Sunday, 27 April 2014

Sailing Around Australia; Ups and Downs

27/ 4 2014 Ups and Downs

Another week of our layover in Port Lincoln has passed with quite a few ups and downs.

On the up side we have been tinkering away with our long list of repair and maintenance jobs that need doing on Easy Tiger, before we recommence our sailing around Australia adventures. The down side has been our bank account and a severe dose of cabin/boat /marina fever.

New ropes, better flush out points for holding tanks and several other tasks have been completed. A new propeller is fitted on the starboard side. A new anchor winch has also been ordered. It's only money!

Unable to go anywhere due to waiting for repairs, our time been filled by walking in to town (about 5 k's) or reading, trip planning (can't wait to get it done) and Leanne has started going to art classes.

But, as usual with cruising sailors, the best cure for down time is socialising. This has occupied us over the past week.

With B1 and Maree back in Perth, B2 and Eva down at Memory Cove, Mike and Jan aboard their new blue yacht "Steel Sapphire" made a welcome sight in the marina over Easter.  They have come from New South Wales and are headed for their home port in Hillary’s, Perth.

They were a great source of information on places to see and things to avoid on the east coast and we directed them northwards to Streaky Bay, where they are now.

Also ANZAC day we had another chance to get off the boat. We had a lovely day out with Sonia and David Kerr. Sonia and David are Port Lincoln locals who have just purchased a catamaran. David, a mate and a hired skipper have sailed it from Maloolabar reaching Sydney before bad weather has put a hold on the delivery to Port Lincoln.

Travelling with them on road to Coffin Bay was a really nice chance to see more of the outer land areas of Port Lincoln. We visited the Coffin Bay Pig farm that also has antiques for sale as well as a little café. Very quirky little farm yard but honestly the best pancakes and ice cream, ever.

Zofia arrived back in the marina, during a 40 knot gale. They had been battered by strong winds and choppy seas. On their arrival they had to tie on to the collection jetty as the with the strong wind there was no way they could have negotiated their way into the allocated pen without much damage.

On the subject of damage, one of the tourist operators tried to take a pontoon with a shed on it out of the pen at the end of our canal. With a light wind blowing and inexperienced kids aboard (obviously not even briefed) they managed to get their big aluminium tourist boat into the pen next to us with the pontoon hard up against Urchin and Easy Tiger. That left a mark on Urchins bow.  Hopefully they will be able to polish out the marks without any major repair work required.

As I said to the guy as I was trying to get them unraveled from my spinnaker pole, if he had let me know what they were trying to do, I could have organized several pairs of helping hands.

We may have solved our anchor witch problems. It turns out that the existing winch (that the electrician told us is nearly burnt out) was mounted horizontally, but it is made to be fitted vertically. That would mean that there is more chain on the winch and therefore it would not jump off and get tangled which is the main problem.

But of course this is not easy. Stainless steel brackets have to be made to turn the new anchor winch 90 degrees.Gary, who has a boat across the jetty and happens to be a welder / fabricator, has offered to fabricate a new anchor winch pedestal and we are about to order the new anchor winch.

During the week our daughter, Bree, contacted us to say that she would be in Perth the same time as us. We were really excited at the thought of seeing and spending a couple of days with her. Not to be outdone our son, Luke, then let us know that he would have some days off when we get back to Port Lincoln and he would come for a visit.

Today we have been brought back down from the excitement as Bree unfortunately has had a change of plan and it is too hard and expensive to get to Perth. Luke also had a change of dates and he will be in Port Lincoln when we are not. 

What a week of ups and downs. 

Home for ET for a few months Lincoln cove Marina.

with Urchin and Zofia nearby.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Sailing around Australia; Swimming with the Fishes

18/4/2014  Swimming with the Fishes

During our lay over in Port Lincoln, We have had quite a bit of idle time on our hands while waiting for parts and people to carry out propeller and anchor winch repairs.

We have got back into a routine of walking every morning as exercise. On these walks Leanne likes to seek out “the locals” for a chat.

One of our walks lead us to the local dive shop, where we ended up discussing types of equipment that would enable us to get under Easy Tiger for scrubbing off barnacles or to get fishing line off the rudder or other such times.

After looking at them in the shop, Leanne found a power dive hooker system on Gumtree, that we are waiting to arrive.

Leanne started trying on wetsuits, which I was very happy about. That meant that if she had a westsuit I may not have to be the selected diver in case of necessity. Without hesitation Leanne picked the wetsuit that looks like seaweed. She said she liked it, because she doesn’t look like a seal in the water and may not be attractive to sharks.

Leo, the dive shop guy, invited us to go out to the fish farm set up for people to “swim with the Tuna”.

So Sunday morning we arrived at the pick up point, hoping that the weather would improve from overcast and cold. We boarded a ferry type boat and headed out with thirty or so other folk all ready to be tuna bait.

After 20 minutes or so, the boat pulls up at fish farm ring. These are rings of floats in the water 50 metres in diameter. From the ring of floats, hang nets about 20 metres deep. The Swim with the Tuna has a big pontoon across the diameter of the rings, which has a change room, platforms, kiosk etc on it.

