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
Saturday, June 30, 2012
This morning I sorted out a muddle over the tide patterns for Mar del Plata. I have the WXTIDE32 tide software running on both the Win7 and XP machines and it took me a few days to realize that they were giving me different tide predictions. The trap was that the software reports the tide times according to the host computer's clock. The Win7 machine, being my navigation and communication computer, runs on UTC (GMT) time, whereas the XP machine runs on local time, which is UTC-3. Even with that discrepancy sorted out, there is over one hour's difference in the predicted high tide between WXTIDE32 and a tide prediction web site. … Never mind, it's close enough. I plan to shove off at 8 AM on a tide that will be falling but should still be high enough to allow me passage out of the marina.
I've picked up the pace of final preparations. Yesterday I mounted the spare gas cylinder on the rail, much like what I did in La Paz, with universal clamps holding the top of the cylinder to the rail, a rope around the body of it, and the cylinder resting on a piece of ply. The big difference this time is that I bedded the ply on 3M 5200 to make sure that it stays in place. The original piece of ply went overboard during the run to the Horn and the bottom of the cylinder gouged a semicircular scar on the gel coat of the coaming.
One of the problems of an early morning departure is that it's too early to expect friends to come around and bid farewell. I was planning to send email messages to Pato, Jorge, and Alfredo advising them of my intention and that I would be at Club Nautico for a few hours on Tuesday morning in the hopes of seeing them. Also I figured that I'd have to cast off my own lines. Fortunately my walk to the market solved some of these issues.
On the way to the market I ran into Alfredo. We greeted each other with a hug and after telling him of my departure plan I thanked him for his help and told him that he had been a good friend to me. I told him about my recent gripe and he had just had it himself in Uruguay, I think, where he had been doing some oceanography work. Like me he's prone to asthma and he talked about having it from childhood. Yep, I said grimly, before the age of puffers. Like me he uses Ventolin now. Regarding the weather patterns I told him about the persistent High off the coast of Brazil, indicating headwinds for me most of the way. He agreed, but didn't seem to consider it a big problem. He told me that during the day I would be tacking to shore and during the night I would be tacking out to sea.
At the market I place my order of wine and beer to be delivered to the boat on Monday. I wasn't more specific than so many whites, so many cabernets, so many malbecs, etc. I asked for the account to be ready tomorrow so that I could plan my ATM cash withdrawals, since I don't want to leave the country with too many Argentine pesos on hand.
After that I went to the hardware store and paid outrageous prices for a Stanley knife, and two adjustable wrenches (6” and 10”) to replace ones that had gone overboard since La Paz.
On the way back I ran into the captain of the large catamaran Agape that had disappeared 2 days ago from her berth on the other side of the jetty. I told him that I figured that they'd be half way to Brazil by now. In fact the boat is at the shipyard facility, out of the water and having her hulls recoated. I told him my plans and thought that the winds for Wednesday would be favorable but maybe on the strong side. He told me that he'd keep a close look on that situation. Fortunately for me, he told me that he could come around at 8 AM on Wed to cast off my lines. I told him that would be very helpful to me.
I returned to the boat at 6PM from the evening session of the market with about $50 worth of meats which would set me up for good pressure cooker meals during the coming 2 weeks of sailing. My plan was to turn the entire refrigerator compartment into a freezer which would not be difficult to do in this cool weather.
When I emptied the refrigerator to begin the packing process I discovered that the refrigerator was not working. I know that it had been working until two days ago because the pork chops I was retrieving were chilled just below freezing. The breaker was on and yet when I ran the temperature setting from minimum to maximum the compressor remained dead. Great timing huh?
Honestly, my reaction was one that surprised me: boredom. It was like 'Yawn, yet another last minute crisis. B-o-o-o-o-ring.Yawn.' I put a plastic bucket into the refrigerator compartment then put the chiller bag containing the meat into the bucket, figuring that if the meat went off I could simply left out the bucket then tip the mess overboard to feed the crabs. I wasn't going to let this delay my departure and I would simply alter my provisioning and sail without a refrigerator.
Nevertheless the chilled meat gave some urgency to doing an immediate check for an obvious problem. I removed the overburden from the starboard quarter berth and gained access to the area below where the compressor lay. The compressor appeared to be in great shape: firmly mounted, nothing impinging its space, and most important, all the wiring clean and corrosion free. I probed the main leads and the unit was getting the full 12V of power. I fiddled around with the connections with no obvious result. I did notice, however, that every few minutes the unit would make a buzzing sound as though the compressor was starting, then would go quiet again after about 5 seconds.
I removed the thermostat from the refrigerator compartment wall and again found good electrical connections and no obvious problems.
I then put everything back and ripped into a bottle of Heineken that I discovered when I emptied the refrigerator – my first drink since I got ill.
Over a beer, while writing this entry, I decided to send a message to Roger in La Paz for advice. Roger installed the new system with a Danfoss compressor in October 2010 and he might be able to suggest a simple solution. I'll also see if I can get some refrigeration expertise here in MdP. Time and a couple of glasses of beer have calmed me enough to be willing to try for a quick solution. I would even be willing to delay my departure a day or two to that end. However, any delay beyond that and it's adios amigos.
From a broader perspective, this is another indication that the sooner that I get myself and this boat back to Australia the better. The Breakdown Clock is constantly ticking on every component of this complex modern boat and the longer I hang about the more problems I can expect.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
This morning I did a sort of a Zombie Shuffle the 5 km to Arbilito hardware, and the gas cylinders were ready. The proprietor seemed concerned and told me to definitely not sail out until I was well again. Before leaving I mumbled something about a taxi and he suggested that I leave the cylinders in the shop and bring back a cab from the taxi rank at the next corner.
The taxi driver was a young man who showed great interest in my sailing adventure during the last 4 years. After we arrived at Club Argentino we kept on talking for a while before giving me a warm handshake and wishing me the best. The fare, by the way, was 13 pesos (about $3.00). I gave him 20 pesos and still felt like I was ripping him off.
I got back to the boat so quickly that I still had over an hour before the market closed, so I did the ZS to there. I had a craving for citrus fruit so I purchased Kiwi Fruit, oranges, and tangerines. I then bought salami, cheese and bread at the adjacent shop before shuffling off to the pastry shop for more more bread and media luna pastry.
I am going to miss that market. It is really a small community where everybody seems to know everybody else. The English speakers ask me how things are going and the others are very helpful to me as I fumble through the nomenclature, weights, and change. I'll be saying Goodbye to many of them before I leave.
I had an unsuccessful attempt at sleeping (too much coughing) after wolfing down a lunch of fruit , so I had a go at installing two gas cylinders in the lazarette compartment. I managed to make a good job of it - tested all seals and found no leaks, restraining shock cords and ropes are all in place. The restraints are to prevent the cylinders from sliding around during a rough seaway, and they were good enough for rounding the Horn with no problem, so I'm confident that they'll make it to Australia OK. There I will purchase new cylinders and build proper frames to fit them in. Incidentally, the design of that cover to the lazarette doors worked very well. With the access flap unzipped and folded back over the seat I got full access into the lazarette area, unhampered by the cover.
I am still looking at the weather reports every day, and it looks like I will have moderate headwinds most of the way to Sao Sebastiao, where I'll make my entry into Brazil.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
This morning I decided that with so much at stake regarding my departure date I'd better take some antibiotics to make sure that I don't go down with a chest infection. I visited Pachuca's pharmacy which had been so helpful to Brenda during her recent visit. (She developed a dental abscess and put herself on a course of Augmentin Forte antibiotic which cleared up the problem.)
