January-February, 2003

SPAIN - CANARY ISLANDS - CAPE VERDE ISLANDS - MARTINIQUE
 

CANARIES - CAPE VERDE

We enjoyed the Canarias. Smiling, friendly, helpful and interested in other people. We loved it.
Santa Cruz is quite pleasant and "vivibile". Like Barcelona we could live
there. The weather has been terrible. Marina Atlantico was damaged by this
last South West storm. 5 pontoon fingers broke off and sank. There were
happily only a few boats lightly damaged and nobody injured. The banana and
avocado crops are wiped out. All this after the marina at Rota started
breaking up while we were there.

DELOS (Amel-48) is out there in the middle of it at 33North and
12West. Carol has been talking with them on the "big fish net" 8122 USB
0845Z.  They have had steady 30 knots on the nose with gusts of 50 knots. One crew member
injured her back in a fall across that big galley. We follow their progress
with interest. DELOS is a big strong boat but they have never experienced
weather like this before.

We will stay here until the Azores High re-establishes itself. We are
looking for something better than a two or three day weather window. We had
a fast (for us) but wet crossing, just under 5 days from Rota to Graciosa.
We don't miss being on the hard but I do miss Rota. What a nice town.
Still we are glad to be a little further south and be free of wool caps,
jerseys and long underwear.
 
Canaries to Cabo Verdes were more of the same; ie. Longies and woolen
caps. Cabo Verdes offer fresh water, rest good shelter and not much else.
 
ACROSS THE ATLANTIC

 For the Atlantic crossing we anticipated 3000 miles of running dead before
force 5-6 tradewinds with 3 meter cross swells and squalls at night. That is
exactly what we got.
    Happily we had made some special preparations.  It must have payed off
as we only broke one block and chaffed one jib sheet while the ARC
participants suffered a lot of breakages.

KICKING STRAP/BOOMVANG  I used 4 turns of 1/4" (6mm )  three strand  nylon,
around the boom and down to the midship mooring cleat.  We did not use a
preventer. The three strand nylon was stretchy enough to give but not break
when the boom dragged in the water.
I was confident that is was not too strong and would break before the boom
or gooseneck.
 

WHISKERPOLE  STOWAGE  I can stow the whisker pole vertically against the
mast or on
deck or clipped to the capshroud and cradled at the forward end by a grommet
on the pulpit. I do not keep it on the mast. I prefer to keep it at lifeling
level for an extra handhold and also if  I loose the rig it would be nice to
have the pole for a guy rig.
WHISPERPOLE DEPLOYMENT   I tie a sail stop (nylon webbing teyer) from side
to side across the
pulpit just behind the headstay.  This serves as a cradle to trap the
whisker pole. I makes life a lot easier and safer.   I do not clip the sheet
into the outboard end of the pole. That is too hard.  Instead I use an
outhaul to pull the clew to the end of the pole.  I have a swivel block at
the outboard end of the pole and another hanging under the inboard end of
the pole. To operate the system I attach one end of the pole to the mast and
rest the other end on the sailstop tied across the pulpit.
  With the Jib rolled up, I tie an outlaul into the clew.  I run the outhaul
that through the outer block and in through the second block and down the a
winch on the base of the mast. Then I winch the in on the outhaul which
lifts the pole up to the clew.  I make fast the outhaul. Then I  unroll the
sail and haul in the sheet.  There is no need or foreguy, afterguy
toppinglift.  For a for guy I just hook the lazy sheet under one horn of the
forward mooring cleat. For a downhill I just use a Barberhauler on the
sheet/guy.  The after leech of the sail is all the topping lift needed and
the jib is highcut so that the foot keeps the pole from lifting.
    An outhaul works just as well with a spinnaker but does require foreguy,
toppinglift, etc. because it allows one to lock the pole in place before
setting the chute. Further it allows you to take dow the spinnaker without
having to simultanioulsy deal with the pole.
    When a squall comes I simply slack the sheet and roll the jib up and
leave the pole in place.  When I wish to take the pole down I simply role
the jib until the pole is against the headstay. Then I slack the outhaul and
drop the pole onto the sailstop, that is  tied across the pulpit. There the
outboard end of the pole is safely trapped and I can deal with it at
leisure. The pole is always safely under control and never needs lifting or
man-handeling.
    This is a variation on a system that was used by the big boats in the
Honolulu race years ago, for a two pole spinnaker gybe.  The Rules have
changed and the practice is now Illegal. It is real a pity as it is an easy
and SAFE way to gybe in bad conditions.  This system is great for single
handers and I recommend it highly.

