Posts Tagged ‘Tiki 38’

Closing Arguments: This time for good!

March 22, 2019

All other options having evaporated, Aluna’s Travel the World Blog is coming to a full stop here. Aluna herself however has plenty of life left in her. She is structurally sound and is desperately looking for a new owner to continue her journey.

Located and safely stored in Sorong, West Papua, Indonesia she is now for sale.

More information on Scott Brown Multihull and also here.


Aluna watching out over Ta Atua, Tongareva, Cook Islands


Aluna returning from Whangaroa to the Bay of Islands, North Island, New Zealand


Captured by the Spell of the Vessel

February 5, 2016

Boats do have their famous ways to grab your attention in its entirety and dominate the doings of your daily living, exterminating without mercy any trace of free will. I guess that is what exasperated and exhausted men mean when they say the boats are worse than women and when boats are called upon to give their proverbial promise of freedom, I’d like to caution that this does come at a very high price! To cut a long story short we are now in the midst of paying our dues for having abandoned Aluna to the elements for a good twenty months. Boats by their very nature do make their home on the water, and that is a very unforgiving element indeed!

I mentioned in my last post, it could have been an awful lot worse and we certainly are grateful for that. But the transformation of two cheerful vagabonds jet setting across half of the globe and paying delightful visits to friends and family along the way into, once again, scrubbing sponge and epoxy brush wielding maritime construction workers does grind away at the ever meager resources of the psyche. For all of you leading the stable fantasy of a normal life, let yourselves be warned: There is a price to be paid for freedom, and rightfully so. The irony of this statement can not be expressed with any emoticon!

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Here’s a short list of what’s been done since our return and what awaits eagerly at the pole positions of our various lists. The bottoms have been almost freed of the astonishing amount of marine growth, banging away at it from the dinghy with an aluminum scraper on a long stick. This latest and greatest form of cardio workout has helped to raise Aluna out of the water a good inch and a half. The shells of those admirable beings that made their filtering home on our boat hulls sport a density similar to that of rocks, after all they are sand waiting to be ground under pounding surf somewhere on the fringes of our earth’s oceans.

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The aft netting beam came off its two sockets atop the sternposts with the intention of fixing a couple of cracks in the fiberglass. Chiseling away on its ends at Ted’s shop a soggy mess of not very nice smelling dark grey wood soon appeared and before we knew it, the option of constructing a new beam had emerged as a far more reasonable approach to the problem. A short trip to the lumber yard with our newly acquired little wine red Honda Logo with three five-meter-long boards strapped to its fragile roof on the way back provided with the necessary materials for the task at hand. An I-beam with a slightly curved top similar to the Tiki 38’s main beams was deemed the best design, after discarding the temptation to purchase a piece of round aluminum extrusion due to the three times heavier material costs.

alunajan16 - 7 alunajan16 - 8The three boards, two 19x140mm vertical grain and one treated construction grade 2×6, were first glassed before gluing them together. Cutouts where made on the contraption to sit in the sockets and extra layers of fiberglass were laid on the places where the lashings will try to gnaw their way into the delicate timber. Three pads were then added at carefully measured positions to accommodate the blocks for suspending the boarding ramp. The vertical board was a good meter and a half longer than needed. I decided against cutting these ends off, thinking they would make good supports for adding two little catwalks outside the tiller arms. Two one inch holes were finally drilled to either side of the rudders to serve as fairleads for the bridle of our sea anchor, which should help us ride out any serious storm. Finally, three coats of gleaming white marine enamel paint culminated the fabrication and by now Aluna’s newest member sits proudly aft, all that is left to do is attach the bridle for the steering lines and the netting that spans between the center catwalk and the starboard hull before checking this task off the list.

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While I’ve been busy with these testosterone prone activities, Beatriz let her estrogen flow freely by tidying up Aluna inside out to make her livable again, chasing grime and slime and spider webs away sending them off to find happiness somewhere else. The joy about the absence of seagull guano on Aluna’s decks on our return was somehow tempered by the discovery of swarms of swallows who made their agile flybys just before sunset, cruising at breakneck speed under and in between the two hulls. Christian, our neighbor and owner of SV Donella and the mooring Aluna is still tied up to, was swearing out his full German self about their nesting under his sail covers, messing up the sails underneath. The crevices between Aluna’s hulls and decks soon turned out to have received ample decoration marked by the little critter’s poop. But that was an easy clean up, as it became soon obvious, having all dried to little hoops of black dust.