Augmentin is listed as being useful for chest infections but I chose instead a 5 day course of Rulide antibiotic. I'll take the last dose on Sunday and will hopefully feel that bounce that I get a day or two after finishing a course of antibiotics.
As bad luck would have it the high tides during the coming weekend will be before dawn and after sunset, which would complicate my exit from the marina. Monday is not practical because I want to avoid the complication of the Prefectura being closed on Sundays (and they give only 24 hours to depart.) It looks like the earliest time of departure will be Tuesday 3 July, with high tide at 8.09 AM, allowing me to leave as late as 10 AM. If I miss that date the tide will not be a problem because high tide is about 1 hour later each day.
This must be coordinated with the weather, of course, but in the last 2 weeks I have yet to see a clear and sustained weather window. We are affected by the northern side of a low pressure every few days, giving good starting winds, but there seems to be a perpetual High off the south coast of Brazil, meaning that I will be dealing with headwinds whenever I depart. So unless there are definite storm conditions on the way I'll set off and play the winds as I go.
Monday, June 25, 2012
This morning I hobbled into to town to deal with two commitments. I visited Electronica Naval and settled my account with Carlos. I thanked him, complimented him on his staff who never give up, and paid for 5 hours of labor which I considered generous to me.
I then walked up the hill past Edison St to El Alborito hardware and the proprietor hesitantly told me that he had my cylinders “vacio”. “No lleno?” I asked, to make sure that I had understood correctly. Presumably because of a backlog after the truck strike the cylinders had not been filled. He must have remembered that I had told him that I needed the cylinders today, full or not, because he had had them returned to his premises. I told him that I was “enfermo”, gesturing to my throat and head, and told him that I would be remaining in MdP for at least 3 more days. While I was leaving he told me that it wasn't his fault and I replied “claro”. I am to check on the cylinders tomorrow.
After a cup of hot soup over toast and cheese I had a long nap then grabbed my bucket of materials and went to the barbecue area where the tail of the wind charger was hanging, took it down and sanded it, then strung it up again and laid a third coat of paint on it. On the way back to the boat I dropped by the office and gave the small but nearly full can of new paint to Salvatore. The marina staff have been good to me. Last night at 4 AM the night watchman let me into the cozy pine-paneled meeting room with the router just over my head where I had a wonderful Skype conversation with my friend May in the hospital in Australia and her nephew Stephen, who has flown out from England.
This came about because an English speaking boating neighbor saw me outside in the cold wind with my netbook dodging rain showers and told me that the meeting room was for club members to use. He got the key, let me in, then helped arrange access to the room even in the middle of the night.
Besides allowing me to put a third coat of paint on that wind charger tail the delay has allowed me to download “WXTIDE32” to my first line computers. It is a wonderful piece of software that will give me accurate tide information at any time in any part of the world. I'll want this information when sailing in Angra dos Reis, with its shallow waters.
This is Monday evening. I'll lay low for a couple of days before decided on my departure date. I'm hoping for Saturday, which would mean provisioning with perishables on Thursday and Friday, settling my accounts with Yacht Club Argentino on Friday, and clearing with the authorities on Saturday morning, starting at 9 AM. I must get clearance from the Prefectura (Coast Guard) and Immigration; and I'm told that it is a relatively quick process. Once I get my clearance I'll have 24 hours in which to depart. They are serious about this and if there is a delay I'll have to notify them. High tide on Saturday is at 3.06 PM, which is when I would motor out of this shallow marina.
Saturday, June 23, 2012
|Badly Damaged "Lifetag" Board|
It's just as well that I didn't beat myself up all night about missing that MOB switch as the source of the problems. Yes, it caused a waste of time, but at least we identified and neutralized a major problem that would have tripped me up sooner or later.
Regarding the Raymarine “Lifetag” MOB system, the unit that I've got has two limitations that working together present a major problem. First, its range is limited. We originally installed the base station inside the cabin near the mast trying to minimize the maximum distance that the signal would have to cover between our bracelets and the base station. It is the loss of signal from a bracelet that triggers off the MOB alarm. Unfortunately we found that anyone working at the bow would sooner or later set off the MOB alarm. Similarly, occasionally someone steering the boat would set it off. It was too disruptive to have sleepy crew regularly woken up with these false alarms.
I reluctantly moved the base station to the companionway instrument panel knowing that there was a second limitation: the base station was not in a waterproof case and was obviously not designed to be mounted above deck. Nevertheless the base station held up OK and the system worked very well – until the wet run to the Horn.
When I return to Australia I'll probably get another Lifetag system, without bracelets if possible because after all it could save a life. I will fit a protective plastic cover over it, sealed with Silicone.
It was a clear and sunny day so in the afternoon I decided to bring down the tail of the Rutland wind charger so that I could wire brush the loose paint and rust, sand paper it, then put on a coat of white high gloss metal primer that I had purchased a few days earlier. (The man at the paint shop insisted that the one paint served as primer and top coat.) I set myself up at the barbecue area next to the shower rooms and after 2 hours I had the first coat laid. The paint seemed to be very, very good. I'll try to lay down 2 more coats (8 hours between coats) tomorrow, if possible. I don't know if I'll ever get the Rutland working again, but I don't want to prejudice the outcome by allowing the tail to be destroyed by corrosion.
I plan to visit Carlos on Monday at 10 AM to settle the account for the repair work. Tomorrow I'll have a good look at the weather forecast with a view to departing for Brazil on maybe Wednesday.
|Looking North to Port of MdP|
|Jorge with his Honda|
For most things I didn't mind using the internet facility of Club Nutico next door because the restaurant was warmer and more comfortable than the men's shower room that I had been using here at Club Argentino, with great coffee if it was morning and great house wines if it was late in the day. I could Skype North America in the late afternoon because they are 2-4 hours behind MdP, and Australia at 8 or 9 AM because Western Australia is 11 hours ahead of us. However, I had a special problem which necessitated my Skyping Australia in the middle of the night. A friend and long time neighbor is gravely ill and I wanted to telephone the hospital during their afternoon while her nephew was visiting.
Club Nautico is locked up during the night but I did a test and found that I could get a strong enough router signal from the street, in front of the club. Last night I walked off the boat 2.30 AM, set myself up outside of CN under a tree, but got no signal probably because they turn their router off for the night. I had had enough of this problem and decided not to let things slide.
This morning I sought the assistance of an English-speaking acquaintance who works on the catamaran on the other side of the jetty and we visited the YCA restaurant sort things out. After a lot of discussion and explanation it was established that both the office and the restaurant use a different router, the “office” one, so of course they were oblivious of my problem. When the restaurant tried to use the “restaurant” router mounted on a wall at a corner in the same room they got no service. At least now they know that there is a problem. In the meantime, I've been given the OK to go through the “office” router.
I then saw Jorge at the club and because he wasn't playing tennis due to a strained Achilles tendon and it was such a nice day he took me on a ride on his Honda motorcycle to the south of Mar del Plata, on the road to Miramar. On the way we stopped off at Electronica Naval and I was asked to return at 5 PM. With Jorge acting as translator I got the same message from the technician: there had been a sort of creeping corrosion at play. Jorge told me that the fishing boats have the same problem, particularly in the cold dampness of winter.
The road to the south is very nice. To the left was a very long and spectacular beach with all sorts of restaurants and other facilities along side. I can understand why so many people from Buenos Aires flock to MdP for their summer holiday. Unfortunately, there is very little free public access to the long beach and most of it requires the payment of a fee.
