As many of you may have seen in your various news feeds, Friday August 26th is/was International Dog Day. Based on my observations of our dogs, it seems to me that EVERY day is pretty much Dog Day, but apparently the 26th makes it official. Ruby is our 14 year old “Spoodle”, a mix of Cocker Spaniel + Poodle and Barney is our 10 year old Yorkshire “Terror” as Christine affectionately calls him. They have been with us from the very beginning of their respective lives as well as ours as a couple.
As you can see, they have become quite the couple themselves. Happy International Dog Day to all the dogs in our lives!
Going to the Dogs is a bad thing?
I’ve always been curious about the origin of all the various sayings we have in our language and years ago I was quite surprised when I looked up “it’s a dog’s life” and found it defined as “a difficult, boring, and unhappy life” and that “going to the dogs apparently means “: to become ruined : to change to a much worse condition,The economy is going to the dogs.” All my experiences with dogs had been quite the opposite and as you can see in the photos above, Ruby and Barney certainly seem to have a life that many would envy.
However, I must admit that of late things aboard Möbius do seem to fit the dictionary definition of “going to the dogs” with the various problems that have cropped up with our FireFly batteries, Kabola diesel water heater and the list goes on. Latest addition this week was finding that the Bow Thruster was not working and I’ll use that example to highlight my contrarian perspective wherein I regard all these as challenges to be taken on and resolved and that in the end they turn out to be good things.
That’s not a Bug! That’s a Feature!!
Another common phrase we often hear is that when life deals you lemons, make lemonade. Along similar lines, one of the more profound and transformative concepts I synthesized during my decades working with software and technology, was that rather than “problems”, such challenges present me with the opportunity “to transform bugs into features”. I have come to realise that it is largely a matter of perspective. If you look at things differently, things look different. In addition to the new understanding and skills I learn by fixing things and resolving these challenges, they also present me with the opportunity to improve and make things better after they are fixed than they were originally. The problem with the Bow Thruster “challenge” this week is the most recent example I can use to illustrate how I apply this “bugs into features” approach.
After spending time with my multimeter tracing all the wiring for the Bow Thruster, the issue turned out to be caused by very poor electrical design by the manufacturer, in my opinion, for the way the fuse and wires from the controller joy sticks at both helm stations, are placed and connected to the Bow Thruster motor in the Forepeak. The four wire connector on the Left and the 5Amp ATC fuse on the Right are located on the outside of the 24V motor of the Bow Thruster and thus completely exposed to the damp and often salty air in the Forepeak.
Not surprisingly then, these exposed copper connections had suffered from severe corrosion.
This is the four wire connector with the 24V positive connection being completely corroded and making no connection to the Red wire it joins. The ATC fuse holder and the 5A fuse itself were in even worse condition. Compared to the new Orange fuse on the far Left, you can see that both of the spade terminals on the factory fuse have completely corroded into dust.
Not much surprise then that the Bow Thruster wasn’t working. Quite surprising and disappointing to me to find such an obvious design fault in what is otherwise a very high quality bit of kit, and it made no sense to just clean up the fuse holder and redo the four wire connectors as the same thing would just repeat itself, presenting me with the “opportunity” to not just fix the problem but to improve the whole wiring setup.
My apologies that I forgot to take photos as I was working and hope these generic images will still help you understand what I did to transform these bugs into features.
I carry a good supply of these sealed ATC in-line fuse holders for just these kinds of situations and so I replaced the original factory Black plastic built in fuse holder on the Bow Thruster with one of these. I also extended the wire length so that the fuse holder was located up higher in a more protected spot which also provides better access if/when this fuse ever blows and needs to be replaced.
√ Fuse now fixed and working
√ Sealed fuse holder
√ Better protected location
√ Easier to access for future fuse replacements
For the four wire connector, I replaced it entirely with new wires that I spliced directly to the wires on the Bow Thruster using these crimped butt splice connectors that have adhesive lined heat shrink coating that completely seals the connection.
√ No more exposed connections
√ No more corrosion
Hope this helps illustrate my perspective on how to transform bugs into features.
With the above as context, I have a much bigger and much better example of my latest transformation; Mr. Gee 2.0! Here is a brief (consider the source) overview of what’s been happening with Mr. Gee lately.
Several months ago, after Mr. Gee had about fifty hours of run time, I began to hear a metallic “ticking” noise when he was running. It wasn’t very loud and sounded very similar to when there is too much clearance between the end of an exhaust or intake valve and the rocker arm. I had previously done the recommended valve adjustment after about the first five hours of running and all the metal parts have been through multiple heating and cooling cycles. Shortly after hearing this new ticking sound I checked the valve clearances again and found them all to be spot on but the ticking noise continued.
