As we are now into our final week of preparation our lists are beginning to get shorter. Of course, we have lists of lists and even as they get shorter new tasks are added. That said, we are getting close. We have had our rig inspected by a rigger and our engines serviced. We have our paper charts and electronic charts. We have loaded electronic charts on two computers and have backed up our hard drives. We have gotten our entry visas/permits for French Polynesia and have changed our navigation coverage with our insurance company. We have reviewed the weather fax information we will be able to receive while underway and have even given our blog a facelift which now includes the ability to track our progress – provided all our communication systems work and are able to send updates.
In the process, we came upon two ‘situations’ that needed addressing.
We updated our emergency beacon transponder information (known as EPIRB’s - we have two) with the US Coast Guard and have tested them both. In the process we decided to speak to the manufacturer about the life of the built-in batteries on the beacons given that the expiry date was one month ago, and we’ll still be cruising for another 6-8 months. The manufacturer informed us this was fine and there is no need to replace it in the near future – we’ll keep testing it every month. During the conversation however, he inquired about the age of our hydrostatic release mechanism (this automatically deploys the beacon if the release mechanism is submerged a few feet underwater). In the course of our conversation he had no concern with the battery life of our beacon but was concerned that the release mechanism would not work as it had likely expired. So, we ordered a new one from West Marine – the Nordstrom of the boating world – and our good friends on Safety Cat, who were visiting family in the US, brought it down for us. We installed the new one and decided to see what would happen with the old one if we submerged it. So, we took a break from homeschooling and went out to the dock and started spraying it with water. Nothing happened. It needs to be submerged!! So we tied a rope to it and put it in the water, but it floated! So we added a weight and lowered it about six feet (2 meters) and still nothing happened. We finally lowered it about 15 feet (5 meters) and then they hydrostatic release responded by snapping a pin that, had the beacon been attached would have deployed it. Its good to know how they work and that we replaced ours. I would not want to be 15 feet underwater before it responded. Though, I have not tested the new one (as I need it) to know for sure at what depth it would respond.
We also had our standing rigging checked. This involved sending an experienced rigger up to the top of our mast who then inspected all the connections. It turned out that everything looked great except for a tiny hairline crack in one of our turnbuckles (this connects the rod rigging to the mast). We had him immediately replace it and I am thrilled we had him check our rig. All these efforts are the types of things that we believe are critically important to do as we set out on a voyage of this scale.
I think we are now almost ready though we still need to get our bottom cleaned (the boat bottom so we can go fast, not our personal bottoms); make a test call on our satellite phone; fill our diesel, gasoline and propane tanks; check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors among other things; and review emergency procedures at sea including the viewing of a life raft deployment. I am sure things will still get added to our list (or our list of lists), but hopefully at a rate now that is slower. We are now also feeling like we are crossing more things off than we are adding.
Michael (in La Cruz)