Archive for the 'Pick Something Here' Category

The Road Book

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November 12, 2021 posted by Diane

A road book is something not talked about too often when we head off for an overnight passage or race. You may create a passage plan….but a road book contains more significant markers along the way. The road book contains your “gates” and the sail plan to get you there. It includes the weather routing you have done by hand or generated with software. It includes who your emergency contacts are along the way and the prevailing winds you expect to see when the short range forecast runs out. The road book is a significant tool in the plannings of your passage. Here you see a picture of the weather routing update I added to my road book for the start of the Mini Transat. It was a significant weather system that held us at the dock for literally weeks. But because I had done such deep work on building my road book and then adding updates as our delay went on….when it was time to go I was ready at the drop of a hat. Because I so intimately knew my road book it also meant that while underway when the race was abandoned, I knew exactly where I was….what to expect and where to go while sailing in a part of the world I had never transited before.

In my Offshore Racing Program you will become versed in building a road book. To learn more, check out the Offshore Racing Progam.

Lake Ontario 300

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July 21, 2021 posted by admin

Achieving the goal can be right up there with winning the race.

Before the start of the LO300, Andrew and I had a chat about our goal for the race.  Brand new boat with untested systems and a very unknown performance range for sailing.  What sail should be up in what conditions and what could our boat speed be?  With no autopilot, we would be sailing solo essentially, with the ability to have a second set of hands for sail changes or rough conditions.  The watch rotation would roughly be every 4 hours.  We also had a good weather window on our side, at least for the first couple of days while we got settled into the routines. My personal goal was also to “go sailing again”. Its been years now since I have been racing on my own terms and to my own rules. I have missed it.

With all this on the slate, the goal was to sail clean and safe and finish the race. 

Race morning the air was light and very fluky but there was enough wind to be zipping back and forth at the start line charged up ready to cross the start.  This was the first race for me and Ellementary and it was also the first race since Covid!  There was an energy in the air like a spark of static electricity!  We were one of the smaller boats on our start line.  Elle is rated 60 PHRF pegging us against Beneteau 36.7s and the like.  Bigger rigs and longer waterlines.  Off the start we needed to bail out of dirty air.  2 boats were over early and after they cleared themselves we had a little hole to poke out and get some clean air while we worked toward the Clarkson turning mark.  The turning mark was only 3 miles away.  Then we would bear away for the long run to Ajax and onwards to Main Duck M9.  On our way to Ajax, the breeze was forward enough that we put the Code 0 up.  Others had their Asymmetrical spinnakers up but were carrying very tightly.  We thought the Code 0 was the right call…..we were wrong.  The fleet slowly pulled away from us, but without the perspective of how we should fair against the others, we weren’t sure if we had the right sail up or not.  Then the breeze went light….super light.  By now we had the A2 spinnaker up but we were all drifting.  Our competition was further ahead and still moving forward a little and we were stuck in a giant hole with the back of the pack.  Capitalizing on the opportunity though, we tested out the cooking system on the boat.

Starting with appetizers!  A little meat and cheese with a cracker is always a great way to warm the pallet up. 

The cooking appliances are a choice of either the Coleman single burner stove or my fantastic Jetboil.  I have done many many many many miles with this jetboil in the Mini Transat years.  Its simple and works every time. 

This Coleman single burner was where my solo sailing career started in my Thunderbird.  Ironically enough I set it up with the same mounting bracket!

Elle has a galley of sorts.  A sink and a surface with a shelf underneath to hang on to things.  To have a hot meal, either of the cookers needs to be engaged so it won’t flame up or tip over.  Then 2 cups of water get boiled.  With my “food bowl”, I pour my freeze dried contents into the bood bowl then add the boiled water and screw on the lid.  Each packet has an appropriate amount of time to wait and then its “bonne appetit”!

My first meal was a lovely pile of Happy Yak Linguina and Shrimp Rosa.  Very tasty.  Then it was back to business as usual.  Get the boat moving!

