Our arrival into Los Angeles and safe harbour at the wonderful Marina del Rey
went without a hitch but sadly, this will be our final leg on the West Coast of the USA. The next time we head to sea will be to permanently say farewell to this side of America! While it is always great coming into port there is a touch of sadness working its way through Pendana on this occasion. In fact, more than a touch of sadness as this will be the last time we have Abi o board. Abi has decided that she has had enough of the cruising life and wants to focus on her studies. While we are excited for Abi’s new chapter in her life to begin, we are also, as any parents, terrified at the thought of seeing her go. The good news is she doesn’t leave until June so maybe, just maybe she will change her mind!
Not a bad view from the office in San Diego
Our time at Chula Vista Marina
was wonderful and San Diego is a great place, no doubt about it. The staff, the marina itself and location worked for us 100%. That being said, however, you do need a car to get around but as we always rent cars anyway the location of Chula Vista Marina in the south bay proved no issue at all. Nestled in San Diego's beautiful South Bay, the marina provided us with a peaceful, quiet atmosphere away from downtown. The tall swaying palm trees and pristine, park-like setting of Chula Vista Yacht Harbor presented a tropical paradise with uncrowded waters, no boat surge
, virtually no wind at all, hardly any fog unlike the marinas further north and what’s more, spectacular sunsets. All in all a great place to stay and while initially I wanted to stay closer to downtown, I am sure glad we didn’t.
Chula Vista Marina putting on another perfect sunrise
, a subject too easily forgotten and talked about until it is too late. Recently we were in Ensenada when a God awful 40kts+ southerly blow rolled in which blew Pendana hard onto the docks. Luckily we had all six of our ProStock
fenders out and in place, so for us, it simply wasn’t an issue! That being said, however, I was recently speaking to James Hamilton on MV Dirona
who had an issue with two of his ProStock fenders failing the same night. This got me thinking as the Hamilton’s fenders have seen 70kts in the past and not failed so why now? While ProStock will
replace fenders free of charge if a manufacturing fault is found or repair them free of charge, it’s of no real help while you are trying to keep your boat safe in a blow. The whole issue had both James and I re-thinking our fender strategy.
How big are your fenders?
If you under fender in 5kts who cares, but if you under fender in 40-70kts then you are going to do serious damage. As a back-up thenm I have added three F11 Polyform Fenders
to use in conjunction with our ProStock fenders. You can never have too many fenders when the wind blows!
Ok, maybe you can!
Plenty of fenders on the market that’s for sure
If you need BIG
fenders often not stocked in the usual marine haunts, then I suggest you visit in person or online, my much loved store, Fisheries Supply
in Seattle. Oh, how I miss that place!
Three F11s added to Pendana’s bag of tricks
While in Ensenada in that 40kt blow the vessel directly behind us, Seacret a N76, had four small fenders out in total (see image below). Honestly, a three million dollar boat and you have a few scant, cheap and nasty fenders that would be under sized for a N47 let alone a N76. Not sure if any damage was done to Seacret, but if not, it’s a miracle and only thanks to the marina staff who battled against all odds to keep her safe! Bottom line, it’s all too late once the storm arrives!
Here is what wind can do. Video courtesy of Cmdr. Claire
Pendana now carries, four ProStock Marine Extreme Welded Fender.18".dia. x 42" long, (46cm x 107cm) Reference: PF-6, two ProStock Marine Extreme Welded Fender.24".dia. x 42" long, (61cm x 107cm) Reference: PF-24X42, and three Polyform F11 21.2 x 57.5 in (53.8 x 146.1 cm) Reference:F11 and if the F13’s weren’t nearly US$800.00 each I would have two of those as well. Seriously, don’t leave port with not enough fenders!
One of three new F11s inflated. Emmmmm, they are big!
Before leaving San Diego there were four things annoying me no end and after opening the wallet for new fenders I thought why not keep it open! Although I kept that thought to myself! Issue one
, and you may laugh, but we have never in the past seven years of owning Pendana had an accurate true wind speed (“TWS”) reading. I used to simply justify this by saying, I didn’t really need it as I could tell what the wind speed was by simply looking at the sea. The Beaufort Wind Scale (my friend), developed in 1805 by Sir Francis Beaufort of the U.K. Royal Navy was good enough for me. After-all, what’s the difference between 22kts and 26kts really? That being said, all of a sudden for no apparent reason, I decided enough was enough and I now wanted an accurate TWS reading. With Toby, an incredibly capable man, on hand, from SeaNet Electronics
we went about correcting the issue once and for all.
