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Saturday, July 30, 2011

July 26, 2011-Zanzibar

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Zanzibar waterfront

Flying north from Johannesburg to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania the captain came on and said, “We are now crossing the border from Zimbabwe to Mozambique, Malawi is on the right and Zambia is in the distance to the left.”

Those names were evocative of Africa. Despite the fact that we had been in South Africa since April and we’ve been to the Durban city a few times and to the bush on safari twice, it was just then, for the first time, I really felt it was Africa.

And Dar Es Salaam felt like Africa too. I sat back in the taxi on the way in from the airport and watched the African scene slide by: a long four lane road, crowds of people waiting at each corner for buses or shuffling along or riding old bicycles on the dusty path where a sidewalk would be if it wasn’t the third world. We crept through intersections with broken traffic lights and lots of honking cars and bounced over broken pavement into the city where the Holiday Inn was a refuge. Later we walked to the ferry terminal and were mobbed and jostled by ticket sellers. Dar Es Salaam was a jungle.

But the next day we managed to elbow our way onto the ferry to Zanzibar and there the pace was slower. We pushed out of the crowd at the ferry landing and walked down a narrow alley to our hotel in an old mansion in historic Stone Town and they gave us a glass of watermelon juice to refresh us and cold towels to wipe away the travel dust. The room was up three flights and it had a four poster bed with mosquito netting and a ceiling fan which rotated lazily. We looked out from the balcony over the roofs of the UNESCO heritage site with buildings dating back hundreds of years, back to when the Portuguese then the Arabs made Zanzibar the center of the East African slave trade and the Sultan of Oman moved his capital to Zanzibar. We heard the mullahs calling the faithful to prayer but other than that Zanzibar was quiet, particularly when compared to the bustle of Dar Es Salaam. We thought we’d like it.

Walking in Stone Town

It was just a short trip out of the country to get new South African visas but we made the most out of our three days in Zanzibar; we walked every alley and street in the ancient Stone Town and photographed it all. We shopped for a Persian carpet, but there were none except in the museums, and coffee beans, which we found in the market where we bargained with the shopkeepers and finally bought two kilos for a good price. We even found our way to a dark and smoky bar one evening and listened to a band play late into the night.

Stone Town

And then it was over. We took the ferry back to Dar and flew back to Richards Bay on Tuesday, landing in a violent windstorm and thankful to make it down safely, and now we’re back on Wings.

It was a good trip.

We'll post the photos in a few days.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Richards Bay, South Africa

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

July 11, 2011-Wings' Mast is Re-stepped

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Mast coming back aboard

Samual, the crane operator waved his finger from side to side, “No no, can’t do.”

I ducked out of the tangle of shrouds and spreaders and walked across the lawn to his cab.

“Too far away,” he said. There were alarms were going off in the cab. The computer wouldn’t allow the lift I was asking for.

His company put the mast down on the lawn in June and now they were saying they couldn’t pick it back up. It was the consequence of using a smaller crane (the 20 ton crane was not available) and my having moved the mast a few feet since they last put it down. Shit.

I looked at Uli and Mike and Saheele.

“Can you guys help me move this mast a few feet that way?”

They nodded and so the four of us picked up the mast and moved it a couple of meters. Now the crane’s hook could reach the lifting sling and from that point on the job went smoothly. Fifteen minutes later the mast butt slid down through the partners and seated on the step with a slight thump; a sweeter sound I have not heard.

We attached a couple of shrouds, and the backstay and forestay, and Judy went up to untie the sling which stubbornly would not slide down to the deck, and the job was done.

The mast is back on board Wings and we are a sailboat again.

That is not to say we don’t still have projects to do. There are plenty. We’ve got to re-rig the mast, install the boom and new boom vang (due here this week from Southern Spars) and the SSB radio is still an outstanding problem and there are some sewing projects. And yeah, there are some more cosmetic things to do as well like R & R the bow hatch and the tiller, etc. But all of this should be no sweat compared to the major stuff we just completed, with the keel bolt plates, mast step, and all the mast work we did. This wraps up the long, phase by phase, project we started in Thailand in 2009.

It all feels pretty good right now.

Click here to see the other photos of this operation.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Richards Bay, SA

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Saturday, July 09, 2011

July 10, 2011-Shooting an Eclipse of the Moon

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Eclipse of the Moon

In June Judy and I heard about the upcoming eclipse of the moon and we decided to watch it from Wings' deck.

I've pointed my camera at the moon plenty of times but the shots never came out. I never understood why a beautiful moon looks so crummy in my photos.

With this eclipse I had another chance; we had clear weather and a good view of the sky and I decided to solve the problem.

Prior to the start of the eclipse I went on deck and took some shots with guessed exposures and then came below to look at them on the computer. As usual they were bad; overexposed and washed out. I dropped the exposure a little and tried it again. Better but still crummy. So I chopped the exposure way way down and bracketed a bunch.

