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  • Writer's picturetheblacksprayhood

Head for Heights

Updated: Aug 25, 2023



"I used to have an amazing head for heights. About twenty years ago. Not so much any more..."

Don't look down!

Hello again from Cooking Curação. As you may have noticed we’re dropping the frequency of these blogs to fortnightly as we are now static here in the marina for the next few months. The videos will be more sporadic too.


Yesterday it was 33° but ‘feels like 39°’ according to weather.com. It’s been so hot these past few days that there was another power cut on Thursday. These always seem to coincide with the ultra hot days when the use of air conditioning soars. Today the temperature has dropped to ‘feels like 36°’ and it makes a significant difference.


This weekend we did some boat jobs. It’s so hot in the middle part of the day that you start in the morning, but by the middle of the day you are forced to take shelter, so we’re taking things quite easy, especially as we are here for a while. As a bonus we are not operating in clouds of mosquitoes like we were in the boatyard in Grenada last year.


There are always lots of jobs to do at the end of a sailing season and before you start the next. Some are urgent, some are expensive and some are routine preventative maintenance. We were focused on the latter this weekend, which will hopefully prevent more of the former two in the near future.


First up on Sunday morning was a full mast inspection. Now I used to have an amazing head for heights. About twenty years ago. Not so much any more, but needs must. Thankfully, although it’s quite breezy here, the water is extremely still inside the marina and this makes a massive difference.


Cleaning the rigging

We don’t have mast steps or rope ladders like you see on some other boats, so we ascend entirely by one person winching the other person up. We use our spinnaker halyard, which is made of a material called Dyneema, which is very strong and far less stretchy than a normal halyard, which is made of Polyester. We got this Dyneema halyard installed to be used to rig our storm jib, which thankfully we haven’t had to use yet.



Tightening the screws on the radar

The winches on our mast are not self tailing, so the person doing the winching has to go very slowly to avoid riding turns on the rope, which would lock it and make it difficult to retrieve a person dangling precariously from up high.



The split pins at the very top of the mast look in good condition

The main things to check were that all screws were still tight. That split pins were still in place. That there was no fraying on our stainless steel rigging and no cracks anywhere and no exposed wires or corrosion. Everything looked in good shape except for a few loose screws on our radar, which we tightened up. The headsail furler looked in good condition (we have removed the headsail to keep it inside.)


It's a long way up!

Next we removed seemingly everything from our cockpit locker to access the jerry cans of diesel. We topped up the tank completely to avoid condensation forming in the months we are not using the engine.


Then we removed one of the three winches on the mast for servicing. By that time, it was midday and we felt like we were being cooked in our own skins, like baked potatoes. So we went inside for the hottest part of the day and re-emerged in the early evening when it was cooler.


We cleaned each part of the winch. Inside are small parts called pawls, which contain an even smaller spring, which can pop out and be lost, so we had to take it apart very painstakingly. We used diesel to clean and inspect everything and then greased each part again to put it back.


You can see how the spring loaded pawls ensure the winch only turns in one direction

Then we repeated the steps with the other two winches. Then it was time to put everything back in the cockpit locker and everything back in the wet locker, which we had removed to access our bosun’s chair for winching us up the mast. That’s the issue with boats, everything has to be removed to get what you need.


The service is long overdue as you can tell from the dried grease!

We still have another five winches in the cockpit to service, but these are standing upright rather than on their side, so it should be a bit easier to catch all the parts.


In other news, we had a bit of a scare for a few days when the father and one of the puppies disappeared. The lone puppy kept following us and crying and we were quite worried, but the next day the father reappeared and the day after that, the other puppy reappeared. We’re not sure where they had gone, but they are enjoying the treats we have been giving them.


You can find our PODCAST episodes at the links below

YOUTUBE (for video version)





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2 Comments


careyblois
Jul 31, 2023

Like the line comparing yourself to a jacket potato.

Please send us some of your heat. It's raining, grey and autumnal here. Like an October day!

P.S. You might as well adopt one of those puppies properly

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theblacksprayhood
theblacksprayhood
Jul 31, 2023
Replying to

Haha yes I wasn’t sure whether to go for boiled, baked or jacket potato. Would love to send you half of our heat, it makes you feel so lethargic! I was extremely close to adopting the puppy when I wasn’t sure if the dad and sister were coming back!

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