01/23/2008, Port Louis
The deck organizer installation was a challenge much like the rope clutch installation. If we drilled a hole in the deck it was going to come out right in the middle of the leather finished saloon roof. I like to see backing plates on everything, yet installing a backing plate in this application was going to be messy because the interior ceiling here had not only the foam/fiberglass liner but also a piece of ply covered in leather every few feet. The organizers needed to be installed in a spot that would cover a leather slat, a bare spot and another leather slat. After looking into the structural makeup of the internal headliner we discovered that none of this stuff is structural and thus could not support a backing plat anyway.
After considering many options I decided to leave the interior untouched. The approach we took was to mark the deck where the organizer bolts would need to be installed, hole saw out the top skin enough to be able to clear out the foam core in the general vicinity, and then replace the core with epoxy and high strength filler. This attached the inner fiberglass skin to the top skin with a solid core of epoxy creating a strong and incompressible area of the deck. When pouring in the epoxy we set in the bolts with nuts and washers attached so that the nuts and washers would become a permanent part of the deck. We coated the bolts with release wax so that once the epoxy set up we could remove the bolts and cut them to size so that they were secure in the nuts and pressing firmly down on the deck organizers.
Brent and I installed the port side first. We used various tools to clear the core out from around the bolt holes but a bent nail in the cordless drill seemed to work well. Once we had the four holes cleaned out we layered in the West System epoxy/404 blend in half inch batches. This kept the temperature under control as the mixture kicked off. Once set up we removed the bolts and taped up the holes to protect the installation from the inevitable over night rain and let the whole thing cure for 24 hours. After curing we installed the deck organizers with 5200 bedding and used the Harken isolator washers to protect the organizers from the stainless washers holding everything down with bolts.
The starboard installation required one do over. When cleaning the core out on this side we discovered that a screw driver worked very well also and we ended up creating one large hole connecting all four bolt areas, instead of four separate holes as was the case to port. Unfortunately due to the slant of the deck, the epoxy mix amount that was fine on the other side all ran down into the lowest hole this time, making a pool about an inch and a half thick. Anyone who knows epoxy knows that an inch and a half with standard hardener is going to get really hot really fast. We rapidly cleaned out the epoxy as it vulcanized itself. Our second, much slower pass on this side worked out perfectly.
In the end we had two sheets of fiber glass connected by a solid plug of epoxy with perfectly threaded holes and embedded lock nuts against the bottom skin. Initially I wanted a through bolted solution with backing plates but ultimately this installation seems to be effectively equivalent. The bolt would have to rip out the entire epoxy plug to tear a nut free, much as it would with a backing plate. You could argue that the lower skin is not in play but it is epoxied to the entire assembly and it is fairly thin anyway. On the other hand the lateral strength of the assembly is impressive and this is the strength required by a deck organizer. Only someone accidentally tripping over the organizer would threaten to pull it up through the deck. The working force of the lines will be a lateral load. The bolts act as cemented studs keeping the organizer from slipping sideways, and the epoxied plug allows both layers of glass to contribute to the systems stability.
We installed the organizer so that the lines run as close to straight back as possible. The main sheets barely touch the sheaves which is great because they are always under load when sailing. The lines from the mast do have a bit of deflection but are still pretty fair. Once finished I was very happy with the result.
01/22/2008, Port Louis
Rigging was moving forward nicely, fiberglass work was making great strides and canvas was supposed to start tomorrow. Things were exceeding my island tuned expectations at every turn. Unfortunately I had to climb into the lazarette every morning to bang on the solenoid to loosen it up so that the generator would start. This is something that I could have probably easily have fixed but a lot of stuff was going on and I was trying to prioritize the rigging seeing as how it had no apparent stake holder.
