Archive for the ‘Restoration’ Category

Contrasts

Saturday, May 28th, 2022

Our lives are an adventure in polar opposites. We hauled the boat and had secured an AirBnB near by. Walking distance. A week before we hauled the AirBnB owner called to let us know that a contractor had informed him of an earlier start. The unit would not be available. Oh-oh. That was the bad news.

A couple of tennis friends we have shared much time with had gone to the UK for a few months. They kindly offered their place for us to stay while the boat is being hauled out. We accepted. While a bit farther away, we still have the car. Driving to the new and walking to the old was about the same time.

And best of all, when working on the boat we would be tracking less yard dirt and crud into the boat. We could leave it cluttered with tools when we left and begin where we left off when we return.

And yet mother nature had other plans. We knew the weather predictions. We also know that Mother Nature either doesn’t read or doesn’t care what the weather service expects to happen. Four days after we hauled, the rains set in. And they stayed. For an entire week. So much so that not only was boat work stymied, tennis too was cancelled many times.

What little could be done on the boat was accomplished.

When we hauled I had a seacock that a contractor had cracked the bolt attaching the handle. I didn’t do anything with it till we hauled out. A seacock is the beefy Bronze item that keeps water out of the boat and allows water to pass through the hull into the sea. So I waited until now. When the boat is out of the water working on this is much safer.

I thought the easiest would be to drill the end of the bolt, and use an Easy Out to remove the screw. I couldn’t get the drill centered well. I drilled anyway. I was able to get a couple of left handed bits at the nuts and bolt store. What luck. Drilling with the left handed bit would help ease the bolt end out. It did not move. I put in the easy out and twisted. The easy out didn’t hold. I needed to drill a larger hole and then use a larger Easy Out. To do that I would most likely damage the threads. The alternative was to remove the fitting. Fortunately we have kept every paper that came with parts for the boat. We have 9 folders full of manuals, instructions, and details. There was a diagram of the parts. I removed the piece.

Next, I needed a machine shop to remove the bolt and then I could reassemble everything. Remember, we live a life of contrasts. I first went to Jock at the Scarborough chandlery. I asked two questions: Where is a good machine shop to get the bolt out and can I order another replacement item.

For the most part Australia has been a wonderland of boat supplies. The seacocks we use are Groco, high quality bronze – US made. They are available here, in limited places, and pricey. It is a boat. What did I expect. First,

Innards of a Groco Bronze Seacock

Jock told me of a machine shop owned by a cruiser. Sweet. Second he would make some calls and see about the part. I gave him the part number. Hopped in the car, W/ and I drove to the shop. Always take W/ , she is much better dealing with people than I am. 🙂 We couldn’t find it the first time and called on the phone. W/ did. After chiding us for not finding it; he said he had been there for decades. He would stand out by the street making sure we didn’t…. drive by…. again.

We showed him the item and as any good machinist would do, said he would try. We left it with him and returned to the boat. We stopped at the chandlery again and Jock informed us that there are no parts available for the Groco in Australia. I could buy a new one, but not the part. Add that to my list. It is however still raining. I wasn’t yet ready to call the US, find the part and have it air freighted over. We do have a daily yard rate while hauled. 🙁 On to the next task while awaiting the results of this one.

Lubricating the seacocks. They need to be lubricated so when and if there is an issue with any leaks one can turn the handle and shut out all water. While in the past I had Rube Goldberged the process, this time I was doing them right. I had purchased two small grease guns that never, ever seemed to work properly. Again W/ and I hopped in the car looking to buy a real, full size grease gun. We did and proceeded to load it with grease and complete the next task. Now to get the Zerk fittings to grease the seacocks. Found them! Great. The 90º fitting fell apart. Some of the Seacocks were in; not impossible, but hard to reach places and I needed that elbow.

