Tuesday, October 28, 2008


The bulk of the repairs are done. Even the prop shaft generator is installed. The painting is completed and ARITA is ready to be launched again. Fifty years ago ARITA was launched for the first time from a shed in the Bay of Islands in New Zealand. Things have certainly changed a lot with the addition of the bowsprit but the basics are all still there. Amazing to see the size of the tree that became ARITA. Notice the builder and his family at the base of the tree. Double-click on the photo and you'll see.

Not that the ARITA tree was all that large, look at this little beauty being sawn by cross-bows in the late 1870's by the Murray family in the North Island of New Zealand. The logs were normally hauled out of the hills with bullock teams and then floated down the rivers to holding bays along the coast where large ships could load them for shipment to England to be used for house framing.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


For those not too familiar with yachts let me explain, "TOPSIDE IS DONE" is not a scream from the guy doing the BBQ. The topside is the white sides of the yacht above the water-line. The boot-top on the other hand is the green and brown stripe just above water-level and the bottom is the black part normally painted with special anti-fouling paint laden with a high percentage of copper to prevent the growth of algae, worms and barnacles. Now for some local fauna and flora that you can double-click on......

Today "ARITA's" topsides are gleaming and glossy white. Time to check out the golden rain tree, time to check out our friendly green frog who is resident in the frangipani tree, and time to check out the AIRSHOW. The aerobatics of the "Blue Angels" F18 precision flying formation is something to behold. Just awesome. Excellent photography by the "Queen of Florida" considering the "Angels" are flying at 1200 mph and the Queen is standing still. "This is a fast jet wasn't it". Double click on the "angels" to see the pilots in their seats,

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Finally, ARITA is out of the water and we can start on a long list of things to be done. A whole year's worth of barnacles has already been removed. They were huge and very good looking as far as barnacles go, maybe a little obese, no doubt as a result of the force-feeding process when moored downtown, where the nutrient-laden current usually runs at about four knots. The grey stuff on the bottom is not fungus but a special primer on the bare wood where the old anti-fouling paint has been scraped off. The two stainless steel anchors on the bowsprit are of German/Swiss design called "Bugel", incredibly effective and our secret "insurance" in even the worst blow. The structure over the stern is the solar panel array, all of which can be folded over, when we are sailing. The cockpit canopy and dodger are wonderfully protective from both the rain and the sun. We recently added a window at the front for airflow.

TOMORROW WE BEGIN PAINTING THE HULL and she will be just like new. When you see it out of the water like this it is hard to believe that the whole yacht has been built out of a single humungous "Kauri" tree, some fifty years ago.

Considering that the tree itself must have been at least six hundred years old, it is kind of unique to be able to say when people ask " YEP, ARITA IS ABOUT SIX HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS OLD."

The Kauri tree was felled in 1958 in the Bay of Islands area of New Zealand, hauled to a sawmill and cut into planks and frames including the kingplank that forms "ARITA's" 8" x 8" backbone.

The keel was cast in a paddock..... dig a hole in the ground, put in some formwork, hold it secure with a bit of concrete, collect all the scrap lead you can find and melt it in a giant copper pot.... then pour it into the mold. Once the keel was finished it was moved to a shed and the rest of the yacht was built onto the keel. When the yacht was completed and floated out of the shed it was again hauled up onto the beach and the interior was completed. Bulkheads put in place, cabins built, bunks installed, and engine connected.

You certainly have to have vision, guts and sheer determination to stand at the base of an enormous Kauri tree and whisper to yourself " Sorry me ol' mate, but I'm turning you into a yacht!" My compliments to the man with guts and vision, the builder, Mr. Dick McIlvride of Russel, North Island. N.Z

Saturday, October 18, 2008


BUT WHEN YOU DO, make sure you serve plenty of it, especially if you are having a Fare-thee-well party. The Pirate box was filled with wonderful and generous cards and brand new shiny "Gold Dollar Coins" and the thoughts and appreciation of those that we will genuinely miss. I hope they will travel with us on this journey. Needless to say the " 30 SOMETHING DAYS TO GO " is out the porthole. We are way behind in our departure date and that's O.K. A new era begins on Monday doing boat repairs .......

