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`SAIL INDONESIA – 2007’ … 22 of 25 … `Inverter Failure’.

Bima, Indonesia … 23rd September 2007


I had a major electrical failure at Bima … the 1800 watt `Inverter’ decided to chuck-it-in (stop working).. 



An inverter is a very smart little electrical gadget that converts 12 volt DC battery power … to 240 volt AC household power, which then allows Yachties (or, caravaners) to run most household electrical appliances. My computer runs on 240 volts and this meant I was off-the-air with Sailmail … meaning I couldn’t communicate with daughters, relations and friends.

Except … I still had the great little Honda generator (which has an inbuilt inverter and will charge the computer directly) I bought in Brisbane!



Further down the track another generous yachty friend (Bryan from SV Second Wind) loaned me his inverter and I could charge the computer from the ships batteries again. He’s a good man!



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THE BRISBANE TO DARWIN (AUSTRALIA) STORY, 2007 … 5 of 19 … `Name change from Tsunami to Deja vu III’


Earlier, I had made a request of Shaz and Tony, of Cat `Southern Comfort’, in Townsville, to officiate at the De-naming of `Tsunami’ … and for Shaz to perform the Re-christening of `Déjà vu III’. Tony promptly leaves for a very well paid part time job in Western Australia.


That left Shaz and me to do the honours … and I chose sunset, on the 6th May 2007, for the ceremony (very dramatic)! I had bought four (4) bottles of Champs: One for the De-naming … one for the Christening and two for the huge crowd who were going to witness the event.



* These decals were made to stick … very difficult to remove! *

Prior to the ceremony, I stripped the two Tsunami decals from the bows of the Ship … and the following morning attached the new `Déjà vu III’ decals, very expertly designed and manufactured in Brisbane.
*   The new decals were a breeze to fit ... and I'm hoping they stick just as hard as the old ones!   *

* The new decals were a breeze to fit … and I’m hoping they stick just as hard as the old ones! *

Deja vu III was ready to go … so we went … to Orpheus Island … Dunk Island … Mourilyan Harbour … Fitzroy Island and Cairns.
posted by admin in Brisbane to Darwin (Australia) Story ... 2007,DEJA VU'S Boat Bits,QUEENSLAND ... AUSTRALIA and have Comment (1)


Stocked up with non-perishable supplies and took off for the mouth of the Burnett River (Port Bundaberg) … Tsunami travelled 400 meters and one engine stopped (better 400 meters from a chandler than 20 miles out to sea.)  However, I was not impressed, as again I had to go into `service mode’ to get the boat in order again.  Maintenance and servicing is a constant companion when travelling by sea … whether one likes it or not … I honestly wonder how people get on who are not mechanically trained or inclined.



This time it was truly my fault, as one of the fuel filters had filled with water (most likely condensation forming in a partly filled main fuel tank … or dirty fuel from a dirty browser holding tank, ashore.)  Buying fuel is a lot like taking water on board … you cannot be certain of it’s quality … Tsunami must have a mix of water from 20 different taps at various Yacht Clubs, or marinas. 

The same goes for the supply of fuel from the same supplier outlets!

Anyhow internal combustion engines will not run on water … try it one day with your car.  My first priority was to clean the filter, which has a seeing-glass section to it … hence my admission that this breakdown was my fault, as I had not been regularly checking the glass bowl for water.  Water is heavier than petrol and will settle in the bottom of the glass bowl, therefore, if you are doing a regular inspection you will see the water in the bottom of the bowl building up and drain it away.  In this case the bowl was allowed to fill and eventually water was sucked into the carburettor of the motor … and the motor stopped … bugger!

Despite my vast experience with all things mechanical, I had never dismantled such a filter… hard to believe, aye?  So using as much common sense as possible, under the situation I found myself … in the middle of the Burnett River,  I unscrewed the bolt which held the tiers of the filter together … removed the base and a split second later realised the glass bowl may need support.  As I reached for it, it went plink-plonk splash … and joined my reading glasses in Davey Jones locker.  $44.00 thankyou said the chandler and my mood darkened another 3 shades of black. 


