Well I was all set to leave about a week ago when I pulled up alongside and noticed some cracks on the chain plates that support the mast. On further inspection I found cracks or crazing on both of the aft chain plates and also on the forward stbd plate. There was no way I would be able to sail and be comfortable with those so I had no choice but to change them out.
This was a pretty major job and took a lot of time and energy to get it done. There were certainly times when i thought I'd never get there. Had to do a bit of cutting away at the paneling to get access to the bolts and even then I was working in spots that I could barely get my hands into. The season down here has definitely changed as well, its hot, humid and not the most comfortable weather to be trying to wedge yourself into the back of small places. One of the idea i had was to use the old plates as backing plates for the new ones and when i took them to get cut two of the actually cracked, so it was definitely a good idea to change them out. They had thirty years of good service and more than a few miles, so can't complain too much.
Was pretty lucky though as I got a huge amount of help from some of the crew in the marina and also from Katy, who’s joined me for the sail south, with polishing and installing the plates. That job would have taken months without them. Well that's another major thing taken care of and hopefully wont have to worry about them for the next thirty years. Part of what i wanted from this trip was the chance to learn and work things through, certainly got that, Would be nice to have some sailing and travel in there to though. Soon enough.
This trip has been a huge learning curve so far and sometimes when you find things like this it can really knock you. It sometimes feels like I've been working flat out for the last three months, I guess that's because i have, but sometimes I feel like i need to shout to myself to enjoy the trip, enjoy what is happening right now, even if it means more work. This is all part of the trip, all part of learning and growing and adventure. I am now readying myself for the next phase and the next place.
Here are a few pics of the old plates and the new ones installed. I’m now back on weather watch to head off to Cuba. Looks like it could possibly be Sunday night to get into Cuba Tuesday morning. Looks like its going to be a pretty windy trip across and we will see how we go with the gulf stream as with NE winds predicted it will be blowing directly against it which stands the waves up quite a bit. Still thinking this over but doesn't look like conditions will improve anytime in the next week or so.