our first batch of yogurt curing on the stove (for the curious, I use 400 mL of whole milk powder, 900 mL of 120 deg water, and sit it in mason jars in a hot-water bath (slightly more than 120 deg) in our pressure cooker for 5 or so hours). With the engine running, our tap water (which routes through the engine compartment) is about 160 deg, so I didn't even need to boil the kettle!

The wind is starting to build, so I think we will be sailing again before long. We are leaning away from stopping at Minerva now, and aiming for Tonga. ETA there is early Wednesday. We shall see.

I feel a tiny bit closer to friends and family tonight - we crossed back into the "Western Hemisphere" today, and are now counting down our longitude from 179 deg W.

Love to all,
Manual position - 25 deg 43.2 S 179 deg 42.5 W at 1140 UTC 22 May 15
At 5/22/2015 7:51 PM (utc) SV Fluenta was 25°06.00'S 179°57.21'E

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Thursday 21 May 2015

20 May 15 - On passage to Tonga (hopefully via Minerva) - Day 4 - A beautiful day of sailing


Up until today, I must admit that I have had a few moments of wondering what on earth possessed us to trade in our perfectly normal existence (jobs, cars, house, life ashore) for rolly seas, cold weather, and a constant need for one more hand than I had (Note for the moms & concerned-something-terrible-is-about-to-happen-to-us folks on the list - I was uncomfortable and grouchy, but things were never dangerous. It was simply the sea doing what the sea does (waves) and the boat doing what boats do (rolling)).

Today, I got my answer to why on earth we not only did this, but dreamed of doing it for years before we left. It was a lovely day from start to finish. We have made enough northerly progress that the grey of sky and sea has evolved into the deep blue that I remember from last season. During the morning, we had steady winds that set us cruising along gently on a broad reach. We could have gone faster, but we still had a reef in from overnight, and sleep trumps speed. We shake out reefs when we are both awake. In the afternoon, we flew our new spinnaker (purchased last season from friends during our stay at Minerva Reef). We put our "ATN Tacker" to use (a plastic thing that lets us fasten the bottom of the spinnaker to the furled genoa), and it worked really well. This evening, the wind has dropped significantly (down to 6-10 kts) but it has also come forward of the beam, so we are ghosting along on a close reach, generally maintaining a boat speed of 5-7 kts. This boat sails really efficiently on this point of sail, so it doesn't take much to move us. The clear blue sky with puffy clouds of the day has given way to a clear starry night. It is still chilly enough that I am glad of layers and foulies, but the wooly hat has become optional. (Victoria is even sleeping in the cockpit). When the winds drop further, I will have to start the engine, but this I will delay as long as possible. There have been several times when I thought we had reached the limit of slowness, and I was gearing up to start making noise, and then the wind picked up and we were doing 7 kts! Thankfully, the current is in our favour at the moment.

The morning had a bit of a funny start, wind-wise. We had consistent winds from the south for most of the trip, and all of a sudden, just as we were about to listen to the morning radio net and get the weather analysis, we had a 200-deg wind shift. We followed the wind, and I hand-steered while Max participated in the net; we basically drove in the wrong direction for almost an hour. Thankfully the winds were light. We decided to gybe the boat to put ourselves somewhere back towards our course, brought in the main sail, swapped the preventer line to the other side, furled the genoa ... and the wind shifted again! It went back to its southerly direction, steady as anything, as if it had never left. We decided not to gybe, swapped the preventer back, let out the main, unfurled the genoa, and found ourselves perfectly following our desired course! (For the weather curious - there seemed to have been some kind of band of clouds / squalls that we passed, so obviously they exerted their influence, then were gone... )

Benjamin is growing up before our eyes. He is steady on his feet now, and maneuvers around the boat with ease. The biggest change is that he has discovered that the big kids have been watching cartoons on their iPod, and now he wants in on the action! It is funny as a card carrying non-video-watching-before-two-years-old mom to see myself letting him watch with Victoria & Johnathan - he heaps himself on top of them, and is instantly absorbed. (Of course, this is why I don't like babies watching videos ... but sometimes it is nice to buy myself some peace!) The phrase "everything in moderation" comes to mind!

