Sailing isn’t always what you expect. As a matter of fact, no sail usually turns out to be exactly as predicted. There is a randomness about sail-powered travel that approaches ‘chaos theory’ at times. When you stare hard enough and long enough at what happened, it all starts to make sense. A pattern emerges. This pattern recognition is also sometimes called ‘rationalization’.
This is a story of two Christmas season sails into Banderas Bay from the south around Cabo Correntes.
It is important to the story that you understand that ‘Cabo Corrientes’, in Spanish, means Cape of Currents. Like most headland capes, there is a clash of ocean swell patterns, currents from Banderas Bay, and wind and weather patterns.
It is also the southern most cape that feels the effects of weather patterns from the Sea of Cortex to the north.
Back to the story of two sailing days.
One story is of a quiet day sail and moonlight cruise with fair winds and following seas. The other is of adventure, adversity, making do and working the problems as they arise. The events for both are the same.
We were south, about 90 miles or a bit more, in a bay called Chamela. We planned on staying there for a day and a night then sailing north to La Cruz, which is in the NE corner of Banderas Bay. It is, for Spiritus, an 18- hour day.
Watching the weather patterns, we saw that two days ahead of us were forecast20 knot winds in the face and, on the third day, something not common for the cape. On the third day, we saw a south wind no higher than 10 knots with a SSW swell of only 4-6 feet and an interval of 19 seconds.
For you non-sailors or for those who need refreshing, this is the very definition of ‘fair winds and a following sea’ which sailors often hope for others when they’re leaving on journeys.
We sat out from Chamela at daybreak which was about 7:30 am. It was sunny with an offshore breeze, which meant we had winds abeam for the morning. After motoring out of the anchorage, we could sail.
Around noon, the winds shifted to the South (meaning from the south, as predicted by the weather forecast). We had used every weather trick at our disposal to guess this weather window. Still, you cross fingers. We had waited two extra days for this weather. Still, you cross your fingers.
So far, so good.
We had not really tested Ripley, the auto pilot, since she had been repaired and this seemed the perfect conditions to see if she was still working right. She did. So far, so good. We let her steer while we had lunch.
Seas were maybe 7-8 feet from our stern, but Spiritus is a double-ender so it loves this kind of following sea.
Before leaving Barra de Navidad, I had completely rebuilt the Racor fuel filter. We had tested it. No problems. After leaving Chamela, it had by late afternoon maybe 18 hours of use with no signs of the niggling air leak that has plagued us for a year or more.
We were making good time, so we decided to motor-sail and let Ripley steer the boat. I wanted to stress her a bit and the larger waves were just perfect for about as much wave action as I would use her in. She did great.
With the engine comfortable at 14-15– RPMs, we were doing 7 knots. We did so well that we arrived off Cabo Corrientes about two hours early. We had decided to stay five miles offshore for the Cape turn into the bay. With the south wind, this seemed safe enough and a good distance from the cape’s north shore past the light house.
Just as a precaution, I checked the Racor one more time. Hmmm … air, not much but it was there after almost 24 hours since the rebuild. Good news, I have quadrupled the time it takes for the air to become a problem. Bad news, as always, we are on Cabo Corrientes when the problem rears its head.
Hey, work the problem. Slow the boat. Switch back to sailing. Pop top on filter and add some fuel till the air is gone. Done. Restart. Off we go. 45 minutes pass and no problems. We are gold.
The sun was gently setting, when we made the course correction to enter the bay and head for La Cruz. Once we turned, the swell was such that the boat had a period of hobby horsing and lazy, short internal rolls that was not unexpected. It was not as harsh as we have dealt with before.
Wind is now down to 4 knots in our face from the bay ahead of us. Water has calmed. We have the sails furled and down. Moon is up. Half-moon so we will have good visibility. Big smiles.
This may be the best passage around Cabo Corrientes ever. Big smiles. Sighs of relief.
Engine chug-a-lugs. Hmmmm. Maybe 30 seconds later it does it again. Awww…crap!
I fling myself down the stairs to check Racor, fuel’s clear, no air. I switch tanks. Engine evens out. Then chug-a-lugs again. Awww….Double Crap!
That both tanks have a problem at the same time is unlikely. One tank is full ,so it can’t be agitation of fuel. Racor is good. No fuel leaking. Work the problem.
But first make sure we can steer and move since we are off the north shore. Up sails. Engine still running.
We are unable to make headway as the wind is maybe 4 knots. We may have to turn for Punta Mita on the north shore of Banderas Bay just to make headway.
With the half-moon we can at least see things to gauge how far off the north shore we are.
Hey, we always wanted to have a moonlight sail on Banderas Bay. We had even talked about that when we left Chamela.
