Saturday, December 28, 2013

Fun and some boat projects in paradise

December 29, 2013
Anchorage Position: 08°18.62'N 171°09.18'E
Tabal Island, Aur Atoll, Marshall Islands

We're loving the Republic of Marshall Islands. It's very similar to French Polynesia's' Tuamotu Archipelago, but totally undeveloped aside from Majuro and the missile base on Kwaj. Snorkeling inside the atolls is far better with significantly more species of fish to enjoy and lots of WWII wrecks. Aside from some rain and squalls during the transition from fall to winter, the weather has been spectacular with comfortable temperatures and a steady breeze. In two weeks of sailing we've seen two boats. We're sharing an anchorage with s/v Confederate with Robin and Anna aboard hailing from New Zealand and looking forward to some kiteboarding with them the next few days in the southern end of Aur Atoll. If you wanted you could get lost in the Marshall islands for months and never see another boat.

Yesterday we had a rip of a 29 mile sail from Maloelap to Aur. We covered the 9 miles of open water between the atolls in far less than an hour with a top speed of 13.6 knots in fresh 20-24 knots with a reef in the main. Once inside the lagoon the sailing is bliss x 10 with flat waters, clean air blowing over the reef and boat speeds always in the 9-13 range.

Yesterday we pulled into the Tabal Island anchorage where we found s/v Confederate. We invited them over for dinner and had a great evening until finding their dinghy missing. Robin and Dave made a search, but strong winds in the lagoon would have taken their dinghy away quickly into the night. Sad and frustrating for Robin and Anna, but fortunate that they are close to Majuro where they can replace their dinghy both cost effectively and quickly. The next few days we plan to kite with them, so we can share our dinghy until they head to Majuro.

Daily adventures keep us busy with lots of snorkeling in 85F waters and lots of beach combing looking for Japanese glass floats. I've also been working on some major boat projects including the install of new mast head wind instrument, depth, speed and new displays for the cockpit. A multi day project of pulling wires and configuring the new components to integrate with our Autopilot. Since we have two really nice Simrad AC42 Autopilots and new AP 24 autopilot control heads I was pleased to find matching IS20 wind, depth and speed instruments on sale.

Our quite new wireless Tacktick wind, depth, speed, GPS and NEMA interface were ok, but they didn't play that nice with our Simrad autopilot in 'wind' mode. So, I'll sell the 3 year old Tacktick system on ebay. The new Simrad stuff was a royal pain to wire as pulling wires into our mast is a real B!ch. I was at the top of the mast for nearly 4 hours today!

The other new super cool project is the addition of a Simrad 3G 24nm broadband radar. It's low power consuming so we can run it all the time and the close range target discrimination is far superior to old magnetron technology. The best part is that we can run it on a laptop running OpenCPN, so no expensive $$$$ multifunctional display is required. On LightSpeed we'll have the radar image displayed on a 22" LED monitor at our navigation desk which will make navigating in restricted visibility a lot less stressful. With several thousands of miles of sailing in fog on our schedule for next year this is a major safety item. Unfortunately, the install is a huge project as I need to build a mounting pole as we are moving the radar from the mast to a new pole on the stern that will also house a stern/anchor/boarding light and wifi antenna.

That's it for now.