Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Good News Bad News

Well, it happened in Grenada! We had a huge whale beaching down at lovely Grand Anse beach. What a sight. Thousands of people, both locals and cruisers, went down to the beach to see the poor things. There's not much you can do without heavy equipment and by the time that is brought in it is usually too late.

As usual the cause is in question. Some say seismic activity which we had some of just south of here recently. Some blame submarine sonar. In any case they are beautiful animals come to a sorry end.

But in the spirit of waste not want not we had one hell of a feast later. Wow, taste just like chicken and we all got some oil for our lamps to take home with us!


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What’s Happening In Prickly Bay?

A few days ago the Grenada coast guard (motto: Welcome and Get Out!) came out and passed out fliers to all the boats on the west side of the bay. Here’s the note verbatim. . .

  • All yacht owners who utilize the prickly bay marina is hereby reminded that the area west of the channel providing access to the coast guard base is prohibited for anchorage. No vessel shall anchor in this area. The coast guard will be increasing its patrols to enforce the laws against those who may be in violation of this order.

First of all there is no channel. Not shown on any chart and there are no buoys. This has been going on since we arrived. Every once in awhile they’ll come out and tell various boats to move out of the channel. When you ask where the channel is they point back to shore about a half mile where there are 2 green buoys and 1 red. As far as I know a channel ends after the last seaward buoy.

One of the cruisers then contacted the coast guard about this flier and was told that it really only applied to new boats arriving and boats that were there could stay! So, if you got the flier telling you to leave you can stay but if you arrive with no flier telling you to leave you have to get out. Sounds like the military! Of course by this time about a dozen boats including Enee had already weighed anchor and moved over making the rest of the bay pretty cozy!

It's been a few days since this incident and, of course, new boats have arrived and anchored where there is room. IN THE CHANNEL!

Final comment is that if the coast guard as a beef with anyone it should be with their composition teachers!

In other news: How Many Cats Fit in a Kleenex Box?

Answer: MISMO!
I don't know what's with this cat. She thinks (right) that she's still a kitten I guess or hasn't noticed how big her ass is. Now this is her favorite toy. We walk through the cabin and she dives through the box and attacks our feet. One time she got her front legs through and stood up and was wearing the box like a tube top! Free entertainment that's for sure.

Barnacle hand follow up follow up to follow. . .

The antibiotics were not taking hold and when I got up Thursday my hand was bigger than ever with the skin stretched like a drum head. Back to the doc. This hand was sensitive to light it was so sore. What did he do? Stuck a needle in it (to 'numb' it). Then he cut it open and got lots of stuff out. Sorry no pics. He did this to two cuts on my had and to a collection of pus on my cheek. I went back today to have the dressing changed and he went after my face again. Christ that hurt! (I didn't even get a sucker either.) Hopefully now all the bad joo joo is gone and the antibiotics can win the day. Bottom line is don't even mess with a baranacle cut. Clean it, clean it, clean it and put anibiotic ointment on right away.

And Finally. . . Ready?

Dum dum dum. . .


Monday, March 23, 2009

barnacle follow up

Sue and I went to a clinic today to see about her foot. She rolled it over a couple of weeks ago (dancing) and we thought the swelling should be down but it's not. This is a VERY nice clinic (St. Augustine). I went along to get a second opinion on what had been prescribed from this other doctor in town. Well, he looked at my puffiness and looked at the prescription and said that that is really not the right prescription for what I got. So he gave me a blood test and a different antibiotic and said I should see some results in a couple of days. I hope so. My hand is bigger than every and my face. . . I AM NOT AN ANIMAL!

Sue got an x-ray and looks like she did chip a tiny bone but since she's been walking on it gingerly for 2 weeks he didn't see what a cast would do now and just told her to take it easy and keep it up as much as she can. Telling Sue to take it easy is like telling my dad to vote Republican! Grocery store here I come!

So, both of us got a look see from the doc, blood test, x-ray AND 2 weeks of antibiotic for the total price of about $200 US. And we didn't have to wait for someone to read the x-ray or call for results or hope the doctor called us. I wonder how much all that would have cost in the US?