My mind is racing. What is the problem?? I am gradually beginning to think it is not the Racor and not the fuel supply. What?
I asked Carolyn to switch on a fuel pump we have that powers the Dickenson Diesel stove in the main salon for heat. We have used it, on occasion, to clear air from the fuel lines when working on the engine at the docks.
To do this you simply turn the petcock off to the stove and turn on the pump. It pushed fuel towards the engine instead in this configuration. Everything on your boat should serve at least two purposes!
I have never known if this is by design or accidental.
A few months ago, I had discovered that I have the wrong pump installed. It should be a 3 psi fuel pump and I had installed a 6-11 psi. We had talked about replacing it, because I cannot run the heater with this pump. But, as you can figure, with 90 degree days in December, replacing it was not high on the priority list of repairs necessary to sail safely to La Cruz.
When Carolyn flicked the switch for the fuel pump, I was hoping if we had air or something stuck in fuel line, we would literally blow it past what ever was making the engine stall and race.
Instead, the engine firmed up and ran at 1500 RPM again without a stutter.
We’re both holding our breath. I turn us away from the north shore, now only 3 1/2 miles distant to put some distance between us and it. So reviewing our situation, we have a mizzen sail up unreefed and the furler is out on the jib to 3/4. We are making 7 knots again. We are moving away from the only danger near us.
I may have installed the wrong pump, but the mistake is saving our butts now. Dumb. We love re-dumb-dancy!
The Hero of the story!
The Villain of the story!
This also becomes our final diagnostic tool. Since, when you switch off the electric pump, the boat starts to sputter, we now know it is the old manual fuel pump that is the problem.
We are replacing it and rebuilding the current one. This will give us a fully functional spare.
Moonlight Sailing on the Bay of Banderas!
Could anything be more romantic than a Christmas season moonlight sail in the tropics?
I mention to Carolyn what a beautiful moon. She is having none of it.
We are about three hours from the anchorage at La Cruz or two hours from Punta Mita anchorage. After 45 minutes without a stutter, we start to relax. Still, I will not change RPM or cut the engine until we are in the anchorage. We agree. We are still nervous that when we alter something, it will stop while we are anchoring. So, we talk about how to anchor it it stops. It is a really calm nigh,t so I am not terribly worried but we still need to know what each of us will do it the engine quits during the anchor setting.
Because our GARMIN chart plotter is useless in the La Cruz area( as it does not even show a marina), we simply navigate back to a GPS way-point from last year when we were at anchor. About 10 PM we can pick out a few anchor lights and the marina entrance red and green lighted buoys.
We decide to brave it and cut RPM as we enter the anchorage. We are having trouble with some boats not having anchor lights on. The moonlight saves us. And, them.
We find a spot in 26 feet of water (four fathoms) and drop the anchor. God bless this boat. She backs up well and sets the anchor. We kill the engine and turn off the fuel pump.
We are in La Cruz anchorage five days before Christmas. It took us just 15 hours so we averaged 5.1 knots or 6 miles per hour. Best passage to La Cruz ever.
Or more scary sailing.
Of course, a lot depends on how you look at it!
Cat Five Qualified!
Well, we have internet again. Power was restored to the docks today and should have water tomorrow. Our boat, Spiritus, has sustained no damage. This in spite of heeling to about 18 degrees at the dock under winds, estimated at 165 mph a mile from the marina.
The Marina at Isla Navidad did superbly. No boats lost.
Four boats in the marina sustained damage. Two had furlers open. Both lost sails on the opened furlers.
One of the two lost its mast (to be honest this boat (pictured below) had marginal maintenance and was essentially a derelict at the docks.)
PICTURES OF THE STORM
Two other boats broke loose from their cleats at the docks. One was the result of a failed cleat and the other looks like a line parted on the boat itself.
One sailboat, in the mangroves on a small island in the lagoon, had its furler open and drove itself aground after several tacks alternating between turns, anchor holding, drags, and finally a hard grounding near Maria’s restaurant in Colimilla, which is the small community adjacent to the Grand Isla Navidad resort properties. Most boaters in Barra know Colimilla for its restaurants.
Most of the boat owners, who were present during the hurricane, spent Friday night in the hotel. We all got to watch our boats get battered from the relative safety of a room in a five-star resort.
This sounds like the easy life, until you watch a friend’s boat next to yours break free and begin the process of destroying the dock between itself and your boat. You care because you know the boat that is in trouble. You care because the owners of that boat are dear friends. You care because you know your boat is next. All you can do is stand by and watch. Your heart is torn because you are praying your boat is still there in the morning. Then you think maybe you should be praying everyone’s boat is there in the morning. The other thing to note is that when you’re in a hurricane of this intensity, you have to remind yourself that between you and the full fury of the elements is a pane of glass.
