Your local sailing story pusher is back and writing furiously to get the website up to date.
Where to begin?
Let’s go back a bit and remind you that Vinni stopped working February 4 and we went to Spain for a golfing holiday (seems like a million years ago). When we got back, we got serious about getting everything done so we could leave May 29 at noon, sharp. Lots of time – right?
Uhh – no. We started packing the house down, getting ourselves ready to leave the land behind, worked on the boat (lots of work there!). Leaving the land behind is not as easy as it sounds. Governments are actually not very keen on their subjects just packing up and leaving without any forwarding address. The same is true for pensions, especially if you are like me and have pensions scattered across 3 different countries, 6 different pension funds and god knows what else. Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork. Lest we forget in these electronic times, bureaucracies still like to see real paper and real signatures and notaries and more of the same.
At the same time, we needed to buy some travel or health insurance for the trip (I won’t bore you with the details of this – suffice to say that insurance companies also don’t like people who leave, don’t know when they will be back, don’t know where they are going or when etc., etc.
I left the health insurance to Vinni and she nearly had apoplexy dealing with it until it all got done. Then she started on filling the ships apothecary and our medicine chest. She also got the joy of being appointed the ships safety officer, which meant that she needed to make sure the boat was in compliance with all the regulations and rules that the ARC (the group we will be crossing the Atlantic with) requires.
Meanwhile, I lazed around, played golf and drank a lot of beer. Yeah – right. I worked on getting our short wave radio working so we can get weather reports in the middle of the ocean, and installing a Targa bar and radar and designing solar system for the boat. Installing an inverter and a host of other items.
In between all this, we sold our furniture, packed down the rest of our stuff, put it into storage (and here I really, really, really want to thank our friends Susanne and Ulrich who went far beyond the call of friendship and helped us pack, transport and load the storage).
Thank you, thank you, thank you – we owe you more wine than you can ever drink.
Actually this sounds easier than it was. Everything takes longer than you expect. In the boat business, nothing is ever delivered on time, or if delivered on time is right (sigh), so most things have to be reworked.
We finally sailed Capri out to Lynetten, hauled her out of the water, took her mast off and got busy working on her. We needed to sand her bottom completely down so we could paint her with a special type of toxic paint that is not normally allowed in Danish waters, but we got special permission from the environmental ministry since we were sailing the hell out of Danish waters.
Now sanding down a boat as big as Capri takes several days, even when there are 2 persons sanding. We did find out that Vinni is just the right height to sand the very bottom of the boat when she stands there with her hand above her head (think about using a sanding 8 hours a day for several days with your arms above you head). Of course I supervised and came with good suggestions (uh dear – you missed a spot).
In your dreams. I stood on a ladder and scaffolding and sanded the sides. Finally the sanding was done and we could give her a couple coats of primer and then 5 coats of bottom paint.
Where after we could get serious about polishing her and buffing and making her looking sharp. And she certainly did look sharp, until we discovered that her topsides were covered with paint dust and we had to start all over again.
Meanwhile, I was kept busy installing handrails so we can clip on if we have to go on deck in inclement weather (more difficult than it sounds). We also decided to install a TV antenna. Not that there are many TV stations that send in the ether anymore, but just in case.
This turned out to be a thorough pain in the ass. A simple job that should have taken an hour or two ended up taking the entire day.
After 14 days on land where we worked like slaves, Capri splashed and we could put her mast back on. More problems (when you have a boat – everything is a problem) that ended up wasting another day. Our biggest problem was that we were running out of days.
Back at the ranch, we were now living in an almost empty house with boxes everywhere, boat parts scattered across the floor, more parts arriving daily and we were not able to start packing Capri because we were still installing all kinds of equipment. May 29 was looming and we worked days and nights to get everything done.
May 24 we packed our bed and moved onto the boat. Ahh, you say. So they were done and could now relax for the last 4 days.
And just what have you been drinking or smoking? No – we moved onto the boat and could now continue to install equipment and start stowing all our stuff.
All our stuff means 3 large boxes of tools and spare parts. Spare water pump, spare starter, spare generator, spare sail, spare fittings, hoses, lights, and god knows – certainly I’ve lost track. Also mundane things like clothes, CDs, books, charts, pilot books, books on how to repair almost anything on a boat, ships medical guide (yes – how to cut off someone’s leg in the middle of the ocean and with luck they might survive!) Actually we loaded Capri with 2 ½ metric tons (almost 6000 pounds for you American types) of stuff, including food, extra diesel, gasoline, dinghy outboard motor for the dinghy, more tools, fishing gear, can additional tools and of course, some beer and wine.
Finally, we installed our solar electric system. Passage-making, especially across the pacific means you need to be completely self-sufficient. So we have a water-maker that makes 30 liters per hour. That’s good, unfortunately it also uses 8 amps of electricity per hour. We have a large refrigerator, unfortunately it uses 3 amps per hour. I won’t bore you with the details, but we’ll use about 180 amps per day. We have a battery system that has a 600 amps hour capacity, but you can only use about half the capacity or else you’ll burn the batteries out. So our useable 300 amp hours will last about 2 days before we need to charge them.
Since we’re not carrying a 40,000 kilometer extension cord, we need to generate that electricity ourselves. There are basically 4 methods.
- Run the engine – burns diesel, which we don’t have enough of and running the engine would use up what we have and in the pacific, buying diesel can be difficult
- Install a diesel generator – see 1 above for reasons why this is not on
- Install a wind generator. These are not terribly efficient and they are noisy. Not a good solution
- No noise and since we’ll be in the tropics lots of sun. The issue is getting a system that generates enough
We chose solar and I got a solar guru to help with the system so ours is very sophisticated and generates more electricity than we can use. It can generate so much that we can turn on our hot water heater and have unlimited hot water. We can also use our ice machine (gotta have cold drinks in the tropics!).
The only issue with this solar is that everyone laughed at us. 5 days before we left we installed the system, took in our shore power and guess who’s laughing now? We’ve now been living on board and using electricity for almost 3 weeks and haven’t run the engine nor used shore power.
Back to the story, the last 5 days flew by as we packed, stowed, stowed, restowed and finally restowed again until neither one of us could remember where we had put anything (this, will come back to haunt us big time next week – trust me).Saturday morning, the day before we leave, we are still stowing.
More to come in the next installment – watch this space