Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Phillip John Lasensky

Phillip John Lasensky was born on October 18, 2012 at Scripps Hospital in La Jolla, California.  The photo below shows Phillip's three-year-old brother Matthew holding and kissing Phillip in the hospital.

Matthew Holding and Kissing Phillip at Scripps Hospital
Phillip now is at home in Del Mar, California with his parents Marcellite and Peter Lasensky and Peter's son Joey.  The photo below shows Phillip peacefully sleeping in a portable cradle.

Phillip Sleeping at Home in Del Mar, California
The Empress crew is growing rapidly!  Joey already is a big help doing things such as launching the tender and small sailboat from the boat deck and running the sand line of Catalina moorings.  Matthew knows the geography of Mission Bay well enough to direct John to his favorite spots, such as under the Sea World cable cars and tying up at the Paradise Point Resort for lunch.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Recent History of Empress - Preparation for Long-Distance Cruising - Part 2

This post continues the description of the modifications that the Penhunes made to Empress in preparation for long-distance cruising in general and for the voyage to Portland, Oregon in particular.

Even though Empress is a three-compartment ship below the main deck (aft cabin, engine room, forward cabins) and is designed to stay afloat with any one compartment taking water, for additional off-shore safety the Penhunes decided to install a 10-person, self-inflating, commercial, canister liferaft on the boat deck accompanied by an  emergency reporting and location beacon (EPIRP).  The liferaft is shown in the photo below.

Ten-Person Liferaft
To aid in safe navigation in crowded waters, such as the Columbia River leading to Portland, a new high-resolution, target-tracking, X-band radar also was installed.  The radome for the new radar antenna was installed on a high mast to raise it above the satellite TV dome, as shown in the photo below.  

High-Resolution Radar Antenna Radome
To display data from the new radar, a new depth sounder, GPS, and a commercial satellite weather-prediction service, new high-resolution color displays were installed on the flybridge and in the pilothouse, as shown in the photos below.  Rudder-angle indicators also were added and a beautiful old Danforth compass that came with the boat was installed in the pilothouse.

Flybridge Instrumentation and Controls

Pilothouse Instrumentation and Controls

After continued problems with the ancient, analog Vosper controller for the stabilizers, the Penhunes had a new Naiad digital control system installed by Chris Fonteneau, who specializes in stabilizers and has worked on Empress many times for several owners.  The performance of the stabilizers with the new Naiad digital control system has been excellent.  The control panel for the stabilizers is shown in the photo below.

Control Panel for Naiad Digital Roll Stabilizer System

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Empress at Avalon on Catalina

Late in September 2012, Marcellite and John Penhune took Empress from Mission Bay to Avalon on Catalina Island.  We originally had planned to also visit the Fourth of July Yacht Club at the Isthmus, but our trip was cut short by schedule conflicts.  The crew included Joey Lasensky, the Penhune's grandson-in-law, Tomi Faust, Marcellite's mother, Lola the English bull dog, and Oliver, Tomi's miniature mixed breed.  After almost not getting a mooring and one move, we were given a 70-foot mooring for the remainder of our stay.  The photo below shows Empress with the Avalon Casino in the background.

Empress on a mooring in Avalon Harbor, Catalina Island

Marcellite and Joey rented a two-person kayak and toured the harbor including the snorkeling areas where fish abound.  They also circled Empress to give John a chance to photograph them.

Marcellite Penhune and Joey Lasensky
Marcellite and Tomi had their hands full (no pun intended) dealing with the nature calls of Lola and Oliver, who sometimes used their potty box and sometimes used the foredeck!
Marcellite, Tomi, Lola, and Oliver
Empress operated very efficiently during the trip, using about 115 gallons of diesel for the main engines for a round trip of about 130 nautical miles at a speed of about 7.5 knots.  Running a generator during the days consumed about an additional 75 gallons, so total fuel consumption was about 190 gallons for the six-day round trip.  We used the inverters at night to keep the refrigerators and freezers cold and to allow reading and Internet use.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Recent History of Empress - Preparation for Long-Distance Cruising - Part 1

After taking off-shore delivery of Empress in June of 2007, the Penhunes returned her to the Newport Harbor Shipyard to begin preparations for long-distance cruising to the Pacific Northwest.  A bow thruster was installed to make Empress more maneuverable at low speeds in winds and currents.  The location of the thruster in the bow of Empress is shown in the photo below.

