Another adventure to share
Bolstered by intrepid owners, N76 Spirit of Ulysses puts a new journey under her keel
Nordhavn 76 Spirit of Ulysses is crossing oceans once again, only this time it’s the Pacific Ocean and it’s going to be one heck of a trip. Following in the footsteps of SoU’s previous owner Mike Ridgway who in late 2021 took the boat from the Canary Islands to Barbados in 16 days, the boat’s new owner is upping the ante. Last week Kris Townend set off from Fort Lauderdale embarking on a massive journey to his home in Australia. An amazing trip indeed, Townend and his crew will take approximately two months to complete the journey, in near record time given the 9,900 nm they need to cover. It is, in fact, a delivery trip to get the boat to its new home port of Western Perth. Townend, an Aussie native, and his wife, Amy are parents to 5 children whose ages range from four to 16, and the whole family plans to relocate on to SoU and operate as liveaboards. The deadline to move out of the house is quickly approaching, hence the haste with getting the boat home. When Ridgway brought the boat across the Atlantic two years ago, the rush was to get the crew home in time for Christmas. Will SoU ever get to just explore in the leisurely fashion that most Nordhavns enjoy? Yes, says Townend emphatically. Once settled in, he and the family intend to explore all around Australia, especially around the Whitsunday Islands and The Kimberley, and then on to Asia.
For now SoU is on a non-stop course and will break only for fuel and other maintenance necessities as needed. After departing Florida on May 2, the crew pulled into Key West and are headed to Panama where Townend will jump off to catch a flight home and deal with some unexpected work issues. The rest of the crew are headed to The Galapagos Islands. From there they plan to stop at Samoa and Fiji before arriving in Brisbane. “It’s killing me to miss out,” Townend emailed from the boat, referring to both the opportunity to explore all the places they’ll pass by, as well as being aboard for the entirety of the delivery. But he’ll rejoin the crew when they reach Fiji.
Although he’s been boating for more than 20 years, it’s always been shorter distances – coastal cruising trips for as far as his planing boats would take him. This will – by far – be the longest trip Townend has ever taken. But he was never intimidated by the enormity of it and will be aided by a support team. Townend met Nikolay Alexandrov of SD Captains through the Nordhavn Dreamers group and hired him and his mates, Camo and Henri, to lead the charge, provide the necessary experience needed for a journey of this magnitude and get him acclimated enough to comfortably take over once the family loads on in July. The other key member of the crew is young Liam Townend, age 10, who’s already accumulated many nautical miles under his belt.
When Townend began his search for a Nordhavn, he had been aware of Spirit of Ulysses having watched Mike Ridgway’s videos. He doesn’t know if he was so much inspired by the original SoU journey as much as wanting to continue the legacy of the boat. In fact, he opted to keep the name so people would recognize her. “What I am hoping to do is keep the story alive of Spirit of Ulysses,” he said. “I believe she has so many more adventures that need to be shared.”
“A Spirited Journey” by Kris Townend
Boating enthusiasts, Kris and Amy, have shared a keen passion for boating since they married in 2011. Their love for boating started with a 21ft bow rider, which Kris predominantly used for water skiing. However, a year later, a horrific accident left their boat written off and a close friend badly injured, leaving them without a boat for over a year. During this time, Kris started a business in Non Destructive Testing. After a year without a boat, Kris’ lovely wife, Amy, secretly saved enough money to surprise him with a 35ft Maxum SRC. With two children, they spent many weekends at Rottnest Island, a small island off the coast of Western Australia, enjoying the faultless service from their Maxum. With another child on the way, it was time for an upgrade, and this is where they met Richard Glazer from Denison, forming a new relationship. In 2014, Kris and his family flew to the USA to meet with Richard, and he flew with him to Mexico, Playa del Carmen. There they purchased a 48ft Searay, which they shipped home, and over the following years, they had another three children and many exciting adventures on the Searay. During the purchase of the Searay, Kris mentioned to Richard that his ultimate dream was to own a Nordhavn. Despite many obstacles and challenges in his business, including people suing him, stealing from him, lying, and cheating, Kris never gave up on his dream. He continued to work hard, even when he didn’t feel like getting up for work, with the thought that one day, he would own a Nordhavn. Over the years, the bond between Kris and Richard grew, with monthly calls, often on a ridiculously early morning run to work. In 2019, Kris and his family went on a world cruise, planning to see how they could drive a boat through the Panama Canal. They boarded a cruise liner in Miami and traveled from Panama to LA, but when they got home, Covid had hit the world, and life for many went on pause, including theirs. However, in 2022, life started to move again, and the opportunity for a business sale came around. This time it was successful and completed in September 2022. Kris phoned Richard, and they arranged to look at Spirit of Ulysses, a Nordhavn yacht. Richard jokingly said that the two biggest red flags for a broker were someone who was going to sell their business to buy a boat and someone who was going to live aboard. Unfortunately for Richard, Kris had been telling him this for nearly seven years, and in January 2023, it was finally going to happen. They reached out to Nordhavn, and with Richard’s help, they negotiated the sale of a N76 Nordhavn in February 2023. Kris and Amy are now about to start a new journey on their dream boat, and they would like everyone reading to stay tuned for updates. The story of Kris and Amy is one of perseverance, hard work, and dedication to a dream. Despite setbacks, they never gave up, and now they are about to embark on a new adventure on their dream boat. The Nordhavn yacht is known for its seaworthiness, long-range capabilities, and luxurious accommodations, making it the perfect vessel for Kris and Amy’s next journey. As boating enthusiasts, we can all learn from their determination and commitment to their passion for boating, and Amy’s passion for boating has been a significant part of their life and relationship. They have been able to create countless memories with their family and friends while enjoying their time on the water. Kris’ love for boating has also helped him to overcome some of the challenges he faced in his business. He credits his ability to stay focused and motivated to the idea of one day owning a Nordhavn yacht. In addition to their love of boating, Kris and Amy are also dedicated to giving back to their community. They have volunteered with various organizations and charities over the years, including donating their boat for charity events. They believe in the importance of supporting local businesses and giving back to those in need. Kris and Amy’s story is a testament to the power of perseverance and dedication. Despite facing setbacks and obstacles along the way, they never lost sight of their dream of owning a Nordhavn yacht. They worked hard, stayed focused, and never gave up. Their story is an inspiration to all those who share their passion for boating and the sea
Date: August 13, 2023
Report by: Kris Townend, owner of Spirit of Ulysses
“If you’re looking for advice, let me say this—stop waiting.”
This journey, while not yet complete, is entering a new phase, and its impact continues to resonate deeply within me. Three weeks have passed since my return to Australia, yet the emotions of the trip remain vivid and powerful. Reflecting on this voyage has become a constant in my daily thoughts.
The sense of achievement remains unwavering, and the privilege of sailing with Captain Nikolay and the crew remains a source of empowerment. The remarkable highlights of this journey are etched in my memory, each contributing to the fabric of this remarkable experience.
The initial leg of the journey, sailing alongside my son, set a tone that proved hard to surpass. The anxiety surrounding the vessel’s purchase and the subsequent repairs were now behind me, replaced by the vast unknown that lay ahead—new crew, new vessel, new destinations. The small hiccup at the USA’s Key West during the checkout was an anecdote to remember. Driving the vessel into the renowned boating playgrounds of Miami and Key West added a sense of achievement to these stops.
