Accidents and repairs
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The reasoning is very simple: if something happens in the middle of the ocean, thousands of miles from the nearest pier, or on a lost island where there is nothing but crabs and coconuts, and there is no one who could help, you will have to get out of the situation yourself. And then you begin to consider all the possible troubles and disasters that can happen, from the most terrible:
- If the mast falls? What if I lose my steering wheel? What if an appendicitis attack occurs?
To more likely:
- What if your teeth hurt? What if the engine water pump fails? If the halyard breaks? If we lose anchor?
Thinking about possible troubles, you begin to make a list of things that you need to have on board: spare parts, stocks of materials, good luck charms ... The list takes up a page, then two, three, ten. And if you do not stop, you will end up loading a bunch of things into the boat that cost a fortune and most of them will be left to rust and rot in the lockers.
Indeed, long-distance boats differ from others in the amount of cargo on board. At times, there are so many spare parts that they stick out of all the lockers and interiors and capture the deck and all free surfaces. Spare anchors fixed on rails and masts, cans of water, gasoline and diesel fuel lined up along the sides, various boxes screwed on deck and stern, folding bicycles strapped down, fenders permanently fixed on the stern rail, because all the lockers are full, and so on.
In the end, spare parts and accessories are needed, but be careful with them, you can overload the boat, you will have to huddle in crowded places and money will be wasted.
Anchors, winches, halyards, sheets, sails.
We met boats on which there were four or even five anchors, of which one was huge, in reserve, just in case ... suddenly a hurricane. We also met others that go with one anchor on a cable, the anchor weighs little and can be given and selected manually.
During our first trip around the world in an Alpa 11.5, we had three anchors: one SQR at the bow, a Danforth at the stern, and another fake SQR, bought cheaply, tethered deep in the hold. Because all the books say that it is better to have the weight as low as possible, and there is nothing below the hold.
On our return, after three years, thirty thousand nautical miles and an endless series of islands and anchorages, we still had the same three anchors. Bow, rather worn, stern, almost new, and the one in the hold, never used and covered with an incredible layer of dirt. So, based on this experience, we came to the conclusion that even three anchors is already too much.
We went out to sea again in another boat, much larger and heavier than the Vecchietto. Fifteen meters, armament of a schooner, against eleven and a half and armament of a sloop. But we still decided to take three anchors. For four years we used only one nasal. Then, within 24 hours in Mozambique, we lost the main anchor, a seventy-five libre SQR, which was hopelessly stuck in the debris at the bottom, broke the huge Danforth, it bent while trying to keep the boat on the flow of the flooded river in gale-force winds. The morning we met was wet and frighteneds, but the boat was unharmed only thanks to the huge rusty admiralty, who lay dormant for four years and got in the way in the runt, and not in the hold, so as not to be covered with mud. Arriving in Durban, we immediately purchased two anchors to replace the lost ones in order to bring their number to three - this is a good number. Although it must be said that the world is much more civilized than many people think, and in almost every major port, if the need arises, you can buy an anchor, anchor line, fenders and other similar things. Perhaps they will not be as modern and expensive as thosethat are used by us, but are able to perform their functions.
The anchor chain is harder to find than the anchor itself because it is a calibrated chain that fishermen don't use. It is better to have at least fifty meters at the bow in one piece and at the stern, for a spare anchor, twenty to thirty meters of the same caliber as the main one, so that if necessary it can be replaced.
Fortunately, the chain, if it is of the right size, does not break or wear out. Over time, friction on the bottom can peel off the zinc coating, but it can be restored in almost any port in the world.
What cannot be found in distant countries is spare parts for anchor winches and winches in general, since these are usually parts produced in our super-technological world, and if they break, it's a disaster. There is no other way but to keep the most important spare parts on board: for the anchor winch, electric motor brush, electric control buttons, relay; for clew winches, a spare parts kit with roller bearings, springs, springs and all those microscopic details that if you just try to disassemble one of them, you will understand what it is about.
Good news. Sails break much less often than you might think, and if they break, you can repair them yourself.
