A couple of items have come up!

Bits and Bobs….

A couple of items have come up that I thought worthy of a blog, mind you I probably have too much time on my hands but here goes anyway.

The other week whilst coming back home to our home marina my father-in-law asked if I could blow the twin trumpet horns on Pendana as he had heard that I was most impressed with the very ship like sound they made. With that I said sure, get ready and pressed the horn button only to be confronted with a weak, drizzle sound reminiscent of water running down a sink hole rather than what I was used to hearing. I apologised and said that something must be wrong. 

Later that week I went back to the marina with Dan from Sydney Marine Electrical to help diagnose the problem. As it turned out, the relay/sensor switch had a load of gunk in it which was blocking the air from the air compressor and, as such, delivering the somewhat embarrassing sound. 

Sensor switch above which we cleaned. Black line leading in from the bottom comes from the air compressor.

Once cleaned and confident that it would work, we charged the air compressor and warned those close by that we were about to test the ship’s horn. As the button was pushed the sound almost blew a fellow mariner nearby off his feet. Wow….. Obviously dirt has been gathering over the years as the sound was about 20 times louder than before and “before” was loud enough. Now, Pendana sounded like a 1000ft Oil Tanker! Can wait to use it now – any excuse will do!

With the Whitsundays trip fast approaching the idea of tendering off to coral outcrops in our lovey Caribe tender, then throwing ourselves over the side in our sexy new stinger suits for a little snorkelling has me in a bit of a panic. Why you ask? Well it’s not the stinger suit that worries me but the niggling question of, how does one get back into the tender when in 50ft of water?

The nightmare I envisage is of trying to clamber back on board. Up until just a few days ago I was thinking that there was no solution. I remember reading Ken and Roberta Williams’ blog (kensblog.com) about the time his tender came loose from San Souci, a Nordhavn 68 in Turkey and how after making a mad dash for his tender by swimming out to her he was not able to get back on board and try as he might it was simply impossible. 

Below is an excerpt from Ken’s blog.

….. In all of the confusion of talking to the waiter, dogs on the swim step barking, Roberta rushing me upstairs, me worried about Sans Souci, etc., the tender had gotten poorly tied. In 30 years of boating we’ve never mis-tied a tender, but .. now, we had. I dashed down the stairs, peeling off shirt and shoes as I went, and dove into the water. 

The winds were calmer than they had been, but still in the 15-20 knot range, and strong enough to move a little tender very quickly. I had trouble keeping up with it! What started as a 50-yard swim quickly became a 100-yard swim. And, as I reached the tender, I suddenly realized I hadn’t thought through what to do once I got there. Someday, try to swim as fast as you can for 100 yards, then try to get into a tender from in the water – without a swim step to help you! It’s tougher than it sounds. My alternative was to try to swim backwards, towing the tender, upwind, to the boat, which was getting farther away rapidly. My first few attempts to get into the tender didn’t go very well. 

I heard a noise behind me, and turned around. It was my new best friend, the waiter, in his tender. He motioned for me to throw him the line to the tender, which I did, and he took off pulling the tender towards the boat. I quickly grabbed a handle on the tender, and bodysurfed my way back to the boat. Once back at the boat, while retying the tender, I asked Roberta to grab a 20 Turkish lira note. The waiter refused to take the tip, and seemed very serious about it, but I was firm, and he finally relented. 

In case you are wondering, I decided to have lunch on Sans Souci. 

Link to full story can be found here.


So with the issue of re-boarding our tender in the Whitsunday Islands fast approaching and a solution needed I decided it was time to dig though a number of magazines as I had remembered reading an advertisement somewhere for tender ladders.

After a few hours of hunting I finally found the advertisement and the solution to our problem was Armstrong Nautical Products from Stuart Florida as they had exactly what I needed and as luck would have it, fate would play a part. 

Last week I flew up to the Gold Coast to have dinner with an old friend of mine from the USA when I realised that the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show was one at the same time. As such, I decided to stay an extra day so that I could check the show out before flying home. Within a few minutes of entering the show hall I spotted the Armstrong tender ladder and not only could I see it, touch it and jump on it (400lbs/181kgs capacity) but I could also speak to the guys that developed it as they had travelled to Australia from the USA for the boat show to display, what is in my opinion, the PERFECT solution to the long running problem of how to get back on a tender when one’s youth, is but a distant memory! 

