The Countdown is on…..

The countdown is on!

Finally the countdown is on in earnest and with only twelve weeks left before Pendana and her crew depart the fair shores of Hawaii and travel directly to Kodiak, Alaska. One would think there would be much to do but in all honesty there really isn’t as while we have been in Hawaii I have attended to all of the jobs that were required and even some that weren’t! There is no doubt whatsoever that Pendana is in better condition now than when she left Australia. I guess crossing oceans focuses one’s mind in making sure that all is 100% or as close to it as possible before venturing off into the oceans that can be somewhat unpredictable.

Now our focus and attention is on making it safely to Kodiak and Alaska before navigating our way through Prince William Sound and traversing the Canadian side of the Inside Passage all the way to Victoria (Vancouver Island) just off Vancouver, in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We are also preparing ourselves for some very cold weather as we have lived in a perpetual summer now for eighteen months and the cold of Alaska is something I guess none of us are overly looking forward to.

For those wondering I have been doing a fair bit of reading (by my standards anyway) and I must say that when reading passages such as the one following, it would be fair to say there is a slight sense of trepidation starting to creep in. The area we are headed to is an area of strong currents, big tides and one that deserves full attention if one hopes to make it out alive!

”In major rapids, it is common for the current to increase until it no longer is a smooth, laminar sweep, and becomes a boiling, crashing, upwelling maelstrom that looks exactly like a fast-falling white-water mountain stream. White water is full of air, and less buoyant than green water. Boats float lower. Rudders lose effectiveness and propellers lose bite. When diminished buoyancy and lessened control are combined with strong currents, standing waves, deep whirlpools and boils of upwelling water, very quickly you can have a recipe for disaster. This is why good boats are lost in tidal rapids.”

Here is a link to a horrifying video of a Nordhavn 60 getting the timing wrong – Scary, scary stuff! LINK HERE

I am pleased to report that they made it safely through ‘The Hole in Wall’ some thirty minutes later!

Seymour Narrows can run at 16kts – OUCH!

Clearly the message here is, make sure you plan, plan, plan and then, plan some more. Sixteen knot currents at Seymour Narrows would be a total and utter disaster for a boat like Pendana with a hull speed of 9.5kts. Then again, if we make it that far south then I am sure Seymour Narrows, as with the other 1,000 things that can kill the Ellingford’s will be managed.

Yes, Australia does have nasty creatures that can kill but we are talking very manageable, spiders, snakes and sharks but the Pacific North West (“PNW”), well, that is in a league of its own. The PNW has way more dangerous things that folks who are not from this part of the world, (like us), simply have no idea about. I am convinced I will wake up one morning and come face-to-face with a monster 12ft brown bear on Pendana’s aft deck. No doubt amusing for those with more experience than I, but from where I stand, bears can swim, boats float and knowing my luck one of these magnificent creatures (at distance) will become a horrifying ordeal for this Australian family to deal with.

Killer Whales! Don’t get me wrong I like Killer Whales (at distance) but knowing our luck we will be out on a tender ride looking at the beauty of the place when a pack of Killer Whales approach, spot me, and say to themselves, ”Hey boys there is one fat seal lets knock him off”.

What about Otter’s? Sure, cute and cuddly no doubt but they too probably have razor sharp teeth ready to gash the flesh from a few Aussie tourists. I read the other day about a couple of tourists who went ashore on their tender to explore, while their boat sat at anchor some 30ft away. The couple returned after a few hours to find their tender had been torn apart by a bear (apparently bears like tenders – honestly, who would know!) anyway, the husband thought he would swim back to the boat while his wife waited ashore, (after-all a 30ft swim isn’t far!). Well, he died of hypothermia and so did his wife who tried to help him 10ft from the shoreline as apparently the water temperature in these parts is mighty cold! This is a classic example of something I would have done! Clearly we Australians have no place in the wilds of Alaska but we are going nonetheless! Perhaps I should give Coast Guard Alaska a quick call to let them know we are coming!

Getting hit in the face by a 30lb salmon is another worrying thought keeping me up late at night as is getting mauled to death by a cougar! How about being eaten by a wolf or being trampled by a heard of moose? These are the things that are forefront of mind for this Australian family about to venture north into the wilds of Alaska and British Columbia. Seriously though, for us sun loving Australians the Alaska that confronts us poses many challenges that probably most take for granted, but these challenges – and the odd brown bear – will be managed and overcome.