We had some whipping cream in the fridge which had an expiry date of today, so obviously, we needed to make pancakes this morning to use it up! Victoria and I made a nice brunch of banana pancakes with whipped cream during our morning watch. It was also a bit of a mid-passage brunch - we still have several days to go.

Dinner tonight was the albacore tuna we caught a couple of days ago, with rice and stir-fried veg. It is so much more enticing to be in the galley when the boat is flat! With the spinnaker run, dinner was late (ie eaten in the dark), so Benjamin and I ate in the galley where he could see his food. He sat in his favourite place - on top of the counter - and shovelled in fistfuls of rice. He wouldn't have been able to do that a couple of nights ago!

Most evenings, just after dark/dinner, Victoria heads for her bunk, and she is then on-deck to help Max not long after sunrise. Johnathan likes to read or visit in the cockpit later into the evening, and joins us later in the morning. When we are on passage, and there is someone awake 24/7, it is nice that both kids can find their natural routine and sleep/wake cycle. This would be another of those benefits of leaving home to travel like this that seemed so far from my mind earlier in the week!

It is a good thing that we are not relying on our iPad for navigation. It has decided to stop working, or at least all the apps that are not native to it crash when we open them. Hopefully we can play with backup/restore (perhaps this is an IOS issue?) when we get to anchor, but it was a good reminder that it is a nice device when it works, but we are glad to have a "proper" chartplotter, laptop, paper charts [and two sextants and tables, and two handheld GPS, and various other bits and pieces. Max] as well! Victoria and Johnathan have done well with only one device the last two days - paper books have absorbed them (both novels and the minecraft "for dummies" books that Johnathan was given at Christmas time), and they have been watching the same five cartoon episodes with Benjamin that we loaded on their iPod in NZ.

That seems as good a place to leave it as any ... the wind is dying, and it is time to start the engine.

Love to all,
At 2015/05/20 2:07 PM (utc) SV Fluenta was 29°58.59'S 178°26.13'E
At 2015/05/21 1:56 AM (utc) SV Fluenta was 28°58.00'S 178°51.00'E

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Tuesday 19 May 2015

19 May 15 - Passage to Minerva Day 3 - Finding our groove


We are finding our groove. As much as we will all be glad to relax at anchor in Minerva Reef, we have had pretty good conditions for crossing an ocean today. Winds have mostly been in the 15-20 kts range, with a few spells higher than that to keep us on our toes. The sea state has been friendly - the odd funny roll, but mostly pretty benign. Boat speed has been in the 6.5-7.5 kts range, which is just right.

Johnathan contributed in a new way today - we were having interference problems again between the HF radio and the autopilot, and it was Johnathan who sat at the nav table and did our upload/download of email traffic, with Max at the helm.

Over the last few weeks, Victoria has taught herself to crochet (with the help of various online tutorials) and she has nearly finished her first project. It is lovely to watch how she perseveres when she has set her mind to something.

We are over 1/3 of the way to Minerva, and tomorrow we should be approximately half way. Despite the vastness of the ocean, we are still in and out of VHF range with some of the boats who left Whangarei when we did. Now that everyone seems to be out of their early-passage inertia, there may be some interest in something yummy for brunch. We shall see ...

A short note for tonight, but it gives you a little insight into our daily routine, and lets you know that we are doing well and thinking about you.

At 2015/05/19 1:52 PM (utc) SV Fluenta was 31°29.00'S 177°00.00'E
At 2015/05/19 2:40 PM (utc) SV Fluenta was 31°26.63'S 177°04.94'E

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18 May 15 - Passage to Tonga (Minerva) - Day 2 - Catching fish and getting our sea legs


We had a lovely day on passage today. Max and the kids caught a fish just after sunrise, and when it was filleted, we had seven bags for the freezer and two for the fridge. I was relieved to find that many nooks and crannies in the freezer, because I already had it pretty full of NZ beef, lamb, and chicken...

Benjamin is getting his sea legs, and has been brave enough to stand up and try to move around. His new harness is easier to adjust, so he wears it constantly in the cockpit, but we are able to take it off down below.

