KatieKat 2001 Cruise Chapter Eleven

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November 2001KatieKat 2001 Cruise Chapter Ten
20 November 2001 Signs and Ads and Leftovers
22 November 2001 Boat Details
Seawind Owners
1 December 2001 Anchoring Perspectives
11 December 2001 Year's Highlights and Lowlights
20 December 2001 Boat Perceptions Update
21 December 2001 Year-End Reflections
25 December 2001 Family Christmas
January 2002KatieKat 2002 Cruise Chapter One

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This is the eleventh webpage of our cruise covering the year 2001 and is a potpourri of leftover photos from this year as well as musings about various boat cruising-related topics. This is one long continuous page, and clicking on any of the underlined dates above should jump your screen to the appropriate section on this page (or you can use the scrollbar on the right to navigate up and down this page). Joe Siudzinski

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20 November, 2001 -- Signs and Ads and Leftovers

In reviewing this year's photo collection, I extracted a few which I hope you find interesting.

[Sign Pet Meat] I did a double-take when I first saw this one.

[Sign Toad Racing] A popular pastime in Northern Queensland.

[Sign Great Sex] No subtlety in this one.

[Sign Strongbow] An ad for Strongbow Cider in a Brisbane pub.

[Sign Warning Students] The busline in Bundaberg doesn't tolerate rowdy kids. In contrast, the bus driver who picked us up at Bundaberg Port Marina was incredibly friendly and most helpful - he knew his passangers by name and went to great lengths to accommodate them. It was indeed a happy bus.

[Sign Warning Students] Speaking of buses, this is typical of the vehicles needed on the rough roads in Northern Queensland. Although this was a tour bus, the larger commercial ones are also very rugged creations.

[Swim Pool Sign] Not much unusual in this swimming pool rules sign except for that one sentence. Webster defines "lout" as a "clumsy ill-mannered young man"... hmmm, what about the girls?

[Bug on Hand] We were in a restaurant in Port Douglas when I felt something crawling up my leg. Reached down and brought up this cute little guy.

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22 November, 2001 -- Boat Details

In response to boaties' requests, many from Seawind owners, I'm including a few details of minor improvements or features of our boat which I haven't shown elsewhere.

[Smoke Detector Study] [Smoke Detector Master Cabin]

I have three smoke detectors onboard: one in the starboard aft cabin (left photo); one in the port master cabin (right photo); and one inside the electrical panel cabinet (not shown). I know the one in the starboard cabin (study) works because my toast-making tests it almost daily. The right photo also shows the second barometer and thermometer - amazing how often we refer to it.

[Carbon Monoxide Detector] After reading about a near-fatal experience on another catamaran (caused by a propane-powered refrigerator), I installed a carbon-monoxide detector in the sleeping quarters just to be safe. Haven't ever seen its reading change, even due to heavy breathing with everything closed up.

[Door Prop] A simple method of keeping the door open slightly to improve the ventilation for the refrigerator. A thermostatically-controlled exhaust fan would be a more elegant solution.

[Electrical Switches] I found that I needed additional 12v outlets next to the desk in the study so I added them and three switches and temporarily Velcro'd an ammeter and LED voltage-level indicator. I'll install a proper secondary power panel when I add the SSB transceiver.

[TV Setup] A shot of the starboard forward cabin showing the way the tv set is normally setup when not passagemaking. The antenna usually works well in this position. Unless it is too hot, we eat our main meal downstairs while watching the news. Behind the TV you can see our lightweight portable washing machine - only needed to use it once, and it really works!

[Jib Halyard Shackle] [Main Halyard Shackle]

My two halyards are neatly but strangely terminated - when I questioned the apparent lack of UV-protection for the inner core, I was told "no worries, mate - they're all done this way". Anyway, when not in use I've been wrapping the exposed part with a rag. The jib halyard is on the left (I just took the jib down off its furler) and the main halyard is in the right photo.

