Emergency Repairs

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July 29
Cape Flattery to Kauai
Day 7

Noon PST position: 34.02.62N by 137.20.34W
Miles since last noon: 171
Total miles of passage: 1131
Avg. Miles per Day: 162
Course: SW
Speed: 7 knots
Wind: NNE 10 to 20 (still, periods of 10 – 15, then periods of 15 – 20+. Pulsing)
Sky: Solid deck, low and oppressive. Think Miami in summer without the heat.
Waves: NNE 5-7
Bar: 1021
Air Temperature: 73 degrees
Sea Temperature: 66 degrees

Today has been dedicated to the steering system. Over the last couple day’s I’ve noticed a deep rumbling coming from astern when the tiller turns a certain way. The tambour is suggestive of something large and heavy, like the rudder vibrating in its shoe.

It was nothing of the sort. Instead the thunder-box culprit was one of the small turning blocks that leads the wind vane tiller line back to the vane itself.

Assuming the complainer had salt encrusted bearings, I gave it a bath of fresh water and went to examine its brother block. This one was frozen altogether! How long had the line been passing back and forth without the expected assistance? I shudder to think! And this discovery may explain what I sense has been the Monitor’s tendency to over correct…due to its taking so much pressure to correct in the first place.

My friend David R Kelton recently lent me a German phrase for such moments. That is, when, after lavishing hours upon the refurbishment of your wind vane, your improvement fails because you forgot to refurbish, nay, even examine, a related item, the appropriate phrase is Pech Haben Wir. Said casually, it’s pronounced, “Pech Hammer!” and is followed by a slamming of the fist onto a nearby counter. Translation: “what tough luck we’re having!”

Actually, in these exact circumstances, Dr. Kelton may substitute a more appropriate German phrase translating roughly to “Stupid Head!”

With some work, I got both blocks turning quietly yesterday, but when I examined them first thing this morning, the complainer was complaining (actually leaking a black gook) and the freezer was froze. Worse, the starboard line where it enters the Monitor was almost chafed through!

I regularly check for chafe on these lines. Yes, there had been some here in days past, but some fuzzing of the line cover is normal at these turning blocks (in my experience). THIS however, was frighteningly abnormal.

Unfortunately I don’t have a selection of small blocks aboard, so had to pilfer two larger blocks from the headsail outhaul lines. That was it’s own operation.

Then on went the autopilot and apart came the Monitor. The only worrisome task was leaning over the stern, the boat going 7 knots, in order to pull through the new line (from the excess of line left at the tiller end for just such a happenstance).

The Monitor was back in action by noon.

But I don’t think I’ve solved the massive chafe issue of that starboard line. It’s already fuzzing. I’ve checked the entrance block adjustment; I’ve bent out of the way the entrance flange (just in case); I’ve checked that both blocks turn freely (they do). So, at moment, I’m mystified.

This line was newly installed in Neah Bay. So the chafe is inversely aggressive to the obviousness of its source.

Two tropic birds today. Both approached close to the boat. A few blackfooted albatross. Maybe a gadfly petrel. ONE flying fish…flying. There continues to be not much going on in this quadrant of the ocean.

I checked my hoochie this afternoon, and it had been bitten off at the lead. No fish this trip.

More plastic, usually large, broken and unrecognizable pieces. One or two per minute if you look hard.


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The old, frayed line is refreshed by pulling new line down and through the Monitor. Bracing with the boat doing 7 knots.


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This is the starboard tiller line and where it enters the wind vane on the port side. The cover is entirely worn off.


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The smaller, failed blocks and one of the replacements.

2 Comments on “Emergency Repairs

  1. I think the goal of your posts is to make those who care for you worry more. So I’ve opted not to care. I feel better now. I hope you do, too. Frankly, I think Patrick Obrien’s characters were less at risk. Kudos for your courage. Smack yourself in the face for me. (Text being inefficient I want to point out that this is facetious. Loving your whacko reporting.)

    • Hey Mike, many thanks for the compassionate note. As there was a surplus of smacking about the head and face on this last voyage, I’ll hold your order until a more urgent need.

      Interesting re PO characters and risk. I wonder. They were more skilled, for sure. More hands meant more resource. But they had poor tech by modern standards. My boat is probably stronger (a guess as no way to quantify) and I have access to position and weather data they couldn’t imagine.

      Thanks for not caring. Guess that means I can up the truth quotient next trip.

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