As evening and dark set upon us, the last thing we saw were the docks being lifted by the storm surge and high tide for the day. There was only about four feet of pylon left and the water was climbing. When we went to bed we did not know if we we’d see Spiritus in the morning when the sun came up.
Maybe it is fairer to say, we didn’t know what we would see when the sun came up. Then the lights went out and the hotel fell into darkness. All that remained was the wind, the blinding rain, and the worries of a boater and their boat.
The hotel is built like a Spanish Fort on a point of land overlooking the entrance to the lagoon. The emphasis is on the word fort. The walls are two feet thick and would probably stop a cannonball. Everything is concrete, stone, and marble. Substantial is the word that leaps to mind. More importantly, nothing flexes in the wind. It is a rock.
Winds in the picture (above) were in excess of 100 mph. The waves were approximately 23 feet and breaking at the harbor entrance.
Many boaters think of Barra de Navidad as a hurricane hole. We came here with that in mind. I think it is safe to say that any marina that endures a category-five hurricane landfall, with no boats damaged and no docks damaged beyond power and water loss, is probably okay to call itself a “hurricane hole.”
The lagoon is another question altogether. It is open to the wind and a setting for disaster in high winds. It has low-holding power on anchors, because it has a combined river silt and sand bottom. Read this as the ‘slide pool’. At the start of the hurricane, the only boat there was saved because its owner flew down from the US to Guadalajara and hired a taxi to drive him to the resort. He got into the marina about an hour before the hurricane hit. He had 30 knot winds in his face in the marina entrance, but almost none once he entered the marina itself. By the time he had the boat secured with help from the marina staff and workers, the winds were above 60 knots and climbing. His boat survived undamaged in the marina.
The fuel docks for Barra de Navidad are located in the lagoon. During the high winds, they were torn apart and relocated.
The GRAND ISLA NAVIDAD RESORT
The staff and management of the hotel were exemplar. Accommodations were made for all the boat owners on boats in the marina. A special rate was even offered, because we were residents of the marina.
Boats that had pets were allowed to bring them in for the storm. No one was turned away.
Staff worked round-the-clock, sleeping and staying at the hotel during the storm. It provided food and beds for all staff who stayed. The hotel has its own generators, so power was maintained for most of the storm.
Its kitchens made food available to those sheltering in the hotel. We actually had TV during the storm, as well as internet for a portion of it.
Hotel damage was mostly limited to the edges of the tile roofs as the wind caught the tiles and lifted them up and blew them away. The other casualty was some of the larger windows in the restaurants. The pools are filled with debris, but being cleared even as I write this.
MARINA STAFF AND DOCK WORKERS
The local workers who care for foreign-owned boats stayed thru the thickest part of the storm and kept checking boats. Retying and moving them when necessary. They saved at least two boats ,maybe three. with their selfless efforts. I say this, because no one bills you for their help. The marina staff and security also stayed during the storm. Everyone turned in to help preserve the boats at the docks and the docks themselves.
We lost potable water, electricity, and a few dock cleats.
Almost full amenities are back at all docks, just five days after the storm.
I cannot tell you how much respect I have for the dock workers and staff of the marina at Marina Navidad; they are the unsung heroes of this category-five hurricane here at the resort. On Sunday, many finally took off to check on their families and homes.
THE TOWN OF BARRA DE NAVIDAD
This is a substory of the storm. It is a remarkable substory of life in Mexico. The town and the resort are separated by a half mile of water. It is traversed daily and hourly by water taxis. Many of the workers for the marina and hotel live across the harbor. The taxis ran until they could not safely go out. They ran until the batteries on their radios gave out. They ran in breaking waves in the harbor. When the dock they had just rebuilt blew down, they found another and continued to run. Only during the worst of the storm did they stop for safety reasons.
This was/is Maria’s just down the street from the water taxi docks. What you are looking at was an indoor restaurant under a palapa roof a couple of days ago. Parties and dinners were often held here. This is the kitchen bar below it is the main restaurant area.
The church called San Antonio de Padua suffered minor damage. This is the church with the Jesus on the Cross figure called the Cristo de Ciclón .
The church was standing room only for the services the second day after the storm.
Businesses are trying to clean up before this weekend, which is Dia de la Muertos (Oct 31-Nov. 2, a festival coinciding with the Catholic Church’s Allhallowtide, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day). Dia de Muertos is one of three most popular holidays along the coast (Christmas and Easter, being the other two).
And the famous pizza place under the tree took a hit from the storm. Most of the trees leaves are gone but it still stands. You can see this tree from space in the Google earth Maps. Glad it survived.
