March 30 – Cosmetics and the cult of teak

It’s that time again. Groan. We’ve completed our allocated major projects since coming here to Honolulu, and thought we’d spruce up Infini a bit as well as make maintenance easier as we’re planning our departure soon to continue our circumnavigation. As many of you know, Infini, being a Westsail 43, has the mixed blessing of lots of teak on deck: the rubrail, bulwark, hatches, pinrails, hatch turtle, and companionway are all of beautiful teak. Sometimes I think half a forest of teak trees were cut down just for our boat. However, after using various types of varnish as well as Cetol thru the years, we finally decided to apply LPU (linear polyurethane) paint to the bulwarks. I know, I can hear the anguished screams and see the tears of those purists out there (who are already planning on deserting this blog and going back to their own varnishing), but I call it “the tyranny of teak,” and we had all had enough. Matt and I stripped the rails down to bare wood and prepped them for the application of Interlux PreKote, the primer used before applying Interlux Brightside LPU Epoxy. We then used 3M Blue Line tape to mask off the bulwarks. As an aside, since we usually aren’t in areas we can purchase these precious blue rolls, we carry enough of them to effectively tape off an area half the size of the city of Honolulu. (OK, a slight exaggeration, but it sure seems like we have that much.) We put on three coats of Prekote, sanding between coats as the instructions indicate, and have applied three topcoats of 4237 Sundown Buff Premium Single Part Enamel (think of a light tan color). Removing all the blue tape should be interesting… The rail looks different to us with paint applied to it; just another thing we’ll all have to get used to! The single part LPU durability is rumored to last at least five years, and yes, we thought about applying two-part LPU, but conditions here are less than ideal, and if we have to recoat in 5 years (vs the 8-10 years expected out of a 2 part LPU like Awlgrip), that’s still a huge improvement over the varnish/Cetol routine we’ve been doing for these past twelve years. The Interlux Brightside is easy to apply, flows smoothly, tacks fast and looks good. As for the rest of the topside teak, Sue’s been sanding and applying Cetol; we are certainly looking quite spiffy! Soon we’ll be doing sea trials and final provisioning (trying to stow everything couldn’t take more than…well, I won’t go there) for our departure back to French Polynesia and destinations further west. We’re all anxious to get going!
This picture is of the first coat of primer being applied. Can you find the marlin fish tail in the picture?

March 16 – Bimini update

The hard bimini project is complete. The half inch expanded PVC (made by Celtec) was difficult to glue as a butt joint (I didn’t take the time to go out and buy a rabbet bit for the router), but we also glued a 1/8” thick by 1.5” wide strip on top of all seams, and then screwed that down as well, thereby stabilizing everything. All seams lie directly on (the bimini extension) aluminum pipe and are bolted down to welded pads on both sides of the pipe, further holding the joints together. (Thanks, Dave…your architectural rendering was spot on!). We cut the edges and routed a nice round over top and bottom of the entire surface. Due to the design and attachment points of the arch extension, the top surface is quite stable, and can support one of us with very little flex. Matt and I then installed our two other 175W solar panels on top, and I wired them up yesterday. Our 700W of solar come in thru separate wires to individual breakers, which is wired to an Outback FlexMax 60 Charge Controller. Overall, this project took lots of time but the result is functional and quite attractive. It’s about as low profile as possible (the boom gallows will eventually have to be raised about 1.5”) and provided a good surface to rigidly attach the large solar panels. Compared to the old Sunbrella bimini, we now have better rain and sun protection, and are planning to have side curtains made to enclose the entire cockpit area.