We are still decked out in all our foulie layers (jackets, pants, fleeces, leggings, wooly socks and boots). Even Benjamin is wearing his MEC "pumpkin suit" (which makes him orange and round) when he is upstairs. We have just gybed and set a course of 330 deg M, which has a good northerly component, so things should hopefully warm up considerably over the next 24 hours. Although it is still cool, it is not nearly as cold as it was when we left NZ.

Our winds have been steady at 15-20 kts, and we had some gusts into the high 20's overnight tonight. While everyone else was sleeping at the handover of our watches, Max and I worked together to reef the main and then gybe it across (while the autopilot decided to take a break for awhile). Given that it was nighttime and rather rolly, we furled in the genoa completely before the gybe, which meant that the lines did not get fouled on the inner forestay, cleats, etc that lie in wait for them on the foredeck. The whole operation worked well (and was rather fun, in fact), and it made me realize that I *like* sailing when I don't also have three children clambouring for attention. In a rolly sea after two hours of wrangling both baby and boat earlier in my watch, this was a surprising revelation!

Said baby is now calling me, having slept on the port settee during our evolutions, so I will sign off!

Love to all,

At 2015/05/18 4:25 PM (utc) SV Fluenta was 33°18.00'S 176°39.00'E
At 2015/05/18 10:06 PM (utc) SV Fluenta was 32°43.71'S 176°32.39'E

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Monday 18 May 2015

17 May 15 - Passage to Tonga (likely via Minerva Reef) - Day 1

Liz Letter End of Day 1 (17 May 15)

Greetings and salutations!

It is a long time since I last sat at the chart table during a night watch to catch you up on our doings. For old times' sake, Benjamin woke up just as I started typing, so once again, I am typing one-handed with a (much larger than last season) baby nursing in my lap. The one change is that now he sometimes sleeps in the bunk, so he is not on my chest in the carrier all night. I feel much lighter :)

After months of maintenance, travel, visitors, stowing, provisioning, etc, we have made it off the dock, and have had an ideal day of sailing to get our sea legs back. Despite the 8000 nm he has already done, the whole experience seems new to Benjamin. He is *not* impressed by his harness or tether, and he is a bit wobbly on his feet. I guess this is understandable, since he wasn't even walking when we got to NZ. So far, there have not been too many crashes below decks, so it seems that we have done pretty well at "securing for sea". A few days ago, I said that we would need a miracle, and it would seem that we got one. Hundreds of cans and over 100kg of dry goods (rice, flour, oats, and sugar) all found their way into cubbies and compartments. Both saloon benches are available for sleeping on during the passage. It feels good to be ready!

Our departure just before 2pm went smoothly. The wind had picked up, but we had a lull in the wind when we went to spring off the dock. A lad from a neighbouring boat appeared to handle our lines from the dock, and we slipped away with no issues. Everyone had a turn on the helm as we were leaving the bay. It is fun to see Victoria and Johnathan confidently handling the boat, steering by the channel markers and avoiding traffic. Jesus coiled lines and stowed fenders, and is now monitoring the cockpit on his first night watch. We have good conditions for now - 15-20 kts behind us, and we have the autopilot (Sammy) on wind-hold, within about 10 deg of our desired course. Our track is expected to take us on anything but a straight line, as we follow the wind to Minerva reef.

There were about 15 boats leaving Marsden Cove Marina this morning, but we only have two contacts left on our AIS - the fleet has already dispersed. We will see some folks in Minerva Reef, some in NZ when we return, and some at some unknown future date. Such is the cruising life.

Dinner tonight was our own canned chicken (thanks Dad & Mom for lids and pressure cooker gasket) with pasta and veg. We snacked all day on the apple & cinnamon muffins that Victoria made us before we left.

I am (so far, touch wood, etc, etc) feeling pretty good. This is likely due as much to the calm sea state as it is to the "Sealegs" (Bonamine), essential oils, and homeopathic remedies I have been using; however, I will not make this long, as I want to keep things that way!

Love to all,
At 5/18/2015 7:42 AM (utc) SV Fluenta was 33°26.01'S 175°28.74'E

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Saturday 16 May 2015

Off to Tonga!

We cleared customs today, and are part of a convoy of over a dozen boats headed north.
Anticipating a week or so on passage, then we will catch our breath at Minerva reef. 

