Today I checked the countdown timer app on my phone – 166 days to go to the event I titled Honeymoon Circumnavigation.
166 days and counting by the minute! So much to do, so much money to spend and so little time to have it all completed.
The past five years have been a whirlwind of learning sailing terminology, learning to sail, and learning sail maintenance. It is a never-ending list of learning new things. Getting around on such a small space, where and how to store things which you may or may not need and so many darn checklists! I’ve been reading lots of information on what you should or shouldn’t do. Some of it very useful, some of it just confuses me more than ever!
The 2020/2021 DBCYA wet season races saw us win our division. A major goal achieved for Emma Ward. She is now emblazoned on the Board for all to see at the club. Such a proud moment and a consolidation of our combined sailing experiences over the past five years.
So now we turn our attention to the next 166 days. It’s all about maintenance, maintenance, maintenance. Let’s start with the windows, ‘cause that has been one huge, ongoing drama. We’ve always had issues with the windows leaking from time to time. A few years ago, we had resealed them, which wasn’t overly neat and tidy, but it did the job at that point. Fast forward to now, we decided to go ahead and have the windows replaced as the leaks were still an issue and knowing that our trip was looming, we didn’t want the windows to become a major impediment when sailing in the Southern Ocean. I could go on and write a whole article on the window drama suffice to say, they are nearly complete and looking fabulous.
Having installed new windows, which look fabulous from the outside, then prompted us to contemplate the mess from the inside. We thought about getting frames around them, at a considerable expense. Trying to complete various tasks with the least possible effect on the hip pocket, we decided to have no frames around the windows. This then meant we needed to clean up and sand (oh god), then repaint around them. Cleaning and sanding …. I’m not even going there with the amount of mess that created. It brought tears to my eyes – not due to the dusty windows. Sanding and painting. Sanding and painting.. Task done. The interior of Emma Ward is white. Quite an easy colour to match, you would think? Well not so. We first painted her five years ago upon purchase and took her décor out from the seventies into the modern era. Over time and much sailing use, there was evidence of touch ups which needed attending to. Well, with the left-over paint and the need to have a seamless clean refreshed look, we painted and made good a few extra surfaces. Which then led to having to sand and reoil the wood parts, including the new support beams we had installed.
Tick. Major task complete and looking good. The next major task, cleaning out the hatches. Take everything out, scrub the hatch, wipe down clean each item and only put back what is necessary and useful for our trip, name each hatch and record what goes back inside. Literally, I was head down bum up for about a week contorting myself into various poses which would make a yoga instructor proud.
Two weeks of sanding, cleaning, painting, scrubbing every damn inch of our new home, she is just about ready for living aboard.
Then comes the kicker. Due to Emma Ward’s age, she now needs an out of water survey to make good on her insurance. This is most definitely the last thing we need at this point in time. Breathe deep. It’ll be fine. A crazy unaccounted-for expense. However, as the Captain points out, this is a positive as when we set off, we will know she is seaworthy and as safe as can be. Another thing to tick off.
One other thing we have achieved is the use of the starboard water tank. When we bought Emma Ward the previous owners told us that there had been diesel in the starboard water tank and so it was unusable.
We thought about this but there was no way to check as we could only get whatever was in the tank pumped out via the main water system. After much thinking we came up with a plan to install a deck wash pump near the tank, re-route the tank to the new pump and see what was inside.
We had this done at the marina and turns out there was a lot of sludge and some type of cleaner in the tank. Once this was removed and with a couple of flush throughs the water appeared ok.
So, we put a heap of Milton purifying tablets in the tank, and we are currently flushing this through. So far, the water coming out looks and smells ok and we have acquired a whole new 260 litre water tank. We may or may not be able to drink the water only time will tell but we sure can use it for other things like cleaning the anchor when it drags up half the mud on the sea floor.
So, what are the big purchases left to do? Buy wet weather gear and a life raft are probably the two biggies, oh and a laptop. We are still waiting on the bill for the windows.
What’s on the checklist? Organise the house, and complete general scheduled maintenance on Emma Ward.
Will she be ready in 166 day?
Will we be ready in 166 days?
A great day for sailing. Weather forecast predicted today, 10 to 15 knot winds, seas below a metre – no rain. With only three crew, out we venture to do our best.
Winds were quite light for how Emma Ward likes to sail but we started well near the front and made good ground. After turning at the first mark in second spot, we headed downwind. We didn’t put the spinnaker up today, as with only two on hand it can be difficult to manage so we made do with having the head and main sail out as far as possible.
At the next marker the field had caught up and we turned in fifth spot.
However, the next leg was into the wind as Emma Ward heeled over to catch the wind she powered up and overtook most of the other boats by the time we rounded for home.
Another short run downwind with Michael doing his impersonation of a spinnaker pole and Emma sailing sort of wing to wing.
