Back in the day – Illusion being built

** We’ve been sorting through a big box of photos which had been stored under the bed in Illusion for quite a few years. It’s been quite a surprise to find out which photos survived and which were damp and stuck together – we haven’t got through them all yet, but so far there are some great ones from various adventures, including travels in Mexico, South Pacific tropics, and New Zealand. Over the next few weeks we’ll scan some and post them here on the blog to give a bit of Illusion‘s back story. **

I was living in an apartment in Tiburon (near San Francisco), California, failing to find a used boat to buy. I almost gave up after a boat deal in Germany fell through. Then the MacGregor video of their 65 foot sailboat at a local boat show sparked my interest in taking a closer look; a factory visit to meet Roger MacGregor; and a downpayment to get on the waiting list. A year and a half later, in late 1994, I went back to the factory in Costa Mesa, California to see her being built. Surprisingly, the photos of her in pieces, with the hull partly assembled, survived in good shape!

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Recent trip to Hawaii

20160406_064403.jpgI’m back from about a week in Hawaii working on boat projects to prepare Illusion for her journey to Vancouver, Canada this summer. These were all projects we’d hoped to do once the boat was in Vancouver, but since this trip has been so long delayed, I decided to work on them now. And they’ll be useful for this coming passage, too, of course. I went alone this time (sorry, no cute photos of Toby on the boat – though, cute story, apparently he spent the whole time I was away saying ‘Dada, boat!’) and apart from the odd run along the beach or walk through the park, it was pretty much work, work, work. It was great to see the Full Monty crew and Johnson who runs the Sumo Ramen and Curry place across the road – always good to see his friendly face and catch up. Here’s a brief list of what I got done: Continue reading “Recent trip to Hawaii”

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:
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Engine excitement

11029513_733115730167127_5507250782570436044_nI (Sara) don’t know a whole lot about diesel engines. But I do know a whole lot more now than I did two years ago. And I’m actually fascinated watching and hearing about Doug’s work on rebuilding Illusion‘s. In fact, I recently found myself reading, with interest, this great post which explains some of the basics of a diesel engine – and was (almost) amused by this bit:

  “The whole process – pistons going up and down, the crankshaft going round and round, valves opening and closing, and tiny squirts of fuel being sprayed into the cylinders – happens dozens of times a second, but we really don’t need to bother about it here. If these parts fail, there is nothing a DIY mechanic can do about it on board.”

One of the approximately million of pictures I've sent to Doug while we've been apart
One of the approximately million pictures I’ve sent to Doug while we’ve been apart

Yup. There wasn’t much we could do about it on board – in fact, by trying to fix it with limited equipment on Rapa and at anchor on Raivavae, we managed to mess it up even more. But now things are happening and the engine starts and stops as it should, doesn’t cause a smoky cloud around the boat, and runs more or less as it ought to. It’s not quite ready to be deemed fixed. Every day Doug sends me WhatsApp messages along the lines of “Found another leak”, “Fixed another leak”, “It got too dark to see the leaks, will have to continue tomorrow” and other such sweet nothings. (I mainly send him photos of Toby – things have changed a little since two years ago, but WhatsApp is still keeping our relationship alive and well.)

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Soldering on: 240 Volt Day

I know of three types of mains voltage systems in the world: 100 Volts (Japan) and the 110-120 and 240-250 Volt systems (the Americas, China and a few other countries use the former, European countries and their former dependents use the latter). Illusion was built in the US and so endowed with a 120v system with American sockets. When I settled in New Zealand (a former British colony), I began Illusion‘s partial conversion to 240v…

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Raivavae

IMG_20130809_063608After the drama of the anchor dragging we settled into an amazing week on the island of Raivavae, a place I’d never even heard of which suddenly became home to us. Mostly we were working on the engine or trying to do other boat jobs to prepare to set sail so we didn’t see the stuff tourists go for – beautiful beaches off out by the reef, mountain walks with incredible views, diving, snorkelling, canoeing. Apparently that’s what tourists do anyway, when tourists visit. Chez Linda, the attractive pension run by the lovely Linda and John, where John and Deb were staying, organized all that kind of thing, along with lending bikes and cooking delicious meals. In the time we were there, though, I think only two other couples arrived. Interestingly there was a lot of local opposition to the airport being built thirteen years ago and you still get the feeling that, despite being welcoming and friendly, this is an island that is quite happy to not be inundated with visitors.

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“That’s a big boat.” – post by Janice

The folks at the boatyard really like to remind us of this fact. Yup. We know. It’s a big boat. We know it intimately, now that we have sanded its 65-foot hull repeatedly for nearly a week. Those of us with back problems really felt it. Those of us without back problems no longer exist. But even the pain and tedium of sanding came to an end at some point, and that point was when Doug said “Okay, that’s enough sanding.” If our arms were not already frozen in overhead positions, we would have thrown them up in jubilation. Denied our gesticular glee, we celebrated instead with a bit of bubbly later that evening. Continue reading ““That’s a big boat.” – post by Janice”

Sea changes: the first month!

I need a haircut!
I need a haircut!

Wow! It’s a month today since I arrived in New Zealand. The cunning plan to document the process of getting Illusion ready to sail again has been somewhat foiled by the fact that by the time we finish work each day I’m ready to sleep. That combined with our internet connections being fairly unreliable has made contact a little irregular. And did I mention that our days consist of basically working for hours, eating, sleeping, then starting all over again? It’s been busy! I’ve managed the odd Facebook and Twitter update, but nothing on here. However, as our plan in having a website was not only to share with friends and family what’s going on, but also to document the experience for ourselves and to keep some kind of journal of the expedition, I’m going to do a catch up post here. Maybe when (if?) things calm down a bit, I’ll be able to go into some more details, but for now here’s a bit of a summary of the past month….. Continue reading “Sea changes: the first month!”