Monday, July 20, 2015

Two Weeks

Echo Bay sunset

Transitioning to retirement is not an event... it is a process. And at this stage of the process, we have discovered that our previous usage patterns for the boat have changed.

In our old life, we were off the dock for three or four days at a time (towards the end of my career I was working 3 10-hour days/week, a schedule I highly recommend to anyone approaching retirement as a way to 'ease into' it). Except for vacations, when we were off for longer periods. But that meant that normally, provisioning was not a difficult task - not much different from the normal day-to-day provisioning that goes on while living aboard. Pretty much it was "How are we fixed for coffee and beer?" before we left.

But as I mentioned, our patterns have changed. Now we are typically off the dock for two weeks at a time. This means that the old slapdash provisioning has had to be upgraded. And we need to fill the water tanks before we leave. And... well lots of things. Because our trips now are not just a quick jaunt across the Sound to Port Madison or something, but real cruises instead. The kinds of cruises we used to take once or twice a year and that really do need to be planned for.

We have settled (for now, at least) on two weeks because of a couple of things. First, garbage. Regular readers of this blog may remember that I have mentioned before that our limiting capacity on Eolian is not water, fuel, storage, etc... it is garbage. And in two weeks we reach the "full but still manageable" stage. (After a month we are at the "garbage bags on the stern" stage.)

And second, two weeks seems to us like a nice split in life styles... 50% on shore and 50% living aboard.

What we do while off the dock has changed too. Before, we used to zoom from place to place, rarely leaving the anchor down longer than over night. Why? Perhaps because we subconsciously heard the clock ticking in the background and felt the need to get as much in as we could before we had to be back at the dock. This too has changed. Now we spend days at a time anchored in the same place. Today, for example, is our fifth day at anchor here in Echo Bay on Sucia Island... and we expect to be here for several more days.

So, is this better? It certainly is different than our previous life - I think it is more like the life that world cruisers live.

Retirement is good.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Safety Item: Colligo Titanium Brackets

This is a safety item, reposted from s/v C'est la Vie

Seeking Owners of Vessels Equipped with Colligo Marine Titanium Lower Bracket Sets.

This correspondence is an attempt to acquire usage data for sailing vessels equipped with Colligo Marine Titanium Lower Bracket Sets.  Based on documents produced by Colligo Marine, they ordered enough titanium lower bracket sets from a Chinese manufacturer to outfit 12 vessels.  2 vessels equipped with the titanium lower bracket sets have now suffered dismastings.   We are seeking to gather data from the possible remaining 10 vessels equipped with said brackets.  We would like to know date of installation; # days underway; NM traveled; # of days under sail; NM traveled under sail; and date of removal if relevant.  If you are an owner and are willing to share this information or can provide contact information for an owner please email Mr. Lovett at   If you know of an owner or know of a vessel equipped with identical brackets please pass along my email address.
Allow me to provide some backstory…
On July 5th, 2013 at just after 14:00 our 1966 Morgan 34 was dismasted off the coast of South Carolina.   My wife and I were motor sailing close hauled on a starboard tack.  The winds were southeast at 18 knots the seas were lumpy with 3 to 5 foot swell.  We were both in the cockpit and heard a single metallic pop.  The mast folded in the vicinity of the spreaders, lifted off the deck, and entered the water on our port side.  We were unable to retrieve the mast.  We cut the rig free of the vessel and motored into the Cape Fear River at South Port, NC.  All the sails and rigging were lost. The titanium brackets along with all new standing rigging, new running rigging, new harken furler, and new  genoa  were installed in October 2011.  We had a new boom and mainsail installed in October 2012.  Full write up of event is available on our website (SV-CestlaVie Dismasting Part 1)
 Alethia,  a ketch rigged Allied Princess 36,  also equipped with Colligo Marine titanium lower brackets, suffered a nearly identical dismasting while sailing offshore from the Florida Keys to Nova Scotia in May 2012.  The owner, Mr. Collins, stated, “The dismasting occurred upwind in 18-22kts of wind with a long 6-8 foot swell running.  Good sailing, and I was close hauled and moving nicely.”  While attempting to retrieve the rig Mr. Collins observed, “It appeared that the spreader I could see (the starboard one) was not bent or broken…’ “I can tell you for sure the entire rig fell down nearly straight on the beam…”   All the sails and rigging associated with the main mast were lost.  The brackets and all new standing rigging were installed in March 2012.
We originally met Mr. Collins in Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL in early May 2012.  By chance we encountered him again in Charleston, SC just days after Alethia was dismasted.   Soon after our dismasting in July 2013 we contacted Mr. Collins to discuss the similarities of our incidents.
In the wake of both dismastings a severed portion of the Colligo Marine titanium lower bracket set remained on the deck attached to intact lower stays.  The remaining portions from both vessels are nearly identical.  Both broke along a bend in the titanium.
Lovett's broken Colligo Titanium Bracket
Collins' broken Colligo Titanium Bracket
Due to the similarities of the dismastings the Lovett's contracted Gerhard Welsch, Ph.D. Professor of Materials Science & Engineering at Case Western University to perform a failure analysis on the remaining portion of C’est la Vie’s bracket.  He states in his findings, “The titanium plates were/are faulty metallurgically and structurally.”  He also states, “Both plates suffered from the same metallurgical and geometrical defectiveness.  Both developed fatigue cracks in a similar fashion and eventually ruptured.  The ruptures likely occurred under an applied load well below the specified or expected safe surface load.” 

