Category Archives: Learning for life

Life returns

Half a year has passed since the last entry on our blog. That’s not exactly as I planned it. Rather the opposite is the case: I wanted to document our re-entry into western ‘civilisation’ just as I did with our journey. Often I asked myself why other sailors’ blogs turn quiet pretty much the same instant they arrive ashore ? Now I know the answer and it’s rather simple: There is no time.  The life on land is a busy one and sometimes quite depressing and that’s not something I want to document on the internet.

Fruehlingserwachen unter den HainbuchenDer erste bunte Farbklecks im winterlichen Grau

The question we heard the most often during these last months is: ‘And ? Have you settled in ?’ This question is asked without much thoght and unsuspecting that the answer might be a long and complicated one. Just as for the typical ‘How are you ?’: people expect a simple ‘Good/well/whatever.’ and definately not a lecture on the positive and negative sides of different lifestyles. So right now I could just write ‘Good.’ And all of you would be satisfied, wouldn’t you ?

Or do you really want to know how we are and what’s been going on these last months ? I guessed so…

The initial arrival was quite nice. Hugging old friends, knowing the surroundings and the neighborhood, meeting family and friends of our kids… All very lovely. But we also knew from other sailors’ returns that the actual arrival hits you after a few weeks and it’s not a nice one. It was just the same with us. It’s not that suddenly you realise that the journey and the free and wild life is over. It’s more subtle. The changes get you slowly.

One thing I miss the most are the intense, deep conversations we had with our sailing friends. It seems that the people on land are just too busy or too fearful to really dig in deeper. So the conversations stay on the surface and the essential parts of life mostly are kept out of focus. This is a thing that really makes me sad and it is something that one starts to accept after a while – although it really hurts.

Our kids took it the best, I would say. They really integrated themselves rather easy and fast and Viola had no problems at all to find heaps of friends and find herself to be one of the top students in her class. For Bruno it wasn’t that easy as he was rather slow when it came to reading and writing. He had done school on board in spanish and german but his new school was all english so this was a big step. But after a few months he also had settled in and is now gaining on the midfield in his class. His teachers are optimistic and tell us that by the end of the year he would be above average. Well at least that is no reason for concern anymore. Before arriving in Berlin we were quite nervous about school but it all seems to develop very well. The kids have lots of friends and frequent sleepovers and playdates and both are quite happy.

IMGP3295Und die erste Biene macht sich ans Werk

And how are the grownups ? Well we didn’t have it that easy so far. During the first weeks we had a lot to organize (appartment, insurance, school, taxes, furniture, jobs, etc.) but that was all settled quite fast. More difficult for me was the fact that during our absence the development in politics, economics and society are still in the wrong direction and even picking up speed. So rather than getting more independet from the axis of evil (the five eyes) we embrace them with TTIP and CETA and at home ‘our’ institutions ECB, European Comission and IMF do everything to make the situation worse, to play everything into the hands of a few rich people while the big part of the population in Spain, Portugal and Greece is driven into poverty and unemployment. The news regarding the global surveillance through the NSA are not publicly discussed and the rather shy comission of enquiry that the german parliament put into work was dissolved during the first hearing when a double agent was discovered on the team. Business has to continue. Business as usual with full speed towards the abyss. These developments make me rather nervous (a huge understatement) and I’m quite sceptic when I look into the future. But here comes one of the most important learnings of our journey into the picture: Even when the future looks rather grim, we still know that a different life is possible. And we HAVE lived that life for some years. That gives hope. As does the awakening of Podemos in Spain or Tsipras in Greece. Maybe all is not lost yet.

Well now I’ve disgressed completely into the political arena. But well. Politics is important and the developements right now will have a huge impact on all our future. So. What have Gui and me done during these last months ? Gui was busy with her clothes label Coquito and travelled to Argentina in January to create the new collection. On the side she works three to four days a week in a little french restaurant here in Berlin. I started to work with my old company again. Back at the computer instead of painting the deck or working on the engine. It’s not exactly better work but it pays better and that is quite important for us right now. But still it’s not what I would want to do forever. That’s why I’m currently trying to establish a new company together with a friend. We’re still quite at the beginning but it will have to do with conserving and monitoring energy, focussing on small businesses now but going towards private households in the end. This is really fun and involves a bunch of skills that I really like to work with. Mostly electronics, electricity, programming embedded and web and also installing the equipment on site which gets me away from the computer at least one day a week. But the best is that doing this work, we’ll improve the human impact on our planet just a little and that’s great.

That all means that we both ususally work six days a week while our kids are in a full-time school. We meet only shortly in the evening then everybody is really tired. During the weekends we usually work one day each so there is no time to do anything together as a family. We were prepared that re-entering the ‘normal’ life wouldn’t be easy but we really didn’t expect it to be that hard. But still: spring is in it’s starting blocks and slowly one thing fits to the next and the outlook get’s better and better.

Many friends also asked me whether I would be writing a book of our journey ? Yes. I want to. Definately ! It’s just – right now I have no time to do that. And with two jobs and a lot of chaos around us it’s quite difficult to organize my thoughts and put them on paper (or rather on hard disk). But I have tons of content, a lot of good ideas and slowly the story is developing in my head – despite all the crazyness around me. So don’t give up yet and bear with me. It’ll be worth it. Promised !

