The Projects

Blue Wing in her slip. We were able to jump ahead on the waiting list because we didn’t need power or water hookups. We had to attach the forestay in a slip because we’re not allowed to climb the mast while in the boatyard. The old forestay and furler are pictured here. The bottom connects at the bow near the anchor. The top connects at the top of the mast.

October 31 – December 29, 2018.

Stop! Stop! Greg was down below winching me up the mast. I was about halfway to the top when I looked up and saw them. Hornets swarmed around the spreaders a few feet away from my head. Bring me down now!

We were just starting our project to replace Blue Wing’s forestay and roller furler which we had damaged 2 years ago when a White Squall hit us while we were crossing the Gulf Stream to Mexico. The impact of the Squall broke the cotter pin that held our forestay to the top of the mast, leaving the forestay, roller furler, and head sail hanging by the halyard that holds up the roller furler until eventually it also broke dropping everything it was holding up into the ocean. And with nothing left to hold up the halyard (which ran up inside the mast) it too fell – back inside to the bottom of our 50 + foot mast. The first step of our replacement project was retrieving that halyard, well, that was, until the hornets.

We looked up. The hornets were flying around about 20 feet halfway up the mast at the spreaders and at the very top, some 40 feet up in the air. I wasn’t too keen on going up again until they were gone. There didn’t seem to be a nest. They just seemed to be hanging out, circling the mast like they were at some cool roller arena dance party. We tried shooting a stream of some spray that promised to kill scary, stingy, swarmy, flying bugs at them, but our stream fell short, they were too far away. Greg soaked a rag with the spray, tied it to a halyard and ran it up the mast hoping the smell would make their little hangout inhospitable, but these party dudes didn’t even seem to notice. Days went by, we kept trying various things, but only one solution seemed really viable, someone was going to have to take the bug spray, go up the mast and join the festivities.

That person was, of course, me. Since I’m lighter and Greg is stronger, it is easier for Greg to winch me up the mast. Some dock neighbors loaned me a paper jumpsuit, I donned glasses, socks and shoes, a hat, and a face mask. I strapped on the bosun chair, grabbed the bug spray, and up I went towards the warm Florida sun. I was only able to get a few direct hits but apparently that was enough, the party was over, everyone, including the revelers at the very top of the mast, moved on.

The rest of the project did not go off without quite a few snags, but in the end it was successful. I could go into all the tedious detail right here, but have decided to leave all that for the picture captions – so feel free to either read the rest of the story in the captions or ignore the captions and make up your own story (which would surely be more fun).

We had allowed ourselves a month to complete our forestay project, do a few upgrades for Blue Wing, and finish getting her ready to sail, but by the time the end of that month rolled around we were begging the office for another. They never really told us we could stay (Indiantown was super busy in November and people were waiting for slips), but never told us we would have to go, so we decided to just stay until they kicked us out (which they didn’t).

This next part of my story here is all the other projects we worked on during our months in Indiantown. I’ve formatted it in a tidy little bullet list, so it easier to read and also easier to just skip (I’ll let you know where to jump back in) if you find all this stuff rather tedious and no fun (because really, it was rather tedious and not much fun at all).

