Author Archives: Robert

Ditch Sense

I was going to call this post “Bitchin’ Ditching,” but with four active tropical systems in the Atlantic right now, I just couldn’t make light of what really is a serious subject.

Like many (hopefully all) cruisers, we carry a ditch bag with some essential stuff in it that we think we might need if we ever have to abandon ship. And like many (hopefully NOT all) cruisers, we’ve probably overlooked a bunch of things that we’d need in an actual emergency. We’re working on that, trying to add some things to make the bag more useful. But one thing I know we didn’t have right was its location. Our ditch bag lived on the back corner of a shelf in our aft cabin—a spot that would have required one of us to crawl back on our hands and knees and move other things to reach it in an emergency.

And then I saw a picture of someone else’s ditch bag. It was under their companionway ladder. It was a palm-smack-in-the-middle-of-the-forehead moment. So guess where the new home for our ditch bag is.

To be fair, we’d already been living on the boat for a year before we bought our bag, and this area had already become home to some other items. Since our ditch bag was something we hoped we’d never need, it seemed OK to stick it in an out of the way spot. But now that we’ve been cruising for three seasons and have several OMG weather experiences under our belts (or under our inflatable life jackets, I should say), the need to be able to grab-n-go in a crisis has moved up the priority list considerably.

Another thing I like about this spot is that if we ever end up being boarded by the Coast Guard for a safety inspection, our emergency strobe and distress day signal are easy to reach.

If you’ve been along for the ride long enough, you may remember we wrote in the post Overcoming Tyranny about how we hate being held hostage to arbitrary expiration dates and thus don’t depend on flares to meet our USCG emergency signaling requirements.

Space blankets, a sharp knife, some sturdy shears, a day’s worth of bottled water, some energy bars, copies of our USCG documentation, insurance and passports, a bright flashlight—just a few of the items in our bag or on the list to be added before we head out again this fall. So what’s in your ditch bag? And more importantly, where do you keep it?

Hope That Checked the Box

We spent last weekend watching the progress of Tropical Storm Gordon. The projected track took it far enough to our west for it to be of just minor concern. When the marina staff went home for the long Labor Day weekend without even mentioning it, we thought we were home free. They issue a mandatory evacuation of the marina if tropical storm force winds are expected, and since no one seemed concerned, neither were we. Naturally we did the normal storm prep for gusty winds, like taking all the loose deck gear down below, strapping down the dinghy and rigging some extra lines and fenders. But we didn’t strip the sails or any of our canvas, like our dodger and bimini. We told dockmates who’d never been through a tropical storm not to worry as it just wasn’t going to be that bad.

Prepped and waiting

The Tuesday that Gordon paid us a visit started out about like we expected. By mid-afternoon things had turned quite blustery, and we were telling friends that this was probably as bad as it was going to get. In early evening, the boat was still calm enough that Rhonda was able to whip up a sumptuous and hearty meal.

Pork chops in orange sauce over jasmine rice and green beans with bacon

But Gordon had a few tricks up his sleeve. As darkness fell, the storm intensified to almost hurricane strength and veered more to the north, bringing it much closer than expected. By midnight things were pretty intense, with howling winds gusting to 55 mph pushing Eagle Too hard against the pier and creating a 20 to 30 degree heel.

I don’t know why storms always come ashore in the middle of the night. It sure seems though that every time we get hit by tropical weather, the worst occurs in the early AM, and Gordon was no exception. At one point, as the winds peaked and rain poured down and tornado alerts began alarming on our phones, we started gathering up some essentials in a ditch bag in case we needed to leave the boat to seek shelter in the marina laundry room. But just when it started feeling like leaving made more sense than staying, things finally started easing up. By 1AM we were able to walk the dock with a flashlight to check our lines and look in on our neighbors who were also riding out the storm onboard their boat. By 2AM we were able to climb into bed for some much needed sleep. By later that morning, it was back to being just another blustery day.

We never lost power, and fortunately there was very little lightning, for which we were grateful. We had surprisingly few rain leaks, as the recent work I’ve been doing replacing most of our old, leaky ports paid off. I suppose if we had known exactly how strong Gordon would become, we would have probably buttoned up the boat and headed inland to stay with family. But as we often say, if the experience was frightening but nothing got broken and no one got hurt, then it just means that in the end, we had an adventure resulting in a good story to tell. And adventure is the purpose of a Life On The Hook™, afterall.

