THE DREAM: In February it was a dream come true. Arnstein Mustad had just bought a new Robert Perry designed Tayana 48. Anticipating an idyllic voyage home from the Orient, he hurriedly sold the home, farmed out the dog, stored his furniture and got his passport in order.
Flying to Kaohsiung, Taiwan, the first week in March, Mustad spend a month commissioning the new boat, at Ta Yang Yacht Building Company, before his crew began to arrive. One big incentive for this dream cruise, was that the shipping cost savings would finance the voyage itself. He might take off three or four months from work, pay the crew?s flights out to Taiwan and still come out dollars ahead.
Yet, idyllic dreams have a way of becoming nightmares when reality sets in. Minor troubles crop up with all new boats, and may not show up in day long cruises near the building yard. They might only materialize on a week long shakedown at sea. Repair delays can compound into additional expenses. Missed schedules can mean flying the original crew home to their jobs, recruiting and flying out replacement crew. Western Pacific flights from the U.S. can cost over $1000 one way. These added expenses quickly eat up any savings on the purchase price.
THE PROBLEMS AND DELAYS: Everything went well for the Jolly Tar until departure from Taiwan on April 4 for a three day shakedown passage to Hong Kong. Now, the shaft bearings began to vibrate badly apparently because they had not been shaved smooth before being installed. The Ray Marine auto pilot stopped when the pin sheared off because it had not been properly supported. Hand steering into Hong Kong Mustad was forced to stop and make required repairs, which took a couple of weeks.
On April 25, the Jolly Tar departed Hong Kong for Japan, but the steering quadrant literally blew a hole in itself, from being overstressed. Mustad decided to return to Ta Yang Yacht Building to let them repair this under warranty. Arriving back in Kaohsiung on April 30, the shipyard replaced the defective quadrant. But, now the original crew had to return to their jobs in the U.S. while the skipper used the Internet to arrange for new crew.
On May 7 they departed Taiwan for a three day shake down cruise back to Hong Kong where they arrived May 10. This time everything worked fine.
Unable to find crew, they departed Hong Kong on May 18 with only three people aboard for the 12 day passage to Japan. Now luck was with them and the boat was finally working well with nothing failing. Arriving on May 30, in Nishnumea, Japan, which is on Osaka-wan Bay between Kobe and Osaka, they were welcomed by the Kansai Yacht Club. This club makes a point of demonstrating traditional Japanese hospitality. They were treated absolutely royally, with a slip near the club house, free bicycles, internet connections, and even free automobile rides to town. Here they also found a fourth Japanese crew member Kitchiera, who planned to go with them to Hawaii, where it would be easier to locate American crew.
Departing from Nishnumea on June 8, they hoped to be home by early August, but 30 miles out the rudder began moving from side to side so they returned the same day to Kansai YC. Apparently the athwartships stiffner holding the rudder tube in place, was not properly tabbed to the hull. Shortly, this would have sheared off the pin for the auto pilot pin as had already happened. Noticing that the majority of the problems were with the steering system, Mustad decided to have it re-designed before heading to sea again.
He called his broker and the building yard, but when they suggested to him that the steering difficulties where his problem, he called the vessel?s designer Robert Perry back in the U.S. and found out that the original drawings showed three rudder bearings, instead of two bearings which had left an unsupported 18 inch section of shaft, causing of all the steering failures. Immediately, Mustad hired locals to redesign, upgrade and repair the rudder system at a cost of $5,500. After much negotiating the building yard and the broker paid for $4000 of this work, but left Mustad paying for the additional $1.500.
On July 18, with new crew aboard Jolly Tar departed Nishnumea for the last time moving up coast to the fishing village of Kiisuido. They left Kiisuido on July 19, but two days later a Typhoon came in and they were forced to turn back toward the Japanese Coastline. On July 21 they arrived in the Japanese fishing village of Anori. Here Mustad was forced to discharge one crew who was completely unsatisfactory. This crew was recruited off the Internet, and had showed up drunk at Nishnumea, later at sea when sobered up she would not follow simple instructions or orders.
On July 25, Mustad and his one remaining crew member, Don Bonjanowski, motorsailed the boat to Yokohama, arriving on July 27. Here they where joined by Alain Tardis, a reliable crew member who had made one of the earlier passages
THE 45 DAY CROSSING: Finally, the three of them, Mustad, Bonjanowski and Tardis, all now used to the boat and each other, departed Yokohama on July 29, bound for the U.S. West Coast. By cutting Hawaii out of the trip they intended to make their crossing between 42 and 46 degrees N. But, every time they ventured above 40 degrees N they ran into storms, with 45 knot winds and 20 foot seas. So after eight attempts to work into higher latitudes, they settled on a course between 39 and 40 degrees N. This put them crossing the North Pacific High about 200 miles below its center. However, they had favorable winds the entire way, and were able to maintain course on a close reach. Crossing the center of the high they only lay becalmed 3 nights.
They passed through six lows including a lightning storm about 800 miles west of San Francisco with 15 to 20 thunderheads sending down repeated bolts of lightning for about 30 hours. The nearest strikes were about one mile away, as they carefully threaded their way between the thunderheads, never allowing themselves to get below one.
Then 3 to 4 days west of San Francisco they struck a solid object in the sea. They were running along in 30 knots of wind and 12 foot seas making about 7 knots, when WHACK they slowed to about 2 knots as something went under them, which felt like a speed bump. They sustained a dollar sized crack on the bow, and later in drydock found out that one blade of the propeller, which wasn?t turning at the time, had been bent over 90 degrees, only a minor scrape down the port side bottom indicated what they might have struck.
LESSONS LEARNED: Arriving in San Francisco, on September 10 after an odyssey of six months. Mustad stated that, After so many troubles in the South China Sea, the greatest fear was slipping the lines at Yokohama before the crossing. But, later I really felt wonderful, when we finally got the asymmetrical chute up for about three hours in mid Pacific. I was sailing along at full speed, sun was shining and I was sipping a beer.
He suggested that boaters anticipating purchasing a boat for overseas delivery should realize that, What I thought would be a cruise vacation, actually became more of a delivery problem, more headache than fun. Do not imagine that an overseas delivery is a cake walk, Mustad warns, and your expenses will total at least double or triple your best estimates.
Asked what he will do next Mustad said, Make some money to replace the cruising kitty and then back to sea. Maybe Hawaii, or the Pacific Northwest.