Monday, 8 January 2018

Changing A Thru Hull / Ball Valve At Sea

New Valve Going On, No Water Enters the Boat

We've done this a couple of times now, and it's a really simple and fast maintenance job. Finding a dripping leak in a ball valve on the engine sea water inlet, we investigated and found it was seeping through the seal to the handle. It had given us 15 years of service, so I was happy to replace it. We located the spares we carry and selected the right size - 1.25" in this case.

Next we needed a diver, and in chilly St. Augustine that was not going to be the Admiral. No way said she! A call to the local cruiser's net identified a willing local, so we scheduled the job for the next day at slack tide. Note that Crystal Blues has skin fittings (thru hulls) with stand pipes that are threaded, to allow the ball valves to be screwed on and off, without actually effecting the skin fitting.

Diver Ryan arrived right on time, and as he prepared his gear and suited up I started on my own work sequence :

- Close the faulty valve and loosen the hose clamps on the hose connected to it

Trusty Toilet Plunger
- With the hose clamps out of the way the hose tail (hose barb) is unscrewed from the valve. It rotates easily inside the hose, meaning you don't ever have to fight to actually get the hose off the hose tail. This is made easier if you always apply a little silicone sealant to the hose tail during assembly, before sliding the hose over it.

- Once the hose tail is disconnected the action begins - Ryan the diver enters the water with our trusty toilet plunger and holds it over the water entry point. He taps three times on the hull to signal he's ready, and I open the ball valve - voila, just a tiny amount of water enters the boat, before the pressure differential forces the plunger tightly against the hull and seals the entry.

- Unscrew the old ball valve, clean up the threads on the stand pipe, apply new PTFE tape and then screw on the new valve. Close the valve, tap three times on the hull and the diver removes the plunger. Simple!

- Some time later I re-attached the hose tail and re-fastened the hose clamps. Job done.

While many older boats still have skin fittings that incorporate the valve, many newer vessels are built with separate components which allows this process to work just fine. From my perspective, $80 for a diver for 30 minutes is a lot better than $800 for a haul out, just to change a ball valve.

Diver Ryan Was Faster & Cheaper Than A Haul Out

Saturday, 6 January 2018

A New Year Begins, New Destinations Await

You know you're getting older when your favorite local radio station is called The Real Oldies. Whatever happened to K-Rock, Planet Rock, or KIISS and the like?  They all drifted into pop sameness, or repetitive rapping, is what happened..... and I stopped listening.

Here in Florida we had a great Christmas, listening to The Real Oldies on the rental car radio, pulling together the supplies and parts we needed and then celebrating with friends at Hobe Sound, north of Palm Beach.

George & Nancy Marvin, OCC Port Officers for the region, kindly invited us to share Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Luncheon with them - a fine group of cruisers were there, so spirits were high and endless dreams and lies circulated the table.

George & Nancy also kindly acted as a delivery point for our many parcels in the weeks before and after Christmas. Once those goodies were in hand we settled down to a sequence of repairs and service jobs onboard Crystal Blues.

The toughest project was replacing the heater hoses that snake their way through the boat from the engine to the hot water service. The old hose had been installed 12 years ago and was starting to crack - we'd found and repaired two leaks in the past 6 months.

So out it came, which took a day, and then the new silicone rubber hose went in, which took a couple of days - there is about 70 feet of hose in the circuit.  For good measure we flushed and cleaned the cooling circuit in the engine, and replaced the coolant in the system.

Both the Northern Lights genset and the Cummins main engine were due for injector servicing, so we gave both engines a treat and installed new (actually re-built) injectors. Both machines are running silky smooth now, aided by the recent valve lash adjustment - you really can tell the difference.

The Cummins was also rewarded with a new Walker AirSep Filter system, the original item having passed it's use-by date - 12 years was a good run. All in all the boat did real well in the Christmas gift department.

As to those radio stations, we also spent a day installing a new FM radio antenna connection - then scrolled right past the local spanish and rock / pop channels to settle on Legends Radio, a local jazz oriented station. Bliss.

Hopefully we'll be well ahead on the service and maintenance items when we leave here, and can spend time relaxing in the Bahamas soon. The cold weather that is impacting us should pass in a couple of days, and we're hoping for a clear weather window early next week for passage to the Bahamas.

New Walker AirSep Filter System Installed


Friday, 5 January 2018

Freezing In Florida

Welcome to Florida, where it's so cold that it's raining Iguanas - see the story here.

