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Old 04-22-2010, 05:22 AM   #1
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OK, we've been living aboard since August of 2008 (in the boatyard, remember?) and relaunched the boat in April 2009, continuing to work on it in the water and do local cruising. Here we are A YEAR LATER! and all I can say "can we go more than 12 hours of sailing without breaking SOMETHING?" We've only moved up the coast a tiny bit from San Diego (and our storage garage) to Newport just because we're constantly fixing things. Every sail we do means a long, longer, longer still list of things to fix.

OK, perhaps that sounds a bit melodramatic, but seriously, the record for us--12 hours of sailing time before something necessary broke, shook loose, leaked, chafed through, or something "revealed its evil side" which is my term for design defects, chafe areas, or equipment that is inadequate for the task and must be beefed up, modified, replaced, whatever...

It's always something. We haven't experienced these sorts of problems with other sailboats. But, we've not pushed other sailboats very hard like we're pushing this one.

We're confident sailors. We know what to do and have the wherewith-all to do it...usually. However, today, we're less confident that we're ready to go offshore with this boat than we were 6 months ago. Give us another 6 months and we'll be looking for a comfy little anchorage in the Sea of Cortez that we'll just stay in forever more.

The sorts of things which we've been dealing with is really varied--simple stuff like the white motoring light on the foremast burned out with only 30 hours of use (climb the mast); or more serious stuff like an APC Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) catching fire.

Lots of things have created big "projects" for us to complete before we can get out of Southern California. These aren't want-to-do things they're need-to-do things relating to functionality or safety. The clock is ticking for us in that we need to start our trip to the Pacific Northwest...NOW...or at least by the first week of May or so in order for us to not be fighting the winds and currents too much. We've more-or-less written off the idea of going to Hawaii simply because we'd have to take crew along since David and I would be constantly fixing things--every 12 hours, right? Many times things that need to be tweaked, fixed, changed, take two people to do safely.

Then there's the "big" issue of "big" too. We seem to be constantly pushing our bodies, our tools, everything because this stuff on this 29 ton schooner is...big. Last week I modified my Reliable sewing machine with a Sailrite Monster Wheel so I could push it harder as the clutch wasn't up the the task of more than 3 layers of our 12 oz Dacron sailcloth. And, I need to go through 6 and 8 layers of it. Now the Reliable can do 6 layers but oops, this weekend I messed up the timing by pushing it to try and do...9 layers... So, back to sewing machine fixing for me tomorrow.

A lot of stuff we do bring on ourselves, breaking something or mis-using something. But...most of it is legitimately a big surprise for us when something just breaks down or doesn't work as it should.

Enough with the whining. Yesterday we re-installed our newly modified main goose neck. We're sitting here in the middle of a gale (last night through tomorrow) with bouts of rain so I'm at least smiling that my (last week's) re-setting of the glazing in all the butterfly hatches isn't leaking

Maybe we can shoot for...13 hours???
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Old 04-22-2010, 11:34 AM   #2
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And the alternative is? How frustrating to start worrying about sailing off because all these little weak points are giving way, but keep pushing. Better now than several hundred miles offshore.

I worry about boats that aren't sea trialed aggressively before they are committed to offshore sailing. Our boat was sailed from France to the US by professional crew in the 1981 Two-Star (two handed transatlantic race). They broke the boom! and still came in first in their class. Talk about a sea trial. That boat had spare everything - more than we could have imagined any boat needing; I think they expected to break everything on that trip and didn't.

When I think of the mistakes that we made which could have seriously compromised our efforts to make it back to port, that supply of spare everything was very handy, and that hard use of her tested her seaworthiness reassuringly before we got hold of her to make all our mistakes.

You've got a big, beefy boat, I can imagine the test of her gear and your frustration to get going. One day it's all going to be fixed and your first passage is going to be a piece of cake. In the meantime, I guess you might have to look at it all as dues to be paid.
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Old 04-22-2010, 04:24 PM   #3
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...oh yes. We'd rather do sailing and enjoy the day or the trip and we are glad that we do not know in the morning what will happen on and with the boat during the day.

