Cruising is….

Cruising is working on your boat in exotic places.  I had heard that phrase many times before.  Now it has really started to sink in.

I will summarize some of the work we have done so far.  If you are interested in the details, I will be  including them on The Boat page of the blog.   We were offshore on our way into the Bahamas when our chainplate broke.  Chainplates are thick stainless steel straps that are the attachment point for the sidestays that hold up the mast.  When one of them breaks, it is a big problem.  Lucky for us it was the attachment point for a lower sidestay and there was sufficient support for the rest of the mast.  We have been motoring not sailing while the chainplates were being worked on.

When we got in to Green Turtle Cay we found that there were really not any riggers or repair facilities on the island.  We went ahead and took a little R&R in GTC and then motored to Marsh Harbour, where we were told CJ’s Welding could fabricate chainplates.  I took the broken chainplate in to CJ’s so they could use it as a template.

The other thing about chainplates is that if one breaks, you need to pull all of the others to make sure that the others are not about to break too.  So I pulled some of the other chainplates.  The not so good news is that the other chainplates showed similar corrosion.

In the first photo you can see the top portion of the broken chainplate.  As you can see, the top of the chainplate and the portion below deck is in pretty good shape.  The corrosion occurs where it goes through the deck.  They survey missed this completely, although to be fair, a standard survey doesn’t usually include pulling a chainplate to check for corrosion.  The close-up of the break looks even nastier in real life.

Broken Chainplate

Close up it really looks nasty

Ultimately, the decision to replace all of the chainplates was validated when I pulled the port upper (the support for the top of the mast) and found that it was nearly ready to fail too.  As you can see in the photo, almost 75% of the chainplate was gone.

Port upper almost 75% gone. We were lucky this one didn't break.

We finished repairing the chainplates around the beginning of February and we continued cruising south into the Exumas.

Our other major repair is in progress.  While we were coming into Big Majors Spot near Staniel Cay.  We were having problems with the engine overheating.  As it turns out, we had a hole in our mixing elbow about the size of a dime.  The mixing elbow is part of the engine exhaust system, where water and exhaust gases are mixed together and then forced out through the exhaust.  In order to get us to Georgetown, I improvised a patch over the mixing elbow.  I made patches from cut up spare engine hose and then used hose clamps to hold them in place.  This repair held up for 8 hours of motoring or motorsailing for our trip from Staniel to Georgetown.  Here is a picture of the improvised patch.

Improvised patch for the mixing elbow.

When we got to Georgetown, I located a welder willing to try to weld the hole.  However, when he looked at the elbow he said it couldn’t be welded.  He then drove me around Georgetown to the hardware store and a marine store while we gathered the parts to fabricate a replacement.  In the photos below you can see the old and new side by side.

Noke welding a fabricated mixing elbow

Old and new mixing elbows side by side

In the meantime, we found out that my in-laws would be visiting us in Georgetown.  I arranged to have new parts sent to them so that they could bring them down with them.  This will make the 4th time I have had to remove the exhaust system between the engine and the muffler.  Hopefully it will be the last for a good long time.

The good news here is that the cruising community is helpful, knowledgeable, and expert at improvising solutions.  A call out to the cruiser’s net here in Georgetown resulted in six responses including one with a spare mixing elbow that might fit.  It is a great community of boaters.

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