March 28, 2014 – Safety Gear: “It’s Like a Biscuit Can – I’m Scared!”

This is it.  The final countdown.  We are about a week out, finishing up last-minute projects, finalizing the rigging and doing a double-check of the safety gear.  If you recall, when the rigger came, he certainly added to our project list, but I’m proud to say we’ve been diligently working through it (and bleeding out in the process) but we are finally done!  It’s been a working couple of weeks, but we have accomplished a lot.  Let’s run through it, shall we?  [Deep breath in … and on the exhale:]   Weeeeee ….

1)  Dropped the Jenny and took it to a local canvas guy to restitch the UV cover on it:

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Our boat-broker turned boat-buddy, Kevin, did have us over for a Sew Party last summer to restitch some parts of the UV cover, but we knew it was only a temporary fix.  Our rigger popped some of the stitches on it and recommended we get it fully re-sewn, with a zig-zag stitch, using Gore-tex thread.  So, off it went.

photo 5 (6)

(And this time we didn’t let go of the halyard!!)

2)  Had a new inner forestay put in for the stay sail:

The inner fore-stay is used to raise the storm/stay sail in case we need to put up a smaller sail in high winds.  If you recall, ours blew out during the Gulf Crossing in April of last year so we knew we were going to have to have a new one put in for this trip.

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We took some documented measurements of the turnbuckle so we could replicate the same tension when we attached the inner forestay ourselves.

3)  Re-tied the attachment points for the lifelines:

The lifelines on the boat are kind of like guard rails that keep you on deck (hence the name):


Two wires running the length of the boat attach at four points at the bow and stern on both the port and starboard side:


A gratuitous action shot of Phillip at the helm?  Sure, why not.  It’s my blog.

Each lifeline is attached in the same manner to both the stern rail and pulpit with Amsteel, low-stretch line:

30_Days 1

Our attachments points, as you can see, had faded from the classic Amsteel grey to white due to sun damage.  So, we bought a spool of Amsteel, cut off the old attachment points, and – after a few creative mishaps with the knot-tying and wrapping – finally came up with a reasonably simple knot-and-wrap method (patent pending) to hold the lines secure:

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Good as new.

5)  Had the rigger install turnbuckles to fill the hydraulic adjuster gap on the backstay:


After some debate as to whether to have our broken hydraulic adjuster re-built or have it removed and the gap filled with a series of turnbuckles OR have a whole new back stay put in, we decided (as is often the case) to go with the most economic, yet still suitable, solution – have a series of turnbuckles put in to fill the gap where the hydraulic adjuster once was:

photo 1 (10)    photo 2 (10)   photo 3 (9)

Our rigger fitted a PVC pipe to slide over the turnbuckles for cover and chafe protection.  We’re still debating whether we like it covered or exposed, but this trip, I’m sure, will resolve that debate.

And, lastly, we 6) Changed the oil:

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The owner’s manual for the old Westerbeke recommends we change the oil approximately every 50 hours.  This was our second go-round with the self oil-change and the old pump canister.  It’s hard to estimate how much oil to put back in knowing the oil filter is filled with about 1/3 quart and the dipstick measuring extremely low readings initially, but I have to say we’re getting better at it.

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And, finally, on to the safety gear.  Yeah – the biscuit can – this is the real treat!  When we bought our boat, it had two inflatable life jackets on it, but, as you can imagine, they were a bit old and looked pretty worn.

PW Pics September 2013 1302

Last summer, we decided to break them out one day and see if they still worked.  I mean, you shouldn’t wait till you’re about to jump off the boat into the raging sea to check and make sure your life jacket inflates.  Soooo … we slipped them on and pulled the chord.  And, I give you — “It’s like a biscuit can — I’m scared!”


Video here.

Yes, I was (still am?) afraid to open biscuit cans.  But, it’s a documented phobia … (Amathophobia) … I think

Well, turns out we were wise to check the old life jackets because they both leaked air at the manual blow-up valve.  They wouldn’t hold our heads above water for more than two minutes.  So, we splurged (I guess it doesn’t really count as a splurge if your life depends on it … ) and got some new ones.


We also got some new jack lines (long nylon straps that run the length of the boat for clip-in when we have to go up on the deck during foul weather):

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1604824_505495669561560_1556929260_n    Jack lines1

Those puppies are important.  Think Robert Redford All is Lost if the boat goes one way and you go another.  Remember when he fell overboard?  And, why is it he remained securely fashioned to the boat (albeit dragging along underwater, but trust me you would prefer that as opposed to the boat leaving you behind in it’s wake!).

Redford   Redford

Richard Foreman/Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate

Because he was clipped on – see?!?

So, with all of our last minute projects completed, our safety gear (and biscuit phobias) in check, all we had to do now was inventory the boat, pack it up and watch the weather.  Not long now!