It was a sad day to see Gayle fly home. We had a great time together. But the kids have to declare their college selection by 1 May. She needed to assist them with another round of campus visits so they can make a wise choice. So we divided our combat power into two elements, each with missions to accomplish.
For the last month or so it’s been pretty easy living. The Far Reach and I have mostly remained here in Elephant Bay, St Thomas until Gayle could join us. The pace of living has been slow and relaxed. There has been plenty of time to read, sleep, swim, eat, study the sky, think, and meet new people.
One of the things I have not liked about my boat is I have no way to lock the companionway from the inside. It’s an odd thing when you think about it. When I rebuilt the boat, though I made a lot of changes, I kept the basic design of the original companionway intact. This is an important capability when you are sleeping on the boat and you can’t lock the “front door” so to speak. You are therefore vulnerable. I heard about more than just a few boats getting boarded at night when I was sailing in the West Indies.
With Hurricane Florence behind us, it was time to return to the preparation of the Far Reach for the voyage back to the BVI and the West Indies. At the moment we are working on a few small but important projects. Described below are a few of them.
We completed building the drop-in companionway bug screens. I built the teak frames last winter but got side tracked before installing the screens. I still need to sew up some screens for the foredeck and saloon deck hatches. Gayle sewed a nice padded pouch to protect them when stored under a bunk.
I have known for a long time that I needed to replace the dorade boxes on the Far Reach. During the six year long rebuild I was on a budget so I had to decide how to spend the time and money, where to save the time and money, and when to live to fight another day. So, building new dorades was saved for another day…which, finally, arrived a few weeks ago
While I would prefer to have the Far Reach engine free all the time it would require access to a mooring that we could sail on and off. There are very few moorings in NC and none where we are. She is berthed in a small marina with 360° of protection. So, we often carry a Honda 9.9hp four stroke outboard on a custom-made removable swing arm bracket attached to the port quarter. The outboard allows us to more conveniently move her in and out of her slip, make the tight turn onto the fairway, then exit the narrow 1/4 mile long channel out to the Neuse River.
I have been asked about our bonneted jib a number of times. I was asked about it again the other day on the Cape Dory forum. So, it seemed like a good time to provide more detail to those who might be interested.
For the last couple weeks we have been working on several projects as we continue to either further refine the Far Reach’s few systems or conduct routine maintenance. One project was the installation of a camcleat for the jib downhaul System, which is a separate article.
The first varnish project was to repair some damaged varnish on the teak stays’l winch bases. The bases are about 4” tall and are varnished. On top of the base is a 2” thick bare teak pad that serves to raise the winch up enough so the drum is above the top of the coaming. Though we varnish the coamings and pads every four months, there was a break in the varnish on the top edge of each pad. Horizontal surfaces always receive more abuse than vertical surfaces so this damage was not a big surprise.
One of the projects we completed when we originally launched the boat, in the early summer of 2015, after the six year rebuild was to install chafing guards on the bowsprit to protect it from the stowed anchor banging in to it. I simply glued leather patches to the bowsprit and then used copper tacks to secure copper flashing to the leather and the bowsprit. You can read about it here in the daily log under the 17 Nov 2015 entry.
The Far Reach, Anchored, the Lagoon, Sint Maarten
I continue to find myself anchored in Sint Maarten, like so many other cruisers, waiting for a part to arrive. It seems that almost every boat passing through here is waiting for either parts to arrive or on repair work to be completed before they can continue their journey.
The boat in front of me has been here over six weeks trying to get proper work done to repair a broken watermaker. The boat on my starboard side limped in a few days ago having lost their mast. They were told by the rigging shop they should expect to be here at least a month. Another boat captain I spoke to has been here for almost three months getting their hydraulic systems repaired. There are a number of boatyards here and they are all filled with boats. Sadly, there also many boats that seem to be abandoned, like so many broken dreams . . . like once beautiful birds now too old and crippled to fly.