Beaufort Wind Scale
Fifi still wondering why the new cat (Cuddles) remains aboard and why I am so concerned about wind speeds!
Oscar given up pleading his case entirely re the new cat but feels I should resolve my wind speed issues
Cuddles, a street smart Mexican kitty has no idea what all the fuss is about!
Together, Tony and I decided to install the Furuno F170 wind package
with 170 display, have my TZ9 screen replaced (free of charge by Furuno due to bubbling), fix a minor GPS issue I was having on my TZ9 and replace the through hull sensor to accept the new technology. While at it, I also wanted to install the new BR500 Watch Safety System
Beautiful sunsets from the Pilothouse
…and even more beautiful fresh fish at Seaport Village in San Diego but alas, no Halibut. Will had to settle for Mahi Mahi and fresh Tuna!
The second issue
that needed to be looked at was the recent failure of one of our massive continuous duty HPU-150 Accu-Steer Hydraulic Power Units which are used to drive the rudder, a little like power-steering for a car. For this job I had Craig from SeaTech Marine Products
help me out. Thankfully, it was nothing more than a loose wire going to the terminal board (phew, that saved about US$7K). I know, I know I should have been able to work that one out by myself but as I have said many time before, I am truly moronic when it comes to these matters.
Craig coming out of Laz. Job Done!
Lower right screw had come loose
The third issue
I wanted to attend to was the lack of a formal watch alarm system and after discussion with Tony we decided to install the new Furuno BR500. The BR500 monitors the watch officer's presence through watch safety system functions. A watch officer is required to press the button on a Timer Reset Panel or to operate navigation equipment (i.e.: ECDIS, Radar, etc.) at certain pre-set intervals. If the officer fails to press the button, operate connected equipment or trigger optional motion sensors (which we have also installed) within pre-set intervals, visual and audible alarms will be generated in the wheelhouse. If the officer doesn't respond to the alarm, the BR500 transfers the alarm to the Cabin Panels installed in other sections of the vessel in order to inform backup officers of the watch officer's incapacity. That being said, we didn’t install the remote alarms as to be perfectly honest the alarm is so loud that it will wake the entire boat. Finally, the BR500 meets IMO resolution MSC.128(75) for "Bridge Navigational Watch Alarm System (BNWAS) so while more targeted at the merchant marine market I figured, why not!
One thing that is always a concern on longer runs is someone falling asleep on watch. We know that this is a very real danger when on longer runs and while we have never fallen asleep the idea of closing one’s eyes just for a few seconds has crossed our minds (very dangerous). Falling asleep on watch can lead to dire consequences, as documented in the sad events of the Charlotte B
. As we have some longer runs ahead of us, I felt that the time was right to bring even more safety equipment aboard to ensure safe passage. You don’t get a second chance at sea.
Speaking of standing watch, on Pendana we have a certain rules we live by while underway. I sent these to a person who follows these blogs, so thought I would share them here as well. 1. Ship’s Position – Speed – Course
The most important factor or the first thing to be checked after coming onto watch is the position and speed of Pendana. Once satisfied with the position of Pendana on the chart, it is a good practice to browse through the chart and the course to be followed until the end of your watch. Check for waypoints or course alterations, any reporting points, traffic separation schemes, shallow patches, or any dangers to navigation along the intended track marked on the chart, as well as, the all- important commercial shipping lanes. On Pendana, the person on watch briefs the person coming onto watch of the items listed above. Any doubt or uncertainties are to be checked with the person going off watch.
2. Traffic Density
Now that you are satisfied with the position and course of Pendana, without wasting time we tend to look outside the bridge to get a clear view of the horizon and check the number of vessels around, if any. If we were ever to build a new boat setting back the pilothouse panels so one can walk in front of them to look out the windows is something we would do. Once you have visually ascertained the situation outside, glance at the Radar screen for the targets around and for more information provided by the Automatic Radar Plotting Aids (ARPA). On Pendana we run two radars set at different ranges depending on situation.