On the way back we rode along the south mole of the harbor and I bought us coffee and “medio lunas” (pastry in the shape of, well, a quarter moon, really, but they call it “half moon”.) While we were there I told Jorge that in my opinion (for what it's worth) the biggest problem of Mar del Plata is the port area. The rest of the city is clean and beautiful, but the puerto is neglected and dirty, with garbage strewn on the sidewalks and dog feces everywhere. In many other cities the port area is turned into an interesting and attractive tourist destination. A good effort along those lines has been made near the fishing fleet, but the rest of the town is a bit of a shambles. Like I told Jorge, it doesn't take a lot of money to be clean.
Jorge dropped me off at CN and I thanked him for showing me a part of the city that I would not have otherwise seen. On the way back to the boat I sat on a bench outside of the YCA office, set up the netbook on my lap, and connected through the office router with no problem.
I plan to try that Skype call from outside of the YCA office in the wee hours of tonight. At least I'll be on the premises not far from the boat. I wasn't particularly comfortable walking alone in the street in the dead of night.
I tend to be over self-critical, analyzing minutiae to see how I could have done it better. But once in a while I make a whopper where I really do deserve a big kick in the rear, and this was the week for one, hopefully the standout winner for the year.
It was to do with the autopilot problem. Today at about 2 PM Daniel showed up with the controller and set to work. We had initial success where the autopilot drove the rudder but then everything went pear shaped, as they say. Every time he connected the a course computer to the Seatalk network the network would fail and the chart plotter would not show position, depth, wind etc data. To me it was a slam dunk: the controller was putting noise into the network. However, Daniel insisted that there was no problem with the autopilot system and got to work with his multimeter.
The poor guy spent hours on the problem and I began to resign myself to the possibility of sailing to Brazil without the autopilot. At about 5 PM he started to look at the Seatalk cabling between the junction box where the data from the course computer joins the data from the depth and wind instruments and then on to the C120 chart plotter. To me this made no sense because if the wind and depth data passed through the junction box successfully to the C120 when the autopilot cable was disconnected the problem must be between the junction box and the autopilot.
Before I knew it we were tracking cables from the chart plotter forward, which had me fuming because it meant a lot of trouble such as removing the Trimble GPS to get to an access panel, emptying some of the contents in the port storage locker, cutting plastic ties with which I had so carefully bundled cables, etc , and in general turning Pachuca's cabin into a mess. Fortunately I held my counsel and cooperated, but doing a slow burn at what I thought was a dead end investigation.
We looked at the path of the flux gate compass, the depth sounder, and the wind instrument cables. I got out the documentation which showed how analogue data is passed down from the wind and depth transducers to their respective displays where it is converted to Seatalk. From the displays the data got to the C120 OK so all that had to be OK with those instruments. Daniel seemed to agree.
At about 6 PM - after dark - Daniel asked me where one of the Seatalk wires went to. When he disconnected it from the junction box everything worked – including the autopilot - and all of the required data was being displayed on the chart plotter. I couldn't understand how a Seatalk wire could be disconnected yet the C120 had all of the required data. We had a couple of tries at tracking the cable but the results didn't make much sense. I suggested that Daniel go home and leave me to tracking the cable in the morning but then I changed my mind, figuring that tracking down a black cable among many black cables was easier done with two people. I asked him if we could have one last try and to his credit he agreed – the guy never gives up.
We did very careful work, leapfrogging each other making absolutely sure that we hung on to the cable until the next stage, and it passed across to the forward switch panel, which didn't make sense to me because that panel contains 12V switches for the mast lights and sound system. I suggested that I remove the lower switch panel to find out where the cable was going and when I craned my neck to look at the front of the panel I saw a 3-letter label that hit me like a ton of bricks and told me what the problem probably was: “MOB”, representing “Man Overboard”. I had totally forgotten about the MOB system because it has been irrelevant to my life for literally years since I've been sailing alone. Arnold and I had installed the Raymarine “Lifetag” man overboard system in either Australia or New Zealand, a system where we wore bracelets and if we fell overboard a loud alarm would go off in the boat and a MOB waypoint would be put on the chart plotter. One of the quirks of the system, which Arnold understands better than me, is that two switches on the panel must be thrown together. I think that one is for 12V power and one is for data. Arnold had put a rubber band around the two switches to ensure that they were thrown together, but over time the rubber band must have dropped off. On this “Whopper of the Year” day I saw that one switch was up and one was down. I told Daniel that I thought I knew what the problem was and asked him to connect up the entire Seatalk system, including the MOB Seatalk cable, and I would put both MOB switches down. We did that and everything worked beautifully. Then when I flipped the one switch to the state where I had encountered it the Seatalk network died. The interesting thing was that even if I flipped both MOB switches On together the Seatalk network still died, so I will have to investigate this. I told Daniel that being a Lone Sailor again means that the MOB system is irrelevant and I'll just leave both switches off and worry about it later. Daniel asked if he could take the Lifetag documentation with him for study and I agreed.
Daniel thinks that there was not a problem with the autopilot controller to start with. I had turned on the system to test it, not knowing that one of the MOB switches was on, found the Seatalk network down, and assumed that the autopilot controller had failed again and contacted Carlos for help.
Daniel asked me to leave everything as is and he will return tomorrow morning to help me button everything up and make sure that the electronic systems are working correctly.
Carlos and I had had a gentle tussle about payment when I first saw him. He indicated that they would fix the controller gratis and I insisted that I would pay for their time. We agreed to discuss it after the work was done. Well, that's settled now. This one was definitely on me. I've apologized to Daniel and told him that I would be calling Carlos to wear the cost of Daniel's time. Carlos probably will have a chuckle and not think that I deserve a kick in the ass, but I think that there will be a very brief discussion about payment.
I'm salving my ego with a bit of red wine … hic ….
Thursday, June 21, 2012
I explained how the radar was OK but the autopilot was exhibiting the same symptoms as before, even though I had been keeping the controller/display fully protected from water. Carlos replied that he wasn't surprised. Once salt water invades a multilayered board it is very difficult to get all of the salt out of the system and there is often a failure after 3 or 4 months. He told me that they would get the unit working again and it would buy me enough time to get me to the next place, and with luck the repair might last much longer. I told him that it sounded to me like I should replace the unit as soon as I could get my hands on a new one, and he agreed. He told me that importation into Argentina was becoming more difficult and he thought that I might better luck in Brazil. If I can't get a replacement unit in Rio I'll bring one back from the USA.
He was happy to hear that I would be able to disconnect the controller and course computer myself and bring them to his shop because it would save his people some time. He also asked me to bring a Seatalk cable if possible.
I dismounted the controller with no problem and almost succeeded with the course controller but try as I might I could not release the four power cables. I took the controller and the cable to the shop. Carlos was not there but I showed a photograph of the course computer to the technician and explained that I couldn't figure out how to release those last 4 cables. He replied that he didn't need the computer to check out the controller and asked me to return tomorrow. If they have success with the controller I'm fairly sure that they will do the re-installation themselves to validate the repair.
Jorge dropped by the boat while I was still trying to release those cables from the course computer. He had a try at it and concluded that we'd better back off lest we break something. He had come to bring me a tub of Dulce de Leche, which he recommends as an energy booster while I am sailing. After thanking him for his thoughtfulness I asked him if there was some sort of a truck strike going on. Yes, there is a national truck strike in progress.
