Friday, December 27, 2013

2013: Repairs & Maintenance Underway

Some End of Season Comments

Spinnaker Furler  - a further comment…(Spanish Experience).  Well, we didn’t purchase one this year as the particular Profurl model I was after didn’t have any torsion lines available.  They were coming up with an improved torsion line as it turned out and it is now on the market – it looks much better than the original (it appears to have all these little balls on the line which, I assume, makes furling more efficient).  The winds we experienced on our voyage this year didn’t really suit flying spinnakers ie on the nose or, if in the right direction, too strong to fly a spinnaker on a cruising boat.  Something for the future perhaps and it certainly remains on my shopping list.  I also will purchase a removable bowsprit to get the tack of the spinnaker forward of the pulpit.

Some subscribe to really slow boating
Broken Dunny Seat Hinge.  Someone sat down too heavily on our guest dunny (I think it was me) and a hinge broke making it very unsafe at sea (just use your imagination).  New hinges were purchased and one of our guests was asked to take off the old and attach the new (using stainless steel screws this time – why Jabsco use normal steel screws on a marine toilet seat escapes me as they are otherwise an excellent product) while the skipper did other things.  Apparently, it was quite a performance to remove the old screws and hinges but I did realise how “handy” or self-reliant boaties must be in general to keep our boats ticking over and in good working order.  Anyway, the throne is all back together and providing safe seating once again.
Fridge Repairs Underway.  In Greece our fridge and freezer gradually lost most of its refrigerant/gas.  We had to revert to our trusty and reliable (touch wood) Waeco.  Some friendly Canadian neighbours we shared an anchorage with at Kuruca Buku, Turkey had a handheld refrigerant leak detector.  This worked a treat and we quickly identified the leak along the gas line at one of the fittings.  A bit of a tighten with a spanner and no more leak.  When we arrived at Marmaris a fridge technician topped up our gas, checked for any further leaks and we were back in business.  It makes a huge improvement to life on board (for the galley slave particularly).  I will purchase one of these detectors and use it to scan for leaks every week or so – they only cost around $30-50.  If I had done this earlier I would have detected and fixed the leak and regassing is not cheapThis experience also speaks volumes about cruising camaraderie - somewhat in short supply in a touristy Med.  So, well done & greatly appreciated!

Sunset over Ibiza, Spain

Internet & Phone Solutions in the Med

Who could be cranky with scenery like this?

Internet & Phone Solutions in the Med

Internet Solutions in the Med.  We really like internet access simply because you get very good easy-to-read weather reports.  Emails can also be the best way to communicate rather than try and talk to someone on cellphone (mobile phone) that has a non-Australian accent (most people outside Oz) and most marinas have English – speaking staff!  If your emails are not answered then you have little choice but to call them direct.  We have adopted the following as the most convenient and thrifty solution for "long-term" stays over the sailing season:

a.  On arrival in a new country we purchase a data dongle and a pay-as-you-go SIM card.  We normally start with about $/Euro20 and see how we go but they may have a special plan so check.  Lesson here is to make it a priority as soon as you enter a country.

b.  The shop may not have what you want so there may be a delay while they get it from their warehouse or another dealer.

c.   The data dongle we retain and will use it again if we re-enter the respective country and purchase credit on the SIM card (as the original will have time-expired).

d.  Check to see how long the SIM card $$$ lasts for.   We have been told one thing eg a month, only to find that it lasted a fortnight. Make the salesman say how long it will last and confirm again before you leave their shop just to be sure.  It’s very frustrating to find you don’t have internet access when you think you should and then you find you have run out of time rather than memory power.  This becomes doubly frustrating when you lose internet access, you are in a remote-ish area and you can’t find a local dealer.

e.  We use Vodafone and have found it generally good, except on one occasion as per the previous paragraph.   You would think that Vodafone would produce a universal dongle for all countries but, alas, data dongles are unique to their respective countries.

f.   Find out, at time of purchase, how you can monitor your usage.  This normally shows up on a drop-down menu which comes up when you open or close your connection but will probably be in the local language. Reading Turkish, for example, is challenging.  If you simply can’t work it out then you can take your paperwork and dongle to the company and they will be able to check your usage.

g.  Keep all paperwork and if you have to go back to your provider they will want to know some number(s).  On each box, SIM card etc there are various serial numbers and so we just let them rummage around amongst all our paperwork (that we keep in assorted plastic bags) and extract what they need.