Here's an actual picture of my left hand! Ouch!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Beware of Barnacles

Just a friendly note to all our sailing friends out there. A barnacle cut can be a bigger pain than you might imagine. I had a couple of cuts on my hands from barnacles that were two weeks old and just about healed over. Then the infection kicked in. Now I look like I'm wearing a catcher's mitt on my left had but, no, that's just my hand. My reading shows that this can be a nasty infection to shake. I've been to the doc and have some antibiotics to take. In the meantime the nastyness has spread to what is probably a lymph node in my jaw. Nice. This is what I look like now.

Click here and scroll down to see what Capt Art has to say.

Go Louisville!

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Fate of Caribbean Coral

I start my day (when we have internet) with a letter to my daughter, check the Chicago Trib, check on my Cubs, and Scientific American. Today there is a disturbing news item about Caribbean fish and Coral. Some highlights from the article:

There has been 30 years of steady coral loss (80% of the coral is gone!) that is now showing up in the decline in the number of reef fish in the Caribbean. Fish numbers have declined at 5% a year for the last ten years.

Pollution and warming are the cause of the damage to the coral.

Stuff like this doesn't get fixed overnight if ever. It takes thousands of years to build up coral reefs. That they can be destroyed in 30 years is another shocking example of how delicate the balance is on mother Earth.

So, no, we can't repair the reefs that are already gone. All we can do is change our behavior to prevent more or total loss in the future.

In other news, I went for my daily afternoon swim/scrape the hull yesterday and discovered an 8 inch crack in the hull of the dinghy! We hauled it up on the davits to see if water would drain out. Today we'll haul it up on deck and see what repairs we can make. I have no idea how this happened. I guess that swimmer the other day had a harder head than I thought!


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Crewing on Fleetwing

I just spent two days helping out as crew on the sailing vessel Fleetwing. Owners Brian and Jane thought they'd like another crewman on board as they move their boat from Grenada north to Bequia in the Grenedines (about 75 miles)

I went to their boat Sunday night over at Clarke Court Bay Marina so we could get an early start on Monday. Jane and Brian have been cruising the Caribbean, east coast of the US, Cuba, and as far north as Nova Scotia for the past 17 years. Fleetwing is a 1983 Gulfstar that is wonderfully laid out (actually very similar to Enee!) and meticulously maintained by these two seasoned sailors. She's 45 feet over all with quarters and heads fore and aft. Center cockpit. Her most interesting feature is around the boom roller reefing for the main. I see this is far superior to in mast roller as you can see what is going on AND you have proper shape if you do reef the main AND you can have battens.

Our plan was to sail 50 miles on Monday to Union Island and then the last 25 miles to Bequia on Tuesday. Brian and Jane had graciously arranged to fly me home then from St. Vincent on Wednesday morning.

Sailing with these two was a real treat. There's Jane doing something wonderful in the galley. They have their routines down for passage making. Brian and Jane take turns being captain at a one week intervals. This was Brian's week and that makes him responsible for trip planning, navigation, and ordering sail compliments and trim. The day begins with them going over their well used checklist. They could probably do it in their sleep but to make sure they keep a written out 'before you leave' checklist and mark off the items with a dry erase marker as they accomplish them. Then the captain has a briefing with the crew to set up how we will leave the dock, who will do what and how the day will probably go in terms of course. Very good idea and very British and proper! (I've taken to saying 'rubbish', 'biscuits', and 'lovely'!)

So at 0600 Monday we set out. As per Brian's plan we hugged the weste coast of Grenada as we headed north. Taking what wind we could get but staying out of the slop we did better than we would have done venturing out to the west in search of wind only to find ourselves having to make some easting back against that wind AND against current once north of the island. Motorsailing with reefed main and jib we averaged 5 knots making our 50 miles in 10 hours.

Our Captain!

