Monday, January 16, 2017

Durban: fifty years a sailor

        A windy and rainy day.  I enjoyed having the masthead wind unit again and being able to see that the wind was blowing 20-25 and gusting 30.  This is as I thought, but it is nice to have your estimates confirmed.
        I managed to get ashore and arrange for GANNET to be hauled out early Wednesday morning.  Assuming I find nothing unexpected when she comes up, and the weather cooperates, we should be back in the water Friday.  Among the many virtues of small boats is that it does not take much time or paint to anti-foul their bottoms.
        Other than Ubering over to the chandlery to get anti-fouling paint and other supplies, I didn’t accomplish much today.
        The rain and wind were coming from the bow, so I was able to raise GANNET’s new spray hood and leave the companionway open.  The installation is not yet complete.  When it is I’ll post a photo.  I do not expect the hood to eliminate all water from coming below.  Water reduction will be enough.  I hope and even sort of think this hood might work.
        Of waterproof, as I have observed before GANNET-proof is a much higher standard that even exceptionally well-built devices such as Yellowbrick trackers sometimes fail.  
        Charging stuff is one of my first activities upon returning to GANNET, and this time for a while I thought we had come to the end of the Yellowbrick road.  
        Some of you may recall that water got into the Yellowbrick’s USB charging port while crossing the Pacific Ocean when it was mounted on the stern rail.
        The Yellowbrick people provide exceptional support and they repaired it even out of warranty.
        Last year I mounted the unit inside the cabin to one side of the companionway where it had a clear view of the sky.  When water poured over it there, I relocated it to a drier centered position.  
        When I went to charge the unit last week, it wouldn’t.  I tried different USB cables and plugs.  Finally the third cable worked.
        I know that many of you like to follow GANNET’s track.  Carol, for whom it was originally intended, does.  And I like to review the track when I reach port.  So I was prepared to order a new one and have it shipped to me here.  I’m glad I didn’t have to.  But I repeat my caution:  If the Yellowbrick stops sending positions during a passage, keep calm.  The most likely reason is that the battery has run down and I can’t recharge it.
        When the men and few women who sail the hyped round the world races get in trouble they get on the radio and a helicopter or ship comes out to save them.  Unless what happened to my right eye, happens to my left, I don’t expect anyone to come save me.  I will live or die on my own as I always have.  
        Of other equipment, I brought four new LuminAid lights with me.  The new models have a five way switch:  high, medium, low, flashing, off.  Two battery operated cabin lights were dead upon my return.  The LuminAids are now my only cabin lights other than flashlights and headlamps.  They are perfect for GANNET.  
        With one old LuminAid I have five on board.  I also have five tiller pilots.  
        GANNET left San Diego with four tiller pilots on board:  three new Raymarines and one old Autohelm that came with her.  She reached New Zealand with none working.
        Last year GANNET left New Zealand again with four tiller pilots:  three Raymarines and one Pelagic.  She arrived in Durban with one Raymarine working, but only because I sailed about 7,000 of the 9,000 miles using sheet to tiller self-steering.
        After reaching Durban I contacted the local Raymarine representative who repaired the two failed units under warranty.  
        I took the Pelagic back to the U.S. with me and sent it to Bryan, who is Pelagic.  He checked it out, said the problem was the gain setting and a software update, tested it on his own boat.  I brought it back with me, but have not yet completed the reinstallation because my wire crimping tool rusted to destruction and I haven’t yet been able to buy a replacement.
       That’s four.
        So what did I ask for for Christmas?  Of course, a tiller pilot.  Carol gave me another Raymarine which I also brought back with me.  
       Raymarine ST 1000+ only cost $360 from Hodges Marine online in the U.S.  By registering them I increase the warranty from two years to three.  My five tiller pilots cost less than one autopilot on larger boats.
        GANNET may be the most tiller piloted boat on the ocean.  I hope I can keep some of them working.

        A few days ago I realized that I bought my first boat fifty years ago this month.  Now many of you did this much better than I and were born into families that sailed.  I did not.  I can’t remember a specific epiphany, a moment when I knew I wanted to sail oceans, but I have since I was about eleven or twelve years old.  Buying that first boat, an Excalibur 26, and sailing her alone, my first time sailing alone and only my third time sailing at all, from Oakland’s Jack London Square to the Berkley Marina, was one of the greatest days of my life.
        I don’t remember the exact date, but it was about now.  That calls for a switch from boxed red wine to Laphroaig.  
        (Hell, you are thinking, he’s always looking for an excuse.  But you are wrong.  I don’t need one.)
        I was going to say “Cheers” but decided to google ‘drinking toasts’ and found this.  Most are ‘to health’ or ‘may it be good for you’.  I like the Turkish ‘to honor’.  But the Filipino, Mubuhay, and the Hebrew, L'Chayyim, are my favorites. 
        So, to fifty years a sailor and to life.