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Old 10-07-2010
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October Ooops!

October Ooops!

We left you last time having successfully dodged all the September storms,
enjoying sailing and diving in the warm Bahamas waters.

October is still well within the hurricane season, however, and, true to
form, several storms formed and went on. At this writing, Otto is making
his way up the North Atlantic, far from us, and, the track forecasts expect,
even poor Bermuda, which has been sorely tested this season. The associated
weather systems of the various storms, fronts, lows and troughs brought
relatively higher winds to the Bahamas, but no emergencies...

We left Marsh Harbour to go visit Hopetown, nearby, successfully navigating
the "deep draft" route into an otherwise very shallow entrance to the
harbor. We were led into the mooring field by a friend who'd offered us his
mooring for our stay there, a real benefit, as it was free.

Hopetown harbor has very little anchoring room due to all the moorings
present, but it's pretty well protected. In fact, from Marsh Harbour, it is
our most immediately available hurricane hole. In speaking with our friend,
we learned that 15 of the moorings there were installed when he had taken
over Abaco Charters, now defunct following hurricane Floyd, which saw
sustained winds of 240mph. Those new moorings were massive fixtures screwed
into bedrock and unlikely to move as the 4000# concrete blocks did,
accompanying virtually every boat in the harbor to the lee shore.

He cautioned that his mooring was only concrete, and when we got an expected
blow, it would be prudent to move onto one of the others.

Despite the forecasts, we didn't have huge winds, but we did have a brief
period of sustained 20-30mph breezes early in the month. Our KISS wind
generator does a great job of keeping our batteries topped up, but it
doesn't really like continous high winds. It has protective circuits in it
to prevent damage from overheating in those conditions, and I'd noted that
our ammeter, the gauge which tells us how much power we're generating, was
indicating that those safety features were kicking in.

However, we also noted that it seemed that our unit wasn't performing up to
snuff, particularly in that it didn't turn in the same level of light winds
as before. An investigative trip into the engine room, guided by emailed
instructions from our vendor, svhotwire.com, showed that not everything was
perfect. All of my diagnostics seemed to be showing that all was well, but,
in desperation, I employed one of the tricks shown in that email, taking out
the control switch, bypassing it by connecting our power leads directly to
the rectifier, the electronics which convert alternating current from the
generator to direct current which the batteries can use.

Sure enough, the unit seems to be operating as it should, other than it
seemed to take more wind than before to turn. I'd check that next, but
taking the switch to the workbench, and diagnosing with a multimeter, I
discovered a tiny bleedover between poles of the switch in the "on"
position. That would negate some of the power, and, even, tend to make the
system think it was "off" - a condition which causes the blades to turn very
slowly in high winds, without generating power. Ooops!

Good news, that's a simple fix, and having the switch out of the circuit
just means that in a severe blow I would have have to **** the KISS so as to
not freely turn to follow the wind, exactly the means I used during
Hurricane Hanna, during high winds. Sure enough, in the blow described
below, it did, in fact, continue to make power in an about-20* offset
condition, during sustained high winds later.

We'd had a forecast of high winds which looked like they'd never arrive, as
the day appointed was nearly calm. I took that advantage to climb up to the
KISS and slowly rotate the blade. I'll save you the geek talk, but there's
some suspicion that I might have a failing bearing. Ooops!

No biggie - if one fails completely, it will just not turn, not destroy the
unit, and I'd taken the precaution of ordering another set after our unit
took its swim in Marsh Harbour very early this year. Faithful followers of
our adventures will recall that I inspected the current bearings after
removing them from the rotor and found them to be in apparent good
condition. Thus relieved, I heavily greased them and reinstalled them
before reassembly.

It may be that our seeming slower turning blade is related, but for now, all
appears well, other than that it doesn't turn in light winds. That's of
little matter in the end, as power doesn't start to develop in earnest until
we get above 10 knots.

Back to the mooring, however, the blow arrived the following night. I got
up at my usual time to prepare for my being the morning "Cruisers' Net"
anchor. RIGHT before I was to go on the air my display (apparently - see
below) died. Ooops!

