Wear and Tear

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Thu 11 Jun 2009 18:44
Noon Position: 49 31.0 N 033 20.0 W
Course: East 4 knots
Wind: Northeast, moderate
Weather: Sun and cloud. Sea: moderate
Day's Run: 97 miles

Yesterday was a long and tiring day. Having got the trisail working I then noticed that the solar panels weren't charging the batteries, it took me quite a while to isolate the fault and some crawling around in some awkward spaces, not great fun under ideal conditions, but definitely a lot less fun at sea, the boat heeling and pitching and water threatening to douse me and the work at every moment, and regularly receiving electric tingles working with live wires with wet hands. I persevered however and fixed two faulty connections so now they should be good for a while. I am rather dependant on my trusty solar panels, I try to keep my power demands to within their recharging capacity as this means I do not need run the engine to charge the battery banks.

While I was working on that problem the sun had come out, so now the panels were fixed, I broke out the sextant, shot a snappy sun sight and plotted a position line on the graph paper chart. Once navigation had been attended to my gaze was drawn aloft, the frayed end of that main halyard was taunting me, swirling around half way up the mast. With the full jib up and the trisail set, the boat's motion had improved considerably. I was not keen to go aloft but we needed that mainsail and who knew when conditions were going to get better than this. I swallowed hard, donned harness and tether, made my way to the base of the mast, muttered a prayer and began my ascent. It was not a happy experience but we did it, I got to the top of the mast, wedged myself in between the mast and forestay and began the tricky task of feeding the frayed wire end back through the masthead sheeve box. Fortunately it didn't take too long, probably only about five minutes but it seemed forever. Once rove I began my descent - carefully, determined not to ruin my good luck so far and get careless for the bottom few feet. Back on deck I must confess I was little overwhelmed, I really do not want to have to do that again in a hurry. I don't mind the height, it's the motion that is the problem. Oft times it is difficult enough hanging on without being thrown about down on deck,but 45 feet or so up in the air the motion can be truly horrendous, the worst motion is rapid pitching as the boar plunges throug a few waves. I do not know what the accelerations are but when this motion starts all you can do is wrap both arms grimly around the mast, hang on tight and wait for the pitching to stop. This time it wasn't too bad.. I am going to have to look hard at this masthead configuration to prevent any more chafe and see about having an optional emergency halyard rigged in case it does fail again. Once down and rested, the next job was to splice a new eye into the wire tail of the halyard. I had originally fitted a spectra halyard all those years ago when I purchased Sylph, but when this chafed through the first time I spliced a wire tail to the end of it thinking this would be much more resistant to chafe which it was, just not impervious. It was going on dark by the time the eye splice was complete, I pondered should we hoist the mainsail now or wait till morning. I mentally checked everything through and decided there was no good reason not to get the mainsail up and old Sylph moving again. We have had it up twice and down once since the halyard was rove and all appears good so far (touch wood).

This morning's problem was the wind vane rudder had come loose and while we are bobbing around in a calm it had worked itself to right angles with the direction it was supposed to be pointing in. It was nothing serious, merely a friction grip fitting which need to be aligned and retightened. Aligning the rudder was tricky, I loosened off the friction bolt so the ruddr could swing freely andthan sood poised with two spanners waiting for the right momentt to nip the bolt up and hopefully arrest the rudders motion in close to the right place. A few swear words, wet feet, a little bit of patience and a modicum of perserverance saw the job done. It is the continual hammering this gear gets whcih causes these problems so I am not complaining, you really have to be out here to see what a small boat goes through day in and day out to appreciate the forces at work trying to destroy everything - a small ocean going yacht truly is an amazing machine, even an old one like mine..

And the weather, so far that is working out OK as well. We have managed to get in behind this low pressure system, we are currently close hauled on the port tack, the low should move away to the east which in turn should give us some fair winds over the next couple of days, at least not headwinds.

That's all for now, I have been falling behind in my reading so excuse me.

All is well.

Bob Cat:

And here is my quote for the day:

"Of all God's creatures there is only one that cannot be made the slave of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve the man, but it would deteriorate the cat."

That from no less an authority than Mark Twain, indeed the man was a genius. I shall sleep content knowing that there actually are some humans who display a modicum of wisdom. Until tomorrow .. Zzzzzz.