  • Besides installing a new forestay and roller furler (and the starter, fuel pump, starter battery, and glow plugs we talked about in the previous post), we also installed:
    • A new stove
    • A new VHF radio
    • A new power inverter
  • I developed some kind of allergy which we thought might be caused by mold so we cleaned every surface inside the boat. This included tight claustrophobic little spaces I had to crawl into, like the compartment under the vberth, as well as places I have never seen before inside compartments that obviously no one else had ever seen before (based on the thickness of the grime) where all the crazy scary looking wires and tubes run that connect all our plumbing and electricity.
  • We moved our solar panels and refrigerator from the van and installed them on the boat.
  • I emptied, organized, and cleaned all the cockpit lazerettes, pulling out multiple bottles of cleaners and boat fluids, consolidating them and getting rid of the stuff we had no idea what to do with.
  • While cleaning the lazerettes, I found a dinghy part, which led us to realize that the inflatable dink, Jethrine, was falling apart the last time we used her. We pulled Jethrine out, inflated her, removed all of her rings and handles and glued them back on.
  • Greg replaced/rebedded several eye snaps for our dodger.
  • We added shelves to a hanging locker so we could have a tidy place to store all the spare parts – wire, fiberglass, pumps, etc. incase things started breaking while we are out sailing.
  • While we were doing all this our water pump started acting up, after much diagnosis, Greg finally pulled it apart and fished a tiny piece of plastic out of it, after which we went to town, bought a pump filter which Greg installed.
  • We discovered a leak in our kitchen sink and after much searching of various hardware store we finally found appropriate parts and fixed it.
  • Since we were in a plumbing mood, we decided to finally replace the corroded parts on our bathroom sink, which took much searching for parts, breaking parts, and searching for ways to repair broken parts.
  • Greg replaced nav lights and a few cabin lights with LEDs
  • Greg replaced the steaming light after it was broken on a trip up the mast.
  • Replaced all of our fire extinguishers after a recall by Kidde.
  • Greg cleaned our anchor chain and I cleaned the inside of the anchor chain locker.
  • And while we were in the anchor chain locker we decided to replace the rotting plywood divider in the locker with a new plexiglass divider.
  • Greg replaced another halyard (besides the one we shredded during the forestay project – see the picture captions) that was showing too much wear.
  • Greg checked and filled engine fluids.
  • Greg unfolded and inspected all our sails.
  • We made countless trips to Stuart for marine supplies.
  • We made a trip to Miami to return the inverter for the van that suddenly stopped working.
  • And we did a little maintenance on ourselves – getting physicals for the first time since we went nomad.
  • Greg filled out water tanks.
  • We bought 6 months of groceries, a couple months worth of beer and stowed it all on the boat.
  • I went up the mast again to caulk some holes in the top of mast I had spotted on one of my previous trips up.
  • Our last project was to get the outboard started. Greg cleaned the carbeurator twice, replaced the choke handle, and was about to clean the carbeurator again when we changed tack.


And through all of this we kept turning to each other and saying – wow, the van was so much easier.

Our decision to haul the boat out and go traipsing about on land, wasn’t just one thing – hornets, a moldy vberth, plumbing problems, broken motors. It was a cumulation of lots of little things. Blue Wing is probably in better condition than she has ever been, but she is a boat, which means there are many more projects in our future. Despite getting physicals, I think we need to put a little more energy into the project of us – catch up on writing, take care of dental issues, travel with fewer worries, spend more time decorating than repairing, and go somewhere with less scary, stingy, swarmy, flying bugs.

Right now, this very minute, we are camping at Anza-Borrego State Park in the desert sourounded by mountains and Cholla Cacti. It is amazingly beautiful. Greg’s final dental appointment went well. On our way here we picked up lots of soft foods for him to eat and some Tecate beer for us to drink while we hangout, write, learn new songs on the accordion, and take care of ourselves.

* All pics are click to enlarge.

