Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Magical Mystery Tour PS

Our ACR Res Q Link PLB's were supposed to always be worn by the Helmsman and whoever else was not asleep at the time. The crew got a bit lax and had them at there side but not always around their neck with the convenient Lanyard I made for them so I resorted to keeping one around my neck full time. 

The repair made at sea with rescue tape, wenches for splints and hose clamps.

Here you see the broken connector (the broken half rolled off the dock and Neptune claimed it!)

The full length of conduit, I decided it had had enough and replaced all of it. 

With the head of the pedestal removed exposing the sprocket and chain so I could make sure to center the helm in line with the rudder, 

Our always not so ready Spinnaker/whisker pole

I recently learned about using Butyl tape to re-bed deck hardware from my friend Johny in Tampa and Carey in St. Pete so I decided to give it a try to stop the chain plate leak which developed on the trip across the Gulf

Gulf Crossing Post Script

There are always things you think of that you wish you included in your thoughts when blogging. Here are those that I thought of that I think are worthy of mentioning:

Choosing Crew

Choosing your crew for a voyage of any length is very important but the longer the trip and the farther offshore the more important this decision. The decision to go with three total was perfect. Four could have easily been to many. For longer trips it is very important for each person to have there on quarters. On small vessels this is difficult beyond two or three. They need a private space and a place for their stuff. If we had four then one of the spaces would have had to be shared adding possible stress to those sharing the space. Three provided a watch schedule that provided everyone with ample rest time. Given that many of us who have the time to participate in pleasure cruising are retired and over the age of 55 and more like over 60 then physical ability, food needs, other restrictive considerations are present. Older persons are a bit more set in their ways and not as tolerant in change of routine. A trip over 5 days can test the patience of anyone if for any reason they are annoyed of the habits of their fellow crew. I got Lucky. I had a crew that adapted to each situation seamlessly and with great tolerance. I have always believed that I must be a direct descendent of Job. Many who know me well have stated to me how patient I am. There are few in this world or any other that I can’t get along with for any amount of time.

Whisker Pole

We have never used the Spinnaker Pole that doubles as a Whisker pole aboard Wand’rin Star. We do not even carry a Spinnaker but I have often thought about adding a asymmetrical spinnaker. Since we never raced her and until the Gulf Crossing the desire or the need for a whisker pole just never arrived. For some time on the second and third day we had light winds directly behind us. To stay on our charted course line we tried to sail wing on wing but the winds were just to light to keep the Genoa full all the time. Deploying the pole would have been an advantage but since I never used it, it was a piece of neglected equipment. I got out the spray lubricant to free up the spring-loaded jaws and considered putting the pole out. But a couple of the connecting cables were rusty enough that I did not have confidence in it supporting the stresses especially if the winds increased. I did not have a downhaul rigged, but I could have put one together. I was just not prepared and I knew this was one item I should have spent time on to get the most out of the wind. Next time every piece of gear will be prepared to make the trip.


I bought several offshore trolling lures for the trip across hoping to catch a big one to brag about. I have never been offshore troll fishing. My three times offshore fishing have been on Head Boats where you are fishing in deep water and the boat is anchored so you are just dropping the line over the side in 200’ of water over a reef, or rocks. I recently Googled How to Rig Lures for Offshore Trolling and I was not even close. No wonder I lost the battle, I was not even close to the fight. Again, next time AI am out there I will be prepared to catch the big One.

The Learning Curve

Everyone has a different comfort level and the only way to move to the next level is to be presented a challenge to prepare. Each journey should prepare you for the next level. Our two challenges one being the Very heavy Lightening and Thunder storm ahead of the cold front, and the other the 47 mile Winds that led to a bit of confusion and a mild break in the port side steering conduit presented the challenges. For me, even though I have twice been in seas twice before that exceeded what we experienced on this trip, I was impressed how well Wand’rin Star managed in the storm, the unexpected high winds and the 8-10 and occasional 12’ seas that we had along the way. I know that I and  the vessel can weather the next level now. As AI said before the weather Guru’s forecast are at best a three day event and anything beyond that is a crap shoot on their and your part. The basic rule as I understand it is that the longer you are at sea the higher the percentage that you will experience some uncomfortable weather and seas. This is why even though I was having a great time in the Gulf Of Mexico I knew it best to get in to Corpus and not dally around another night gambling on what weather might be brewing for us. The message is to enjoy your journey but make it efficient and safe.

