25 February, 2014

Approaching Bahamas

2014-02-24 15:27Z

After six days of beating into the wind and weathering the ice cold of the Chesapeake plus a bad storm while in the Gulf Stream off Cape Hatteras we are are now almost in the Tropical weather systems. The wind is steady and in the range of 10 to 15 knots. The only unfortunate side is that it is still on the nose so we are still beating - making a good south direction but not towards our destination. We are running parallel to the Bahama coast. We will soon tack and head direct for Georgetown but that is half a day away.
This has been a long strip south but we are now warm and out of the American mainland clutches.
A magical moment on Malua

17 February, 2014

Waiting for the Weather

Malua is shipshape and like Bristol. All things are in their place and
all lines and halyards are now ready to use but as always the weather
decided we had to wait.
There was a very deep depression off the coast of Virginia which moved
eastwards towards New York and then on to New England. It dumped a lot
of snow on that part of the world. While this storm was forming it must
have caused the sea to build and upset the Gulf stream flowing north so
I thought it was prudent to wait 24 hours for the sea state to calm
before we set off south on the first cruise of the season.
We are off on Monday south to Georgetown Bahamas.
A magical moment on Malua

16 February, 2014

Provisioning and storage

Eating well on passage and while cruising is always one of the highest priorities on Malua. When I built Malua I constructed an extra large freezer and fridge so we could freeze meat and keep the beers and white wine cold. It worked well in the Pacific but started to require more time when I left the Med. I suspected it had leaked some gas so in Gibraltar I called the local refrigeration “expert” who vacuumed the system then tried to fill it with the correct gas. He did not have the correct gauges and had to guess the quantity of gas to add. Well crossing the Atlantic it started to go down hill and in the latter part of last years cruise the compressor was working but working hard.
It was time to replace the unit.

As with most technical things purchased in Australia the unit I had selected was no longer made so I called the Isotherm parts people to ask for a replacement. What followed was a third degree about the specifications of the holding plate, box size, insulation thickness and connectors. In the end I just stated “Will you sell me Unit xxyy for $Z – you have no liability about the functionality. I know what I am doing?” Yes But. Well it arrived. I installed it, connected up the tubes and then connected the refill can of 142A refrigerant gas with my gauges and started the process. It worked perfectly. The next day the freezer was at minus 8. Now to put some goods in it.
Estimating what we needed for the four month cruise is always a tricky job especially with a new crew member whose likes and dislikes I did not know. I had the Atlantic crossing as a guide but we were not able to get the fruit selection of the Canaries. As stated in the previous blog we were taken to Wolmart by Bob and spent three hour filling two trolleys.
The challenge facing us once we unpacked and listed everything was where to pack it. The large store space under the main cabin berth was empty after I installed the windvane so all the food not required for the first few months easily went into that space while the balance went into the plastic boxes designed to go into the space under the sink and workspace.
Christine listed stores and catalogued where they could be found while I packed the freezer. We are almost ready to go – just a few more items and a few more things to put in their right place.