Mike at Palm Tree Marine (418-5399) was recommended to me by Johnathan, the manager of Island Water World here. Johnathan is a very reputable friend of the cruiser community in Grenada and I highly value his recommendations. I also randomly met Mike's wife picking up parts at FedEx while we were getting our mail at FedEx last week. Mike came over and did a very thorough and careful job swapping out the solenoid. I had bought a new 12v solenoid at Napa. It was an automotive solenoid but looked exactly the same as the old one except for the red Westerbeke paint. It worked perfectly and thanks to Mike we can start the genset from the Nav station again.
01/21/2008, The Lagoon
Brent and Ian came by early today to push forward on the final grinding in the bows. Richard from Turbulence Rigging also came by in the afternoon. Richard brought the rest of our hardware. Bringing reef one leach and luff, reef two leach and luff, the topping lift, and the main halyard back to the cockpit required a bit of gear. We purchased the Lewmar rope clutches in Trinidad at Budget Rigging and bought everything else from Richard. Richard was able to get the bits we needed that he did not have in stock (Turbulence carries an impressive bit of stock) in less than a week.
At the end of the project our parts list looked like this:
Lewmar Triple Rope Clutch WLL:1,550
$245.00 2 $490.00
Clutch Mounting Nuts, Bolts and Washers
$1.00 12 $12.00
Harken Large Boat Quad Sheave Deck Organizer (6067) WLL:8,000 $124.15 2 $248.29
Organizer Mounting Nuts, Bolts and Washers
$1.00 8 $8.00
Harken 75mm Black Magic Air Blocks Double Straphead (3095) WLL:7,500
$641.13 2 $1,282.26
Harken 75mm Black Magic Air Blocks Single Straphead (1999) WLL:5,000
$356.89 1 $356.89
Harken 75mm Black Magic Air Blocks Single Footblock (1972) WLL:5,250
$297.06 1 $297.06
Harken Diamond Pad Eyes (688) WLL:5,000
$30.06 3 $90.19
Dynema Attachment Loops WLL:5,600
$2.00 3 $6.00
Reef #1 Luff Line (12mm Dyneema) * WLL:750
$3.70 100 $370.00
Reef #1 Leach Line (12mm Dyneema) * WLL:750
$3.70 125 $462.50
Topping Lift Line (12mm Dyneema) * WLL:750
$3.70 175 $647.50
Reef #3 Luff Line (12mm Dyneema) * WLL:750
$3.70 150 $555.00
Reef #3 Leach Line (12mm Dyneema) * WLL:750
$3.70 175 $647.50
* Safety factor of 10x used for lines (MBL 7,500 = WLL 750)
Grand Total $5,473.21
I watched carefully as Richard installed the pad eye for the double strap head block that would carry the lines for reef one. I the only thing I hate more than drilling holes in my boat is watching other people drill holes in my boat. I have become very particular about the process.
After drilling the holes in the mast, bedding the hardware with 5200 and isolating the screws with Tefgel we mounted the pad eyes for the double strap-head blocks for reef one and reef two.
I love the strap-head blocks. They are much more flexible than shackled blocks. You can completely and easily adjust the length of the Dyneema attachment loops to get a perfect fit, unlike shackles. The Dyneema loops are much stronger than the 316 stainless shackles and in the basket configuration you have four lines connecting the block to the pad eye. Lastly the Dyneema connections don't clank around and they are easy to replace when need be. This seems to be the way racing boats are going more and more but I think it is the best attachment means for many cruising applications as well.
Richard and I replaced the reef one leach line with a longer Dyneema 12mm line that reached back to the cockpit and then installed the new luff line. Some folks tie the luff line to the boom and then run it through the cringle and back. I just put a bolin on the existing webbing ring and brought the line back. This way I don't have to spring for another block or deal with chafe from the line running through a raw cringle. I lose the double line from the boom but if things are that hairy I will just clip the tack in using the old, fully functional, reefing system. Incidentally, this old system uses clips attached to mast pad eyes with Spectra. The luff lines run cleanly right from the cringle down to the blocks at the base of the mast without requiring any holes in the sail bag.
