Posts Tagged ‘Dinghy’

Elysium’s Hip

Monday, September 19th, 2016
Hip tied in Fiji

Hip tied in Fiji

Most evenings you will see Elysium’s  dinghy tied securely to her hip.  The only times she is sleek and trim is for passage making; offshore. That is when our dinghy (car) is packed and flipped upside down on the aft cabin top.

We use a Wichard Dinghy lift strap that attaches to two points on the stern and one on the bow. The strap is adjustable.  If we lift the dinghy with the 15 hp vs the 2 hp verses sans engine the angle sets are all different. The nylon strapping does tend to stretch. We want her to hang a little bow high allowing any rains to wash and drain. We’ve had the dinghy hanging safely in over 30 kts of wind.

Some boats haul their dinghy up higher than we do and set them against their stanchions. We avoid the stanchions feeling that they do not provide a solid continuous support for the tubes. We also don’t see any reason to bring it up higher out of the water. Other cruisers hold the dinghy off the boat with a whisker pole. The farther off the beam you hang the more heal to the boat you have.
We find storing our dinghy about midship, securing the transom on to our boat ladder mount and the bow to a mooring cleat up forward ensures that it is stable. Further, with the dinghy out of the water over a meter it becomes it a bit more difficult for anyone to board the boat.  Swimmers are not able to “grab and go”.  Without the dinghy in the water to climb on the deck it is too high for an easy reach or step up.

Hip tie Stern

Our Hip Tied Dinghy on the stern.

We hang it not just for our security but the security of the dinghy. As far out of the water as it is makes the easy removal of the dinghy more problematic.  I don’t say impossible because thieves that really want something will find a way. With the dinghy out of the water, tied fore and aft it would take an individual a few minutes climbing around on our boat to free the dinghy or engine and they first must get on the boat. If a thief wanted only the outboard it too is difficult.  Lifting and moving 100 lbs over your head while standing on another boat in the water is a feat for Superman.

We tried trailing the dinghy for a year or so behind our boat at night. Most nights we could hear the water slapping up against the dinghy hull. If something wakes me up and I don’t hear the dinghy water slap  the dinghy may well be missing.  This necesitates getting up and checking on it. On super calm nights I would be checking more than sleeping!  Too, hanging off the stern invites an easy theft.  Chains don’t ensure safety either. Another cruiser lost theirs at night while they slept. The dinghy and motor had been chained to the boat. The thief cut the boat chain, floated away and then stole the engine. The dinghy was recovered early that am. The motor was gone forever. Earlier on we lost our dinghy in the Bahamas (fortunately we recovered it and the thief was arrested). The dinghy was trailed astern for the evening. If the weather isn’t optimal the line(s) you have cleated may come free. Tension cycling might well loosen the lines from the cleat. Attachment points could well chafe through.

Hip tying eliminates all these issues. For us this method of protecting the dinghy is the smartest move we can make.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long


The Panamanian Roller Coaster

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

And what a ride it is.  We’re here in paradise, working on Elysium, making changes to her that we hope will enhance our living on and sailing experience. The ups and downs at times are extreme.

We sold our 12′ Achilles inflatable… finally. I was going to title this blog “Buy High and Sell Low”. For it seems that only other people find great deals and we always seem to provide them. But then, I remember a fellow cruiser; Danny, who bought an ABI Aluminum Rib and after one day of ownership decided he didn’t like it, so he sold it for a $1,000.00 less then he paid! Sounds a lot like a new car purchase and truth be told, with the cost of all our dinghies and what we sold them for, we’ve lost much less then what we would have on any day we drove a newly purchased car off the lot.

Right now we do not have a dinghy, and we’re tied to the dock.  Our new AB Dinghy is in Panama City and we’re looking forward to having her. Our 12′ Achilles (which I loved) but which seemed to not love me back, is now serving another diver. The dinghy seemed to want to run free and some readers may remember the two times she went missing; once in the Bahamas where she was stolen and we luckily got her back… a bit damaged but usable, the other in the San Blas where I loosely tied her to a cleat and while telling stories (lies) at dinner Charlie (our host) counted dinghies and said one was missing. But she didn’t get far and with the help of the other guests the dinghy was recovered. Now I hope she finds her new home more to her liking.

