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So really making sure everything was ready I dropped the mooring and went round the point into Sir Frances Drake Channel into the wind I put up the outer jib, then the main went up
........the first sail I've had since October 30 2011........
The wind was still a bit stronger than I wanted for a first sail, but GL had the bit between her teeth and was off like a rocket.
I have to say I was not a calm person, and was running about the boat checking everything, and not even enjoying the ride, my adrenalin level must have been through the roof, my past confidence in the boat had gone long ago and it wasn't coming back easy. I then thought in for a penny and put the staysail up as well, whew I was beating into the wind at over 6 Knts going like stink, while this was happening on the 3rd tack I ran into a valentines classic regatta which all my friends from Coral Bay were taking part in, and which I had forgotten all about. When they saw me blasting past they were all jumping up and down shouting and waving like mad. I then got a VHF call from Kevin Husky who owns Huskies Salvage, his salvage boat pulled me off the reef! and it was acting as the committee boat for the race. We had a quick chat then I changed course and went to chat with the guys on the boats. They all wanted me to go into Nanny Cay with them to celebrate, but I wanted to get to Road Town, as I turned round I went past the stern of Kevin's boat and said "hello I look a bit different from last time you saw me over a year ago" he said "yes and it was worth the cost of pulling her off" I was non committal on that point he laughed and said she was looking really good though.
I continued on to Road Town and ended up on a mooring at Fort Burt.
Today Monday 18 is another story.
Monday, After arriving at Road town I had to find somewhere to anchor, or find a mooring ball, there is a couple or three posh marinas which I would be ignoring, so everything else is rather limited. Village Cay Marina which skyline is dominated by the Cruise ships alongside the special pier does have an anchorage, I tried but my anchor wouldn't hold in the wind. So leaving there I went to the west side and found a mooring ball opposite Conch Charters slips. This area is known as Fort Burt.
During the sail my bilge pump was playing up a bit so I concentrated on finding out what was going on. There had been a serious increase in the water coming into the boat, and this was worrying me a lot. After an investigation I had a feeling that either the shaft tube or rudder stock tube were leaking, as that was the area I could see the water ingress. The pump was struggling to keep up with the amount and was not pumping right either. I have had a few probs now with this dam pump. This time I felt it just maybe the hull fitting, as this reduces from 3/4" to a 3/8" hole and as the pump is a 500 gall an hour, maybe this was to small for it. I must say I never had the prob before. It was a very serious leak, and as I didn't know which bit it was I was very concerned.
Knowing the chandlers were I could get a new one was the other side of the bay, i set out in the dingy from the boat in a high wind and parked it next to the road, in a bit of shelter. Then a long walk ensued, finally arriving at the Golden Hind Chandlers. I got the fitting ok and investigated the Tortola Marine Services shipyard next door, just in case.
On the walk back I saw that MiMu had arrived at Village Cay and I made my way there to make contact. They had a few ongoing probs, so I did a bit of a survey and after a free lunch and a big bag of food from the chef, left at about 5pm with a promise to put a full days work in on Tuesday.
Tuesday 19, got picked up in MiMu's tender by Alex the Eng and spent all day sorting bits and pieces out, they were due for the Owners arrival about 5pm so I was due off before that, didn't quite work out and they arrived before I left. I had a pleasant time
saying hello again, as its nearly a year since I met them last, and they are very nice people. After being dropped back at GL I saw them leave on their cruise.
Wednesday 20, Well my prob hadn't gone away, so with the input of cash from Tuesday I again walked all the way round the bay to the shipyard to book a haul out to find out what's leaking. managed to book it for 10am Thursday 21.
Thursday 21, prepared the boat and took it to the yard, I was hauled out and again I am in a shipyard high and dry. Started the 'look see' around the stern, the stern tube is OK and tight, the rudder stock tube on the other hand was loose, the sealing packing had just about all come adrift, when moving the rudder the tube itself moves, not a good sign. Only 1 aft seam showed any sign of water draining out, and one fwd seam so they need looking at too.