What we had to keep an iron fisted secret though was the discovery of two small nests the swallows had built behind beam number three, just underneath the step I had glued there to be able to walk back and forth behind the cockpit, because we had seen what happened to the poor critters should they end up in the hands of Christian. Little black thingies dangling from SV Donella’s lifelines when observed through our binoculars turned out to be the lifeless bodies of our swallow’s siblings hung by their feet as scarecrows against those undesired intruders.

We granted our guests a two-week extension to their lease while we went for our house sitting stint down to Auckland over the holidays. On our return the three tiny little eggs in one of the nests had turned into fat balls of dark brown plumage slumbering away during daylight while their diligent parents where out and about snapping up enough fluttering critters to come home and feed their brood at dusk. Within a couple more days those fat balls of dark brown plumage had again transformed into aspiring acrobats of the airways, each one of them making the most important leap of faith to adulthood without stranding in the lethal waters below. It was now time to unmount the nests from their inopportune location to contemplate their intrinsically mudded engineering.

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Next up will be the transferring of the big main sail from its old and tired spars to the new bamboo sticks we had glassed just before leaving for Europe on May 2014. These are much more solid than the old ones and will hopefully provide our mainsail with added stiffness, to be able to leave it up in stronger winds to provide ample power of propulsion to our vessel. For February 24 we have booked a date for Aluna to be hauled out of the water at the Norsand Boat Yard in Whangarei, as her bottoms are in need of urgent care. This implies a short sailing stint of about 60 miles down the Northland coast, where those new spars will have to prove their worth. Plans are to sand the underwater parts of both hulls free from the lime stone residue down to the copper epoxy substrate and recoat with an additional coat of this up to the chine line. The failure to do so due to having fallen prey to the persistent myth of the waterline has been given ample payment by scrubbing green algae sludge from supposedly white top side paint. An additional ailment to be cured while on the hard is the port hull’s rudder blade, which had been knocked off its centered position because the ropes of its classic Wharram hinges had not been glued in properly. Aluna has limped across the watery Pacific this way since shortly after we left Hawai’i.

Then, finally and hopefully, once this string of sweaty labors will have been completed, we will be able to turn our attention to planning for the travels ahead. This, of course, is where all the true excitement lies. In the meantime though, the brain must not fall ill while the brawn does its mindless duty!

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Aluna Safe and Sound in the Bay of Islands

December 5, 2013

After having been licked by a baby water spout just off Gau Island while leaving the many Fiji islands, followed by five and a half days of gentle fair weather sailing and then four lumpy days of riding gale force winds 50 or so miles west of an occluding warm front, doing six knots running under bare poles for a day, Aluna sailed into the Bay of Islands on the afternoon of December 5 just as the front finally passed overhead and the skies cleared.

More reporting on this latest blue water adventure will follow as soon as we have caught up on sleep!

On the Home Run

August 2, 2012

We had been waiting for the wind to fulfill the terribly rational prophecy of the meteorologists and back to the South. It had been huffing and puffing feebly from the West for the last couple days, painting heaps of churned up grey into the sky above and sending a full day of calming drizzle down to us as a sweet and refreshing heavenly gift. Finally on the morning of June 22 they obliged, cooled down and came at us gently but with a clear hint of the icy sphere of Antarctica. We left our cozy, cradled cocoon in the late morning hours, pulling the anchor out of its azure holding ground, squeezing through the tight opening of the atoll’s pass, and soon were underway on the final stretch of our voyage north to the temperate climes.

For a good while the seas were flat and only after we had left the reef and its temporary inhabitants a couple miles in our wake that we entered again the rolling reality of the open oceans. But the wind was gentle and on the stern, from where little by little it wandered down the numbers of the compass rose and settled in the Southeasterly quarters for the rest of the passage.

The second day the breeze had stiffened a bit and by nightfall we were doing a steady seven to eight knots. I’m never comfortable leaving the big sail up during the night. Even during the day the big main sail up the mast means constant worrying. Will the wind pick up? Will we get it down in time if they do? Is that bend in the yard as much as it can take? And so on and on! Anything can happen out there on the oceans and the fragility of the slender bamboos that make up the spars of that sizeable sail are a bit like propping up over-cooked spaghetti when it comes to their task of holding up the 260 square feet of white tarp. Even a slight increase in wind can make them deform into all kinds of wicked shapes and make the hair in the back of your neck rise from slumber like a waking monster of the netherworld. But I was in a what-the-heck state of mind at this stage. There were certainly bamboos of sufficient size to be found in Fiji, I tried to calm myself down, so worse come to worst if we brake one of the spars, we should be able to reach the islands easily with our smaller main sail. Aluna raced through the night like a galloping horse on a dusty racetrack. I kept a keen eye on her speed by turning on the GPS every now and then. There were peaks of ten and every now and then hits of eleven knots and the riding was good. Exhilarating in fact, the rushing of the water along the plywood hulls seemed like the bow of a high-pitched fiddle caressing its master in a tight embrace. Big slabs of dark clouds wandered overhead, obscuring the myriads of sparkling stars for long and lonely moments before moving off with all their towering might to the distant horizon in the Northwest. The moon was young and only with us for the first couple hours of the night. The rest was laid in darkness until after seemingly endless waiting the morning hours announced their imminence. First with a timid shine creeping up from the horizon, then with the trepid tremor of dusk and finally with the red burning luminous explosion a new day broke. And we were still speeding along. For another whole day and another whole night.