1600 we arrive at Chatham Bay on the western shore of Union Island. This is one of those bays that you were dreaming about when thinking of coming to the Caribbean. Long pretty beach, great snorking reef to the north and nothing on the beach itself except a few little BBQ huts. The boys running these modest establishments come out to greet you when you arrive and to tell you of the day's specials. Only one guy you really want to talk to though: Shark Attack! He used to be the one and only hut there and has been there for over 10 years. He came out and picked us up in his boat and we had lobster, red fish, salad, rice, and baked potatoes on a large picnic table with lanterns for light. He provides beer and rum punch but you are welcome to bring your own wine. What a great place. The three of us sat with another couple and shared cruising moments as cruisers will do. Jane won as she has way more such moments to share!

Tuesday was similar if perhaps somewhat rougher. This 20 -25 knot wind was supposed to lay down some and clock to the east but not really happening. But we were able to lay Admiralty bay on Bequia in one tack again motoring to keep up our speed into the chop. I went in to shore with Brian to clear in and to tell them that I was clearing out the next day. This is important so that they make a note that they arrived with 3 members on board but there will only be 2 when they leave. Sue and I were in Bequia on our way down in late August. It was nearly empty then as most boats had run north or south for hurricane season. VERY busy now with probably a hundred boats in the anchorage. Brian and I had a couple of beers and then back to Fleetwing for a swim and delicious lazagna by Jane.

This morning they took me ashore for the 0630 ferry to St. Vincent (takes about 45 minutes), cab to the airport, and 25 minute hop back to Grendada. I grabbed a cab to our dinghy dock and as we pulled up Sue was just getting out of our dinghy! Do we have great timing or what and without cell phone!

A great 2 days. It was so fun just to watch Brian and Jane go through their passage making routines. Also fun was discussing genetics and relativity with Brian - he was and is a professor of genetics at Oxford (that's in England) - and having Jane regale us with stories from the 17 years of cruising. Brian and Jane will soon be joined in Bequia by her dauhter and grand kids. I'm sure all will have a great time. We hope to meet them again as they head south later in the year and we head north.

Friday, March 13, 2009

windlass part deux?

Our new chain arrived yesterday, YEE HAW! We took Enee to Spice Island Marine (where I almost worked) and tied up beside their haul out pit. I had arranged for the new chain to be delivered there. Now we just had to pull up all the old chain and put it on a tarp on deck. Spice Island didn't want it so. . . just wait.

At the bitter end of the chain there is about 6 feet of 3/4" three strand line spliced on that goes through a hole in a 2x4. I guess if for some reason chain just started paying out that 2x4 would get stuck against the underside of the deck and the 3 strand would give you some elasticity. Boooooiiiiinnnnnggggg!

While waiting for the chain to arrive Kerry and I laid out a ten meter length on the pier so we could mark the chain before feeding it below. The chain arrived and me, Kerry and Randy (from s/v High States) who had joined us laid it back and forth in our 10 meter marks and tied colored wire ties every 10 meters. Why meters? All the charts are in meters and so is my depth sounder and, hey, I'm a physicist and I LOVE meters! They're bigger than feet too so there!

That's Kerry showing you his good side

Kerry fed me the end of the chain and I spliced the rope to it. I'm not great at this but I think I did all right. As we started feeding the chain aboard we realized that we had marked it backwards or, if you prefer, handed me the wrong end to start with! No matter we just erased our crib sheet and changed the numbers.

We were moored right next to the travel lift which is very loud. Mismo did NOT approve!

Now we have 200 feet of old nasty rusted chain (this stuff was 5/16 as it turns out) on deck. So we motored out of the bay a quarter mile or so and I let it go off the other bow roller and gave it to the fishes.

Back into Prickly Bay. Boy do I love the new windlass for paying out chain. With an electric windlass you have one choice of speed and in laying chain you want to imagine that you are in fact 'laying' it out as the boat backs down wind. You don't need the electric force for this you can use, yes. . . .GRAVITY! The windlass has a cone type clutch and with just gentle movements of the lever I can control the speed at which chain lays out. Nice.

