Restart of World Tour
The voyage continues
(This page is under construction...)
I've been here in Fiji for 4 years.
“But I thought you were on an epic World Tour, What happened?” you may ask.
Typical sailor story: I came expecting to stay a couple of months. I decided to stay for the season. I met a girl. I decided to stay longer.
Now the story continues in standard form: I broke up with the girl. I've decided to move on.
So, in April 2016 I returned to the good ship Galena. I had literally abandoned her for almost two years. She was in sorry shape. During a storm in January a nearby boat had broken loose from it's mooring and crushed her bowsprit. Termites had eaten her tiller till it simply snapped. Hanging on her mooring through a Cat 5 cyclone in February didn't help. The boat was filled with cockroaches and even a rat that had chewed it's way through several bulkheads.
It took several months to get her cleaned up. And a couple more to get a new bowsprit and tiller made. Then there was the engine that had not been started in over two years and the sails that have not been raised in over four. Lines were tangled and missing. Electronics were tired and batteries were shot.
This is the tale of bringing Galena back to life.
Much of this has been chronicled on my Facebook timeline. But this is the complete narrative for the record.
I had taken a few months off from Fiji. I wanted to be out of Fiji for a while just to get my head straight. But I knew I had a lot of work to do on Galena if I was going to sail north to the Marshall Islands this season.
Just after I left Fiji a sudden, violent storm came through Savusavu and several boats broke free from their moorings. One ended up impaled on Galena's bowsprit, ripping off the final 12" and breaking the platform. Also, the violent twisting put a huge strain on the tiller. I had know that termites had been eating the tiller, but during the storm, it simply broke off.
Then came cyclone Winston. A super Cat 5+ cyclone with winds in excess of 250 kts. And it went directly over Savusavu, Fiji. I was in Las Vegas and watched internet weather sites as it approached. There was nothing I could do, but my friends back in Savusavu prepped Galena as best they could. For several days I had no contact with Fiji. I didn't know if I still has a boat or not. Finally I received a WinLink message saying that my boat had held on to it's mooring and was OK. I was never so relieved in my life. Then the pictures started coming in of all the destruction around Fiji. Whole villages were destroyed; simply wiped clean with just a debri field scattered amoung the bushes. Of the 40 or so boats in the Savusavu harbor, 22 were on the rocks.
On about 12 April I flew back to Savusavu to start the refit and repairs. My sister, Nancy, drove me to Los Angeles Airport (LAX) and I was on my way. I'd made this trip several times in the past few years. So it was pretty routine. I boarded the Fiji Airways Airbus 330 and, 11 hrs later I landed at Nadi airport, Fiji. Then a short wait for the little puddle-jumper flight to the small airfield of Savusavu.
On the flight from Nadi to Savusavu there were only four passengers. But the plane only holds 12 so it wasn't all that empty.
Heading back to Galena, final leg of trip from Las Vegas.
Galley Footpump Rebuild
I just spent 2 hours rebuilding Galena's galley foot pump for fresh water. It had been leaking for quite a while and I knew I had to rebuild it. I took it apart, cleaned it, and used a rebuild kit to replace all the seals. I reassembled the pump and it still leaked. I inspected it closely and found the housing was cracked near one of the bolts holding the two halves together. What a waste of 2 hours (and a rebuild kit). Well I've always wanted to try to "weld" plastic.
Today I finally fixed my galley fresh water foot pump. The Whale Gusher pump that I had was cracked on one housing surface. My friend, James Marco, had a Whale Gusher pump in his "Broken-Spares" locker. Fortunately his pump was broken differently than mine and between the two I was able to assemble a functioning pump for my gallery.
Pictured below are the leftover parts which I gave to James.
Replace the Bowsprit and Tiller
OK here we go. The "Big Project" has to start: Disassembling, removing, and replacing my smashed bowsprit.
The tip of the bowsprit was crushed and the pulpit was also bent up. The bowsprit's platform was forced up such that it snapped at the middle mounting bolt. Also the nav lights were crushed. I have found a source for a local hardwood and ordered new lughts but now I have to find someone who can straighten out or rebuild the bow pulpit. There is a local welder I've used and I'll contact him. And I still plan on being out of here by August. Wishful thinking?
9 years ago when I built this bowsprit as a replacement of the original I thought I had done a good job. I used the recommended wood, laminated it with the proper epoxy, painted it to protect it. But today as I striped the hardware from the damaged bowsprit in preparation to removing it I find all the wood in the forward one foot of the bowsprit is nothing but rot. Having my boat damaged by another boat dragging down on her was one of those blessings in disguise. I don't know how the ring band stayed on the end of the bowsprit this long. I do know that had I taken her out sailing and raised the headsail the bowsprit wouldhave carried away, probably with the entire rig.
