09/26/2011, 40nm of the west tip of africa
i was enjoying a nice relaxing broad reach this afternoon getting ready for happy hour when something off to port on the horizon got my attention. i grabbed the binos and saw an open boat with what looked like 2 or 3 guys in it. the boat was initially heading towards me then seemed to arc around and fall in behind me probably a mile or two in trail. this was the first boat other than tanker traffic i had seen and i had purposely put a waypoint 50nm off africa to avoid any small fishing boats (hostile or otherwise). not feeling comfortable out here by my self at all i went ahead and accelerated to max speed 7kts and broke out the flare box. i fired off one flare pistol and one red parachute flare directly astern just to make sure these guys new i had seen them. i could not see anything on the flare gun but it made a nice bang. the parachute flare made more like a woosh and in the flare looked more like a slow tracer round with no obvious parachute. after this i got out the binos again and the craft seemed to be disappearing in the swell astern me.
when the sun set i went ahead and took the sails in and altered course 40 deg out to sea and blacked out palapa. fortunately i had experience with the BBB aka bosy boy boat aka imagine back in the gulf of aden who where light Nazi's so i knew all the light sources. after about 6 hours i resumed nav lights when i was passing a freighter and now i am back sailing again about 70nm sw of where i was at 3am local here.
ironically this was the first time i had fired either on of these "devices" they are both out of date but went off with no problem. i am sure i was being paranoid here but after the gulf of aden transit i really dont like to see other boats. i still don't know what these guys would be doing 40nm off the coast heading out to sea at sunset in an open boat cant imagine the fish are that much better this far of shore but who knows. it is really disappointing the somali pirates have generated this type of fear and hatred, before that experience i would have happily waved at them probably traded beer for fish.
09/26/2011, atlantic ocean
well i must say i am getting a bit more concerned about the systematic fatigue that dave mentioned. this afternoon while pulling the main out i observed the bolt holding the bottom of the boom vang to the boom vang goose neck had sheared off. i am not sure if this was the result or the cause of the sail being hard to unfurl but the conditions where very light, less than 10 kts of wind, and as always i only had two wraps on the winch so i should not be breaking anything regardless!
the good news is i had several spare bolts and i was able to make the fix in less than 15 minutes including locating the parts. the other good news is the bolt that sheared was under sized. i replaced it in the south pacific when the whole asm ripped out of the mast and i am thinking i replaced it with a smaller titanium bolt before i got the correct size spare or because i could not find titanium in the corrrect size. the bigger one i had was stainless. it looks like i will need to send an email off to the spar guys again.
in the photo you can see the sheared bolt in my and and don and right from that you see the head of the replacement bolt already installed.
i should probably ask for a photo of the whole setup rather than one part at a time. the replacement goose neck they are sending me is massive compared to mine. perhaps this part has been upgraded as well.
at least i am not bored and stuff is breaking before leaving to cross the atlantic and before larry comes out! and the batteries are working great and i have plenty of ice!
09/26/2011, 300nm from cananries
well the atlantic is turning out to be the way i expected the pacific to be way back when! the swells in the actual ocean are soo much better than the ones in the med with their longer period, amazing what a difference it makes. its still plenty rolly when the wind is on the stern but most of today had 10 kts winds on the beam. this was great as i was able to do close to 6 kts with this. there must be a south bound current of at least a knot on my track to make this possible.
i broke out a new book today some sort of cold war espionage thing i got at the book swap in Gibraltar not bad and have only made it though about half. all systems seem to be running at 100% including the genset and boom. i have been able to talk to heartsong and imagine on out baby ssb net at 7am the last two days. they have finally got out of ibiza and are in mainland spain. hopefully they will get to the cannaries before i decide to head further south.
i got another great sunset although i had to put on my puffy coat to sit up on the rail to watch. i even had salmon pate on ritz while i watched it. my only regret was not having any one to share it with! i have finished just about all the leftovers so tomorrow may actually have to cook some thing with the limited propane.
the night watch thing by myself is really not that bad. the ais and radar are great but after the first night there have been very few contacts. i did appreciate it at one point last night when we had 4 tankers converging within a few miles of me. it would have been very hard with just visual to sort thing out. the good news is i am making such good time if things hold i should be able to make landfall at lanzarote just before sunset. crisa on vagabond emailed a good anchorage there so i am looking fwd to catching up with him as well.