My new chain is nice and shiny and barnacles beware! I'll be brushing this $1000 piece of chain every freaking day! Now that all the nasty work is done I can finish the paint job too.

We do still have the problem of chain castling up and jamming requiring us to run down and 'knock down the pile' when raising anchor. I plan to cut a large hole in the bottom of the anchor locker so that I can reach in with a boat hook if necessary and pull the pile aft.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Windlass - good news bad news

Today we tried hauling anchor with our new windlass. It works great. . .then it doesn't. We have discovered a few problems that weren't anticipated. Well, that's what trial runs are for. Here's what happened.

I started hauling chain and it works great. Easy back and forth motion and plenty of mechanical advantage. then about half way to the anchor the chain started jumping off the gypsy (!). What the. . . At first I thought it was because the chain was twisted. When I looked closer though I could see that the links don't really fit the gypsy! They are spaced too far for this gypsy. At this point I figured that I checked it by simply laying the chain in the gypsy but not pulling it tight. Certainly taking up the little space where the links meet would change the usable link length.

We were going to go to Clarke's Court bay but being unable to use the windlass as is we decided to stay. I let out chain (this part works great. Just a simple clutch so you can control the speed at which the chain pays out.) To ease back where we were. But when I got there the boat was not where it was. I guess I pulled in enough chain to dislodge the anchor. So now I HAVE to haul up the anchor to re-anchor!

I tried the windlass again. Hey, it's working great. Sue kept moving the boat forward so not much tension on the chain. I'm looking at the chain in the windlass and it fits perfect! What the hell? I keep hauling and again about half way to the anchor it starts jumping off and upon inspection I can see that the links don't fit at all. A puzzle.

Then I looked REAL close. The part of the chain that is nearer the anchor is more rusted and more worn than the stuff that spends some of its life in the anchor locker. Looking at these used-hard links I see that the wire itself has thinned. That makes the link length too long! That explains perfectly why it jumps off at that point in the hauling process. Now I HAVE to buy new chain.

Other discovered problems:

The chain still piles up in the locker forcing Sue to abandon the helm and run forward into the v-berth and knock over the pile. This is an old problem. Now though we also had an instance of the chain getting stuck in the bottom of the 2" pipe that I installed. That hole is going to have to be bigger. In face I may cut a large rectangular opening so that I can reach in with the boat hook and knock over the pile from on deck. This opening will have to have a rim of some kind though to keep rainwater and spray out of the below-decks chain locker.

After working the windlass now I think it should still be a litle higher off the deck to make a better angle for the incoming chain. To this end I'm going to add a 3/4" or maybe two, slabs between the windlass and the deck.

So, probably off to buy new chain today. What the hell it's only money. Wonder how my mutual funds are doing?

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Progress Continues

Just a quick update. I know you are all breathlessly awaiting every word on the windlass project. Here's a couple more pics showing the construction. You can see the standpipe and the angle iron. Then the same shot with the plywood on top. Waiting for the paint to dry then I can drill the angle iron and mount the windlass. LET'S GO SAILING!!!

Much fun at the tiki bar last night. Happy hour and good pizza. That's me and Kerry. Not sure who that lady is who pushed her way into the picture.

Thankfully there is no picture of Sue and I dancing which ended badly with Sue on the ground with a twisted ankle. I AM hard to follow with my syncopated high stepping!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Boat Jobs

In response to one of our comments here’s some more detail about the topsides painting project . . .

Sue and I painted all the white areas with Petit EasyPoxy. We brushed it on. You have to make sure you smooth it out as you go with a good brush. Vertical surfaces are a little tricky as the paint will run down if you put on too much and leave waves in the finish. We have some of that and may go back and re-do some of those. It’s all Sue’s fault!

The non-skid was originally molded into the fiberglass so painting it was a process of painting one way and then at right angles to that to try to fill all the nooks and cranies. (Does a nook differ from a cranie by the way?) A cheap chip bristle brush is good for this. I used a decent brush to cut in around the white having painted the white first up into the cream colored non-skid. I had a bad experience with tape pulling off the white paint before. Free-handing looks pretty good from 6 feet away and goes a LOT faster than taping would have. Most of the boundaries aren’t straight anyway so taping would not really have been worth it I don’t think.