Both kids got a chance to drive for a few minutes. Fun to be on our way again!


Wednesday 13 May 2015

Mother-Daughter Rigging Team and other passage preps.

After I had checked over the rig it was time to get our nice leather spreader covers put back on.  Victoria has been asking for ages to help up the mast so ... Liz and Victoria were up the mast today to put the spreader covers back on and to sort some chafed spots. 

Rigger at work

Ladies' Rigging Team
New harness put to work (and shiny new OCC burgee)

Johnathan winched Victoria up the mast.

Vacuum packing victuals

More ...

Meanwhile I continue to argue with Windows reinstalling the satphone driver. 

And Benjamin helps with the laundry. 

And a day to play tourist.  The oldest kauri tree in New Zealand.

And a rustic spa visit

Monday 11 May 2015

Boat Maintenance and Homeschooling - The Sequel

Most of time in New Zealand has been taken by boat maintenance and home schooling.  Neither is conducive to photos or at least we do not some to take many pictures of either ...

After the photos there is an output from my maintenance spreadsheet showing the tasks conducted from our arrival in New Zealand in December until now.  The spreadsheet is perhaps only interesting reading for the real boat-geeks...

Precise maintenance on the now deceased inverter/charger

On our way to an early morning haulout.

Hauling out

Not all bad being in the boat yard - lots of kid boats !
Computer class - Victoria takes top prize for your morse code program.  You can just see her robot blinking on the right.

Johnathan working on his program with his friend Dillion.

Back into the bilge

Oh, I love plumbing
Always a comfortable place to work

Not the Health and Safety recommended approach

Aluminum and steel not playing well together.  I neglected to take a picture after the acid etching, wire brushing, epoxy primer, epoxy filler, and an insulating and sealing layer ... 

Benjamin is such a big help

Working with Grammpy.

Stitching and looking stylish at the same time.
Old (3 years) Magma BBQ

New Magma BBQ - Our old one deteriorated so bad Magma gave us 50% off a new one (but at NZ prices so about the same as full price in Canada.  Groan)

EMI issues with the Pactor modem solved thanks to Doug's advice.

Overhauled Injection Pump - it even works without leaking diesel everywhere
Before - After three months in the Town Basin.  The prop was pristine when we left Minerva Reef in November.

After shots ... new propspeed paint on the prop and shaft.

Luxury ... the infill between the bimini and dodger gives a bit more living space during the frequent rains here.

Oh, where did I put my anchor ... should be easier to find next season when freediving to check its holding.

Look Daddy ! I am reorgansing your tools !

New lifeline netting and yet more diapers.

Rig inspection time and repairs to the top of the furler
Cyclone Pam (the cyclone not my mother who also came to visit but was helpful) came to visit which was not helpful
Not helpful but not as big of a deal as it could have been,

Paddling out to check on a friend's boat during the start of the storm,

Johnathan putting the new zincs on,

Liz's Dad came out to help fix things (and to visit).

Rig inspection.

