Monday, 31 December 2018

...of shoes and ships and sealing wax...

Aline heads out for her rebuild...

After a lot of waiting the converted fishing boat was finally hauled away to another yard. The boat, Aline, had arrived an hour or so before we had about 2 years previously (and was currently occupying the space we were earmarked to slide into) but had been steadily going down hill as the owners were selling a house to release funds for the rebuild. I'm not a great fan of this kind of project as there are more than enough boats around that someone has already spent shed loads of time and money on before deciding to sell but that's just me.

The big news, for us, is we finally got the mizzen back up about 2 months or so after it came down, after working slowly through the tasks needed to bring it to readiness. One of the chainplates had been bent in the fall and needed working on. My "straighten this out" request turned out to be a bit of a nightmare as, to me, what needed straightening was obvious; the top portion was bent at 45 degrees whilst the lower portion had clearly manufactured bends.....  Returning to collect it from the workshop I was handed a completely straight bar of metal.... Not often I lose it but this was certainly one of the times. Once the dust settled down I started to think I should have been far more explicit in my instructions. Ah well,we got there in the end.

Scraping away the wood stain on the mast revealed a couple of horizontal lines than gave me some concern but chatting to several folks around us produced a consensus that there was little to worry about, one an ex-surveyor, one boat builder and one with with several boat builds to his name. So we oiled and tarred, leathered the rigging eyes, tested the radar several times before bolting it to its bracket, attached the VHF aerial and cable and organised the whole thing so that lifting the mast into place would be quick and easy.

Mast lowering...
 The day came and Matt arrived in a fancy fork lift, capable of lifting up to 10 metres. Up went the mast and slowly lowered to where it sits on the bridge deck. I was so busy closely watching it approach the small hole it sits over that I failed to notice the mast had rotated 90 degrees and was warned by Bee it was going pear shaped. Easily turned of course and the lanyards were quickly rove through the pre-tallowed holes in the deadeyes. We'd already set up the mizzen stays'l haly'd and attached a line through both capping rails and back to the throat haly'd to act as temporary shrouds whilst we set everything up. All went well other than I'd lashed a block to an aft shroud and the leathered eyes were slightly askew. Matt drove off, returning with a cage on the forks and I found myself, with Nick the banks-man, hoisted up in the cage to move the block and settle the eyes properly on the hounds. Since then we've tightened up the lanyards several times and will do so regularly before we head off again next year.
Bee keeping me on the straight and narrow..

Or that should have been it except that during one of the lanyard tightenings I noticed that the stbd aft eye had slipped off the hounds and needed re-seating, then whilst working out how we might do this I realised that the sequence of attaching the shrouds was wrong as we normally install them Stbd F; Port F; Stbd Aft; Port Aft. it also solved the question as to why I’d lashed the block to the wrong shroud - I hadn’t but the port shrouds has “swapped” places so to speak. Now I needed to loosen off 3 of the 4 shrouds in order to move things and that could only safely be done by getting the forklift back. Duly done and I was hoisted back up in the cage, the top of the mast loosely lashed to the cage then Bee quickly slacked off the 3 lanyards. The re-seat was easy enough but the two port ones took a bit of pulling and shifting causing the mast to move alarmingly judging by the gasps coming from Bee. Prior to this we'd discovered the radome had finally given up the ghost (as our good friend Philip had suggested it would) but by one of those chances that sometimes occur I happened to look on eBay and found a Furuno dispaly and radome for sale in the next village and decided to change the complete thing. It was "easy" enough to get a ladder up against the mizzen and remove the old 'dome but installing the new one seemed more of an issue and we left it until the shrouds were sorted and then installed from the safety of the cage. Seems to be working just fine but we won’t really know until we get a bit more space around us. Still all was eventually done and we quickly tightened everything back up before using the forklift to get me to the top of an adjacent boat to free off a halyard stuck inside a mast. Result.
Looking dandy..
Interestingly (to us anyway) many of the ideas that came to us in the immediate aftermath of the mast falling down have not been implemented; moving the gps antenna; bottlescrews rather than lanyards for the shrouds, a tabernacle and probably the galvanised steel rail rather than line between the shrouds. The common theme to the shelving was everything we had had worked without issue until the shroud parted and we should concentrate on keeping the shrouds whole rather than changing stuff. Part of me still thinks the rail might be a good idea but haven't yet been able to devise a clean, cheap solution. But we have done a thorough check of "hard to see" shackles etc. The hardest to reach was the block and shackle that takes the jib haly'd. Because it sits at the top of the main we use it when we need to get hoisted up the mast....changing the shackle and 3 chain links was needed as they had worn. Removing the shackle whilst sat in the chair suspended below it was only accomplished by judicious use of the tops'l halyard and a safety harness. Once firmly secured it was relatively easy to slowly slack off the jib haly'd and once sure that everything was holding, to remove the shackle and chain links and replace. Whilst up there we also thought we might as well replace some of the bolts holding the ironwork to the mast - another task that required careful thought before blithely removing bolts.
One of the things that keeps coming back to me is the issue of deploying the Jordan Series Drogue (JSD) that we have…well not so much the deployment but how we might prevent the bridle fouling the self-steerer and causing severe damage to either that or the hull. Or both of course. Reading Trevor R's accounts on his deployments and then looking at the relative closeness of his self-steerer to his transom plus our experimentation with a 20’ bridle suggests a yaw of 15 degrees would be enough for the bridle to connect with the steerer framework so something needed to be done. After much puzzling, sketching, muttering and thought it seems the best option would be to just remove the entire unit (self-steerer) in the event of a blow. However the weight of this unit is such that we would seriously struggle to do that even using the mizzen boom to lift it as we found out - leaning against the wall on a static hull was problematic enough without trying to balance on our tiny aft deck whilst hove to…. So we have reverted to a two part operation, removing the paddle mechanism and then if needed the framework although both require some mods to make this possible. Hopefully we’ll get these completed over the next few weeks.
Millbrook is a small village. The Rame Peninsula is on the road to nowhere really but within a mile of where we are have gathered a number of sailors who might easily come under a Cruising Royalty heading.....Nick Skeates has fetched up on a beach round the corner from here - he of Wylo fame, famous for wandering the oceans on a shoe string; Chris Rees lives in the village and besides being a prominent boat builder (Spirit; Grayhound) and more he’s got some pretty neat voyages to his credit; Pete Hill - he of junk rig fame, Badger, Oryx and more is currently on the hard not far from here sorting out a mono hull he bought in Florida earlier this year and Trevor Robertson arrived a few months ago and we managed to get him a berth here. 
He only wanted it for 10 days to catch up with his mates but was happy to pay the going rate. Daz, who owns the quay and knew Trev by reputation, said he'd swap the berth for a talk. Well attended of course - not many times you're going to get the chance to hear someone talk about over-wintering at either end of the world for a total of 3 times. True to form he left at the end of his 10 days and went directly to Porto Santa leaving after 3 days to dodge the tail end of some hurricane and finally arrived in Cap Verdes to await an early window to get to Trinni. I’m sure there are several others around who might easily qualify but all of those mentioned have been cruising a long time in low key boats and all, for the most part, are quiet almost shy characters.


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