After that I kept my ear attuned to the ticking and it seemed to stay the same, not changing or getting any louder so I thought it was perhaps just a normal Gardner sound and just kept listening closely on every engine room inspection while we were underway. I do one of these ER inspections every hour or two when we are underway and record all other engine data such as RPM, fuel consumption, SOG (boat speed over ground), oil temperature and pressure, coolant temperature, Exhaust Gas Temperature EGT and temperatures at various parts of the engine and the air in the Engine Room. Reviewing this spreadsheet allows me to see what all these readings should be and makes it easy to spot any changes.
Everything stayed the same until we about ten hours into making our way from the Greek island of Rhodes to Athens on the mainland. I began to notice some increased temperatures in the area of the cylinder heads by cylinder #3. All the other temperatures of oil and water and metal parts elsewhere remained the same but I also noticed that the ticking noise was getting louder. More like a slight metal on metal knocking sound. Always hard to tell with sounds inside an Engine Room if this is just your imagination or if the sound really is changing but I shut the engine down and did a much closer inspection of every part of the engine but found no visible signs of any leaks or other changes. So I restarted Mr. Gee and we continued.
You know where this is going! Sure enough the heat around the exhaust and intake ports of cylinder #3 continued to rise, the ticking noise got louder and the engine ran more unevenly. Not a condition that could be allowed to continue and so we rerouted ourselves to the closest island of Kalymnos where I would be able to take on this latest challenge and figure out how to transform this bug into a feature. This would have to wait for a month or so because we now had our granddaughters and family onboard followed by some other dear friends so not much time to work on Mr. Gee.
Eventually though, I was able to do some deeper testing and dismantled the engine enough to find that the exhaust and intake valves on cylinder #3 were defective and no longer sealing on their valve seats and hence not getting cooled down. Valves, the exhaust in particular, live in a very nasty high heat environment and they mostly are cooled when they are tightly closed and can transfer their heat through the valve seat. If they don’t seal tight they don’t work as a valve bringing the air/fuel mix into the cylinder, sealing it completely on the compression and then power strokes and then letting all the burned mixture out the exhaust port. And without the contact to the valve seat, they rapidly start to overheat and would eventually likely crack. I am very fortunate to have some of the best experts there are when it comes to diesel engines and Gardner’s in particular. I have the Mr. Gardner himself, Michael at Gardner Marine Diesel GMD, the home of Mr. Gee and all Gardner engines and my long time friend Greg who I’ve known since we were in University and trade school together and who is the best expert on diesel engines I know. I spent a LOT of time texting and talking with Greg and Michael and they were both eXtremely generous with their time and patience. After going through all the possible scenarios and reviewing all the data and photos of what I was able to see, the problem and the solution became quite clear.
I had begun the restoration of Mr. Gee when Christine and I were house/pet sitting for some dear friends in Portugal and had a machine shop there do all the machining of the cylinder heads and block and install the new valve seats, valve guides and cylinder liners. Michael at GMD remembered this and he noted that installing new valve seats in these LXB engines is quite particular and he has seen problems in the past when other machine shops have installed new valve seats and valve guides, so this cast some doubt on whether these had all been installed correctly by the machine shop in Portugal. While we won’t know for sure until a more detailed examination of the valves, seats and heads improperly installed valve seats became the most likely suspects as to what was causing the problems with Mr. Gee and making that ticking noise.
It was possible I could remove the cylinder heads, order in new valves and seats and find a machine ship in Athens or somewhere to properly install all new valve seats and guides, but this would not be easy to arrange and would not be a shop that had experience working on Gardner engines so we quickly ruled out this option. To be completely sure that all the valves, seats and guides on Mr. Gee were 100% correctly installed, this work needed to be done at the Gardner works at GMD. Our attention thus turned to how best to do this?
30 Horses Gallop into the Scene…..
I should also note at this point, that I have been having a completely separate conversation with Michael all this year about converting Mr. Gee from the 150HP @1650 RPM he is currently at, to the 180HP @ 1800 RPM option which the 6LXB can be configured for. The 150HP setup is a Continuous or 100% duty cycle which means the engine can be run at this speed and HP 24/7 which many 6LXB’s are. The 180HP version has a lower duty cycle which means that you can run them safely at full power and RPM for shorter periods of time and then continue at lower RPM. Almost all diesel engines have this range of RPM/HP they can be configured for and on mechanical fuel injection engines such as the Gardner LXB, this involves physically changing the fuel injection pump setup to inject a higher volume of diesel fuel on each intake stroke and adjusting timing of the injectors and valve advance. Not that difficult but requires specialized tools, equipment and expertise from Gardner than what I am comfortable doing.
