Quick breakfast this morning.
Quick breakfast this morning.
Due to our recent problems with our B&G Hydra 2000 autopilot and advice received from a number of sources, I located and opened the ACP2 pilot processor in our starboard engine room. I found severals wire with loose strand touching other adjoining terminals - clearly sloppy and bad workmanship on the part of DH Auto Marine Electrical, Cape Town who did the electrical installation on Revelations. I removed each wire, soldered the ends, cut of all the loose strands and then re-connected the wires. Why this job was not done properly in the first instance is beyond me. It is this sort of bad workmanship which gives DH Auto Marine Electrical and the marine industry in South Africa a bad reputation. Not good!
We have 3 damaged Lewmar winches (our main winch at the helm is badly damaged) and despite numerous emails to suppliers worldwide, we are still waiting for responses to our emails and prices. In the meantime, we are stuck here in Cabedelo and cannot continue our voyage without first repairing the winches.
The damage occurred during our nighttime sail from Recife to Cabedelo, Brazil. It all started when the pad eye installed on top of the mast broke and fell into the water. With this, the spinnaker dropped by a good 3 to 4 meters lower and the foot of the spinnaker was at times touching the water. We saw that the spinnaker was flying at a much lower height but we did not know that the pad eye broke or that this was the reason why the spinnaker was flying just above the waterline. Also unbeknown to us at the time, due to all of this, the spinnaker halyard and the rope controlling the spinnaker sock got snagged on top of the mast.
In the almost pitch darkness of the night, additionally partly blinded by the white compass light, we employed the main winch to pull the spinnaker further up the mast. But then unseen, the tail end of the spinnaker halyard looped back into the winch drum, loop wrapped itself around the winch release arm and pulled itself so tight that it was impossible to release the halyard. In this process the release arm was extensively bent locking the halyard to the winch and also causing extensive damage to the winch self tailing parts and the centre stem (sub assembly) snapped under the tremendous load.
I then went to the mast to pull down the spinnaker sock down and thus de-power the spinnaker. Tugging and pulling with all my weight (considerable), I could not pull the spinnaker sock down. Shining the torch up the mast, it was then that we discovered that the spinnaker sock rope entangled itself on top of the mast. With the spinnaker halyard jammed onto the winch and the spinnaker sock line entangled up the mast, it was impossible to lower the spinnaker in the designed way nor was it possible to de-power the spinnaker - indeed a nightmare situation. We decided to continue sailing until daybreak and with the benefit of daylight, we would then see what plan we could make to lower or de-power the spinnaker.
Fortunately for us, we were not sailing towards lands neither did the winds push us towards the lee shore. At this time, we were some 10 nautical miles from the from the coast, sailing parallel to the coast, but considering our difficulties and the possibility that the wind direction could change, we certainly did not feel comfortable this close to the shoreline. We continued sailing the remaining night time hours and we managed to steer a couple of degrees further away from the coast.
By daybreak, we were some 15 nautical miles from the coast and it was time to find a solution for our problems. After assessing the situation and considering our options, it was clear that I had to go up the mast - this whilst Revelations was in full motion at 8 knots and with the spinnaker fully deployed in about 12 knot of wind power. Although this wind speed is certainly not hectic in sailing terms, it creates immense power in the sails.
But the situation was quite tricky and fraud with danger. Sue had to hand steer, keep Revelations on course, make sure that the spinnaker does not de-power, hoist me up on the mast and at the same time hold onto the rope so that I do not fall. Allowing the spinnaker to de-power means that the sheets will be flaying around in the wind, become bullwhips fully capable of decapitating anyone in its path. Sue had to do all of this at the same time and this is multi tasking to the extreme! To do this properly she needed four arms instead of two.
We had no choice and with adrenaline pumping, up the mast I went, getting knock around by the yacht's motions, banging against the mast, swinging from left to right with me clinging on for dear life - all the while praying that Sue keeps the spinnaker under full power. I managed to untangle the spinnaker sock ropes from the mast and after about twenty minutes was safely back on deck - sporting bumps, bruises and scrapes. We were now able to pull the spinnaker sock down and de-power the spinnaker - minutes later, Revelations was quietly lying ahull. This was a scary time as often the foot of the spinnaker would touch the waterline but pull clear again before it got dragged under the yacht. Although the spinnaker did not end up under the yacht, the lazy sheet got snagged under the yacht on three occasions and each time took immense effort to release from under the hull. Muscles ached, our backs felt broken, arms were numb from the strenuous work - we were exhausted from all these hours of struggle and hard work.
