Red Tape and Leaks

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Thu 19 Dec 2019 17:42

Position: Rushcutters Bay, Port Jackson
Weather: smoke haze, warm

Kate and I completed Sylph’s bottom clean and antifoul in record time, especially given that we had quite a bit of bare steel to repaint. We came up on Saturday afternoon and were back in the water on Monday morning.  Unfortunately, on the day following our record-breaking relaunch, I discovered that the new depth sounder/log transducer I had installed had a slow leak and consequently the bilge had quite a bit of water in it. Bother!

I spent the better part of Tuesday trying to fix the leak from inside the boat which included removing floorboards and a battery bank. But by 2200 Tuesday night, after trying all sorts of remedies, from pneumatic cement, new ‘O’ rings, emergency epoxy, polyurethane sealant, and PFE and self-annealing tape, I had to admit defeat. I had made absolutely no difference to the rate of water ingress. We now await another haul-out at Noakes, scheduled for 1400 later today. 

The problem is that the transducer is designed to be removable so the that log impellor can be cleaned while the boat is still in the water and it is the insert that is leaking. I have worked out that the transducer housing is slightly too short for where it fits into the hull and that the large plastic nut that secures the transducer into its housing is bottoming out before the top ‘O’ ring is fully sealed. My plan, when we are once more high and dry, is to withdraw the transducer insert, line the housing with sealant and reinsert the transducer. We will remain in the travel lift slings long enough for the sealant to dry, I reckon about two hours, and then relaunch. This solution means that I won’t be able to withdraw the transducer but I have no intention of doing so in any event. I have a good old Walker trailing log that trails over the stern and while it can lose an impellor, it involves no through hulls and therefore no leaks.

Another challenge that has been trying my patience, which I regret has not been faring too well of late, is trying to organise the necessary paperwork to allow Oli (SC-A)* into New Zealand waters. Our initial research a few months ago led us to believe that it should not be too much of a problem as we were coming straight from Australia and Oli had never been outside of Australia before. He would not need an import permit, merely an inspection by a government veterinarian on arrival. Now this sounded pretty straight forward but since making more formal inquiries it turns out that for a cat arriving in New Zealand by private yacht things are a tad more complicated. Government vets are only located in Auckland and Christchurch but the only port that a small yacht can enter with a cat on board is Opua, some 200km north of Auckland. An official from New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industry in Wellington and who apparently is responsible for these things tells me that I will have to organise someone from an approved quarantine facility in Auckland to come up to Opua, collect Oli and take him down to Auckland to their quarantine facility where the government vet can inspect him and then deliver him back to Opua. This, I confess, in all my travels seems about the craziest system I have come across, not to mention incredibly and unnecessarily expensive. Furthermore, nowhere in all of the reams of paperwork that I have read trying to work out what we have to do is this procedure clearly stated. So, I am just a little frustrated by the whole process.

Nonetheless, despite these little setbacks, departure preparations continue. Oli has had his first vet inspection by a very nice young lady in Potts Point and is booked for the mandatory second inspection at 0900 on the 31st of December (two weeks after the first inspection and 48 hours prior to departure) and we have an appointment booked with Australia’s Department of Agriculture at 1130 the same day to issue an export permit (getting a cat out of Australia is a lot easier than getting one in). Because of these biosecurity requirements, our departure date has had to be postponed slightly, from 27 December to 2 January. So we will be in Sydney to see in the New Year. Personally, I’d rather be at sea. Nonetheless …


All is well.



Oli will earn full Ship’s Cat status once he has crossed an ocean or, in this instance, the Tasman Sea will do.