In our trips this year, about 80 hours total run time, we have been finding that the Goldilocks or sweet spot for the best combination of loads, EGT, speed and fuel economy is about 1400-1500 RPM so why am I interested running Mr. Gee at up to 1800 RPM? Simply put, I would like to have the option to call on those additional 30 HP, a 20% increase, in an emergency situation when that extra power could mean the difference between getting out of a situation vs loosing the boat. One example of such a situation is when you are at anchor and find yourself on a lee shore when the conditions change unexpectedly such that there are high winds and seas trying to push the boat onto the shore. Of course this always seems to happen at O’dark thirty and you are in the dark with every second counting, so being able to start your engine and call on every pony the engine has can make all the difference.
Lest this should sound a bit farfetched to some of you, just this past week we were vividly reminded of how fast and unexpected this type of lee shore situation can develop when a very high wind storm swept over the island of Corsica in France. You may have seen this in video on the news you watched and seen these winds gusting up to 224 km/h (140mph) pushing hundreds of boats onto the shore.
I had therefore wanted to do this conversion to the 180HP setup before we start venturing out on our longer passages and later in the season and was going to remove the fuel injection system from Mr. Gee and ship to GMD to do the conversion and then ship back so I could install it and we could continue our travels. The trick was going to be when and where to do this as Möbius would need to stay in one place while the fuel injection was off being reconfigured. Now that we found ourselves with such a rare and ideal side tie dock arrangement we serendipitously stumbled upon here in Kalymnos, this latest challenge with Mr. Gee’s valves and the repowering all seemed to converge into a perfect storm kind of situation and here is how this all came together.
Go BIG or Don’t Go!
As long time sailors, we have come to understand how critical it is that you have complete confidence in your boat before you go to sea. When you find yourself in those rare but inevitable situations where things have become very nasty and every decision is critical, having ANY doubts about your boat, or yourself, can be crippling and life threatening. Mother Nature can be an eXtremely effective teacher and you soon learn the hard truth about how critical such confidences is and that if you don’t have full confidence, then you don’t go to sea.
Given the high dependency we have on Mr. Gee for our propulsion and the fundamental requirement to have eXtreme confidence in all the critical systems on Möbius, it was not difficult for Christine and I to decide that we needed to go “all in” on this situation and transform all these “bugs” into features resulting from us doing everything possible to ensure that Möbius is the most seaworthy boat we could create.
I’m sure you can see where this is all headed. Rather than send just the fuel injection system to GMD to convert it to the 180HP version, go Big and send all of Mr. Gee to GMD. Michael made this decision even easier by kindly offering to do a full exchange of Mr. Gee for a new 6LXB that they would put together at the Gardner Works there at GMD. We send them Mr. Gee, they send us a new 6LXB we will now refer to as “Mr. Gee two point O” or Mr. Gee 2.0 They will transfer over a few of the external bits such as the items I have already polished such as the rocker covers, GMD side covers and the custom brackets I’ve designed and built for things like the sea water pump and hand crank system but these can all be done right after Mr. Gee 1.0 arrives at GMD and after the new Mr. Gee 2.0 has been built.
Michael will also put the new engine on the Gardner dynamometer where they can run it through its paces, do the initial break in and create a full HP/Torque/Fuel graph directly from the readings on the dyno. I don’t have a photo of their dyno yet but this one will give you a rough idea. The engine is mounted to the dyno with flywheel connected to the measuring devices that read horsepower, torque, fuel consumption, etc. and plot this out onto a graph. This will add to our confidence that we know for sure what these outputs are and will make it a relatively straight forward process for me to lower the new Mr. Gee 2.0 into the ER, connect him to all the mounts, Nogva CPP, hoses for coolant and exhaust and electrical and we will be able to get back out to sea and set our sights on destinations West. I hope that all of the above does not come across as me being flippant or suggesting this was all easy or without a good share of sadness and frustration along the way. It was all of those things and I do have thoughts about “Why me?” from time to time. But as I’ve often found with the big decisions in life, these were also very clearly Goldilocks decisions being just right, just for us and in that sense they were easy to make. The harder part has been dealing with all the time and logistics it has taken to do all this from a small remote island in the middle of one of the busiest and most disrupted summers in the EU and now waiting for the new Mr. Gee to get back here.
