Well, I am not writing from Mexico
. I left about 24 hours later than I originally intended due to all the last minute stuff that kept cropping up. Things started going wrong AS we left the slip. Nothing I couldn't handle but I think "foreshadowing" is apt... I am due to do a good write up but so far I just don't have the oomph. What I did do was tell a friend about it over instant messenger and I get most of the details in- it reads similar to a log so don't be worried it will be all full of LOL-speak.
Bottom line- crew is safe, boat is safe, will probably go next season with better timing- we will see. I spliced in some comments in ALL CAPS when I re-read it.
(11:04:03 AM) Jack:
Dude. I did not accomplish Mexico
. You have a minute to hear updates?
(11:05:28 AM) Jack:
I will just leave them here.
(11:06:01 AM) Jack:
So, our lunch was in the middle of my big crunch to get ready. We did pretty good and left about 28 hours or so after I had intended. I think, given the scope
of the project
, that was pretty impressive.
NOTE: “OUR LUNCH” MEANT WHEN I HAD LUNCH WITH THE GUY I AM MESSENGING WITH- THE “WE DID PRETTY GOOD” IS MY CREW AND ME.
(11:07:05 AM) Jack:
The **** started hitting the fan before we even cleared the marina. It was the sort of situation that should have made me go, "What the ****, lets park this bitch and take a few more days figuring **** out" but at that point I was hell-bound-and-determined to get the show on the road.
NOTE: I DON’T SPEAK LIKE THAT NORMALLY BUT I FIND WITH CERTAIN FRIENDS I ADOPT CERTAIN HABITS- AND WITH THIS FRIEND I USE SOME OF THE FOULEST LANGUAGE I CAN DRUM UP.
(11:07:34 AM) Jack:
So, we ran the motor
in 20 second bursts then shut it down until we were clear of the marina- and then anchored out in the channel so I could fix things.
NOTE: SOMEHOW I LEFT OUT THE PART WHERE I EXPLAINED THE SYMPTOMS. AS WE PULLED FROM THE SLIP THE ALTERNATOR
STARTED TO SQUEEL LIKE CRAZY AND A LARGE AMOUNT OF SMOKE STARTED COMING FROM THE ENGINE
COMPARTMENT. I SHUT DOWN THE MOTOR
AND HAD MY FIRST MATE STEER WHILE I CHECKED IT OUT. NOTHING WAS ON FIRE AND I DECIDED IT WAS BETTER TO CLEAR THE MARINA AND ANCHOR
THAN TRY TO GET BACK INTO THE SLIP.
(11:07:57 AM) Jack:
To give you a sense of what we dealt with here is a brief list of issues.
(11:08:17 AM) Jack:
Not a list. Bad format for this.
(11:08:33 AM) Jack:
The first problems- the ones we saw in the marina- were a lot of smoke and a loud squealing noise
(11:09:21 AM) Jack:
I knew the squealing was the alternator
belt- the new alternator is HUGE and required more tension than I was able to put on the belt when I installed it. Or rather- I did not put enough. I figured the smoke was the belt coming apart.
(11:09:21 AM) John: update time
(11:09:44 AM) Jack:
When I tested it I only tested it at idle and a little above. So when it got to 2k RPMs it started to slip and squeal.
(11:09:50 AM) Jack:
(11:09:51 AM) Jack:
(11:09:56 AM) Jack:
I can't ever tell this right.
(11:10:01 AM) Jack:
Also the engine
was sort of surging.
(11:10:11 AM) Jack:
it would go slightly over idle fine.
(11:10:14 AM) Jack:
But at idle would die.
(11:10:26 AM) Jack:
And if you tried to go, say, 30% over idle- it would rev up to 80%.
(11:10:36 AM) John: very strange
(11:10:36 AM) Jack:
Like the throttle was arbitrarily sensitive.
(11:10:58 AM) Jack:
Anyway, so, belt too loose- tightened it to the point it felt like we were going to break things and then it worked. Shrug.
(11:11:10 AM) John: damn torque
(11:11:12 AM) Jack:
The smoke turned out to be oil
residue burning off the engine from the oil change
(11:11:23 AM) Jack:
So, nothing too scary.
