High and Dry

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sun 31 Jan 2010 00:48
Position: Aground San Julian
Wind: Northeast, F5 strong breeze
Weather: mostly sunny, cool

After another very pleasant evening with the Jennys I managed to make it back to Sylph rowing against a strong ebb tide.

This morning I weighed anchor, as did Jenny, however she was leaving but we were not. Weighing anchor, such a short phrase but one that took nigh on two hours to accomplish. with two anchors out, both with 50 meters of cable out, the bower all chain, and a manual anchor winch with which t haul it all in. As I count off the strokes, "one hundred and eleven , one hundred and twelve, one hundred and thirteen; that's twenty meters in, only -- puff puff --- thirty to go - on this one," I remind myself of what a wonderful work out I am getting. It was a good thing I started two hours before high water because by the time I had everything secured we were fast approaching slack water and I wanted to be alongside the small jetty before the tide turned. This was duly accomplished, the object being to dry out alongside during low tide and to give Sylph's bottom a good scrub. So far all has gone very smoothly. I led the main halyard to the far side of the jetty and tensioned up on it so that as Sylph took to the bottom she would not fall over outboard form the jetty, not a pretty sight. As the sea level got lower and lower Sylph's dirty bottom was gradually exposed, but she took to the gently sloping hard packed pebbly beach very comfortably, which was a great relief as I have never done this with Sylph before.

When the water was still lapping around Sylph's keel I proceeded underneath with a broom-like scourer and started scrubbing away, trying to get her bottom all clean before there was no sea water in which to conveniently dip the scourer. I didn't quite make it, the tide receded quicker than I could scrub and the last few square meters of her bottom had to be completed with a bucket.

The next job was to anti-foul the propellor, I had a little left over paint suitable for this but unfortunately I didn't have any bottom paint with which to do the rest of the hull. The next problem to tackle was the sacrificial zinc anodes. I was disappointed to see that they had done their job well, having made a total sacrifice with nary a trace to be seen of them. I thought I had some spares on board but a thorough search of their most likely hiding places failed to reveal their existence. Bother! I went up to the hut just above the jetty from which a tourist boat operates and asked in pidgen Spanish where I might obtain some zinc. Once some interesting charades had been played through to compensate for my lack of Spanish and the tourist boat operator's lack of English he understood what I needed. From then on he was extremely helpful. We climbed up into his ancient Ford pick up, the same age as me and not in bad shape either, tried two Ferreterias (hardware stores) with no success but were directed somewhere that might be able to help us. That somewhere was a construction site where a new wharf was being built for local coastal shipping. They had numerous shiny new zinc bars glistening like Fort Knox gold, and apparently just as secure, all the bars were accounted for and none would be able to slip Sylph's way. The two people my tourist boat operator had introduced me to then took me over to what looked like an indutrial junk yard which, I guess, is pretty mch what it was. There they pointed to a large steel pylon from the old wharf weighing at least several tonnes, and attached to it was an old but functional zinc anode. It looked perfect, even had a streamlined tear drop shape to it. Now the only problem was detaching it from the pylon, the welds looked very professional to me. The first method of attack of course involved the least expenditure of effort, namely a sledge hammer and a couple of large cold chisels, and predictably for ht e least result. After all had had a go at sledging the zinc, except me, I was the grateful spectator in all this, it was obvious that the zinc was not going to be coaxed to part with the pylon by this means. Brute physical force having failed the next obvious step was a slightly more sophisticated approach - power tools. An extremely long extension cord was obtained and stretched between the nearest power outlet and the pylon. I noted with a little concern that the large angle grinder they were going to use to do the cutting did not have a plug on the end of its cord, only two bared wires. These were twisted and shaped so as to be individually inserted into the socket of the extension cord. And ... it didn't work. Now a new heavy duty extension cord was brought to bere, and just to eliminate all possible contenders for another failure, a new angle grinder was also obtained. Second time round it worked and within a few seconds the sought for anode had been separated from its parent pylon.

"Could a hole be drilled in one of its straps?" I meekly asked.
"No problemo."
But it was.

First they had no drill bit of a suitable size and type, so we climbed into the accountant's 4WD and drove to the Ferreteria and purchased one. I never even got the chance to offer to pay for it. It was now the job of the world's best machinist (so I was told) to drill the hole. Much shouting eventually established that the drill had recently been broken. The accountant could speak very good Engllsh and helped me to keep track off what was going on. Evemtually another drill was found, the chuck was changed and the world's best machinist proceeded to drill. Perhaps the task was not up to his talents but I regret to say that nothing subsequently transpired to help me establish an independent judgement in support of this claim. Nonetheless the hole was drilled and the toruist boat operater was soon driving me, full of gratitude to these generous people, back to Sylph. Five minutes later it was fitted and now I can feel relaxed for several months before having to worry about Sylph rusting out from below the waterline.

And I know none of their names.

The tide is just starting to come back in, the wind has freshened from the northeast, good for sailing south but not good for getting out of San Julian. I have cleared out with the Prefectura and am hoping to depart with the midnight high tide - marea alta. If the iwnd is still blowing this strong come midnight I think I will just go back to anchor.

What a day.

All is well.

Bob Cat.

Its been remarkably still today, and all these voices nearby, I wonder where they were coming from.

Adrian, old boy, no hurry, but there's a chap, one's word you know - - - I'll say no more, obviously totally unnecessary between us educated fellows, allow me just to say --- el pescado.

This is proving to be a longer than usual sleep between courses but, no problemo - - - - Zzzzzzzzz.