Shipyard Project #2: (Re)moving the Quadrant: Bonded Bolts and Other Obstacles

Maybe they should change that B.O.A.T. saying to “bonded or about to.”  I’m sure many of you have faced this.  One of the hardest parts of a boat project is the initial disassembly. Trying to get bolts that have been in place for thirty-plus years to budge.  Or how about a stainless steel bolt in an aluminum piece?  I know you’re cringing now.  But, at least I can say we had access to our curmudgeon bolt.  I had a follower post recently in order to get to bolts he needed to access to re-bed his strut, he had to remove two diesel tanks.  Just to GET TO said belligerent bolts.

Shout-out to follower, Rob Miller, who tacked that job!  Rob, you’re my hero.  In our case, with access, albeit uncomfortable and tight, to our bolts, I’ll consider us on the lucky side.  Here’s what we were dealing with.  These are the components of our rudder/steering system:

The quadrant (which is in two half-circle pieces) mounts on the rudder post by fitting onto that slotted “keyway” mentioned in the diagram, and it is then bolted together, four bolts at the base, inserted in opposite directions, which thread into opposite piece of the quadrant.  You can see here, the two bolt heads on port (your right) and the two holes that the shafts of the bolts on starboard are threaded into.

We knew in order to drop the rudder we were going to have to get these two quadrant pieces apart in order to remove the quadrant so the rudder post could be lowered.  For this reason, Phillip had the idea to spray (well, I should say Phillip had the idea to send his bendy grease monkey down in the lazarette to spray) PB Blaster on the four bolts under the quadrant periodically for a few weeks before we hauled out hoping that would help loosen those suckers.

But, as many of you know, when you allow two different metals, here stainless steel and aluminum, to sit together for years upon years, the metals can undergo a chemical reaction and literally bond themselves together.  When the boys at Perdio Sailor got in there, that is what they found.  The bolts holding our quadrant to the rudder post had thoroughly seized.

With Brandon in the starboard lazarette (which stinks, that one is super tight and uncomfortable) and Shane in the port lazarette (which is a bit more spacious, but not as much for a 265-pound guy), the boys made several attempts to get the bolts to budge.  First they tried manually.

Then with a cheater bar.  Then with the impact driver.

Then with heat (lots and lots of heat) followed by the impact driver.

Thankfully, three of the bolts finally gave up the ghost with heat and impact and came out, but we had one last stubborn holdout on the port side.  The boys continued to battle it with the impact driver, then heat, then impact, then cursing. Still nothing.  More heat, more impact, more cursing.  No movement.  Shane finally dropped his wrench and said “I’m cutting it out.”

Breaking a Bonded Bolt

I’ll be honest, I didn’t exactly know what “cut it out” meant, but watching the guys at the shipyard—who have to deal with obstacles like this every day—think through a problem and engineer a solution is the exact reason we like to haul-out with Brandon’s exceptional team and learn from their thought-processes.

Shane’s idea was to cut the bolt head off, so he could at least pull the two quadrant pieces apart and remove them from the boat.

Then he could try to drill into and perhaps extract the obstinate shaft or, if that would not work, he could drill the shaft out, enlarge all four holes slightly and either re-tap them for new bolts, or go with through-bolts instead. Shane chose the latter and we now have four bigger, stronger, more-secure bolts, locked down with Nylocs, holding our quadrant on the rudder post.

And, it was educational for Phillip and I to learn how the crew at Perdido Sailor work around, what might seem to us, an insurmountable obstacle.  You’ll also notice Shane really cleaned and spruced up our thirty-three year-old quadrant.

Thirty-three … pssssh.  That pretty gal would get carded in bars.  “Can I see your ID Ma’am?”  : )

Proof TefGel Works

In addition, to ensure this unwanted bonding did not happen again (because you never know, we might need to remove the quadrant again someday down the road), Phillip and I used TefGel during the reassembly to ensure, this time, the stainless steel bolts did not try to bond with the aluminum quadrant.

Our tiller arm served amazing proof of the power of TefGel to prevent different metals that are in contact from bonding over time.  Phillip and I installed our below-decks hydraulic auto-pilot (which we lovingly call “Lord Nelson,” because it came from a Lord Nelson boat) back in 2016 when we were hauled out to repair our rotten stringers under the mast and replace the rigging.  In order to remove the rudder from the boat, the tiller arm also had to be removed. This is the bronze tiller arm mounted above the quadrant.

And, although the arm had been in place for two years untouched, with TefGel in the mix, the stainless steel bolts that hold the bronze tiller arm on the rudder post easily unthreaded.  Proof: TefGel works people.  Use it!

Alright, one problem solved. What’s next?  Alignment of our steering cables!

Re-Aligning Our Steering Cable Pulleys

When Brandon first crawled down into our lazarette to inspect the quadrant and steering system, he noticed immediately that the alignment of our steering cable pulleys to the quadrant was not ideal.  (Even though the cables are off) can you see what Brandon saw in this photo?

The base of each steering cable pulley was about one-quarter to one-half inch lower than the “seat” (the center of the groove) in the quadrant for the cables.

This meant our cables had to travel uphill to fall into the seat of the quadrant.  Not something you want them to have to do.

It should be a perfectly-aligned straight shot from the pulley right into the seat of the quadrant.  All of these years, and I hadn’t noticed that.

Just another reason we love having professionals, like Brandon and his team, crawl all over our boat looking for potential issues.  “Look in every locker!  Check anything you want!  Sure, wiggle it. See if it works.”  I say that because we want the Perdido Sailor guys to find anything they can that needs to be fixed while we’re in the shipyard.  And I stress “need” because there is a time and money factor; no boat is going to always be in 100% pristine condition.  But, we want them to find problems while we’re in the yard, because that’s when we want to fix them—when he have great tools, supplies, and experts readily available to help and supervise, rather than finding the problem when we’re out there underway with less resources and knowledge to devote to it.

And, the joking and ribbing that goes on at the shipyard is just part of the fun.  Here, Phillip had missed the measurement of the additional height we would need to be jacked up in order to drop our rudder by just a couple of inches, and the guys never let him forget it.  If you don’t do it absolutely 100% perfect (because we all do that, all the time, right?), they’ll pick on you.  But, the more they pick on you, the more they secretly like you.  Shipyard Fact No. 64.

When Brandon saw the steering cable issue, he had the idea (since he knew we were dropping the rudder which would mean the quadrant would have to come off) to lower the quadrant just a bit to make it line up better with the pulleys.  I immediately laughed when he said it.  Just as a knee-jerk reaction, because I knew how very little room we have between the quadrant and the aft strut.  How do I know this?  Because I saw that tiny little space disappear one exhausting night in a beat-down underway when our rudder had tried to make a sneaky exit out of the boat.

That was a fun night.  And, a fun little video for you here of our quadrant literally grinding its way into the aft strut that supports the post, why it happened and what we learned the very simple remedy was: tighten the cockpit nut that threads the shaft up higher into the boat.

