Monthly Archives: March 2012

Pandora needs her own bucket. Not that kind of bucket!

Call me a virtual “hanger on” but I just love the mega yacht events.  Ok, so I have come clean on that and am also at peace that I will never be in such an event.   The flavor of the moment for today is the St Barts Bucket, one of two events, with the other in Newport of course, that are held each year as an excuse for the big, really big, boys in yachting to get together and show off their yachts.

So, how is the recession hurting those events?  I guess that the 1%, no make that the .001% are back in business and in full swing as this year’s event in St Barts is a whopper with 47 boats in attendance.   Even with a $12,000 entry fee.  Supposedly they even turned away a number of boats that wanted to participate.  I wonder if it’s because they don’t accept AMEX.  Probably not .  I am trying to imagine what it would be like to have that many boats, most over 100′ and some more than twice that size, competing on a single course.  Even if they stagger the starts, that’s a lot of boat-feet moving near each other.

In trying to get my arms around this one I was thinking about what it must be like to handle a boat (I guess that “boat” isn’t the right word) with a 36′ draft.  That’s the amount of water that the 190′ Twizzle draws.  Yikes!  I guess that the Bahamas isn’t on their destination list given the fact that the banks average 6′ in depth.    Speaking of Twizzle, check out their site at  Normally, I would just highlight the name of the yacht with a link but thought that putting the actual link in this case was better as I am very amused that it’s a .org domain.  I guess that all yachts are NOT-FOR-PROFIT anyway, even if their owners are clearly not.

This video on you-tube was filmed at yesterday’s regatta and posted.  When I visited it this morning it only had 39 views.  I’ll bet that there will be more in the coming days as it will only take one visit each from crew on these yachts to clock up several hundred.   Check out the featured boat Twizzle.  I’ll bet that Pandora would fit in the cockpit.

Here’s another video, with some fun shore side clips, of the 2010 event.   This video has EVERYTHING including great sailing footage, a shot of what looks like a high tech potato gun and even a cooking lesson.  This video features Meteor, a real monster.  You can charter her for a week for only $106,000.  Note how she walks by Maltese Falcon, the largest sailing yacht in the world, like she is standing still, all 289′ of her.   Besides, Meteor is a mere 171′.   Oh, to be rich, really rich…

Oh yea, I read that the designer of Maltese Falcon is working on a new project based on similar technology that will be even bigger.   Bummer to be upstaged.

Progress on getting Pandora ready to splash

It’s been very busy lately as we finish up on getting ready to move to CT.   Fortunately, I have been able to squeeze a few visits to Pandora in along with everything else.

Happily, the watermaker is finished with the electrical connections all that is left prior to testing the system to be sure that it works.   For those that were concerned about my covering up the documentation numbers, fear not, I put them in below the old ones.   Not to worry.Because there are two water tanks aboard Pandora, I had to set up a diverter valve to allow me to switch to the port or starboard tank.   Note the great sign above the valve.  Only the best sineage for Pandora.

The gauge to the left is the system pressure and to the right is a flow meter on product water going into the tanks.

I was pleased with the nicely ordered and run hoses and the placement of the components. Can you say anal?  Anal’s good on a boat.   This is the actual membrane and pump that separate the salt from the product water.  This system works under very high pressure.

Don’t say it.  Don’t! You are thinking that it is a bit much to take pictures of EVERY LITTLE THING that I do.  Well, now that that’s out in the open, this is the neat fitting that routes water into the water tank.  As you can imagine, it took much more work to open up access to the water tanks and run the hoses than it did to drill and put the fitting in place.

But wait, there’s more.   I also had some old sound insulation hanging around home that was left over from a job on my last boat.  Doesn’t everyone have double layered foam with a mylar fiber reinforced scrim and dense plastic sandwiched laminate lying around?  I did. As luck would have it, there was just enough to insulate the cover panels to the engine compartment.  As alluded to above, the insulation is 1.5″ thick with a reinforced mylar film on the surface as well as a dense plastic layer between two 1″ foam layers.  This combination does a great job of cutting down the sound.  I attached it to thee engine compartment covers with contact cement and 10/20 machine screws and fender washers.  They fit very well and will make a big difference. I have been meaning to do this upgrade for a number of years.  Pretty slick. Here they are in place over the engine in the aft cabin.  It will make this sea berth a lot quieter when we are underway and someone is trying to get some sleep.

