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  #1  
Old 04-18-2013
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Things that happen in cruising

We don't often enough have discussion of the sorts of things that can happen while cruising. Got an email from onboard a friend's boat off the coast of Namibia. I am sure he would not mind my sharing this. A bit of background. The boat is a 52' performance cat so we are talking about a very big, powerful rig. The captain is very experienced on a second circumnavigation while the crew is competent but not nearly as experienced. Note this email was sent to several family and friends, including non-sailors.


First,
We want you to know that both of us are fine and the boat is fine.

We had a fairly major failure however today. The autopilot stopped =
working for no reason and the boat accidentally "gybed".

This cause two lines to break, the boom to swing to the wrong side and =
break it's mandril out of the cover. This will require us to go back to =
Cape Town for repairs.

I estimate a minimum of 4-6 weeks once we arrive. Arriving is another =
story by itself.

We are currently 38 miles north of Luderitz and heading back against the =
25 knots of wind plus sea. Uncomfortable, but we'll be anchored before =
dark.
Once there, I'll give a full report and look for a weather window to motor =
sail (with just the front sails) back to Cape Town. No way this would be =
fixed in
Walvis Bay, Namibia!..(or anywhere in Namibia).


Some comments. It is interesting that he starts by making sure people know they are OK. When we were knocked down we wanted people to know, but of course no one would have any knowledge that there is any problem. Perhaps the desire to tell others that things are fine is a way of reassuring ourselves.

Plans are only good until something happens. Obviously the repair here is likely to be an expensive one with parts needed to be flown in from Europe or the US, plus marina and yard charges. Fortunately they are not too far from Cape Town (800 ? Miles) which has excellent facilities. Often you are not so lucky.

There are also major implications for schedule. Sounds like they may not be able to leave Cape Town until quite late into May which is getting into winter. Scott will have to decide whether he can safely leave then. He has the advantage of a very fast boat so if he gets a decent weather window he can make a dash toward the trades. Also it messes the schedule later on. I think it is their intention to go to the Caribbean and then Panama, but it would be hurricane season by the time they get there. They could hug the northern coast of South America, but they miss the chance to enjoy the Eastern Caribbean.

Anyway, a look at the reality of extended cruising.
Faster, JimMcGee and Cruisingdad like this.
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Old 04-18-2013
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Re: Things that happen in cruising

Quote:
Originally Posted by killarney_sailor View Post
Anyway, a look at the reality of extended cruising.
I would modify that slightly, to being a look at the reality of cruising on a boat of such size, and complexity...

Since he makes mention of a "mandrel", I presume he's referring to perhaps a component of a massive Leisure-Furl type boom, or similar?

I shudder at the thought of an accidental gybe, and the forces involved, on a rig of such size... without a backstay, they're probably lucky the whole thing didn't come down...

Personally, I can't imagine cruising on a boat of such size... Hell, the power of half the boats I deliver these days scares the hell out of me... (grin) I keep getting older, and the boats I'm called upon to move keep getting bigger, not a good formula... Not a good feeling to begin a trip knowing that if such a failure occurs enroute, it may likely be completely beyond the physical ability of myself or my crew to effectively manage it... I never cease to be amazed, the number of cruisers and couples out there on boats of a size that so grossly exceeds their ability to manage the forces involved when things start to go wrong, or when the poop hits the fan...

If I were to suffer a gooseneck failure as they did on my own little boat, I certainly think I'd be able to configure a jury solution to get me to St. Helena... Or, if were forced to return to Luderitz, I could definitely manage a proper fix with the resources available there...

Size, and complexity, are two of the biggest enemies to stress-free cruising today, from what I can see... If you really want to go places, keep it to a manageable size, and keep it simple...
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Old 04-18-2013
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Re: Things that happen in cruising

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonEisberg View Post
Size, and complexity, are two of the biggest enemies to stress-free cruising today, from what I can see... If you really want to go places, keep it to a manageable size, and keep it simple...
x10.

Unfortunately, it takes experiences and wisdom to pick a proper size to begin with. There is no quick fix but keep on sailing, hopefully learning along the way.
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Old 04-18-2013
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Re: Things that happen in cruising

On the subject of reporting / telling an unfortunate story to friends and family, via email or online blog or whatever means - The most important thing is to start with the conclusion about peoples safety - It's not time to be writing a suspenseful thriller.

So this is good, I think everyone can appreciate reading "We're all ok" when they open an email or get a phone call with that sense of emergency or poor luck from their friends who are embarking on something of risk.

Side story to prove the point:
My buddies and I all went out one night, my friend broke his leg in half from falling off a car, and we took him to the ER. We had to call his parents at 4am because he needed major surgery, the phone call went like this: "

"HELLO?!?!?!" (the mom, in shock and obviously aware something bad occurred because she's getting a call at 4am the night her son went out with friends)

"Everybody is okay, Jeff broke his leg." (us, spitting out the truth)

"Sigh. Where is he?" (slightly-relieved caring parent)

The rest of "Why, where, how?" can follow but the most important thing is the health and safety of people.

