Day 452 [Dec. 28/09] -- Counting down

Position (1000 JST)
53°10'S, 70°55'W -- Punta Arenas

Today's Report

Saito-san called this morning by Iridium to report that last-minute repairs continue to go smoothly.

An electrician from a neighboring boat was able to determine a faulty cable was the reason the fuel transfer pump had stopped working. The pump is required for moving diesel fuel between the three tanks being used. After the cable was replaced the pump was back operating well, Saito-san reported.

Saito-san was clearly enthused about his apparently imminent departure, and said he expects to leave as early as this Tuesday, following the official nod from the Coast Guard.

ClearPoint this morning showed the weather on the Strait of Magellan to be mild, with moderate winds out of the NW.

We will start posting weather reports tomorrow.

Meanwhile, here's a nice update /summary published today by Asia, on "Never-Say-Die" Minoru Saito.

Hmmm... Never Say Die = NSD = Nicole Shuten-Dohji... not bad!

Day 451 [Dec. 27/09] -- Nearing Punta Arenas departure No. 2

Position (1000 JST)
53°10'S, 70°55'W -- Punta Arenas

Today's Report

Preparations for Saito-san's second departure from Chile are now at a point where it it looks like he'll be able to leave soon. There has been much activity at the boat, with a number of tasks that have been occupying Saito-san's attention and that of his small but dedicated support team in Punta Arenas, the world's southern-most city.

We continue to owe much thanks toward the Punta Arenas team, composed of volunteer supporters Hitoshi Hanaoke, Rose Bliss and her husband Pablo Pineida, and Gonzalo Stewart. Without their strong interest and friendship the challenges facing Saito-san the past 8 months as he over-wintered and attended to repairs in Punta Arenas would have been far more difficult.

Over the past several weeks, the mechanic and electrician employed by Hanaoka-san's fishing company have carried out a number of engine-room repairs and maintenance procedures, and a second electrician was able to repair the faulty Charge Master voltage regulator and spare Iridium phone. A welder, at Pablo's instructions, appears to have done a first-class job repairing the cracked staysail furler.

Here is a summary of the repair and maintenance items as Saito-san readies to resume the circumnavigation.
  • New genoa made and delivered from Auckland
  • Repaired staysail furler
  • Repaired engine
  • Repaired aux. generator
  • Cleaned and flushed fuel supply
  • Repaired Charge Master voltage regulator
  • Repaired & adjusted radar
  • Patched old genoa for use as a spare
  • Recertified life raft
  • Added 3,500 liters of diesel fuel (stern, starboard and port mid-ships tanks full, with the smaller foretank no longer to be used due to fouling)
  • New ships batteries
  • Spare Iridium phone repaired
  • Single sideband radio restored / confirmed to be operating
Checks were carried out on the following items, with each passing inspection:
  • Steering yoke
  • Steering wheel
  • Steering system
  • Bearings on hydraulic coupler
  • EPIRBs (two)
  • Bilge pumps - automatic and manual (lifted up floorboards and checked holes for no blockage)
  • Battery fluid readings and volt readings good and clean (DC volts 14/24 ampere)
  • Purchased replacement digital camera
  • Purchased food
  • Purchased 1,000 liters of water
  • Extended liability insurance for the next year (in Tokyo)
  • Automatic beacon reports increased from two to four a day

    Saito Challenge 8 main sponsor Nicole BMW has been instrumental in all of this, through provision of emergency funds and assistance for several deliveries (sail, radar magnetron, Harken furler, etc.) handled by the company's export/import expert, Mr. Ohno of Nicole Racing.  We gratefully acknowledge Nicole Group's president Nico Roehreke's continuing support through all of these major challenges.

    Saito-san and Gonzalo will go to the local Coast Guard office Monday to apply for permission to leave, and Saito-san hopes that the departure will be as soon as this coming Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on the speed of the Coast Guard inspection and approval, and the weather.

    Saito-san is making arrangements to be accompanied westward on the Strait of Magellan by a second vessel, for a passage expected to take about 30 hours, after which he will enter the Southern Pacific Ocean to restart the circumnavigation in the Southern Pacific Ocean. He will thus resume from the point of furthest progress before losing the use of his engine, staysail, and genoa on Nov. 1.

    He will not need to make a third Cape Horn passage, and after returning through the strait will be able to continue up the rugged western coast of Chile on the northward-flowing Humboldt Current.