11 December 2007

Blue Water Sailing: December issue

December 11, 2007

Check out the current December issue of Blue Water Sailing. Kristen's debut in the magazine world is on newstands now! Her article: "Leaving Chicken Harbor" is about our trip from George Town, Bahamas to Luperon, Dominican Republic. More articles are on their way so we'll keep you posted.

Mast up, mast down, Tropical Storm Olga…exciting days

December 11, 2007

The anchorage at Salinas, Puerto Rico

Before leaving Luperon, Kristen went up the mast to check the rig over from top to bottom. We usually do this before any big passage, and normally Kristen gets to the deck, smiles and says “everything is fine.” Not this time. As Kristen was hanging at the spreaders, she shouted down to Hans: “hey, can you hand me a magnifying glass?” She found some small cracks around the spreader bases. We emailed the photos to a rigger in Annapolis who emailed back and said we could sail, lightly, but needed to get the mast checked out. We motorsailed to our current location, Salinas, on the south coast of Puerto Rico and, with the help of Jill on 53’ Phoenix III, we dropped the mast and called a rigger from Fajardo to pick it up.

Rafted up with Phoenix III to take the mast down.

Whisper without a mast...motoring to the marina to drop the mast and roller-furling off.

The night before the rigger was due to arrive, we met our new best friend, Fred. Fred is a mechanical engineer, Lloyd-certified marine surveyor and currently works as a non-destructive metals technician for gas and oil turbines. He took a look at the cracks and convinced us we could solve the problem ourselves. The next morning, he picked the mast up at the marina, we drove it to his house and we started work.

Transporting the mast on Fred's van.

You can see a couple of the small cracks visible in the red dye.

Our work was supervised by the puppies. Fred's wife, Mary, rescues stray dogs and currently had about 10 puppies nipping at our ankles.

We started by testing the cracks and any other suspicious areas with red dye. The cracks showed up…we sanded them and filed them, re-tested them, and they did not appear. It turns out the cracks were just superficial. Wow! We spent a couple happy days doing some regular mast maintenance, under the close supervision of Fred, and last night we rafted back up with Phoenix III and re-stepped the mast. Hurrah! This last week has been pretty stressful…we originally thought we would need to spend anywhere from $500 to $3000 on mast work, or on a new mast, but with the generous help of Fred, we got away with spending $33.

Stepping the mast

This morning we woke up after a night of rain to even more rain. Tropical Storm Olga is currently north of Puerto Rico and we are receiving a lot of rain, rain and more rain. The winds are not too strong in the harbor but we might be in Salinas for at least a few more days while the seas subside.

The southern band of showers associated with Tropical Storm Olga pass through the anchorage this morning.