Done Maintenance Action Periodicity Due Category
04-Dec-14 Engine zinc  60 days Dec-14 Engine
04-Dec-14 Oil (100 hrs) 125 4480 engine
04-Dec-14 Oil Filter Change 125 4480 engine
04-Dec-14 Oil cooler zinc - 1/3 worn or less 60 days Dec-14
07-Dec-14 Damp under bed - storage area
07-Dec-14 Prop/shaft zincs Monthly Dec-14
07-Dec-14 snatch blocks etc clean Dec-14
08-Dec-14 fresh water flush engine
13-Dec-14 Battery water - aft - 60 days 60 days 41986
13-Dec-14 Battery water - fwd - 60 days 60 days 41986
13-Dec-14 Prep Honda generator
13-Dec-14 Prep outboard
01-Feb-15 Battery water - aft - 60 days 60 days Feb-15
01-Feb-15 exhaust elbow - new plus spare engine
01-Feb-15 heat exchanger clean 12 mon engine
02-Feb-15 deck drain leak
02-Feb-15 replace propane sensor
03-Feb-15 coolant change  250 4505 engine
03-Feb-15 Battery water - fwd - 60 days 60 days Feb-15
03-Feb-15 heat exchanger inspect engine
03-Feb-15 hose clamps - exhaust hose to waterlift engine
03-Feb-15 leaking pressure water filter
03-Feb-15 oil cooler clean 12 mon engine
03-Feb-15 Pressure water filter 3 mon Dec-14
03-Feb-15 sail survey sailmaker
04-Feb-15 water lift muffler - leak ? engine
04-Feb-15 Engine - coolant and test engine
07-Feb-15 measure size of aft tank ?
07-Feb-15 top up coolant
08-Feb-15 Mainsail cover sailmaker
09-Feb-15 Clean bilge
09-Feb-15 exhaust elbow hose leak and double hose clamps
09-Feb-15 Fuel return lines - replace. With Banjo fittings engine
09-Feb-15 waterlift/trans chafe protection
10-Feb-15 replace main sail cover
11-Feb-15 foot guide for furl boom ss
11-Feb-15 Lifelines - resplice and end for end
12-Feb-15 clarkpump leak - approx 1 drip every  WM
12-Feb-15 order simcard
12-Feb-15 Watermaker Clark pump - fittings and overhaul with Intertech WM
13-Feb-15 Trickle - pins for oar lock
13-Feb-15 Trickle - pins for rudder
13-Feb-15 Trickle - rudder rope
14-Feb-15 Compass sticks - repair or replace ?
14-Feb-15 preventer bungee storage
15-Feb-15 boom - end plate at end - 1 of four screws stripped  Rigger
16-Feb-15 Watermaker carbon filter 6 mon Nov-14 WM
16-Feb-15 check engine hoses 12 month engine
16-Feb-15 diesel leak - injector pump    engine
16-Feb-15 water maker - rerurbish clark pump
16-Feb-15 watermaker leak ?
16-Feb-15 wd40 - engine key
16-Feb-15 wm carbon filter leak
17-Feb-15 WM Pickle
18-Feb-15 Grease rudder reference bearing 12 mon lazerette lazerette
18-Feb-15 autopilot - cross bar 
18-Feb-15 autopilot rudder response failure - talked to Tom 1 Aug 14 lazerette
18-Feb-15 coord haulout haulout
18-Feb-15 coord liferaft/mom8 inspection
18-Feb-15 counter sunk bolts for autopilot lazerette
18-Feb-15 order - bluetooth headset, etc from amazon
19-Feb-15 epoxy damage to fwd fairleeds
19-Feb-15 fridge door
20-Feb-15 header tank - replace flange engine engine
20-Feb-15 tighten engine valve cover engine
20-Feb-15 anchor roller replacement ss
20-Feb-15 companionway stairs screw - lower
20-Feb-15 dodger repair sewing
20-Feb-15 emergency tiller access panel - open threaded opening vingear
20-Feb-15 Honda generator - new foot
20-Feb-15 MOB strobe
20-Feb-15 retap emergency tiller access screw holes fiberglass
21-Feb-15 bimini - water proofing
21-Feb-15 chaps repair sewing
21-Feb-15 dodger cleaning
22-Feb-15 Stanchion - stbd fwd of gate
22-Feb-15 Stanchions - stbd pushpit
24-Feb-15 aft cabin wiring  lazerette
24-Feb-15 mount light in "shaft" closet
25-Feb-15 12v jack - aft cabin lazerette