We stopped our voyage south at Palm Beach in central Florida, entering the harbor at Lake Worth inlet and anchoring off the friendly Palm Beach Sailing Club. Over Christmas and New Year the weather was mild, warm and sunny, so we set about completing a series of maintenance and service jobs, preparing for our crossing to the Bahamas. Immediately after New Year the scene changed, with north Florida receiving (almost unheard of) snowfalls and freezing temperatures.

Last night we had a minimum of 3degC. here, and tonight it will be 4degC. Florida temperatures in the winter normally average between 18 and 21 degC. Our friends all the way up the East coast are experiencing sub-zero temperatures and snow falls, while Chesapeake Bay is closed to shipping and harbors are freezing over even in the Carolinas. The weather guru's are calling it a "bomb cyclone", and it appears to be strengthening at it runs north up the coast. In reality we only caught the southern edge of this astounding weather event.

Of course we had just finished packing and stowing all our warm clothing, winter duvets and blankets - who needs those in Florida, right? Right. Yesterday we broke out the winter clothing and bedding again. With luck we'll escape to warmer weather in the Bahamas within a few days.

Jack Bullock Sent This - His Boat In Charleston, South Carolina, Early Today. I Don't Feel So Bad Now ....

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

A Quiet Achiever, Sailing Alone Around The World

Alexandra At Anchor In The BVI's

Every now and again you meet someone who manages to alter your perceptions, re-align your values and generally give your heart a good shake-up.

Back in 2015 we sailed South West from Chagos, to Rodrigues in the southern Indian Ocean, a strenuous 6 day passage that tested our capabilities. After a thorough bashing we finally raced in to the tiny harbor on the island of Rodrigues, on a day when even the local schools had been closed due to high wind strengths. Frankly, I've never been so happy to arrive anywhere.

Alexandra In Rodrigues
Next day, a small sailboat came in off that same angry ocean, with just one young man on board. It had no roller furling sails, not even an engine. There was no generator, no refrigeration, no fancy autopilot systems, no electric toilets and certainly few comforts below decks. The boat was simple, minimalist, in fact so basic I was shocked. It was not in great condition, but it got him there.

Sean D'Epagnier had just crossed the southern Indian Ocean in that boat, on his own, through some dreadful weather. Having no engine, he sculled his way into harbor with a single large sculling oar, settled in and lit a wood fire in a pot on deck, heating a meal of seafood he'd caught. Squid lay on the deck, drying in the sun - his means of preserving fish he caught by line or by diving.

There in Rodrigues we helped Shaun with some fasteners and glue, and a chunk of timber to make a new sculling oar. Then, over the next two years, we bumped into Sean a couple of times, first in the BVI's after crossing the Atlantic and then again in Charleston, South Carolina. Each time I looked at the approaching sailboat and instantly said to myself - that just has to be Sean.

He's an intriguing character, doing it his own way. By his own words he's interested in the weather, climate, mathematical algorithms and graphics. Very importantly, most cruising sailors already benefit from Sean's work - he's a member of the development team that produce Open CPN, the superb freeware chart plotting program (check it out here). So there is a lot more to Sean than initial appearances might suggest.  Behind this crusty and unusually tough adventurer are a million stories.

He purchased his boat, a Bristol 27 built in 1973, for $1,000. She's named Alexandra. Departing California in 2011, he crossed the Pacific and arrived in New Zealand in 2012. There he became the subject of a search by local authorities, as his family in the USA hadn't heard from him for some months - it turns out Sean was fine, busily working his way around the New Zealand coast. Of course he didn't understand the fuss.

Sean & Alexandra Arrive In Charleston SC
He had further trouble in New Zealand when the authorities would not let him depart without making certain repairs to Alexandra. However by 2014 he was in the Phillippines, then moved on through Indonesia and set out across the Indian Ocean in 2015.

Early that year he commented online about the cruising equipment that he considers essential - his list included spare sails, a sculling oar, a sailing kayak, a wood stove and squid lures. It's fair to say that most of these items are not on my list ...

I spoke with Dave Register, Senior Developer for the Open CPN platform, who commented on Sean's enthusiasm and breadth of ideas - Sean has contributed to many add-on modules for Open CPN.  I believe that Dave see's Sean as a committed ocean traveler, kind of hard to track down - in fact I think Dave was never quite sure where he was in the world. I think Sean's family probably feel the same way.

During that first connection in Rodrigues I realised that Sean was obviously very talented on the IT and software engineering side.  However when we met again in the BVI's I learned he was developing a prototype low-power electric autopilot, so he's clearly into hardware solutions as well.

