Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chain Conundrum

Just a quick question for all you sailors of experience.   Much as neither of us want our blog to sink to an armchair sailor forum; we have a conundrum.

We pulled the last thing of any great weight from our cavernous, though now somewhat empty, anchor locker; 320' of 3/8" anchor chain.  Up popped Impetuous' waterline 2'' to about where it ought to be, inviting a quick scrub from the algae that so quickly had started to grow.

We are now in somewhat of a quandary; what to do with 320' of chain in one continuous length? We do have another anchor line comprising of 30 ish feet of chain and line approximately 200ft, still in the locker. As it happens, we intend to use this as our second rode. But 320' do we cut it? Some people have said not, but when pushed, their argument seems to run along the lines of 'What a lovely cake! Seems a shame to cut it!'

I am always proud of my pizza freshly made and pulled from the oven; I just don't think it would win the vote of friends and family if I denied anyone the pleasure of eating it.

Back to the point; is one length really useful? We wonder not... there are several anchoring techniques we would gravitate towards, should the situation arise; none involves a single anchor!

So, for not just the sake of our pretty boot stripe; how much chain should we have up front? We can lead it a further 3' back to a locker under the bed, but in the great scheme of things, this achieves little in weight distribution and can be difficult to stow and retrieve.

The rest of the chain once cut, if that's the way we go; can be stowed on top of the keel.   Here its weight will be little noticed, and can stand as a second anchor option, or could remain as spare chain; ultimately used for shorter lengths or indeed, to replace our chain should it be lost.

So any ideas?.... Lest you were wondering the anchors that these chains and ropes will be attached to are 55lb Bruce type, 45 lb delta, a fortress Fx 55, light but sufficient for most 50' boats (Danforth style) and a very small Danforth. We have also another nylon rode which we would probably attach to the cut chain and the mentioned chain and rode.

On a lighter note we have embarked upon a five/two diet. Inspired by a recent food program podcast. Though certainly no lighter note was evident yesterday, when I was trying to persuade Ruth that the way to a long cruising life was not only in depriving oneself of alcohol for a number of days of the week, but also of any substantial food too...

But that was yesterday...

Our Visa dilemma; we're almost at the end of six months in the USA. This has been resolved, or at least kicked in to the bureaucratic quagmire that 'the empire' managed to export throughout most of the world.   We have applied for an extension; an extension we're most likely to get.   Should we not, this will see us safely from these shores without infringement.

Our chainplates have been returned bent; this was the intention.   No doubt this will make more of an appearance in the next blog.   I'll just say now how fantastic one now looks.   Hopefully they should start going on the boat soon.

Lastly, our swageless ends have arrived, so before long we will be knee deep in the next learning curve; rigging.  The long awaited end result being our mast going up. It's a step we can't wait to embark upon; best get fitting those chainplates...

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Beryl and the Bowsprit

I remember reading through the list of extras that came with Impetuous; ‘bought but as of yet, not fitted’ and thinking that there were a couple of items that were worth the cost of the boat alone. One such item was Beryl; our Aries self-steering system.


As I’m sure you are all now aware it has been a long and arduous task getting Impetuous to a stage that we could put her in the water.  Once in, there was only one task that, to me could wait no longer; Beryl had to go on.  After the stress of the previous weeks surely we were allowed a pleasant job.

Without a hitch and without dropping anything in to the murky water the frame was attached and then Beryl came out, bit by bit from her old home in the depths of the forepeak locker.  She was oiled, greased and assembled. Joy.



Beryl is so called after Beryl Smeaton whom was at the helm of Tzu Hang when the boat was pitch poled during the first unsuccessful attempt she and her husband Miles made at rounding cape horn; note I say first!  Beryl was washed overboard, though managed to make it back to the damaged vessel. Their Rudder was washed away.  As of course was that of Impetuous during the Hurricane Ike storm surge.  When the Smeatons realised their rudder had gone it was Beryl who said that Tzu Hang had managed to take them across many oceans and that she was sure that she would get them to safety without the rudder.  Of course they did.  An account can be found in 'Once is Enough' We decided Beryl would be a good name for our third crew.


