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From a previous post HERE, one might remember that our shakedown cruise on our boat tested virtually every system on the boat…except the boat itself. So, we decided that:

“Over the summer, we will continue our upgrades and coastal sail, departing for good when hurricane season is over. This was the original plan and we are sticking to it.”

Regarding our somewhat funny dock shakedown, some systems proved themselves. Others failed and were either repaired or, mostly, replaced with new equipment. But, one major issue we had, that ultimately led to the above decision, was with screwy voltage drops on our primary 12v system…the elusive and scary possibility of the “hard ground”, as it were. After six weeks of living on the boat we moved back to our home. The focus remained on the boat, however, and after a few days in the pool recouping, it was back to the yacht chasing our primary circuitry.

When there is a circuit problem, the procedure is to start at the source and check all the circuits/connections back through the system. In the case of the primary 12v circuity, the source is the battery bank. Weekend before last we exposed that bank and started chasing the circuits. On our boat, the main battery bank is first connected to two huge switches that control the battery combination to be used on the three house batteries. In our case, two of the batteries are used to power the on-board 12v systems while the third is dedicated strictly to starting our engine. After checking the batteries themselves which, as we suspected, were fine (they are brand new and only a few months old) we moved on to the above mentioned switches…and, almost immediately, found the source of the problem.

The problem was not in the switches but in a jumper that connected the main battery wires to the switches. Sounds complicated but it’s really not. Both of us were surprised in what the problem actually was.

The size of the wire that goes from the battery to the battery switches is huge, about the size of one’s thumb…the distance from the batteries to the switches is about ten feet or so. The switches are located right next to our electrical panel and were in place when we purchased the boat. In the process of refitting our boat, when we replaced the batteries last Fall we also replaced these big switches. As mentioned, the wires that go to these switches are huge and while disconnecting the old switches from them there was very little wire length to work with. These wires, again, are quite large and just barely bend at all if one only has a few inches of wire to work with. Husband, when replacing the old with the new switches attached a five inch jumper to one primary wire (coming from the batteries) in each of the individual switches to give himself better maneuverability in connecting the new switches…and that was the problem.

The wire that he used for the jumper was a smaller wire (about the size of one’s little finger). Now, before we are lambasted for committing an elementary mistake, and elementary it was, both of us knew that using that smaller wire would result in a voltage drop, but neither of us had any idea it would be to the degree that it was because this jumper was only a few inches long. We were wrong.

The result of our screw up goes back to the physics of Ohm’s law, V=IR or voltage (V) is equal to current in amps (I) times the resistance in ohms (R). When there was low resistance resulting in a low amp draw on the 12v system the smaller wire could handle the current going through it even though there would be a voltage drop. But, on larger current draws, the smaller wire could not handle the amperage nor the voltage drop…the result is somewhat of a conservation of energy thing. The question might be asked, according to the physics, where did the amps go in this situation? The answer is the amperage manifests in heat as it increased. So, how hot did that jumper wire get as the amp draw increased? Hot enough to blow the fusible links (fuses) at our main batteries…another mystery we had, and that was then solved.

TMI…I know.

So, the fix was to increase the jumpers to the correct wire size. Which we did. Our primary electrical circuit problems instantly disappeared. Solving that problem happened last weekend. We finished early Sunday afternoon. Sitting in our pool later that afternoon, and anxious to now shakedown our boat and rigging by seriously sailing it, we quickly formulated a decent sail trip.

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The issue was that my Z4 needed to be brought into the BMW dealership for scheduled maintenance the next day, last Monday. So, the plan was to bring the car in at 9:00 last Monday morning and then provision the boat, load up the cats, head to the boat and then leave the dock for the Galveston Yacht Basin. The next day at dawn, Tuesday, we would head offshore to Port Aransas, Texas…150 nautical miles or so down the coast, from Galveston’s jetties to Port A’s. We’d then spend a few days hanging in Port Aransas before essentially repeating the trip back up to Kemah, skipping the yacht basin on the way back.

And, that is exactly what we did.

