(Above) Capt. Eric Forsyth and the Fiona
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Progress on the heater: the new ducting is installed and the heater is working. The photo shows temp of 185 F, after 20 minutes the temperature stabilizes at about 220 F. However, the Espar needs a factory overhaul. I took the opportunity to apply "Rust Bullet" to the cast-iron elbows on the engine exhaust, which was easier to get at with heater out of the way. I am off to Florida on Saturday.
Walt stopped-by the boat on Friday to help assemble the steering system. A few problems had emerged during the Maine cruise. The wheel spindle bushings had to be relieved and the lower chain sprocket was replaced. When we had finished, the wheel turned smoothly and the autopilot functioned OK. Installing the chain is a two-man job, as someone is needed in the cockpit and someone below. I have been rebuilding the duct work for the cabin heating system; a photo of the new air flow splitter in an incomplete stage is shown below. I fired-up the old Espar heater and to my amazement, it lit. Lew and I are starting to think about a new video celebrating the 50th anniversary of my first Atlantic crossing with Edith, we were crew aboard Arvincourt II in 1964.
The new Profurl jib furler has been assembled on the new headstay. All that remains is to is to mount the Hi-Mod compression fitting on the upper end of the stay. Heavy rain today delayed that final step. In view of the inclement, weather I worked on a job below--refurbishing the cabin heating system. The Espar heater produces warm air when it feels like it. The air is ducted to the forward and aft cabins initially via galvanized steel pipes, which had rusted heavily over the years. The 'T' junction where the air flow is divided was placed in a wooden box insulated with fiberglass. In order to replace the junction and piping, I took the box home and pulled it apart in the basement. On the inside of one of the plywood panels was written: ' Built by Eric Forsyth, Brookhaven, NY, December 1978.' That took me back: in 1978 Colin was 13, Brenda was 7, Edith was recovering from breast cancer, I had just bough the 1928 Bentley (it was not a runner). Fiona was 5 years away from being launched. I was involved in a very tricky situation at the Laboratory. The sight of that brief message made me feel very nostalgic.
A cold spell this past week slowed down boat work. I made two new chocks to mount the rigid dinghy on the foredeck. Dan, the welder, is putting together reinforcing brackets I made from 3/16th thick stainless plate; these will greatly increase the strength of the chocks. Several large boxes arrived from Madden Mast and Rigging, containing a new roller furler for the jib. When the weather is suitable, the foils will be assembled on the new headstay. The weather was great on Sunday and I put a cover on the old Rhodes 19.
Lew and I finished the video of Fiona's 2013/14 cruise, Lew has posted it on Vimeo. DVDs will also be available shortly. To see a preview go here.
While most of the US is freezing, I am basking in Florida. Actually, I am here to make the video of the 2013/14 video cruise with Lew. It is going quite well and we hope to screen a preview for friends on Saturday. I am staying with my daughter Brenda at Delray Beach.
Over the weekend, I replaced the wiring in the mast, which carries the signal from the anemometer; it hadn't functioned for part of the 2013/14 cruise and while we were in Maine. When I checked the old wire, only one of the four conductors was open-circuit; the problem lay in the wiring to the base of the mast. The wires in the base were corroded, replacing them was not a simple task and took the best part of a day. On Sunday I found time to take the Rhodes for a spin in the bay; this lovely boat will be hauled in the coming days as I am going to Florida on the 16th to work with Lew to produce the video of the 2013/14 cruise. Walter and his wife Bettina came along to enjoy perfect sailing on Bellport Bay.
I spent a few hours cleaning the hull. If anyone thinks the Atlantic ocean is pollution-free, look at the photos. Fiona's hull was snow-white when I left in early September; when I returned a month later after cruising the open waters of the Atlantic to Maine and in Maine itself, the hulls were badly stained, see the pic I took of the mast with the hull in the background. Now look at the pic taken of the mast in early November--in the background is the hull after a few hours of elbow grease: the contrast is startling. I have started work on the busted dinghy chocks; these were damaged when a heavy wave struck the rigid dinghy on the way to the Falklands in November, 2013. Bob and Simon made temporary repairs, which now need to be upgraded. Talking about dinghies, I took the inflatable dinghy to the dealer to have it repaired. He convinced me it was gone: the glue joints on the PVC material had dried out. The dealer said seven years' life was all you could expect and the dinghy was indeed seven years old. Bob, the boat machinist, is working on the steering system, firstly making replacement bolts for the Aries and then on a new sprocket for the autopilot connection to the quadrant--the list never ends! Lew and I are exchanging e-mails to get some of the credits and map animations completed before I fly to Florida on the 16th to make the 2013/14 cruise video.