My most enduring memory of Sean is watching him sail into the estuary in Charleston one morning, short tacking patiently up river against the outgoing tide. As he slowly slid past the dock I yelled out and made contact, and he asked if I knew where and how he could clear in to the country - his country - this was just so Sean. I was able to call the Customs and Immigration team for him, and I have little doubt that they are still wondering quite what they encountered that day. Should you see Alexandra coming into your anchorage, I suggest you reset your values and offer Sean the hand of cruising friendship - he's surely earned it.

I've recently heard that Sean has re-connected with his family here in the USA, however right now I'm not sure where exactly Sean is in this world. Then again I suspect that, just maybe, that's how he likes it. He's a special person - more power to him.

Sean, Cruising The World His Own Way

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Cruising The Space Coast

Falcon 9, 1st Stage Burn
Titusville Florida, and nearby Cocoa Beach, are known for their proximity to Kennedy Space Center (KSC). We anchored there with a specific mission - to see a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch at this famous site. There are several designated anchorages that provide great viewing of the launches, however we opted to leave the boat and visit the nearby KSC Visitor Center with friends.

Space Cadet Neil
I was there in 2003, however even that wasn't my first visit. Back in 1972, only 45 years ago, I was there as a student representative for Australia - hosted by NASA, as a guest of the US Government. Back then I was truly fortunate to see the final spectacular Saturn V moon launch, for the Apollo 17 mission. That was an incredibly significant experience, and had all sorts of impacts on my life from that day forward. Yes I built a lot of rockets, had been doing so for many years, we even launched one from Crystal Blues on our wedding day!

So this really was a pilgrimage for me ... and I wasn't disappointed. With the boat safely anchored we arrived at KSC early, and joined the line of excited visitors. NASA provided buses to take us across Merritt Island to the Apollo Center, where viewing stands were available for the launch.

With Admiral Ley I watched the SpaceX launch and the (amazing) powered descent and soft landing of the 1st stage booster section around 8 minutes later. Also amazing is that both the booster and the Dragon spacecraft on top had been flown before (re-usable space craft are here). This launch was a re-supply mission to the International Space Station, flown by SpaceX for NASA.

If you're cruising the Florida coast, don't miss Kennedy Space Center.  It's a fantastic place and NASA do a great job entertaining and educating visitors of any age. If you really want to see a launch, check the launch schedule on the KSC web site. Thanks to Andrew & Carolyn Bellamy for sharing a fantastic day, full of great memories for this slightly older space cadet!

SpaceX Falcon 9 & Dragon Lift Off

UPDATE January 8, 2018 / Watch the SpaceX launch video for Mission CRS13 !

Yes, We had A Fun Day!

It's Florida, It Must Be Warm ....

The Intra-Coastal Waterway At Titusville

Bascule Bridges Open At Port Canaveral
Chasing the sun, chasing the sun, still chasing the sun...

Rather than face the shallow depths and low bridges of the Intra-Coastal Waterway (ICW), we went to sea again at St. Augustine and struck south for Port Canaveral, seeking warmer weather again. This time we succeeded.

 After an easy overnight passage we entered though an opening (bascule) bridge and the Port Canaveral Lock, to find ourselves back on the ICW. Great, now we have never more than 1.5 meters under the keel, usually less than 1 meter, for hours on end. We eased through the Canaveral Barge Canal heading due west, with a 1/2 meter under us crossing the Banana River, then turned north on the true ICW.  We waited at the NASA causeway bridge for over an hour to respect the peak hour traffic and then moved the final 5 nautical miles north to Titusville, home to various odd sun worshipers, retirees, cruising sailors and astronauts.

Admiral Ley Enjoyed The Birdlife In The Waterways

Just off Titusville we anchored with half a meter under the keel, just off the ICW channel. Really not a lot of water to play with here, for a boat with a 2.1 meter draft, though the tidal rise and fall is only 10cm on each cycle. Finally it was warmer - we no longer needed four layers of clothing, just two would suffice.  We enjoyed breakfast in the cockpit, for the first time in months.  The birdlife was fantastic. Life was returning to normal.

This afternoon, just two nights later, we came out to sea again by the same route, and we're headed further south for West Palm Beach (Lake Worth Inlet), about 100 nautical miles south.

Beautiful Weather, Beautiful Birds

Sunday, 10 December 2017

A Cruising Conundrum - How To Find A Great Haircut

Joe Rocco Does The Cutting In St. Augustine

Travel the world for an extended period and sooner or later you'll find yourself in need of a hairdresser. Yeah, I know, it's hardly a deeply technical cruising discussion. 