09/25/2011, north atlantic off casablanca
getting the last 15nm out of the med turned out to be harder than it looked. the current never "switched" and the best i could get was 4.5 kts. i did make it into the atlantic in time for happy hour and a beutiful sunset. the camera filled up just before the sun set completely so i was forced to just enjoy the final few seconds with no camera. i was rewarded with a green "flash" (for those of you who have not yet seen one of these it is more like a green wink when the last bit of the sun turns green, no actual flash evolved but very nice.
to make things better the winds came up for a nice beam reach just before the sunset and i was able to enjoy a microwaved pasta cabonara left over from a few days ago. even better i was able to run the microwave on the inverter without killing the batteries. the wind continued to build and i was going 6 to 7 kts most of the night. eventually i had to start the genset to charge and after a few minutes of running the intermittent oil light fixed its self so i did not even have to fix this (this is separate from the low oil cutoff switch).
eventually the wind died around 5am and i am now motoring but all and all a pretty decent night. finished my book watched a few house episodes and i seem to have gotten enough 20 minute naps to keep me going.
well my plan was going to be go spend another night at anchor today so i could leave bright and early and optimize the tide/current leaving the straight of gibraltar. i was not able to get much sleep last night and woke up earlier than planned so i decided why not just get under way. i was not looking forward to a night along on anchor and had finished all the house episodes last night in my insomnia. i also finished a bottle of rum, a pizza and a left over gyro so i was not feeling supper great either.
i got up to the marina office and checked out by 9 and final got out of the slip by 10. of course the whole boat was a mess and it took the first hour to get everything stowed but i wanted as much of the favorable tide as i could get before it turned. the book was quite confusing and i am not sure correct. for a while i was down to only 2 kts. i am back up to almost 4 now but supposedly in 1 45 minutes i will be in the slack zone and then it will build in the good direction for the rest of the day.
here is a photo of this ass clown who tried to run me over. we where converging with him gaining on me and after a half dozon calls on the radio and when i could see the whites in his eyes i can starboard to avoid collision. so much for rules of the road. i do not mind altering course if i have the right of way just dont like doing it without confirming with the other vessel first. this guys was clearly clueless.
had some more leftovers for breakfast/lunch along with a beer and chips and was feeling much better. only another 12 hour until i am declaring i am in the north atlantic and then only a 560nm to go to the first cannarie. at least it is warm and i am not board yet just a bit lonely..
i must say i have never got more comments on the blog than i have gotten over the latest mast issue! i am adding this to cover everyones current concerns and comments.
i really think we are ok here, the gooseneck is bolted on more securely than the original rivits and with the new weld more secure than the previous bolt configuration. i really do not think a "new mast" is necessary and i am pretty sure i am out of warrantee here! if you look at the picture showing the whole mast you can see that we are only talking about the aft 1/3 of the mast that contains the roller furler asm. the crack its self only extended about an inch from one bolt hole. there is another 2/3 of the mast that is a closed tube that holds the wiring halyards and everything a standard mast does. i believe this is responsible for the structural load not the aft 1/3 with the main rolled up in it and the slot all the way up and down it.
finally, i did get this from jim at the spar company after i sent him the final pics today.