Out with the Old
As you might imagine it was rather hectic here going through all this testing, making the arrangements with the local crane truck to remove Mr. Gee 1.0, securing him to the pallet and arranging to get him trucked from Kalymnos to Athens and then onto two more ferries to get him all the way to the GMD in Canterbury in England, so I don’t have too many photos but here is a quick summary of all that.
Gee, I wonder why it doesn’t take me too long to disconnect everything and get Mr. Gee ready to be lifted up? Oh yeah, lots of practice! I enlisted the help of two local men to help extract Mr. Gee from the Engine Room and ….. ….. then over to the concreted dock we are side tied to. All the openings sealed and taped off and engine strapped onto the shipping pallet. Shipping labels attached under Shrink wrap to keep him clean and protected for his long journey home to GMD. And just a few hours ago, I received this photo of Mr. Gee in the storage warehouse of the trucking company outside of London waiting to be make the final leg of his journey over to GMD in Canterbury on Tuesday as Monday is a national “Summer Bank Holiday” in the UK.
Don’t even think about asking me how long this whole journey has taken! Let’s just say that all you’ve been hearing about disruptions to supply chains and shipping, record high tourist traffic this summer in Europe and how the whole EU tends to take their holidays in the month of August, is so very very true. Leaving me with a very sadly empty Engine Room and a lot of greasy hand prints to clean off the walls.
She continues to be very self disciplined with her daily physio routines after her knee operation and been taking full advantage of her “Freedom Machine” aka her eBike, to explore this fascinating island we have been living on since July and finding new beaches for her in the water exercises. Click the link above to see all her photos and explanation of how this island is literally a dynamite place to be!
Back to where I started this posting, I will let Barney send us off into a new week as he wistfully enjoys another sundowner and contemplates what it truly means to live a dog’s life Thanks for joining me again this week and hope you’ll be back for more next week. I will!
Another regular “work week” for the crew of Möbius this past week so not too much in the way of a Show & Tell post. So I’m going to use this week’s update to cover the recent demise of FireFly Batteries both as a business and on Möbius. Not sure that this will be of too much interest to too many of you so feel free to speed read or skip this weeks posting and I’ll have something of more universal appeal next week.
I must have jinxed it in last week’s update where I talked about how ideally cool the temperatures are here in Kalymnos, as the past week Mother Nature turned the thermostat up a touch and we hit a high of 35C/95F on Friday. Still not anywhere near what most others in Europe and elsewhere in the world are experiencing though! Daily highs have been dropping a degree a day since then and the Meltemi winds have been blowing hard every day so keeps a good breeze flowing through the boat and makes it pretty comfy onboard. Christine continues to have her daily swim and knee calisthenics and thinks her knee is ready for longer walks now so that will help change up her daily routines.
You can’t see it for the other boats but FYI, Möbius is just above the unicorn’s horn here.
I made some progress with the rigging for the Paravanes but most of my time was consumed with working out the best Goldilocks way to rig them, particularly for retrieving them and I’ll hopefully get time this coming week to install the actual rigging and have that to show you in the next update.
Summary of Möbius’ Electrical System
For a quick refresher and provide some context for what I’m about to discuss, here is a schematic of the overall DC electrical system in Möbius. (click any photo to enlarge) We are a “DC based boat” in that pretty much all our electrical power, both 12+24V DC and 120V+240V AC originates from our 24 volt x 1800Ah House Battery bank. We do have the ability to plug into shore power when in marinas but the majority of time we are on anchor and even when in marinas we don’t usually plug in as it is much easier and cheaper to just power everything from our 24 Volt House Bank. This House Bank is made up of 24 individual L15+ FireFly Carbon Foam 4V/450Ah cells which when wired as per this schematic creates the 24V x 1800Ah or 43.2 kWh battery bank. In THIS post last year I outlined how and why we decided to go with these FireFly batteries rather than traditional AGM or Lithium so please check that out if you are interested in those details. Short summary is that these Carbon Foam batteries were the just right choice for our use case as this chemistry is eXtremely efficient, safe and tolerant of cold temperatures and partial states of charge. They are heavier and larger than most other batteries but we built the battery compartments integral to the hull on either side of the keel bar. In addition to being a well cooled and secure location the batteries provided a very useful form of lead ballast and thus their weight was a feature and not a “bug” for Möbius. Keeping this House Battery charged is primarily accomplished by our 4.4kW array of 14 Solar Panels and this can be supplemented by the 12kW available from the two 24V x 250A Electrodyne alternators whenever Mr. Gee is running. We have been using this system every day since the boat was launched a year and a half ago and has proven to work very well.
