>Jessica Watson the America’s Cup and Getting Pandora ready for sailing

>The intrepid round the world sailor, 16 year old Jessica Watson from Australia passed the Cape of Good Hope this week to begin her final leg back to Australia. While she still has some 5,000 miles to go, passing the final cape on her voyage is a major accomplishment and one that will certainly earn her a place in nautical history as a tough young women making a round the world voyage at a young age. Jessica has been covered widely in the news and one of the more interesting videos I have seen of hers and other similar voyages by young people is worth checking out. It was posted by ESPN and is a good overview of the controversy surrounding Jessica’s voyage as well as other young people in the last several years. Normally I would inbed a video frame but for some reason ESPN has disabled that feature on YouTube. Check out the video by clicking here.  

The 33rd America’s Cup was also decided with a decisive victory for the BMW/Oracle team in a two race sweep.  Personally, I had become a bit jaded about the race given all of the legal wrangling over the last few years. However, to see these two massive boats racing was quite magnificent and worth tuning in to.  Unfortunately, the races were not broadcast on any station in the US but could be watched on the Web in streaming video.  The two videos that follow are highlights of the two races. Really interesting.

Now, back to my own, ever so humble, Pandora.

It’s just over a month until she goes back in the water and there is lots to do to get her ready.  The last few months has been particularly busy for me at work as I will soon leave a position that I have had for over 16 years as a division President at a private publishing company. Our company was sold 5 ears ago and my contract with the buyer is up as of the end of March. It has always been my dream to do something on my own and now that the new company, hard hit by the recession, has decided to sell one of my two divisions to yet another buyer, I have decided to go out on my own and form a new company.

Anyway, I have been really busy for the last few months but not so busy that I can’t think about Pandora and the coming sailing season.  However, between work and the terrible winter weather I had not even laid eyes on Pandora since leaving her at the marina dock as she was prepared to haul back in November.   My visit to Annapolis last weekend was nearly two weeks after the big snowfall with 4′ of snow dumped in the area and I didn’t know what to expect. Well, the snow didn’t disappoint as there was still plenty on the ground when I arrived. The cockpit was filled nearly to overflowing but happily everything down below was dry and snug.

I have pared down my list of major project list down to three major areas. Have the mast painted and replace all standing rigging, remove and refurbish the Max Prop and replace and enlarge the aft holding tank. I am also installing a cell phone booster to provide much more solid cell and Internet reception in areas where cell reception can be a bit spotty.  They say that this system will provide for good coverage up to 50 miles from a cell tower.  That should about cover it for the east coast of the US.  I was going to raise the waterline a bit but that will have to wait until next winter. Along with the rigging upgrade I am adding a running forestay to fly a storm jib as well as setting up the main with a 3rd reef. With my plans for more offshore work in the coming years, I needed to adjust my sail setup for more extreme wind conditions. The ESPN video I linked to above gives you an idea of how nasty conditions can become sometimes. I want to be sure that Pandora is set up for such conditions.

My to-do list for my visit last weekend was to remove a leaky holding tank so that I could have a new one made that would allow for greater capacity. While the tank is out I also needed to clean up a messy bilge from years of seepage and other lovely problems related to storing raw sewage aboard.  The bilge had gotten a bit smelly and needed attention.  The tank came out fairly easily and with a bit of work I was able to fit a cardboard template into the spot.


I have now had the flooring up several times on Pandora and fortunately, it’s pretty easy to pull up the panels and expose the bilge.  This shot is after I had cleaned things up a bit. The amount of crud under the holding tank made it really obvious why the bilge was smelling nasty.   There is still lots more cleaning left to make it presentable for the new tank which will more completely fill the space available.  By increasing the size of the tank I will have about 50% more storage.  The tank goes in the forward section ahead of the bilge pump.  

I have also had the mast painted professionally and these before and after shots show what a fabulous job they did.   Really nice work.  Lot’s of $$ going into a very nice job.


The top of the mast, looking good, perhaps better than new.
Amazing how the same hardware reinstalled looks like it’s totally new.  It’s from 1998.  Just terrific.
No, this is not a new winch.

This mast is over 65′ long and it looks very big when it is on the ground. I am so glad that I decided to have the rigger handle all of the work as the job looks overwhelming to me now that I see the scope of it and think about how I was thinking of doing some of the prep work myself.  What was I thinking?

The new holding tank will be ready next week and the plan is to head back down to Annapolis on Friday afternoon to reinstall it.  The best part will be schlepping buckets of water from the yard bathroom to the boat so I can more completely clean out the bilge prior to reinstalling the tank.  I should probably replace the head hoses as well while I have everything torn up.  That’s surely going to be fun.

Our plans for sailing this summer will be April and May in Annapolis, June in Mystic CT, part of July in Wickford RI and on to Maine for August.  And, with my nifty new cell booster installed, I will have better cell coverage on board so I can spend some of my work days aboard.
Just a month to go. I had better stay focused on the April launch date.  Yikes!


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