May 13 2011

What to do while sailing along at 2.5 knots

Tag: Australia,fun activity,humorous,Justin,picturesJonathon Haradon @ 4:08 am

This post backtracks and refers to events that happened on May 2nd.

We left Middle Percy Island noon on May 2nd. Anxious to get to the Whitsunday’s, famed to be the best sailing grounds of Australia, we had spent only one night on Middle Percy, a beautiful though nearly completely deserted island. It’s one claim to fame is a hut with various sailing paraphernalia from the last 50 odd years. Every boat it seems, leaves a little artifact and quite a collection has built up.

Anxious though we were, the wind was not so in a hurry. With both the drifter and jib up we slowly putted along on the glassiest of seas barely breaking 2 knots. We already knew we were in for an overnight sail, and so I didn’t feel like turning on the engine.

We spent the time in various ways.

First and foremost, Justin cracked a beer at precisely noon to celebrate our speedy passage making.

spent some time grinding on our new (for a second time) anchor windlass handle. A welder in Bundaberg charged me an obscene amount for a new handle and then attached a piece that was 50% too thick to fit into the windlass. Alas, I discovered this 50 miles away at Lady Musgrave when we tried to anchor. To date we’e made do with our dilapidated rusting back-up until now. No more. With no rocking and no boats around, I set about to grinding.

Justin made me lunch.

We relaxed with more beers at two in the afternoon, a gentle breeze at our backs, enough to keep us cool, but not enough to push us any faster than 2.5 knots.

Justin played some video games.

And finally, I set about to thinking how I could rig up the hammock. I normally set it up on the forestay, (the wire holding up the mast in the front of the boat) but since the jib was rolled out, this wasn’t possible. See pictures below for my set-up. As I lazily swayed in the hammock, drinking a beer and watching the water meander underneath me, I may or may not have thought about how things couldn’t get much more relaxed.


May 05 2011

Justin brings the 2-step to Australia

We are currently at Airlie Beach, a super popular backpacker stop, on the mainland across from one of the most popular sailing grounds in Australia, the Whit Sundays. Justin and I went out on a Tuesday night and didn’t make it back to the boat until 2:30 am. Fun times were had. Lots of beer, super-sized Jenga, dancing in the streets. Huge hangover on my part.

And in homage to Greg Sutera, Justin brought the 2-step to Australia.

May 05 2011

The Nanny State

Tag: Australia,humorous,JustinJonathon Haradon @ 2:04 am

Australia is a nanny state, the state of Queensland being the worst. They have government regulations for everything. You aren’t allowed to work on your own refrigeration system and you can’t buy refrigerant you could get at any auto store in the States. You need a license and certifications to be hired to make espresso. Australia won’t let you refill American approved air scuba cylinders. Doesn’t meet their standards. To serve alcohol you have to take a mandatory four day course. Its the law that you have to get a specific scuba diving physical before you can take a scuba diving certification course. And Australians seem to love it. They seem to love following rules. And are aghast at the notion that maybe government doesn’t need to baby their citizens. Everyone drives the speed limit.

One aspect, however, of the nanny state will please my parents, even if it is annoying to me. Boats are required to check in with the Coast Guard as they move from one Coast Guard region to the next. This happens about every 10 miles. I’ve heard boats checking in with Coast Guard just to move from one side of an three mile wide island to the other. You are required to give your origin, destination and approximate arrival time, boat registration number, number of people on board, We have dutifully checked in with the Coast Guard as we have travelled north. Other boats have told us they found us particularly humorous when we would call for a particular Coast Guard, only to have to switch to calling for “Any Coast Guard in Range!” Our VHF it seems is not particularly powerful.

Here is Justin having some fun. Doing his best Australian voice impression and checking in with the Coast Guard.

Romeo that.

Apr 18 2011

Justin has been Promoted

Tag: Australia,humorous,JustinJonathon Haradon @ 1:31 am
I would like to inform everyone that Justin has been promoted. When Justin joined sv Syzygy, he was given the title of deck swabby. I had previously been through the rank of swabby and had been glad to be rid of it. Justin too labored under the unfair disdain from his fellow crew which accompanies the label.

I would like to announce however, that Justin’s new title is deck swabby/cook.

Despite repeatedly quoting Stephen Siegal in Under Siege, “Nah. I’m just a cook. [whispering] Just a lowly, lowly cook,” Justin has shown a high degree of enthusiasm and has taken to the role of cook with relish. In fact, since Justin joined the boat, I have only cooked one or two meals. Justin, as cook, is a god-send.

His favorite is a stir-fry with sweet chili sauce. He also makes a mean egg and sauteed potato hash. His ramon, with cucumber and a can of chicken, is fucking incredible.

Congratulations, Justin, you are now ‘just a lowly cook’. slash deck swabby.

Post-note: Justin has also applied for the position of dinghy helmsman. However, the first time he took the dinghy out for a little joy ride the engine stalled repeatedly on him. He still needs some practice, but I’m confident that another promotion is in his future soon.