25-Feb-15 anchor chain - markings
25-Feb-15 paint anchor bright colour painting
25-Feb-15 paint anchor chain end ? painting
25-Feb-15 rebed - aft chainplate
25-Feb-15 rebed - HF wire
25-Feb-15 rebed - weather fax wire
25-Feb-15 replace corroded terminal bar in lazerette
25-Feb-15 touch up raw water pump, spare
26-Feb-15 12v jack - saloon port side wiring
26-Feb-15 Galley lighting with dimmer
26-Feb-15 Pactor below 4000 issues
26-Feb-15 sailmail - confirm funcion
26-Feb-15 USB charger electrical
27-Feb-15 Broomholder
27-Feb-15 Flashholder - fwd head
27-Feb-15 move pressure water filter
27-Feb-15 OP10 autopilot controllor electronics
28-Feb-15 Anchor chain - end for end
28-Feb-15 anchor shackle - seizing wire and wire tie
04-Mar-15 Bimini extension - side and gap sewing
05-Mar-15 mast rake angle : 1.5 deg as per Yachtspar rigger
05-Mar-15 Oven valve replacement oven
05-Mar-15 rig inspection - C Spar - Matt Oct-14
06-Mar-15 mat for port deck
08-Mar-15 Check rudder bearings
09-Mar-15 Engine zinc   60 days Mar-15 Engine
09-Mar-15 Oil cooler zinc  60 days Mar-15 engine
09-Mar-15 clean head hoses with vinegar Haulout Haulout
09-Mar-15 clean sink hoses with vinegar Haulout Haulout
09-Mar-15 bilge clean - degreaser and engine compartment
09-Mar-15 PSS shaft seal - clean face 12 mon haulout
09-Mar-15 resecure fuel return line within 4" of end
10-Mar-15 fuel line chafing - cut out damage and spliced.  Rerouted with new wire ties
10-Mar-15 replace hose clamps x 2 - PSS shaft seal Haulout
10-Mar-15 reroute and clamp fuel line from aft tank
10-Mar-15 staysail bag sewing
11-Mar-15 Bottom Paint Haulout Haulout
11-Mar-15 Corroded T fittings - T fitting for reefer and watermaker brine
12-Mar-15 cotter pin fwd lower shouds
12-Mar-15 MOB light - new D cell x 5
12-Mar-15 Prop/shaft zincs Monthly haulout
12-Mar-15 steering cable - oil sheaves - biannually 6 mon Feb-15
13-Mar-15 center helm to a spoke
13-Mar-15 quadrant cross bar interference
13-Mar-15 top up paint - dock box
14-Mar-15 Remove benmar drive rigger
15-Mar-15 driver - usb gps
16-Mar-15 calibrate depth sounders - 4.29`for depth sounder and 3.67`for fisherfinder
16-Mar-15 change prop angle ? haulout
16-Mar-15 prop - ding ?
16-Mar-15 Service max prop - Oct 14 12 mon Haulout
17-Mar-15 Lubricate steering chain and cable 6 mon Apr-15
17-Mar-15 PFD - recharge - 2x PFD with tether points Mar-15
17-Mar-15 PFD - recharge - spinlock - replaced CO2 and bobbin - due March 2018 Dec-14
17-Mar-15 Steering cable tightness - check quarterly 3 mon Dec-14
18-Mar-15 anchor shackle - replacement and reseize.
18-Mar-15 Backup anchor shackle with spectra
18-Mar-15 Overhaul winch - stbd 28 6 mon Aug-14
18-Mar-15 portable watermaker – annual maintenance 12 mon Mar-15
18-Mar-15 reglue cockpit light
18-Mar-15 rudder leak - ground down to inspect.  Fiberglass with vinelester.  Epoxy paint and then antifoul
18-Mar-15 Skeg bolts - permanent fix ? haulout
18-Mar-15 steering - replace end stops
19-Mar-15 aft head - overhaul
19-Mar-15 Overhaul winch - port 28 12  mon Sep-14
19-Mar-15 Overhaul winch - port 36 12  mon Jul-14
19-Mar-15 Overhaul winch - stbd 36 12  mon Aug-14
19-Mar-15 rebed port cheek block due to corrosion - tuff gell rigging
19-Mar-15 rebed stbd cheek block rigging
20-Mar-15 Overhaul winch - Anderson 12  mon Sep-14
20-Mar-15 paint props 12 mon haulout
20-Mar-15 PFD - recharge - old mustang Nov-14
20-Mar-15 Windlass - bimonthly 2 Mon 08-Dec-14