Light winds means you are constantly pacing yourself against anyone who is near you.  Any little stretch out on your neighbor means miles gained.  Slowly but surely we were picking our way through the pack with the A2.  Light and “sh….t” as they say 😊.  Then as we closed in on Prince Edouard County, the wind went forward as was forecasted. 

Very early the next morning we came around M9.  The kite went up and we started to pick up the miles.  Elle has the ability to be very fast if we can figure out what her potential is.  In racing we use polars.   Polars essentially give us a plan for which sails to use in which wind ranges and state what our target speed potential is for each of those circumstances.  We are developing our polars as we experience different conditions.  We have now learned that we can carry the A2 at 90° apparent when the wind is under 10 knots.  She’s a very flat sail with a very hi cut clew.  Unfortunately, we spent the next 150 miles with the wind dead down wind and with us gybing back and forth.  So the question is always….what gybing angle is optimum “VMG”.  VMG aka velocity made good is the speed you are moving forward in a straight line while infact zigzagging back and forth.   Your boat speed may be 6 knots lets say while you sail close hauled, but infact your VMG is 6 knots towards your target.  Its easy to manage when tacking.  The trick is to find the optimal angle to have the best VMG forward when gybing.  We are still learning our numbers on this boat, but I can assure you it isn’t 150°!  Way too deep.  However, we did pick up some boats along our kite run the whole length of the lake.

Coming in to Burlington, the wind was forecast to swing around to the south west and be right on the nose.  I kept saying all the way down to Burlington to watch for a shift.  Instead the wind was light and …… again.  But we kept watching.  Then, as if the play book had been written on the water, as we approached Burlington we could see the shift.  The smoke stacks and flags on land were showing the wind out of the south west.  The pressure on the water was dark and building.  Quick!  Take the kite down.  Kite came down, jib was unfurled and woosh, the wind shift came in at 20 knots.  With a couple of quick tacks we worked our way around the Burlington weather mark and reached off towards the PCYC finish line 15 or so miles away.  The weather forecast also was for thunderstorms, 25+ knots of wind, lightning and anything else that could role up its sleeves.  Our goal was to test the boat and have a clean race.  We had achieved that.  We decided to not blow up the A2 in a storm.  Code 0 was our plan B.  Yes, its an upwind sail but reaching was still an option and its a tougher sail and can take more wind.  Plus, its on a furler and if the weather gets really bad we can just role it up.  Yes, this was a compromise, but go back to the goal of the race.  Although we had gained some boats back, our goal was to put the boat through her paces in a long distance race and have a clean race.  It was not to blow up a sail.  We had also decided by this point that we did not need to do another lap around the lake.  The forecast for the next three days was a combination of 5 knots of wind and 25+ knots of wind in thunderstorms.  Andrew and I had very little interest in drifting around another 300 miles with an interspersed thunderstorm here and there.  Thursday’s forecast was for 35+ knots and lots of rain.  You all may remember Thursday….5 tornadoes touched down in Barrie and its surrounding area. 

Andrew and I had achieved our goal.  We knew what needed to change and we knew what was well on the road to working.  The water needs to be plumbed in, the fuel cell needs a better venting system, the keel trunk is still leaking but is manageable, the cooking works and the Happy Yak is delicious.  The nav works as is but doesn’t allow us to calculated VMG.  We don’t have an autopilot and definitely need one for double handing….nothing unknown there!

Next event is the Susan Hood, a short 75 Miles.  The goal is to press the boat fully crewed.  We will be 4 onboard.  Woohoo!  Here’s to goals, achievements, struggles along the way and having fun 😊


Race Day LO600

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July 8, 2021 posted by admin

Our first race is about to start! The Lake Ontario 600 starts on Saturday. I am soooo excited to be racing on my own boat and on my own terms. Andrew and I will be doing the race double handed. Ellementary is as ready as she will be! What does it take to get a new boat ready for a “shake down” race? Well, the effort started with running new electrical, a toilet and some good old fashioned elbow grease.

Then some electronics had to be added. Fortunately I still had some of my Raymarine gear from the Mini 6.50 days. The basics are installed. Next came some ammenities. A cooker, a jetboil, a little basket to hold “stuff”, some pockets at the quazy nav station to hold fancy things like pencils and music and then I emptied the boat out! Too much stuff in the boat already and we’ve only been floating for a month!