Back to the Chandlery. Jock didn’t have any with imperial threads. Remember, I said this was a US made product. The only suggestion was Zackleys; where I bought the left handed drill bits. Off I go. Here I got lucky; they had Zerk fittings with elbows and imperial threads! They didn’t have any straight fittings with imperial but my straight ones were ok. I bought a couple; always good to have extras and back to the boat I went. W/ and I began the process of lubricating all the remaining Seacocks. I love when things work and now they opened and closed easily.

The following morning we stopped by the machine shop. Ian, the owner came out with a shiny piece and the stud still in it . He showed me the corrosion and said no matter what, this would not keep water out. The best he could suggest was a new one. My head was spinning considering the cost of shipping from the US, the shipping time; sourcing the supplier; I didn’t like it. He suggested he could make a duplicate out of 316 SS. How much; $100! Hell, shipping the fastest way from the US would cost more than that! I asked him to make two. With a spare on board, that would guarantee never having another issue. That is what sailors believe, and I’m sticking to it.

Friday we picked up two new parts and I reassembled the seacock. Add the grease and celebrate one of the jobs completed.

Next: fix the water line with the Aqua – Coat, Fix the blisters, Paint the bottom and relaunch.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share

Juggling in Paradise

Tuesday, December 28th, 2021
Cruising isn’t all Sunsets and Mojitos. Cruisers often refer to life on the boat as “Projects in Paradise”.  And while a good part of both views are true; there are frustrations. Today is one of the many holidays in Oz. A month or so ago we discovered our depth sounder doesn’t work. As we’re not leaving immediately we added that to the project list and began to address the issue.
 
I had the same thing happen in Fiji. The TackTick read “Reset data”. There I replaced the battery and bingo. We were back in business. Not that easy but not bad. Thus, I ordered a new battery pack. That was after I discovered Battery World couldn’t make / replace the batteries. The cost went form 50 bucks or so to 100. Ok, life isn’t easy or cheap when traveling thus I bought the new pack. Installed it. Now I have a good battery but I still get the notice “reset data”. I did some web research and found my old post on the same issue. But; I discovered a Raymarine response on their website that when the unit does this it needs repair.
 
I called Raymarine and after a bit of discussion they would repair / replace the unit for $450 bucks. Fill out the web form and send it in. Well… my cruising brother Dirk told me years ago, in industry the rule of thumb is when the cost to repair exceeds about 40% , industry replaces with new. A new TackTick display would be $800. I bought a new display.
 
Received it 10 days later, all looks good and fire it up. Good charge and yet it does not connect to the base unit. I try everything. I try to be inventive with the 4 buttons. Still it will not connect to the master unit. I check the master unit; there is power there, I get a program to check radio signals and I have wifi from the unit. It still will not connect. I get out my old wired Display and try it. It will not connect.
 
I dig out the replacement mn-30 we bought while in Fiji. (See my way earlier post on this issue). I tried to connect it to the unit. Still no data. I search around, check the wiring on the transmitter. All good, voltage to it, good, transducer wiring solid. Check the transducer. It is a shoot through the hull and has worked flawlessly for 15 years. The fluid that transmits the sonar to the hull has slowly leaked out / evaporated. I replace it and try. Still no connection. I reset the mn-30, still no connection. I try the new unit I purchased, still unable to connect.
 
More research and I discover that the hull transmitter too has a battery. Maybe that is why the display has no signal. I leave the hull transmitter connected to power for 24 hours to charge and still no connection. I call Raymarine Australia. Guess what. They’ve shut down for the holidays.
 
Ok, I remove the hull transmitter and sure enough there is a battery opening on the back. Nothing in the literature indicates a battery there. Luckily I have a new battery. I put it in the older unit. The older unit doesn’t work so I figure to swap it out. I do. Reattach everything and still no signal to the display.
 
Now I think to my self. Dangerous; I know. When I was considering sending in the older unit for repair I believe I replaced the old battery. That means that I have now put an old battery in the hull transmitter. My head is spinning! I check the voltage on the three battery packs I have out, 1.2 v; 1.8 v, and the one I removed from the hull transmitter; 2.2 v. The pack when full ought to read 3.0 v.
 
I left the hull unit connected to power all night.
 