20-Mar-15 Windlass Service - preseason service - every 6 mon 6 mon Feb-15
22-Mar-15 Battery water - aft - 60 days 60 days Mar-15
22-Mar-15 check depth calibration - calibrate depth sounders - 4.29`for depth sounder and 3.67`for fisherfinder
22-Mar-15 Overhaul winch - stbd 27 main sheet 12  mon Jul-14
22-Mar-15 Overhaul winch - stbd 27 outboard 12  mon Jul-14
22-Mar-15 steering safety nuts
24-Mar-15 inverter/charger failure - replaced with Xantrax Prosine 2.0
24-Mar-15 OAT sensor
24-Mar-15 replace manual fresh pump plumbing
24-Mar-15 replace manual salt water pump
25-Mar-15 generator foot
25-Mar-15 new VHF ? - installed SH GX2200 electronics
25-Mar-15 rebed aft head window rebed
25-Mar-15 rebed chart table window rebed
25-Mar-15 Rebed port fwd window rebed
26-Mar-15 12V jack - chart table - lower
26-Mar-15 rebed - emergency steering rebed
26-Mar-15 Traveller repair rigging
26-Mar-15 waterproof - bimini infill
27-Mar-15 compass LED
27-Mar-15 port saloon reading light
28-Mar-15 12v plug - cockpit - rewire
28-Mar-15 aft water tank indicator
28-Mar-15 autopilot - heat shrink Apr-15
28-Mar-15 rebed - back stay chainplate rebed
28-Mar-15 rebed - hf cable rebed
28-Mar-15 rebed - shroud chainplates rebed
28-Mar-15 rebed - stanchion pushpit rebed
30-Mar-15 engine air filter check 100 4525 engine
30-Mar-15 Fuel Filter - Primary 250 4580 engine
30-Mar-15 Fuel Filter - Secondary 250 4460 engine
30-Mar-15 bleed fwd fuel tank line - open valves at manifold and tank.  Bleed at primary filter
30-Mar-15 rebed again - aft chain plate and stanchion
30-Mar-15 replace aft head taps plumbing
30-Mar-15 rubber sound suppression - wind gen struts
31-Mar-15 alternator x 3 and starter - check wiring 100 4515.4 engine
31-Mar-15 engine exhaust temp alarm replace engine engine
31-Mar-15 Engine zinc   60 days May-15 Engine
31-Mar-15 Impellor replacement 250 4460 engine
31-Mar-15 Impellor speedseal disc replacement Nov 14 2 years engine engine
31-Mar-15 end for end genoa furler line rigging
31-Mar-15 genoa halyard - wear in knot - re fisherman bend
31-Mar-15 Oil cooler zinc  60 days May-15
31-Mar-15 reefer filter leak and clean
31-Mar-15 sink - recaulk
01-Apr-15 cleats on pushpit
01-Apr-15 helm turkshead
01-Apr-15 WM overflow hose
02-Apr-15 engine stop - spring engine engine
02-Apr-15 oven - valve assy oven
03-Apr-15 rebed - heater exhaust rebed rebed
03-Apr-15 dodger repair - center panel - sew and new zipper pull plus ss stopper
03-Apr-15 propane solenoid controller bulb
03-Apr-15 rebed - bimini infill track bolts
03-Apr-15 reshim top and bottom vang rigging
03-Apr-15 vang - plastic insert replace rigging
05-Apr-15 Outboard anode 6 mon Dec-14
06-Apr-15 check lock stich on running backstays up mast rigging
06-Apr-15 check under spreader covers up mast rigging
06-Apr-15 check washer for furler  top - temp repair up mast rigging
06-Apr-15 genoa extrusion bolt check up mast rigging
06-Apr-15 vang lower attachment - back up rigging rigging
06-Apr-15 witness mark - standing rigging tangs up mast rigging
06-Apr-15 aft head leak
06-Apr-15 washboards - translucent
07-Apr-15 Tranmission oil change (every 400 hrs or annually) 400 4609 engine
07-Apr-15 generator- replace with stainless steel bolts generator
07-Apr-15 Honda generator - Clean air filter 3 mon Dec-14 Generator
07-Apr-15 Honda Generator - Fuel Filter 6 mon Generator
07-Apr-15 Honda generator - oil change 6 mon Dec-14 Generator
