19 January 2017

Hatch Lens Replacement

Removing the old lenses from the hatches.
After 30 years, it was time to replace the acrylic lenses in Katmai's hatches.  We spent two weeks in January finally completing the project.  The original lenses were crazed and a couple had small cracks.  In 2015, we tried to source new acyclic in Australia but were unable to get 'cast' acrylic as recommended by boat manufacturer. 

Installing the bedding compound
Back in the USA, Beneteau recommended we contact Tony at SelectPlastics.com who specializes in repairing and replacing marine hatch and porthole lenses.  Tony provided a lot of advice and supplied cut  ChemCast GP Cast Acrylic in slightly oversized blanks of the various sizes and thicknesses we needed.  He shipped them to us in Seattle before our departure and we carried them, well packed/padded, as checked luggage when we flew to Perth late last year.  Yes, it was a bit awkward travelling with about 75 lbs of acrylic lenses in two rather large boxes, but it was worth it!  (and the airlines were fantastic by the way with these oversized 'bags'!)

New lenses in the deck top hatches
We removed the old lenses and used them as templates to shape the new ones.  Fortunately, woodworking tools can be used to shape cast acrylic and on Tony's advice we used new plastic drill bits and new router bits.  We also greatly appreciate the advice and help we got from Tracey at Perth Wood School! We are very fortunate to have the Perth Wood School as a resource for various woodworking projects when we are in Perth.  It is a fantastic facility, with wonderful people and really nicely arranged workshop/tools. 

Meanwhile the big job of preparing the hatch hardware to receive new lenses commenced.  The hatches were cleaned, serviced and all the old silicone removed in preparation of bedding the new lenses.  We used the recommendations from Tony again, and bedded the main deck hatch new lenses with Sika 295UV and applied the manufacturer recommended primers etc.  For the small side portlights we installed the new lenses using Dow 795, the same product that is used to attach windows into skyscrapers,  that should be good enough for us!

It was a big project that took 14 very long days, but we are really happy with the results.

And now, it is back to sailing with the arrival of our nephew and his friend! 

06 January 2017

Bunbury to Fremantle

At Anchor in Bunbury

Enjoying the evening at the
Koombana Bay Sailing Club with fellow sailors from FSC
The anchorage in Koombama Bay, Bunbury is rather large by Australia west coast standards.  Reportedly the name means 'Bay of Spouting Whales' in the local Aboriginal language.  While we did not see any whales, there were a large number or playful porpoise that swam to the bow of Katmai and greeted us as we arrived at the entrance to the bay.  We stayed for two nights, and were fortunate to share the company of several boats from the Fremantle Sailing Club and the hospitality of the Koombana Bay Sailing Club. 

I tried my hand at fishing and crabbing from the boat.  The local crabs are called Blue Swimmers, and I finally did catch one, but (of course) it was undersized, so went back to the sea.  A few small herrings, and one large ray that fortunately got away were all the fish that I caught.  Par for my course with fishing! 

We departed before 5 am on Wednesday, January 4th bound for the north end of Garden Island where we planned to anchor for the night.  One of the FSC boats, Divided Sky, left with us so it was great to sail in company of another boat.  Winds were mostly light southeasterly to southwesterly and we did a bit of sailing and motoring to make the 75 miles by late afternoon. 

Garden Island from the cockpit on Katmai
It did feel good to stop for the evening at the northern end of Garden Island.  Garden Island is only about 7 miles from our home harbor at Fremantle, and is a lovely place.  The area has a long history and was one of the first places Europeans settled, until a harbor was established in Perth/Fremantle.  Later during the mid 1900's it was marketed as a vacation
A nice view of Divided Sky as she passed us at Garden Island

Small holiday homes were removed when the Australian Navy took control of the island in 1978.  The southern end of the island is now the base of operations for submarines.  The environment of the island probably has benefited from this, as it has not been developed and still contains many unique species of plants and animals, including the Tammar Wallaby.  The Tammar is a small kangaroo like animal, the size of a rabbit.   There are also walking trails with nice views from the north end of the island.