Great weather for working outside on the boat. The mast is stripped, the Profurl system mostly need replacement, for example new foils. Also, the boat needs a new headstay. Additionally, I disassembled the steering system and Bob is working on a few repairs. Walter came down with his youngest son, Charles, to help with the final touches need to finish the mast work. I managed to squeeze in a sail in the Rhodes over the weekend; there wont be many more of those this year.
Rainy weather for three days inhibited outside work. However, I made a start on stripping the mast; this is quite a lot of work because there are 13 pieces of standing rigging, most secured with cotter pins that don't like to come out. For many, I simply cut them with a cut-off wheel on the Dremel tool. In due course, I will replace some electrical wiring and make other repairs. Confined to the house, I rebuilt the inverter wiring to incorporate an interlock, which drops the inverter if the anchor winch is powered. I also reverted to being an electrical engineer and inserted a low-pass filter in the inverter power leads. The design of the inverter itself is cheap; to save the cost of a high-current 'off/on' switch, the electronic board is connected to the 12 volt supply continuously, so it is not surprising these units are not reliable.
When the boat
was hauled I discovered the answer to two small mysteries:
The mast was lifted on Tuesday and Fiona was hauled on Wednesday. She spent the night in the slings after her bottom was power-washed, and on Thursday, was placed in the cradle for winter. When the mast was lying horizontal, one of the yard guys, Chris, pointed to the top of the starboard lower shroud--several wires were broken at the tang. This stay was renewed two years ago and the breakage probably reflects the stresses imposed in the Nov/Dec, 2013, storm. When Fiona was clear of the water, some damage to the keel was revealed; a fairly common thing after a trip to Maine. I think this occurred when we grounded on a ledge in Ebenecook Bay, near Boothbay. Fortunately, the keel is fiberglass and not too difficult to repair. From time to time, I will post a few comments on the progress of repairs and modifications. Coming up in November is a trip to Florida to connect with Lew and make the video of the 2013/2014 cruise.
Fiona transited Fire Island Inlet at half tide; we never saw less than seven feet under the boat. We managed to get Grace on the 6:15 pm ferry from Port Jefferson to Bridgeport, where her uncle would meet her. I went to bed at 8:30 pm and slept for 12 hours--it had been a long haul from Megansett Bay to the Inlet. Friday was spent unloading all the personal gear: unused food, etc. In due course, the boat will be hauled for the winter and the mast unstepped. My general impression of the Maine cruise is that there was a good deal less cruising activity than in the past. We only saw two or three cruising boats in the harbors and anchorages that we stayed at. The weather was excellent with little rain, although we also had light winds most days. There is plenty of maintenance for the coming months: the inflatable and the 6-hp outboard engine need work. On Fiona herself there is plenty to do: the steering system still needs some tweaking, the chocks on the foredeck for the rigid dinghy need to be rebuilt. I need to figure some way to disconnect the inverter when the anchor winch is in use; the voltage fluctuations seem to be bad for the inverter low level electronics. And of course the boat must be winterized.
Fiona expects to arrive at Weeks Yachtyard between 2 and 3 pm, Thursday. We enjoyed a great sail down the coast with 15 - 20 kts of north winds.
We left Gloucester early Tuesday morning and sailed under jib, with a brisk NE wind to the Cape Cod Canal, arriving at the east entrance at 4:15 pm. We refueled at the service station near the powerplant and anchored for the night in Megansett Bay. We had chicken curry for supper. Wednesday dawned, wet and windy; we are now sailing down Buzzards Bay, again under jib alone, and expect to arrive at Block Island about 6 pm. If conditions are right we will continue, head for Montauk Point and sail down the Long Island coast overnight, arriving at Fire Island Inlet about 2 pm. This would put us at Weeks about 6 pm. Conditions on deck are fairly miserable, but the sailing is good.
We left Portland bright and early, but on arriving at Isle of Shoal, the tiny Gosport harbour was packed with small boats. It is too deep to anchor because there is no swinging room, so we pushed on to Gloucester, arriving about 10:30 pm. We anchored for the night in the roomy bay and picked up a mooring at Browns Yacht Yard on Sunday morning. Grace's parents drove over and after lunch, she went home with them for the night. We plan to leave early Tuesday for a straight shot to the Cape Cod Canal. Whether or not we stop at Block Island after that depends on the forecast for the trip down the Long Island coast. Thus we should arrive at Weeks late on Thursday or Friday.