But, lack of space between the quadrant and the aft strut in order to properly align the quadrant with our steering cable pulleys did not hinder Brandon either.  I swear, they don’t see obstacles, they see solutions taking shape. And Brandon certainly had one here:

Cut it.  Re-engineer it.  Make it work better.  You gotta love that guy.

Brandon had his main guy, Shane, modify the aft strut by cutting a nice even chunk out of it that would allow us to mount the quadrant back on the rudder post at a lower spot to make it align perfectly with our steering cable pulleys.  Here is a video of Brandon checking Shane’s work after Shane and I reassembled the quadrant for inspection:

 

And, do you know what “get in there and square that up a bit” means?  Another disassembly of the quadrant by Shane and I to finalize the cut and sand it out, then reassemble the quadrant and steering cables …. again … to make sure everything worked and operated perfectly.  I’m telling you, by Day Two at the shipyard, I am quite confident I could disassemble and reassemble everything on the rudder post myself.  What an awesome confident feeling!

#diystrong

But, it will all be worth it when our quadrant now has free space and no chance of making contact with the boat if it the cockpit rudder nut gets a little loose in heavy seas (although Phillip and I now know to check and occasionally tighten that nut), and our steering cables are no longer having to step up to fall into the seat of the quadrant.  Now they are perfectly aligned.  Little things like this I’m sure will add years of awesome cruising years to our beautiful boat. And, while we continue to learn the more we work on our boat, I know she still has many lessons to teach us.  And, I know we’ll be ready to learn them, whether they occur at the yard or out in the big open blue.  It’s a great big school out there!

I know some days will look like this …

But many others will look like this …

And I wouldn’t have it any other way!  More shipyard projects to come.  Next up.  We’ll give props to the prop shaft by re-bedding the strut, replacing the cutlass bearing, and re-engineering a new coupler.  Stay tuned!

Posted in Boat Projects, Equipment Failures, Videos | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Shipyard Project #1: Reinforcing Our Rudder

Let’s talk about our rudder.  While Phillip and I are quite pleased with the majority of the systems on our boat and their original design, this was one where—if we could have been there at the factory in Ontario when the Hinterhoeller crew was putting our boat together—we would have asked them to make a slight modification to this rudder design.  Here are the components of our rudder:

It is a very sturdy, yet light-weight, high-performance rudder, with a keyway to grip the steering quadrant and a very hearty nut on the cockpit floor that turns and locks down with set screws to hold the rudder tight, the only issue we had had with it is where the rudder post penetrates the cockpit floor.  If you can imagine how much pressure is put on our rudder when we are steering down waves in a gnarly sea state, that pressure is magnified at the fulcrum point where the rudder fits through the cockpit floor.  And the only thing holding it firm there is a rudder post cap secured with three 1/4” bolts.  Here is a photo of the rudder post cap with the nut and plastic bushing, followed by one (with the plastic bushing and nut removed) and the top of the rudder post dropped down a few inches during our rudder drop.

As many of you die-hard HaveWind followers might recall, we first noticed a problem with this rudder post design during our offshore beat to windward when we sailed to Cuba in 2016.

Yep.  That’s the one.  Try to imagine how much pressure is on the rudder in that photo and how much of that was being translated to those three little bolts on the cockpit floor.  It was enough to cause our rudder post to start moving side to side, athwartship.  Which, once we saw it, immediately caused Phillip and I to go upside down in the lazarettes trying to stop it.

  

This is what we found when we got down there:

Just three bolts (the third, on port, is concealed behind the rudder post) with initially only one washer and one nut on each.  Adding the additional two is what Phillip and I were doing down in the lazarettes on our way to Cuba.  And, while the additional nuts did stop the majority of the athwartship movement of the rudder post on the cockpit floor during that passage, you can see in the photo above where we have tightened them so much they are literally starting to crush the cockpit floor.  This is what really worried us: such a small compromised area holding such a critical, heavy, and load-bearing component of our boat.

We knew when we got back from Cuba, we wanted to take some measures to reinforce this area before we sailed to the Bahamas.  Our initial reinforcement plan—without having to drop the rudder—was to add large stainless steel flat fender washers to help spread the load of those three bolts.  Our buddy Brandon with Perdido Sailor (with whom we usually haul-out) helped us grind the washers down to fit around the cap that sits in the cockpit floor.

Annie making an immaculate cardboard template of the area on the engine room ceiling around the rudder post.

We then used the template to make custom washers to fit around the bolts that go through the rudder post cap on the cockpit floor.

We knew this would be a temporary fix for the season, though, and that, when we got back from the Bahamas and hauled out the following year, we wanted to drop the rudder and really do this project right.  And, we knew we would be hauling out again with Brandon at Perdido Sailor because his work is exceptional and he and his guys are willing to allow us to tackle projects there ourselves while they teach, supervise, and rightfully pick on us … that’s shipyard culture.  In researching how we were going to accomplish our rudder reinforcement, I mentioned in my Post-Bahamas Projects blog what we discovered when we talked to some fellow Niagara 35 owners through the Niagara 35 Owners Facebook Group.  We found one Niagara owner, who was had just finished crossing the Atlantic, and was in the Azores at the time, not wanting to haul out and drop the rudder at the time, decided to add a very substantial backing plate around the top of the rudder post to help reinforce and secure it.

I guess you could call this a topping plate, since he mounted his on top of the cockpit floor.  After discussing this at length, Phillip and I decided we wanted to mount our plate underneath the cockpit floor for cosmetic reasons.  Either way, top or bottom, we knew a large plate mounted around this hole would help spread the very heavy load of the rudder and help reinforce the cockpit floor.  We got with our buddy Mike, who helped us configure the initial custom-washer-fix and who is a talented machinist (and owner of a beautiful 1981 Tartan 37 – boat tour HERE! – you’re welcome! : ), about making a plate for the underside of our cockpit floor.  Say “Hey!” to Mike!

And this is the wonderful piece Mike made for us!

Look at that smile.  I mean, who wouldn’t be grinning from ear to ear knowing they’re about to have a tough-as-nails rudder rig-up on the boat.  Heck yeah!

After measuring underneath the cockpit floor and assessing the sufficient space we had down there (the closest item to the rudder post is our rudder indicator on the port side), we decided on the following fix:

An 8 x 8” stainless steel 1/4” reinforcement plate 

After playing around with the plate down below in the engine room, we found sitting it in a “diamond” fashion with one corner toward the bow, one to the stern, one to starboard and one to port, would allow the plate to sit centered on the hole and not touch any other instruments on the engine room ceiling near the rudder post.  Like this:

You’ll notice those holes on the cockpit floor by the binnacle base.  Those are for the rudder post stops.  I was in the process of re-bedding them when the plate came.  We do a thousand things when we’re on the hard!