Next on the agenda was food and a new furler for the staysail. Food is a key factor to racing. I like food and I don’t miss a meal. For me its part of good mental health.

A hot bowl of something delicious….a cup of tea in the middle of the night to warm the heart….its all intrinsic to keeping a good head about you.

Happy Yak is our freeze dried food of choice for this race. A few years ago I was at the Montreal boat show and walked past a booth of hot food sampling. I tried some and immediately went back to my booth and said to the guys there “ya gotta try this! Its awesome”. Freeze dried has come a long way, but Happy Yak got there faster than anyone else! To go along with our Happy Yak bags of delight I have chorizo, cheese, apples for crunch and some trail mix type stuff. I’m fairly certain Andrew and I could eat for a week and a half if we needed to!

The other piece of fancy kit to add to the program is a new Facnor +1500 furler for the staysail.

All of the sails except the big red A2 spinnaker are on furlers. The staysail did not come with a furler. Once I got the furler installed and the luff properly tensioned she spun like a dream! I’m a big fan of top down flat deck furlers. No overrides in the drum, no excess line in the cockpit and things never jam. Plus Facnor makes a tough product that can handle oceans and lakes alike.

Final jobs are to pack my clothes and run more weather routing files.

Lets see how many layers I need of my Helly Hansen gear! Hopefully it won’t be too cold or wet 🙂

Well the boat is in race configuration and delivery is Friday. Race starts Saturday. We are listed in two divisions. The double handed division for the 300 and the 600 division. We are scratch boat in the double handed 300 division. No pressure but we need to stay ahead of everyone! Follow us on the tracker here.

Let’s go racing!


We Bought A Toilet

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May 19, 2021 posted by admin

May 19, 2021

Often when I’m doing work on boats and their toilets, it’s a gross and disgusting activity.  I can’t tell you how many “Poo” stories I have from around the world.  My Intermediate Cruising students can tell you about some of my poo stories I’ve shared with them. This story is the cleanest toilet story I have ever had. 

Our new boat came with a portapottie.  Something you would see in a tiny little camper with a self contained holding tank right underneath it.  Then, to empty the tank you would carry it to a toilet and dump it.  Boating on fresh water doesn’t allow this.  The environmental pollutions act does not allow portapotties where there is an option to dump overboard into the lake.  For the last 25 years our Thunderbird had a portapottie.  The plastic wrap is still on it.  My Mini didn’t even have a portapottie as she was purely intended for the ocean.  Most IMOCA 60s don’t have a portapottie.  They and the Minis have a labelled bucket.  There is even a story from right before my first ocean race in the Mini with me sitting on a bucket in a marine chandlery….bouncing up and down the aisles simulating life at sea.  Well, with the new boat comes a glorious new upgrade.  We are getting a toilet.  It’s a proper marine head with a holding tank.  Every racer out there just cringed and cried “too heavy”! They aren’t wrong.  Life is full of compromises.  I have chosen this compromise. 

Now for the cleanest toilet story.  Usually these stories are of fixing clogs.  This is the installation.  Marine heads need to have some key factors.  They need to draw water in to flush the bowl.  They need to empty their contents into the tank and have the choice to send it overboard with a Y valve.  They also need to have the ability to evacuate their holding tank contents to a shoreside pumpout facility.  Not a simple task to decide where to put and how to run all the plumbing and keep it tidy.

This is the space.  To the left in the picture is the keel trunk.  To the right is the shelf.  That’s it….ain’t no cruising boat.  You can see there is a little space for a portapottie that I have already removed. 

This is the head.  Yes, there is a lid to come as well.  The goal is to fit the head in the box space and all the plumbing and holding tank in the shelf.

Fortunately, there is an assigned spot in the hull for the through hull fittings.  This hull is built in a sandwich composite with vinylester.  To maintain the integrity of the composite, the manufacturer builds flat spots of solid glass for mounting through hull fittings.  On our boat, these are located directly under and slightly forward of the sink.  Let’s cut out the space for the tank to drop in and then see about getting those through hull fittings underneath it.

