13000 mile check up

[] [] [] With 13,000 miles, the largest ocean in the world, ten countries and eighteen months behind me, it is time to do a thorough maintenance and inspection of Furthur. I am at Empire Marina in Bobbin Head, Australia very close to Sydney. This is the boating center for this area and home to many good suppliers and technicians. Australia is the last place I will have such a complete supply of knowledgeable support and I need to kill some time as cyclone season ends so I am going over the boat bow to stern.

Selene Seattle, Selene Yacht Service and Jet Tern Marine have been great help in arranging all the shipping and parts. We are working on a program to be able to assist all international Selene cruisers in distant lands. This support makes world traveling much less stressful and will be available to any Selene owner who sets forth across the oceans.

The list of things broken or not functioning is relatively small; the stern thruster rely died in Tahiti and I have not missed it much but will replace. The autopilot pump suffered corrosion due to a leaky lazerette hatch, it has been replaced and so will the spare pump. The air conditioning water pump failed months ago and again not missed but being replaced. The voltage regulator on the second alternator failed, producing an over charge. There was a small leak in the exhaust hose coupling now repaired. All of the above is under repair, waiting for parts or repaired.

I have done the mechanical maintenance, oil changes and such and none are non current now. The good folks at Cummins are sending a technician to do a thorough diagnostic inspection of the QSL engine. The engine has performed flawlessly and I want to keep it that way. A computer can see things I cannot. Also Wesmar is sending technicians to inspect the stabilizers and APU get home system, again not problems so far but let’s keep it that way.

I am now knee deep in cosmetic maintenance. The Awlgrip blue hull has held up better than I anticipated in the tropics. Dark hulls are not the recommended way to go and I was worried. I have kept up on the waxing with the prescribed Awlgrip product and this will be done again here. There are some persistent salt stains that will have to be rubbed out. The superstructure gel coat has also done better than I anticipated but again I have kept up on the waxing. It is time for both to have a good professional application.

As in so many other instances, the price for these things varies wildly. I got the boat waxed, stainless done, and three coats of varnish in Mexico for about one thousand dollars—almost worth the trip back. In Fiji I was offered the wax job for twelve hundred dollars, but it was too soon. Here is the land of high wages, taxes and a poor exchange rate, it will be over two thousand dollars. I am sure I could get it done cheaper in SE Asia somewhere but do not have enough knowledge and I want to leave here in tip top shape. I see too many cruising boats fall behind on cosmetic maintenance and do not want to fall into that trap. I just completed four coats of varnish on the bright work again something I have kept up on.

I did a haul out and zinc in Fiji so the bottom is in good shape, as we start diving again the bottom cleaning will commence. For now I am in brackish water so the gunk will die when I go to sea.

Parts here are the same deal. The voltage regulator here was $750, twice what it is in Seattle. The same goes for any other part. You can have parts shipped here tax free if the package is under $1000. If over that amount you pay the ten percent GST. Shipping is expensive especially if you get in a hurry. So plan you purchases wisely and package them together in bundles worth less than a grand and you will save a bundle. Of course the best plan is to have your friends act as pack mules, each crew who flies to where ever I am picks up “a few things” well maybe more than a few. They arrive with lugging a huge duffle bag of stuff.

I will also service all the small engines on the boat; outboard motors and the dive compressor. These things are incredibly important and their maintenance can get behind if not careful.

My washer/dryer, after 6 years of livaboard service has quit. I think it is simply the belt but I know washers (I owned two Laundromats) and six years of this environment is all one can expect. The hassle of getting it out and back in has inspired me to replace the unit.

I am again doing a place by place inspection of all hose fitting, electrical connections and other small hidden items that can cause real pain when the fail.

I am also taking this opportunity to resupply for the next leg. Bellingham Chart Printers has sent me the paper charts, cruising books and courtesy flags for the next year and I will update the Nobeltec system too.

Our anticipated departure from Sydney is March 1. When I leave here Furthur will be standing tall and ready for the next great adventure.