I have also been having some trouble with bottom pain flaking off in the last few years which makes for a messy bottom when I try to touch it up and have been debating what to do about the problem.   The spots tend to come up when the boat is pressure washed in the fall when she is hauled out for the winter.

So, I went out and bought the best paint scraper that I could find.  It worked quite well.  Actually, it was alarming how much of the paint was loose and came off fairly easily.  I may have to do the entire bottom now.  Great!!! More to paint and at $225/gal the more the merrier.

Plenty more to do and then I will sand it all down evenly and apply a new epoxy barrier coat to make the pain stick better and to protect the boat from water seeping into the laminate.

Loads to do but Pandora will launch soon, as soon as we finish packing, move to CT, unpack all of our *&^$# up there.  Yes, soon…

So, can Pandora make it in the one percent crowd?

After a day of crawling around in the bilge of Pandora working out the details of the new watermaker system, I was struck when the following video showed up in my inbox from the super yacht regatta being held in the Virgin Islands.   There is no question that having a yacht takes money but there is money and there is MONEY, MONEY, MONEY!!!.

Forget the 1%.  These videos certainly suggest that this crowd is in the .001% group.  I’ll bet that the rail meat hanging on the weather rail cost more in one minute than my entire yearly budget for Pandora.  No, make that my entire one year budget, period first day of racing are.  First place Indio, a super modern Wally 100′ yacht commissioned in 2009 and the second place 138′ Hanuman also delivered in 2009 in Holland, a replica of a 1937 J Class boat Endeavor II are about as different as two yachts can be.

Here’s a video of Indio clipping along at 20kts in a regatta in Sardinia.

So, if you are wondering what it takes to sail one of these monsters, here’s a video shot on Hanuman of her spinnaker being taken down.  Not a lot of activity like this on Pandora, not with Brenda aboard for sure.

So is Pandora in the 1%?  Actually, it’s better as she is in the fraction of 1% group, meaning that she costs a fraction of 1% of what it takes to run one of these babies for an hour.

I am happy to be in that 1% crowd for sure.  Besides, who wants to be on such a crowded boat anyway?  All of the pesky crew members and galley staff always in the way, catering to my every whim.  And all that rail meat.  No, make that rail steak tartar all over the place.  No, I want to be a do-it-yourselfer on little Pandora, all 25,000 lbs of her, for life.  Besides any self respecting owner needs to know where the brine discharge fitting on his watermaker is to be worth a damn.

Yea, that’s my story and I am sticking to it.  Hmm…

My Mom says it’s darkest before the dawn. I sure hope so.

My mother has often chirped, when things are looking a bit bleak and that they will never get better, don’t worry “it’s always darkest before the dawn”.    The highway department has a similar view when they post a sign in a construction zone that announces “the inconvenience is temporary but the repairs are permanent”.   When I surveyed Pandora the other day when I was working on the watermaker, both phrases came to mind.

It seems that it’s about this time each year when I feel like projects on Pandora will never come to an end that I survey the mess that I have on my hands and say “yikes,  this will never get better.

Yes, I am making progress toward launch but this is the view that greets me when I climb aboard these days.  What a trashed mess.A bit of a contrast to how she will look when she’s all cleaned up in a few months.   I hope so anyway.   Perhaps if I just add a lovely herb plant.  Perhaps not. Down below?  Worse or better? You be the judge.   No… trashed equally.

Another angle better?  Not even close.

No gourmet meals being prepared here.

However, if things continue to progress we will soon have “unlimited” water or at least as much water as we have power to generate with our new watermaker.    While the following pictures may look about the same as the ones that I posted a few weeks ago, there is significant progress with many more lovely hoses run from one place to the other.   Trust me, there is much more done now.  Really.

And the membrane, the part of the system that actually separates the water from the salt is now in place.

Lots more to do but primarily, it’s a matter of running output hoses to the water tanks, wiring up the unit and finishing the plumbing.  Lots yes, but the end is near.

Oh yea, the best part was drilling two 3/4″ holes in the hull, one for the intake and the other for the brine overboard discharge.   Holes in the bottom of the boat certainly ranks up there as a worst nightmare sort of thing.  The intake had to have a scoop so that the movement of the boat will help push water into the system so that the pumps won’t have to work so hard.  It seems that a flush hole in the hull actually creates a suction when the boat is moving so a scoop that directs the water is needed.   Not surprisingly, the instructions offer a caution not to place the intake port for the unit down stream from the head outlet.   Sounds like excellent advice.