PUNTA GRAHM AND THE LOS LLANITOS FREIGHTER
This is the large rock formation due west of the Marina on the other side of the headland. Distance for the marina is a mile or so. Currently, the bulk carrier ship under Mexican Flag, the Los Llanitos, is aground and probably will break up.
The video above is from 11/1/2015 and is the best example of what I am talking about. Ship gets lots of visitors by helicopter but no visible environmental response. The latest messages seem to suggest they are thinking of making it a reef. I am not sure how that differs from doing nothing and hoping the fish like it.
The cargo seems to be grain so at least that is a relief, if true.
The video and pictures are of a 71,000 ton freighter that left Manzanillo just ahead of the storm. It foundered and ran aground about a mile west of us on a rocky headland. the winds were simply too strong. Crew had to be evacuated after the storm by helicopter. The Mexican Navy is not working to get her afloat now as she had broken her back and will never be sea worthy.
I am adding this not as a criticism, but as a series of observations. I have a background in Emergency Planning and Response in a previous life before cruising. I have watched with rapt attention how the response system works in this part of rural Mexico.
Barra de Navidad is a small town of about 4,000 (according to the traffic sign at edge of town). It has a two communications towers: one from Carlos Slim’s Telcel, which seems to have its own generator since it kept working when all power was out, and another that I do not know who installed but I suspect it is some kind of public works.
The warnings before the storm consisted of an emergency vehicle with lights and a siren hitting up the siren as it drove past the marina and announcing one hour before landfall that ‘a hurricane was coming. Get to safety! Stop all maritime activities! Seek shelter immediately!’ I did not hear any warning by the Port Captain. He did close the port in an announcement. The red ‘port is closed’ flag was flying at harbor entrance. We were monitoring channel 16 for the captain, channel 22 for cruisers, and channel 23 for the water taxis.
No one knew wind speeds locally, and both local weather stations at the airport and in Manzanilla went off-line. Internet was available until just after the storm ended; so, we got a lot of info from the sites we use to plan trips that I mention in another blog entry here called “Guessing the Weather along Mexico’s West Coast”. This file is also available in the South_Bound user ground on Yahoo Groups.
No preparation at all. No boarding of windows. No pre-positioning of resources.
Storm hits. No sirens, no response to emergencies, no presence of anything like response teams. The local EMTs seem to have staffed their ambulance at the small clinic for Seguro Popular, the Mexican health program. It is a very safe building at the edge of the commercial part of Barra.
No police. As of today, I have still seen no police in the town. No military. Well, except for a chopper that brought some meals and water. No disaster teams. No local use of generators (except at the Grand Isla Navidad Resort where we sheltered). I have seen one small generator at a private home in five days of looking. What is very interesting is NO LOOTING, no increase in crime, no breaking of windows. No reports of any weird disaster-related social breakdown. Small town, small town values: we take care of ourselves.
Stores stayed open if they were locally owned. Franchise stores like OXXO and Kiosko (these are like 7- Elevens) were closed for the duration (plus two days), because their internet based registers would not function. Just closed. No electricity = no register = Not Open. Even in an emergency where supplies of food stuffs are immediately short. Local tiendas (vendors) just wrote things down in a small ledger for payment and for resupply.
Beer. It was amazing to watch as the beer supplies got used up further and further from the town’s commercial district. Each day to get beer, you had to walk further and further away from the town core. Milk and anything refrigerated was gone or spoiled after the first day. The ice plant kept running or had a store of bagged and block ice so that beer and sodas were kept on ice. Everything in a cooler, powered by electricity, got hot.
Clean up. No heavy equipment at all. Shovels and Brooms. Clean your own street of debris and sand.
Rebuilding. Hammers and Machetes. I’m not kidding. Bolt cutters, stainless-steel hacksaws. hammers. small (very small) sledge hammers. Wood and trees as big as five inches being worked and cut with machetes. We saw a couple of power saws being used at the Grand Isla Navidad Resort.
Power. The power companies were the only organized response I have seen. There were half a dozen power trucks in town on the second day after the landfall.
No round-the-clock response. Everyone seems to go home or shut down at night.
The ship wreck on Punta Graham (west of the marina). The most response of all. Half a dozen helicopter flights to and from the wreck site daily. No spill-boom for fuel and oil containment. No pumping of cargo off-boat. Emergency response seems to be of an observational nature. No interventions to prevent spill or mitigate damage. Response by government seems to be ‘Just watch’.
News Response. Oh, yeah. Even though no one is talking much about the aftermath, lots of reporters on day three taking pictures. Seem to be Mexico TV crews.
Boats in the Marina. Cruising boats have power, generators, solar, wind generators, fresh water-makers, water storage, refrigeration, food stocks, medical supplies, radio communications, phones, satellite communications, light, sewage, etc. We fair well and are not a part of the problem. But, we are also not part of the solution. Not sure what to make of this. Seems like a wasted resource to me.
