Monthly Archives: June 2010

thoughts on coverage… 2

apparently, Iridium has 66 LEO satelites in orbit – offering 100% coverage.

I believe LEO is Low Earth Orbit – but I’m not sure.  I’d love to be able to sit down with Mauro Sentinelli and talk about it.  I vecchi tempi, buoni!

Anyway, here’s what their coverage map looks like:


thoughts on coverage…

As soon as we get our Yanmar troubles sorted, we plan to get the heck out of Dodge.  I won’t go into how anxious we are to head off to the Galapagos, but let is suffice to say that we’ve had enough of Manta!  However, the upcoming legs are the longest of our trip – maybe of our lives.  The road to the Galapagos isn’t that bad – somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 miles.  But the leg from the Galapagos to the Marquesas (part of French Polynesia) is typically the longest most cruising sailors will ever undertake.  It’s somehwere between 3,000 and 3,100 nautical miles.  That’s just over 3,500 statute miles, or just over 5.700 kilometers.  It’s normally not a difficult sail, as you’re making a near downwind run.  That means pretty easy sailing.  It’s just the distance – and the days.  We don’t know how long it will take, but most boats on this passage take from 20 to 30 days.

But the point here is coverage.  As faithful readers know, we try to keep Spot on quite dilligentely.  This lets you know where we are almost all of the time, and it’s another device (in addition to SSB, our Sat Phone and our EPIRB) that we can use to call for help should that unfortunate situation arise.  In any case, you should know that Spot coverage (based on Satellites) is NOT 100% around the globe.  In fact, there are some “holes” and most likely, we’ll be sailing into and through a few of them.  What does that mean?  It means that if our signal STOPS showing up on the Spot page, it’s most likely because Spot is not in coverage… it DOESN’T mean, necessarily, that something has gone wrong with us or Walk On.

Here is the Spot Coverage Map (from their site:

Now, there’s a decent piece of the Pacific Ocean, for example, that is NOT covered by SPOT.  And… we’ll be sailing right through it:

This is not so easy to see, but this is a bit of a map that shows two things:

1) the yellow arrows… this is the route we have tentatively planned, from Ecuador, to the Galapagos, the big jump to the Marquesas, then to the other islands of French Polynesia (Austral and Society Islands), then the Cook Islands, and so on and so forth, until we head down to New Zealand before hurricane (cyclone) season sets in


2) the red circles – these are approximate areas of Spot Blackout, where we don’t expect SPOT to be able to send information.  So if we ‘vanish’ on the Spot page, DON’T CALL THE COAST GUARD!

Aside from Spot of course there is also the Iridium Sat Phone.  This too depends on Satellites, of course.  I’m still checking the coverage for that – to see if we can expect any blackouts….

More soon. And more Yanmar news soon… we may have slain the Dragon!!!!!!!!  🙂

posting by sailmail… a test

just a test gang, just a test.
more soon.
and don’t worry – we’re fine, just experiencing nagging Yanmar troubles. all will be well soon – and we’ll be on our way soon!

no galapgos yet…

my yanmar troubles – the difficulty in starting the engine – have continued. i’ve done a whole bunch of other maintenance items that might have helped… none have. i had a mechanic on board finally (which I was trying to avoid). his professional opinion is that the problem continues be electric and is not mechanical. that’s good and bad, as i’ve already changed the battery and taken the starter motor apart… so now i’m having the starter motor done again, professionally. let’s hope they are better at doing it than i was.

we can`t WAIT to get outta here!!!!!! 😦

more soon

p.s. we’ve been without internet since friday night, just got it back.

… but I really need a Flojet/Jabsco pump man…. ai ai ai

Yesterday, glory.  The US pass to the next round and with a thrilling last-minute qualification.

Today started well enough, managed to do a semi-pro job on the starter motor.  Then…. Italy got eliminated.  I was bummed for sure, but can’t say that they didn’t deserve it.  Then, just to make things interesting, I realized that the pump that is SUPPOSED to take the dirty water out from benath the motor, a kind of bilge pump, wasn’t taking ANY of that yucky stuff out from below the engine… Uh oh.