March 11 - Tsunami happenings in Honolulu

First off, we're fine! Many thanks to all of you for your emails, prayers and thoughts. Here's the rundown of what happened. We left the dock at the Hawaii Yacht Club at midnight after finding out about the tsunami warning around 9:15 pm. We weren't really prepared to go sailing, so had to stow a lot of things and change our mind set fast! We lashed the dinghy down and tied down everything on deck as best as we could. Fortunately, we had tied down our new hard bimini, as it still needs trimming out and bolting down, so we weren't quite ready to take it offshore! When we got past the last set of channel buoys, we found the horizon was lit up with hundreds of boat navigation lights...hmmm...We set a double reefed mainsail and slowly "jigged" around. We were in deep water quickly and I didn't want to go too far away from the island, although the tsunami wave was not expected to reach Honolulu until 03:15 AM or so. We spent the entire evening slowly sailing back and forth from Diamond Head to just past the Ala Wai Channel, trying to gauge how close any other boat was and just trying to stay away from anyone else. I think everyone had the same idea! Although there were a few 6-8' waves, seas were pretty small, and we didn't actually feel when the tsunami wave passed; that was a very good thing! By daybreak, we were all tired, but safe, and looking forward to hearing news about what happened at the Ala Wai Small Boat Basin as well as the HYC. The radio was busy with many people inquiring about returning, as every harbor thru out the Hawaiian Islands was closed to boat traffic, so no one could return to their slip! Some folks got a bit impatient, but we enjoyed a beautiful sunny morning, sited some nearby humpback whales, and actually anchored and ran our water maker to further commission this new build out. Final clearance was finally granted to return into the Ala Wai, but by then we had received a cell phone call that informed us the Aloha Dock at the HYC was damaged and could not accommodate any boats. Uh Oh....In nearby Keehi Marine Center, several docks were severely damaged and boats adrift or sunk...Currents were swirling around the harbor at around 4 knots, and eddies were everywhere. Boats were lined up 2 to 3 abreast coming back thru the channel into the Ala Wai area. We tied up on "X" dock, a transient dock owned by the State, and were assisted by our friends from sv Cosmos and sv Before who had docked directly in front of us just minutes before our arrival. It felt good to be tied up and safe, albeit tired! We had a bite to eat, took a 2 hour nap, visited with friends, and relaxed. It's been an exciting 24 hours....Our hearts go out to all those who didn't fare so well, both here and in Japan....
The picture is of the boats behind us returning to the AlaWai Yacht Basin....we're not at the front of the line!

March 5 Watermaker Pump Installation Details

Michael has spent the last week in the engine room. With the assistance of Richard (sv Before), the main bracket which supports the Balmar alternator and the new Hypro watermaker pump was redesigned and taken to the machine shop (Moos Welding) for modifications. This was because the new pump profile and height was different than that of the old Tecumseh refrigeration compressor and necessitated lowering the mounting platform and increasing its area to accommodate the mounting brackets of the pump. M obtained some new 1” angle iron (thanks, Joe!), and he and Matt spent a day fabricating the new Hypro mounts and cutting adjustment slots in them. Four 3/8” bolts hold the pump down, and the pump can be moved side to side to tighten the belt which runs from the Hypro pump pulley to the Perkins water pump and crankshaft pulleys. The new belt is a Gates Green Stripe 58 7/8” belt, and runs in a “belt alley” alongside the bracket which supports the alternator foot and just under the expansion tank. Clearances are tight, but the belt runs free and the entire bracket set up got rid of the (old version) tensioning pulley, and belt adjustment is easier to accomplish. The Hypro pulley belt can also be put on around the alternator and its belts without taking them off first, so that was a major win. The Hypro pump was then plumbed as follows: 1. A ¾” salt water intake hose into the low pressure port 2. A SS “T” comes off one of the high pressure ports and goes to a Cat Pop Off valve as well as a custom 5’ length of ½” Teflon impregnated SS hose which is capped and functions as a pulsation dampener for the pump 3. The main 3/8” High Pressure hose that goes into the membrane housing comes off the pump’s other high pressure port. As Sue noted, the more hoses that go into the engine room, the less room there is to move around in an already cramped space! Because of that reason, the dual Racor fuel filter system was moved yesterday, and is now easier to service, as well as affording more room to squeeze by to get to the alternator and forward part of the engine (remember, it’s a V drive!) So, it’s been a busy week! M has to buy just a few more SS fittings for the Codeline membrane housings and the two Filmtec SW-2540 membranes will be ready for insertion. The Jabsco Water Puppy intake pump and the Hypro EM clutch have already been wired to separate breakers. Then the 20 and 5 micron filters, as well as the charcoal brick filter, will be placed in their housings, the ¾” seacock will be opened, and the system will be ready for testing! A long, complicated project is nearing completion, and a special thanks goes out to our buddy Dave (sv Soggy Paws) for all his ongoing technical help! Update: Mike (sv Windy City) was kind enough to drive M to POP Supply this morning, where he purchased the three fittings required to complete the system. In the afternoon, M cut and fit the HP hose with their Gates (like Aeroquip) end fittings, so all hose is ready to fit onto its respective port. Tomorrow he’ll fit the membranes into the membrane housings and that about completes the system! Yea!