h.  In Greece there wasn’t a Vodafone shop at Pylos where we entered, however, there was a Cosmote shop and, as this company is the largest mobile network operator in Greece, we assumed that they would be okey.  We purchased a dongle and SIM card, checked it back on board, found it didn’t work, phoned for assistance and were told to check at the next port.  We sailed away, only to find that when we checked at the next Cosmote store, that they couldn’t do anything to assist – it had to be fixed at the shop that sold us the gear.  Emails were exchanged but without result.  The problem was that the SIM card had been used before and so was out of date and couldn’t be ‘revived’.  How it ended back on the shelf as a new dongle is anyone’s guess.  To cut a long story short we continued on our journey with promises by all the friendly staff at various Cosmote stores that it would be sorted by the time we reached the next port, or we would get a new one at the next shop (they never had one in stock), and all-in-all it was never resolved.  Make up your own mind.  Of course, we eventually found a Vodafone shop that had a dongle that suited our requirements (but it wasn’t the first V shop we tried to obtain a dongle). 

Of course, many things change over the years, some more than others

Phone Solutions in the Med.  We used Go-Sim, a prepaid travel sim, which we purchased in Aus before leaving for our sailing season 2013.  I should add that we have "unlocked" handsets.  Go-Sim gave us a British phone number and we used it to make calls from our smart phones.  It worked well except in some out-of-the-way places.  When you dial a number you get a call back when you are being connected.  It’s a bit weird but you get used to it.  On board and offshore, to find a network that would provide a connection, entailed a bit of searching on Settings trying various providers.  We had new smart phones and we aren’t smart so there was a fairly steep learning curve.
The phones came in handy for speaking (or sending SMS messages) to marinas, contractors or each other, however we mostly used Skype to call home (Aus). 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Selling Your Boat Privately

Selling boats privately is something we've had to do from time to time, so for what it's worth I've included this sagely advice we gave a mate recently....

Step 1. Advertise (with lots of info and a history). We put out a basic advertisement but backed it up with links to a web site (a free one) filled with lots of photos & technical detail, including manufacturer's specifics & media articles. Clean up your boat before you take those photos too.  Nothing like a messy boat to turn off potential buyers. Be honest about why you are selling and the condition of the boat.

What do you think of my new boat?  Perhaps not this year!

Step 2. Prepare a thorough inventory to give out to interested parties - be very clear on what does or doesn't go with the boat when you sell.  Stick to it!

Step 3. Work out what your bottom line is in terms of the price you expect to get.  If you are selling personally, you can expect people to understand that your price will be "cheaper" without the inclusion of an agent's fee.

Step 4. Research local country rules re selling your yacht.  Also find out what rules are applicable in Australia (ie resident country of owner). For example, if ownership changes hands, then it may not be allowable as an Aussie registered vessel until another application is made.  Be quite clear on this because our BVI broker had to do quite a bit of work to clear the previous registration/ownership (& outstanding bills) and Jenny had to fill in and fax forms and pay fees to Australia for our registration.   

Step 5. Agree on a price/ take an acceptable offer from the interested party.  This person then has first deal on the boat.  Remember that they will also make a further & lower offer after the survey so take that into account.

A beer budget will probably not cover all the fancy inclusions you'd hope for...

Step 6.  Decide the limits of where you are prepared to take the boat for inspection/survey etc.  It should feel comfortable to you (the seller) & is perhaps somewhere where you can trust the marina staff/maintenance team.

Step 7. Take a substantial deposit (eg $1000 or more so they won't walk away from it) and agree on how long to lock this in. Certainly no more than a month.  You should still be advertising and showing the boat during this time - just not accepting further offers from other buyers.  This step usually sorts out the really interested from the "wanna-be's".  The survey report is theirs to keep but they may agree to onsell it to other potential buyers.  There will be a time limit on the survey findings.

Step 8.  During that month the buyer should arrange a survey (at their expense); arrange finances and organise a sea trial.  You should be present at the sea trial (just to test engine, rigging, sails etc) and the survey (take lots of notes).  The survey report will be used to bargain down their offer further.  Everyone expects a perfect boat, but you shouldn't accept too low an offer if the issues are minor items eg not enough sails; old electronics.  Concentrate on major issues such as engine, rigging, hull condition etc and decide how low you are prepared to go.  I would suggest that maybe 10% is reasonable for minor stuff.  Some expect up to 30% if the issues are very major.  Again, you should have some idea now that you've been to the survey and worked out what your bottom line is. 

