About Us

Welcome to our blog, describing our voyage aboard Bravo, a Kelly Peterson 46 sailboat with homeport in Seattle, Washington. We headed south in 2010, destined for Mexico and beyond. Cheers, Adam and Cindi


"As for me, I am tormented by an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts." -Herman Melville, 1844


Monday, November 9, 2015

"Here comes the sun, little darlin' "

Apologies to the Beatles, but it does feel great to feel spring blooming here in New Zealand.  Days are long, and the longer "fine spells" are welcome after the winter doldrums.

Life goes on in a rainy boatyard.....not always so glamorous!!!
It's hard to believe it's been 3 months since the last post, but life really has felt a bit like the Kiwi version of Bill Murray's Groundhog Day.  The days blend into weeks and then into months, w/ a fairly regular routine....We're still out of the water, and living in the boatyard.  So the projects continue....boat work till the afternoon, then off to the gym, groceries, dinner and a movie.....repeat....

Cindi's recovery has gone reasonably well.  She continues with her excellent physical therapist, undergoing all types of manipulations and exercises, including acupuncture for both the back (helps heaps) and arm (ummmm...not as much).  The back is much better.  Her arm break didn't set quite correctly, so she's looking into options.  Possibly see a surgeon when we're back in Seattle for Thanksgiving to look into arthroscopic possibilities.

Rugby:  ALL BLACKS, Baby!!!  It's been rugby fever here in NZ, as the All Blacks won the World Cup for the 2nd time in a row (held every 4 years).  In the pub for the final game by 4:30 am to get a seat for the 5am start.  Great game, great outcome for NZ.  A real sense of pride for a little country of 4 million to win an international event like this. Richie McCaw and the boys got the job done in style!!!







Boat projects have grown as we take advantage of our year off in NZ, and the great exchange rate to get work done.  Here's the update (sorry, may be dull, but it's what the Bravo's do these days!!!)

Propeller shaft:  While repacking the stuffing box (important bit that keeps the sea water out of the boat, a good thing), we noticed a fair bit of corrosion of the shaft under the packing, a bad thing.  When stainless steel is wet without oxygen, it is prone to crevice corrosion which can extend deep.  Apparently we've been hauled out of the water so long, with water trapped in the stuffing box but not circulating, that it was the perfect breeding ground for this sort of thing.



Calling in a trusted mechanic for a look, he took a quick glance and right away said "I sure as hell wouldn't trust that thing to go to sea"!!!  Not a good thing.  So we needed a new shaft (1.5" diameter by about 9' long), new cutless bearings, and a new dripless shaft seal.  Done!

Rudder:  While working on the prop shaft, we spent a lot of time at Bravo's tail end.  Looking at the rudder one day we noticed a lot of hairline cracks on just the port side.  Grinding off all of the antifouling paint didn't give us a clue.


It ain't pretty work!!! 
Waddaya think.....remember "Back to the Future???


Not sure what the deal was, but it couldn't be good.  A rudder is not something you want to fail when it's blowing like stink in a big sea, which, of course, is when it most likely would!!!  So we decided to remove the rudder and do a bit of exploratory surgery.  Not an easy job.

The rudder lives below our bunk.  So the first thing to do was remove the bed to access the top of the rudder shaft.  Then all of the steering systems needed to be removed before Mr. Rudder would drop down.


















Finally, using the jack out of our van, (aka Dirt Bravo) we lowered the beast to the ground.  Inspection proved really puzzling.

Fred Flintstone rudder repairs underway.  See the bog depth on the right.
The port side, with the cracks, had been faired with up to about 1/2" of bog (hard putty used to smooth the fiberglass).  Why?  And why none on the starboard side?  It looked like it had been there since new, over 30 years ago, but hard to say.  And why was it cracking now?  A fiberglass rudder typically has a stainless steel internal frame to transfer the steering loads from the shaft to the rudder blade.  Was this stainless steel giving us it's last gasp??   Do we need a new rudder?????   Ughhhhh.....


We chipped away the excess bog to figure things out.  It took Adam a few days of chiseling, at the Fred Flintstone Academy of Rudder Technology (fFART).  Then we drilled a bunch of holes into the rudder to figure out what the internal condition looked like.  The stainless steel looked ok, but there were some large voids where there would ordinarily be a rigid foam core.  WTF???

The only thing we can think of is that the port side of the rudder was facing the sun for the whole summer. With the black bottom paint it did get very hot, every day.  Perhaps the expansion/contraction of the thick bog finally did it in, causing the cracking.  Until we get a better explanation, that's our story and we're sticking to it!!!


Working with trusted shipwright Kris Dyer, veteran of the builds of the last two Kiwi America's Cup boats, we decided to fill the rudder with expanding epoxy foam, reglass the whole shebang, and call it good enough.  Hopefully this will be the right call!!!

Pencil lines show extent of voids that we probed with a wire


Propped up and ready for foaming

Kris pouring in one of many foam batches


Foam fully filling all the voids


4 layers of biaxial glass all around


Baking the whole rudder in makeshift autoclave to post cure the epoxy
After baking the rudder for about 8 hours (only burned up 1 space heater, and you can see the red water bucket in the background "just in case"!!!) we've been busily fairing both sides.  It's getting very smooth, so we may be ready for a trial fit tomorrow.

Planning the new sail
Other projects include new sails by sailmaker Dave Parr w/ Caliber Sails.  He built our new genoa this past season while we were in Fiji (measured before we left), and now we're having him build a new main, as our old one, after 12 years and MANY miles, didn't look like it had too many ocean miles remaining.









The fabric is plotted by the computer onto the fabric, ready for cutting
Coming together
We're also building a new nav station, as the old one was getting badly cut up over the years by the changing electronics.  The new panel will neaten things up a lot.  Cindi the varnish queen has been hard at work in the shed that we've commandeered, with both sewing and varnish projects.  And we're getting all new upholstery made for both the interior and cockpit.  Bravo's definitely stylin' these days!!!   Summer has finally arrived, it's TIME TO GO SAILING!!!

Another barrel of IPA ready for bottling!!!

We're now off to Seattle for our annual 3 week visit, then be back to Whangarei in early December.  With any luck we'll finish up the projects and be back in the water before Christmas.  Plan is to cruise around New Zealand until May.....stay tuned!