From Kaohsiung to Puerto Galera II

In the afternoon the wind was gradually intensifying and before the dinner we had the second reef in the mainsail and genoa was replaced by a reefing jib. Even under the reduced canvas we maintained 5.5-6 knots over ground. The waves were growing by the minute and as Janna surfed down their slopes the speed was reaching 8 knots.
We had very delicious instant vegetarian rise from Jessica Ou, the Cape Horn windvane was steering very reliably. We were nevertheless little nervous if the wind and especially the waves are going to grow even further. The night was uneventful and soon we got used to the wind and the waves and we started to hope these conditions will hold. The watches were relaxing, one only had to stand up to look around and inspect each quadrant with a little more care so as not to miss a light due to the big swell. But we could see only one or two ships. Our strategy to sail further offshore payed off. When we had the north coast of Luzon on our beam we were about 70 miles offshore.
In the afternoon the wind started to weaken and in the evening we were once again battling with insufficient wind and still quite considerable swell, which was taking the wind out of our sails.
The next two days were spent by hypnotizing the sails. Whenever they bellied and stayed that way for more than ten seconds, we fixed our concentrated stares at them hoping to keep them that way. Then we felt Janna’s stern to lift on a swell and the mast whipped through the air. When the sails only collapsed, we were cheering. Mostly, though, the swing of the mast was faster then the strength of the wind, and the sails followed the mast as if it was a flagpole waved by a zealous boy-scout in a parade and then the mast swung back and a then came the loud bang. Janna shuddered and so did we. If this continued for a while and we couldn’t help it by steering, the sails went down. Whenever there was the tiniest of zephyrs we hoisted the gennaker made out of light nylon, but sometimes even the gennaker was too much of cloth for the joke of a wind.
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From Kaohsiung to Puerto Galera

We left Kaohsing at 9am. We have announced our departure for 8am, but who would’ve expected that the water hoses we used to leave on the dock would be so unbelievably dirty. Partially UV rays working on the plastic, partially the ever-present dirt of Kaohsiung. It took almost a pint of acetone to clean.
Just before eight o’clock Kevin arrived. I have greeted him in my swim trunks, because I was just about to dive to check our propeller and the state of our rudder. There’s a little play around the bottom hinge, nothing serious, but something we need to take care of when we haul out in the Philippines. I scraped only couple of tube worms from the prop, otherwise everything was quite clean, since Jana scraped the whole boat few days ago.
Just when I climbed out of water, the immigration officers arrived to stamp us out of the country. I wrapped a towel around my waist and stretched my hand to great them. There were three of them, two guys, who whole-heartedly shook my head, and one lady, who kept her distance from this water dripping man.
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In the steps of my pops

My old man was an electrician by trade. But he hated the work and above all he loved horses, westerns and country music and defined himself by the cult western Monty Walsh. So one year after the Velvet revolution, he brought home a big bag full of cowhide, needles, thread, roe-deer antlers and sheets of bee wax. He put that all down in the corner of our living room, which naturally made my mum very happy. But it wouldn’t be fair to leave out the other parts of our tiny block of flats apartment, so in the kitchen he started to melt the bee wax and mould it into balls and a frame for a western saddle soon appeared in the bedroom.

A typical western saddle (example photo, not a product of my dad, even though it looked pretty much like this one)

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New bilge pump

We naturally love water, but same as with the fire, it is a good servant, but a bad boss. Recently we found out that our otherwise quite dependent bilge pump Rule 1100 started malfunctioning. First the float switch started to get stuck and refused to get lifted by the water in the bilge. Soon the motor would start working only sporadically and when it did work, it wouldn’t have enough power to lift the water.

I tried to get inside, but the motor is sealed in a plastic body of the pump, so we decided to order a new one, which is by the way, quite improved, the float is hidden so it cannot get dirty and stuck. At the same time we ordered an inline check-valve for our manual bilge pump Gusher 10. We were looking for a similar strainer that we had before, but the advantage of the strainer, other than being able to be attached to the floor, is not so clear to me, so I just attached a piece of strong plastic netting on the check-valve to get a cheap strainer. The netting is naturally important to prevent hard large objects getting into the bilge pump and puncturing the membrane.