Here is the design, after the center hole in the plate was cut, mocked-up on the top of the cockpit floor:

While this fix (i.e., drilling the three necessary bolt holes through this plate and mounting it underneath the cockpit floor) seems like a pretty easy fix, Brandon spotted another issue when we were dropping and disassembling the rudder.

Pssst: This is why we love this guy and always trust him with any boat repair.

When we pulled the rudder cap from the cockpit floor this was the hole we found that was cut for our rudder post.

Does that look perfectly round to you?  Hardly.  That’s an amateur Annie cut right there!  Not something we expected to find on our blue-water Niagara, but, as the boys at the yard said, our rudder install must have been done on a Friday shift, before a long weekend.  Humans are just that.  Humans.  Someone at the Hinterhoeller facility didn’t really take their time making this cut.  But, even if it was round, Brandon also found it was about a half inch too wide for our rudder post cap.  Meaning, not only was the cap itself only secured with three 1/4” bolts, it also was not supported in this hole with solid 360-degree contact all the way around.

“We’re gonna fix that,” Brandon said, and he ingeniously came up with the idea to mount the rudder cap upside down (from the engine room ceiling up through the cockpit floor), so it would reveal the gap we needed to fill on the cockpit floor.  This photo really highlights, too, the poorly-cut hole and the gap that we wanted to fill.

Brandon then advised us to coat the cap with TefGel (that way the 610 would not stick to it) and fill that wayward-cut gap with 610.  That is what I am doing here:

Annie’s got her gun!

We then waited for the 610 to firm up enough to hold its shape (about four hours), then popped the rudder cap out and now found our hole in the cockpit floor for the rudder cap was a nice, snug fit, way more supportive than what was there previously.

This way, as Shane with Perdido Sailor explained, the hole for the rudder post cap, along with the cap and reinforcement plate will all “operate as a system” to hold the rudder secure in the hole, even with the tremendous amounts of pressure that are put on it when we are offshore.

After we sanded our 610 filling and smoothed everything up, we then bedded the rudder cap down with butyl.  Love that stuff!

We mounted the plate underneath the floor with our three bolts, using our custom washers from last year’s temporary fix and secured it all with locking nuts.  This is the complete rudder reinforcement fix:

Pretty schnazzy huh?  As Phillip said to me: “Aren’t you going to sleep better when we’re underway offshore knowing this bad boy is holding everything together?”

Yes, yes I am.

And, added bonus for you Phillip fans out there.  I snuck a video of him explaining to a boat neighbor of ours (ironically both in the slip and then at the shipyard as well!) how we discovered this problem and our thought-process in designing the reinforcement.  Enjoy!

 

Phillip and I are both very grateful for the help and guidance shared through the Niagara 35 Owners groups, particularly the input from Larry Dickie, as well as our buddy Mike for the machine work, and the hard-working shipyard repairmen at Perdido Sailor, who helped us engineer and accomplish this feat.  We hope sharing this fix helps some of you analyze and upgrade your own rudder systems.  As always, if you have any questions about what we did here or just want to talk about it more, feel free to comment or share!  Happy sailing folks!

And, don’t worry … we’ve got plenty more project posts to come this summer.  Here’s the (short) list!  The ones with an “A” beside them are my babies!

Posted in Boat Projects, Boat Stuff, Countdown to Cuba | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

BV20: Overnight Sail to Spanish Wells

Life is swell in Spanish Wells!  Or breathtakingly beautiful at least.  Phillip and I were happily shocked to find our favorite beach from our entire Bahamas trip tucked away on the north shore of what we thought was going to be an industrial little fishing island in Eleuthera.  We were also really excited to make the jump to this island because it would be the first we were back offshore since crossing the Gulf Stream to get to the Bahamas.  We love to travel offshore.  The sunsets underway are just indescribable.  I love when they bathe the boat, and everyone on it, in “sunset.”  Fun video for you all here, and photos below, from our sail down to Spanish Wells and the beautiful north shore we paddled there.  Lobster, cannonballs, and starfish await!  Dig in!

Spanish Wells is about 50 nm from Little Harbour.  We decided to make the sail overnight to arrive in daylight at Spanish Wells.  We left Little Harbour around 4:00 p.m. the day before and arrived in Spanish Wells around 7:00 a.m. the following day.  A nice, 15-hour run.  We didn’t have much wind and had to motor a good bit, but we didn’t mind!  We love being underway!

Love this man.

We installed AIS back when we had our mast down in the shipyard in 2016 and we have never regretted it.  It is so comforting to see large ships on the screen and know their direction, speed, and the closest point of approach.  It is also good to see their name and know you can hale them if you are unsure your vessels will pass safely.  We only receive AIS; we do not transmit.

Plaintiff’s Rest, happy on her hook!

Where you see that big yacht there is the entrance (through Devils Backbone) to Little Harbour.  We’ll take you there on the blog next!  There were so many mega, mack-daddy cruising yachts in there!

Favorite beach from our entire Bahamas trip!  The north shore of Spanish Wells!  Have any of you been here?

Little drizzle sand castles.  My brother used to make these when we went to the beach as kids.  It brought back a lot of memories for me.  Like someone left them there just for me!

It’s hard to even say when the water begins and the shore ends.  They just melt into one another.

Conchy yard art!   : )

Fresh caught lobster tails we bought from a local fisherman.  Only $5 a tail, can you believe it?!

Back to the boat to cook up the best dinner on the island!

Baked lobster with Phillip’s famous mushroom risotto.  I am one lucky girl!

Poor Phillip snagged his toe on a branch when we were walking the north shore.  Be careful when you walk folks!  Pick up your feet and dodge the ragged, jagged things!

Aren’t the colors in the Bahamas beautiful?  All roads, fences, signs, etc. are all so tropical and vibrant!

What’s up?  SUP, that’s what!  Time to paddle!

Or time to perch (while Annie paddles).

That’s Phillip way out there (the little spec on the horizon) paddling away.  We could see for miles across the neon teal water it seemed.

And, Phillip got our inflatable YOLO paddle board for me as a birthday gift years ago.  (You see?  Lucky girl!)  It has proven to be a very convenient and valuable little “toy” to have on the boat.  We like it because it packs down and serves as an extra vehicle to and from shore.  It’s also a great workout and a wonderful way to explore flat, shallow waters.

If you see a bridge over water, you must jump!  It’s an Annie rule.  CANNONBALL!

You know you’re living the good life sitting in the cockpit of your boat, drink in hand, and someone’s bikini is off!  ; )

#sunset  Never gets old.

It’s true!  You do!  Only once!  Live it up folks.

I’m star-struck!

Posted in Bahamas Bound, Fish Tales, Good Grub, Stand-Up Paddle Boarding, Videos | 6 Comments

Introducing: Speaker Annie (Listen In!)