But the best thing right now is that in two weeks we’ll be sailing ! YES !! It’s not gonna be the tropics but a little trip in Flensburg with friends will really be good for us. And actually – speaking of the tropics: I will be back soon. In three weeks I’ll have to fly to Australia visit the Suvarov. We’ll have to move her to a cheaper marina and also there might be two potential new owners having a look or a testsail. So please keep your fingers crossed that we’ll sell the Suvarov. That would definately cheer me up !

Posted in Berlin, Coquito, Kids, Learning for life, LosLocos, Pics, Suvarov, Work | 1 Comment

Backup the wrong way around

After straying around for a few weeks, the LosLocos finally arrived at the final destination: Berlin. And the skipper – having nothing to repair on his boat – finally is able to take care of our website. But what’s happening ? Why is my backup running that fast ? What… “not found” ?  … deleted ? How ? But, but I actually wanted to…. Well. It seems I’ve done it.

All is gone. Everything we uploaded in these last three years: thousands of photos and many videos…. all gone. That’s something not everyone could do. And definately not as fast as me. To efficiently delete these amounts of data you need a proper internet connection and the right tools ! Heh.

Flaggenparade im GartenBauzaun Discount !! Jetzt !!!

But as I’m not really new in this arena I don’t get a stroke but keep quite calm and start searching through the backups of our blog. But not ! Funny enought it’s exactly that ONE folder that somehow is not included in the nightly backup routine. Heh. So the only option that is left: To restore everything manually. Up until mid 2012 this is an easy task as I did a complete backup of the whole site when we were in Moorea. The rest I have to extract from a PDF export I once did in Brisbane. And the final posts I restore manually.

Two days later our site and all our pictures are online again. And now I’m finally starting on a long overdue update. There was quite some things happening during these last weeks, believe me !

Posted in Berlin, It's funny ! Laugh !, Learning for life, LosLocos, Net, Pics, Work | Comments Off

Arrived in dumpling-country

After 1.5 days in the airplane and endless airport-security fun we finally landed and were greeted by my parents who picked us up at Munich airport. We filled the car with our bags and drove to Austria where my sister already was waiting with a big meal including the famous austrian dumplings. Mmmmmh.

Arrived in Munich after 36 hours of flightThe family back togetherIn the car, on the way to Austriaand arriving at my parent's house

While the grown-ups were a big jet lagged, the kids had endless fun with their cousins and the brand new bikes they got. Today we’ll be at my grandmother’s place for a different kind of dumplings (with apricot inside). Hehehe. Later more…

First thing in the morning: getting fresh berries from the gardenAnd the kids get long awaited bicycles !Viola forgot how to ride a bike...but we're getting there.

 

Posted in Austria, Kids, Learning for life, LosLocos, Pics, Travel | 3 Comments

Volcanic activity

Yesterday the time has finally come and at noon we started to walk towards the volcanoe. The ‘road’ leads through thick, lush jungle and a few villages and after about 2-3 hours, we arrived at the entrance to the volcano national park. Our lucky kids got a ride up the volcanoe while Gui and me walked up. All the time with loud rumbling noises and while the floor starts to shake. The earth underneath us is alive !

After two hours of fast walking, we arrive at the entrnce to the volcano national parkThe last few hundered meters up the volcano, the kids hitch a rideThe end of the 'road' - at the slope of Mt. Yasurbeautiful little houses at the slope

The volcano was at the lowers activity level (1) but still – the show was breathtaking ! The noise and the lava that was thrown through the air, the smell, the whole scenery. Quite awesome. ’nuff said, enjoy the pics:

On the rim of the craterA first look into the craterFascinatedThe crater of Mt. Yasur

Everyone getting ready as the sun is settingGui on the edgeAs it gets darker, the activity becomes more visibleA 'blob' of basalt on the ground

Lavaimpressive show after darkExplosions and lava flying through the airA highlight of our long journey

Posted in Kids, Learning for life, LosLocos, Pics, Sailing, Suvarov, Travel | Comments Off

Back from Namena with a bunch of pics

Together with my two visitors we did a snorkel/diving trip to Namena. And today we’re back again with the usual set of underwater pictures.

Before leaving from the Costeau Resort, I had to go diving because the night before I accidentally dropped part of our barbequeue. My first attempts of freediving down to 18m were unsuccessful – so I went down again with proper diving gear and actually could find that little thing lying on the ocean floor. Second thing to do: to replace the lower shrouds that got damaged months ago in a storm when sailing towards Tonga. My brother brought the needed replacement parts with him from Europe.

Den Grillrost wieder den Tiefen des Meeres entrissenNeue Unterwanten werden installiertSpannendUnterwegs nach Namena (ca. 25nm)

Then – finally ready to go, we set sail and have a beautiful cruise towards Namena. The breeze is light but enough to let us glide along with five knots and we reach our destination an hour before sunset.

Ankunft am Ankerplatz in NamenaErster von vielen klassich/kitschig/schoenen SonnenuntergaengenErste Tauchgaenge am Riff in der AnchorageGelbe Lederkoralle

Next day we hop into the water and again we’re all amazed by the pure beauty of the reef here in Namena. The number of different animals seems to be without end – as is the form and color of the different hard and soft coral.  During every single dive we run into some sharks (small white- and blacktip reef sharks) which is quite common. Usually the sharks come around for a short look and a few seconds later they disappear into the endless blue.