The ground we lost by not having the spinnaker up, we made up for on the last leg. Emma ward flew home to a winning of third place on handicap.
We crossed the line in second spot and came third on handicap. This keeps Emma at the top of cruising division with two races to go.
We also one the prize draw for the night. You beauty. Captain’s head will be in Garmin heaven tonight with $1,000 worth of Garmin dollars to spend.
We were quite sort on crew this week. Captain Pete on the helm, Micheal and Chief Mate Louise, the only three on board, so apologies for the lack of photos as there was no time to take any.
Emma Ward is on a roll. This week she won the trifecta. First over the start line, first to finish and first on handicap.
At the start line we approached a little bit ahead of time. Some good tactical de-powering allowed us to slow Emma Ward but still retain headway. We then tightened up the sheets and shot across the start line in first place.
Rounding the first buoy we maintained our lead however by the second buoy Qcumber had opened up a sizable lead and Lollipop was just ahead. We rounded this buoy and set the sails for downwind and despite giving Qcumber a few minutes start, we had caught her by the next buoy. From that point on, Emma Ward remained clear of the field and the longer the race went on, the bigger the gap between her and the rest.
We crossed the line in first position a good five or so minutes ahead of the rest. Back at the clubhouse, we also found out that she had won on handicap. She is now sitting clear at the top of the table and with just three races to go. However both Qcumber and Lollipop are very close behind,. And so we will have to sail at our best to maintain top position and secure the title.
After having a diver scrape the bottom, hopes were high that Emma would be bask to her best performance.
Sure enough, she sliced through the water like a hot knife through butter.
A good start saw us in first place at the first buoy and she was never headed past from that point on. At times the wind was gusting up to 22 knots. She was making between five and six knots through the water. The problems with the traveller clam cleats persisted, so new ones have been bought and installed ready for next race day. The tilt o meter was showing between 30 and 35 degrees at times. Emma Ward crossed the finish line with a distance of six minutes between her and the next yacht,.She was first across the line and first on handicap.
This result has taken her to the top of the cruising division after five races. The $100 prize money was well spent on two new clam cleats for the traveller and a bottle of wash and wax. As a reward, for her great performance, the Captain spent all of the following weekend washing and polishing Emma .
Congrats to the crew for a great team effort. Will be good to get the chief mate back for the next race.
The start was a bit hectic due to extreme windy conditions. We had to reef the sails just before our start time.
The windy conditions settled , so we had full sails and put the spinnaker up. Which, in hindsight wasn’t the best idea as we ventured too far and lost valuable time.
As we made our way to Stokes Hill Wharf, there were many storm clouds in the background and we needed to reef the sails.
We got off to an excellent start, with Marjani over the start line by a mere fraction ahead of Emma Ward.
All going very well, until the wind stopped.
Emma Ward didn’t make it around the third buoy. Waiting, waiting, waiting for that non existent wind.
After a few frustrating hours of going backwards, we decided the only decent thing to do was to cook up a feed, as we couldn’t get back into the lock until 1730 ish anyway.
All crew pumped and ready to race. Captain Pete, Neil, Jenna, and myself. Prepped and ready to roll. We had to dampen our enthusiasm for a bit as the start was delayed for 15 min to accommodate a huge tanker traversing the course.
After the tanker had moved off, the race got underway. Emma ward got off to a flying start and was just pipped across the start line by a smidgen. She cleared away from the rest of the field and headed round the first buoy with a good lead. Unfortunately, as we headed into the second leg, one of the traveller blocks broke causing a delay and a slight loss of maneuverability. This allowed the field to make up the time and as we rounded the second last buoy we were neck and neck with Qcumber. Heading upwind into a 20+ knot wind and sailing close hauled, the crew had to hang on and at the same time replace the traveller block shackle.
Turning for home with all repairs complete, we couldn’t make up the gap from Qcumber who after some great sailing by her skipper and crew crossed the line 3 min ahead of us in first place. Emma Ward crossed the finish line in a well deserved second place.
After the race we had to wait for about two hours before we could access the lock. So we dropped the anchor, flashed up the barbeque and kicked back with snags and a beer.
Here is the link for Race 2 results:
Unfortunately, I couldn’t be there for the first race due to interstate work commitments. Captain Pete, Greg, Neil and Jenna were there to ensure Emma Ward looked her best for the first race.
There were some tactical errors, a problem with the traveller and the main sheet block broke. “A bit of a disaster” was the Captain’s words. All in a days’ sail.
Next weekend we get to do it all again.
Check out the race results.
For quite some time it’s been on the Captain’s long list of ‘to do’s’ in wanting to change the navigation and anchor lights to LED. We are very conscious with regards to how many amps are being used on our short trips away as Emma Ward’s solar panels are quite aged and in need of replacing – definitely another thing on the to do list. The old bulbs used just over one amp per hour, so having them on all night used about ten amps. The new LED bulbs use about 0.15 amps per hour, which is a total of 1.5 amps over ten hours. This then will save us 8.5 amps each night.
