Thursday, August 14, 2014

Mr. Spock has gone AWOL

Listening to "Diamonds and Rust" by Joan Baez

Aye (also Aye-Aye)  The sailor's way of saying "yes" or "I understand."  In common use in English ashore as well as aboard ship in the 16th century, it has two possible sources; one, the Old French je or o je (yes, that say I); and the other, the more likely early English yie, yes. -From Origins of Sea Terms by J.G. Rogers

We had a bit of a scare the other day that had nothing to do with sailing, and yet could greatly affect our ability to least in the short term.  

The wallet went missing.  Gone.  Nowhere to be found.  

A friend had stopped by the boat the evening before. As she was leaving she offered to drive me to the less expensive grocery store that was a bit of a hike to get to.  I had the wallet then.  I know I did because I paid for the groceries.  What happened after that is where things get a bit fuzzy.  

Drake was at the cafe using their internet.  Was he there before I got back from the store?  Yes, which means he had already paid for a coffee.  I joined him, but didn't get anything because the shop was about to close.  Did I have the wallet then?  I don't know.  

Packaging was disposed of and groceries were put away.  Shit!  I took the trash out.  Did the wallet get thrown out with the sea of cardboard and plastic?  Was it left at the grocery store?  Put in a random pocket?  Did it fall in the water as I climbed aboard?  

All these thoughts were going through my head as I trekked back to the grocery store (sorry, no wallet here), checked the cafe (nope), and rifled through every random piece of clothing and bag that any sort of a pocket.  
The very real possibility that we would not find the wallet and that oh-so-important card inside started to become a reality, but instead of completely losing my cool I was reasonably calm.  Why?  Because we have a backup.  

Being prepared is just part of living on a sailboat, especially while cruising to far off places.  Before leaving almost a year and a half ago we made lists of every spare part and tool aboard Paragon, then systematically went over those stores to see if we had the proper amount.  Did we really need three hammers? (no)  Were there enough spare belts for the auto pilot? (yes)  Were three oil filters enough? (no)  

Then, based on an offhand comment from a friend, we turned our focus to finances.  We had been so intent on the gear part of our preparations that we had entirely neglected to think of a backup plan in regard to money.  What would happen if we lost our card?  Or it was stolen?  Or there was a security breach that was beyond our control?  

We immediately remedied the situation and transformed one of my accounts into the backup account.  It was a completely separate account, with card, that would always have a reserve of emergency funds for a worst case scenario.  There were no links to our main account, which meant damage control if our primary card was compromised, and we also had an easy option to transfer in funds if necessary.  

That foresight meant that now, despite the possible inconvenience of having to deal with a stolen or lost card, we still had the ability to access funds.  We had piece of mind.  

As I started to lose hope of ever finding the missing wallet I decided, no matter how random or unlikely it might be, to search every locker and drawer I had touched in the last twenty four hours.  That is what led me to empty the fridge that I had stocked up the night before after the trip to the grocery store and...


At the very bottom, nestled next to the mushrooms, was our little Star Trek themed Tyvek wallet.  I am certain that the entire marina heard my whoop of joy as I snatched if from the most unlikely of places.  

As we sat in the cockpit, enjoying a celebratory cocktail and admiring the moon, I couldn't help but protest to Mr. Spock that the fridge was not a logical choice for keeping a wallet.  

A full moon in the marina in Tórshavn

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Welcome Back Cotter

Listening to "Hotel California (Spanish Mix)" by the Gipsy Kings

Shrouds - The major side stays of a mast.  (16th century) The term as used ashore came from the shipboard sense; the shrouds were heavily wrapped for their protection from the elements.  The derivation of the word is somewhat uncertain, but it is probably Old Norse, scruth, for wrapping.  -from Origins of Sea Terms by J.G. Rogers

Today was a productive day.  It started a bit late (I blame it on the festivities of the previous evening), but a lot has been accomplished.  We had hoped to spend the winter here in The Faroe Islands so that come spring we would be in an optimal position to sail to northern Norway.  This beautiful place has also seduced us with it's striking landscape, captivating history, amazing hiking and, most of all, the people.  We have met so many cool people here - some real friends - that we looked forward to spend the winter getting to know them better and hanging out.  

Unfortunately the word has come down from Denmark that our visa has not been extended.  (Though The Faroe Islands are autonomous, Denmark handles certain aspects of foreign affairs and defense, including visas.)   Technically we can stay until the first week in September, but with the fall storms starting to brew here in the north Atlantic we need to get out in the next week or two.  Last summer we stayed just a bit too long in Greenland and paid for our delay with tempestuous and storm-tossed seas for most of the sail to Iceland.  This is something we do not care to repeat.  

Now that we are preparing for our departure in earnest we are turning a sharp eye to every section of Paragon.  The diesel tanks have been filled,the oil has been changed, the staysail has been taken down to be stitched up (by hand...yay!), and every line, nut, bolt, and cotter pin is being checked.  

I will be the first to say that checking the whole rig kind of sucks.  It's uncomfortable and somewhat tedious.  Seriously, I'm hanging upside down off the bowsprit checking the bobstay, climbing around the mast and boom, and closely inspecting every single attachment point and piece of hardware for cracks and loose fittings.  This, however, is probably one of the simplest things that can be done to prevent disaster from striking.

While I was fitting a lock-washer onto a loose bolt on the bowsprit, I heard Drake gasp as he called me over.  See if you can find anything missing on this turnbuckle.

Need some help?  Here is her sister.

That's right.  The cotter pin is missing entirely from the top of this turnbuckle.  The only reason it was not able to turn, and possibly loosen the wire on this shroud, is because the cotter pin on the bottom bolt was still intact.  (For those unfamiliar with a turnbuckle, it is a piece of hardware that regulates the tension on the wires attached to the mast.  These wires, called shrouds and stays, support the mast and keep it from tumbling down.)

Such a simple thing to replace now as we sit in a protected harbour, but if missed the consequences could be catastrophic.  It makes me wonder what else is missing so, with renewed vigour, I continue my inspection of Paragon.  Let's hope there aren't any more surprises!