As I have said elsewhere, the marina is located in a five-star resort which is by definition a gated community. It remained so during the storm. If there is cooperation between the resort and any local community as a shelter, it is not obvious to the casual observer. What this means is that the only place for miles on the coast that could shelter in true disasters is essentially a business even during a disaster and not a community resource. Seems like another wasted resource to me.
If the resort had a disaster plan, it was not obvious. Windows (big ones) not boarded. Last minute removal of furnishings from places likely to be opened to the elements. No contact with guests. An occasional “Are you guys OK?” would have been nice.
When the hotel’s dining room closed because of window damage, the hotel provided an emergency meal for workers and guests.
No apparent call in of off-duty staff. Though, if you were staff here at the start of the storm you stayed. Food and bedding was provided to workers, who did not leave for a couple of days. Do not know if they got to contact family. Most do have cell phones and the cell phone services never went down. Bless you Carlos Sim and your self-powered cell towers.
I am adding a note here that the ad hoc response by staff on duty at the Resort was phenomenal. They met each emergency need flexibly with what ever staff was not busy elsewhere. It is clear that the staff is dedicated and very experienced but that is not an emergency plan that is experience. It is safe to say that each year a hurricane is a distinct possibility at this resort. It would make sense to organize a plan about how to handle one.
Marina. No extra staff called in during storm. The few marina staff and security and the individuals who work on boats and any cruisers available handled emergencies in the marina. Lost power. Lost water. Lots of damage to electrical system. The big boats provided night-time illumination so we could see on the docks.
Marina management did stop by boats to check before the storm on what the owners’ plans were. But no requirement that a boat prep for the storm. No ‘take down your furlers’, no ‘remove all canvas’, no ‘add lines’. One dock was mostly cleared of boats, and a few were moved to other locations in the marina. I am guessing to reduce stress on certain docks.
Please note that the observations above are for information only. They are entirely subjective in nature. All I can attest to is what I have seen personally. That being said, I am somewhat a keen observer of this kind of setting. Just my two-cents worth.
It is very unlike a stateside response which tends to be heavy on governmental involvement. There seems no help rebuilding support whatsoever. Not sure if agencies here do disaster planning or just ‘respond’ in an observational posture.
Very interesting experience.
I actually had it in my head that cruisers would be much more use to communities in which we harbor. This was based on an approximation of what we all carry on our boats. I will have to rethink this assumption after this.
Lest you think these recollections are just the imaginings of a ‘cruiser’ in a foreign country, try to remember that for those of us who live on our boats, they are our homes. We do not just fly to Mexico for the sailing season. We live here with commitment. That means that if the boat is sunk or heavily damaged, we are not simply unhappy while waiting for a check from the insurance company. We are homeless, just like anyone who loses all they have.
With that said, we try to never forget that all cruisers in Mexico, to some extent, live in secure gated communities called marinas. We and they have security round the clock, We don’t live where there is no backup generator. We don’t live where there is no potable water. We don’t live where the only help you have is your friends and neighbors.
A well-equipped cruising boat, after the storm passed, had electricity, potable water, food and medical supplies, internet, phones, television and DVDs, radios, and the ability to just sit out the period after the storm. This was true even if the docks and marina had no power, water, or other amenities like sewage removal.
The bathrooms in the marina kept working. You can’t imagine what that small thing means to cruisers. We can’t imagine what it means to the town which had no such amenities after the storm.
MORE TO COME
There will be more added to this posting as info gets to me. I just wanted to post it so, if you had an interest in Barra and the boaters here, you would have some info.
Sometimes, you just have to take a moment and smile. We were featured on this site a couple of years ago before we set out for Mexico. She got a second look because of how we have restored her.
Hope you enjoy the article and visit the site. Great site if you like old boats like Ingrids. We do!
If you are one of my original crew that came south with Spiritus in 2012 in the Baja-Ha-Ha, please don’t hunt me down and kill me after you read this.
On the way south ,during the 2012 Baja-Ha-Ha, we managed the helm/rudder by-hand for the entire way from Oregon to the tip of Baja, then up into the Sea of Cortez to La Paz. This is about 2100 nautical miles of sailing day and night.
Carolyn and I are now cruising for pleasure; and, as we headed north from Barra de Navidad, we decided to break out the tiller pilot that I have not used since we moved the boat from Winchester Bay to Newport, Oregon, after we bought her.
It is a Navico TP300C and is paired with Navico Corus Programer CP 600 remote.
Carolyn and I talked it over and decided to try it out on the 18-20 hour run past Cabo Corrientes. Cabo Corrientes is Spanish for “Cape of the currents” and is typically a trip involving a 10-14 knot head-wind from the north and a wave-set direction of West or South West. In other words, it is a place of troubled waters at times.