So with a few extra feet beyond our stern, our focus turned to extending our stem; we’re just like home owners really… Our twelve foot bow sprit. We had dry fitted this prior to departure to the water but for obvious reasons had not attached it. With attention given to ensure the bowsprit points straight ahead we drilled through our previously epoxy cored sprit and deck and bolted the sprit on with several half inch bolts.
The A frame used initially for raising the rudder but now for suspending the bowsprit
This was not quite as easy as one would think.  Our samson post; the terminus of the sprit, is half an inch off the centre line; who ever thought boats were symmetrical.  We have attempted to taper our bowsprit accordingly.  Positioning it was a question of climbing in to the dinghy, tapping the end of the sprit, getting back on board and eyeballing it.... repeat as necessary... eventually a consensus was reached. The consensus being Ruth thinks the bowsprit veers slightly to starboard, whereas I think it veers slightly to port. So that’s where we bolted it.


We bathed for a few days in the glow of our glorious fir bow sprit before continuing fitting the platform and pulpit.  Though I sometimes think it does nothing for the looks of the boat, it will provide very safe access to the foresail, as well as a great diving and dolphin viewing platform.


So all is well on Impetuous.  It has taken a little time for us to pick up our pace from how we had been on land, such was the revelry in getting this far, but we slowly are. We have found ourselves a pleasant yard where no one seems that bothered by our endless wood working and boat building.  So far our only drawback is that a little way further up the canal, there is a boat who run its generator all day and all night even restarting when it runs out of fuel.  The occasional hour of it being off is a real joy.  Maybe that’s canal life. We think not.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Back down to earth with a bump...

I had planned to write a grumbling post about how hard and horrible some of the jobs we've been doing have been in the last week.  That together with a couple of days of bad weather seemed to mean that we'd have a bit of down to earth reality to talk about after the unabated joy of the first few days in the water.

For the life of me I can't seem to do it.  Now the nasty jobs are beaten into some kind of submission and the weather has turned glorious I really can't summon the energy to gripe nor really remember what seemed so bad... 
So here it is; life is great here.  We love living on Impetuous every bit as much as we thought we would and almost everyone who passes; even those on the stupidly huge engined powerboats; manage to find a second to holler over the noise of their engines what a beautiful boat we have and what a great job we're doing.  They don't know the half of it but it's lovely to hear.

Several people have even called out

 'oh boy, is that an Alajuela? Jeez she sure is pretty'

We glow in pride.

So what've we been up to?  Well the first few days post splash were spent trying to organise our stuff; mostly our wood piles and getting the bowsprit etc over here.  We were borrowing Rogers truck which made this much easier.  We got our last coat of varnish on the mast; number 14 and called round on some friends and the resale shops.  By Monday we were delighted to give it back and to return by bicycle to settle properly into life on Impetuous with nowhere else to go.   
First jobs then were to put on the bowsprit and Aries.  Nice fun jobs that Duncan will write about.  Then we should have been working on the toerails and hatch but other tasks took over.  
Lets just say that after three whole days we now have a working freshwater tap and no urine in the bilge! (Thankfully unrelated) 
Our beautiful fresh water handpump is for now being ignored in favour of a rebuilt foot pump, the water tanks are scrubbed out and treated, the holding tank now has a seal(!), the pump out pump now has bolts holding it together and a seal(!), all the valves that were installed by the previous owner are now round the right way and tightened up and the bilges have all been bleached.
What our forward water tank used to look like...

Pump has been taken off but can't be removed through the gap in the cupboard without some more radical destruction... best leave it there.
One Y valve taken apart; this doesn't seem to be the problem anymore...

Trying to isolate the problem; wire up pump, try to pump from one bucket to another; the pump is no longer the problem...

All those awkward and revolting jobs now seem so far in the past that we can bearly remember them.  Perhaps it's our inability to focus on the negative side that makes us willing and able to persevere with this seemingly endless task we've set ourselves. 
Now the sun is shining, Impetuous is bobbing about gently and I'm looking forward to cutting up and sanding teak all day.
So the plan at the moment is to hold fire with the mast until we've sorted our visas out.  We're toying with the idea of driving to Mexico next weekend.  So long as the hire company will allow us to, and we don't hear from anyone that we'd be likely refused re-entry this seems like the quickest, easiest and cheapest plan that will not risk us getting caught or in trouble. 
This is fine as there are still so many things to do; I have to try to be more focused and just get the toerails and hatch done; these jobs rely on each other as the pieces need to be jigsawed from the same boards of teak with as little waste as possible.  What we'd really like to do is run a few more wires around the boat; we'd really like to have our guages up and running so we know what we're using and getting in via our solar panel, but this will have to wait as keeping the rain out and having a shut boat while we're away is the priority.  At the moment we're checking regularly with the volt meter and our nice new batteries appear to be super happy with us.  We've never read them at less than 12.5v yet.
Last night plugging up toerails done so far...