Location of New Bow Thruster

The thruster is powered by a 32-volt DC motor and has two four-bladed propellers, one of which is shown in the photo below.

One of the Four-Bladed Thruster Propellers

After completion of repairs at the Newport Harbor Shipyard, Empress was returned to a slip in the Cabrillo Marina in San Pedro at the north-west end of Los Angeles - Long Beach harbor, just below Palos Verdes.  After discussion with Patrick Murray of All Purpose Marine Diesel, the Penhunes decided to have him completely rebuild the Detroit V-12 turbocharged main engines, probably for the first time since they were installed by Richardson Boats in 1971.  The photo below shows the port engine with the turbochargers, manifolds, intercoolers, positive-displacement blowers, and cylinder heads removed.

Port Engine During Complete Rebuild

To provide silent 120/240-Volt AC power when moored at night, two 3.5 kW inverters and a third 32-Volt battery bank were installed. The inverters, the load-balancing autotransformer, and the control and monitoring panel are shown in the photo below.

Two 3.5 kW Inverters Provide Silent 120/240 Volt AC Power

Also, to extend the cruising range of Empress, three 120-Amp 32-Volt generators were installed, two on the port main engine and one on the starboard main engine.  These generators power the inverters and the 32-Volt house load, allowing Empress to cruise without running a generator, thus saving about 25 gallons of fuel per day.

A 25-gallon-per-hour watermaker also was installed along with a domestic water heater that is warmed by both the starboard main engine freshwater cooling circulation and by 120-Volt AC.  The watermaker membrane, pressure control, and pressure and flow gauges are shown in the photo below.

25 Gallon per hour Watermaker

Two additional large Fireboy automatic fire suppression tanks also were installed in the engine room.  The photo below shows one of them.

Fireboy Automatic Fire Suppression System

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Middle History of Empress

After Richard Yantis's professional crew brought San-Su-Cher III from Florida to the Pacific through the Panama Canal, we believe that he used the yacht in Mexican waters in the Cabo San Lucas area.  David Richardson of Richardson Boats remembers a photo of San-Su-Cher III hanging in their yard office for many years.  David is trying to locate the photo so that we can add a copy to this blog post.

In the mid to late 1970s, we believe that Richard Yantis sold the yacht to Jules Meyers of Beverly Hills in the Los Angeles area of California.  We believe that the new owner was Jules (Jay) Meyers, whose obituary states that he was a car dealer to Hollywood stars and that he enjoyed boating.

In the early 1980s, we believe that Jules Meyers sold the yacht to Peter Althouse.  According to documentation records, Althouse registered the yacht in Oregon, with a home port of Portland.  We believe that Peter and Diane Althouse cruised the yacht north from Portland to the San Juan Islands in the US and Vancouver Island off the coast of Canada.  We believe that the Althouses changed the name of the yacht to Empress, after tying up in front of the Empress Hotel in Victoria on Vancouver Island.  A painting of young Queen Victoria, who also was Empress of India, hangs prominently in the Empress Hotel, and the Penhunes have hung a copy in the salon of Empress.  The Penhunes also have enjoyed the San Juans, Vancouver Island, the Empress Hotel, and Butchart Gardens in a previous boat, Allons-y!, a 45-foot Sea Ranger trawler.

Chris Fonteneau of Fonteneau Yacht Repair remembers working on Empress in San Diego in the 1980s, probably for the Althouses.  Chris reinforced the boat deck to take the load of a tender, installed the interior stairs to the boat deck, built the fly bridge storage and pilot station on the boat deck, built additional cabinetry in the salon surrounding the stairs to the engine room and aft queen, and made other repairs and improvements to Empress.  Willem Racke was the Althouses's captain for much of the time they owned Empress.  He remembers more than five years of happy cruising with them in California and Mexican waters.

In May of 1989, after Diane Althouse had passed away, Peter Althouse sold Empress to Edwin Stivers in San Diego.  Stivers was the owner and operator of the Neptune Society that specialized in the scattering of ashes at sea.  We believe that Stivers tried to use Empress for that purpose, but was stopped by the Jones Act, because the yacht was not built in the US.  John Penhune has obtained a Jones Act waiver from the US Maritime Administration (MARAD) allowing Empress to be used commercially from ports in California, Oregon, and Washington.  However, the Penhunes have no plans to use Empress commercially.

