On Sunday I sailed over to Liapari. Only about 13 miles, but threading my way out from Gizo was not easy. The channel through the reefs is marked, but the markers are not numbered, and some essential ones have the top missing (which means you can’t tell the color so you don’t know to keep it to port or starboard). Got out with only one close call.
The sail to Liapari was not too bad, the wind was very irregular from the squalls that seem to come down the nearby extinct vulcano on the island of Kilimbangara. I have only a large scale paper chart for the area, and there is a vague indication on it where the pass into Liapari should be. So I ended up about a mile north of the channel entrance. But, once the first marker was found the way in was pretty easy.
Monday morning I went have a chat with Noel, the owner of the yard. I explained him what work I needed done (repairs to bottom of keel and rudder) and then he frowned. He showed my the cradle they use to haul out yachts on the railway, and they put the whole boats weight on the keel. Normally not a problem, but, there is no way you can fix the bottom of the keel when the boat is standing on it. One note I want to add, Morning Lights keel is glassed in, as opposed to many fin keels where the metal keel is bolted to the bottom of the hull. Anyway, it was pretty clear that this repair was not going to fly, on we go.
The rest of Monday I spent on board Tristan with Mike and Frida, trying to sort out his Pactor and SSB problems. Spent a lot of time figuring out which cables were hooking things together, but I ended up giving up. He either has the wrong cables (but I am by no means an SSB expert) or his radio is locked (which means he can only get to marine HF frequencies and not HAM radio frequencies). I did manage to interface his AIS receiver to his computer, but the software (Yacht Pro I think) would crash on the first arrival of an AIS message.
As thanks for my help, my gave me his old Gateway laptop. Now, that is GREAT. I spent more than a day reinstalling the machine. Which turned out to be challenging because Mike had an XP CD, but not an installation code. Was about to give up on that, thinking I would have to go to Gizo to buy an XP license. But I went through my book with magic notes, and wow, there was an XP installation key from my previous laptop. And, even better, it worked with the XP CD. So, I am now in business with a computer and electronic charts. Which is really fantastic considering the poor charting of this area, and the fact that my next destination (Cebu, Philippines) takes a 250 mile meander between islands before making landfall.
Of course the computer is completely bare, I am missing all the gadgets I had gathered over the years. And all the programming I had been doing for GPS and AIS interfacing (where I had 80% finished making a closest approach alarm for the night watch) is gone. Also, the only pictures left from the trip are the ones posted to the web site (glad I have posted quite a few). It is a pretty old machine: Intel Pentium III, 497 Mhz, 192 MB or RAM. But, if you keep things simple (which I really will do, I am disabling all automatic updates) it will run just fine. Hopefully I can find some Linux Cd-ROMs in the Philippines, than I can start doing some hobbying (there is very little you can do without any compiler or script interpreter).
Yesterday I had a nice sail back to Gizo. I am going to spend a few days here doing some grocery shopping (though there is limited supply here). Probably after the weekend I will be leaving for the Philippines. That is going to be a long trip, from here you try to go straight north to cross the equator, once north the equator you should pick up the northern hemisphere trade winds, which should make a pretty good sail to the Philippines. But, not counting the dog leg, the distance is already 2300 nautical miles. Assuming light winds till the trade winds, it likely to be a four week trip. But, the boat is in good order, the engine seems to run fine, the damage to rudder and keel is not a problem, and I am looking forward to have some good time at sea.
I am sitting in the internet cafe right now, using my digital camere (which was not stolen because it was in a plastic bag in a not so obvious place) as a memory stick. And already picked up a virus. The first download was Avast anti virus installation.