Anyway the filter was only the beginning of getting her going again and I gained new experience by dismantling the inlet manifold and carburettor … it was necessary to remove water from the carbie!   And then, after a night at anchor in the middle of town it was great to motor to the Bundaberg Port Marina at the mouth of Burnett River … berthing for one night, then anchoring again at the river mouth … and 0415 the next day (still don’t like sailing in the dark, but I’m trying to break myself in slowly, as one day I’ll have no choice) to take off for Lady Musgrave Island about 50 miles north … my first coral island on one of the most southern islands of `The Great Barrier Reef’.  Yair!



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* The Raymarine `Chart-Plotter' that came with SV Tsunami ... 2004 *

This is my most valuable piece of equipment aboard, just eclipsing the `Auto Pilot’. The system links to a Global Positioning System (GPS), which has the amazing capacity to pick up electronic signals from 8/10 satellites overhead … and the machine on board then calculates to within about 3-6 meters, the exact location of your craft anywhere it may be on the face of this planet!  How about that?  (Like a sat-nav in a car only better?)

The attributes of the system are many and I don’t mind admitting at this time I’ve only learnt about 15% of what the system is capable of.  For those who have no idea at all what an `Electronic Charting System’ is, I will attempt to explain. 

The system is an electronic version of paper charts which outline in great detail the contours of a coastline, the varying depths of water, locations of islands and reefs etc.  Very roughly it takes approximately 250-300 charts to plot the coastline of Australia … and each chart cost $30.00.  I’ll let you work it out but that comes to a lot of $$$ … and where does one store 300 charts of about 1000X750mm in size?

* The swallows seem to think they own everything on the yacht .. that's OK, until they turn in the other direction an `shit-on-the-screen!! *

The Electronic Charting System has the identical data on 4 discs (about 20X20mm each) and displays the data on a monochrome (green) screen …  (some rich people have colour screens) in my system about 80X60mm, with an image of the location of the yacht `blinking’ and superimposed over the electronic chart!  Therefore, the system will tell me `exactly’ where the yacht is in relation to the coastline and all obstacles around me!  Not bad eh?  It does a lot more besides and I am slowly trying to take it in.  The brain can only absorb so much before it stalls and says … `enough’ already!

My latest assault on the set up is to learn how to use the Routeing System which allows me to construct an electronic trail on the chart, which when engaged … and linked to the Auto Pilot will automatically steer the yacht along the trail I have made.  Sounds fantastic doesn’t it … and it is!  Must admit it has taken many hours of reading complicated manuals, plus trial and error, to get it all together.   Erica, Cousin Elaine and Geoff experienced some of the wild rides, during this process. 

Just yesterday I plotted a route across Lake Macquarie and the system worked to perfection, taking the yacht along the planned route, exactly.  Hooray!   A note of caution … you must always be on lookout of course, as your planned route may take the yacht through a moored fishing boat or similar solid object, with unimaginable consequences!!  

But apart from that, it’s very smart and an enormous time saver.  At every way-point an alarm sounds and the skipper must give permission to the system to continue, by pressing a button.  This is a safe-guard to force the skipper to look around to ensure the path is safe and clear before giving the system the go ahead to continue! 


This system comes in a very, very, close 2nd to the `Chart Plotter’ system as the most valuable system on board.  Though I sail alone (one-up) very frequently, I have to admit I couldn’t do it without the assistance of the auto-pilot … it’s the equivalent of having another person on board willing to work 24 hours a day, without complaint and capable of sailing a straighter course than any human being.  And they don’t have to be fed and watered! 

* The `Auto-Pilot (the grey ring bolted to the steering wheel) takes orders from the Chart-Plotter and automatically steers to a point I nominate!! Just GREAT! *

The wonderful relationship the Auto Pilot has with the Chart Plotter makes it ever more valuable with every new trick I learn about the two systems.  Coming into Cape Hawke Harbour, I was able to tell them both to `Go-to’ a point just off the Cape, from 15 miles away … and the boat was automatically steered straight to that point!!  Magnificent!  

Sailing can be really tough! 


