Saturday, December 13, 2014

Back on track

Centerboard trouble? What centerboard trouble? With a little brainstorming, a few new bits and pieces and a little help from our friends, our centerboard troubles are behind us. At least for now. Here's the short and sweet version...

Instead of replacing the stainless steel wire and swage eye with the same material we opted to use Dyneema all the way.

Dyneema with spliced loop becomes our new "cable"
The year old stainless wire that rusted/frayed/weakened and snapped 
Here's where it's good to have friends with air... instead of having to do a short haul (take the boat out of the water, hang in the slings for an hour and rush to try to get the job done before the clock runs out), our friend Kurt donned his scuba gear and did the dirty work under water for us. 

Kurt and Tina arrive on their Outbound 46 "Pneumatic"
Kurt gets instructions from Skip.... tab A goes into slot B...
...and then goes in to replace the old broken swage eye and bolt with a new bolt and the Dyneema.

Not hard to tell the old bolt from the new bolt. Lots of corrosion on the old one.
The old corroded bolt came out with no problem, but the swage eye took a little more muscle (and a lot of Kurt's air). Once the old pieces were out, he got on with the task of fitting the new Dyneema. Ever try to push a big string through a small hole? It wasn't easy and Kurt came up once or twice and said "I'm not optimistic." This, coming from an engineer had us worried, but we made some adjustments to the spliced loop and he went back down and worked on it until he got it. Thanks Kurt!! 

Centerboard is winched UP again... with a length of rope temporarily holding it in place. 
On deck the same 4:1 ratio set up stays in place...

Dyneema knotted before final length is determined...
...then neatly spliced and finished off.
A celebration was definitely in order. Kurt and Skip toast the new functional centerboard pennant.
A celebratory snorkel was in order too... and Mountain Point is a good spot for it.

School of blue tang along the shore in Mountain Point
Skip tries to blend in with his blue shorts and snorkel
Mountain Point bonus - Iain and Fiona on "Ruffian" row over in their dinghy "Thug" for a visit.
The new Dynema pennant had it's trial run already on the upwind sail to St Martin and it worked perfectly. We still dive down to attach or remove the spectra loop, but as long as we're in clear water that's not a problem. A little unconventional perhaps, but also effective.

The weather in the northeast Caribbean has been unusually mild lately and we took advantage of a slight northerly component in the wind to go to St Martin - primarily to replace the anchor chain we replaced there just over a year ago. The (old) new chain started to rust within about six months so we contacted the supplier in St Martin and they agreed to replace it at no cost. We usually sail during the day so we can fish, but it was the night before a full moon and it was calm and clear so we left about 10 PM and arrived in St Martin with time to kill before catching the afternoon bridge into the lagoon on the French side.

Moon set

Sun rise
Hurricane Gonzalo did a job on St Martin in October and evidence of the storm was clear along the shoreline here. Local mariners counted 100-ish boats lost or sunk (the official count was much lower) and the recovery efforts continue.

Boats and rocks don't mix well. Top left is a work boat trying to free a small freight boat, which stubbornly refuses to budge.
I took my camera with me everywhere we went in St Martin, but somehow ended up with almost no photos. You're not missing much though - mostly what we saw was the inside of Island Water World, Budget Marine and about half a dozen grocery stores. Zzzzzzzz.... 

We did get to see our friends Tim and Nancy on "Larus" arriving through the Dutch bridge and I managed to remember to take a shot of them.

Pretty Larus arrives

As well as a MUCH bigger boat than Larus... squeezing through the open drawbridge. 
And another biggie, signaling that mega yacht season has begun.
Less visually interesting, but more important to us than mega yachts, was our anchor chain swap. Go ahead - feel free to ooooohh and aaaahhh....

Old chain / New chain - oooohhh, aaaahhh. No more messy decks!
While we were at it, we replaced the old shackle attaching the chain to the anchor. It looked OK, but better safe than sorry.

Old shackle / New shackle
Very important to attach the anchor to the boat BEFORE removing the old shackle!
Box of old chain
Bucket of shiny new chain
Anchor chain replaced, shopping done, wind (supposedly) backing to the northeast (it didn't) we pulled up the anchor (on the shiny new chain) and headed back to the BVI for a few weeks. We'll be back this way again soon though and maybe then I'll take some more interesting photos. 

Oh - I forgot to mention the BEST thing we got in St Martin (and that's saying a lot considering that getting new chain was pretty fabulous) was a new fishing lure! And it sure does work....

Mahi #1
Getting filleted

Don't be fooled by the tiny teeth - they're VERY sharp!

Mahi #2 before and after (Sylvester was here)

We had to look up the wahoo since we didn't think it was striped and the fish book said "Bright silver to silvery gray; back may have bluish cast. May display numerous dark bars, especially when stressed." Yikes. Hopefully he was less stressed after we tossed him back in. We caught one more giant mahi that shook off our lure before we could land him, but we were pretty happy with our catch. We'll be feeding lots of people in the next few days.

The magic lure - a plain cedar plug. 
Wing on wing the whole way to the BVI - the beautiful mythical downwind sail finally materializes.
We'll be here for a few weeks, then east again...