We were in the middle of the South China Sea making a crossing we should never have made: 800 miles against the trade wind from Singapore to Bali. After a week of tacking, waves, heeling, endless adjustment of sails and constant dousing with water, deadly tired, at night, during a thunderstorm, we did not take enough reefs on the grotto. In the morning, going out to my watch, I looked up and saw the sky through the grotto. Catastrophe! Three meter gap from luff to luff.
We removed what was left of the sail and began to rack our brains. We knew that there was a sailmaker in Singapore, but we would have to go back 300 miles and lose everything we had covered in an agonizing week of tacking. Going without a mainsail, we could have gone to Borneo, which was about Gulfwind, but there was no sailmaker and we would have had to do the repairs ourselves.
Then why not repair it where we are now?
The wind raged around, three-meter waves, spray and foamy crests, but without a mainsail, with only one staysail, the boat seemed to drift and the sea was no longer so annoying. And we decided to try. The rupture occurred along one of the seams. We started stitching the sail together using the old holes, standing one on one side and the other on the other side, half-buried in the cockpit under the weight of the sail.
The needle broke periodically.
From time to time a wave swept over the cockpit and refreshed us.
Periodically, a gust of wind tore the fabric from his hands.
Finally, a wave above the others rolled over the deck and I still remember the picture: a bucket in which I put all the tools, full of clear water, spools of thread float, and needles, gardaman and an awl lie at the bottom.
Before sunset, the sewing was finished. We spent six hours doing by hand what a sailmaker would do in twenty minutes on a typewriter, but what difference does it make? At sea, time has its limits and our handmade seam was strong and lasted the rest of the life of the sail. What failed was our determination to keep sailing against the wind. After this episode, we decided to leave Bali and return to Singapore, but that's another story.
If the sail is not torn along the seam, but along the living tissue, it is more difficult to repair it. It is necessary to apply a patch, self-adhesive ones are very convenient. If not, you can use a piece of sailcloth, glue it on and sew around with a zigzag seam. Since it is difficult to pierce the sail with a needle, if we are talking about heavy sails, then after sticking the patch it is better to pierce the holes with an awl and a hammer and then sew on the finished holes. The work is long and not very exciting, but it can be done with the means available on board.
You need to have a lot of needles and different sizes, a gardaman, a lot of sailing thread, not too thin, a piece of wax for rubbing the threads, a little sailcloth, an awl and a lot of patience. Almost all materials, except for patience, can be purchased from a sailmaker.
With good care, sails can last ten years. Fabric aging does not come from wind and miles traveled, but from the amount of ultraviolet radiation absorbed by it. To extend the life of the sails, it is necessary to cover or bag the sails every time the boat is not at sea.
Рангоут и такелаж
The shrouds and masts are supposed to be maintenance-free and should not break. It is enough to keep them under control, periodically checking weak points, cable termination points, lanyards, joints, for signs of possible destruction: weakened strands, cracks, abrasion. The manufacturers say that the shrouds should be changed every ten years, they could last longer, but this reduces the risk of an accident. When we got to the Vecchietto, we installed new shrouds and larger stays. Three years later, by the end of the circumnavigation, in places of terminationand some cables showed signs of destruction. That is much earlier than ten years. When we bought the boat we now sail, all the rigging was original, installed 27 years ago. A year later, the lower shrouds began to come out of the tips into which they were pressed. Then we got scared and replaced everything, but the rigging lasted 28 years. In short, there are no general rules. The service life depends on the quality of the steel used (one manufacturer admitted to us that he uses steel for rigging supplied to the shipyard).from Korea, and for private traders - German!), on the strength with which the section is selected. It is better to be safe and have the rigging fairly new. And it's good to have a set of clamps and lengths of cable on board for possible emergency repairs.
