Preparation

Standard
Fri 25/5/01
Look around town for a new water temperature sender unit but they aren’t a readily available item. One of the local auto and marine shops is quite helpful and sends away for one to be delivered air express on Monday.He also tells me how I can modify the exhaust system to include a “tell-tale” in the cockpit. This constant trickle of water can not only tell me if cooling water is actually going through the motor, but also if it is too hot simply by putting a finger under it.  Discuss the anode problem with him. His advice runs contrary to what I’d already been told and only serves to confuse me.

Delma graduates with a Bachelor of Nursing degree tonight. The Chief of the Australian Army Lieutenant General Cosgrove is presented with a doctorate of something or other and is the guest speaker.  He was the man who led an Australian Army force into East Timor when they voted to secede from Indonesia.  Local militia loyal to Jakarta started killing people. Afterwards we have a celebratory dinner with family friends Colleen and Bob at their house.

Sat 26/5/01
0800 hrs: The marine consultant comes down to the pontoon and we go out to Lowana IV anchored in the creek. He runs tests right throughout the boat but is unable to find any stray electrical current anywhere. The procedure involves turning on every electrical item in turn on the boat but nothing is found. He isn’t able to give me any direct answer as to why the anodes aren’t working.  If that’s true then the problem must be galvanic corrosion such as what happens when two dissimilar metals are joined.

He makes a number of suggestions including:
1. That the anodes aren’t properly attached to the hull (they’re bolted to welded studs).
2. That there was 30 percent copper content in the antifoul paint (there are two coats of known good sealer between the paint and the hull).
3. That the anodes should be taken off the keel and placed on the hull more outboard towards the sides. This he declares will improve the situation.

His last observation is that the boat is almost into the over-protected zone (too many anodes), but not enough to cause the paint to blister. This is confusing.  If I follow his formula for placement then I can’t really reduce the number of anodes. But I’ll take the last suggestion about moving the anodes and slot the job into the “must do” mental file.

Delma is waiting back onshore. She comes out to the boat and helps me take her back into her usual berthing spot inside Tipperary Marina. We haven’t been here for a couple of weeks and some of our local yachty liveaboard friends drop by. Sit around for an hour or so drinking coffee or tea and catching up with the local news.

Delma leaves to go home while I pick up the modified backstays from the marine shop and bring them back to the boat. For the rest of the day I climb the mast and install the running backstays, touch up all the cockpit timberwork, fix the head which has been leaking, put the canopy back up, reinstall the HF and VHF radios and test them.

Also check the tillerpilot works properly, install the new siphon break system, clean out the safety locker and check all the contents reacquainting myself with what is actually in there. Put some new flares into the locker. Make notes of what extra stores and stuff I will need to buy.

With all this done I start the motor and turn the fridges on. Strangely when I rev up the motor to check the siphon break is working properly, I notice the tachometer and the water temperature gauge both suddenly start working! There must be an electrical short somewhere in the engine. Will have to look into that tomorrow.

The rudder is rattling worse than ever, even when the motor is at idle. I don’t know what I’ll do with it just yet. Will have to look at it tomorrow as well I guess. Still a fair bit to do.

Speak to a couple who had previously been our neighbours in the marina. They’d headed off to WA with another couple on board and during the journey also had rudder problems. Then to compound the situation the motor failed and they couldn’t fix it. Added to this were rough 4 metre seas and strong winds with big tidal pushes, and they were very uncomfortable.

To make matters worse the male guest started getting panicky and aggressive. Our lady friend said all she wanted to do was get off that boat until she learned she’d have to jump into the sea before she could be winched up into a helicopter. She quickly changed her mind and decided to stay with the boat instead. A navy boat came along and helped them get the rudder lashed enough so that the boat could be towed back to Darwin. Our chap’s sailing season is now over since he’ll have to build his sailing “kitty” again and get the boat fixed.

Left the boat feeling that I had achieved a reasonable day’s work, but concerned about the rudder. It was to plague me throughout the night and drive me out of bed the next morning wondering what I could do with it.