[Headboard Strap] One of the few things that broke: at 6500 miles the strap holding the upper sailslide to the headboard finally chafed through. This is my hand-stitched replacement. So far, so good.

[Midships Cleat] I had specified midships cleats for my boat, and the photo shows one in use. They are located quite far inboard and when I questioned that location I was told they were there so as not to interfere with the spinnaker sheets. Being inboard causes interference of the dockline with the chainplate. In keeping with modern design, there are no fairleads to cause chafe, although the gelcoat is getting rubbed a little. This is a very handy cleat, especially useful for properly attaching springlines and for towing BikeBoat alongside.

[Towel Holder] [Curtain Holders]

As a temporary measure I've been using towel holders (the kind with the little flaps that you poke the towel into with your finger) for not only the small hand towel in the head but also to hold up curtains the few times we need them when in a marina. The right photo also shows the fluorescent light I had added in the master cabin as well as the mirror temporarily stuck into place (until a nice framed one can be found).

[Rubber Mats] Everything that can slide sits on rubber mats - the blue things in the photo - which are commonly available as shelf liners. Haven't had any of these items fall off yet.

[Cargo Net] Since my boat didn't come with multiple shelves on the outboard side of the main cabin, I added the cargo net which is used all the time for temporarily storing stuff, primarily clothes. Not elegant, but very functional.

[Propane Hose] One of the very few items I've replaced has been the propane hose assembly - the original connector corroded (I neglected to oil it) and this braided stainless-steel replacement seems more rugged. The boat carries two 4kg tanks, only one of which is hooked up. If I were to do it again, I would specify having both propane tanks attached to the distribution line, as we've managed to run out of propane at the darndest times and swapping propane tanks while crashing through a seaway at night or when it's pouring rain is no fun. One tank lasts us exactly one month.

[BBQ Drain Hose] The Australian BBQ is a large solid flat hotplate with a drain channel and built-in cover which we use like a wok. This simple addition - a hose for the BBQ drain, keeps all the yuk from soiling the aft beam. It's never clogged, and its length provides a great slurp (like that technical term). The trick to keeping the BBQ clean is to spray water onto it while it's still hot (all the crusty stuff steams right off) and then simply burnish the surface with stainless-steel wool. The photo also shows the distorted hull of BikeBoat - the upper surface showing compression loading.

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1 December 2001 - Anchoring Perspectives

No coastal-cruising discussion is complete without talking about anchoring, and what started out as a brief adjunct to this year's cruising review grew in sufficient magnitude to merit its own stand-alone section. So, having just written it, here it is before I get around to the rest of the annual recap - this is really boring stuff for non-boaties, so feel free to skip it.

First, a little history about my anchors. You'll recall that I started off with a factory-stock 35# plow anchor (no-name brand), but switched over to the 33# Bruce. In January, I bought a Fortress FX-16 as a backup, having lost my little Fortress FX-11 in Noumea last year. Attached to the primary anchor is 30-meters of 5/16" chain and another 50 meters of 16mm three-strand "silverline" - a popular Aussie polypropylene 3-strand line that came with the boat (and which I'll be replacing with some quality nylon when I get back). I normally use a 5/8" nylon bridle (20' legs) shackled to the chain.

Before I discuss the anchors, perhaps first a few words about my anchoring technique. Kathy and I communicate using head-mounted kids' FM walkie-talkies. I'm up on the bow while Kathy controls the motors (unless we want to play and choose to sail up to an anchorage for practice). My technique for lowering the anchor is to bring the boat head-to-wind, lower the anchor until it touches bottom, then have Kathy slowly back the boat as I lay the chain down in a straight line. I gently snub the anchor chain a few times as I'm paying the chain out and when I have most of it out I properly snub the chain and have Kathy gently increase throttle to ooch the anchor in. When I see/feel the boat locked into position, I then attach the bridle to the chain, let out the remaining chain and bridle (or anchor rode and bridle if it's deep), and then verify that the anchor is properly set by backing down while opening up the throttle until both engines are wide-open going astern. Doing this allows me to sleep well at night, but I always set the GPS anchor alarm just in case. Even though I've anchored on 3:1 scope in some crowded anchorages, I normally try to stay away from other boats and use at least a 7:1 scope. In addition, if possible, I like to dive down with a mask and snorkel and check the anchor itself. I rarely use a trip line and float. To retrieve the anchor, I have a manual anchor winch available.

