We’re on our way back to France! Our first stop is La Grande Motte, to get back to Wildling and catch the International Multihull Boat Show for a couple of days. I have a work assignment in Europe for a while, so we decided to enroll Gavin and Lindsay at the International School in Aix-En-Provence so they can continue their studies, and improve their French while we are staying in Europe.

April also marks the beginning of the sailing season in the Med, and we are very much looking forward to doing a lot of sailing this year. I’ll post more info on our travels as we go along. We will be starting things off with the Outremer Cup, which is being held in La Grande Motte on May 6-8. François Trégouet from Outremer has agreed to skipper Wildling for us, as I am no racing sailor, and he has a lot of ocean racing experience. We also have some room on Wildling if any of our blog readers will be in the area and would like to come along. Please contact me and I’ll see what I can arrange.

Stéphane from Outremer is currently bringing Wildling back from Canet-En-Rousillon where she was hauled out to have new bottom paint applied, and to have the annual saildrive service done. They also installed the new EWOL propellers that I wrote about in this post, and I am anxious to find out if the EWOL props will give us some improvement in motoring and sailing performance. Wildling should be back home again by the time we arrive on Tuesday morning.

Engine Check Video

In this video, I show you how I do an engine operation check on Wildling.

A baby Wildling?

One thing I have found when teaching our kids to sail aboard large cruising multihulls, is that things can be pretty intimidating and confusing. They do learn the maneuvers real well, but because everything is so big (massive sails, huge winches, lines everywhere) and we rely so much on instruments, they don’t feel the same connection to the sails and the wind as you do on a little boat.

Things can be a bit intimidating for a small person on a big boat!

Things can be a bit intimidating for a small person on a big boat!

Where the heck is the mainsheet on this thing?

Where the heck is the mainsheet on this thing?

I have been thinking for a while about getting a dinghy that we can sail on our home waters at Moreton Bay, Queensland so when Lindsay was selected to join the Ormiston College sailing team, it was the perfect excuse to buy a boat for her to train on.

After a lot of research, I decided to buy a WETA trimaran for us to sail together for fun, and for Lindsay to train on. The thing I like about the Weta, is that it’s a multihull (of course) and it has pretty much the exact same sailplan as Wildling, with a main, jib, and roller furling gennaker. The only thing missing is the mainsheet traveler, and there are no reefing lines, but other than that, it’s essentially the same as Wildling. So the skills Lindsay learns on the Weta, will translate directly to sailing Wildling.

It may not look like it, but this little trimaran has almost the exact same sailplan as Wildling, just in a tiny 4.5 meter long boat. She has the same top speed as Wildling also (about 20 knots)!

The Weta trimaran has almost the exact same sailplan as Wildling, but in a tiny 4.5 meter long boat

The Weta was designed in New Zealand by a father and son dinghy racing team, and they have sold about 1,100 boats worldwide. The boat has a main, jib and furling gennaker, and the outrigger floats make it very stable and easy to sail, while still being fast and fun.

Our new Weta trimaran rigged for the first time

Our new Weta trimaran rigged for the first time.

Lindsay and I getting ready to launch

Lindsay and I getting ready to launch

Maiden voyage!

Maiden voyage!

Since our Weta arrived, we have taken her out sailing every few days, and Robin and I have gone out together while Lindsay is training on her sailing team boats. It’s fun to get back to basics and set the sails based on the feel of the wind on your face, and getting sprayed as we skim over the waves! Of course there’s no glass of wine in the Wildling cockpit at the end of the day, but a beer in the yacht club when we’re done is a pretty close second!

Engine Rooms Tour Video

In this video, I show you around the engine rooms on Wildling and explain the different systems we have installed.

Interior Tour Video

Here is the second in a series of videos I made while I was onboard Wildling recently. In this video I take you on a tour of the interior.

Nav Station Tour

I made some videos when I was onboard Wildling recently, which I will post as I get them uploaded to our YouTube channel. The first video is a tour of our navigation systems, instruments and communications equipment.

 

I spent a weekend with Wildling in La Grande Motte to check on a few projects that were being done before the sailing season begins again.

A beautiful winter's day in La Grande Motte, France

A beautiful winter’s day in La Grande Motte, France

Wildling is looking awesome! She has been moved to a marina berth further inside the marina, which is a bit more protected than where I left her last visit. She was spotlessly clean and all the stainless steel had been polished, which is a monthly service that Stephane at Outremer arranged for me.

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Pretty much all the projects we needed done were completed, we’re just waiting on some parts to replace the holding tank gauge that is not reading correctly.

