A very hot slow boat to Bermuda.
I have to admit this is not the trip Matt and I planned to Bermuda. The gulf stream and weather has decided it is going to deal us a cruel blow. The weather forecast has completely turned on it head since we left Fairhaven and we now have 15knots of breeze coming direct from Bermuda. There is no favour tack, its coming straight from where we ant to go. In the sea state we are tacking through 100 degrees and its looking like the second half of this trip is going to take 3 or 4 days. The grib files show no change in direction during the next 3-4 days so its just going to be a long grind to get us there. The bearing to Bermuda we need to sail is 165 and we can only sail 115 or 215, directly into the gulf stream either killing the SOG or giving making out 115 about 100. For this time of year the wind should be South Westerly making this a broad reach but no not this week. We initially expected the trip to take 5 days but its looking like we will be luck to get there in 7. Is this payback for a relatively easy OSTAR. I pray to god I don't get treated like this on the way to the Azores next week.
To add to the fun the temperature down below is 32 degrees and the humidity is 70%. My weather centre say hot and wet - no sh*t. You should try cooking in these temperatures! The waster temperature is a staggering 30.9 degrees to - at least the occasional wave over the deck doesn't upset you to much. Matt and I are both walking around in our pants as it just to hot to wear anything else.
We had a brief sighting of a whale this morning and also found a dead fish in the cockpit. Not big enough to eat. His tail was sticking out of one of the cockpit drains. We seem to spend most of the day out of the sun and down below decks and tends to result in dozing in and out of consciousness, waking up to find that you have hardly made any progress and that you are now lying on a sweaty damp bed. Is this normal for sailing in this part of the world?
Anyway, apart from that the positives are that it is a lovely day and we are sailing. Umm but would I swap this for a air conditioned office that I could leave in a few hours to go home. Not sure lets just wait and see what the next few days are like. The way I am feeling now, is that if I didn't have to get Matt to a plane in Bermuda by Sunday, I would just crack off a bit and head for the Azores.
I'll leave it there. Will, Matt and Elmarleen
The wind has finally picked up to about 15 knots true. Its on the nose but its better than nothing. We seem to have finally pulled through the eddy on the gulf stream giving me 2.5 knots of current against. So running a little behind schedule but still on for a Thursday arrival. Fingers crossed we don't loose to much of this wind.
The temperature is 30'c below decks and it to hot to do anything even type so I am going to stop here. 75% humidity.
One reef in the main and doing about 6.5 knots SOG.
About to finish off last nights spag bol for lunch.
Oh had a very worrying thunderstorm last night. We ended up sailing all over the place trying to avoid it. After Bart's luck we though it better to try and sail around it..
Must go, im dripping - ITS SO HOT.
USA - Bermuda Day 2
We had a cracking first 24 hours and must have average about 6 knots but since midday today we had only had a puff of wind. We have been sailing at about 3.5 knots of the last few hours and now that we are not racing you wonder whether it is time to start using some of the very precious diesel. We have approximately 150 litres which should give us the best part of 2 and a half days worth. So how slow do you have to be sailing before you start the engine?
The temperature is 29'c and the humidity is around 61%. The weather was not like this on the OSTAR. It's so hot now that you are constantly tired and lethargic. Its not like there is any breeze to cool you down either. The sea temp is about 28'c! The weather forecast for the next few days is looking a little better, The wind is supposed to pick up to about 15 knots until Tuesday and then drop off again. I guess that is when I will consider motoring. By then we should only be a few hundred miles from Bermuda.
So we are both a bit bored, wondering how to kill this hot sticky day. I don't think I have ever slept this much at sea. We just pulled the Sony SPS out and found the batteries are flat so we are going to have to leave that for a while to charge. Every time I try and read my book I end up falling asleep. So I guess that just means more sleep for the time being.
Elmarleen leaves for Bermuda
After a thundery night and a considerable amount of rain Elmarleen with new crew member Matt Glasgow leaves Fairhaven Ship Yard for Bermuda. The boat went back in the water yesterday with her new bearing and repaired rudder, a repaired engine and a new backing plate for the lower shroud broken on the way over in the race.
We left under engine in very little visibility. We are heading for the southern end of Cuttyhunk island where we should be able to bear away and hoist sails. Current conditions are about 10 knots true with the sun shining. It's looking like we should have a fetch on starboard for the first day or so.