Hallo, Hai !Der Skipper wirft einen aeusserst kritischebn Blick auf den Strand an der WestseiteZugegeben: Sooo schlecht ist der Strand gar nicht.Ein 'Orange-Ringel-Anemonenfisch'

Quite different on the second day: a pair of little white-tip sharks start circling us and instead of being afraid, they come closer and closer while still circling us. I try to scare them off and actually put my fins in their face but they still continue to circle and their movements get more rapid and intense all the time. Needless to say: we don’t like that and although these sharks are usually completely harmless we jump out of the water and into the dinghy. Here we still can see the sharks circling us – sometimes close enough to touch them. Weird.

Weihnachtsbaum-Roehrenwuermer aka 'Schnippies'Wunderschoene Fische im flachen Wasser ueber den Korallen(noch) unbestimmter FischLederkoralle

But it’s not all scary down there: We also run into some turtles with I follow with the camera for nearly a minute. Same thing: Usually the turtles are easily scared but this time I was quiet enough to be able to follow them and get really close.

Wunderschoene KorallenlandschaftenDer Traum zum SchnorchelnMoerdermuschelDetail einer Kronenkoralle

Of course we see tons of little clown fish, huge giant clams in all colors, groupers, sweet lips, snapper and other species too numerous to count. I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story…

Geweih-Koralle mit FischleinKorallendetailsJulia und Oliver beim TauchenKorallenfarben

Hallo, Hai !Licht und SchattenspieleEine Art von 'Garibaldi' ?Edel-Haarstern

Floetenfisch knapp unter der WasseroberflaecheTrompetenfischUnd wieder ein Hai, der uns etwas bedraengt...Start zur naechsten Schnorchelrunde - direkt vom Schiff aus

Eine KarettschildkroeteUnterwegs zur Ostseite der InselAuch hier: der Strand gar nicht so uebel !Der Ausblick vom Strand am Ankerplatz

Posted in Animals, diving, Learning for life, Pics, Sailing, Suvarov | 2 Comments

Depression (tropical)

No, no, no ! Don’t you be worried ! Although having been seperated from my loved ones for more than a month now, the psyche of the skipper is still in good shape. Turbulent was the weather which got affected by a tropical depression during these last days. That’s why I’ll do another post with pics of wind and rain.

Sommerzeit ist RegenzeitA look towards the Savusavu Marina in the back of the bayAlex fighting back to his yacht. Heh.Made it !

After being at anchor out at the reef for more than two weeks, a few days in Savusavu are a welcomed change. Because of the forecast I took down the big sunroof and gave it to a local tailor to stich up a few holes. Then we wait for the wind. The weather prediction was spot-on and despite being well protected behind the little island, we still had a constant 30 knots with gusts reaching into the 50ies.

The water in the entrance is getting roughPalm trees being tortured by the wind.The SY Tamora fighting a gust, about 1km up the bay. weather_20140128

It wasn’t too easy doing pictures with the rain coming in horizontally and the light being only slightly above candlelight-level while working mostly with maximum zoom. It was a lot easier on the next day, during the ‘golden hour’ when the water level was at it’s high and we could watch as an australian yacht was pulled out of the mud.

Something's wrong in the Savusavu marina...Damn !! Stuck in the mud at low tide.Closing in with the dinghy. The water level is still rising.At high water the yacht is nearly afloat. (As are the local children.)

The Beneteau somehow got the mooring line around the keel and shaved through it after which the boat was adrift and ended up close to the mangroves. That was pretty lucky – as there is enough coral around to split the thin fibreglass hull. But the lucky boat got stuck in soft mud and could be towed out at the next high tide without any further damage. Two dinghies and a boston whaler from the local perl farm pulled on the mast to lift the keel out of the mud and a dive boat with 500hp pulled the yacht into deeper water.

Weight on the boom, lines to pull on the mast head, all set.Start your engines !Pull ! Pull ! Pull !!She's moving !!!

Back in deeper water and everyone's happy !!Local spectators.Beauty in the Va'a.Going back home just before sunset...

Uh ! And I’ve even got more good news: After waiting for eight weeks, yesterday my christmas parcel finally arrived !!  After months I’ve finally got a decent computer again. Yay !

My old MacBook Pro died in the caribbean when a glass of water was spilled over it. The replacement, a MacBook Air killed itself when the internal (SSD-) harddrive got knocked out. So I had to use the ship’s navigation computer, an old Asus EeePC. It’s a nice little laptop that draws nearly no power but for working with pictures and videos it’s the wrong equipment. That’s why I’m as happy as a child on christmas day to finally have a decent laptop that won’t lag behind when I’m typing my blog posts. Maybe it also has positive influence on the frequency of updates. Only two posts duting the last month ?!? That’s an all-time low, I better start writing again…

Posted in Apple, Learning for life, Pics, Sailing, Suvarov | Comments Off

Orion, the new year and a new chapter int the book ‘Engine Troubles’

Sorry. I’m really too lazy today to do the english translation. But I copied some pics from the german version of the blog entry:

Der Flughafen in SavusavuGui am check-inViola schaut mal, was die hier fuer schoene Sachen haben.Da kommt die Maschine !Pilot und Co-Pilotauf in's Flugzeugtraurige Gesichterein letzter BlickLuft im Wasserkreislauf ? Nein.Die elektrische TestpumpeDie vordere Haelfte des Pumpengehaeuses mit Bilgepumpe (ohne Impeller und 'kurzgeschlossen')Der hintere Teil des Pumpengehaeuses mit der WelleEin Wasserflugzeug landet und faehrt kurz danach quer durch den Ankerplatz zum Steg des Ressorts.Yanmar 3QM30H waterpump, side

Posted in Animals, Hardware, It's funny ! Laugh !, Learning for life, LosLocos, Pics, Sailing, Suvarov, Work | 16 Comments

Tropical Cyclogenesis

With all the work on the engine I completely forgot one of my favourite blog topics: the weather !