Cruising 300 nautical miles off the coasts of Cuba and South America offered a unique perspective, further accentuated by the unforgettable thrill of catching a large black marlin—a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most. Sharing this leg of the journey with my son, especially our transit through the Panama Canal, was an incredibly special time.
However, there came a point where I had to disembark the vessel for an unknown period. The feeling of loss was profound, as I watched my dreams unfold without me on board, albeit funded from my own pocket. This is the juncture where the harsh reality of life met my dreams. Balancing a job while ensuring the vessel’s progress became my daily mission. The moment I received the news of a cooler failure was a blow I wasn’t prepared for—a sensation of helplessness that only intensified as I relentlessly searched for replacement parts.
But amidst these challenges, my employer deserves a mention. The company that acquired my business, IRISNDT, and its Australian CEO Damien, showed remarkable understanding and support. This remarkable gesture allowed me to continue my job remotely, bridging the gap between work and passion seamlessly.
Departing Australia again stirred mixed emotions—an impending separation from my wife and children balanced with the excitement of returning to Spirit. Technology’s role in this journey cannot be overstated, as regular video contacts with the world made this potentially isolating voyage more bearable.
If you’ve followed this story so far, you’re acquainted with the stories—Suwarrow Atoll, Fiji—but words alone seem inadequate to capture their essence. Words can hardly convey the myriad of emotions experienced. The triumphant feeling upon entering Brisbane, the culmination of yet another life event, is impossible to fully capture. Yet, here we stand, post-repairs, about to set forth on a new leg—down the East Coast, a five-day voyage.
To wrap up this tale, the answer is simple: you don’t. And I don’t want to either. If you’re looking for advice, let me say this—stop waiting. The “perfect” time may never come. In hindsight, whatever you thought was the “perfect” time, that was it. So, let’s meet out on the water, and continue writing our own stories on the open sea
For those that would like to follow our family adventures past this post, I would love to invite you to our new Facebook page where we plan to keep updating
Date: July, 24, 2023
Location: Brisbane, AUS
Report by: Kris Townend
Something that needs to be said.
As the sun sets on this unforgettable voyage, I find myself overwhelmed with admiration and gratitude for Captain Nikolay, the extraordinary guide who has led us through this remarkable expedition. Throughout this journey, his unparalleled skill, unwavering ability, and genuine eagerness to share his knowledge have left an indelible impression on my heart and soul.
From the moment we set sail, I knew I was in the hands of a true master of the sea. Captain Nikolay’s expertise in navigating the waters and his profound understanding of the intricacies of sailing instilled in me an unwavering sense of trust. His calm demeanor and steady presence, even in the face of challenges, served as a constant source of reassurance, reminding me that I was safe under his watchful eye.
What struck me most was Captain Nikolay’s genuine desire to impart his wisdom and experience. He took the time to patiently explain various aspects of sailing, navigation, and vessel maintenance, inviting me to become an active participant in the journey. With every lesson, I grew more confident in my abilities, thanks to his encouragement and guidance.
Captain Nikolay’s passion for the sea was contagious. His captivating stories of previous deliveries and adventures at sea were endless. With each sunrise and sunset, I found myself in awe of the majestic seascape, all the more special through his insightful narratives.
Throughout our voyage, I witnessed firsthand Captain Nikolay’s unwavering commitment to safety and meticulous attention to detail. Whether addressing technical issues or skillfully navigating through unpredictable waters, he prioritized the well-being of the crew and the vessel above all else. It was his profound dedication that allowed us to overcome challenges and venture into the open sea with confidence.
As we approach the end of this extraordinary journey, I am filled with gratitude for the privilege of sailing under Captain Nikolay’s guidance. His expertise, skill, and genuine care have transformed this voyage into an unforgettable experience, etching beautiful memories that will forever reside in my heart.
For anyone seeking an exceptional sailing experience, I wholeheartedly recommend placing your trust in Captain Nikolay. His ability to navigate the seas with grace and proficiency, his unwavering commitment to sharing his knowledge, and his genuine passion for sailing make him an outstanding captain. This voyage has been a life-changing journey, and it would not have been the same without the remarkable leadership of Captain Nikolay. As we bid farewell to the open sea (for now), I carry with me the knowledge that I have sailed under the guidance of a true master, and the memories we have created together will forever be treasured in the story of my sailing adventures.
Thank you Captain!
Date: Monday, July 17, 2023
Location: Approaching Brisbane
Conditions: Some big waves!
Report by: Capt. Nikolay
We have only 12 hours to go! I can almost smell kangaroos! Last night we had a gorgeous sunset – one of the last sunsets on this adventure. We are approaching Brisbane very soon. Half-way around the world – just like that!
Date: Sunday, July 9, 2023
Location: Port Denarau, Fiji
Report by: Capt. Nikolay
We arrived in Fiji Friday (7/7) right at sunset. First time in a marina since Panama, and of course, no electricity on our dock.
Did documents yesterday, oil change and got 2,000 gall diesel.
Today divers will clean the bottom. She really needs that. Departing for Australia tomorrow.
Owner is happy, great trip so far! He likes the boating life more and more, and his other job less and less!
Date: Wednesday, July 05, 2023
Location: West of Cook Islands, en route to Fiji
Report by: Kris Townend
After nearly 8 days at sea, we made the decision to take a rest at Suwarrow Atoll, a true treasure in the South Pacific. Named after the Russian ship Suvarov, the atoll is comprised of 30 islets and boasts a total land mass of 418 acres. The largest inlet, Anchorage Island, is part of the Cook Islands and serves as a sanctuary for sailors seeking refuge.
Our arrival at Suwarrow was not without its challenges. Racing against time and the setting sun, we relied on the trustworthiness of Navionics for navigation. Navigating through multiple reefs, contending with a strong 3-knot current, and avoiding the treacherous south reef, Camo and I positioned ourselves at the bow while Captain Nikolay skillfully maneuvered the yacht in the fading light.
Once safely past the south reef, we entered the anchorage and were surprised to find five other yachts already nestled in the bay. Dropping anchor in 80 feet of water, we began shutting down the boat’s systems. It was at that moment, while still in the midst of shutting off the engines, that I heard the word “Shark.” To my amazement, even before we had fully settled, a group of 5 to 15 black tip reef sharks began circling the boat. Needless to say, the thought of taking a swim at that point was not high on my list of priorities.
With the anchor secure, we settled into a tranquil evening on the aft deck, savoring a well-deserved drink. We eagerly anticipated the revelation of the island’s beauty with the break of dawn.
As the first rays of daylight kissed the horizon, we were greeted by a sight that exceeded our wildest imagination—a tropical paradise like no other. Palm trees swayed in harmony, seemingly growing on top of each other, while coral-lined shores met sparkling aqua-colored waters. And yes, the sharks continued to make their presence known.
Over our morning coffee, we were approached by friendly boaters from other yachts who had come to witness the cleaning of manta rays just a few hundred yards behind us. They advised us to contact the ranger on channel 16 and arrange for our clearance documents. We reached out to the ranger, Harry, who proved to be incredibly accommodating. With island time in full effect, we were asked to bring our documents and, of course, cash ashore.
Harry and his partner, the sole inhabitants of the atoll for six months, are tasked with bringing enough supplies to sustain them throughout their stay. Despite their isolated lifestyle, they exuded warmth and friendliness. After paying our admission fee, we set off to explore the island on our own.
