Sunday, August 17, 2014

Neiafu: a bargain

        The missionaries were very successful here as in Samoa.
        Today is Sunday and I had arranged a Skype call to Carol at 11 a.m. my time/5 p.m. Saturday hers.  Until I rowed ashore, I did not realize that The Aquarium Cafe doesn’t open until late afternoon on Sundays; and as I walked the quarter mile to ‘downtown Neiafu’, shown above on a busy Saturday, everything was closed and nothing was stirring except an old sailor, until with relief I saw The Tropicana’s open doorway.
        The Skype call worked, and the scrambled eggs, toast and coffee were good.

        Some readers have expressed surprise that I’ve had trouble with GANNET’s limited electronics, while others have expressed surprise that the tiller pilots lasted as long as they did.
        That the first tiller pilot steered for 4,000 miles gave me a perhaps false optimism.  I did buy a waterproof bag that I thought I could use as a cover, but it was too big.  I will try to have a cover made in New Zealand, and I will tape a piece of trash bag to the the tiller pilot arm and body leaving enough to enable movement; but there are clearly conditions in which an above deck pilot can’t survive long on GANNET.  I’m going to have to go earlier to tying down the tiller or get serious about sheet to tiller self-steering.  Or steer myself.  Or heave to and wait for the wind to change.
        Another concern is the Aurinco solar panels.  Some of you have bought them based on my experience.  However, one of six has failed and another seems likely to, which would be an unsatisfactory failure rate of 33.3%.  
        The problem is ingress of water into the panels at the point the two small wires transmitting created electricity exit them.  These are factory sealed; but obviously not well enough.  
        This is a problem common to solar panels.  I’ve had other brands on other boats fail because of water getting into the exit junction boxes.
        The Aurinco panels are guaranteed for ten years on a pro-rated basis after the first two years.  They will be inconvenient to ship back; but I expect I will do so.
        I would buy Aurinco panels again for their low profile and ability to follow a slight curve in deck installation.  But I would put extra sealant around the wires.
        My slight problem with the Yellowbrick in no way diminishes my considering them an excellent product with excellent support.  They probably were never intended to be used outside on a submarine.  
        The Blue Sky Solar Boost 2000e is functioning properly.  Not having a back-up was a mistake I will rectify when I can.
        Whatever was causing the Windex to stick was shaken away on the passage from Apia and it is now telling me the truth again.
        Illinois boat registrations are good for three years.  GANNET’s was renewed this year.  I put the 2017 stickers over the old 2014 ones before I left San Diego in May.  A few days ago I noticed that the new stickers have been washed from both sides of the bow.  Looking back at past photos, I see that the port side sticker disappeared between San Diego and Hilo.  I don’t know where the starboard one was lost.  
        Somehow I don’t expect this to be a problem outside the U.S.  Or for that matter Illinois.


       A 199’/60.65 meter Feadship is anchored at the south end of the harbor.  I’m told that she is for sale for $30,000,000; the helicopter is $8,000,000 more.


        I expect to be away at anchor for the next few days.
        For those interested I’ll send manual positions from Yellowbrick.
        The tracking page is here.