Welcome to the blog of the sailing yacht Sea Bunny.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Welome to South Africa - We're blown away!

Safe arrival and snug in bed for a couple of hours we were woken by the small boat beside us trying to leave. We assisted him to do so, manhandling our mooring lines over his boat. The wind was now blowing a full gale and rising.
At this point the main pontoon started to concertina and the finger pontoons to rotate. The situation was deteriorating rapidly and we could foresee a serious risk of personal injury and/or of Sea Bunny being sunk if the whole pontoon with some 15 boats upwind of her blew down onto her, or if the main pontoon collapsed sideways.
We gave ourselves 5 minutes to leave hurriedly dressing and collected a few essential items and temporarily left the boat crawling up the pontoon to safety. Returning to attempt to mitigate the damage when things has stabilised somewhat.
Over the next few hours the situation did indeed get worse, but this happened relatively slowly. By the next day Sea Bunny was sandwiched tightly between rotated finger pontoons on both sides. The next boat to windward was similarly sandwiched - the entire gap of two spare spaces having been filled by the collapse.
Sea Bunny was being damaged on both sides by the pontoon cleats and the sharp unprotected metal edges of the pontoons. One of our bow lines was bar taut, holding up a submerged part of the main pontoon. Releasing this would probably have caused further closure and increased crushing.
The wind dropped during 3 November and by 4 November the marina were able to straighten out the pontoon sufficiently to release Sea Bunny and the boat next to her. They did this by running a large hawser across to a tug on the wall opposite the marina and winching in on this.

0529 2 Nov  The pontoon starts to collapse

0617 2 Nov Main pontoon further collapsed

0618 2 Nov Pontoon buoyancy detached

0709 2 Nov Getting worse

0746 2 Nov Pressure now on Sea Bunny's starboard side

0747 2 Nov Main pontoon collapse nearly complete

0748 2 Nov Cleats gouging into the hull

0850 2 Nov About 50 m of pontoon affected

0917 2 Nov Cross pontoon also affected

0938 2 Nov View from the bow

1040 3 Nov We were able to get some protection in

1041 3 Nov Sea Bunny's port side. The barnacles on the floats holed the other boat!

1043 3 Nov Our dockline was holding up the submerged pontoon. Before it was released slightly the bow was being pulled down 50 cm

Inspecting the damage - with the insurance surveyor. (Photo:Yvonne - Happy Bird)

1200 4 Nov Alois enlarging the gap

1206 4 Nov Pulling the finger pontoon clear 

Nearly free with Alois & Tom's help (Photo: Yvonne - Happy Bird)
On the move (Photo: Yvonne - Happy Bird)
1348 4 Nov Main pontoon nearly stretched ou

Indian Ocean Crossing 22 October - 02 December 2015

For this passage we were in belt and braces mode -storm jib hanked on to inner forestay and the para anchor line laid from bow to stern ready to attach and deploy. The passage saw everything from no wind and flat seas motoring up to NE 40-45 kts and very confused 4 metre seas. We found foul current down the east coast of Madagascar with 2.5kts against us and we focused later on just beating hurricane force winds.
On this trip we found a lot of current against us. The charts show the South Equatorial Current setting generally westwards at 1- 1.5 knots and then turning southwards down the African coast as the Aghulas current. The reality is much more complicated as can be seen by following this link.

The good conditions of the first few days allowed us to rest up, after that on every other day there were items needing our attention as detailed here:-
Answering radio calls as our friends Rosemary and Alfred on Iron Horse, a day behind us, were abandoning their boat because of multiple failures and it was a tense few hours before they sent photos from MV Bittern enroute to Singapore.
Second batten from bottom of main broke - replaced
Noise under aft bunk - connection between autopilot and steering quadrant loose - tightened.
Need to take towed generator in before starting engine - going 6kn - lost it.
The bottom set of bolts had come undone!
Noise from engine compartment and no power - shaft had come uncoupled from gear box- had to rotate shaft against pressure of propeller trying to turn it. Hove to for 4 hours roped shaft to pull it forwards back into engine compartment, rotated it and aligned bolts and tightened screws. Getting the first one on was the most difficult and took over an hour.
The gimbal that allowed that cooker to swing broke - temporary fix failed - down to one precarious pot cooking.
Blocked water inlet from fresh water pump softened by engine heat - didn't fix as there was 70 litres of fresh water in cans on board and our mind set was else where.
Our weather guru Commanders Weather Corporation advised us four days from landfall that there was a monster cold front coming and to ready the boat and ourselves as the last twelve hours would be pretty rugged. Our incentive to get in was the thought of being in SSW winds of 70kts over the Aghulas Current and horrible 6-9 m seas.
Sea Bunny's arrival was in the lull between the NE blow and the southerly buster. Many hands helped us tie up and we managed to take off the storm jib before going to bed at 0200 local time.

Radar - DAY Marine 0 points, Raymarine 5 points

Look - no radar
Sea Bunny's radar stopped working in mid scan on the way from Sunda Strait (Indonesia) to Cocos Keeling (Australia) - screen blank..

Emails to and from Raymarine in the UK elicited the assumption that the PCB inside was faulty and that the unit would need a service centre or be returned to the UK for replacement.

Raymarine service agent (definition: able to troubleshoot and repair most Raymarine equipment) in Mauritius - where we would go after Rodrigues. This was DAY Marine.
It transpired that DAY Marine have no facilities to test radar, relying on a remote diagnosis from the UK. To test and eliminate a cable fault required a new cable to be shipped from the UK, and back, at our cost. The subcontract technician who eventually attended the boat (day before our visa expired) had limited knowledge of the Seatalk HS network which combines the radar signal with other data.

In the end, replacing the PCB did not fix the problem and the unit had to be returned to the UK,  6 weeks after initially contacting DAY Marine. It was returned to us in Reunion inside a fortnight.

The down side - abortive work cost some 800 euros in shipping costs, clearance charges, VAT and labour and the delays meant that we had lost the time to go to South Arica via Madagascar.
The upside - Raymarine carried out the repair as if it were a warranty claim, so there was no charge for the repair and return shipping. As a result we are probably only slightly out of pocket in money terms.
Lesson learned - unless you are absolutely certain that an agent is fully equipped and confident to test and repair equipment - return it direct to the manufacturer.