15 November 2010

10 Questions for Bondi Tram

BondiTram Bondi Tram is a Beneteau Cyclades 50.3' (15.67m) hailing from Sydney, Australia. Peter and Sandra Colquhuon have been cruising aboard since 2004 through SE Asia,  the Indian Ocean, Red Sea, Mediterranean, and Atlantic. You can find more information about them on their blog.

They say: “We bought our boat new and had to make a lot of decisions about what to add to the basic boat for cruising.  While I think (as a novice) I did a reasonable job, there are a number of things I would now like to have done. However, this is a wish list, and we have managed very well without them: furling reacher instead of asymmetric spinnaker and sock, feathering propeller, 120 litres per hour watermaker instead of 60 litres per hour , wind generator and solar panels, and powered jib furler.”

What piece of gear seems to break the most often?
We have had several breakages, but none seem to be repeating frequently.  Breakages/failures include:
- Burnt out starter motor (with 80 hours on the engine!).  Fixed by a Thai guy who took it way, rewound it and delivered it back in two hours, for $20!  And it still works perfectly!
- Burnt out engine starter solenoid points (fixed in 10 minutes in an automotive shop in the back streets of Aden)
- Seized windlass causing windlass motor to burn out (rewound in Malaysia, still going strong)
- Spinnaker halyard snapped, Indian Ocean
- Jib halyard snapped, Indian Ocean
- Main halyard snapped, Croatia (all these halyards were less than 3 years old).
At one stage we were going through an excessive amount of generator impellers, but that may have been caused by a bad batch of impellers as we are going much better now...touch wood.

When have you felt most in danger and what was the source?
We were motoring in the Sea of Marmara on the way to Istanbul.  The wind got up, and we put the sails up and started to heel.  Fortunately, Sandra went below at that point and found a lot of salt water in the cabin..the bilge boards on the lee side were starting to float!  I started the motor and dropped the sails and went below to find the source of the leak.  I had trouble getting in to the aft starboard cabin because a floating bilge board was blocking the door.  The water was halfway up the batteries.  Sandra operated the bilge pump, but I realised quite quickly that now the boat was up upright, the water had stopped coming in and I soon found the problem.

We had turned one head into a laundry with a washing machine.  We removed the head, put in a platform, and t-barred the washing machine intake to the sink/shower tap.  For the outlet, we use the toilet water intake hose.  The toilet outlet was not used, and was just lying inside the cupboard below the sink.

Normally we turn all the sea-cocks in the laundry off, but the unused toilet outlet sea-cock, the biggest pipe, had inadvertently been turned on.  When we were motoring, all was fine, but as soon as we heeled, the pipe was below water and in it gushed.

So we were nearly sunk by a washing machine! If Sandra had not gone below when she did, I reckon the starboard batteries would have been under water in another 2 or 3 minutes.
No damage was done, I just spent a day cleaning up with fresh water
While cruising, what do you do about health & boat insurance, medical issues, banking and mail delivery?
Most of our regular expenses are handled with automatic payments.  ATMs and internet access has made managing financial affairs relatively easy compared with the past.  All our mail gets delivered to our daughter, but with email there is very little snail mail any more for her to worry about.  She is an accountant and takes care of our tax returns as well.

Across a year, what do you spend the most money on while cruising?
Food, fuel, insurance, tourist activities, airfares home for the winter and maintenance.  We spent relatively little time in marinas in the Mediterranean, apart from two winters. Both times we went home to Sydney for the winter.

Describe a "typical day" at anchor on your boat
A lot of that depends on what part of the world you are in.  In the Mediterranean, at nearly every anchorage we spend part of the day ashore sightseeing.  During the summer we were on the move a lot, and any time we spent in one place we did washing and boat chores.

How did you (or did you) gain offshore experience prior to leaving?
We raced a dinghy on Sydney Harbour for many years.  To get bigger boat experience, we bought a yacht and put it in charter with Sunsail in the Whitsunday Islands.  We went on the ferry trip from Sydney to Hamilton Island with the ferry crew and this was our first big experience.

Our arrangement with Sunsail gave us 4 weeks use of the boat every year, as well as 'swapping time' at other Sunsail bases. This allowed us to spend 2 weeks a year in the Whitsundays, and another 2 weeks at various Sunsail locations - for example we cruised in Thailand, French Polynesia (twice), Tonga, and  from Auckland to the Bay of Islands.

What do you miss about living on land?
Not a lot really.

Finish this sentence. "Generally when I am provisioning..."
...I leave it to Sandra!  She does an excellent job and we mostly eat on board.  If we go to a restaurant, it's more for entertainment than the food.

Sandra keeps a spreadsheet of stores, which is handy for long passages.  In the med, you can shop every day if you want.

The longest we have been between supermarkets was 10 days .. Phuket, Thailand to Male in the Maldives.  Of course, with the Atlantic and Pacific coming up, I guess we will be a bit longer between shops.

What question do you wish I would have asked you besides the ones I've asked you and how would you answer it?
What can you expect as a cruiser?

Always expect the UNEXPECTED...whether its weather or breakages, you cannot assume that things will remain as they are!  Take care where when you anchor, make sure you power set....think about what might happen if 40 knots of wind arrives at 2  in the morning!