As I had no means to troubleshoot and also do my work, I called my backup,
who took over for me

My computer problem turned out to be a loose video connection, easily
remedied, and I was back in business immediately. However, as long as my
backup had the net started, I'd stay out of his way. Good thing, too, as
Lydia was in the cockpit just starting her coffee and hollered me topsides,
double-quick.

Our mooring line had parted, and under 25-30mph wind-driven rain, we were
headed straight for a rock wall. Ooops!

The first immediate solution was to turn on the engine. Crankety crank, but
no fire. We continued toward the wall. Ooops!

Leaping out of the cockpit, I slipped on the wet deck and fell against the
rail. Up quickly, I got the anchor deployed, which despite it streaming
behind us, arrested our forward motion. I'd later discover a gash in my
shoulder/arm where I hit a fitting on the way down, unnoticed in all the
excitement until I saw the blood, and the barked knee (non-skid is
abrasive!) which suppurated a bit, discovered even later. Ooops!

Now that our forward motion was stopped, we came to rest against a piling on
the dock adjacent to a home for sale. If the wind were to shift, we'd have
the potential to rotate on that piling and then slide, stern first, into the
dock. So, I made us fast to the piling in such a way that we couldn't slip
back. Once secure against that potential, we set about to improving our
situation, as we didn't want to stay where we were, pinned against a piling,
particularly since we were in relatively shallow water at high tide -
waiting for the blow to finish would mean we were also aground!

As the prior mooring was untenable, we made ready to go to one of the
hurricane-proven bouys. Fortunately, we carry LOTS of line, including one
of the original 3/4" 3-strand anchor rodes. It was long enough to reach the
bouy, where I tied it off. Loosening the windlass clutch after I put the
snubber on the anchor chain, so it wouldn't continue to run out, we took the
rode around the windlass' capstan. Then, using the tremendous mechanical
advantage of the windlass, we tightened the line so that even though the
anchor was set (on an extremely short scope, of which I was fearful!) we'd
not have the potential to move closer to the wall.

Our second line was a 100' sheet left over from our original running
rigging. Taking that to the mooring ball, and securing it, and then,
leading it over the turning block for our normal genoa sheets at the stern,
I was able to take tension on that line by winching it tight.

With the bow line tight, and the line to the piling keepin us from swinging
into the dock, with Lydia on the windlass and me on the winch, we pulled
ourselves off the piling with the triangle formed by the bow line, the stern
line, and Flying Pig. We were now held in place, with no pressure on the
piling.

Meanwhile, it had rained so much that our dinghy was inches deep in water,
well over the "bilge" floorboards. Ironically, that made for more stability
in the wind and the waves, so I left emptying it for another day, but made
great use of it several tims that day.

Thus temporarily secured from moving, and no longer pressing up against the
piling, we set about to getting our auxiliary engine started. We were not
seriously down in our capacity, but our voltage, apparently,. was just a bit
low for the high revs needed from the starter. Running the Honda generator
for just a couple of minutes, due to the power being fed to the batteries at
a much higher voltage, the engine started right up.

Thus emboldended, and with the stern line on the buoy preventing us from
sliding rearward, we continued winching until we were well away. Running
the windlass enough to turn us into the wind allowed us remove the line we'd
thrown over the piling to prevent our moving backward, so we were now free.

We continued winching with the bow line until until we were able to attach
to that (temporary) mooring with their two, much stouter, pendants. Once
secure, I took the rode off the windlass, reset the clutch, and retrieved
the anchor. Once the anchor was secured by clipping it to the strong point
on the bow, it made the windlass again suitable for duty on a bow line, so,
once again, I released the clutch, taking the chain gypsy out of the system,
but leaving the capstan engaged.

Our excursion had happened nearly exactly at the lunar high tide. As the
mooring was the closest one, we were concerned for our depth, now falling
fast, so we repeated the process, moving to a more centrally located
mooring.

First, though, I had to get our bit of a rats nest of lines, formed in the
hurry-up mode, sorted out. Our first step was to relieve the pressure on the
3/4" line, held fast in the chock by the pendant's pressure. Our inflatable
dinghy sometimes does tugboat duty, and this was one of those cases. I used
it to shove the bow to the other side, taking more pressure on the opposite
pendant and relieving that on my side.