Later I walked to the hardware store but I didn't expect the LPG cylinders to be full and ready, and so it was. The man told me that he could arrange to have my empty cylinders at the store in 30 minutes but I told him that I could wait until Monday, at which time I would need the cylinders filled or not filled. If I understood him correctly, the strike has been settled and it will take a day or 2 for the new supplies to arrive from BA but he assured me that the cylinders would be full and ready for me on Monday.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
|Pato Fitting the Rope Around the Halyard|
In the afternoon I visited the hardware store to pick up the filled gas cylinders and I was told that due to a truck strike of some sort I wouldn't be able to pick them up before Thursday afternoon, or Friday morning if I wished. I told the man fine, but Friday was the final possible day because I expected to sail out of MdP on the weekend. That was another example of why not wait until the last minute to get things done.
After looking at the marine weather forecasts for the last two days it looked like Sunday the 24th would be a good day to go. I made a final check list of things to do and decided that tomorrow, Thursday, I would make the go/no-go decision about Sunday. For today my tasks included running the engine and checking the gear and propeller drive. While the engine was running I decided to check out the boat's electronics system. I had run the radar several weeks earlier but had not tested the entire Seatalk network in months.
To my disappointment the Raymarine electronic system exhibited all of the symptoms that had been the result of a fault in the autopilot controller. The controller displayed “Seatalk Failure”. Although the depth and wind instruments were on and working OK, their data was not showing up on the C120 chart plotter. The chart plotter would intermittently lose the boat's position. The radar was working fine, though when I overlayed it with the chart its display would intermittently disappear then reappear. When the radar was displayed in its own dedicated window the display was continuous.
So at this point I have radar, AIS, depth and wind data at the cockpit, but I have no autopilot and the depth and wind data cannot be monitored on the C120.
The autopilot display had been sealed with silicone and I had placed a high quality plastic bag over it and the GPS at the binnacle, and the normal canvas cover over the lot. Not one drop of water could have touched the display since we installed it after the repair.
Tomorrow I will visit the electronics company to report my problems. Even though they are very fast workers I must be prepared to wait until next week for this problem to be resolved one way or the other.
Fortunately the day ended on a high note. Pato Salas had returned on the 19th as planned and to my surprise I saw him at the club in the afternoon. He had been part of a crew racing a maxi yacht in the Mediterranean. This afternoon he climbed up the mast and addressed something that can be a problem. Apparently it is possible for the jib halyard to wrap around the winding mechanism at the top of the head stay when it is slack during, say, a sail drop. The can put torque on the wire causing damage. This struck a cord with me because the head stay was so damaged at the top swage when I arrived in Hawaii that it had to be swapped out, even though it was only about 3 years old.
Today he arrived with a special high-strength rope with a tough abrasion resistant covering that he had prepared for the job, which was to pass the rope from one cap shroud, between the halyard and the head stay, to the other cap shroud. I watched what he was doing with binoculars and I could see that he was working carefully to make sure that the tension and knotting were correct. When he got back down to the deck I thanked him telling me about the problem, which nobody else had told me about, and going to the trouble to remedy it. Pato wants to make sure that I have no problem with the work done on this boat, not just as the professional representative of North Sails, but as a friend; and I greatly appreciate that.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Enclosed are two photos of the lazarette water protection that I installed yesterday. On the sides you can see two of the flat aluminum pieces that I used to hold the canvas down. In the unzipped position I have full access to the lazarette.
Monday, June 18, 2012
Today has been one of those crisp cloudless days and I took advantage of the drying opportunity to hand wash the "Ice Breaker" wool top and green sweater which I wear week after week. Once I set sail fresh water will be too scarce for this kind of washing.
When I went topside to hang them I realized that I had not put up the "Dieter Line", the rope lifeline that I pass from the cockpit, round the mast and back. I dug out the rope from storage and strung it up with great care because a sloppy knot could prove fatal.
I also carried the gas cylinders to the hardware store for filling. It was about a 3 km walk generally up hill with the half-filled large one on my back in the duffel bag and the smaller near empty one in hand. I pick them up tomorrow afternoon and I'll probably take a cab back to the marina. On the way back to the boat I dropped by the boating hardware shop and picked up a new Argentinean flag. The one on Pachuca has been flying since February and has developed a tear. I want to return to Australia with flags in good condition of all of the countries and that we have visited, to be used on yacht club occasions when the boat needs to be "dressed up."
This day, Monday, isthe third without access to the internet. I tried at 10 AM with no success. If a fail again at Club Nautico this evening I'll either post the blog entries via Sailmail, which means no photographs, or perhaps visit the nearbby Esso station restaurant tomorrow and try their internet.
In the afternoon I had a go at bringing down the wind charger. The plan was to open it up and see if I could find any problem. I was particularly eager to look at the state of the brushes, which may have been worn to nothing during the charger's phenomenal rpm's in the incessant gales around the Horn. Unfortunately I hit an unexpected problem. One of the bolts holding the unit in the vertical mounting tube at the of the boat will not back out. I manage to get a slight movement but I could not improve on this after much effort using WD40. The bolt is stainless steel and I don't think that galling is an issue. The fit of the stalk of the wind charger into the mounting tube has become sloppy and it is possible that the bolt has been ever so slightly bent. I can put only so much force on the bolt because I must use an allen key. Rather than persevere and risk damage to either the unit or myself I decided to back off and think about the problem for a while. If I cannot make progress I'll call in a professional who, if he can't remove the bolt the gentle way using mechanical tricks up his sleeve, can always knock off the head of the bolt with an angle grinder. I won't be too upset if I am not able to fix the unit in Brazil because I'm comfortable with the thought of sailing back to Australia without the use of the wind charger.
After that disappointment I decided to fit the heavy waterproof cov er over the lazarette doors. This cover was made by Doug the sailmaker in La Paz and resent tests indicate that it will probably stop the large amounts of water that have been finding their way into the bilge in heavy weather. After screwing the top and sides into position I used a generous amount of silicone sealant across the top to make sure that no water can find its way from the seat into the lazarette. If I have access to the internet I'll publish photos of the curtain.
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As Luis was walking back to his office I thanked him for his help and explained that the router was OK but there was an "otra problema", indicating with my hands out there somewhere. Then he told me something that explained this weekend's problems and probably the other intermittent internet problems that I have experienced during my stay at MdP. He told me that because today was "Deo de Padre" (Father's Day) the internet network was "saturado". Now I know that the network can get saturated to the point beyond slow service to no service at all, and I no longer need to blame my machines or the local routers.
This is Sunday, 17 June. Pato will be back on Tuesday and I expect to depart for Brazil by the weekend, weather permitting, so it's time to start get the "final things" done. Yesterday I filled the four 20-liter jugs with water. I also got more supplies from the supermarket. At the moment the boat is stocked well enough with the basics to support me all of the way to Cape Town, let alone Brazil. Provisioning was not as difficult (or expensive) as I had expected, largely because the boat still had plenty of supplies from La Paz. I've got 20 cans of corn kernels, 18 cans of tuna in tomato sauce, 10 kg of flour, 8 Kg of rice, 7.5 kg of spaghetti, 4 kg of powdered milk, 35 packets of instant soup, 2 kg of honey, and much else.
This morning I purchased 3 kg each of bulk almonds and raisins, giving me a total of 6 kg of almonds and 10 kg of raisins on board.