I discussed my initial anchoring experiences on August 22 of last year, concluding that the 33# Bruce was preferable to the plow. Indeed, this year I started off successfully using the Bruce all the way up to the Whitsundays. The only significant trial for the Bruce was while anchored in Lady Musgrave where the predicted sustained 25-30+knot winds lasted for a day-and-a-half, with gusts to maybe 35-knots. I dove down and checked its set right after I anchored and it was beautifully buried deep into the sand. Although a couple of boats around me dragged their anchors, the Bruce held perfectly. Almost all anchorages are affected by tidal currents, and the Bruce's resetting ability is reassuring.

Using the Bruce, I had two instances where I thought I might have had a problem: the first was one evening in NorthEast Percy Island. where I had to try setting the anchor a couple of times on the rocky bottom, and even though it seemed to hold I wasn't all that confident that night - in fact, I picked up and re-anchored in the middle of the night because too much scope and a wind shift had allowed the boat to get close to shore on the very large tidal range. The second instance was in Cooktown where I was on a very short scope in what I think was a soft oozy bottom with continuous strong tidal flows. Over a period of a few hours I simply came too close to other boats and so ended up moving KatieKat away - the combination of current and tidal range gave mixed signals and I don't really know if the anchor dragged or not.

In the Whitsundays, after a couple of scares of almost not being able to retrieve the Bruce because either it or its chain snagged under rocks (perhaps I should use a tripline more often?), I decided to go back to the plow and see if my previous-year's misgivings were justified and also figuring that if I had to cut an anchor loose, I would prefer to lose the plow.

The difference in anchor behavior between the plow anchor and the Bruce was immediately apparent. With the Bruce, when I initially snub the anchor chain, the boat invariably goes "thunk", being brought up sharply and with the anchor chain immediately taut. With the plow, the response was completely different: the plow would noticeably mush and slowly drag over the bottom, and it was only when I had released a large amount of chain that it would bite and stop the boat. Even then, when I thought everything was ok and would let out the rest of the chain and bridle, when I would increase the throttle when backing down the anchor would pull loose and go hop-skip-and-jumping over the bottom. Didn't seem to matter what the bottom surface was, although most of the bottom compositions were either sand or mud with what looked like small seashells. Many times, if the weather forecast was benign, I would simply give up and forego any re-anchoring and increase the sensitivity of my GPS anchor alarm. I continued trying the plow anchor while going up the coast until, in Zoe Bay on Hinchinbrook Island where the weather forecast was for a strong Easterly and we were on a lee shore, I happily replaced the plow with the Bruce. It was a relief to finally sell that plow anchor in Cairns.

After selling the plow, I decided to see how the Fortress FX-16 performed in everyday use. First of all, the Fortress weighs only ten pounds (4.5kg), compared with the 33# Bruce or 35# plow! Not only is its low weight on the bow roller beneficial, but, being flat, it just happens to fit inside the relatively-shallow anchor locker on the Seawind - so that's where I'd put it after almost every retrieval. Now, simply lowering the anchor was tricky - it is so light and has such a significant fluke area that it likes to glide if the boat is moving at all or if it is released quickly. One needs to lower the darn thing slowly. Once it's on the bottom, it needs to be handled a little more gingerly than the Bruce in order to get it to dig in, with a fair amount of chain and gentle initial tugging to get it to start and continue setting; however, once buried, that Fortress just locks itself in and , when it comes time to retrieve it, it is the devil to break out. I successfully used the Fortress for about a month until we were back down to Orpheus Island, where I finally switched back to the Bruce after the Fortress refused to bury. After that, I really missed its light weight for hoisting and then manhandling on the foredeck.

