Thursday, September 11, 2014

Fixing damaged cleats

Hi, this is the captain. 
This means you can expect a technical post and no underwater pictures. 
Not even a picture of me diving into murky water to retrieve a chisel I dropped overboard.

We came to the boat two weeks ago and found out that the storm caused some damage on the boat. The cleats survived 10 years of use and abuse with no major problems, but now they were twisted and the teak rail was split. 

Stern port cleat sustained minor damage
Teak rail was cracked
Bow port cleat was in worse condition
Teak rail was fully split
In reality it looked worse than on this picture
12mm bolts were bent, but fiberglass base (hull and deck) was luckily intact
Removing 40 cm section of teak
Removing original black sealant was not easy. After 10 years it was still very flexible. 
Aluminum base was installed instead of broken teak railing. This solution is a lot better. Access from anchor locker is relatively easy. Being short is sometimes an advantage. That is me inside the locker.
Work in progress: Teak is sanded and hard edges removed.
Finished cleat after repair.
When I work on a boat I usually use a lot of tools if I have them.
After we finished bow cleat we started working with the stern one.
Access to stern cleat base from below is a lot more restricted then for the bow cleats. 
This is how cleat looked before it was bent
This is how cleat looked before it was bent (from above)
Sanding off the edges of the teak railing
At stern cleat the fiberglass base was damaged and we repaired it with epoxy (sorry, no pictures).  
I wish my arm was longer. A loooooooooooooot loooooooooonger
Hmm. How on earth can I reach that far and position a nut on the bolt ?
After picture. Stern port side.
How could all this happen?

The mooring field looks similar to the one on this picture:

Each boat is tied with four lines and chain to large heavy chains, which are screwed to the bottom.
Heron was moored at low tide. 
It looked she was tied too tight and when the tide was high the lines were probably already stretched.
Then the storm came. Mooring field is relatively well protected from NE - from strong Bora winds. Also the bow of Heron is facing into prevailing strong winds. But there are sometimes short leaving storms with N wind. Fetch is not very long from N (a bit over half of a mile) and this storms are usually only lasting for an hour or so, so waves are normally not a problem.

But if you add all factors together you get this:
- Lines fixed at low tide were too short,
- Lines are oversize to protect them from chafe , so stretch was small
- High tide was amplified by strong N wind during the storm
- Wave action was violent - waves were probably short but steep
- Bow is facing NE, so wind from N or even NW hit Heron abeam to her port side
- Sails (furling genoa and main in the lazy bag) increased windage
- Solar panels, dinghy, spray-hood and bimini all increased windage even more

Lessions learned:
1) Do not underestimate the power of sea even if you only leave the boat for a week during summer in protected bay
2) Observe tide tables even with tidial range less then one m.
3)  Leave some slack in the lines to allow boat movement and rocking in the storm
4) Reduce windage if practical
5) If something held for 10 years it can still break.

Let me say at the end that original design of this Beneteau cleats was not the best. Beneteau changed the design a year later  - so they learned, but a year too late for our boat
Original design: A cleat is fixed with two 12mm bolts and goes through teak railing, through deck& hull joint, through backing plate and is fixed by nuts.
Where the bolt goes through teak railing there is a round piece of aluminum (3cm in diameter and 3cm high). That round piece is sitting exactly where deck ends, so it does not have a lot of good support.
And 3 cm diameter is not a lot to start with.
A lot of force is therefore transfered to bolts as bending force.
New design: I obtained original Beneteau aluminum parts for replacement
Instead of teak railing with 3cm hole in it there is a solid aluminum plate which is 40 cm long and as wide as the railing base (I did not measure, but it is about 8 or 9 cm). The inner side of it sits well on the deck and outer edge sits well on the hull. It is 2cm thinner than original design reducing leverage on the bolts and it is a lot stronger, as a solid piece of aluminum sits on 9cm wide base comparing to 3cm base partially overhanging hull/deck joint inside hollow teak plank.
Conclusion: It was not only a repair, this was a boat improvement as well. We will do starboard cleats in the near future.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Sailing the Adriatic - from Murter to Tri sestrice

We left our anchorage near Murter on Saturday morning on 9th of August.

Our first stop was the left one of these two little islands North of Murter, I figured the place would be good for snorkelling. When we came, we were the only boat there, but after 20 minutes three little motor boats were already anchored near us. It looks like people are drawn to places where someone already is,  there was nobody at the other island, that looked almost exactly like ours.

The bottom in the deeper water was sandy, there was a lot of sea cucumbers, and this oyster chair was one of most exciting things there.

This is why it is an oyster chair. The oysters were of good size, I was glad they were still there and not already eaten.

There were plenty of these around, one guy was even collecting them. I guess this is Warty venus shell, or Ladinka.

The small orange tube worm (Cevkar) was strategically placed near the sea urchin, just perfect for taking photos.

