Saturday, 27 April 2013

Lee cloths really work!

We were experiencing some awful weather during our 33-day trip from Wellington N.Z. to Valdivia, Chile. We had "battened down" all the hatches. Larry was off-watch so he was the one cacooned in the lee-cloths (occupied by me in the photo shown).

You can make these out of any durable fabric (I used canvas).  Of course you need sea berths (we have two) which are more than 6' long and are not curved along their length. The straps you see are made out of really strong webbing with velcro sewn onto them so the hook and loop (soft) part of the velcro overlap for at least a foot along the length of the straps. We attach the straps to the steel tension posts that connect the steel hull frames to the boat's rigging.  We screwed heavy snap fasteners into the hatch covers and you snap the lee cloth onto these - they're  arranged on both the port and starboard side so you can (try) to sleep comfortably on either tack in rough weather.

Our "battening down" procedures have really worked for most of our trips. Unfortunately, a freak wave hit us on that trip. Traversay must have been knocked right over as one solar panel was completely wrecked, and we later found that the wind gauge at the very top of the mast had been damaged.
The discovery I'd also been injured came a few weeks later when I suffered such back pain that I couldn't straighten up from the piano. A trip to the orthopaedic surgeon in Valdivia and accompanying X-ray found me deciphering a whole lot of Spanish words containing the prefixes 'arthro' and 'osteo'. I was told that both offshore sailing and scuba diving should be given up for health reasons (I haven't).
Martin, M.A. and Anke
Kirsten with Nicholas and son Vincent
"Just Do It" in Valdivia

Rehabilitation at Centro Praxis

3 great discoveries came out of this unwelcome news. #1 (by way of sailors Martin and Anke on "Just Do It") I discovered Centro Praxis Rehabilitation clinic and physiotherapist Kirsten in Valdivia. #2 When you age, if you have back problems, you should try to get properly-fitted orthotics.
#3 A MUST for back pain sufferers ... the book
called "Spinal Stabilization ... the New Science of Back Pain" by Rick Jemmett - a Canadian physiotherapist (Novont Health Publishing 2005). The information is derived from Australian researchers and must be available elsewhere. At any rate, the TINY exercises he advises have made a world of difference.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Falmouth to Milford Haven

After a couple of relatively benign encounters with fishing gear on the way from Dover [corrected by reversing out of the tangle under power], we got into more serious altercations with crab pots and abandoned floating line on this last sail. It started a couple of hours out of Falmouth while still sheltered from the Atlantic swell by the Lizard headland. While motoring into a light headwind in thick fog, a flag came looming out of the mist. I immediately pressed the heading change buttons on the autopilot which then responded at its usual glacial pace so I shifted the engine into neutral.
Dive tanks are at the bottom of the locker
In the next few minutes, I looked all around and could not see flag, pole or float. Finally, I decided to get underway again thinking I had lost the marker in the fog. Going into gear was greeted with odd noises, splintered wood fragments floating away in our lee and the engine stalling. Whoops! Sailors in the parts of the world where this problem is common have line-cutters fixed to their propeller shafts - an idea now seeming to have considerable merit.
Anyway, we could now see a line and float bobbing about near the stern but pulling on it had no effect. AND we were now anchored securely in position by a tight submerged line. So next the dive gear and tank came out of it's stowage places scattered all around the boat and a good 10 minutes of sawing away in the 9C water set us free. All the gear was then stowed away for travel. During all this fooling about on and under the rolling boat, Mary Anne happily snapped away with the camera. This annoyed me greatly but, looking back, It seems to have been such a good idea that I no longer remember why it angered me.
We hover under mains'l alone while Amundsen Spirit passes
Later on, after motoring part of the night in light winds, the breeze strengthened suitable for sailing so we started doing that. When dawn arrived, yet another very long line could be seen trailing off in our wake. We were able to cut away much of it by snagging it with a boat hook but the part remaining attached to the boat was firmly jammed. "Maybe" (I thought hopefully) "it's snagged on the rudder and not on the propeller". Unfortunately, a brief experiment with the motor revealed (sadly) that it was the prop. By now, though, the wind was stronger and we were in the full Atlantic swell so diving seemed a poorer idea than before.
The wind, of course, moved ahead of us at this point. So, to shorten an endless story, we tacked up to and into the Milford Haven [Wales] entrance, negotiated with Harbour Control to allow our course to one side of the wind and then the other through the shipping lanes between the super-tanker movements, talked to the gunnery range safety officer, alternated rapid movements under all sail with loafing under mainsail alone [waiting to be allowed across various channels] and, finally, anchored in the roads at Dale just inside Milford Haven on the Cleddau River.
It is now the following morning and blowing 20 knots across the anchorage from the north - the direction we want to go next. Soon I'll put the dive gear back on, see what happened this time and render us mobile once again.
The peaceful anchorage at the end