Anchored in Cape Hawke Harbour, Forster-Tuncurry (two towns which had their names linked) in a narrow channel with fast flowing tidal waters, an annoying vibration started up that was new to me.  I got out of bed twice, say, 11:30, 01:00 … and finally 03:00 to finalise this matter once and for all.  It proved to be the tidal waters creating a vibrating effect on the `bridle’ attached to the anchor.  I can hear your mind buzzing … asking yourself … what the hell is a bridle?  Catamaran yachts, because of their wide beam (width of yacht) as opposed to a narrow beam on a mono (single hull yacht) swing at anchor much more than a mono.  This can cause some discomfort if the yacht swings side-on to the breeze.  A bridle is a type of yoke, or `V’ shaped rope leading from the bows (pointy ends) of each hull and attaching to the anchor chain 3-4 metres out from the bows … and reduces the swinging effect dramatically. 

* The anchorage at Forster-Tuncurry is a narrow fast-moving channels, with sandbar, with Pelicans! *

Now where was I with the Black Night drama?  All right … when leaning over the front crossbeam, (the large 300mm diameter aluminium beam which connects the two hulls) through the lifesaver lines, in pitch darkness (apart from my Dolphin torch) to inspect the bridle … my big head caught on a line and my `Timberland’ spectacles, with titanium rims, multifocal lenses, with auto tinting and scratch free glass, were ripped from my face and dropped into the 4 knot tidal waters … never to be seen again by human eyes, maybe the occasional fish will scratch it’s head at this strange inedible item on the seafloor.   $500.00 into the briny!  A very `Black’ night which left me with a very `Black’ feeling for the rest of the day … and onwards.  Plus, how does one see clearly now?

* This Boy had a MUCH WORSE day than me! The Skipper badly mis-judged the strong current … which swept the yacht under the bridge! *


Replacing the glasses in Brisbane proved to be a $560.00 exercise … too much for a moment’s inattention!!  These glasses will have a cord from each ear piece from which will be hanging a small float.  Really, these are on the market and this customer has been `given’ one by OPSM!



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RETURN TO PITTWATER … 29th December 2004

Having spent a riveting couple of weeks on Sydney Harbour, during which I motored/sailed up the Parramatta River and around about half the bays of the Harbour, I took off on a return trip to Pittwater.  Anchored at Little Manley Cove, waiting for a South Easterly to blow me north.  Whilst at anchor I had the bright idea to motor around to Manley in my dinghy (with new 3 hp Yamaha outboard motor) to shop for provisions at a local Coles store.  Had an unusual experience in the store when a pigeon flew over my head, creating all sorts of possibilities.

* Anchored at Little Manley Bay ... you are witness to many interesting `passers-by' ... this large catarmaran Charter Yacht came by often! *

Anyhow, on pushing my load back to the dinghy left on the beach (chained to a wharf) I was knocked over by another 40 Knot Southerly … I’m rapidly getting sick of these Southerlies, which arrive unannounced and with such violence.  Got back to the dinghy all right only to find the Manley Bay waters whipped into a frothy frenzy.  Could my little 3hp dinghy take it?  No it couldn’t, so facing the real possibility of drowning I headed for a patch of brown sand which represented a small beach. 

* Erica demonstrating the use of the inflatable dinghy ... normally carried over the stern of Tsunami! *

 Horror of horrors … the path took me over very shallow reef and weeds … it was low tide.  With the wind howling I drug the dinghy ashore and set off across the headland to checkout how `Tsunami’ was getting on on the `borrowed’ mooring … as she was copping the full blast of the SE’er across the bay.  No worries and back to the dinghy.  It was two hours before sunset and I was hungry.  I had bought a box of Diet Cokes and bag of nuts in my shopping spree (essential nutrition), so I relaxed alongside the luxurious swimming pool of an apartment complex and scoffed nuts and Coke.  30 minutes before sunset the winds died down to about 20 knots and I had to make a dash around the headland … or be faced with the prospect of travelling in the dark.  Not good!  Got home OK to Tsunami, drenched and promptly cranked up a hot shower!  What luxury!

* Demonstrating where/how the dinghy is carried. It is powered by a 3 hp Yamaha outboard! *

Sailed back to Pittwater in 2.75 hours the next day … a great trip.  The reason it was great?   Tsunami had a 25 knot SE breeze which pushes us along at 7/8 knots.

