Thursday, November 20, 2014

Starting off with a bang

I know it's been a long time since my last post... we've been back in the states for a few months working, seeing family and friends and giving our house some much needed TLC (that's a whole different blog). But I'm writing this on Saralane as we bob at anchor in Mountain Point in Virgin Gorda. Nice.

I'll go back to the end of last season in a minute but first - our launch a few days ago.

Reuben picks up Saralane in the trailer

Maurice gives Reuben the high sign when the pads are properly placed

Riding in the trailer to the travelift
As has become our practice, we hang in the slings over the yard's lunch break so we can lower and paint the centerboard. Skip patched the "bite" in the centerboard while we were in the yard and it needed a few coats of paint too.

A long way up (or down, as the case may be)
Painting our much loved centerboard
With the centerboard paint dry, all that's left to do is raise the board before going back in the water. Skip climbs the long ladder and winches up the board as I wait below the boat with the Spectra sling in hand to secure the board in the up position. The board was most of the way up and that's where the BANG! comes in. It was the sound the centerboard made when the cable we installed last fall parted from the swage fitting and 800 pounds of board slammed back down in one swift soul crushing motion. There was a fraction of second of silence while we both registered what had happened; the next minute or two of conversation are unprintable. Needless to say this was stingingly disappointing. Visions of rough passages filled my mind and visions of expensive short hauls to try another fix filled Skip's. 

But... the travelift operator was waiting and other boats needed his attention. We had no choice but to pin the board back in the up position and go in the water. We're back to being a fixed shallow draft boat. 

All is not lost though. Everything else on the boat is in great shape (touch wood here) and we've mostly recovered our sunny outlook on life here in the Caribbean. We sat over drinks that night and started to think up new designs for a more robust cable system. We're open to suggestions. Seriously. 

There's lots more to cover, but I think a quickie summary of the end of last season will be enough for now. We spent some time in Lee Bay which is always quiet. The swimming here is great and we're often the only boat.

John H gets a refresher - the sun fades our non-marine grade Sharpie lettering/numbering

Burning man 
John H enjoys the fire too

Saralane alone in Lee Bay
With time on our hands we wandered over to St John to enjoy a few more nights in Francis Bay. Even with Maho Bay Camps closed, there are still lots of people on the beach and in the water.

Giant pelican? Mini yacht? Or is it just perspective....

Nope... it's definitely a giant pelican!

John H makes friends with the laughing gulls
We eventually hauled out and did all the grubby boat yard work we do each year. Sails off, dinghy deflated and put on deck, canvas cleaned and off, perishables given away, roach cookies made and spread around etc. This year we sanded and painted the bottom on this end instead of waiting until our launch to do it. This made us extra happy when we came back and didn't have to sand and paint. Why it took us four years to figure this out I'm not quite sure.

Skip paints. I photograph.
So - kind of a disjointed blog but hey, I'm out of practice! My repaired Mac is humming along nicely (more knocking on wood here) so I have no excuse for not blogging until/unless something else goes on the fritz. I'll leave you with one of many pretty night skies we still oooh and aaah at here. See you here again soon....


s/v Skylark said...

Welcome back! We've missed reading your blog but now we're on pins and needles waiting to see what happens with the centerboard. What a terrible feeling that must have been. It's always interesting, isn't it?

Cindy Barnard said...


Dana Greyson said...

Nice to hear from you again Mattie! Sorry about the centerboard. But look a the bright side, it leaves us, your faithful readers, in breathless anticipation of another centerboard post!

Life is good ;)
Wayne & Dana

Anonymous said...

Well hello there! For the upcoming centerboard cable engineering competition we are going to need a diagram or access to a diagram of the current configuration.

Miles said...

Sorry that last comment was from me...

Eliza said...

Glad to see that the blog is back! Sorry to hear about the centerboard. Not a good way to get back in the swing of things.


clay said...

Hi Skip & Madeline,

Sorry to hear about the centerboard pennant breaking. I did some research on the internet and found that this is a very common problem with all centerboard cruising boats. Some of the remedies that were shared was checking all the sheaves to make sure none are broken, check the stainless steel cable yearly for corrosion, as you know stainless steel is not designed to be immersed in saltwater. Without oxygen, it's no longer stainless steel. One guy has replaced his stainless steel cable with galvanized which is much more flexible when going around sheaves, is actually stronger and way cheaper. Plus you can have an eye spliced into the end of it instead of a swaged fitting which accellerates the corrosion. Another good idea that I read, one guy replaced his stainless steel cable on a Bristol 31 with Amsteel Blue which can also be spliced at its terminal end. He reports that after 4 years his Amsteel Blue line is still in very good shape, Hope these ideas help. Let me know how you fix it. Clay

Madeline said...

Hello all.... Thanks for sticking with us during the blog's absence. Thanks too for the combination of sympathy, enthusiasm and research on our centerboard issue. The latest plan is to replace the cable with Spectra or Dyneema (Amsteel), so great minds think a(like) Clay!

Stand by for more captivating tales of the centerboard...