Apr 18 2011

Temporarily Indefinitely

Tag: Australia,boat work,failures,humorous,JustinJonathon Haradon @ 1:04 am
“How long are you going to be in Bundaberg?” asked Ducan over some beers at a pub in Bundaberg. Justin replied, “temporarily, indefinitely.” The three days prior to arriving in Bundaberg, a city renowned for brewing an exceptional rum, we had been running our engine for five or six hours a day. There was just no wind or we were in a place so narrow that I didn’t want to be sailing. The Great Sandy Straights just south of Bundy, while serenely beautiful, were tough to navigate, so the engine was on the entire time. More posts later about fun we had there. At least we knew the engine fabulously. Until the day after we got to Bundaberg and tried to move away from the obscene $50 a night marina we were staying at. Then our engine decided not to start. Two hours of investigation revealed nothing and at that point Kate, our supremely gracious and generous friend here in Bundy, arrived to take us back to her place for hot showers and beds. Another $50 to the Bundaberg port marina. They would get at least another $150 dollars when all is said and done. The next morning Justin and I arose early and headed back to boat. Since the engine was cranking but wouldn’t fire, I suspected air in the fuel lines, something Matt confirmed in some e-mails I traded with him. Getting air out of the lines is supposed to be relatively straight forward. Follow a few steps and they should be cleared of air and the engine should start. Air may however, leak back in once the engine is turned off. Finding and permanently fixing an air leak is a confounding, vexing, frustrating and all-together potentially miserable experience. But I digress…. simply getting air out of the lines is supposed to be a relatively straight forward process. First: open the bleed screw on the primary filter currently being used (we have two of them) and use the pump on the primary filter to pump fuel though the filter. Air bubbles should come out of the bleed screw and when they stop then there is no air from the tank to the primary filter. First problem: fuel began leaking out of the other primary filter bleed screw. This was not surprising or unexpected as the bleed screw on said filter is a plastic piece of shit bolt that is basically stripped and deserves to melted down and turned into a children’s toy where it can cause joy instead of the frustration and ire it caused me. I had temporarily fixed this six months ago by wrapping it with plumbers tape and I again painstakingly cut some plumbers tape in half and wrapped it around about a dozen times all the while mumbling under my breath curses at it. Two days later I would buy a nice new metal bolt and declare victory on something Matt and I knew we should have done two years ago. Simultaneous first problem: fuel began leaking from above my head. This was surprising and unexpected. Instead of mumbling curses under my breath, this elicited an audible, “where the fuck is that coming from?” I was apparently too eager on the pumping at the primary fuel filter and was forcing fuel out via our vacuum gauge. There is a line running from the fuel system to the back of this gauge so that it can measure fuel pressure. There was no hose clamp on the line for some reason, just a tube pushed onto a nipple in the back of the gauge. I zip-tied it for now, and should hose clamp it later. Second step: open nut on fuel line exit at secondary fuel filter and using lift pump, pump diesel out until any air bubbles go away. Second problem: fuel began streaming out of the secondary fuel filter, which I had just changed. I must now mash and squeeze and contort my body over the engine so that I can better see the secondary fuel filter and put the o-ring and the filter on correctly. My head is now inches away from where two years ago I had jump started the engine via my body when I connected the alternator to the starter motor or solenoid, (I’m still not entirely sure what happened back then). Having the engine start unexpectedly, with me lying on top of it, because current had gone through either me or a tool I was holding, was not an experience I wanted to repeat. Thirty minutes later, the secondary fuel filter is finally on appropriately with a mild stream of obscenities. Third step: open fuel line leading to fuel injection pump and using the lift pump, pump diesel out until any air bubbles go away. Third problem: No fuel will come out. I can hear fuel running through the system and returning to the fuel tank, but no fuel comes out here. I give up and move on, with a pointedly loud set of damnations for the engine. Fourth step: open bleed screw on fuel injection pump and using the lift pump, pump diesel out until any air bubbles go away. Fourth problem: The bleed screw is located in another screw, lets call it the ‘stupid screw’ which goes into the pump. When I try to loosen the bleed screw, it seems to be seized to the stupid screw, and instead the stupid screw loosens. The bleed screw is specifically made so that when loosened, only a small amount of fuel comes out. The stupid screw is not. Lots of diesel now comes out as I fumble around trying to find the wrench that will appropriate tighten the stupid screw and not just tighten the bleed screw further into the stupid screw. I get it to work right with additional wrenches as I ponder what cancer I am bringing upon myself with diesel dousing my hands. I am also cognizant that neighboring boats might have head the stream of invectives I direct at the engine. Fifth step: Crack open each injector nut, there are four, and crank the engine with the throttle open. If bubbles appear, the engine has not been appropriately bled and the process must be repeated. Fifth, six, and seventh problems: The fifth and sixth problems are that two injector nuts leak air, so I have to repeat everything. The seventh problem will vex me for three more days. Instead of the injector nut opening, the injector adapter (some stupid adapter piece between the injector nut and the injector) comes loose and will not retighten. The injector nut will also not break free. Over the next two days this illicit roars of hell-fire, and I begin to scare Justin with a series of imitations of an 8 year old’s temper tantrums. I should be mildly embarrassed but the engine has gotten the better of me. So we are now in Bundy, the rum city of Australia temporarily, but indefinitely. At least I can drown my sorrows in rum. post script: The problem was finally fixed upon pulling off the fuel line, purchasing a new injector nut, reassembling, and bleeding the engine multiple times. The engine has now been running perfectly for the last month. You can read a different take on this and more about the resolution on our maintenance blog here.

Apr 01 2011

Agh, that’s disgusting

Tag: Australia,boat work,fun activity,humorous,Justin,route,videosJonathon Haradon @ 2:25 pm

Justin and I managed some last minute work on the boat.  I worked.  Justin filmed.  O.K., he did some work.  Off camera of course.  Here we battle a small issue in the galley.

Note: Of Matt, I only make fun.  It is only because of the thousands and thousands of hours that Matt labored on Syzygy that I am able to sail her here in Australia. I jest because it is so obviously hilarious to think Matt somehow did not maintain Syzygy to the highest of standards.

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