Then I had great success with a little project that I had been thinking about for a long time. With the advent of the cold weather and winter rains the sliding hatch had again become sticky and difficult to slide. The problem wasn't as bad as it had been on the way to the Horn when I was at one point concerned that I might have to go in and out of the cabin via the top hatch, but nevertheless I could slide the hatch open from the inside only with a very hard pull on the ropes that I clip on to the front.
Bob Carroll in La Paz had told me about heavy duty silicone sprays and I sailed out with two cans of CRC "Heavy Duty Silicone" and one can of Boeshield "T-9", developed by the Boeing Company for aircraft. But I had not used the sprays until today. I used the sprays on the hatch slides, using the small delivery tube to inject it into the hidden parts of the slide, while working the hatch back and forth. I finished the treatment when I could "throw" the hatch open from the cockpit with one hand and open and close it from the inside using two fingers. I understand that both products have lot of "staying power", so hopefully I'll get by with a treatment every 2 or 3 months.
At 4.30 PM I decided to finish cleaning the bilge, even though there was only 90 minutes of daylight left. I had cleaned the aft part of the bilge from the stern tube to the front of the engine when I changed the oil, but now I wanted to complete the job and I knew that if I didn't do it now I would not probably do it before my departure. It is one of my quirks that I like leaving on a long passage with a clean and dry bilge. After a hard hour of work the job was completed, and I must say that it had gotten through the past few months remarkably clean. … On the other hand, an awful lot of water had streamed through it during the long and wet passage passage from La Paz.
I plan to fix across the lazarette opening the vinyl curtain that Doug the sailmaker made for me in La Paz and hope to arrive in Brazil with a dry bilge.
I then changed my mind about going to Club Nautico for a glass of house red over a "Hamburguesa Completa" (a hamburger that includes ham, cheese, and a fried egg – Yum!) and cracked open a bottle of Malbec (Hacienda Los Haroldos, 2010) for a glass before ambling to the shower room to try out my luck with the Internet. Afterward I would have a fried pork chop and vegetables and settle in for my nightly movie.
Tomorrow I'll begin purchasing the perishables such as fresh beef, pork, chicken, cheese, eggs, fresh fruit and vegetables, and several loaves of bread. I expect to be able to enjoy fresh food (and plenty of pressure cooker stews) all of the way to Brazil. I'll also swap the half-full large cylinder with the one that I had filled weeks ago then take it to "Arbolito" hardware to have it topped up. That is the cylinder that Rick gave me in La Paz and has the two brackets which are perfect for mount on the aft rail. Along with that will go the smaller aluminum cylinder from Australia. That means that I will be sailing out with all three cylinders full, which will probably be enough gas to support me to Cape Town. One of the principles of cruising that I've learned the hard way is "Get it while you can."
Once Alfredo gives the OK on a weather window for my departure the last things that I will do is to visit the main office of YCA to settle my account with them and also the Prefectura to receive my permit to sail away.
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Saturday, June 16, 2012
"Traditionally, a sailor who had rounded the Horn was entitled to wear a gold loop earring — in the left ear, the one which had faced the Horn in a typical eastbound passage — and to dine with one foot on the table; a sailor who had also rounded the Cape of Good Hope could place both feet on the table."
I just might return to Fremantle a one earring, two feet man ....
Friday, June 15, 2012
With the Open CPN software using the C-,map chart I saw that there was a small scale chart covering a section of the north island, the principal one. I could see an anchorage and a settlement.
I then brought up MarinePlotter, centered the view of the main island, with position roughly at 37S05 and 12W17, and started drilling down, getting more and more detailed images of the island. The island is the top of a whopping big volcano, hopefully extinct, and the Google images are spectacular. On the northwest of the island I saw the small community named “Edinburgh of the Seven Seas” which seemed to have modern buildings. I could see roads, what looked like boats “parked” next to a road, the cemetery, and a tiny harbor; but the anchorage is just offshore, in about 5 m of water if I snuggle up to the shore.
Having seen the closeup satellite photos of the settlement dispelled any mystery and anxiety of the historic island, and I may well anchor there for a couple of days for some rest, exploration, and modest provisioning. I say “modest” provisioning because I wouldn't want to tax any of the island's scarce resources supplied from overseas. But I would be interested in water, if they can spare it, fresh fish, and whatever other local delights they can supply.
The island is about 2000 nm from Brazil and 1500 nm from Cape Town, making it a very convenient stop. The climate should be hospitable at 37 degrees South in the summer.
This morning the power supply to the boat failed while I was boiling the kettle and making toast. It turned out that the 15 amp plug connecting the shore cable to the boat was fried to a crisp. I knew that the plug was under stress, given that the plastic insulation was steadily getting blacker and blacker. Had I shown more disciplined about running only one thing at a time the plug would have seen me through my stay at MdP. Unfortunately running the heater and the hot water kettle and the toaster concurrently in a 240V system was asking a bit much of the plug.
In the afternoon I walked into town in search of a replacement plug. On the way I ran into Alfredo walking his black poodle and he confirmed that the electrical places that I needed were on Edison Street. I told Alfredo that he has been recommended as the man to see about getting the weather go/no go on my departure for Brazil because of his extensive experience in sailing to Uruguay and he agreed to advise me of a weather window after 21 June.
At the third shop (Casa Blanco on Edison Street) I managed to find plugs, but unfortunately I was able to bring back only 10 amp “female” plugs, rather than15 or 20 amp plugs that I required, and they would not fit into the 20 amp “male” plugs that supplies shore power to the boat. So instead of having the entire boat supplied with 240V, meaning that the 60-amp inverter keeps the batteries charged and all of Pachuca's 240V wall outlets are active, I am now running basically an extension cord from the jetty into the boat. Off this cord I'll be able to supply either the power board that supplies the heater and computers, or the electric jug or the toaster. This means that the batteries will not be charged. This is really not a problem because I expect to remain here only a week or 10 days at the most, and the fully charged batteries should support the refrigerator and lighting until my departure. Besides, I'll probably want to run the engine for an hour or two before I sail out, which will charge up the batteries.
Finally, I sent a query to Sailmail Technical Support explaining my problem of not being able to raise the Brazil weatherfax service. I can get to Brazil OK without weather faxes, but I definitely will need weather faxes from Brazil when crossing the first half of the South Atlantic for Cape Town. (Beyond that I should be able to get useful weather faxes out of South Africa.)
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Wednesday, June 13, 2012
I then carried my dirty laundry in the duffel bag, dropped it off at the lavadora, then walked over to Toledo, the large grocery store, to bring back a load of provisions for the boat. Back at the boat the task of storing the provisions was not as simple as cramming them into the cabin lockers. I decided to take the opportunity to audit my supplies and clean out the storage lockers. I had worked hard to keep the spreadsheet up to date as I drew out supplies during the passage from La Paz, but the audit revealed that a few inaccuracies had crept in, usually meaning that I had less than the spread sheet indicated.
I completely emptied the entire starboard cabin locker which created a serious mess in the cabin, cleaned out the locker with a solution of detergent and bleach in warm water, then began storing items and recording them as I went along. I must say that everything in the hold had fared amazingly well, given the rough weather on the run to the Horn. In general no cans were rusty, no labels had come off, and vulnerable items such as the flour and oat meal had survived with no damage. However, the bottom of he locker had gotten wet because the large amount of water going into the shallow bilge would find its way across the relatively flat bottom of the hull into the lockers as the boat rolled. I'm hoping that my plan to fit that vinyl curtain over the opening to the lazarette will avoid this in the future. Tomorrow I will give the port locker the same treatment and when I am finished with that I'll have a very accurate picture of what supplies I have where.