Once all under control, we took a short break, had a couple of cool drinks (and cigarettes), started the engines and motored the last few nautical miles into Cabedelo harbour where we are now safely moored at Jacare Village Marina. But Sue once did say that sailing is not for sissies, that it is for the brave - but this was far beyond that and way too dangerous. It was a painful, hectic and dangerous experience and certainly not something we would like to EVER encounter again. We learned many lessons from all of this, we are still discussing changes in the way we sail Revelations as next time, we might not be so lucky to escape with only scrapes and bruises.
When we arrived here in Cabedelo, we were informed that we do not have to check in with the Police Federal here in Cabedelo - only with the Port Capitaine. This is very different from the procedures we followed to date, as elsewhere, checking in with the Police Federal is a big issue and compulsory. Not wanting to take any chances and certainly not looking for trouble at our next port of call, we decided to indeed visit the Police Federal here in Cabedelo and make sure of the procedures.
This morning, we took a taxi to the local Police Federal and sure enough, we are not required to check in with them. But they spend a good 20 minutes reading some rule book to make double sure they had it right. In the end, we insisted on getting a letter from them that we did call at their offices to check in, but that this was not necessary according to them. Two hours later, we had the required letter in our possession and then set off to find the Port Captaine.
Previously we had to dress up when visiting these offices and we have seen other less formally dressed people asked to leave. But unlike these previous experiences, at the Port Capitaine we were met by a young man dress in exercise short, T shirt and sneakers. - here the dress code certainly did not matter. Some twenty minutes and a couple of photo stats later, their official stamp and a signature, we had our papers - we are now officially checked in with the Cabedelo authorities.
We have the B&G Hydra 2000 navigation and autopilot system on board Revelations. This system is now about 8 years old and dated technology, but at the time, it was state of the art equipment. It all work smoothly until we had the system checked over and serviced some 6 months ago by an authorized expert. Sadly and with hindsight, it was yet another job done badly and we hardly left Cape Town when problems started emerging. At first, a hydraulic fitting broke due to it been overtightened by the expert. This caused major problems and we had to hand steer all the way to St. Helena. The leaking hydraulic oil dripped on the rudder position sensor which later caused further problems.
A kind person in St. Helena brazed the fitting for us at no charge and we thankfully had the full function of the autopilot system all the way to Salvador. But in Salvador, the rudder position sensor started causing problems and we once again had no autopilot - yet another technician had to work on the system. For awhile it did it's job but we had to switch the system on and off a couple of times before it would work. These couple of times then started increasing in number and at times it took 40 to 50 on-off cycles before it would work. Then finally on the Recife to Cabedelo leg of our voyage, it stopped working all together. In addition, other functions started malfunctioning - the wind direction indicator is radically incorrect, the COG (Course Over Ground) is incorrect, the speed log was wrong ... and a number of other important bits of information. As we speak, the B&G 2000 Hydra is just about totally useless or at the very best, defective and showing inaccurate information.
The question is whether we should have the existing system repaired or should we rather buy complete latest state of the art system. Repairing will certainly be the cheapest option but there is a risk of it yet failing again at a critical time as it did on the Recife to Salvador trip - adding to our considerable problems we encountered.
A completely new system brings it's own problems; the considerable cost of the new equipment, 100% import duties here in Brazil and the added cost complications of finding an expert to install and commission the system. Brazil does not seem to have the required technicians which means we will have to fly somebody in from else where in the world.
I finally managed to get some video work done - this video was awhile back when we left the port of Salvador on our way to Recife.
We arrived safely arrived early on Friday morning and we are now moored at Jacare Village Marina in Cabedelo, Brazil. This leg of our voyage was challenging to the extreme and we had further equipment failures and in addition, sustained damage to Revelations. Some of this needs to be repaired before we can move on - so it seems llike we will be here for awhile.
Entheos managed to get their US visas and collected them at the US Consulate this afternoon. So we all plan on departing Recife tomorrow sometime in the afternoon. Our next port of call is Cabedelo about 60 to 70 nautical miles north from here. We will sailing 10 to 15 nautical off the coast due to fishing boats, nets, other potential problems and hazards. We will therefore sail around 90 nautical miles and should be there sometime late Friday morning. Once we arranged internet access, we will post here again - cheers until then.