The main items to finish were replacing the goose-neck bolt that attaches the boom to the mast, and the installation of the HF radio.

Lorima, the rig manufacturer, fitted a longer bolt and replaced the old locknut with a larger nylock nut, which should not work loose. They added a locking grub screw, just to be extra sure.

Lorima, the rig manufacturer, fitted a longer bolt and replaced the old locknut with a larger nylock nut, which should not work loose. They added a locking grub screw, just to be extra sure.

Nav station with the new HF radio installed to the right

Nav station with the new HF radio installed to the right

Our new ICOM HF radio was i nstalled. The HF allows us to communicate much longer distances than the VHF, which is important when we are far offshore.

The ICOM HF radio allows us to communicate much longer distances than the standard VHF radio, which is important when we are far offshore.

HF radio antenna tuner installed on the starboard engine room

HF radio antenna tuner installed in the starboard engine room, right below the transom mounted 8m whip antenna.

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We also made some progress on our propeller project. EWOL will be bringing the new props over and working with Outremer to run before and after tests. I’ll post results as soon as I have them.

What’s cool at Boot Dusseldorf

I’ve been hearing about it for years, but had never seen it for myself. As unlikely as it sounds, the world’s largest boat show is actually in Dusseldorf Germany, 100s of kilometers from the sea, in the middle of winter! I visited the show this year and wore out a good amount of my shoe soles visiting each of the 17 halls of this massive exposition, which includes just about everything you can do in, on and under the sea.

Here are some of the things I found that I thought were particularly cool:

The Outremer folks were there, although, unlike Lagoon they didn't bring any boats.

The Outremer folks were there, and although they didn’t bring any boats, they did have their cool, new, virtual reality theater running. With this you can walk around a model of a boat to see it from outside and inside, and you can also become a passenger on a 5X under sail. Definitely a cool experience!

Hybrid SUPs

These Hybrid Stand Up Paddleboards that have a sail attachment to convert to a windsurf board were really nice. Not only are they inflatable, so easy to store on a cruising sailboat, but their ability to be used as a regular SUP and also a windsurfer, makes them a really versatile water toy when at anchor!

The best Man Overboard device I have seen is this Jon Buoy

The best Man Overboard device I have seen is this Jon Buoy from Ocean safety. Not only is it really easy to spot from a distance, but it’s actually a mini, 1, person liferaft that you can climb into while waiting to be rescued. To deploy, you throw the rail mounted canister overboard and the whole thing self inflates when it hits the water.

Inside the Jon Buoy, there's room for 1 person, and it has an attached PLB beacon. The system includes an integrated harness with a lifting strap to attach a carribiner

Inside the Jon Buoy, there’s room for 1 person, and an attached PLB beacon. The system includes an integrated harness with a lifting strap to help lift the raft onto the rescue vessel.

Lagoon where at the show with two of their new model boats

Lagoon was at the show with two of their new model boats, the 42 (in the photo) and the 450S. And while I don’t think their boats are that great, their ability to get them inside an expo hall in Dusseldorf is definitely cool!

This little device will pull you along underwater at high speed and is very maneuverable, for the ultimate human-dolphin experience!

This little device will pull you along underwater at high speed and is very maneuverable, for the ultimate human-dolphin experience!

More and more sailors are using drones for filming, but there are a lot of casualties

A lot of sailors are using drones for filming, but there are also a lot of drone casualties due to unintended water landings! The folks at Splash-Drone are making a waterproof drone that can not only survive a water landing, but can also take off from the water surface!

EWOL propellers is a company in Italy that is specializing in

EWOL propellers is a company in Italy that is specializing in high thrust, low drag propellers for catamarans. They use an ingenious 180 degree rotation design, along with a very low drag sailing mode for their propellers. I’ve been researching these for a few months now, because our motoring speeds on Wildling are a bit weak. The boats that have switched to EWOL props have reported anywhere from 10% to 50% increase in speed. This photo shows the propeller in forward thrust position.

Propeller in sailing position

Here’s the propeller in sailing position. The blades rotate straight, so there is very little drag compared to a standard folding propeller.

Here's the propeller in reverse

Here’s the propeller in reverse thrust position. The blades rotate almost 180 degrees from the forward position. When you compare this to the first photo you can see that the blade profile is very close to the forward position but with a reversed angle of attack. This gives a high reverse thrust compared to a standard folding prop, that just spins backwards with the same blade angle as in forwards.