Steven Heath With Admiral Ley
However if you've ever had a really bad haircut in, say, the back streets of Mumbai, then finding the right cutter takes on new meaning.

Every new country, each new port, provides the same challenges to the ocean traveler - and among them is finding the right cutter! So we ask around, seeking opinion and advice from locals and other cruisers, then we take a chance. In Cape Town I ended up at a men's only barber shop that serves Jack Daniel whisky with the cut, at any hour of the day. It was super cool, though every customer who left the shop seemed to have a similar cut. Too trendy.

Back in Australia our hair is expertly tended by our good friend Steven Heath - who not only is magic with a pair of scissors but also a great singer, guitarist and an impressive artistic painter. I played in a blues band with Steven for five years, so I can vouch for almost all of his talents. Almost all I said. Steven's salon contains his art and his musical instruments, with the latter often ready to play.

Desperately needing a clip, here in St Augustine, Florida, we played the research game on the local cruisers radio net, and were recommended to see Joe Rocco, "The Family Barber". Little did we know what was in store for us. 

Joe's Salon Guitars
It was just like Ground Hog day - freaky de ja vu - I walk into a salon with casually placed musical instruments and guitars, with original art on the walls (yes, by Joe Rocco).

He invites me to sit, turns and lifts the arm on a turntable, drops the stylus onto a wondrous Joe Pass jazz album (yeah, real vinyl) and I settled in for a great hair cut. Joe Rocco even looks a little like Steven Heath.

This was freaky - these two guys could actually swap premises, take a holiday in each others homes and salons, and all the customers would be happy.

Cruising the US East Coast ?  Don't miss Joe Rocco - he does both men's and women's hair, and you'll never forget the experience. Check out his diaries on the web link here.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

South To St Augustine, Florida

Atlantic Sunrise, Off The Carolina Coast
Too Small & Too Bloody - Mackerel Tuna
With winter rapidly setting in, we escaped southward last week, sailing offshore down the Atlantic coast in warm weather bound for St. Augustine, Florida. Light winds from astern were not helpful, so the Cummins engine worked hard once again, as we pushed south and west, staying close to the coast to avoid the north-setting Gulf Stream current.

I wasn't surprised to find the Admiral on deck early one morning, with a fish hanging off a lure ... but really, did she have to start fishing before breakfast? Unfortunately the first three fish that came in were low-value Mackerel Tuna, and they were all released. With this state of affairs the Admiral gave up in disgust - she wanted Mahi Mahi or Wahoo, or Spanish Mackerel. Dream on.

So the fishing tackle was stowed once again and relaxed cruising resumed. We arrived at the St. Augustine bar right on time, in the middle of a rising tide with a following wind. The entrance was therefore drama free and Crystal Blues found herself safely moored on a City Marina mooring ball well before it was time for drinks. Perfect!

Christmas Lights In St. Augustine

This town, reported as the oldest city in America, was once a Spanish outpost. Now, with Christmas approaching, it kinda feels like a Disney outpost. Trolley / tram rides clog the streets, carrying droves of serious tourists from sight to sight, from Ghost Tour to Spanish Fort, restaurant to restaurant. This is not at all what we expected. But the decorative lights are really nice, and the spirit of the place does eventually get to you. Music is everywhere! St. Augustine has an incredibly vibrant live music scene - we've enjoyed great bars and restaurants with excellent live entertainment and usually no cover charge.

Checking The Injection Elbow
However it hasn't been all glittering lights and music. Our beloved Cummins 4BT engine was due for a major 4,000 hour service, so this past week we've tackled everything that can be checked and refreshed on the unit. The standard lube oil and filters, fuel filters etc were ticked off early, before we moved on to the gearbox lube oil and filter, then flushing and cleaning the gear oil cooler and the engine heat exchanger. Then we inspected and checked the turbo, serviced the Walker AirSep filter system, serviced the syphon break, checked the exhaust injection elbow, replaced the drive belt and replaced the belt tensioner.

The Salt water pump was checked (all blades Ok after 500 hours) and the coolant was tested with a Fleetguard coolant test kit, then adjusted to the correct chemical mix using a measured concentrate. For good measure we finished off with valve lash adjustment today.