But isn't that the "salt in the soup"? *No salt, boring soup. Eventless sailing.* Too much salt, terrible day, we better forget. The right blend makes the rewarding sailing adventure (or sailing as a way of live in general). *We know that things can break and we don't want them to break, but as we all are professionals in what we are doing I can even find it quite pleasing to look back on all these bad and nasty incidents and draw backs, especially when we eventually found good solutions or ways to fix the problems. And at the end of the day we look back on it and can say: Well, it was not what we've planned, but it was interesting!***

Uwe

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Old 04-22-2010, 06:02 PM   #4
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Interesting. Yea, I'm tired of Interesting! I'd go for a day where everything is as expected. I must admit the boat sails wonderfully and loves a blow. Confidence inspiring that she's good in strong winds. We've had her our in 30 knots but nothing greater. I must admit some of my frustration was that for the past two days we've had 25 to 35 knots of wind with gusts to 40 and we were stuck here on the mooring "fixing things" and couldn't get out and test her, reefed, in the higher winds. She's so stout that it takes 25 knots to even begin to think of a reef and we haven't reefed yet (ran the lines but haven't reefed in weather). That was a "late season gale" supposedly we won't see another down here this year, so...won't have a chance to hit heavy weather and come back to a familiar port but rather will have to deal with it somewhere unknown.
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Old 04-23-2010, 02:45 PM   #5
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... ah, got the point. Initially thought about these every day bugs we have to cope with to keep things going but as we know how to deal with it, we manage somehow putting in some creativity, sometimes some money or some extra time and off we are, maybe with a little delay...

But you are right - it's frustrating if you really run out of time and you ar still in the same place or situation. A prefered season ends and as a responsible skipper you know that you have to wait another year if you do not want to start ill prepared. We simply don't do that.

One of the last weekends we were invited to some friends and decided to sail there. Put on the main at dark the night before, did not check and adjust the rigging and in the morning it blew force 7 on the nose. No good idea to combine trials and meet an appointment - disappointed and frustrated we took the car (and that took hours longer). Well, at the end it was just a weekend we missed sailing - no big deal.

But years ago in late summer sitting in Falmouth, intending to cross the Channel and Biscay for Spain, waiting for the replacement of the broken self steering gear. Regarding the weather we did not want to wait (and we should not have waited). Well we had a backup unit but felt uneasy to start with just this one machine.

The doubts took over. Sticking to the self set safety rules of not leaving with incomplete (or broken) gear and being stuck for a whole season because crossing the Biscay in September and later is, as we have a smaller boat, an absolute Nono for us, or... Well, we left without the repacement and as we knew that this is the only one we have we steered alot of time by hand, especially in the rougher periods to make sure that this last and only self steering will not give up. Even though, everything was fine throughout the trip, we did not feel at ease: we broke own rules and were not fully equipped... Would we decide again like that? We don't know.

So you are right, once such situations reach a certain dimension they can be frustrating. Luckily they don't make up the major part of our sailing.

Still another aspect: Don't we all know a proud boat owner, bulding, preparing and double checking his boat and gear again and again and they always find something that has to be changed, fixed, replaced, renewed, backupped... so that there is always a reason that they cannot leave? Taking no risk at all is the lower end of the ladder. The other extreme is the ill (or not at all) prepared hazadeur we are upset about when we read in the magazines and forums.

And as we can estimate the risks a little better - out of experience - we have to cope with frustration and the more experience we have the sooner we are in doubt...

Uwe

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Old 04-23-2010, 09:50 PM   #6
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I remember a couple about 15 years ago who had just retired and were going to sail around the world, They came down to the yacht club every day to work on getting their boat ready to leave. They worked hard, but they found more and more things to fix or remodel to make their boat safer.

Four years later they still hadn't left, and the old guy had a heart attack and they sold the boat.

Their boat was a good boat before they started all the work, it would have taken them far in those four years.
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Old 05-29-2010, 11:58 PM   #7
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Well, we fixed all the things that needing fixing (except the autopilot which we still don't have the parts for) and then beat feet before something else could break. We still haven't made it past 12 hours without something breaking, but we're keeping up with the damage...barely...

We spent a bit of time shaking out things in So Cal and then hit a good weather window to go North up the California coast. We're anchored in Half Moon Bay at present (20 miles S of San Francisco as we didn't want to be in the Bay during the holiday weekend) The things that we've managed to break so far on our northward trek:

All the old leather lashings on the foot of the sail (all 15 of the new ones I installed held just fine, I guess I should have replaced all of them in the first place!).

Had a retaining pin on a snap shackle break apart but luckily it isn't on anything important and we captured the pin/spring as it happened. New pin in place and all is good.

Blew out the clew on the #1 jib during some high winds. Had to go to the 80% Yankee style jib. The hanked on jibstay is 11 feet out there on a bowsprit and hubby forgot to attach the tricing line/downhaul to the Yankee while hanking it on so we had a very difficult time getting it down in 40 knots of wind a few hours later. Lucky us, after about 30 exciting minutes of dealing with it, we got it down without damage.

The bolt rope along the luff of the mainsail has a spot where it is coming unstitched from the sailcloth. Same with a spot along the foot of the mainsail. I'd already inspected the boltropes and re-stitched about 15 feet of it. Seems I need to re-stitch about 30 more feet. Long project.