In 1994, Dennis and Elaine Miller found Empress docked and for sale at the Shelter Island Yacht Club in San Diego and they bought her from Edwin Stivers in April 1994.  Dennis Miller called Hargrave Yacht Design and spoke with Jack Hargrave about the yacht.  Hargrave told Miller that the design was intended to be a new line of yachts, but that the poor economy and the price of fuel in the early 1970s stopped the project.  The first major change  the Millers made to Empress was to remodel the aft master suit.  They had the twin beds replaced with a queen and the tub replaced with a shower.  They also had the galley remodelled.  At this point, the Millers moved the yacht to the Cabrillo Marina in San Pedro, California, at the north end of Los Angeles - Long Beach harbor just below Palos Verdes.  The next major repair the Millers had made to Empress was having blisters removed from the hull and two additional layers of fiberglass in epoxy resin added before fairing and repainting the hull.  They also had the boat deck refinished with new glass mat and cloth in epoxy resin and painted with a non-skid surface.  The Millers lived aboard Empress from time to time and used her for cruising in the area from San Diego to the Channel Islands.  Dennis Miller is the owner of the Miller Gasket Company in San Fernando, California.

In June of 2007, the Millers sold Empress to John and Marcellite Penhune, beginning the current history of Empress, which will be the subject of a separate blog post.

Many people provided information used in reconstructing the Middle History of Empress including: David Richardson of Richardson Boats, Michael Joyce and Barbara Bishop of Hargrave Yachts, Chris Fonteneau of Fonteneau Yacht Repair, Dennis Miller, Ron Arnold of SAIC, Captain Willem Racke, and Bernadine Trusso of Dona Jenkins Maritime Document Service.  Many thanks to them all.  Any errors in this historical reconstruction are the responsibility of the blogger, John Penhune, who will be grateful for any corrections and additions readers can provide.  Please send comments to John_Penhune@pacbell.net.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Early History of Empress

The yacht was Jack Hargrave Design No. 6404 for Richard (Dick) Yantis, an executive of Avco Financial living in Canada.  He named the yacht San-Su-Cher III after his daughters Sandy, Susan, and Cherie.  Hargrave's summary plan for the yacht is shown below.

Jack Hargrave Design No. 6404 for Richard Yantis
Courtesy of Barbara Bishop of Hargrave Yachts

According to Marilyn Mower in her book American Classic: The Yachts and Ships of Jack Hargrave, p. 152:
The basis for this fast cruiser was Hargrave's standard Halmatic 64 molded hull which was shipped to Canada and given a wood deck.  She was created for luxurious living and entertainment: to wit, the main salon and enclosed aft deck lounge were not separated by partitions.  Everything about the decor was light and modern.  The owner's apartment is full beam and more than 16 feet in length.  The stateroom included a walk-in wardrobe and dressing room and a large bathroom with full-size tub.  Two ensuite twin-bedded guest cabins and crew quarters for two round out the accommodations.  Hargrave utilized every inch of space to incorporate a powder room and a utility room with washer, dryer and deep freeze.  Hargrave considered her the "ultimate yacht" in her size for her combination of uncrowded accommodations and large power and fuel capacity.

The hull and part of the structure were fabricated in 1971 in the Halmatic yard in the Northam area of Southampton, England.  In addition to large yachts, Halmatic built military patrol boats and small commercial ships.  The location of the Halmatic yard is shown in the map below.

Anchor Symbol Marks Location of Halmatic Yard

The hull, loaded with lumber for further construction, was shipped on a freighter to Montreal, Canada - a distance of about 3,100 nautical miles.  In Montreal, the hull was loaded on a barge and towed by a tug through the Great Lakes and connecting canals to the Richardson Boats yard in Meaford, Ontario, Canada on the shore of Georgian Bay - a distance of about 900 nautical miles.  The location of the Richardson yard is shown in the map below.

Anchor Symbol Marks Location of Richardson Yard

The twin 625 HP Detroit V-12 engines, two Northern Lights 15 kW generators with Lugger engines, and other equipment were installed and the construction of the yacht was completed by a team led by Alan Richardson, now retired.  Alan's nephew, David Richardson, worked on the yacht when he was a teenager.  In a very informative telephone conversation, David provided much of the information contained in this narrative.

Jack Hargrave personally attended the sea trials of the yacht in Georgian Bay.  David Richardson took Jack Hargrave around in a runabout and remembers him as a tall, energetic man.