Step 9. Agree on where and when the handover should take place.  Money is best deposited into your account (& cleared) or some other secure means of transaction before the handover.  Make the handover place convenient for yourself.  You don't want to be pre-positioning your boat half the world away.

Step 10.  Exhausted?  You should be after all this work!  Report back to us with your results but in the meantime good luck with it all..... 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Year 6: Work in Lagos 2013

Lagos, Portugal
Time to get our hands dirty again!

Bow Thruster.  I’ve just lashed out and had a new one fitted in the bow – I would have liked to have both a bow and stern thruster but the boat doesn’t have enough room in the stern – too much other stuff.  I’ve been sort of avoiding fitting a bow thruster, almost as a matter of pride (plus they’re not cheap) and, after I’ve bumped my way around a marina, I could always say “well, I don’t have a bow thruster like you people.”  I’ve also seen a number of times skippers playing with their bow thrusters, and at the same time getting into difficulties, when they should just be motoring forward into their berth.  However, just about everyone I’ve met that has a bow thruster seems to swear by them.  So, providing mine works okey I’ll not have any more excuses when manoeuvring in and out of marinas.  Its been professionally fitted at Sopromar Boatyard.  No fuss!
We arrived to a new bow thruster (WJ3's now sprouting nostrils)

Spinnaker Furler.  We have a cruising chute which hasn’t been getting enough use because it’s contained in a sock (which is good) but requires a bit of work to set and take down.  We can both envision me getting wrapped up in a chute, going overboard and Galley Slave left to sort everything out, return to pick me up and us both being terribly traumatized by the whole event.  Much better to do everything from the cockpit, just like we (almost) do now.  So, I’m presently trying to purchase a spinnaker furler, which is not as easy as it sounds.  Anti-torsion lines are a real problem to obtain apparently and so I’ve been trying to make this purchase for a couple of months now.   I’ll report on how things turn out later on.

Even Bruce got some attention this year!

And we had time for some local siteseeing

Before Launch Day arrived
(& our mission this year - to cross to Turkey)

2012: Repairs & Upgrades Underway (Gibraltar)

Gibraltar Upgrades
Great, we've made it in time for the Rugby finals!

Passerelle/Gangplank.   I don’t know if I’ve spelt it correctly but, in effect, it’s a gang plank, walkway that you attach to the bow or stern of the boat, depending on whether your boat is bow on or stern in to a jetty, pontoon, etc.  In Gibraltar everyone had a plank except us so we had to climb over the pulpit and then step out boldly to get onto the (fixed) jetty – not for the faint hearted.  I made a passerelle out of an aluminium ladder with a ply plank bolted to the rungs (plank sourced from a local wheely bin).  At one end, where it lay on the jetty, I bolted a couple of wheels on (to allow for movement from swell, tide, wakes made by various passing traffic).  It was a draw bridge arrangement so that the wheeled end was elevated when not going ashore, which was most of the time.  The boat end of the passerelle was attached, with ropes, at right angles across a sturdy piece of timber that I had bolted (with u bolts) to the base of the pulpit – it had to take the full weight of me with groceries, etc.  The ropes acted as hinges allowing the plank to be raised and lowered quite easily.  The jetty end of the plank also had a bridle attached to it (separated a bit just over head height by a piece of plastic conduit) and the top end of the bridle was attached to the end of the spinnaker halyard.  Pull on the spinnaker halyard and the bridge rises – lower the halyard to let the wheeled end down on to the jetty.   To assist to make lowering and raising easier I attached a jerrycan of water to the bottom end of the halyard so that it became a one handed job  to raise and lower the plank.  It works well and the whole thing cost (ladder, wheels, bolts) about 80 GBP.  Alternatively you can buy very nice folding ones from a chandler for about 350 GBP.
Our new passerelle - works very nicely, thank you

Television and Movies.  In Gibraltar, with time on our hands, again due to my crook wrist, I purchased and installed a television and DVD player.   I also purchased an extendable bracket to mount it on the bulkhead so that I can hold the screen immobile against the wall while sailing but can also extend the screen and rotate it when viewing it from the comfort of our saloon table while at anchor etc.   It was pretty simple really.  Televisions generally only came in 240 volt or 110 volt (which I needed).   There was a 12 volt car model available but it was expensive, and very small – ie the screen was about the same size as an aircraft one that sits on the back of the seat in front of you.  For power I ran the power cable to the nearest 110 volt power point.  The DVD player simply plugs into the TV, however, we never use it.   We have been given a heap of movies on a hard drive which I have installed in a plastic bag that simply hangs on the back of the bulkhead mounting bracket.  All controls are done through the remote, which came with the TV.  I don’t know why I didn’t do this a long time ago.