We spent the morning wading in the shallows around the reef, but as lunchtime approached, I decided it was time to gather my courage and dive into deeper waters to inspect our running gear. Let’s just say it was a functional swim rather than a leisurely one, and I kept a keen eye out for any shark encounters.
Using the larger tender, which was lowered by the crane, we ventured along the local coastline, stopping for a refreshing swim. The following morning, with the tide high and the wind blowing at 20 knots, Captain Nikolay noticed boats approaching the entrance on the AIS. True to his nature as a mariner, he took charge, guiding the newcomers through the passage by tender and ensuring their safe arrival.
The departure process was as smooth as our entrance. We sorted out our documents, took one final swim, and bid farewell to the enchanting atoll around 2pm. While stories of gold and treasure may circulate, the real treasure lies in the magical experience of visiting Suwarrow—a place that captivates
After bidding farewell to Suwarrow Atoll, we settled into the rhythm of the next 6-7 days at sea. This is where the true essence of routine takes hold—shower, watch, sleep, work, sleep, shower, watch. Each day follows a familiar pattern as we navigate the vast ocean towards our next destination.
Of course, no journey is without its share of challenges. Along the way, we encountered some minor issues, such as small leaks in the raw water cooling system, a malfunctioning extraction fan for the engine room, and loose stabilizer rams. However, the key to overcoming these obstacles lies in maintaining a cool and calm demeanor. By breaking down each problem into manageable steps and following a systematic process, we’ve been able to address and resolve them.
As we sail, Fiji beckons on the horizon, just a day away. Anticipation fills the air as we look forward to our upcoming stop. Adding to the excitement, my brother Ben and friend Mark will be joining us in Fiji. The prospect of their arrival injects a renewed sense of enthusiasm and camaraderie into the journey, and I eagerly await the shared experiences that await us in this tropical paradise.
With our sights set on Fiji’s shores, we continue to navigate the vast expanse of the ocean, embracing the challenges and joys that come with life at sea. The journey is not just about reaching the destination but also about the bonds formed, the lessons learned, and the memories created along the way. As we sail towards Fiji, the anticipation builds, and we eagerly await the adventures that lie ahead.
Date: Saturday, July 1, 2023
Location: Suwarrow Atoll, Cook Islands
Report by: Capt. Nikolay
The owner, who is now on board, decided to stop here and take a break. The crew was totally against the idea- it is hard to start working again after days like that! The plan was to dive under the boat tomorrow. But tonight we noticed some friends…With all these sharks, not sure about diving! Some interesting things about Suwarrow: It has a population of 2 half the year. Also, its highest point is 5 meters.
As I continue on this adventure, my days at sea merge into a familiar routine, harmonizing the demands of work and watch shifts with moments of introspection. With the assistance of modern technology, such as Starlink, I navigate the challenges of staying connected while traversing the open waters.
Each day begins with a few hours of rest, followed by a warm greeting to the fellow crew manning the bridge. There’s a shared sense of camaraderie as we sail into the day’s adventures. Savoring breakfast and that essential cup of coffee fuels me for the tasks that lie ahead. Even something as simple as putting on a t-shirt holds significance, ensuring a professional appearance during virtual work meetings where attention to detail matters.And simply not turning the camera on when shirtless!
With morning chores completed, I settle into work mode. Taking my place behind the helm at the desk, I appreciate the unique office window that showcases the vastness of the sea. Online meetings and tasks fill my hours until 8 pm, when the workday comes to a close. A refreshing shower prepares me for a few hours of rest, setting the stage for the upcoming watch shift at 1 am.
During my watch shift, a mix of fatigue and a peculiar connection to the world ashore emerges. As evening descends in Australia, I seize the opportunity to connect with my loved ones via video call. Wishing them goodnight and engaging in playful games like rock-paper-scissors with my children, that have become cherished moments, bridging the gap that separates us.
The hours that follow are solitary, providing a rare chance for contemplation amidst the vast ocean. I can’t help but ponder the ancient seafaring traditions of Polynesian navigators, who sailed these waters without the aid of modern electronic devices. Their ability to navigate using celestial cues and innate instincts stands in stark contrast to my reliance on advanced radar systems, satellite technology, and the ever-reliable Starlink connection.Ifind it hard to comprehend that we have been at sea for over 7 days and we have not seen any human, not even on AIS or Radar.
Most mornings, it’s Camo who relieves me of my watch shift at 5am. However, he often arrives a little early, giving us a precious window of time that I like to call “Camo time.” During these quiet moments, when the rest of the boat is still slumbering, we engage in conversations that span the breadth of world politics, cultural nuances, and sometimes, we simply bask in the tranquility of each other’s company. One delightful ritual that has emerged is our shared enjoyment of a small pleasure: ashared four-pack of Oreo biscuits. It may seem insignificant, but this daily indulgence has taken on a special significance for us. Somehow, I suspect that Oreos will never quite be the same again. On a boat where treats are few and far between, this simple pleasure has become a cherished part of our routine—one that I eagerly anticipate.
As I gaze into the night sky, I find myself marveling at the journeys undertaken by those who came before me. How did they navigate these waters with such precision and confidence? The solitude of the watch shift humbles me, reminding me of the timeless wisdom and unparalleled boat skills possessed by traditional seafarers.
In this delicate dance between routine and reflection, my personal expedition continues to unfold across the vast expanse of the ocean. My voyage embodies the spirit of exploration and pays homage to the ancient mariners who sailed these waters long before me. As the days at sea stretch onward, new horizons beckon, promising fresh adventures and profound connections with the world that surrounds me.
We have made the decision to divert to Suwarrow Atoll, for a rest and a nice swim, with a 5 degree port change of course we are adding a total of about 3 miles. More to follow
Date: Saturday, June 24
Location: west of Nuku Hiva
Report by: Kris
After arriving in Nuku Hiva, we had the opportunity to explore the island and learn about its rich history and fascinating tribes. We embarked on a guided tour, immersing ourselves in the cultural heritage of the Marquesas Islands. The tour was filled with breathtaking views of lush landscapes, ancient stone temples known as “marae,” our friendly guide shared stories of his ancestors.
During our tour, we had the pleasure of experiencing the incredible flavors of the island firsthand. On the north shore, we were invited to join the locals for a traditional “drivers” lunch. (A cruise ship was in town so many tours were happening and the official lunch was not booked for us) As we sat down to eat, we were greeted with a tantalizing dish of wild pig served with fragrant rice and accompanied by a freshly picked banana. The flavors that danced on our taste buds were unlike anything we had ever experienced. The meat was tender and succulent, infused with a smoky richness that spoke of the wild terrain from which it came. The rice, cooked to perfection, was infused with subtle earthy notes that complemented the flavors of the dish. And the banana, plucked from nearby trees, had a sweetness that only comes from fruit ripened under the tropical sun.
The incredible taste of the food can be attributed, in part, to the island’s unique farming practices. Nuku Hiva is blessed with fertile soil and a natural environment largely untouched by pesticides and artificial fertilizers. This purity and the abundance of nutrients in the soil contribute to the exceptional quality and flavor of the island’s produce. The fruits and vegetables that thrive here possess a vibrant taste and freshness that is unparalleled.
There is a market in the bay where locals gather to sell their freshly harvested fruits, vegetables, and other delights. It’s a hub of vibrant colors and enticing aromas, offering visitors a chance to taste the true essence of Nuku Hiva’s bountiful harvest, and a place to pick up some local trinkets.
