three hulls, two people, one trip around the world…

Man-O-War – Cay

Man-O-War is the name of the island we were until recently. This is the English name for the Portuguese galley, a type of jellyfish that belongs to the state jellyfish (many small creatures that float together under one umbrella) and has very poisonous tentacles. I imagine encountering them in the water to be more unpleasant than a relaxed shark 😉

But first things first: We spent a few more days in the anchorage off the piggy beach of Big Major Spot. There were about 30 yachts moored there. Sometimes there were entertaining manoeuvres. Once we observed a large motor yacht behind us while it was changing its anchoring position. They kept trying to catch their chain from on board with a hook, probably to make some kind of bridle. Otherwise, there was not much to do. The wonderfully clear water invited us to clean the hulls. Here the fouling doesn’t happen as quickly as in the Pacific. So cleaning would be an easy job if there weren’t local sharks. Mathias didn’t dare go in the water. I found the one shark, which mostly just swam by, quite relaxed. It slid under our boat in elegant swimming movements. It was a Nurse Shark, which doesn’t have “man” on its menu and is therefore harmless as long as you don’t annoy it. So it took a while with the hulls because I was cleaning alone.

We noticed that we were in a tourist spot because every now and then a seaplane would land right next to us:

Meanwhile, Mathias developed a new hobby: together with our daughter, he decided to buy a 3D printer. No sooner had the model been chosen and ordered (still has delivery time), Mathias started learning a design programme and used it to develop templates for various spare parts for us:

We will report how well it works and whether you should perhaps take such a printer with you on your circumnavigation (even if you can only print in the dry and without rocking).

Other work:
Mathias has devised and implemented a new system for the lazyjack. While sailing, we can now lower the sail bag further and open it wider. This means that the sail no longer rubs and does not press against the lines. The wind can also flow better against the sail.

We sewed our genoa during the trip. The UV protection had come off at the edge and had only been reattached with tape so far. We had taken down the jib and worked on it with the sewing machine. But because that was very time-consuming and we could only pull it up again with Lukas’s help, we didn’t want to take down the much larger genoa. On a windless day with the engine running, the genoa was worked on with the awl. Now two torn seams on the mainsail are still to be attended to.

We sailed in several legs to Man-O-War Island in the Abacos, Bahamas.

First we went to New Providence, where we wanted to weather a strong wind. We had two days of rain and wind. The anchorage did not offer good protection from the waves and we were rocked quite a bit at times.

As soon as we could, we sailed to the other side of the island and finally had a quieter night again. A longer day trip followed with leisurely sailing and even a chance to get the spinnaker out again. Spot on with the sunset at the chosen anchorage. All went well. Only two more small tours to the Marsh Harbour area in moderate wind conditions. No exciting stories for the blog?

Yet: A thunderstorm front sneaked up on us from behind. We began to flee from it and quickly drove away with engine support. It worked quite well. Just as we were leaning back, a second cloud came and brought more lightning and thunder. First the distance seemed to increase, then there was a flash of lightning and immediately afterwards thunder, which did not bode well. This was followed by some more lightning. Our electronic equipment had ceased to function. Mathias steered by hand, the autopilot had failed, as had the wind indicator and the boat’s position on the chart. How to proceed now? Navigate by sight between the reefs? Wait — we still have a backup for the backup: we had loaded the charts onto the iPad, which has its own GPS signal receiver. So Mathias took the iPad and I became his new autopilot. He told the course, which I then steered using the normal magnetic compass. The system took us well behind the reefs and to an anchorage where we could screen the damage. For longer trips, the system is of course inconvenient, I would not be able to steer for 24 hours without a break and besides, I also talk, unlike an electronic autopilot 😉

The troubleshooting and replacement system activation took about two days. The autopilot remained broken, so once again it was good that we do have a second one. The first one had only been replaced at Christmas after it failed during the lightning strike in Shelter Bay.

Here is Mathias’ WhatsApp report to the family from the troubleshooting:

Things are looking much better now:

  • Got the Actisense NGT-1 NMEA2000 network analyser working on my old PC to snoop around on the NMEA bus. But in the end, the two B&G Triton displays also did the trick.
  • As a first step, I had looked at the small NMEA bus for the 2nd autopilot with the NGT-1 to get an idea of what I should expect with a healthy NMEA bus.
  • I temporarily put the two Triton displays (nav table and helm) in the small NMEA bus to see if they still work. They are both still good.
  • Then both back into the big bus and disconnected all devices from the bus until the two Tritons could see each other again. The strategy here was to find out which devices were killing the NMEA bus.
  • Then successive devices were attached to the bus again. So far, the first autopilot is dead and paralysing the bus. Same with AIS, then a converter in the nav table that I don’t know what it does yet, and a device near the base of the mast where I haven’t traced the cable back to the device yet. When these are all disconnected I will have depth gauge, heading, and position again. However, the VHF radio does not see the position. So I think its NMEA port is also dead, but doesn’t break the network. It works as a radio though.
  • Wind doesn’t work yet, but I’ll probably fix that tomorrow. I have replacements for both the interface to the bus and the sensor on top. I just connected both of them to the bus directly in the navigation table and then I could see wind again. So tomorrow I’ll just have to see whether the interface needs to be replaced or the sensor at the top of the mast. The latter would be annoying, as it rocks quite a bit here. But the problem can be solved.
  • I downloaded a new Navionics map for Europe onto an old SD card for 128 euros. I wanted to update it anyway, as 4 years have passed. Together with my old Europe map, I can equip both plotters with a local SD card each and have maps there, so I don’t need the Ethernet backbone, which might not work any more either. For the Caribbean, I’ll dispense with this duplication. This is the last anchorage in the Bahamas, and it’s enough if only the plotter at the helm has the map. The important thing was that the depth gauge works again. From the Azores onwards, both plotters have accurate charts.
  • Since both chart plotters no longer see the NMEA bus, they also no longer see the good GPS antenna on the bus. But you can switch to the GPS receiver integrated in the plotter, and then you have GPS position on the plotter again. Not accurate to 2-3 metres, but good enough to manoeuvre here and get back to Europe.

So almost everything is restored. The second autopilot does not see the wind and can therefore only be operated in heading mode, but that is ok.

We will then sail back without radar and without AIS, but that also worked in the past…

We are still trying to avoid sailing without AIS. Let’s see if we can get something here in Marsh Harbour.

The island of Man-O-War is a sleepy little place. One has the impression of walking across a campsite that has grown too large. This was probably not always the case, as there was a hurricane in 2019 from which the island has yet to recover. Wikipedia describes it like this:

“On September 1, 2019, Hurricane Dorian made landfall on Man-O-War Cay in the Abaco Islands after 16:00 UTC with winds of 185 mph (295 km/h) and wind gusts up to 225 mph (360 km/h), tying Dorian with the 1935 Labor Day hurricane as the strongest landfalling Atlantic hurricane on record. There are reports of major damage throughout the islands which has been described as “catastrophic damage” and “pure hell.” In the days following the storm, CNN reported that 90% to 100% of all buildings on Man-O-War Cay had sustained damage.”

At the quiet anchorage, Mathias ventures up the mast and replaces the anemometer. (We had a spare one.) And we finally set about sewing the two seams mentioned above on the mainsail. For this, one has to work from above and one has to pull the thread through the loops from below.

Our fellow sailors are doing well. Some of them have already had to leave the Nursery:

Caution: Some fellow sailors end up in the bowl. 😉

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