Goodbye LA

Its funny how things work out. Well, not so funny in this particular case!  After some 22,000 plus nautical miles covered (41,000klms), no one has ever come close to falling down the stairs from the pilothouse level to the salon, until now! 

Our darling Abi, full of excitement at her pending departure to Australia (she has now departed) recently had a momentary lapse of judgement and took a very nasty fall down the internal stairs. If not for the superb engineering that Nordhavn provides i.e. placing hand and grab rails in all the right places, Abi could well have been heading back to Australia with a few dozen broken bones.  Thankfully however, this was not the case as Abi was able to perform an award winning triple pirouette while horizontal to the floor below, spinning and twirling until grabbing a handrail which spun her hard to the left allowing her backside to land on the fourth step down taking her full force, while she, continued to perform her own rendition of an adult slinky as she slid all the way to the very bottom with one almighty thud.

The net result of this fall was a very sore Abi and one broken step.  Thankfully, working with wood is something that I do possess some moderate skills so the fix would take less time to complete than Abis healing.  So I thought!

After repairing the broken front portion of the step by superbly drilling five ten inch support screws and gluing in place I stood back and realised that the glue line on the grey antiskid step cover was simply not acceptable.  After finding the replacement  Vetus anti-skid  product which is made of a robust rubber, cork and plastic material and with Vetus super hold tack glue in hand it was soon apparent that replacing only one step would look ridiculous, as the other seven steps would be a slightly different colour. After a number of hours work, several burns, skin ripped off two fingers in four places, the nightmare job was complete and the steps were now ready to accept their new anti-skid covering. 

Might as well do the two lower steps as well.  In for a penny, in for a pound
With new anti-skid templates all cut to shape, thanks to Cmdr. Claire, we proceeded to use the super tacky glue provided and get the step covering glued in place.  This yellow glue is insanely difficult to work with as anything it touches gets stuck.  There was one moment that I looked like I was making cotton candy/fairy floss rather than gluing steps, anyway you get the picture!  With all new step covers firmly in place and after some encouraging, and not so encouraging remarks flying around Pendanas salon the job was done.  With night upon us, we all went to sleep feeling proud of our achievements (we all know what that means) and slept the sleep of the dead.

All old non-skid removed
On waking the next morning I could not believe my eyes as some of the steps had bubbles under them. When I say bubbles, I am talking bouncy castle sized bubbles! Honestly these things could launch an adult into space!  Thankfully it was only on two of the steps and my guess, the result of too much glue being used. In either case going through the process on the two offending steps was less than welcomed by all aboard but there was simply no getting around it.  I am now pleased to report that the issue of the steps has now been resolved and our stairs to the pilothouse are once again looking great.  Note to self., less is more, follow instructions, dont celebrate early and next time pay someone to fix the problem as will be a lot easier!  

Job done!
The famous LAX sign
With all the girls back in Australia and a deafening silence falling aboard Pendana I decided the best thing to do was keep busy and thankfully there was a place I wanted to visit.  A place that I have seen many times on news reports or documentaries and a place where part of Australia now rests!  The place I am referring to is the Aircraft Boneyard at Victorville, CA where old planes go to die.  Planes, like people, have beginnings, middles, and ends and for me, a lover of aircraft and rather ordinary Pilot, I must say that it was so sad to see, so many wonderful flying machines bought to this rather undignified end.

All lined up waiting to go nowhere!
A gleaming new plane has tens of thousands of hours of flight in its future but with each take-off and landing, the strain of pressurized flight sends tiny cracks shooting like wrinkles across its aluminum skin (engineers call it metal fatigue). A typical 747 can handle this for two to three decades or about 35,000 flights before the threat of the fuselage breaking apart becomes real. Rather than face a major lawsuit from the fuselage literally breaking apart in flight, the airlines opt to dump these aircraft out of service and discard them to the boneyard in Victorville.  One of the security guys told me they are dismantled first for spares then the fuselage is scrapped and turned into soda cans.  If true, that is a very, very undignified end for what are things of real beauty.

After last years tour of the Boeing factory just north of Seattle, to now being here in Victorville, I guess I have seen the full circle of life when it comes to aircraft.  From shiny new aircraft to the forgotten giants of the sky left to suffer the dry heat of the Californian desert. All very sad!

