Monday 21 March 2016

Pasito Blanco, Day 7 - win some lose some and a nasty turn

The good news is that I managed to repair Angus yesterday and to re-site his blocks to more appropriate positions and with permanent fixings. It was a rather laborious task and therefore took most of the day. The carbon fibre connecting tube (that connects the wind vane part to the paddle part that stick in the water) had split earlier in the summer and we had sailed from Horta to the Canaries with it taped up with gaffa tape.

The tube connects the two parts via a system of bolts and linkages at each end of the tube. These are secured into the tube by being screwed/glued into a piece of wooden dowel which is also glued in. This dowel has to be drilled out to receive the bolt. Drilling a 6mm hole through a 10mm dowel straight and parallel is all but impossible unless you have a drill press to hold everything straight. Needless to say I didn't have one with me. So I had to grind the old dowels out of the old tube with a hand file. A lengthy and messy business. However, I got it done. Then I had a bit of luck. I glued the dowels in and then the link bolts into the dowels using separate epoxy glue mixes. The first one went according to plan and the expoxy set in the 5 minutes stipulated. The second mix for the link bolts seemed to be a bit light on the hardener but I went ahead anyway. Then I tried to re-assemble the whole lot only to find that one of the end fittings had to be at right angles to the other and I had glued them in on the same plane. My lucky break was the the epoxy had not set and I was therefore able to rotate one of the ends through 90 degrees. The fact that it then took me another couple of hours to figure out how everything went back together is by the by. Eventually it was all done and I was able to re-site the blocks for the tiller lines.

After that I took a little walk and took a couple of photos..

Today I had the afternoon off. Agustin and Sonya were taking me for lunch.

As I was pondering which job to this morning I idly thought I should check the windless - the big winch at the front of the boat used to get the anchor up. A rather essential piece of equipment. Last used as I recall when Tony and I anchored in Horta in June last year (when the anchor got stuck under a chain on the sea bed and we had to hire a diver to free it). Anyway it was completely seized up. I spent a few hours trying the free it and then another hour removing it before getting cleaned up for lunch which was most enjoyable. Tomorrow I'll take it to the engineering shop in the boat yard and see if they can free it up for me.

After a lovely lunch in Arguineguin with Agustin and Sonya, Agustin took me to the local chandlers and I was able to buy the line I needed to replace the main out-haul. Once back on the boat I fitted it. I also met Nigel another OCC member, from Juliet a Vancouver 32 currently in the yard but due to be re-launched within the next couple of days. He had just flown in from the UK. He was on board nearby, the night of the gale that bashed AS into the pontoon and damaged her bow. The same thing happened to Juliet which is why she was out for repairs. We arranged to eat together at the Yacht Club tomorrow evening.

The nasty turn occurred during the early hours of Saturday morning. I woke with violent stomach cramps that got steadily worse over the next 30 minutes and then it felt like my head was going to explode - it felt a little like someone was using a road drill on my skull combined with an intense downward pressure - I wanted to pass out but couldn't escape the excruciating pain. Eventually it subsided and I thought I had better get on the loo. Thank goodness I had discovered that the sea-cock was OK after all. I need say no more. It's self evident that I lived to tell the tale. I had clearly given myself a very nasty dose of food poisoning by re-heating the spag bol I had made the night before. Sharon did warn me on the phone but....Never again.

Saturday 19 March 2016

Pasito Blanco - Day 5

Days 3 an 4 were spent working mainly on improving the installation of the solar panels. I had previously installed new stainless tube rails supported by uprights bolted to the toe rail. The panels are fitted to the tube rails and can swing up to the horizontal or down to the vertical stowed position. The first problem was lack of rigidity and therefore I had brought over some aluminium flat bar and bits and pieces to attach the bar to the upright tubes. I fixed two bars on each side at roughly 45 degrees to prevent the whole assembly from moving backwards and forwards. That did the trick but it took all day Thursday to accomplish. Hours of drilling and filing were involved.

On Friday I remembered another problem which was that when we fitted the Bimini in Horta we had to move the solar panels forward because the Bimini fouled them. Unfortunately we moved them too far forward so that when in the stowed position they fouled the winch handle . I therefore had to move them again which involved amongst other things re-positioning most of the fixings I had spent all day Thursday working on. Eventually however it was all completed and another day was accounted for.

Today I started off by hosing/scrubbing down the decks and the cockpit which were covered in grime caused by the fine sand that sometimes blows in from Africa. Then I re-fitted the boom that I had removed in order to replace the goose-neck fitting. Agustin had very kindly drilled a hole in the new fitting so that a retaining pin could be inserted. It was the shearing of the old pin in the old goose-neck fitting that had resulted in the boom almost falling off on my failed attempt to sail to Flores in the summer. I didn't realised what had happened at the time. Indeed it was only when I got to Pasitio and took the old fitting off that I figured out the cause.

Then I tackled a job that I was feeling quite apprehensive about - repairing the connecting tube on Angus. The original had cracked and I had taped it up before leaving Horta. Whilst back at home I ordered a stronger carbon fibre tube. This afternoon I ground out the wooded dowel fittings from the ends of the old tube with a hand file and glued them into the new tube. Tomorrow I will reinsert the bolts/connecting fittings into the dowels. That will be the critical point. Will the dowels stay firmly in position or will they rotate as I screw the bolts in? Fingers crossed! If all goes well I can then re-assemble Angus.