OK, I'm slow, but it has taken almost six days to work through the job, in between shopping trips and the essential cruising social activities. The weather here has now turned to winter again, with a series of small cold fronts moving in. Predicted 2 degrees Centigrade overnight tomorrow evening. So we'll probably move aft and turn our attention to the Northern Lights generator - its now ready for service.

Valve Lash (Tappet) Adjustment On The Cummins 4BT

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Things That Work For Us # 09 - CUTCO Shears & Knives

I just love it when a company is so proud of its product they put a lifetime warranty on it.

After twenty years of hard use on board a cruising sail boat, it's even better when that same company stands by it's word. So hat's off to CUTCO, a manufacturer famous for their knives but who also make a really mean pair of shears.

Last month we sent our 20 year old CUTCO bread knife back for the free sharpening service they provide - that knife will slice hot bread straight from the oven and does a mean job with foam insulation. We also shipped our favorite CUTCO shears for service.

The bread knife came back beautifully sharpened, and the shears came back - well, brand new. They gave us a new pair (I guess we had worked them pretty hard), no charge. These shears will cut almost anything, including bones, light sheet metal and coins. Of course they work beautifully on heavy duty sail cloth and canvas, perhaps not so good on finer lightweight fabrics. They are so good that the admiral does get antsy when she can't find them ....


Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Light Weather, Heavy Boat, Off The Carolina Coast

The Admiral Enjoys The Warmer Atlantic Glow

Crystal Blues is heavy, real heavy. Absolutely stuffed with provisions, fuel, water and of course more than a little grog, she slid away from the dock yesterday after nine days in beautiful Beaufort, North Carolina. We  planned to stop in Beaufort for a week of provisioning, preparing for cruising the Bahamas and Cuba over the next five months.  It was a fine choice.

A Tough Career Choice -So Many Shrimp, So Little Time
Berthed at Homer Smith's Docks & Marina, we found ourselves in a family run marina that is relaxed and low key but with a great location and the support that only a family business can provide.

The berthing rate is only $6.00 per foot per week, including power and water. In US terms this is great value, but the deal gets better when they pass over the marina truck keys so you can do your shopping, then pass over a couple of pounds of fresh shrimp....

In fact the business still buys and processes shrimp and sea food direct from the trawlers, shipping fresh product to markets in the south. Within an hour of arrival I walked out of the marina office to find shrimp processing in full swing - where my questions lead to a quick stint on the production and sorting line.  Never ask questions.

Diane Tetreault (center) With Visiting OCC Cruisers
As members of the Ocean Cruising Club, there is another great bonus to being in Beaufort. Local OCC Port Officer Diane Tetreault is incredibly welcoming and supportive. There were several OCC boats in town, and nothing was too much trouble for Diane, who organised social events and repeatedly helped out with transport when needed. Hats off to Diane!

Amazon Calling
And then there was the shopping...

The admiral, with daily access to the marina truck, ran a fast provisioning schedule that saw Crystal Blues sinking lower into the water each day. Every cupboard and locker was audited and re-stocked, goods rotated, some thrown away and yet more purchased. To all that we added 900 liters of diesel and 900 liters of fresh water. She is now a seriously heavy boat.

We also discovered that Amazon was a great value source for bulk food supplies - tinned butter, milk powder. coffee, tinned foods and the like. All delivered to the marina within 48 hours at great prices.

Beaufort also provided us with another gem - while watching activity in the seafood processing area we met locals Libby and Jack Cox. Libby was up to her elbows in fish sorting at the time, and Jack was working with one of his boats that had just delivered the catch - they harvest bottom fish by line fishing. Next thing we knew they visited Crystal Blues, so we then joined them for Thanks Giving lunch. Libby & Jack are dreaming of a future on a cruising sail boat, so we had a lot to talk about. Friendships are born this way.

Crystal Blues should be in St. Augustine, Florida, by Thursday evening.
The Admiral & I At Dinner With Libby & Jack

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Southbound For Winter Sunshine

With the thermometer dropping to Zero degrees centigrade in Reedville, Virginia, one evening, we really needed to head south for the sunshine. Local friends spoke of early season snow in New York and they didn't need to remind us that the creek we were in often freezes over in winter - time to move.

A Chilly Arrival In Hampton Roads
So ten days ago we fare-welled our gracious hosts in Reedville, Walter Keith & Mary Frazer, and sailed south down Chesapeake Bay towards the Atlantic Ocean. That was possibly the coldest daytime sail I've ever made, though we did manage to cover 60 nautical miles in the shortened winter daylight, anchoring overnight in Hampton to allow the weather offshore to swing in our favour.