Good bye USA
No wonder my bearings were knackered. I must have hit something very hard to bend 45mm solid stainless bar!
It explains the crack. Its not very racy but i will sail home with it like that and build a new one when i'm home. It still feels very strong and solid.
Moment of truth.
So Monday morning came round and it now time to see what this 'Shipyard' is capable of. I got out of bed and instantly there was a knock on the hull. Hello, I here you need some work! Its 8:00!! I talked through the engine and rudder issues and walked up to the shower block. I left a note on the guard wire to say I was using the internet and before I know It I heard a radio go off. 'is that guy around with the little boat' I was being demanded at the pontoon where five guys were waiting. Nervously I walked down the pontoon thinking I was going to be beaten up. How can I help I said. The reply was, 'your being lifted'. Before I knew it I was expertly plucked from the water and placed on stand. I agreed I would do as much work as possibly to reduce cost wqhcih they were more than happy for me to do. I dropped the rudder myself and then called the foreman over for a chat. The rudder was cracked and the lower bearing loose in its house and also loose on the rudder stock. Bert the fibre glass guy came over and we discussed wha I wanted doing. I asked if someone could make me a new bearing and I was answered with the machinist is on holiday. Is this were it is going to all go wrong?
The engine guy also was busy and couldn't make it down till Tuesday morning. I was starting to feel a little nervous. These guys now have my boat out of the water, trapped and I am supposed to be leaving for Bermuda on Friday??? How am I supposed to get the head gasket replaced in 3 days?
It didn't look like any work was going to happen today so I went fro a cycle to West Marine and found Neimeic marine who do parts for all types of engines. I spoken the the guys there who were really helpful and had all the Volvo Penta engine diagrams and parts lists. I couldn't believe it, right here, just down the road from the yard. I looked at the spares kits and decided it best to order the engine overhaul gasket kit. For the sake of $100 dollars it will save me a day waiting for parts. If I don't need the bits at least I will have them as spares for when I go cruising later in the year with Tam. I also went to another spares places next door and they were able to order me a new muffler/water trap. A bit confused as to how I could have ended up somewhere so helpful and with all the right suppliers I went back to the boat.
Tuesday morning - I woke up had a shower and went back to the boat. My rudder, where has it gone! Who has stolen it? What's that guy doing climbing the ladder to my boat with a tool bag? What is that guy doing with that tube thing.
My rudder was being dried out under a heat lamp. I had a new bearing made to perfection being fitted in the rudder tube and there was a guy looking for me to discuss my engine. Wow, am I dreaming, its Tuesday morning and things are really moving forward. There is no doubt Fairhaven Shipyard is a place where stuff gets done.
After a chat with the engineer about the engine we decided we better get it running. Will the engineer went down to sort out a hose. If you need a hose you et a hose at Fairhaven Shipyard, before I could get down the ladder three guys were rolling out a hose to the fool of the keel. We got the engine running and Will advised me that he thought it sounded and looked fine. This engine didn't get that hot. I noted the water flow through bucket the engine was drawing from seemed slower than when I usually winterised it in the UK so we decided to start inspecting the water ways.
The water trap I tried to fix had a bloody great obstruction in it and the plastic choker put into the cooling pipe to increase the water temperature and to aid the heating of the domestic water had melted and totally blocked a waterway. Ahah!!! It appears we might have found some, if not all of the problem. So we have decided to strip the engine down as far as needed to ensure that all the cooling water ways are clear. So that's where we are. We are waiting for the gasket and water trap to arrive and then when the boat is back in the water we will run it under load and see if we have cured the problem - should be tomorrow or Thursday latest. Will also ensures me that if it is the head gasket he should be able to replace it in a few hours - we have the parts to do that already!
Things are looking good for a sail to Bermuda on Friday. Fingers crossed.
I went to bed and had a very sleepless night. It was blowing about 25 knots at anchor and it was the first time I felt that helpless feeling I had so often in the middle of the Atlantic. I cant go to sea with an engine like this. The rudder that also felt sloppy during the OSTAR also was a worry. It was this night that and the howling of the wind that made me stop and consider my way forward. Having a smoky engine and a sloppy rudder coastal sailing is one thing, but sailing to Bermuda, the Azores and then home with it....