One last thought. The night before Gordon hit, this was the wrapper from my nightly Dove chocolate (a tradition here on Eagle Too).

We held onto that little scrap of foil until the day after the storm, when we saw this…

We were having a stress relieving day-after dinner with Beth and Stephan from S/V Cattywampus to celebrate our surviving Tropical Storm Gordon when this rainbow appeared, arcing high over downtown. We’re hoping it’s a sign that with Gordon behind us, we can check that box for the year and not have to worry about storms again until next season!

Our Hypalon Anniversary

Yesterday was our 39th wedding anniversary. Checking online, there seems to be some disagreement as to whether or not there is a specific gift associated with 3.9 decades of matrimony. While there are a few mentions of lace being appropriate, there are more references that basically say that once you hit 25 years, you’ve been married long enough that you need to quit taking it so seriously and only shop for gifts every five years. Thirty-five years is jade, and 40 years is ruby. Thirty-nine years? You’re on your own. So it seems to us that since there are no rules, we’re free to do whatever we want, and damn the social consequences! So from now till forever, we’ve decided that the appropriate gift for 39 years of marriage is Hypalon and aluminum. Preferably something in a nice boat shape.

Unwrapping our anniversary gift—a West Marine aluminum hull Hypalon RIB. Man that’s a lot of plastic! Makes you wonder why everyone gets so worked up about plastic straws. Be free little dinghy!

Pumping up our new baby. It’s Florida, it’s August, so yes, I’m sweating. But did you notice I’m pumping up the boat with the leg I broke back in January? Yay me!

So light, clean and shiny! I’ll bet this thing is fast!

It just fits on the foredeck with no room to spare. A half inch longer and we wouldn’t be able to open the anchor locker. Thank you, West Marine, for your special 39th anniversary edition RIB!

Just like parking a new car in the driveway. The neighbors stop by to see the shiny new boat.

Old and new. After almost eight years, we’ll miss our old dinghy Eaglet. We had a lot of good trips together. But we just ran out of patience with crappy Mercury high pressure air decks. It’s a solid aluminum double hull for us from now on!

So just a few specifics for those who care. As we wrote about in our previous post providing a long term review of our Mercury air deck dinghy, we were just really tired of having to buy new air decks every year or two. We wanted a Rigid Inflatable Boat, or RIB, with a solid, deep V hull so that we’d never have to worry about a soggy floor again. Plus we can go faster. We learned down in the Bahamas that you really need a go-fast boat if you want to get around. With the long distances to cover, anything else is just a waste of time. But we wanted a RIB with a flat interior floor and a covered bilge so that all our belongings wouldn’t be sloshing around in two inches of water constantly. That meant a double hull. Fiberglass double hull RIBs are heavy. Since we lift our dinghy onto our foredeck for passages, weight was definitely an issue. Then we found out about aluminum hulled RIBs. The double hull models are quite a bit lighter than fiberglass ones. When West Marine marked all their boats down 30% in a recent one-day sale, and we saw we could save an entire boat buck ($1000) on a double hull aluminum RIB that was the perfect size for our foredeck, well, we jumped at it. It was our anniversary after all!

By the way, we’re currently looking for a good home for Eaglet, our old dinghy. Please tell us if you know of anyone who may be interested in adopting a loved but well worn inflatable boat with special needs. 🙂

Lock It or Lose It

While chartering in the British Virgin Islands, we learned to always, always, always lock up our dinghy or risk losing it. It’s a habit we took home with us, and to this day we always try to lock our dinghy to something secure like a dock piling or palm tree, even when we’re in our home waters. When we’re anchored out and retire for the evening, we lock the dingy to the stern of Eagle Too, and when the dinghy is on deck, we make sure the outboard is securely locked to the railing. We also make ample use of bicycle locks to secure valuable but portable deck gear like our Rainman water maker and scuba tanks. Due to an unfortunate incident a few years ago where we had someone enter our boat and steal our cash here in the marina while I was up doing laundry, we never even leave the boat without making sure the companionway is locked. Not even to visit a neighbor’s boat for sundowners just two slips over. If our feet hit the dock, the boat is locked. It’s a little sad that that’s the way of the world, but then we sailors do tend to glorify pirates. It’s just that we always think we’ll be the ones doing the pirating, rather than the ones that get pirated.