<<<< that was random >>>>>
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Old 04-18-2013
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Re: Things that happen in cruising

Jon, I imagine that you could get to St Helena but there is nothing there that would help you get things fixed and if I remember correctly the island does not even have an airport so you would have to wait in a marginal anchorage for parts to come by ship. From there you would have to go with your jury-rig to northern Brazil or even Trinidad. You can get parts sent to Luderitz but we have idea of the nature of the damage. There may be more to it than jus bolting on something new.

Rock, I think you are presuming this guy does not have the experience to know what kind of boat to choose. His first circumnavigation was on a 27ish foot mono. Since then his finances allowed him to choose pretty much whatever boat he wanted and with his experience this is what he wanted. He certainly knows what he is doing, and the compromises that come with having a boat this size and complexity. I thought about it and it is a Switch 51, really nice boat.
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Old 04-18-2013
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Re: Things that happen in cruising

Quote:
Originally Posted by killarney_sailor View Post
Jon, I imagine that you could get to St Helena but there is nothing there that would help you get things fixed and if I remember correctly the island does not even have an airport so you would have to wait in a marginal anchorage for parts to come by ship. From there you would have to go with your jury-rig to northern Brazil or even Trinidad. You can get parts sent to Luderitz but we have idea of the nature of the damage. There may be more to it than jus bolting on something new.
Just to clarify, I was referring to dealing with the possibility of suffering a gooseneck/boom failure on MY boat, not your friend's... Perhaps you might be underestimating how 'basic' such a fix might be, on a boat as modest as mine... (grin)

Certainly, there would be someone capable of welding on St Helena, or some basic machine shop that could help me cobble some sort of fix together...

And, it would likely be a bit tidier, than CARLOS' WELDING in Fronteras, Guatemala, who once worked a minor miracle for me here... Seriously, I wish I could find someone as clever, skilled, and reasonably priced as Carlos, within 25 miles of my home here in NJ...



Plus, I carry a Band-It tool aboard... Every 'real' cruising boat (grin) going places beyond the reach of Sea-Tow and UPS should carry one, with one of these one can McGyver just about anything related to spars, etc...

BAND-ITģ Tool

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Old 04-18-2013
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Re: Things that happen in cruising

Quote:
Originally Posted by killarney_sailor View Post
First,
We had a fairly major failure however today. The autopilot stopped working for no reason and the boat accidentally "gybed".

This cause two lines to break, the boom to swing to the wrong side and =
break it's mandril out of the cover. This will require us to go back to =
Cape Town for repairs.
I don't know enough about a big cat like this. Is there no way to rig a preventer for extended down wind sailing on such a boat? Our mono has permanently rigged preventers and they are always set when we are going down wind even without an autopilot.
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Old 04-18-2013
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Re: Things that happen in cruising

I suspect that the lines he mentions breaking (remember he was writing to people who are not sailors mainly) were preventers of some sort. You don't mess with a main this large. BTW got another email to say they were in Luderitz harbor, tired and cold - remember it is well into the fall there. I imagine after a good sleep they will figure out what next. They are 475 miles from Cape Town which is not that far but the weather there is not nice this time of year. I was thinking about it and I wonder why they could not get the work done there. I think there are fishing boats and offshore mining support vessels so they must have machine shops and the like. The boat bits have to imported to South Africa in any case. I will email tomorrow to see what is happening.
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Old 04-22-2013
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Re: Things that happen in cruising

Well, lets see... things that happen in cruising...

Mechanically, I have lost my bilge pump float switch, my running light (which I had a spare of, put it in, and broke it too... just classic, that one), my forward dodger glass broke because in a bonehead moment I rolled it up when it was cold, dropped the tool of the month overboard, went snorkeling and had to go diving for TWO snorkels the kids dropped off the reef, had to overhaul the outboard on the water (lower end, impeller, plugs), lost yet another halogen light (can you spell LED??), knocked the gel coat off the bow with the anchor exactly ONE INCH from the spot I had just had repaired from same said anchor (classic, that one too), stepped on the wife's sun glasses (Costas... and she demanded another pair... goodbye $250), and sat down to finalize my Bahamas trip only to realize my charts and guides were out of date. That is in thirty days, btw.

Medically, I have (in order from least painful to most painful): Broke my toe and tore off the nail when it slammed into a cleat, stepped off the deck to the dock and tore my calf muscle almost in half, stepped from the cabin top to the cat walk and twisted my knee, tearing my ACL in two, had a cleat blow off a boat and hit my arm which bruised the bone in several places (got a nice little scar to remind me not to be stupid), and somehow managed to crawl up the steps and off the boat while passing a kidney stone (3.5 mm).

Most of that has happened in the last 6 months... really looking forward to the next 6 months!!! But hey, no pain, no gain!!

Brian
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Old 04-22-2013
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Re: Things that happen in cruising

I got 10 gallons of RO water from a guy because he had to run his water maker. Another time I had dinner with some people on their boat. Actually from time to time that happens. Oh- my bunk got doused with saltwater through the forward hatch I had open one day when I shouldn't have. I saw a sunset where you could actually see the rays. I also had to scrape the bottom of my boat.
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