With our new dinghy we’ve purchased a set of wheels; yes, you heard me right, wheels.  On the Pacific side the tides are so great and the beaches not as pristine that to visit them you need to haul your dinghy up beyond the tide line. (Tides are in the double digits there). So we’ve to attach them and as she has a hard fiberglass bottom I’ve purchased a rubber rub strake for the keel so beaching her won’t wear the fiberglass away.  Add to the list when we receive her we’ll make a cover for her while cruising and one for her when she’s deflated and set to carry on the aft deck.  Lots of work yet.

The unexpected was our generator which we are still sorting out.  Greg, a cruising mechanic has been working with me on the rebuild of the generator. When we first tore into her he found one of the rings frozen in place by carbon deposits. Thinking, hoping the frozen ring might be the cause of minimal compression he cleaned the rings and the head and put it all back together.  While torquing the head bolts,  he found two that didn’t want to torque down properly. As correctly tightened as we could we turned the hand crank to see if now we had any improvement in compression … and we didn’t. Back apart the generator came and we made a list of what parts I needed to order. It wasn’t looking all that bad and I proceeded to contact a supplier in the US and order the parts.

Bad Kubota Head

Bad Kubota Head

Perfectly timed Roger showed up (the cruiser friendly Panamanian driver) and I could send the head with him to Panama City for a valve job and general clean.  Off he went, and we began the task of getting our ducks in a row for the rebuild.

To receive the parts I needed to fill out some forms and work with the distributor and a retailer to enable the parts to be shipped. I would use FedEx as they are the most reliable for fast shipments to Panama and they deliver right to the boat. I contacted  Mary at  South Eastern Power (the Kubota Dealer for this area) and she had her retailer contact Carlos at Power Solutions handle the billing and  fax the paperwork back and forth.  Actually I faxed to the states and they emailed back what I needed.  With the order mostly completed Roger called. As there was horrible phone reception on the boat all I really had was a timed record of his call. I grabbed the phone, hopped off the boat and went in search of a good signal. Walking down the dock and around the marina until I had 3 bars.  I called Roger back and discovered a new let down. The head on the generator was cracked.  Oh-Oh! Greg never saw any crack, I never saw a crack, yet they said it’s cracked and un-repairable.

I anxiously called Mary to find out if my parts had been shipped. Nope! They were still in the queue waiting to be picked up. I added a new engine head to the order. That necessitated another round of emails to guarantee payment and a new calculation for the shipping cost. Thus another day added before they would ship. Next week, I would hopefully have the parts and have the heart of our cruising comfort working again. (As an FYI- the generator runs the high output alternator, the water maker, and the refrigeration compressor).

All there was to do now was wait.  And while we waited the dinghy almost sold and then was sold.  I say almost because the new owner came to look at it and he made an offer W/ couldn’t refuse. I’m never really happy selling anything, always believing I should have gotten more. Anyway, he left a deposit and in hindsight I should have accepted his offer on the contingency that he take it all now. But I’m not the best salesman and I didn’t add that clause. So during the night we (mostly I) worried about anything that could happen to the sale of the dinghy. We worried for naught for the following day he showed up …eventually.

The deed was to be completed at 11 ish. It was raining, Light squalls would roll through filling the dinghy up with water, I would empty the water then it would rain again and I would empty it again.  The dinghy was sitting on the dock fully inflated. He emailed me that he would be here closer to noon. Ok, we wait. Noon came and went. No buyer. Yeah, we would be able to keep the 100 dollar deposit but we didn’t want the dinghy and a 100 dollars. We had a new dinghy on the way and we didn’t want two … again.  About 3pm he showed up in the only break in the rain and some greenbacks came our way and the dinghy went his.  Later I discovered that at 1 ish or so he emailed that he was on his way. Thus our emotional roller coaster drop wasn’t as far as thought but there was a splash zone on the way.