Monday, 22 April 2013

Battening down hatches

 This information is really for women but it might apply to men who may be required to do the work involved!  Larry is our Technical Advisor so he did the work but I made sure that a high level of artistry was maintained throughout.

Sailing magazines and books only seem to be published if there are knockdowns or incursions of sea into boat involved. Women often first experience heavy weather during day trips before they've ever had the chance to go offshore and cruise the Caribbean. It's no wonder we meet so many solo male sailors. Women have good imaginations - we worry about us inside the boat if the worst happened.

 Of course, everyone who goes out to sea should be worried about keeping safe. Humans should be secured in lee-cloths when asleep offwatch, but it's equally important to keep the boat's heavy contents in place. These could prove hazardous to human health if airborne.

We were able to have Traversay III built specifically for us and so she far exceeds the safety provisions of Trav II (which was the boat we could afford at the time). The bad news is that fittings intended for marine use are second in cost only to equine bandages (if running racehorses happens to be your hobby). The good news is that some of these ideas are inexpensive and you can make them yourselves.
Push-button fastener
A secured galley
Firstly, if you can possibly afford the push-button cupboard fasteners pictured (with metal - NOT plastic seatings behind them) - they will not open no matter how much force is thrown against them. Also important are the twist-and-turn fittings which keep floor boards in position. If you imagine being inverted, heavy objects in the bilges could come out and crash around. These have also worked well on the 'fridge and freezer. You wouldn't want to be knocked down by a frozen leg of lamb. Larry installed a heavy stainless U-fitting under the galley kickboard. When we have really rough weather, we secure the two appliances with a rope we keep handy.
Tin locker seatbelt
Tin locker
Larry bought bolts and installed them under the piano bench seat (I wouldn't want my music trashed) and the chart table seat. Bolts also secure my very heavy piano (but we haven't yet met anyone else with one of those!) For all lockers under the saloon seating and berths, Larry cut openings and installed seat-belts so our tins won't assail us in the middle of external turbulence.
Meanwhile we are quite far from any thought of rough seas.We've been anchored on the peaceful River Fal for two very calm nights.

Anchored on the River Fal

Friday, 19 April 2013

Fitness Routines

"Adina" - a beautiful Hylas 46 had left when we got up this morning - bound for Spain and carrying Tom and Susie on their first long passage. They left me these beautiful daffodils. 
Susie and Tom
The birthday furnished the excuse which allowed me to break my routine. Although I'm a hopeless athlete (only shining at the 3-legged race at school) I've always tried to maintain some type of exercise program.
Slim version with Mama Naluai in Hawaii - 2002
Marigold Edwards on Trav 3 in  N.Z.
Beth with Kevin
With friend Shelagh in France 2013
Karate promotion in Bellingham 2004
With Signe at Fitness First
Frida and Rae

