I guess I'd better let him have a say...
Well hello all, it’s Stuart here for my first post on this blog.
I have been meaning to do this since we arrived however we have had so many things to do that all my free time has been taken up with boat stuff.
Our boat is called Pelon. It is a Catalina 42 cruising yacht which was built in California. The C42 has been in constant production since 1988 and over a thousand have been produced, most are in the US however many have sailed on extended voyages including the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Australia and around the World. Catalina’s are known for being well built basic cruising yachts that are safe and comfortable, I guess that you could say that they are the Holden Commodore of yachts. Unfortunately our budget did not stretch to a Swan or Hallberg Rassy which would be the Rolls Royce of the sea.
The path that we are travelling is a well travelled path from Dana Point, which is 100km South of LA. We will sail to Catalina Island, 34 nautical miles off the coast, then from Catalina we will sail nonstop to Hawaii - 2250nm away. This should take about 14 to 20 days. We will sail in pairs and work shifts of 3 hours on and 3 hours off. We are not going to push the boat so a slightly slower trip will suit us; our goal is to arrive well rested, fed, happy and eager to explore. Our next port will be Fanning Island about a thousand nm South of Hawaii. Fanning Island will be our last Northern hemisphere port before we cross the equator bound for Samoa and on to Fiji. Then New Caledonia and finally the Australian coast at either Cairns or Brisbane before we cruise down the Australian East coast, passing Sydney and across Bass Straight to Tasmania and our home port of Hobart. Kym and I are both due back at work at the beginning of August so our trip has a definite deadline.
Our number one priority is safety and while offshore sailing can be dangerous we have taken every precaution to be self sufficient and self reliant. Our food stocks are at least triple the amount that we should need and our water, which will only be used for drinking, amounts to over 650 litres. This is broken into 4 tanks, 10 x 10 litre containers and 2 x 20 litre jerry cans. All washing will be done in salt water. If we need help we have three 406 EPIRBS, 2 of which are GPS enhanced which can narrow our position to a few meters via satellite and will instantly tell the authorities who and where we are. If we need to abandon Pelon we have an automatic inflating life raft that can carry 6 people. Tthis raft also contains emergency rations, water and survival gear (I hope that we never see the inside of it).
As well as this blog we also have our SPOT Tracker. This is a battery operated aid that can tell others of our location, however it is not designed to be a used as a marine beacon as there are some definite black spots where it will not work i.e. mid Pacific. The Spot tracker will update our progress and help friends and family to know where we are. It also has the ability to send an SOS and a help message to pre organised recipients. If we activate the SOS or HELP function the recipients of the message have been instructed as to the course of action that we would like them to follow. As I have already stated the Spot tracker is not part of our emergency plan however it may be useful in some situations. In short please follow our progress using the Spot website but if it fails to show our position DO NOT BE ALARMED as it may be a black spot or the lithium batteries may be flat.
Part of the purchase procedure carried out in December was a Survey carried out by a qualified surveyor (Gerry Wetzzler). This included a sea trial and out of water inspection. Pelon was found to be in very good condition with only a few minor points noted that have since been rectified. When we arrived in early February we had a qualified Rigger inspect and adjust the rig and a diesel mechanic service and supply a package of spare parts for the engine. We have also installed a new GPS chart plotter as well as the 3 other hand held GPS’s on board. Pelon has been lightly used and shows only 800 hours on the engine. She is solid and sound.
I have always wanted to do a trip of this type and while it is further than I have ever sailed before I really feel confident with the boat and the crew. We have done our preparation and are ready for the adventure! Hope to post soon however with no internet at sea my next post may be from Hawaii.