Once the "safety line" was free from that trap, I still had to get the
knotted lines off the temporary buoy. It was a bit of wrestling match,
compounded by the now-very-tight pendants' thimbles (a stainless steel
reinforcement inside the rope loop attached to the buoy) compressed against
them, but soon enough, the stern line was on deck, and the bow line was
free.

By this time, we considered the 3/4" rode a "safety line" in the event of
the mooring pendants' potential failure. So, I took that line to the final
mooring. Smarter, this time, I put that knot on a different point, one
which wouldn't be fouled by the thimbles, and we took up the slack with the
windlass. Once the tension was off, it was a simple matter to slip off the
temporary mooring's pendants, and we were free.

However, the direction of the wind was such that we were likely to swing (on
this very long line) into another of the mooring bouys very closely spaced
here. So, while Lydia controlled the windlass, taking up the just-slack
line I maintained by controlling our speed, I steered us clear of the other
buoys. We were soon snug to the new mooring, and I once again got back in
the dinghy, making sure there were no fouls in the pendants, and handed them
up for Lydia to install.

Once those were in place, we removed the safety line from the windlass and
cleated it off in the still-howling wind. By this time, however, the rain
had stopped, albeit totally cloudy, and we set about to clean up. Lines
stowed, gashes washed out with hydrogen peroxide and bandaged, we "sat a
spell" - as they say in the south - enjoying our coffee and somewhat delayed
breakfast!

A day later, the sun came out, so I got in the dinghy and bailed the bulk of
it out. Normally, I'd just run the dinghy fast enough that it would run out
the drain hole in the transom, but the harbor has a 3mph speed limit, so the
last of it would have to wait for later. At the same time, the wind died
(to mid-high teens) sufficiently to allow returning the KISS to its free
postion, and we once again were enjoying our free 15-30A (currently 10
knots, 7A wind, and 25A solar). With the passage of that front, it's now
cooler, too, but still a lovely upper-70s, very dry air. Ahhh...

So, all is well in the Bahamas. I think it likely that the
adrenaline-enhancing excitement might be finished for a while. Those
interested will still be able to see our route into Hopetown on
tinyurl.com/flyingpigspot for another couple of days, and, as we move on in
a few days, those travels as well.

So, until next time, Stay Tuned!

L8R

Skip

Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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"Believe me, my young friend, there is *nothing*-absolutely nothing-half so
much worth doing as simply messing, messing-about-in-boats; messing about in
boats-or *with* boats.
In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that's
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Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your
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anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in
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Old 10-07-2010
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Great post, very "real". Thank you.

Regards,
Brad
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Old 10-08-2010
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sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice
Great post Skip. Ever notice how the non-skid which was slippery enough to just let you fall to your knees all of sudden grows big teeth to shred your knees...

BTW, why aren't you using a backup or secondary mooring pendant? In bad weather, this is SOP for me on my boat. If the secondary pendant is a few feet longer than the primary, it doesn't suffer much in the way of stress or chafe until it is needed.

Also, what are you using for chafe protection??? I recommend tubular webbing, preferably spectra if you can find it.
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  #4  
Old 10-09-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
Great post Skip. Ever notice how the non-skid which was slippery enough to just let you fall to your knees all of sudden grows big teeth to shred your knees...

BTW, why aren't you using a backup or secondary mooring pendant? In bad weather, this is SOP for me on my boat. If the secondary pendant is a few feet longer than the primary, it doesn't suffer much in the way of stress or chafe until it is needed.

Also, what are you using for chafe protection??? I recommend tubular webbing, preferably spectra if you can find it.
The rain was coming down hard enough that I think I hydroplaned! And, fortunately, it was just a strawberry. The gash has healed very nicely, too, courtesy of a paper towel folded for its length, with the ubiquitous blue tape securing it, after peroxiding it out and application of neosporin.

We came in during totally calm conditions. Our error entirely. There were two pendants; the owner passed one up to me, through which I passed our mooring line, securing it to both cleats, thus centering it. We later learned that there were two pendants, and would have done what we have done on the mooring to which we moved, which is to put one each on the side cleats, and take a safety line to the toggle at the top of the mooring, secured to another cleat.

Some reminders come hard, but stay stuck! We were trying to avoid an offset position with a single pendant; we'll certainly not make that mistake again!

We grow too soon old, and too late smart :**))

L8R

Skip
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