And we’re back!

When we flew back to Kate in June, I had all intentions of getting back to the website and regular posts. And, I have tried. In fact, I feel like I have started this a hundred times, but I can never get past the first couple of sentences. I don’t know if it is the daunting task of trying to sum up life after such a long hiatus, or the idea of this being a continuation when it really feels like a new beginning, that had me stuck.

However, now that we are finally afloat, life is starting to feel like normal again and something has changed. For the first time in too many months I have been writing in a journal, reaching for my laptop, and crawling out of bed in the dark just to scribble a few ideas on the page. If I needed confirmation that life on the water was right for me, then this is surely a sign. And I must admit, that after such a long time on land and all the struggles, I might have been worried that the uneasiness that has lived in the depths of me for the past few years was there to stay. Not that it’s totally dissolved yet, but at least it has lost it’s hold.

So, here we are again.

Kate is floating. The engine is finally running properly after an extremely odd discovery that one of the exhaust valves had simply rusted away and the debris was jamming the engine. (Oh, and thanks to the company in Manila who did our complete rebuild a few years ago, that installed the cheapest parts they could find, took three times longer than expected and charged us for work we now know they weren’t qualified to do!) Thankfully, Steve found an awesome outfit that had the tooling, and the know how, to refinish the cylinder head and replace the valves, springs, and seats.

That would a valve stem with the flared valve completely rusted away, while INSIDE the engine on the hard.

That, of course, took a couple of long, slow bus trips to Manila carrying 30kgs of cylinder head, an unexpected overnight in the big city without a change of clothes, toothbrush or phone charger because the last bus home was cancelled for no reason, a monsoonal downpour with no umbrella (or change of clothes), a small meltdown or two, and a month waiting for parts.

Then came a couple a typhoons and a month worth of volcanic smog, the former of which hampered us putting on bottom paint – we needed 5 consecutive days without rain. In between we discovered that our old school navigation computer decided not to turn back on despite having stored inside since 2019, that our bilge pumps stopped pumping the day before we arrived back onboard and that all our canvas was no longer waterproof.

Then our battery charger blew up, we noticed that when it rained really hard the galley cupboard where we store the plates pooled with water, and we found a faulty thru hull valve the day before we intended to launch.

To say there were a few dips in crew morale would be an understatement.

Steve declared that we were suffering death by dock. I felt like I had suffered that death once or twice before. We both know there is only one way forward, and that’s one step at a time. So, we repaired, replaced, and resealed everything that was giving us troubles. And then we decided that while we were it, why not replace our 8-year-old batteries with some fancy lithium-ion ones that, fingers crossed, will not only give us better power storage but may never need to be replaced again. Because everyone knows that boat just stands for Break Out Another Thousand.

Six weeks after the engine was up and running, the weather cleared long enough that we could slap on the bottom paint that we bought in January 2020 and has been sitting in the unairconditioned shed in the yard since – lets see how that fares in the long run! – and finally, finally, finally get back in the water.

Since then, we have overcome some issues with the outboard and a found a little hiccup when we recommissioned the watermaker. We are still getting used to the new LiFePo4 batteries, they act and charge differently from the standard deep-cycle AGM batteries that we’ve lived with for nearly a decade. Most importantly we have been waiting for the seasonal shift in the weather.

There are two seasons in the Philippines, the SW monsoon, locally called the hagabat, and the NE monsoon, the amihan. Like many places in the world this year our hagabat season seemed unusually wet and windy, which makes sailing SW a chore, not to mention the frequency of typhoons this time of year and the lack of good places to hide. However, in the past week or so we’ve seen the winds begin to shift towards the NE and have had several no rain days. All very positive for our departure towards Malaysia. Hopefully by the time our last package arrives we will have fair winds, blue skies, and calm anchorages.

As I said, this is definitely a continuation of our sailing life

But it also feels like a bit of a reboot. Not so much another episode in the series but, perhaps, the start of a whole new season. For those of you who have been here for a while, thanks for tuning back in, and if, by chance, there are new readers, we hope you stick around as we boldly go where everyone has gone before, just probably a little slower than most.



8 Comments Add yours

  1. Bruce says:

    She’s back 🎉 So glad you have survived these horrid years. And yes, it must be a new beginning as I am sure you will never be the same again. A born again boatie. So proud of you (and Steve) 👏

    1. Heather Francis says:

      Thanks Bruce, and thanks for sticking around and reading.

  2. Spida says:

    Olsen wanem l Gud
    It will be ok friend
    Yu two fella gat all three yea bugga up wan time .
    I mi gud nomo stret
    Mi wan fella happy Yumas blo Yu two fella blo Kate
    Looking forward to next post tumas.

  3. Hans says:

    Yeah, leaving a sailing boat unused in the tropics for a long time has it’s complications. But the valve issue is quite special! Wish you fair winds (and no big malheur!) heading for Malaysia. I have kept ALK on a mooring in Phuket the past years and will be back in Dec. Bon voyage!

    1. Heather Francis says:

      Hey Hans! We replaced our standard marine toilet with a composting version just before the first lockdown, the faulty thru hull was the old toilet overboard which we are using it for the new shower overboard. It closed probably 95% of the way, but that leaves no room for error if anything fails! Glad to hear ALK and you are still sailing and over this side, perhaps we’ll share an anchorage once again. On a sad note, I recently heard that Noel on Laipari died. Hope all is well.

  4. Charles Harper says:

    Happy to have you back surviving perils of adventure
    Very best thing are going well my experiences started as fun dedicate to having fun adventures gets be damm hard work
    Kudos to k.s Walter Mitty here clock
    says m in overtime

    Go get em C.H

  5. Excited to follow your travels. Be safe ❤️

    1. Heather Francis says:

      Hope things are good with you Kezza!

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