Hello HaveWinders!  This is some very exciting news!  While I have, for five years now, written and filmed and produced and, at times, spoken to inspire others to pursue a more passionate, balanced, challenge-driven life, I have not yet done so professionally.  On a big stage.  Well, life is about challenging yourself, right?  And impacting others.  So, here I go!  My amazing friend, and inspirational speaker herself, Pam Wall, actually inspired me to this.  And, with Phillip as my forever-cheerleader, I believe I can reach a lot of people this way and be able to work more travel in while still working.  Win, win!  You can check out my new speaker website here (www.anniedike.com) and even give my first five-minute storytelling clip a listen here (www.anniedike.com/storytelling-competition).

Wow, I do wear a lot of hats!?  I hope you all are as excited as I am about this new Annie chapter, and I hope someday some of you may be able to watch and meet me at a speaking event.  I have been working very hard to fine-tune my talks, build strong tie-ins between my sailing stories and valuable life lessons and it has been a challenge, but a very rewarding one.  If you want to get a little taste of Speaker Annie, I have some more exciting news.  In an effort to push myself into this and really test my talents, I submitted a five-minute storytelling clip to a competition on SpeakerMatch, to be selected and critiqued by this Hollywood story-telling guru (he has worked with the likes of Will Smith, Julia Roberts, Reese Witherspoon … whoa).  And I WAS PICKED!  You can listen to my clip and even register to hear Michael Hague’s critique of me live on air Thursday, July 12th at 12:00 p.m. CST here.

I’ll be waiting eagerly on the line to speak with Michael Hague on air and find out what he feels fit to do with my story: tear it up, build it up, restructure the whole thing.  Bring it on Hague!  I’m eager to learn!  I’ll share with you all here as soon as I get some footage of myself speaking at a live event and testimonials from audience members.  If any of you have and upcoming conference or seminar that you think would benefit from a few salty, motivating tales, feel free to reach out.  It’s all about building your skills, adapting to changes, and finding balance while pursuing both your passions and your biggest challenges.  Through challenge comes creativity, to see new strategies, new solutions, and a new, happier, bolder you.

“I’ve been told: ‘You might be just a bit young to be telling others how to live.’  But the way I see it, you don’t have to be old to die, and you don’t have to be young to live.  It’s the living—challenging yourself to fill every moment with passion and presence—that’s the hard part.  If I can inspire just one person to that end, then I will do it until I truly am old, whenever that may be.” 

— Annie

LIFE IS SHORT.  FILL YOUR SAILS.

If you would like to hear my announcement in person, and some other HaveWind news, here is a short video clip below that I put together for my YouTubers (who were curious why Phillip and I haven’t been putting out our usual informative, speaking-into-the-camera type videos in a while) talking about why Phillip and I decided to pull away from the YouTube/Patreon platform last year, the upcoming videos we are planning to make for you all this summer (dropping and reinforcing the rudder, switching to a composting head, if I can get it to fit, and plenty of other boat projects), our cruising plans this coming season, and my Speaker Annie announcement, if you want to hear it in person.  Well, as “in-person” as a YouTube video can be.  It’s the first eight or so minutes of this video, followed by our video from Green Turtle Cay, which you may have already seen (remember the Bucketlust cRaZiEs?!).  Enjoy the Video Annie blurb!

Posted in Inspirational Speaking, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BV19: How To Rig a Whisker Pole

Or how we rig it on OUR BOAT, I should say.  Ahoy followers!  You ready for a little virtual sailing lesson?  That’s right, float away from your desk for a minute, imagine yourself on the sunny deck of a gently-swaying boat, looking out over green, glistening water. Can you smell the salt in the air? I hope so!  But, there’s only one thing that’s bugging you: that occasional luff-crumple-pop of the headsail.  The light winds over the stern combined with a kicked-up sea state is causing your easy downwind run to be much more of a strain on your headsail than you would like. Every third wave, she luffs, curls, and then snaps back out with a vicious pop when she fills again.  I know you’re cringing right now hearing it.  So, what do you do?

Rig a whisker pole!

We’re going to share with you today a detailed step-by-step process, with photos, of our whisker-rigging method as well as some tricks and very important lessons we learned when first working with and learning how to rig the whisker pole on our boat while we were cruising in the Bahamas, namely the following:

  1. Where to attach the outer end of the pole (the Pam Wall Rule).
  2. What else to attach to the pole (the Captain Frazer Rule).
  3. And, where to attach the pole first (the HaveWind Rule).

All lessons are free today. Feel free to learn some at our expense!

No one likes to hear a sail pop and flail.  I always feel like it’s a dog yapping and running around in circles because thunder scared him.  You just want to hold him close and calm him down.  Yes, I would do that with our sails if I could.  In a heartbeat.  But, unfortunately, I can’t.  Trust me, I’ve tried.  Our jib just kicked and squirmed and whacked me solid across the face.  Thanks Wendy.  Don’t try to be a human whisker pole.  Be smarter than me.

As I mentioned in the spinnaker trainer video I shared in our spinnaker video last week and in our Bahamas Boat Project Recap, for Phillip and I, getting our whisker pole functioning and learning how to safely and comfortably rig it ourselves underway, was one of our big “sail plan” goals last year while we were preparing for our trip to the Bahamas. Our sail to Cuba in 2016—bashing for days into strong head winds—taught us many things.  One was that we needed to expand our sail plan and hone our sail skills to have more options to keep our boat and the crew sailing safely and more comfortably in a variety of wind speeds and directions.  Mastering the whisker pole was a key factor in that.

If you recall, in our Bahamas Boat Project Recap, I talked about what we had to do to get our whisker pole ready for cruising.  While she came with the boat, and rode with us idly for many years in two handy little stanchion post brackets on the starboard side near the bow, we had not actually used our whisker pole for years because she had a glitch.  She had a rather significant dent that prevented us from being able to slide the extension out to make it long enough to actually reach the sheet of the sail.  This meant for years we were lazy and just didn’t use her. Bad sailors!  You can say the same thing about us with the spinnaker.  We didn’t bust ours out on the boat for years just because we thought she would be big and cumbersome and we might rip her during the launch or douse.  Again, bad sailors!  Why would you skip out on allll this awesomeness over fear of failure!

We’ve since learned you have to just get out there and try stuff.  If you’re afraid you might damage a system because you don’t know exactly how it works, then ask a more experienced sailor to come out on a sail with you (offer beer or other booze and snacks, of course) and figure it out. Yeah, you might break something, or find something was on the verge of breaking anyway, but it would be better to break it or find our it was about to in the comfort of your home waters, not while underway across the Gulf or some other blue-water body, am I right?  As a good friend of ours often says (Tom, if you’re reading this), when the sailing gets boring, he smacks his hands together and says: “Time to break some shit!”  It is a saying Phillip and I have readily adopted on our boat, hand-clap and all.

You can’t be afraid to try something out just because you might break it.  And, I can say all of that lofty inspirational stuff now because Phillip and I were pansies for years and did not fly our spinnaker or use our whisker pole simply because we didn’t quite know how and didn’t take the time to figure them out, get them working, and get ourselves used to using them.  Shame on us, I know!  But, that’s why I can boldly write this post, because we have since done just that and I’m proud to share.