(11:11:37 AM) Jack:
But when testing the belt to make sure it didn't squeal the engine ****ing overheated.
(11:11:41 AM) Jack:
(11:11:41 AM) John: ok nice
(11:12:16 AM) Jack:
So while pondering the surging I troubleshoot overheating
(11:13:12 AM) Jack:
I discover that when I cleaned the fresh water
strainer (just a device with a screen
that keeps chunks from the ocean from being sent through the motor in the cooling
process ((motor uses the ocean water
to cool and for some reason it is called "fresh water cooling")) ) I did not refill it with water.
(11:13:28 AM) Jack:
The system sucks water in and it is under the waterline so I figured it was pressured and did not require priming.
(11:13:31 AM) Jack:
So, I filled that.
(11:13:48 AM) Jack:
Then I ran the motor to test it and during the test a hose burst.
(11:14:03 AM) John: jesus
(11:14:19 AM) Jack:
It is a hose that would be really hard to replace as it is a formed hose. I had spare hose of that size- but it would be a pain to get it threaded right.
(11:14:45 AM) Jack:
The break in the hose was just over the clamp though and I was able to cut the hose- and just stuff it down on the post and reclamp- basically making the original a little tighter.
(11:14:54 AM) Jack:
While I was doing this I figured out the surging.
(11:15:28 AM) Jack:
The air filter in the boat is weird- something I had not encountered before. Instead of a paper filter or some kind of strainer it is a sponge that is soaked in oil
(11:15:36 AM) Jack:
Instead of replacing it you wash it out and resoak it.
(11:15:54 AM) John: bizarro
(11:15:55 AM) Jack:
Well, if you put too much oil little droplets get sucked into the intake and get burned with the fuel
(11:16:14 AM) Jack:
Which means when you throttle it up- it sucks harder- gets more oil- and you get more vroom than you asked for.
(11:16:25 AM) John: what a ****ed design
(11:16:26 AM) Jack:
Meanwhile, at low RPMs there isn't enough suction to get the air through all the oil
(11:16:36 AM) Jack:
So, fine, FOUR ****ING HOURS later- we are on the road again.
(11:16:45 AM) John: guh
(11:16:48 AM) Jack:
And I am feeling pretty pleased with myself for being able to know all that ****.
(11:17:12 AM) John: yeah, that's impressive knowledge sucking power you accomplished in the past several months
(11:18:28 AM) Jack:
However, I am also having some doubts about the whole operation. Mostly because this past few months is the happiest I've been in a decade and I feel so healthy and whole. While I know the trip has totally AWESOME CORE
potential- unlike a year ago I am leaving a situation I love. A year ago there wasn't a sacrifice component. I was asking myself questions like, "Am I only still going because I said I would? Or is it still the right thing to do?"
NOTE: AMONG THE ODD SPEAKING HABITS WITH THIS FRIEND IS THE USE OF THE WORD “CORE” TO MAKE ANYTHING SOUND MORE EXTREME. SO, “AWESOME CORE” would mean “SUPER DUPER AWESOME” OR SOME SUCH.
(11:18:33 AM) Jack:
Okay, so we are off.
(11:18:39 AM) Jack:
but now 4 hours behind the ideal tide and wind
(11:18:55 AM) Jack:
The south bay has some really shitty conditions around the San Mateo Bridge.
(11:19:23 AM) Jack:
We were about an hour or so out of the the creek and I estimated we were on track to hit the absolute worst of those conditions. And that would make it slow.
(11:19:45 AM) Jack:
We were already fighting the tide so instead of going 7knots we were going 4. Then, with each wave, we were knocked down to a 1 knot
(11:20:15 AM) Jack:
So we turned around, went back into the creek, and anchored. The plan was to take a nap, bbq a steak, then leave after dark when it had calmed down.
(11:20:25 AM) Jack:
So we did. Steak was awesome- nap was awesome- all was good.
(11:20:49 AM) Jack:
But when we left the only thing improved was the tide- we had the same wave situation. But at least we had the extra 3 knots.
(11:21:16 AM) Jack:
So, we bash through these waves all the way to... dunno... the airport
? Then it calms down.
(11:21:25 AM) Jack:
We calibrated the autopilot
(freshly installed) and that was fun.
