Happy Holidays. I know that greeting has come under considerable fire lately but I use it to encompass both Christmas and New Years. I think people are making a huge deal over nothing, but that’s another discussion. It’s been a while since my last blog and I had to look back to see where I left things. I find that a rather significant update is necessary.
The day after we completed our rigging survey and based on the preliminary results, we paid up our bill on the mooring in Vero Beach and headed south about 12 miles to Ft. Pierce, one of the major outlets from the ICW to the Atlantic, with plans to move quickly offshore down the coast and stage for a crossing to the Bahamas. That didn’t happen.
The very next afternoon as we dropped anchor near Fort Pierce, the rigger called and said he’d had a change of heart about the principle finding of our survey, some deterioration on the lower port side spreader. He decided after “sleeping on it” that he did not feel confident that the spreader could withstand the pressure normally required and decided that we should replace it now. Oh boy.
Our mast was made sometime in the late 1980’s by a British company called Kemp, and as many maritime companies do, it subsequently went bust and was purchased by a competitor named Selden, based in Sweden. As you can imagine finding a replacement spreader for our particular mast configuration, being older and with the other company, is not going to be easy.
A spreader is shaped somewhat similar to an airplane wing, hollow and made of aluminum for strength and light weight. The lower spreader on our mast is about 4 ½ feet long, so it’s doubtful that any warehouse would be likely to keep a box of them just lying around waiting for someone to purchase a replacement.
After a week at anchor with no word back on the search, we decided to return the 12 miles north to Vero Beach City marina and take a mooring once again. What with the Christmas and New Year’s holidays approaching not much business was going to be transacted and we might as well move back to where services are plentiful and friends are hanging out.
Now, my wife is many wonderful things. Beautiful, funny, adventurous; believe me I could list many fine attributes, however among them would not necessarily be patience. Consequently she has independently explored several other options, including finding a replacement in a salvage yard, welding a patch in the spreader, and even fabricating a new spreader, but has not met with much success. Both the rigger and other authorities in this area have not agreed with the welding plan, and several machine shops have declined to take on the challenge of fabricating a new one.
Cruisers are never short on opinions, and many have said fixing the present spreader should be just fine, but this is a pretty major support for our sailing gear, and if the rigger doesn’t feel that an option is wise and something breaks, I don’t think the insurance company will look too favorably on reimbursing us for any damage suffered. They’re funny that way.
So here we sit. Several friends left yesterday in anticipation of a weather window to cross to the Bahamas. Other friends are heading back to their home marina, pushing their trip to the islands out to next season. We don’t expect to get any definitive word back from Sweden on a replacement part until after the first of the New Year. The cruising season is passing by but there’s still time left to enjoy the islands. Our worry is we won’t have enough time to get into the Caribbean and to safe harbor before summer and the 2016 hurricane season officially begins.
While we wait I try to stay busy with other projects and little repairs. Carrie is not handling the waiting game well, but she is getting a whole lot of reading done.
We’ll see what January of 2016 brings.