Now everything is back in working order and we sleep a tad sounder, i.e. until there’s water in the bilge which triggers an annoyingly alarming buzzer…

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Anti-gravitation equipment

I’ve spent yesterday fighting the power of gravity, the adverse consequences of the centrifugal force and the malignant inertia.

Few years ago – yes, we are already counting our life with Janna in years, this was autumn 2009 – when we converted the original small wardrobe and wet locker into much more specious wardrobe shelves, we knew right away that we will need something to prevent our precious garments to fall out. It was obvious that they will fall out and they did. Not too often, though. Actually they stood put in many hairy conditions, so we didn’t feel too bad about postponing what should’ve been done much earlier.


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By Ferry To Qijin

I would like to brag in a macho way that we knew it all the time, but the truth is that Mr. Zhang talked us into taking our shaft out. His propeller is perfect, our shaft must be bent. We didn’t know what else to do, so we decided to take the shaft out and have him check it.

We were getting ready for a flood. The boat is in the water, you know. We covered the engine with a piece of canvas, I pulled from behind, Jana pushed from within the boat, but the shaft wouldn’t budge. Perhaps if we used a bit more force, but we didn’t want to try our luck and harm the cutless bearing. We’ve decided to have the prop checked first. We can take the shaft out in the Philippines on the hardstand if we find out that the vibrations were indeed caused by the propeller. In fact, Jana reported that she’s not afraid to take the shaft out anymore, that a lot of water comes when she takes the packing gland down, but that it’s manageable. Am I lucky man or what?

Engine room ready for an operation

Engine room ready for an operation

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Good by qTranslate, Long live Multisite

Writing a multilingual blog can be a pain. If you are online all the time, the options is not as bad. We used to like the qTranslate plugin. But the development seems to be lagging and from time to time it breaks the WordPress editor. Plugins like qTranslate have the advantage that you only need to worry about one site, one set of settings, language versions of you articles are connected by default. I was reluctant to move away from that. It was nice. But plugins like that cut deep into the guts of WordPress and cause problems.

Then WP 3.5 came, I forgot to check if qTranslate has been updated, did the update, which of course broke qTranslate. There’s a workaround, which you can find on the qTranslate forum. The fix was easy enough, now that we are sitting at a reasonably fast internet connection. But happens when we are sitting on some shitty connection? Even simple editing was troublesome with qTranslate. From time to time, the editor would not save your changes. The fix for that, I’ve learnt, is to switch to source editor. We simply need something simpler and more reliable. No offence meant.

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The weather really gone crazy

Still sitting in Kaohsiung and waiting. Since we are playing sailors you might thing that following winds, favorable currents, a good weather window is why we are still rotting here (that’s a bit of exaggeration, but it is a fact that during the North-East Monsoon Kaohsiung is showered by dust from inland and sooth from the factories nearby, so rotting we are not, it’s more like being buried by the earth at sea). So weather etc is not the main reason for our delayed departure. We had plenty of chances to cast off. The North-East Monsoon is at full strength now, but periodically it eases up and opens a two to three day windows, which would let us slip in the shadow of Luzon without too much fuss. With a little bit of imagination you could say that we could do it without getting our feet wet.

weather 2013-01

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AIS receiver on the cheap

Sailor RT2048

Our faithful Sailor RT2048

When we were leaving Singapore to embark on our very first passage, one Russian Australian sailor gave us his old VHF. At first we didn’t like the radio that was on Jannawhen we bought it. It was Sailor RT2048 with old style telephone receiver. It looked unfashionable and awkward. How wrong were we! We wanted to switch to the new one, but found out, that it does not transmit. So we put back the Sailor VHF and soon found out how great the old receiver is. One actually clearly hears what the others are saying. And you can also pull the receiver out into the cockpit so that the helmsman can easily reach for it and talk to harbor traffic control.

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Offline multilingual posts with WordPress and qTranslate

Sometimes you feel like posting, including sharing a photo, but the signal is weak or non-existent. Those who write in one language only have an easy life. There’s quite a few offline blog editors for most of the common blogging platforms.

The trouble is when you want to write multilingual offline posts. No editor is ready for that. And since we are getting ready to cast off soon and will be without regular internet connection for days at a time, I started to look for a solution that would enable us to write full blog posts offline and upload them immediately when we get signal, without the need to login to WordPress admin environment and finalize the post for publishing as we did so far.

We want to write and we want to spend as little time formatting, uploading pictures etc.
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