07-Apr-15 Honda Generator - spark arrester 6 mon Generator
07-Apr-15 Honda Generator - spark plug 12 mon Generator
07-Apr-15 aft head tap - tighten
07-Apr-15 rubrails for bow fairleads ss
07-Apr-15 small crack in gelcoat outside of cockpit - stbd side
08-Apr-15 Outboard fuel filter 6 mon Dec-14
08-Apr-15 Outboard gear oil 6 mon Dec-14
08-Apr-15 Outboard greasing 6 mon Dec-14
08-Apr-15 Outboard sparkplugs 6 mon Dec-14
08-Apr-15 rub rails for cleats in cockpit ss
08-Apr-15 traveler - replace bent bolts and add reinforcement both sides
09-Apr-15 Absorbent pads under engine/transmission Engine Engine
09-Apr-15 big bilge pump - silence switch electrical
09-Apr-15 download nautical almanac data IT
09-Apr-15 engine pan clean
09-Apr-15 external buzzer for AIS electrical
09-Apr-15 Reading light - aft cabin
10-Apr-15 hatch - kids cabin - rebed
11-Apr-15 coconut husker
11-Apr-15 outboard - troubleshoot rough running
11-Apr-15 rebed aft head window
11-Apr-15 rebed fwd head hatch
11-Apr-15 rebed leak above chart table
12-Apr-15 shorter pendant for genoa. sails
13-Apr-15 cockpit light - rewire electrical
13-Apr-15 fwd head - ceiling hooks for spear gun
13-Apr-15 purge extra POL - fuel stabilizer, corrosion preventative, coolant
14-Apr-15 bilge clean
14-Apr-15 block and tackle for anchor
14-Apr-15 chafe guards on turnbuckles
14-Apr-15 fwd head reorganize
14-Apr-15 mainfurl - Grease the grease nipple on the aft end of the spar. 2 Mon 08-Dec-14
14-Apr-15 Windlass - bimonthly 2 Mon 20-May-15
15-Apr-15 end for end genoa sheets sails
15-Apr-15 helm tape
15-Apr-15 longer pendant for staysail - full hoist minus 6" so sheet lines up with send clew strap sails
15-Apr-15 mainsail chafe repair sails
15-Apr-15 replace mainsail tack and clew lines 12 mon sails
15-Apr-15 staysail repair sails
15-Apr-15 storm staysail pennant sails
16-Apr-15 better waterproofing - dodger solar wiring rebed
16-Apr-15 epoxy and caulk aft hatch rebed
16-Apr-15 Fan - kids room electrical
16-Apr-15 infill bolt rebed rebed
17-Apr-15 rebed - pad eye kids room rebed
17-Apr-15 rebed - stanchion kids room rebed
17-Apr-15 rebed - toe rail kids room rebed
17-Apr-15 restow - dockboxes
18-Apr-15 Battery water - fwd - 60 days 60 days Mar-15
18-Apr-15 OpnCPN and Polars IT
18-Apr-15 Pressure water filter 3 mon May-15
18-Apr-15 restow - v berth
20-Apr-15 clean water tanks 12 mon
20-Apr-15 water sender attachment
21-Apr-15 liferaft recertify 3 years Safety 
21-Apr-15 MOM8 recertify 12 mon Safety 
21-Apr-15 rebed pulpit bow stanchions x 4 rebed
21-Apr-15 Teak bungs - screws
22-Apr-15 rebed pad eyes fwd x 3 rebed
22-Apr-15 rebed spin pole holder fwd rebed
22-Apr-15 rebed staysail tack pad eye rebed
23-Apr-15 windlass - lower circlip replace
23-Apr-15 windlass - tighen bolts
23-Apr-15 Windlass Service - preseason service - every 6 mon 6 mon Oct-15
24-Apr-15 BBQ replacement
24-Apr-15 change rusted nuts on kayak holder
24-Apr-15 toggle on top of back stay ? rigger
24-Apr-15 windlass - repaint
26-Apr-15 HF ant wire - re fit
26-Apr-15 Lifeline netting
27-Apr-15 download SAS Planet IT
27-Apr-15 Nautical almanac - move to nav computer IT
29-Apr-15 commission watermaker
30-Apr-15 test 2hp outboard
01-May-15 autopilot recalibrate
01-May-15 test preventer
02-May-15 back up tack line for mainsail
02-May-15 check fuel filter bowls Monthly May-15
02-May-15 test spinnaker
07-May-15 battery equalization electrical
07-May-15 Battery water - aft - 60 days 60 days 22-May-15