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Old 05-21-2010
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Fallout, Leaks and toxic waste

Fallout, Leaks and toxic waste


Hi, Y'all,

A reminder before I begin: If, for whatever reason, you don't want to
receive either Lydia's or my log postings, there's an unsubscribe link at
the bottom right (at least in mine) on which a simple click will unsubscribe
you from the list. It may be somewhere else, in Lydia's, but, always at the
bottom... Replying to one of our posts with something to the effect of
"please remove" doesn't do the trick, especially for the other members who
get your reply :**))

That said, this finds us still in George Town, Exuma, Bahamas, enjoying the
quiet now that most folks have departed for other places. Of course, we
will, too, eventually :**)) However, the anchorages along both Stocking and
Exuma Islands are very sparsely populated right now, leading to lots of
comfort room for swinging at anchor. That's particularly interesting to most
cruisers during heavy weather when the easiest assurance of not dragging
your anchor is to have out massive amounts of rode (the thing which connects
your anchor to your boat, in our case, all chain).

The downside to all that scope (the ratio of line to depth, but also
commonly noted in feet from anchor to boat) is that if the boat swings, the
circle it describes is much larger than normal. NO PROBLEM, MON! Typical
separation at this time of year, only to get better, is in the hundreds of
feet, rather than the typical high-season toss-your-neighbor-a-beer
distance.

We've also moved from our usual spot across from Chat 'n' Chill on
Volleyball beach, that area having become moribund without all the usual
activity which accompanies the hundreds of boats in the harbor in the
winter, and thus of no need for our easier access there, to Hamburger Beach.

As it turns out, Hamburger Beach is much better for internet connectivity in
term of available open sites, a nice bonus. In fact, we're connected to one
of the several available when we were right next to town, as seen in my last
post, even though we're several miles away from there, here. As usual, I
share my signal among those cruisers who do, in fact, come over to see us,
as our Linksys router's identification, "FlyingPig!-ComeSeeUs" suggests.
The others I block, if my knocking them off a few times doesn't give them a
clue :**))

Hamburger Beach is so named because, many years ago, there used to be a
hamburger joint here. Over the years, it varied in ownership and use,
including, last year, virtual shutdown, and, as noted in my last, the
facility on shore has been bought by a local entrepreneur who goes to great
lengths to encourage cruisers to get to know him better. The most recent
such example was an offer of a potluck, including use of his grill to cook
whatever you might care to bring for barbequeing. We took advantage of that
to suggest a book-and-DVD swap, which was enthusiastically received. Of
course, we came home with new treasures, and made several new friends there.

The occasion for our still being here in George Town is waiting for a
product which, from all prior reviews I've seen, or had people tell me about
directly (though I've not had the privilege of seeing it first hand), has
promise to resolve our nasty "stains less" stainless steel aboard.

In particular, as those of you who who've followed us in the recent months
know, the repair to our bow anchor roller assembly in St. Augustine wasn't
passivated - a treatment which inhibits any unnecessary rust. So, of
course, all those welds are a nasty-looking mess. Not of structural
concern, but we always like a bright boat, so that will be the "acid test" -
pardon the expression, on which more, below - for this product.

The key ingredient for this product is citric acid, environmentally
friendly. Other passivation chemicals (I'll spare you the technical
discussion) are only suited to an industrial environment, where they can be
properly dealt with after use. As such, there's no toxic waste by rinsing
it off, which is what happens after you've applied it, unlike the commonly
used passivation chemicals..

We were first introduced to this concept (using citric acid) by one of our
marvelous suppliers, Hotwire Enterprises (www.svhotwire.com), who, in
addition to our electronics/electrical/Solar/Wind installations and/or
modifications, did the fabrication of our stern platform supports during our
early refit efforts. His method, rather more bulky than this (which uses a
gel formulation to keep it on the metal) was to saturate rags, wrapped
around the welds, with lemon juice, keeping it wet for days at a time.
Pretty simple to do when you're near a ready supply, and don't have to store
gallons of it aboard. That, too, of course, had no toxic waste, unless you
consider the plastic bottles which lined our work area as "toxic" :**))

As usual, Cruising Is Boat Repair In Exotic Locations - but in our case,
fortunately, this mostly consists of our daily 1-2-3s. Those are the little
things which, if kept up with, prevent a visit to the boatyard from becoming
a months-long exercise in recovery.

I may have mentioned it in prior logs, but our rudder post has been leaking
copiously. Rudder posts keep out the water in the same fashion as used on
the drive shaft in boats - they have a sealing gland, commonly referred to
as a packing gland. In new boats, or, at least, new Morgan 46s, that
packing would allow as little as a drop a minute during heavy use (a rudder
doesn't turn nearly as far, nor as fast, as a prop shaft), and nothing at
rest.