I took it apart, carefully, and, very carefully, put some silicone stuff on it and reassembled it… super carefully!  Guess what? Not pumping.  Umpf!

Just when I thought we were ok to leave…

Well, we wouldn’t leave tomorrow anyway.  After all, it’s a Friday, and we’re just superstitious enough, and respectful plenty of sailing lore and tradition to NOT leave on a Friday.  We were planning on leaving Saturday anyway.  At least we can see Brazil play again tomorrow, and – perhaps – Spain get sent home with neighbors France and Italy… Wouldn’t that be something?

So… here we go again:

call me the starter motor man!

🙂  Just a quick post really.  Yesterday we were totally enthralled by the World Cup action – I’ve never enjoyed, or suffered watching any game more than the US game… The boys definitely deserved a goal, and they deserved to win – but man they make you suffer for it, don’t they?  Congrats also the English team.

I spent the first half sitting down, drinking coffee – worried about the game, but not thinking about the starter motor job (or about fixing the fan on the wall behind me…)

The second half, I couldn’t sit down!  Too much anxiety.  Too much jumping around at missed shots, bad passes, and possession changes.  QUE ESTRESSE!

That’s a happy jersery, I can tell you!  Ok, it is the 2006 model, but that’s what I’ve got!  🙂

After the game and nearly a half hour of celebrating, it was time to get down to business and do the starter motor job…

First… take out all the provisions, life jackets, & stuff inside the sofa seats….

The entrance to “the cave” – beneath the sofa. Actually, there is a ton of room down there…

Then, get IN the cave and get Armed for battle! 🙂


This is what the port side motor access looks like.  Not bad really.

And there it is… the solenid, which is mounted on top of the starting motor.  To get the pair off, after disconnecting all the wiring, you have simply to take off two large bolts.  Easy enough.  The bottom one comes off easy, but the top one is back behind the solenoid and so you need a socket with a medium length extension – but I don’t have a 17mm socket.  So I was stuck!  I went ashore to find Brian from “Stargap”, who was watching the Germany game.  He had one, but wouldn’t be able to get it to me until after the game, of course…

Soon afterward, we had a visit – so my starter motor job stalled in mid-course.  The visit was from Pavel & Uliana – a very nice Russian couple currently living in Manta, but anxious to buy a boat somewhere and go cruising.  We spent quite a while together, answering questions, discussing the cruising life, the challenge of finding a boat, etc.  Reminded me of us a few years ago really.  🙂  What made it more interesting is that, of course, we don’t speak Russian!  Pavel doesn’t speak much Spanish, but Uliana does, better than Larissa or I do.  So it was actually comical at times trying to explain something, or even to understand their questions… Anyway, we had tea, chatted a lot, and suggested they look into Trinidad as a possible place to find a used boat, fix it up, and get ‘out there’.  Oh, and they have another aspect to the whole adventure – which isn’t stopping them!  It isn’t that they don’t speak English.  It’s that Uliana is three months pregnant, and they haven’t even selected a boat yet.  🙂  Interesting times ahead….

Uliana, Pavel & Larissa take afternoon tea in the cockpit.  🙂  We almost never drink tea so this was an unusual experience – and with our first ever Russian friends!  Isn’t life varied, grand, and wonderful?  Nice Pose Larissa – great posture! he he he

Anyway, after they left, I went over to Stargap and picked up the socket wrench from Brian.  In the eveing, we made some awesome pasta, augmented by Lara’s new favorite kitchen project – Meatballs!  With the Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina, we had a wonderful dinner.  Thanks baby!

Thursday morning? Up @ 0700, Socket Wrench in hand!!!! Back into the cave.  It tool less than a minute to get the starter motor off…

There it is.  Motor on the bottom, solenoid on the top.  This is what it looks like from the ‘outside’ – the part you see when you look at the engine.

