Sunday, February 28, 2010


Potentially pretty exciting stuff.

Sometime around 8:30 pm HST, Friday, February 26th  there was a big earthquake in Chile that sent a Tsunami out into the Pacific Ocean. That pretty quickly got the attention of a lot of people in Hawaii. Somewhere around midnight Donna's ex-husband, Bill Austin, called her with the news that the wave was expected around 11:00 am and that people were taking it seriously. He suggested that Donna and Richard take Addiction out into the open ocean a couple miles. A general warning was scheduled by the civil defense people for 7:00 am but a lot of people were getting the word before that. Phone calls from the mainland were common, and I even got an email from Ulli in Germany. What a world we live in, the wonders of the information age! 

Donna  called me around 6:00 am to give me a heads up. I called Ric and he said that he was on his way to the Red Cross Civil Defense headquarters in Diamond Crater. I think that I was still waking up when I realized that I was in my truck and headed for the boat. At the Pali lookout and all along the road near the peak it was already packed with cars even though there was no official warning so far. As the highest point around and with a good view of the windward side I guess it seemed like the logical place to party and wait out the crisis.  Indeed, later in the day, on my way home the area was still packed. By that time people had set up tents and picnic tables, barbecues were going, Frisbees flying and you could hear guitars and music all along the way. I think that if there is a world ending crisis I want to be in Hawaii when it happens.

A little after I arrived at the boat (after leaving the truck on high ground) the sirens went off and even the AM radio station that is on Ch. 160 of my SSB switched over to tsunami coverage. The Makani Kai homeowners association scheduled a meeting for 8:00 am and the general chat on the dock seemed to indicate that people were not going to take it seriously. Since I had my heart set on a day out in the open ocean I figured there wasn't much point in sticking around. So I got Cirrus ready to go and headed out.

One motivation for going out was to put some more hours on the engine. Since we did some major work on the engine a couple weeks ago I wanted to run it as much as possible before putting the engine cover back on just to be sure there aren't any fuel, oil or water leaks. (This was a good thing to do.) The engine got a lot of exercise. There wasn't a breath of wind all day. No, let me take that back. What actually happened was that there was a light breeze that followed me around all day so I wasn't able to generate more than a couple of knots relative wind even by motoring. A couple attempts to shut off the engine and unfurl the jib (The main traveler is being repaired.) met with complete failure.

On my way out the Sampan Channel the tide was pretty low and the sandbar was high and dry. I saw a helicopter land by Kapapa Island just seaward of the sandbar and wondered if  it had something to do with the tsunami warning.  About a quarter mile beyond R2 I went below to get my PFD and tether. When I came back up on deck I was looking right down the blow hole of a whale that was only about 50 ft away. It was off the port quarter and headed NW up the coast, so I must have almost run over it. Actually, with all the breathing plumes and lifted tails there must have been at least two of them maybe more.

That was it for excitement. I went out about seven miles, shut off the engine and just drifted around for a couple hours until it was pretty clear it was going to be safe to head back in. At some point I got a call from Ric telling me that there was a Civil Defense all clear. Apparently there were 3 or 4 little surges that passed by the islands where the water went down a couple feet and then back up, but it was all pretty boring. No stories to tell in the bar later.

Most of the time I was the only boat out there except for a couple fishing boats. Later I saw a couple of small sails. This was in dramatic contrast to the other side of the island where there were a hundreds of boats in the ocean off of Waikiki and the Navy emptied out Pearl Harbor. Someone could have made a mint setting up a cold beer and deli concession. The tsunami was scheduled to arrive just at lunch time.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Really low tide.

Last night Ric and Maria-Lucia talked me into taking Cirrus out for a trial run even though the engine cover is still off and there are some pieces of the main sheet traveler missing. The occasion was an unusually low tide. Almost -1 ft. That's a lot for Hawaii. The normal tidal range here is only a foot or two, and negative tides are fairly rare.

It was still light when we pushed off at about 6:00 pm and the lowest point was not expected until 7:08. I think we dragged a little getting out of the harbor but kept going. For our first adventure I decided to check out the Kaneohe YC channel. So, we lined up on the range and took it straight in until we went hard aground about halfway to the bulkhead. Since we really hit pretty hard and the tide was still going out we put considerable energy into wiggling our way off the sand bar. We also checked the outside channel. It is very narrow but seems to be much deeper.

After that we headed out toward the main bay, with exposed coral reefs everywhere. At this point we decided to put out the jib and shut off the engine since we had about 10-12 knots of reaching wind. As we neared the Sampan Channel there were a lot more exposed reefs and large sandy areas. Finally, a couple miles further west, we turned out of the main channel and headed toward "the sandbar" just as it started to get really dark. The bar itself was spectacular. There were miles of sand and Kapapa Island was high and dry. Finding our way back to the main channel and then heading back to the main part of the bay in the pitch dark was a bit of a challenge. But fun. Not all of the familiar buoys and day markers are lighted. So we all kept a good lookout and compared notes from time to time. "Is that the next red buoy or a car stopping at a stop sign?"