Now, the dent in our whisker pole.  That was a fun story.  Phillip had the idea for me (and specifically me, specifically in spandex) to take our dented pole to an auto body shop to see if they could work the dent out (much like they do on vehicles) to get the pole’s extension capabilities functioning again. And while I had every intention of paying them for their work, the guys had such a great time ribbing each other and working on this “oddball boat thing” they called it, seeing who could work the ding out the best, while I watched in spandex, that they just did it for free.  I tried and offered repeatedly to pay, but the owner, Travis, said it was such a fun show to watch, he was happy to help a local for free.  So, many thanks again to the great guys at Coastal Body Works here in Pensacola for getting these sailors up and going again!

Once we had the whisker pole working, we then started to toodle around with it on the boat and found that while a whisker pole can be very useful in light winds where it’s not quite enough to keep the headsail full or not the right angle for you to fly the spinnaker, what we learned during many of our downwind sails during our time in the Bahamas, was that it can also be useful when there is enough wind for your headsail, but a churned-up sea state, and accompanying erratic movement of the boat, keeps causing the sail to cave, crumple, and snap back with a bang.  Not cool.  This was one of our biggest “aha!” moments with our whisker pole.  You can see in this photo the sail is luffing and will soon snap back once the boat tips and it fills with wind.

As we all know, luffing and popping is not good for the sail.  And we had some decent wind here in this photo.  I believe it was blowing around 8-9 kts, plenty to keep the sail full … in smooth seas, but not enough to keep her taut when the boat is bucking around in churned-up 2-3 footers.  What Phillip and I did not know, initially, was that the whisker pole was something we could not only use to get more wind in the sail on a light-wind downwind run, but also something that could prevent luffing and popping in kicked-up seas.  Very cool.

And once you rig it in some funky seas, you’ll find the boat rides smoother.  The crew is more comfortable not having to listen to that occasional crumple and bang.  And, the boat is infinitely grateful for the more comfortable set-up.  Having made several mistakes in the beginning (don’t we all?) Phillip and I learned a few helpful tricks that allow us to easily rig the pole in most conditions and to even furl up the headsail quickly without having to un-rig the pole.  Pretty cool, huh?  Now, I will be the first to admit most of these very cool tricks were learned at the hands of other, more experienced, sailors: friends and mentors who have many (many!) more blue-water miles under their belts than we do, and from whom we love to learn.  So, a big thanks in advance to the ever-amazing Pam Wall and our fellow Captain and friend in Marathon, Captain Russell Frazer, and his exceptionally-skilled wife, Lynn, for sharing some of these tips with us.

Our Three Biggest Whisker Pole Lessons

  1. Attach the pole to the sheet, NOT the clew of the sail (The Pam Wall Rule)
  2. Rig preventers fore and aft (The Capt. Frazer Rule)
  3. Attach the pole to the sheet first, THEN the mast (The HaveWind Rule)

The Pam Wall Rule: Attach the pole to the sheet NOT the sail

I actually recall when we were speaking with Pam about this.  It was during a work/play trip to Ft. Lauderdale.  Sometime in the spring of 2016, I believe.  And she and Phillip got to talking about this whisker thing on the boat.  I wasn’t really sure what they were talking about, but I always hate to interrupt because of my own confusion (because it’s so frequent) so I did what I often do in a situation like that.  Pretend and nod and try to say stuff that won’t expose my ignorance. I remember Pam mentioning some sail training video she had been involved with but when she saw the final product, and the “whisker pole was attached to the clew!  The clew?!” (she shouted) she told the production company she did not want her name anywhere near it, because that was not right.

Now, did Pam’s comment make sense to you?  Me, I had no clew, pun intended.  At the time, that is.  I’ll be the first to admit how much more I still have to learn about sailing, but I have come leaps and bounds since my first few years with Phillip and, thankfully, that makes sense to me … now.  Phillip, who knew immediately what Pam was talking about then and who fervently agreed, won her salty, sailing heart over right then and there.  Pam’s a sucker for a good sailor.  Sorry, Pam, the word is out.  But, it didn’t come full circle for me until Phillip and I began rigging up our own pole on our boat and I then realized why attaching the pole to the CLEW was just about the worst thing you could do.

Imagine if, for some reason, somehow, someway, that pole got unclipped from the mast.  Because that never happens on boats, right?  Something that was once fastened becomes unfastened? It could get whacked, cracked, loosened, a number of freak things that happen often underseas on a pitching, yawing boat.  Now think what would happen if that pole came unattached at the mast and it was attached not to the genny sheet, but to the clew of your sail.  Do you see it?  A huge pole being flailed and clanged and beat around on the front of your boat? It’s like the genny is a big ring master and the pole at the end of her sail is like a big metal bullwhip.  She’s slashing and snapping just for the fun of it!  And, how do you get that pole secure?  Without getting knocked unconscious first?  The answer is: you may not.  Finding your headsail with the leeway to sling and bang that thing around however she would like is not a situation you want to be in.  While there may be a bang or two if the pole comes unattached at the mast and is attached only to the sheet, eventually the pole will likely settle to a fairly-secure place on deck or get tossed overboard and remain hanging from the sheet into the water.  Which outcome would you prefer to find yourself in?  The bullwhip or the dangler?

Now that the “clue” makes sense to you, take a very good lesson from Pam and apply it on your own boat: NEVER ATTACH THE POLE TO THE SAIL, ATTACH IT TO THE SHEET.

Thank you Pam.  Moving on.

The Captain Frazer Rule: Rig preventers fore and aft

While Phillip and I had thought about rigging a preventer forward, to the bow, and did that on our own initiative the first few times we used the whisker pole, we did not rig one aft. The preventer we ran to the bow was primarily needed, in our opinion, to prevent the pole from flying back and banging the shrouds.  We put waaaaayyy too much work into those shrouds when we re-did the rigging (from rod to wire) in 2016 to have anything slam into them.  Protect those shrouds people!  But, we had not yet run one aft, until we talked to a good friend of mine, Captain Russell Frazer and his wife, Lynn, who are both very experienced fellow sailors in Marathon, about our travels when we returned from the Bahamas back in March of this year.  Russell suggested running preventers both forward and aft so that you can roll the headsail up while still leaving the pole and its rigging in place.

This is another situation where rigging the pole to the sheet not the clew of the sail proves, once again, useful.  If the pole is attached only to the sheet, the sheet will then run smoothly through the mouth of the pole, allowing you to furl the sail up while the pole—held fast with the topping lift and two preventers—remains firmly in place for you to deal with at a safer time.  Imagine something crazy happened on deck (because that’s always possible), the seas kicked up and some metal piece flew off and put a nice rip in your headsail.  You want to get it furled (if you have a furling headsail) as quickly as possible to keep the wind out of it and prevent it from ripping further, or worse, shredding entirely.  If you have to go topside and un-rig the pole before you can furl the sail, you’ll have to leave your sail exposed and vulnerable while you do that, and if the seas are kicked up and things are flying around on deck, that’s not a time you want to be going topside and trying to wrestle a whisker pole anyway.  Instead, if you can simply furl the sail while leaving the pole securely in place until it is safer to go disassemble the rig, that would be a much better alternative.