Again I am thinking.. more research. I check my blog entry in Fiji. I mentioned I had not installed the new hull transmitter yet I wanted to get the older one working. Damn, where is the new one we bought in Fiji. I check our inventory. The inventory has saved us many hours of hunting for things. But! Not today. We do not have anything listed under TackTick or Raymarine. Ok… the hunt is on. I can’t believe it; I find a newer mn-100 that we must have been using since NZ.  I had forgotten about it. I bring the display out and try to connect. It doesn’t connect either. Now I have 3 displays that do not connect to one hull transmitter; mn 30, mn 100, and an mn 100-2.
 
There is only one thing to do. Replace it all and make sure everything works. I return the display and order a new TackTick system.
 
All the while the wx here is … sorry… crappy! Rain and wind, wind and rain. The end result is that we are getting nothing done on the outside wood work. Patience Grasshopper, Patience. (Sorry about the reference to the old Kung Fu TV show).
Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long
Share

Cruising Maintenance Magic

Thursday, November 25th, 2021

Well, at least one trick. Working on our home often means working in uncomfortable places (Boat Yoga) and doing near impossible jobs. Here is where the trick comes in.

If you haven’t discovered Butyl it is time you do. The stuff is magic. First it is even sticky when wet. I was searching for an impeller blade in my heat exchanger. I didn’t want to remove the exchanger and plumbing. It was wet still in where the blade had settled. I could feel the blade in the opening but couldn’t retrieve it. I tried a thin wire, tried an allen wrench, everything I could think of I tried. Then the light bulb went off! I took a small piece of Butyl and stuck it to the end of my finger. Then gingerly dipped my finger in the hose opening, pressed to the blade and slowly, slowly withdrew my finger with the blade attached. Voila!

 Butyl keeps screws in place.

Today I was twisting around in a small area working in the electrical cabinet. I had a terminal strip in there where I would make multiple electrical connections. Those damn small screws are real PITA! I remember Butyl. A little dab will do you. About the size of a pin head I stuck it in the screw slot. Then insert the driver and bingo! I could hold the screw in place until I could begin to thread it in. What a life saver.

So; do yourself a favor, find where Butyl is sold near you and pick some up. That is; if you want to make short work of frustrating projects.

 

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Share

Biding our Time

Monday, October 18th, 2021

it has been awhile. I guess I need to just stop apologizing and blog when ever I am thinking of something. I’ve been working long hours on the website. Thus I have two new larger picture galleries . One, of our travels though French Polynesia and the the other of our three visits to San Blas islands.

Trying to play catch up on web stuff is not easy. I now know a little of the web add ons. The styling part called CSS, and even less of some of the under the hood programming for the web, called JavaScript. But, like the turtle in the classic race with the hare, I will keep trudging on.

Then too is our time here in Australia dealing with Covid. While the Covid fight hasn’t effected us all that much, it is effecting other cruising friends. One, who I will not name, is going to ship his yacht back to the Caribbean at great expense. I asked him about it and he said; he’s not having any “fun” now. A sad point to be at in life. I understand.

Fortunately, both W/ and I are having fun. We enjoy the boat projects. We don’t want to work full time on them but improving the boat and keeping it looking; in our minds good, is important to us. We play tennis 3- 4 days per week and have met a great group of Australians. None of whom are yachties, but that is how we like it. We cruise not to to be water tourists but to experience life as others live. And luckily for us, Covid struck while we were in a place that is like what we had at home. Weather wise, traffic wise, supply wise and tennis wise.

Oh there are differences. Australians drive on the side of the road that feels odd. I’ve gotten in the wrong side of the car looking for the steering wheel a couple of times. People drive the wrong way around- Round Abouts. Round abouts, those circles at intersections where there are no lights. Some words have similar meanings and others like “Fanny” are verboten. Luckily when I used it once, a nurse I knew came up to me and whispered what in the local culture fanny refers

Epoxy Varnish Removed

Signature Finishes Epoxy Varnish removed

to. To help one understand, it is the slang for a little kitten – part of the female anatomy.