Canada's10BX program, the Ottawa marathon (1987) and a brown belt in karate kept me fit in past years. Marigold Edwards and Beth Hansen (former owner of "Red" - our sister ship) have helped me stay more fit. To develop the "core" teacher Heather Quipp (Alexander Technique) and friend Shelagh Aitkins have kept me a practitioner. It's difficult to keep my level of aerobic fitness and keep off the extra pounds while travelling.  In port, one can join a fitness club. Frida or Signe and I met 5x weekly to go to Fitness First in London.
On the move,  Larry installs some TRX straps every time we reach a harbour.
Signe's 'bespoke' yoga exercises for me
TRX resistance straps
 I currently spend 18 minutes doing heavy aerobic resistance training with these 5x weekly. I follow this with either 35 minutes of Callanetics or 15 minutes of yoga (thanks Signe).

The advantage of the Callanetics is that over the last 7 years (since Jilly introduced me to it in Nelson N.Z.)
Jilly with Peter at Christmas 2006
I can do these even while we're offshore.
Callanetics - 1990 edition

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Falmouth in the Sun

Rainy weather - so this photo (taken September 2011) reminds us Falmouth CAN be a lovely place!

Fal River seen from Pendennis Castle grounds
Larry is installing the new GPS. In lieu of his contributions to this blog, I've been encouraged - this week by Shelagh and Frida - to write about our life from my perspective. Signe (aboard SV Capabara) laughingly told me about a sailor who wrote a book entitled "How to get a Woman on your Boat".

In my case, it's been 20 years since I surprised Larry and myself by asking to do an "offshore" trip. I'd taken a few sailing courses previously and could sail, but had made a solemn determination never to sail again. With solemn convictions, it's surprising how often one is completely wrong.

I discovered the choice of Captain made all the difference after marrying Larry. However, as a strong feminist I decided to BE the Captain. I took out a group of women friends and we were all assigned tasks. Focussing on navigation, routing, weather and chart-reading full-time precluded my enjoying the things I wanted to do. I discovered a new respect for the office of Captain. All of these tasks are SO easy for Larry - after serving as a pilot for over 35 years, captaining our ship is second-nature to him. My job as Admiral is more important  anyway - I choose the destinations! Inheriting some talent for artistic things, I also control how the boat looks inside and out, provisioning and menu, most written communications, entertainment of friends aboard and choice of and editing of photos.

In 1991 and early 1992 we spent time sailing around one of the world's great "cruising grounds" - the Gulf Islands of Canada's BC, and the San Juans west of Washington state. However, in order to convince me that the "cruising" lifestyle would be a fun way to spend our retirement a  multi-night trip was necessary. Without applying any pressure, Larry managed to mention the joys of being in Hawaii on your own boat - a destination he had previously sailed to several times. So the idea for the trip seemingly came from me!

Traversay II was a 37' Jeanneau "Sunshine". We had no refrigeration - just an ice box. The trip took place from June 25-July 12, 1993 and I kept notes ... here are some of them ...

 We're in dense fog, I thought I spotted a "mirage" on the port-side just in front of the bow. I remember thinking "what's a water-skier doing out here?" when all of a sudden a big fin surfaced right next to me! Larry just missed the orca whale as it disappeared into the fog.

Larry set up our bed (we'll sleep "consecutively") amid-ships using lee cloths on the starboard sofa. We had a drink and he came out to stand watch (2000-0200 hrs) leaving me to try to sleep - too excited and worried about every bump!

I got up at 0200 for my watch. It was pitch dark (very few stars). There was a fishing vessel off the starboard. Later, I watched a huge freighter come in past the starboard side and slowly disappear far behind our stern - travelling towards the harbour.

I was really tired. Fortunately, it started to get light at 0400 hrs. I kept eating, drinking and visiting the 'head' so that helped keep me awake. At 0600 I got out the alarm clock, lay outside and set it for 15 minute intervals in case I fell asleep.  Poor Larry - I got him up at 0730 to add sailpower.