Until they didn’t!
Several months ago I noticed that the batteries had lost some of their overall capacity and so I performed the “Restoration Charge” that is recommended and outlined very thoroughly in the FireFly User Manual. The Restoration Charge involves doing a deep discharge of the batteries, pretty much flattening them, followed by a very high amperage Restoration Charge.
As per the second schematic above, the 24 batteries are divided into four 24V @ 450Ah or 10.8kWh Groups each consisting of six 4V @ 450Ah cells/batteries. Each Group can be connected On/Off with individual battery switches which enables me to charge them one Group at a time with the very high rate Restoration Charge of about half their overall 450A capacity, commonly referred to as .5C. Being able to apply such large amperage charging is one of the other big advantages of Carbon Foam and Lithium based batteries and can accept charging rates as high as 1C meaning charging at the rate of the full capacity of the battery. IF you have the ability to generate these high amperage charging it allows you do dramatically reduce the overall charging time. In the case of a boat such as Möbius that primarily uses solar charging, this rapid rate of charge is not really an issue or a benefit because the solar panels fully recharge the batteries almost every day. However, having the ability to generate high amperage charging (.5C or above) that this Restoration Charging process requires, via either our three shore powered Victron MultiPlus 120A chargers ….. ……… or the two 24V x 250A Electrodyne alternators, which made it relatively easy to perform these Restoration Charges. Based on my research and speaking with other owners who have FireFly batteries this Restoration Charging can be used any time that the capacity of the FireFly batteries goes down and only seems to be needed every few years if at all.
It worked just as promised for the first two Groups and in fact restored to a bit more than 100% of their rated 250A capacity. However the third and fourth Groups I performed this Restoration Charge on did not recover. I repeated this Restoration Charge process a second time on both Groups but to no avail and their fully charged capacity remained very low at less than 100A. I spent quite a lot of time both researching this situation and testing the individual 4V cells and all the cabling, connections and readings checked out properly with no significant differences between cells other than their capacity.
I spent a LOT more time on all this as we literally live off these batteries, but after discussing with many other FireFly owners and speaking to FireFly technicians, the conclusion was that the Quality Control issues that have plagued FireFly batteries for several years had come home to roost on Möbius and 12 of my 24 batteries were defective and would need replacing. Not the news I wanted but at least FireFly has a good warrantee program and would cover most of the cost of replacing these batteries right?
This too started out promising with my Email discussions with FireFly International but quickly faded into less and less responses and then complete silence and lack of any responses.
Bye Bye FireFly?
I don’t know the exact details but as best I can tell FireFly batteries don’t appear to be available at all anymore and the company appears to be out of business. I can not find any official news or reports on this from FireFly themselves or in the media, but after even more research, here are some of the details I can provide in the hopes that this might help other FireFly owners or those considering purchasing them.
All of the Email addresses I have for both individuals at FireFly as well as generic ones such as “information”, “Sales” and “Contact”, all of which had been working up to about the beginning of June are no longer working and return with permanent errors. No response to any Emails from me for over two months now.
They (FireFly) began having some warranty issues that they never had when they were made in the USA. The current owner of the company has run a great product into the ground. So after years of investing lots of time & energy into what can be a great product, yet receiving little support from the manufacturer, OPE decided to throw in the towel. If OPE was no able to get quality batteries, and they were spot testing every shipment. A DIY stands even less of a chance when ordering direct from India..Sad but This is what happens occasionally with off shore manufacturing..
You may well be asking yourself, where does this put us for a solution to replacing our FireFly batteries on Möbius? I know I am certainly asking that question!
For the time being, several months now, we are up and running without much problem. I purposely oversized the overall House Battery capacity to be 1800Ah / 43.2kWh and this is now proving to be very helpful. I have all four Groups connected as a single House Battery, which I’d estimate combine to give us a bit more than 1000 Ah or 2.4kWh total capacity. In these summer months, the solar panels bring the House Bank back to 100% by noon or earlier every day and I think that we can continue to have the boat be very livable with all our electrical systems, cooking, etc. fully operational on this reduced overall capacity for quite some time.
It really is a shame that this company has not been able to build reliable Carbon Foam batteries and I hope that some other company acquires the patent and brings good quality Carbon Foam batteries back onto the market, but that would likely take years if it happens at all and battery technology is evolving rapidly all the while.