Needs to be cleaned up and Powder Coated

So we plod on. I’ve ordered some new parts for the rigging. They’re at the shippers for posting them to Aus. We’ve taken the Sailomat wind vane apart and those parts are at the sandblasters and powder coaters. We’re having a new memory foam pad made for our new aft bedding. We plan on three new foam cushions made for our sea berth in the main salon and then I get to make new sets of crew covers. We work a bit each week on the teak. The idea is to have the exterior teak Varnish completed when we leave here.

If all goes well, if the governments around the world get their act together, if Covid is under control, we will be heading North and back to the tropics; next winter in Australia. Remember now, cruisers plans are written in the sand at low tide.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Share

Chain Galvanized – Done!

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021
Looks a little ....bad

What she looked like after 8 years

The anchor chain project…. complete. We hauled the main chain up to Bundaburg for new galvanizing and what a job they did. Excellent! Approx $1 buck per lb. It actually came back looking shiny (almost)

We carried the chain in the passager footwells

A lot of extra weight.

and like new. Yep, it took two trips. We did however make mini vacations out of the trips. W/ found one wonderful AirBnB and another that was only a place to sleep.

Returning the chain to the boat required two carts. Same as from the boat to the car. We used cardboard and plastic to protect the

The chain markers we use

This tells us how much chain we have out of the boat.

upholstery and loaded it in the middle of the vehicle. Once returned to the boat we laid it out on the dock and added colored webbing to the links every 25’. These small webbing pieces sewn on a link last forever and run fine through the chain gypsy. I can’t tell you enough how great they are. The down side is that the company we purchased them from at a boat show no longer sells the kits. 🙁

One key ingredient all boaters need to do is to secure the bitter end of the chain. Too often I hear of some newbee who lost their anchor rode/chain while out for the days adventure. Most likely

Chain Stopper

Teak Donut connects to the bitter end

an adventure they never wanted. I’ve actually found lost anchors while snorkeling. Sometimes there would even be barnacles growing on the anchor rode or chain by the time I discovered it.

To save your anchor and your day, take some small line (1/4” 5 or 6mm ought to be good), strong enough that it will hold the chain and anchor as dead weight. Run the line out of the chain locker a fair bit on deck, double it and add a few cm’s to it. Next there ought to be a hole, or slit in a bulkhead or major structural member for this line to be attached to. I don’t attach mine directly to the bulkhead. Instead I made a teak donut. I loop the line through the donut and back on itself making a secure connection. Run the double line through the bulkhead up and out the chain pipe. The reason I use a donut is that if somehow the bulkhead fails the donut will stop at the chain pipe and stop. Also, using a long enough line, should I need to cut it, the end of the chain will pass over the gypsy and hang by the line. I can then cut the line. And last; if the fecal material hits the fan as it did for us in Suva, Fiji, letting the chain rip out , the line will snap. Then you’ll have a speedy exit

Only cast off your chain on purpose… and I hope you never need to.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Share

Back Together… Almost

Sunday, August 1st, 2021

Putting it all back together was a step forward, wait, step forward, wait process. We would paint an area with primer, wait for it to dry, then paint with engine paint. After it dried I was able to put on one more part. In shops they would put all the parts on, and spray the entire engine. Manufacturers are able to rotate it, get under, turn it to get in the small places, and all the while spray. At manufacturing facilities they electrically charged the paint and the engine. All the paint ends up attracted to the engine and goes where it belongs. On a boat; not so much. I used a brush and sometimes a roller on the bottom of the oil pan. There wasn’t much room between the oil pan and the engine sump. That often required a couple of days to cover, and avoiding getting more paint on my arms than the oil pan. I would paint, let dry, take a mirror and scout the area for what I missed, then paint again. The pan itself required three times to cover it all. More detail are on the April 25, 2020 post.

