Watch schedules

“Whatever you wear, it’s not enough!” was some of the advice we got from the more experienced sailors that had already sailed to Nova Scotia a number of times.

That was certainly good advice and we are quite proud of all our ski-underwear, large collection of hats, gloves etc.

Captain's glove collection
So far, we have been pretty lucky as the weather up here has been much milder than we expected.
However, we still have to cross the Labrador current & Northern Atlantic, so plenty of opportunity to still make good use of our equipment…

The above also had its impact on our watch schedule as it would not have been comfortable or safe for the crew on watch to be out on deck for too long, should conditions have been as cold as we worried about.
The general watch schedule approach is to have a rolling change in watches. There are normally two crew on watch (red) as we always steer manually; so one to steer and one to handle sails etc.
In general we aim for roughly 3 hours on watch (depending on crew size) and then some following time where the still awake crew will be on standby (amber) to help if needed (to prevent waking up others that are deep asleep etc). Where possible, the standby time is scheduled in way that allows the crew to get off watch get settled etc – and to have them wake up their successor. That in turn ensures timely watch changes and deeper sleep for those worried about overhearing their alarm, but also means that we only have one crew on the help for about 30 minutes. That turned out to be a good approach for now.
During the off-time (green) the crew can sleep, relax, cook, repair, clean up or simply enjoy the time on the ocean.
The order of crew members listed is sorted to balance the skillset evenly across all watches (with the captain on stand-by throughout the entire day).
In case the temperatures did drop to as low as we worried about, we would have changed the cold day schedule, where duration of the watch reduces, but the frequency increases.

As quite a few people asked about our watch schedule approach, you can have a look at them yourself below:

Nahant to Halifax:NHT 2 HFX watch schedule

Halifax to Newfoundland:
HFX 2 STJ watch schedule

Newfoundland to Ireland:
STJ 2 IRL watch schedule

Does Spam ever really expire?

The shake-down sails with reach crew were a good refresher for our experienced crew and a good introduction for or new team members. We went through most maneuvers and sail configurations.
Everything worked fine. All system have been tested and confirmed to be working (Radar, GPS, AIS, VHF, epirp, Remote iPad, Heater, electronic charts, stove etc). The Satphone was reactivated, the drone software upgraded, boat and rigging surveys received and the transatlantic insurance accepted.
Plenty of sails fill the sail locker by now. There is foul weather, live vests, harnesses, headlamps everywhere.
The sump pump was replaced, the bilge pump serviced and scuba gear stowed away.
Paper charts and numerous spare handheld VHFs and GPSs complete the safety equipment. The liferaft was inspected and repackaged, new flares were purchased.
Lots of tools, spare parts, consumables and repair material were loaded on board Tioga, aka the Freight Train, aka the floating Home Depot.

With the settled weather over the last couple of weeks, we had perfect conditions to prepare Tioga for the sail to Newfoundland and then Ireland.
All we needed to do was load the food…

While Dan took the lead and on Saturday morning showed up with an enormous amount of non-perishables at the wharf, Philip went to the mooring just realize that the gear control cable was broken just as he let got of the mooring pennants.
A few McGyver moves later, Tioga was secured to another random mooring downwind and then with the help of additional crew motored to the dock by manually changing gears directly at the engine.

Tioga was already pretty loaded, the waterline disappeared for good after the huge pile of food and drinks was stowed away down below.
In parallel, Ulf, Doug, Dan and Jack started taking the pedestal and engine end of the control cable apart, while Peter and John fixed the pulpit mounts on the bow.
A lot git done in a short period of time due to this very good team work.