We chose to round it at night since that would bring us into La Cruz anchorage at about daybreak. We turned it at 2 in the morning– a little behind schedule.
But, the highlight of the trip was the ‘new crew member’, named ‘Ripley’ . . . believe it or not.
Ripley is the auto helm/tiller pilot. She has a built-in fluxgate compass that can hold a heading against winds, currents, waves, and tiredness. See the picture bellow for how she attaches. This is a sailing version so it can actually tack the boat in 30 degree turns. For our first use, we were under motor for the entire afternoon and night so we tried her with the engines on to see how dependable she was.
Result, in the first 12 hours we only had to take the helm twice at way points. Once again at 2 a.m. when we turned 90 degrees for the headland at Cabo Corrientes into Banderas Bay. And, taking the helm actually consisted of tapping in a course correction and letting her assume and continue the new heading.
The only time in 20+ hours we had to take control was when I shut the engine off to check the oil and add part of a quart, and bleed the Racor fuel filter of some air.
Here is the short 18 second video of Ripley steering the boat that I promised to post.
For my original crew, if it is any consolation, Carolyn, my wife spent the better part of the day not talking to me either as she had sailed all the way from Muertos on the Baja Peninsula to Chacala on the mainland of Mexico, hand-steering the boat through her shifts focused on maintaining the compass heading.
No amount of “But, honey, you really needed to learn to sail the boat” … bought me a smile.
For my original crew, I don’t know why we did not use it. I think we got so used to sailing by-hand during the first week of bad weather that we just never thought of it again.
It does make the sailing quite enjoyable versus sometimes feeling like you are rowing the Ingrid to the next port with tiller sweeps.
A deck watch is still required but you can go to the bathroom, get a sandwich, read a book, or look at the stars, all secure in the knowledge that the tiller pilot will hold the boat on course.
This entry is about an idea Carolyn had. I designed the cockpit additions. The necessary additions were rails for the sides of the cockpit, floorboards to sit on top of the rails, and cushions to cover the cockpit in its entirety.
This modification which is very easy and structurally insignificant adds the equivalent of a screened stateroom or master cabin with a double-wide berth to the 38 foot Ingrid ketch without interfering with her functionality. It is for use at a dock or when anchoring out. The key to its functionality is the pattern of the cushions. With this pattern, she can have comfortable cushions for cruising, no cushions for when working in the cockpit, or full cushions for the screened in porch use.
Note the shape of the bimini. It is designed for sailing. It provides both shade, which is absolutely essential in the tropics, and shelter from weather like rain.
First, the actual cockpit modification. It consists of two permanently mounted 1×2 rails at the cockpit’s edges on both sides. See the picture.
The next thing we did was create a set of deck planks. They are cut to fit onto the rails and inset into the deck created when placed on the rails. Each has two ventilation holes to keep them from trapping moisture in the cockpit below the cushions. See the picture.
Then we contacted a local upholsterer to make a set of cushions based on a template I drew by tracing the above contours onto a large piece of paper like foam with a magic marker. He used it to cut the foam and materials for the cushions. If you are interested in duplicating this see the picture below.
The result is a very pleasing addition to the boats sleeping areas. We have slept outside in the cockpit all summer in great comfort. This includes the rainy nights when we would have had to shut hatches to keep dry and tried to sleep at 90 plus temperatures.
All the technical how to do this and how easy it is aside. Aesthetically, kind of cool to lay there at night and listen to the rain. Reminds me of my grandma’s house with the tin roof. Pleasing, soothing, quieting sound, and cool breezes. You can see the stars and the storm clouds, lightning and rain drops. It doesn’t get a lot better.
In effect, it makes the space in the boat more like that available on a 44-45 foot boat than a 38 foot boat. We even added two small clip on fans to the underside of the dodger so that when the air is hot and absolutely still, we still have moving air to keep us cool as we sleep.
Cost $80 for lumber, as I used Mexican pine (which is as strong as Oak unlike current American pine which wouldn’t make a good tooth pick) and about $700 for the custom cushions made from scratch with high density foam 5″, and exterior sunbrella tan material as a covering. We also had them made so they can be flipped over to extend the years of wear and fight sun bleaching.
Ingrid 38 owners who read this, let me know what you think of this modification.
Considering that boats seem to be ‘she’, and considering that we put a lot of time into our relationships with these also significant others, I thought I would ask what you think.
Is it cheating on your boat to sail another?
I love Ingrid 38s. I admit it. Probably because, like many of you, I have spent so much time researching them, working on one, sailing them, reading about them and of course … dreaming about them.