It was good to get away from the docks. We were starting to get barely veiled comments from some of our dock mates. Comments that were ignored but were still made. Comments that insinuated our yacht was a pig project boat instead of the proven “ocean machine” the Tayana 52 is nick named within the sailing community. Actually, one could hardly blame them. We put in a lot of time and effort and had fully intended on leaving for six weeks way back in early may…and then we didn’t. There were a lot of very good reasons why we didn’t leave, but we didn’t leave nonetheless. It was good to just show up and leave and then seven days later show back up. I imagine the comments will subside.

We wanted a trip that was problem free and yesterday husband and I both fully agreed this sailing trip was the best sailing either of us had ever had since we both started sailing back in the 70’s. The trip was not entirely perfect but it was close.

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After spending a quiet Monday evening in Galveston, we left the yacht basin at 6:20 AM arriving at the city marina in Port Aransas, tied up, at 7:30 the next morning…accounting for the time to get from the yacht basin to the tip of the Galveston jetties the time, jetty to jetty, was right at 24 hours.

The trip down was a beam reach for the first 16 hours or so with 10-15 knots of wind…until around 10:30 that night. At that point, the wind increased to around 20 knots plus gusts and switched to the nose. The seas increased from 2-3 feet pleasant swells to a 4-5 feet standing chop. The infamous Gulf of Mexico washing machine turned on. For the next seven or so hours we motored through the mess, the boat alternating through 60 degrees of roll from port to starboard with a period of 3-5 seconds. There was nothing enjoyable about that kind of ride…not scary, just plain unadulterated misery. By 4:00 or so in the morning and both of us sleep deprived, we sat in the cockpit alternating cat naps counting the minutes until dawn. Dawn did finally come just as we were approaching Port Aransas. We docked uneventfully, unloaded the bikes, isolated a place to have breakfast and ate. Then it was back to the boat for a nice long air conditioned nap, before drinks in the pit and an early night of recuperation.

For the next three days we enjoyed a bit of what Port Aransas has to offer. We hit the beach, with nice clean water. We ate seafood. We toured the marine research center there. We bought the obligatory t-shirt and had the bag of chips, too. With our bicycles, we rode everywhere to get anything we needed.

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The only bad thing about the trip is that we weren’t prepared to stay longer than a week. So, Friday night, after researching the weather, it was determined that the next day, Saturday, at the crack of dawn, we’d make the trip back home, this time bypassing the Galveston Yacht Basin and heading straight back to our slip in Kemah. At 6:10 AM we slipped the lines and left the Port Aransas marina.

The trip back was, again, not perfect, but close. If the issue on the way down was the inability to set a watch schedule because of the seas and rigs, the issue on the way back was us killing our dinghy.

All the way down, husband and I watched our dinghy swing in its davits. We knew better than to head offshore with our dinghy raised on the davits…we knew better, strapped down or otherwise. There is no telling how many times on the way down I looked at the swinging dinghy and said to myself we should have either left the dinghy home altogether, brought her on deck, or tied a safety line from the dinghy wire lifts over the davit itself…my husband looked at the dinghy and thought the same thing, he told me. “That bail on the blocks is going to fail,” I thought to myself over and over. We knew better. WE. KNEW. BETTER.

Well, sure enough, about five hours into the trip back home one side of the swaged wire dinghy lift sawed through the bail on the Harken blocks that hold the dink up. Just like that a very big deal.

As seamanship goes, a sailor must have is the ability to heave to.   Heaving to essentially stops one’s boat. Our Tayana heaves to wonderfully and easily, we’d practiced heaving to before. With our previous boat, heaving to was quite difficult to achieve, but not on this T52. I was at the helm when the dinghy davit’s bail failed. I immediately put the boat into heave to position and clipping in, the both of us headed to the stern to figure out what to do. The seas were just barely choppy with a fairly predictable 4-5 foot swell. With the boat hove to, working on the deck was manageable but still rolly-polly. The long and short of this drama is that after we got the lines disconnected from the one side of the dinghy that was still up and attached to the davit bail…and after the dinghy was flat in the water…and after we had a spare line attached to the bow of the now floating dinghy so that we could just tow it back…but before we had the newly attached line secured to the stern of the boat…a larger wave than normal slammed the dinghy against our transom…and against the engine’s two inch chrome exhaust tail pipe ripping a four or five inch hole in one of the three air compartments our inflatable dinghy has. If that wave had waited even another 60 seconds, the tow line would have been secure and the dinghy would not have torn. But, that wasn’t to be.

