Tag: Captain’s Toolbag

Jammin’ In Nuka Hiva

Here we are 3000, miles from mainland Mexico and in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Most everyone who cruises on a boat has made the comment of why they voyage to other countries to experience the culture of different people and lands. Well, I know I have. There is a difference though between saying it and doing it. I have many fond memories of being invited into the homes of many Mexican friends throughout my travels in Mexico. Their family run businesses and restaurants all have become memorable and their friendships have provided hours of cultural experiences.

Yes, our goal on Dazzler is to immerse ourselves into the culture of the places we travel, the islands we visit and try in our short time period of a 90 day visa to meet the locals.

We are similar to the other boaters in that sense of having a desire to catch up with a few emails upon our arrival. As we look around the cafe that has free internet, we see the masses huddled around there electronic devices trying to squeeze out some sort of internet connection. Well, according to Kevin at Yacht Services in Nuka Hiva, the island internet is provided by satellite only. In other words everyone on the island is trying to use the Internet portal at the same time and the result is like trying to squeeze a 25 pound turkey into a 5 pound oven. As you can guess cutting the turkey into five equal parts and cooking them one piece at a time is going to take a while.

The islands offer many different activities if you have a reasonable budget and an adventurous heart. Hikes to waterfalls, island tours or rental car road trips open up many adventures.

One of the things that Jilly and I have observed is that many of the yacht traveling crowds are sitting around with their noses buried in their electronic devices at those earlier mentioned WiFi spots. Buried to the point that they seem to be oblivious to things happening around them. And in some cases missing the culture happening all around them. We attempt to keep a watchful eye out for situational awareness. Constantly scanning what is happening around us for two reasons. The first is for our safety and the second is for cultural opportunities.

Just a few days ago was one of these days. We needed to go ashore to take the rental car keys back to the office. As it turned out Kevin, at Yacht Services, had called us on the radio and asked if we could return the car keys on Monday. Well, you know me, flexibility is my middle name. They call me Gumby Dammit. Ha ha ha. So, we decided to go into the snack shack at the petite quay (dingy dock) to send a few emails. While there, we saw the same group of boaters huddled around their electronic devices with their noses about two inches away as they stared into the screens waiting for the spinning wheel of death to stop turning and provide a message to the user of, “Message Sent!”

While at the snack shack, we noticed what looked like a family BBQ. They were cooking up fish and breadfruit on a grill made from a barrel that was cut in half and had wrought iron legs welded onto the bottom. One of the family members was walking toward his vehicle with one of the boaters and he asked me if I wanted a ride to buy some beer. It was Sunday and only one store was opened till noon. The snack shack didn’t sell beer, so I said, “Why Not!”

The man’s name was Henry and as it would happen he is the owner of the little restaurant. More about Henry later. He drove us to a little store that sold a few items including beer. For those of you wanting to know what beer costs in the Marquesas, Well it is $22.50 per six pack of 16 ounce cans of Hinano beer. Good thing the alcohol content is 5% by volume. Needless to say, everything on the island with few exceptions is brought here by boat or plane. I offered to provide Henry with a few dollars for fuel and he refused. On the way back to the restaurant, Henry asked that we don’t leave more than one beer in the open on the table at a time. I’m guessing it’s not in accordance with his restaurant license.

Once back at the restaurant I grabbed a couple of glasses from the counter and poured the beer into the glasses. While enjoying the first sips of Hinano beer, an older local man named Paul, a friend of Henry’s family, took a guitar from his vehicle and started playing and singing. He was facing away from the crowded restaurant and his collection of traditional island songs was amazing. Jilly and I sat listening and sipping our beer, until Henry asked me if I play. I told him that I played an Ukulele. Paul heard that, put down his guitar and returned with a 10 string Marquesan Ukulele and handed it to me. That was all it took. The next thing I knew, I was strumming his Ukulele as he played his guitar and we were jammin’. Gemma a Spanish woman from another boat soon joined us Paul handed her his guitar and went to his vehicle and returned with another 10 string Ukulele. She had an incredible voice. We were now a trio jamming together. What an experience. After several songs, Paul excused himself to go eat with Henry and his family. I took a short break also.

After many of Henry’s family and other friends had finished eating, several of the men including Paul returned to the instruments and started playing again. The local island music was incredible. I went back out to Dazzler to get my Ukulele and was once again invited to participate with them. We jammed for a few hours playing their traditional songs. We accompanied the music with broken communication and laughter. Music is truly it’s own language that spans the globe, cultures, languages and can be done without conventional speaking.

This day was one of my best experiences in the Marquesas hands down. Oh, and while all this was happening, many of those sitting at the tables had their heads buried in their electronic devices and completely missed what was happening around them.

Back to Henry, We are not sure, but it would seam as if Henry may be one of the island elders or at the very least one of the leaders. This we only guess from how the family members and community members interact with him. Many mornings around 0700 hours, many of the locals arrive at the Snack Shack and drink a morning beverage while speaking with each other in what sounds like old Marquesas dialect. They stay about an hour and then depart for their daily business.

Until next time, keep your head and eyes up. Who knows what opportunities may present themselves to you?