While this was happening we began the refrigeration removal. In an older post I discussed the removal of the holding plates. With that completed we began to remove all the Copper tubing and connections. Of course care was needed to remove any pressurized refrigerant left in the system. Yet, as I indicated before I was always dealing with a leak and could never trace them all down. Thus there wasn’t enough refrigerant left in the system to be dangerous. As I was removing parts I discovered two connections that were suspect. I had never found them leaking prior. One was in the engine driven compressor line. The Copper tubing slipped when I was first installing it. For a decade there was a poor seat with the double furled Swedge Lok fittings. Another suspect spot was in the DC side on one of the expansion valves. Thus W/ and I spent a couple of days pulling all the Copper out and cutting off the ends. I saved the Swedge Loks but W/ wonders what for. Most likely they will go to the recyclers too. We hauled the Copper to the re-cyclers and the money reinvested in new hoses for the Perkins.

After we removed the Copper, expansion valves, and plates it was time to assess. The good news, look at

Bad Wood – Gone!

all the room we now have! The bad news, some of the wood where the Copper tubing ran through was soft, very, very soft. More wood under the expansion valves was so soft I could push my finger into it. Surprise, Surprise, Surprise. Damn!

This discovery added a speed bump to our refrigeration project. And a new project added to the list. Cut out the old soft wood, grind the old tabbing off and replace it all with new. As this project bounced around in my head W/ and I discussed other changes that might improve life aboard. What would we do with the old DC 5000 Compressor locker? We hope we could fit all three Engel compressors in the locker where the valves were. And to ensure that locker had enough room we could move the Exeltech Inverter. Inverters closer to the batteries – GOOD. The rest of the locker would be storage for staples.

More stuff to remove, and more to move. We pulled out the DC5000 compressor and the wiring. Tinned boat wire is always valuable and kept in boat spares. We too needed to remove the inverter. No inverter; no use of any 110 volt tools we have. Sometimes lady luck visits us. We had purchased a small ProSport portable inverter in the states. This might now be of some use. That has smallish inverter has worked flawlessly when we’ve needed. Every year for 10 years.

(Any future world cruisers reading this; ensure your boat is wired for both 220 and 110 volt systems. It is very, very costly to have a 110 volt product shipped to foreign lands. )

With everything removed we tackled the next project. Tenting, Grinding, replacing bad wood.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Share

Maintenance in Paradise

Tuesday, July 20th, 2021

While we were replacing the cooling system on the trusty diesel, we also researched refrigeration systems. In the end, Engel was what we settled with; three Engels. Their reputation was excellent. Evaporators are the achilles heal. Avoiding puncturing the evaporator the system might last 40 years. Well, that is, some Engels have worked for 40 years in the Australian Woop Woop (the Australian Outback). While not quite equal to the marine environment; it is harsh still.

Once the Perkins Bowman box arrived our boat (home) was knee deep with…stuff. Parts removed from the engine and parts to go on were everywhere. W/ tried to contain all of them under the dining table. The first order of business was to inventory and understand what each part was. Trans Atlantic Diesel has excellent support. With the kit they provided a video of the parts inventory and how to install. Tis always nice to have directions. They were around to answer any question by email. Luckily they only skipped one answer. Remember; this project is in the middle of Covid. Covid is not as bad in Australia as the US. Covid hit the US hard. And I did figure the answer out … eventually . TAD is forgiven. In the end; the words of my cruising brother flash florescent in my head: RTFM. Read the F——, Manual. 🙂

Before actual parts removal was an unwelcome task. And one that I really, really hate – draining the cooling system. We do have an engine sump but still, it is a wet, messy job. I will want to do something about upon rebuild. We drained the coolant, disposed of it at the marina’s waste disposal area and began removing parts.

As in most boat work projects ; when one project begins another one or two show their ugly head. Removing the parts, holding a new part in place to check it out, screamed out to us… PAINT THE ENGINE. Seriously! And the second project was that it is time to replace all the old hoses. Now that we can get to them much easier.

The parts removal went fine. We covered up areas that did not require any paint and took the parts to the recycling business. After all, it is good steel and some copper. There we picked up a few bucks dedicated to a cold one. Every part removed that would be reused, was cleaned and set aside. The engine was much, much smaller now.