We found, the hard way, that the screen can swing about in a seaway so we put two SS saddles on either side of the mounting bracket, covered the screen with a towel and use a bungee strap to hold the screen securely against the bulkhead so it can’t leap around anymore.
Why have TV with views like this?

Digital Weather Station.  In early days we purchased and mounted a Plastimo brass barometer and a clock on the bulkhead – very shippy and they look great.  The barometer has been a little disappointing for us, however, since it hardly moves – it only shows major changes in pressure which is obviously better than nothing but still limited when compared with other barometers I have used in the past.    We were impressed by the results demonstrated by someone else who had a portable digital weather station plus we had one at home and, after a quick check of Amazon, a new one – LA CROSSE TECHNOLOGY – battery operated – arrived soon after purchase.  It’s great – very accurate and shows pressure variations constantly, plus a whole lot of other information.  I still like the brass meters on the bulkhead, however!!

Shelves in Port Locker.  In the port quarter guest room, which we have converted to a storage room, there is a hanging locker that wasn’t been used to hang anything, only for storing things.  It was an inefficient use of space.  I installed some shelves and now it holds twice as much as before.  Good idea provided by the Galley Slave (GS) who took one of the shelves to expand her galley holdings.

Solar Vent for Compost Loo.  After several years of being on constantly, our solar vent exhaust fan/motor gave up.  The battery is still okey but I couldn’t source a spare motor.  So, I am now using the little computer exhaust fan that came with the compost loo wired into the boat’s lighting circuit while still venting via the solar vent.  I can unplug when I need to empty the compost bin.
We had no trouble at all filling in time in Gib

2012: Repairs & Upgrades Underway (Seville)

Porto Gelves, Seville

Heading off for repairs to the outboard, Porto Gelves

Outboard Repairs.  Outboard worked fine initially in the season but then started to overheat when I really powered it up (no water coming out at the back) and of course I didn’t find this out until we left Gibraltar.  We spent most of the season powering along very slowly which outboard seemed not to mind and water duly pumped out the back.  To cut a long story short, when an opportunity finally presented itself I had a professional check it out and he simply replaced the water impeller and spark plugs.  My spare impellers and plugs, purchased some time before and where I can’t remember, were the wrong types apparently.  Anyway, outboard has performed superbly since this act of TLC by a Spanish mechanic near Seville.

We did have to wait so put the time to good use at the marina bar
(BCK is our first, brave visitor)

Early morning at Porto Gelves

Year 5: Work in Lagos 2012

2012: Lagos, Portugal

This was not a big year for much at all other than some cruising around the local area – lots of real relaxing.  The Captain’s wrist gave major problems when it started to seize up (from old age?) and so not a lot of work was done on the boat while we were in the Sopromar Boatyard (highly recommended), except for the following:
Feathering Propellor.  I had decided some time ago that it would be nice to have a feathering prop as most other cruisers have them but moreso in that they are much better when sailing than a fixed prop.  The Sopromar boatyard fitted it for us and it was there on our arrival for this year’s cruising.  It has worked very well and there is now very little prop walk when reversing.  It’s a German made …..

Shiny new & it works a treat!

Fair Weather Awning.  While couped up in the Sopromar boatyard waiting for my wrist to right itself there was an opportunity to do some sewing.  Captain and crew decided to make up a light weight awning – easy to put up and take down, something we tended not to do with our much bigger and heavier sunbrella awning, while at the same time keeping the sun off us and the boat.  Light weight shade cloth seemed suitable and, within a few days on ‘the thumper’ , we had our new light awning .  It immediately made life on board much more comfortable as the boat became much cooler inside while also allowing unimpeded movement around the deck. 