This is the ‘inside’, the part thats up next to the engine.  There was some dirty areas, but nothing like heavy rust or obvious corrosion.  Time to take it apart…

All in all, I spent about three hours fiddling around.  I took pretty much everything apart, cleaned it all real well, lubricated what needed to be and yes Tony, I used a s—load of WD-40 in your honor!  Aliais, you know I have WD-40 cans in three languages?  The one I used today was in Spanish.  I only use the French language can in dire situations… like it’s the only one I can find.  🙂  In the end, the whole thing wasn’t all that dirty, nor did I find any of the worrisome signs of pitting, corrision, and other symptoms that I’d read about.   It’s a prety amazing piece of eqipment really – and now I know how to take it apart.  Putting it back together?  It was a tad tricky, but a whole lot easier than I expected.  My Dad might have gone bezerk trying this.  I thought about him a lot during the job – just like I do any time I change the oil or work on the engine.  That old Volks 1200 engine and hours with Dad lying on the driveway concrete tought me a few important tricks I think.  Mechanic I’m not, but I’m getting better at DIY stuff!

I put it back on, reconnected the wiring, and then….

Celebrated mightily when the engine started right up.  🙂

Now I’ve got to go fix a pump.  Oh, and that fan, eventually.  See ya guys!!!!

a different way to spend a wednesday….

After the US match, I’m going to start the process of taking off the starter motor and cleaning out the guts – with lots of WD-40 as my friend Tony suggested….

Now that doesn’t look all that bad, does it?

In reality the worst part is getting down in there, in the cave, to get the damn thing off in the first place.  🙂

More news later.  Ah, the joys of cruising….

Do you know the definition of cruising?  It’s something about fixing your boat in ‘exotic’ places.

battery (NOT!) blues – part II – atençao, POST EM PORTUGUES!!!!!!!!!

Estou rindo.  Rindo para nao chorar.  As respostas do Edu & do Tony confirmaram tudo o que eu estava pensando –  ate explicam ate certo punto por que a soluçao temporaria funcionou e por que nao deve ser usado na frente…concordo!  Ja achava estranho isso tudo. Bom, com as respostas e meu entendimento e tendencia de concordar, quer dizer que  – ou estou começando a entender melhor meu motor, ou que eles estao de experiencia duvidosa… Edu por que é Edu, e entao embora confio cegamente nele, tb lembro de vezes que, digamos, o engenheiro inventou bonito pra dar uma explicaçao que na realidade na servia.  É por isso que tenho o prazer, e os motivos, de sacanear meu amigo as vezes – embora nao sei qual é a melhor resposta, sei que a resposta dele pode ser, digamos, furada. E entao caimos na rizada em quanto ele pensa numa soluçao melhor e, com calma, chegamos no que serve.  🙂 Mas neste caso tudo que ele me falou faz tudo sentido e eu sei que ele nao esta brincando.  Brincadeira é brincadeira, mas quando o amigo se preocupa de ajudar, nao ha duvida nem erro.  E o Tony?  Tambem nao esta brincando e isso me faz feliz – mas tanto me coloca de WD-40 na soluçao que tenho que rir de novo.  Ao final, resumindo bonito, os 2 me dizem que “precisa ser revisto” (o motor de arranque) e “coloca WD-40 a vontade” (que, rezando, vai sumir o problema, mesmo sem saber qual é o problema original).  Por isso que fico rindo.  Nossa, quanta saudade desses amigos, e do jeito deles.  Algum desses ja desmontou e limpou um motor de arranque de barco? E o Joao? Sacou logo que nao era pra ser mesmo copiado num email desses, (quem entende é quem entende, quem nao é… Bom, ele é amigo que acompanhe o tudo em qualquer condiçao, mesmo sem endtender LIUFAS do assunto. Escreve assim, LIUFAS?).  Da mesma forma o Fabio.  Ja do Pedro, Ari, Gigante e Germano, espero um dia receber comentarios construitivos, digamos, uteis. 🙂

