Thursday, 29 May 2014

Change of Attitude

As a homage to the great Maya Angelou who died this week, I’ve decided not to complain about our current situation.  Angelou said “If you don’t like something, change it.  If you can’t change it, change your attitude.  Don’t complain.”

So this is my story, with no complaints.

This week, we have been blessed with multiple learning opportunities.  We had intended to test the new mainsail and our night-time navigational equipment with a 24-hour, non-stop sail.  The weather was perfect and we were psyched to test the boat and ourselves.

The wind was blowing a stiff 20 knots with gusts to 25 directly in the nose.  Great stuff for testing the mainsail, we told ourselves.  Curiously, no other boats were headed out and we had the loch to ourselves. The loch master mumbled something about being courageous, chuckling to himself. 

We found a wide spot in the river and hoisted the sail to the 2nd reef point.  We tightened down the sail as much as we could and looked up in horror (wait...does that sound like a complaint?  maybe I should say "wonder"?  "amazement"?).  It was a big scoop !  The reef points in the main sail weren't positioned forward of the pulley sheaves in the boom and we couldn’t tighten and flatten the sail.

Sheaves too far forward on the boom to tighten the sail.

Reef number 2, with sheaves in front of reef point.

Reef number 2.  Sheaves need to move back at least 25 cm.

The river was narrowing and a decision had to be made.  I won the short-lived debate and we promptly turned tail and headed back to the loch.  “Back so soon?” the loch master inquired.  While we were describing our new discovery to him, another educational opportunity presented itself: When entering a loch with a considerable water level change, block your wind generator so that it isn’t spinning dangerously close to the cement walls and, if you have the choice, tie up on the opposite side.  No real damage was done and it was a good lesson learned.

Later that evening, dockside radio (e.g., gossip) informed us that two guys sailed out earlier in the morning to test their new mainsail, and they came limping back home 5 hours later with their sail ripped in two.  Old lesson confirmed:  discretion is, indeed, the better part of valour. 

We made a call to the sail maker, who gave us an appointment…3 days later.  While this was initially disappointing, we later realized that it was a stroke of good luck since our battery charger (shore power 220V to battery 12V) chose this exact moment to die, or rather, stop regulating anything.  Of course we didn’t notice it immediately.  The batteries simmered at 15 volts for at least 24 hours before we realized something was amiss.  After adding more than ½ liter of de-ionized distilled water to both service batteries, we called the electrician.  Note to self:  always have battery water on board.

Fortunately for us, the electrician gave us an appointment the next day and also installed our auto-pilot computer that had been sent off for repair over a month ago.  It was during this visit that we learned:  a) that the battery charger (a 20+ year-old German model) is beyond repair and a new French model (lighter, sleeker, more powerful) could be ours for a mere 350 Euros after a 10 day delay; and b) that our GPS antenna is not doing its job but the internal antenna gives great results.  Note to self: always travel with a small portable battery charger.

The visit with the sail maker presented not only new learning opportunities but also prospects for personal growth as we struggled to come to terms with what he said we had to do.  The short version of this tale is that we have to move the 2 reef-point sheaves for the automatic reefing system further down the boom and add two new stainless steel appendages to the boom gooseneck to make the new sail work.  This will involve learning a set of new skills including, but not limited to, soldering stainless steel, riveting, precision circular-sawing, and how to carefully remove and re-set 20 year-old pulley sheaves that, we’ve since discovered, are obsolete and thus irreplaceable. Note to self: there’s Xanax is in the medicine cabinet.

Our obsolete sheaves.