Finally, around 9:00 we found the range for Makani Kai and headed back in to the dock. During the evening the weather had been really mixed with clouds and gusty winds and the threat of sprinkles, but we were lucky and only had a few drops here and there. All in all it was a great evening.

On a practical note, it is interesting how one's night sailing skills atrophy with lack of use. There were a few tense moments, and everyone was giving the navigation their undivided attention. Since learning stuff  (or re-learning) is so much fun, we'll have to go again soon.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

We are good to go!!!!!

It's like I've been holding my breath for a month or so. Finally, at about 12:00, Sunday, February 21st, 2010, Ric and I put the finishing touches on the engine repair work and started her up. What a relief.

The primary task was replacing the gear cover gasket, a big deal. But we took the opportunity to clean the sea water strainer, to replace some of the fuel pump to injector plumbing, service the air cleaner, replace a worn cooling water hose and adjust the belts. Since the injector pump to cylinder pipes had been removed some serious air bleeding was required, but once that was done she started right up. Next we are going to change the oil, do some cosmetic work on the engine housing and replace the wiring harness with a new one that connects everything to the new engine control panel. I hope we can get Cirrus off the dock sometime later this week.

Thursday night saw the first gathering of the Cirrus, PC2010 racing crew. Chris was visiting Oahu with his with his wife and her sister and husband, so they hosted the party at the vacation home they had rented. At the last minute Ulli decided not to fly in from Germany and Marie-Pierre had another commitment, but the rest of us were there.

Some of the items coming up in the "preparation pipeline" are new stickers for the EPIRBs, getting the liferaft and MOM recertified, some new emergency flares and some new fishing lures. We're also going to pull the stove out so we can clean behind it and maybe fix the sticky gimbals so it swings more smoothly. I want to rig the emergency rudder and (while we are at it) probably replace the platform on the back of the boat. It looks like the board back there is starting to rot and the ladder mounts are starting to pull out. Always something.

The ToDo List is now a public Google Doc so you can check in any time you want to see how things are going.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Bill Myers

Retired nuclear scientist living in Hawaii
Owner of Cirrus since 1996
Sixteen Pacific Ocean crossings to date including two Transpacs and 7 PacCup races
Detailed resume at
Email: navigator.bill

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sloooooooooooooooooow Start

I thought I was going to whip the boat into shape during the last couple weeks of January and then race about practicing fancy sailing maneuvers in preparation for the race. Finding a serious leak in one of the engine gaskets slowed things down (It is the "gear cover" on the front of the engine.) and then a bout of stomach flu (That required a 911 call and kept me away from the bowling alleys for a week.) really put the damper on things.

At any rate, I'm back and the pace is starting to pick up. I have decided that I'm in a little over my head with the gasket replacement project, so I'm trying to schedule a visit from a local Yanmar mechanic that I have a lot of respect for. I'm sure he can give me a hand and the two of us ought to be able to fix it in one shot. But he's a busy guy and hard to pin down. I have also purchased a new engine control panel and installed it. Wonder of wonders, it cost less than $1000. By the way, check out the photo of the tachometer just as it was collapsing into a pile of rust. I still have to wire in the new panel, but that's probably only a couple days work. One of the problems is that, even though it's winter, sitting at the dock the boat becomes intolerably hot in the afternoons.

For the last couple days I've been working on hooking up the Pactor III, SSB modem that I loaned to Lindsey last summer for TP2009. Sounds simple enough. Right? As usual the devil is in the details. As is normal for this sort of thing the SSB is mounted up, out of the way in a cramped corner. I had removed the modem without moving anything but it just wasn't going to work in reverse.

So, I started by disassembling the computer printer mounting platform that was in the way of the electrical panel that has to be moved to get at the bracket that holds the SSB. Then one of the mounting knobs was frozen (rusted) and, in spite of my best efforts, I broke it off. When every thing was opened up it was clear that we must have had a drip on the radio at some point that we did not notice. It seems to be OK except for a lot of rust. I cleaned it up and gave it a couple coats of paint with a high zinc content. Now it's all back together and I hooked up the computer yesterday to check out the Sailmail and weather fax programs.

In spite the interference from all of the other boats and a marina that is tucked down in a little gully I was able to swap some emails and even get a (barely recognizable) weather fax from Pt. Reyes. That's good because I wanted Chris to have something to play with when he comes this weekend to visit.

Another recent project was to renew the sound and temperature insulation on the inside of the engine enclosure. The old foam and foil stuff was starting to fall apart from old age and heat and fumes. As usual it turned into a multi day job. To start with the old stuff didn't want to leave. In spite of the fact that it was crumbling the gummy original installation adhesive was still holding on. Getting it off was a long slow process with acetone and a putty knife. Then it turned out that I didn't like the mounting hardware that the new foam came with, so a trip to Hawaii Nut & Bolt was indicated. Finally got it and it looks great. Of course, (and this seems to be a characteristic of many of these little projects) no one will see it.

Ric was checking the propane system and noted that one of the hose fittings had rusted off and that the regulator looks pretty bad. Good that propane is relatively low pressure. We'll probably get a new hose and put something on the regulator to slow down the corrosion. There is an old (kind of ratty) spare unit available if we need it. Ric is also going to see if something can be done about the sticky stove gimbal.