Our route from Hawaii and the island of Oahu will take us almost directly north on a 2,225nm/4,120Klms run to Kodiak, Alaska, which as it happens, is a greater distance than crossing the Atlantic Ocean from St Johns to Ireland which is only 1,665nm/3083klms. Once we arrive in Kodiak we will have covered some 7,863nms since we left Sydney, Australia and it will be the last of the long open ocean crossing for some time. Hooray!

Route detail as per our navigation software

As the route to Kodiak will take about twelve days and as this is over our five day rule we will be bringing on another crew member to help. I am a firm believer that lack of sleep and open oceans do not mix, as such, Claire and I decided long ago that any run over five days requires an extra hand, primarily for safety reasons. As such, long-time friend and good mate Joey Boothby from Florida will be joining us on the run. For those with a good memory for names will remember that Joey was my training Captain in Florida and the person who kindly agreed to fly to Australia to train Claire, on all things Pendana, in Sydney four and a half years ago. It will be great to have Joey aboard Pendana and I look forward to having the extra pair of hands with us as we make the long run north to Alaska! Oh Joey, by the way, you drew the short straw on the watch cycles – such is life hey Joey!

Old picture of Joey on Pendana when we first bought her back to Sydney, Australia

The Watch Cycle For Alaskan Run

Hawaii has been great and the Waikiki Yacht Club has been amazing. The location of the club is something else as it is so close to everything. The people have been very friendly and all aboard Pendana are indebted to the club for generously allowing us to stay with them. There is no doubt that the Waikiki Yacht Club offered us a truly remarkable opportunity to stay with them for as long as we did and we remain truly grateful to them and their members for their hospitality. For those visiting this part of the world I honestly can’t recommend the Waikiki Yacht Club strongly enough.

Waikiki Yacht Club

I was asked the other day how the girls felt about the (long) upcoming crossing and to be perfectly honest the simple truth is that long crossings are hard work and something that none of us really enjoy. Long crossing are a means to the end and for us as it is the destination that counts not the crossing itself. Long crossing are in a few well-chosen words, boring, repetitive, somewhat stressful, tiring, and did I mention boring. Sure there are moments of great beauty thrown in for good measure but overall I think all of us would prefer root canal work on our teeth rather than doing a long open ocean crossing. Twelve days at sea is not something that passes quickly and while the first day is filled with excitement the repetitive motion soon becomes tiring.

So, to answer the question of how the girls feel the truth is they would rather fly. This then begs the question, “Why don’t we use a delivery crew?” The simple fact is that in life, there are many things we do not want to do but to achieve remarkable things and to accomplish goals set means one must go outside ones’ comfort zone and simply get on with it! Using a delivery crew really isn’t an option as this would only serve to teach the children that when things get tough then its ok to give up, which clearly is the wrong message. Determination, courage and completing goals set, is something of great value and I have no doubt the girls will be thrilled to bits with what they have achieved once we all make landfall in Alaska.

Something that did come up recently was the question of water depth on our Nobletec charts. I am a stickler for making sure there are no misinterpretations regarding the data that these complex systems provide. As such, I wanted to check whether in fact our US chart data gave water depths in Lowest Astronomical Tide (“LAT”) as they do in Australia and the UK or not. With the information not available in the chart data detail from Nobletec, I decided to shoot tech support a question.


Just a quick question but an important one: Re the MapMedia charts on my Nobletec Odyssey charts, do they show depths at lowest astronomical tide (LAT) or mean low water springs (MLWS)???


Dear James,

I apologize for the (very) long delay providing you with an answer.

We had to do a little bit of research to make sure we get this answer correctly.

In summary, the MapMedia charts adopt the same chart datum (“vertical scale”) as the original chart content. So it will vary with area. In most countries (including North America) it will be mean lower low water (MLLW). However some Hydrographic Office (mainly UKHO and Australia) are using lowest astronomical tide (LAT).

Unfortunately, today we do not display this information on the Chart Property window (right click on chart and select “Chart Properties”). We will add this information for the next version.

One thing I do like about Nobletec is they do offer pretty good customer support and while the answer was somewhat long in coming I am glad they checked thoroughly and glad the next update they do will offer clarity as to water depths and methods used.

See two attached tide info graphics and definitions below.