The picture on the left is the cutout to be able to drop the tank in and then the tank in rough position.  To the right is the space where the tank will sit and underneath you can see where I have drilled the first of two holes for the through hull fittings.  The trick is to line up the plumbing for the tank and be able to install the fittings without being able to see them because they are hidden underneath.  A veritable jigsaw puzzle.

Then there is the toilet.  The toilet mount base is not the same span as the original mounting blocks.  With a little rejig and repurpose of some marine plywood, a base is formed.  I’ll probably replace this with something lighter but for now….this was in my shop. 

Next the plumbing coming off of the toilet needs to get fitted.  No Diane…the toilet doesn’t go there!  Oh my ahahahahah!  However there was a constant back and forth with all of the pipes and the toilet to see about fit and measures.  Again, racers are adding up the weight!  If you look carefully, I have also sketched the pattern for the plumbing right on the bulkhead.  All of these pipes are going to be visible and need to fit and be securely mounted to the bulkhead. 

Bit by bit the hoses get pushed on.  They are a very tight fit…ironically with the exception of the giant pipe that comes off of the toilet.  This pipe is the conveyor of the “soup”.  It was an easy fit….practically slipped right on!  This will not end well.  Looks pretty good though.  We have the longest pipe on the left that goes up to the vented loop.  Normally on a cruising boat this would be hidden behind a false bulkhead or cabinet or something.  The vented loop prevents backflow when healed over.  Then the pipe travels downward to the black Y valve.  There are two lower pipes coming off of it.  The one to the left goes straight down to the sea and a giant Through Hull.  The one on the right goes straight into the tank.  This way, when I am on the lake, I can isolate the “soup” to go to the tank.  But when its ocean racing time I can isolate everything to go overboard.  To the far right you can see a straight pipe going up to deck level.  This is where the shoreside pumps out the contents of the tank.  The braided hose is the vent for the hose…still to be connected to the little vent in the hull to the right of the pumpout hose.  Last thing we need is for the tank to suffer pressure complications.  I have stories….they are not pretty! 

Once all the hoses are in place and clamped..its time to test.  No, not by sitting!  By pouring a little water in the tank and pumping it through the system.  OH CRAP, remember that connection that sliped on easily?  Piddles water everywhere!  Fortunately its just water though.  A little shop vac work and time to reset the clamps.  Not an easy job.  After several heating and tightenings of the clamp I finally get the clamp tight enough to stop the leak.  There may have been some swearing involved……but now she is water tight.

There is still a little tidying up to be done, a few screws to go in….and fiddles to be installed on the lid to cover up the tank, but yes……we have a toilet!

On to the next project…autopilot tiller arm!


New Boat Jobs

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May 2, 2021 posted by admin

You may have all read that Paul and I have partnered with my friend Sheila to purchase a new boat. You will remember Sheila from the Mini days. She was a fantastic indispensible part of my team back then and is looking to do some sailing again! So we decided to buy a 2018 L30.

This new boat has a brilliant program ahead of her. For now we will call her L. Naming will come but boats have many superstitions including announcing the name before the name is on the boat.

Please allow me to introduce you to L.

Her mission in life is to do some offshore racing and teaching. If the stars align, she will be the class boat at the 2024 Olympics for the proposed mixed double handed offshore class. However, that proposed event is looking less and less likely these days. If I can’t get to the Olympics with this boat I can at least get back into some exciting offshore racing! Let’s wait and see what happens there.

Meanwhile, let’s get this offshore boat ready to do some racing! L was built in Europe. That means that her AC electrical system is 240volt 50Hz. Its the 50Hz that is the critical item. Supplying only 120 volts rather than 240 volts is fairly indifferent, however if there are already “fixtures” on the boat that use AC and 50 Hz (cycles) they will literally go up in smoke.

Fortunately, there is very little on L to start with when it comes to electrical. Out goes the battery charger,

shorepower outlet, electrical plugs and anything else that looks “miffy”. Oh heck, let’s just pull the whole panel and reorganize the DC side while we are at it.

