Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Initial thoughts on commissioning and first voyage

     Just thought I would throw together some thoughts about our recent acquisition of hull #46, Zooropa, as we cruise up the Brazilian coast. This is geared to those owners yet to acquire their boats and probably will hold no interest to existing owners. (So stop reading!)

     First we all owe a great deal to those who have gone before us – especially, in our case, Mark Silverstein, Eric Maynard, Jason and Gail Shell, Ed and Maite Pratt, and Carlos Diaz. You can see their influence on the newer boats. The knowledge they imparted to us greatly eased what is a major undertaking.

 BA visit strategy.

      We made 3 trips including final commissioning trip. You probably need this many to get all your stuff into storage. The first will be likely early to convince yourself that boats are actually being built in San Fernando (they are!) as you begin transferring your wealth to Antares. The second will be when your boat is in the finishing factory where a final close review of your work order will be priority #1.
      Looking at your boat in fiberglass and finishing factories is, in my opinion, a waste of time. Nothing to see. I suggest you make sure your trips are timed to boats being commissioned in the water (or an Antares U). Being able to visit with Jason, Gail and Eric on Two Fish and Live Wide was really helpful, not only with WO but also deciding what to bring down. Final decision will be when to depart for BA the last time. We waited until we got the thumbs up from Antares after Memo had taken the boat out for shakedown cruise. Our paradigm was that if a significant problem arose requiring parts from offshore, combined with sail captain and weather window timing, it could be 4+ weeks before sail away date. Fortunately we had only a few issues arise with our boat and, if anything, the process when by too quickly.
      Commissioning process Our interactions with Santiago, Memo and Rob were fantastic. (Make sure Rob and/or Jeff come down for part of this time – the more input at this stage the better)) The process of revising work or replacing parts was effortless and stress free. I had the impression all along that their primary concerns were making us happy and providing the best boat possible. Review of our consultants concerns was collaborative with occasional input from Ted Clements. Again, very pleased with Antares response to our concerns.

      Moving onto boat.

      I suggest first thing you do is have Sancho setup your LAN and wifi booster (really happy with the Rogue Wave so far) so you can get connected. If you have a KVH, setup your account before heading to BA and activate as you head down.
      You will need to update firmware and satellite definitions before the system works. KVH support by both phone and online is superb and they will get your system up and running. When you do get on the boat, try to flip the switch on as many systems as you can.
      Again we were very pleased with our boat but as expected there were a few glitches which could easily be overlooked.
      From our experience, I suggest you do following
 Test VHF hailer function – our hailer needed to be replaced.
 Anchor in River Plata during one of your trips with Memo. Bridle setup needed to be changed. Find the wash down stuff.
 Make sure you try as many functions of the radar, CP and autopilot as you can. Settings may need to be tweaked.
 Get into all compartments and tighten all hose clamps etc. This is a good way to familiarize yourself with mechanical layout.
 Make sure you know how to access the impeller on Onan – not easy. Several boats have eaten impellors. Pray it doesn’t happen in heavy seas.
 Add “Antares to supply 4L Volvo CVS premixed coolant and 4L Rimula R4 15W-40 oil” to your WO. This will alleviate stress of having to find the stuff locally.
 Check your anchor rode. My primary and secondary anchors came with a swivel connected directly to the anchor shank. It’s my understanding that if you are going to use a swivel there should be a shackle interposed between swivel and shank. Something for you to think about. I added the shackle myself.
 Bring large sponges. Can’t find them locally.
 There is a black delrin fairlead std side mid boom for main sheet. Mine was misaligned resulting in chafe on mainsheet. Check. You may have to sand edges down.
Bring a good supply of absorbent bilge cloth.
 While ridiculously expensive, Kato Marine ratchet clamps should be considered. It is imperative the dingy is secured properly when underway. Pikin demonstrated an easy fixation system using just 2 lines.
 We had 2 plastic screw ons that help immobilize our trilens radar reflector break and fall off. We found replacements at a plumbing store in Angra and Pikin went up the mast for the fix.
 Getting a full repertoire of flares locally is problematic.
 Have 3 – 4,000 Bra Real with you (for cash diesel purchase)
 Our freezer is problematic. Sounds like same issue as Calypso and several boats.. Will check coolant levels in Angra though doubt this will be problem. ?Coastal climate control – they say our model is not the same as one giving problems in past?? Consider not installing them until problem with freezer actually identified and fixed.
 Suggest you don’t bother with Quick windlass counter. Not sure what it is measuring but does not appear related to length of anchor rode deployed. (probably just needs recalibration)

First Cruise

El Capitain y el Commandante - Another tough day at the office
      Hire Pikin. He will get you and your boat safely to Angra or beyond stress free.You will learn lots of seamanship from him. He will tweak the setup of the boat. I think the tv series McGiver was styled on Pikin. He seems to be able to fix just about everything – non-functioning compass light, squeaky helm wheel, non functioning fuel guage. There is a lot of respect and trust between Pikin and Memo/Santiago, which makes fixes on the fly with their input much easier. Pikin can cook, dance and get you a Brazilian sim card. Great guy. Highly recommended. We asked him to bring along an additional crew member, Anna, who smooth’s out communication with Pikin. Suggest you crew with 4 on initial cruise. 2 on 6 off – easy peasy! Don’t make this hard on you and your partner. Lots of time to rest, play around with the systems and learn from Pikin. The dynamic with 2 male 2 female on boat was, I think, a very good thing for Philippa.
So in summary

      You’re gonna love your boat. Try to eliminate all deadlines and time constraints before you go. Don’t get system/manuals paralysis – don’t worry because …….. you’ve hired Pikin (or someone of similar qualification) and he’s going to look after you!

      Initial impression of Isle Grande – fantabulous! We have changed our plans accordingly and hope to cruise the area for a month. The upside of those getting their boat in NA summer is this is the quiet season here and the weather is amazing. (vs rainy season in Dec Jan)
Surprising things about Brazil
 1 It's huge. Long distances between cruising areas. 2 It's spectacular. 
As you will see in future blogs. The meeting of hills/mountains with ocean and beaches is amazing.

 Cheers Ian

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