Fiona has been moored in Portland for a couple of days. Lovely weather. The 6-hp outboard for the dinghy needed some work, which was done at the yard here. On Fiona, we repaired leak in the floor of the dinghy Last nigh,t we took-in a live play: Brighton Beach Memoirs, by Neil Simon. This afternoon, we will tour the great Art Museum. We leave for Isle of Shoals tomorrow.
When we left Boothbay, we transited the scenic Townsend Gut. The old swing bridge is undergoing repairs and only opens at three-hour intervals. We made the 3 pm opening. Our plan was to pick-up a mooring at the south end of Ebenecook Bay, as we maneuvered we grounded on a ledge, of which there are many in that region. It was an hour before low tide, so we had to wait for two hours before we floated off. By then, the sun was setting and so we anchored for the night. The next day, we left bright and early, rounded Cape Small and picked up a mooring in the beautiful 'Basin', where we had lunch. Later, we powered a couple of miles for a mooring at Sebasco harbor. The ladies took a shower and we had supper at the hotel.
We plan to arrive at Portland Yacht Services on Fore St, Portland on Wednesday afternoon; we will probably spend two days there. That depends on the weather for a coastal trip to Isle of Shoals.From there we will head for Gloucester.
On the way to Boothbay, a rhythmic vibration announced we had picked-up something on the propeller. The next day, I examined the prop from the dinghy, using a facemask. There was a mess of rope hanging off it. I was able to find a young diver, Brad, who went down and cleared the mess. Also, the 6-hp Japanese outboard engine died; it has never been reliable. Despite my best effort, I could not get it to run, so I dug out the Seagull, which is nearly 50 years-old, and hasn't been used for a year. At the moment it is running but reluctantly; hopefully some TLC will bring it back to full life. Next stop is an anchorage in Ebenecook Bay; there is a high swell offshore caused by a passing hurricane.
Fiona sailed to Port Clyde on the 18th, arriving at lunchtime, during which Louise consumed a lobstah. In the afternoon we made the traditional walk to Marshall Point, with the lighthouse and museum. There were a few monarch butterflies around, presumably preparing for their incredible journey to Mexico. On the 19th, we took the ferry to Monhegan Island. There was no wind, so a trip with Fiona would have been a waste of fuel and take too long. There were more Monarchs on the island. We walked through the forest, to Whitehead cliff. Saturday, the wind blew strongly from the southwest, but we butted-through to Boothbay. We will stay the nights of September 20 and 21 at the Tugboat Marina.
We arrived at Rockland on the 15th on a rainy day. Unfortunately, Knights Marina, where I had always stayed in the past, had no moorings for transients. So we moved over to the Rockland public landing. On the 16th, I was surprised by the arrival of two friends, who contacted me via my cell phone: Gary and his wife Cynthia, and Kieron with his wife karen. Gary was an old friend who was a colleague at Brookhaven National Laboratory and since retirement has lived in northern Maine. I had not seen him for many years. Kieron crewed in April of this year and was unfortunate enough to have the top of his finger cut-off when he caught it between the jib sheet and the winch. Fortunately, after surgery on the boat (which consisted of gluing the part back with crazy glue) the doctors in Canada were able to save it, apart from losing a little bone and the nail was deformed. We had a drink together before he and Karen headed back to Ogunquit, where they were vacationing. Later in the day, Louise arrived by bus to become the third crew member for the rest of the cruise.On the 17th, I repaired a leak in the floor of the inflatable and went ashore to visit the wonderful Farnsworth Art Museum. Grace was particularly delighted to find the museum was running a show of Shaker furniture and clothing--one of her assignments to be completed before she gets back was an essay on "earthly Utopias."
We spent two nights in Belfast; we met some fellow cruisers at the dock on a beautifully-made wooden schooner. It took the captain, David, 18 years to construct. It was too nice to get wet! A new shop had appeared selling marine books and memorabilia; I indulged and bought a ship model. We leave for Camden today and will arrive Rockland tomorrow. Weather is clear, windless and chilly (43 F in the cockpit this morning).
Friday, we left Stonington early and sailed to Butter Island, one of my favourite lunch stops. Unfortunately, a brisk northerly wind made the beach a lee shore, so we bypassed it and sailed directly to Castine. Tomorrow, we will head for Belfast, another favourite.