I think what I have come to love most is that even though they are a sort of production boat with 150 hulls or so out there, they are also each absolutely unique. Each finished boat is, in many subtle ways, entirely different from all of the others.
I recently had an opportunity to sail on another Ingrid out of La Paz, Mexico. The boat, an Ingrid 38 ketch called Raven’s Song is a beautiful sail. She is formerly Allymar and is Hull # 6, I believe. She was splashed around 1972. Spiritus was launched around 1990.
She is very different from Spiritus which is Hull # 123. She is also very much the same.
Her interior layout is classic Ingrid 38 and very similar to the Ingrid Princess which was the factory demo used to sell a lot of the other Ingrids. Ingrid Princess is probably the best known of these boats based on her extensive sailing, the very interesting blog that her owner wrote, and the tons of Ingrid related stuff on his site.
Raven’s Song has wooden decks over plywood framing with 2×4 supports. The decking of teak has been covered and weatherized with the white rubberized coating used on roofs in tropical climates. This makes her cooler on deck (and below) and very resistant to water penetration while sailing with wet decks.
Her fuel tanks are very aft which makes her just a bit heavy on the stern end.
She is rigged in classic ketch fashion. She has subtle differences compared to my boat. Her mizzen boom is longer by 2-3 feet making for more sail area to the stern. She also has no triatic stay, so the two masts are not linked structurally. This makes her ever so slightly less rigid as she sails.
The Interior layout of Raven’s Song is entirely different from that of Spiritus. She has a double wide bed in the forward berth rather than a v shaped berth.
The main cabin is amidships (on Spiritus, it is aft-ish). It has a full size folding sea-table amidships for meals.
The navigation station(and communications) is starboard by the stairs (ours is amidships port side). The galley is port side under/ near the companionway. On Spiritus, the galley is amidships starboard side. Galley is approximately same size as Spiritus but has alcohol rather than LPG as stove fuel. Raven’s Song has an ice box (real ice box without cold plate system) and a second 12 v cooler chest for vegetables and meats.
She has an engine room aft with a shiny, new looking, only a few years old, 30 HP Yanmar and to its rear a classic packing gland around the shaft of the prop. Spiritus has the original 3 cylinder 36 HP Volvo (marinized tractor engine complete with hand crank starting). Raven’s Song’s engine is sooooooooooo quiet.
The two boats sail almost identically. I am very familiar with the conditions we were sailing in and there were absolutely no surprises in how Raven’s Song handled. Very good light air sailing, with a slight butt- wobble when running down wind ( which is characteristic of this double-ender). With a genoa, main, and mizzen up, Raven’s Song is easy to balance so she almost sails herself. With just the mizzen and genoa … she moves gracefully but is a touch more tender as the balance of the sails across the wind is less perfect.
I love how these boats move thru the water with almost no sound because of the canoe shaped hulls.
It was great to get away from the docks and just sail the boat. It was fun to be on another’s boat. It was great fun to have the opportunity to sail another Ingrid.
The sailing was so good. The boat was so beautiful. Why do I feel so guilty?
My wife says the guilty smile is a dead giveaway!
Many who own ketches have gotten, at one time or another, drawn into the never ending discussion of the need or lack of need for the triatic stay ( also spelled Triadic Stay). This is the stay that runs, in the case of most Ingrids, from the top of one mast to the top of another. If you look thru the pictures at the Ingrid sites, you can quickly see that about half of the boats out there don’t have this stay.
There is a further variation where the stay is installed but lower on the mizzen mast. Usually this installation is half to 2/3 way up the mizzen.
Spiritus, which was formerly Tanya Dawn, never had this piece of rigging installed. In La Paz, as I have been working on the boat, I discovered all the hardware stored away in one of the holds. I was in the midst of having the rigging tuned after the trip south and after discussions with a local rigger, we decided to install the triatic stay.
I took his advice, but mostly, I decided to install it because every plan sail plan I have seen for an Ingrid called for this stay.
The discussions, which I had with the original owners (when Carolyn and I bought the boat three years ago) broached this discussion of its absence. The original owners, who are also the family that finished the boat, decided that they did not want the two masts tied together in case of the failure of a single mast causing the failure of both by dragging the other down. Theirs was a safety decision to increase the redundancy of the sails and rigging of the boat.
When our rigger and I tuned the standing rigging after the Spiritus’ trip south from Oregon, he commented on the missing triatic stay and we noted it was extremely difficult to get the mizzen tuned and at the same angle relative to the boat hull as the main mast. In addition, we couldn’t get as much tension thru the 8 pieces of standing rigging that support the mizzen as we wanted.