Wednesday 16 March 2016

Pasito Blanco - day 2

I forgot to mention that the new cockpit table/sole had also suffered in the sun, all the seams had opened up. I have oiled a few times and will continue to do so. I will stow below when I leave next week.

Today was slow progress. I decided to install a battery charger and small solar panel for the engine battery so that it will stay topped up/ will be easy to charge it up. Last week Agustin tried to start the engine for me but no power and he went to great lengths to charge the battery up. Previously the leads of the battery charger had to be attached and the charger plugged in. Because the charger is so inaccessible under the cockpit sole that was no easy matter. Suffice to say it took me all day to accomplish those two tasks. I didn't have all the right bits and pieces and so had to improvise with various wires attachments and soldering iron and of course dropped a few bits down the bilge. Whilst doing all that I noticed that the leads on the battery terminals were loose which may be why the charging light was not going out. It might even be why the stop button was not working, but now I'm scared of starting the engine in case I can't stop it. Tony suggested using the decompression lever. I may try that.

Eventually the installation was done and I was able to stow everything back in the cockpit locker and so make things a little more presentable.

Treated myself to a rum and coke afterwards. Almost too dozy to right this!

Tuesday 15 March 2016

Update from Pasito Blanco

After almost 7 months back at home I flew back to Pasito today for a short visit to check up on the boat and undertake some maintenance in preparation for what I hope will be continuation of the passage come November.

Over the last few months life has been dominated by the kitchen extension project and looking for work. I found some for a while then it unexpectedly ground to a sudden halt and now I'm looking again. There are a number of opportunities in the pipe line but whether any will bear fruit is too early to say. The extension is finished and the new kitchen is being fitted this week. Hopefully by the time I get back next Wednesday it will be all but done and Mrs Fisher will be happy.

I really need to land one of those opportunities soon so that I have enough time to earn enough money to ensure that continuation with the passage is not a financially risky undertaking in addition to being otherwise a slightly risky thing to do.

I arrived laden with a heavy bag and a long parcel of stainless steel tubes and replacement kit for Angus. I spent hours packing it yesterday only to check the EasyJet website AFTERWARDS to discover it was too big to go as hold baggage. Much smaller than some sports equipment though. To be safe I rang EasyJet and after lengthy discussions during which I failed to convince them that it was no different than some Sports equipment (such as tents which are allowed) I had to unpack it, cut some of the stainless steel tubes so that they would fit in my bag and then repack so that it was within the size limits of hold luggage. On arrival at the airport I had to place it in a sports equipment size guide (into which it fitted all too easily as would the original package). A porter type chap asked me what was in it in very broken English. I don't think he understood my answer but it was waiting for me at Gran Canaria!

I've got loads of jobs to do including improving the mountings of the solar panels and fitting new reefing pennants and repairing Angus. More than enough to keep me occupied for the week I'm here.

However, I've now got event more. 7 months neglect even with Agustin keeping an eye on Arctic Smoke has generated another list of jobs:

  • About a square meter on AS's port side was covered in dried and hardened fender plastic residue. AS had been rubbing the fenders of the next door boat. These are covered in a horrid green gunge caused I think by constant friction. That was ground into AS. That was my first job after re-adjusting the mooring lines to pull her clear. It took the whole of the afternoon.
  • The prow has a six inch strip of gel coat rubbed off when she was rubbing up against the pontoon before Agustin noticed and pulled her off. I will probably have to make a temporary repair from the dinghy. A proper repair will require her to be hauled out when I am back in the Autumn.
  • Her bottom is badly fouled despite the expensive anti-fouling. It might come off easily with no need to anti-foul but.... I'll have a go from the dinghy. I do hope I will not have to anti-foul again!
  • The tiller had been rubbing on the edge of the rear cockpit hatch and worn away a chunk of gel coat there too.
  • The nut on the end of the bolt holding the tiller on the rudder shaft had worn loose and fallen off. I was able to find it and put it back.
  • The outlet sea cock for the loo has seized. I've squirted penetrating oil on it but that might require a haul out too. I might have to replace the whole thing skin fitting included!
  • The LED strip lights in the cabin are behaving like firework displays. So much for cheap LEDs from China!
  • The red warning light on the instrument panel does not go off when the engine is running. I think that means it's not charging so hopefully just need to tighten the fan belt up.
  • More worrying is that the engine stop button is very reluctant to work. I had noticed this before but had forgotten. It's now much worse. For a while I thought the engine would run until it ran out of fuel but after a while frantic repeated pushing did the trick. Now that I think about it, the start button is behaving similarly but I had thought that was a loose connection somewhere. They are ancient so it's not surprising. I now remember trying to get a new panel before we started the cruise last year but they don't make them any more! I will need to seek expert advise. Agustin may have some ideas being an engineer.
Other than that it's nice to be back on the boat even if only for a short visit and with no sailing. Hopefully I'll be able to make some progress this week. Trouble is another long spell away will generate more jobs. She'd be safer out of the water but that's more expensive.