Pledge Less Plastic in 2017

2017 is here! And with it (along with even colder temperatures and the seemingly inevitable viruses that have floored us this past couple of weeks) lots of intentions and plans. We think, and hope, it’s going to be a pretty big year for us in terms of sailing! I wrote in our last post about the privilege of being able to travel relatively easily, and with that privilege we recognize the responsibility to do our bit to try to protect and cherish the seas that we love so much. Continue reading “Pledge Less Plastic in 2017”

Us and the boat and the sky and the sea

img_20160714_193503.jpgThere were numerous moments over the last three years when we wondered whether we should just give up on trying to get Illusion to Vancouver. It was so complicated and expensive and time-consuming. And then on top of that wanting to visit our families for weddings and births and funerals, the addition to our own family-crew, the ongoing pressure of trying to complete my PhD, Doug’s surgery and recovery from his shoulder injury, and all the other ups and downs of life…. Yawn, I’m sure you’re sick of hearing about all the bad stuff. Every few months we would have a serious talk about whether we should give up on trying to get the boat here. Maybe sell her. Maybe sail her back to the Marquesas. Maybe go and live on her in Hawaii. img_20160804_114739.jpgBut none of it quite made sense and each time we re-evaluated, our conclusion was to keep pushing on. We couldn’t easily sell her without a working engine, but if she had a working engine, we could get her here and in that case we didn’t want to sell her. So we just stuck at it and waited for all the circumstances to make sense and come together and…. eventually, they did!

Continue reading “Us and the boat and the sky and the sea”

Engine recap – overview of jobs, lessons, and resources

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Engine room ahoy

As those of you who’ve followed the blog for a while know all too well, Illusion‘s engine unexpectedly became a main focus over the last couple of years – we’ve written about it here, here, here, here, here, and here! We’ve probably talked and thought more about the engine – a MerCruiser D3.0L – than any other aspect of boat life, even sailing!  But as we have a few new blog followers, and because a few people have asked, here’s an overview of the engine parts I’ve worked on/serviced/replaced since starting the preparations for this journey (not counting basic maintenance, such as filters & fluid changes), a few lessons learned (which might help you avoid a similar nightmare) and sources of information, just in case you too have fuel injector woes:
Continue reading “Engine recap – overview of jobs, lessons, and resources”

Stormy seas and safe harbours – lessons in community

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Storms in the Pacific. August 2015
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Three hurricanes in the North Pacific!

Back in 2013 when Doug was solo-sailing from the Marquesas to Hawaii, and wondering whether to just carry straight on up to Vancouver, he heard radio check-ins from a couple of boats doing that journey who were having a pretty rough time of it. Rough enough for him to realize that he should call it a day for that season’s sailing, leave the boat on Oahu, and get himself up to Vancouver for some much needed rest and shoulder surgery. He’s mentioned those boats a few times while we were working out whether he could sail to Vancouver this summer, not wanting to leave any later than the end of August if at all possible. The last few months have been all about trying to get the engine fixed, while simultaneously prepping the boat to be ready to set off. As the end of August approached, and with the engine really close to working properly, things were still up in the air about whether Illusion was going to be leaving the harbour. Continue reading “Stormy seas and safe harbours – lessons in community”

It’s a wild life… sort of…

IMG_20140701_191350So a whole summer has passed and we haven’t managed to sail Illusion at all. Oh dear. This is turning into a very slow journey from New Zealand to Vancouver, but life comes at you with all its unexpectedness and hey ho, you do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are.

What we could do: Continue reading “It’s a wild life… sort of…”

Solo Sailing: Routines

I’m about to head back to Hawaii to spend a few days working on Illusion – and maybe get a little winter sunshine, too! This time there’ll be no sailing of course – without an engine it’s too much effort to get in and out of the marina – but heading back to the boat has had me contemplating those last couple of weeks when I was sailing up to Hawaii from Nuku Hiva. Arriving back to Vancouver I was exhausted; a friend recently used the word “depleted” which is a pretty good description. The first few weeks back were a bit of a blur: it was great to see everyone at the ‘Welcome Home’ party (thanks to all who came and gave me such a warm welcome), but somewhat overwhelming to be surrounded by so much noise and activity after all that solitary time and seven months living on the boat, most of them without a whole lot of sleep! I wrote a bit about some of my experiences at sea alone, but I thought it might be interesting, especially for those who have never done long passages, to have an idea of the kinds of things that need to be done and thought about whilst under way. It’s all relevant to group sailing too, but just a little more intense when there’s just one of you… Continue reading “Solo Sailing: Routines”

The Illusion Show

IMG_20130822_174643The last ten days, while Doug has been at sea, alone, heading towards Hawaii from Nuku Hiva, have gone slowly here in Vancouver. And while it’s felt slow to me, I know time will have been even weirder for him.

The seven day passage from Tahiti was a lesson in the bendiness of time. Time off (mainly sleeping or cooking) flew by. Watches, for the most part, didn’t. A three hour stint of steering the boat under the moonlight could feel like just a few minutes one night, and never-ending another. The three minutes between banging on the floor to ask for relief and somebody’s head popping up to say they’d be there in a minute dragged ridiculously. As did the next ten minutes waiting for them to get their drink and snacks and life jacket, and get up on deck to take over. Continue reading “The Illusion Show”

DHL – The Shetland Pony Express of the South Seas

What’s a pony doing on the ocean?!?!?  Well, not much, as it turns out. I ordered a replacement motor for the autopilot drive through eBay (another nightmare, worthy of its own post if I ever get round to it) just before we left Tahiti. I contacted the seller in England to confirm that he could ship to French Polynesia and the shipping cost. He said it would take a week for him to order the part, then the DHL “Express” shipment (GBP 50, about US$80) would take 2-5 days.
Continue reading “DHL – The Shetland Pony Express of the South Seas”

Engine Drama: The day it all went horribly wrong!

For anyone who’s followed this journey for even a little while, they’ve probably already heard many references to our engine failure. I wanted to write about it in some detail, but it’s a long story so I’ve broken it into parts. This post is about the turning point where I stop trying to fix the engine and decide this is going to be an engineless journey.
Continue reading “Engine Drama: The day it all went horribly wrong!”

Engine trouble: the background

For anyone who’s followed this journey for even a little while, they’ve probably already heard many references to our engine failure. I wanted to write about it in some detail, but it’s a long story so I’ve broken it into parts. This post is more about the details of our main engine problems, and so is a bit more technical, but hopefully not as tedious to read as it has been to experience it…

The story starts before we knew the engine was going to die. There was a period of relative calm in the Southern Ocean between New Zealand and Rapa, when we were running the engine to charge the batteries and make slightly better progress. We noticed the exhaust had some black smoke; since the wind was slight and from behind us, the smell wafted over the boat, too. I thought the turbo might be dying, since it has been sitting, rusting externally, for a few years. But the turbo turned out not to be the biggest problem.

Continue reading “Engine trouble: the background”