(Above) Capt. Eric Forsyth and the Fiona
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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: