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.
In this video, I show you how I do an engine operation check on 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.
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.
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.
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!
In this video, I show you around the engine rooms on Wildling and explain the different systems we have installed.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Our competition gained on us with their (“illegal?”) use of a spinnaker downwind!
But we took care of them on the upwind leg!
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!
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.
I put all the covers on the winches, steering wheels and instruments.
And I fitted the cover to the dinghy.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!