While we try to exercise good dinghy locking discipline, I have to admit the locks we were using would probably be considered “honest man’s locks.” They indicated to a basically honest person that no, this dinghy wasn’t orphaned and in need of a good home, but rather was owned by someone who didn’t care to be parted from it. But if you smacked it with a hammer, pried it with a screwdriver, or possibly even just looked at it angrily, it would give up faster than the French army.

Getting some better locks was always one of those things I intended to someday do. So when we were wandering around Home Depot the other day on an unrelated matter, I was pleasantly surprised to find these new locks from Masterlock. They had beefy stainless steel bodies that looked like they’d be more than able to withstand hammer smacks and prying attempts, and would be better able to stand up to the marine environment than the locks we’ve been using.

In addition, they had our “must have” feature, a user settable combination. We just don’t like key locks here aboard Eagle Too, because we’re too likely to misplace or forget the key.

Best of all, they were less than $20 each, which seemed like a real bargain. Time will tell if that turns out to be true.

While these obviously won’t stand up to a determined assault from someone armed with a pair of bolt cutters or a hacksaw, they should make life much more difficult for “pirates of opportunity” to make off with our dinghy compared to the cheesy little locks we’ve been using.

So what’s your philosophy on when, where and how to lock up your dinghy?

Galley Notes—Our Own Diamond Mine

“Ice is civilization.” — Harrison Ford, The Mosquito Coast, 1986

Cruiser’s diamonds. That’s how some refer to those little nuggets of frozen water that put the chill in ‘Chillin’ with a Sundowner.’ While a ten pound bag of chill is available for a couple of bucks in almost any marina in Florida, the price climbs rapidly the further from the US you get. Six to eight dollars a bag is pretty common in the Bahamas, and in Cuba, when we could find bagged ice, it often smelled like fish.

When we’re out cruising and living Life On The Hook™, once the ten pound bag is gone (all we have room for), we’ve been limited to the small quantity of ice balls that Rhonda can make in our freezer. Sometimes we’ve gone weeks with our daily production of concentrated cold only allowing a single cool drink for each of us per day. Every piece of ice was valuable, and almost as rare as diamonds.

We’d always just roll our eyes when someone on another boat (usually a big trawler with a generator running 24/7) would say “Oh, we have an icemaker onboard.” Can you even call that cruising? I mean, learning about what you can do without is a big part of adopting and adapting to this lifestyle of being a maritime gypsy.

But Rhonda and I were having some cocktails with Beth and Stephan on S/V Cattywampus recently, and noticed that they weren’t shy about sharing their store of this most precious resource. Every round of drinks came with an ice refill. “No more ice, I don’t want to run you out,” I said. “It’s OK, we’re making more,” they replied. “Show me,” I said. After all, this was a sailboat we were drinking on, and not many sailboats in the less than “Oh my God you’ve got to be kidding me” price range come with something as exotic as an icemaker.

Stephen pointed to a small countertop appliance. It wasn’t much larger than a four-slice toaster. But it was producing enough cruiser’s diamonds to keep four people in cubes all evening.

We already carry a few countertop appliances on Eagle Too that many cruisers would consider superfluous, such as our Foodsaver vacuum sealer and Gourmia electric pressure cooker (both of which deserve their own Galley Notes blog post). But they’re small enough to store on shelves or in lockers, and their advantages outweigh the inconvenience of finding an onboard home for them.

Surely something as important to crew morale and the general welfare as a reliable supply of ice to chill beverages deserved a place in our equipage?

We were walking the aisles of Home Depot a few days later, and what of all things did we happen to see but a big stack of Magic Chef countertop icemakers on sale for $89. Since the seed had already been planted and had some time to sprout, it only took us about 30 seconds to say “it’s a sign!” and decide to take one home.

So now we can mine our very own diamonds, pretty much whenever we want!

Here’s the lowdown on operation. I couldn’t find a wattage rating on the box in the store, but when we returned to Eagle Too and unboxed the icemaker, the UL tag on the back said it uses 650 watts continuously, and 800 watts while birthing new cubes. That’s pretty much ideal, because our 50 amp battery charger uses about the same amount of power. When we redesigned the electrical system on Eagle Too, I settled on a 50 amp battery charger because I knew our Honda EU2000i generator (2000 watts surge, 1600 watts continuous output)  could easily power it while still having about 800 watts left for other uses. So this means that next cruising season, when the occasional need arises to run Genny (our Honda’s name) to charge our batteries, we’ll also be able to plug in the icemaker and replenish our supply of cruiser’s diamonds.