Friday 22, I put a full days work in today, and concentrated on the rudder. The stern inside has not been touched since going on the reef, it took quite a while to unpack it and get access to the rudder tube itself. I had never even considered looking at it, all the time in the yard during repairs! I found my rat, dead and decomposed! during this, but more important I found the tube had been lifted up and turned about 30 degrees off centre line, the six 3"x16 securing bronze screws had sheared off! so the tube was free to move. I have drilled the plate today and re secured it with four 3"x3/8"hex head lag bolts, or coach screws as we say in uk. Its now solid again and only requires re caulking outside. The two seams were raked out to allow to dry as well.
Saturday 23. I spent the day cleaning out the seam aft, and after a bit of considered thought decided to put a few screws in that aft plank. Eight screws later, all fastened and plugged, I will leave that seam to dry out.
Sunday 24 I removed the caulk and cleaned up the seam fwd. This seam is between the lead ballast and wood keel. Its the only place I was weeping from in the fwd bilge. Whilst cleaning it out it was obvious the caulking had failed here. Now clean and drying out.
Next little job whilst out of the water was the engine water intake valve, this had a little drip drip drip coming from the outboard thread. So removed it and after a full overhaul and re sealing its back together again.
Monday 25. Did the fwd seam today, all cleaned, made a filler piece out of teak, and fitted this in the port side of the seam, I should have said the seam is the extreme fwd end of the lead keel and goes from one side to the other, the original red lead and putty has long since been washed away aft of this its still there, but there is now a 3/8 gap for just over a foot. Even with the teak filler piece it took approx 3lb of Oakum hammered in to pack it tight, and after priming that, in went the 5200. Its not going to leak again for a bit. I have prepped and primed the aft seam ready for Oakum.
Tuesday 26. As I had left all my sealing compound, primer and antifouling at Chris's dock, I decided it was worth the journey by ferry back to St Thomas to pick it up and bring it back. The cost of replacing it was over $500, the ferry ride $35. Set out early and was just in time to see the ferry leave, there is only one ferry a day so I walked back, there was plenty still left to do. I have now fitted the wash down pump permanently in the engine room instead of it being in the head, fitted a valve at the galley sink and piped it all in. That will save a lot of hassle.
Wednesday 27. 05.00am went to the ferry and was in time, I would be clearing back into US at Crux Bay St John on the way to Red Hook St Thomas. Crux bay Boarder Control and Home Security; That woman was on duty, It took her over 15 minutes delaying everyone before she understood that I didn't live in St Thomas and was only visiting for the day. Arrived in Red Hook at 07.00am and spent a chilled out day, saw a lot of friends and caught the 5.00pm ferry back to Road Town.
Thursday 28. with everything finished primed and antifouled I was now ready to launch as last boat in Friday, same deal as before to sit in the dock overnight or for the weekend, this being a holiday weekend I could stay till Tuesday if I needed to.
Friday March 1. Spent the day cleaning and tidying up in general, a bit of shopping for food and at 4.00pm I was put back in the water.
Then monitored the bilges for leaks.
Saturday 2. Well the big leak from the rudder was now dry as a bone, as was the area underneath the mast step, and the leak in the fwd end of the engine bilge had stopped too. However there was water coming in somewhere which wasn't obvious as to where exactly, nowhere as much as before, so, decided to take advantage of the pleasant breeze and go sailing, as maybe I would be able to find the leak with the boat moving about a bit.
I left the dock at about 11.00am and had the first real stress free sail! Ended up at 5.00pm at Manchioneel Bay, Cooper Island, to a very warm welcome to the bay by many of the charter boat parties and shore staff. Went to the hotel bar for a couple of sundowners then back to the boat to eat and sleep!
Sunday 3. A bit more wind today and as I didn't find were the leak is yet decided to sail to the top of Scrub Island and maybe go right round Tortola.. It didn't quite work out like that. I had a nice sail again, stress free, and as I was passing the top of Scrub Island a place called Throw Away Bay and Wife Bay the beach was so nice and it looked so idyllic I decided to stop and go ashore for a swim, which I did. I spent a bit more time there than planned, its very shallow so didn't want to stay there for the night so headed back to Road Town while sailing back and still looking for this leak down aft, horror of horror's, I found the new coupling bolt only just replaced had again sheared off, so although there was now no water coming from anywhere around the shaft tube or shaft itself I knew that this set up although its lasted me 19 years has just got to be seen too. I ended up at anchor in the channel at Village Cay Marina for the night.
Monday 4. Phoned up the shipyard and moved round back to their dock and will be lifted out again next day.