The general rule is that If Pendana is already in a situation such as overtaking, close-quarter, or a crossing situation, the person on watch does not take over the watch until the situation is over and the vessel is past and clear.
3. Weather Conditions and Night Vision
The next important factor to check is the weather condition. The person coming on watch will be briefed as to WX to make sure they are aware of a) wind speed and direction and b) the set and drift of current, as these play an important role in maintaining a good course. With the available information, we always try to foresee if restricted visibility or precipitation is expected during the following watch.
During hours of darkness/restricted visibility, it is of utmost importance to be fully adjusted to the low lights, as it helps in the purpose of an effective look-out. Keep in mind that, it takes around 15 minutes for the eyes of an average person to get adjusted to low lights from artificial lights. We ensure that almost complete darkness is maintained on the bridge during night watches.
4. Bridge Equipment and Dimmers
Ensure all equipment is working and any faults clarified. As is often the case, Claire and I prefer different configurations so adjustments are required to pilothouse equipment. Different folks like to use the Radar with different orientation, CPA limits, alarm settings and displays which they are comfortable with and that is fine on Pendana.
As mentioned, during hours of darkness, all bridge equipment and other displays are dimmed to absolute minimum. This helps in effective look-out and prevent back scatter of lights.
5. Inform if Required
The relieving person may want information regarding a particular situation to do with the navigation of the vessel and to elucidate on any uncertainty. If such uncertainties exists or there is lack of confidence about the situation any reason from when you take over the watch, or that you are not satisfied with the hand-over, we maintain on Pendana the clear view, DO NOT take over the watch.
Even though the factors discussed above sounds like a long, time consuming process, it can be efficiently checked and done in 5-10 minutes. On Pendana the person taking over watch is always in the Pilothouse 10-15 minutes before the watch starts, as such, there is time for a thorough handover.
The reality is that this all sounds very formal and in all honestly it’s not. It’s easily managed and just makes sense regarding safe operation of a small boat at sea. I am aghast when I see TVs in pilothouses and stories from folks who use their watch to catch up on their latest shows. Standing watch means, Standing Watch
and folks who watch TV while on watch, will no doubt, at some point in time feel the consequence of their actions. Not a matter of if, but when!
On Watch, Day 8 on our 11 day run from Hawaii to Kodiak, Alaska
The fourth and final issue
was getting my free replacement TZ9 screen from Furuno as the one I had started to develop a known problem with screen delamination.
Let the work begin - TZ9 heading back to Furuno for replacement
Furuno FI70 Wind Package
The FI70DSW offers a solution to display water depth, vessel speed, as well as wind speed and direction with the package consisting of the Wind Sensor, Digital Depth/Speed/Temp sensor, and two FI70 Digital Data Displays. The Furuno package also includes the IF-NMEAFI Analog to NMEA2000 data converter, as well as, the junction box making for simple installation. Fully compatible with other navigation equipment this was the clear choice to sort out our wind issue once and for all!
Mike installing new GPS as an independent feed for TZ9
I am huge fan of Furuno
and to be perfectly honest I don’t understand why anyone goes with any other brand. These Japanese precision built, bullet proof devices are not only commercial grade quality but are truly the standard. In fact, Toby mentioned that we have the same Furuno Radar as he recently installed on a US aircraft carrier! He was shocked to see this bit of kit in Pendana! No wonder, I love our primary Radar as much as I do. Installation
Nothing to do with installation but this guy floats past on half a boat and caught about five fish in five minutes, deserved a photo!
The boxes ready to install
The part I hate
Toby & Ross getting stuck in
The installation was effortless and, importantly, I truly felt completely confident having these guys aboard. Toby, the owner is a true electronics guru in every sense of the word and his two employees, whom I might add have been working with Toby for over a decade, were amazing. Ross knew exactly what was what, as if by osmosis and Mike, ran new cables like it was Childs play. Put it this way, if I were to upgrade any electronic equipment these guys are now my go to guys without doubt. Complete trust
I am glad Ross knows what he is doing
Mike wiring in the BR500 main unit to power, motion sensor, hit pad and alarm
Reset button for BR500
Motion sensor for BR500
The brains behind the BR500 not yet mounted
Slowly coming together
When the time came to turn everything on and calibrate the systems everything worked, first time and the process could not have run more smoothly. Admittedly this wasn’t a huge install but nonetheless, it’s that perfection in the end result one always hopes to achieve and these guys absolutely nailed it.
