X-Ray Vision

This post is a bit out of order. Pretend we are back in the yard briefly. Then we’ll get back to the water and more.

I looked at my yard bills and decided I’d beaten my deductible to a pulp. It was time to call on Novamar my insurance provider to cover some of the repairs as much of the work here was necessitated by the grounding in Fiji 5 months ago. This was a new experience for me in boat world.

Novamar’s adjuster Scott Labadie seemed to grasp quite quickly what was up. This was not his first grounding case. He referred me to Captain Kristoffer Diel, a marine surveyor in New Orleans. Well sort of from New Orleans. Turns out he spends a good deal of the year bouncing around the globe doing inspection work like this. Kris and I get on the phone and he tells me that he is “not going to be sanguine about the finished repairs” unless he gets his hands on Spill The Wine for his own inspection. Short of that he tells me to organize an infra-red scan of the hull structure. Sure! I know all about that!!

I ask around the yard and called a local boat surveyor. This technology must be a new application in the marine industry. At least this yard was not familiar with it. They all thought this guy was from the moon and had never heard of anyone doing this to assess a hull for damage. So I asked The Google. There is a company in Auckland (3.5 hrs drive) that has this technology. and they have done some marine work. A few days later they are on site at 7:30am.


They have a monster propane burner that they use to warm up the hull. They film in IR as it cools down. Differential rates of cooling tell tales. Hull thicker (near beams it will be) or thinner or delaminated….. ew!


Here you are looking at the IR guy with a ball cap on (face is white) and he is holding a maybe 12″ diameter hose blowing the hot air from the propane burner up at the hull to heat it up. The red spot top center is the front of the keel. I think…

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The right image is the IR image. Lighter is warmer, darker is cooler. The left image is for reference so you know what you are looking at. You can see that the technician has highlighted a few odd results but they are not conclusive. He explained to me that delamination really screams at you with this technique.

Anyway the report comes back as…. might be ok. But further investigation required. Captain Kris makes plans to come to NZ. He is currently in Cartegenia Columbia on a similar project. So I have a few days to Chill. In my own odd way.


This is a winch. Its a handy thing when it comes time to tightening up a line with some serious tension. A lot to it on the inside. You put a handle on it and crank one way with whatever horsepower you’ve got and you can tighten up a line pretty quick. Reverse rotation with that crank and you will tighten up more slowly but with a lot of leverage. And thus control your sails that may well be under a great deal of tension. I have 4 winches. Nancy and I already too care of two of them, already done. And I’m going to tear apart the next two. Notice the roof behind the winch. Yes I really am still up in the air in the dang boat yard. I have really enjoyed working with the people here, but Spill the Wine needs her some Salt Water! Soon I suppose, but first…



So now we are looking at a couple racks of roller bearing racks that need to be cleaned in solvent and regreased. That how it starts.


And that is what she looks like with bearings removed. The Big Green Egg watches closely… But what is that wrench up to??


Oh yeah. This thing comes off too. And there’s more bearings and gears.


Here is the center axle. Do you have any idea how hard it is to clean and grease one of these things and take photos along the way without greasing your phone? If you live right you’ll never need to know.


More stuff is probably going on under the gears in the base.


Yeah there’s greasy bits. Assembly and disassembly take about 30 minutes. The parts cleaning and re greasing…. a couple hours. Probably would have gone faster if I’d skipped the photos.


Here is the lot of the parts. Clean and ready to get together again.


Clean parts are more fun to work with for sure. Can you spot the dental pick? My dad mailed me about 20 of those things about 15 years ago. And damn it those things are handy more often than I had ever imagined. Even the little wooden toothpick is handy sometimes.


The keel got removed after the bottom paint went on. Kinda backwards but sometimes that’s how it goes. So I come along and touch up a few spots that got ding’d on project Keel Removal. And I noticed that the paint is not quite the same color. To I tagged my keel. Can you see the primitive image I made? Next time I need to get Nancy involved and give her a proper contrasting color. She has abilities in this realm that I do not.



A couple other boat yard images. The rainbow speaks for itself. The boat photo above that is probably a work in progress but I think it needs to be clear coated at is. Industrial Art indeed!