The marine weather report here in Fiji is quite funny: although there was not much wind during these last weeks, we were continuously warned of foul weather and heavy rain. When we had 15-20 knots, the marine weather warned of ‘rough seas’ sometimes even mentioned ‘very rough’ seas – even when the wind in this area wouldn’t even exceed 25 knots. I guess, the boys and girls from Fiji’s weather bureau don’t get out to sea much – otherwise they would know that it takes waves of four to six meters with breakers to qualify for a ‘very rough’ sea. Don’t get me wrong: I really appreciate them sending meaningful warnings out to the people cruising the oceans but if you shout ‘Fire ! Fire !’ all the time – no fire brigade will show up when it really burns. I know this analogy sucks but I guess you get my point.

A related story might illustrate it further: When we were cruising the Canary Islands in 2011 some overeager employee of the local authorities sent two DSC-alerts in front of *every* marine weather bulletin. This means that six times a day the whole crew is startled by the intense alarm of their VHF radio just because they send weather info. This resulted in most of the yachts turning off their VHF ! Fortunately we could revert to our handheld radio which doesn’t support DSC. Hopefully this dangerous and silly practise since has ceased.

Global Tropics Hazard OutlookTropical wave - infraredTwo lows form on 20131225Outlook for friday - not so good.

Well but now back towards the actual cause of today’s posting. One of the most important tasks of the local weather bureau is to alert the population in case of a cyclone. And right now there is no such warning. Although in my opinion, the situation is quite critical. Wikipedia lists six requirements for the development of a tropical cyclone:

  1. Warm ocean surface of at least 26.5°C. – check
  2. Atmospheric instability (tropical wave north Fiji towards Tonga) – check
  3. High humidity in the lower atmospheric levels. – check
  4. sufficient Coriolis force (always given near the equator) – check
  5. Preexisting low level focus or disturbance (two lows north of Fiji) – check
  6. Little vertical wind shear (hard to tell but likely)

Two additional factors are left out: El Nino, which has influence on hurricane activity – but this year is no El Nino event. And the Madden-Julian-Oscillation which seems to have massive influence on the frequency of tropical storms. In a scientific study done in 2009, the area of Fiji-Samoa-Tonga was investigated and the study came to the conclusion that in case of an active MJO there are five times (!!) more cyclones forming than during the inactive phase. The MJO develops in a 30 to 60 day rhythm in the indian ocean and then travels east. According to current observation, the MJO will reach our area during the next days. Although it’s not extremely active, it still enhances my alertness.

Let’s hope, Fiji’s meteorologists know what they do. I’d be happy if I’m proven wrong.

Posted in Learning for life, Links, LosLocos, Observations, Pics, Sailing, Suvarov | 1 Comment

Patience with the patient !

There’s not too much to do here in Savusavu. We knew that already before we came here and that’s ok. Gui is organizing the trip to Argentina. We all will travel there and we need plane tickets and visas for Australia (a pain in the a.. !!) In Argentina Gui will work on the upcoming collections for Coquito and the Kids will have fun with the grandparents.

Frueh morgens in SavusavuSpiegelglattes WasserUnsere mini-Nachbarinsel, heute mal doppeltBruno und der iPod. Unzertrennlich.

So what’s the captain doing ? Fixing things – of course ! I can’t sit still for too long and there’s enough work on the Suvarov. Our engine still tends to overheat so again I took apart the whole cooling system. All the tipps of the boat neighbors and of Leon (the local machanic-guru) are implemented. The whole system is checked from inlet, impeller, all hoses, mixing elbow, water collector to exhaust. But the problem is IN the engine which is no surprise since the above mentioned parts were checked before we left Polynesia.

Der japanische PatientEin Kristall ? Nein - eine Opferanode.Der Deckel mit der vorderen Anode - und die Silikon(!!!)-'Dichtung'Das innere unserer Tropfsteinhoehle

During that check I was quite confused that I didn’t find a thermostat. Now – with the proper manual I could verify: It’s indeed missing ! Luckily somewhere with the boat tools I found a box containing four used thermostats who after checking were all verified to work correctly. They just needed some cleaning.

The next surprise was the air filter – I wanted to clean it but – there is no filter in there ! Well. That safes me a little work. ;-) Next step: replacing the sacrificial anodes. That’s convenient because while doing that I can have a look inside the cylinder head and see wherther there’s any calcium builup. Next surprise: instead of a gasket someone used household silicone ! – On the front of the cylinder head !! The backward plate had no gasket at all. :-) Luckily we have gasket paper on bord and Gui made nice new ones for me.