Keeping cool under the new awning

Topsides, Coachouse and Cockpit Polish.  I lashed out and paid for a thorough polishing by the yard.  Young blokes got stuck into it and did a great job, better than I could have done in four times the length of time.  They have all the right equipment, expertise and youth to do a great job.  Highly recommended and it was a reasonable rate, plus they also carried out some odd surface repairs to the gelcoat on the topsides. (I’ve just found out, since I’ve been here in 2013, that it’s much cheaper in Turkey!!!)

Bruce/Dinghy Repairs.  Bruce, our erstwhile RIB with 15 hp Yamaha 2-stroke outboard, has been fantastic.  Not surprisingly, after some four years use now, it had developed a few leaks.  The fibreglass floor had some hairline cracks in the gelcoat, which were temporarily repaired in Trinidad some three years previously, but these repairs had started to leak water into the void between the bottom of the boat and the floor.  I determined to fix this permanently so fibreglassed some tape to the areas that needed attention.  I determined these by inserting the air pump into the bung and blowing air into the void – one can quickly identify the leaks by the air leaking out the cracks in the bottom gel coat.  I marked them and then fibreglassed them, sanded them, followed by some sticky paint.  All good and Bruce’s bottom looked patchy but quite presentable.  It certainly hasn’t affected Bruce’s performance at all – planes like a beaut.
At the same time there was also a leak in the tubing, aft portside.  I stuck my finger into it and enlarged it a bit, I guess, but with a view to inserting a piece of repair material/patch  on the inside, as well as a patch on the outside.  For the inside, I deflated the  tube, inserted a  patch (lost it but found it again after digging around inside with my finger) and covered it, and the edges of the hole on the  inside of the tube, with glue using an ice-cream stick.  After a short while (it was a hot day) and when the glue was dryish to touch I pressed the patch and the tube together.   I also partially inflated the tube to assist the inside patch to stick to the inside of the tube ie air pressure forcing the patch against the inside tube.   I then did basically the same with a patch on the outside.  It has never leaked since. 
Bruce was feeing a bit down in the dumps & needed a make-over!

Gas Conversion.  We had been on propane since we purchased the boat but, in Europe, they don’t use it.  Each country has its own gas system, with various bottles and fittings, or there is the ubiquitous ‘camping gas’ that is available all over the Mediterranean.  We went for the camping gas solution, had the appropriate fittings professionally installed, and then purchased four bottles (they’re not very big)  – one each for the stove and the barbecue, plus two spares.  It’s not expensive – about 15 Euro per refill, except for Gibraltar where it was 30 Euro, until I found I could slip over the border to the middle of La Linea where it was half the price and easier to purchase. The guy in Gibraltar you have to catch when he’s there at his warehouse, which is unpredictable.

Another Great Awakening.  While in Lagos I had an opportunity to assist a 70+ gentleman to  take his boat from boatyard launching around to his permanent berth in the next door marina.  I had visions that I might have to do this myself so I was very pleased to be offered this opportunity.  The yacht was about 40’ or so and had power operated  furlers as well as a bow thruster.  He berthed his boat in a strong wind, albeit almost bow on, with familiarity and dash.  I was impressed.  I complimented him on how well he had the boat set up and on his skippering, of course.  He replied, quite simply with  words to the effect, “I love this life and want to keep doing it for as long as I can, hence I’ve set the boat up as best I can to help me manage it”.  Duh, why didn’t I think of that?!!!

We even had time for a few afternoon swims this year

2011: Upgrades Underway (in Portugal) (Part 4)

Boys Toys

Hookah (Diving) Unit. Whilst in Portimao biding our time before haulout (Sopromar Boatyard in Lagos), we had an opportunity to purchase a second hand diving hookah unit.  This is essentially an electric motor driving a small compressor to which you have breathing regulators (in your mouth) connected via air hoses. 

It’s the same as SCUBA diving except, rather than having a tank on your back, you are supplied directly via air hoses. The compressor is in a bucket, with its 12 volt battery, which is inside a float and this sits on the surface of the water, or it can be in your dinghy or indeed on board WJ3.  It supplies air for one or two people and the length of time you can use it depends on whether there are one or two divers and to what depth one is diving.  I’ve wanted to get one for years but have yet to use it as, to be honest, the diving in the Med is a bit limited ie not much to see unless you are wreck diving perhaps.  Even then, diving can be illegal unless you meet many stringent rules.  So, I’m looking forward to using it when back in the tropics, however

2011: Upgrades Underway (Atlantic Crossing) (Part 3)

Transformers & Electrical Quandaries

240 Volt Transformer.  Our boat, being American, is equipped with 110 volt AC wiring for marina connections, and the on-board generator supplies 110 volts while at sea, to run the inverter/charger, refrigeration, air conditioners, and water heater if (rarely) needed.  In 2011, with Europe being on 240 volts systems, we had to come up with a solution. 