Last night I recalled another reason for testing the communications equipment: the backstay had been replaced which meant that the HF antenna between the two new isolators was new. To gain more confidence I tuned in to BBC short wave radio at 9 AM and listened to the news then a report on the Greek financial crisis over coffee and toast. Also, the test message that I had sent out via Sailmail arrived at my Gmail address OK. At this point I am satisfied that Pachuca's communications system is ready for sea.
And I had a scare with the Toshiba laptop, my first line computer. For two days the battery was down to 7% but while the machine was connected to the wall plug the reported status was “Plugged in but not charging.” The battery would simply not charge. The battery could not have degenerated so much so quickly. Perhaps, I thought, the battery is really at 100% and the system is confused. So I ran the laptop solely on battery and 5 minutes later it shut down with only 4% power, so the battery was indeed almost drained. But why wouldn't it charge? It really is important that the machine be able to support itself on batteries because there are times when I must disconnect it from the inverter when out at sea if I suspect that a ground loop is interfering with the Pactor communications. What would Stephen do? I asked myself, and instantly I knew the answer. I removed the laptops battery, counted to 5, then plugged it back in, and the machine began charging as though nothing had happened. Go figure.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
After clearing the cockpit and cabin and cleaning the boat for my guest I went to the market early today and purchased the main ingredients of the lunch, such as sliced ham, salami, cheddar cheese, and fresh bread and vegetables. At the pastry shop I purchased some goodies for desert. I expected Jorge anytime after noon, so I occupied my time doing useful things such as setting up the jack lines on deck (I had stowed them below to protect them from the weather and UV radiation.) and doing preliminary work on setting up the electronic navigation and communications systems.
Jorge showed up at about 1 PM and brought with him a Suter Privado Brut white wine. Jorge had said that it would be good and he was not wrong – it was perfect for the lunch. Jorge helped me set out the food and here some of the cultural differences showed up. He liked olive oil over his fresh tomatoes and I liked mustard on my bread. We both had healthy helpings from a jar of olives that I had brought from Mexico. He agreed with my comment that it was a very Mediterranean lunch, what with the bread, cheese, olives, wine, etc. We had a nice and slow lunch enjoying the fresh food, crisp wine, and the conversation.
Afterward I presented the pastry for desert and he smiled, pointing out another cultural difference. What I call pastry the Argentinians call “factura” that is for either breakfast or with coffee in the afternoon. We both had a laugh about that but each enjoyed a fresh Danish, as it is called in Australia.
At 3.30 PM it was time for Jorge to leave, but I could look forward the plan for the coming weekend for Jorge, his wife, and their friend Marta to take me for a “goodbye” drive around Mar Del Plata. Also, Jorge plans to visit Angra dos Reis in August, so I am hoping to see him there before I fly off to the U.S.
I walked out with Jorge so that he could ask Luis at the office why there had not been water on this jetty for 3 days. Luis knew nothing about it but his brother Salvador nodded that yes, there was a minor problem of some sort. As we walked away I asked Jorge if I had understood correctly that it was a coupling problem. Yes, it was a minor connection problem. 'But Luis the boss didn't know about it!' I exclaimed. Jorge shrugged his shoulders and replied “That's Argentina.” No statement was made about when I could expect water, but now that Luis the boss knows about the problem I hope that it won't be too long. … After all, I am paying $30 USD per day for my slip and last week I got a visit from the owner of a nearby 3-spreader boat about the size of Pachuca who pays only $80 per month. The Gringo Discount is alive and well in Argentina.
In the evening I resumed my work with the navigation and communication system and I must say that I was very pleased with the result. I set up the Toshiba laptop on the navigation table. The laptop has only 2 USB port so I connected the 6-port USB hub to one port and the cable from the Pactor modem to the other. To the hub I plugged in the mouse and the BU-353 GPS antenna. The tricky part is figuring out what dynamic name the system will give to the ports, but after some fiddling I had the OpenCPN software showing the position of the boat with uncanny accuracy. But I was not able to share the GPS data assigned to OpenCPN with Marine Plotter, the system that shows me Google satellite images as well as charts. So I found my backup BU-353 (I'm a maniac for spares) and plugged it into the USB hub. After more fiddling I had both OpenCPN and MP, each with a dedicated GPS antenna, showing the boat's position.
While the navigation software was running I turned on the HF radio and Pactor III modem and before long was able to send a test message via Sailmail (Airmail 3) through a Chile station.
This might seem like ho-hum stuff, but to me it was important. When electronic systems are left dormant for a long time there is always the danger that just before sailing you discover that something is not working. Fortunately at this point Pachuca's electronic navigation and communications systems are working and ready for sea.
… And let's think about what we have here …. We've got a low-end laptop connected to two GPS antennas and one Pactor modem handling all of the boat's navigation and text communications. The navigation software also has AIS capability. There are two backup computers ready for duty in case of failure.
In my opinion the days of the expensive proprietary chart plotter are over. If radar is an issue, I can envision radars that put out generic data such as NMEA, which can be directed directly to a laptop via a USB port. Such radars may exist already, for all I know. And with that would go the centralized proprietary local networks. I can't help recalling how what turned out to be an Autopilot controller problem at the binnacle of Pachuca brought down the boat's entire Seatalk network, blinding me to wind, depth, and other data. I like the idea of a system where every component (e.g. GPS, AIS, Radar) communicates to a laptop independently via USB, and if the laptop fails, no problem: swap in the spare. … And why would anyone pay $400 USD for a proprietary cartridge containing all of the charts of South America when they can download all of the Google images that they will require and in the case of Brazil, download every electronic chart for free?
Maybe there is a future for proprietary chart plotters. As they say in Missouri, Show Me.
Monday, June 11, 2012
I then cleared the rest of the area between the quarter berths and drew diesel fuel from the bottom of each tank. Both tanks required prodding with wire to get the full stream of fuel. Although some some debris and cloudy fuel came out I was pleased to see that there was no water.
I decided to push on and dig the 35 lb Swarbrick “fisherman” anchor out of the starboard quarter berth storage. While that space was open I removed the remnants of the rigging wire from the passage from La Paz and replaced it with four spare pieces from the recent re-rigging: One lower shroud, two intermediate shrouds, and one cap shroud. The lower and cap shrouds are of 10mm wire and the intermediates are of 8mm, The spare backstay was in pieces because the insulators had been removed so I got rid of it. The spare forestay had tapered wire rather than a fitting at the top end so I dumped it too. I have no illusions about being able to replace anything other than the lower shrouds at sea, but the wire and attached fittings would give me a shot at replacing failed ends using bulldog clamps as I did before. I also carefully stowed all of the leftover toggle fittings and a dozen bulldog clamps.
I stowed the three pieces of the Swarbrick anchor at the foot of the closet. I'll probably assemble it and have it ready to go during my stay at Angra.
I'll have a lay day from work tomorrow. I'm expecting Jorge for lunch. I hope that the sky is as brilliant then as it was today.
Sunday, June 10, 2012
|Pachuca Pointed to the Exit|
I completed the refuelling of the boat today.
In the morning I found that the caps that I had epoxied over the vents of the last two containers were firm and airtight under pressure. I had them filled with 43 litres of diesel. I then spent the afternoon carefully tying down the cylinders to the wooden rails secure enough for the coming voyage.
The fuelling job isn't quite over. I plan to draw fuel from the bottom of the internal tanks to remove any water or debris.