This is Ear shell or Petrovo uho, even with all the sand one can see the shiny mother of pearl. To the right there are some solitary corals, Kamnite čašice.

I love the delicate Forkweed, or Ploščato razcepljenko, one of the prettiest green algae.

 This is a Rainbow wrasse, or Knez.

And here is another delicate beauty - the Sand tube worm or Peščeni cevkar.

I couldn't find the name for these little guys, but I'm sure they are Hydroids. If you look closely, you can see tiny polyps sitting on their branches.

The Encrusting orange sponge or Spužva žilavka is a nice backdrop for another tube worm, the Tulčasti cevkar. The worm is actually hidden, mostly one sees only the white long tentacles.

Almost all tube worms are pretty, but these Red tube worms or Pisani pokrovčarji are especially beautiful.

This is the Blenny on the sponge balcony, it's Slovene name is Črnoboka babica. Some fish really know how to pose.

Like this small dragon. It is a Goby, in Slovene it is called Peščeni glavač.

This is a Pillow coral or Jadranska kamena korala, maybe you can see the extended polyps on the upper part of it.

After snorkelling we set sails again. Wind was gentle, but it was enough for a nice sailing, it was even calm enough to do some repairs - captain is replacing the broken elastic band that ties the main sail to the mast battens.

Our next stop was Baratul on island Pašman, to meet our friends. Here they are, coming on board of Heron.

There was no wind, so we motored right to the next little island in Zadar channel and anchored there. The afternoon was sunny and warm. We were swimming, having fun, and later had a BBQ with couple of beers. A perfect summer afternoon.

Next morning we were invited to our friends house for a delicious breakfast. Time was flying, as always when one is in good company.

Befor we lift the anchor, I went snorkelling for a short while. Right under the boat I found some interesting and pretty things. This sponge is called Spremenljiva hrapavka, looks like the ones that were used for washing.

I was glad to see a lot of Fan mussels or Leščurjev.

Some of the sponges are bright and colourful, like this Red encrusting sponge or Rdeča skorjevka.

It was placed next to another sponge, Konjska spužva.

If you were reading my Caribbean posts, you probably know that I have a thing for Tunicates. How would I not, when they are so pretty (you can check the Barbuda tunicates here.) This is also a sort of Tunicate, called Blck sea-squirt or Črni kozolnjak. I was so happy to find some, even if they're not so pretty as the small translucent ones.

You probably haven't seen anything like this before. This is our anchor chain, held up in the water by the fenders. If the chain lays on the ground, then when the wind turns the boat, the chain is dragging over the ground, damaging corals and shells. Since there were so many Pinna nobilis (Fan mussels or Leščurjev) here, we didn't want that. The captain set up the fenders already the evening before, and I was glad to see it was doing it's job and none of the mussels was damaged. We first used this kind of "anchoring" in Caribbean in Antigua, when we anchored among coral heads in the Goat head channel.

Shortly before noon we sailed of along the islands of Pašman and then Ugljan. I chose next anchorage again with snorkelling in mind. We stopped at the middle one of the three little islands called Tri sestrice (Three little sisters in translation). It looked very pretty, water was crystal clear, but also colder than further South. But snorkelling was great, so I stayed in water for more than an hour, despite the cold water.

The bottom was again different from what I've already seen, and there were some new things there. This is a Cyanobacteria, in Slovene called Nihajka.

And this is a green algae, called Pedobezija (Latin name is Pedobesia), looks a little like chives (drobnjak).

This was the fist time I saw this sponge, I think it's the Sea lemon or Morska pomaranča.

I've seen the Marbled anemone (Marmorna vetrnica) before on Šolta, but this was the first time I was able to make decent photos.

And this is a solitary coral called Pig-tooth coral or Kamnito nakovalce.

This is one of my favourite photos - Pirka (Painted comber) sitting on the rock behind algae. Look how his belly shines! This photo is posted exactly as it was taken, I never try to change the colours, brightness or anything in my photos. Sometimes I crop some, when the sharpness is very good, or level it, when it looks like the water is going to run out of the photo. But this one didn't need anything, and Pirka was patient enough to let me shoot several photos and they all turned out very good.

This is one of the Wrasses and is called Mediteranka.

I love this little dragon, with his red lips. He has a suitable name, the Red-mouthed goby, or Rdečeusti glavač.

P.S. It would maybe be more suitable to title these last posts "Snorkelling in the Adriatic", rather than "Sailing the Adriatic". But I find under water photos much more interesting than "over-water" ones, and I have so many of them! I love the fact that I was able to find so many colourful and interesting creatures and things in Adriatic, and with the help of my beautiful book "Pod gladino Mediterana" by Tom Turk I'm having so much fun trying to identify what's on the photos. So, I'm afraid that next two posts will be of the same kind as last four.