When we ordered Wildling, I was disappointed to learn that Outremer was no longer offering flexible

When we ordered Wildling, I was disappointed to learn that Outremer was no longer offering flexible, bimini roof mounted solar panels because they have had too many reliability problems with the panels they were using in the past. The folks at SunWare in Germany have been making their flexible panels since 1987 and believe they have perfected the art of building an electrically efficient panel that can withstand the rigors of long term cruising and high use. They are the suppliers to Leopard Catamarans, among others and have experienced almost 0 failures of the panel systems. I’ll be looking to add a few hundred more Watts to Wildling before we cross the Atlantic next year.

Here's the state of the art in dive masks

Here’s the state of the art in dive masks. The full-face design eliminates fogging because the regulator is built-in, and produces an airflow over the mask lens surface. It allows for underwater communications by connecting to an integrated 2-way radio system, and the visibility is supposedly better than a standard mask. I was curious about how to equalize pressure because you can’t squeeze your nose like a regular mask. The OceanReef guy explained that they use an adjustable nose pad system that allows you to press you nostrils closed by pushing on the top front surface of the mask when you need to equalize, but breathe normally through your nose the rest of the time. Very cool indeed!

The final stopoff on my tour of the show, was the Montenegro tourism booths to find out about marina logistics in that country. Because foreign flagged vessels only have an 18month visa for cruising inside the EU, we have to find a non-EU location to exit in order to restart our visa clock. The traditional choices of north Africa are too unstable these days, and even Turkey is becoming a concern, so I though Montenegro might be worth a look. In addition to their existing marinas, there are several new marinas under construction that should be completed this summer, and there are also some yacht management companies that will help with booking logistics and taking care of your boat while you are away.

We will need to exit at the end of this summer, so I’ll continue to research this and report back on what we decide to do.

Outremer Sailing on Sydney Harbour

Brent Vaughan from Multihull Central, invited Robin and I to go sailing on VAA NUI, Outremer 45 hull #1, which arrived recently in Australia after crossing the Atlantic and Pacific and a long stopover in Tahiti, so we jumped at the chance!

Sydney Harbour

We came to Sydney for a few days to catch up with the team at Multihull Central and do some sailing on Sydney Harbour. Spectacular view from our hotel at Circular Quay

It was my first opportunity to sail a new model Outremer 45, and I must say I was really impressed with how easy and fun she was to sail.

VAA NUI is currently for sale after crossing from the Mediterranean to Australia

VAA NUI is currently for sale after crossing from the Mediterranean to Australia

As with all the Outremer yachts, the sail handling design is pretty much the same, so it takes no time at all to transition between the different model boats. The 45 is just a scaled down version of the 51 and the 5X, so it feels like sailing our 5X in many ways. A bit slower, of course, but also easier to handle because the size of the lines, winches and sails are all smaller, so it’s just a really fun and forgiving boat to sail.

Heading out the "racecourse" for our Friday afternoon sail

Heading out to the “racecourse” for our Friday afternoon sail

We went out with some of the other boats in the Multihull Central Seawind fleet and sailed around their regular social racing course. The winds were perfect for us, because we had a southerly front starting to push in, so winds were westerly between 10 and 30 knots. Even in these gusty conditions, there was no need to reef, and VAA NUI was very comfortable, accelerating in the gusts, but always keeping neutral helm balance even when loaded up.

Brent on the tiller

Brent on the tiller

Seawind snuffing their spinnaker to get ready for the upwind leg

Seawind snuffing their spinnaker to get ready for the upwind leg

Our competition gained on us with their (“illegal?”) use of a spinnaker downwind!

Upwind leg

Upwind leg

But we took care of them on the upwind leg!

Sails furled and heading for home

Sails furled and heading for home

Robin doing a fine job as beverage manager!

Robin doing a fine job as beverage manager!

We had a really nice afternoon sailing. A big thanks to Brent for inviting us, and we’re hoping he gives us another call when the first Outremer 51 arrives down under!

A Wildling Weekend

It’s almost winter in the Mediterranean, so no sailing, but since I was in Europe for meetings, I had the chance to spend the weekend with Wildling. There was a cold and strong Mistral wind blowing when I arrived (40 knot gusts in the marina) and 4 Deg-C by Sunday, so it wasn’t as pleasant as last time we were here. Now I see why the sailing season in the Med shuts down between October and April!

Wildling is doing great! The Outremer folks are taking good care of her. A big thanks to Stephane, who runs their after sales division for all his care and attention while we are away.

On our last trip, we were delayed sailing from Barcelona to La Grande Motte due to weather, so we didn’t really have time to get everything tidied up onboard and ready for the winter, so it was good to take care of that this weekend.