I'm going to get on now but we will be posting some more pictures of progress very soon and we're working on our 'beginners guide to scarfing' for our restoration pages so check back or press one of the subscribe buttons to get emailed when we update.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Splish splash splosh

Sorry about the suspense; since we said we were going, we've been busy... very busy!

Our Thursday started as so many days do with a bowl of porridge and a cup of tea. This day was a little different though as we'd removed all of our stuff from Christopher's house except our bedding with the hope that we would not be going back to use it that night.

We killed time in the morning making final preparations and tidied up.

As agreed, Perry with his crane arrived at noon and without a buy your leave proceeded to set up his crane. He clearly was set on getting the job done.


As Perry normally transports heavy machinery such as bulldozers, his truck is not designed or equiped for moving boats.

We had come up with a cunning plan which involved strapping the cradle to the boat as she got lifted onto the lorry.   This meant that the cradle would once again support her on her way to the sea.  As we wanted to avoid the whole lot toppling off when going round bends or on surfaces with camber.

Duncan made clamps out of plywood and steel plate which we bolted through the stanchion bolt holes.   These could then be used to tighten down the boat to both the cradle and the truck as we moved. We did this with ratcheting heavy duty straps.

Without much ado the boat was lifted by the crane's straps with a spreader bar avoiding her getting crushed and placed on the truck, tied down and ready for off.  
Claire; "This is better than TV"  high praise indeed!  We attracted lots of attention as you'd imagine, several cars stopped to watch and a few of the police came out to make banal coments.  They weren't generally a particularly friendly bunch towards us.
The crane went off back to base and we gave chase to our boat! 
All untethered detritus flew off over the first half a mile; skillfully dodged and retrieved by the Neitzel family who were a little quicker off the mark than us.   This was Ruth's fault as she'd been concentrating so hard on the boards to avoid snagging any low hanging wires she neglected to do a proper safety sweep.   In our defense we never imagined he'd go so fast nor had we noticed it was rather windy out!

After around a mile and a half we were caught up with them and stopped at traffic lights when Duncan noticed the loose end of one of the ratcheting straps trailing on the ground.   Very quickly this went under the truck wheel pulling it with a force so tremendous that it sheared the webbed strap material.   This then caught up in another strap, trailed and the same thing happened this time the ratchet pulled apart and broke.   Duncan was flashing his lights, I was yelling and banging on the window and the driver pulled over.
We were able to repair one of the straps and had to do without the other as the driver was unwilling to call Perry over to get another. At this point amongst the horrible stress Duncan made a fun discovery; he was able to shim up onto the boat by climbing the gudgeons and pintales (hinges) of the rudder.
Ivan called him an ape, I called him amazing! So once again we set off, this time even more nervous and with us driving in front of the truck keeping our speed right down to a maximum of 30mph!

We'd asked our friend Tracie to take us some photos of Impetuous passing over a big road bridge that crosses the bay, she went one better and took a video.  There are a few others on you tube labelled Impetuous posted by Tracie Boyd if you're interested though we haven't had a chance to check them all yet!
After a hairy turn into the marina across several lanes of traffic we were finally there and we breathed a collective sigh of relief.   The boatyard lifting her into the water was a breeze as they do this all the time.

Finally we were in; a quick whiz around all the seacocks and thru hull fittings confirmed no leaks and we were ready to start a new chapter.   This experience was so different from launching Duncan's wooden boat 'Star Shell' when each time he wonders how long it may be before she sinks!   Our friends Steve and Tracie came on board and we took a moment to have a well deserved beer.
Tracie took their dog ashore and waved us off for our maiden voyage which began hilariously with Duncan putting her in gear and us moving backwards; the throttle/gear cable was wired the wrong way round! So having put her into reverse, we proceeded to go forward with gentle ease and grace; the engine sounding pleasantly quiet and problem free.


We took her out a bit in a wide sweep and tried a few steering manouvers before heading back in to take our chosen mooring spot alongside a scruffy looking bit of canal (we're hoping we'll get away with being a little messy here).

So here we are and we couldn't be more delighted. It feels every bit as wonderful as we thought it might to finally be in the water.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Sink or swim

Today is the day, photos to follow just as soon as we find an internet source in our new home. The steps and cocktail bar are gone.  Wonder how all our neighbours are going to feel after the boat being there for so long; there will be a big empty space.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Bloody weather!

Just a short note to let you know we are postponed.  Turns out our crane driver is not keen to operate a large metal stick in the air when thunder storms are rattling around.  Fingers crossed for tomorrow, otherwise it's Monday...  Sigh...