A magical moment on Malua

15 February, 2014

Norfolk Portsmouth Provisioning

I made it to Portsmouth free dock at the end of High Street, tied up and settled down for the night. The next day I took the folding bike and set off to find the super big Walmart at the end of the street. Once inside it was hard not to shop however not having prepared I did not have anything to carry the goods in. I did purchase a sleeping bag and a new blanket for the crew. As I exited the store it started to snow – not small flaked but a white out. I tied the two parcels on the bike and set off, head down into the wind and snow. At some point I realized that I only had one parcel on the back of the bike. Turn round and retrace my path. Nothing to be found. This is a very poor area and I am sure the first local that saw a Wolmart parcel would have picked it up. My contribution to the poor cold underclass of downtown Portsmouth.
I was cycling along the footpath when a small truck (ute) stopped and the fellow got out. “Hi you must be a yottie with the boat in the dock?” “Yes that is me.” “Put your bike in the back and I will give you a lift.” “Thanks man that is just great” “Ok, I have sailed up and down the coast and I know what it is like.” What a great relief to be taken the few miles back to the boat.
That evening the snow came down and the new crew, Christine was flying in from the west coast, arriving after dark. She called – the taxi could not see the yacht in the dock and she was just down the road in a coffee shop.. I put on warm cloths and set out to find her. Not difficult. We then both trudged back through the snow to Malua. If that was a test of commitment she showed it. We retired below where the heater was going full blast. She soon found her cabin and was settling in.
Next day we did an inventory of stores. A knock on the hull after lunch and Bob was standing there to take us to Walmarts. Bless his heart he found the money owing and handed it to me. I hope it all goes well for him during his difficult time.
Off to Walmart with two lists and two cart. After three hour and almost $1,000 we where ready to return to Malua. Bob came to pick us up and take us to the liquor store to purchase some goods for trading. - Black pearls.
We now have the challenge to store four months of food on board. 

A magical moment on Malua.

14 February, 2014

Season Starts Feb 2014 Snow in Deltaville

I flew out of Sydney after leaving Canberra sweltering in 29C heat. The garden is scorched but the tomatoes have yet to ripen. The flight on Qantas was just terrible with the worst food I have ever eaten – in fact it made me sick but the flight was less than half full so I was able to stretch out and sleep. The only advantage of a failing airline.
I arrived in Norfolk to find the whole airport snow bound, flights cancelled and most people gone home for the night. A hours wait for the bags and then taxis ripping people off to take them any where. I found a New Yorker who was great and took me to the prebooked hotel. Air-conditioning on full.
Next morning I collected the rental car and drove through white landscape and roads to Portsmouth to collect my Yanmar parts from Bob. There is a back story to this but now is not the time. He had not got most of the parts although I had paid in January, however he promised to deliver the engine mounts to Deltaville in a few days – the other parts are still missing plus my money.
The drive to Chesapeake Boat Works was slow because of all the snow and when I turned into the yard it was just white. Malua was under more than six inches of snow. Luckily the cockpit cover was still intact so I was able to go below with out much difficulty. I was straight off to the hardware store to get a heater and a long extension lead. No 220 volts available. The first night was a challenge – completely disorganised no heating – lead too short and minus 5 outside. You know it is cold when in the morning the water beside your bed has ice on the surface. First priority was power and heat. I soon rigged up a 220 supply and the heater which was left on 24/7

This years to-do list seemed daunting but as always start with the most critical and work your way down. It included:
  • Replace engine mounts
  • Replace shaft cutlass bearing
  • Replace freezer compressor
  • Two coats dark blue anti-fouling
  • Regaz freezer/Fridge
  • Replace 6 x 6 volt Sonnenshein batteries
  • reinstall chartplotter and autopilot at wheel
  • Reinstall windvane on stern
  • Rerun lines and halyards

Well after ten days Malua was ready to go in the water. No sails but ready. Launch day dawned cold but clear and at the appointed time I removed the forestay and the travel lift arrived. A short ride to the water then splash. No broken through hulls or pipes due to the cold so I was ready.
That afternoon I received some help from Chuck and his son to bend on the sails and Malua was again a proper yacht.
That night the temperature dropped to minus 6 and the sea in the marina had a film of ice on it. I said my goodbyes and set off out to sea to sail south, with the wind down the Chesapeake to Norfolk/Portsmouth.
With the new smooth bottom, the lanolin on the prop and the bearings and new engine mounts Malua sped down at almost max hull speed but was it cold. The waves over the bow soon froze on the life lines. The water temp was almost 0 degrees. Fall in and you would not be able to count to ten.
I arrived at dusk at the free dock at the end of High Street Portsmouth to find it empty.
I soon tied up and ran a electrical cable to a power point and I was again able to run the heater 24/7.
I cant wait to sail south to the sun.

A magical moment on Malua.