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Solo Tasman 2010 log

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I was going through some old logs for my Daughter, who asked about something, and I came across this log of the 2010 Solo Tasman. I thought some here might be interested, but sorry I'm not the writer that our friend who just completed the South Island circumnavigation is!

The Voyages of SV Island Time


We begin the record of Island Times voyage at Mana Cruising Club, just north of Wellington, New Zealand late in January 2010. 


New Zealand has very strict safety regulations for offshore yachts, and before you can leave you have to have the boat up to a large standard, and have it inspected by an official from Yachting NZ. Most of this document is written at or near the time it occurred, from my (very) basic log.

It begins as I am preparing Island Time for the Solo Tasman race. Part of the entry requirements for this is a 500Nm passage solo.

26 Jan 2010;

Today, the local Cat one inspector came and began the stringent checks required for a NZ registered yacht before it is allowed to leave the country. All is well so far, as I expected. As Island Time has had Cat One before, much of the structural stuff has been checked several times already, so major changes are not required, which is good. All I had to do so far was to replace the mast step screws with 10mm coach screws, and put spectra straps on the engine mounts (so they cannot fall off if inverted and the vulcanised rubber breaks). I've done that.

The antifoul needs another coat or two, and there is a bit of sanding to do. I also have an oil leak in the back of the engine, between the flywheel casing and the block. The engine has to come out to fix this gasket!! I'll start that tomorrow.


28 Jan 2010;

Engine out, the oil leak was a missing "O" ring between the front flywheel housing and the block. This was confirmed by Phil, from Strait Marine www.straitmarine.co.nz. The "o" ring was left out by Ovlov Maine in Auckland, when they reconditioned the motor last year. I have put the "O" ring in, and now reinstalled the engine.


30 Jan 2010;

Hull is sanded, re antifouled, with Vivid White.


12 Feb 2010;

Got the Trysail track, and fitted to mast. Seems to work fine. Test rigged both the trysail and the storm jib, both fine. Test rigged the sea anchor, with bridle and float for the snatch block. Hope I don't need any of this stuff!!


20 Feb 2010;

Got back today from the 500 mile solo voyage, having left on Tues 16th. I just went out to a point 250NM from Mana, about 130 Miles from New Plymouth. The trip out was good, but a bit light, however the last 12 miles were a bit unpleasant, as I had 25Knts on the nose and quite steep seas. Off Stephens Island a car carrier (Morning Mermaid) came up close behind, then turned toward Nelson. Man that is one ugly ship. Then, off cape farewell, in the middle of the night, I was passed by a huge cruise ship, the Queen Victoria. I'd been asleep and the AIS and Radar alarms triggered (They work great!), I had her on both radar and AIS, and she altered course when about 4 miles away so she'd miss me :-) . She looked like a floating city from my perspective!

About 2:10 am Thursday morning I reached the outer waypoint. It was good to turn around and go downwind - downwind was much more pleasant! However, just before the turnaround, I lost the radar system. That's a problem as the radar (and AIS) keep a watch when I'm asleep! They had proven their worth the previous night, and it means only 20mins sleep at a time until fixed. :-(

Conditions continued to deteriorate over the next 24 hours, but to begin with it was a good downhill ride, beginning with the kite, then, as the wind strengthened, a fast 2 sail broad reach. The sea state was quite big, as there was an approaching depression further out in the Tasman. The surfing was fun.

By lunchtime on Thursday morning I had only the deep reefed main and a near storm jib size piece of headsail, and was still managing spurts of 11 or 12 knots. The wind was North to begin with :-) but then went NW (right behind me), about 35 and gusty which is rolly. A few hours later it quickly went around until it was 25 Knots on the nose ( SE) again, but in worse seas.

The Maritime NZ forecast described it as very rough, and the forecast was for gales in both the Stephens and Cook areas (where I was and where I was going!) I put up with this for few more hours, then, as I could no longer make my course, I bore away into Tasman bay. I hoped to find better conditions there, which I did, eventually, with flatter seas and wind down to about 20-25 knots.