So sollte das eigentlich aussehenDer Mischer - in dem Auspuffgas und Kuehlwasser zusammenkommenEntrostet und neu lackiertUnser Patient bei der Chemotherapie - mit ausstroemendem CO2

Inside the cylinder head it looked a lot like a flowstone cave. Lots of stalagtites and stalagmites – and even some crystals ! What a beauty !! Well – and why the cooling of the engine isn’t really working well is clear now. After consulting the almighty internet I find out that it’s best to use 10-15% acetic acid to remove that calcium buildup. Unfortunately the only related liquid available in Savusavu is white vinegar. So I decide to take a little risk and use 5% sulfuric acid to remove the crud.  I fill the (warm) engine with four liters of acid and let it sit until it stops hissing and bubbling. From the connection on the top of the engine we can see the CO2 escape. A nice chemical experiment for our schoolkids. The acid cleaning will continue for the next days. We’ll see whether it works…

While I was at it I also changed the oil, de-rusted and painted some parts, replaced hose clamps and hoses, etc. A nice little service for our engine. As you might be curious it’s a Yanmar 3QM30H with saltwater cooling. And as I had to search forever to find it, I safe others the work and put a link to the service manual !

Posted in Hardware, Learning for life, Links, LosLocos, Pics, Sailing, Suvarov, Work | 2 Comments

Having fun in the anchorage

After our last sailing voyage we spent five days getting all the saltwater out of our boat and everything washed again. As we don’t like to repeat this experience, the newly found leaks were on the top of my ToDo list. And as the beach is too beautiful and the coral too colorful I look the other way grab screwdriver, hammer and chisel and start attacking the rust !

Der kleine Luefter ueber der Kueche - hier fing alles an...Eigentlich sollte es nur ein bisschen Sikaflex sein, doch ich finde Unmengen an RostNach einer halben Stunde Rost wegklopfen und -buerstenDie Luken sehen auch teilweise schlimm aus

My starting point is the little vent in the kitchen. Sometime ago there was also an electric ventilator installed but corrosion has eaten it away probably years ago. The Vetus vent itself, I replaced back in Moorea as the old one didn’t even close properly. But somehow water still found it’s way in – so I remove it completely and discover some realy nasty stuff: The leak probably existed for many years and not much is left of the 4mm of steel that our deck is made of. So I start the old game: first hammering the loose material away, then brush the metal until it looks somewhat stable. After cleaning it, I soak everything with phosphoric acid. Half an hour later the acid has done it’s magic and converted all the rust to black ferric phosphate. Now I clean again with freshwater and let it dry. The epoxy primer appears on stage and gives the ugly spot a nice, watertight cover. During the next days, I will paint additional layers of white polyurethan paint. Time will tell how that combination works out….

Das Badfenster leckte auch - hier die Ursache freigelegtUnd immer mehr Baustellen werden aufgemachtDie Luefter-Baustelle mit Epoxy Primer versehenDer fleissige Stahlschiffbesitzer - immer den Pinsel in der Hand

But as I’m already at it, I crawl around on deck and open more and more rust spots. Some are easy, others quite nasty. The always leaking bathroom window was missing a fitting underneath the handle and the window itself wasn’t glued to the deck with Sikaflex or 3M-50200 but instead sat on a 1cm layer of filler (the one that is used for fixing bumps in cars *rrr*).  In general I usually uncover two or three generations of household silicone which if at all is only to be used inside the ship. – Well it’s an amateur construction, one can tell.

Like this I work for five days on my knees with chisel and power drill in my hands.

Die Vorschiffluke ist auch undicht und wird gleich mal komplett entferntDer Rahmen entrostet und mit Primer bepinseltUnd die Pinne wird auch neu abgedichtetDie Vorschiffluke neu eingebaut - nun oeffnet sie nach vorne !

We discovered that the hatch on the foredeck also leaks water *underneath* the frame and onto our children’s beds. So I take the whole hatch off and again ramove three layers of silicone and cheap one-component paint. I polish the aluminium frame and after painting everything in the above mentioned manner, I glue it back in with Sikaflex. Also I turn the whole hatch a 180˚ so it now opens to the front. That will let a lot more air into the cabin and make our life more enjoyable in those hot regions we’re cruising in.

My last item on the todo list ist the tiller, which I dismount to put in nice, water resistant marine grease and again glue everything together again. Now all the leaks have been worked on -  if they really hold up against the waves only our next trip can tell…

Posted in Hardware, Learning for life, LosLocos, Pics, Projects, Sailing, Suvarov, Work | Comments Off

The island Kapa and the Swallows Cave

Our second stop in Vava’u was anchorage no. 7 in the west of the island Kapa. (Yes, the anchorages here are numbered so the local Mooring base can find it’s ships again.) The was anchorage even more quiet than the one before and the beach absolutely stunning ! We went snorkeling every day and were impressed that there is at least twice the amount of different corals compared to French Polynesia. That gets us even more excited to go further west where the coral is supposedly a lot more diverse than here.

Another beautiful beach of TongaA view of our backyardThe anchorage number seven with boats floating in mid air it seemsThe photographer at the mast head

We again stayed four days and enjoyed ourselfes (more on that in the next post). When leaving for Neiafu we made a stop after about 1.5 miles on the western extreme of the island. Located here is the Swallows Cave that can be accessed by dinghy. One has to stay on the sailboat though as the water is way too deep to anchor in front of the cave. Inside the cave the colors play with the water and as the name suggests, the ceiling is covered with swallow’s nests. A thing not to miss when visiting Tonga.

