The last time I sent out a blog update we were sitting happily in Fukuoka. Or, at least Roberta and I were. The crews of Seabird and Grey Pearl had headed off to So. Korea for some sightseeing, and Starr had stayed an extra night in Moji. I had some business to do, so I spent much of our time in Fukuoka staring at my computer screen.
The high-speed ferry between Fukuoka, Japan, and Busan ,South Korea
A street scene taken in Busan by Steven Argosy of Seabird
Both Steven and Carol, and Braun and Tina, sent emails encouraging us to come over to S. Korea. They promised great western restaurants. However, Steven sent me this picture, which tells a slightly different story.
Braun and Tina (Grey Pearl) visited Seoul and traveled to the DMZ, while Steven and Carol (Seabird) remained in Busan.
I was very curious what it would be like to be in South Korea now…
In the unlikely chance that some of you may not know what is happening, these are tense times. The North Koreans recently sunk a South Korean ship. North Korea has threatened war if the South Koreans retaliate. It’s a sad situation which is likely to get worse before it gets better. That said, our group felt that the prevailing sentiment in South Korea was optimistic, and that it is just a matter of time until the Koreas reunited.
The dome you see in the background behind our boat, Sans Souci, is Fukuoka’s ‘Yahoo!’ Baseball Dome.
We all go to a baseball game!
Steven Argosy (Seabird) and Sharry Stabbert (Starr) are rooting for the Tigers, Osaka’s baseball team.
Of course this meant we had to go see a baseball game. At home we are Seattle Mariners season ticket holders, where, on those rare occasions that we are actually in Seattle, we watch our team’s hero, Ichiro Suzuki, play. It was impossible not to be amused by the fact that we were now in Japan watching the Hanshin Tigers (from Osaka) play the Softbank Hawks, (Fukuoka’s team) as an American pitcher was pitching to an American batter.
The Japanese fans have American fans beat. Each of the outfield sections had its own band, and the fans sang non-stop. The noise level was deafening! A couple of times, the audience blew up balloons and let them fly all at once. There were even cheerleaders! Very cool!
Another day we all visited a small nearby island called Nokonoshima. There is a ferry — ten minute ferry ride — to this island from Fukuoka. The ferry is above to the left. The claim to fame for Nokonoshima is a beautiful garden. We took some time to stroll through this garden and to take in the fragrant smells from all of the flowers.
The gardens had a full golf course, except played with croquet mallets. It looked fun, but I didn’t try. It was really more like a combination of croquet and miniature golf.
Each time we think our boats are tied up in the best place imaginable, it just gets better. Our boats are docked just beneath the ferris wheel you see in this picture.
I haven’t spoken much about boating-related technical issues. This is because there haven’t been any! The boats have been running flawlessly.
That said, there are a few brief technical topics that might be of interest (feel free to skip ahead)…
Electricity has been a bit of a headache, although not as bad as we anticipated. The dockside shore power pedestals have mostly had the same connectors as in the U.S. The biggest problem is that the marinas aren’t really set up to accommodate boats our size. For instance, in Fukuoka, there were 50 amp connectors on the visitor dock, but after tripping the breaker a few times I did some investigating and discovered that the power for the entire dock, including all four of our boats, was flowing through a single 40 amp breaker.
It took some creativity to explain to the marina what our problem was, but once they understood they immediately called an electrician to come fix the circuitry. Unfortunately, the power was not fixed until the day before our departure. We felt bad leaving after they had gone to all the trouble to bring in electricians.
Sans Souci has an international power adapter, called Atlas, which is great at times, and a pain at others. On the positive side, it always delivers 100% clean electricity to the boat, at a consistent 240 volts. It will accept single or triple phase electricity and virtually any voltage I’m likely to find, worldwide. This flexibility comes at a price though.
In the photo above you can see that I am drawing 33 amps from shore power, but only 18 amps is available inside the boat. Where is the missing electricity?
There are a few answers to that question:
1) The input voltage is only 203 volts. This seems to be the standard here in Japan. When boosting the voltage from 203 to 240 volts, 15% of the potential amperage is lost. Let’s assume for a minute that I really had 50 amps available from my shore power cord. If the voltage were 240, then this would equate to 12 kilowatts of power (240 x 50,) whereas at 203 volts, only 10.1 kilowatts are available.
2) You’ll note on my display that it mentions a power factor of .94. This says that only about 94% of the incoming electricity was useful. This happens when electricity is ‘dirty.’ In other words, the theoretical 10.1 kw coming into my boat is really only 94% or about 9.5 kw.