Spiritus is rigged with Castlok fittings like those used in elevators. They are end hardware that doesn’t use a small wedge inside another hand tightened stainless steel hardware. Instead, an epoxy like reddish formula is mixed and pushed into the end fitting after the wire is feathered inside it. The results are an exothermic (it gets hot and expands) reaction in the epoxy that seals and immobilizes the end of the wire. These are relatively difficult to find now. And, it took me forever to find a set of instructions on how to mix and apply the epoxy. The rigger had never used them before, so we chose to order and use a Norseman fitting.
It took us three hours to measure (twice) , cut, install the fitting on the 3/16 stainless wire, climb both masts, install the two ends, including a turnbuckle, and then re tune the mizzen.
Because it’s March in La Paz, mid-winter, so it was only about 90 degrees Fahrenheit by 12:30 p.m. when we finished.
It is always entertaining to people on the docks when upper shroud rigging work is being done, because you don’t get to see it that often away from a shipyard. I am including below the contents of an email Carolyn wrote to some friends about the installation. She also gets credit for the nice photo above of us in the rigging. After all, what is the point of doing this if you don’t get a hero shot or two.
“The triadic stay was an option at the factory but it was standard not to have it until the early 80’s. After hearing of a three of losses of the mizzen, albeit two of them were needless, the builder, Kurt, decided to make it standard. The wire size was of a smaller diameter than any other on board the boat save the halyard wire portions. There was a variance on the configurations over time at the factory and of course owner installations take on a life of their own. The factory installs were basically masthead to masthead from tangs and at the mizzen end was a turnbuckle which required a man to get up there to attach it. The other was to go through a sheave and down the face of the mizzen to deck level.
One of the benefits was that less forward and downward pressure was required to tune the mast while making it parallel to the main. This in turn put less pressure on the head bulkhead, deck fitting and cabin sole and its under sole support. The pressure if too great would over time change the companionway configuration and make the hatch hard to slide and similarly cause the head door in the aft cabin to change fit.
The mast is the same as the Alberg 30 with no forestay. For open ocean sailing safety and aesthetics I would prefer the stay and was party to the decision to add it as standard.
As an owner you get to choose. From 1972 most of the Whitbys did not have one. I only know of 3 losses and it is 37 years later and with about 200 of them with no triadic, that is a lot of sea time with no problems!!!!!!”
Russ got a hold of our rigger; he (in turn) ordered the part, and about three weeks later they both went up the masts to complete the addition.
I escaped for awhile–thither and yon–foraging for the necessities of life such as groceries and Animalitoes (Mexico’s version of animal cookies); I returned to find Russ at the top of our taller mast ((50 feet above the deck). It was a hot day and it must have been hot as hell up there with no shade whatsoever.
So you will better understand the situation, I climbed with Russ for about 20 years and one learns–in that time–some interesting rules about being exposed at great heights to having your ass hanging vertically high off the round with your only protection being a rope and a carabiner. Rule #1) Simple gravity. It’s hard to fall UP/easy to fall DOWN, Good protection is a must and don’t get sloppy because #2) no matter how high you go, the first 40 feet can kill you just as dead as 1400 feet. #3) Don’t walk up unexpectedly and yell at the climber, “Hi Honey!! I’m home! How ya doin?” On a boat, Rule #4 is applied: Don’t jump on the boat carrying groceries and a case of beer. (Did I mention the beer earlier?) Climbing boat masts also have other rules regarding windy days and lightning storms.
Anyway….I rolled my grocery cart down to the dock quietly and there was a very nice Mexican man in his mid-50s watching the climbers. He motioned to me to be very quiet (with his fingers to his lips) and pointed upward to the mast. I, in turn, shook my head proudly.
The man said,”Ese hombre es joven y muy fuerte.” (That man is young and very strong.)
Despite the reference to Russ being young–which I took in stride–again I shook my head affirmatively and replied proudly, “Bueno, él viejo pero muy fuerte. Mi esposo.” ( Well, he’s old, but very strong. My husband.)
The man (who definitely had a great sense of humor) smiled, winked at me, and asked playfully, “¿Es vigoroso?” (“He’s energetic?” USE YOUR IMAGINATION!)
I laughed. “Si! Muy vigorosa” (“Oh, yeah!” LOOSE TRANSLATION)
He bowed grandly. “Tú eres una mujer afortunada.” (You’re very lucky.)
I returned the bow. “Eso es muy cierto.” (“That’s very true.”)
Needless to say, I had fun and Russ was thrilled when I told him the story.
Love to all,
See how much family fun you can have on an Ingrid 38, even on a day when it doesn’t leave the dock?
I already notice that the mizzen no longer “pumps” in heavy winds with the new stay. I will let you know if I can tell any difference in how she handles under sail. I am not expecting any major change, but the tune up (coupled with the new stay) may make her a bit more stiff, not sure if it will be noticeable in a 28,000 lb boat.