The dinghy, now severely wounded but still very much afloat – kept that way by the surviving air compartments – was pulled closer to the boat and secured in an effort to raise the tear out of the water and prevent the ruptured air cylinder from filling up with sea water. We set the sails and headed back off. But, sure enough, the torn air cylinder began to fill with water. After a couple of hours the wounded dinghy had to be re rigged. Repeat drill…heave to, clip in, head aft, try and rescue the dink.

Through trial and error, with special attention to not rupture the other side’s cylinder (which would have exponentially increased the drama) we found that towing the dink slightly canted sideways with the ruptured side on the back side, both drained the water out of the holed cylinder while the boat speed was barely affected at all. We towed the dink all the way back to Kemah with no problem. Whether it can be repaired is still up in the air, however.

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We flew back up the Texas coast, arriving jetty to jetty, six hours earlier than we had made the trip down.

Just as midnight approached we were searching for the green light that marks the end of Galveston’s North jetty. We’d made this approach before, and at night. It was no easier finding the end of the jetty this trip than it was the last time we made the same night approach…except this time we had GPS tracks to follow. Even with the tracks we decided not to entirely trust the GPS. More than one experienced sailor has put their yacht on the granite rocks of a jetty. Just this past Fall, one of the organizers of the semi-famous Harvest Moon Regatta sailed his yacht onto the South jetty at Galveston and sunk…it happens. But, find the jetty marker we did and entered Bolivar Roads, one of the busiest ship channels in the world.

One can read about our last excursion at night into Bolivar Roads HERE; it was not a pleasant evening. Looking back on that evening three years ago, we both marvel at how naïve we were to enter Bolivar Roads channel that night considering the condition and status of our boat at that time. So, it was with way, way more respect that I turned to port and rounded the tip of the jetty into those same waters again. This time, however, I was buoyed by the fact that we had GPS tracks to follow, a working engine, and most importantly, AIS.

As things go, this time the trip through Bolivar Roads and on up the Houston Ship Channel, though stressful, was uneventful. AIS is nothing short of the bomb. AIS, the ability to know the location, speed, and heading of what is essentially the moving skyscraper that some call a tanker/cargo/container ship is, to say the least, comforting. We made the long slog up the Houston Ship Channel, exiting just past Redfish Island around 3:00 AM. By the time we crossed the bay, headed up Clear Lake Channel, docked and then unloaded the boat it was 5:00 AM sharp…just under 23 hours non stop.

From the dock in Port Aransas to our slip at Seabrook, including perhaps an hour or so delay while hove to trying to rescue our dinghy had taken 22 hours and 50 minutes. Anyone would call that a great sail.

We set the GPS trip odometer before we left our slip prior to departure. The trip statistics were…

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When the math is done, that works out averaging 7.2 knots, slip to slip, total moving time…including all docking.  The trip down, jetty to jetty we averaged about 6.5 knots.  However, on the trip back, jetty to jetty, we averaged 8.8 knots if one uses total time which included about an hour of down time handling the wounded dink.  If that time is subtracted, on our return trip we averaged 9.4 knots.

Not bad…

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2 Comments

  1. Hello I have the old profurl behind the mast furling system. I am in the same situation as you guys were in. We just bought our dream boat but it has a the Profurl mainsail furler. We are just trying to make the system safe. I need a new halyard swivel for my system. Please let me know if you still have your furler for parts.
    Thank you,
    Cole Walters
    s/v Watercolors
    rebecolewalters@gmail.com

    • Hi Cole. Yes, we do still have it. Husband says we can let the swivel go for $50 plus shipping. Please send me your email address if interested.


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