I hope to be back working on Pandora soon but find myself consumed by working toward our move to Essex in a few weeks.  No rest for the weary.  However, spring is just around the corner so that means sailing can’t be far away either.


What sails 5x faster than Pandora?

The Jules Vern Trophy is one of the enduring sailing records to beat and is awarded to the  yacht with the fastest trip around the world.  The first “running” was in the novel buy Jules Verne novel Around the World in Eighty Days in which Phileas Fogg makes the trip around the world (albeit by railroad and steamboat) in 80 days. The current holder of the record is Banque Populaire V skippered by Loick Peyron in 45 days 13 hours 42 minutes 53 seconds.   This is a great video summary of the trip.  Funny, but even at 30 knots a behemoth like Banque Populaire V doesn’t look all that fast.  No, actually it does look fast, really fast.

This running is just one more example of how the French take sailing very seriously and multihulls in particular.    Too bad that we in the US don’t look at it that way.

I guess that Pandora won’t be going for the trophy any time soon.   No, with crew (Brenda), no make that the “honored guest” that says “the best part of sailing is being anchored” I expect that a non-stop run around the planet wouldn’t happen any time soon.  For now, I will have to enjoy videos of others doing this.

Actually, my aspirations fall far short of a circumnavigation.  Oh yea, the answer is that this boat is way faster, as are a lot of boats.  The good news is that there are tons that are slower, at least the mere mortal ones.

A new way to enjoy your boat! Keel walking? Are you kidding me?

I just love the ways that the big boys use their boats.  What better way to make more room for passengers (well dressed of course) than spending a bit of time standing on the keel.

This is Hugo Boss, one of the big ocean racers and that’s Alex Thomson, the leader of that sailing group.  He’s not even 40 year and is no sailing slouch as he owns the world record for a 24 hour run in a monohull at some 500 miles at an average speed of over 20 knots, that’s nearly 25 MPH.  Not bad. Pandora? The fastest I have had her at a sustained speed is just a tad over 10 knots, and it was only in spurts over a several hour period. Normally, Pandora pokes along at a respectable 7 knots.

Who would even think of standing on a keel? I fear that my older son Rob would.  Actually, he’s climbing, and camping, on Mount Washington this weekend.  Isn’t it winter?

It’s worth checking out the Hugo Boss racing site.  What an awesome boat!!!  And, you have to love the shades on Alex.  I wonder if he likes his martinis shaken, not stirred?

However, if you think that it’s all fun and games, this video shows the boat at speed.  Not sure the keel walk would work in these conditions.

I wonder if Brenda would enjoy such a sail?  Perhaps not.  As I used to say in my, shall we say mere youth, “don’t get my wet”.

Would it help if I painted Pandora Black?

Oh, and by the way, the reason that the keel on Hugo Boss is painted international orange is so that if the boat  looses it’s mast and turns turtle the rescue folks can see it better in the storm.   Not sure that the black hull would show up all that well.   Hmm…

Progress on the watermaker

One of the major equipment additions aboard Pandora this winter is the installation of a watermaker.  I wrote more about this in a previous post and I thought that it would be good to provide an update on progress to date.  Actually, not a lot as I have been busy on getting ready to move to Essex CT from our home in Upper Saddle River NJ where we have been for the last 20+ years.

Going through two decades of stuff has been challenging but progress is being made as we prepare for a closing on both homes, one sale and the new purchase, later in March.  Many details to take care of but we are definitely getting closer to the move.

I wish that I had more time to work on Pandora of late but I am making progress on the watermaker install.  After much debate, in my head at least, I decided to install the components in the very spacious cockpit locker where it will be easy to operate the system.  Here’s a shot of the dual pump system.   I hope to have time in the next week to install the membrane, the guts of the unit and certainly the largest part of the system at nearly four feet in length.  The key is to situate the unit in a location that is accessible and yet not subject to damage.

This initial install is on a forward cockpit locker bulkhead.   To the upper right of the system you can see one of the two compressors that I have aboard.  In this case, the one that powers the refrigerator.  The other one, installed last year, is for the deep freeze.  A good efficient fridge and freezer will come in handy when we are in the Bahamas next winter. 

This is progress but it’s not nearly done with the through hulls, to supply water to the unit, and other components yet to come.  I will do the entire install myself but will bring in an electrician to do the final hookup to the electrical panel. While I wrestle boxes and packing at home I can only wish that I was working on Pandora. Well, there’s always next week.