The steering wheel is another device that should never break. Before the first circumnavigation of the world, we stocked up with a couple of sheds so that in case of a loss of the rudder, we could construct an emergency one from the cabin door. I do not know where this strange idea came from, perhaps after reading a book written by one of the heroic sailors of the past. In reality, if the boat is well designed, the probability of losing the rudder is zero, and if anything wears out, it's steering cables and blocks. Therefore, all that is needed is the cables already cut to length, for quick replacement and confor sure an emergency tiller that can be mounted directly on the steering wheel.
Что под палубой
Let's go downstairs and talk about a very important mechanism, the toilet. It must be treated with reverence, because this device is very delicate and breaks very easily, especially if used ineptly, and there is nothing worse than having shy friends on board and a non-working toilet just because someone thoughtlessly threw a tampax into the toilet or dental floss. Fortunately, repairs are always possible with improvised means; it is enough to have a set of spare gaskets. The work is terrible and smelly, but in the end it brings satisfaction. If you have guests on boardThat phenomenon, it's a good idea to hang a sign in the latrine with instructions on how to use the toilet, emphasizing once again that you can't throw anything other than toilet paper into it! A red plaque with dark threats. Unfortunately, we do many things automatically and sooner or later something that should not get into the toilet.
After the toilet comes electronic equipment. GPS, radio, echo sounder, computer, weather fax, VHF. All of them are very sensitive to moisture and salt. These are complex devices and if they break, they can hardly be repaired by their own means. It is better to limit their number to the minimum necessary, buy the best brands whenever possible and install them in such a way as to protect them from moisture as much as possible. The most delicate devices, such as cameras, camcorders, portable GPS, etc., are best preserved if they are stored in an airtight container each time they are not in use.are plastic bags. Sounds like paranoia, but you must always remember that the sea atmosphere is really very aggressive.
We had a good brand of mechanical camera. Once, after leaving for Italy for six months, we forgot to pack it securely and left it in a locker in our black purse. Upon returning, the camera was completely blocked, all the dials, the shutter, the aperture adjustment mechanism ... Nothing could be done!
Ninety percent of problems on a sailboat come from him. One fine day, the generator stops charging the batteries and you have to rack your brains, remembering how it works, where the regulator is, where the wires go, and the like ... Another time the cooling water pump suddenly pumps water poorly, and it would not be difficult to disassemble it if the motor was not located so that the pump is inside the spar ... And how the hell those scoundrels who installed the engine could not think about it! And now I have to disassemble to remove the pump.l engine! Once the oil pressure indicator suddenly drops to zero and it is not clear whether the motor has died, or the device does not work. The fuel is also contaminated with water or something else, the couplings break, the shaft starts to vibrate, the reverse mechanism makes strange sounds or the heat exchanger starts to flow.
In short, a motor on a sailing boat, it is better not to have it at all. But since it exists, because we can no longer do without it, we have to come to terms and try to learn how to deal with it.
Basically, it is not the motor itself that breaks down, but its equipment: a water pump, a generator, a starter. And these last, fortunately, on any engine, Jabsco pumps, starter and Bosh generator. They are known and repaired all over the world. For this reason, it is usually enough to have pump impellers on board, spare belts, but if you really want it, a spare generator and pump. What you must have is the engine manual issued by the manufacturer. Not the brochure that is given to the user and from which there is no sense, but a complete guideservice manual for mechanics, with codes, drawings and illustrations, so that if necessary, you can order by mail or through an international courier service what you need.
If you have a choice, it's better to stick with more well-known brands: Volvo Penta, Perkins, Yanmar, because mechanics all over the world know them well and it's easier to find spare parts. If your motor is an unknown brand, don't be too upset. Third world countries have very skilled mechanics who can reconstruct broken parts. At times, the production of a part in some workshop located on the edge of a cassava field costs much less than the original part.
Once north of Flores we almost drowned due to the current silencer. There was a complete calm and we had been trudging under the engine for many hours, hoping to reach somewhere before evening. While we sat on deck, in the heat, under the sun, watching the seemingly endless motionless sea slide back, below deck, a silencer poured water into the hold in a continuous stream. At some point, having gone down for some reason, we found that the boat was full of water and oily liquid from the hold, it had already risen above the payols. Fright, panic, frantic search for a hole in the hull, whichand there was no way, many hours of pumping water and in the end I was holding a large rusty muffler in my hands, sold out by welding.
