I may have reported before that the three mechanical inventions cause the most trouble on boats are water makers, refrigeration and autopilots. A dwindling few purists reject these gadgets and boast of having more time to read books while enjoying warm beer.
We are one of a few cruising boats without a water maker-relying on rain to fill our large water tanks. Our two W-H Autopilots that are very robust but if one breaks-rare-the other can be switched over. This leaves us with refrigeration. We should have two but lack the room.
Our system consists of a compressor driven by a 24-volt DC motor. When the system is turned off during our long absences, the compressor seal dries and leaks gas. This is exactly what used to happen to automobile air-conditioning systems that did not get used during the winter. Drivers discovered their cars need a charge first hot day. Now cars automatically run the systems a little in the winter to keep the seal.
I have learned to close the valves when we go away; on our return, open them up; and replace the little gas that has been lost on the first run. I have always carried a can of refrigerant.
The seal did not recover this year and I was out of gas. I had not replaced the seal before and no one could legally sell me the gas in Australia. Mine had come from non-regulated South Africa. I reluctantly admitted that I needed a professional. With my years of service, I know this system better than most and am always happy when I find someone who knows more about it than I do.
John Bentley, a busy local refrigeration servicer, was not enthusiastic when he saw my system. The compressor was installed in a tight spot at the back of the engine room and bolted from underneath with no working room. John had not replaced the seal before but called his network and found Nabil Makari, a transplanted Egyptian agricultural engineer who now worked on auto air conditioners.
John and I agreed that I would remove compressor and take it to Nabil, who worked out of his garage. When I had reinstalled it, John would replace the gas. Three days later, after a series of stripped bolts and newly discovered leaks, the system was working again.
December 7, 2018
34'03S 151'09 E
Cronulla to Hobart
We dropped lines at 8:35 am on December 7, 2018, just after John completed charging the refrigeration system. An hour later we had the jib poled out, the reacher set, the staysail pulling and a reefed main for balance. We barreled along at nine to ten knots until the wind reached the mid-thirties and our fear of breakage overpowered our hope the wind would moderate. We rolled up the headsails and carried on under just the three-reefed main-not the best sail configuration for the conditions but it was night, everything was in control and we had decent speed.
Less than twenty-four hours after we had left Cronulla, Eva on Zofia was surprised to look out her porthole and see us anchored nearby. We waved and promised to meet for lunch in town after a couple of hours of sleep
Eden has a remarkable whaling museum which includes the skeleton of 'Old Tom' the leader of the killer whale pod that worked with the land based whaling stations. When the pack spotted and herded migrating Southern Rights and Humpbacks into Eden's Bay, one orca would swim to the town's shore to alert the whalers for the kill. The lips and tongues were the pack's payment.
Eden is the gathering port for weather watching sailors heading the three hundred miles south across the Bass Straight and midway down the coast to Tasmania's protected anchorages. Over the next few days rally members-Sans Souci, Hurtle Turtle and Supra Trooper-joined us to over analyze the various forecasts and strategies for making the notoriously nasty trip. On December tenth, over coffee on Onora, the fleet concluded that next morning was as good as we were going to get.
It was another poled-out down-wind run for us. Winds were steady fifteen to twenty-five knots. Onora liked it-allowing us to carry the full head sails for most of the trip and without a sail change. Thirty-three hours later, just after mid-night, we passed through the Schouten Passage and dropped the anchor off Passage Beach.