Preparing for Heavy Weather

November 19, 2018

Day 46

Noon Position: 46 31S 106 33W

Course(t)/Speed(kts): SExE 7

Wind(t/tws): WSW 17 – 25

Sea(t/ft): SW 12+

Sky: Light cumulus and wisps of cirrus

10ths Cloud Cover: 2

Bar(mb): 999, rising

Cabin Temp(f): 59

Water Temp(f): 46

Relative Humidity(%): 60

Sail: #2 genoa, 2 reefs, broad reach

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 152

Miles since departure: 5919

Avg. Miles/Day: 129

Tomorrow afternoon, we will be overtaken by our first sit-up-and-take-notice southern low.

Actually, the whole package is two lows that will be merging into one during our experience of the system. Our entry point into the low is in the northern semicircle, which is forecasting for 30 knot winds in the initial phase (first low) and 35 knots in the secondary (the whammy we get as the two join forces). These don’t seem very intense winds at all. However, seas have been running quite heavy for days–making shooting the sun a special challenge–the low is very large and well organized, and the forecasts typically under predict steady-state wind by around 10 knots. Mine don’t cover gusts all. So, I’m preparing for two days of 40 – 45 gusting 55.

The immanent low has created a convenient completion deadline for the “Ready for The South” punch-list I’ve been working for a while. Here are the main items…

1. Close all dorade vents. All the dorades are sealed with a stainless steel cap at their entry point and stuffed with a rag from inside.

2. Seal hatches. Three of the smaller deck hatches have rubber seals that are worn, and they leak in heavy weather. An easy work around to replacing the rubber seal entirely is to line the rubber with coax tape.

3. Repack drogues. I’ve not been happy with how the drogues were packed (by me before departure). I have taken both out, run them out, and flaked the line in a figure 8 that’s tightly bound together, then folded over and then put back into its storage bag. This should ensure that the drogues can be unpacked and deployed without incident.

4. Finish “waterproofing” the electronics. Those who’ve followed for a while know that Mo lost most of her electronics in the Indian Ocean knockdown. Once home, I worked with Dustin at Fox Marine to either acquire waterproof boxes for gear or build protective boxes. Now the Iridium Go (used for the tracker) and the N2K network (which connects everything) are in off-the-shelf boxes and the Fleet Broadband (used for comms, photos, video) is in a home-built box whose edges needed sealing. In the event of water invading the pilot house, we should be in much better shape this time around.

5. Plug engine diesel tank vents. Again, lesson learned in the Indian Ocean. The port diesel tank vents into the cockpit (the starboard, into the aft storage locker). If the cockpit is under water, water is going into the port diesel tank. In the Indian, enough water got in to fill both engine filters and flow into the injectors. Some tape over the vent opening should stop that. But DON’T forget to remove the tape before running the engine! (I didn’t cover the starboard vent because I can’t reach it. Water does get into that locker but is frequently pumped out.)

6. Lock down floorboards. Mo has locking clips on the engine covers that hold those heavy pieces in place. I never bother with them above 40S. Other floorboards are bolted to the frame (except the two small ones in the galley).

9. Drain all bilges. Mo is blessed with four bilges that catch various kinds of water (the mast bilge catches fresh) This is a regular chore in wet or dirty weather but is especially important just prior to a blow.

10. Lock all food bins. Under the main cabin bunks are lockers stuffed with canned goods. Each lid has two bullet latches that I typically don’t bother with unless in difficult weather.

11. De-tut the cabin, with specific emphasis on stowing or lashing down anything that can fly when Mo starts pulling Gs.

12. Refresh Monte. One problem from the Figure 8 Voyage 1.0 was with Monte’s break-away tube, the tube that fits between the water paddle (that steers the boat) and the main arm of the windvane (that steers the paddle). The issue was that every few thousand miles I’d break a tube. It took months to figure out that in certain sea states, the paddle was getting wound around an emergency boarding ladder trip line dangling in the water. I have since shortened the line and have broken but one tube thereafter. THAT SAID, a fresh tube in Monte before we get to the rough stuff could do only good.

The only job from above not yet done is the last. It’s been rough, and water temps are not exactly inviting.

13. Extra credit. Zip tie all shackles. Tightened enough, shackle pins usually don’t budge. But usually rarely makes it this far south. Twice now I’ve had a shackle pin let go unexpectedly. The second time was yesterday, when a vang block fell from the sky as Mo came to attention at the bottom of a wave. Now all pins are locked.

7 Comments on “Preparing for Heavy Weather

  1. You are a boy scout’s boy scout! I can’t inagine anyone being better prepared! You will fare well!

  2. I’m thinking of you several times a day when I am doing my mundane things- daysailing, bike riding, lap swimming. Your writing is wonderful. It makes me feel like you are a good sailing friend filling me in daily. My good hopes and wishes are with you.

  3. Randall! Wow, you are ready to take anything!! I was wondering if you secured the burner grates on the stove, or latched a top loading ice box lid, had latches on anything that could come free in a knockdown. We even had netting over the chain in the chain locker, and would imagine the boat up side down and what would happen to everything aboard and secure it so it would not fall out no matter what position we were in. But I bet you have everything on the Gallant MO secured for any conditions. Andy’s drogues on CARRONADE, as they were approaching Cape Horn, were two motor scooter tires with chains and long warps attached to the cockpit. They were useless in a real blow as the huge grey beards behind would pick them up like feathers and toss them in front of CARRONADE. I think I saw you had a Fiorintino Shark which would be my choice today. Carry on, Randall and MO, we are all there right with you! Thank you for giving us all this facinating experience. I look forward to every single post!

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