Sun 27/5/01
Catch up with Fred from SV Nanbeth, an old friend and liveaboard yachty at the marina.  Fred is getting on in years but as mentally fit and sprightly as many full time yachties are. Collect the dinghy oars he’d repaired for me, and pay him for a welding job in the aft engine compartment. Fred came over to Lowana IV to have a look at the rudder hinge problem and we have a cuppa while discussing it. While we work out what we can do in the long term to fix the problem, we’re a bit short on ideas in the short term – like today!

005 lowanaLeft: Lowana IV at her berth at Tipperary Marina. Fred standing at the stern.

It suddenly occurs to me that if I put a rubber gasket on the hull top mounting bracket, it might force the stock against the hinge more. Fred suggests that he tap and drill a grease nipple into the bracket so that I can get some grease in there now and again.

The first gasket proves to be too thin and the rudder continues to rattle, although not as bad as before. This is encouraging so a thicker gasket is used – voila the rattle is gone! The rudder is a little stiffer to move but later on after a grease nipple was installed and some grease pumped into the bracket it moves a little better. Am much relieved. Had been worried about going to WA at all. I simply didn’t think I could put up with that pounding rattle all the time – but now we can go.

Delma comes down with some welcome lunch and orange juice. I think it helped me work through until late in the afternoon without feeling I wanted a “nanna nap”.

Next problem – the anodes. Fred agrees there has to be an electrical short. A quick check at the rear of the alternator finds the primary earth wire has broken off at the alternator terminal. Fred gets busy putting a grease nipple into the rudder while I install a new connector onto the wire, and reconnect it to the alternator. Turn the motor on and presto!  Tacho and water temperature gauges are working properly.

Of course it does cross my mind what effect this might have had with the readings taken by the marine consultant?  My confidence in that guy has been taking quite a nose-dive.

Filter 80 litres of diesel into the main fuel tank then start working out where all the bits of paraphernalia will be stowed away. Bulky spare sails, spare timber, bulky engine parts, storm boards, fenders. Pack up the inflatable. Do some vacuuming along the hull interior to ensure the limber holes don’t get blocked.  These are small holes in the steel frame that allow water to pass through into the bilges instead of collecting and causing rust holes in the hull.

By the end of day I’d packed the aft lazarette and the boat is starting to resume some semblance of its normal order.

Mon 28/5/01
Down at the boat again. Fred turns up and puts in a different grease nipple into the rudder system because the other one was too big. Another liveaboard yachty named Don from SV Aspro comes over for a chat. His boat is only a small thing – about 26 ft or so and I understand he’d actually circumnavigated Australia twice in it. This was one bloke I am going to listen to.  He’d been to the Kimberley’s before and as we pore over charts of the region he shows me several good anchorages.

More sorting out on the boat. Remove all the extra paint gear. Lots of other gear still needing to be put into a home somewhere onboard. The pump in the head is still giving trouble and needs a new rubber ‘o’ ring seal. Time to go shopping. Pick up the recut staysail and other parts ordered from the chandler. Install the self-tacking staysail system. Hoist and secure dinghy. Fold up and lash the inflatable to the top of the targa rails. Get the gas bottle exchanged for a full one. Vacuum out the boat again.

Spoke to the marine consultant about the broken earth strap at the alternator. He says he’ll come down in about half an hour and do some more tests.  He doesn’t turn up.

Chap named Dan? from SV Tasha drops by to let me know that he and Marilyn are going to the Kimberley’s tomorrow. We will hopefully just be a day behind them so they should be in radio contact for the run across the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf.  Delma comes down with non-perishable stores. Has to make two separate trips. Topped up the fuel tank and run the motor to get the fridges cooled down.

One more day to get everything ready. Delma still has a lot of other things to finalise, and there are a number of smaller finicky details that I have to attend to as well. The plan is that we’ll board the boat late tomorrow afternoon and leave the marina early evening, motor around to Fannie Bay and anchor up for the night. We will then have an early start for the crossing of the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf on Wednesday morning.

MORE TO FOLLOW

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