Unfortunately for us and other Morgan 46 owners, the steel in the rudder
post tends to either rust or pit in the area of the packing gland. The last
time I replaced the packing, the pitting in the area of the packing nut was
notable. When the rudder turns, it tends to chew up the packing (thin pieces
of teflon-impregnated string, essentially, around the shaft, and compressed
by the nut which has a cup shape, holding it in place). That results in
early leaking.

In our case, it was sufficient to allow a steady stream into the bilge.
That was OK, as the little automated bilge pump I have to keep up with the
"occasional" water was easily able to handle it. We've become accustomed to
the every-2.5-minute whirring, and associated gurgling on about every other
cycle, which came with the accumulated water being ejected from our bilge.
(We have two very substantial bilge pumps which would handle any large water
intrusion; they have float valves a couple inches off the bottom, so would
not activate until the water got to about 4" in the bilge.)

All that clean water coming in has allowed us to clean the bilge as the boat
rocked and pitched over a long period of time, as we'd leave the automated
bilge pump in the "off" position every so often, and take some dishwashing
detergent and a brush to the few inches in the bottom of the bilge.

Replacing the packing is even more tortuous than tightening it, on which
more anon, so we've delayed that for our next time ashore with the boat. It
COULD be done in the water, as the amount of water intrusion is certainly
manageable by our large pumps during the time the packing nut would have to
be off the housing for the shaft, but it would be messy (water a few feet
under the boat has a lot of pressure forcing it upward), and getting the old
packing out a bit tricky, sometimes. All that wasn't really daunting to me,
but the thought of not being able to put each layer (you cut pieces to fit
snugly around the shaft, then push the nut back onto the threaded housing to
seat it) in and seat it without a major splash in the face convinced me to,
simply (HAH - see below), tighten it, again.

I'd put, instead of the usual 3 layers, 5 layers of packing in the last time
I repacked it, so I'd not have to do a replacement quite so quickly, knowing
that it would leak, again, inevitably, as the pitted shaft eroded the
packing material.

Getting to, and then actually tightening, the packing nut is a real exercise
on our boat. In our case, it involves removing the berth (bed) where we
sleep, removing the boards which keep it off the hull and structural members
which hold it up, and, then, kneeling on 3/4" wide bulkhead edges (VERY hard
on the knees!), being careful not to break any of the plastic parts
associated with both the autopilot and rudder position sensors.

Once in that precarious position I had to lean over (with nothing to support
my upper body), reaching into the ~2' depth, and get a wrench on the packing
nut. It's held in place (kept from turning) by a locking nut. I have a
tool which is designed for packing nut manipulation. It's adequate to the
task of unlocking the securing nut, as it's not under any substantial
pressure.

The packing nut is a different story. If I'd had the leverage (recall the
position I'm in!), and the strength, to move the nut with that tool, it
would have broken first. Fortunately, I'm a tool nut, and I brought along a
24" pipe wrench as part of my tool inventory when I sold my shoreside home.
I had no idea what I'd possibly need it for, but I certainly do now!

That's because it's the only tool I have available to fit over the ~3.5"
edges of the packing nut which has the leverage needed to move it
sufficiently to tighten it. At that, as long as it is, I have only perhaps
a 5 degree swing room available with that length, so getting it to "bite" (a
pipe wrench doesn't fit snugly like a socket or open-ended wrench, on
whatever it is you're trying to turn; instead, it's designed for round
surfaces like ... pipe) So, of course, I couldn't use a regular open-ended
wrench on it, as the nut would not have turned sufficiently to put the
wrench on it agan.

Since the nut is the usual 6-sided surface, getting the right dimension in
the wrench, each time (recall that a "regular" hexagon, the shape of the
nut, has different dimensions from side to side as you move along the
perimeter - this means I have to readjust the size on each small turn), and
holding it in place with one hand while manipulating the handle so as to
make the head of the wrench "bite" with the other was a lot of work. I
probably put as much sweat into the bilge as the incoming sea during the
time I was working on it!

However, in due course, I did tighten it enough that it no longer leaked. I
took advantage of the same time under there to loosen the "power" (we have
hydraulic steering) steering mechanism while I rotated the steering wheel
repetitively in order to "stress" the packing as much as possible,
tightening the nut again after each one and allowing the steering assembly
to "float" in order to make sure that the rudder post had no angular
pressures which might have resulted from a slight misalignment on it. That
would allow me to make the packing as tight as possible. Once that was
finished, I tightened up the steering's hydraulic arms' mounts again, and
was rewarded with a dry shaft and packing nut after wiping off all remaining
seawater.