We're trying to keep the boat between 5.5 knots and 7.0 knots so we get there faster. It means constantly shortening and lengthening the foresail (thank goodness for roller furling!) and every now and then Larry has to add or take out reefs in the mainsail.

This Hawaii logbook details the joys of arrival along with my feeling that offshore sailing was "a better thing to have done then to be doing".

The trip over, we had a wonderful time in Hawaii. The people of Hilo (our first stop) were lovely and laid-back. We got to make REAL friends (in my case musical friends) like Buddy and David and George and "Mama" Naluai in Honolulu. What a wonderful introduction to the "cruising" life Hawaii turned out to be!
Seen during a dive

Molokai morning seen from Trav II

Buddy's piano

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Dartmouth and Books!

Jilly shows off Simba
We're in Falmouth after a night-long journey avoiding gale-force winds now molesting England's SW coast.

Captain Jilly Hampton
 I spent time on watch reading "Just Sea and Sky" by epic voyager Ben Pester. It's a chronicle about his England-New Zealand 1953 2-man sailing trip in an 1899 wooden yawl Tern II. He argues that much has been lost by the mod-cons of modern sailing vessels and our reliance on technology.

Upon arrival here and the discovery that our installed GPS had failed (meaning purchase of a compatible new instrument with consequent wiring and carpentry troubles), I had sympathy with his argument. It seems that every day now we have a new failure - yesterday it was the printer which declined to publish reasonable-looking photos. Our instruments (like the owners) are ageing.

A lack of installed lifelines lead to Pester's nearly losing his life when he committed that sin of male sailors - trying to pee off the bow. Chastened by that, he still argues that having safety gear leads people to a false sense of security rather than good judgement. He includes the sailor's maxim: Keep a hand for yourself and one hand for the boat! I've had 2 terrible boat experiences - in one of which I fell off the boat (and yes- it was the female-type sin of hanging out the wash!). Keeping 1 hand for myself would have saved Larry a lot of trouble in rescuing me. In the second instance (going up the mast at sea to disentangle a mess of ropes up at the Spreader) I was most hesitant to use the 2nd hand for the boat, but it had to be done.

Dartmouth City Centre
Why oh why didn't Nature provide sailors and pianists with 3 hands!!

'Hercules' - the steam train
Rowers on the River Dart
Seen on the River Dart
 Jilly has worked at Dart Marina for some years. We met her when she was a guest aboard while mutual friend Raydene was staying with us. She's preparing her lovely well-preserved boat Simba (an Excalibur 37) for her future cruising days. It turns out that we share a birthday. In addition, her father (like Larry's father) was a Spitfire pilot (in our exchange she's borrowed our book "Spitfire Pilot").

While in Dartmouth we took a relaxing Dart River cruise to Totnes, went to a wonderful Museum in that town, ate gorgeous seafood (courtesy of Jilly) at 'Rockfish' Restaurant, and took the steam train up to Paignton.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Dover to Dartmouth

White Cliffs of Dover
Our new sails
It was so nice to be underway once again out of the Medway that I settled down for a snooze ... completely missing our friends on Supertaff who zoomed by under sail while we stinkily battled along under motor. We were completely impervious to the radio as we knew them as Neil and Mandy AND they cheekily addressed us as "Travesty"

Later on we were able to hoist our NEW sails ... made here in England by OneSails. They are absolutely perfect.

On reaching Dover, we spent a few pleasant hours with our friends Andrew and Lyn met whilst cruising the Antipodes on their boat Sentinel. They "got spliced" in Auckland, and we helped provide some wedding music with our piano and a trio comprised of Lyn (clarinet) and Linda (flute/voice) and myself.
We wanted to catch the easterly winds, so had very little time in Dover. Apart from enjoying Lyn's dinner and a brief tour to Tesco's to buy internet time and milk, we only have a few photos to show for the time spent there.

Wedding in Auckland February 2010
Dover Castle