By now, Tioga is back at here mooring and the new control cables have been installed. We are good to go!

back to the title.
We already donated quite a bit of food to Venezuela when leaving the boat in Trinidad (a couple of laundry baskets full) but still kept quite a collection (“you never know what you will need it for”) – and at the end did not each much of it. The planned crew cook off with the leftovers back home never happened and we now had quite a collection of random food items, jam from Norway, Lemonade from Scotland, Juices and Sardines from Spain, Liver Pate from Portugal,…

And as we do not like to waste food, Philip started to sort through the expiration dates. And believe it or not, the beef jerkies that expired 3 year ago tasted just as good as back then, even the 2 years past due pear juice tasted very well. Sardines with bread out of a can are next.
And then there is Spam.
While not a fan of Spam. It is a form of meat that last a very long time (and can be turned into quite a nice meal as Corinna and John showed us in the middle of the ocean a while ago).
Anyways, we have quite a collection of past due Spam cans. Can Spam really ever expire?
We doubt it and will give it try soon – hopefully not in a life raft… ;-).


Ready for the winter

After yet another year with a lot of miles under the keel, it was time to pull Tioga out of the water early and start the maintenance and winterization process before it got too cold.
The week before we pulled Tioga out, though, we had already tied her up to the dock in Lynn (thanks to harbor master Dave Mcqary) to investigate the no longer furling forestay and found that some wire strands were broken and that the entire forestay had to be replaced. Kevin, Cal and our own, Nick (who worked for NE rigging before going to Japan for his ski instructor training), did as always perform well and made it all happen in one afternoon.

During the last sail of the season from Lynn to Nahant, we used the opportunity to hoist our latest sail addition: an almost new gennaker – a big thank you to Bob Anderson for this extremely generous gift!! Look out for the blue paws on yellow ground (Bob breeds dogs…).

Thank you - Bob!

After the significant amount of maintenance we went through in Trinidad over the winter, we were quite surprised to see the cracks in the hull after Tioga was out of the water. Carefully peeling off the layers, Sean Antrim determined that some of the bottom fiberglass layers were delaminated and went to work to put all together again.

The next big topic was the left-over rigging backlog we did not have time to address when replacing the mast in Germany.

As we had to pull the mast, we decided to replace the entire electronics setup and install a new NMEA 2000 backbone while we had the chance (most of the equipment had given up during the long trip around the northern Atlantic). New wires for radar and wind instrument were pulled into the mast and a new radar dome installed.

NMEA 2000 backbone - first draft
The newly installed partners had to be taken out, fixed and installed back again. The old instruments in the cockpit had to be uninstalled, the resulting cut-outs resized to accommodate the new B&G instruments. Of course, none of that proved too hard for Sean who as always left hardly any trace of the work he performed.

In parallel the boat was winterized,

winterizing wordcloud Tioga

some of the broken parts repaired and the broken staysail halyard winch replaced (the drum had cracked and the winch could only be disassembled by destroying it.). The new winch is from Lewmar (Ocean Series).

For good luck, Peter, Dan and Philip placed their lucky coins  on the mast base before the mast was stepped again.

good luck coins

While the list for the remaining winter work is still quite long, we managed to get most of our action items taken care of and have the new B&G system almost fully working. Pretty cool to have radar, wind, log, depth, temperature, AIS, instruments etc connected into one system and accessible via iPad etc.

A huge thank you to Josh and Rex Antrim for allowing us to store the mast in the yard during this time. It made working on the mast so much easier and kept the mast out of the way. – Thank you!!

Mast storage in the Antrim yard

Making a life

The captain left the boat early in the morning to go to work (and enjoy the beautiful view) while Peter and Corinna found and fixed the leak in the aft cabin and also installed the new wire for the lpg shut-off valve that stopped working yesterday (and with that stopped the stove and oven from working).

While the girls enjoyed a day at the nice beach around the corner, Peter and Philip continued the troubleshooting of the electrical system. With the help of our master mechanic/shore crew, Dan, they concluded that the alternator was fried (probably because the grounding cable broke off during the trip). Dan and Ulf are working on getting us a new alternator in Marblehead that we are planning to install over the weekend.

We finished the evening with a sushi dinner at Angie Dickinson’s restaurant at the Antigua Yacht Club (Angie turned the old attic into a kitchen and doubled the upstairs patio size after the AYC moved into the new building next door) and a walk to Nelson’s dockyard.