(11:22:05 AM) Jack:
It is a little actuator thing with a compass
that reads youre relative bearing and pushes or pulls in its rod wich is attached to the tiller and steers the boat. Its pretty cool.
(11:22:13 AM) Jack:
Crap- you are on hold for a few sorry.
(11:46:02 AM) Jack:
(11:46:26 AM) Jack:
Okay, so we are at about SF and now have the autopilot
to help steer- this makes being on watch way way way way nicer.
(11:46:35 AM) Jack:
So I put Ken in charge and I go to get some sleep.
(11:46:45 AM) Jack:
I wake up to the boat being rocked back and forth like crazy.
(11:47:05 AM) Jack:
I come up and we are going under the gate and there are huge waves and tanker trucks and its just crazy.
(11:47:10 AM) Jack:
But we push through.
(11:47:48 AM) Jack:
As we get further out the conditions, of course, get worse.
(11:48:32 AM) Jack:
We are into 9 foot waves which means we are traveling 18 feet vertically with each wave. They are coming from an angle that is about least comfortable (a quartering sea) which also sucks.
(11:48:39 AM) Jack:
It is about 4AM...
(11:48:46 AM) Jack:
And the motor overheats again.
(11:49:38 AM) Jack:
We are both pretty seasick but I am the only guy who knows much about the engine so I climb down in the hold and the fumes and cannot see anything I can address in the conditions.
(11:49:48 AM) Jack:
Like, even holding on you are getting knocked around.
(11:50:08 AM) Jack:
So none of the obvious stuff is wrong- I can't dig deeper under the circumstances...
(11:50:13 AM) Jack:
And then the vomiting starts.
(11:52:34 AM) Jack:
Now, I had not thrown up in TWENTY YEARS so this was not something I was happy about.
(11:53:08 AM) Jack:
I was standing in the cabin
leaning into the cockpit
barfing into a plastic cup that was basically on Ken's feet while Ken stared at the sky and tried not to let my barfing push him into barfing.
(11:53:28 AM) Jack:
True to the cliche's though I did feel better after.
(11:53:34 AM) Jack:
Still had nothing to do on the motor.
(11:54:03 AM) Jack:
And in the conditions being adrift sucks balls because the boat wants to go directly sideways to the waves which are very close to- but not quite- crashing over us.
(11:54:11 AM) Jack:
We need to get sails
(11:54:28 AM) Jack:
The plan had been to motor until morning then start sailing.
(11:54:44 AM) Jack:
So I leave Ken in the cockpit
and start to climb forward.
(11:55:22 AM) Jack:
You should note that it was pretty cold at this point but I was wearing a pair of sweats under my cargo pants, a thermal, a hoodie, a jacket, and a beanie.
(11:55:31 AM) Jack:
So I was okay- as long as I was reasonably dry.
(11:55:41 AM) Jack:
Well, remember we are in 18 foot motion here.
(11:56:23 AM) Jack:
I have to crawl, scurry, and pray to get halfway to the front of the boat. I don't have any kind of lifeline. We have no motor. If I go over- there will likely be no recover.
(11:56:25 AM) Jack:
(11:56:33 AM) Jack:
Thank god I spent my youth as a ninja.
(11:57:02 AM) Jack:
Oh, and I am dragging a duffle bag the size of two sleeping bags with me (with the storm sail).
(11:57:39 AM) Jack:
Lashed to the foredeck is a box with about 500bucks in stuff for the dinghy
and I have to go over/around it to get to the front.
(11:57:53 AM) Jack:
I notice that two of the three straps holding it in place are off.
(11:58:12 AM) Jack:
So it is held down onto the boat- but not in position and has slide to the far side up against the railing.
(11:58:17 AM) Jack:
Everything is soaked and slippery.
(11:58:47 AM) Jack:
The good handholds stop at the end of the cabin
then there is 8 feet or so of nothing before you get to the fore pulpit.
(11:58:57 AM) Jack:
I had hoped to cling to that box.
(11:59:21 AM) Jack:
I decide the best way to proceed will be to secure the box- then move forward- this gives me another anchor
(11:59:45 AM) Jack:
Now the waves come in sets and each set follows a pattern.