We began to clean the engine. First was to hand wash with a degreaser. After which we cleaned with Alcohol and Acetone. Then we applied a primer. The engine changed from mottled Blue, to Grey, and to shinny Blue again. This job was HUGE! Once we painted an area we couldn’t keep working in the engine room. We needed to wait for the primer to dry, then clean another area and paint another part. I wasn’t spraying the beast. I didn’t want overspray getting into the living quarters nor covering any other area of the engine compartment.

At this time we checked the weather to ensure good weather while we were replacing the deck drain hose. One set of hoses had exceeded its working life. It was the cockpit drain. I now have easier access to it. We replaced it at break neck speed. . The next couple of weeks called for cleaning and painting the engine. The majority before putting – re-installing any parts.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Share

We’ve Been Busy

Monday, January 13th, 2020

We have been busy. I know the blog doesn’t show it. ( I am rectifying that situation.) Two huge projects have slipped by. I’ll post them in the front of the blog for a week or so then put them in the correct chronological order.

The first project was upgrading the cooling system on the trusty Perkins 4-236. Alex from

Perkins 4-236

Project Bluesphere and Steve on NorthStar had made the change; and they liked it. I knew we would be spending time in Australia, friends from the states were planning on visiting, and we have friends in Brissi.

I ordered the kit from TransAtlantic Diesel (TAD) and waited for its arrival. The kit with shipping and duty came to about 6k USD. Additionally when installing I broke the cooling pump and needed to replace it.  Here in Australia that too cost close to a boat buck ($1,000).

While waiting on the Bowman Heat Exchanger Kit to arrive we began preparation for the refrigeration change. In the end we were not “happy” with our holding plate system installed 20 years ago.

I identified some of the issues in an earlier post. To recap: The system was loud. The 1/2 hp motor turning the compressor would wake people up. It was right under our sea berth and made sleeping on passage next to impossible when running. We needed to manage the time so we both could get enough rest. It was water cooled and the pickup wasn’t in the best position in the boat. The water pickup was slightly aft of the beam. Much over 6 kts we often would end up air. The cooling would get an air lock and the system would stop. I then needed to purge the pump in the engine room while we were on a roller coaster ride across the deep blue. There must have been a hundred tubing connection through out the entire system. I was spending more time then I wished chasing down leaks. That and once found and eliminated we needed to add refrigerant. In places like the US, R134a is easy to find. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry auto store sells refrigerant. Here in QLD Australia, the only way to get refrigerant was to hire an AC shop to come check out the system and then top it up. At $250 bucks travel time plus an hourly that would get expensive, whew, glad that is over. Then, the boxes were so large W/ had difficulty using anything on the bottom. That space became a waste. The plates too took up a lot of room in the boxes making organization difficult. And finally, I never achieved the hold over I expected with the three plates. Thus the decision was to re-do the entire system. Remove the holding plates and add evaporator plates. Remove both compressors, the water cooling system and the plumbing. The search began for replacements. The destruction / construction would begin when we had the new system here in boxes. And the engine cooling system completed.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Share

Duh…. It’s Broken

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

W/ could easily be a Dowser. One who finds water with a wishbone like branch.  If there is a drop of water somewhere in the boat she will find it. Which; by the way, is a good thing. Water is to be kept outside the boat if you wish to stay afloat.

She opened up a locker the other day and said “Dave, why is this wet”? I know my day will change from that point on. There were some drips from the seacock for the forward head sink. When we refurbished the boat we put in all new Groco seacocks. Those are the gates between the ocean and inside the boat.

From my standard prone position of reading I am now called forth to attend to a “drip”. We moved the gear around the seacock out of the way and I see the drip is coming from the handle. The seacock opens and closes fine. Whenever we haul we grease all the seacocks ensuring that each one will open and close on the boat. One never knows. These are the Groco Full Flow Seacocks.

I get out the tools I need to clean the handle and ensure the “leak” becomes a thing of history. I put a wrench on the bolt and loosen it. It turns awfully easy! Seconds later I discover why. It is broken. How the hell did that happen?