Here is a link to the report cover letter:

Here is a link to the full report:
Prior to receiving a copy of Dr. Welshes' Failure Report, Colligo Marine sent out an email to customers who purchased the titanium brackets offering to replace the titanium brackets with similar stainless steel models.  Recently, Mr. & Mrs. Lovett's, legal counsel formally requested names and email addresses for individuals to which Colligo Marine has sent the email offering to replace the titanium brackets.  Colligo refused to provide the requested information.

Thus we are now sharing this information in an attempt to find owners of vessels currently or previously equipped with identical brackets so that we may collect usage data. Thank you for your time.  Please assist us in locating owners of vessels equipped with Colligo Marine Titanium Brackets.


Friday, July 10, 2015


So today I spent a little while in the dinghy with my new depth sounder... Taking measurements. All of the readings in the picture above are ones I made. Since I am crowd sourcing this data, I made sure that it was corrected for the tide before adding it to the chart. 

Three things were learned:
    1.  There is adequate water off that private dock should we need to tie to it in an emergency 

    2.  The shoal area to the north of the dock is marked too shallow on the charts. 

    3.  The "buoy" that marks the wreck directly in front of us (I thought) actually is apparently an  abandoned mooring. But having marked it as a wreck is probably a good thing anyway tho, since when (not if) the float breaks away or rusts thru in a couple more years, no one would want to anchor on top of whatever is down there as an anchor and whatever rode remains. 

More surveying to come...


Monday, June 29, 2015

New Toy

Recently when anchored in a familiar bay, we saw a boat anchored in a location that was filled with submerged pilings. Or at least in the past it was... Years before, we had actually surveyed this part of the bay by dinghy at low tide and marked the locations of the pilings we could see using a hand-held GPS.  Did he know something we didn't?  Or was he blithely happy in his ignorance (and lucky)?

I'm sure a similar situation has happened to you - you might be interested in taking the boat between those two small islands as a short cut, but the chart detail in the passage was totally inadequate to take the risk.  Those of you with $15,000 RIBs as tenders probably already have a depth sounder installed and can then use the dinghy to do a quick bathymetry survey.

But we don't have that kind of dinghy.  So what to do?  Not wanting to do a permanent installation on our dinghy, I considered hand-held depth sounders.

There is one that is shaped like a flashlight - to use it, you dip the big end in the water and press the button for a reading.  Great for spot soundings, but awkward for taking more or less continuous readings.

And then there are the ones that have a hand-held read-out, connected to the transducer by a cable.  This is better, since the read-out is in your hand, right side up and easily read on a continuous basis.  But there's that cable.

And then I found the answer:  A wireless depth sounder.  There are several varieties - being a cheap frugal mariner, I bought one direct from China instead of one sold by a name-brand manufacturer (also made in China).

It's a cute little hand-held unit - not waterproof, so don't drop it in the drink.  It communicates with the completely separate transducer via radio.  And the transducer is a tiny little thing:

A friend suggested that it should have been molded with a duck's head on the post
The transducer is powered with a single CR2032 coin battery and there is no on/off switch.  Instead, there are two exposed metal contacts on the underside - when it is placed in water, it turns on.  There are a couple of holes molded into a fin on the bottom (you can just see one at the tip of my finger) that you can use to attach a towing line.  Or a fishing line!  Yes, it is small and light enough that (should you be a fisherman) you could cast it over to that deep hole where the lunkers might be hiding.

I am very much looking forward to using it to survey our favorite anchorages to maybe expand the territory available to us!
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