Today, Wednesday, we sailed to Harbor Island, in Merchants Row. It was sunny and windless, with occasional banks of fog after lunch. We sailed via the Casco Passage. We arrived in time to put the inflatable on the rocky shore; Grace went for a one-hour exploration. Tomorrow, we will sail to Stonington, which isn't far away. Stronger winds are forecast for the afternoon. This is the perfect Maine anchorage: a pastoral scene, no other boats.
Things are happening in Bar Harbor: Rob's business couldn't manage without him and he flew home. I was sorry to see Rob sign-off. Grace and I will sail to Rockland, where we will pick up Louise next week. We had difficulty when we launched the dinghy; I discovered the staysail halyard block on the mast had disintegrated. Grace twice winched me up the mast, using the main halyard so that I could rig a new block. We plan to leave Wednesday for Merchants Row and a night at anchor. Weather is very nice, but a little chilly in the early morning.
Fiona picked up a mooring at Bar Harbor at 7:30 am on Monday. Passage was a mix of heavy weather as the front passed; some nice sailing both before and after and then mostly light winds. So far, we have sailed 408 nm from Patchogue. It was chilly when we arrived--56 F with a brisk wind--but now it is sunny and warming-up. We plan to stay two nights
Fiona left Provincetown at 1pm Saturday. We had good winds until a front came through, with squalls and lightning. After the squalls came fickle winds. We are now close-hauled on port tack beating against a NE wind; Bar Harbor is 90 nm away.
Fiona transited the Cape Cod Canal and arrived at Province Town at sunset. Departure time depends of exact timing of NE winds forecasted for the weekend. Watch this space.
Fiona left Weeks Yachtyard at 1:15 pm Tuesday and arrived Great Salt Pond, Block Island, at 9:15 am Wednesday. We powered to Fire Island Inlet and traversed it near low water without trouble. We then had a wonderful sail until about midnight, when rising wind and dire Coast Guard warnings of an approaching cold front persuaded me to douse the sails. We powered to Montauk Point and then enjoyed a great sail to Block Island.
Friday was a busy day: Grace and I removed 250 feet of rusty anchor chain and replaced it with 300 feet of new chain. I discovered the drainage from the chain locker (called the limber hole) was completely blocked by hardened mud and rust chips. It took a lot of work to clear, but now the new chain will not be lying in a pool of seawater.
Grace signed the crew roster on Wednesday; she is planning on sailing the whole to Maine, and back. Peter, the refrigeration expert, evacuated the freezer and then filled it with R134A. We had to lose the gas when we moved the refrigerator/freezer to get to the main water tank. We are concentrating upon dealing with minor problems and cleaning the interior and topsides. On Thursday, we loaded bedding; next will be food.
On Sunday, Walter and his seven-year-old son, Walter Jr., came to the boat for a couple of hours. Walter circumnavigated aboard Fiona in 1995-1997. We bent on the jib and mainsail; later I bent on the staysail which is a one-man job. Thus, Fiona is almost ready for sea. Monday, I discovered the main boom topping lift was not working properly due to years of chafe of the line that run inside the boom. Eventually, I replaced the Dacron line with a stainless-steel wire.
Captain Forsyth's account of the disastrous storm that overtook Fiona in November, 2013, has been published in the September, 2014, issue of Ocean Navigator magazine. Today, a professional exterminator fumigated the boat to remove a few pests that got on board in Cape Town. The first of the Maine crew, Grace, is expected to sign-on next Tuesday.
Fiona was launched Wednesday, on schedulde; no problems. On Monday, I decided to start the engine I preparation for the splash--lots of smoke from the starter motor. Tuesday, I removed it and within a few hours L&L Autoelectric had it completely overhauled--one advantage of living on Long Island, as technical help is never far away. Now the boat is in the water, I can deal with a few problems, like getting the freezer refilled with 134A Freon. I hope to leave on the Maine cruise on 2 September.
It has been a week of tidying up on the boat, prior to a launch in the coming week. Also, a case of one step forward and two back--I accidently knocked-over a can with old paintbrushes and turpentine in it. I didn't notice until the next day, the stain when the mess had hardened on the new cabin sole. It took me half a day to clean it off and re-varnish.
Rob came over for a few hours to help get Fiona ready for the splash next week. He is going to crew for some of the cruise in Maine. The sole is finished; the teak and ash were supplied by Weeks Yard. Now there are innumerable small jobs to clear-up and a good deal of elbow grease needed to get the boat clean and tidy.