(12:00:11 PM) Jack:
So you get like... little wave, little wave, little wave, BIG MOTHER****ING WAVE, break, repeat.
(12:00:22 PM) Jack:
Small waves being 7 feet or so, big being maybe 11.
(12:00:33 PM) Jack:
So you can sort of time what you are going to do.
(12:00:38 PM) Jack:
But you need to work in bursts.
(12:00:59 PM) Jack:
After the big wave it takes a second to get yourself recovered- and then you are at the second little wave.
(12:01:31 PM) Jack:
Sometimes a set has a different format.
(12:01:54 PM) Jack:
So I am trying to get the other strap back over the box and the box positioned so I can torque it down when WHAM
(12:02:00 PM) Jack:
A wave that I am not expecting hits.
(12:02:08 PM) Jack:
It hits the boat from the side my ass is pointed towards.
(12:02:35 PM) Jack:
My center of gravity is higher than it should be because I am trying to get the box wrestled down- and I go up and onto it from the wave.
(12:02:52 PM) Jack:
My weight lands on the box which breaks loose from the remaining strap.
(12:03:14 PM) Jack:
And riding the box like a Cliffhanger move I go sliding across the ****ing deck
towards the ocean!
(12:03:51 PM) Jack:
There is about a 2 inch thing called a "toe rail" all the way around my boat. Its like a curb to keep stuff from sliding off the deck
. Badass boats have ones that are 2 feet high.
(12:03:58 PM) Jack:
Badass sailboats in my class I mean.
(12:04:04 PM) Jack:
So 2 inches is pretty small.
(12:04:23 PM) Jack:
And to make things nice- it is slightly curved inside- which means with enough speed/force you can ramp
right up and off.
(12:04:25 PM) Jack:
(12:04:29 PM) Jack:
the bottom of the box is rounded up.
(12:04:40 PM) Jack:
But somehow it doesn't go up when it hits.
(12:04:43 PM) Jack:
The box stops dead.
(12:04:48 PM) Jack:
My weight continues forward.
(12:05:06 PM) Jack:
but I am able to grab the pulpit (the angle was slighltly towards the front of the boat) and stop myself.
(12:05:18 PM) Jack:
But it was a very lucky thing I didn't go over.
(12:05:34 PM) Jack:
I yell back to Ken that I will no longer be securing the dinghy
(12:05:50 PM) Jack:
Also, the sail was dangling off the side of the boat and I could not reach it.
(12:05:57 PM) Jack:
And I was NOT ABOUT to go after it at this point.
(12:06:08 PM) Jack:
In the cockpit is an extendable boat hook.
(12:06:21 PM) Jack:
It is normally 3 or 4 feet and it extends to 10 or so feet.
(12:06:35 PM) Jack:
Ken was able to extend it all the way and stretch forward so I could reach it.
(12:06:41 PM) Jack:
I then used it to recover the sail.
(12:06:47 PM) Jack:
Then I passed back the hook.
(12:07:16 PM) Jack:
Deciding that the box could **** itself I lunged my way to the fore pulpit and got myself good and secured into the railings.
(12:07:36 PM) Jack:
The process of "hanking on" the storm sail takes me about 4 or 5 minutes in normal conditions.
(12:08:03 PM) Jack:
Not only were these bad conditions but I had to STOP and hang on for dear life about once every 30 seconds.
(12:08:12 PM) Jack:
But, steadily, step by little step, I got it on.
(12:08:37 PM) Jack:
I even managed to put a few ratchets into the box's strap. Although I did not ad the second strap.
(12:08:54 PM) Jack:
Once the sail is on lines need to be run down both sides of the boat to the cockpit.
(12:09:22 PM) Jack:
We used the boat hooks again.
(12:09:59 PM) Jack:
Ken held it forward and I threw ropes over them.
NOTE: TO MAKE THIS MORE CLEAR, KEN WOULD HOLD THE BOAT HOOK FORWARD FROM THE CABIN, OUTSIDE THE STAYS, WITH THE HOOK POINTED UP. I WOULD THROW THE ROPE
OVER THE HOOK AND HE WOULD REAL IT IN. SOMETIMES IT TOOK A COUPLE OF TRIES BUT IT WAS GOOD BECAUSE WE WERE BOTH “SAFE” DURING THE PROCESS.