As we savored each bite during our lunch with the locals, we couldn’t help but appreciate the connection between the island’s fertile land, the skillful hands that cultivate it, and the exquisite flavors that result. It was a meal that not only nourished our bodies but also deepened our appreciation for the natural wonders and cultural heritage of this remarkable place.
With our appetites satisfied and our spirits invigorated, we bid farewell to our newfound friends and continued our exploration of the island, carrying the memories of that delectable meal and the profound flavors that resonated within us.
It was from here our guided tour took us to another tribal area that held a profound historical significance. As we ventured deeper into the tribal grounds, we came across marked areas adorned with red stones, signifying the sites of ancient sacrifices. It was a reminder of the rituals and customs that shaped the lives of the indigenous people of Nuku Hiva.
Amongst the awe-inspiring sights we encountered, the highlight was a majestic 600-year-old tree. Its towering presence commanded respect and stirred a sense of wonder within us. It was said to be the very tree that inspired James Cameron’s iconic “Tree of Souls” in the film Avatar. As we gazed upon its colossal branches, it became evident why the tree, coupled with the resemblance of the local flower to the falling ones depicted in the movie, captured the imagination of the renowned filmmaker.
At the base of the ancient tree, we discovered a solemn reminder of the tribe’s dark past. A hollowed-out cavity served as a holding place for enemies captured in battles. They would be confined within the hollow throughout the night before being sacrificed and consumed by the tribe. The skulls of these unfortunate captives were reverently placed in the branches of the tree, serving as haunting relics of the tribe’s history.
Standing before this remarkable tree, with its secrets and the weight of centuries past, we couldn’t help but feel a profound connection to the rich tapestry of human experience. It was a poignant reminder of the complexities of history and the traditions that have shaped the world we now inhabit.
Leaving the tribal area, we carried with us a deep appreciation for the island’s cultural heritage and the stories it holds.
Soon after, we faced the intense challenge of refueling at the concrete fuel dock. Med mooring the boat while contending with surges required exceptional skill and concentration. Captain Nikolay, true to his reputation, showcased his dedication to his craft. He remained at the aft controls for over 2.5 hours, ensuring the safety of the vessel while Camo and I tirelessly transferred over 12 tonnes of fuel on board.
During this time, I witnessed firsthand Captain Nikolay’s unwavering focus and expertise. His ability to navigate the challenging conditions with precision was truly remarkable. It reaffirmed my confidence in his capabilities as our captain for this voyage. The commitment he demonstrated to his craft was awe-inspiring.
With the fuel securely onboard, we were filled with excitement as we set sail once again, reunited as a dedicated crew. For the past three days, we have been blessed with following seas and a 6-foot swell, allowing us to maintain a steady pace of 8 knots. The conditions have been ideal, enabling us to achieve an almost perfect 1:1 gallon to nautical mile burn rate. It’s a testament to the efficiency and performance of our vessel.
As I sign off for now, I assure you that there is more to come. Our journey continues to unfold, promising new adventures and remarkable encounters.
Note: I feel it important to mention Kevin from Yacht Services here, he was so welcoming helpful, nothing was a problem. He managed all the paperwork, fuel, transfers, tours and general information about the island please feel free to visit his website. www.yachtservicesnukuhiva.com
Date: Friday, June 23
Location: 320 nm WSW of Nuku Hiva
Conditions: SOG 8.1 kn, Wind E15kn, Air 78F
Report by: Capt. Nikolay
Great first 2 days after Nuku Hiva! Boat runs perfect, lazy motoring downwind.
Big problem- everyone on board is gaining weight!
Date: Thursday, June 22, 2023
Location: Off Nuku Hiva, The Marquesas
Report by: Kris Townend
I have some exciting news to share. Guess who’s finally back on board the Spirit of Ulysses? That’s right, yours truly. While I was away, it seems the boat decided to play some tricks on the crew. She leaked through a cooler and even dropped the ABT Trac screen. Oh, the surprises that awaited me in Nuku Hiva!
Now, let me tell you, finding those coolers was like searching for a needle in a haystack. OEM ones were as elusive as a unicorn, and even MTU had them on back order. I reached out to every company imaginable and spent countless nights scouring the internet, thanks to those pesky time differences. But guess what? Lady luck was on my side. I managed to find not one, but two coolers in Australia. They weren’t in the same location, mind you, but from the same supplier, ESS Sydney. And Craig from ESS was an absolute hero, providing us with schematics to ensure we had the right ones. It’s not like I could simply return them if they didn’t fit, you know!
So, once the coolers were located and purchased, my mission became getting them to Nikolay and the crew. Now, here’s the challenge. How on earth was I, based in Perth, Western Australia, going to transport two coolers from one side of the country to the other, gather all the fittings and connectors, package them up, and send them to some remote location in the middle of the South Pacific? The answer was clear: I had to take matters into my own hands. Literally.
With the unwavering support of my lovely wife, Amy (I’ll have more to say about her), I rearranged my work schedule and life to ensure I could reach the boat as soon as it arrived in NukuHiva. The only snag? It happened to be on my eldest’s 17th birthday. Talk about timing! But fear not, I had a plan. I decided to visit our company offices in Sydney and Newcastle first, ticking off those tasks from my list. The timeline looked something like this: coolers sorted on Tuesday morning, departing Western Australia for New South Wales by midnight on Wednesday, working in NSW on Thursday and Friday while collecting parts, departing on Monday for New Zealand, Tahiti, and finally Nuku Hiva. This time, I was determined not to leave the boat until we reached Australia.
Now, let’s talk about Amy. I’m incredibly fortunate to have a wife who understands the depth of my love for this adventure. Don’t get me wrong, she shares the boating passion as well, which definitely helps. But imagine me saying, “Hey, honey, I’m going to disappear in 24 hours for an unknown number of weeks. Can you handle the house, homeschooling, and life in general while also packing up everything? Oh, and by the way,don’t forget we’re moving to the East Coast when the boat arrives.” Her support means the world to me, and her response was simply, “This is what you’ve wanted to do forever. You’re meant to be on that boat. Go for it. I’ve got this.” Amy, I can’t thank you enough.
Now, back to the parts mission. With my ticket booked and work schedule set, I received a message from the captain: “ABT Touch Screen is acting funny. Camo says it needs to be replaced, but I’m afraid to restart it because it might not start at all.” Insert sailor words here! Another hurdle to overcome, and it was back to the part-finding frenzy.
Both Camo and I scoured the earth for a replacement, but ABT didn’t have any in stock, and the Australian distributor had seven on back order with an unknown supply date. More sailor words! But guess what? Camo and I managed to find a second unit on eBay, and it turns out it was just 20 minutes from his home in the USA. He arranged for his wife to collect it and FedEx it to me in Sydney. Tick, tick, tick. But here’s the kicker: Captain notified me that the ABT Trac unit when he arrived and turned it off it died, resulting in a dead system. And you know what that means? No thrusters, my friends. ABT is the first in the system, so the boat wasn’t going anywhere until it was up and running again. Cue even more sailor words!
Friday came, and I called FedEx to inquire about the delivery. They informed me that, best-case scenario, it would arrive on Monday between 6 am and 6 pm. My heart sank. What a tight deadline to meet, intercepting a package before an 11 am international departure. I just didn’t know how it could be possible. But hey, when life throws you lemons, you make lemonade.