Another telling feature of anchoring is anchor retrieval: I have a manual anchor winch which I had to resort to almost every time I used the Fortress in order to break it out. With the Bruce, most of the time I could break it out if I tightened up and got the anchor chain vertical and snubbed it and then had Kathy power forward. When using the plow, I never needed the winch to break it out, and only used the winch when the water was over 30' deep and I then needed to winch up the combined weight of the plow and chain simply to ease the strain on my back. Very simply, the Fortress and Bruce are dug in and need to be leveraged out of the sand or mud whereas the plow just needed to be lifted up off the bottom.

Please bear in mind that the preceding were my own experiences this year, and must be considered anecdotal. I have to point out that over 90% of the anchors used by local boats in Queensland are plow anchors, many being no-name brands. In talking with cruisers, the CQR and New Zealand Manson brand plow anchors have a very good reputation, with most cruisers swearing by them.

Now, despite my preference for the Bruce based on its seeming ability to dig in immediately and reset itself nicely, the Bruce has the drawback of having a lower holding strength (relative to its weight) than other anchors. Steve Darden discusses this in some detail on his Adagio website (go to the Techno tab). In fact, the Bruce turns out to be one of the poorest-performing of all anchors in this respect! On the other hand, the Fortress has the highest load carrying capacity relative to its weight. Another problem that applies to both the Bruce and the Fortress is their difficulty in setting in grassy conditions.

Recognizing all that, here's a summary of my anchoring schemes for the present:

For normal anchoring, the Bruce is my first choice because it sets and resets quickly.
The Fortress is my backup anchor or becomes my primary anchor if a gale is predicted.
For storm anchoring, I plan on using the Fortress in series with the Bruce - first the Fortress, then the Bruce (the chain from the Fortress looped and shackled around the shank of the Bruce and not its lifting eye), then a full-length anchor chain (I have additional chain I can shackle on from the backup anchor) and the chain shackled to the eye of the nylon bridle leading from each bow of the boat. If it's really really going to be awful and I have enough room, then I'll simply add nylon rode for more shock absorption (if there is no coral to cut it).

This topic is far from dead, and if I have the time while I'm back home I hope to check out the highly-recommended Spade anchor and perhaps the Bulwagga as well.

One final related topic: I continue being very interested in what the actual anchor-rode loads are for KatieKat for various windstrengths. While anchored at Lizard Island, Mike and I rigged up a fishscale to the anchor chain (using a 1:2 tackle with Harken blocks) and recorded a whole bunch of data points for anchor load vs. windstrength. After doing a regression analysis to come up with a curve-fitting equation, the results show anchor-chain loading curve that is consistent with the data taken but surprisingly low relative to both published data and that calculated using KatieKat's estimated cross-section area. I'm reluctant to publish the curve at this time, as I need some time to think about all the variables.

By now you might be laughing and telling me that I've gone off the deep end on this whole topic. Perhaps it's my laziness - I don't really wish to wake up in the middle of the night having a violent squall pushing my boat down onto a lee shore - ruins a good night's sleep, among other things.

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11 December 2001 -- Year's Highlights and Lowlights

One tends to remember the best and worst situations, events, locations, etc., and so here I'll try to summarize our highs and lows for the year. I'll keep updating this section as I think of things, so consider this a work in process -

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20 December 2001 - Boat Perceptions Update

Before I bought the boat I identified some of my reasons for choosing the Seawind 1000 and listed my perceptions. A year ago I revisited those perceptions, concluding that the boat met or exceeded expectations. Now, after another year of life aboard, it's time for another update.

In summary, I just re-read what I wrote a year ago and still agree with it. The most attractive feature of the boat that distinguishes it from all other boats is its sheltered main saloon with 360-degree visibility when seated.