With the dinghy gone we could again focus on Elysium. We began to prep the shear stripe / cove stripe that Lyman Morse neglected to paint.  We had given Dave the marina yard manager our old never to use again Poly Glow.  This deal was way better then “Buy High and Sell Low” as we had bought it and now were giving it all away. But on a boat there is no room to carry what we won’t be using. Only thing is; I forgot we needed to remove the old Poly Glow that was on the stripe before we add the new Signature Finish paint. Back to the new yard manager, Edwin, to explain what we needed and hopefully get some back. Edwin was kind enough to locate the Poly Glow stripper and we felt lucky; he didn’t ask for any money! We returned to the boat and proceeded to prep the area for painting.



With that part of the paint project completed there was a steel boat in the yard that was being sand blasted. I wan’t happy with the paint on our Sailomat Windvane. The blue paint (which I never liked that color on the wind vane) was pealing, cracking, and falling off. I approached Edwin about the smallish job of blasting the 6 items while there was a crew on the other boat project. He agreed to bring the blasting manager by that afternoon and give us a price.  He did and the price was too high.

They said $110 would do it. I balked. Maybe the one good time in my life when I did.  We are after all in Panama and the minimum wage is about $25 / day.  I figured I could, with Rudy (another cruiser friendly Panamanian driver, Colon based), find a shop in Colon that would bead blast them for less then $50. So I explained what I intended, that in the US I had some blasting of small parts done at an auto shop and this should be about $50 bucks in the US.  They agreed, I could get it done for $50. I would deliver the parts to the work area and they would remove all the paint.  Sweet.  I hate grinding away, stripping paint!

The following day no one worked. The sky never turned blue, and rain continued to wet the Earth off and on for about 6 hours. I was lucky as I didn’t yet have the vane off and in pieces and hoped by the following morning I would.

Finally off and in pieces I hauled them up to where the blasting was taking place and left them for the start of their renewal process. How sweet it is when things actually come together.

The pieces are cleaned and ready for etching, primer, and paint!  We’re making progress again. And!  FedEx shows up with my parts. Life is smoothing out.

Greg arrives the next am and we begin (mostly he) to put the heart of our cruising boat back in order. Piston in, bearings in, the end gasket is on and we begin to clean up the head bolts to put the head back on.  He discovered that the threads in two of the bolt holes are messed up. Remember the two that would not torque down correctly!  Most likely when Kubota put the engine together the bolts went in badly somehow or were fixed after the first assembly but before shipping.  I doubt Aquamarine had any need to do anything with the head and I never removed it nor even torqued the bolts (which I should have done). The end result is that there is a problem and the best way to fix it is with Heli-Coils. We stop work.  The plan is to go into Colon and at Garcia’s (which is a big bolt, nut, screw, place); pick up some M9 Heli-Coils. That’s the plan.

I went in expecting success. I don’t know why, I’m generally not an optimistic person but I’ve found most of the fasteners I need for the boat Garcia’s has.  I was disappointed. Garcia’s pointed me to another store and there too I was disappointed. Then I decided I needed to call Roger in Panama City. He could maybe pick up the Heli-Coils there and when he’s out this way I can meet him.

And that is were we’re at today. I’m waiting to hear if Roger has them or if I again need to order a set from the states. As they (Heli -Coils) appear to have a great deal of value for situations like this; should I need to order them from the states I’ll get a couple of sets. In the Pacific; I know I won’t find any. For now the ride has stopped. I wait for the next go around, knowing that the ups and down in life are all part of the experience.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long


Martinique: The Ugly

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

I  never want to be around an “ugly” in any country. We work hard to skip those places. But in Le Matin; across from Fort De France, Martinique we saw  Ugly.