I do still REALLY like these Carbon Foam batteries and believe that this chemistry offers an eXcellent solution for use cases such as ours and so I am trying, without much success so far, to find out if there are any dealers who still have inventory of 12 or more of these L15+ size 4V FireFly batteries, that test out OK. I would then need to figure out how to get them delivered to me or me get to them but this would be the best option if available. If any of YOU reading this might know of a source for these L15+ sized FireFly batteries that might be taking up space in some dealers warehouse, PLEASE do let me know!
Switching over to another battery type would require a significant amount of time and cost but may be in our future now. Given that we have the space and can use the weight of batteries to our advantage, perhaps going with tried and true AGM or Gel, or perhaps going with the batteries I had originally chosen, 2V OPzV traction batteries would be the best solution?
And of course Lithium and LiFePO4 batteries and their related BMS systems are becoming more and more common and proven and perhaps a bit better value so that’s another option I’m exploring.
At the end of the day a boat, even a relatively new one, is still subject to the harsh reality of all boats wherein they ALL have ongoing problems and present ever expanding To Do list items so I guess this is just the latest one for us to solve.
For now I will put this out there as a question for all you fellow boat owners and those with experience in larger House Batteries such as we need on Möbius, to send along your thoughts, connections and recommendations and I will gratefully add these to my own research and let you know what we decide to do.
In the interim, we will continue to enjoy each other and our unique situation here in Kalymnos and remind ourselves of just how fortunate we are to have each other, to be where we are and to have this great home from which we get to enjoy sunsets like this! -Wayne
Sheesh! Half way through the month of August already!
Time for a brief update on what’s been happening with us and Möbius over the first two weeks of August.
Weather here continues to surprise us with how ideally cool it is. This past week has seen the daily temperatures drop a few more degrees from their previous norms of about 32C / 90F down to about 28C / 82F as I sit typing this at about 3pm on Sunday. Evenings and mornings are even cooler and with the constant Meltemi winds blowing through the boat sleeping is very comfy and mornings are starting to feel downright chilly! Not sure why this area is experiencing such relatively cool summer when the rest of Europe, the UK and many other parts of the world are seeing record high temperatures but we’ll just enjoy and be grateful that we’ve got such ideal conditions.
Here is what else we’ve been up to the past two weeks.
Update from Kalymnos Greece
Christine and I have settled into a nice rhythm here onboard Möbius and in this lovely south end of Kalymnos Island that I showed you around in the last post. If you did not see that post, this map will help orient you as to where the small island of Kalymnos is at (red pin) in the bigger picture of this Eastern end of the Med. This satellite view of the island of Kalymnos (click to enlarge any photo) will help you see how arid and mountainous it is. Möbius is the south harbour at the Red pin. To give you a sense of scale, the coast road allows you to circumnavigate the whole island in just 68 km/42 miles. So not too big which suits us just fine.
Christine continues to be very dedicated to getting her knee back to full working order and goes for a swim each day where the surprisingly brisk ocean water is the perfect medium for her physio exercises. Progress is slower than she’d like but improving. This is but one of may swimming spots she gets to chose from every day. And almost all of them have a beachside taverna so she gets to enjoy a Freddo Cappuccino and water in the shade when she finishes her exercises. Thanks to her E-bike that she got before we left Turkey she is able to get to pretty much any of the swim spots on this end of the island in less than 10 minutes and with no strain on her knee, so all good. The town itself is small but lively with daily arrivals of Turkish Gullets and other sail boats as well as lots of ferries that bring people to and from the surrounding islands or as far away as Athens. Makes for good people watching including this very salty dog of a Captain. As with most small towns though there are some less savory characters like this one who manage to sneak in when no one is watching. In addition to swimming, Christine loves to use her E-bike which she calls her “Freedom machine” to explore further afield and she has been super impressed by how well the “pedal assist” of her trusty E-bike allows her to climb even the steep hills that are the norm everywhere on the island once you leave the waters edge. Her explorations down random little roads and alleys continue to produce finds like this old church. Which can often reveal surprise treasures such as this interior of the building above if you go up the stairs and push the door open. When not out swimming or exploring, Christine is hard at work in her office every day here aboard Möbius as she starts doing the heavy mental lifting of creating a whole new set of characters and timelines for the newest book she is writing. Stay tuned for more on that as it develops.
Meanwhile I am kept very busy with the combination of remaining boat jobs on the list and fixing the inevitable gremlins that pop up. Our Kabola diesel boiler suddenly stopped earlier this week after working flawlessly every day for the past year and a half so trying to sort that out. For now I’ve just turned on the 220V element in the Calorifier (hot water tank) for daily dishes and showers.