Sailing Conditions

First of all, this year consisted of only coastal cruising, a good portion of the time protected by the Great Barrier Reef - the beauty of doing this without a schedule is that one can pick and choose the weather. We slowly sailed up the coast of Queensland in the prevailing southeasterly tradewinds and then utilized the changing weather patterns of October/November to zoom back down the coast, resulting in very little windward sailing all year long. Decadent!


For us, the most pleasant feature of the boat is its continued long-term liveability (recalling the custom cabin modifications we made) - after all, this is only a 33' boat. If you're interested in seeing photos of the various features of the boat, go to KatieKat the Cat webpage.

Liveability is enhanced by the boat's layout: well-defined and separated compartments - our well-insulated main cabin with amidships double bunk in the port hull is far away from galley noise and smells or my study and its associated noises (e.g., weatherfax downloads). The starboard forward guest cabin worked out quite well for the three+ weeks that Mike and Hania stayed with us, and the rest of the time this cabin serves as our tv-watching nook. In the hot weather of Northern Queensland we usually ate "upstairs" - in the main saloon, whereas the rest of the time we find it convenient to simply eat below where we can watch the tv news (to which we became addicted after September 11).

The galley continues to be appreciated, but there is a continuous battle to keep the counters decluttered so they can be useable. The top-loading refrigerator and freezer are extremely efficient, but each requires judicious packing for accessibility. We've found UHT milk (ultra-high temperature stabilized so needs no refrigeration until opened) in plastic bottles which store very efficiently - can't taste the difference between UHT and fresh milk. Unlike the US, UHT milk is available everywhere in Australia.

We realized that we actually have four tables onboard at which we can sit and eat/write: main saloon (comfortable seating for seven with deck chair), starboard forward dinette (two persons comfortably), my starboard aft study (one person, two in a squeeze), and Kathy's port forward desk (one person). With the aft benches on the targa bar and seating on the engine covers, the main cockpit and open main saloon easily host a good-sized party (with room for dancing, if so inclined).

I had completely removed the main saloon fabric enclosure and side curtains for many months, and only reinstalled them for the last couple of weeks of our return trip - it takes a minute to remove them and they stow away nicely rolled up either under the main saloon forward windows or on the starboard forward bunk. When anchored or at the dock we invariably have the aft awning up, which stretches out to the targa bar and provides additional sun and rain protection. With the boat pointing into the wind at anchor, we simply don't experience any wind or rain in the main saloon, and easily control its ventilation with the overhead hatches. If it's really pouring, then I do put up the side curtains in front of the steering stations.

Sailing Qualities

Again this year, by design we had very little windward sailing - what little we did showed that the additional drag of the wind generator and bicycles stored high on deck increased our tacking angle from 90 degrees to around 100 degrees (recall that I had been pleasantly surprised by the boat's normal windward ability). During the many downwind runs I usually flew one of the three spinnakers, often leaving the main stowed completely. We rarely had any water on deck, and only noticed the few splashes when we had loaded down the boat with Mike and Hania and their gear plus a full water tank and provisions on our way to Lizard Island.

I had added another turning block to the boom, so now we have the ability to use all four reefing points. Only used the third reef a couple of times and never resorted to the fourth reef at all this year.

Boat Systems

Everything continues working just fine, with a very few minor problems - the only noteworthy one being a rudder shaft seal which leaked when it was rough. I've learned to live with the mainsail lazy jacks, but still plan on modifying them to eliminate chafe and enable retraction during sail hoisting (I love the the mainsail bag/cover). Simply a no-problem year, as it should be.


I continue to love my Yamaha 9.9 high-thrust long shaft outboards. I long ago abandoned my purist approach and we don't hesitate to motorsail when needing to ensure that we arrive at anchorages or harbor entrances during daylight. We normally use only one motor - if beating, the leeward one; if running, and someone's taking a nap, we run the starboard engine; if I'm working in the study, then we run the port engine.

Our overall two-year fuel consumption is 1.10 litres/hour (port) and 1.12 litres/hour (starboard). When passagemaking in zero wind we usually gently motor at a speed of about 4.5-5 knots using only one engine. Top speed is over 7.5 knots using both engines, and one engine can push the boat at over six knots.

