Whoops - no windlass!

Scott-Free’s blog
Steve & Chris
Sat 3 Nov 2012 22:18

Saturday 3rd November 2012


Yesterday we took the bus into Willemstad with Rod & Mary to check out of Curacao.  Business done, we wandered around town looking at the shops, most of which sell tourist tat for the cruise ship passengers that disgorge here daily.  We did find Ackerman’s, a wonderful old-fashioned drapery store, piled from floor to ceiling with bolts of fabric – and that was just the ground floor!  Haberdashery and wools were on the first floor, and furnishing fabrics on the second.  I could have wandered around for hours!  I bought some light fabric to make some long trousers – hopefully light enough to be cool but also keep the mozzies off my legs in the evenings.  Steve pointed out another fabric that he liked, and to my surprise, so did I!  So I bought some of that too. All I have to do now is make them!


By the time we got back to the dinghy dock it was Happy Hour at Norman’s, so we all pooled our remaining Naf’s (Netherlands Antilles Florins) and found we had enough for supper and a couple of rounds of drinks.  What better way to dispose of currency that will be no good elsewhere!  Potless, (but not legless) we made our way back to the boats for an early night in readiness for our departure today.


But as we know, the best laid plans…


Sheer Tenacity was already on its way out of the anchorage when I went forward to lift the anchor.  When I put my foot on the switch to operate the electric windlass that pulls up the chain and anchor, it groaned and whined and reluctantly and very slowly pulled up about 2 metres of chain before conking out altogether and refusing to do any more.  It had blown the breaker, and resetting it just resulted in it blowing it again.  It became obvious we were going nowhere – I’m certainly not fit or strong enough to pull up the remaining 30 metres of chain plus a rather heavy anchor, so we got on the radio to Rod & Mary and told them the situation.  Bless them, within a few minutes they were back in the anchorage dropping their anchor once more.


Rod came straight over to lend a hand with the head-scratching – actually he did a lot more than that as he helped Steve eliminate possible electrical causes of the problem and then they spent several hours coaxing the windlass motor and winch apart, where corrosion had them stuck fast.  Eventually it became apparent that water ingress had caused a bearing in the winch shaft to corrode very badly and the clips that held it in place had disintegrated completely.  The winch itself seems to have been ‘sealed’ on deck with caulking rather than sealant, and this had allowed water to enter and cause the damage.  No prizes for guessing where the winch was last fixed to the deck and by whom.


So, plans to move on are on hold.  The anchor is still set and so we will stay here and sort out the windlass.  At least it has happened somewhere where we are in a safe anchorage and have access to chandleries and hardware stores.  Unfortunately they will be closed tomorrow as it’s Sunday, but that will give us time to get the corroded bearing off the winch shaft.