Richard had to call it a day but I was happy to have witnessed an entire set of operations necessary to attach hardware to the mast. As Richard informed me that he wasn't sure when he would be able to return, the Regatta was coming up and he is an avid racer, I had the feeling that I might require these skills sooner rather than later.
01/20/2008, The Lagoon
Normally on Sunday in the islands nothing constructive takes place unless you do it yourself. In fact you could say that about Saturday as well. Today, however, Brent and Ian showed up at about 9AM ready to get to work. I was so glad to have two very experienced and skilled guys, also with great attitudes and a "get it done on time" demeanor working on our boat. I am also a picky bastard and like everything done to exacting specifications. Not only did Brent make sure that everything was completed the way I wanted it he was happy to work with me and even teach me along the way.
Ian spent most of the day grinding in the bowels of the boat while Brent and I sorted out the Lewmar rope clutch install. To do the rope clutch install we had two challenges. One was making sure that the clutches were lined up properly to minimize side loading on the lines leading to the winches and the deck organizers (which had not yet been installed). The other challenge was that we had almost no existing access to the back of the rope clutch pad.
Hideko and I like to keep the boat looking clean inside and out and we try not to do things that tear up the interior. The port clutch pad is above the microwave and a finished part of the interior ceiling. It has an access hole from inside the microwave cabinet about the size of three fingers. The starboard clutch pad is above the starboard winch box and a finished part of the interior ceiling. This one has an access port about the size of one finger inside the winch motor box.
After a lot of deliberation we could find no way to avoid cutting a hole in the ceiling on the starboard side to get at the nuts and washers on the back of the pads. We cut a fine line with a Makita Sawsall and saved the plug so that we could reinstall it with some epoxy after the install. On the port side we cut out some of the ceiling inside the cabinet and this seemed to make a large enough opening. The interior ceiling is a one sided foam sheet about a half inch thick with a thin layer of painted fiberglass on one side.
Once we could get a small socket into the area under the pads we unbolted the existing main sheet clutches. The existing clutches are sized for 12-14mm. Our new triple clutches are 10-12mm. Our existing reef lines and jib sheets are 14mm but our main sheet is 12mm (presumably because it is double ended). The reef lines that we're installing for reef one and two are 12mm Dyneema (which is stronger than the 14mm single braid). Since we are leaving the jib clutch in place we decided to purchase 10-12mm clutches for the new runs. The rope clutches tend to work best and do the least damage to the largest ropes that can take.
It took a little muscle to get the old clutches off of the pads due to the calk still holding them down. We checked the alignment of the triple clutch and the old single in various positions that made use of the existing holes but none worked out just perfect. Once resigned to drilling all new holes we taped the bottom of the old screw holes and filled them in with West System epoxy and 404 high density filler.
To quote the West System web site: "404 High-Density filler is a thickening additive developed for maximum physical properties in hardware bonding where high-cyclic loads are anticipated. It can also be used for filleting and gap filling where maximum strength is necessary." This stuff turned out to be very handy on several projects.
I have had several people try to talk me into doing repairs with polyester resin. It is cheaper and easier to work with. The problem is that it has poor secondary bonding characteristics. Laying polyester over uncured polyester works well because in the end it forms a single bonded piece. However laying polyester over cured polyester creates two layers of polyester stuck together, and often not stuck together all that well. Epoxy on the other hand has very good secondary bonding characteristics. It is harder to work with but if you choose the right hardener and work in reasonable weather it can be producing a far superior finished product, creating a strong bond with existing polyester or epoxy laminates.
Lining up the rope clutches was an exercise in compromise. The triple clutches force all three captive lines to take a parallel course. The positioning of the deck organizer pretty much requires the fourth clutch to be installed parallel to the triple. When installing clutches you want to try to minimize the side strain on any line that will be heavily loaded. On the starboard side we have the main halyard on the far right and the main sheet on the far left. There's no way to run both straight back to the winch. In this case we compromised by balancing the runs a bit but favoring the main sheet which is much more likely to be on the winch for long periods. On the port side we have the topping lift on the outside and the main sheet all the way to the right. That made the port side a bit easier as we focused on a fair run for the main sheet.