Captain Kris gets to New Zealand and I pick him up at the airport. I know his eyes are closed in the photo. And I know that Roddy’s were too in a previous post. Not sure what this means. If I find the hidden message I’ll post it here. I invite Kris to spend his NZ time on board STW and he likes the idea. Boats are boats and hotels are hotels. We all have our preference.

For the next few days he goes over the boat with a fine toothed comb. I always learn quite a bit during a survey. And this survey more than most. Very experienced and informative cat. Good news is the keel repairs pass. Which means STW can go back into the sea. There is no bad news. Kris’s tour of the STW reveals a number of things that could be organized more functionally in general. Nothing like the voice of experience far greater than mine.


One suggestion was that I should have a fair chunk of a sail I can use to bandage a hole in the hull should I ever have that sort of issue. If you ever hit an underwater obstruction above the keel you can sling a hunk of sail over the hole and slow the water ingress way down. On a not so bad day your bilge pump might be able to keep up. And there was our neighbor whacking up an old sail! Perfect opportunity. Bandage acquired. Steve and Julie were awesome neighbors. Only sorry we were both in the yard long enough to meet the neighbors.

And it was a blast spending a few days with Capt. Kris. Thanks for coming aboard and yer invited back mate!

And Spill The Wine Returns to the sea.


We were in Mexico when I told Chris I had to go back to Washington.

Some of you know my mother. She is pretty amazing, especially at 92. She has lived alone for 19 years, since my dad died. She takes care of her house, drives, cooks, shops, gardens, and has a vodka & tonic every evening before dinner. She walks erect without a cane and with no osteoporosis, hasn’t turned all grey yet, and has no major health issues. But she had a bad fall, and I needed to come help her while she healed.

Despite her obvious independence, she needs to move. She has no community and is dependent on my sister & I for her needs. Since I am on the other side of the world, and Linda wants to retire and spend her time with kids & grandkids, I made it my goal to convince her this would be for the best.

Amazingly, she surprised all of us by finding a senior community near my niece and her family in Portland that she says feels “home-y”, and we put her on a waiting list. Although she is a bit overwhelmed, we have assured her we will help her through the process of going through her 4-bedroom house to manage her stuff.

I will return to help facilitate when I am needed. For now, I’ll be heading back to Chris in New Zealand, where he has planned a couple of weeks of fun for the two of us. I’m more than ready to be there!

That’s enough work on the boat already

So it was time to go sailing.  I had made the acquaintance of Todd who works in the yard and did a good bit of STW’s repairs.  He introduced me to Connie and Caleb.  They had very little exposure to sailing.  And they wanted to learn more.

Connie had a free weekend but not much experience.  I told her to watch an introduction to sailing video shot and produced by my friend Huub.  Here it is.  Suggest you watch. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lo2PtgqI8Sc

Here is where it gets fun.  Connie did her homework.  We headed out sailing and from time to time she would say things like… “According to the video we should be doing xyz now”.  It was quite amusing to have Huub’s voice, once removed, back on the boat.

Our first outing was to be a weekend trip up the coast to Whangaroa.

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You can see it has a really small entrance and then opens up quite a bit.  Makes for awesome protection in dodgy weather.  And is just a beautiful place on a nice day.  So off we go and did I mention that this was an actual sailboat race?  It was.  And Connie had never been on a sailboat before.  I was not too worried about that because the forecast was for very little wind.  Everyone was afraid the event would amount to motoring to Whangraroa harbor to the point that some boats declined to go due to lack of wind.

Well actually there was plenty.  We sailed almost all of the 30 miles to Whangaroa.  We motored for 20 minutes to escape the Bay of Islands.  This was allowed by the race rules.IMG_20180324_160047502.jpg

As we head for the entrance our beautiful day is changing.  Rain is moving in.  On arrival we rafted up in a dead calm cove with some of the other participants.  And enjoyed a shower together (rain).  But we had enough shelter and the rain around here is usually brief.  And it was time, and the rafted sailors did dine.