I've ignored Galena for the 2 years it's just been sitting here. I need to do a really thorough inspection of this boat before I leave Fiji. I have also found one cracked whisker stay tang.
This is so embarrassing. She carried me safely halfway around the world and I've let her go to hell. Well, no more. I'll fix her properly and take care of her from now on.
This damage was done on New Year's Eve. A sudden and very sever storm hit the mooring field in Savusavu. Several boats broke their moorings. One large cat came down on Galena and impailed herself on Galena's bowsprit. Breaking off the tip and folding up the platform.
As a first step in removing the old bowsprit, I had to remove the anchors and stow the chains. While removing the secondary anchor from the chain I noticed pretty severe corrosion of the shackle's clevis pin. The 3/8" pin was corroded down to 1/8". Yikes!
At least it was easy to hacksaw off the chain.
Finally Galena's bowsprit is off. It took a few days and a lot of work but the damaged bowsprit has been removed, floated to shore, carried to the veranda at the marina, and completely disassembled. Now I just need the woodworker to bring me the new timber so I can reassemble and reinstall. Removing the carridge bolts was again, tough. I had to dig out around the bolt head and clamp a pair of vise-grips on it while I crawled back into the chainlocker and wrenched the nut off. I unbolted the anchor windlass first, then the three bolts that hold the bowsprit to the deck. Then the ringbolt that went through to the stem tang and the cross bolt that went through the sampson posts.
When all the nuts were off and the bolts punded back as far as they would go I fastened a halyard to the tip of the bowsprit and pulled it up. It lifted, twisted and went crashing into the sea. I had tied a painter onto it before I removed it so it was secured to Galena. I had set the staysail haliyard and after the bowsprit was off, I also secured and tensioned the headsail halyard to a mooring cleat to secure the mast. I then towed the bowsprit assembly to shore. There I spent a couple of hours removing the bow pulpit and all the hardware.
Cleaning out the ringband.
The wood was completely rotted. Being damaged in that storm was a blessing in disguise. The front 12 inches of the bowsprit was rotted. Had I gone to sea and raised the headsail I think the entire rig may have carried away.
The bowsprit is off.
And it's floating alongside Galena
Galena looks strange without her nose.
My trusty dinghy and the bowsprit on the dock
The bowsprit is on the veranda of the Savusasvu Marina office.
New LED nav lights arrived. The old ones, which where mounted on the bow pulpit were destroyed in a recent incident.
I am considering where to mount the new ones. I have three options.
1. on the bow Pulpit where the old ones were or
2. on the pin rails.
3. below the caprail and just forward of the forward hawsepipes.
Finally starting work on the new bowsprit. Here the old bowsprit (painted green) rests atop the two timbers of Vesi (Merbau) I've purchased. Purchase is a loose term. I first spoke to a local "tradesman" named Sam. He offered to acquire two vesi timbers for me and work them into a new tiller and a new bowsprit. He wanted US$200 for the wood and another $100 for the work.
Then came the additional charges: "The guy transporting the wood needs another $60." And "OK, the wood at my house up in the hills but I need $40 more for sanding disks." And, "I'm working on it and have the rough work done. Now I need another $30 for more tools."
Finally my friend Steve asked, "Have you actually seen this lumber?" No, I hadn't. So he says, let's take my truck up to his house and look at what he's done so far."
So I called Sam. He said, "But I live way up in the mountains. And today is not a good day to visit." I insisted. Finally he said he was in town and we picked him up. We expected him to lead us to his house. Nope. He directed us to the field behind the hot springs in town. There in the grass lay two timbers of dried vesi. I was a bit upset that he hadn't even moved them to his house, much less started working on them. So Steve and I loaded them into his truck and took them to Steve's shop. He has a nice wookshop and will build my bowsprit and tiller for me.
These timbers are each about 8" x 8" x 11 ft (20cm x 20cm x 3.4 m) and each weighs 250 lbs (114 kg). Originally I thought I'd use one for the bowsprit and one for the tiller. But now I think I can get both from one piece.
The new bowsprit will weigh "a bit more" than the original. But I'll compensate by moving one of my 35 lb bow anchors to the stern pulpit during passages. Also, since Vesi is much stronger than the fir used on the previous version, I'll make this one smaller. Instead of 5x4 inches tapering to 4x4. I'll make it all 4x4 inches.
Galena's new bowsprit after milling to dimension. It's being cut to length. Ready to start drilling holes.
At Steve Jaegers' workshop "helping" Zac build-up my bowsprit platform.
Also finishing construction of my rudder cheeks.
Steve's crew starting final assembly of Galena's bowsprit and platform. Yes it is upside-down.
Bowsprit is solid Vesi (Intsia Bijuga) and the platform is laminated Rosawa (Pacific Teak, gmelina vitiensis)
Drilled final holes in bowsprit and began assembly of the platform...
