Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sloop sliding away

Several people have written with some interests in the sloop that we talked about in the last post. We have a little more information on that, and a short photographic update. So even though we have not been undergoing anything especially 'newsworthy' this past week I am going to upload a brief post with what little content that we do have.

First, a photo of the Marine Patrol headed out on a morning some time back that I don't think I had posted here before:

I mentioned that because it is a little bit unusual. The typical scenario here is that the Marine Patrol leaves the marina just before dusk every evening, and returns an hour or so after dawn the next day. They patrol all night, mainly looking for Haitian sloops trying to make it to Provo with illegal immigrants. And they catch plenty of them. But in this case, one of their boats was headed out after dawn, not in as usual. This typically means that there is something going on. We have plans to add a VHF marine radio to the house here, so that we can keep better track of what's happening in the ocean around us. Should be good reception up on this hill.

Okay, back to the sloop. If you remember the previous post, we took our boat out to get some photos of this nice looking monohull sailboat that was hard aground on the reef about a mile out. We posted some photos like this:

We got several emails and some comments here on the blog asking specifically about this boat. (You guys DO read the comments at the end of the posts, don't you? It's our major source of feedback!) So, we were making plans to go try to get some photos from inside the reef, when we heard a rumor that it had already been hauled off the reef and taken to Turtle Cove Marina.

Immediately recognizing an excellent excuse for drinks and dinner at the Tiki Hut, we piled in the Land Rover and headed down to Turtle Cove. And we found that the rumors were indeed true. We were a little surprised when we got there, though. I guess I was expecting to see this sloop in a slip with some patches and floatation bags keeping it afloat, with maybe a pump running to keep up with the leaks...

That's not what we found.

This is what we found:

The boat looks to be pretty much sitting with the keel just touching the bottom with flotation bags keeping it upright. I would have had to get in the water to see for sure, as it was another overcast day making the visibility underwater not as good as usual.

Asking around, we did get some minimal information about the boat, but we have no idea whether it is valid or not. Without verification, we heard from a friend that the sloop had been rented, and that it had left Turtle Cove at night. We heard some other stuff, but I am going to limit what I put in print to this. But this is crazy enough, if true. Oh, not the rented boat part. I don't know where you would rent a boat like this, and we have yet to see the name or home port on the stern. There are certainly a lot of yacht charters around Florida, the Bahamas, and south of here in the deep Caribben. No, that part would not be unusual, but the crazy part of that story, to us, would be that someone would try to leave Turtle Cove in the dark.

In ideal conditions, with a full moon, plenty of people on the bow with spotlights, and a good GPS, I MIGHT try it in a familiar boat. Maybe. If I had a real good reason. Actually, it would have to be better than a real good reason. Would have to be a compelling reason, i.e. no choice in the matter.

Here's what this part of the world looks like on Google Earth:

Now that's the Turtle Cove Marina in the lower left of the image, and Sellar's Cut in the upper right. That cut is the way through the reef.

I took a photo of one of our charts for the area. And realizing that a lot of the people reading this blog are not familiar with nautical charts, I drew a series of arrows on the route that a boat of this size absolutely has to take to get out of Turtle Cove and through that cut:

Those numbers along the route, and elsewhere on the chart, are depth soundings in meters and decimeters. You can see that if you stay in the channel, you have six to eight feet of water through most of it. Those little upright red and green marks on the chart are the channel marking buoys. A boat would have the green ones on their starboard, or right side as they leave the marina headed out.

We have made that little passage several times in our smaller, power boats, and it's still tricky dodging the coral heads and reefs. If you stay between the buoys you are okay, but you get outside that channel things start getting bleak in a hurry. If there is any kind of a swell running, it breaks all along the reef there.

Of course we are curious as to what happened too, as any boaters would be. I went back to the photos I had taken while the sloop was still on the reef, and zoomed in as much as possible before it got too fuzzy to make things out. I was looking to see if I could spot any of the channel buoys in our photos. And I could. In this image, you can see what the buoys look like with the image zoomed in. I put little white arrows pointing out two of them:

And then I took the clearest of our photos that showed more of the area, and I looked carefully inside the reef, and marked every buoy I could see :

If you compare that to the chart, you can figure out where the buoys start getting spaced apart like that.

I realize you won't be able to see the buoys in that photo, so you'll just have to trust where I put the arrows. I might have missed a buoy or so, but the ones I marked are there. And, it looks to me like someone just made a left turn before they should have. Pure conjecture on my part. And sad, if true, because if that's the case they very nearly made it.

So now, here she sits, missing the mast, and with a huge part of the hull and bottom ripped off.

Makes me queasy to even look at it. Dooley the Dauntless Dog wonders if we really want a sailboat of our own. And yes, we still do.

We heard some other rumors concerning the damage, and various things, but since they involve liability and big sums of money, I am going to wait until I actually know what happened before spreading them further.

Otherwise, it's been a quiet week. We did spot some flamingos wading around the salina, and I actually made the effort to climb out of the Land Rover to take some photos this time. They were okay with me taking photos as long as I stayed back from the shoreline a bit:

But they showed a little more alertness and started conferring with each other when I got closer.

I should have spooked them and got photos of them flying. They are much more impressive looking in the air. Wading around, they just kind of remind me of South Florida lawn ornaments.

At home the DIY projects just keep coming. I don't even keep track of them all any more. It's plumbing here, windows there, corrosion and rust issues every where. Life in the tropics. And it doesn't help that we live on a windy hillside facing the ocean. Our previous blog post had some photos and explanation about me digging into a hand brake problem on the Land Rover, and in the process finding a bad universal joint. Those are both fixed. AND when I went to test it, I found that the rear brakes has seized up. More Hurricane Hannah leftovers. So now I know a bit about the wheel brakes, too.

