Sending Puffin Home

After Robin and I did the handover and training on Puffin in August, we left the boat for a few weeks so Outremer could take care of our list of repairs and adjustments. I returned in September with Robin’s brother, Kirk to take Puffin to Genoa and get her ready to load on the Sevenstar cargo ship for the transport to Newcastle, Australia.

All of the items on our list except one were completed. I met Stephane from Outremer on the boat the morning of our departure and went through everything. The only thing they didn’t have time to finish was the privacy curtain in the owner’s hull. The fabric is a special order so it didn’t arrive in time. No big deal though, Stephane will send it to us in Brisbane and I will work with the Australian Outremer dealer, Multihull Central to get it installed.

Me and Stephane before leaving La Grande Motte. Thanks for everything Stephane!

Stink bugs?

With Puffin all ready to go, Kirk and I left La Grande Motte for our voyage over to Genoa, Italy. Our original plan was to load onto the Sevenstar ship in Palma Majorca, but it turns out that Australian Quarantine requires that all cargo (including yachts) departing European ports for Australia must be treated for Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. This little bug apparently causes a lot of crop damage and is not at all welcome in Australia. There are no Australian Quarantine certified Stink Bug fumigators in Palma, but there are in Genoa, so off to Genoa we go.

Leaving La Grande Motte with my crew, Robin’s brother Kirk

Our trip over to Genoa took about 3 days, including a stop to anchor overnight near Cannes to wait out some strong headwinds. We had to motor a bit more than we would have liked due to no wind in the beginning and strong headwinds at the end, but we did get some great sailing in as well.

What I learned about Puffin on this voyage

This was my first multi-day voyage on Puffin so there was a lot to discover. We used all of our sails except the gennaker, and we sailed with reefed main and staysail for part of the way and with full main and genoa for other sections. It gave me a chance to get to know Puffin a bit more. Here’s what I learned:

  • Puffin’s sails and sail handling systems work really well – Managing Puffin’s sails is very easy and everything that I wanted to be able to do single-handed worked well. Performance was excellent in light winds and the boat was easy and balanced when reefed down.
  • Puffin’s motion continues to exceed my expectations – We sailed in some rough conditions with 30 knot winds and waves, and the motion is definitely more comfortable than our previous boats. It’s hard to explain, but basically the lighter weight reduces the motion because there isn’t the lurching sensation that you get with heavier boats as they tend to dive up and down in the waves. Craig Schionning talks about this on his website as one of the benefits of light catamarans, but until I experienced it for myself, I didn’t really understand what difference it would make. I’m not saying that Puffin will be more comfortable than a longer, heavier boat in all conditions, but based on my experience so far it is definitely better.
  • Motoring is easy and efficient – We did some overnight motoring runs on this trip and I was able to experiment with different engine configurations. I did a full speed test on flat water with no wind and no current. With both engines at full throttle we did 3,200 RPM on each engine and boat speed was 9.6 knots. I found that I could get 5 knots speed on a single engine at 2000-2200 rpm. At this configuration we burn 2 liters of diesel per hour which gives us around 160 hours motoring range on a full tank.
  • The reef hook needs the mainsail to be unloaded to operate correctly – I found that when taking the first reef in the main using the Facnor reef hook, we needed to come up quite far into the wind to take the pressure off the sail. If the sail has too much pressure, the hook will not engage on the leech shackle. I found the best approach was to run an engine to push us a bit higher upwind to engage and disengage the hook.

Full main and genoa on a calm sea. We were able to sail in winds 4 knots and above at very close to true wind speed

Dinner time

Sunrise at our anchorage near Cannes


We had three problems on this trip. There was a water leak from around the engine control levers at the helm station which leaked water into the cupboard above the salon fridge and down into the closet in the port hull. There was a loud creak coming from the shelves behind the stove in the salon, and we had an intermittent issue on the last night of the trip where the autopilot occasionally lost the boat speed data and sounded an alarm.

