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.

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