(12:10:10 PM) Jack:
That worked really well thank god.
(12:10:32 PM) Jack:
Then I scuttled back army man style to raise the sail from the mast
(12:10:43 PM) Jack:
I discovered I made the rope
that holds it down too long.
NOTE: AT THE TOP OF THE STORMSAIL (WHICH IS REALLY JUST A HEAVY DUTY 70% OR SO) IS A LENGTH OF LINE THAT ATTACHES TO THE HALYARD
. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IT IS ACCOMPLISHING OTHER THAN MAYBE SOMEBODY DID’T LIKE WHERE THE WIRE-TO-LINE TRANSITION SAT SO THEY WANTED TO MOVE THE LINE PART BACK FOUR FEET… ANYWAY, ON THE BOTTOM I USE A LENGTH OF LINE TO LIFT
THE SAIL ABOVE THE HANKED ON GENOA
THAT I KEEP IN A SACK AT THE BASE OF THE FORESTAY. NORMALLY I KEEP THE LENGTH OF LINE PRETIED BUT FOR SOME REASON I CANNOT RECALL
NOW I HAD TO RETIE IT ON THE FLY AND I MADE IT ABOUT 4 FEET TOO LONG. BECAUSE OF THE LENGTH OF WIRE ABOVE THE SAIL I COULD NOT REAL THE HALYARD
UP FAR ENOUGH TO TIGHTEN THE SAIL.
(12:10:47 PM) Jack:
And I had to go back again.
(12:10:58 PM) Jack:
Untying and retying it would have been near impossible.
(12:11:03 PM) Jack:
Now it was fluttering and full of wind
(12:11:22 PM) Jack:
So I took the strap that had come off the box and hooked it to the rope and ratcheted the slack out of it.
(12:11:25 PM) Jack:
I felt pretty clever.
(12:11:34 PM) Jack:
It was a hack- but it worked and kept me safe(er).
(12:11:48 PM) Jack:
Now we had enough control to point the boat away from the waves.
(12:11:58 PM) Jack:
Waves from behind are okay as long as they don't come over the stern.
(12:12:06 PM) Jack:
Waves from the side, or the quarter, are bad.
(12:12:22 PM) Jack:
Waves from dead in front are smoothest under these circumstances.
(12:12:29 PM) Jack:
but heading into the wind would have been harder.
(12:12:36 PM) Jack:
So yay, we are now under control.
(12:12:40 PM) Jack:
I am sopping wet.
(12:12:57 PM) Jack:
I change out what clothes I can but I am now set to be incredibly cold.
(12:13:06 PM) Jack:
And then the refrigerator
(12:13:17 PM) Jack:
It was not adequately strapped to the walls.
(12:13:41 PM) Jack:
So, exhausted, cold, and seasick I have to go below again, get out tools, drill a ****ing hold in a bulkhead, and run a new strap.
(12:13:53 PM) Jack:
I get this done just in time to...
(12:13:55 PM) Jack:
hurl some more.
(12:14:36 PM) Jack:
Big huge heaves and barf that was somehow solid. It was like chewed up peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
(12:15:24 PM) Jack:
Anyway, I go back into the cockpit and prepare to wait out the waves and fog
(12:15:29 PM) Jack:
But its getting colder and colder.
(12:15:58 PM) Jack:
Ken is cold too- we did not bring adequate cold weather
gear- it is the wetness that is making it so bad.
(12:16:16 PM) Jack:
Don't get all gay
on me here- but we had to huddle together for warmth.
(12:16:21 PM) Jack:
And I started shivering.
(12:16:38 PM) Jack:
Ken goes below into the cockpit to get a blanket for us.
(12:16:57 PM) Jack:
He just sits down next to me when suddenly he jumps up and throws himself to the side of the boat.
(12:17:02 PM) Jack:
Its time for him to puke.
(12:18:21 PM) Jack:
So, puking done, blanket in place, sail up, and the course set we think we will be okay.
(12:18:35 PM) Jack:
Except that is when the autopilot ripped out of its mounts.
(12:19:20 PM) Jack:
So now it is back to steering
by hand. While freezing. And trying not to pass out from exhaustion or puke more.
