Sailing to the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean 1500
|Water sloshing in the cubbies that were next to and above the forward berth. It was all saltwater from deck/hull leaks of various kinds. Greta said that at one point, water sloshed out of a cubby and splashed on her face while she was sleeping. MP3 Audio of Sloshing Water - I used my Sony voice recorder to record the sound of water sloshing in the cubbies; click on the link to listen. If it doesn't start playing automatically, right-click on the link, select "Save Target As..." and download the MP3 file to your hard disk (329 kb, about 42 seconds of audio), then play it using Windows Media Player (or similar program).
Problems Due To Incomplete Preparation
Big problems with significant consequences:
Moderate problems with some consequences:
- Preventer tackle - The boat had no preventer tackle for the boom to avoid accidental jibes; some of the sail damage may have occurred because of accidental jibes. Although a temporary preventer was jury-rigged from spare parts, it was quite difficult to use and had only so-so performance. In general, although we had some spares for some systems, it will take a while to accumulate a robust set of spares for all the systems.
- Water leaks - As obnoxious and demoralizing as all the leaks were, more work should have been done to find and fix them before leaving. In Portsmouth, Jeff did spend several days rebedding all the lifeline stanchions and recaulking the toerail. It took a huge amount of work and I'm sure it helped, but there were so many other leak sources that leakage still was a serious problem during the voyage. Also, the deck lockers should have been outfitted with gaskets and better latches, and the locker drains should have been improved.
- Staysail rigging - The boat was supposed to have a self-tending staysail, however a previous owner had altered some of the rigging. The staysail wasn't rigged when Jeff bought the boat and we had trouble figuring out how to run the lines. Before we left, a rigger did some work and made some changes so we could use the staysail. Unfortunately, it was no longer self-tending, but at the same time it wasn't a conventional rig either (it has only one sheet attached to the clew). This was probably the worst of all results, since it not only wasn't self-tending, it actually required excessive tending. To tack the sail you had to go to the foredeck and mess with two tackles on the car to which the clew was attached. Part of the reason the staysail rigging was troublesome was that a big life raft canister had been installed on the foredeck where the proper staysail rigging would have gone. Since the staysail wasn't rigged when the life raft was installed, no one realized it would be a problem.
- SSB radio problems - When we participated in the first Caribbean 1500 radio check-in, we were told that our SSB radio had a weak signal. As boats got farther apart, eventually nobody could hear us, which was an inconvenience though not necessarily an urgent problem (we had a satphone as a backup, which worked fine). The ICOM SSB had been newly installed after Jeff bought the boat, and I don't think it was checked out very thoroughly since this problem should have been discovered and fixed by the installer. It's much more difficult to find and fix these types of technical problems once the boat is in a faraway cruising ground.
- Compass light - The light didn't work so you couldn't see the compass heading at night. That is, until CiCi used her tiny clip-on reading light to illuminate the dial, which worked well until the batteries ran out.
Relatively small problems with minor consequences:
- Spinnaker pole - We didn't have enough lines to rig the spinnaker pole in case we wanted to pole out the jib to run downwind. This of course turned out to be a non-problem since we shredded the jib.
- Galley sink foot pumps - They didn't work for either salt water or fresh water (two separate pumps). We wound up using fresh water from the faucet, which was not very frugal and had problems with the pumps losing prime. Afterwards we wound up using the saltwater washdown hose, running it down through an overhead hatch. This worked but was inconvenient.
- Propane locker - There were many loose items stored in the commodious propane locker, including cans of solvents, jugs of oil and other fluids, etc. All this stuff could rattle and bang around due to boat motions, which seemed like an invitation to more serious problems from leaking containers of flammable or noxious liquids.
- Outboard motor crane - It didn't work to Jeff's satisfaction and he didn't have a sling for the motor, so he wound up lugging the heavy 15-hp motor around by hand. This was very difficult and could have caused additional problems (like dropping the motor or rupturing himself).
- Davit hoist hand crank - The friction lock on one davit hoist didn't work so if you let go of the handle under load, it would rapidly spin backwards and whack you in the arm. This happened to Jeff but it didn't cause a serious injury.
- Boarding ladder - The tangs on the metal boarding ladder didn't fit properly into the fittings on the side of the hull, so the ladder wound up being insecurely attached. Also, there was no safety rope to keep it from falling into the drink.
- Autopilot hand controller - There wasn't a good place to store/secure the autopilot hand controller, so it tended to be in the way and at risk of damage from dropping.
- GRIB files - We didn't have a way of getting GRIB files via PACTOR, which would have been efficient and free. Although I got the PACTOR email system to work in Portsmouth, we never used it during the voyage and I never got it set up for GRIB files.
- Binoculars - The binoculars were so out of alignment they were unusable. Even if we had good binos, we usually kept the plastic windows deployed all around the cockpit, which caused optical distortion.
- Weatherfax - I'm not sure, but it seemed to me that the Furuno weatherfax reception was not very good (compared to the Airmail/ICOM weatherfax). The received faxes were very noisy and many were missed altogether.
- Autopilot navigation - We never figured out how to make the autopilot follow a route from the Navnet, so we had to make periodic manual adjustments. This wasn't really a problem, but it's a pretty slick feature and it should have worked.
- Boat pole - We had two boat poles but the twist-lock mechanism for one was broken so it couldn't be extended.
- Hand bearing compass - We didn't have one and it could have been useful.
- Saloon window - One of the big saloon windows was cracked, plus we didn't have prefabricated storm shutters (there were fittings on the exterior to allow shutters to be mounted). We did have pieces of plywood and self-tapping screws that could have been used in an emergency.
- Boat trim - For some reason the boat was down at the bow (as observed at the marina before leaving).
- Manual bilge pump - The pump was rebuilt and could produce suction, but the whole installation was never tested.
- Lifeline gate - The boat has a teak rail as the upper "lifeline", but the gate at one side of the boat wouldn't close without forcing it with pry bar.
- Shore charger - Caused RF and audio noise in the SSB radio system.
- Wiring/plumbing - The boat has lots of really junky wire and plumbing that isn't hooked up to anything but hasn't been removed from the boat. This makes it confusing to figure out what all the wiring/plumbing does.
- Autopilot wire feed-through - There's no caulking or clamshell where the autopilot wire goes through the side of the cockpit well, although the required items are at hand.
- USCG documentation - There was a snafu in the paperwork and Jeff didn't have a USCG documentation form in his name.
- Q flag - We didn't have a Q flag.
- Washer/drier door latch - Broken.
- Stereo speakers - The fade control doesn't work between the cockpit and saloon speakers, one speaker is broken, plus one speaker box keeps sliding out of its mounting hole.
(Problems continue on the next page.)