What to do? Wrap with a rag? Tape up? Try sealing with silicone? I know that you won’t believe it, but we cleaned it, degreased it, first with ammonia, then with alcohol, and finally filled it with silicone, having previously pulled it together with a rope so that the gap would not open! The repair lasted two months before coming to a place big enough to find someone who could brew the muffler.
Two years later, in the waters of Papua New Guinea, our engine (again!) suddenly began to gush. We noticed this by the light steam coming from the walls of the engine compartment.
We turned off the engine, moved away from the land and looked with trepidation into its foul-smelling womb. This time the heat exchanger body leaked. Try silicone again? We spent a whole day taking apart, cleaning, degreasing, silicone and putting everything back together, but this time it did not work. Fifty miles from our location on the map was the village of Kavieng, on the south coast of Papua. We hesitated, we did not have visas to enter Papua New Guinea and the cities on the coast are considered dangerous and criminal places, but in the end we sent anywaygo there. On land, we were met by an official in a greasy uniform, sitting in a booth next to a huge copra store.
- You are already the fourth boat passing this year. - he said. It was already December. He issued us a visa due to emergency for seven days, explained which places are dangerous here, where it is better not to go, and took us to the workshop, where a new part was made from the spring of an abandoned tank, in two days of work, to replace the broken one. In short, motors break down, and often. We have already lost count of how many times this has happened. And every time it's a big stress. Each breakdown is anxiety, doubt, dirt, parts scattered throughout the boat, worries and worries.delays. Some breakdowns can be prevented by keeping the engine clean and constantly monitoring the flow of cooling water, belt tension, antifreeze and oil levels, filter conditions, and more. Another time, nothing can be done, the mechanism breaks and that's it. But don't worry, there is always a way out.
You can't stop in the Suez Canal. The passage is very narrow, and even a small boat, if it gets across, blocks the way for ships, which, in turn, cannot stop either, because if they lose their course they would become uncontrollable, risking running aground. We passed the canal together with a French sailboat. They are in front with their pilot, and the two of us in the Vecchietto, just behind them, with ours. Suddenly, on the French boat, they began to shout and gesticulate: they needed help. Our pilot was shouting something in their Arabic and soon the picture became clear, he left the page.oh motor.
“Will you agree to tow them?” the pilots asked.
The Vecchietto had a small motor, only 30 horsepower, and by itself did not work very well. Towing another boat meant going very slowly.
“If you do not agree, they will have to be escorted by a canal tug, which will cost them thousands of dollars. the pilot threatened. And all this happened just when a container ship was catching up with us from a distance. The French took to the left, we went around them on the starboard side, threw a cable and began to tow. Soon the container ship, honking loudly, began to bypass us, and the pilots from all three ships shouted something incomprehensible over the radio. Half an hour later we reached the lakes of Izmailia and were finally able to drop anchor.
“C'est plein d'eau, c'est plein d'eau…” continued Jackie, the skipper of the boat. Indeed, their engine started and worked normally, but a fountain of water beat out of it, which, falling on the engine case, evaporated, filling the cabin with steam and spray. The Frenchman, except for grabbing his head and screaming, it seems that he was not going to do anything else. I did not even do the simplest thing, for example, go and see close to where the water comes from. We did this and immediately saw that the fountain came from a torn rubber pipe. Jackie, when asked if he had anything toto beat him, answered in the same manner: with his hands behind his head and a sad mine. Returning to the Vecchietto in a locker full of various pipes, tubes, connections and all sorts of pieces of iron, which, just in case, are never thrown away, we found a piece of pipe of a more or less suitable diameter. They drove it up, fixed it with clamps, and in less than two hours the French boat could go again, and we felt like heroes who saved the situation.
This incident proves two things:
- You can go around the world, as the French do, without even looking into the engine, without spare parts and without even a minimal idea of how to repair it.
- It is possible, and often not very difficult, to solve most of the problems on our own.