Water on the wrong side of the boat...


d'Albora's Action Project: AUS 360 Blog Update

Presented by Pivotel

Afternoon all,

Well its been a wet, cold and bouncy 24 hours with the swells still up in the 4-5 metre range and the winds are sitting mostly between 25 knots and 30 knots.  It does make for an interesting ride.  Most of the night Climate Action Now was handling the conditions well however at around 2am I was hit by a rather large squall that blew in with 37 knots of wind and stayed for well over 30 minutes.  I am still sailing with only 1 reef in the main sail and the J3 head sail up.  In 37 knots of wind this is way too much sail area.  I was woken because we kept getting rounded up and the sails would start flogging before the rudder would get back control and we would dive away from the wind in a wild turn only to be suck back up again the next second and everything would start to flap again.  

I knew the the mainsail wasn’t out all the way as I had been sailing a wind angle of 110-120 degrees so it was another scramble to get on deck and ease the mainsail.  Also the winds had shifted more to the South causing me to build apparent winds so I also ended up altering away from my preferred course by 20 degrees to give me a better down wind wind angle to take the stronger winds in.  I knew that the 37 knots wasn’t going to stay so I was loathe to put a reef in only to take it out 30 min later.  In the end I was able to balance between controlled round ups and holding course just enough to get through the system.  After it passed I decided to leave the sails where they were ready for the next one and just alter my heading back to course.

It was a fast and wild night and even in bed I could feel us turning port and starboard hard as we get shoved by the waves.  This morning I checked the instruments and I could see that I surfed a wave a 16 knots while I was sleeping and we didn’t wipe out.  I think that this speaks for its self as far as reliability of my B and G T3 Auto pilot.  When I poked my head up on deck this morning I also noticed that at some point on one of those shoves by a wave I had also again broken the preventer line.  Only this time there wasn’t even anything attached to the back end of the boom.

I decided as the conditions had moderated back to 25 knots that I could wait and have some breakfast before braving the wet and cold and sorting out the preventer line.  After a nice hot fortifying bowl of porridge I went into the sail locker to find an old length of rope that I could attach to the back of the boom as a new preventer line.  How I have it set up is that I have a 4 metre length of line permanently attached to the back of the boom and then I have a second line with a snatch shackle that runs the length of the deck and back.  I have one of these on port and another on starboard. This way when I gybe I simply disconnect at the shackle and reconnect on the other side.  It prevents me from having to run the line every time manually.

So I was in the sail locker which is the compartment just in front of my mast looking for a suitable length of line when I started to hear the sound of lots of water sloshing around.  I opened up the inspection hatch for the collision compartment forward and found what looked to be over 200 litres of water in the bottom of the boat sloshing around.  Well that is never a good find.

I wasn’t sinking and expected that the water was coming in from the deck fittings at the front of the boat and as the bow was getting submerged by the waves so often I had managed to build up quite a bit of water.  I wasn’t overly concerned but I also wasn’t going to leave it as that additional weight in the bow of the boat would make it more dangerous to surf the waves and more likely that I would dig into a wave.  I set about using the installed bilge system that allows me to pick up from every compartment but I couldn’t get it to prime no matter what I tried so after messing around with it for an hour I finally dug out my portable bilge pump and set that up.  Success. It was slow going but finally another hour later and I have most of the water out and was able to pack the pump away.

I wasn’t done yet though as I still needed to replace the preventer line.  I found an old traveler line that was going to be perfect for the preventer and got kitted up to go on deck.  Firstly I needed retrieve the permanent end of the line from the bow of the boat so timing it between the bigger waves that would likely get me wet I darted forward and retrieved that line.  Now back in the cockpit I have to get the new preventer line around the back of the boom.  There was the small problem that the back end of the boom is out over the water.  I set about winching in the main sheet to bring in the boom and when I got it all the way in and as tight as I could I tried to reach the top of the boom.  No luck.  I am 5"2 and the boom was still another half a metre above my head even when climbing up on top of the winches.  

Normally this isn’t an issue but when I set the first reef in the Main sail I purposefully set the back end of the boom really high so that there is less chance of it digging in the water when I am rolled by a wave.  I now have 1 option.  Figure out a way to climb higher or drop the back end out of the 1st reef and attach the preventer line and then re-set.  I decided climbing higher sounded like the fastest options so I lowered the traveler until the boom was over the safety lines that run around the boat.  I re-attached my tether a little closer so that I could reach up but not too close that I would likely fall over-board and then waiting for a lull in the waves I stood with one foot on a winch and the other precariously balanced on the safely line, holding on to the mainsheet I reached up and I was about 3 cm to short.  I then decided that if I could stiffen the end of the preventer line I might be able to get it up and over.  It wasn’t a case of just throwing the line over because I needed to get the new line between the main sail and the boom and that gap is very small.  In the end I was able to stiffen the end of the line with some electrical tap and balancing on my winch and life lines managed to push it though and around the boom. Success.

After the new line was attached I re-trimmed the sails and went back below to get warm again from all the misty rain on deck.  So all in all it has been a pretty busy morning.  I also have received some great news about Dad.  He has woken up and although still has a long recovery is doing great and we as a family are so relieved.

Thanks to the following Sponsors for all their continued support: d’Albora Marinas, Pivotel  B&G, Australian Geographic, Zhik , Park Fuels, Karver, 3M, White Bay 6 Marine Park, and Great Circle Life Raft