The next two tasks that came to mind were to turn the boat around and to put two anchors on the deck.
At the moment the boat is tied side on to the jetty facing the shore. It is going to be a lot easier and safer for me to turn the boat by hand ahead of time rather than using the engine at departure time, when I'll have other things to worry about. The boat is at a corner with the jetty on the starboard side then running across the bow about 20 meters ahead. My plan has been to wait for a gentle northerly wind blowing the boat away from the jetty then use the wind and ropes to make the turn. That opportunity presented itself late yesterday afternoon. I passed my longest rope, what was the topping lift, from the aft port cleat across the water to the end of the section of jetty ahead of the boat. I tide a long and supple line off the bow. The idea was to release all lines but the bow line, let the boat swing square to the jetty then pull the stern toward the other section of the jetty. I would then pull the bow along the side jetty to where the stern used to be then tie the boat up. After transferring fenders to the port side I disconnected the power then released all but the bow rope and waited for the boat to move. To my surprise it didn't. I then went to the cross jetty and pulled on the stern line, but the boat wouldn't budge. I looked over to the shore wall and saw that we were at low tide. Duh! The boat had been floating in a trench that it had gouged at the bottom with its keel, but it would certainly not move from there. So now I must wait for both the correct wind and the correct tide (medium to high). I'll also have to factor in the tide for my exit.
I returned to the boat at 11 AM after an Internet session at Club Nautico to find that the tide was high and there was a gentle breezed off the starboard quarter of the boat – perfect conditions for swinging the boat around. I executed the plan described above with no trouble. As I was pulling the boat along the jetty by the bow Jorge showed up with his friend Marta and helped me with the stern line. After a long and pleasant chat with them I secured the boat in her new orientation. I should have no trouble casting off by myself when the wind is gentle and the tide is high.
I've been doing a lot of work with the laptop computers for the last week or so.
I have installed of David Miller's Questor Software MarinePlotter v18.104.22.168. This is a successor to his GpsPlotter which was so useful to me in my passage from La Paz. With MP I've been able to incorporate the free electronic Raster Nautical Charts (RNC) covering all of Brazil so that now I will be able to see the progress of Pachuca in either a Google satellite image or RNC or both. (The new system also handles the newer Electronic Nautical Chart (ENC) vector charts.) I've spent a lot of time gathering Google close up images of the parts of Brazil that I expect to be visiting.
For a week my Windows 7 machine had not been able to receive Microsoft updates because the service was not running on the machine. This worried me because it could mean a virus. Yesterday I telephoned Stephen in Australia about it and he solved the problem in about 2 minutes. Today he helped me install the Avast! anti-virus package. With this and other upgrades that I've performed over the last few weeks all 3 laptops on board are ready for sea.
Friday, June 8, 2012
|Epoxied Vent Caps|
I made 3 trips to the gasoline station and brought back 120 liters in 6 containers. Before leaving for the station I would give the empty containers the prescribed dose of additive to make sure that there is no growth of algae while the fuel is on deck. I had learned that the filling station offered cleaner diesel than the fishing boat harbor, but it got better because the station offered two grades of diesel: ordinary and “Euro plus diesel”, which contains additives. With the language barrier I couldn't learn what the additives are, but I figured that they wouldn't hurt the Volvo engine and probably help it.
I topped up the internal tanks with about 50 liters of fuel, some of which remained on deck after the trip and the rest from my new purchases. I used the Baja filter when topping up the tanks, which was a piece of cake in the calm waters of the marina.
Today I purchased another 80 liters in two trips.
The last two containers are missing the caps to the air vents. Air vents are not required and the newer containers do not have them, but with the older ones there is the problem of losing them. One that I was given in La Paz didn't have one to start with and I got by by using the vent cap from the gasoline container, which I will be needing again soon. The other one was lost sometime after I emptied its contents on the way to the Horn. I figure that getting new caps would be next to impossible, bearing in mind that the two missing ones have different threads, so I decided to have a go at salvaging them. I visited the hardware store and got epoxy components in paste form. I cleaned the vents as much as possible with alcohol and found two plastic drink bottle caps which I also cleaned. I then mixed a batch of epoxy, rammed as much as possible into the holes with a knife to make a plug, then coated the threads with epoxy. Then I loaded up the caps with epoxy and fitted them over the vents. The idea is for the threads to provide a mechanical grip on the makeshift cap. I'll know in the morning whether the containers are useful.
If the container repair works I'll be leaving MdP with 140 liter of diesel in the internal tanks and 220 liters on deck. Otherwise I'll have 180 liters on deck.
Including the empty container that fell overboard in my calculation, I figure that I used 260 liters of diesel on the passage from La Paz to MdP, which reprsents and average of 2.1 liters per day.
The price of the diesel is 6.7 pesos, or about $1.50 a liter, yielding a total cost of about $400.
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
|Two-way movement on stay|
|Sheet inside shroud|
|Close to the wind|
|Tack shackled to stay|
After doing some Internet and shopping at the market I set to work on finishing the staysail project. I dragged one of the jetty hoses to the boat and after topping up the boat's water tanks I gave the new deck fittings a heavy hosing and happily found them to be watertight. That being assured I spent a couple of hours screwing the cabin ceiling panels in position.
Even though there were occasional showers I put up the staysail to check out the new fittings. I actually wanted to get the sail wet because it hasn't been able to fully dry due to the salt spray during the Horn adventure. Before nightfall I would hose it down and drop it on the deck overnight.
The prime task was to see how the sail set when using the new deck fittings for the sheet blocks. The accompanying photos tell the story. The shot from aft shows how the sheet now passes inside of the shrouds, instead of through the gap between the shrouds as before. This enables the sail to be sheeted closer to the wind.
An important factor is the angle at which the sheet meets the clew. I positioned the block after trial and error with the sail up, but I used the reinforcing strap at the clew as my guide. The side shot show that the sheet lines up fairly well with the strap.
In the closeup of where the sail and stay are joined to the deck fitting you can see how the riggers fixed the stay with toggles going in two directions, which will allow more flexibility of movement of the stay, making life easier for the lower swage.
I also addressed a problem that I noted during my run to the Horn. Because the tack of the sail is on a wire strop that connects it to the deck fitting the lower part of the luff of the sail tended to draw away from the stay, ruining the shape of the lower 2 ft or so of the sail. The side shot shows my simple solution: a shackle holding the tack to the stay.
While I was finishing up we got a gentle shower of small pebbles of hail that bounced around the top of the boat.
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
|Fitting before cleanup|
|Hefty backing plate|
|Fitting after cleanup|
|Jorge, emissary from the angels|
I woke up to a crisp and cloudless day and decided to spend the morning doing some more computer work at the Club Nautico restaurant. I took the oldest machine, a Toshiba laptop that I had brought from Australia. As expected, 14 Microsoft updates were installed and I upgraded the Panda antivirus and Adobe software. I also installed a copy of David Miller's “MarinePlotter” software (v22.214.171.124) so that now I am able to run it from any of the three computers. Working with the old Toshiba I realized what a great machine it is. It runs XP, my preference, has a large screen that seems crisper than my other two machines, and sports 3 USB ports. The only problem with the computer is that for some reason (I suspect the microcode) batteries do not last more than a few months and for the last 18 months I've run it without batteries, which means that the slightest glitch in the inverter while I am out at sea would cause the machine to drop dead immediately forcing a reboot. … Hmm …. I might give it one more chance and buy a 3rd battery for it during my U.S. visit.