I made the hard decision to change my plans and not go to Mystic and New York. A real shame as I had negotiated a berth for two nights in Dennis Conner North Cove in Manhattan. It would have been a great experience to moor in the shadow of the sky scrapers. Oh well, i thought about the whole thing and decided that I was actually pretty lucky. This whole trip to America was about the OSTAR and not about New York and the other spin off treats that came with it. I still see myself very lucky that the atlantic was so kind to us and that I managed to make it across - so many people in the history of the race haven't made it on their first attempt.
So once I made the decision to get the boat all sorted I managed to get to sleep. When I woke up I looked out of the hatch to find the boat Sea Wings coming straight for me. It was my friends Dick and Sue from Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. Was I pleased to see them. They moored along side and we discussed my problem. I decided from the information in the Waterway's guide that the best and closest harbour of Fairhaven was probably the place for me to seek my repairs. Dick and Sue then escorted me the 11 miles trip across Buzzards Bay in case the wind should drop of the engine should fail - or both.
We both managed to sail the whole way across the bay and I only needed to turn the engine on when a few boat length from the hurricane barrier. The yard I had chosen was Fairhaven Ship yard and located just inside the harbour. Smoking away I made it into the marina and tied up. Sea Wings turned around and went off on there was back to Judith Point. Thanks Dick and Sue for helping me out.
Okay so now in Fairhaven Shipyard - ummm, were my initial thought. This is not that place for me. I saw nothing but huge commercial fishing boats and the odd 100ft super yacht. These guys aren't going to know much about 18hp inboards and Sigma 33 rudder bearings!
Tuff, I am hear and the Waterways guys said they were a yard capable of anything....lets hope so as I am stuffed if not.
The yard had some great facilities, shower, laundry, internet and loan bikes - all for free. You could tell this place was set up for the big professional boats and crews. It's a bit like the place in Savona, Italy where I once worked on a Wally yacht.
I had a shower, took a bike to the local pizza place and then went for a bike ride. This sint too bad, there is a West Marine, a Engine parts supplier, engine workshop and oh look there is De Frenchman!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I couldn't believe it, just around the corner from where I was staying was Bart in Popes Island marina. I left a note in the cockpit and later we met up for dinner.
So with the boat securely on a mooring bout in Nantucket I went ashore and explored the island as best I could for the day. I like Nantucket. It was full of big sports fishing boats all offering charters. By the looks of things there were some big fish and even sharks to be caught. The town itself was full of boutique types shop for the rich and famous who turn up in their super yachts. Apparently Ranger the J was there only a few dasy before hand. While I was there two huge power boats turned up with mini's and helicopters on the decks. I looked around and found the whale muses which was quite interesting. I didn't know that the only reason we hunted whales was for the oil - we used it for lamps, candles and machinery. I spent the rest of the afternoon walking the town until I got a tour bus for a quick blast around the island.
I bumped into the friends I met in Martha's Vineyard and they came aboard in the morning and gave me a lift ashore. I bought supplies for my trip to Mystic and left after lunch. The wind was light and from behind for the majority of the trip so I sailed for as long as I could bare it until I started the engine. I timed it right this time and caught the tide and was well on my way to Cuttyhunk for a 6hr sleep stop before moving onto Mystic.
Unfortunately about 3 miles form Cuttyhunk I opened the cockpit locker to find my temperature light on and the buzzer sounding. Why couldn't I hear it!! I slowed down hoping that it was just that I had been running it hard for 6hours but it didn't stop so I shut the engine off and check the impeller. It was mashed to pieces. 100's of them. I swapped it over and started the engine up again. - still no water! Okay so I took the impeller out, left the cover off and start the engine. The spindle the impeller fits on wasn't turning. Bugger - my engine is bust!
I sailed as close to Cuttyhunk island as I could and found a mass of lobster pot in the anchorage! There was very little are for me to anchor between the beach, the reef and the lobster pots. Sailing in and trying to drop the anchor almost seemed an impossible task but I managed it. It was no about 7-8 in the evening. I took the water pump out of the engine and inspected it. The drive gear that connects into the engine had lost most of its teeth. Bugger again - this is going to need parts! Once I realised there was nothing I could do I had a VERY hot shower using the calorifier water and had dinner.
