At the risk of actually committing to a hard date, we believe that Tuesday July 28th looks like a departure. One of the local cruisers opined that one can never be truly ready for a passage and one need only shoot for 90% readiness. Of course, a owner of one of the neighboring marine queens suggested that 8% was sufficient.
At any rate, we have been putting in 12 hour days and our lists are dwindling. Our crew situation has improved dramatically; Sarah has emerged from the wilds of the Pacific Crest Trail and is putting in long hours and Naomi Tabata has also agreed to join the passage. Naomi is the infinitely brave and talented soul who brought Laysan from Majuro to Honolulu.
To satisfy the techies in the audience, I asked John to put together a technical report of the preparations. Enjoy….
I will try to quickly list my recent projects on Laysan in preparation for our crossing. Certainly it has been a busy substitution of directed energy after retirement, which I think aids the transition. By my recollection, I have spent 60 hours a week for over a month in, on, above and under Laysan wrenching, tightening, replacing, purging, filling, and thinking about systems I find interesting. Oh my, and the spending, best not to think about that too much. It is like being a hospital resident again, but having to pay for each encounter.
Laysan is now better than ever in some ways, and almost as good as new in others. My last two holdout problems are electronic, the sat phone email and an intermittent AIS, both of which are very important and I think solvable.
A professional rigger spent a day with me examining stays, shrouds, chainplates, sails, paravanes, and mast. We replaced the lines and blocks on the paravane poles, and replaced the pin atop the mast with a bolt and nylon nut for the back stays. The jib furler works better now that the snap shackle on the halyard was eliminated since it was hitting the top of the aluminum extrusion tube. The main furler is still a little undersized but left as is. Basically the rig is declared safe and sound. Deck gear has been all ok, although there is a drip from the windlass I don’t like. I tried to open the case, but it was so sealed with adhesive I was stymied until I get an opportunity to cut it open with piano wire or something. I’m worried a seal is bad in the windlass gear box.
The hull and house have shown very little wear and we’ve even started waxing the boat to shine her up before departure. A couple of rust spots are always on my to do list but that is part of the steel boat experience. I have started the clamp checks on all through hulls with one stain under the starboard black tank drain. In heavy rain, I still get one drip leak in the galley that I cannot trace, but I suspect it is around the junction of the fiberglass aft boat deck with the steel pilot house. In Seattle, I may have to have that joint re caulked and that may start a new deck paint job and that may start a new entire paint job, but that seemed cost prohibitive here in expensive Honolulu, but I digress.
The running gear has a new prop with an increased pitch from 15″ to 18″, done by Kruger propeller in Seattle. Roughly, we are getting 200 lower RPM and an extra knot of speed. I am seeing 6 knots at 1800 RPM with 1.8 gph in flat water. But we know how Laysan does not like headwinds. We can still get up to 2800 at WOT with no black smoke so we’re calling it a win. I replaced a clamp on the PSS shaft seal and the thrust bearing and jack shaft all look good and temps are normal. I will grease them all on grease day soon. Steering fluid was purged and replaced with new DEX III ATF after checking that our Capilano 1275 pumps were still ok with plain ATF. No leaks have been seen since the copper tubing flare leak in Palau. I replaced the autopilot Octopus pump and now have a spare. The second autopilot is operational but has a compass error I need to evaluate.
Engine is still purring at 1868 hours with no issues so far. Oil, filters, and coolant change have been done and belts are about a year old and another set of spares are on the boat. I thought about doing the valves but talked to the engine techs at the Iveco dealer in Seattle and he agreed with the manufacturer book that states first valve adjustment at 3000 hours. The exhaust story looks good now, but did involve replacing the stainless mixer above the muffler, fabricated beautifully in 316 stainless at Universal Metal for $1500, ouch. I may use the old one for a flower pot.
A couple of pinhole leaks had developed along the raw water steel pipe from engine to mixer, and that is now done with flexible exhaust hose. The sea water impeller and hoses and clamps to the engine are also new. The heat exchanger tube stacks in the transmission and engine were inspected and looked clean and we are still running cool, so I did not remove them.
The Zurth transmission has had no abuse and I just changed the fluid and filter. The drip we experienced after the delivery trip turned out to be the o ring on the dip stick. The genset looks good with oil, filters, and impeller change. A little rust started down its back mount because the vented loop was spurting salt before I cleaned and tightened it.
An electrician came to load test the batteries and check the alternators. The house alternator was replaced after delivery a couple of years ago as was the genset alternator for not charging, all under warranty. The engine start batteries are one year old Lifelines, and the others are still original IBTs, all AGMs. The smart Balmar regulator has been replaced once after a reed switch failure, and I have a spare on the way. The Victron charger inverter is still original and working fine with only a float issue resolved by reprogramming once. The electrician pronounced charging and batteries all ok.
Navigation electronics have had a makeover with firmware updates and a new chart plotter CF card for the U.S. and Canada. My old cards ran out of data east of Hawaii because, well, that is as far as we needed to go from China. Now we are good all the way to Nova Scotia. VHF and SSB are transmitting and receiving clearly just in case somebody is out there listening. Hello?
Yesterday we did a sea trial and filled the aft tank with diesel. I have treated all the tanks with biocide regularly and changed the Racors with no problems, but I never used the aft tank after the delivery except to add 50 gallons to it once. I aspirated the tank and the fuel looked clean, and then I ran about 30 gallons of the old fuel out through the polishing system into the starboard tank with no real changes seen in the Racor bowl, so I think it’s ok. I will try to polish it out and then fill it again. I have 27 Racor 500 filters and 10 Racor 1000’s on board. We received the 125 gallon nitrile fuel bladder to lash onto the foredeck like a giant diesel bounce cushion, which brings our total fuel capacity to 1677 gallons of go. After that, we’re sailing in.
Safety list is almost complete with immersion suits and harness inflatable PFDs for all four, plus many, many other life jackets on board. Our floating debris field will be quite colorful, I am sure. Two jack lines and four lanyards are available, one Epirb and one PLB are both tested and registered, and the CSM 6 man life raft is still original. I wanted to get the raft tested but the only facility here will not test a raft they do not sell. That is a difficult one to decide.
AIS is now functioning but Sat phone issues persist. Texting works but email is limited. I guess if you can’t say it in 70 characters, maybe it doesn’t matter. Unlike this posting, precise is better than verbose. Anyway, that’s the news from the engine room in Honolulu. Take care, be well, and stay in touch.