Russ Sedlack from Armstrong Nautical Products who also just so happened to be the Vice President of the company was happy to speak with me and discuss the ins and outs of his product. After testing the product, pulling it apart and basically jumping on it I was convinced I had found the solution to my problem. With Russ and his team in Stuart FL at the ready it is now time to make sure it arrives in time before we depart for the Whitsunday Islands on June 22. 

Photos below show the tender ladder in action. I will be ordering the four step ladder, not three step ladder as per photo below.


Mechanism of how ladder attaches to tender. Can be then stowed away or left folded up in place on side of tender.

For more information goto http://armstrongnautical.com/ and click on RIB LADDERS or email the VP direct on rusty@armstrongnautical.com.

Thank goodness for this product as I have in the past tried a rope ladder but these are totally useless unless of course you are SUPER fit. The problem with rope ladders is the moment you put weight on them they tend to slide under the hull of the tender requiring enormous strength to pull yourself up. The idea of a firm stainless ladder just makes sense!

I am not one for spruiking products but as this is such a gem I thought it important to share with fellow boaties who may be suffering the same problem as I. While on the subject of great products it is worth mentioning Nano Coat’s, Metal 2 in 1 which is an incredible stainless steel protector that actually works.

One of my major frustrations with every boat I have every owned is keeping the stainless looking like new. It wouldn’t matter how often I polished the stainless, within weeks it would start to corrode and tarnish and basically look a bit ordinary so when the boys from Delta Marine in Sydney who look after Pendana’s exterior mentioned a product that would protect my stainless steel and keep it looking like new for at least a year, I listened. Nano Coat’s Metal 2 in 1 product is, in a word, amazing. It has now been almost ten months since we used the product on Pendana and my stainless steel looks as good as the day it came out of the factory. There is simply not a mark on any of my stainless, no signs of corrosion or tarnishing and as such this product is worth its weight in gold.

It is fantastic to find a product that really works and does exactly what it says it will do. Apparently the makers of the product, who also happen to be Nordhavn owners (Passe-Parout N40) say the product will last two years. Ten months in with my stainless still looking like new, I am starting to believe them.

For more information goto http://www.itc.net.au/products/our-brands/nanocoat-metal-2in1.html

Sorry as this is all starting to sound a little advertorial. That is not my intention nor do I receive any benefit from mentioning these products. I do however get very excited when products do exactly what they are supposed to do and solve a problem/s I have, hence my enthusiasm.

Now onto more important matters! Pendana is all ready to venture off into the sunset for her five month trip north to the Whitsundays with only three items outstanding which will be finalised shortly. 1./ I am having the Cummings guru and all round nice guy, Matt from “On the Water Sydney” onto the boat to check out the alternator, water pump drive belts as I have noticed a wee bit of black dust coming from them in recent weeks which could be a sign of imminent failure. As such, he is coming out to make sure all is good and if not replace parts accordingly. 2./ I have decided also that I will update my BlackBox VX2 charts which will not only improve the visual representation but also help with our navigational efforts as we venture north and finally 3./ the boat will need to be provisioned and this job is being left with the ever capable Commander Claire. So, all in all, we are in good shape to make our way north on June 22nd, weather permitting.

As we always take on crew for long passages I thought I would shoot Captain Mark James an email as I knew he was delivering a boat from Queensland to Singapore and as I hadn’t seen his AIS signal move for about five days from Darwin Australia I wanted to make sure all was ok. His reply to my enquiry in totality is below as makes for interesting reading, I think.

James, with your book in mind I thought I would give you an update on the Cairns to Singapore via Darwin, and my first voyage on Happy Days, the main contrast being the time allowed to get familiar with the vessel – this voyage we ended up with too much time, Happy Days not enough especially due to sleep deprivation.