So, the Captain Russell Rule: rig a preventer fore and aft.  And, thank Russell and his wife, Lynn, for that one!

The HaveWind Rule: 

Attach the pole to the sheet first, then the mast

 Boy, did it take Phillip and I a while to get this one.  Granted, we probably could have done a little more research before we got out there (this was on our way across the Gulf headed down to the Bahamas, our last day on a five-day run, almost to Key West), and we are doing it all so totally wrong.  Tssk tssk sailors!

We had decided to just “play around” with the whisker pole then, having not read much or watched detailed videos on the best way to rig it before just getting out there and tangling ourselves up in it.  We usually choose that method, though.  Part of it is kind of fun to figure it out yourself on your own boat and we would much rather be tinkering around with it hands-on, out in the sun, on the boat, than watching a video at home.  So, if it’s safe to learn OTB (on the boat), we like to do that.

But our efforts proved in vain here, as our first time trying to use the whisker pole we found ourselves struggling to keep a hold of our preventers and make everything work by attaching the pole first to the mast, then trying to finagle the swinging end of the pole, six feet away, to make it magically snag the sheet.  Silly us.  I know.  We just hadn’t thought it all the way through yet and were still tinkering.

After some experiments, we found it was much (much!) easier to first attach the pole to the sheet.  I usually do this while Phillip is holding the rest of the weight of the pole on the other side of the boat.  We have our two preventers, fore and aft, attached to the end of the pole at this time, and I usually have to push the pole out only about 2-3 feet over the side of the boat to get to the sheet.  We then use the pull line (I’ll call it that) that runs the length of the whisker pole and allows us to open the mouth of the pole from afar.  Once the mouth of the pole is attached to the sheet (not the clew remember!), I then push the pole slowly out while keeping a hand on my preventers.  You can either have these lying on the deck in preparation for cleating once the pole is up, or (if you’re really good and have them pre-marked or you’re just a much better guess of distance than I am) you can have them pre-fed under the lifelines and down to their respective cleats before you push the pole out.  We haven’t got that cool … yet!  Phillip then pushes the pole out its entire length while I keep a hand on the preventers and attaches it at the mast.  Then voila! the pole is up and holding our headsail out in a nice open and secure position.

We have found on lumpy downwind runs, this is a great way to get a little extra oomph out of light winds and some better rest for the boat and crew as she sails much more comfortably and quietly without the sail luffing and popping during the entire passage.

So, for a quick re-cap, this is our procedure, start to finish, of how Phillip and I rig the whisker pole on our boat.  As always, we welcome feedback, and hope this helps some of you bust out your own pole and start using it too!

How We Rig the Whisker Pole On Our Boat

1.  Check the integrity and functionality of the pole and its pull line (the line that runs the length of the pole and is used to open the mouth of the pole from afar).  Look to make sure there are no major chafe points in the line, or areas where the line looks like it might break).  Make sure the mouth opens and closes easily on each end of the pole. (Fighting that thing, once the pole is out and mobile, in seas is not something you want to do).  After years of no use, sitting up under the sun on our deck, we found our pull line had deteriorated and it broke clean in two the first time I pulled it (that’s why ours is wrapped around the pole in the photo here, we haven’t yet fixed it).  But a severed pull line is not something you want to happen underway when you cannot easily or safely reach your hands out to the end of the pole to detach it or you are forced to wrestle a pole on deck that is still gripped to your headsail sheet with a bad case of clench jaw.

2.  Once you confirmed the pole and its moving parts are working great, take the pole out of its holster and lay it athwartship (or hold it in hand or in your lap, with preferably two crew) while you attach the fore and aft preventers at the opening behind the mouth at the outer end of the pole.  You can then run the preventers out and back under the lifelines to their respective cleats if you would like, or let them fall free to the deck.  As Phillip and I get better at this, I plan to have two preventers with lengths pre-marked so I know how far off to cleat them in advance.  We attach our preventers to this opening (arrows below) behind the mouth of the pole, which is on both ends, where the topping lift also connects at the other end of the pole.

 

3.  With one crew member holding the pole on deck, the other crew member will raise the end of the pole by pulling and cleating the topping lift for the pole.  This is just an eyeball method to raise the pole roughly to the height of the clew of the sail.  If you are single-handed, I imagine you could attach the pole to the mast and deck cleats to secure it temporarily for this step, then detach them after you’ve lifted the pole so you can then attach it to the sheet.

4.  Loosen the sheet of the headsail so you will have enough slack to extend the pole out from the mast. (You can imagine how Phillip and I learned this one the hard way trying to wrestle that pole out.  It was just inches from the mast and we were pushing with all of our might, a definite set-up for a slip and fall, before we realized we were fighting the sail itself.)

5.  Attach the mouth of the pole to the working sheet of the headsail. Remember the Pam Wall rule: do NOT attach it to the clew of the sail.  Attach it to the sheet.  I usually have the pole extended about 2-3 feet over the side of the boat (with Phillip holding the other side near the mast), and I attach it to the sheet by setting the teeth (we’ll call them) on the sheet, then pulling the pull line from afar and the mouth then opens and drops down to snap around the sheet. My preventers, fore and aft, are attached at the time to that opening behind the mouth, and I am usually holding both preventers in my hands around the pole while I push it out.  You can see in the photo below, the pole is locked around the working sheet of our jib, right behind the bowline knot.  Our aft preventer has been computer-graphically inserted (as I mentioned we hadn’t yet learned to run one aft).

6.  Then slowly push the pole out (running the preventers through your hand on the pole, if they are not pre-cleated, so they do not go overboard), until the other end of the pole reaches the mast.

7.  Attach the other end of the pole to the ring at the mast.

8.  Secure or trim your fore and aft preventers making sure the pole cannot hit the shrouds. I like to push my weight against the pole toward the stern making sure it cannot be pushed back and make contact with the shrouds, if so, I will tighten the forward preventer.

9.  That’s it!  You’re sailing under the whisker pole!   Sit back and enjoy the no-luff-and-bang ride!

10.  When you’re ready to disassemble, remember, if you would like, you can furl the sail under pole, leaving the pole (secure under its topping lift and two preventers), firmly in place and then disassemble the rig once the sail is secure. Or, you can disassemble the whisker pole rig with the sail remaining out by simply following the previous steps in reverse.

I was so happy when we got this thing rigged up, I did a dance.  A pole dance.

Sorry, couldn’t help it.  Yes, that is totally me.  100%.  Every single rib.  All 40 of ‘em.  Yep.