I got up in the middle of the night to call VOLSPEC in the UK. A Volvo Penta dealer I have used before. I got the part numbers I needed and then set about finding a dealer open on a Saturday on the east cost of the US. There was certainly no Volvo Dealer on the island of Cuttyhunk - I don't think they even have phones. Tam helped and search on the internet and e-mailed me the dealers telephone numbers. I found one open, who had the part. Right - now to get it to the island asap. I was given a telephone number of a random taxi driver need the Volvo dealer who I paid $50 to pick the $18 part up and take it to the Ferry terminal. There is only one ferry a day to Cuttyhunk and it was at 1pm. I spoke to the lady who ran the ferry and she agreed to pay te taxi driver the money and pick it up - I think she was quite used to collecting stuff for people in a panic. Thanks to Sue on the ferry, Pat at Atlantic boats and Bill the taxi driver. I got the part and canoed back out to Elmarleen, shaking with anticipation I fitted the new gear and impeller and started her up.
There was still no water - Bugger. The cabin filled with smoke so I turned off the engine. Okay lets look at the exhaust. Why is there smoke in the cabin. I climbed down the back of the cockpit lock and got to the engine. My water trap had melted. Its funny how a water trap is for trapping water and muffling the engine noise. In the UK we call it a water trap but if you go into a US parts supplier they haven't got a clue what you mean - they call it a muffler!
Anyway, I took the exhaust to bits, got the muffler out and noticed that the inlet was now a solid lump of plastic and that there were two holes in it where the bracket held it in place. That is how hot the engine must have got!
I didn't have the tools but having explained the initial problem to the harbour master at Cuttyhunk thought I would ask if I could use his workshop. So I started the very long canoe from outside the harbour to the harbour masters pontoon. Right - can I borrow a drill and some tools. He turned around in his shed - the size of a carpark attendants shed (deck chair size) and said this is it I don't have any tools. Not even a cordless drill. Anyway, I did manage to open the whole up and when back on the boat I used a chisel heated on the gas stove to melt the holes closed.
I started the engine - this time it worked but it was very smoky. A white smoke that got worse with more revs. Oh my god, I hoep this isn't the head gasket. I was gutted, the effort to get hold of the parts that day, the canoeing to and from the harbour, the remoulding of the muffler and I still want going anywhere. Not only that I was still miles from the mainland.
Hi guys. I have no idea if anyone is checking my blogs or looking on Blogstar anymore but I'm now ready to start writing again. So the OSTAR is well and truly over and the last few boats are finish and the majority of the fleet are in the Azores or well on their way home. The parties in Newport have been and gone and I am amazed at how quickly the fleet dispersed. Well thats not quite true, four days is enough to do Newport so my 11 days did start to feel like it was dragging. What I mean is that other competitors just turned around and went back. I couldn't do that. Having sailed all this distance I have to at least spend a few weeks exploring, which is what I am in the process of doing now. I guess jobs have quite a lot to answer for and it those guys who dumped there boats and flew back I feel sorry for the most. Marco, I don't know how you did it. He was back in the office in less that a week after finishing. The OSTAR was a fantastic experience but the cruising I am doing now and over the next few months is just as much fun as the race its self. Beagle is up for sail and I guess Marco is planning his next adventure/campaign. Finish one and get on with planning the next, I guess that is how you deal with being back in the office.
So, I left Newport on 29th of June and sailed with Tam to Block island. I heard it called the cheap or poor mans Nantucket and having visited both I understand why. Oh and if any of you are wondering, Yes, in America you still get those power boats charging around and making you roll about - just had a stink pot the size of Southampton steam past making a mini Tsunami.
Block Island was nice. We spent two nights and one day there, what I firmly believe to be the minimum stop over when cruising. We anchored in the Great Salt lake and used our $36 toy tender to ferry us into the harbour. It must have been a sight watching from the Oar's bar, this little silly toy rocking up on a pontoon with loads of $3000 dollar Avon and West Marine tenders. Who are these idiots, people must have thought - little did they know I had sailed from the UK.