Lady Carla – Cairns to Darwin

Well where do I start, I arrived in Cairns expecting as with many deliveries to jump on-board and head off for Darwin, but instead we ended up staying in port allowing me to get a good grasp of the vessel and its systems, this is a nice luxury, after 2 days however I was ready but the boat was not, there was a crew fishing trip on the sport fishing boat that went out to the Reef, fuelling and provisioning to be done. I declined on the fishing trip and tried to sort out some unfinished business back on the gold Coast, and start to research where we can tie up in Darwin and what paperwork I will need in Singapore. The next day the fuel arrived, we took on 8,000 litters, the manager of the operation and the cook did the provisioning, once this was done we left shortly after. I was glad to leave as I felt we were wasting good weather conditions, so on the 4th day we finally left Cairns for Darwin. So far the voyage has been a good one, the crew are all fine and for the most part the boat is running pretty well. Looking forward to getting a berth at the Marina and concentrating on what we need to do for the next leg to Singapore.


We had a pretty tight schedule to get a few things done before departing Darwin and had a number of items to get through.

Marina arrangements prior to arrival, Cullen Bay Marina

Service main engine, service primary generator & replace v-belt, clean all sea strainers

Check main engine alternator (I thought it was making a bearing noise), alternator was removed and faulty bearing replaced

Air Conditioning – one compressor was working intermittently (not just normal cycling) and stopped for extended periods making for a hot boat in some areas. Loose wring was found in control board

Steering pump overheated – find problem. No limit switch on steering, if you leave the rudder hard over the pump keeps trying to push and works too hard.

Customs clearance, done

Bunkers, organised


Chart plotter – It has a version of Transas, very good charts, but they are 2004. There were a great number of new lights, or lights that have been changed from say a cardinal mark to a lateral mark. Basically we are going to one of the busiest ports on the planet with very old charts.

Paper charts – due to the out of date Transas charts ensure we have the paper charts required on-board 

So there was a fair bit to be done, and for the most part we were keeping up with the timeline to accomplish the minimum we needed, we had completed all our Customs requirements, were going to depart the Marina on Sat morning to bunker, then leave, I pushed this back to Sunday due to strong winds and heavy seas, then last thing Friday afternoon we were having some problems with one of the battery chargers, we decided to check the batteries, they were all completely fried, the cases had burst open, they are large 2 volt cells and it looks like they are not a stock item in Darwin, so it was a bit of a slap in the face to have accomplished most of what was needed to find this problem, but naturally better to find it now that at sea. So we are still in Darwin, I am hoping to leave on Wednesday if all goes well, all be it with some temporary batteries most likely. 10 days to Singapore so plenty of time to get back for the trip north to Whitsundays

Happy Days – Seattle to Antibes

The jump on and leave scenario when you are not familiar with a vessel, its crew or anything about her can be a testing time, depending on the vessel, its condition and the readiness for a voyage for both myself and the boat this is not always a great way to do it (never a problem with Pendana as everything is so well planned). Even for a so called “Professional” such as myself the input of information in a short period of time can be daunting at times, fortunately, in some ways all boats are the same – but different. They generally have the same theories around the many systems and once you have some local knowledge it is all just fine. I remember when I joined Happy Days in Seattle, in many ways it was not the normal start I was used to, generally when going to vessels overseas and if flying economy I try to get a day to get over some jet lag before getting into the complexities that may await. Prior to flying out Helen and I had spent many late nights packing away the workshop at Oceania Marine, in fact the night before we flew out I only had about 3 hrs sleep, I have found over the years that being over tired at the start of a long haul flight, for me, means I do not sleep on the flight and the jet lag is terrible. My perfect long haul flight regime is a good night’s sleep before flying, then business or premium economy class so you have a bed, then when you arrive you are ready for action and can hit the ground running, people think they are paying for service in premium economy or business class, what you are paying for is rest.

We were flying cattle class so the luxury of a bed was a mere pipe dream, we arrived in Seattle exhausted, the purser met us at the airport, I expected (or was just deliriously hoping) to be taken to the nearest Marriot for a nights rest but alas this was not the case, we went straight to the shipyard, Happy days was in the slings of the travel lift at Delta Marine, all 550 tons, she was huge, fantastic, a 40 + million dollar piece of art in many ways. The crew rapidly and courteously helped us on-board with our luggage via a ladder leading up to the swim step and we were directed into a guest cabin. About an hour later the Yacht was in the water and Captain Haberli drove her out of the travel lift bay and onto her berth. I had been out of the big boat scene for about 5 years, and even though I have had the pleasure and experience of being the Master for one larger yacht, I was thinking I am a bit rusty on anything this big…….. Then in the bridge, while still dazed and confused at just still being awake, I had the electronics contractor and the computer/communications experts all giving me a highly technical brief on systems and what upgrades had just been accomplished, it was such a waste of everyone’s time as I was a complete zombie at this stage. Then thinking I was about to finally get some rest once the contractors called it a day, Captain Haberli and our Marine Superintendent from Fraser Yachts (our yacht management company) insisted Helen and I come out to dinner to the “Outback Steakhouse” , when this finally all ended and we went back to Happy Days, but I found it hard to sleep with so much going on.