The yacht spent one winter at the Richardson yard and then was moved by a professional crew out through the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River to the Atlantic Ocean and then to the East Coast of Florida, where she spent a second winter.  From Florida, the crew took the yacht through the Panama Canal to the Los Angeles area of California.  From the Richardson yard to the LA area, the yacht traveled about 8,000 nautical miles on her own bottom.

I would like to thank David Richardson of Richardson Boats and Michael Joyce and Barbara Bishop of Hargrave Yachts for providing most of the information contained in this early history of the yacht now called Empress.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Empress Tender Like New!

The Driscoll Mission Bay boat yard did a great job repairing all the damage done to the Empress tender by the thieves.  The cost of almost all of the needed repairs was reimbursed by the insurance company.  In addition, at my expense, Driscoll installed a new rub rail and painted the bottom.  The old 13-foot Boston Whaler truly looks and performs like a new boat.  Bravo Zulu to Joe Driscoll, Evodio Nieto, and their crew at Driscoll Mission Bay.  I highly recommend this yard.

Empress Tender After Repairs

Back at End Tie G at Marina Village in Mission Bay, the Boston Whaler tender to Empress now is protected by an alarm that will sound a loud siren if a cable beteween the tender and Empress is cut.  In the photo above, the loop of white coax cable in the lower right-hand corner is the alarm cable.  The yellow power cable provides 120-Volt AC to the battery charger.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Stolen Tender to Empress Recovered

About two weeks after it was stolen, the Boston Whaler tender to Empress was recovered by the Lifeguards who patrol Mission Bay.  A Lifeguard patrol boat found the tender on the beach of Sail Bay near the Catamaran Hotel at the northwest end of Mission Bay more that two nautical miles from where the tender was stolen.  Bravo Zulu to the Mission Bay Lifeguards.

Because the thieves apparently were unable to start the motor without a key and the paddles apparently were not used, the thieves must have towed the tender away using another boat.  The thieves did considerable damage to the tender including destroying the shift/throttle control apparently while attempting to start the motor without a key.  The thieves apparently were in the process of removing the motor from the transom when something or someone scared them away.  They did disconnect the fuel tank and make off with it.

The tender currently is on a rack at the Driscoll Mission Bay boat yard awaiting assessment and repair of the damage.  As yet undiscovered damage to the outboard motor, chart plotter, GPS, or depth sounder may have occurred.  The Penhunes hope that the insurance company will pay most of the cost of the needed repairs.

Tender Awaiting Repair at Driscoll Mission Bay

Monday, May 28, 2012

Empress Boston Whaler Tender Stolen

On Sunday, May 20, 2012, Marcellite and John Penhune and their grandson, Matthew Klein, cruised around Mission Bay in the Boston Whaler tender to Empress.  They stopped for a pleasant lunch at the Paradise Point Resort, where Matthew likes to watch the carp and sand sharks in pools around the outdoor restaurant.

Unfortunately, when John Penhune checked Empress in the early afternoon of Wednesday, May 23, he found that the Boston Whaler tender had been stolen.  A photo of the tender is shown below along with the appropriate police phone number in case any of you see the stolen Boston Whaler.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Empress Escapes from Boat Yard

After almost two-months in the Driscoll boat yard in Mission Bay, Empress finally escaped on May 8, 2012.  Most of the delay was due to weather interfering with the application of 12 coats of varnish to her exterior teak brightwork.  Driscoll did a great job on all the repair work and I recommend their Mission Bay yard.  The photo below shows Empress being launched.

Travelift Launches Empress at
Driscoll boat yard in Mission Bay

John Penhune was able to bring Empress back to her end tie a few hundred yards away single-handedly by rigging a dock line at the pier so that he could retrieve it with a boat hook.  The extended Penhune family finally is ready for Catalina cruising again!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Empress in Boat Yard

On March 12, 2012, Peter Lasensky and John Penhune moved Empress a few hundred yards from her end tie to the Driscoll boat yard in Mission Bay.  She will have an insurance survey, some damage to the hull gelcoat repaired, her bottom painted, her topsides buffed and waxed, and her brightwork revarnished.  The photo below shows her up on blocks.  As of April 11, she still is in the yard awaiting the final coats of varnish on the brightwork.

Empress in Driscoll Boat Yard in Mission Bay