One of the unfinished boat jobs this week has been finishing building the paravanes so we can test them out when we next head out to sea. As you may recall from previous posts, Paravanes are passive stabilizers which work by “flying” about 6m / 20’ below the water. These help keep the boat level by resisting forces trying to roll the boat from side to side. As the boat rolls, one of the paravanes or “fish” or “birds” as they are sometimes called, resists being pulled upward while the other paravane dives down and sets up for its turn to resist being pulled up as the roll forces go to the other side.
The paravanes themselves, are suspended from Dyneema lines (super strong synthetic rope) that hang off of long booms extending out from each side of the boat at about 45 degrees. Here is a paravane in action from another boat.
If you’d like more details on our Paravane setup check out THIS blog post and THIS one from back in June when I was rigging the booms and starting to build the paravanes.
Before we left Finike in Turkey I had finished shaping and painting the 20mm / 3/4” plywood “wings” for the two paravanes and bolting in the T-bracket where the line goes up to the boom. Now I needed to cut these two aluminium plates to act as vertical fins that will help keep the paravane tracking parallel to the hull. Pretty straightforward to cut with my jig saw and shape with my angle grinder. Now just need to drill holes for the bolts that will attach the vertical fins to the T-bracket and the paravane wings. Like this. The holes along the top of the T-bracket are where the line going up to the boom attaches and provide adjustments for the angle the paravane will slice through the water at different speeds and conditions. Final step was to bolt on these two zinc weights that weigh about 15kg / 33lbs and create the nose of the paravane. This forward weight ensures that the fish will dive down quick and smooth when not being pulled upward. When the boat rolls the other way, the line pulls up which straightens out the fish and immediately start resisting the roll. Rinse and repeat! Here is the finished pair of paravanes all ready for testing, though I will probably put on another coat of epoxy paint for good measure.
Next week I’ll finish the rigging and get the lines attached from the ends of the booms to each paravane.
Not too bad a spot to be in and we are eXtremely grateful for just how fortunate we are to be here.
I’ll be back with more as our time races by here in Kalymnos and hope you enjoy these briefer updates. Let me know by sending your comments and opinions in the “Join the Discussion” box below and I’ll be back with more as soon as I have it. -Wayne
Whew! July has been one of the most “social” months we’ve had for a long time and we have just bid a fond Bon Voyage to our latest friends who spent the past week with us aboard Möbius. Earlier in the month we were overjoyed to have our two granddaughters, Mom Lia and Dad Brian spend two weeks with us. Brynn and Blair who just turned 8 and 6 respectively this month brought an explosion of laughter and energy onboard and everywhere we went. All in all an awemazing month though I must admit that we two introverted Nauti Grandparents are now enjoying the chance to catch our breath and recharge our batteries. I’ll do my best to give you a quick glimpse into our times with family and friends this past month and hope that a wee bit of our joy comes through on your end as well.
This week’s title sums up one of my perspective on life in general and is one of the key reasons that I think I gravitated to this life of living on boats and sailing the world. For boats themselves as well as the life of sailing them around the world (yes, whether powered by wind or sails we still refer to it as sailing) change is the one thing you can consistently count on and as so often seems to be the case, that is both the good and bad news. Changes in systems, gear and equipment on the boat, aka breakage/failure, changes in the weather and changes in location, scenery, people, etc. For the most part, I’ve always enjoyed change and accepted it as a constant in my life, indeed something I actively pursue and set myself up for and I believe that most people actually do like change. Who would want things to always stay the same? What I think most of us do NOT like is “being changed”. Changed by others and not of our choosing. All this as my long winded way of setting constant change as the context for the past month and likely that of the next few.
Kalymnos; Our Changed Location
For some geographical context you may recall that in the last Update we had checked out of Türkiye and checked into Greece on the island of Rhodes which is the gold star in the bottom Right of this screenshot of our maps.
(Click to enlarge any image in the blog) We had been heading for Athens to meet with our family but guess what?!? Yup, change. For a confluence of reasons that are a MUCH longer story for another time, we changed and headed for the relatively small Greek island of Kalymnos which is the Red pin in these two maps. Photos are much more revealing that maps and here is the view off the Port/Left deck of Möbius. Now let’s climb up to near the top of that mountain across the way ………… …. and here’s the view from that elevated vantage point with some text to show where Möbius is tied up. Over the years, our family and friends have come to understand that if they want to come visit us, they can chose a Date OR a Location but NOT both! Think about that for a moment and you’ll soon appreciate how challenging that is. It takes a LOT of perseverance and adaptability to come visit us and fortunately our family and friends are eXtremely flexible and willing to go to these great lengths to come for a visit. Lucky us and our deep appreciation to all of you who take on these challenges and come to visit us.
