Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May 13, 2010 - Jumby Bay, Antigua

Looks like a good day for eyeball navigation

Thank god for technology

The weather continues to be absolute crap. It is windy and squally. When it isn't raining, it is hot and muggy. So as soon as the rain stops we throw open the hatches to get some air moving through the boat. Then we'll hear the rain coming or feel the first few drops and quickly run around stepping down hatches and dogging them closed. These fire drills are getting old. But we are trying to make the best of it. So we've decided to continue up into Antigua's North Sound to explore the outer reefs.

After breakfast this morning we raised than anchor and headed out of Deep Bay, past St. John and into the sound. As we motored into 30 knots of wind (easily the most we've seen since leaving Simon's Town, South Africa) we had to question the wisdom of heading out of our protected anchorage and into the more exposed waters of the north side of the island. It was dark and squally at 11 am, which made trying to read the water absolutely futile. We were relying upon our chart plotter and the accuracy of our charts to navigate the reefs. It was a little hairy, but we eventually made our way into Jumby Bay.

The windlass (a very essential piece of equipment) has been giving us trouble for the past two weeks. We've been getting very low speed when we try to raise the anchor. We could pay the chain out easily enough without use of the motor, but raising a hundred feet of 3/8ths chain (not to mention the 60lb anchor at the end) by hand is a recipe for a back problem. In addition, the anchor chain has been sparking as it rolls in across the bow roller. We first had this problem in Madagascar and cobbled together a fix that was formalized by the Maxwell dealer in Cape Town. Needless to say that, was money wasted. And we can't keep using it in its current condition as we are risking burning out the motor.

Last weekend in Ile des Saintes Sten did some voltage and amperages tests and discovered all kind of crazy readings. So he took out the motor, did an inspection, adjusted the brushes and did some more tests, but it is still acting up. This morning as we raised the anchor in the rain, the chain rolling in against the stainless steel pulpit was throwing off so many sparks that it looked like an arc welder. Once we were anchored in Jumby Bay, we did some more troubleshooting on the windlass. Sten discovered that it would still work in both directions with two of the four motor brushes removed. I don't know much about mechanics or electricity, but I knew that this was bad.

So Sten crawled back into the anchor locker, which is not at all a comfortable place to work, and once again removed the windlass motor. On close inspection Sten discovered that when we took it in to be repaired in Cape Town the technician messed up and had mistakenly soldered the "down" stud to the motor housing, creating a current path where there should not have been one. So Sten took out his trusty dremel, ground out the faulty $50 solder job, reshaped the stud to eliminate any further contact with the motor housing and then reassembled the motor. When he was done, he reinstalled it (again). His fix worked like a charm. No more sparks. No more bogging down under load. And even better, no more discussion about raising and lowering the anchor and chain by hand.

Meanwhile, I spent the rainy day coming up with creative new ways to stow our stuff. We have two friends joining us in Sint. Maarten. And since they don't want to sleep together, I had to make some room in the port stateroom for one of them. We've been treating the port stateroom like a big walk-in closet for three and a half years, so it was a daunting task to try to find places to stow all the stuff we've had piled on the bunks in there. But our Tayana 48 amazes me. No matter how much stuff we cram aboard, she just continues to absorb it all.

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