Happy sailing folks!

Posted in Bahamas Bound, Sail Skills | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

BV18: Flying the Chute South to Little Harbour

If there is one thing the steady north winds in the Bahamas are good for, it’s flying the chute, headed south to Little Harbour!  Ahoy followers!  In blog time, we are just wrapping our stay at beautiful Hope Town, Bahamas (where we got lucky enough to snag a ball inside the harbor our first night there!) and sail this badass boat south to Little Harbour.  Under spinnaker!  I mention in the video below another video we put out last year showing exactly how we rig and hoist the spinnaker on our boat for any of you just launching yours (don’t worry, it took us years before we were brave enough).  Here’s the LINK to that trainer video.  Little Harbour turned out to be a fascinating little hurricane hole at the south end of the Bahamas.  We had some friends from Pensacola who were there at the same time on their Katana catamaran, so we got to rendezvous with them at the fantastically-fun and quirky bar, Pete’s Pub, and meet the infamous Pete, himself.  Pete is the son of Randolph Johnston, an American teacher and bronze sculptor who first settled with his family in Little Harbour in the 1950’s.  Some fascinating history there.  Hope you enjoy the video and photos below!

And, we’re off!  After a beautiful few days in Hope Town, we bid that quaint little cruiser’s gem adieu and set our sights on Little Harbour.  We had some friends, Tom and Christy, who were going to be there at the same time, sailing in on their Katana-built catamaran and we were eager to go meet up with them and have a drink at the famous Pete’s Pub!  There’s the Hope Town lighthouse in the distance.  Say “Au revoir!”

Anyone recognize this unique boat?  It’s Mary and Sharon on s/v Tipsy Gypsy!!  We met up with them several times in the Abacos (and both being fellow bloggers, but both partaking in some excellent goombay smashes at the time, we all forgot to take a photo together!).  But, true to boat code, I never forget to snap a pic of a fellow cruiser’s fine-looking vessel on the water.  Look at Gypsy go!  You can follower Mary and Tharon’s adventures here!  https://www.maryandtharon.com

It’s SPINNY time!  We love flying our spinnaker.  Well, I can say that now.  Phillip and I will be the first to admit, we waited waaaayyy too long to break this bad boy out.  I can’t really say why.  We were never in a hurry.  We thought it might have been a huge headache, or we would get it all snagged up and rip it.  Who knows.  We were crazy stupid. But, last summer, when we were planning our adventure to the Bahamas and knew we wanted to enhance our sail plan and sail options, we busted the spinnaker out on Plaintiff’s Rest for the first time (and found out she’s this beautiful red, white, and blue!) and learned how to rig her up and fly her with ease.  While it did take some finagling and some mistakes, we learned, they usually don’t lead to a rip in the sail if you are methodical about it and take your time to follow all of the lines and make sure the sail isn’t twisted as it is coming out of the sock.  Little things like that.  Now that we’ve mastered it, this is probably now our favorite sail on the boat!  Video link for you HERE again on exactly how we rig and hoist our spinnaker on the boat if any of you out there are just getting into it.

Ahhhh … happy place!

As I mentioned in the video, we found the inlet to Little Harbour to be a bit narrow and one you have to “play the tides” to get in and out.  Not a big deal, but we didn’t know when we would be leaving Little Harbour and we wanted to freedom to be able to come and go without having to wait on the tides.  For this reason, we decided to anchor on the outside in the big harbor outside of Little Harbour, and it was absolutely no mistake.  Wait until you see the crystal green waters that awaited us there.  Some of the most stunning we had seen in all of the Bahamas!

Dinghying in to Little Harbour!

This is Tom and Christy’s catamaran that they sailed to Little Harbour on, s/v Odalisque!

Looking out over the harbour.  We didn’t know it at the time, but Tom and Christy told us Little Harbour is a hurricane hole.  They have had winds of up to 130 mph there with little to no damage to the boats inside the harbor.  Good to know when Phillip and I find ourselves back in those parts and need to tuck in somewhere.  We’re happy to play the tide to sneak into a hurricane hole for cover!

Love this gal!  Hi Christy!

I can’t recall if this was the triggerfish tacos or not, but every meal we had at Pete’s Pub was out of this world!

The view from Pete’s Pub at night.  Just stunning.

And, hey hey, if we didn’t meet Pete himself.  A real ladies man, that one!  Heart of gold, too, and with such a neat history and story to share.  We made a lot of fun memories at the pub!

The sunset view on the Atlantic side behind Pete’s Pub did not disappoint either.  Gorgeous colors on the horizon and awesome craggy rocks where the water would splash up and put on quite a show!

After a fun night “on the town,” which in Little Harbour means “at the Pub” (it is the only restaurant bar on the island, but easily one of our favorite in all of the Bahamas), Phillip and I woke to these breathtaking waters right around our boat the next day.  I couldn’t take enough photos.  You could see every blade of grass on the bottom, every link in our chain, every glimmer of the sun.  I could stare at those waters all day long and be in absolute bliss!

One of the very cool things about Little Harbour, that struck Phillip and me, was it’s amazing history.  Not only did Randolph Johnston bring his family here to get away from American consumerism and just the hustle and bustle and noise of life in the states in the 1950’s, they also had to live in this cave for some time before they could complete their house.  But, they worked hard and persevered and the bronze sculpting foundry that Randolph established there back in the 1950’s is still the foundry they use today.  His son, Pete, carries on his tradition and makes some fabulous sculptures that he sells there in the gallery at Little Harbour.  I love when history meets art and makes the whole trip just that much more memorable.  Pretty cool huh!

 

Pete, finishing a very cool bronze sculpted shark!

This was a piece in the gallery that Christy really had her eye on, the evolution of the life of a man from baby, to toddler, to healthy male, to feeble old man, to death.  It really was a very unique piece.  You better get on it before Christy does!  If she hasn’t already!  (And she drives a hard bargain, trust me!  : )

Perfect tagline for not only Pete’s Pub, but just about every little quirky bar in the Bahamas.  You never know who is a millionaire, billionaire, boat bum, river rat, and the best part is no one cares because it doesn’t even matter.  We just “cheers!” and carry on!

 

We hope you enjoyed our trip to Little Harbour.  Next time, we will take you back out into the Atlantic Ocean on our way down to Eleuthra to our most breathtaking beach in the Bahamas (well, consider we haven’t been to the Exumas yet) but the north shore on Spanish Wells made my heart stop.  Thankfully, Phillip was able to get her kickstarted and going again.  He always gets me fluttering.  ; )  Stay tuned!

Posted in Bahamas Bound, Good Grub, Good Juice, Landlubber Outings, Sail Skills | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

BV17: Marsh Harbour to Hopetown!