Then the wind rose again to 30 Knots SE - just the way I wanted to go! Fortunately though, as I got into Tasman Bay further, the wind came around more towards the east, and I managed to follow it around until I made the entrance to French Pass. About 10am on Friday the 19th I motor sailed thru French pass, then sailed again, hard on the wind AGAIN, along the top of the South Island, concluding the 500 Miles just short of Cape Jackson. Being rather tired, I decided to go into Queen Charlotte Sound, and spend the night at Ships Cove. A very nice and peaceful night on the club mooring, and them home today in a Northerly which is much easier than anything from the east!

Here is a screenshot of the 500 mile qualifier


21/02/2010; back at Mana

Today I removed the radar, and found that the scanner unit was not turning. Seems to be a fault in the actuator motor. The head unit is a Kodan, and there is a Kodan agent here in Porirua, so I'll take in the unit tomorrow and see if we can get that sorted.

The issue I had with the engine not charging I have traced to the loom connector to the engine. Tomorrow I'll remove it and order a new plug and socket, that should sort it out.



Today I sorted the Radar. The Kodan agent was not much help, so I stripped the unit myself. The problem was a bearing in the small stepper motor. I replaced both the bearings, and with Jo's help reinstalled the radar. All working 100% again! $20 repair, so that was good. I've also isolated the electrical problem to the relay socket on the engine loom. One of the connectors on it had been pressed out the back (out of site of course!). I have removed the whole connector frame from the motor so I can see it, and bent the spade terminal retainer back into place, then re-clipped it in. It is a bit dirty, so tomorrows job is to clean it all up and reassemble it. Hopefully that will fix it once and for all. Following that, I'll get on to the SSB/Autopilot interference problem that stops me transmitting on SSB when under autopilot. I have to have this fixed for the Solo Tasman...



Got the plugs sorted, engine now working fine, and I'm happy with the connections now. The SSB interference with the autopilot has turned out to be a bit of a major. I've had a radio tech look at it as well as me, and he's spent most of a day on it as well. The problem is the Rudder Angle indicator moves when the SSB transmits, despite the fact that the rudder is NOT moving.

Here is what has been done so far.

  1. Connect shielded dummy load direct to transmitter output. Rudder indicator output is stable, so issue is not within the SSB transceiver.

  2. Connect shielded dummy load to ATU antenna output. Rudder indicator output is stable, so issue is not within the SSB transceiver or the ATU, or the coax between. Problem source is the Antenna or connections.

  3. Replace Antenna from ATU out with Shielded coax (shield connected to Counterpoise and batt -), then connected that to Glass Whip Antenna. Problem is present with either Antenna. Problem must be RF feeding back into Autopilot from the antenna.

  4. Tried RF bypass capacitors on Rudder Feedback cable, + to -, + to Shield, and - to Shield. No help

  5. Tried rerouting rudder feedback cable as far from radios as possible. No change. Removed Rudder Feedback unit (Simrad RF300) and put it in the oven (connected to Batt -, as a makeshift faraday cage) no change.

  6. Disconnected Rudder Feedback unit completely, set autopilot to virtual feedback mode. Tests fine!! This means the problem IS in the cable to, or the Rudder Feedback unit itself.

  7. Sent an email to Navico explaining issue. Awaiting response.

  8. I've also removed the Autopilot ram and had the seals replaced, ram repainted. A new hose was required for the port side connection, and I've had a spare made.



Ok, I'm getting there with this. Navico have given me the following info;
Simrad RF300 rudder feedback units were modified in 2004 to pass new RFI requirements. The case and the product codes did not change, but if you have one where the letters between the Part no and Serial no are not FA, and you have an RFI issue, you need to replace it with a new one.
product code between the p/n and the s/n, i.e. XXXXXXXXFAxxxx.
This is not in any book or documentation I can find, but this info came direct from the Navico Technical Team leader.
I have a new one on order..