Once we had things lined up we marked the holes needed and drilled them. We caulked the clutches and the holes with 5200 making sure that there was a 360 degree seal around the clutch bases and the bolt holes. Getting the washers and nuts on the backs of some of the bolts was very tricky, requiring a fair amount of scraped knuckles and hand contortions.
When we finished and stepped back to admire our work I noticed something odd. We had been working hard to get the job done before night fall. It rains almost every night this time of year and I prefer not to have holes in the boat during precipitation. When we finally set the port clutch in to be mounted we set it in place backwards! Another project for tomorrow...
01/19/2008, The Lagoon
The Port Louis Marina is a nice place though it was still in progress while we were there. There is a wall where boats can tie up at the back of the lagoon and then there's a huge pier that extends toward Saint Georges. Looking back, if I were on a cruising boat I would want to be on the wall in the back. There you have less fetch when the wind kicks up and almost no wake issues from the blasting skiffs and dinghies. The wall is high but maybe only 3 feet off of the water.
The pier is a good five feet off of the water. Our catamaran has about 5 feet of freeboard so it worked out nicely for us. I saw a low profile charter Beneteau tie up at low tide and not even reach the bottom of the pier with their toe rail. Makes it tough to deploy fenders.
When we arrived last night we were met on the dock by two staff members who helped us tie up and welcomed us to the marina. They also gave us the low down on power (there wasn't any) and water (which was in place). I was impressed as this is going beyond the call in the Caribbean. They are obviously working hard to get the team in shape fir the big boats.
Brent and Ian met us this morning to get started on the fiberglass work. We have a few gel coat cracks and chips here and there that we want to fix and two larger projects.
One is the installation of a line hanging rack in the port bow. I found a nice hanger in Fort Lauderdale and installed it before we left. The hanger is made of thick gauge wire screwed onto a piece of wood. I was pretty impressed by the utility of 5200 at the time and simply glued the wood to the hull in the port bow. The port bow in a typical Saint Francis 50 is accessible from deck and is a great place to store lines and fenders. About four months into our travels the line hanger installation failed. The 5200 did not however. Instead the 5200 stayed glued to the paint and simply tore the paint right off of the fiberglass on the hull. Thus what really needed to happen was to grind down the paint in the area of the hanger, epoxy the hanger in place, glass over the wood block, gel coat the area and re-screw on the wire hanger.
Project two had to do with the cross beam attachment points on the bows. When I received the boat the gel coat in this area was cracked. Fiberglass boats are flexible and this is one of their key strengths. Gel coat is, however, very hard and brittle. Thus as the fiberglass in a high stress area flexes it is likely to crack the gel coat but unlikely to over tax the fiberglass if the layup is strong enough. I spoke to the factory about this initially and they did not think there was a problem but asked me to keep an eye on the situation. When we hauled out in Saint David's in November it appeared that the cracks had progressed some. After sending some pictures to the factory they suggested I reinforce the area under warrantee.
So project two will require a bit of grinding. We will first need to remove the gel coat from the inside of the bow around the cross beam backing plates to inspect the fiber glass. This is not fun work and you must be careful to take off only the gel coat. We have also installed a washer/dryer in the starboard bow making access and space on that side tough. Anyone grinding fiberglass into small inhalable particles must wear a full protection suit with hood, a respirator and goggles.
As we got set up to get started on things we ran into several problems. First the guys brought all of their own tools but they run on 220V. The dock of course has no power and our genset puts out 110 at the outlets. I have a good set of Makita stuff but no grinder. I bought the last Makita grinder at the Napa/Ace store across the lagoon and we were back in business. Let the grinding begin.