When you're painting you might as well repair all those little spider web type cracks. Those make a solid boat look really tired. I've come up with this method for patching those. First I open up the crack using a Dremel with a cone shaped bit on the end. You need to do this so that you can work in some filler. Then I clean it with a wipe with Acetone. I mix up a batch of West System epoxy with the 407 filler so that it is like ketchup. Now I use a small brush and brush the goo across the opened cracks. If I have a larger void on a vertical surface I lay on the goo and then slap a piece of wax paper on it so the stuff doesn't run out. After about 2 hours you can sand nice and smooth. Looks great when you paint it then. Pic shows some filled in and sanded cracks in the bow. Looks bad but it's actually very smooth and will paint up fine.

Pics of the paint job are tough as in a photograph the old white and new white look about the same even though they look VERY different in person.

Major progress in the windlass department. I decided to use the forward triangle of the anchor locker as a pattern to make a platform out of ¾” plywood. I coated that with two coats of epoxy and then two coats of the white paint we’ve been using. Now the tricky part is putting the angle iron across the anchor locker so that they match up with the holes for mounting the windlass. I came close and then had to slightly move some of the L-shaped slots I had cut to make the holes hit dead center in the 1-¼” angle iron I’m using. Oh that got coated too. You don’t want to see what sea water will do to exposed untreated steel!

We want the chain to go through the floor of the anchor locker and into the chain locker below decks as it always has. Now we need a new hole in the bottom of the anchor locker directly below the hole in the plywood. Hmmm...got to be careful what you mean by below! The chain will hand vertically but vertical is NOT perpendicular to the deck which slopes a little aft at the bow. So, I hung a washer on a string from the center of the hole and marked where this hit the bottom of the locker. That should work.

Mismo likes to help!

Of course all this work is even more fun on a rolling boat!

Now then, that hole is going to be a problem because water is allowed into this locker and then drains through a hole that is hosed to a fitting on the hull so no water gets below in the chain locker. Now I have a 2” hole in the bottom. So, I plan to put in a piece of hard exhaust type hose as a stand pipe. This will also have the added effect of making sure that the chain does indeed go all the way into the chain locker and not start piling up in the bottom of the anchor locker.

I priced chain today. ⅜” high test was 21 EC per foot. 2.6 EC/1 US Dollar. That's about $1600 for 200 feet!!!! Yeah, chain is expensive. We have about 200 feet now but we may cut back to 100 feet and 200 feet of line. We’ll see. BTW, my birthday is in July! :-)

Finally, It's March and our March birthday boys are two of my nephews. Happy Birthday Kirk and Scotty!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

This and That

Sue and I have nearly finished painting the entire topsides of Enee Marie. Big job but what a difference. The old girl (Enee not Sue) was just looking tired (well, Sue did get tired though). You couldn't really clean the decks any more because they were so dull and pasty. Now all the white is shiny white. Painted it with Petit EasyPoxy. Seems to be a good hard enamel. Painted the cream colored non-skid patches with Epiphanes Non-slipverf (it's a Dutch company). The non-skid paint has sand mixed in it. This is good as the old non skid patches have worn pretty smooth over the years.

I bought the angle iron I need to install my new manual windlass so I hope to really get on that job later today. I'm anxious to try it out, weigh anchor and go sailing!

Our friends are coming down to visit at the end of the month. They're going to be staying at Jenny's Place, a very neat little hotel at the end of Grand Anse beach. Jenny herself runs the place and was Miss World back in 1970-something.

Can't have a post without a picture. Here's an exciting shot of our new high-tech tumblers and Sue's yummy bruchetta. . . or is that artichoke pizza? Well, both are really good!

Finally, here's an interesting article from Scientific American about how the Coast Guard goes about searching for someone at sea. They actually don't just start flying around but use some pretty high-tech software to tell them the most likely areas to start in.