Preparations for Big Crossing and Delay

We began on Thursday to do our final preparations to depart South Africa and sail across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean. We expect it to take over 30 days with a few days stop at St. Helena. Our route shows over 5500 nautical miles to cover, so this is a big one. Actually preparations started when we arrived in South Africa and spent over a month in the boatyard getting many things done on the boat. See route map below:

Route Plan

Route Plan

I had one high priority/critical path project left for the boat – a part for our hydraulic steering – the hydraulic ram – had been leaking, so on Thursday I took it to an engineering outfit called Hydron that assured me they could fix it with new seals by Friday, and provide me with new oil. Our plan was to leave on Monday, so this job had to be completed, which I explained to them. The engineering outfit were ready around 1:45PM on Friday, and they were closing at 3:30 – it being a Friday.

So, I drove up to Cape Town (a little over an hour), and arrived at 3:10 to find they did not have the oil. They said the place they used didn’t have a driver, and I would have to hurry if I was going to get there by 4PM when that company closed. So, they encouraged me to leave right away without paying, I rushed out to drive 45 minutes to West Somerset. Got the oil at 4PM on the dot, but was not happy with the run around (literally), and I didn’t get other things I had planned to pick up in Cape Town.

I got back to the boat at least confident I could get the critical steering job done. I took a look at the part and realized they had installed the main part that connects to the rudder backwards. Argh! So, we aren’t leaving on Monday. I’m going to have to wait until Monday to get them to fix the problem they created. Due to weather, we’ll be delayed at least until Thursday now. Grrrrrr. On the plus side, the pressure to be ready is greatly reduced.

Saturday I felt better after finishing a job that had been an annoyance for weeks. We had a malfunctioning pump that takes care of filtered water from our shower. It started acting up two weeks ago. I had tried to order a new pump – but, the pump is an old style no longer made. The new style is larger and wouldn’t fit into the box. So, I tried to repair the pump instead. It worked for a few days, but stopped again. On Thursday I disassembled everything, made some modifications and got the new style pump to fit. I had to wait a day for glue to cure that would hold it in place. Saturday morning I reassembled everything, hooked up the wiring, tested it, and then closed up the box and hose connections. Tested it with real water, and it works! That at least was satisfying.

Another good aspect to the extra days is that I should be able to process more photos from our second trip to Kruger. We had some great animal sightings, so I’m excited to see how the photos turn out and share them with you.

These kinds of delays are something you just have to live with sometimes with sailing. Despite months of preparations, you can have little things go wrong that cause delays. It’s better to delay when you get a critical part like something affecting your steering, navigation, or sails though. Boats today are ever more complex and require a lot of attention and care to keep running smoothly.

We know a couple of other boats who are leaving for this crossing at about the same time. So, we hope to be in radio communications with them and rendezvous in St. Helena.

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2 Responses to Preparations for Big Crossing and Delay

  1. Paul Gilster says:

    Long haul indeed! I’ve always had an interest in St. Helena, and will look forward to your thoughts (and photos) from there. Sounds like the last few days have been exasperating, but all best wishes on the journey ahead, when things can settle back down (depending on weather, I suppose). Now that you’re on the home stretch, Frank, I have to say how much I’ll miss this incredible ongoing travelogue when it finally reaches home.

    • Frank Taylor says:

      Thanks for the comment and the wishes Paul. I will probably have a few posts to do after we complete the trip, if for no other reason than to catch up on a few of the things I missed blogging about. I also may consider writing a summary of the trip in some form of “book” or online publication, and include some lessons learned about this mode of travel.

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