The entrance to the swallows cave on the western point of the island KapaGui and Bruno setting out for adventureEntering the dark cave (not easy to balance the levels as you see)Holes on the top show part of the vegetation

The birds nesting in the cave give it it's nameAmazing colors made by the extremely clear water A swarm of litle fish hiding out in the caveBack towards the entrance

Posted in Animals, Kids, Learning for life, LosLocos, Pics, Sailing, Suvarov | 2 Comments

A little Front – in pictures

Finally an action post for the sailors that read our blog.

On our way towards Tonga we ran into a front / through. As the thing really looked weird on our weather maps we prepared ourselfes for the worst – and pretty much got it. Luckily for us, the storm hit during daylight which is a lot less freightening than having strong winds in the pitch black night. Lucky for you too as you get some scary pictures (and maybe a video later on).

Der Ausblick nach dem Fruehstueck. Nicht gut.Die Segel sind im ersten Reff, aber das wird nicht ausreichen.Die Capitana unterstuetzt unsere Windsteuerung bei ihrer schweren ArbeitNeue Windsee bei 9 Beaufort

The front was clearly visible in the morning after breakfast and when it hit, the wind turned 180 degrees and increased to about 40 knots at which it stayed pretty much all day. After a few hours, the sea picked up and nearing the end of the storm we had waves reaching well above five meters. Despite the rough seas we still did 4-5 knots, going against the wind with the main and genoa in the third reef.

Slightly further south it was even worse. We heard of yachts that encountered more than 50 knots of wind just 50 miles south of our position.

Wir segeln am Wind und unser Schiff wird ordentlich durch die Mangel genommen.Bilder werden der wilde See aber einfach nicht gerecht. Spaeter kommt vielleich tnoch ein Video.Nach ein paar Stunden haben sich die Wellen ganz gut aufgebaut und erreichen 5-6 Meter.Ein Laecheln fuer den Fotograf - auch bei 42 Knoten Wind.

The damage: one genoa sheet was nearly shaved through and again we made lots of water. The most of it in the lazarette but not as much as previously in the living quarters. The sunbrella cover of our Genoa was already slightly damaged from all the flapping during the light wind sailing and the storm did some additional damage. But it’s already down and we gave it to the local sailmaker to re-stitch it. It should be fine again in one or two days. We had to use the autopilot for a few minutes while we put in another reef. Although it usually keeps the course quite well it managed to do a jibe (!!) while we were sailing on the wind. A jibe with 40 knots is not very nice and it tore out the stopper of the track of the main sheet. But that I can also repair easily. The culprit seems to be a faulty connection on the autopilot computer – a common fault, we learned. I’ll look into that during the next days too.

Compared to the other boats that came into harbour during the next days, we did pretty well. Other boats had their sails completely torn, blocks destroyed, hailyards snapped, etc. I don’t like cleaning the boat after an incident like that but if that’s all – I can live with it. And of course we will again improve and try to stop some more leaks that we found on hatches, vents, etc.

Die beinahe durchgescheuerte Genua-SchotAcht Eimer Salzwasser im Achterschiff.Das heisst: alles ausraeumen und mit Suesswasser waschen - schon wieder !!Die Genua muss runter und zum Segelmacher

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Details of the aft deck

While the new forestay was in the works, I focused on other little things that were still on the ToDo list. The surfboards got a nice little rack on the starbord side, I installed a tiny little platform onto the windsteering as a step-up from the bathing platform. Underneath I put the spool with 200m of safety line.

Eine voellig korrodierte Navigationslampe am Bugkleine Spass-BaustelleErst mal ausprobieren...Und fertig ! Die Roller passt perfekt unten rein.

One thing I saw on the SY Ui wouldn’t let go: The owner reversed the tiller to gain extra space when underway. And that’s exactly what I did to our boat now: I switched the whole tiller around and adapted the windsteering accordingly. Now the steering only uses the very last part of the ship instead of running lines and moving the tiller all around the aft deck. Which is stupid as it’s a very nice place to be during sailing and we loose a lot of space with that old setup. I hope the new idea works as expected.

DSCN0854Eindeutig eine Verbesserung.Volle Solar Power 15.5A bei 14.4V = 223W !Bruno und Viola mit dern Kindern der SY Ui

The new forestay is already in it’s place and yesterday we spent trimming the rig. Now the mast is 100% straight again and all shrouds have the proper tension. All seems to work out. Well… the lower end of the roller furler has to be adapted still. The new forestay is 12mm instead of 10mm and the newer, thicker terminals also grew in lenght. That’w why I have to extend the steel plates that hold the roller furler to the bow. That’s something for today.

ps: Right now we can’t publish bi-lingual since I recently updated the underlying blog software and the plugin to manage the translations (qTranslate) isn’t up to date yet. Up until then we’ll alternate in between english/german.

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Frustration

Finally we’re getting ready to leave. We meet friends and families for lunch or dinner, give and receive gifts and we work a lot on the ship to finalize the last remaining items on the ToDo list. Finally on the move, finally back in to the english-speaking world !