And some of those among you who have read this blog in the past might recognize the aluminum drip pan catching the brake fluid in that photo. Yep, that is a gen-u-wine hand made tropical drip pan, fabricated by a disgruntled expat using the remains of a $ 2,000 sat dish that was remodelled senseless by Hurricane Hannah, and then further massaged and fine tuned by the gentle 150 mph breezes of Hurricane Ike. Grrr. But hey, it works. Still looking for ideas on what to do with the rest of that aluminum.

It's not all work, of course. We have been managing to get some kayaking in when it was too rough offshore. We just fling it onto the nearest vehicle that is actually driveable on that day:

And I have found that propelling these Hobie drives is, indeed, excellent leg rehab after knee surgery. Maybe Hobie should peddle these to the physical therapy centers... ('peddle them', nyuk nyuk nyuk...):

We took Dooley the Detrimental and checked out the Southside Marina and some canals, again. We saw the former Sail Provo catamaran "Phoenix" floating while undergoing ongoing repairs. Another Hurricane Hannah casualty that is making another comeback:

I tell you what, the guys down here can definitely fix boats. It's something they do really well, like fishing. Cars and trucks, well, that's a bit more subjective.

We drooled over someone's really, really cool new boat house under construction on the Discovery Bay canals:

And we saw the local version of a "Deadliest Catch" fishing boat tied up back there:

(If you are familiar with that television program, you can probably appreciate that the fishermen here don't have to worry about the ice build up on the pots like they do up in Alaska. Capt. Sig, eat your heart out.)

On a subsequent kayak outing we decided to give the sail another try. This is what the sail looks like rolled up around the mast and secured to the boat:

And this is what a traumatized dog looks like while being coddled an hour later, after learning the horribly loud noises a loose flapping sail makes a foot over your head while a loose length of line whips around you and a big guy with a shaved head screams in your face to "Get your furry shivering little @$$ off the $&^%@!! rudder cables!!"

We will put the sail aside for another, gentler day. Meanwhile, the dog rides up front from now on. By unanimous consent.

That's pretty much been it for this week. Weather has kept us ashore for a lot of it. And we are still finding legacies of the Hurricanes nine months ago. For example, when circuit breakers start tripping and pumps stop working, we now know it's a pretty safe bet that corrosion caused by being pressurewashed with seawater is bad for electrical doo dads:

Sometimes, even I call an expert. Especially in situations where I would prefer to avoid getting electrocuted. Actually the electricity doesn't scare me much, it's really basic. Simpler than brakes. It's more that these guys are just so much faster at finding circuit problems, and they have the tools, meters, connectors, and know-how to do it. Besides, I got brakes or something else to fix that won't zap me.

Oh, before I close out this post, I wanted to mention yesterday. I managed to get the VHF radio and antenna installed at the house, and needed to find a way to power it. I drove to the Do-It Center, Provo Building Supply, Krazy Bargains, Kishco, The Business Center, and finally NAPA before I found a little battery charger for motorcycles and snow(!?)mobiles that puts out 12 VDC. But that brief description really doesn't do this odyssey justice. For example, In Krazy Bargains I met a new salesman. I was trying to find something to get me from 110VAC to 12 VDC, and he was trying, desperately, to sell me a cordless screwdriver.

You see the dichotomy in this, I hope. There was no way I was going to power a VHF radio with a cordless screwdriver, even as outstanding of an opportunity and a bargain as I was repeatedly assured that it was. And there was no way this guy understood that what I was looking for had nothing to do with screwdrivers, although he did get the idea that there was no way he was going to sell me a $ 350 cordless screwdriver , even with the 15% Father's Day Discount thrown in to sweeten the deal.

I think that the only thing we probably had in common thoughout this passionate conversation was the single, broad concept of the loose term "battery charger". I wanted a battery charger. The screwdriver included one. This is about as far as we ever got in the same direction.

I finally gave up and got out of there before he started dragging out AAA NiCds.

And I had no better luck at the new Business Center. They had one that would run a cell phone at 9 volts...oh, and some considerate customers. At least I think it's considerate to tether your goat while shopping for something for your business.

(and a few seconds before I took this photo, the goat was definitely taking care of some business.)

So there's another brief look into the mundane part of everyday life for us here. Nothing exciting lately. But at least the weather is clearing up well enough for some more sunsets:


Anonymous said...

Ouch! That looks like it hurts! I am surprised that you are on the kayak already but you are right..great pt to get it moving again.

Terrible about the sailboat. It stinks looking INTO the salon. What a waste. I wonder if it can be salvaged?

Too funny about Dooley. He always wanted up there with LaGringa anyway! He looks cute with that one ear down. :)

Well, I think I read that you can get in the water now. I would love to see some underwater pics. It has been a while..I think last year's conch dives were the last I saw. The water has cleared up in the BVI from all that yucky algae so I should get some good ones to post when I get back.

Your weather looks BEAUTIFUL!!


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Steve said...

Over the weekend I tried out a Hobie with the mirage drive system. The Hobie demo guy said the foot straps did nothing for the user so he leaves them off. I see you are using them, do they work for you? I had a problem keeping my feet on the paddles for a long time. Also the Hobie I was testing with didn’t have the foot straps. Steve K from NJ BTW, The knee looks good.

Anonymous said...

The foot straps keep your feet from sliding off the pedals. Especially when wet. I don't know why someone would 'leave them off', as though that makes the boat go faster? Makes it easier to bail out? I dunno. Maybe it's just personal preference, but we like them. They work fine. I have never had any problem with my feet coming off the pedals.

Ours are so loose they don't even touch the top of your feet, they are no hassle. Haven't tried them with shoes yet.