We were in Fort De France, checked in and spent a couple of days enjoying that town. Quite cosmopolitan.Wx settled in however and we were getting rains every 30 minutes to an hour and lots of wake from the ferries. The rain held us captive on the boat and the ferries turned the inside of our boat into a laundry machine. Needless to say we were a little aggravated. But; we have a boat when there is anything that irritates  us enough –  we move.

So move we did. The guides gives no warnings about Le Matin. We never received any warnings from locals. There are hotels there, there’s a nice beach there, a marina complex there and a relatively calm anchorage there. Remember: we love calm (sissy)  anchorages.

About three days into our stay in Le Matin and a day or two before we were getting ready to  leave – a neighbors dinghy was removed from their boat at night, the engine removed from the dinghy, and the dinghy set adrift. How do we know this?

I awoke the following morn early (as is my new uncontrollable habit) and checked  our boat making sure all was in order. I noticed on Four Points their dinghy was missing and there were now three dinghies on the catamaran behind us. Both boats less then 100 meters away.  Odd!

As boat crews awoke  for the day,  the owner of the catamaran towed a dinghy to Four Points and spoke to them. After which;  nosy me, I went over to Four Points and spoke to them. They had the dinghy cabled / locked to the stern of the boat and tied there. The cable was cut and the line too. The dinghy was found floating at night in the harbor by the owner of the catamaran and he saw that Four Points had no dinghy and figured it was theirs.  Four Points said the engine too was chained and locked to the dinghy. Obviously the thieves then  floated off in the dinghy and away from anyone hearing cut the SS chain that kept the dinghy engine locked  to the boat. They then took the engine  and everything else in the dinghy, including oars, and left.

Four Points attempted to call the Coast Guard in English. The local Coast Guard did not respond. Their friends on another boat spoke French and hailed the coast guard. They were told by the coast guard via their friends that the coast guard was currently busy ( I can’t confirm or deny this) and the Coast Guard would get back to Four Points in about 30 minutes. I know all this because the communications occurred over the VHF radio.

As the victims had been planning to continue their transit of Martinique  today anyway they readied the boat to leave and were heading  to Le Marin.  There they would continue the process of reporting the crime. Unfortunately; the wx didn’t cooperate and they ended up in St. Lucia. I don’t believe the crime was ever reported as I checked Noonsite and the Caribbean and Safety net and it shows up neither place.

Unfortunately, this happens too frequently. Since we’ve left almost 2 years ago. we’ve  personally known  cruisers that have been the victims of  2 robberies (one boat at a dock near a not too good area – another robbery of a rented car where the thieves  followed the car and opened the locked trunk with a their own key when the boaters had gone into re-provision – Both happened in St. Martin on the French side), a large number of dinghies stolen  in St. Thomas (reported in one of my earlier blogs and picked up by Noonsite) , a boater that had a boarding occur on their boat  in Roseau, Dominica (luckily they lost nothing) , and of course our own dinghy theft in the Bahamas (also reported in an earlier blog).

Nothing is the same as 25 years ago here. Of course; why should I expect it to be? I was raised in a relatively small community in Iowa where we knew our neighbors and everyone watched out for everyone else. The community standards were such that if there was a robbery somehow it was an accident and the borrowed item would soon be returned. We cruised the northern islands of the Caribbean 25 years ago where there were some very poor communities and the crime was basically non existent (Almost; we were told not to go the beach in front of El Moro, San Juan, Peurto Rico –  so we didn’t). Maybe now with more people, less food, and a greater disparity between rich and poor showing up (yes as evidenced by boats and their sizes and some would include ours here) there is a greed which transcends moral values and ends up infecting individuals with desire and when an opportunity arises they simple take what they want.

So it is with sadness that we left Martinique; we left with  a bitter taste in our mouth. A country that loves food, and loves life, we’re saddened by the fact that there is an appearance they tolerate their own thieives.  We don’t.  We left.

Fair Winds