Fora isso, hoje teve um casal que procurou falar conosco.  Nao sabia se queriam carona, sonhavam com vida de cruzeiristas, eram jornalistas, ou – quem sabe – agentes de algum CIA que pode ter por aqui.  Ao final, nos fomos conhecer eles no club, e conversamos um pouco. Sao um casal, muito gente boa, que saiu da Russia faz quase um ano.  Apos varias aventuras, estao aqui em Ecuador, e queriam viajar de veleiro – um veleiro deles.  Ficamos umas horas trocando ideia – em Espanhol! – no clube, e amanha vao nos visitar no barco, com mais perguntas com certeza.  Muito legal conhecer pessoas assim – e claro nos damos (demos?) maior apoio pra quem ta sonhando essa vida, correndo atras, fazendo perguntas.  Eu era assim.  Ainda estou.

Ao final, demos um jeito do motor ligar, embora que nao seja dos melhores.  Entao, amanha, mais noticias dos trabalhos.  (Depois do nosso jogo com Algeria, eh claro. Temos que ganhar!)

Abracos e obrigado, de verdade, a Tony, DuDu, e Japes.

More tomorrow.

P.S. Embora nao vao acreditar, estou nesta 3a a noite no barzinho de futebol do clube – um campo tao tipico – um gaiola –  que parece ate Rio de Janeiro nesta noite escura – so que as mesas – de plastico, nromais, pouco estaveis –  estao com a escritura “Conquer” ao inves de “Skol”.  O jogo rola, com os normais pancadas e xingacoes de tanta gente nao tao esperto assim, mas estao batalhando na pelada… No TV do cantinho, esta rolando uma novela.  E na minha frente? Uma garaffa, de 600, …. Uma  BRAHMA estupidamente gelada, alem do meu fiel MacBookPro – de onde lhes mando noticias.  Incrivel.  Abraços amigos.  Vou sonhar hoje com motor de arraque, querendo ou nao….. Queria sonhar com os Galapagos, mas por enquanto, me resta este motor.

P.P.S. Perguntei ao Brian, o velho sudafricano aqui no “Stargap”, unico outro cruzeirista aqui, sobre minha situacao. Expliquei tudo, em detalhe, e me falou: “Captain, mas esse lançe de ligar o motor com o acelerador um pouco, acelerado, faço sempre, ha 30 anos.  Achava que todos fizeram assim. Alias, conheço muita gente que faz assim, desde sempre”.

P.P.P.S. I know it makes no diference, but here is the battey I purchased today (130 green backs) – Just for those who are interested…

still in Manta? Starting battery blues….

Well, yes.  I’m going through some more troubleshooting… this time with the the starting battery.

We have two banks, the house bank (6V Trojan 115’s that we installed in Trinidad, December 2009), and the engine bank – or starting battery as it’s only one battery.  This is a Moura 110 marine starting battery with silver alloy and a lot of other useless marketing info.  The fact is, I suspect it doesn’t have the “umpf” to reliably start the engine when we need it – and that’s not good!  The “umpf” to turn the Yanmar over is also called CCA, but I won’t go into that at the moment.

Basically, I tried to start the engine on Sunday for a bit of a test before deciding to cast off on Monday.  The engine didn’t start.  What happens is that the starter motor and solenoid seem appropriately engaged, but after a couple of seconds of agonizing, slow winding “rrrr, rrrr, rrrr…”, the starter motor doesn’t turn any longer… not enough ‘umpf’ to keep it cranking. At least that’s my theory at this point, and no, I don’t have one of those special battery tension measuring devices.  They run like 300 bucks.  I know you can do a trick with a wrench and/or screwdriver and multi-tester, but that’s beyond my courage level and slightly outside my skillset or electrical understanding….

So I spent all day Monday doing troubleshooting and some preventive maintenance.  My first suspiscion was about the wiring connections.  Were they tight, were they clean and in other words – are they letting through as much umpf as the battery is willing and able to put out.  To check this, I disconnected, cleaned, and reconnected every possible connection: at the battery terminals, and – more importantly – at the motor itself.

