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At Sea — and the Folks Who Made It Possible

Posted by Keith on May 5, 2007 at 11:55 am  

About 308 Nautical Miles SW of Hawaii

Man, I love it out here!

We finally departed Honolulu two days ago, may 3, at 2:45 PM local time. In addition to our crew, a number of people made our departure possible.
Thank You Dennis Brunssen, Chris Crump, Steve Buckingham, John Baker, and Andy!

Dennis Brunssen is the entrepreneurial sound technician who originally installed most of our broadcast equipment aboard The Global Adventure.

Chris Crump is a senior executive with Comrex – the people who make the box through which we broadcast our radio show from the ship.

Steve Buckingham is the senior technician at KVH, the satellite communications system we plug the Comrex box into for broadcasts, and the system we use to send and receive all data from the ship when we’re not broadcasting.

John Baker is the Senior Technician at KFYI Radio, and Andy (don’t know his last name) is a very helpful technician at Comrex.

Just days before our departure from Hawaii, we suddenly discovered that our Comrex box would no longer interface with our KVH system. We learned later that this was due to a firmware update we had not received.

We were also struggling with the technology involved in sending data such as text from our laptops via our KVH sat-com system, using a system known as MPDS; and with sending larger data files (photos and videos) over the KVH system using something called ISDN (much faster, but much more expensive than MPDS).

Continuation of the trip was simply out of the question until we resolved all these issues.

And then Dennis Brunssen jumped on a plane in LA, flew to Hawaii, and at no charge, spent three long days in the pilot house with Rip until everything worked perfectly.

Chris Crump, who was in Atlanta at the time, stayed on the phone with Dennis and Rip for two hours – into the wee hours of the morning, Atlanta time – until they collectively downloaded new firmware for the Comrex unit, and had it up and running.

Steve Buckingham, the Chief Technician at KVH systems, spent several hours with us by phone until we understood perfectly how to switch between ISDN and MPDS on our KVH Sat-Com system. He also walked us through how to program our laptops to interface with the system in either mode.

John Baker at KFYI – our flagship broadcast station in Phoenix — ignored all other pressing matters to help Andy - the KVH technician – remotely install into our receiving Comrex unit at the station new firmware to match the re-programming that was done aboard.

These gentlemen are all of different ages and backgrounds. And they are scattered across the country. However, they prove that America’s can-do work ethic is alive and well.

Thank you, gentlemen!

Our Onboard Routine

Everything seems much more relaxed on this second leg of our journey. We each have a very clear understanding of our respective roles, and everyone is happily applying themselves, and helping their fellow crewmates.

Alida Christianson

Alida Christianson, our newest crew member, is doing a wonderful job. She fits in perfectly and is a true mariner at heart. She wants as much sea time as possible as she works toward her offshore Captain’s license. Captain Wolf is mentoring her, and she is very appreciative of that. Meanwhile Alida cooks wonderfully (But too much!), takes her share of the watches, helps keep both the interior and exterior of the ship spotless, and assists Wolf with repair and maintenance chores. Also, starting today Alida will provide the daily menu list for inclusion in the “Crew’s Corner” blog on our site.

First Mate Rip Knot

The plan is still for First Mate Rip to return to his business and home in Seattle after we arrive in Majuro. Life is much easier for him now that I’ve acquired a better understanding of the communications equipment. Rip remains extremely helpful as he continues to teach me what to do when some element of our complex communications set up goes haywire. During our final few days in Honolulu, Rip put in many very long hours to ensure that all communications systems would function properly.

With Rip aboard we currently have the luxury of four people standing watch. This translates to no more than six hours of watch for any one person in any 24-hour period. The bad news is that when he departs, the three of us who remain will each have eight hours of watch each day. However, after we reach Majuro, the legs of our journey will not be as long, so it should not be too bad at all.

I am reminded that most Nordhavns — including our 55 –are designed to be easily maintained and operated by a (often retired) couple with modest seafaring experience. So we will in no meaningful way be shorthanded after Rip’s departure. But we will miss him!

The primary issues we’ve encountered on this trip revolve around where we chose to make things complicated, as with the installation of a broadcast studio in the pilot house, and in connection with our need to send and receive large amounts of data reliably each day.

Captain Wolgang Petrasko

Wolf remains the consummate Captain. He checks and rechecks all systems, and manages the ship from stem to stern. And he has an good sense of humor, and he gets the most from the crew (including me) by setting an excellent example. I really could not ask for more in a captain.

More Tech Talk – The Departure Video

The departure video you see posted on our home page represents a technological breakthrough for us. First, we shot the footage using a remote controlled camera permanently attached high on the stack of our ship. This was the first time we recorded a video using one of our nine fixed-position cameras.

From the pilot house, we used toggle switches on the on-board-camera control box to move the stack camera in various directions. Of the nine fixed-position cameras that feed into that control box, only three can be rotated using remote control. The others provide a specific, fixed-lense shot of targeted areas, such as the pilot house, the flybridge, the engine room, or the salon.

We plugged one of our two Canon hand-held cameras into the onboard camera control box, and recorded the departure footage to a tape in the hand-held.

From there it was “simply” a matter of: Plugging the handheld camera into our Mac; importing the footage to IMovie; editing the scenes; laying in a bed of music for fun (Swan Lake); “sharing” the completed IMovie file with Quicktime (another video program); Using Quicktime to step down the 90 MB HD quality of the video in order to facilitate the economic transmission of the video via our KVH satellite system; sending the Quicktime reduced-quality video to yet another software program, Flash Encoder, where the quality (and thus the MBs) was again stepped all the way down to 4.1 MBs and into a Flash (flv) format; using “Fetch” to send the video to our website back office; going online to the website back office, selecting a title for the video, and posting it to the home page.

What really worries me is that I actually understood what I just wrote! Please save me!

How Nice Is It Out Here?

Let me count the ways:

-Blue skies and a few puffy clouds
-Water temperature 79 degrees
-Slight chop but very comfortable ride
-Warm tropical breeze
-A clean and well organized ship
-A terrific crew.
-Not another boat in sight for more than a day

Man, I love it out here!



2 Comments so far

  1. Dreams Float Joe on May 5, 2007 1:57 pm

    Ahoy all Hands! Thank YOU very much for your reports, pics, & video.

    Keith wrote: “Alida Christianson…assists Wolf with repair and maintenance chores.”

    What repair & maintance chore while under way?

    Enjoy your journey,



    I misspoke in my blog. Alida is helping Wolf with various routine preventative maintenance items, such as making sure the water maker is functioning properly, monitoring the battery bank and electrical system, and keeping a close eye on the engine. This is a brand new Nordhavn, and there is simply nothing major to fix. Cleaning, in my book also falls under maintenance, and Alida is excellent at keeping things clean and well organized.


  2. Craig on May 5, 2007 5:36 pm

    I lived on Maui 1994-1998 and loved the boats. One time some friends from the Sports Bar at Kihei took me fishing on the ‘back’ side of Kahoolawe, and I kept looking westerly, imagining, wondering, wanting to just keep going. I loved the air and the sky and the whales and the rays launching like flying fish. Except for once off Cabo San Lucas I’ve never been out of sight of land….and that was just barely. It is fun to follow your venture….from Prescott, AZ.


    Beautifully said. I appreciate you following our progress. In my opinion, you are already at one of the most beautiful places on earth — Prescott, Arizona!


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