This blog is about planning and preparation for a circumnavigation of the world in a 39-foot sail boat followed, hopefully, by a diary of the actual circumnavigation. You can track the progress of Pachuca by visiting http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=VNW5980
Sunday, March 25, 2007
The following is an email I sent out on completion of the work (without the photos).
I've finished the anchor well job. It was a rotten job but fortunately the weather was excellent. My biggest enemy would have been rain, which would have delayed me for days while things dried out. Fortunately this time of year the weather is generally good. Other than one day of 30-35 knot gale-force winds which made work a real challenge, the weather was good.
I must have spent a total of 4 or 5 hours hanging upside down like a bat performing various aspects of the job, e.g. measuring, fitting out templates and panels, drilling, fiber glassing, flow coating. My body from the toes to the waist would lie on the deck. The rest would hang upside down. Normally after a few minutes of this I turn red as a beet and my head feels like it is about to explode. It must have been the total focus on the job at hand that distracted me from these problems. I must admit that fiber glassing upside-down presented a challenge: toxic fumes strong enough to knock over an elephant enveloping me while the whole world was already upside down. Somehow I got through it, though for all I know my body is still hanging there and I've perceiving a Matrix-like illusion.
Attached are some photos:
- Photo 42 is an important one. I fed down 37 meters of chain into the well to see if it would fit in the lower compartment. It did. The chain heaps into an amazingly symmetrical heap. After trimming some rusty links off the end of the chain I've got about 39 meters of 3/8" chain, two meters of which are permanently above deck wrapped around the winch Gypsy and onto the anchor, leaving 37 meters down below. I was pleased with this result. It means that almost 200 lb of chain will in future rest another 2 ft or so lower than before.
- Photo 48 shows the new bulkhead. It is really a double bulkhead. The "inner" bulkhead was OK. The one forming the anchor well wall was rotten. I replaced it with 9mm of marine ply with one layer of fiber glass to seal everything water-tight. That was harder than it sounds. Nothing was straight, plumb, square, or level. I was forced to make templates out of cardboard. That still left gaps between the ply board and the hull which I filled in by various means. The fiber glassing was an challenge. I wound up doing the edges one alternate strip at a time. When those strips dried up I would do the intermediate strips. When they were set I then (the next day) did the main bulkhead in one piece. I saturated the top half with resin standing up inside the well, then saturated the bottom half hanging upside down from the top. On the following day I painted on a layer of Flow Coat, sort of a brushed-on gel coat.
- Photo 50 shows the lower section - the one that will hold the chain - completed. I have lined the section with metal. The floor and stem are lined with stainless steel donated by my friend Reg Kelly (Thanks, Reg!), and the sides are lined with aluminium (colour bonded green).
- Photo 51 shows the top section. It is lined with Reg's stainless steel. Instead of a narrow hawser pipe I've built a generous rectangle bordered by Jarrah. This wide opening seems to allow the chain to flake back and forth allowing a broader heap down below. I've made the opening wide enough for my hand to sort out any tangles, though note that I have that generous trap door down below if I ever need to get serious.
The job wasn't perfect (Only Allah is perfect!), professional, or particularly pretty. However, I am convinced that it is a functional success: strong, water tight, and durable; and that it is better than the original and should see me out, which is quite a statement given that I plan to keep sailing for another 20 years!
Incidentally, Gary Martin, my paint and fiberglass guru (He has credentials: owns Martin's Marine Paints, built and painted a zillion boats.) says that the original wood would have been "exterior plywood", not dinkum marine ply. Suspicions confirmed. I then expressed anxiety about the rest of the boat. Gary said that the S&S 39 mold would have guaranteed the strength of the hull. He says that he can do a fiber glass hull of a particular thickness on an ordinary hull and can then flex the hull back and forth with his thumb. The S&S boats have the "tumble home" design - the one that drives me nuts whenever I tie up to a strange jetty. I knew that one of their virtues is to give the boat buoyancy when heeled over when beating up wind. But wait, there's more! The "tumble home" design is an egg-shaped design. When he puts the same thickness fiber glass on a tumble home hull it will not flex. ... Same message here - it is all trade offs: The S&S 39 gets scratched easily but is a screamer to windward and strong as hell.
The new anchor is now on the roller with the 40 m of chain at the bottom of the anchor well where it should be. I've got the bitter end of the chain (i.e. the "other" end) shackled to a fitting at the upper level of the anchor well so that (1) I don't accidentally pay out all of the chain, (2) I've got the option to add more length to the rode. The only other items in the upper level of the anchor well are (1) rope and float so that I can send the anchor down with a trip line/marker, (2) anchor chain snubber ( i.e. steel claw and nylon rope to take the strain of the anchor - other wise you hear the chain rattling all night as the boat shifts about.) I'll keep the spare anchors (currently one Danforth, one 35-lb Fisherman's) and spare anchor rode (10m chain with 80m white rope) in the starboard locker of the forecastle ( i.e. v-berth area).
Also, I installed the new book case that I built in my garage last week. It is basically a box, but a box to the specifications that I required to accommodate the big navigation books. It might not be a work of art but it is durable: 9mm marine ply, held together by nails and 2-part marine glue, finished with 3 coats of varnish - extremely water resistant and very strong. I'll set up a line of shock cord running about half-way up the case to keep the books from falling out in a heavy heel.
This week the project will be a new spice rack and shelves to fit next to the companionway.
I've brought two of Pachuca's mattresses home: the one that was on the bunk where the new book case sits, and the one from the starboard quarter berth where I will store the tools, materials, and spares. That's going to take a lot of thought and planning, but it is important because you wouldn't believe the amount of time I waste rummaging around for things. It is amazing the volume of space that removing those mattresses has freed up.
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