Since I had the weekend in Sydney and it was my daughter’s 17th birthday, I flew both her and my wife to join me. And here’s where luck started to smile upon me. Just an hour before their departure from Perth, my daughter called to inform me that the replacement dash-mounted VHF unit I had ordered had finally arrived. Sure, I was annoyed it didn’t arrive on time, but we had backups, so the boat could at least move. Win number one!
I collected my wife and daughter on Friday night, and while we waited, I managed to find out the location of the FedEx depot in Sydney. I asked them to hold the package at the facility for Monday. Bright and early on Saturday morning, I showed up at FedEx and had a chat with the staff. They informed me that the package was still in transit from Hawaii and that they would be closing at 12 noon on Saturday, not to reopen until 8 am on Monday. Talk about cutting it close! So there I was, dealing with maximum stress levels. But what could I do?
I decided to make the most of the situation. I took my wife and daughter sightseeing, trying to distract myself from the impending deadline. Then, at 10 pm on Saturday night, I received a text message from Darren at FedEx. “Hello Kris, we have located your package, and it’s here in Sydney now. You can come before midnight tonight and collect it, or after 2:00 pm on Sunday when I’m back on shift.” Wait, what? They were opening after hours just for me. Wow! So, at 2:00 pm on Sunday, I found myself outside a closed FedEx facility, texting the guy who then brought out the package with the precious ABT Trac Screen. Winning! Thank you, FedEx.
Now, all that remained was to catch my flight and load up all those parts. I bid farewell to my wife and daughter, ensuring they made it safely back home, and now it was my turn to embark on the journey. With a short hop, skip, and a jump over the islands, I finally met the boat. Captain rolled out the red carpet and arranged for someone to pick me up from Nuku Hiva. The feeling of coming back was simply incredible. Laughter filled the air, and there was an undeniable excitement on the boat. Unpacking in the salon felt like Christmas morning—coolers, flags, radios, stabilizer spares, and even chili noodles (that’s a story for another time). And to top it off, I had a little gift for the crew—voyage shirts that had missed my departure the first time, then missed my departure in Florida, but now, at last, they were with the crew.
There was no rest for the wicked, as they say. With barely any sleep in the past 24 hours, I dove straight into the engine room to fit the cooler. Once that was completed, in went the screen, and it was time for testing. I won’t lie, a huge wave of relief washed over me when everything worked flawlessly right from the start. We were ready to take fuel and set sail. But that’s a story for another time.
I’m back, baby! And this time, I’m here to stay.
Date: Tuesday, June 20, 2023
Location: Nuku Hiva, the Marquesas
Report by: (assimilated from Capt. Nikolay’s posts)
We are in Nuku Hiva at anchor. Yesterday was food provisions. Fresh fruit and vegetables from the local market.
The supermarket has special small van providing cruisers rides from the store to the dinghy dock.
Tomorrow we refuel, the day after tomorrow we depart for Fiji. Today we took a tour of the island. I highly recommend!
Date: Friday, June 15 2023
Location: 5 nm E of Nuku Hiva
Report by: Capt. Nikolay
After 18 days underway /including some time spend looking for the missing row boat/ and 3200 nm open ocean, we are arriving in Nuku Hiva!
Average fuel burn 1:1 /1 gall per nm!/.
Boat did good, crew is exited!
More pictures from Nuku Hiva will posted tomorrow.
Date: Tuesday, June 13, 2023
Location: 400 nm ENE of Nuku Hiva.
Conditions: Wind E 15kn, 7’ long ocean swell, 83F, scattered clouds
Report by: Capt. Nikolay
Unfortunately after the search for the row boat, we were not able to locate him.
We searched the area JRCC Tahiti asked us to search, based on MOB scenario, then we transit area where currents and winds would push him if he is not rowing, then we went to an area where he may be if he had kept his current speed and heading indicated by the 2 pings from his PLB. Then we went to an area where he may be if he was rowing actively SW trying not to miss the islands.
After hundreds of miles, nothing.
Yesterday we left the west part of the search area, this morning JRCC Tahiti discontinued the search. BOLO for row boat “Smiles” still in effect.
1 ping from his PLB is all we needed to narrow the search area. Almost 2 weeks old last reported position- search area grows to a huge quadrant.
I hope he is out there rowing slowly towards the islands, and hope someone will find him soon!
Boat is good, crew is ok, we have 3 more days to Nuku Hiva.
Date: Friday, June 9, 2023
Location: 1000 nm ENE from Nuku Hiva, 2000 nm W of Galapagos.
Conditions: Winds E 15 kn
6’ swell, sunny, 85f air temperature.
Report by: Capt. Nikolay
We are officially involved in search and rescue!
Day 1 for us of the SAR operation for the missing mariner Aaron Carotta on board “Smiles”.
Last night we received search grid coordinates from JRCC Tahiti. The rescue coordinator requested we enter the grid and start search of the missing row boat.
2 more vessels are involved in the search, we had visual and VHF contact with one of them, MV Amaya.
Our search grid will require about 1000 nm /one thousands miles/ SAR “survey” pattern zig zag.
It will be a loong week!
Date: Thursday, June 7th
Location: 1700 nm West of Galapagos
Conditions: Air temperature 85f, winds ESE 10kn, scattered clouds, seas- flat like a lake!
SOG: 8.5 kn
Report by: Capt. Nikolay
Did oil change today. All went smooth, thank you Nordhavn for the perfect oil change system!
Despite the light load we want to maintain on the port engine, and with only 30% load on the starboard engine, we are moving with very respectable 8.5kn. burning 8 gall/hour.
We have 1350 nm to Nuku Hiva, if we maintain course and speed, it should take us 6 1/2 days to get there.
But /there is always “but”/ we will not maintain neither course, nor speed. This morning we were contacted by JRCC Tahiti, there is a missing row boat ahead of us, single person, he lost electricity due to salt water damaging his solar charging system. No known exact location, last ping from the PLB is a week old. There is BOLO for Aaron Carotta on board vessel “Smiles”. JRCC Tahiti asked us, if possible, to slow down and maintain sharp look out for Smiles.
In about 36 hours we will be entering the area where possibly Aaron Carotta is, I hope someone finds him by then, but if not, we will take part of the search efforts.
It is good that we have more than 1700 gall in reserve, we have all the food, water or medical supplies he may need, and if it gets to that, we can easily tow him to Huku Hiva /we have a long 2” towing line on board/.
Update: At 19:19 local time, Spirit of Ulysses received an email from the JRCC Tahiti requesting they proceed to the last known location of the missing boater to aid in search efforts.
Date: Monday June 6th
Why you shouldn’t be concerned about Spirit of Ulysses’ latest mishap
On Sunday night (local time), Nordhavn 76 Spirit of Ulysses developed a tiny leak inside the oil cooler causing the port side transmission to overheat. Smack in the middle of the Pacific Ocean between the Galapagos Islands and their next destination of Nuka Hiva in the Marquesas Islands, getting a replacement part was not an option. So the captain was forced to bypass the port side oil cooler altogether. For the remaining 1,700+ nm, SOU will run with the load to the port side engine at just 20 percent, and the starboard engine at 30 percent load. The situation is not cause for concern, reassures Captain Nikolay Alexandrov, and he sent a long a video to relay the crew’s anxiety level at the moment.