Fortunately, we were not the first to confront this problem and the simplest solution (and cheapest) was to purchase a transformer.  The transformer is one of those yellow very heavy transformers that, I understand, are used by builders in the UK because they have to use 110 volt power tools rather than 240 volts ones (for safety reasons).  So these transformers are widely used.  We purchased ours (500 GBP) early in our stay in the Azores, at Horta at the local chandlery. 

At the same time we purchased an extension chord to connect the transformer to marina power boxes at one’s marina berth.  I installed our transformer in the aft port quarter cockpit locker.  I modified one of the large AC power cable plugs I already had on board (changed an American female plug for a European equivalent) so that it ran from the  transformer to the AC power inlets on the transom of the boat.  In summary, 240 volt power comes out of the marina powerbox to the transformer via an extension chord.  Transformer changes the 240 volt power to 110 volt and this is sent to the AC power plugs at the back of the boat.  I turn on the 110 volt master switch at the electrical panel and we have normal 110 volt power ie charging batteries, running fridges, etc.  

Very simple really and it works a treat.  I also disconnect one of the plugs when I don’t need to use shore power eg when not running fridges, when going ashore etc, as the transformer does heat up a bit and it’s just a habit of mine to disconnect/switch off things if they are not being used.

2011: Repairs Underway (Atlantic Crossing) (Part 2)

Finally Crossing the Ditch

Genoa Furling Line.  On our trip across the Atlantic the only gear failure was the genoa furling line started to fall apart and had to be replaced with some spare line.  Not a big problem as it turned out.
Doing a little repair job whilst becalmed
HF Radio.  The HF radio worked as it should and we had good communications with the erstwhile and patient Herb Hilgenburg, the benevolent Canadian who guides so may cruising boats crossing the Atlantic.  We could talk to him quite well, most days atmospheric conditions allowing, all the way to the Azores.  We didn’t use him after that as there was only a thousand miles to go – one week.

Spinnaker Winches.  These have proved to be essential for flying spinnakers and they were also very handy for providing a bit of oomph when we needed to furl headsails in a blow, for example.

Hydrovane wind vane self-steering gear.  We used the Hydrovane almost all the way when crossing the Atlantic.  During a gale we found that sometimes the Hydrovane can be overwhelmed.  I have had to manually steer the boat back on course then reset the Hydrovane to, once again, steer the boat.

Skymate.  We had been really pleased with Skymate’s services (accessing weather forecasts & posting position reports daily on our tracker site) as we sailed through Eastern USA, and its initial assistance as WJ3 moved away from the coast heading for the Azores.  However we eventually began to have connection problems due to, I suspect, fewer available European satellites.  Once we’d made it to the Azores, we ditched it all together and concentrated on finding internet and getting weather reports from Weather Online & Passage Weather
I have to say that it disappointed when we were crossing the Atlantic even though we had told them when we were crossing.  Where it did shine however was "e-mailing" our GPS reports to our map & tracker - a twice daily task that kept friends & family in touch with our exact position mid-ocean.  (It can be set up to report automatically too, though we didn't bother.)  However, we disconnected it once we got to the Med because there is plenty of local coverage with the internet using a dongle on the computer.  More on that later.  Of course, we still have all the hardware installed and will probably reactivate the system (there’s a reconnection fee if you disconnect for longish periods) when we depart the Med but only after assurances from SkyMate that we will be better served (for our Atlantic re-crossing) than previously.  I might add, when it all works, it’s a very good system & excellent safety measure.

Getting settled in for night shift

In Horta Marina, Azores taking a well earned rest

2011: Repairs Underway (Atlantic Crossing)

A Late Start

Generally, all repairs & modifications took place before we left Deltaville Boatyard. We were thankful for the assistance provided by the Yard’s skilled technicians and their quality work.  
Our plan was to head north to New York City, or thereabouts, then head east to Europe along the 40th parallel.  Simple, until we reached Baltimore and I carried out a last minute check of some of our gear…. 