I had also left a small repair list with Stephane to take care of before next season, so I was able to see how things are progressing.

COVERS

The new sailbag is installed. It's a slightly different design than the old one, and looks great! It has a bit more volume at the boom end, which is nice because the old one was a bit tight, so it was hard to get the zipper started when closing up the bag

The new sailbag has been installed, and looks great! It’s a slightly different design than the old one, and it has a bit more volume at the end of the boom, which is good because the old one was a bit tight, and it was hard to get the zipper started when closing up the bag. You can also see the new cockpit table cover that Atelier Bilbo made for us, which fits perfectly.

I put all the covers on the winches, steering wheels and instruments.

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And I fitted the cover to the dinghy.

I also removed the outboard electric starter battery from the dinghy, and charged it up and stowed it inside for the winter

I also removed the outboard electric starter battery from the dinghy, and charged it up and stowed it inside for the winter

ENGINES

Stephane arranged to have the Volvo engines serviced. They changed the oil in the engines and the saildrive gearboxes and they replaced the oil and fuel filters.

The idle speed on the port engine has been a bit low since delivery (600 instead of the recommended 800 RPM) so I adjusted it this weekend.

DODGER FRAMES

On our last passage, the dodger frame on the port side pulled apart at the forward stainless steel fittings when we encountered a strong wind gust. The original design used connections that had grub screws to hold the tubes in place, but they weren’t strong enough. Outremer fixed this by removing both frames and welding every single joint. We shouldn’t have this problem again!

Outremer modified both dodger frames. All joints are now fully welded so they are super strong!

Outremer modified both dodger frames. All joints are now fully welded so they are super strong!

SEA WATER PUMPS

There are two sea water pumps on Wildling. One for the sink and toilets, to save freshwater when on passage, and one for the forward and stern deck wash hoses. Both pumps are controlled by a single switch at the switch panel in the salon. A problem we had is that the deckwash seawater pump loses it’s prime and starts running continuously on longer passages. This happens because we don’t use the deckwash pump much when underway, and with all the motion, the water drains out of the suction side of the pump, but since the discharge is closed (because we don’t use the deckwash hoses) the pump can’t get enough flow to re-pressurize, so it just keeps running.

I fixed this by installing a waterproof isolation switch at the pump, so we can keep the pump for the sink and toilets running, but turn off the deckwash pump when we aren’t using it. A better solution would have been to have two sea water pump switches at the control panel. If you’re building a new boat that has this feature, it’s something to think about.

This switch allows us to isolate the deck wash sea water pump when we are on passage.

This switch allows us to isolate the deck wash sea water pump when we are on passage.

BOOM CONNECTION FITTING

I posted during our trip to Ibiza that the pin that connects the boom to the mast worked loose and almost allowed the boom to separate from the mast, which would have been a major disaster.

Outremer discussed this with Lorima, the company that manufactures the masts and rigging for Outremer yachts, and they said that all that is required is that the grub screws that hold the nut on the pin need more Locktite to make sure they don’t come loose! The response from Lorima was a big surprise to me, and since ours is the 2nd 5X (that I know of) that has had this happen, and in fact the other 5X had a full boom disconnect in the open ocean, they seem to me to be not taking this issue seriously.

Stephane proposed they fabricate a longer pin with enough shaft to fit a split retaining pin and washer below the lock nut, which they have agreed to do. This hasn’t been done yet, but hopefully they will get this taken care of in the next few weeks.

SSB RADIO

I have ordered our ICOM HF radio to be installed during the winter and I left the counterpoise for it onboard. We are using this counterpoise system instead of a traditional grounding plate for a couple of reasons:

  • The ground plate is a maintenance issue and always fouls with sea life when sailing which adds a lot of drag
  • Over time the grounding systems on boats tend to corrode which degrades the performance of the radio

I have tested the counterpoise on an amateur radio ground station at our home in Brisbane, and it works very well, but the real test will be to see how it works on a sailboat. There are plenty of positive opinions posted online, but since it is a different approach than the traditional grounding systems, there are also a lot people that are skeptical. We shall see!

Counterpoise ground system for the HF radio. This system is basically a collection of tuned length wires that sit inside the boat and allow the antenna tuner to match the different frequencies used in marine HF radio.

Counterpoise ground system for the HF radio. This system is basically a collection of tuned length wires that sit inside the boat and allow the antenna tuner to match the different frequencies used in marine HF radio.

It was great to spend time with our beautiful Wildling, and I’m happy with how she is being cared for while we were away. We’re looking forward to the sailing season next year, and are busy planning the itinerary for our next trip!

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