Nov. 9 – Here we see the bottom of the mast inside the boat. The old halyard broke at the top of the mast and fell down inside. Now it’s been fished out of the mast through a peephole and coiled here. It’s still usable. But our challenge is to feed something down the mast from the top, attach it to the halyard, and pull it back up through the mast and out.
Nov. 9 – Greg sews rope ends together to make a long line. We’ll try feeding it down through the mast.
Nov. 9 – Three lines sewed together to make one long line.
Nov. 9 – Duwan looks down from the bosun’s chair. Greg will hoist her up. She’s carrying the line we want to drop down the mast.
Nov. 9 – Ooops. Hit a snag. Hornets swarm around the mast. Greg soaks a rag with bug spray. Hoist. Lower. Repeat. Results ineffective.
Nov. 9 – Duwan goes up to battle the hornets.
Nov. 9 – Duwan won. The hornets are gone now. Duwan is at the top of the mast looking down on the neighbors. She has fed the line as far as it will go. It got stuck. There are several wires and halyards running through the mast. Our feeder line is jammed against one of them.
Nov. 11 – Another view from the top. Many attempts have been made to feed a line through. We also tried thinner line with a weight. It’s not getting to the bottom, though.
Nov. 11 – Hey let’s try Greg’s red fiberglass electrician’s wire feeder. Maybe that will poke the line past the obstacle. No luck. Duwan leaves the original line suspended in the mast, and we go work on other projects.
Nov. 13 – After a couple of days the feeder line just fell through on its own. Maybe it’s because we are close to the marina entrance and lots of boats don’t respect the No Wake sign. All that rocking may have dislodged it. Here the feeder line (blue) has been sewed to the old halyard (red).
Nov. 13 – Yay! Duwan is at the top of the mast holding the end of the feeder line. You can see that the halyard end is now out of the mast. Success.
Nov. 13 – View looking down from the top of the mast. Did we mention that boats don’t respect the No Wake sign? It gets lively up here when there’s a two foot wake.
Nov. 13 – Here’s a spare halyard. We occasionally use it to hoist a dinghy up on deck, but it has just been asked to do a lot of heavy lifting. This section is weathered and fraying apart. We need to order another. One more delay of several days. We’ll need all the halyards for the forestay replacement project.
Nov. 15 – Base of the old forestay and furling system is detached now. The forestay is a steel cable that holds tension between the bow and top of the mast. The furling system is a slotted cylinder that runs the length of the forestay and uses the forestay as an axis to spin around. The sail’s leading edge fits into the slot. Pulling line out of the spool at the bottom causes the furling cylinder to spin, wrapping the sail around the forestay.
Nov. 15 – Greg going up the mast to detach the old forestay. He’s using his new nifty rope climbers. Duwan keeps the safety line snug as he ascends.
Nov. 15 – Greg detatches the old forestay.
Nov. 15 – We wanted to be on this long dock so we would have room to lay out the old forestay. We’ll also need the space to assemble the new furling system. Here the old one is almost down. It stretches along most of the dock.
Nov. 15 – Old forestay and furling assembly. You can see all the kinks along its length. The forestay assembly is made of 7′ foils joined together. All the joints were badly damaged. The foils no longer line up as a single unit with a continuous slot. Can’t raise a sail on up this assembly.
Nov. 16 – We measure the old system, so we know exactly how long to make the new assembly.
Nov. 16 – Off comes the old furler base.
Nov. 16 – Instructions for the new Seldon system were great. Everything required was in the package. There was a video we watched several times. Here Greg uses the dock as a workbench to cut one of the new foils to the proper length.
“Fluffy” monitors our progress.
Nov. 17 – The new forestay cable stretches out to the end of the dock. All the new foils and joining parts are laid out here.
Nov. 17 – Greg feeds foils onto the forestay and Duwan connects them together. The foils and connector pieces are made of aluminum. There are special stainless steel snap-in clips to hold everything in place. The system is designed to be easy to pull back apart, for people who remove their masts each year.
Nov. 17 – Foils are on. Now Greg cuts the forestay cable to the right length.
Nov. 17 – The new forestay came with a fixed connector hole at the top. At the bottom we add a Sta-Lock connector by separating the outer cable wires from the core and putting this center piece around the core. The outer wires will be bent back in and the Sta-Lock screwed down over this enlarged base.
Nov. 17 – Sta-Lock (gold) is installed. Now we put on the furling drum.
Nov. 17 – Furling line is attached. When everything is finally in place the line will be used to furl the sail. It coils up inside the drum whenever the sail is let out. To furl the sail we pull on the line. To reduce the sail area (in high winds) we can partially furl the sail.
Nov. 17 – New completed assembly. Now we just need to install it.
Nov. 17 – When we took down the old forestay, we tied halyard #1 to a cleat at the bow to make sure the mast was supported. Now we tie halyard #2 to the top of the assembly and hoist it up.
Nov. 17 – Greg climbs halyard #3 to the top of the mast. Duwan keeps safety halyard #4 snug as he ascends. He attaches the forestay.
Nov. 17 – Greg lines up the bottom of the assembly to attach it.
“Tick Tock” monitors our progress.
Nov. 18 – Yay. The final attachment! But why is Greg wearing a different shirt? It’s the next day. He used the wrong connector at the top yesterday. Disgusted, he just left the base tied off, released a swarm of swear words to hover around the mast (like hornets), and cracked open a beer. This morning he went back up the mast and replaced that connector. He’s putting the correct one on at the bottom now. After that we raised our best headsail. And it furled correctly the first time, with no further adjustments.

12 thoughts on “The Projects

    1. Yeah – it does look like a lot when write it all down. So happy about Greg’s teeth, too. There are salads in his future now.

  1. I am so impressed with all the things that you guys are able to do. Sif has become quite the mechanic and jack of all trades. I think that you guys are living the dream.

    1. Thanks Tracy! We have both learned so many things the last 6 years, especially Greg. You gotta know how to fix things in order to live the dream!

  2. Whoah, so that’s why I didn’t hear from you November and December. Just reading that to do list made me tired. Sounds like she’s ready to go when you are. See you when you’re back our way.

  3. Whew! Long list of To Do’s. Reminds me of the old definition of a boat: A hole in the water that you pour money into!

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