Then in goes a new charger, shorepower outlets, AC plugs and a bunch more electrical stuff. Next up, some wiring for the mast, a fuel cell for recharging power while sailing and some new VHF wiring throughout! Don’t worry….these wires won’t be hanging when I am done…but the tidy up happens when it is all finished 🙂 Meanwhile, we have AC charging and an active DC panel ready for some new lights and Raymarine electronics.


Snow Day!

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April 21, 2021 posted by admin

April 21, 2021

Snow Day! For me that means tuning 1 rig, a rig survey and some wiring of a mast. Thanks Helly Hansen for keeping me warm on this not unusual snowy April day! Can’t wait to wear your gear on the new boat…

HH Snow Day

New Adventures!

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April 18, 2021 posted by admin

April 18, 2021

Some people look at the glass and think its half full. Some think it is half empty. My brain sais… can I get this glass to go sailing??? Its time for a new adventure. Meet the new boat. She is an L30. Good for awesome offshore racing and teaching. If and that is a big if….with all fingers crossed, this will also be the start of an Offshore Olympic adventure, however we are still waiting for decisions on that one from the International Olympic Committee. Let the adventures begin of commissioning a new boat!

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UK To Gibraltar

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October 18, 2019 posted by admin

October 18, 2019

What an Adventure!

Life is nothing if not full of adventure once in a while and this trip certainly did not leave any elements out!

How do you get ready for and execute an adventure? Where are we going?  How long will it take to get there?  What will we need along the way?  The thing is, we each get ready for our adventures basically in the same way.  Whether I am sailing across an ocean or you are driving to the cottage for the weekend, the questions are the same and the process is the same.   It’s the scale that is different!

For this trip we would travel 2200 nautical miles from Southampton, UK to Valletta Malta.  The boat needed to get to Malta for the Rolex Middle Sea Race.  Depending on weather, fuel and provisioning stops, the trip would take 15 days, averaging 150 miles a day.  We were scheduled to leave Southampton on Sept 26.  That would get us to Malta on or about Oct 10th or 11th.

What will we need along the way?  Hmmmm…..foood!  lots and lots of food!  Plus some diesel, some sails, some safety equipment and some crew!

Introducing Daniel 1st mate originally scheduled to onboard on the 30th in Cascais Portugal.  He looks fantastically stern here but he is the nicest guy to sail with and an excellent rigger.



Ryan 2nd mate (center), a fantastic pal of mine from ClipperTelemed+ days.


Marzena and Harry.



Marzena was looking for an adventure away from her everyday and Harry (standing beside Ryan) works in the power superyacht world and other than a brief moment in time has never sailed and was also looking to do “something different”.

Together we would form the delivery crew, along with our final crew member… Challenger a 1996 Volvo 60.


To get off the dock we had a reasonable list of things to get done.  Although the boat was supposed to be “ready to go”, there was still a list.  Let’s face it, with boats…there is always a list!

  • Main sail removed for service and cruising main bent on with bat cars to swap out, battens to swap out and fashion and lashings to be added to the bat cars that were failing to hold, plus a lashing to the headboard pin that no longer wanted to mate up to its set screw.mainsail work

mainsail on deck

  • J2 removed and cruising J3 bent on for delivery
  • Provisioning purchased and onboarded


  • Fuel onboarded
  • Broken stanchion replaced
  • New lifebuoys installed
  • Safety equipment inspected for delivery
  • Rig check
  • Alternator belts to purchase
  • Charts purchased and installed
  • Weather and comms systems initiated
  • Storage locker to be emptied out
  • B&G system not working and not displaying depth or wind info
  • Barometer also not displaying info

The weather would play a hand in all this of course.  On Sept 27 the weather was going to blow!  Out in the channel we were looking at 35 knots gusting 40+ on the nose.  Not ideal weather to take a undersized crew with no experience on Challenger off on an adventure.  Additionally, we had to get the boat to Hamble to fuel up.  To achieve this, we needed to not be at low water to get down the river and we needed it to not be blowing 30 knots in the slip.  Neither were going to happen that day.  Low water was in the morning and by the time we had enough water under our keel it was full on blowing in the harbour.  We would get some more jobs done and get to Hamble first thing in the morning with the tide.