NOTE: THE AUTOPILOT WAS INSTALLED EXACTLY CORRECT TO THE INSTRUCTIONS GIVEN. BUT THE NON TILLER END JUST GOES THROUGH SOME FIBERGLASS
THAT DID NOT PROVIDE ENOUGH HOLD TO KEEP THE TORQUE FROM PULLING IT LOOSE.
(12:19:49 PM) Jack:
We existed in that frozen hell until there was enough dawn to see- although it was still cold.
(12:20:04 PM) Jack:
We raised the main sail and started to head
for Halfmoon Bay.
(12:20:38 PM) Jack:
Eager to get into calmer conditions and needing something to do other than steer and wait I made my way to the front of the boat again.
(12:20:47 PM) Jack:
Inside the box was the fuel
line for the dinghy motor.
(12:21:10 PM) Jack:
The dinghy motor is on a mount on the back of the boat and can be used as an auxilery motor if need be.
(12:21:38 PM) Jack:
Last night there is no way I could have got it setup- but in the morning and the light and with the sails
up it was within my slightly super human powers.
(12:21:48 PM) Jack:
I also had to empty the rear lazerette to get to the fuel tank
(12:21:57 PM) Jack:
But, after 40 minutes of shuffling I had all the parts
(12:22:02 PM) Jack:
Of course, it would not start.
(12:22:18 PM) Jack:
So, dangling off the back of the boat I took off the cover, ****ed with the air intake, and got it running.
(12:22:33 PM) Jack:
With just the storm sail we had been doing 2.5 knots- just a hair over drifting.
(12:22:39 PM) Jack:
With the main we got up to 4.
(12:22:47 PM) Jack:
With the motor we got into the 5-6 range.
(12:22:58 PM) Jack:
And we made it into Halfmoon Bay.
(12:23:18 PM) Jack:
I had Becky come get us and we had some shore food
(12:23:31 PM) Jack:
I am going to go back this afternoon and see about fixing the overheating
NOTE: I FOUND AIR IN THE STRAINER AGAIN- I THINK I JUST DIDN’T PUT THE HOSE CLAMPS ON IT TIGHT ENOUGH OR SOMETHING. I ALSO ADDED SOME DISH SOAP TO IT WHEN I REPRIMED IT- I HEARD THIS HELPS CLEAR AIR OUT OF THE SYSTEM.
(12:23:42 PM) Jack:
But I am not sure what I want to do now.
(12:23:52 PM) Jack:
The conditions I just described...
(12:24:12 PM) Jack:
I could have described what they were like in "conditions speech" before we left.
(12:24:17 PM) Jack:
They were exactly as advertised.
(12:24:31 PM) Jack:
But I didn't know what that really meant in terms of boat handling.
(12:24:34 PM) Jack:
If that makes sense?
(12:24:47 PM) Jack:
I knew waves were about 9 feet and at X interval and blah blah.
(12:24:58 PM) Jack:
I did not realize that translated into a miserable ****ing vomit hell.
(12:25:09 PM) Jack:
Those are the conditions all the way to San Diego
(12:25:22 PM) Jack:
And not uncommong elsewhere of course.
(12:26:19 PM) Jack:
I believe that my GUMPSHUN and MOXI are able to overcome my lack of experience or my lack of resources (minimum level boat) but I am nervous that it isn't enough to compensate for lacking both.
(12:28:14 PM) Jack:
I would say that we were within 10% of our capacity relevant to avoiding calling the Coast Guard for help. If we had crossed that line I would have NOTHING left. Everything is wrapped up in the boat. It is not much- but it is something. I am not terribly afraid of the danger
part. But I am now worried that trying to make due with this set of equipment
and this level of skill is foolhardy.
(12:28:43 PM) Jack:
If I wait much more than another week I will have missed my window and conditions will get worse until February or so.
(12:29:29 PM) Jack:
Anyway, that is the deal. It was ****ing crazy (and a little awesome) and I am just unsure of how to proceed.
(12:29:53 PM) Jack:
However, I will say this- and I think you will be glad to hear it- I am very content and happy.
(12:30:06 PM) Jack:
Whichever way I go will be right. I feel very good.