A great trip is coming to an end. We have only one dinner left.

And don’t forget:
Never got so busy making a living that you forget to make a life

And they sailed into the sunset

First of all,
yes, they finished all the work in time and we launched in the afternoon. And yes, we made it past Venezuela without a pirate encounter!

While Dynamite marine took the depth sounder out of the hull, cleaned the hole and rebedded the sounder with a new custom-built foundation, Cow’s crew worked until 03:00 in the morning to grind out the old material under the stuffing box, fill it with expoxy. From then on the new structure had to hard quickly and then barrier coat and antifouling were added.
In the meantime, we had another breakfast at one of the road vendors that sold “Doubles”. A typical Trini breakfast (very flavorful and messy to eat). From there we went to the bamboo cathedral, a beautiful coastal walk through a troplical forrest with lots of bamboo, followed by another swim at our local beach. We tested our new snorkeling masks and also managed to finally get the correct courstesy flag for St Vincent and the Grenadines.
When all was ready, the crane put us in the water, checked for leacks (there weren’t any), started the engine and prepped the boat for departure.
Unfortunately, the gas station was out of diesel and we left with what we had.

This time we did sail into the sunset…

They got it all done

A lot of action items got taken care of today.

The Awlgrip cured enough to buff out the last imperfections, put the name back on and install the Aries windvane.
The fiberglass job outside and inside the boat were completed. Barrier coat and bottom paint were applied.
The shrink wrap cover was removed
All remaining items were taken out of storage, lifted on the boat and installed.
After long discussions, we were finally able to convince the local hydraulics store to put 500 PSI on the serviced vang. And yes, the boom is now able to carry the main without a topping lift again.
The hydraulic tank was refilled and cockpit lazarettes loaded.
Kitchen and bathroom were cleaned, water tanks filled.
Late at night, when the wind had calmed down, we even put the genoa on.
On top of all this, Cathy managed to drive to the airport and pick up Linda and Lilly. We are now complete and celebrated that with another dinner and drinks at our local hang out at the water.

So far so good.
Unfortunately, Powerboats determined that the outside epoxy was not hardened enough to allow the crane to pick us up. We therefore moved that appointment to tomorrow morning.
While we still have quite a few action items left, they are all manageable and should Tioga float and the engine start we will be able to leave in the afternoon tomorrow.

We can’t wait to finally get going again.

Race against the clock

Now that the Awlgrip is sprayed on and curing, Kemba’s team changed gears and ground away all the filler around the cracks on the bow and around the strut. With the launch set to 3pm on Tuesday, the clock is ticking and the team set up floodlights to work late into the evening to get at least all the outside fiberglass and filler work completed. And they just did after 4 layers of epoxy and then filler on top.
We were quite lucky that they found these cracks as the about 1 cm thick filler (way to thick of a layer of filler) was not only of poor quality (autobody filler that does not do well with salt water) but also not connected to the epoxy underneath. With the vibration caused by running the engine, this could have ended very badly…

The inside (in the aft cabin) is prepared, ie all the old material has been cut away, and the final fiberglass work will start tomorrow morning. The plan is to put 6 layers of epoxy mats in. Makes you nervous with the light shining through the currently thin floor.

Of course, the wind picked up when they removed all the screens and covers in the aft cabin so that a lot of the dust that these screens were supposed to prevent from making it into the boat – made it into the boat.
We’ll have to throw all the sleeping bag, towels, pillows of the aft cabin in the washing machine tomorrow, but should be good to go then.

In the meantime, we enjoyed a nice Roti lunch at our favorite lunch hang-out before Cathy, Lauren and Corinna took care of the non-perishable groceries, while Peter and Philip stowed away all the sails, covers etc.
We even managed to put the main back on, while still under the shrink-wrap cover. After some struggle, Peter and some helpers managed to put the steering wheel back on.
Lots of other smaller items got taken care of and we believe we can complete all the remaining items by tomorrow in time for the 3pm launch.
Again, dinner (food and drinks at the waterfront) did not disappoint.