Enjoying the short sail between
Garden Island and Rockingham

The next day we accompanied Divided Sky south to Rockingham, a place we had never been before.   The trip was very nice morning sail past moored grain cargo ships to the resort area of Rockingham were we picked up a 'courtesy mooring' placed by the Australian Department of Transporation.  The wind was expected to pick up for the evening with the passing of a weather system, so it was great to be in such a large sheltered bay. 

Rockingham has a amazingly lovely  broad sand beach, lots of beach side cafe's and holiday homes.  It hardly feels like Perth is only 14 miles to the north.  Tomorrow, we'll head back to the harbor for a few weeks.
Update, Saturday 7 January: After an crack of dawn sail to Fremantle, we are back in the harbor! As Australian friends would say, we were up before the swallow's.  We'll be here in Fremantle for a couple weeks until our nephew and his GF arrive later in January...then more sailing adventures.

Jetty at Rockingham is a popular place to fish and swim

Our Dinghy on shore and Katmai in the very far distance. 
What a fantastic beach in Rockingham!

A good reminder that pedestrians
do not have any special right of way in Australia. 
At least the rules are very clear!

03 January 2017

Type of Sailing We All Dream About

Early Morning Light
Sailing at last -  Fremantle to Bunbury! 
We departed the Fremantle Sailing Club (FSC) harbor before dawn on New Year’s day for the 35 mile sail south to Mandurah.  We departed at 5 am to catch the morning easterly winds.  The east wind was predicted to shift to the south at noon, and it did.  It was just a fantastic, ideal day of sailing and we arrived Mandurah midday.  By evening several other FSC boats joined us in the anchorage. We were part of the group heading south during the holiday season. 

With several mornings of lovely easterly winds forecast, it was an excellent time to go south.  The predominate summer wind pattern here is easterly winds in the morning, and southerly ‘sea breeze’ winds in the afternoon and evenings.  The southerlies can be quite strong, more of a gale than a breeze at times.  Regardless of strength, wind from the south makes it difficult to sail south, and certainly uncomfortable as the seas tend to be rather lumpy along the coast when the south wind blows!

Cockburn sound is the body of water just outside of the harbor, and it is quite shallow, so Katmai must use the channel that is dredged for cargo ships for at least part of the way.  You can see our zigzag in the first part of the trip as we sail out of the harbor.  Once we rounded the north end of Garden Island, it was a lovely beam reach between the two reef complexes until it was time to make the turn in to Mandurah and anchor off of Robert Point.  It is fantastic to sail as the sunrises; it is so peaceful.
FSC sailboats at anchor with us off Mandurah for the evening of 1 January 2017

Sunset at Robert Point, Mandurah. 

People fishing on the spit at Robert Point, Mandurah

Enjoying the evening in the cockpit

That evening at anchor was just fantastic with a light breeze to cool us off from the days' heat, and a nice sunset with fishers and walkers silhouetted on the beach.
Mandurah to Bunbury
Koniara left with us just before sunrise.
Here her sails glow in the pre-dawn
light of 2 Jan 2017
The next morning, January 2nd, we again departed before sunrise, about 4:30 am with several other FSC boats.  It was a magical ride down the coast on easterly winds that ranged from 10-25 knots.  We were inside of the main reef complex called the ‘Boulevards’. 
We did however keep out eye on the depth sounder at all times as we had about 20 feet under the keel the whole way.  It was once of the nicest sails we ever had, with perfect weather, incredible scenery of the sand dunes along the coast, porpoise, flat seas and turquoise blue water, friends sailing along in their boats and lovely warm light.
We arrived in Bunbury about 1 pm.  It was a lovely 50 mile sail.  There were already several FSC boats here, including ‘Divided Sky and ‘John Barley Corn’.  

We passed by 50 miles of amazing
 coastal sand dunes on the way to Bunbury
By evening, Miss Saigon, Koniara, Pegasus II, Eucalypt and Celeste were all anchored and we did what cruising sailors all over the world do….we took our tender inflatables to shore and shared a few drinks and appetizers and enjoyed the lovely company of friends both old and new.
We plan on staying here for two nights and then returning to Fremantle on Wednesday.  It will give some time to fish and crab and perhaps take a swim!