As the boat was being tied on we could see several dorsal fins, tail flutes and dark shapes near the surface of the water. It looked like a cage full of sharks. However the tour guides put our minds at ease, by saying that there were 55 tuna ranging around 50 kilos each and about a metre long. Those are Big fish.

After wrestling into our westsuits, me delaying the process, hoping for warmer weather, Leanne made her way down the platform and flopped into the water.  (her new wetsuit definetly looks like army camouflage rather than seaweed though).

The young tour guide fella, throws in a pilchard which lands in the water about 18 inches from Leanne. There is a woosh sound, a splash in the water and a giant tuna has come up from the bottom of the net, taken the pilchard and disappeared into the depths in the blink of an eye.

Not to be out done, several of it’s mates now realize it’s feeding time and all come up to the surface as well. That’s when we could plainly see how big these fish were.

By now I have taken some photo’s and have my wetsuit on. I flop into the water and paddle over to the floating seaweed wetsuit. A pilchard lands in front of my goggles. Too close. It’s millimeters away from my goggles. I try to swipe it further away. It floats closer and bumps into my goggles. I thrash it away as best I can. I expect any second that a 30kg tuna freight train will smash into me! I turn my head bracing for impact. Woosh! The pilchard disappears in a stream of bubbles.

The seaweed wetsuit is laughing at me. The kid throwing the pilchards is laughing at me. I go under the water to hide and then I see the big Tuna are smiling too.

More pilchards land in the water. Luckily they are further away from me and I can film the big Tuna as they whizz by on the go pro.

We then go into the middle tank, where 2 to 5 kilo salmon, bright blue morwhong and other various fish laze about. They keep bumping into us as we float. We are looking at them, they are looking at us. Well, looking at me. They aren’t supposed to be able to see Leanne in her camouflage seaweed wetsuit.

Almost feeling lazy, we went back in with the big Tuna until we were frozen numb. Climbing out I headed straight for a nice warm shower. Doh! They are cold.

We hurried up to the warmest part of the boat for the trip back to town. The wheelhouse. There we got talking to Dave the skipper. He is a part time skipper on the swim with the Tuna. His normal “day” job is abalone diving.  On the tour around the Port Lincoln wharf area, skipper Dave told Leanne that his mate does Tuna processing and she might be able to get some work there.

We would like to get a few months work when we get back from WA in June, to pay for all the boat repairs that we have to do, but hadn’t budgeted for.

The Tuna are certainly a very big industry in Port Lincoln. It’s one of only a handful of places in the world where they are successfully “farmed”. Each company has a quota that they are allowed to catch.

While catching them, they send planes out to “spot” the schools. Then they run nets around the schools but rather than haul them up onto the boat, the nets are dragged back to an area off Port Lincoln and parked. The fish are then fed every day until they are the desired weight, where Japanese buyers come and hand measure each fish.

No wonder that it can be up to $2000 per kilo by the time it gets to Japan.

So that means that I was swimming around with over a million dollars. Definitely a fun experience. If only it was a little warmer. 

Leanne in her new sea weed camouflage wet suit... if any sharks are reading this they won't be able to see her!

The stars of the show, 50 kilos about a metre along and us in there swimming with 55 of them.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Sailing Around Australia; Fortunately, Unfortunately

Location;  Lincoln Cove Marina, Port Lincoln, South Australia

This week aboard Easy Tiger on our sailing around Australia Adventures, we have been looking into all our maintenance and repair issues.

We did want to be out exploring the Joseph Banks group of Islands, or Tumby bay as Zofia has, but we have had a few issues to sort out first.

One item on our list was anti fouling. This involves getting Easy Tiger out of the water and giving the bottom of the hulls a scrub clean then applying a coat of anti fouling paint. This means that barnacles, weed and other such things cannot attach themselves to the boat and cause resistance in moving through the water.

A ring around of the local slipways revealed that the cost of this service in Port Lincoln was through the roof and bordering on the ridiculous. Nearly four times the price it was at Fremantle! Plus facilities are great if you are a 2 hundred tonne steel fishing boat. We are a 9 tonne fibreglass sailing boat. They did suggest that they could pull Easy Tiger out by balancing it on a sea container.

Fortunately, we do not have to do it straight away. We discussed this on the jetty with other “boaties” and it was suggested that we dive under the boat to scrub off what is there. That would mean we could leave the coating of anti foul for somewhere cheaper and more catamaran friendly.

Unfortunately, we would have to get someone to do this for us as there had been a nine foot shark seen swimming around here a few weeks ago. Three or four boats advertising shark cage diving experience are parked nearby in the marina. I don’t want that experience and definitely not without the cage!  Plus the water temperature is very cold so not wanting to copy the brasss monkey was another reason I wasn’t going in anytime soon. A couple of divers who could do the work were recommended to us.

Fortunately, a few hours later, a guy wearing a wetsuit and carrying hooker hose wandered along the jetty. “Do you dive on boats?” I asked. Unfortunately he said “no, he was just doing his own”. I said I just wanted to see if there were barnacles on my prop’s. He said if he had enough air left he would have a look for me.