The crew had to make the quick fix while underway. Here is how Alexandrov and his team addressed the situation:
“We strongly believe we have a pin hole in the oil cooler due to galvanic corrosion or simply end of service life. We bypassed the oil cooler by disconnecting the two oil hoses and connecting them to each other. The oil hose ports on the cooler were capped. Now the engine is running on 20% load, 1,000 rpm. The transmission temperature is 182 degrees F – the maximum allowed is 215 F so we are well below that. Coolant temperature is 177 F. The starboard engine is running on 1050 rpm, 30% load, 176 degrees F coolant and 156 degrees F gear. Our speed is 8 knots, which is normal cruising speed for us. With this speed we have eight days to Nuku Hiva. Forecast is light following winds for six days, up to 25 kt E winds the last two days before making landfall.”
Alexandrov said he knew by the way the oil smelled and looked in the cooler (clear and no bad odor), that there wasn’t an issue with the transmission. Two new oil coolers were ordered and will be drop shipped in Nuku Hiva to be installed as soon as the boat arrives there.
Nordhavn Yachts Northeast broker Dave Balfour, who has encountered a similar situation while delivering a Nordhavn 43, is monitoring the scene online, and concurs the crew is in no danger whatsoever. “This is exactly why we put redundant systems on our boat,” said Balfour. “Things like this happen.” On boats like the N43 Balfour was on, the course of action would be to switch over to the wing engine. When a twin engine boat operates on just one of the engines, any differences in momentum or efficiency is negligible. Even though the lone running engine will have a tendency to cause the boat to pull to one side (in SOU’s case, to the left), the autopilot will make the steering correction. “They’ll just go on happy as a clam on the one engine,” he said.
Date: Monday June 5th
Location: 1300 nm west of Galapagos.
Conditions: sunny, 85F, 10 kn wind from behind, gentle swell.
Report by: Capt. Nikolay
With Galapagos 1400 behind us and Nuku Hiva 1750 ahead uf us, Houston, we have a problem!
Right in the middle of the longest leg of a trip 1/2 way around the world, and in between the 2 ports with least parts availability!
Last night our port side transmission kicked an alarm for low oil pressure, port side main was immediately stopped.
No oil leak under the transmission. Filled the transmission again with oil, restarted the engine, normal temperature of 146 F and pressure of 200 PSI, but it lasted 6 min- oil pressure began dropping, engine was stopped again, found that transmission was empty again.
Bad oil cooler, pin hole inside the cooler, transmission is pumping its oil overboard trough the cooler.
We by-passes the cooler, engine can run on 20% load with transmission oil temperature going to 185F.
This was the bad news. The good news is we can easily run single engine /this is twin engine boat/, we don’t even lose boat speed. With dead propeller windmilling /yes, we know we have to start the engine for 5 min every 8 hours for internal transmission lubrication/ our fuel consumption is slightly higher, but with more than 1500 gall in reserve, absolutely no problem getting like this to Huku Hiva.
Another good news- sunny, light winds, calm seas and fishing was great /no more fishing with one engine down/.
If we really need to use port engine with more load, we have an idea how to cool the transmission but for now it will run on 20 % load.
Date: Friday, June 4, 2023
Position: 750 nm west of the Galapagos
Conditions: Wind ESE 15, 6’ long intervals swell from south, air temperature 80f
Report by: Capt. Nikolay
We finally have room in the fuel tanks to transfer the fuel from the aft deck bladders to them! Boat can go quite faster, but this slow pace is very fuel economical, with the head current we are still averaging almost mile to the gallon.
Transferring fuel from the bladders is easy. I like this “flip the switch and watch it disappear” fuel transfer system!
Fishing- we have head current /surprise to me/, temperature break and some long range tuna fishing boats. Last night one of them called from 6 miles away and made us run 8 miles south to avoid running over cutting their long lines. This in combination with the head current made me decide to go further south, we should have favorable current and maybe less fishing boys around.
But the fishing is good! Got nice Wahoo /Ono on Hawaiian/, we got a bucked full of fillet, our cook declared “no more room in freezers and refrigerators”! We may need to stop fishing! …Or not!
2300 nm to Nuku Hiva, wind is predicted to back the clock and turn behind us, good forecast!
(Click on pictures to view captions)
Date: Wednesday, May 31, 2023
Position: 450 nm West of Galapagos
Conditions: South wind 15 kn, air temperature 80F, 5’ long period swell.
Report by: Capt. Nikolay
A night ago we had a lot of fishing boats in the area, we had to zig zag around at least 10 of them.
Weather has been good, we are waiting on the wind to start switching counter clockwise and begin pushing from the stern.
Tons of fly fish in the ocean, keeping hatches open we are risking getting some of them down bellow! So far we have been lucky, no fish is flying in the cabins!
We caught 2 small blue fin tunas, lost one at the transom, the other one was cooked- fish tacos!
Boat is good, weather is nice, very enjoyable atmosphere!
Date: Sunday, May 28, 2023
Location: west of Baltra Island, Galapagos
Report by: Capt. Nikolay
Arrived at Baltra Island, Galapagos.
We were asked to arrive at 7am, not earlier and not later, and anchor near the fuel dock. It would be one very eventful day.
As we were lowering our anchor down, a bunch of charter boats anchored around us.
At 8 am our agent came with 7 /seven/ officials and 1 electrician. We needed to pass inspection before were allowed to fuel up, the electrician would try to fix our 33 kw generator.
- Inspection. “Interesting” procedure. Besides the normal boat check. Not one of the 7 officials checked the bilges, original vessel documents, safety gear… but they found a dead fly! The fly was put in a small plastic container and was visually inspected. The kind of dead fly we had was OK to have on board, all good!
Well, not really- the military guy /responsible for our “safety”/ asked for the captain’s license of the master and the AB seaman papers for the crew.
-Sir, here is my license, but it is a pleasure craft, not commercial one, we don’t need to have any certificates for the crew.
-Yes, you do!
-Sir, pleasure craft, private own vessel, tourism…
-See /points around at the charter boats/, they are all having tourists on board, and the crew must be certified!
-Sir, they are charter boats, commercial…!
… Phone calls, digging in some books…
-OK, I need to see your fuel log book!
– Here is the log book sir! Fuel quantities are written in there.
-Noooo, the specific log book for the fuel!
-We don’t have such a book sir.
– Ok, I need to see receipts for the fuel you have purchased at the last several ports!
– Sir, the owner of the vessel was on board when we departed from Florida /no one ever asked me for any letter of authorization from the owner authorizing me to operate the boat/, he paid for the fuel, I don’t have the receipt.
-You have to have it!
/here we go again!/
… Then we had a conversation about our fuel ABL fuel bladders /certified specifically for fuel/. Apparently I needed special permission from someone in order to use them!
In the mean time we had a diver under the boat checking how clean the bottom is /after we provided diving certificate from Panama with underwater pictures included- cost $650.00/, 3 people digging around the boat and an electrician in the engine room fixing the generator.
I am signing about 10 different documents, everything seems OK.
We passed the inspection /dead fly or not, we did it!/, and generator received new regulator /#3 for the last 2 weeks/ -generator began working. All good! Except during testing the generator, several control boards on AC units got their diodes blown!
The 2 pangas /divers and the one with the 7 officials/ left, electrician stays on board.
Now we have to maneuver to the fuel dock and start fueling up. Electrician is “fixing” the AC units, we are refueling.
- Refuel process:
Hose is 2 1/2” diameter, not flexible at all, heavy! And is hot, right on the equator!