Lowest Astronomical Tide (“LAT”)

Many national charting agencies, including the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office and the Australian Hydrographic Service, use the Lowest Astronomical Tide (LAT) – the height of the water at the lowest possible theoretical tide – to define chart datums. LAT is the lowest levels which can be predicted to occur under average meteorological conditions.[2]

One advantage of using LAT is that all predicted tidal heights must then be positive (or zero) avoiding possible ambiguity and the need to explicitly state sign. Calculation of the LAT only allows for gravitational effects so lower tides may occur in practice due to other factors (e.g. meteorological effects such as high pressure systems).

Mean Lower Low Water (“MLLW”)

The United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration uses mean lower low water (MLLW), which is the average height of the lowest tide recorded at a tide station each day during the recording period. MLLW is only a mean, so some tidal levels may be negative relative to MLLW, see also Mean low water spring.

I must say that I prefer the use of LAT as this appears to be a better base than MLLW but in any case I, as most know, always allow for lots and lots of water under my keel so it’s not like either measure should cause Pendana any issues.

Recently Claire and I went to a Nordhavn lunch at Ko Olina Marina to meet up with Julie from Infinity (Andy was away), Mary and Larry from ‘No Plans’ and the charming Dick and Gail from ‘Ice Dancer II’. I was amazed to learn that Dick and Gail had covered some 80,000nms and hail from Anchorage, Alaska, so you can imagine I had plenty of questions for Dick about currents, tides and bears! Unfortunately it will take more than a lunch to allay my concerns in the bear department, no matter what anyone says. Anyway, a lovely lunch with a bunch of remarkable folks.

Nordhavn lunch in Hawaii.  L-R Julie, Claire, Gail, Dick, Larry, James, Mary

Pendana remains in great condition and there really haven’t been any issues to speak of other than our Sub Zero ice maker giving up the ghost and then the entire unit stopping working but I am happy to report that it will either be fixed with the help of the guys from Sub Zero here in Hawaii or replaced with one on standby very soon.

Now for something completely different! Recently I had noticed that we were losing water pressure on our boat when having a shower. I figured that with the new pump installed perhaps the D Switch or pressure switch had failed, but as it turned out it hadn’t.

With local lad Lance to hand, I decided that we should empty our Groco PST 5 vacuum pressure tank which is used in conjunction with our house water pressure pump to deliver smooth water pressure delivery which in turn reduces pump cycling times. As it turned out our pressure tank was, as I had suspected, water logged. Over time more water than is required fills the tanks leaving less space for air pressure in the tank which is then not sufficient to provide continuous water pressure at the faucet.

With the pressure tank reinstalled we once again tested the system. Again we were suffering a drop in water pressure which meant that maybe it was a faulty switch. The D switch has two adjustable screws on it and one would think they are for top end pressure and bottom end pressure. Well, as I was to discover, they are not! In fact the pump provides for a 20psi differential so if the top pressure is set at 50psi then the pump should cut back in at 30psi but ours was not coming back until we hit 20psi.

very Similar set up to Pendana’s pressurised water system

After some thought a few calls to the folks at Grainger and a lot of Youtube video watching on the subject I finally worked out what had happened. Hoooray!

To recap the pressure switch I have and the one most folks have, will have two screws. These screws are used to adjust the RANGE (the larger of the two screws) and the CUT OFF ONLY screw (the smaller of the two set screws).


The range screw moves the range of the pump from 40/20 to 50/30, 60/40. 70/50psi etc. Note the 20psi differential. As you increase the top number the bottom automatically increase to maintain a 20psi differential.


The cut off only screw is used to increase the top end range. For example if you have set the range at 50/30psi but you want your pump to cut off at 52psi you would tighten this screw. Just be careful to remember that you have adjusted the cut off only screw to obtain this number. So in this example your psi range would be 52/30psi.

In my case the switch came factory set at 40/20psi and overtime I had raised the cut off only screw and had started backing out the range screw hence my pump was effectively set at 40/20psi but as I had increased the cut off only screw by 10 psi (over time) I was getting a reading a 50/20psi. Anyway, the solution was to back off the cut off only screw so the top psi was 40 then increase the range screw to 50psi giving us what we now have which is 50/30psi. Note the Groco accumulator tank should be set 2psi below the bottom figure which in our case is 30psi meaning our pressure tank is set at 28psi. Its great having decent water pressure once again!