We also decided that with the weather window looking more and more like the 30th, it would be wise to bring our final crew Daniel to the UK, rather than pick him up in Cascais.  He could arrive to England on the 29th and this would fit our weather window nicely and give us an extra set of educated hands for the first few days.

Daniel’s arrival on the 29th also afforded us a much overdue rig check and final safety kit walk through.  The morning of the 30th the air was still.  A perfect day to get going! Hmmmm, not enough battery to start the engine.  Really?????  This should have been a sign.  So off to Halford’s to buy a booster pack and some extra long battery cables.  We had a spare battery and could keep that charged along the way with the booster pack.  This charging problem was a signal of times to come.

And we were off!  Motoring down the Solent.  Yes, for all you navigation students that is me using navionics on my phone 🙂


There was even some occasional sun!  Then, in open water we hoisted the main….most of the way up only to see that the batten car pins were popping out of their sockets!  However this was nothing that a little lashing and some cable ties and hose clamps couldn’t fix.  Loaded with resources in his pockets, Daniel went up the mast and did a fine jury rig.  Something to monitor as we moved along.  With the mainsail up we sailed out past the needles.  It looked lumpy ahead.  It had been blowing from the south west for weeks.  Did I mention that we were heading to the north west corner of France…..heading south west to get there.  At least we got a few hours of sailing in daylight to get used to the boat and get into shifts.  Then came the night…..the wind built to 25 gusting thirty.  We were set up with two reefs in the main and the storm jib bent on.

storm jib

We were making very little progress forward in the current and the wind, but it was stable for everyone onboard.

Before heading off for my first off watch, I started the engine to get things charging.  No power again.  Boosted the battery with the battery pack and got things going only to see that there was no charge coming to the start battery, or the house system.  We certainly weren’t going to get far without power!  Oh, and did I mention the water?  There seemed to be a bit more water in the bilge than I was happy with.  We weren’t exactly sinking, but water was coming in somewhere and the engine bilge was about 5-6 inches underwater depending on the sloshing at the moment.  Alright, first battle is the charging.  Without charge this is a nonstarter  ahahahahah mechanics out there should find that funny!  The water could wait.  We chased wires, looked at the back of the alternator, checked the fuse which crumbled in my hands, found a spare fuse harness and installed it and still nothing.  We were directly outside Poole Harbour.  The tide was ebbing at a ferocious rate and the wind was howling now from the west.  We could see the channel entrance.  If I couldn’t figure out this charging, we were going to head in.  Nothing was the obvious problem.  Then, in all the swill of the water rolling around under the engine, Daniel found something.  Actually he found two things!  Two belts.  One intact and one broken.  The alternator is on the front of the engine which is about 3 inches away from a removable inspection board.  We had not removed the inspection board.  But funny enough when we removed it we could clearly see no alternator belt.  Now, which of the two belts was the one we needed to replace?  We took a guess, found two spares that matched part numbers and installed one of them.  Turned the key and……. Nothing.  No screaming from the alternator which was good as it meant that it was probably the right size.  No smoking or obvious damage from being too tight.  But also no charge coming out of the alternator.

As a last ditch suggestion from Chris (the owner), I sprayed a bucket full of WD40 across the back of the alternator…..corrosion was suspected to be the culprit for not creating any output.  Voila!  She sparked up and charge was supplied!  Hmmmm, but we certainly needed to keep an eye on this.  Meanwhile, even though we had been trying to sail towards the harbour, we were making less than 2 knots forward.  Time to head out to sea.  Sea room would give us safe room.  The harbour was not a safe entrance if we now had charging capabilities.  We motor sailed through the rest of the night, getting some well loved charge to the boat and giving us a little extra push through the water.  As I finally went off watch I noted that the motor did sound a little loud and “bangy”, but it had been 2 years since I was on Challenger.