The pump stopped working about 20 times. Every time we had to wait for someone to do something in order to get the fuel flowing again. Almost 2 hours later we got our 3700 gall. of diesel. We needed 200 or so more. Can we purchase them now? NO! Tomorrow we have to wire transfer the $ to the bank, get fuel authorization, come back to the fuel dock… No, thank you, we are good with what we got!
We are transit boat for fuel stop only.
It is Sunday afternoon, everyone is about to go home, we need to get the documents done.
Electrician is “fixing” AC units, actually he is by-passing the controls /I can’t stay with him watching him what he does, have to deal with paperwork/, AC will work only on 100% power. Well, OK, we will not use it anymore until Nuku Hiva, there the diodes will be replaced , and we will have normal working AC.
Again, transit only boat, we have to go. We need another inspection and departure papers!
In an hour a panga comes alongside, our “safety” military guy and 2 more are on board. 2 of the 3 bladders are full sitting pretty on the aft deck, apparently after a conversation with our agent, we are OK to use them.
Again bunch of papers, signatures, copies… Electrician is done.
-Can we stay at anchor for another 30-40 min, we passed inspections, you know we are ok /no drugs, guns, illegal items, the dead fly was promptly removed almost 3 hours ago/, I want to check if we have any other equipment damaged by the generator “fixing” process? It will be very helpful to do it while engines are not working, I will be able to hear refrigerators compressors and pumps kicking in? The anchorage is 200 meters in front of your office, you can watch us while we stay at anchor. Please!
– No! Once you sign the papers, you have to depart right away!
Apparently our “safety” guy thinks it is a good idea to make us depart before we can check the boat properly for burned electrical equipment. Staying at anchor for another 30 min on front of his office is a NO!
Well, an hour before dark we pulled the anchor up and left. Good buy Galapagos. All 3 of us were happy to see it disappear behind the stern. All this after the owner had to pay $3000.00 in fees just to stop and get some fuel…
5000 gall of diesel on board, few new jokes about particular group of islands, and now we are underway, 3000 nm. to Nuku Hiva.
Date: Friday, May 26, 2023
Location: Day 4 of Panama to Galapagos leg. Position 250 nm NE of Galapagos.
Conditions: 10-15 kn south wind, 7’ swell at long intervals, 70% high cloud cover, about 82F air temperature.
Report by: Capt. Nikolay
We used the gentle weather and overcast conditions /cooler than normal/ to change the oil on the main engines. Thank to the on board oil change system everything went easy and smooth. Now we have new oil good for another 250 hours.
Still going slow, the Galapagos agent asked us not to arrive before 7 am on Sunday. Good news- saving on fuel and 6-7 kn are perfect for fishing /maybe the fish is not informed about that, so far no hits on the lures/.
1 1/2 days to Galapagos.
Date: Monday, May 24, 2023
Location: Day 2 of the Panama-Galapagos leg. Position 540 nm NE of Galapagos, 181 nm run for the last 24 hours. We slowed down to 7 kn SOG, need to arrive early on 28th.
Conditions: Overcast with some showers, about 85F hot, 10 kn of wind on the bow.
Report by: Capt. Nikolay
Big generator decided to completely stop putting electricity, we waited for a week in Panama for new regulator for this generator, and now not working again. Good thing is we don’t really need it, the boat has multiple redundant electrical systems /second generator, hydraulically driven big alternators, multiple inverters… but it is good when everything works on board.
Got the fishing lures in the water, waiting for a big catch!
3 more days to Galapagos.
Date: Monday, May 22, 2023
Location: Just off Panama
Report by: Capt. Nikolay
And we are on the way to Galapagos!
After spending several days at anchor near Taboga Island waiting for our generator voltage regulator, this morning we went back to Flamenko Marina.
The regulator was released from customs at noon, by 1 pm we had perfectly working 32KW genset!
Crew members went for last food provisions, I contacted Eric Galvez /our Panama agent/ and requested clearance papers. Like always, Eric is super fast, now is 6 pm and we cleared the entrance of the Canal.
Next planned stop is Galapagos, 900 nm away, we should cover them in about 5 days.
In Galapagos we will load 3700 gall of diesel, it will be just a quick stop for fuel.
Date: Monday, May 22, 2023
Location: Panama City, Panama
Report by: Kris
Sorry for the quiet couple of days. So things have take a slow down, in port we found out that our main generator was producing over 315Volts instead of 240volts. We had ordered a new regulator and were promised 24/48 hours, well it’s South America and we are hoping today is the day (6 days later) so we moved her. The last 2 days summary:
* Waiting on parts
* Departed surging marina
* 7nm to Isla Taboga anchorage
* Calm quit anchorage, slept inside no AC.
Liam and I have flown back to Australia and it’s driving me mad not to be on the boat, it’s worse actually being home than I thought. Don’t get me wrong- I love being with my wife and other kids but the not being with the boat and crew is bad, really bad.
I have arranged payment of 3200 gallons of fuel in Galapagos for the crew, this is something that needs to be paid upfront well before arrival.
The crew is planing repairs today, provisioning and departure, I will keep you updated.
For those eagle eyed followers, today I was officially issued with her new Australian MMSI number so she is now 503149070 and Australian flagged. This was not update since before Mike!
Date: Thursday, May 18, 2023
Location: Panama City, Panama (at anchor)
Report by: Capt. Nikolay
After we crossed the Canal we stopped in La Playita marina to clean the bottom of the boat /Galapagos required procedure/, check zinks and propellers and replace the electronic board on the FWD air conditioning unit.
During the AC repair we discovered the regulator on the big generator is bad, new one was ordered from Florida.
This morning we got an update- the new generator regulator will be here by Saturday. I decided to get the boat out of the marina /quite a bit of swell surge there/ and go anchor.
Currently we are off the island of Taboga anchored by a great beach. We expect to stay here until Saturday.
Not sure if this goes under “rough day on the water”, but here is the current situation on board (view photo captions):
Date: Sunday, May 15, 2023
Location: Panama City, Panama
Spirit of Ulysses completed its
transit of the Panama Canal!
Date: Friday, May 12, 2023
Location: Colon, Panama
Report by: Kris
We have spent 2 days in Shelter Bay marina
Whilst here we hired a van and driver to go to both the Panama Museum and Miraflores Visitor Centre.
Both great places to visit very educational Museum is about $15 per person (seniors get a discount 50% and they check your age with a calculator) also any student ID will also get you a discount.
Miraflores does not accept any discounts and is around the same price, they have a very interesting IMAX movie about the canal narrated by Morgan Freeman.
We were also advised today our crossing will be tomorrow at 445am, line handlers (we opted for 4 to allow us to sight see more) arrived at 1900 the day before and we headed out to anchorage.
We had a nice feed with the handlers onboard and are settling in for the long night/ day.
Date: May 10, 4:24 EDT,
Limon Bay Marina @ Panama Canal
Report by: Kris
Waiting to go through the locks at the Panama Canal. Due to work commitments I have to return to Australia from Panama City on the 16th and will be rejoining at the latest in Fiji. Liam will be flying home with me but I’m not sure he will rejoin me when I get back to the boat in the South Pacific.
Date: May 8, 3:15 EDT
Report by: Kris
It has been a great trip so far. We are currently off the coast of Nicaragua. Just shy of two days from Panama.
Getting to know the boat and her systems but very happy with her ability so far
Q: How do you even prepare for such a crossing! What a magnificent experience! Bill I.
Response from SOU owner Kris Townend:
Thanks for your question, for me the preparation came down to who can help, who can I ask, how much do I know already.