HELPING OTHERS ALONG THE WAY

At 0300 hrs, Three days out of Mindelo we picked up a PAN PAN PAN on the VHF.
A French single-hander had been hit by a whale. He lost 3/4 of his rudder,
bashed the propeller and bent the shaft. The boat, sy ARCAOS, was a 30
year old Jeaneau Melodi,-35, of good construction. We beat back to him and
stood by for the night. It was too rough to do anything for two days (25 + Kn.
and  3- mtr seas).

 When it calmed down a bit, 15 Kn and 2 mtr seas, I was able to dive and inspect the  damage. The hull was undamaged and the "P" bracket had not moved . The  rudder had broken off clean at the skeg- probably 80%missing.  I took measurements for eventual jury rig., Marc, the skipper was a little depressed as we had 1,200 miles to go. Pointing out that coconuts and debris from Africa drift to the Caribbean in 60-90 days, cheered him considerably. He had plenty of water and food on board.  Fortunately he is a good sailor.

Together we rigged twin headsails arrangement that gave him nearly
100 miles per day. We rigged the roller furling 135% Genoa to the whisker
pole and the storm jib to the end of the main boom. The boat could be steered to
a degree by adjusting the sheets. The boat kept spinning out of control but
still he made good progress. He had lost probably 25% of the vertical surface.
Within a couple of days he had improved the rig enough to make 120 miles per day. With progress like that, it was hardly worth the trouble and danger to build and install a jury rig rudder. We had the design and materials in hand. There  were two issues. First, replacing some vertical surface to restore directional stability. Then the separate issue of steering.
Marc was doing so well that we felt OK to set off on our way. Just as we were at the horizon we got a call that water was entering the boat. "Loosing the rudder can be an inconvenience" to quote Henri Amel.   Water entering the boat or smoke exiting the boat constitutes a problem. We beat back again to be alongside.

I was afraid that the rudder shaft tube or  stuffing box had been knocked loose. Happily It was only an acceptable leak around the propeller shaft. Marc immobilized the shaft with vise-grip
(mole-grip) pliers, tightened the gland and everything was OK. Then we realized that Marc was still a bit shaken and that it was best that we accompany him the rest of the way. We averaged 120 miles per day so it was no sacrifice.  Holding our station vis a vis the other boat with different rig and different characteristics was terribly difficult. At the end we were glad that we waited.

ARRIVAL AT MARTINIQUE

The entrance to Marin, Martinique, although well marked, is full of coral and is much more difficult than represented in pilots and guides. On arrival we had accelerated trades and Cape effect, so for the last 5 miles, the most difficult part, we had 35-40 knots with 3-4 mtr. seas and rain squalls. We were ready to tow him in but Marc did a magnificent job to follow us, unassisted, into the inner harbor .

We are arrived in Martinique from The Cabo Verdes, after a classic fast
passage. Arriving offshore in the morning we felt welcomed by the fragrance
of mangrove, coconut smoke, tropical fruit and flowers. It was in a way like
coming home to the tropics. It is lovely to awaken before dawn to the sound
of roosters. We lay in the bunk while the soft tropical air pours over us
like melted butter.

Already we miss our friends, and we miss the ancient cobblestone streets of
European cities with their cultural treasures but it is also lovely to be
back in the tropics. For the next few days we will rest and enjoy the
company of cruising friends we have not seen in months or years.

Our next stop will be Antigua where, more friends await us. We expect to lay-up for
the coming hurricane season in Trinidad or Venezuela.

Some folks carry Champagne. I carry spray cans of urethane insulating foam.
It sticks to wet surfaces and sets under water. It cures almost as hard as
wood. The foam can be reinforced with textiles. It can be glassed or epoxied
over and offers a lots of other properties useful for emergency repairs. I
would appreciate feedback on this one.

Sig and Carol
Mary T
Martinique