Sorry if this is getting repetitive, but the sunsets keep getting better every day!
Not sure why this shot is here other than for some reason I just love it
Putting it all back together
Kevin doing a few final adjustments
Ross finishing off a little programming
No trip to San Diego would be complete without a quick visit to Miramar Marine Base, yes the one from Top Gun!
F-18 Hornet on display at Miramar
Likewise a visit to San Diego Old Town was also on the cards. Here is a replicate of the Wells Fargo carriage from the mid 1800’s
Law and order featured highly even in the 1800’s
Panda at San Diego Zoo. Can’t visit San Diego without going to its world class zoo – Photo taken by Abi
No trip to San Diego would be complete without a lunch at Hotel del. Hotel del Coronado (also known as The Del and Hotel Del) is a historic beachfront hotel in the city of Coronado, just across the San Diego Bay from San Diego, California. It is one of the few surviving examples of an American architectural genre: the wooden Victorian beach resort. It is the second largest wooden structure in the United States (after the Tillamook Air Museum in Tillamook, Oregon) and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977 and a California Historical Landmark in 1970.
When it opened in 1888, it was the largest resort hotel in the world. It has hosted presidents, royalty, and celebrities through the years. The hotel has been featured in numerous movies and books.
Now that’s a foyer
The hotel received a Four Diamond rating from the American Automobile Association and was once listed by USA Today as one of the top ten resorts in the world. Testing the New Systems
On our short fifteen hour run north to Los Angeles we were pleased to be able to see our true wind speed, finally. After all these years of not really having an accurate TWS measure made me wonder if I had over or under estimated wind in the past – who will ever know! That being said, it’s nice now to finally have the basic data most folks take for granted.
We also tested the BR500 which worked like a charm. All in all, very happy with the results all round. I must say that Toby and his team were truly fantastic as, trying to find folks who truly know the ins and outs of marine electronics, is not as easy as it sounds.
Cutest little boat of all time docked at Chula Vista Marina
We are now safely tied up in Los Angeles once again, and for our very last time. It’s a little like coming home if the truth be told. One thing global travel soon teaches you, is that every marina, is a new marina, every waterway is a new waterway and one soon realises, that local knowledge is not something one has much of! As such, coming back to LA was nice, as we knew exactly where we were going and exactly how to get there – a rare luxury indeed!
Saying farewell to San Diego
Beautiful sunset with Santa Catalina Island
There is little doubt that we haven’t done a great deal of cruising in the last six months and wont, over the next eight. The reasons are many but we believe it is a mistake going too fast as you simply miss too much. That being said, I for one am eager to get back to doing a few more miles later in the year as we start to plan our transit of the Panama Canal.
The scenery on our drive through the mountains towards Palm Dessert was simply indescribable
Our plan at this stage is, Ensenada in July, while we wait for the hurricane season from the south to pass, then Puerto Vallarta in December. From there we will head to Costa Rica, then direct to Panama and our transit of the famous canal (feeling somewhat nervous about that!). Once on the Atlantic side, we will head to Cuba, Turks and Caicos’, cruise the Bahamas (after all wasn’t this all about the swimming pigs originally!) then head west to Miami and eventually wind up on James Knight’s
doorstep back in Old Port Cove Marina, Florida where it all began all those many years ago. For those who don’t know, we actually bought Pendana from James in Florida back in 2011.
The first time I laid eyes on Pendana back in 2011 in Florida
So for us now, it will be more of the usual tourist activities (Disneyland/Magic Mountain/Museums etc), packing Abi up and setting her on her way as her next adventure begins, prepping Pendana for her long run south and enjoying all that LA has to offer, one last time. There is no doubt that LA is one of the great cities in the world but if we were ever to live in the USA, then for us, so far, Seattle wins hands down. That being said, the winters there are so brutal that it ain’t going to happen anytime soon. Maybe, just maybe summers in Seattle! Time will tell.
Lastly, for those romantics amongst us, I'd like to say a fond farewell with a picture of the Super Blue Blood Moon taken 5:30am 1/31/18 San Diego