Now, to get to that side of the engine, to port, the best access is from beneath the salon settees.  Once you’re in there, plenty of room is available.  The trick is getting there… that entails taking all the stuff out of the settee storage area (beneath the couch seats, let’s say).  So, yesterday morning I started the process: take off the cushions and wooden covers, take out all the stuff, and find a place to put it while you’re working below.  This is a major provisions storage area for us so I had to take out hundreds of cans of food and other bits, along with lifevests, and about 100 litres of bottle drinking water.

Then you get down into the ‘cave’, take off the side access panel (with the soundproofing foam on the inside, next to the motor) and get to work.  Now the ‘cave’ is actually huge and some day if we want to add an onboard generator and/or watermaker, we’ll have plenty of room for both.  But the fun part is getting to the bits of the motor.  There is a positive lead cable that runs from the alternator to the batteries – and this one is always the single most difficult nut to work on in the entire boat!  Unless you take the alternator off, you have a tricky time gettting that nut off to clean the connections (the battery lead and another wire that comes from the smart regulator).  Worse, if you don’t manage to turn the juice off (like, if you forget) that live wire has almost no way of getting out of this terrible position without touching the engine block and causing some frightening sparks.  So, I forgot of course and had quite a surprise!  I hate working on electrical stuff on the boat – mostly out of ignorance!  Electricity is a funny, invisible thing that if you don’t fully understand it, can give you some unpleasant surprises – or even do damage where you can’t see what’s going on.  Plus you can get quite a shock.  I didn’t this time, but it wouldn’t have been the first…Anyway, the wire from the alternator is most likely NOT a problem in the scenario I’m troubleshooting, but as long as I’m down there and have taken all the canned goods out of the settee, might as well clean everything the best I can.

Then I moved on to the connections to and from the starting battery – the solenoid that sits on top of the starter motor itself.  Indeed, this had been a problem once before (arriving in Natal from Noronha, the engine wouldn’t turn over, in the same fashion) – and I’d had to do a fix on the fly in lumpy seas.  No fun! And again this time, I found that the connections perhaps weren’t as clean as they might be.  So I took everything apart, and cleaned them with fine sandpaper and electrical conneciton spray to get any corrosion off.  When I reassembled it all, I applied a bit of special conneciton paste, a gray liquidy stuff that is supposed to improve electrical connections and help prevent future corrosion.

The day was getting on, as this is a slow job, and NO, I didn’t get to see a single world cup game!  I hate Mondays and this was no exception!

Then I cleaned the battery terminals and reconnected everything.  The voltage of the battery was hovering at like 12.60 volts.  Not really all that strong.  And, what happened?  Nothing.  I turned the key, got the same ‘rrr, rrr, rrr’ and then dead silence again.  So now I have clean connections but still not enough juice to crank the engine over.

Two possibilities: the voltage and therefore the ‘umpf’ of the battery is just too low – not enough cold cranking amps (CCA).

Or, there is some oxidation/corrosion of some kind on the moving bits (brushes maybe?) of the solenoid and starter motor itself – providing just enough resistance to no allow the starter to crank over with enough juice to start the engine.  My explanation may not be very scientific, but I have and idea that this is what’s going on.

What to do?

The first choice I had was to force the engine to start and then charge up for a while.  To do that, you have to join (combine) the battery banks and hope you get the ol diesel started.  It didn’t happen instantaneously, but it did happen and soon I had Yan cranked up to like 1,800 rpms, pumping around 45 amps into the banks.  I let this go on for a few hours while I cleaned up and put all the cans back in place… I don’t like to start the engine this way, but sometimes it can’t be avoided.  It’s just too hard on the house bank, batteries that are not designed for that kind of heavy, fast load.

So, at the end of the day, I had the starting battery charged up to about 12.80 volts. I turned it off and decided to see what things looked like on Tuesday.  So it’s Tuesday now and the starting battery is sitting there, still at 12.80 volts (at least I’m not losing power overnight through some unknown source).  It’s still early though and my lovely wife is only getting prettier through her beauty sleep – I can’t turn the engine on now!