The list is slowly growing of things that should be done before we depart. Not having to go to work now really frees me up so that at last, I can really go to work. Soon we'll be leaving Florida and already the daily images we all take for granted will be lost. One kind of suddenly comes to grips with that. Traffic snarls on I-95, Spanish moss hanging from tree limbs, Panera's Bakery and that morning cup of coffee, the muddy St. Johns River with its 4 knot current downtown and TV in HD with commercials louder than cicadas and more frequent than locusts. What are we going to do...................... we have a plan to compensate......

That beautiful red hibiscus with its tinted edges is called " FLORIDA SUNRISE". It too, we will surely miss.....

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Last night I finally wrote out and emailed my contractual resignations to the respective Boards. There is no turning back. We had been homeless and possession-less up until now and I have just added JOB-LESS to the list. I have very much enjoyed the work and have been excited about the projects and the challenges and the people I have worked with and no doubt will miss it all, but the swaying of the palm trees and the swishing of the casuarina trees is a-calling. To quote Johnny Depp or more correctly Captain Sparrow from "Pirates of the Caribbean" fame, " That's what a ship is you's not just a keel, deck and sails,....that's what a ship needs.....But what a ship is.... is FREEDOM". Last Saturday we moved "SVEA" to Ortega River, alongside "ARITA", so that boat projects on both boats can be completed simultaneously at Sadler Point Marina in the next few weeks. It has all become very real very fast and already my Queen has managed to offload at least half the boxes on board in various storage places. My Queen also managed to buy some more bikinis which will be absolutely essential for the new lifestyle. More flags to fly when they are drying on the rails.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


We have butterflies in our stomachs....... on the other hand we've just had a great meal at the OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE, probably for the last time, so it may not be just butterflies, but the question still remains are we going to fit so much gear into the available lockers on board "ARITA". We spent time on board this afternoon and came back to 'Little Lauren's and Tony's' house and the garage where everything is stored and took the picture. Admittedly some of the stuff, like the new shiny stainless steel anchor and a new dinghy and solar panels are now destined to go to "SVEA". Joel and Corina, "SVEA's" new owners will arrive at the end of January 2009 and are really so excited about their own ocean adventure, that they were ready to quit their jobs a month ago. For us it is 31 DAYS TO GO

We should have "ARITA" out of the water for a bottom paint job within a week. Now there is something to really look forward to, all that paint scraping......and after that we should be able to begin loading the contents of some of the boxes. Now a really smart person would take the opportunity to raise the water-line by at least four inches...... but then again we would sit four inches lower in the water. I need time to think about this "win-loose". Let me consult the glass ball on that one. I have to hang on really hard to the images of the "Queen" on the bow to stay focussed. Yes.... you are allowed to double-click on that one.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008



Nothing depletes a yacht's batteries more efficiently than a fridge. Add to that the current draw of navigation equipment, an autopilot, lights, a watermaker, a sound system, a couple of fans and pretty soon the batteries will be flat. One of our challenges is to continuously produce electricity while keeping consumption to a minimum. Solar panels are great, but only in broad sunny daylight and then only for the midday hours, even if seagulls use it for a landing field during a feeding frenzy. Wind generators are also great whenever the wind is blowing, day or night. Now we are about to try something completely new. The pulley on the left is to be clamped around the propellor shaft which generally begins to rotate when our sailing speed exceeds 2 knots and after that it becomes unstoppable. The gadget on the right is the drive unit from a battery-powered wheelchair and is an electric motor coupled to a 12:1 gearbox and a pulley with a clutch. So, when connected with a v-belt, the propellor shaft turns the other pulley, which turns the gearbox which turns the electric motor which now becomes a generator and 'pumps' the most wonderful little electrons right back into the batteries. Free elctricity while sailing and enough of it to keep the lights burning at night, the autopilot steering "ARITA" on course, the radar on, the depth sounder working and the fridge cold. Hope that all makes sense. Hope it works.