The SSB problem is solved! The rudder feedback unit was the problem, and following the install of the new one, all is well. :-)

The rigger has been, and checked over the rig, the boat builder has been and we have reinforced the primary winch bases. I've wired up the VHF for DSC with GPS, replaced the on board printer with a small HP unit (DeskJet 3325), updated the PC with current Anti Virus, patches and versions of everything. Currently have an issue with drivers for the Quatech DSU 200/300 RS422 to USB converter. I may have to roll that driver back tomorrow. I have also changed the blades on the Air-X Marine wind generator with some from www.silentwindgenerator.com . They are blue, and significantly quieter than the original blades.



The Cat one is finished, and the boat is nearly ready, just food and clothes to go. No real issues with the rest of the inspection except the inspector was not really happy with the primary chain plates. He thinks the bottom bolts are too small, and that the load is taken primarily by the lower bolt. I don't agree with that, but he passed the boat on this point due to historical use. The race numbers (8) are on, the new jennaker is here, the electronics are all working. Sounds ready to me. Weather here in Wellington has been crap lately, 50 Knot NW yesterday, 30 gusting 45 in the strait today, forecast for more again tomorrow. I'm planning on leaving for New Plymouth Thursday 25th as I have to be there by the 28th. Weather permitting!



Left Mana with Neil as crew. Forecast was 10 kn NW, but leaving Mana we had 35KN!It slowly moderated as we crossed to the sounds, and then was pretty much gone as we passed through Stephens passage bound for Port Hardy on Durville Island. Spent a very calm night there on the club mooring in the SW corner, with a few Launches from Mana Cruising Club, including my brother's Southern Cross.



Left Port Hardy motoring (no wind!) about 9am for New Plymouth. Breeze gradually increased to 15-18 KN just fwd of the beam. A very pleasant sail , finishing in Port Taranaki about 3am. We picked up one of the race moorings. They are very exposed, with no shelter at all from northerly sectors.



Spent this week doing last minute stuff (nothing critical!). A very rolly anchorage, and not great sleeping aboard, When Jo and family came up to see me off, I went ashore and spent the final two nights at my uncles house with Jo.


4/4/2010: Race day!

Did customs ashore as a group. Not much wind. Said goodbye to everyone - perhaps for some time, although it looks like we'll have a week at home in 5 or 6 weeks to sort out moving out of the house and the purchase of a rental. Our current house is under a sales contract. The race start was in the fairly narrow harbour entrance. 5 -8 knots almost on the nose. I decided to stay on the mooring, sails up, ready, for as long as possible. This was partially due to the congestion, but also because my mooring was almost right on the starboard layline! Anyway I got the timing a bit wrong and had to do a 360 to waste some time. It worked out pretty well, and I crossed the line 2nd I think. However, 500m out from the breakwater the wind stopped! The course was along the waterfront, outside a coastguard boat, then around a mark on the main city foreshore. Eventually (several hours later, only about a mile covered) the committee shortened the course by moving the mark to the coastguard boat. It was a very slow start! As we got further out the wind came up a bit, and I went from gennaker to spinnaker. Everyone was looking to go south of the rumbline to find the predicted southerly. Start Pic Below





Early morning kite problems - I got a really good wrap around the forestay in the sloppy conditions - took an hour and a half to free it and retrieve everything. Trying to make ground west to find the southerly, as are most others.



The southerly came in last night - gusts up to 45 knts, (some competitors reckon they saw 58 overnight, and some then hove to) but, for me, mostly 35 or 40 and gusty.  Was a bit bumpy for a time, but I made good progress. No issues with sea-sickness either - I'm using a scopaderm patch. Running before it with triple reefed main and small jib rolled out. Good speeds under autopilot - 13.7 Knts!! This turned in to a good day, logging 178Nm, which is good for Island Time.



Winds have slowly moderated to 20 - 25 Knts. I've had a long debate with myself about putting a kite back up, and every time I decide I should, the wind goes back up over 25knts. Eventually I did put it up and had a hourglass twist in it - I had to take is straight back down! Lots of work singlehanded!



Wind has dropped right away to 3-4 Knts. I did not have the kite ready from yesterdays problems, but at first light I sorted the kite and hoisted it for a good speed gain. Slowly the wind came further fwd, so I could not hold the kite any more, and I changed to the gennaker. The new gennaker seems great!

