Half Full

Thu 15 May 2014 19:09
Thursday,15th May, 2014
Position 13:12N 61:35W. About 10 miles weast of St Vincent.
Gorgeous Caribbean day: 'gentle' trade winds of about 18 kts, cloudless skies. I'm on a beam reach up towards Antigua, keeping to the west of the Island chain, and out of the way of its associated lee calms and wind acceleration zones. Not at all upset not to be revisiting these places, already past the Tobago Cays, and now about level with the 'Pitates of the Caribbean' set on St Vincent. Fabulous snorkelling in the former, but so hot on the boat, I had enough after a day, and then the hassle of boat boys on St Vincent.....
A poor start to this leg, as I set up the self steering at dusk, and did not centre the main rudder. As a result the rudder has been pointing one way,and the wind vane auxilliay rudder the other all night, Once this was sorted, we doubled our speed, and we have been doing 6 kts this morning. Now as, I write we have hit St Vincents wind shadow, even though the Island is 10 miles away, so I need to get further offshore by the time we get to St Lucia, to prevent the same thing from happening again. Seeing as we are now quite becalmed, this may take some time. Ah well.
Odd ten days in Grenada. My electric windlass refused to work when I dropped anchor there, in very deep water, and although I could have managed without it, I realised what a hassle this would be over the coming months, and I resolved to try to get it fixed. But I found myself in the hands of middlemen, daily phone calls and no action. After a week the motor was returned in the same condition - seized solid - as at the outset. But at least the mechanic had been able to shift some of the case screws, and so I was able to look inside for myself. Two mins inspection showed that the problem was rust between the case and one of the motors steel 'shoes'. Rust swells, and had pushed the shoe against the rotating central spindle, jamming it. Trouble was that the shoe was held by an enormous set screw, requiring an impact driver to loosen it. Hope you are following this. So off I go downtown on the bus (50 pence) with my 10kg motor under my arm, looking for a machine shop that might have such a driver. 'Leave it with us', they said: I was doubtful, as no sign of the necessary tool. I returned mid afternoon to find the place deserted, except for the secretary lady. The head of my screw had been ruined by repeated efforts to manually remove it, so the guys had given up on that, and replaced two bearings, which didn't need replacing, and left a large bill with the said secretary. I paid up, the bitter pill of experience, and returned to the boat. Squirted a ton of WD40 into the rusty area, and filed down the shoe, on its 'good' surface, until it cleared the shaft. Amazed to find that the electrical part of all this still worked after the motors 'Island Experience', so bolted everyhting back in, a much bigger job than it sounds, and just time for the half price pizza night, before clearing out on Wednesday and elegantly raising the anchor chain on its shiney new windlass. The question is whether the WD 40 will hold back the rust, which is relentless once it takes hold, until I get back to England, or at least until Hannah joins ship and can join in with the fordeck fun.
Anyway the week passed pleasantly enough, I walked for miles in the heat of the midday sun, and it was fun to listen in on the conversations of the other yachties, most of whom were newly arrived from the States or Europe, and just at the excited beginings of their sailing adventures. Medical students would come down from the St Georges Med School on the Southern Cliffs to do their revision in the marina's wi fi cafe. Each generation has its aspirations.
As I complete this we have negotiated the calm area, and are once again bowling along at considarable speed, but not quite in the right direction. I think that the wind will bend back on its own, a belief which allows me to do nothing for the time being.