Enough with this maintenance in Marsh Harbour! It’s time to get sailing and set our hopes on Hopetown. This was one of our favorite stops in the Abacos. Many cruisers live here full-time on a ball in the harbor which gives the place a very welcoming, community feel. There are lots of quirky little shops, beautiful flower-lined roads and bike paths, great restaurants and the stunning Hopetown Lighthouse, one of the oldest manual Kerosene-lit lighthouses in the world. Phillip and I were incredibly fortunate to score a ball in the harbor our VERY FIRST night there (some people have waited years for one) and enjoyed a stunning three-day stay at Hopetown. Enjoy the snorkeling in Marsh Harbour, our sporty sail over to Hopetown, and a bike tour around picturesque Hopetown in the video and photos below.  Stay tuned next time for a trip to Little Harbor, a little-known hurricane hole at the south end of the Abacos where we were welcomed by friends who had just built an amazing little bungalow there. Plenty more to come!

On our way back to Marsh Harbour.  We were thrilled to find that a Delta flight opened up recently from Atlantic directly to Marsh Harbour, so that makes leaving the boat in the Bahamas while we fly back and forth to handle issues at home much easier!

I love the view from a plane window.  So much to see!

 

While we were thrilled to return, after leaving out boat in Marsh Harbour for six weeks while we flew back to Pensacola to handle some work things (and another huge thanks (and yet she still deserves dozens more!) to fellow Marsh Harbour live-aboard, Diane, who sent us amazing photos of our boat every couple of days while we were gone), we had plenty of work to do to open up and clean the boat and re-provision and prepare her for another two months of cruising in the Bahamas.  We spent the first day cleaning her, filling the batteries and propane, grocery shopping, turning the engine over, etc.  And, we were pleased to find our baby was just as excited as we were to have us back and she was full of juice and cranked right up on the first try!  Way to go Plaintiff’s Rest!

We were pleased to find, having left our Kanberra gel bins full while we were gone, that the boat smelled super fresh when we opened her up for the first time in six weeks and there was hardly any mold on the ceiling.  (In Pensacola, pre-Kanberra, we used to have tons of mold that we had to constantly wipe away with Clorox wipes during the summer).  This Kanberra stuff is the real deal people!

Filling the batteries.  Ours are Trojan wet cells that we have to fill with distilled water about every 30 days – 6 weeks.  I always laugh because Phillip looks like a coal miner when he does it!

We were thrilled the find our fancy wine bags were still in tact!

It had rained a good bit in Marsh Harbor while we were gone, which was actually a good thing because it kept the bilge flushed out and fresh.  We emptied her one time down to bone-dry to watch anew for any possible new leaks.

Then after all that work, it was time to go snorkeling in Marsh Harbour!  I got some great footage of the fishies and plant life in the video.  Hope you all enjoyed it!

Post-snorkel meal at the Jib Sheet.  Oh yeeaaaahhhh!

We packed away our Bahamas courtesy flag while we were gone.  She was only a little tattered from her first six weeks in the Abacos!

Back to our happy place!  Sundowners and read-time in the cockpit of Plaintiff’s Rest!

I made a new friend at the marina, too.  This amazing Labradoodle was so cute.  She would sit in this chair, looking very much like a human being, and watch as people walked by.  She was darling!

Sunrise over Harbourview Marina!

Time to de-dock (that’s a word in Annie land) and get this boat moving over to Hopetown!

It was a great day sailing, with winds of 18-20 kts.  On the nose, but we’ve got much better at reefing down our offshore 90% working jib (“Wendy”) so now anything up to 20 kts is still comfortable for us on the boat.  That did not used to be the case with our 135 genoa!

Following our waypoints on the Explorer charts to a “T.”  I love those charts!   They make cruising the Bahamas, even with a six-foot draft effortless.  Just follow their lat and lons and play the tides and you are golden!

We couldn’t reach anyone via the radio to see if there was an open ball in the Harbor at Hopetown (we were pretty sure they’re wouldn’t be as folks had told us cruisers covet those balls and hold them often for years), so we dropped the hook on the outside and dinghied into the Harbor to get a lay of the land.  It was kind of nice, too, to traverse that narrow inlet for the first time in our tiny little rubber boat, not the big beauty!

And, we totally scored!!  After talking to a few boats, asking around about a potential open ball (and having a few of them lightheartedly chuckle at us), we were finally sent to a guy named Dave on a catamaran who unofficially monitors the balls, and he got us in touch with this amazing guy, Truman, who runs the balls at the Harbor, and as luck would have it a couple was leaving that afternoon, so we were going to spend our evening ON THE BALL!  Phillip and I knew exactly how lucky we were and we were super excited!  But, the ball would not open up for a another few hours, so we headed to shore to grab a bite and explore!

And Hopetown, of course, did not disappoint.  Stunning Atlantic shores, crystal blue waters, stretches of white stunning beach.  It was everything we hoped it would be (no pun intended … okay maybe just a little one ; ).

We ate here at Brandon’s Bar on the beach, an awesome little salty lunch spot overlooking the Atlantic Ocean!

Pensacola representing!

These pictures don’t really do it justice.  But the sunsets and sunrises in the Harbor at Hopetown were breathtaking.  It was all you could do to just sit and watch and look around.  Something about all the boats floating around you and the colors on the water were just mesmerizing.

Time to go see what this lighthouse is all about!

Beautiful little flower-lined streets guided us along the way.  One of my favorite things about the Abacos are all the rich, luscious colors that greet you just walking the streets.  All of the pathways and roads are also very narrow, which means no freaking stink-pot, tank-sized SUVs.  Thank goodness!  Just little golf carts and foot traffic.  I have to say there is no part of me that misses the consumerism and traffic of the states.  None.

Helllooooo.

You cannot NOT go to the Bahamas and NOT get conch fritters (three times at least to compare at different places! ; )

There’s the lighthouse!  One of the last remaining manual, kerosene-lit lighthouses in the world.  This beauty was completed in 1864 and used to guide ships around the treacherous Elbow Reef.

We signed the book!  S/v Plaintiff’s Rest was here!  101 lighthouse steps we never fear!

Isn’t the view from the top amazing?  The striking colors of the water is always what catches my eyes and breath when we view the Bahamas from up high.

Got myself a little Hopetown Lighthouse trinket (and proceeds for buying this beauty go toward lighthouse preservation and restoration).  Cute huh?

Then it was time to explore more of that awesome little island.  We rented bikes (24 hours for $24, very reasonable) and spent the next day and a half biking around Hopetown.

It was even cooler to see the lighthouse from our ball in the Harbor after we had walked all the way to the top and saw the view from up there.

We left this little thank-you note and our “ball fees” ($20/night) on Dave’s catamaran, along with a bottle of white and one of my books as big thanks for his help in enabling us to score a ball our very first time there.  We certainly enjoyed our time and can easily say Hopetown is one of our favorite stops in the Abacos.  But, gees, it’s hard to even pick favorites.  There are so many.  Hope you all enjoyed the video and photos.  Next time, we will take you to Little Harbour at the south end of the Abacos and Pete’s Pub!  Stay tuned!

 

 

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