01/18/2008, Dragon Bay
We weighed anchor around 7AM this morning and headed out around southwest point of Grenada for Dragon Bay. Dragon Bay is a small Bay with just enough room for two or three friendly boats on moderate scope. The edges are very reefy and rocky. There are lots of nice open spots of sand to anchor in however and there's a good six feet of water pretty close in to the beach. That said I wouldn't get too close because the not so uncommon light morning westerly breeze may come ghosting in to set you on the sand while you dream.
Doris came in, turned around and left, and after checking out Happy Hill returned to anchor next to us. We later discovered that the 2007/2008 cruising guide they had claims that these two harbors are no anchor zones and that you are to pick up the moorings. There were no mooring in either harbor as of yet. Our 05/06 guide made no mention of restrictions and recommended both anchorages. It seems the mooring plans are still plans. After consulting some folks on shore they suggested we anchor in sand until the moorings arrive. We had both avoided the grass which was growing thick in the deeper water at the mouth of the harbor.
Stian had cut his leg up a bit in Tobago and after a doctors visit was prohibited from diving. This gave him the job of watching the kids while Tina, Hideko and I dove the point.
We did a short swim from the boat on the surface out to the reefs edge. From there we dove down to about 15 feet and began to follow the reef out to the point. At the point several huge chunks of rock seem to have tumbled into the sea creating a large barrier between the bays but with swim throughs and channels between them.
We swam out around the rocks to where the reef formed a wall heading roughly north south. We descended down to the sand bottom at about 50 feet and swam along the base of the wall. The reef is lovely and filled with fish. Tina spotted a turtle and a spiny lobster early in our dive. We ran across a huge spider crab and several other crustaceans, including various cleaner shrimp.
As we came up the reef from the sub-straight into the little bay formed by Mouliniere Point we arrived at the first of several underwater statues. This one was a table with a chair and a basket of fruit set in the sand. Sandy channels 20 feet or so deep run in between the coral heads in this area and the statues are placed in the sand at various locations throughout the reef. At the south end we found a large sandy patch with a statue six feet high and perhaps 15 feet in diameter depicting a large group of people holding hands. The statuary is fairly shallow as are the coral heads up near the cliff making this a great snorkeling location.
We worked our way back through the reef discovering several other impressive statues. As we reached the big rocks we were confronted by a huge school of Silver Sides with some Great Barracuda prowling about the perimeter. It is amazing to swim through a school of hundreds of small fish and watch as they twitch and change directions almost as of a single mind.
After the dive we cleaned up the gear and had a nice filling pasta dinner. August and Agnes seemed to be having a fun day topside and enjoyed the pasta. I think Agnes wore as much as she ate and unfortunately it was a red sauce, nothing a quick swim wouldn't cure though.
The weather was going to get stiff over the next few days so Doris needed to get going, as she was headed for Bequia to meet friends. We said goodbye to our friends from afar and promised to stop by in Bergen if we got the guts to sail that far north in Europe. I have been told by a few English folks that the cruising up in Norway and Sweden in lovely but you know what they say about mad dogs and Englishmen.
We had made a reservation with Port Louis Marina in the morning over the VHF on the way up to Dragon Bay. Tomorrow morning we would start our final big Swingin' on a Star improvement projects and needed to be on a dock somewhere with good access to a chandlery. Prior to the existence of Port Louis, the Grenada Yacht Club would have been the only option. This week, however there was a fishing tournament and the place was packed to capacity with sport fishers.
We motored the short way south to Port Loius and parked at the end of the new mega yacht pier across from a 170 footer and a few ARC boats. We were met by very professional staff on the dock who helped us tie up to the bollards that would be suitable for a 500 ton cargo ship. The Port Louis project was certainly moving along.
01/17/2008, Prickly Bay
Our friends on Doris arrived in Grenada a couple of days ago. We heard them on the VHF and decided to meet up at Da Big Fish, a decent little bar and grill on the water right by Spice Island Marine in Prickly Bay. Doris is in the Lagoon and headed to the Grenadines. We decided to meet up at Dragon Bay and dive Moliniere Point together in a couple of days.