An hour or so later I heard the bubbles under Easy Tiger. Fortunately he had had enough air left and as he came up, blue from the cold, he said that fortunately, there were no barnacles on our props. Unfortunately though, he found that the starboard side propeller was loose on the shaft and needed attention.

Fortunately, the guy we had diving under our boat was Hayden McFarlane, a partner in PSE who are specialists in marine engineering. Unfortunately for Hayden, he offered to help fix our propeller and had to spend another half hour in the chilly water trying to tighten it up. Unfortunately it didn’t want to tighten up. Hayden came back the next day to remove all the parts, so that we could determine the problem.

Unfortunately, particularly for Leanne, the cause of the problem was found to be the fishing line she wrapped around the propeller at Two Peoples Bay before Christmas. It had got into the rubber hub of the propeller and worn it away, meaning the propeller needs to be replaced.

Fortunately, this meant that we might as well look around at all the different propellers on the market and see if we could find something a bit better. We have two blade folding propellers at the moment. A three bladed propeller could give us better maneuverability and maybe give us an extra knot of speed under motor, but the advantages of these does not justify the price.

Unfortunately we will have to replace the existing propeller and not have some nice new fangled go faster ones. Fortunately, Hayden will be able to fit the replacement with the boat in the water.

Unfortunately we are stuck in the marina for at least another week so we have started work on the list of things to be done. Fortunately, the weather is raining, bleak and cold, so it’s not so good for sailing any way.

Leanne took these great bird shots at Memory Cove.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Sailing around Australia; Fighting Frustrating Fuel Fungus

4/4/2014 Fighting Frustrating Fuel Fungus

Our sailing around Australia adventures aboard Easy Tiger have brought us to Port Lincoln where we hoped to get quite a few nagging problems sorted out.

Several attempts have been made to diagnose the problem that has been causing the port motor and recently the Starboard motor to stop from time to time, usually when we least wanted them to.  A mechanic in Mandurah was paid $700 to replace the port motor fuel lift pump. The engine ran for ten hours after the cheque was banked and stopped again.

Next it was decided that the breather in the fuel tank might be blocked. Unable to access the breather without major deconstruction of the boat, we drilled a hole in the tank inlet pipe. Again the engine ran well until we were half way across the Great Australian Bight.

When either of the engines stopped it was just like they had been switched off. Then after waiting several minutes, we would be able to start them again and carry on as if nothing happened for another hour or so.

The fact that they would start straight away without having to bleed the fuel, started me thinking that perhaps fuel was not the problem.

After we had to be towed in to Streaky Bay with only one operating engine, I did another investigation. I remembered that someone told me about fuel fungus that boats in the tropics suffer from.

Fuel Fungus. We researched this on the internet and found that in each diesel tank, there is an amount of water.  The water is created by condensation in the air contained in the tank. Diesel floats on water so the water created by the condensation sits in the bottom of the fuel tank. In between the water and the diesel a fungus can grow, given the right conditions.

Biocide can be added to the fuel tank to kill this fungus. The dead spores then float into the diesel. This means the spores are caught in the filters. While in Streaky Bay we added the biocide, then planned to change all our filters every ten hours, to remove the fungus killed by the biocide.

After motoring and changing a set of filters on the way, we are tied to a floating jetty in the Port Lincoln Marina. The first thing that we noticed is that the fuel filter elements looked like they had been coloured in with a black marker pen. There was very little or no particles or dirt in the water traps at the bottom of the filter.

Next we pumped the remaining diesel (in this case over 80 litres) out of the tanks and disposed of it at the appropriate waste centre at this marina. Fortunately, our Fusion 40 Catamaran has large tank inspection lids in the floor enabling us to get a torch and one arm inside.  Once the tanks were pumped out we sponged and wiped out the residue.

The surprises here were that half a cup of sludge, half way between black and dark coffee in colour, was picked up out of the tanks. Also, we located the fuel pipe pick up strainers that were inside the tanks. Both of these were clogged with the same sludge.

We rolled around on the floor, trying to bend our arms at very un-natural angles to wipe the tanks out thoroughly, then wash them with warm soapy water, then dried the tanks. We then left the tanks open for a day to try and dry them out further.

While the tanks were drying we inspected our four jerry cans that we use to store extra fuel. By holding them up to the light, we could plainly see black spots on the walls and in the bottom. Again a rinse with clean diesel, seemed to clear them of any obvious. A tea spoon full of Biocide was added to each jerry can.

Next step was changing the primary fuel filters for each engine, as well as the secondary or fuel pump filters that are above the fuel lift pump on our Yanmars.

Refilling the tanks, we used a very fine strainer between the jerry can and the tank inlet. Our tanks hold 180 litres each side, so with five jerry cans, 4 trips in the dinghy to the other side of the marina then a couple of hundred metres walk to the service station, were completed. We didn’t need to go to the gym to get exercise that day.

The tanks were completely filled, lessening the possibility of condensation. The finishing touch was pouring 100mls of Biocide into each tank.

Hopefully we have won the fight against frustrating fuel fungus and we are ready for trouble free motoring. Some wind in the right direction would be nice too.

The filters at the top have done 10 hours. A new filter as a comparison is at the bottom of the picture.