Since buying the unit, we’ve run it about every third or fourth day, and it has made all the ice we use onboard, saving us a few dollars over buying bagged ice. It takes eight minutes per cycle, with each cycle producing nine cubes. Well, more like hollow cones, but you know what I mean. It makes about a pound an hour, compared to probably the pound a week we were averaging making ice balls in our freezer.

Will it turn out to be a good decision? We’ll see. Something we currently carry onboard will probably have to be left behind next season in order to make room. But as we gain more experience, we’re constantly adjusting our list of what’s essential and what’s not, so we’ve probably made enough space due to things we’ve already taken off the boat this off-season. Also, I’ve heard stories that these units only last about 8 months to a year in continuous use. That will be disappointing if it turns out to be true, but then again, every season we have to buy replacements for something (or several somethings) that we expected to last for years, but barely made it through a single season, like power cords and solar lights, or fuel cans and dinghy paddles, to name just a few. So if we get a year’s worth of reliable diamond production out of it, we’ll probably be happy.

One last comment before wrapping this up. The icemaker we bought was branded Magic Chef, and it has a sturdiness about it that I like. We were recently in Sam’s Club and saw a stack of no-name icemakers of similar design for the same $89 price. But when I examined one, it had a cheap and flimsy feel about it that totally turned me off. I wouldn’t have been at all surprised if one of those bit the bullet within a year. I’m hoping ours is a bit better quality.

It’s Summertime, and the Livin’ is Easy—Ferries & Forts

For a variety of reasons, we think that Pensacola is a wonderful place to spend our off–season. In addition to having family and friends here, we have some great marinas with affordable rates, and unlike most of Florida, many have no waiting lists to obtain a slip. There are some pretty good marine tradespeople around to help with those projects that are just too much for us to handle alone, and many of the boatyards will let you do your own work, which can save a ton of money. But the thing that really makes it shine is that it also offers a good variety of interesting things to see or do while we wait out the season. For instance, here’s how we spent last Saturday.

This past June, a new ferry service began that runs between downtown Pensacola, historic Ft Pickens in the Gulf Islands National Seashore, and Pensacola Beach. The cost is $20 pp for an all-day, hop-on-hop-off ferry ride between the three destinations.

Since it just started operating a little over six weeks ago, we hadn’t yet made time to check it out. But when we saw that the National Park Service was going to be hosting the Walton Guard, a group of Civil War re-enactors, at Ft Pickens, with demonstrations of Civil War era camp life, music and live firing of cannons and rifles, we decided the time had come.

It’s only a three minute walk from our slip to the ferry dock. Since the service is brand new, their ticket booth and boarding area are still under construction. so we stepped up to their portable trailer to buy tickets for the 1130 crossing to Ft. Pickens. Located on the western tip of Santa Rosa Island, the fort was built prior to the Civil War and operated until after the Second World War. It was a trip of about 40 minutes.

Being full time mariners, we naturally had to visit the pilot house, and the captain let both Rhonda and I drive. We much prefer the feel of the helm on Eagle Too. With her blade rudder and fin keel, she steers like a sports car, while the ferry had a very heavy helm and felt like we were driving a tank.

We had a little over three hours to explore the fort and enjoy the demonstrations of Civil War life. Click on any picture in the gallery to enlarge.

It had been years since Rhonda and I had visited the Fort, and since we’re sort of history buffs, we really enjoyed it. The highlights were the live fire demonstrations of period muskets and a 10 pound Parrott gun.

 

There was still much to see at the fort, but our ride to Pensacola Beach arrived and it was time to go. Maybe if we’d had more time, we could have tried hiking the Florida National Scenic Trail, which begins in the park. It was a bit of a walk to the other end though, so maybe we’ll have to save that for another time.

We boarded the 3:30 PM ferry from Ft Pickens to Pensacola Beach with dinner on our minds. It was another 45 minute trip, and the weather couldn’t have been better. After several days of rain, the skies had cleared and a fresh sea breeze kept it comfortably cool on the water.

After swinging by a waterfront bar close to the Pensacola Beach ferry landing to order a couple of Bushwackers (a favorite local adult beverage similar to a Wendy’s Frosty with a kick)…

…we walked the half-mile to the Margaritaville Beach Hotel for dinner at Frank and Lola’s. It’s a favorite of ours, and since we still have our original local’s cards from their grand opening several years ago, we get 15% off our meals!

We had a relaxing dinner (and some excellent Mojitos!), and then it was time to catch the sunset ferry back to downtown Pensacola.