The next day showed very little progress forward, but slowly but surely we were picking our way upwind toward France.  Did I mention that almost everyone was sick.  However, everyone was a trooper and soldiered through!

Now let’s tackle that water problem.  On boats, there are several potential sources of water coming in where it’s not supposed to.  They are fairly typical for any boat:

  • Through hulls
  • Water pump
  • Exhaust hose for engine
  • Mast
  • Shaft

Most of the water was pooled under the engine so I started with the engine.   First task is to bail as much out as possible to be able to actually see new water coming in.  Messy, dirty oily job.  This picture looks much more dramatic than it is.  We were rolling around a bit and you can actually see the water in the engine bay rushing past the shaft.


The raw water intake hose next to the shaft was actually spurting little bits of water out its side.  Some of you may also notice in this pic that this is a “dripless” with a stern gland rather than a stuffing box.  |If you are familiar with stern glands you may also think “my….that seems awfully squished”.  We will come back to that in a little bit.  I decided that the small amount of water coming in from the through hull was minor and certainly not attributed to the volume of water we had.  However the shaft was bouncing around a lot more than I liked.  Let’s have a look shall we?  Engine off and time to look at that stern gland.  When I reached my hands around to check the compression on the gland my fingers brushed past something on the floor.  A bolt.  Not unusual to find a bit of shiny stuff rolling around, but this was a particular bolt.  It was a hardened steel bolt from the transmission flange that couples the shaft to the transmission.  There are four of them and they are not meant to be sheared off as this one was.


Further inspection of the coupling showed that three of the bolts out of four were infact broken.  The culprit probably stemmed back to an incident years earlier, but now the bushing inbetween the couplings (the red bit) was crushed and broken.



No worries, there was a spare new one in the tools.  Unfortunately upon retrieval we found the new one was twice as thick and the bolts twice as short!  This was now a prime objective to sort out.  We had no transmission.  The good news though was that we could charge!  Daniel had a thought while I pondered how to precisely hacksaw down a piece of hard rubber in half….width wise.  He said “hang on a minute while I look for something”.  A few minutes later he came back with a very crudely fashioned bushing made out of two dollar store cutting boards.  “I made this a few years ago….I can’t believe it’s still on the boat”!  Neither could I.  It was perfect!  The holes weren’t exactly right but with a little reaming out they would be just fine.  The new bolts from the new piece were also the right length….just!  We put it all together and started her up.  It held and the significant knocking stopped.  Only a little out of true but good enough without doing a total alignment job on the motor.  We would check this again in an hour or so or if the motor started to sound any different at all.   Now back to that water.  With all of the water sponged out.  Yes, sponged.  The electric pump also decided to not work.  With all of the water sponged out I could do a proper dig about to find the water coming in.  Now that the shaft was in better alignment the through hull was no longer leaking.  Nothing a bit of Sikka flex couldn’t handle, but not an issue at the moment.  Certainly some of the water was coming down the mast.  That is just a fact of life with boats.  The keel bolts looked good and even if they were weeping a little, it still didn’t explain the larger amount of water.  What about the water pump?  Hmmmm, well would you look at that, there is a steady drip when the engine isn’t running.  I bet it is spraying when it’s under pressure.  Found the spares bag and found a new O-ring.  Cleaned up the pump plate and popped in the new o-ring and looky looky no more leaks.  Finished cleaning up all the water and went to bed.

Meanwhile the team have been doing a great job of keeping us going in the right direction, puking downwind and eating an apple or granola bar when they can.  A few hours later young Harry (I can say that because I am old enough to be his mother!) came to me and said “Skip, there is water under my bunk and getting all my gear wet”.  Challenger is a Volvo 60 with water ballast.  The water ballast is no longer used and the racks the crew sleep in are literally screwed to the ballast tanks. This is my rack… not Harry’s but you can see what I’m talking about.  You can see the blue valves coming out the side under my bunk


The screws in many cases go straight through.  If water has managed to get into the tank then it is seeping out the screws and well look at that…..water under Harry’s bunk.  Water that would have also migrated to the engine bay.  Note to everyone reading.  Always pack in a dry bag when going on a boat…..always!  You will see my pink Helly Hansen dry bag.  @hellyhansen  #hellyhansen Love it!

