Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Fixing Your Boat in Exotic Places

2014 03 05
Jolly Harbour, Antigua

Above is Jolly Harbour, Antigua a pretty decent place to end a transatlantic.  Especially if you need work done to your boat.  As it turned out we needed a lot of work done.

We spent twelve days under sustained high winds, at least they were high for us: winds of 30 to 45 knots apparent carried us quickly but uncomfortably from Canaries to Cape Verdes islands and then very uncomfortably from Cape Verdes towards Antigua.

The winds refused to conform to the grib weather forecasts and rather than winds off our stern we had beam on winds and so we had beam on waves - tossing the boat wildly from side to side.  Our tactic is to reduce sail dramatically in winds of 30 knots or more and we were making 4 knots for most of the first week and a half out of Cape Verdes.  While it may seem silly to go so slow in bad weather we find the slow speed reduces wear and tear on both the boat and ourselves.

One morning on the usual rounds we discovered small cracks in a pad on our bow to which the bowsprit was attached.  We reduced sail even further and took down all foresail.  This was precautionary only as we did not consider the slight cracking in the gelcoat to be significant.  It was of course and under the sustained onslaught of wind and wave the cracks grew.  The growth was infinitesmal but undeniable.  It was also disturbing.  Under the sustained  beating the rig was taking the bowsprit was moving, not something a bowsprit is ever supposed to do.

Here is what we found on arrival Antigua:

Aft Pad

Forward Pad
 The bowsprit was showing some damage from water incursion:


The holes are supposed to be round not oval.

Because the pads were full of water and rotted the stainless steel bolts which held the bowsprit in place had corroded to the point of uselessness.

All in all we were very lucky.  Of course we travelled for ten days on a triple reefed main with every halyard and piece of usable line tied to the masthead and then to a forward cleat.  

Because we were in Antigua we were lucky.  Antigua is one of the best refit and maintenance destinations we have ever visited.  

A trip to Chippy the woodworking shop produced some professional repairs to the bowsprit itself:

The usual repair: rot drilled out and
new teak dowel glued in place 

Damage to the foreward boltholes was so severe
it required a double dowel to replace the rot

The square patch was dug out and new teak glued in place
for a tight strong fit
Getting ten inch long half inch bolts was not going to be a picnic but without them the whole exercise was for naught.  Trevor Machine shop machined new bolts for us out of 3/4 inch stainless stock the closest diameter we could obtain on the island.

Trevor in His Shop.
And He does not fix lawnmowers
Finally we used Tony Fibreglass to remove the damaged deck pads, remove the wet core and reglass new pads without plywood core.  The factory used plywood, we used laminated fibreglass peaces.  Our luck held and the water in the plywood core of the pads had not migrated to the deck coring.  Had it done so we would have been removing and replacing soft decking.  You gotta know what constitutes a win and we won big.  We had the whole deck sounded by George of Jolly Harbour Woodworking and got a clean bill.  The survey from two years ago was also clean.

Tony Fibreglass at Work
Removing the old core - soaking wet plywood

Tony Strikes a Blow for Freedom and a Sound Boat

Finished Job

Finished Job 2 - Nice Toenails

No comments:

Post a Comment