3) Lastly, in the photo above, if you run the math, I am drawing 33 amps at 203 volts, at 94% efficiency, which means I was consuming about 6.3kw from the shore power cord. On the output side, I am seeing only 4kw (240 volts times 18 amps. This loss is called ‘inefficiency’ and comes from the Atlas unit itself. A full third of the available power is being lost during conversion! Where is it? Electricity cannot simply disappear. The answer is ‘heat.’ There’s actually a formula that can be applied to figure out how much heat is being thrown out by my Atlas. I ‘lost’ 2kw, and the formula for converting kilowatts to btus (a way of measuring heat) is 1kw = 3,412 btus. In other words, I’m dumping 6,824 btus of heat into my lazarette, via the Atlas.
Sorry to bore you with all this, but for at least me, if not most of you, it is an interesting topic. Providing electricity for the boat, when traveling international, is a very important topic, and one we spend a great deal of time puzzling over.
As long as I’m talking tech…
While we were sitting still in Fukuoka I decided to change the oil in on the 20kw generator.
I expected that it would take 15 minutes, to an hour at most, but the project wound up taking much longer.
Sans Souci has an oil change system that makes changing the oil amazingly simple, and that’s a very good thing because there’s a fair amount of oil that needs changing. There are actually six different pieces of equipment: two main engines, two generators and two transmissions.
Each of these six pieces of machinery has a hose attached for draining or filling oil. I can press a button and transfer the oil in or out without every getting my hands dirty. I also carry two oil tanks, one for oil that is new, and one for oil that is used. By twisting a couple of levers and pressing a button I can quickly and easily swap the oil.
Or, at least that’s how it’s supposed to work….
To change the oil in the 20kw generator, I set the levers and pressed the discharge button, but no oil would come out. I double checked and triple checked the levers. I was trying to move the oil from the 20kw generator into an oil bucket.
After a bit of frustration, I called Steven on Seabird to see if he had any ideas for me. Steven checked the valves, and agreed I had it set up correctly. He then suggested running the generator for a bit to warm the oil. That worked and the oil suddenly started flowing. In a few minutes the generator was empty.
I then pressed the button to put the new oil into the generator, and once again, nothing. Steven and I checked the valves, and rechecked them. We were trying to pump from the ‘new oil’ tank to the 20kw generator and it just wasn’t working.
Our theory was that the pump needed primed. I had just sucked oil out of the generator, so this didn’t seem completely right, but something was happening and we had no other theories. We then tried pumping clean oil backwards from a bucket into the ‘new oil’ tank. No luck. It wouldn’t pump at all. After another hour of messing about and total frustration, it suddenly worked! Oil started flowing and the generator oil was changed. Neither of us has any idea what was wrong, or what we did to fix it. But, the generator is now happy again.
Anyway, on to more interesting topics…
The run from Fukuoka to Nagaski is about 110 nautical miles. Our boats can make 200 nm in a 24 hour period, so it’s not a long run. That said, we’ve been trying to run only during daylight. There are narrow passages where we need to precisely time our arrival due to currents, and there is frequently fishing gear in the water that we need to dodge around.
We had planned to make the run to Nagasaki over two days, with a stop halfway between to anchor. We asked the Coast Guard to suggest a location, and the place they identified was a closed port. This meant we had to apply for permission to anchor, which was granted.
On arrival at the anchorage, we could quickly see that we were exposed to the wind, and the wind was predicted to rise overnight. We saw a nearby fishing harbor that offered greater protection. We thought it would be tight, but that we could make it work. After a bit of work to cram all the boats in, we finally got the four boats anchored and were just settling in when I opened my email to find this message:
| ||“Ken san |
Just had calling from Hirado Coast Guard that 4 boats arrived and anchored off Kawachi port.
However current anchoring point is on the route to entering Kawachi port and
Fishing boats transit the route.
So Coast Guard asked you to shift to Off Senrigahama (Pls see attached map)
for safety. Thanks for your understanding and cooperation in advance.
Kazuo Furuno “
We had anchored carefully and were not blocking anything or anyone, but didn’t want to argue. None of us were in the mood to move the boats, especially to somewhere less safe. But, we moved anyway.
Luckily the forecasted storm didn’t arrive and we actually had a very smooth night as it turned out.
Here’s a picture of Sans Souci’s anchor coming up. Note the swivel. It is supposed to rotate the anchor into a good position for coming over the bowsprit. The use of a swivel was controversial, and apparenlty they can be problematic. Many readers of my blog wrote to advise me not to install one. Thus far, all is good.
On our run to Nagasaki we had the first serious problem of the entire GSSR trip thus far….