Our return trip turned into a ferry race, as the other of the two ferries that operate on the bay chased us down and eventually overtook us.

To cap off our day, once back onboard Eagle Too, we fixed some cocktails and retired to our cockpit, where we were treated to another fireworks display put on by the Blue Wahoos, our home town AA league baseball team whose stadium is right next door to our marina.

All in all, it was a busy, fun, educational and relaxing day, all of which was easily accessible on foot from our marina. Some folks would have to plan and save for months for a vacation like this. But when you live on a boat in the heart of downtown Pensacola, it’s just a Saturday. 🙂

Galley Notes—Stove Topper

Anyone who owns a boat knows that anything with the word “marine” associated with it commands a premium price. But did you know that a lot of the pieces and parts onboard are actually the same as the ones used in motor homes and travel trailers? It makes sense, since we tell people that our boat is basically an RV that floats to help them understand what it’s like to be a liveaboard cruiser. From water pumps and plumbing parts to locker latches and tank level gauges, power cables and hoses to LED lights and galley items, there’s a wide range of components that you can save a bundle on if you shop for them at your local RV store rather than at West Marine.

For example, the Seaward Princess propane stove on our Hunter 376 was also used in motor homes. So when we went looking for a stove top cutting board (which Rhonda won’t let me under any circumstances do any cutting on!), we found one at our local RV dealer for less than $40 that was custom made to fit.

I might not be allowed to chop and slice on it, but it does really extend the counter surface while we’re doing prep and cleanup, and it just looks great. So if you haven’t tried it yet, take a run down to your local RV dealer and wander around their parts department for a while. I think you’ll be amazed at all the things you’ll see that you’ll recognize and/or could use onboard, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the cost compared to marine store pricing.

Summer Upgrades—Hatch Work

The Lewmar size 3 hatch over our galley sink needed replacing. I’m fine putting new seals and O–rings in an old hatch if that’s all that’s needed to stop a leak. You can get the parts at Hatchmasters. But in addition to dripping water down the back of our necks while standing at the galley sink whenever it rained, the hinge rivets broke off this one, so the hatch wouldn’t operate properly, and replacement rivets are impossible to find. It needed to be replaced.

In another case of procrastination paying off (I wouldn’t keep doing it if I didn’t get so much positive reinforcement), West Marine put all their Lewmar hatches on sale, and for a brief period were actually the cheapest source I could find for a replacement. The price was so good that I bought two, although being a somewhat rare size, it took them two weeks to get the new ones in.

The replacement hatch had been redesigned to eliminate the hinge that had broken off our old one, which I liked. One less thing to go wrong.

It fought me tooth and nail, but I eventually got the old hatch out with the help of some heavy duty pry bars from Harbor Freight. Then I cleaned and prepped the deck.

If you follow us here at Life On The Hook™, you know that butyl rubber tape is the only bedding compound we ever use. But don’t use just any butyl rubber tape from Home Depot or AutoZone. Get it from this guy: http://www.pbase.com/mainecruising/butyl_tape. His is the best.

I applied several overlapping layers of tape to the flange of the new hatch.

Then all I had to do was set the new hatch in place, press it down firmly to set the butyl tape, tighten the mounting screws, trim off the excess butyl that squeezed out, and I was ready for a leak check.

I’m delighted to say that we no longer have to endure the shock of cold water dripping on our necks while washing dishes during a thunderstorm!

Summer Upgrades—New Cowl Vents

Being back in the land of online shopping and two day delivery gives us a chance to work on some of the things we’ve wanted to upgrade on Eagle Too. Today’s task is the replacement of our really sad, decaying, weathered cowl vents. These things are just a complete eyesore, and like duct tape on upholstery, they just make our boat look shabby no matter how good she looks otherwise.

We’ve already replaced these rotatable air scoops once before. But they’re made of soft PVC, and the sun just absolutely destroys them. These were less than two years old, but were so UV degraded that they were actually sticky to the touch. Trying to clean them just resulted in a gummy mess.

Buying another set of PVC vents seemed like good money after bad. But at least they were affordable, at about $80 a set. There are some that are made from stainless steel, and Rhonda thought that sounded like a great idea, until I told her they would cost between $600 – $800 for a pair. We didn’t hate the old vents that much!

Thinking there had to be another option, I kept researching, and found out that Vetus actually makes a line of cowl vents in silicon rubber. Unlike PVC plastic, the silicon is supposed to be impervious to sun and weather, and come with a three year warranty. They’re twice the cost of the PVC vents, but only about a quarter of the cost of the stainless steel ones. I placed the order for a pair.

