Friday, October 23, 2015

Opua: littoral and pelagic; wrong Charles; sailboats?; top down; push-ups

        A few evenings ago I enjoyed GANNET’s newly vast deck, listening to music, sipping wine and watching two gannets hunt overhead.  During the hour I was on deck I saw them dive only twice and both of those were just off the fuel dock inside the marina breakwater.  Although it is a useful social construct, hard work doesn’t always pay off as gannets, millions of farmers, fishermen and poets—though I doubt there have been a million poets—know.
        From the lack of dives, I conclude that there aren’t many fish off Opua any longer, which would also explain the absence of the hundreds of terns and sea gulls who used to be my near and noisy neighbors.
        I expect the gannets flew home hungry.  They have not been back since.
        Gannets are birds of the littoral.  GANNET is pelagic, which also is the name Brian Boschma, who has provided me with his mostly below deck tiller pilot, has aptly named his company.
        Several readers have asked me about his tiller pilot.  You see the above deck component in the photo above.  It is satisfyingly heavy in the hand and appears to be built like the proverbial tank.  On a boat as wet as GANNET, it needs to be.
        There are two other components to the system, three if you count the tiny remote.
       In the upper right hand corner of this photo is the controller.   

        And here tucked on a partial bulkhead beneath the cockpit is the motor drive.
  Both of these units are sealed.  The controller could be mounted on deck.  I chose not to.  It will get wet enough where it is.
        You will also note in that photo the new location of the YellowBrick, which also is waterproof, but not quite enough to survive life on GANNET’s stern pulpit.
        Brian knows Moore 24s and sent me the system with wiring in place.  Installation was simple:  mount the below deck units, connect one pair of wires to the deck socket and another pair to the ship’s electrical system, if ‘system’ isn’t too grand a word for GANNET.
The remote is simple, but for me essential.  Pressing A and B together engages or disengages the tiller pilot.  Pressing A or B changes course 2º port or starboard.  Pressing and holding A or B for more than 3 seconds tacks the boat 100º.
        I am not aware of any function for C and D.  I’ve emailed Brian and will amend this when I hear back.
        All self-steering systems are affected by changes in wind strength as well as direction.  Here in the confined part of the bay those changes are so frequent that I usually have to hand steer.  I have used Brian’s tiller pilot successfully out in more open water.  It does what it is supposed to do and keeps GANNET on course.   
        The real test will be next year when GANNET and tiller pilot go pelagic.
        Here is a link to the Pelagic Autopilot site.
        Tim, the violin playing marathoner, recently finished reading DEAD WAKE, Eric Larsen’s book about the sinking of the LUSITANIA, and  suggested I listen to a composition Charles Ives wrote in part inspired by that war time disaster.  
        I paused momentarily after typing ‘Charles’ into the search field and Google immediately suggested ‘Manson.’


        A predicted front is moving through with steady rain for the past few hours and some wind.
        I don’t need to go ashore and have only stuck my head out a couple of times.  I haven’t seen any boats at the ‘Q’ dock today, but there have been several most days this week.  Of these, the first stop that many make as soon as they clear Customs is the fuel dock.  These are sailboats.  Well, they are sailboats in that they have masts.


        I think I’ve bought a top down furler.  I asked the woman in the rigger’s office to place the order.  I assume she did.  I’ll know for certain Monday
        I have been considering top down furlers for a while and more seriously since finding that with its lower clew the new G1 does not furl as well as did my old asymmetrical.  My only objection has been the price.  Even the smallest Gannet size units cost $1800.
Colligo reprints a PRACTICAL SAILOR review of top down furlers which mentions them as the ‘budget choice.’  
        The units in that review are bigger than GANNET needs.  I asked for a quote from Colligo for their smallest model.  The complete system comes to $1,827.51 U.S., not including shipping.  Some ‘budget choice’. For that amount I’d rather have ProFurl.
        Over the four decades I’ve sailed in and out of New Zealand, I have learned that many things, including boat equipment, is more expensive here than in the U.S., but during this visit I have found on three occasions that is not presently true.  I’m not sure why, though it may have to do with recent fluctuations in exchange rates.
        In any event I telephoned the NZ ProFurl distributor and found to my surprise and pleasure that the ProFurl Spinex 0.9 costs less than $1300 U.S.  
        Even though they don’t have that model in stock and it won’t arrive until after I fly to the U.S., I placed the order to lock in the price.  The rigger will store it for me until I return. 

        An email yesterday brought a smile to GANNET’s Great Cabin.

        Was traveling with my girlfriend for the first time, and she got to observe some of my strange habits. One of which was my morning pushups. She asked what exactly I was doing to which I replied "Webb Chiles' age in pushups" which just confused her more. You see I'm only 31 so I must do more than my own age in repetitions, so I do yours.

        In a few more weeks Tom and I are going to do one more.  Just think what great shape we will be in when I turn 100.