Saturday, 6 June 2015

Countdown to Fremantle Departure

Hi everyone,
We are now on the countdown to our departure from Fremantle.  We moved aboard in January with a view towards departing in May or June.   Our aim for this year is "Cape Town for Christmas".  We plan to sail coastwise north to Carnarvon and then to Cocos-Keeling, Rodrigues, Mauritius and Reunion on our way towards South Africa.

Towards South Africa (route in yellow)
We hope to keep in touch (via email if not HF) with British yacht Vulcan Spirit and US yacht Apogee.  Both are here at Fremantle Sailing Club and tt has been great to meet such kindred spirits before even leaving home.  From Cocos-Keeling we expect meet other yachts which have come from Darwin or SE Asia.

The last few months have been very busy preparing the boat for ocean crossing.  The boat is certainly up to the task, having transited the North Pacific three times, the South Pacific once and the South Atlantic once with previous owners.  Her 2013 refit did all the structural work to ensure she's still up to the task.  Over the last year our work initially focussed on equipment...

  • New dinghy
  • Serviced outboard motor
  • New yankee headsail
  • New mainsail with deep reefs
  • Built new fridge
  • New s/s tiller
  • Liferaft serviced
  • Rig inspection by International SailForce
  • Replaced manual bilge pump hoses and checked the pumps
  • New Iridium Go! satellite communication device
  • Reconfigured HF/SSB for WinMor email and DSC routine calling
  • New DSC-capable handheld VHF (Icom IC-M73)
  • New AIS/DSC Man Overboard beacon (OceanSignal RescueMe MOB1)
  • New GPS-enabled EPIRB
  • New automatic danbuoy
  • New lifejacket
  • New WiFi range extender (Mickotik Groove)

More recently our attention moved on to final inspections and servicing...
  • General spares (from cabin fans to hoses to electrical cables/components to pump service kits)
  • Engine spares (oil, coolant, ATF, oil filters, fuel filters, V-belts, impellers etc)
  • Serviced furlers and fitted new furling lines
  • Assembled emergency flooding kit (wandering electric pump, plugs, leak sealing goo etc)
  • Serviced the Aires vane gear
  • Tested all EPIRBs, PLBs and AIS MOB beacon
  • Testing of DSC routine calling and optimisation of configuration
  • Engine inspection, service and fitting of temperature gauge sensor
  • Reeving spare halyards and final rig check
  • Fitting of s/s plate to protect mast from inner forestay pin
  • Modifications to the boom bag to accommodate the new mainsail
  • New liferaft cover incorporating webbing securing straps
  • Preparing a 100 litre water bladder for use as an on-deck water store
  • Inspected and cleaned the bilges
  • Tested the main charger (hadn't been used since we installed the new solar panels!)
And in the last few weeks we've been busy with final activities...

  • Provisioning
    • Food for 10 weeks
    • Propane gas (2x 9kg) to last to South Africa (at least)
    • Filled fuel tanks (130 litres plus another 100 in jerry cans)
    • Four SodaStream gas cylinders to last to Mauritius (we hope)
    • Garmin Bluechart G2 charts for our chartplotters
    • Navionics charts for iNavX on iPad
    • GoogleEarth imagery of Indian Ocean islands and southern Africa
    • Topped up electrical and mechanical spares
    • Topped up cleaning, lubrication, adhesive, sealant and sanding stores
    • Music, podcasts, ebooks and TV/movies to last a lifetime
  • Stowing
    • Several complete reorganisations, including culling long-term unused items
    • Several stowage optimisation cycles
    • Purchased additional USB disk to hold all the multi-media "supplies"

Last week we said to several friends that we are so well prepared something is bound to break.  That was a cunning plan which prompted a sea-cock to start leaking.  To be honest we had suspected it was doing so since our the head toilet bowl started filling slowly despite its inlet and outlet sea-cocks being closed.

We removed the hose from the outlet sea-cock and it was indeed leaking while closed.  For a while we considered replacing it in the water but ultimately decided to haul out.  That allowed us to clean the hull and inspect the appendages and stern gear.

In the Slings
Zen Again was hauled on on Wednesday afternoon, just as a squall came through to make it an exciting but ultimately uneventful episode.  She hung in the slings overnight and while we re-keyed the Coppercoat antifoul we had Prestige Marine replace both head sea-cocks.  Prestige did a nice job and we got our jobs done too.  The boat was relaunched the following morning, making the overall exercise quite cheap.

Zen Again is now ready to depart.  All we're waiting for now is a weather window to get us to either Geraldton or Shark Bay.  Our ensign is flying, our OCC and FSC burgees are hoisted and the Blue Peter is at the ready!


  1. No boat could be better prepared! We look forward to following your voyage, fair winds!

  2. Thanks Anne. Hope you're enjoying SA. We're looking forward to ZA!

  3. We wish both of you an exciting adventure - the right type of excitement that is. -
    you are well prepared and well thought through - as always the rest is up to the lap of the gods. A dollar coin under the mast step never hurts.
    It will be interesting to see how your electronics package goes - that is very much a moving feast - and I admire your willingness to stay on top of it.
    dont forget - impressive

    1. Thanks for your comment Ian. All the best to you too!