Unfortunately after about an hour the kite halyard broke - inside the mast, jammed in its sheave. I cant fix that at sea unless it's dead flat (unlikely) and it is much easier if there are a couple of people. This could cost me the race!!! No proper downwind sails... :-(


9th/4/2010 Fortunately today has been a 2 sail reach - to tight for downwind sails. A good day calming off in the evening.


10/4/2010; Calming off was an understatement!! Today was very calm, slating sails all day. I managed the worst 24 hour run I have ever had with Island Time - 57 miles! It would have taken little to convince me to chuck it in and motor!! There is another southerly forecast for tomorrow, looks like it might be quite strong. Anything is better than this!!


11/4/2010, pm The southerly is here - came in quite light, supposed to strengthen. I have flown the gennaker from the spare Genoa halyard. it is less than ideal - a shorter hoist, and as the halyard is under the forestay attachment, I have to make sure the sail and halyard do not cross the forestay. Sail set is not great, but better than nothing! it is good to be moving again


12/4/2010: Rob has sent me the other boat positions, man this is a close race. There is less than 20 miles (distance to finish line) between the top 5 boats. Got to keep pushing. I think that some of the skippers have elected to go too far off track looking for wind, and are finding that the distance covered has not been worth it for the speed gains. I still have a shot at this! 25 kn southerly again, moving to directly astern slowly increasing. By 6 pm, 30-35 knots and large (3-4m) steep seas. Wind against the current (1.5 - 2 Knts)


Crap!!! Fell off one of the larger waves (When under AP – I was on the toilet!) and gybed out of control. It ripped the kicker fitting from the mast step, snapping a piece of 10mm stainless. This fitting also holds the forward mainsheet block. It also broke the gooseneck. No full mainsail available now. I feel like that's the end of my race... I have lashed it together as best I can, and hope it holds. :-(


13/4/2010 Fresh winds (30Knts) from directly behind. Against the East Ausy current - steep and sometimes confused seas. I REALLY would not have liked to beat into this wind and sea! Surfing often up to 13 odd knots. Still no one in sight, not sure where they are now, as only one or two have kept the proper radio scheds. Still, they can't be far away.. About 6pm, now close to the end of Morton island, triple reefed main (Still scared of full main with temp repairs), as the wind had moved more toward the west rounding cape Morton. Maybe it will get me to the finish line if I'm careful. Out of the really big seas and most of the current now. Not far to go.


Crossed the finish line at about 0340hrs this morning, third over the line behind Apriori (Modified Farr 38) and Soothsayer (John Sayer 36). Both these boats are sailed by local Ausy sailors. I'm sure that the local knowledge of the east Ausy current has helped them significantly in the last part of this race. Jenny on Soothsayer had gone in so close to the beach her tracker shows her on shore! (Rob sent me and email with positions from the web - thanks Rob!)



In Mooloolaba marina cleaning up. Thoughts on the race;

Island Girl (Farr 1220, v. similar to Island Time) was effectively removed from the race a day or two from the end when she broke an intermediate stay. She was lucky not to lose the rig. All the boats have come in with some type of damage. It is interesting that the two boats in front of me are stripped out racers, so I feel I've done ok. The conditions have been typical Tasman - too much wind or not enough. I should have done more research on the East Ausy Current. Despite the breakages it was really that that cost me the race - I lost 30 miles or more to soothsayer on the last day. I also note that my average speed was slower than most of the others, yet I crossed the line third - so my route planning was better than theirs. It's all a learning curve! I could have pushed harder, but you also have to get to the end. My Autopilot is now excellent, and the electronics (especially the radar, AIS, and wireless remote system) allowed me to get better sleep than most - Although none at all for the last 30 odd hours.


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59 minutes ago, Fogg said:

Love the vivid white antifoul! How did it go? I’m going to try that on my new toy although I suspect I might end up going back to black later...

Its good when you're racing - can see the rudder and keel for weed etc pretty easily. Also shows any slime so it looks dirty a lot - I tended to clean it more, and therefore rub it off!  As a antifoul it was mediocre ...

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