So, fast forward to that night, and Lydia's in bed next to me and asks,
"What's that? Sounds like someone knocking on a door?" Eventually we
figured out that it was the automated bilge pump having nothing more than
what had come back down the exhaust pipe to pump, making a "knocking" sound
as it tried to pump out that tiny bit of water. So, for a while, at least,
we're dry in the bilge!

Other minor boat chores continue, of course, including my attempts at
revival on Lydia's rechargeable toothbrush. Not one where it opens to allow
you to replace the batteries, of course! I'm working on a solution to it,
because it was VERY expensive; in the interim, she's resorted to the manual
sort. Amazing how you get out of shape for truly adequate brushing after a
couple of years of relying on the buzzer! Update since written earlier,
I've found a vendor who sells replacment batteries for the sealed unit, and,
on his eBay site, has a small video demonstrating how to accomplish that
replacement. Fortunately, I'm comfortable with a soldering iron, and will
make that replacement when we're ashore in about 5 weeks.

Our time here continues to be interspersed with folks not only visitng us as
suggested by what they see when they look around for a station for WiFi, but
fallout left over from the departing cruiser of a couple of weeks ago who
lauded my assistance to him over the morning VHF net. As part of my
personality, being an eldest child, I enjoy helping others; many have
offered payment for my solving one or more of their (not only WiFi)
connectivity problems, but I always decline, telling them to "Pay It
Forward" to some other cruiser in some othe way.

Other fallout isn't so heartwarming, unfortunately...

Long time readers of this log will perhaps recall a previous post referring
to a loose cannon. I'll not repeat it here, other than to say it was
occasioned by an ignorant (not meant pejoratively, just the facts - he
didn't know) cruiser whose actions occasioned unintentional slander of me
over an open mike on VHF last year in George Town.

Along the way, despite the obvious difference to what dozens have -
particularly recently - personally observed aboard Flying Pig, I seem to
have acquired a reputation as one who can hack into any system and bring it
to its knees - and who, (my assumption of that being based on an experience
in Long Island - see below), will do just that, for whatever imagined
reasons. I assume it's like the kids' game of "Telephone" - as there was
nothing in the attack last year I got either over the air or personally at
the side of the boat, relating to hacking, cracking or that sort of thing.
I expect the story transmogrified into what I've learned that many cruisers
have heard to that effect.

It's a two-edged sword - I seem to be able to solve folks' WiFi problems,
and, certainly, have - so far as I can tell - the most effective consumer
grade setup available. As well, I share my available bandwidth with others
for the simple expedient of their coming over to say hello. I learned, with
some amusement just recently, that I'm sort of the Pied Piper. When we left
Hamburger Beach for a laundry excursion, back to the shoreside anchorage
mentioned above, there was a mass exodus of boats following us, and our
signal :**))

Folks talking about my seeming wizardry (it's nothing of the sort, of
course, as discussed in my prior logs having comments lauding the services
of Island Time PC, as to how badly I was failing to even get a basic system
to work!) are congratulatory, or admiring, but, perhaps, like Clark, of
"Loose Cannon" above, in their ignorance (his bad, theirs simply ignorant
"admiration" - not understanding how it is I can get throughput where they
can't even see a station), assign realities which don't match mine in the
telling :**/)

This diatribe isn't at all about the kerfluffle last year - it's about the
reputation I seem to have acquired of being a hacker (apparently, a
malicious hacker, to boot). There may be no more than a couple of boaters
who are representing me that way - but, others, hearing it as gospel, may
innocently repeat it (which could well be how the boater who came by
yesterday heard it).

There was a Batelco outage in Long Island, right after we arrived there
earlier this year. A seasonal cruiser had a private setup in cooperation
with a house ashore - over a mile away from our anchorage - which went to no
bandwidth. When he assigned his lack of signal/dataflow to me, via having
heard that from some cruiser, I considered that alarming. As it turned out,
he's very well qualified technically, and when I told him what I had, and
how we used our system, it was immediately apparent that I could not have
been the cause. It eventually took a visit from Batelco to the house where
his router was to solve his connectivity problem...

That I've now heard essentially the same story (without lack of service here
in George Town to add extra spice as was the case in Long Island) more than
once, in more than one place, annoys me. I'm a member of the Seven Seas
Cruising Association. Their motto is "Leave a Clean Wake" - and we make very
sure we do. "Leaving a Clean Wake" encompasses more than not throwing oil
and trash overboard; it has everything to do with how the non-cruising (and
fellow cruisers, come to that) public perceive you.