Experiencing Life Through 6 and 8 Year Granddaughters
And so it was that on July 9th, Lia, Brian, Brynn and Blair flew into the tiny little Kalymnos airport literally perched atop a mountain top to the NW of Möbius which is the light patch in the middle of this sat photo. A 15 minute downhill run later, we had their feet in the cool Aegean waters on one of the countless beaches here on the island. We had outings every day, sometimes in a rental car to explore the 68 kilometers of coastal road around Kalymnos and sometimes just a short 15 minute walk into the town near where we are docked so we all got to know this small island quite well. Wherever we went, Blair and Brynn mostly wanted to swim and this was our local swimming beach a short walk from Möbius which you can see in the upper Left of this photo, snuggled in between two much larger ships. We sought out and found lots of small harbours like this one that typically had several restaurants to chose from, some local boats and of course more swimming. They all had the Goldilocks combination of places for the girls to jump in for a swim ….. ……. with tables on the waters edge for the adults to chat while easily keeping an eye on our simmers while we enjoyed some shade, drinks and food. We seemed to be able to find this ideal combo…… ……. everywhere we went along the coast…… ….. and a grand time was had by all. Some evenings we would stroll into town and wander the small alleyways soaking up the local ambience.
In town, there was no shortage of little sidewalk restaurants along the waterfront to enjoy more delicious Greek food, wine and conversations. One day we got going a bit early and caught the short 40 minute ferry over to the larger island and city of Kos. Kos is a central hub amongst these islands so much busier and more tourists but also much more green and of course more ruins to see before we caught the ferry …. …. back home to Möbius (seen in the background) complete with a bronze statue of the girls favorite; a Mermaid! All too soon though, it was time to take the family back to the mountaintop airport for them to start their marathon of planes, trains and automobiles to get back to California. Thanks Lia, Brian, Brynn and Blair, missing you already and can’t wait for our next time together wherever that may be.
Two days later our good friends Jeff and Kate came over on the ferry from Kos, where they had flown in, and spent a week onboard with us. They too had been real troopers in adjusting their travel plans and itinerary for their two month long European adventure to be able to get to us here on Kalymnos.
While our current location is ideal for us, its certainly not a dream destination for most and this is the view off our bow at night. Not to be outdone, this is the view from our stern. But Jeff & Kate were very understanding guests and we had lots of time to enjoy just hanging out and catching up with them. They certainly left with some good stories to share about their unique adventure on Kalymnos and aboard Möbius. All too soon though, Jeff & Kate needed to catch the ferry back over to Kos a few days ago and are now continuing their European tour to Venice, Milan and then on to Spain and France before they wind up their grand European adventure and head home to Vancouver. Thanks Kate & Jeff for being such good sports to make all the changes needed to get here and for fitting into our unique accommodations and ambience!
Just right, Just for us
When we were designing Möbius one of the ways we described our design goals was to have a boat that would blend in very well to a fishing or commercial shipping port and stick out more in a fancy marina. As you’ve been seeing in some of the photos, I think we, thanks to our awemazing designer NA Dennis, have met that design goal very well!
The Goldilocks “fit” here for us here in Kalymnos is not just our “hood”, but that we have a side tie to a concrete dock that is at deck level and makes getting on/off the boat an easy one step operation which is VERY rare in this part of the world. Pretty much every other place requires that you Med Moor by backing into the dock and then having a ramp or passerelle to get on/off the boat. Works OK, but with Christine’s mobility still not fully returned after her knee surgery this presents a more serious issue and is one of several reasons why we have decided to take a break to allow Christine’s knee to fully recover and stay here in Kalymnos for the next month or two.
While it would not suit most others I suspect, for us this is the latest version of what I frequently refer to as living on The No Plan Plan. It’s a great example of the true freedom afforded by this way of living we are so fortunate to have that allows us to make such decisions and do what is just right, just for us.
We pretty much have the whole concrete jetty to ourselves and with local surroundings like this …… ….. and sunsets like this from our SkyBridge at night, perhaps more of you can appreciate how this can feel like the ideal home for us right now until we decide to move on to the next location that is calling our name.
For the next while these Update posts will likely be a bit irregular as I’m not sure I will have enough content to warrant weekly Updates. However, rest assured that I will continue to post Updates as things evolve here and I’ve got several posts to catch up on some technical topics I’ve promised for some time. Please continue to send your questions and comments in the “Join the Discussion” box below and keep an eye out for those notification Email alerts if you’ve subscribed to the Möbius.World blog or check in from time to time as our grand adventure continues.