Rudder Steering Arm.  On inspection I discovered two cracks in the rudder fitting – steering arm if memory serves me correctly - at the top of the rudder stock and which was attached to the steering via push rods.  Serious stuff and my discovery brought back many memories of the new rudder being fitted in the British Virgin Islands in 2008.  At the time the new rudder’s stock was ever so slightly smaller than the old one and so the old steering arm needed to be fitted accordingly.  At the time the ‘technician’ did this by belting the living daylights out of the (cast) fitting with a hammer until it eventually cracked.  Two weldings later and some shims had it all fitted okey.  Not.  Time had caught up with it and the steering arm had failed along the line of the weld.  So I decided, given our Atlantic crossing plans, it was time to fit a brand new one.
Cracked rudder steering arm
After some discussion in Baltimore & Annapolis at various yards, we hoofed it back to Deltaville, reasoning that they understood us and our boat.  Kindly they responded to our short time line (we really needed to get going on our crossing) where they measured the rudder stock precisely and a new fitting was ordered.  It’s interesting to note that Edson, the supplier, needed a reading that was accurate to within three thousandths of an inch.  On being given these dimensions they then bore the hole in the fitting.  It fitted perfectly and is still doing sterling service.
Hauling out at short notice
More Steering Breakages.  At this late stage we decided to sail south a relatively short distance to Norfolk, at the southern end of the Chesapeake Bay, and then head off for Europe from there.  The first night out, as you do, we had a fine gale which was quite unexpected.  We also lost autopilot steering when the cog, on the other end of the shaft that the steering wheel is fitted to, sheared so that the chain to the autopilot motor was completely disconnected. 

Unhappily, but not wanting to steer all the way across the Atlantic, we turned back to Norfolk, ordered a new replacement shaft, had the broken one repaired too, fitted the new shaft and autopilot chain, then headed north to New York City (again).    As we had no further problems we then headed east for Europe via the Azores.

Some of the crew added their own modifications
which came with a drinks service too!

Provisioning: On Reflection

On Reflection 

Good food & little celebrations are important moral boosters.  On our best and early days, we had steak and salads and on our worst, packet mashed potatoes stirred into tinned, rich soups with crackers.  We always had a “Happy Hour” (even better when we worked out how to make some ice!), which followed on from our “Herb Hour” (daily radio sched).  After Happy Hour, it was time for dinner then bed for the off-shift crew.  We had something fresh every day (usually fruit & vegies).  We found by eating regularly and well, we didn’t need too much in the way of snack food, although a coffee/tea and a plain sweet biscuit (granita) seemed to help the early morning watch survive.  So did the kit-kats!

Bubble wrapped glass jars survived; groceries held together well clustered in supermarket “green” produce bags and a large ham (wrapped in a vinegar soaked tea-towel) travelled well.  Eggs didn’t crush in their cartons and we chose packaged milk with a clip-down pouring spout to minimise spills.  Frozen mixed vegies taste infinitely better than tinned and creamed corn stirred into 2 minute noodles can taste like the real thing!  Baby cos lettuce are quite robust and pack into the fridge well (in Ziploc containers lined with paper towel).  A couple of butternut pumpkins, bags of potatoes, carrots and packet gravy mix made for an easy roast meal.  Oven bags kept the oven clean when roasting.  It seems that a little forethought goes a long way.

I still have a few things that make me wonder why I ever bought them; like dried Chinese mushrooms.  I also didn’t cook as much pasta as I had planned.  Why?  It requires a large pot of boiling water that can be quite dangerous in a seaway – even with an industrial rubber apron on!  I didn’t make cakes (package pre-mix) or spend hours baking bread.  We ate from bowls rather than plates and made much use of our large vacuum mugs, which kept coffee, soups, noodles etc hot.  Our fishing exploits remained empty threats and we were lucky that the weather treated us kindly, all things considered.  In all, we lived simply and well, arriving at Flores with little need to take on too many fresh provisions, only water.  We could wait until Horta with its larger supermarkets, filled with fresh foods and the pervasive aroma of Portugal – bacalhau – to replenish our dwindling supplies.

The constant motion plays havoc with your taste buds too and we arrived in the Azores with plenty of tins of beer, bladders of wine and even some chocolate leftover.... 

Our most useful things were without doubt, the WAECO, paper towel, fresh meat (frozen) and ice.  “Making life easy” awards go to Idahoan dried mash potatoes, 2 minute noodles, eggs and Progresso tinned soups.  And YES, I would provision again this way.