Work done by Lindy Enterprises here in Savusavu.
My buddy, Steve, posted pictures of my bowsprit build on his company page. His guys did a great job fabricating the new one using as a template what was left of the old one.
My job was only to help them understand which dimensions were critical and to sign-off on the location of all the holes that had to line-up with holes already in the boat.
I'll be moving Galena from her mooring to the dock on Monday so we can install this new bowsprit. It will be the first time Galena has moved from her mooring in about 3 years. Yeah, I know, it's time to get back to voyaging.
This morning I moved Galena from her mooring to the Savusavu Marina dock in preparation of her receiving her new bowsprit. This is the first time she's moved in over 3 years. I had forgotten how slow she moves. I only had to move her about 200 yards and it was nerve-wracking to be at the helm again.
Yes, I really am going sailing again soon.
Finally Galena has her bowsprit. I haven't attached all the stays yet. But I was pleasantly surprised to see that all the bolt holes in the bowsprit lined up with all the holes in the boat.
I still have to finish the wiring for the lights, attach the stays, attach the starboard lifelines, and tighten up all the mounting bolts. But Galena looks like a westsail again.
Big thanks to Steve of Lindy Enterp (and Mam) for helping me lift it up into place.
LED Navigation lights on the new bowsprit installed, wired and working. Things are really starting to come together...
One aspect of the smaller height of the new bowsprit I had not considered. The bronze bolts that go top to bottom through the bowsprit and deck. Now they are 1-1/2 inches too long. They are not all thread. I had to build spacer blocks to go in the chain locker to fill in the space.
Also the small blocks that hold up the aft corners of the bowsprit platform are very short now.
The curve and shape of the tiller was a challenge for Steve's crew. Finally Steve decided to use slabs of Vesi leftover from shaping the bowsprit. He built a bending jig using the old tiller as a template. Then glued-up a new tiller. After it set he used a bandsaw and belt sander to shape the new tiller.
New tiller finished shaping ready for drilling along side old, termite-eaten tiller.
Tiller wetted to show the laminated pattern. All wood is local Vesi.
I'm making progress on Galena's new tiller.
Today I drilled and filled the main mounting bolt hole. On each side I drilled a 2" x 1/2" recess around the bolt hole. After running unthickened epoxy around the bolt, I thickened the epoxy with colloidal silica and filled the recess. The idea is to create a larger bearing surface on each side. The tape is just to protect the bolt threads
First couple of coats of varnish on the new tiller. Now ready for a light sanding before we apply a few more coats... The tiller is the only bit of brightwork on Galena.
LED replacements for florescents
One of the first things I did when I purchased Galena was to replace the incandescent lamps with fluorescent. Back in 2003 that was the most viable solution to reducing the energy consumption.
Today I replaced the fluorescent bulbs at the nav station and the galley with LEDs keeping the same fixtures. Energy consumption went from 1.2 amps down to 0.1 amps with almost the same illumination. And no more fragile glass tubes to carry for spares.
The LEDs cost US $23 for a string of 5. I used 3 at the nav station and the other 2 over the galley. The LEDs came with very tenacious double-sided foam tape.
LED technology is advancing rapidly. They are getting brighter and cheaper every year.
Galena has four dorade vents in the coachroof. The boxes are teak and the cowles are low-profile soft plastic. They are constantly falling off or otherwise getting lost. Replacements are expensive (as most things on a boat). While in the states, I hit on a cheap, really cheap, alternative. I used 4" PVC elbows and a few inches of pipe to make what I call Bills Redneck Dorade Cowl.
Cost was only US $ 4 from Home Depot. I would paint them later to protect them from the sun.
Hey, guys, out here it's definitely function over form.
Solar Panel Mounts
Back in January of 2008 I had just bought a pair of small solar panels and was considering where and how to mount them. I decided to try them on the stern pulpit.
This was just going to be a "temporary, proof of concept" mounting. Although the port side panel was later destroyed when a boat dragged down and crashed into me, the replacement panel was later remounted in the same "temporary" fashion.
I used hose clamps to secure the panel to the top rail of the pulpit. I used strings from the outer edge of the panels up to the backstay. By adjusting the length of the of the strings I could change the angle of the solar panel.
Now that Galena has a hard Bimini I've decided to move these two solar panels plus a larger 80 watt panel to the top of the Bimini
I've often heard it said that nothing is as permanent as a temporary fix. On Galena the solar panels were one of many temporary fixes.
whisker and boomkin stay tangs.