On top of everything else, we’re at a ‘power disadvantage’ here in Manta.  On the one hand, we tend to use the TV more when we’re anchored or moored somewhere for a long time.  A world cup game (or two) during the day and perhaps a movie at night… that takes up a lot of energy.  On the other, we’re not putting a lot of juice in the batteries during the day.  There is NO wind to speak of so the wind generator is added ZERO amps to the batteries.  Worse, there’s practically no sun – it’s been overcast, heavily overcast, for 8 straight days.  This means that the solar panels can’t do their job either.  So how else do we charge the batteries?  With our engine (alterantor), of course.  We don’t have a generator and we’re not plugged into shore power here at Manta Yacht Club – it just isn’t possible.

So I’ve been going to bed, dreaming about, and waking up with this damn energy situation on my mind.  We’ll see what happens in a little while when Lara wakes up and we try to start the engine the correct way.  If it doesn’t start, my first inclination is to get a new starter battery.  Not too difficult, just not cheap either.  It will probably cost something like 350 bucks.  Ouch.  On the other hand, I can’t start out across the Pacific with these kinds of serious doubts about our starter battery….

And for those whoe might be wondering – this battery was installed in 2006, when the boat was only a hull with an engine and would be motored up the lake to Porto Alegre… I don’t know how long these batteries should last, but 4 years almost to the month seems sort of borderline to me…

I’ll let you know what happened after Lara wakes up.

Researching on the web, I found someone that MAY be able to help… 🙂 What do you think?

a few pics on father’s day

I really would have rather been with my Father today, doing whatever it is he may have wished – maybe and early round of golf, maybe sleeping in and then tuning into to world cup action with Italy and then Brazil – him asking me if I recalled the days when I played youth soccer, as goalie, and he’d be down there behind the net (the only one), urging me on and reminding me to give my best and sacrifice my body…. Rembember that Dad?  I’m sure you do.  And thanks to that attitude, I have to say I left soccer proud of how I had played (and bruised, but that’s part of it).  But since Lucio is in Phoenix and I’m in Ecuador, might as well have a few Father’s Day pics, even if they aren’t, unfortunately, with Dad. If your Dad is close, hug and kiss him and thank him – most likely he deserves your thanks.  I know mine does.

This from Saturday night Taco Night!  Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

You might say “Tacos and red wine?”.  Yeah, and we’d tell you that it’s winter (though were just south of the equator by a small margin) – and more than anything else, it’s chilly at night!  There were 12 tacos in the packagage.  We prepared for 8.  They were so good I had to go back and heat up the shells for more…. 🙂 Oh, and we watched “The Graduate”.  What a movie! The soundrack is repetitive if you pay attention, but the rest of the movie is fantastic.

Then, today at 13.15, I’m getting ready to leave the boat and join Lara to see the Brazil game (13.30 local) and I see this commotion nearby on the docks of the club….

A crowd was gathering…. but they weren’t into World Cup action….

something big was being hoisted on the crane, from the boat to the dock…

a boat nearby was showing some ensign-signs-of-life – though  y0u might not know what that was all about… at the very least, Mahi Mahi and beer!

ok – so THAT is what all the fuss is about! not ONE Blue Marlin, but TWO


and there’s like 7 minutes to the start of the Brazil game – but this is quite a spectacle!

the eye of the marlin

the fish are gutted on board before being weighed.  (the line across the belly)

and those two big fish came in on this boat – not small, but not so big either…..

this is the smaller of the two…

this is how they weigh the fish

this the study of the numbers….


Lara takes in the sight of the biggest fish she’s ever seen (she said so).  Wired fore iTunes  and fresh off Skype just before the game. Nothing like a 400 pound blue marlin in between to increase your goose-bumps! 🙂

“nossa, olha Michael quanto é enorme esse peixe!!!!”

In the end, one was 400 pounds, and the ‘little’ one was 300.  🙂 Then we went to watch the game……….

he he he

goooooooo brasiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiillllllllllllllllll

double self portrait

this one is definitely better, don’t you think?

from inside the lounge – there’s our floating home just below the deck!

We had good seats for the game, and enjoyed the 3-1 victory.

More soon gang, always more.