The bolt (Part #15)  only keeps the handle on. The handle comes off. Luckily the seacocks are designed such that they work fine without the bolt holding the handle on. Just a little care needs to be observed to ensure the handle fits over the tap to turn the inner SS part. And offshore we close down that head anyway so I rather doubt there will ever be an emergency there.

What to do? As we’re not sinking and as the seacock is functioning I am going to wait until we are at a facility where if something happens we can haul the boat.  Currently the fitting that is to keep water out is the “nut” (Part #11)  is not  easily moved. The part that shuts  the water out is easily moved. I tried.  I don’t want to add heat to the fitting and damage something while it still works and we’re in a developing nation. I sprayed it liberally with PB Blaster. When I work on it again I’ll make sure it can be unscrewed and we are also in a position; should the worse case happen we can be hauled for repair.

I have three possibilities on what happened.  First, I over tightened the bolt. Highly unlikely. I’m pretty good at knowing when tight is and this is not even one bolt that needs to be torqued. It only holds the handle on. Second, we had some repair work in Fiji and the repairer was in that locker doing some glass work. I don’t know if the worker removed the handle to make it easier for him or not. He might well have really put some muscle into reattaching the handle. Third, the bolt had a flaw. I’m going with #2, or #3. Either way, it needs to get fixed and it will be; just not right now.

 

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Share

Ouch!

Sunday, March 3rd, 2019

In NZ, at most every marina entrance ramp they have this poster with this comment: “Nothing is faster than Disaster!” In Panama when we were moving from Linton to Colon I was removing the main sail cover. I stepped on the corner of the aft cabin and slipped. Usually when I fall I’m aware of what’s happening and what I need to do. I fell about 2 meters off a sea wall in Sanabel Florida. I saw exactly what I needed to do, where I needed to land and roll and I did. No injuries not even a bruise. In Linton before I even realized I was falling i was already on my butt. No warning, no time. Luckily then too, the only injury was my pride.

Last week W/ was not so lucky. We were finishing up the windlass project. When we refurbished the boat I had installed a high density, high strength plastic base for the windlass. Over the years I watched the windlass move and stretch the 1/2” stainless steel bolts as we pulled in anchor and chain. In the Pacific the anchor is often stuck 20 meters below the surface. The pull on the windlass from the anchor and chain was minimal. When you add in an 18 ton boat jerking on the end of a stuck anchor. Wow! . Over time I worried about the windlass flying off the boat as the bolts pealed away like a zipper.

In NZ we had a new- strong stainless steel base made. In Fiji we pulled off the old base and installed the new. The windlass fits on top. The last step was to install the windlass motor inside the boat. The motor is a big heavy honker. It needed to be aligned with the gear teeth in the windlass and then secured to the tube extending down from the windlass. To align it I put the winch handle in the windlass so W/ could slowly turn it until the teeth from the motor aligned and I could lift it up into place. The Windlass is a Lighthouse and has a kedging fitting on top so I can use the windlass handle to slowly crank the boat off of any obstruction. Luckily we’ve never needed to use the kedge function. I am wedged in the anchor locker. The locker is furthest forward in the boat; on the other side of the sail locker/ garage. I had crawled in there so I could lift the motor into place. Crawling and worming forward is the how I was able to get in and under the motor. For the most part I was in a rather precarious position. Getting in wasn’t easy; getting out would be even more difficult. I thought I had the windlass motor in place and asked W/ to turn the breaker on to power it up. W/ switched on the windlass breaker.

Back top side we started to check the motor connection to the windlass. I had already loosened the gypsies so the anchors wouldn’t move. (Does anyone see what I missed?) Wendy activated the switch that feeds pays out the chain. Perfect. All seems to work! I then asked her to check the retrieve chain foot switch. She did. Immediately I heard a double clunk and everything went quiet.

Thinking something might have happened I hollered up and asked if she was ok! No reply would have been bad, swearing would have been better but hearing a “No” was scary. Like lightening I wormed my way out of the chain locker then the sail locker. I ran out of the cabin and up on deck. It was NOT pretty. My heart sank.