A journey like this is daunting don’t get me wrong, but like any journey it has a start, middle and an end.
Each is just proportionally bigger (especially the middle but)
You need to break down each bit, the start is huge, you never feel “done” I will warn you about that, but it’s methodical, where are you going and how many hours will that take? In our example we are expecting 1200 hours running time.
Now sit down with your pen and paper and write down each machinery item that take oil, coolant, filters, belts, etc and what that requires for service.
Now can you get that along the way or not? In our case not so it had to come.
Fuel will start or stop your journey, bad fuel is a problem for any boat so for us we took over 30 fuel filters, diesel engines are fairly basic they need fuel air and compression. So fuel is a big risk hence the need to ensure polishing and monitoring.
Then you need to check each item on the boat for functionality and condition.
You just keep working through this methodically.
What had assisted me was I had just purchased the boat through a joint deal with James and Garrett from Nordhavn and my broker Richard Glazer from Denison Yachting, so the boat had been surveyed recently, I had a “punch list of items” so with the assistance of Ron and Matt from Phoenix Marine we had worked through the list and early on in the process I had Captain Nikolay involved, the new apps available these days makes sharing information so easy, I used WhatsApp and made a group chat called “spirit of Ulysses departure” everyone was connected so everyone knew each conversation and repair decision.
I’m positive this helped.
From there you work out each other time you need and break that down, food for example, it’s what can you fit, how many people, what’s the shelf life, but have back up, pasta and basic sauce will keep you going and doesn’t go off quickly.
Even water, sure you’ve got two water makers but what if that stops? Just get 5 gallon jugs on the boat incase.
Once you get to the stage of departure well that’s when all bets are off and it’s time to deal with what comes. That’s where we are now, at sea dealing with what comes, it’s a process and a routine, just over and over again watching and monitoring.
Q: Beautiful ship! On this crossing is the owner also the captain or his he/she and crew hired out. Just curious. Obviously need vast amounts of experience for and adventure such as this. Thank you again! Tim Riegel
Response from SOU owner, Kris Townend:
I believe each circumstance can be different, so I can only talk about my experience.
For me I had spent years looking for a Nordhavn, 8 years actually, during that time I spent many hours on the net looking and learning. A few years ago I came across Nordhavn Owners Group on Facebook and joined, this was great for me as I could see adventures, learn, ask questions, read outcomes and really see some stuff about different models that I didn’t know.
In Australia it’s not like I can go to every marina and find a Nordhavn and speak to the owner or crew.
Here is where I met Captain Nikolay, from SD Captains. He and his twin brother post often on the page and have many adventures on the ocean. They deliver many Nordhavn boats around the world. So when I found SOU in Florida the answer seemed simple, I reached out to SD Captains via Facebook then spoke via WhatsApp.
I had watched Captain deliver a 68 from Brisbane Australia to USA west coast the year earlier so asked if he was keen to do this again just in reverse.
When we spoke we discussed who and where and when people would be on the boat, Captain supplied 2 crew and I could bring whoever I wanted.
Something great about Captain is he really likes to teach people in fact he has offered this on Nordhavn Dreamers, so when I planned this trip it was not only about delivery but about my education, about passage making, preparation and the new to me boat. So in all fairness the who’s captain question here is what I will say, I felt like the captain, I felt like the student, every time I left the helm I would say “captain the vessel is yours” and everytime he left the helm he would repeat the same to me.
I have so much respect for Nikolay and his crew it’s hard to explain.
Maybe one day you will be lucky enough to met them in person and maybe even better one day on boat. But having this assistance when planning such a big trip makes it feel more like a day out on the lake then crossing an ocean or two because they are so cool, calm and collected.
Q: How many knots are you turning? I made that trip in 1976 aboard the USCGC Northwind, a 255’ icebreaker. We left Rodman Panama on our way to New Zealand. It took us 3 weeks, if I remember correctly we turned 13 knots. The thing that sticks in my mind was when they piped that we were 1500 miles to the nearest piece of land at some point of the trip! Thanks and safe travels. Tony Kukovich
Response from Capt. Nikolay
Boat speed and fuel-
I am a very conservative guy when it gets to fuel burn. The boat holds 4450 gals of fuel and will burn gal per nautical mile with about 7.8-8kn.
Distance from Galapagos to Nuku Hiva is 3000 nm, we can cover it with 8 kn. but /now it is time for the “conservative guy”/ I want to have as much fuel in reserve as possible! You never know if we may need to divert and go help someone, it has happened before, I am sure it will happen again.
We left Galapagos with about 5000 gals. of diesel, we are running with 1020-1050 rpm, this is 20% load on the main engines, the lightest load I want to run them on a long trip.
This low power setting gives us about 7 kn /boat is loaded 100% + we have 700 gals fuel on aft deck in bladders/.
Once we get in the following current and wind switches from behind us, we will be doing about 8kn.
Why so slow some people ask. First, I get paid by the mile, I have zero incentive to make the trip longer in duration, but the slow go saves thousands of dollars for the owner. Hopefully- he will recommend me to another boat owner, I will stay busy making more money going slow. Win-win situation!
Q: Hi to the crew,
I was wondering what kind of rotation you are on. How many people are on the boat currently and are you all taking turns standing watch? Also, what are you doing on your off time when you’re not watchstanding or sleeping??
Response from Capt. Nikolay:
We are 3 people on board doing watches 4 hours ON and 8 hours OFF.
When weather is good, and weather has been great so far, watches are mostly sitting behind the instruments in the pilothouse or flybridge checking gauges, traffic and monitoring pumps and radios. Quite easy, everything is automatic, boat runs nearly 100% of the time on autopilot /when we catch fish we may
turn the autopilot off for a little bit.
When off watch- I am mostly checking the boat. Now is 11am and since sunrise I have been in the bow thruster compartment /check for water intrusion and hydraulic oil leaks. Forward battery compartment was checked for battery temperatures, loose cables, inverter temperatures. Behind that are the water tanks, and forward fuel tanks- checked for levels using the side tubes.
I also checked stabilizers for hose chafing, leaks, and oil temperature, rudder shafts stuffing boxes, autopilots, freezers, blowers… The list goes on and on. But that is just me, I usually like to crawl around checking things. And this is on top of the routine engine room check we perform.
The rest of the crew- mostly reading books and fishing. Fishing is good entertainment /and great source for fresh fish!/. We have 3 rods in the water and about 100 lures. And you can’t have the right lures, if fish doesn’t bite, change them, and again… If someone likes cooking- great opportunity to make anything you like, last night we had shish kebab, today’s lunch- fish tacos.
It is great stress free atmosphere, a lot of times we don’t even remember what day it is! I love being offshore!
Congratulations for buying this beautiful Nordhavn. I have the same dream.
Do you proceed to a refit of engines and generators before living accros Pacific?
Spirit of Ulysses is not a new boat. How much money do you need to spend to be ready to travel ?
Thank you for your answer.
I live in France and own a Couach 80 feet but my aim is to buy one day a Nordhavn !!
Have a good and safe trip.
Response from Kris:
Thanks for your question.
Commercial ships run many more hours than most private operators, lack of use is worse than abuse!
Regular servicing, preventative maintenance is key, hours should not scare you, lack of hours should.
I’m not replacing engines or generators before they have to be, this is when they show me that they are past economical repair.
You need to spend money to make sure the vessel is ready for large trips if it’s new or old.
Just remember to follow your dream.