The reason for returning to Pittwater was so I would be there to show Melanie and John around the area, an area she particularly wanted to visit given her interest in or work with Environmental Reporting.  Pittwater is something of a special place for anyone interested in preserving natural forest/flora and fauna … so right up Melanie’s street.


I was introduced to this Club by Jim Holt who sailed his Seawind 1000 down from Lake Macquarie for the Seawind Regatta.  We were both anchored in The Basin Bay the night before the regatta … and as so often happens, he rowed across about 18:00 to make himself known. 

We spent a pleasant couple of hours mainly discussing the attributes of the Seawind 1000.  Jim subsequently invited me to a meeting of the CCCA.  The Club does not have a Clubhouse and its members are yachties who are retired in the main and have a common desire to sail anywhere (mostly the east coast of Australia), however, some go world wide and report back to the Club their adventures.  They also give the opportunity of sailing in company with other yachts and members.  Sounded exactly the basic philosophy of my travel plans … but, it wasn’t.  Members seemed very elitist and not at all interested in visitors … therefore, I WILL-NOT follow-up on Membership!



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I spent most of this morning working on things electrical … as I had just two days before, bought an inverter (which is an electrical marvel that converts 12 volt DC (car battery voltage), into 240 volt AC … the same voltage as everyone has in their houses these days) and a bubble jet printer/copier/scanner. 

* Printer/Scanner/Copier and Fax machine ... Made possible to use onboard by the `Inverter'! *

* One of the greatest little devices offered a Yachty ... converts 12 Volt battery power to 240 Volt Household power! *

I needed the inverter to charge the battery in my laptop computer … and I needed the printer to make black/white/coloured copies of the information I type into the computer, otherwise, what’s the good of having a computer if you cannot terrorise people with printouts?  The inverter cost $269 … and the printer $174.  Printers will soon be `use a 1000 times and then throw-away’!

The inverter didn’t work!!  As I started to say earlier, I spent all this morning working on why the inverter wouldn’t work … and finally came to the conclusion it was a voltage/amperage surge problem throughout the yacht’s electrical system, which was upsetting the inverter.  I therefore needed to install a dedicated power line direct from the battery to the inverter!  Simple in theory, but when I started to follow the electrical circuits back, it proved to be somewhat more difficult than I had imagined. 

I looked outside and the sun was shining … it was a beautiful day (it has been overcast and dreary for more than a week) and it occurred to me I wasn’t here to have my head in the bilge … that can wait!  Pulled up anchor, sailed under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, past the Opera House (OH) and dropped anchor in a small bay alongside the OH on the doorstep to the Governor’s Mansion … and had lunch!   Perfect. 

Have a feeling I may have taken an award winning photo of the Opera House and The Bridge

* John and Melanie during Xmas visit of 2004 *

Tonight I pinched a mooring (meaning I hooked onto someone else’s permanent anchorage … there are thousands around Sydney Harbour) in Rose Bay, still within sight of the Central Tower of Sydney.  We did have a time with the Royal Motor Yacht Club of NSW (an annexe of the Pittwater Club)? 

Bloody hell it can get rough in Rose Bay, the boat is actually rocking a little in the 25 knot NE’er.  What an interesting Bay though, as it is the home base for a flying aircraft business and I had these ‘planes zooming over my mast all day, to land!  Everything can and does happen in Sydney!

* A very freindly Marina `Royal Motor Yacht Club of NSW`... Rose Bay. *

Decided to move across the Harbour to Little Manley Cove, about 5 miles across the Harbour and just 600 metres walk from the Ferry Terminal at Manley.  Stayed the night on a mooring I borrowed and it was also a bit rollie. E.g. Tsunami was moving from side to side, making living onboard uncomfortable.


Next morning I decided to walk into Manley Centre (I am trying to walk everyday as I do not have the bike on board) … and I fear I’m putting on weight again due to the fact you do not get a lot of exercise on a yacht.  The saying is … “Get fit to go sailing – Not go sailing to get fit!” … and it’s true.

I may not have mentioned, there’s 100’s of millions of dollars floating on the water around Sydney … in the form of privately owned yachts and powerboats.  However, Sydneysiders have climbed new heights, as, whilst powering ashore in my dinghy today, I spotted this orange flash floating on the surface of the water, diverted slightly and guess what? … A nice new $20.00 note came floating by and I was forced to snavel it.  Couldn’t have this piece of flotsam polluting the waterways!