New 737 being built in Seattle. We now know when she will end up eventually
Qantas Boeing 747-438 VH-OJL 25151 – her final resting place
File shot which shows the enormity of the place
I noticed on exciting the boneyard a very large facility opposite the airport and decided to investigate.  It turned out to be the United States Federal Penitentiary, Victorville one of a number of super facilities to house those who fail to abide by the law.  The sheer size of the place was breathtaking at 1.25miles / 2klms long by .8 miles / 1.28klms wide and just for perspective thats larger than the size of downtown Sydney, Australia. Truly massive in every respect and my jaunt through the establishment left me feeling a little easy.

United States Federal Penitentiary, Victorville
Very creepy
In preparation for the lengthy sea miles that lay ahead I wanted to top up the wax on Pendanas exterior and for that job, who other than the more than capable and now, somewhat of a celebrity,  EJ from Victoria, Canada.  EJ truly loves Pendana and is connected to her in a way most detailers arent.  Not only that, he actually knows what he is doing and the science behind it.  To have EJ and his trusted #2 (James) agree to swing by to help ensure Pendana was looking her best was a real treat.  The last time EJ worked on Pendana was back in Victoria, Canada October 2016.  Gotta say Pendana held up very well indeed but with the Caribbean sun calling no harm in topping up the wax.

EJ working on Pendana in Victoria, Canada later 2016
EJ a real celebrity now after his stint on Bravos, Below Decks
Gotta Love LAX. On drive to pick up EJ and James from airport I was stuck on a red and took this shot
I asked EJ about sorting out the foredeck boxes as they always were the first things on Pendana to show wear, i.e. no matter what we did the wax would depart this part of the boat first.  EJ, had a solution a new product that came from Japan and he which he said would give the boxes the necessary shine and protection required.

Glass coating of extremely high grade This product can be obtained through EJ direct
Foreward box before the masters hands touch it
The master applying his craft
Foreward box after and honestly this picture does not the shine justice!
Literally a mirror finish, in fact  its more than that!
The lads hard at work A typical day for them was 7am-7pm and they stirred up some comments from the locals.  Do they ever stop?  God they work hard? Etc
Almost there lads.. keep going!
Looking darn good
Shine baby shine
EJ and his # 2 James are truly masters at their craft.  Its simply not a matter of wax on, wax off with these guys.  It is an art and something that they are both master of.  What these guys do with wax has to be seen to be believed.  Honestly I could not be happier with the result. Emils (EJs) passion for boating (owner of TopNotchYachts) started at a young age.  Growing up in Victoria he had always dreamed of sailing the world.  Once he turned twenty-one he managed to find himself working on some of the worlds finest super yachts, cruising the Caribbean, Mediterranean and New England in the USA.  There is no doubt that Emil (EJ) has spent lots of time with a buffer and he is surgical in his approach and application which delivers the results the most discerning owner could ever wish to see.  Thank you Emil, a truly Top Notch job!

Teak protection laid as wax and polish makes one hell of a mess
Come on lads get moving!!
Now thats what I am talking about!
Products have changed, technology has changed and the industry as a whole is moving quickly. The number of folks I see employ any fool to apply wax has amazed me for the last twenty years. Boats are big investments and investing time and effort into maintaining the gel coat is paramount. The new UGLO AP-11 glass coating from Japan  available from EJ direct is yet another example of where this sector is headed.  Just to give you an idea the super-yachts of this world have this stuff sprayed on post repaint. Its not cheap and it takes time to apply properly but its a hell of a lot cheaper than a repaint.   Marine Stainless 2 in 1 is another product I have raved about over the years.  This product protects your stainless. We last applied ours over four and a half years ago and Pendanas stainless is, to this day still gleaming. If the guy who waxes your boat is not up to the task then give the boys at  Top Notch Yachts a call and ask for EJ, you will be sure pleased you did and darn lucky if they can fit you in.  Either way, you will be transported into being able to see how the process should be done. 

With Pendana looking her best and shinning brighter than the North Star it was finally, almost time to depart the USA and head for Ensenada Mexico where we would wait out the hurricane season before heading south to Cabo san Lucas, Sea of Cortez, Costa Rica and through the Panama Canal. While the idea of doing this trip single handed (LA-Ensenada) had crossed my mind, I decided to err on the side of caution and enlist the help of marine handyman, general boat all-rounder, youth sailing champion of Hawaii and all round nice guy, Mr Lance Miller. Lance is a young guy who has all the makings of great marine all-rounder and as he was so helpful to us in Hawaii, I decided to offer him the gig which thankfully he accepted. With Lance arriving shortly and the days left in LA coming to an end I guess it is now time to plot a course and start watching the weather!

Stay Safe


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