The next morning after breakfast the raft came to an end.  It was Sunday and most of the participants had work the next day.  So off they went.  Connie and I still had food so we stayed anchored and went for a hike.  IMG_20180325_165413570_HDR.jpg

That looks doable.  Lets climb it.  I mean look at it.  There is all that wide open green grass to hike on, not so much bushwhacking.  The best laid plans brothers and sisters!IMG_20180325_104619666_HDR.jpg

The easy grass we had to hike on had about 18 inches of spring to it.  Kinda like walking in 2 ft deep snow.  Interesting and I hope you are not in a hurry.  IMG_20180325_112323108_BURST000_COVER_TOP.jpg

Water was a cool shade of turquoise in the bay.  IMG_20180325_113556350_HDR.jpg I’ll call this big nose rock.  Because.  It looks to have a nose on the right exposure eh?  And it looks easy to climb too.  Well maybe not as easy as what we just did.  Which kicked our butts.  Think we’ll pass.  IMG_20180325_115415454.jpg

Time to find our way back to the dingy and return to STW.  This has been hungry work.IMG_20180325_121732826_HDR.jpg

Connie thinks we should be collecting oysters.  There appear to be a few in the neighborhood!  I did a quick google search on how to schuck.  I always forget.IMG_20180325_175149662_HDR.jpgAnd I forgot to get a photo before we started munching down on the oysters in question.  But they were tasty.  And fresh.

Successful shakedown for a boat fresh out of the yard, and successful first sailing trip for Connie.  She learns fast and will go far.  Like maybe to Mangonui next weekend.  I told her to see if he boyfriend Caleb could join us.  And he could.

Connie and Caleb showed up with mucho groceries and we headed for Doubtless Bay.Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 10.25.52 PM

If you look close you’ll see a small notch in the peninsula on the right side of the chart.Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 10.27.08 PM

Takerua Bay.  That is where we were headed.  We spent the first night in the Cavalli islands.  Lamb burgers were the special of the day.  Not a lot of protection but the wind was mild.  The next day it got better and we sailed off further north.  Arrived Takerua bay in time for a swim and a nap.  Then Caleb our on board marine biologist, went snorkeling for Lobster.  With some success.  Short hike on shore was fun too.IMG_20180402_150720683_HDR.jpgSpill The Wine Abides.IMG_20180402_151131795_HDR.jpgAnd so does the Shadow with his traditional pampas grass stalk.

How to prepare the Lobster?  Caleb and Connie suggested a beach boil.  And off we went.  On the beach there was enough stuff to sit on, that is always a challenge in the wild.  But nothing like a table.  Caleb pulls one out of his hat!

Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 8.48.30 PMThen we rounded up firewood and started heating the hot tub for the main course.IMG_20180402_173023140.jpgPlease be patient.  We’ll be with you as soon as the water is ready…   So dinner on the beach was successful.  Except the sun did not set on the water like we’d planned.  Sigh.IMG_20180401_181234761_HDR.jpgSunset from the previous day will have to do.

Anyway we enjoyed dinner and the beach.  I brought my guitar ashore.  On the way back to the boat the surf was up slightly.  Enough that the dinghy took a wave over the bow.  Good day to have your guitar in a water proof case.  I made one the previous summer for a hiking trip.  The key here is not only did I have it, I used it.  I’m a slow learner but given enough time I get by.IMG_20180403_180413347_HDR.jpgI was hunting for something in the boat and I came across this sticker.  Some of you might remember the Flaming Mo episode from the Simpsons.  1991.  I asked Caleb if he knew what the sticker was.  He did!  Bugger was 12 and living in NZ when that first aired.  Talk about cultural penetration!  Or pollution.  Depends on how much you do or don’t like the Simpsons.

Trip back included another night at Whangeroa harbor.  Connie and Caleb took the dingy for a spin.  I had some boat work to get after.  One of my favorite things after all!  🙂IMG_20180328_182013123.jpgAnd it was a good night to roast a chicken.  And feed the bones to the crabs!  Sometimes the crabs feed you.  Sometimes you feed the crabs!IMG_20180326_082841762.jpgThis was breakfast.  Fog did not last too long and we made it back to Opua in time for dinner.  Great to have Connie and Caleb join Spill The Wine.  It was fun to watch them get into the rhythm of the boat.  On the last day I did not have to tell them what to do anymore.  Things just started to happen.  They get invited back.  Or rather they would if I could get ahead of all the boat hoohaa I have to get done before STW heads back to Fiji!  Stay tuned.