The next day I took her out on Sea Trials, as is normal when a large amount of work has been done at a shipyard, there was an army of people in the Bridge who all had an interest on a particular system on-board, way too many people looking over my shoulder plus, I am sure the Fraser Yachts Superintendent was assessing my every move. In my corner was a very nice pilot who was on-board, he was a great help in getting out into the Sound through a number of narrow waterways and bridges of which many have to be opened to allow the yacht to pass, he did make the day much easier. Once the sea trial proper was done I had to drop some people of at a dock, with a solid breeze on my beam. I had to back the yacht to within about 6 inches of the dock for contractors to jump off, and a little while later do it again for some others to jump on. Helen had never worked on a Superyacht previously and had only ever been with me on very small boats, I remember from the bridge wing hearing her scream with enjoyment, or maybe relief as I hadn’t crashed into the dock !!!! We retraced our path back to the shipyard, with Delta Marine on one side and the Boeing factory on the other side of the waterway the Yacht was docked and the new paint job that cost a little less than $400,000.00 USD was still in perfect condition.


Picture above of Happy Days.

I was glad the day went well, I think it was the next day we left Seattle for Antibes France. It is always a great day when you leave the shipyard – the dynamics and the atmosphere on-board changes completely. It is a great relief when you get your boat back. It is amazing how quiet it is in the bridge, relaxing in fact once all of the strangers are gone. It did not take long to work out that the crew was very, very, competent. They really did welcome us and gave us every opportunity to do well on-board. Knowing I could trust the crew to do a watch I finally caught up on some sleep. The confidence blossomed once I remembered that I had done this for much of my life. We had a fantastic voyage to France and it was the start of a great chapter in both my life and Helen’s.


Happy Days

Seattle to Antibes


30/ March/09 Sea trial – Seattle

31/March/09 Depart Delta Marine – Seattle

31/March/09 Anchored Port Angeles for the night (weather)

01/April/09 Depart Port Angeles

02/April/09 Anchored Port Orford for the night (weather)

03/April/09 Depart Port Orford

06/April/09 Arrive San Diego – fuel, then move to Kona Kai

Prep for owners visit, provision, engineering repairs

08/April/09 Depart San Diego

17/April/09 Arrive Flamenco Marina, Panama

Fuel, Engineering repairs, Provision

19/April/09 Depart Flamenco Marina – Panama Canal Transit

22/April/09 Erroll Flyn Marina, Jamaica – Fuel Stop (3 ½ hrs)

22/April/09 Depart Errol Flynn Marina

01/May/09 Arrive Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel, Azores

Fuel, Provision, Sight Seeing

03/May/09 Depart Ponta Delgada

07/May/09 Arrive Gibraltar

Fuel & Provision (5 hrs)

07/May/09 Depart Gibraltar

09/May/09 Arrive Antibes


  • Distance 9,450 Nautical Miles (approx) / 17,500 km
  • Days at Sea 38 (sea trial not included)
  • Days in Total 40
  • Fuel used 76,923 gallons / 290,769 litres


Thank you Captain Mark James for sharing above. Both Claire and I are very lucky indeed to have the services of such a high calibre Captain on our little jaunts. We have learned so much more than we would ever had imagined, thanks to Captain Mark James’ experience and eagerness to share all he has learnt. Now Mark, it’s time to focus on getting to Singapore and back to Sydney by June 22nd.

So that’s all for now, the next blog will be sent from the Pilothouse of Pendana on the first day of being underway as we head north on our 1100nm journey to the Whitsundays. Something that is rather alarming is that everyone I speak to says we won’t want to come back! We shall see!

Safe travels




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