"I think you are good to sail. I know it is not perfect but you are better off now."
at the same time i have been getting some great advice from everyone. here is a great email comment from dave (my thesis advisor back at stanford)
"As I pondered the whole situation, including the comment about "Catalina never planned on anybody using the boat like you do", I started wondering what level of fatigue analysis they did on other key parts of the boat.... like the standing rigging, keel bolts, and rudder shafts. I have no idea what the design is like for either rudder or keel on your boat, but I do know that some modern boats, if not most, have the keel bolted on to the hull. I have also heard of keels departing the hull. In a storm, either a rudder failure or a keel failure would put you in a more dire situation than a loss of your mast. I also understand it is standard practice to replace all the standing rigging every so often on sail boats, I assume due in part because of their fatigue life, and part due to corrosion.
You seem to have access to the Catalina folk, so it might be useful to ask them about their design margins when considering fatigue life of the various parts, or if they did a fatigue analysis! As I see it, you have not only been sailing a lot more than most owners, and in lots of unprotected waters that put a periodic load on the craft, but it sounds like you have spent many a night at poorly protected anchorages, which also puts a lot of periodic load on the mast, rigging, and keel. (not sure if it does on the rudder). I have little knowledge of fatigue (not since MIT days in the 50s!), but I do know that the first commercial jet airliner (BA comet) crashed due to fatigue, and 737s have been losing skin sections due to fatigue on high cycle aircraft."
i do plan to ask about the rudder, i ordered a second "arm" for the second autopilot and i noticed it was for a bigger diameter rudder post than i have, perhaps this has been upgraded as well! i have a spare prop and prop shaft and now that i have a conventional packing gland can change this with the boat in the water if necessary. and yes, caston i have rigging cutters among everything else! fortunately i had a J-O-B when i outfitted palapa so did not spare many expenses in the spare section.
i am looking for someone to help with the trip across the pond in this very SAFE and nicely set up vessel! no experience required just a positive attitude! so if you know anyone excited about this let me know. i hear the Caribbean is a great place to spend christmas and winter in general :)
well today i got up bright and early at 930am again and decided i needed to get things back together. i decided to keep the fix simple with no additional grinding and no new hole in the mast. i was able to get the 7 screws in with just a little drilling of the old holes of course i had to tape the nuts to an open end wrench and hold up inside the mast but this was a piece of cake compared to everything else.
on a sadder note karli left to head to london and then onto bali this afternoon. as she put it just before leaving she had spent the last year "living my dream" and it was time for her to live hers (or something close to that). separating is never easy especially after all we have been through together over the last year but hopefully this will lead to us both being happier long term. here is karli on the helm for the a little over a year ago heading across the top of australia to darwin for the beginning of her crazy adventure.
tomorrow i will probably get underway as the weather right now is crap (raining). this is presuming i get the genset oil light fixed although it looks like it will be mostly a motor with light winds predicted.
well this morning turned out to be quite calm and amazingly enough the welder actually came by. he found me up at the cafe having coffee working on emails. to make a long story short after about 1.5 hours x 2 people = 120 pounds i had the result shown. i sent out the following to "jim"
thanks for the help on the phone yesterday.
the welding guys came by this am and did the welds. can you take a look at the photos and tell me if you think it is ok to reinstall?
a couple comments
1. they pointed out the existing welds where quite shallow, makes sense
2. the piece in the middle actually fell out when they where prepping, ie the cracks extended all the way up and down on both sides
3. after re welding with no pressure the bolt hole rows are now 2 mm closer together (this means the mast is narrower than it was)
4. they filled the bolt hole where the crack came from
5. they added a piece of aluminum in the channel that was cracked and then welded it in
6. my plan is to put the goose neck on with only 7 bolts, no re-drilling of the one hole
7. i will need to redrill either the goose neck bracket to (make holes wider or re drill the mast to account for 3 above, which do you recommend.
i got back a decent response except for the following comment
"I want to say just take it easy and if you get into some heavy weather, use the jib as much as possible."
i think it is 10 x better then it was so i will try to get the boom on tomorrow and underway the next day if weather still good. the inly wrinkle seems to be the goose neck bracket will not mount flush with the mast so i will have to remove material from the mast or the gooseneck fitting with the grinder. should make a major mess.