This is a short video of Revelations sailing to Recife, Brazil.
At the last minute, we opted out of doing the USA visa applications here in Recife, Brazil. The Consulate website states that there is a high probability that visa applications could be declined if done in another country other than your home country - as there might be difficulties in their verification pocesses. In addition, we finally managed to find out what supporting documents are required by the Consulate and unfortunately, we do not have all of these with us on the yacht. Once a visa application is declined, one may only apply for another visa after some time has elapsed. So instead of risking failure to obtain the visa, we opted to apply for the visa when we visit South Africa in a couple of months from now. In the meantime, we are doing some sight seeing in Recife as well as attending to some minor work on Revelations.
I made made a variety of "ownship" icons for OpenCPN navigation software - in 4 different sizes, 5 styles and in a range of colours. OpenCPN is sophisticated opensource marine navigation software and is free to download and use. These icons are in ".png" format - previously OpenCPN only allowed ownship icons in .xpm format which was cumbersome to create. Now OpenCPN v3.xx allows user icons to be in .png format and this is a whole lot easier to make. These icons were designed and calibrated in CorelDraw, exported to Corel PhotoPaint where it was edited and then exported as PNG image files with a transparent background. These Ownship icons are compatible with OpenCPN v3.xx and onwards. You can download these icons for free and use them for whatever purpose you want.
To use them in OpenCPN;
We caught a taxi and with clear instructions to take us to the US Consulate some 4.5 kilometers away, we got dropped off at another place. Fortunately Sue had her tablet with her and with the aid of Google Maps, we found the Consulate to be located a kilometer further down the road. We once again "trapped" (walked) in rising heat seeking out the shadowy parts of the pavement.
The place is heavily barricaded, surveillance cameras everywhere, no parking allowed in the street front and Portuguese speaking guards everywhere. We were denied entry and to get answers to our questions, we spoke to somebody inside via telephone. Whatever question we asked, the answers was essentially always the same; "Visit our website - all the answers are there". No, not true as many of the web links leading elsewhere to so-called answers do not work. In addition, the website is far too confusing as there is an overflow of information scattered all over the place - instead of been helpful by making things clearer, it confuses and frustrates. Several hours later of searching and reading, one is still left clueless and instead of a diminishing list of questions, the question list has expanded considerably.
We are all to familiar with this experience and is certainly not much different form South Africa where it is near impossible to speak to any officialdom. Just another example of authorities barricading themselves behind layers of security and making themselves completely inaccessible to the public. We have now booked appointments (via the website) but feel quite unprepared as we still do not know what supporting documents are required for the Consulate to properly evaluate our Visa applications.
Enroute to Recife, some 12 nautical miles offshore from Salvador, this Bumble Bee lands close to me at the helm of Revelations. I happen to glance back towards Salvador and I see this large "insect" flying past behind Revelations, then changes direction and lands close to where I was seated. The poor thing was exhausted and lethargic - clearly lost so far offshore. We gave it some water with a toothpick and later some sugar mixed with water - although it did not seem to drink any of this. The bee sat still at the helm for several hours and when I later looked again to check whether it was still alive - it was gone. Wherever you are, we hope you made it safely back to land.
Our main reason for stopping over at Recife is to apply for an US visa at the USA Consulate here. We already filled in the pages and pages of their online application and we now need to make an appointment for the next step of the procedure - the interviews. But there might be a problem. Last night we visited their website and noticed that we should ideally apply for visas in South Africa. The problem is two fold; we might not have all the supporting documents with us which they might require and since the Consulate is outside of South africa, they might have difficulties in verifying the information. There is thus a risk that our visa applications might be declined. If so, we can only apply again after a certain time period. Perhaps it is best if we therefor apply when we visit South Africa later this year. We intend visiting them tomorrow to find out more.
We left the marina early this morning to attend to the compulsary check-in procedures. We took a taxi which dropped us off at Police Federal head quarters - only to find out that we need to go to another office some 2 kilometers away where the procedures are done. All dressed up in decent clothes (long trousers and long sleeve shirts) we walk the 2 kilometers in searing heat and fianlly found the place - but now sweating from head to toe. The person attending to the procedures were friendly, helpful and the process went easy as he could speak some English. We were then directed to the Captaine dos Portas, this time the same 2 kilometers back from where we started. Yet again the process was swift and efficient and we were out of the building some twenty minutes later. Stamped and sealed - we have now officially checked in with the authorities at Recife.