Saturday, November 19, 2016

1000 Hose Clamps Corroding in Unison

We had a nice week with Cedric and Gisela. But we didn't go very far. The weather was looking difficult for going north into the Exumas National Park and we were thinking we would just jog southeast to Long Island .. when the windlass broke. It really broke, with loud crunchy metal-breaking noises, which left the chain-grabbing gypsy spinning free and the motor running without doing anything. Dead gearbox. So we called Joe Hanko, asked him to ship us the replacement stuff, and we came up with Plan B to hang out in the harbor which is so large it really is more of a sound. The challenge was how to handle the anchor, because as the weather clocks around with front passages, we like to move around the harbor to anchorages with protection from wherever the wind is from at that time. In the interim, we worked the anchor up as a group (thanks Cedric and Gisela for the heave-ho'ing!) and tied up to a mooring ball for a night. But that was right next to the local beach bar hang out and it was Saturday night, and the wind was due to clock around on us and .. So we were motivated to move.

We did eventually work out how to both hoist and drop the anchor as a team, and moved from one side of the harbor to the other, closer to town and with good protection from the north and west, in anticipation of a strong front. Ahead of fronts, the weather usually goes warm and sunny and balmy and nice, so we took that day to zip across to a rarely-visited beach and spent the day there playing inn the water and picnicing in the sun. That night Cedric and Gisela took us to a brand-squeaky-new restaurant in the harbor that is a farm-to-table style place and we had a lovely evening with the moon rising over the restaurant's lagoon, great food, service that is still working out their kinks, and a fun ride from Elvis' water taxi to/from our boat in the dark.

The next day, departure day for Cedric and Gisela, we got them in to town and on a taxi to the airport about an hour before the front arrived. And it arrived with nearly 30kt gusts from the northwest, threatening squally clouds, lumpy white-capped seas in the harbor; boy were we glad we had worked out how to manually anchor and had moved.

Then the next day, after the whoopdeedoo died down, then up-anchored by ourselves and worked our way at high tide into an all-weather anchorage back of town called The Litter Box – it is very shallow such that only catamarans can get in and is all sand, ha ha ha. And now we are hanging out waiting for our windlass parts to get here ..

So why do I call this post “1000 Hose Clamps Corroding in Unison”? Because that's kinda what is going on – lots and lots of parts all slowly going bad due to the corrosive environment. I am sure that's what happened to the gear box, lots of metal gears on the foredeck exposed to copious soakings with salt water (the housing and seals and drains all designed to keep the salt water out do work, mostly). But in the meantime, as we have traveled along this fall we have replaced roughly a dozen hose clamps, stainless steel bands that keep the hoses on their hose barbs (when they come off the hose barbs the ocean comes in through the hoses), which had rusted through and just fell off when bumped. We learned this again when the salt water wash down pump died. It gives us water to hose off our anchor (remember the anchor?) as well as supply pressurized water to our toilets to flush them. This pump of course was attached to its hoses by hose clamps, two of which were corroded through. But we actually had a replacement pump on board!! And more hose clamps. So the swap-out took about 15 minutes and we were back ready to do business. Next up is to replace the sacrificial prop zinc's. They are mounted next to the props, and are “sacrificial”, they corrode before the props. So when they are almost gone, we put new ones in place. Zincs are cheap, propellers are not. That requires that I get in the water and I am waiting for a quiet warm day, we have earned it.

But its a great place to be stuck. So while keeping watch on all the hose clamps, and trying to figure out why the generator will start one day and not the next ...I'll get on those zincs, and check on parts shipment. The big project will be the windlass gearbox when it arrives,...and since this is the Bahamas (100 miles and weeks away by mail), it could be awhile.

First Night Out

5 NOV 2016

It almost doesn't get better than this. Sailing down the Tongue of the Ocean on a quiet, brilliantly starry night at 5kts in light seas, listening to Keith Jarret's lovely and emotional Koln Concert, the sky-glow of Nassau off to port. We shot across the Gulf Stream today starting in unpleasant conditions of winds 15-20 directly out of the north east that were working the 'Stream into one of it's well-known wind-against-current churn-fests. But we got through a rain bank and found the wind abating and the sun out. We crossed onto the banks north of Bimini after a 6 hour run from Key Biscayne settled in for the long stretch over the banks. It was wonderful to be back in clear turquoise water again! Dinner as the sun set behind distant Bimini. We cleared the Northwest Channel light at midnight and set off down the Tongue of the Ocean under full sail. And so here I am, on watch at 04:00 on this lovely night.

We are headed for the Exuma chain where Jennifer's brother Cedric and sister in law Gisela are due in to spend a week with us. So we have a deadline to get there but the weather seems to be cooperating and we are scooting right along.

Musing on Perches

4 OCT 2016

We are heading south from our summer roost in northern Massachusetts to get back to Cerca Trova.  We had a first frost up there and the furnace was running day and night, so it was time to go.  We spent a lot of the summer in Austin or in Utah, so we only had a few weeks at our roost because we really want to get out of Florida and as far south as we can early in the season before the cold fronts really start running hard.  Which means we have to get a move on. 

But our rushed summer also left us musing about where we will perch when we do, inevitably, move back ashore.  We know we will not cruise forever, we are not getting younger and the cruising gets slowly more difficult, we get tired of the nomadic living and the scrounging for resources, we miss our family and realize we are missing time-spent with them that cannot be replaced.  So, we will move ashore.

But where?  We have become intolerant of raw weather but love the bracing rip of a good clean winter storm.  We feel disillusioned by the selfishness of Western civilization but crave the enlightenment and comfort.  We will want to get off the boat but can't be away from the sea.