A sad week in some ways: I sold the '28 Bentley to a buyer in England, so it is going home. I had owned it for 37 years. On the bright side, the carpentry to replace the cabin sole is finished; I have got two coats of varnish down. I also replaced the cabin stereo/CD player. The one I installed in Cape Town was okay, but it didn't like the frequencies used for FM in the USA.
I placed the last piece of teak on the new cabin sole, so the devastation caused by removing the leaking water tank is largely repaired. It still has to be sanded and varnished. The boat should be ready for the traditional Fall cruise in Maine, which is planned to start Labor Day weekend. In a complete change of pace, I went flying with Christina, seen here piloting from the left-hand seat. We flew to Montauk from Brookhaven and back: a two hour trip in Cessna 152.
Since Colin came up for a few weeks, we have made good progress: The water tank is installed and doesn't leak! Bob finished machining the steering components and we installed them. The basic system is working; autopilot drive is yet to be connected. Other tasks we completed include installing a new exhaust hose on the heater, repairing a leak in the inflatable dinghy, and installing a new mast-step on the Rhodes 19.
The tank was welded by Dan the Welder, and leak-checked using pressurized air. When we got the tank back to the yard we filled it with water--overnight the level did not change. We drained it and put it back in the well in the main cabin using the mainsail halyard to swing it on board. We are now fabricating cleats to securely hold the tank in place.
The tank is out--three days hard-labor to remove it. We filled it with water and the leak was immediately obvious: a welded seam on the edge. Next stop--a good welder.
This is the week we hope to remove the leaking water tank. It apparently cracked during the storm Fiona experienced south of the Falklands in late November, 2013. Monday, we got most of the cabin sole above the tank removed. Tuesday, we shifted the refrigerator/freezer which lies over corner of the tanks. Both these activities took hours of effort. Wednesday we hope to lift the tank out.
The major activity with Fiona in the past few days has been to install a new 'MultiData' readout.This is a fancy name for a single-panel meter that shows depth, speed, water temp, log distance, etc. The old one became very erratic. The new unit is a Raymarine type ST60. It took me several hours to remove the old transducers as the caulking had set like cement. The new unit seems to be working (not so easy to test out of the water) except it won't talk electronically to the Raymarine Radar GPS and Chart plotter. Peg, an old Fiona crew member, and myself took the Rhodes for quiet sail on Bellport Bay. I got an e-mail from Kieron to say the surgeon had discharged him--his finger is going to be fine. I wrote a shortened version of the storm we encountered in Nov/Dec 2013 which has been accepted by Ocean Navigator for publication in a few months.
The major activity in the past week has been to organize rebuilding the steering system. I got a new sprocket, roller chain and links from the Edson Company because the original supplier of the system is out of business. All the parts need modification to match what is there; Bob Berg is the machinist in charge of that.
The Rhodes took her first sail yesterday with Christina, a visiting scientist from Germany, as crew. The steering system on Fiona is now disassembled. New chain and wheel sprocket are on order. I found another broken link in the old chain, it did not actually fracture. This must have occurred on the way from Cape Town.
With Fiona out, the Rhodes 19 splashed-in at Carmens River. I used an old Seagull engine to get the boat from Tookers yard to the slip on the river. This is the only time I use an engine with the Rhodes. It had not been used for two years and goodness knows how old the gas is. It started on the second pull. Back at Weeks Yard, I could not get the shore power to work because the GFI breaker kept tripping. It turned out an outlet in the forward head was leaking to ground. Probably a legacy of the soaking we got in the Southern Ocean. With that fixed, I started to strip the steering system. The steering wheel shaft in the pedestal had not been out and took a little persuasion. (Read a large hammer).
Fiona was finally hauled out on June 11. The bottom and zincs looked good after one year. There did not appear to be any damage to the rudder an the rudder post bushings. My first priority will be to change the steering chain and maybe the pedestal sprocket.
Fiona is still in the water at Weeks Yachtyard. Most of the gear has been removed such as sails, food, bedding, clothing, books, etc. She will probably be hauled within a few days to a week. In the meanwhile, Captain Forsyth took the cover off his 50-year-old Rhodes 19 in preparation for a summer's sailing on Great South Bay.
More photos have been added to Capt. Forsyth's recent Newsletter, here.
Captain Forsyth is now in Bar Harbor, Maine. Not as usual aboard Fiona but instead piloting his 1928 Bentley with daughter Brenda as co-driver. The forecast today for the ride from Rockland was rain with possible hail. As he drives the car with the top down thee xperience was not unlike sailing in the Southern Ocean.
Capt. Forsyth's latest Newsletter has been posted here.
Here are the vital statistics of Fiona's journey: