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