The note from the office when I consulted was “yeah, if the ballast tank has water in it it will leak out the walls.  The vent on that tank can back flood with some water if it drags through the sea.”  We had been on port tack for many hours dragging the starboard toerail (Harry’s bunk) through the sea….as you do, and in doing so, Harry’s ballast tank was filling up.  To fix this one needs to drain the ballast tank.  The easiest way to do that is to open the relief valve and put the electric pump to it and start pumping.  Let’s see if we can get that pump going.  Daniel had earlier on taken it apart and couldn’t find anything wrong with it or plugging it.  Maybe it just needed an excruciatingly long time to prime?  Whatever it was it only took about ten seconds of priming and it started pumping.  Hallelujah! Emptying the ballast tank took 3 rounds of pumping for twenty minutes at a time.  I didn’t want to burn the pump out now that we finally had it going!  Then with the pump working I went around the mast box and slurped up every inch of water.  Likewise under the engine and anywhere else I could find a dribble.  Dry boat.  Time to go to bed.


The next few days saw a variety of wind on the nose, no wind, wind on the nose, no wind…. You name it, we saw it.  At one point there was a bit of a bang in the forepeak


and upon inspection found the handrails attached to the work bench had separated from the deck head.  Another day I said… not today.  We even had a “poo” story that I didn’t bother to tell anyone about.  Not really about poo, but the toilet was not holding it’s water and kept slopping out of the bowl and into the bilge.  Ah the glamour of it all.  And, for icing on the cake, the overall damp and corrosion on a boat like this that lives at sea working all the time is the corrosion on the back of the electrical panel.  Everything would have a moment of just flickering off.  I installed two new terminal blocks.  Ran a direct lead to one of the batteries for both the positive and the negative and as things would stop working I would switch them over to the new terminal blocks while I chased down the corrosion.  The one that got me was the B&G and the barometer.  Soooo many wires on the backbone system and soooo many junction boxes along the way for all the repeaters around the boat.  I was never able to figure out that one.

Shortly into this whole delivery we also saw the self tailor on the port runner winch tear off.  It was in the dark…… of course.  A few minutes afterwards, dear sweet Ryan turned and grabbed the winch and found the only sharp bit sticking out of the broken tailor and it punctured into his hand.

puncture wound

The picture looks WAY more Halloween dramatic than it really was as salt water had been pouring all over his hand, but infact he got some cleaning up and suture tapes and bandages and we kept it clean for the rest of the trip.  It was a pretty decent puncture!

second breakfast

Well let’s just chalk this run up to “one for the books” of things that could go wrong….did go wrong.

Hats off to our crew who were awesome throughout it all.  For me, yes it was a little stressful.  I’ve decided to take a bit of a break from big ocean stuff for a day or two.  After I got off the boat in Gibralter I found my way through customs (that’s a whole other story involving no stamps in passports, a police station, two boarder crossings, a re routed plane to Spain and a two hour shuttle bus) and found myself in a lovely little pub called the Red Lion.  If you are ever in Gibralter, go to the Red Lion on the main street.  It’s tiny and operated by a wonderful couple who let me set up shop in their office corner of the pub, plug in my laptop, fed me a full English, a pint and a glass of water……

Here’s to adventures….may they be a little less “putting out the fires” in your next adventure and a little more adventure in your adventure! #feelalive


Second Breakfast!

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October 10, 2019 posted by admin

October 10, 2019

While I write a little story for you all of my recent adventures, I would just like you to appreciate …….. second breakfast.

second breakfast

It is a very important meal of the day, especially after a long voyage at sea. Beer, water, eggs, sausage, mushrooms… almost a full english. Just no beans! Please note the solid state of the yolks in my eggs…..perfection!




Arrived Lisbon, Portugal

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October 7, 2019 posted by Diane

Monday October 7, 2019

Ahoy from Tim again,
Diane has just pulled into Cascais, just outside Lisbon, Portugal. Hope for some news in the next day or two.