As such, allegations such as those accepted at face value (and, importantly,
without confrontation/confirmation of/from me, other than in the couple of
cases who HAVE come to me - the way I learned about them) in what I've
learned aren't isolated instances, either in number or location, are
definitely a dirty wake - but we didn't make it :**/)

It's not really important, other than that, likely, any such sources got it
from someone else. If I know any of those sources (I have yet to retrieve
any of the upstream sources from those who've repeated the story to me),
just maybe, reversing the flow will kill it off eventually. Any I do learn
about, I'll not be confrontational, any more than I was with the couple of
folks who've shared that story with me - just corrective, and asking them to
pass it back up the chain from where they got it. I'm happy to be known as
"The WiFi Guru" - and spend many hours helping others understand how it
works, tweaking their systems, whatever they have, and doing the same, for
that matter, for VHF and HF radio and packet mail issues - but, given that I
freely give mine away, not so happy as to be characterized as malicious or
in any way LIMITING someone's access...

Sorry about this/that - Lydia gives me a hard time about spending as much
time and effort as I do helping other cruisers, so it pains me to think that
misinformation results in a portrait of one who goes out of his way to make
things difficult or impossible...

Meanwhile, back at the old grind, so to speak, some of you original readers
may have recalled that I reluctantly gave in to having an electric coffee
grinder aboard. It recently refused to start, and I took it apart,
successfully reviving it. However, it seems to have died again, so I
abandoned it.

Instead, we're using the hand grinder which we bought at a West Marine
Bargain Center, found at some of the larger stores, where castoffs,
discontinued or returned items and the like wind up. A bit like wandering
through one of the Marine Salvage stores (like Don's, Sailorman or Bacon's,
for example, and some others very well known to boaters), except that it's
typically new stuff. This is actually a burr grinder, much preferred by
coffee purists, rather than the typical electric grinder, which is sort of
like a Cuisinart in operation - not a grinder, but a cutter, prone to
burning or otherwise producing a slightly inferior grind.

It takes me about 250 strokes to do one pot, and I do two, each morning. So,
even when we're not sailing, and I'd otherwise be grinding winches, I get in
my work. Running a manual grinder with a turning radius of only about 2"
not only exercises my turning arm, but my holding arm, too, as it's a lot of
pressure to resist. The effort is worth it, however, as it's the perfect
cup of coffee after we've put it into our stainless steel
vacuum-bottle-outsides french press.

The only problem is, as is the case this morning, when we've exhausted our
two pots and it's not yet quite time for lunch, with our usual either
lemonade or gatorade as our beverage. The tongue lusts after another cuppa,
but it's enough work and time that we'll just have to grin and bear it until
tomorrow...

Weather here has been a bit unusual, with severe squall warnings (30-50
knots) a couple of days ago, and a few days of constant cloudy skies
accompanied by some significant rain. Fortunately, despite our having
prepared for it, the winds never came, and, as I type this, the wind, also
unseasonably, is from the north sector, and expected to stay there for the
next week or so. That makes our expected departure up the chain a bit iffy,
as we verily hate to run our propulsion motor, but need to be in Marsh
Harbour by not later than about 4 weeks from now.

4 weeks sounds like a very long time, but in the cruising world, it can be a
very short time, especially when you're waiting for a weather wind. Time
just slips away, whether in Margaritaville or anywhere else in the tropics
(we're right on the cusp here in George Town). We've been waiting for our
package, which may or not arrive in the next few hours, but, if not, we'll
leave, anyway.

If we can't go directly up the chain, if the wind's still in the northern
quadrant, perhaps we'll, instead, go where the wind will take us. We'd
thought about going to Conception Island, a not-to-be-missed destination
(despite our having missed it so far this year, and last year), but it's
quite a ways east, with the wind expected to be like this for the next week
or so. Thus, getting north would be even more difficult in the short term.

So, if we can't work our way up the chain of small islands, perhaps we'll go
to Eleuthera, instead, one of the places we'd like to go in any event. We
may not know the realities on that until we actually get out of the harbor;
our Kiwi friends are under way right now, and while the wind (unfortunately
for sailing, pretty light) was in the right direction to leave the harbor
under sail, they're having to tack once outside. That makes northward
progress very slow. (For an extreme example, see Robert Louis Stevenson's
poem on a Christmas night's tacking off a lee shore...).

We'll probably go tomorrow, in any case, and in any event, when we do, you
can follow our progress over our SPOT emergency tracker's signal found at
tinyurl.com/FlyingPigSpot. There will be nothing there until we turn it on,
as it only retains a week's worth of travels, and we've had it off ever
since we returned to George Town from the Jumentos...

So, for now, we'll leave you, comfortably anchored near town in George Town,
Exuma Bahamas.

Until next time, Stay Tuned!

L8R

Skip

Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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(and)
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