The next afternoon we sailed out of Hampton Roads, around Cape Henry at nightfall and proceeded southward toward Cape Hatteras in 25 knot winds and boisterous seas. A useful counter current helped us along, staying inshore to avoid the Gulf Stream, and by lunch the next day we had rounded the cape and were positively zooming south west towards Beaufort, North Carolina.

So much for our carefully calculated voyage plans - it looked like it would have to be a night time approach into Beaufort....  Sure enough, midnight found us motoring toward the shipping channel while trying to decide on an anchoring point - for such a large port, this place has very few credible anchoring locations. We did find a safe place just west of the entry channel and caught some sleep before motoring into a welcome marina berth at 7:00am the next morning.  Beaufort will be our provisioning port as we prepare for the next few months offshore in the Bahamas and Cuba, and we're hoping it will be quite a bit warmer.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Returning To The Boat - What Do You Carry ?

After two busy weeks in Melbourne we returned to the boat with over 120kg of luggage - thank heavens for Qantas being generous on the allowances. The flight landed in Dallas, where we loaded the super-Chevy truck and proceeded to drive back to Virginia, via Little Rock and Nashville.

We're frequently asked what do we carry back to the boat, so for those who are serious about this, here are our answers for this trip.

12 x 0.5kg jars of Vegemite (yeah, 6kg in total)
New 26kg regrigeration compressor
New electric jug
New electric toaster
1 x green cow hide (we like to leather things)

The electric items cannot be purchased in the USA, as the supply voltage and frequency are different ....
The balance of our monster cruising shopping list is below.

Cruising To An Oyster Roast In Reedville

Mary, Ley & Walter Sharing The Good Wine
Our journey back to Reedville was planned around a critical date - the annual Fisherman's Museum Oyster Roast. No true cruising sailor could miss this!

The simple little affair was planned to allow just 1000 people to fess up 50 bucks and then eat all the oysters they could ...... which is a lot of oysters.

While it sounds like a simple concept, in fact it takes a lot of effort to cater for 1000 people, while also providing unlimited beer, wine, BBQ meats, clam chowder, hot dogs etc. This is the major fund raiser for the museum, so dozens of volunteers chipped in.

We were among them, doing our duty serving wine to the masses for an hour or so.  Before that we managed to consume our fair share of delicious roasted oysters, which are heated over hot coals until they are hot and almost ready to open.

The Reedville Fisherman's Museum is the social hub of Reedville village in Virginia, a town that welcomes visiting cruisers and provides peaceful, sheltered anchorages.

The Next Crystal Blues ?

Crystal Blue, Image Courtesy Rolls Royce

OK, so it's not very likely, but in their wisdom the guru's at Rolls Royce have named their new 62 meter concept super yacht Crystal Blue. The cheek of them. You can read the full story of this amazing design here, note that it's hybrid powered by LNG and batteries, and does't (normally) anchor anywhere - instead, the thrusters linked to a dynamic positioning system simply keep it in place. It's planned to be accompanied by a 42 meter "tender" that will carry the water toys and act as a refueling barge for the LNG. The best part is that it doesn't have a conventional bridge - instead the crew helm the boat from below decks, using a range of sensors and vision systems. Oh joy.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Cruising Families

The Langford Boys - Dean, Peter & Neil, Onboard Pete's Power Boat, Just Cruising Again
A Warm Welcome In Williamstown !
After 12 years at sea, coming home is precious. However just two weeks in Melbourne wasn't enough time to catch up with everyone - it felt like speed dating, though we did cover a lot of people, ground and water. And of course it was very social, from the moment we arrived.

We based ourselves in our home town and stayed close to family, while working through a busy social diary plus a long list of items to be purchased and carried back to the boat in the USA. On the list was a new refrigeration compressor (only 26kg!) plus a big spring for our rod-kicker, a toaster, and dozens of other specialty boat items. The final tally was over 100kg of luggage for the return flight.

The family time was joyful, specially seeing how fast the grand kids and nieces are growing up. So we chased kids, played with dogs, kissed parents, repaired cars, planted trees and drank more than a little wine .... what joy. A special treat was the "long lunch" at Rovina, the beautiful property owned by our friend James Farrell (check the photos below).

Then on Thursday it was back to Dallas onboard QF07, an A380 flight out of Sydney. Right now we're shooting eastward in the Chevy truck, having crossed the Arkansas border at Texakarna. We're heading for Little Rock tonight and Nashville tomorrow night. Bring on the music!

Three Young Rascals, Plus An Older One