One of the issues with purchasing anything online is that you can’t touch, feel and take a good look at what you’re buying. When the new cowl vents arrived, we learned that they mounted to a completely different type of deck ring, which was never shown or explained in the product description. I couldn’t use the old deck rings, but the mounting holes on the new ones had a smaller radius and wouldn’t work unless I could make the holes in the deck smaller.

In situations like this, I usually put the job aside and ponder on it a while. After a couple of days, a solution popped to mind. I called Carpenter Tony (our name for him, to differentiate him from Canvas Tony, who does all our canvas work), and asked him if he had any scrap 1/2″ Starboard laying around his shop. In case you’re not familiar, Starboard is the brand name of a marine grade plastic lumber that holds up really well to sun and weather. He had some available, so I asked him to make two 6″ rings for me with 4″ holes in the middle. The next day he called to tell me they were ready.

Two new Starboard rings and one of the old mounting rings for comparison.

Taking them one at a time, I removed the first vent and mounting ring…

and then cleaned up the 21 years of accumulated gunk that had collected.

I drilled and countersunk holes in the Starboard ring to match the existing screw holes, applied a bead of silicon, and screwed it down. You don’t really need to seal this, as any water that goes down the vent will drain away, but I thought it would act as an adhesive to back up the screws.

Next I mounted the deck ring for the new cowl vent…

and then screwed the new vent to the ring.

Not bad! Now on to the other side to repeat the process.

And shortly after that, Eagle Too sported two shiny new vents.

You probably noticed the new vents are more upright than the old ones. I couldn’t find the low profile vents in silicon, and these were the best I could do. But they’re still short enough to not be in the way of anything, and they should probably catch a little more air than the old ones.

 

A Bigger Mess Than We Thought

In an earlier post titled  “How We Broke The Boat,” I described how I managed to part our topping lift while cruising in the Bahamas a few months ago. At the time, a temporary repair was the best we could manage. Now that we’re back home for the summer, getting this properly repaired was high on our to-do list. After ordering the parts from Rig-Rite, we scheduled a date with our rigger.

We only have two lines that go to the top of the mast. One, the topping lift, was broken, and the other, the main halyard, needed some adjustment as part of the repair. That meant there was no line available to haul someone to the top of the mast, so we had to take the boat to the shipyard in order to use their boom truck to hoist someone up.

When ordering new axles and sheaves for the top of the mast, I’d ordered a few extra, “just in case.” It turned out to be a good thing, because once our rigger got to work, he determined that we were dealing with a much bigger mess than we thought. Not only was the sheave (small pulley) and axle for the topping lift destroyed, but the ones for the main halyard as well. Basically all the little pulleys and the axles they rode on at the mast top were trash.

Suddenly it all became clear. I thought I’d broken the topping lift by over-tightening the mainsheet and pulling the boom down too far. But our problems probably started a year earlier when we’d had trouble with our mainsail head swivel. For some reason (I can’t really remember), we had taken the mainsail down. Perhaps it was in order to ship it off to SailCare for cleaning. When it came time to re-install the sail, it refused to go on. The top swivel, which attaches to the head of the sail, wouldn’t go up the track inside the mast. It would hang up about a quarter of the way, and then refuse to go another inch. We continued applying more and more force with the winch, until the halyard was as tight as a guitar string, but the swivel just wouldn’t budge. Eventually I gave up and called the riggers, who diagnosed and fixed the problem (a loose screw on the swivel that had backed out enough for the screw head to catch on something inside the mast). But unknowingly, when we were trying to force the swivel to go up the mast, we applied so much force to the halyard that we crushed the sheaves and axles at the mast head.

Hoisting someone the easy way – using a cordless drill

No wonder I’d almost had a heart attack down in New Providence while trying to winch someone up the mast to do our temporary topping lift repair!  I had 160 pounds of French Canadian hanging from a line that I thought was running freely over a pulley at the top of the mast. But it was actually just dragging over a crushed pile of pulley and axle parts that were no longer capable of doing their job. I feel much better now about having needed five rest breaks to get him all the way to the top!

In any event, all is now squared away at the top of Eagle Too’s mast. The efficient folks at Zern Rigging finished the job in a little over two hours, and then we were back out on Pensacola Bay, where we rolled out the sails and tested everything out. We’re good as new and ready to go!