I thought this may be useful for some, as most of us will need to adjust the pressure switch from time to time as the springs fall out of adjustment and at least this way you won’t make the same mistake as I did. One never stops learning!

HAWAII FIVE-0 visited Waikiki Yacht Club on the 2nd of March to shoot a scene for the popular TV series. Mc Garret, Dr Max and Kamekona all made an appearance on E Dock. Following are a few pics taken from Pendana who was moved off E Dock and onto D Dock for the day.

With a bit of luck we may be in a background shot or at least my blue water purifier, which I left on dock, will be!

Don Stabbert (MV Starr) mentioned to me the other day that the ‘Cummins Engine God’ (Terry Wheeler – Curry Marine) was coming to Hawaii to check over Don’s engine. As such, I asked Don for Terry’s contact details so that I could grab a few hours and have Terry check the valves on Pendana as well as give her the once over.

Terry Wheeler in Pendana’s engine room

Getting the cylinders lined up

Starting adjustment

Pendana’s engine has never sounded sweeter. All in all, Terry ended up replacing both water pumps on the generators and also the high temperature oil alarm as that was starting to show signs of leaking. After giving Pendana the thumbs up I am certainly very pleased he was able to fit Pendana in on his busy schedule.

Interestingly, this guy – or should I say the ‘Cummins Engine God’, has a number of guys working for him with offices in Oregon, Kodiak and Hawaii and all he does is fly all around the world doing engine work on Cummins. He had, in fact, recently just flown back from sorting out a few issues on the National Geographic ship in Argentina. After being in business for the last 30 years, flying to all corners of the earth, there is a reason why this guy is so well respected. I must say Pendana and her Cummins N14 were lucky to have him aboard.

Another client of Terry Wheeler

While Pendana’s internals had a work over thanks to Terry, the lovely Dave and Sarah have been working tirelessly giving Pendana’s externals a makeover. She now gleams like the day she left the Nordhavn shipping yard and is truly looking lovely. Its great having these two on board looking after Pendana as they are meticulous and both very capable at what they do.

Sarah continues the waxing

Dave found a rusty bolt on the tender which he promptly went about fixing

As part of Bianca’s birthday present recently, we treated her to being a ‘Dolphin Trainer for the Day’. She spent about five hours in the water with these magnificent creatures just her and the trainers and yes, we are all very jealous. Bianca had a blast and now wants to be ….(drum roll please)……….. a Marine Biologist!

Well that’s all from camp Pendana. We plan to visit a few of the islands later this month, as well as spend some time at KoOlina Marina to visit with the Nordhavn family there, as well as saying goodbye to Andy and Julie on Infinity as they venture south to Tahiti, early April.

Stay safe


8 thoughts on “The Countdown is on…..”

  1. SUBJECT: Re: The Countdown is on…..

    Good stuff but I think you meant Vancouver Island as opposed to Victoria Island. Victoria is on VI and is the capital of our fair province. I have boated all of the waters you will be traversing (with my Alaskan GB) and you want to make absolutely sure about your tides before navigating most of the channels. Friends of ours dropped their 55’ trawler into the whirlpool your friends almost got to. It turned them sideways and the skipper was looking at the channel at eye level from the bridge. What saved them was that the boat was greatly overpowered and he was able to dig himself out … barely.

    In particular, make sure you have taken daylight savings time into consideration when consulting the tide tables. Last but not least, there are a few places where for some strange reason the GPS is off the charts by a few feet. As I recall, it was longitude only but the problem put me as close to a rock as I ever wanted to be.

    PS: You forgot to mention the cougars. For a while, they had taken a real shine to our kayaking tourists but they are not that fussy. I’m sure they would like Aussies just as much… 🙂

    Happy boating … Shaun

    > On 6 Mar 2016, at 1:42 PM, http://WWW.PENDANABLOG.COM <[...]> wrote:

  2. SUBJECT: Re: The Countdown is on…..
    Congrats! James sure that you have not left a detail to peril, and are
    totallty prepared ,we will be following Pendana””s passage to ALASKA!
    Happy belated Birthday sweet Bianca, sure that you could be the best
    Marine Biologist, Claire and Abby lots of love, relax and enjoy
    Silvia and Family

  3. SUBJECT: Re: The Countdown is on…..
    OMG James you are a delightful read!
    Stay safe all.A part of the world that jolts the soul is where you are heading.
    Sent from my Samsung GALAXY S5 on the Telstra Mobile network

  4. Jackie Schmidt

    SUBJECT: RE: The Countdown is on…..