With very high winds, both the staysail and the Yankee have excessive leech flutter. I'm not really sure if a leech cord would help or if broad seaming is needed. The staysail has battens and I suspect broad seaming is needed whereas the jib might make due with a leach cord, but I'm not an experienced enough sailor to know what's right for this.

Other, "humm...so that's interesting" things:

The prop wash on the rudder due to small aperture really sets up a vibration when pushing it hard while motorsailing.

When the foredeck is submerged (as it was every few minutes for about 10 hours of hard motorsailing in heavy seas going to windward) some water eventually seeps in around the seams between the raised deck and the cabin wall.

Waves breaking over midships can actually push a little water up under the combing around the butterfly deck hatches/deck lights. My stove got rained on.

We need winch handle holders at each mast rather than letting the winch handles get stuffed in among the lines to fend for themselves. It is only a miracle that we haven't lost one yet.

Though everyone says that a gaff boom will always come down (benefit of having gaff-rigged sail), its not true. When winds are high and you're trying to reef a gaff sail, that gaff boom just stays way up there even when the throat and peak halyards are loose and it should be falling like a rock.

A loose gaff topping lift WILL wrap itself around anything nearby and with amazing speed turn itself into a knot. Question--what to do with the gaff topping lift when it can't be kept tight (i.e. when there's very little wind and keeping it tight doesn't help matters).

When you're anchoring in 40 knots of wind, after you start backing down, you have to keep the boat in forward gear (not reverse) in order to back down at the right pace.

Cooking on a non-gimbled alcohol camp stove isn't smart when the boat is rolling in heavy seas. Spagetti goes everywhere and does stick.
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Old 06-01-2010, 01:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redbopeep' date='30 May 2010 - 01:58 AM View Post

With very high winds, both the staysail and the Yankee have excessive leech flutter. *I'm not really sure if a leech cord would help or if broad seaming is needed. *The staysail has battens and I suspect broad seaming is needed whereas the jib might make due with a leach cord, but I'm not an experienced enough sailor to know what's right for this.
... yes the fluttering of the leech can be nerve wrecking. And it does so, when you need it the least: when going to windward. Lots of unnecessary noise and on the long run not good for the sail. And it is always a problem of older sails, but most times they are not as old to replace them right away and so we coped with this fluttering for many seasons...

The leech cord will help to stop this fluttering but this will "close" the leech (actually bending it inward!!), creating an aerodynamical desaster. The more wind, the flatter the sail schould be. The leech line makes the sail baggy. The perfomance of the headsail deteriorates: more heeling, less speed, less windward abilities. More time out there, wishing to be in the harbour. No fun at all.

So in our case it came to the point to go to the sail maker and we found one years ago, producing good cruising sails and he offered to build a sail that is doubled on the entire last third and not just on the leech to hold the leach line. Well, this is heavier than the old one but the performance under heavier wind conditions are much better. We love it!*

Battens may help to some extend, but they do not survive many tacks, unless the sail is designed as a self-tacking jib which does not have any contact to the standing rigging when tacking. But this is no solution at all on a cutter rigg.

Uwe

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Old 06-02-2010, 06:48 PM   #9
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Brenda, oh, Brenda, as another old-big-boat owner, I hear you!

Our maiden test sail was across the Sea of Cortez, pushed there because the yard was a week late in finishing the re-install of the parts they'd taken off to do the work they'd been at for 9 months, though they had several month's notice of our arrival date. Don't you love it? Michael was still gainfully employed in those days and had taken LOTS of vacation to oversee the re-do, but the clock ticked. We couldn't wait longer. He and SV had to get home.

Those schedules! Bad combination, boat plus schedule. So, across we went. Systems had all been tested. No issue there, and she was so shiny! So gorgeous! So freshly painted!

Only, some of the fresh paint covered rot in the main boom, so there we were, blissfully sailing on a lovely reach when bang! Boom broken. At least we weren't in the middle of the Atlantic like the racers on Jeanne's boat. And fortunately, the break was relatively far aft on a 19-foot boom. So we braced it and sailed until we needed to tack, then tried to drop the sail. Ah. When reinstalling the slider, the boys had cut in. The slides on our new sail would not drop. M., being resourceful, rigged it so he could force the silly thing down, and we wrapped her up. We hoisted the mizzen (I love mizzens), and sailed with it and the Yankee. Beautiful sail south overnight.