Repairing the Steering

I assed the damage to the steering and knew I might have to replace more than just the plastic conduit connector that broke. Shortly after buying the boat I was in the engine room when I noticed that the Starboard side steering cable had a bit of chafe. A short length of Conduit also on that side had a funny kink in it as well so I replaced that section of conduit, the cable, and installed a new connector with a updated lubricating cup. I had to disassemble the entire port side system to get the connector out so this would allow me opportunity to inspect all the parts on that side as well. The steering cable had a couple of “meet hooks” in it, which are a couple of broken strands. So I decided to replace the entire port side of the system. About 14’ of conduit, and a new connector with the updated grease cup. I already had the steering cable on standby as a back up part “Just in Case”. I ordered the Conduit and the connector from Edson. Their website stated that you could cut the conduit to the desired length with a “Hacksaw”. So I ordered 14’ of Conduit as I needed one section about 4’ long and the other just 9’4”. I tried cutting with the hacksaw but no luck, it just dulled the blade and made me tired. I got out my handy Electric Saber saw and it took the only two blades I had to complete 1 cut. Mark brought me back two more blades from his trip to Home Depot just in time for me to make the second cut. Both blades dulled and barely a scratch on the conduit. I went below to retrieve My SawsAll with heavy duty metal cutting blades but just then I remembered using my Drimmel tool with a metal cutting tool to cut off a lock once. So I tried that and it worked great with a much better cut to boot. After I put it all back together again in the middle of the night I woke and became concerned that I may not have properly tensioned the two steering cables. I checked the Edson site and the instructions there called for 1” of deviation for every 1’ of cable. Well that made no sense to me at all. With almost 14’ of cable how could I have 13” of slack in the system??? So I called Tech support at Edson. I got a very friendly and helpful guy who explained that the best way to tension the cables to have someone on the helm put the wheel all the way over and then add about 30-40 pounds of pressure while I checked the slack on the lazy side to make sure the cable stayed in the track on the Quadrant and would not fall out of the groove. And to do this on both sides. After talking to him I realized that explained how loose it should not be but it did not explain how tight it should be.  I discussed this with two of my trusted and respected friends, Mark here in Corpus and John F. in Tampa and between the two of them I got the answer I was looking for. The Steering can not be so loose that it falls off the quadrant when there is considerable pressure on the helm and not so tight as to be restrictive in Steering the boat. The Wheel should not feel like you are dragging a truck around. This of course would produce a lot of wear and tear on the conduit system if it was to tight. With a hour or so of tweaking I finally arrived at both what feels good and what is safe keeping the cables on the quadrant. After all this was finished up I remembered that I needed to re-calibrate the Autohelm to make sure it knew where the stops were on both the port and starboard side. The last thing you need is for the Autohelm to be out of sync and to apply so much pressure to the helm that the steering breaks again!
 The only other thing that required repair as a result of the trip across was a leak that developed on the way across in the aft port shroud chain plate. I decided to use Butyl tape since it was recommended by both Johny in Tampa and Carey in St. Pete. Johny gave me a YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Upksj19lyU  showing how to apply the butyl tape so it looked easy enough and a lot less expensive that conventional adhesive marine caulking. If it rains enough here in Corpus I will update on it's ability to keep water out of the boat. 


I wanted to paste a link to Buckminster Fuller's "Naming of a Sloop" here but I could find none on the net. I think his prose says it all about Sailing. But you can find it in a collection of true sailing stories by David Goudy available at Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Before-Wind-Stories-About-Sailing/dp/0070237565/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1371688499&sr=1-3&keywords=before+the+wind 

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