That's when they started to work. It seems that you don't need much light to get a good moon shot.

Once I had it worked out then I shot these series about 10-20 mins apart and did the composite in Photoshop.

I'm happy with my moon shots of the eclipse.

The settings, for any shutter bugs out there: 200mm, 1/1250sec, f6.3, ISO Speed Rating 400

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Richards Bay, SA

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Thursday, July 07, 2011

July 7, 2011-The Reincarnation of Osler Marie

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Osler Departing

It’s howling out tonight as it has been for three days and cold and I’m sitting here listening to the wind and feeling Wings shake in the gusts and thinking of Osler out there sailing.

I watched the 54 foot Osler leave on Saturday with the paint still wet and gear stacked on deck and though it was calm on that day I feared a little for them then and more so tonight. The coast of Africa is a harsh environment for an unfinished boat and a raw crew and this cold wind and rain that came in means they are probably having a rough time of it.

Two months ago it was just a cold iron hulk moored in the slip next to us with 6 inches of barnacles on the hull. The steel ketch, looking like a derelict, was called Osler Marie back then. It seemed like just another of the many big, strong and silent steel boats you see in South Africa. They remind me of the big, strong and silent steel Afrikaners who build them.

Then Villem and Johan showed up said they had bought the boat and were going to take it to Madagascar in July for the dive charter trade. People around here didn’t give them much chance of making it to Madagascar by July but things started to happen on Osler Marie. For one it was no longer silent. Day after day the sound of grinders and chipping hammers told the story of work being done on deck and down below, as did the stream of broken parts being carried out; windlass, engine pieces, electrical bits, and interior furniture. The deck became a war zone and I’d guess the inside always was.

The deadline was impossibly tight but I thought they might make it. For one thing they never gave up, never slowed down, and never let any obstacle stop them. Villem is a pusher, that's for sure.

When the boat was hauled out and the bottom cleaned they cut massive holes into the hull and welded in new steel. They had a table saw on the deck and a carpenter was cutting plywood for the inside. The deckhouse was removed, modified, and then re-installed. A hole was cut in the foredeck for a new hatch. The work was almost ‘round the clock’.

They re-launched late at night on the third of June, the painter spraying the hull as it moved towards the water and there was a lot of work left to do besides painting.

Then the crew showed up, kids really, dive instructors with no sailing experience. They were to go north with the boat and I think they were a little shocked when they saw Osler. Other than a shiny hull it still looked pretty much like a wreck, and in fact it did until the day they left but the kids pitched in and worked day and night.

But by July 1 Olser Marie had been re-incarnated into just 'Osler' and Villem said, “We just must go”. They threw below the rest of the equipment and food and pulled out some old sails. Villem went up the mast to secure one of the stays and Johan installed the autopilot control. I helped them rig the sails and tie down some equipment and gave them some charts and with two big dive compressors tied on the aft deck they untied the lines and left, finished or not.

We waved goodbye.

Now, with this weather, I wonder how they are doing. Without a long distance radio on board they can’t check in or even call for help, but at least they are heading north, going downwind with it, and maybe the big iron hulk of Osler will be all right, trundling toward Madagascar.

Maybe we’ll get an email from them. I hope so.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, South Africa

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Osler Crew
Clockwise from upper left:
Johan de Jager, 67, Johannesburg, SA, Danielle Smit 25, Mnandi, SA, Villem Straus, 49, Pretoria, SA, Ruan van Wyk, 19, Pretoria, Jason Squires, 19, Mtunzini, SA

Click here for more photos of Osler

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July 6, 2011-Mast step, Backing Plates & Ball Bearings

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In Readiness for the Mast

We installed the the new mast step, slathered in yellow barrier cream to prevent the corrosion which occurred on the last one, and the three new new keel backing plates (one visible in photo above) on Wednesday. Five other plates are in better shape, and in any case can be replaced with out removing the mast, so we left them alone.

It has been a struggle to get these parts back from the fabricators but now, finally, they are in and we are ready to install the mast.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
More bad bearings

While we waited we took a look at the halyard turning blocks and found more bad bearings. This time it was the delrin ball side-load bearings which had failed, probably because of the side loading which results from our method of pulling up the sails by jumping the halyards at the mast, not the torlon rollers which had failed in the mast head sheaves.

I have plenty of spare bearings now so I rebuilt all the turning blocks.

wingssail images-judy jensen
Replacing delrin ball bearings

This, I find, is a very enjoyable activity. I can sit in my salon and carefully put new bearings into the sheave, one by one, around 100 bearings per sheave. It is calming work and the result is satisfying.

While I zen'd out with my delrin ball bearings Judy cleaned up all the aluminium peices, removing corrosion and dirt. Togther we make a good team.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Richards Bay, South Africa

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