Matuku Island

The following morning a solid landmass lay just off our port bows. Matuku Island loomed mysteriously in the morning mist, its high and verdant peaks thrusting up the cottonesque trade wind clouds into heaps of cumulonimbus formations. We had entered the Koro Sea and territorial Fijian waters, delimited in the West by Viti Levu, Fiji’s mainland, in the East by the many low and strewn about islands of the Lau Group, and in the North by Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second largest landmass and our intended destination.

Totoya Island

Two more islands soon came in sight. Far off to the East in the gleaming light of the morning sun sat the silhouette of Totoya Island, a volcanic cone with its South face collapsed, opening the submerged caldera to the sea and creating a splendid natural harbor. About thirty miles further to the North Moala Island loomed and we spent the day admiring the outrageous beauty of these outcrops, the fruits of violent volcanic upheaval in a not so distant past.

Moala Island

By four in the afternoon we had made our watery way past Moala Island and were getting ready for our last night on the bumpy seas, the eighty and some miles stretch to Koro Island, around which we would have to make our way in the morning to enter the great Savusavu Bay, centered on Vanua Levu’s South coast. There were more little islets and treacherous reefs off to port only a couple miles from our intended course, so a careful watch was needed all night long. As we had grown used to by now I stayed up in the cockpit until two in the morning, but which time Nephi emerged puffing out of the port companionway and took over the duty of diligent attention, staring into the night, scanning the horizon for possible hazards to our navigation. Feeble lights from scantly electrified human settlements, but none of the navigational lights indicated on the charts seemed to be on working order. Not until getting close to the Southern tip of Koro Island did we see the first effects of Fiji’s cash strapped government, emitting its sweepingly reassuring message of navigational certainty out into the darkness of the early morning hours. Once rounded the last jagged promontory of this island with a backbone of volcanic cinder cones it was a last run towards the light tower sitting gingerly on the seaward extreme of Point Reef, which marks the entrance to Savusavu Bay.

Navigating the gusty downdrafts in the lee of the feisty green palm tree studded peninsula I called Waitui Marina on the VHF, announcing our imminent arrival. We were met by a small outboard motor powered skiff just off the concrete commercial wharf at the entrance to Nakama creek and guided to a mooring buoy close by. By 10:30 in the morning we were tied up and safely connected to solid Fijian ground through a world renowned helix mooring, which like a giant corkscrew is twisted and wedged into the seafloor and guarantees to resist the violent pulling and jerking of a super yacht tossed about by a major cyclonic event. Like in trance we waited for the friendly officials to come aboard. Patiently we filled out the many very important looking forms. Grumpily we paid the rather steep fees for the health this, customs that, immigration here and bio-security there. Gratefully we accepted the news that we were now free to go ashore!

The hustle and bustle of the little town of Savusavu looked surreal. A beat-up truck spewed clouds of badly combusted diesel fuel into its immediate surroundings and collected garbage left in black, white and orange plastic bags at the roadside. A handful of tinted windows sporting SUVs pursued smaller and quite obviously lesser vehicles for personal transport, the latter mostly rusty and worn out beyond fashionable style, advancing exclusively thanks to their owner’s trustworthy friends of mechanical genius in the messy world of an intentionally crippled economy. A good amount of men, women and children preferred the ancient form of displacement on proper feet and walked leisurely along the dusty waterfront. All this commotion however was only a shabby background painting for a slew of shiny cruising yachts clogging up the elongated harbor basin that stretched out between Sauvsavu town proper and the verdant Nawi Island. That slew reeked obnoxiously of self-importance and demonstrated cultural (and monetary!) supremacy. Welcome back to reality, my friends, welcome back to the realm of capitalist contrast where the plush haves are very much busy obscuring all light and lust from the thin plastic plates of the sadly sober, clearly curious and slightly jealous have-nots!

Sunset over Nawi Island, Savusavu Bay in the background