We anchored in Evaristo, and the next morning had to motorsail. Suddenly, the engine stopped. It seems that our transmission leaked oil. Okay. We had an entire case of transmission oil with us (big boat again saves the day), but we didn't want to use it until the last minute when we would need it coming into La Paz harbor (me driving, Michael down below keeping things running). It was a very, very slow sail, tacking all the way. Now SV is 31 tons, so she likes enough sail to get her moving in light winds, and we didn't have access to the main, did we? Nope. By nightfall, we had just entered Bahia de La Paz. We'd never been to any of the anchorages on the islands and did not want to risk a night entry. So, we got to practice heaving-to. Such fun! We spent the night in what we later learned was a corumuel, blowing 35, with nice waves to go along with it, and SV hove-to like a champ. And the next morning the dolphins escorted us in.

Jump from 2004 to early 2008. SV has been in CA where she had been completely refit (by M) though we still have projects awaiting. The systems work. The navigation works. M has built two new booms. We have new everything, including autopilot and back-up Monitor. We're golden, except for all those projects, like moving my galley, that he couldn't get to while he worked full time, so we're loaded with wood etc. And now that he's retired and our income is cut substantially, we've got to get out of expensive Northern CA. Our furler maker said, "Set a date and go."

So, we checked the weather from a zillion sources, set the date and went.

Oh, my. What a trip. Which is how we landed in Ensenada, where we had a lovely time.

Now, two years later, we're still sailing from place to place, working on the boat. She has shown herself capable of sailing us through all kinds of winds. That first trip south showed what she could do in 47 knots and big, following seas. On that trip, we never hoisted more than the mizzen and Yankee and still hit hull speed. We've hit the mid-fifties in the Sea of Cortez, and she's been fine. We've sailed across the sea -- sometimes drifted -- in no wind without an engine, and we got there.

So, as Jeanne said, spares galore, the ability to make-do, to repair en route, and then, with basic systems intact and sea trials testing the weak points, you go, knowing that along the way, you will probably have months in between breakages, but sometimes not. We left with replacements for almost all our pumps; now we have replacements for those replacements in a lot of cases.

Ain't it fun?

Looking forward to seeing you here before we leave. There are plenty of places in the Sea of Cortez where you can hang out and work on your boat. We're perfect examples of that.

Blessings,

Normandie
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Old 06-16-2010, 04:39 AM   #10
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Well, from the sail up the coast to San Francisco, I hate to say it but, 12 hours is really our record of how long we can go w/o breaking something. I'm just thankful that we seem to catch things as they break! But, interesting thing came from the 400 miles of sailing-we became much more confident that we'd just fix things on the fly and that all would work out. We also aren't taking it too "personally" when things fail. In the past, we've though "oh, I should have replaced that or bought a different brand or known this was going to chafe, et al." now we just say "where's the spare?" or "let's do without it" and move on.

Oh, and we did fine without an autopilot--thank goodness for that wonderful worm gear steering system.
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Old 06-16-2010, 10:06 AM   #11
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You guys are doing very well !! There will be something wrong when you come to a moment when you do not have a project !!!!
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Old 06-17-2010, 05:21 AM   #12
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You guys are doing very well !! There will be something wrong when you come to a moment when you do not have a project !!!!
thanks for the kudos, but I feel we're constantly "behind the ball" as Naval aviators say...we're realizing that we've rush, rush, rushed doing everything even though it all takes soooo long! As such, this week (in between layers of paint drying and various haul out tasks getting done) we're planning our little "boring" escape into "the Delta" between San Francisco and Sacramento. I was just informed by someone who really knows these waters that this is a lucky year for folks like us with deeper drafts (6.5 ft) as the heavy snow melt from the high Sierra mountains means deep waters in the Delta! I've got a few anchorage spots picked out and when we leave here on next Tuesday, we'll go down the Napa River, around the bend and up into the Suisun Slough, a lovely marsh--drop the hook, do some fishing and....sleep...
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Old 09-02-2010, 04:41 PM   #13
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I think we've finally made it past 12 hours sailing without breaking something. Of course, when I made this pronouncement after a hard day's sailing on Saturday, David and I decided to inspect the rig. It technically didn't "fail" but we found numerous cracks in a heavy stainless steel plate that is part of our running bobstay. It connects the eye of the HiMod fitting to the eye of a heavy block for the running part of the stay. One plate on each side makes a sandwich and pins go through the eyes. It is sort of like a toggle without the 90 degree twist. One of the cracks was 1/2 way through the plate and it will fail in short order! Good thing we looked stuff over. Aboard, we have two "spares" of different designs for this particular fitting. Both require minor modifications to fit but we'll figure it out.

So, we're slightly ahead of the curve--finding things prior to failure.
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Old 09-05-2010, 04:50 PM   #14
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Good on ya,

PMCS beats Murphy every time. For those that don't know that acronym it is Preventive Maintenance Checks & Services. A military term that is very useful when transfered to civilian life. Now you are getting ahead of the curve, which means you need to be very careful as Murphy hates people getting ahead of him.

Best Wishes & Fair Winds,

Michael
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