W/ was laying on the side deck with her hand to her head, blood all around and in tears. How do you comfort someone in this situation? I reached her as fast as possible and began to check out the source of blood. I held her. She cried, my heart was in my stomach.

Left Ear Damage Inside

Her ear was bleeding inside and outside. Blood was on the deck. Between sobs she could talk. She could move slowly. I helped her to the cockpit. She laid down. I got some sterile wipes to clean her up as best I could. It was a slow process. W/ can tolerate a great deal of pain anywhere – except on her head. There was a gash behind the ear and there was a 10 mm split inside in the middle of the ear. A few days later a bruise appear on her check. Luckily we have a freezer aboard and we put an ice wrap on the area hoping to slow the blooding and ease the pain. I cleaned her ear some more. Trying not to make anymore pain for her it was slow going. I cleaned what I could and what she could tolerate with Peroxide. There was no way to micro bandage any of the cuts. There were a couple of extra indents / cuts / openings in the ear lobe where her earring is. As gently as possible we / she removed the earring. We cleaned more and iced more. We talked about what the hospital might do. It was Sunday; the Dr’s office is closed.

The damage behind the ear

I didn’t think they could stitch any of the areas up. The one cut on the cartilaginous portion of the ear and the other in the fold behind the ear. While the hospital here was an option it wan’t high on our list. At this point it doesn’t appear life threatening. Luckily. There is a vet at the marina and if need be we could consult with him. After all we all are animals anyway. W/ decided and I supported her that we didn’t need to do that yet. We iced. we cleaned what pain would allow. She laid down with that side of her head up. I ran blue tape (almost as good as Duct Tape) around her head holding some cotton swabs to the effected area. The rest of the day she couldn’t lay on the effected ear. Way to much pain. As it slowly stopped bleeding and we cleaned carefully I painted Second Skin on the wounds. Unfortunately Second skin stings so it was slow going. As we covered the wounds with second skin and they were protected I could paint more on area. It is only the first layer of second skin that stings. The entire time she is completely lucid. It alleviates one worry but doesn’t make any of her pain or my anxiety go away.

Showering would be a problem but the ear simply wouldn’t get washed. By the end of the first day she the bleeding is minimal. Touching the ear was not as painful. I took photos every day so we could look at the healing and she could see exactly what I was describing.

Trigger and Weapon

When W/ pushed the retrieve chain foot switch she was down on her hands and knees activating it with one hand. The winch handle which I had forgotten about and W/ wasn’t ever much aware of swung around striking her upside the head. The blow upside the head knocked her off her knees onto her side. The handle hit with such force it flew out of the windlass with the adapter fitting. Had she been standing it may well have struck one of her legs and broke it. While the foot switch is well away from the swing of the handle the other leg could be in range. Had her head been in a different position she could have broken a jaw, knocked some teeth out, broken her nose or damaged an eye. Worse case she might be dead if it struck her in the temple! As unlucky as she was, she and I were lucky. By day four she was able to sleep on that side of her head for a bit. From the cleaning we did and the second skin she had no infection. By the end of the week she could shower and get the ear wet. Now about two weeks later only an ENT might notice that there was some trauma to the ear. No one can look at it and see any damage. Her hearing is fine ( sometimes when I’m mumbling something her hearing is too good!). This time she and by extension we were lucky. Out here cruising we try to think of everything. We try to run scenarios through our head and think of what might go wrong. At anchor, in a beautiful place I may have become a bit too complacent. In 10 years we’ve never needed to use a winch handle in the windlass. I don’t think I would ever have thought the motor running would turn the handle too. I wasn’t aware if it was a direct drive or racheted. When the motor pays out chain the kedge winch handle doesn’t move. It only moves while retrieving the chain.

With the new base installed, W/ healed we’re on to the next project, a stack pack. The only physical damage I can do here is sew a finger. Let’s hope I can avoid those stitches. Nothing … is faster than disaster.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Share