18 February 2018

The Restoration Continues

Wow, I have a lot of respect for people who somehow cruise, work on their boat, and somehow manage to blog or videoBlog their efforts. I have never been able to keep up with all three, and of course it is blogging that suffers, because otherwise there wouldn't be anything to blog about!

With that semi-apology out of the way, let's get to blogging!

After our long, cold voyage down the east coast of the US, we finally crossed the Florida border near Jacksonville, and like magic, the weather changed. Cold, blustery weather turned into warm-ish blustery weather, which was a big improvement, believe you me. The further south we went, the warmer it got, and by the time we got to St. Augustine -- Helena's favorite town in Florida -- it was downright spring-like.

So we decided to stay awhile.

The reasons are simple: 1) The weather was good -- warm enough to ditch the parkas, but not so hot that you don't feel like working. 2) The St. Augustine Municipal Marina had room for us, while marinas in South Florida were packed with snowbirds (we called). 3) The cost of the marina was at least half the price of those further south. 4) St. Augustine is a great little city, with lots of places for our daily walks, and plenty to do -- actually nicer than many places down south.  5) We managed to find craftsmen to help us with the projects we didn't want to tackle ourselves, namely a good rigger.

Yes, since our plan is to spend a couple of months in the Bahamas, and then to do a long offshore sail to somewhere -- either Bermuda or Block Island, probably -- we wanted to make sure the rigging was up to a possibly boisterous voyage. Petronella's standing rigging -- the wires that hold up the mast -- passed inspection during the pre-purchase survey, but there is no doubt that it is past its prime. Most of it was replaced in 2002, which is a long time for rigging. And she has done at least two Atlantic crossings since.

It was enough to make me think twice.

So we found a good rigger and invited him over to do a thorough survey. The result? The Norseman fittings, turnbuckles, etc., are good, but the wires are starting to 'barber pole', which means the inside strands are starting to rust. No problem going to the Bahamas with the rigging as it is, but it is time to start thinking about replacing the wires.

Since Norseman went out of business awhile back, it is going to be a challenge to find new cones, which are needed to re-use the fittings, but I think I've found a company in the UK that is having the cones made, probably in China. That's good news, as long as they are sound. I have ordered some for the rigger to look at. Presuming they are good enough, we should be having Petronella re-rigged the last week in April.

The other potential problem highlighted by the survey was our six wooden spreaders -- four on the mainmast and two on the mizzen. They are made out of wood and are about the same vintage as the wires. The rigger was a bit concerned that they were all angled a bit too low, which meant that the tenons that fit into the sockets on the mast might be damaged, rotting, or worse. He urged us to inspect them before leaving for the Bahamas, just to be sure.

Helena and I had resisted climbing our very tall (to us) masts, but clearly it was time to do so. Luckily, I have the best mate in the world...

"Ready for work, Captain!"

"The view is great up here!"

"Loosen that shroud a bit more!"

We (ha! I say 'we') inspected all the spreaders, and only found one with some slight damage. It had indeed been tilted at the wrong angle, and the stainless steel socket the tenon fits in had damaged the wood just a bit. Hardly worth replacing the whole spreader for, though. I cleaned up the tenon a bit, added a piece of fiberglass cloth to restore the tenon thickness, and gave the whole spreader a couple of coats of paint. Good as new!

Just a bit of surface damage, but the rest of the beefy tenon is perfectly fine.

I've been cluttering the fo'c's'le with my portable workbench and wood working tools, so I was glad to use them again. Even for a little project like this, having a real workbench makes the job so much easier.

Woodworking on the dock!
We are also refitting Petronella with a full set of new working sails -- from China! But more on that saga, later.

Next Up: To the Abacos

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