My Inverter is going great guns now, as is the printer …

Plan to sail back to Pittwater Tuesday or Wednesday … as I’ve been invited to attend a Xmas function held by the Coastal Cruising Yacht Club of Australia … at Cottage Point on the Hawkesbury River.



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A visited to the Seawind Catamaran factory in Wollongong … was a highlight for me … as I had the run of the factory.  The brand new 1160 (11.6 metres long) model for Seawind is a great deal bigger than the Seawind 1000 (10 metres long) … and it was a great experience to see the second unit only being worked on.  It still had a looooong way to go before it was to be a sailing unit. 

The best for me was to climb over four Seawind 1000 cats being built on the one assembly line.  It’s great to see the yacht in various stages of assembly, as it gives you a detailed appreciation of how the yacht is built and where the various compartments and controls are hidden.  I enjoyed this day very much and was allowed to photograph anything I liked! 


* This is what all the fuss has been about ... the day I move onto `SV Tsunami' *

* Can't believe it ... I've made it to a permanent living situation onboard SV Tsunami! *

Moved on board SV Tsunami full time.  At last!


* I was quick to add decals promotong the CYC ... Carnarvon Yacht Club! *

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Had an uneventful trip to Sale (Vic) where I had arranged to have a `Para-Anchor’ produced for `SV Tsunami’.

* Para Anchor during wind test ashore! Prior to delivery to owner! *


Few non-yachties will know what a Para-anchor is, so I will explain!  If you are caught at sea by a gale/storm and conditions appear chaotic/uncontrollable, this device is designed to anchor your boat at sea!  This is done with a para-anchor, which is a large parachute (approx. 5 metres diameter to suit my 10 metre yacht) made of extremely tough material and suspended from the yacht on a tough, springy 160 metre line (rope).  This device will hold the yachts bow (pointy end) into the wind and allow a reasonably safe/comfortable life style onboard (you are even able to sleep.)

* Schematic showing principle of how Para Anchor works! *

In-a-nutshell … this device is to keep you safe and comfortable.


The principle of design is much the same … the main difference between the two is their size:

  • The Para anchor, which hangs from the bow (front) of the yacht, is, in the case of Tsunami, at 10 metres long, five metres in diameter. 
  • The Drogue, which is trailed behind the yachtis much smaller at approximately 0.75 of a metre.

To learn ALL about the Para Anchor …

* The Drouge is towed from the stern and designed solely to slow the yacht/boat down! *

And the Drogue is designed to slow-the-yacht-down!

I will never forget an experience described to me by Royce Black, Delivery Skipper for Seawind Catamarans … who sails Seawind yachts anywhere around the world from the Seawind factory in New South Wales, Australia, to new owners.  Royce was delivering a Seawind 1000 to Perth, Western Australia … and the preferred route for such a delivery is north up the east coast … across the top of Australia, past Darwin and down the west coast to Perth.  It is a lot longer than taking the shorter route across the bottom of Australia … but … there is a greater likelihood of getting there via the northern route.  The reason, the foul weather that blasts up from the Antarctic from the SW and sweeps across the bottom of the continent with great force and freezing discomfort.  Ok … thought you may want to know! 

Somewhere north of Broome, on the West coast of Australia Royce sailed straight into the path of an east bound cyclone (hurricane in the USA).  This would have to be the scariest situation to find yourself in … in fact I can’t even imagine it!  Royce decided to get to the coast as quickly as possible and tie the yacht amongst the mangroves along the shoreline.  BUT, his immediate problem was … HOW TO SLOW THE YACHT DOWN!  I can’t remember the speed he quoted the yacht was going (around 20 knots) … but, it was way-to-fast.  He had all spare lines/ropes knotted and trailing over the stern … both engines in reverse and full throttle … but the yacht was still hooning!  This is a situation where you would SET-A-DROGUE-OVER-THE-STERN … AND IT WOULD SLOW THE YACHT DOWN!  Of course not all yachts carry a Para-anchor, or a drogue.  The yacht survived thanks to Royce’s’ skill and experience … BUT, he found two crew deserting the ship at Broome … they had been scared enough for one trip! 



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