Manuya, (Cheers)

Dan and Jilly


Twist the Wrench and Take the Bolt Out, Fa La La La La….

December is that time of year that many of you are thinking of how you will spend the holidays and the Dazzler crew is no exception. Our holiday is consisting of getting the larger projects onboard checked off the TO DO list in preparation for crossing the Pacific Ocean to the South Pacific in March of 2018. The list is long and distinguished. First up was beefing up the bulkhead for the auto pilot hydraulic ram.

Dazzler’s Cranse Collar

There is now two inches of marine plywood, penetrating epoxy applied and painted and two quarter inch pieces of stainless steel plate that form the base plate for the hydraulic ram. That should handle any loads just fine.


Next up, the job of removing Dazzler’s bowsprit. Why do you remove what looks like a perfectly good bowsprit? I could say because it’s there, but the reality is that I removed it about ten years ago to repair a small area of wood rot. Then I repainted it and re-installed it. Two thoughts have gone through my mind in preparing for our upcoming crossing. Is Dazzler’s bowsprit sound? Should I decommission and disassemble her bow rigging to check and be sure?

I first used a hammer with a plastic head to sound the bowsprit. Everything sounded fine except for a small area aft of the windlass. Knowing the history of Dazzler’s bowsprit, I didn’t want to take any chances. So, the decision was made to remove it for closer inspection and repainting. Okay, I was going to repaint it anyway, but removing it makes the job easier and the results will look much nicer and we will have peace of mind knowing if there are any gremlins in the bowsprit.

First, we have to strip all the rigging and hardware off the bowsprit. When you first look at this kind of job your thought might be, “There isn’t too much to take off.” Ha ha ha! There is a lot more than meets the eye. Just saying. Before stripping anything, both the staysail and jib sail were removed and then the standing rigging had to be detuned.

The bowsprit is ready to disconnect the roller furling gear and remove the pulpit.

Next up was removing the roller furling gear, bob stay and whisker stays. Dazzler’s bow pulpit and deck boards that are bolted down to the top of the bowsprit were next. There is a stainless strap forward of the windlass and an integrated stainless steel strap and Sampson post aft of the windlass. Both straps saddle the bowsprit and are through bolted to the foredeck. Dazzler is equipped with a Lighthouse windlass that has a vertical shaft that passes through the middle of the beam and deck and into the anchor locker where it’s motor is mounted to the bottom of the shaft. The strap bolts and motor must be disconnected before the sprit can be removed.

Round head slotted fastener and its replacement.

Boats built in Taiwan in the seventies and eighties had a special style head on the fasteners that look like a large slot. Although it has a great finished look, those slotted heads are very difficult to get a wrench on to remove them. One of these said bolts 5/8″ in diameter and about 12″ long also passes through the bowsprit and deck to help index the sprit. Several years ago I bought a ½” drive socket that had a wide screwdriver bit on top. This was the best solution that I could find for removing these types of bolts. On a side note, these types of bolts have proven to be very difficult to remove without first removing skin from your knuckles. Trust me, I know. Additionally, these style fasteners are difficult to get enough torque to turn them even with the ½” ratchet and screwdriver socket. I had to result to using a pair of vise grip style pliers to remove the bolt. A new hex head bolt has been obtained for replacement.

When I re-installed Dazzler’s sprit in 2007, I put a layer of calking on the deck under it to help keep water from settling under it and thus keeping the area between the sprit and deck drier. This trick seemed to work, but added a level of difficulty in removing the sprit from the deck. I used a halyard tied around the sprit near the stem of the bow to assist in lifting it from its bedded position. Using the halyard and mast wench worked like a champ for lifting the bowsprit from the bedding compound.

After Dazzler’s bowsprit was removed, the job of cleaning all of the bow hardware and fasteners began. Along with sanding paint off the sprit to inspect for any hidden damage. I was very pleased to find that the bowsprit was sound and had no visible signs of rot or damaged areas.


Dazzler, like many cruising boats, is equipped with a small chandlery onboard as well as all the supplies needed to complete the painting project. In 2007, when I first removed the bowsprit, I used Awlgrip paint. 10 years of wear and use for a paint is a reasonable expectation. In 2013, I removed Dazzler’s teak decks and repainted her decks with Alexseal paint. I chose Alexseal based on recommendations from Dan at San Diego Marine Exchange (SDME). Dan had worked for many years as a boat finish painter and was a wealth of tips, tricks and advise. I have been very happy with those results as well. Alexseal, like Awlgrip, is a linear polyurethane blend of paint. Both are very durable and require mixing two to three components before painting. Yes, a can of Easypoxy would be easier to apply, but ten years of durable use and looking good speak for themselves. The initial cost is more expensive compared to other paints like Easypoxy. With all the work involved removing the bowsprit, I figured my initial investment for a ten-year yield is worth it. Additionally the painted surface is very durable and forgiving to small dings, which will happen.

That’s it for now. I have to get back to working on the bowsprit, so we can keep moving forward in passage preparations. I’ll be putting together part two after this job is done. Where is that tube of Neosporine?


Captain Dan

SV Dazzler