It takes me three days to install our new mast steps. A exhausting and dangerous work. But a cruising boat needs mast steps: Sailors are lazy people and when there are no steps one rarely wants to climb the mast and so never gets to check the rigging. No steps = higher risk so to say. As soon as I put the last two steps on the mast, I start looking at all the blocks, terminals, shackles and immediately I find a major defekt: The forestay has two strands broken right at the upper terminal ! So we got to get the sail and roller furler down and inspect the whole thing, probably replace it.  That means time, money, work. And that we’ll not be able to get going in the next days. Ouch !!

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Darrrr she blows !!

Yesterday when we came from shopping and sat down in the shadow of a tree to have a snack, I saw a whale blow just in front of us – outside the reef. Yeah. It’s ‘humpback season’. And to get our chance we filled the tank of Lorenz’ dinghy and mounted the big (40hp) engine. Today right after breakfast it was our chance: a mother whale and her calf came right to the entrance of the Opunohu bay.

Ten minutes later we were in the dinghy and zoomed out towards the pass. We hopped in the water and only seconds later those huge, magnificent mammals were coming right at us. I could feel my heartbeat soar up and had troubles holding the camera still but still managed to make some shots. The whales went out to sea again and followed the reef to the north, towards Cook bay. Again, we parked the dinghy in front and hopped into the water. This time we were even closer – Lorenz and me had to swim out of the way to not get ‘run over’ by the mother whale. Puuuh ! And although they seem to move in slow motion, they still do 5-6 knots. We followed them out into the open sea as far as we could but then lost them.

A memory for a lifetime. And a video to share with you:

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Wintertime – and gone is the heat

Finally I got the engine fixed ! Since we got the Suvarov, the engine had problems with the cooling and started to overheat after a few minutes of regular use. On the first try, a few weeks ago I took apart the water intake and cleaned all the filters. The second time, I took apart the waterpump and got rid of a little leak there. But on our last trip we still had problems with the engine, the ‘water’ lamp coming on after a few minutes and we could see white water vapor coming from the exhaust. Today I took off the rest of the hoses around the engine, cleaned them, drained the whole system of all fluids and dismounted the exhaust with all it’s cooling parts. I couldn’t really find anything that was cloaking the cooling but still – it seems it has worked. After today’s repair I started the engine and let it run for an hour without problems.


That’s one big, bold lettered item off the todo list ! And I’m even more happy about it – since I’m alone here with the kids and usually don’t get too much done these days. The kids – well, they found friends on our neighbor boat ‘living’ and try to spend every waking minute with the two boys.
All well in the South Pacific

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…and landing !

On our way towards the southern pass we have the predicted 25 knots of wind. As we approach the pass, we can see it disappear in front of our eyes : Usually quite wide and easy to sail through, it has shrunken to a third of it’s usual size. The rest is white water and waves. We already had set sails during the two miles we had to motor through the lagoon. The main sail is in the third reef as is the genoa.  We are only a few minutes outside the reef as the Maramu really kicks in. With amazement I see the wind instrument showing 50 knots while I put another reef in the sails and roll both of them to the size of a big towel. Now is also the start of the rush hour on channel 16. During the next two hours there will be no silence on the emergency channel. We hear of yachts drifting through anchorages, dinghies that get thrown through the air and recovered by other boats. The MRCC is in contact with two vessels that are out on sea and in troubles. Later we hear of a catamaran drifting towards the reef in Moorea.

That all happens while we’re doing eight knots going downwind towards the north-east corner of Moorea. Luckily we had our little test run a few days earlier, so nothing comes loose on the deck and also on the inside of the boat everything stays in it’s place. It even is dry inside as the deck vents don’t leak water anymore. But two breakers about half way through our journey bury the whole aft deck and cockpit in white water and a few liters find their way in through a broken seal in the back entrance. It was planned as a fast voyage with 25 knots downwind sailing and instead we get a ride in a storm: For the two hours that we are in between the islands, the wind establishes itself at 45 to 55 knots with gusts reaching over 65 knots. That’s where the beaufort scale ends – at force 12 !

Just after the NE-corner of Moorea we get some more choppy sea after which the waves quickly die down in the lee of the island. The wind also eases to 30-35 knots and we put a little more sail out. We continue sailing along the reef in close distance and finally tack through the pass into the Opunohu bay. The anchorage we enter under sails and Bruno receives cheers from the neighboring boats while he helps me anchoring the boat.
That really was an exciting trip and another good test for the Suvarov and her crew. Especially as we were without our capitana this time. She’s already landed in New Zealand and will continue her travel to Buenos Aires in a few days. – Odysee, LosLocos style. Now I’m gonna pack the wet mattress into the sun and relax for a while

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Testdrive, LosLocos style

After a few wonderful days in Bora Bora with our swedish friends we have to leave. Gui has an appointment with the immigration office to get her ‘carte de sejour’. And she really needs to be there in time as her flight to Argentina is only a couple of days away. I tell you that because actually – if I had the choice, I would have waited a few more days for a better wind. But we can’t and so we leave.
We exit the lagoon of Bora Bora through the only pass that is on the west side. And right here we can already see and feel the big, long swell coming in from the SW with a wave height of about 3 meters. In the beginning the wind is light and we glide along with four to five knots, slowly sailing southwards in the lee of Bora Bora.