I called Stephane from our anchorage in Cannes about the water leak as this was a serious issue that could cause a lot of damage if it leaked during the trip back to Australia. Stephane agreed and sent Jerome, one of his technicians to meet us in Genoa. Jerome fixed the water leak and the creaking shelves. I’ll need to do some more testing on the intermittent B&G issue when we get back to Australia.

Preparing Puffin for transport

Sevenstar give detailed instructions about how to prepare your boat for deck cargo on their ships. In addition to this, I talked with some yacht captains that had experience shipping boats with various transport companies. Everyone agreed that the boats will get very dirty and any canvas on deck should be stowed and the sails removed and stowed also.

I also decided to remove all of the running rigging and replace the lines with messengers so we can easily reinstall everything in Newcastle. We applied a surface protection wax on the entire deck and the mast, and we wrapped the boom and as many of the fittings as possible in UV resistant stretch film and tape.

Puffin at the marina in Genoa before beginning our transport prep

I called North Sails after we arrived in Genoa, and they came to the boat the next day and took down the genoa and mainsail and stowed them in their sail-bags for us. It was a huge help to have this done by professionals and we were really impressed by the great support provided by North!

Applying barrier coat to the mast

We used Aurora Marine products to protect the gelcoat and non-skid deck surfaces on the boat. We used Sure-Step on the non-skid and VS721 on the smooth gelcoat and mast.

All prep completed and ready to load on the ship

Bug furnace

The final step in the prep process was the stink bug fumigation treatment. This was done via ducted industrial heaters that pump heated air into the interior of the boat to kill any bugs. This was some serious equipment and was pretty scary as we didn’t know what damage would be done by the heat. Unfortunately there’s no way to enter Australia without fumigation, so we had no choice. Once the treatment was done, we found that the plastic frames around our salon fans had warped in the heat, so the fans will have to be replaced.

Frame of our salon fan distorted from the stink bug heat treatment process

The plastic frames around our salon roof hatch blinds were also damaged by the heat treatment, but I didn’t see any other damage on the boat. We will have to purchase replacements from Outremer and fit them in Australia.

Happy Delta

The Sevenstar ship that is transporting Puffin is named Happy Delta. We were given a loading time by the Sevenstar loaders and at the designated time we drove Puffin over to the port of Genoa to load onboard.

Sevenstar transport ship Happy Delta

The Sevenstar loading team is very professional and they had no trouble lifting Puffin onboard and securing her on deck.

First we were asked ot come alongside the ship. The loading crew climbed down the boarding ladder and positioned the lifting slings in place. A diver was under the boat to verify the slings were positioned correctly.

They begin the lifting and as soon as the boat deck reaches the deck of the ship we climbed onto the main ship and were given hard hats and a place to watch from a safe distance.

They swing the boat into position onto the ship deck and then prepare the wooden block supports. I was invited to supervise this to make sure the blocks were positioned correctly.

Once the boat is lowered onto the blocks, they tie it down with heavy duty ratchet straps. Next they position lateral support blocks on the inside hull surfaces and weld them to the deck. This ensures there’s no possibility of the boat moving sideways on the blocks during the passage.

Now we have a long wait until Puffin arrives in Australia. We won’t be given an ETA by Sevenstar until Happy Delta is underway. The voyage plan is to stop in Turkey to pick up some motor yachts and then travel to Australia via the Suez Canal.

10 Comments on “Sending Puffin Home

  1. Good to hear how well Puffin handled rough conditions. I was surprised to hear you say that she was more comfortable then you’re old 5X. I guess the real challenge will be resisting the temptation to load her down with goodies.

    Look forward to hearing more of your adventures when you get her home to Australia. Safe travels Puffin! 🙂


  2. Our 5X was a very comfortable boat, no question, but I think if I were to buy another 5X, I would make it lighter than Wildling and it would be even better. You’re right about the loading of the 4X. This is the big negative aspect of this boat, it is very sensitive to extra weight where the 5X is not.