Well, the day finally came in needing to change those bulbs.
We started our day at the Yacht Shop NT. Who can resist an end of lease sale?? We were chatting to Wayne Bateman regarding impending works for Emma Ward when the discussion turned to replacing existing bulbs to LED. Wayne showed us the universal bulbs he designed and developed, as through his many years of experience, other brands were not performing well. Here is a picture of Wayne’s product at a cost of $45. We bought two and received a generous discount of $10. One for the anchor light and one for the navigation light.
So, now it’s determined that today is the day for going up the mast. We were going to get Wayne to complete the task before heading out for a week of sailing. but really, it’s a task that we need to learn how to do and should give it a go. So up the mast it is for our Captain……as I have already been 🙂
On the marina, we collect all necessary tools for the job, an assortment of screwdrivers to loosen the screws for the light housing, some WD40 if the screws need assistance in being removed and said bulbs. Up I winch. Winding, winding, winding. Captain gets to the top. Tries to take of the housing, no luck. Down down down he comes.
First dilemma. How do we actually take off the housing? Good ole Google. What would we do without you. During smoko break, I find out that some require screws, no not ours. Some require a push down and twist motion, maybe ours. One fellow on a forum I read used a strap wrench to loosen the housing. No problem, ‘what’s a strap wrench?’, I ask myself. Google again to find out it’s one of these. So off we head to Bunnings to make a strap wrench purchase. Well, actually two strap wrench purchases as we were not sure of the size and figured they would come in handy anyway.
Up the mast take two. Captain has decided that he would go up the 60 ft mast and bring the housing down in order to clean it and we could then note the model and make number in case it ever needed replacing. Up I winch winch winch.
Task complete. Down down down.
We clean the housing, note the model and make number for future reference and collect all necessary tools for the next task.
Up up up I winch winch winch. Captain replaces bulbs and puts the housing back on.
Up the mast take 3 is now complete. Navigation light works. Anchor light works. A task well done. Hip hip hooray…….we did it and saved few dollars. In fact, amps of them.
This weekend we decided to start our scheduled engine service. Being our third year into owning a yacht, we are still learning, documenting and trying hard to remember all that needs doing…constantly.
First step was the impeller.We thought that would be a nice easy start to our engine service. Last year we had a lot of difficulty with getting the plate off. I had tried to use a flat head screw driver. Nope, I couldn’t budge those screws, so ended up calling our engineer friend, who swiftly made a trip down to the marina and talked us through every step of the impeller change. This year, we were very confident in managing this task ourselves. I now know that we need an 8mm spanner to move those screws. Oh, and whatever you do, don’t drop anything into the bilge. Butter fingers fail. Lucky Pete has long arms. Fantastic, we got through step one. Getting the old impeller out proved a little bit tricky. Eventually, and I will not disclose how long it took, we got the old one out. Putting the new impeller in should be a breeze, right. Well, it will be now that we know it needs to be greased first.
This whole process took us close to three hours. I kid you not. The hard part is mainly due to the engine configuration. The array of hoses that get in your way and the lack of space makes an easy job take such a long time. However, the smile on our faces and the huge feeling of success was beyond words. We did it. By ourselves.
Step two, air filter change. Too easy, out with the old , in with the new.
Step three, extracting the oil and replacing the oil filter. Extracting the oil was easy this time, as we made sure we ran the engine for at least 15 minutes. Changing the filter and filling the oil tank was straightforward. Unscrew the old filter it will be filled with oil, so be careful. Get the new filter and line the seal with oil from your finger. Screw it in place. Fill the oil tank with oil. Check the oil gauge. Done.
Step three. Fuel filters. There are two of them a primary filter and secondary filter.
Remove the top handle from the primary filter.
The secondary filter.
Easy as. Unscrew the filter. Line the seal on the new filter with fuel from your finger. Screw the new filter in place.
The last major step. Bleeding the Engine.
It was difficult getting photos of this process, due to the location of parts. Basically, I had to pump this little lever, (Pete says it is the manual fuel pump) which I couldn’t see just had to feel for it, until fuel flowed freely from this screw which was loosened to allow the air bubbles to escape.
It took a lot of pumping, eventually the air bubbles subsided and fuel flowed.
We started the engine with all fingers crossed hoping that we did everything right.
The engine started. the water flowed out of the exhaust and she ran really well, After running her for a bit, we turned off the engine and gave it a good clean. The end result, a fully serviced clean engine, ready for dry season sailing. A fantastic result.
The more we learn, the more confident we are becoming in our ability to do some long term cruising. With the knowledge we are gaining in rough weather during the Wet Season races and our ongoing knowledge of the engine and electrical system, we are confident in our ability to be somewhat self sufficient. If Captain Pete could learn how to catch a fish, that would be a bonus.