Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Boat Projects and Birthdays

Things have been crazy, and ever so slowly over the past 3 weeks since splashing, we have been chipping away at our to-do-before-leaving list as the huge Hawaiian green sea turtles swim around our boat and cheer us on. First, we reinstalled the deck hardware and running rigging, installed the refurbished engine temperature gauge, and closed off the old water tank access hatches (the ones that we found leaking just before our passage to Hawaii). Then we moved on to the following larger boat projects:

HAM exam: After way more hours of study than necessary, we are proud to report that Shawn passed both her Technician and General HAM exams and is now anxiously awaiting a call sign so we can get a new batch of boat cards printed (can you believe we are out of our original ones?!). After 2-weeks waiting, her call sign is just up on the FCC website, welcome WH6DYA (in other words Whiskey-Hotel-six-Delta-Yankee-Alpha)!

Solar Farm: Step one to getting Tao reorganized for sailing was to get the solar panels back in action to support daily power usage. This would have been quick except we decided to enlarge our solar farm. We now have 80-watt Big Daddy and 85-watt Hit Girl (if you’ve ever seen the hilarious movie KickAss you’ll understand those names) attached to the stern arch and our original Sunny (50-watts) has a new space on top of the dodger. Post wiring, we are power rich! Now we have plenty of energy for our newly wired Waeco refrigerator and integrated VHS/AIS systems to run as much as we would like. That is if we hadn’t crossed a wire and blown a 5 amp fuse (which needed to be upgraded to 20 amps anyway) or if our solar regulator hadn’t decided to quit. Right now we have our 10 amp max back up installed and a sweet replacement is headed our way via Priority Mail.

Sewing projects: Several sewing projects are lingering around the boat including, courtesy flags, a hanging bin in the reorganized refrigerator compartment (complete with the original teak door that had been removed for Grizzly’s litter box to fit), and additional flaps for the dodger in two areas that water can get through. However, our sewing machine, Elna 5000, had different plans. After the beginning of the work, she suddenly refused to pick up stitches anymore without a visit to the doctor’s office. After calling all available sewing machine repair numbers around the Big Island we now know that every technician on the island lives in Hilo (the other side) and the only two shops that offer repairs Kona side send the sewing machines to Hilo weekly or have a technician visit once a month. Luckily, the technician was scheduled to visit a week later and his diagnosis was a huge relief. Elna just needed cleaning and retiming, though he did chastise us (which we deserved since we hadn’t had her serviced since we purchased her in 2004) that she needed to be serviced more than twice a year if living in the salty environment of a sailboat (sorry, not gonna happen). We are grateful to have her back in service and Shawn is slowly moving forward with these projects.

Q: What is missing?
A: Starboard upper!!
Standing Rigging: Tao’s standing rigging was replaced by her previous owner in 2000, and in 2004 we replaced her backstay in order to insulate it for use with our HF radio. It is generally recommended to change rigging every 10 years or so, but some people claim that properly cared for rigging can last more like 20 years. Our 12-yr old rig was solid for our sail across to Hawaii, and upon examination it looked to be in great condition. However, problem areas don’t tend to be easily visible. To allay our worries, we decided to re-rig before heading out again. For the past week, Chris has been methodically climbing the mast and removing then replacing one stay at a time with only one minor puncture wound inflicted in his left knuckle and only one stainless piece requiring rescuing after being dropped into the water. We are happy to report that the old rigging, once removed, has no visible problems, and the new rigging, solid and shiny, just awaits tuning.

As if that wasn’t enough to keep us busy… Shawn has been teaching two yoga classes a week at Bikram Yoga Kona and we have been trying to practice 4 times a week- not such an easy feat without a vehicle. Chris finally went to see a doctor about his right ear (which has been bothering him since his last dive just before we hauled out). It turns out that, likely due to Chris’ growing up surfing and kayaking in cold waters, his ear canals are very constricted- no problem for hearing, but increasing his risk of ear infections. So, 2 weeks of strong antibiotics and steroid drips and two more appointments later, we await a special ear plug delivery before pushing off. In addition (yes, there is more), we have been spending numerous hours working via Skype with a wedding planner in Mexico in an attempt to make that event happen before another 10-years pass us by (more details to come on that once decisions have been made). Oh, and we took a day off from “working” to celebrate Shawn’s birthday by taking a yoga class, then hiking to a beautiful white sand beach called Makalawena (from Kua Bay side), stuffing ourselves with delicious Kenichi sushi rolls- rolled by Kenichi himself, and ending the celebration by turning a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream into a decadent milk shake. Over the next week we will chip away at the remaining items to move our way toward our ultimate improved sailing machine for the next leg of our journey. And then comes provisioning…


  1. Yes, youv'e been very busy! I'm glad to hear it's all working out and you'll be ready to sail soon. Please keep posting!

    Hugs and purrs,
    Mum and Grizzly

  2. Send a BIG update about provisioning--so I can pretend that we are doing it together again!!
    Exciting times!