  3. Wow, that mandatory bug treatment must have been a real bummer and quite stressful!
    Was there an Australian custom person monitoring the whole thing or is this based on official declarations/papers ?
    Also regarding the non rotating carbon mast (you mention it is a first for a 4x in a previous post or for an outremer altogether), what was the reasoning/rationale around it ?
    Weight ? (I suppose it is quite lighter than a rotating one, and also lighter than a non rotating aluminium of course)
    Simpler ? Less commands, no need for an angle sensor coupled to the wind instrument and radar
    Cost ? is it much cheaper ?
    Not convinced on the speed advantage from the experience on Wilding ?
    Less need for maintenance ? (regarding these rotating mast, how often do you have to grease the ball on which they rest ? And can this be done only with removing the mast ?)
    Also what kind of standing rigging have you put on it ?
    Sorry a lot of questions 🙂

    Always a great pleasure to read your posts and analysis.


  4. Yes, very stressful! The fumigators are certified by Australian customs, so they follow their approved process when treating the boat.

    The fixed carbon mast is only a few hundred euros less than the rotating mast and the weight is almost the same, just a little bit lighter. There were two reasons why I installed the fixed mast.

    – Ease of single handed sailing: The rotating mast requires the clutches for the main halyard and leech reef lines to be located on the side of the mast and the boom. This adds work when raising, lowering and reefing the mainsail. With a fixed mast I was able to bring all of these lines back to the helm.

    – Reliability: The rotating mast has more parts and complexity to maintain. There are control lines on each side with two clutches. It’s possible to over-tension and damage the rotating control arm which makes it a risk with inexperienced crew. The mast angle sensor has to be maintained periodically, which requires the mast to be removed with a crane, and a small nylon band has to be replaced at the mast base. The wind sensor and radar have to constantly correct for mast angle which adds some complexity to the instruments. The ball and socket at the base also needs to be greased periodically, which also requires removing the mast.

    There is a small performance gain with a rotating mast, but for me the advantages of a fixed mast are worth more than the increased performance.

    The standing rigging: Kevlar shrouds with dyneema lashings. The mast has a single carbon spreader, the sidestays that connect to the spreaders are stainless steel cable, but they are small and don’t add much weight. The mast is made by Axxon composites in France. It is beautifully made and very high quality.

    After sailing the boat a bit more, I am happy with my choice of a fixed mast. The ease of sailing makes a big difference for me, and the boat performs so well that any performance hit isn’t a big factor.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks a lot for the answers, and clearly I would make the same choice. Astonished that the mast has to be removed even for servicing the sensor.


  6. I feel like I’m in the backseat of a station wagon heading cross country for a family reunion. “Are we there yet”?


    • Hi James, getting close! Happy Delta just reached Cape York, the northern tip of Australia. ETA in Newcastle is early next week.


  7. Read all the posts on the blog and a lot of valuable information so far.
    Can you say a little bit about the target use case for your boat. Are you still planing to make long crossings of 2-4 weeks (pacific, atlantik etc.)
    What options on the boat would you add/remove if you would set the boat up to be a circum navigation boat?
    You were talking about the Schionning cats, whats your opinion on Chriswhites?
    Why are you not using a windgenerator?


    • Hi Alex, thanks for the feedback.

      Our plans for Puffin are coastal sailing in Australia until our daughter finishes high school and then we will be doing a tour of the south pacific. NZ, Tahiti, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia. This is a lot of sea miles so we have configured Puffin to be autonomous and safe for extended offshore cruising. I don’t feel there is anything missing for this type of voyage. We have 1000 watts of solar and a hydro generator so we don’t need a wind generator. I prefer hydro to wind as we can just use it as needed and stow it the rest of the time. Wind gens are permanently installed and not very effective during light wind passages, which are our preferred sailing conditions.

      Buying a Chris White design requires dealing with a forward cockpit, which makes no sense to me. Opening the salon up to 30 knots of wind, waves and spray is a great way to convince Robin to never go sailing with me, and I see no advantages to this design choice. I much prefer Schionning to Chris White.


  8. Hi Doug

    Looks like Puffin has landed 🙂 Happy Delta departed from Newcastle today.

    Does Puffin still look as nice as she did when I last saw her in La Grande Motte ?




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