As the night approaches the wind increases slightly but it stays quite comfortable during the first 16 hours. The ‘Fleming’ windsteering is holding the course very well and as the sun rises and Gui comes up we do the first tack and head ENE. The whole trip was not just to have some great time and see those wonderful islands but also to do a proper testdrive with the Suvarov. And now, on the second day we shall see what the boat can handle. A few small rain fronts pass overhead and we bash through them with full sails – despite having wind with 30 to 35 knots. On our old boat, the Rancho Relaxo, we would have sailed with the main in the second reef and probably the small jib. But the Suvarov with her longer and much wider hull doesn’t even need a reef. We stay hard on the wind and accelerate to 8.5 knots without any problems.
But the wind generally increases and the sea gets wilder on the second day. So additionally to the swell coming from SW we have now steep and choppy mix with the windwaves that come from the SE. The Suvarov smashes through the waves, the spray covers the whole ship and we see the first drops of water coming in through a small window in the bathroom and the two deck vents in the saloon. We push some towels into the vents and solve that problem.

During the night the waves increase and every now and then the whole deck is covered with white water. Later at night I’m downstairs at the chart table doing a logbook entry as I hear some weird watery sound from the kitchen. Can it be the water running by the hull ? No. That sounds different. There’s also that distinct noise that floating cans make. I open up the floorboard and my heart drops in my pants as I see all our food floating around in the bilge. We’re taking on water !!! Damn ! I wake up Gui and ask her to start her watch a little early while I use a portable pump to get the water out of the ship. A little bit more and our batteries could be buried in seawater. Not good. Not good at all.
After a while the water level sinks to a few centimeters and the rest I have to get out using a sponge and a bucket. While I’m at it I see where the water comes from: a deck vent in the kitchen acts as funnel and with every wave we get a few liters of saltwater. *rrrr*
The vent we close with a rag and some duct tape, that’s no problem. But we have lost a lot of food and also some of my spare gear that was stored further in the front. A little more than three hours later the bilge is dry again and we don’t take on more water.
That’s one thing to do in the next days: to get rid of the leaking vents. And rinse the whole boat with freshwater. Uuuuh. A lot of work. But – hey – otherwise we had a good trip. The Suvarov proved herself as a tough ship that can handle some beating. The sail upwind was good, actually better than with our old boat. And we were quite fast as we did 234 miles in a little more than two days, going against rough seas and a wind with 20 to 30 knots average. Now we feel like sailors again and we know we also have a good ship ! Yay !

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Construction works in the aft cabin

The bathroom in the aft cabin was used as a storage space for all that stuff we didn’t find a place for yet. But as the ‘junk room’ got emptier and emptier over the last weeks, we thought it would be time to get rid of the walls and extend our living space. I started fixing the broken kitchen window and as Gui is of no help here, she took the power drill and started tearing down walls.

Again there is some difference to the Rancho Relaxo: On our old boat all the interior was done professionaly and uwing the same wood and brass screws. The Suvarov on the other hand is amateur built and the interior is a wild mix of different types of wood, screws, paints and taste (or lack thereof). In our current case most of the wood is glued together with additional screws that are hidden under filler and paint. That makes things a lot more difficult. But after one day of hard labor, the bathroom is gone and we can think of what to do with the new space and how to integrate the steering cables that run through the middle of the room.

Next day I take the old wood panels and fabricate a mock-up of the new interior. I think that’s a good test to see whether our idea would work. Now we’re gonna sleep one or two times over that and see if we can come up with a better idea. Otherwise we’ll buy wood and start the work.

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Dolphins and Circus

At 06:20h in the morning the alarm goes off. Just as the sun jumps over the mountain ridge and bathes the bay in a beautiful golden light. We eat breakfast on deck because a big school of dolphins entered the bay and is playing in between the neighbor boats. When we paddle ashore a little later, we go riht through the middle of a group of 20-30 dolphins that are now going down the channel and back into the bay. At shore a local fisherman gives us a few fish and he follows us to our car. – Yeah, for the first time in two years we got a car ! A very friendly family who’s son goes to the kindergarden with Viola borrowed it to us. The catch is that it has a dead battery, so me and our fisher-friend push the car to start it.


The school is closed for easter holidays but Bruno and Viola go to the Circus-school. There they do acrobatics, play clown and generally have a lot of fun. As it’s the last day, we come early for the pick-up and the group does a presentation for us. Viola’s friend Manoa comes back with us to the Suvarov. There’s a little front approaching and the dinghy ride with five people is not as relaxing as it was during the morning. The three wild ones do a pirate fight across the deck and through the interior of our boat. When the rain starts drumming on the roof, Bruno and Viola get active collecting rainwater.


Uh, and I have some bad news: I was quite looking forward to the return of our DSLR but unfortunately the charger for our good camera stayed in South America. So I continued using the compact camera. And this rather poor replacement did a little dive in Viola’s rucksack. Although the skipper ignored the sore foot and immediately jumped overboard for a rescue mission, it still got a few drops of water. Not more than during a snapshot in the rain but enough for it to wreck the battery. So now we have two compact cameras and a Pentax K5 without charger. The last cameras still in operation are the GoPro and my trusty old mobile phone which from now on will be the primary source of pictures for this blog. Uaaah !

Posted in Animals, Kids, Learning for life, LosLocos, Pics, Suvarov | 2 Comments