Monday, March 12, 2012

Safety Preparations and More Boat Projects

Ladybug is currently anchored in a small cove just north of La Paz. We had our friend off 'Time Piece', John, over the other day to share his wisdom on safety at sea and how we should prepare for the crossing in this department. John has degrees and decades of experience in this area, working in military and commercial marine safety. We discussed what items to put in our ditch bag (in case we have to abandon ship), how to deploy the life raft, how to use fire extinquishers effectively.

Here are a few tips he gave us:

- Towing a line behind the boat. Don't bother - if your boat is traveling at more than a coupl of knots, it will be impossible to hold onto a trailing line, even if knotted.
- Completely empty your extinguisher when fighting a fire at sea - even though the foam can ruin your interior and electronics, this is preferable to a burning boat.
- Bring shoes into the life raft in case you end up drifting onto an island where coral could lacerate your feet.

With John's input We also rigged a webbing jack line that will allow us to move easily fore and aft, with our safety tether running along this line. We also rigged a web strap borrowed from our camera bag for the galley, so that the chef is secured opposite the stove in case of rolling. Finally, John came up with a good simple idea for securing one of our closet doors that has a tendency to swing open when at sea - we lashed a small line from inside the closet, through the thumb hole catch, and seized a loop in the end which just fits over the monkey's fist pull handle. This prevents the door from opening more than a few inches if the light plastic catch pops open at sea.

Rani has been a stern task-master the last few days and in addition to daily pot-lucks on 'Time Piece' and 'Eagle', plus a bit of swimming and hiking, we have carried out a number of projects. We have sewn cushion covers for two square cushions using left-over 4" upholstery foam. These will be used as comfortable cockpit cushions. Rani has fashioned some fruit/veggie hammocks from netting given to us by our friends Karen and Jim on 'Socdologer'.

The latest project is the addition of rat lines that will allow us to climb up the shrouds, pirate ship style, in order to scout or coral heads. Normally these lines are made by splicing and seizing 3 strand line between the two lower shrouds, on one or both sides of the boat, much like the rungs on a rope ladder. In addition, one needs to 'serve' the shrouds where each step will be tied, by lashing small twine around and around the shroud. This is required to prevent slippage because the steel shrouds are thin and slippery. We are trying out a simpler system that uses a knotted line, looped over the spreaders (and protected by fire hose where it loops to protect from chafing). This line serves as the two sides of the ladder and all we need to do for the rungs is to tie lines across and around the knotted side lines and the shrouds - one line for each knot. This method does create more windage, but requires no seizing or splicing, and can be easily removed or adjusted. Pictures to follow when we are back in port.


Stephen said...

Good luck on your crossing and eventual island hopping. Can't wait to hear the details from Fatu Hiva or where ever it is you make landfall.

s/v Mystic
Cal 39

Chris Bennett said...

Thanks for your kind wishes! Hiva Oa is our planned port of entry and we will try to keep the blog updated on passage.

Catherine Leith said...

Good luck to you both, have a fantastic adventure, we'll be following your journey while safely on dry land. Love the Leith gang