Sunday, November 1, 2015

Opua: better than ever; kerosene; travesty; luck

        When we sailed into Opua in a gale a year ago, GANNET was beginning to unravel.  All the tiller pilots were dead.  The port floorboard was broken and the port pipe berth had jumped out of its cradle.  These were more important than they might seem because they left no place to brace my foot in the cabin while  the little sloop was heeled far to port as she was in the last forty-eight hours of that passage from Tonga.  
        One of the lessons learned from investigations of airline crashes is that they are often the result of a cascade of small failures, none important in themselves, but collectively fatal.  I did not know what might break next on GANNET, and I did not want to find out; so I hand steered and pushed hard to get in before the wind backed, headed us, increased from 40-45 knots to 50-55, and closed the door, forcing GANNET to remain for several more days at sea.
        Not long after our arrival I unravelled some myself when I fell and all but severed something in my left shoulder.  
        I do not claim to be better than ever, but I am better than I ever expected to be earlier this year.  I know that a torn rotator cuff does not heal, but it feels as though it has.  
        GANNET definitely is better than ever.
        The boat yard here made new floorboards.
        I have new tiller pilots and great hopes for the mostly under deck Pelagic.
        In port the pipe berth was easy to pop back in place.  In a gale at sea it was not. 
        And in the past two months I’ve made a half dozen improvements.  
        The greatest of these was removing the traveler bridge and reconfiguring the cockpit.  This brings me satisfaction and pleasure every single day, and will at sea be significantly safer.
        I cleared the deck beside the cockpit by removing unused genoa tracks.
        Added a North G1 asymmetrical.
        Added a TackTick wind system.
        Improved the sound of music dramatically with the two Megaboom speakers.
        And have bought and paid for a ProFurl Spinex top down furler.  My final price for that was $1250 US.  The best price I found online in the U.S. was $1701 and that did not include shipping.
        Though some of these are far from essential—I’ve often sailed without an electronic wind instrument, but it is nice to have—all will enhance life aboard and sailing oceans in GANNET.

        The answer is kerosene.
        The question:  what will remove adhesive left behind by Velcro.
        I did not know that until yesterday when I was told by Hans at Cater’s chandlery.
        In San Diego I put wide strips of what was labelled “Industrial Strength” Velcro around the companionway to hold the interior panel I hoped would keep water from coming below.  At sea the panel instantly failed in its purpose, but the Velcro remained, used on occasion to secure an insect screen.
        Sitting at Central the other evening I saw that the Velcro was moldy and dirty and decided to remove it.   As I soon learned in this instance “Industrial Strength” was truth in advertising.  The strips took pliers and a putty knife and almost an hour to remove, leaving behind a thick layer of adhesive.
        I had turpentine on board.  It didn’t touch the adhesive.  I bought acetone.  Nothing.  Mineral spirits.  The same.  The stuff was too gummy to sand.  I wasn’t sure of my next step until I mentioned the problem to Hans while buying some other things and he saved me.  I am grateful.
        Kerosene, plus a scraper, plus a new putty knife and a couple of more hours resulted in success.
        In all something I thought I could do in a few minutes took six hours spread over three days.  And some areas around the companionway still need a second coat of paint.


        I had reason recently to look up the source of one of the greatest truths I know: 
        I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
        I knew it was Ecclesiastes, but I didn’t know it was verse 9:11, so I typed “I returned and saw under the sun” into the address bar and came up with a page with more than a dozen variations, all inferior to the King James Version.  
        I wouldn’t have the nerve to try to rewrite a masterpiece.


        Of time and chance, when I stood in the companionway this morning I saw the above catamaran tied to the Q Dock.  I don’t know details of her dismasting.  The ‘Q’ flag was tied to a radio antenna.


       The best problems are self-solving.  Also another example of why I don’t put much credence in long term forecasts.  I hope this one is right for Thursday.