While I was working Jorge showed up for his daily tennis session. I told him that it would be a wonderful day for tennis and he said that he hoped to be able to play singles because he doesn't like standing around getting cold and cramps when playing doubles. This would prove to be very important to me. Just before he set off he asked me if I needed help on the boat because this would be a great day for it. I told him that as a matter of fact I did because I could sure use somebody on the deck holding the bolts (8 of them) with a wrench while I was below tightening the nuts. He told me to expect him in 2 hours so I immediately packed up the computers and set off for the boat to get ready.
I covered the cabin table, set out the tools and materials, then loosened the ceiling panels. Just then Jorge showed up. I told him that he was early and he explained that they were playing doubles and he wasn't interested. That was a stroke of luck for me because he was able to help me with a tricky job: I could drill only from the top and the 4 holes that I had drilled were not exactly parallel and were not meeting the holes on the bottom plate. Helped me sort that out and 90 minutes later we were ready to lay down the adhesive sealant and bolt in the fittings. I had purchased Sikaflex 291 at San Fernando but decided to try a tube of 3M 5200 that I had on board. To my delight the sealant had not hardened and I was able to use it. Jorge had to be somewhere at a certain time and we managed to finish the job before he had to leave.
Before he left I thanked Jorge and told him that an angel must have sent him in my hour of need. It's uncanny how Jorge offered his help at the exact hour that I needed it.
After a late lunch and a short nap I put away the tools and cleaned the cabin. I left the ceiling panels down so that I can test for leaks tomorrow. Jorge told me that a NW wind was blowing cold air from over the Andes and we could expect rain and possibly snow tomorrow. He pointed to the high cirrus clouds. Sure enough by late afternoon more clouds had set in. If nature doesn't help me test for leaks tomorrow I'll use a hose.
At this point the entire staysail system has been replaced: new forestay terminating in a new deck fitting that I put in a few weeks ago, and new deck fittings for the sheet blocks.
Monday, June 4, 2012
|1. Full Mainsail|
|2. First Reef|
|3. Second Reef|
|4. Sail in Cover|
Today I put up the mainsail. It was still raining this morning but I kept my cool and spent time working on the navigation software on two of the computers. Then at noon I set off for the market to buy fruit and vegetables and 4 port chops. After a light lunch and a short nap the weather had cleared up enough to start the work. There was a 10 knot breeze off the port bow which would have the effect of driving the boat into the jetty which I deemed to be safe.
The task was to fix the battens, and it would be a mistake to consider this a trivial task because a sloppy job can result in the loss of a batten and a torn sail. There are 5 battens. To fit each batten I would hoist the sail until its pocket was just above the boom. I slid the batten into the pocket from the back of the sail then between the sides of the plastic holder which sandwiched the batten at the front of the sail. Then I lined up the hole at the front of the batten with the holes of the holder and passed a special bolt through it and secured it. I also made sure that the screws holding the two sides of the holder were nice and tight. Then I went to the back of the sail and shoved in a Velcro strap into the pocket to hold the batten in, using a tool made of batten material that I was given for the job. So the batten was now held in place by a bolt in the front and the Velcro strap at the back. The rain and wind behaved just enough to allow me to finish the work without any dramas, though I got a scare from a near miss from a rain squall.
I then fully hoisted the sail, photographed it, and tightened the lazy jacks for the drop. I also fitted the Velcro strap that holds the clew of the sail to the boom. The sail is “loose footed”, with the foot held down to the boom only at the two ends. I then lowered the sail to the first reefing point and fitted the downhaul line at the forward reefing point and the reefing line at aft reefing point. After photographing the sail I repeated the process for the second reef. It will take close scrutiny of the accompanying photographs to see the differences in sail area between the full and first reefed mainsail. The second reef is easier to identify, but it still leaves a bit too much sail area for my liking, as I've grumbled about for years.
Then I had the great pleasure of zipping the mainsail into its cover, to which Pato had added a hefty 6 inches or so of extra material on each side of the zipper. For the first time in the 7 years that I've had the sail cover and after two inadequate alterations by the manufacturer to correct the problem I was able to zip it up with ease the way it should have been from the beginning.
At this point Pachuca's rigging and sails are ready for sea. It's taken 3 ½ months but it's been well worth the wait, though it hasn't been a painful wait, given all of the touring that Brenda and I did, and not to mention the pleasant life at this marina.
Friday, June 1, 2012
|Mast Step Cords|
|Wide UV Bands|
|Private Security in San Fernando|
Pato had the mainsail repaired and ready when I returned to MdP. He dropped it off on Thursday and told me that he would come by the boat at about 11 AM today. This morning he came as promised and the first thing that we did was to put up the new headsail.
I must say that I am very pleased with the sail that North Sail produced for Pachuca. Its size (135%, 514 sq ft) and weight (9.55 oz) are as I expected, and Pachuca's Fremantle Sailing Club number 330 was stitched on both sides of the sail as I had requested. I was happy to note the generously wide bands of UV protection along the luff and foot of the sail. This will eliminate the problem with the older sail where there would be a white spiral of exposed sail unless I rolled it up very tightly. I was presented with a 1 year warranty which can be honored at 100 NS sites in 29 countries.
Pato then helped me mount the repaired mainsail on the boom and I hope to hoist it tomorrow, weather permitting. After the pleasure of seeing the sail up again I am very much looking forward to zipping it up in the sail cover that Pato repaired and enlarged.
I've also made progress on the mounting of new deck fittings for the staysail blocks. I used the same plans that had been used for the staysail fitting to have Tallero Naval make two more, but without the U-fitting on the lower plate. After some investigation yesterday I have decided to place the fittings not on the edge of the cabin as I had expected, but on the side deck. To that end I have dropped the ceiling panels around the chain plates and will do the work as soon as we get some sunny dry weather. This will result in the sheet blocks only 8 inches inboard of the blocks at the end of the jib tracks that I've been using, but that will put the blocks in the zone of 28-32 inches from the center line of the boat, as Dan of Port Townsend Rigging had suggested to me several years ago. This will allow the sail to be flown closer to the wind and eliminate the need of running the sheets between two shrouds as I've had to do until now.
With the sails in order and the new deck fittings in place the only major tasks before departing for Brazil will be fueling and provisioning the boat. Today Pato told me that he would be away sailing from the 8th to the 19th of June, and I told him that I would stay until his return. So I'll be looking to sailing out of Mar del Plata during the first weather window after 22 June.
One of the enclosed photos shows the network of cords running between the mast steps and shrouds that will act as a barrier to prevent halyards from wrapping around the steps.
Another shows one of the many small booths, usually manned, dotted around the residential streets of San Fernando. Brenda and I figured that this represented private security funded by the residents and today Pato confirmed this. A group of neighbors will get together and fund a security guard to watch their houses, presumably 24 hours per day.
- Departure Date (maybe)
- On The Mend
- Another Delay
- Electronics Fixed, Painting Rutland Tail
- Internet Problem, Mini Tour, Blunder of the Year
- Electronics and LPG
- Glitch and Probable Delay
- Connected Again
- More Preparation
- More Preparation and Internet Problems
- The New Me
- Tristan de Cunha and Cable Repair
- Test Message
- HF Radio Work and Victualing Started
- Lunch with Jorge, Electronic Systems Checked Out
- Anchors Ready, Fuel Tapped
- Fuelling, Boat Orientation, Laptops
- Staysail Deck Fittings
- Mainsail Ready
- Headsail Commissioned and Other Progress
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