About two hours into our second day Grey Pearl came on the radio to say that their main engine had quit. Braun went on to say that his backup (wing) engine and his generator had also quit. He had been transferring fuel and had noticed air bubbles starting to appear in the filter. His theory was that he had gotten air into the fuel system and would need to bleed the fuel line.
About 20 minutes later Braun got the engine running and we were back under way. However, about 10 minutes later Braun was back on the radio. The main engine had quit again.
We were in a vulnerable position. We were still a four hour run from Nagasaki. It was around 10am and a big storm was expected to hit at 3pm. None of us wanted to be offshore when the storm hit.
Braun tried unsuccessfully for another half hour to get the Pearl’s main engine started, without success.
Don, on Starr, came on the radio to offer to tow Grey Pearl while Braun worked on the engine. This would allow us to continue making forward progress while Braun diagnosed the problem. I asked Don his plan for towing the Pearl, curious to learn how he planned on doing so. I had no idea whether or not Don had ever pulled another boat. Personally I’ve never pulled anything larger than a tender, but I do know some of the theory, having studied for the Coast Guard exam on towing. Don’s response quickly established that he not only knew how to tow, he REALLY had his act together. He had a tow line already sitting on deck, already shackled up. To my amazement Grey Pearl had a towing bridle set and within 15 minutes we were back underway, making six knots. This group is incredible to travel with!
Then began ‘diagnosis by radio’ with Braun, Steven, Don and I all kicking in ideas. Fifteen minutes after towing started Braun had the wing engine going, and after another fifteen minutes the main started up. Starr towed the Pearl for perhaps another 30 minutes, just to verify that all was really well, and indeed it was. The Pearl ran smoothly the rest of the way to Nagasaki, and our belief is that it was nothing more than air in the fuel lines. I’m not sure whether or not the problem is completely resolved, but as I type this we are safely in port.
We arrived only about one hour later than our original projection, and within minutes of tying up, the storm hit. Since then, we’ve had non-stop rain and moderate winds.
Roberta on deck getting lines and fenders set for arrival in Nagasaki
We are at the Dijema Wharf, in the heart of Nagasaki. We were able to find the marina using Google Earth, because it was the only marina we could find in the area. It is a very cool, very central, wonderful place to be, but it is a marina with only twelve slips spread across two peers. Prior to our arrival we were told that all four boats would need to tie to a nearby concrete wall, and that we would have to raft to each other, without electricity. The marina can only accommodate boats up to 35 feet!
As we were approaching the marina we received the good news that Grey Pearl and
Seabird could tie up at the end caps on the dock. This would leave only Sans Souci and Starr to tie to the wall.
The wall is not meant for a boat like Sans Souci. In this photo you can see how the wall looks. The water rises and lowers seven feet, and the lower four foot of wall is covered with sharp fender-eating crud.
Starr took one look at the wall and knew it wasn’t going to work. I tied to the wall, and then looked to see what had come of Starr. After a bit of begging they had convinced the marina to stuff all 75’ of Starr into a 35’ slip, with a storm coming! Starr had found ways to relieve the pressure on the floating dock by running lines to the nearby quay, and to the dock posts. The cleats on the dock itself are tiny and useless for boats our size.
Braun came on the radio to suggest I move off the wall, and I declined. It had been a long day and Roberta and I weren’t in the mood to move the boat again. Plus, I studied how Starr was tied, and it looked complex. I wasn’t sure I could tie Sans Souci similarly. Braun responded, “It took some selling to persuade the marina that you can move your boat. You might want to jump on it before they change their minds.” The rain was starting to pour, and I was getting soaked. I said, “I’ll take my chances and see how it looks in the morning. Ask me again after I’ve gone through a tide cycle.”
It was a tough decision to stay on the wall. My worry was that the sharp clams would cut through my fenders. Also, getting on and off the boat was a HUGE challenge. To allow for the large tide swings I couldn’t tie the boat snuggly to the wall, and to complicate life, Roberta’s parents (in their 80s) are arriving on Tuesday. We’d never be able to get them on and off the boat. That said, I was worried Sans Souci would rip apart the fragile dock if the storm got worse, and I wasn’t sure I had the skill-set to tie the boat solidly as Don had.
Early the next morning, all of the other boats were back on the radio offering to help me move. This time I couldn’t resist, and we moved the boat. This really is a special group. We’re in heavy rain, with strong winds, getting drenched, and these guys are offering to assist me with a really complex boat-moving and tying project.
We did move the boat, and securing it in its new location did turn out to be as big a challenge as I had feared. Roberta and I would have difficulty tying the boat without the group’s help.
It is now early evening and the rain has headed off any interest in sightseeing. I’ll report on Nagasaki in my next blog.
Sans Souci, Nordhavn 68
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