Anyway, after Block Island a quick trip down to Cutty Hunk a tiny little Island on the far western tip of Buzzards Bay. The trip there was awful. I felt sick, Tamsin felt sick and the weather, which started off reasonable in the morning turned into the worlds worst thunder storm. Tam and I were actually quite scared and though a number of times that it was only a matter of time before we were stuck by lightening. Forks were coming down around us in every direction and the clouds looked really evil. We both hid below and I wrote down our Lat and long in case we were actually hit and lost all electronics. Little did we know at the time that Bart was out there in the same storm and was hit by lightening! He is now back in Newport replacing his electronics.
Cutty hunk is crazy. Its tiny and must have a population of about 40 people. We bought a breakfast from the Cutty hunk Fishing club which was served on plates from the 70's and you often see in charity shops back in the UK. The morning was miserable and yesterdays thunderstorm had left this miserable drizzle. I asked the lady at the fishing club what the weather forecast was and she sounded like she had never looked before. I don't watch TV or listen to the radio, she replied, its raining now and anyway what every they normally say is different when on the island. So, well informed of the weather Tam and I has a stroll around the island and then head back to the boat. Next stop Martha's Vineyard.
Oh, when achored in Cutty hunk we heard two boats circle us late at night. We couldn't work out what they were doing at the time but in the morning a nice man from Marion came along side and asked us all about the race. He had followed the race all the way over and couldn't believe we were there. So he offered us a lift ashore and bought us coffee from the local coffee stand on the pontoon - two people, a plastic table and a large umbrella. Phew, we didn't have to use our super stylish tender! Bumping into OSTAR race followers didn't stop there and later we meet two more.
The weather cleared up and Elmarleen, Tam and I set sail for Vineyard Haven a harbour on the Northern coast or Martha's Vineyard. Its approach was very similar to Cowes and even had the passenger and car ferry shooting in and out from Woods Hole . Again we anchored and I made camp here for a whole week. Tam flew out on the Saturday afternoon on a tiny little Cape Air flight direct to Boston airport. I think the plane only took 8 passengers. Before she left we went to Oaks Bluff for a day trip on the Friday.
I went to Edgertown direct from dropping Tam off at the airport to watch the July 4th fireworks. Well when I got there the precession was in full flow. WW2 vets, Star Wars, Fire brigade, you name it they were out there wearing there uniforms and outfits with the Stars and Stripes in the back ground.
I spent the remaining three days just doing some basic stuff on the boat - tidying! And looking around the island. I went to Menemsha on the local bus, but fell asleep and had my wallet stolen. So I ditched that idea and went back to the boat. Tried again the next day and did the full island tour without a hitch.
On the Friday night before Tam left we had another tender rock up along side Elmarleen. Hello, we heard and it was another follower of the race. As you are so far away from home fancy coming onboard our boat for a few drinks! We did and it turned out that they were originally from the UK and knew Warsash Maritime College as well as having kids who were in Southampton.
Same thing happened a few days later. I was chatting to someone while filling up with water at the town tap and before I knew it, he and his wife were on board looking at an OSTAR yacht.
Anyway, I left on Wednesday from Nantucket which turned out to be a bit of a pain. I wanted to get there Wednesday evening and no later as I am running out of days to get to New York. It was tide again from the first few hours and I was doing 2.5knots. I couldn't have left earlier as I was waiting for something to turn up in the afternoon delivery to West Marine. Well I got to Nantucket but it was a very slow trip and I got there in the dark. I tentatively went into the harbour dodging moorings and anchored boats and then threw the hook down. What a mistake! I had chosen an area where the current in Nantucket harbour runs really strong. Elmarleen wouldn't sit to the wind or to the current. In the end I had the anchor warp wrapped around the keel. It took me two hours to untangle and in the process I kicked a genoa car and ripped two toe nails off. Ouch. I still had the problem of how to settle for the evening. I through out the drogue and a bucket off the transom. It helped a little but not enough. I pulled them in and set the storm jib on the backstay and sheeted it in really tight. That worked so I went to sleep. An hour later the wind got up to 20kn so I dropped the storm jib. The tide must have dropped to as the boat seemed okay.
The following morning I looked at it all again and I wasn't happy to leave her at anchor. She was all over the place and riding over her anchor chain all the time. So I gave up and paid the $60 fee for a mooring bouy. The plan was to only spend one day in Nantucket before starting a west course towards New York.
To be continued