Since the bowsprit is off and the rig is very loose, I decided to inspect all the tangs and chainplates. The chainplates are all ok. but both whisker stay tangs and one of the boomkin stay tangs were cracked at the first bolt hole. I commissioned a local welder to fabricate new ones for me. He made them a little wider and of course made round holes. So I had to buy all new bolts since the original carrige bolts wouldn't do. I bought 8 bolts the same size as the whister stay tang bolt I had removed. They worked fine for the whisker stay tangs, but were not long enough for the boomkin stay tangs. So I bought 4 more that would fit the boomkin stay tangs. But the first bolt is not the same size as the second bolt... Damn! So I bought 2 more a little longer... That worked. Now I have a bunch of extra bolts.
Today, I removed Galena's fart-fan.
( For the non boaters out there the fart-fan is a small, usually solar powered, exhaust fan in the head (toilet).
The fan had stopped working about 8 years ago. Sometime in the last four or five years it had gotten crushed. And, for several years I've been meaning to remove it and fill the hole in the deck. Since I'm still waiting for the bowsprit and platform I figured today was a good day for a little glass work.
Removing the fan was easy. Then came the actual work.
I started by cutting two round discs out of three quarter inch plywood. One was the same size as the hole in the deck (4-3/4"). The other was 3/4 inch larger.
After cutting out the smaller disk I used a sur-form plane to true it up and make sure that it would fit snuggly into the hole in the deck.
Then again using my sur-form I beveled the edge of the larger disk. And then beveled the hole in the deck to match the beveled larger disk. After a full day of sanding, planing and test fitting I got the top disc to seat just below deck level.
I wetted everything with unthickened epoxy and screwed the two disks together. After thickening the remaining epoxy with colloidal silica I bedded the plywood discs into the hole.
Tomorrow I'll epoxy one or two layers of fiberglass cloth over the whole thing and sand it down flush with the deck. Then I will just need a coat of paint to protect the fiberglass.
Rounding the filler blank
The two filler blanks
Beveling the hole in the deck
Ready to epoxy in place
Making progress. Finally my batteries are here. Four 6v AGM house batteries and one flooded starting battery. The house batteries came from China. We'll see how long they last. Galena has minimal power requirements; all LEDs and no refrigeration. These are a direct size and AmpHr replacement for the Trojans I bought 7 years ago.
Sail inspection and cleaning
Finally a dry, sunny day. I took advantage and laid out some sails for cleaning, drying, and inspection. Here see my new and old, yet serviceable staysails.
A fellow cruiser stopped by and remarked, "You must be getting serious about leaving."
Yes, I am.
One of the systems that didn't work when I moved back aboard Galena was the wind generator. It's an Air-X Marine that's been on board about 10 years. The problem was that it would start to run and then just before it could start to charge, it would shutdown with a resounding "Clunk!".
As you can see in the third picture below its mounted about 9 feet high. I had talked to a guy in the marina and he offered to climb up and unbolt the unit from the radar mast. He was much taller than I. And I tentatively agreed to have him do it. But then he said why not do it right now? I thought, "what is he... mad?" I said, "no, maybe this afternoon." So all morning I was thinking, "I don't need him to do it because he's tall. I wanted him to do it because I was afraid of climbing up there and wrestling with that thing."
Well, that just will not stand.
So I put on my big-boy pants, grabbed my allen wrench, and climbed on up there. I was a bit shaky but I managed to un-bolt it, break the rubber gaskets loose and lift it down without dropping it into the harbor. In the last photo you can see that I had to stand on the top stern pulpit rail to just reach the generator base.
Repair parts are expensive as hell. And there is only a duel slip-ring arrangement at the mount. So my plan is to keep the existing rectifier up in the wind generator housing. Run the unregulated DC down to the deck. And there run it through an automotive regulator and into the batteries.
Air-X Marine wind generator reinstall
I decided to give this a try. I took out the circuit board that contained the regulator. I left in place the rectifier block. I used old credit cards as insulators where the circuit board had been. When I reassembled it and spun the shaft by hand it actually made some DC electricity.
Again I had to climb up on the top rail of the stern pulpit to reach the top of the radar mast. To haul the wind generator up to the top of the radar mast, I fashion a gin pole out of my whisker pole. I tied the whisker pole with ropes to the radar mast and put a snatch block at the top of the whisker pole. With this setup I could easily haul the generator up into position.
I was the able to feed the wires down inside the pole and place the generator on top of the pole and.tighten it down.
Of course after all that, there is absolutely no wind tonight. But it should work....
Last night during a squall my wind generator was happily doing its thing. All of a sudden it sounded like the entire boat was going to shake apart. Yep it threw a blade.
When I had it apart a couple weeks ago everything looked ok. Well except for what I thought were minor surface Cracks around the mounting bolts on one blade. I don't think anything hit the wind generator. It was just very very windy. And the surface cracks were apparently deeper than I thought.
Question now his do I order new blades and wait here in Fiji for them to arrive? Or do I just take take down the wind generator and go with solar panel only until I reach a place with better mail service? In any event I have to take it down again. Not looking forward to that.