Even Kathy will now admit that docking the Seawind is a stress-free experience - I think the ability to spin the boat around in its own length and squeeze into the tightest of docks is downright fun!

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21 December 2001 - Year-End Reflections

This year was devoted to coastal cruising, with no open-ocean passages. We covered only 2900 miles this year, giving us a total GPS mileage since we started cruising of 6883 nautical miles. We sailed out to the outer Great Barrier Reef a number of times, with perhaps the furthest offshore being to Lady Musgrave Island at only about 50 miles out of Bundaberg (if that far). Although we had a few longer nonstop round-the-clock passages, most of our sailing consisted of day-hops up the coast between harbors and islands. Queensland coastal waters offer such wonderful cruising grounds that we could easily spend another season simply exploring this one state's coastline.

Australia is a wonderful country! The people are genuinely friendly and hospitable, and there are so many beautiful places to see and visit. Public transportation is excellent, and squeaky-clean public restrooms are plentiful (important when one travels). Furthermore, because of the exchange rate and living aboard the boat, the cost of living (for us) is noticeably lower than back home. Having been back in Silicon Valley for a few weeks, I miss the friendly greeting one gives and receives when passing someone while walking down the street virtually anywhere in Australia.

Our lifestyle on the boat can best be described as laid-back. For the first time in my life there is an absence of nagging concerns continuously hanging over one's head - what an unbelievably refreshing feeling! There is no urgency associated with the daily activities, completely unlike life in Silicon Valley where the highly-productive work environment mandates microscheduling all of one's time. Having the time available has made us (read, me) far more social (sociable) than before - in the previous life there was no such thing as taking the time to stop and chat with someone; now, these are the daily norms. We sleep well, my blood pressure has dropped (106/70), and we lead a fairly healthy lifestyle with plenty of exercise. Any issues that come up invariably deal with problems back home and the occasional frustration of not being able to quickly provide closure - in this respect, having e-mail on board has been very handy. We have a wonderful friend Marya back home to thank for opening our mail and keeping us abreast of unexpected developments (life would indeed be much more difficult without this help).

Certainly, the most stressful and disquieting experience for us this year was September 11 and the subsequent events. Enough said.

Now, as I write this at home in Silicon Valley just before Christmas, the old lifestyle is reaffirming itself: my house had been vacated just before our return and we've just spent three frenzied weeks repairing and refurbishing it in preparation to try to rent it out again; I haven't yet done my Christmas shopping but did manage to kick out 200 Christmas cards; administratively I have done nothing yet (monster task, with a year's worth of mail to sort through and prepare for taxes); the huge yard is a weed-filled disaster; the pool systems need repair; my trimaran and car cover shelters have disintegrated; 3/4 of the phone calls are sales pitches; the local economy is in a significant recession, with the highest unemployment rate in years; there are so many friends we'd like to visit; the return flight to Brisbane is January 16; tax returns need to be done .... feel that blood pressure rising... :-) Nevertheless, this is miniscule compared to the past pressures of work.

In the overall scheme of things, we recognize how incredibly lucky we are, and are indeed appreciative and most grateful for being able to enjoy the lifestyle we had dreamed about for so many many years. Merry Christmas, everyone! (it's 3:00AM)

[Deer] View looking out my (dirty) garage window - proof that there is still peace in this world.

If you have any specific topics you'd like me to address, please feel free to send me an e-mail.

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25 December 2001 - Family Christmas

[Polish Christmas] Polish Christmas Eve "Wigilia". From lower left, going clockwise: Alicja, Joe, niece Julia, son Alec, Alicja's mother Halina, nephew Jonathan, Alicja's sister Zofia and her husband Rick.

[American Christmas] American Christmas Day. From lower left, going clockwise: Kathy's parents Bob and Berniece, Kathy's nieces Melissa and Ashley, Kathy's brother Jim carving the turkey, Jim's wife Carolyn, and Kathy (I took the picture).

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