    We look forward to welcoming you to the area if you ever get close to Seattle!

    Jackie and Mike Schmidt

    From: http://WWW.PENDANABLOG.COM [mailto:[…]]
    Sent: Sunday, March 6, 2016 1:43 PM
    To: jackiesch@m…
    Subject: The Countdown is on…..

  5. SUBJECT: Re: The Countdown is on…..
    Hi, The secret to success in BC waters is to throw away the tide tables, unless you are anchoring or picking oysters, and use the current tables. You will find that tidal stand and slack current hardly ever coincide. In long channels,
    like Grenville and on the inside of Vancouver Island (Not Victoria Island) the flood current comes in around the north and south ends and meets approx. in the middle, you an make good use of this as a time and fuel saver.
    I live in Campbell River and am a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary and travel these waters a lot. Look on your charts for the current arrows they give a good indication of what to expect, Will stop by your boat if you call into Campbell River on the way south. Safe passage, Regards Ankle Deep/
    From: http://WWW.PENDANABLOG.COM
    Sent: Sunday, March 06, 2016 1:43 PM
    To: ankledeep@t…
    Subject: The Countdown is on…..


    Thank you and noted. Our plan is to stop in Campbell River so we may get to meet up!!

  6. Laurie Thyrre

    SUBJECT: Re: The Countdown is on…..
    Awaiting your departure with great anticipation and enjoying the info along the way as well!
    Sent from my iPad please forgive typos 🙂
    > On Mar 6, 2016, at 2:42 PM, http://WWW.PENDANABLOG.COM <[...]> wrote:

    Thank you for your message, we are looking forward to it as well!

  7. Rowland Errington

    SUBJECT: RE: The Countdown is on…..
    Hi James
    We have been following the progress of Pendana with interest. Your next leg will be pivotal.
    Bernadette and I are about to throw off the lines here in Bundaberg, spend a year around Australia and then follow in your wake. Hawaii to Alaska makes a lot of sense given the short summer in Alaska/BC.
    Previously we got as far as Campbell River and Desolation Sound in British Columbia and spent a month in that locale, Alaska was on the agenda for the following season until we got the call to arms back in Oz. We are determined to finish the cruise thru natures wonderland BC/Alaska.
    During our 3 years in Bundaberg we have refitted and upgraded many of the systems on Bee and she is in the better condition than when she was new. The mighty Lugger is purring and barely run in at 2500 hrs – during the 2500 hour valve and injector set carried out by the local J.Deere service manager he commented that it was the cleanest engine that he had ever seen both internally and externally. Backup from Alaska Diesel and ABT/TRAC I have to say is exceptional and is a model that could be learnt well by many businesses here in Oz – including Nordhavn.
    At Superior Pak our experience during the past 3 years has been that by continual product improvement and super service (13 service sites nationally) we have been able to gain ground over the Swiss opposition from 40% to over 60% of the garbage truck (Mobile Compactor) market – and improved our profit margin dramatically. We are currently negotiating a component supply and technology licencing agreement with the largest US manufacturer – praise the Oz Reserve Bank!
    QQQQQQQuestion : Have you fitted storm boards to the salon windows? Particularly on the port side which can be exposed to the full force of nature?
    Best Regards,
    Rowley & Bernadette Errington
    Bee N6236
    Mob +61407456718
    Email rowlbern@b…


    Hey there Rowley me old mate!!! Great to hear from you and great to here Biz is going well and margins are going through the roof! Lots of very hard work, no doubt.

    The run north to Kodiak as you say is a long one and one that needs to be managed carefully but I am sure we will arrive safely and our equipment will perform flawlessly throughout the voyage. – fingers crossed!!

    Re storm windows the answer is no, we have not fitted them and do not intend to if we get a large wave hitting up side on that can take out our windows then I am convinced the wave would make quick work of the storm windows as well.

    Wow, so you are going to head back on your adventure. That is FANTASTIC news… cant wait you will have to start a blog as well??? yes?? no???

    Thanks for your email and news, all sounds very exciting!!


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