Leaving Antigua, W. I.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sailing South

March 21, 2011

Well, our engine replacement project is really finished, now.  We made a few last minute purchases -- things best bought in Saint Martin -- and cleared out with the French officials this morning, with our next port of call Jolly Harbour, Antigua.  We spent the afternoon stowing things and double-checking lists, and went to bed early.

March 22, 2011

We left St. Martin through the drawbridge, and, once out of Simpson Bay, raised our sails to check the recent tuning of the mast.  We had to slack the rigging wires when we had the boat hauled out, in order to accommodate the slings of the crane, and realized that it had been several years since we tuned the rig.  It made quite a difference in the way Play Actor sails, and we had a nice jaunt over to St. Barths, where we picked up a mooring for the night in the marine park at Anse Columbier.  We set an alarm for the next morning, and went to bed early, planning an early departure so we would arrive in Antigua before dark.

March 23, 2011

We woke up to the sunrise coming through the portholes, and realized that the alarm didn't go off.  A quick check showed that Bud had set it for   Engineers don't always have such a great grasp of technology.  We got under way by about , somewhat later than planned, and, as we rounded the southeastern corner of St. Barth's, discovered that the wind had more east in it than the forecast had indicated.  This was a disappointment, as we had expected a close reach for the 75 nautical miles to Antigua, and we were hard on the wind.  Given the sloppy seas, which we had expected, that would make for a slow trip.  We decided to exercise our new engine, and motor sail for a while. 

The engine is still in the 50 hour prescribed break-in period, and so  we must  run it harder than we normally would.  We discovered that even hard on the wind with main and staysail, smashing into seas that sent green water rolling back from the bow to the cockpit occasionally, we were still able to make hull speed at about 60 to 70% of full power.  We made it to our chosen anchorage off Jolly Harbour, Antigua, in a little over 11 hours, amazed because we didn’t know Play Actor would go so fast under conditions like these.

We'll be here for a few days, visiting with our friends on Kewaydin, who are getting ready to leave their boat here for the summer.  We will leave early in the week to resume our journey to Grenada.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sea Trial

We moved Play Actor back to our favorite winter anchorage in the Simpson Bay Lagoon on March 7, and got a chance to evaluate our new propulsion system.  Everything works as it should, with the new engine and propeller combination appearing to be perfectly matched.  The engine reaches it's full rated RPM at just about hull speed, and at cruising RPM range, we're making about 6 knots, which is a little faster than we used to go.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

All Finished

New versus old

We hauled Play Actor out on February 24.  Once she was blocked up on the hardstand, we pulled the old propeller and drew the shaft.  There was enough growth on the shaft inside the stern tube to make it challenging to get the shaft out past the cutless bearing, but persistence and penetrating oil will overcome calcium deposits every time.  We took the old shaft and the new one, along with the new  coupling, down the street to the machine shop, and had them cut and key the new shaft, and check the shaft and coupling for trueness.

While we waited on the shaft, we had the yard sand and paint the bottom with fresh antifouling, which we had not done in 3 years.  We  also installed a new cutless bearing, since we had the shaft out,
Note blade cross section

although the old one was still in good shape.  The yard finished the paint on March 1, the same day that the machine shop completed the shaft work.  We installed the shaft and did a rough engine alignment, and installed the new propeller.  We launched Play Actor on March 2, and completed the alignment of the engine and shaft in the water.

We started the engine and put it through its paces while tied to the working dock, although we could not check the engine RPM at full throttle for fear of literally ripping out the dock.  We got up to 2800 RPM before the dock began to give way, and we had not quite reached full throttle, so the prop, a Campbell Sailer (sic) 3 bladed one, appears to be at least reasonably close to the right pitch.  The old

Note old blade cross section
engine / prop combination didn't have that kind of power.  The new prop certainly delivers plenty of thrust, in spite of looking very small compared to the old, standard three bladed prop it replaced.

It's good to be back in the water.  We plan to spend a few days at the dock with plenty of fresh water and electricity to finish our clean up.

To those who have followed our progress, thanks for your interest.  We will happily answer any questions you may have.  Just drop us an email.

In place