Posted by: yachtcrewsing | December 14, 2011

Mishaps at Sea

When at sea, the likelihood for systems to malfunction and things to go awry somehow increases exponentially. While it would be logical to assume that a sea-faring yacht would be most content when the engines are under load, its sails are up and every function is being utilized and refreshed, it seems these selfsame conditions cause extreme stress to the boat.

So far every sailing yacht that has preceded or left Newport in tandem with us has encountered serious (but not life-threatening) issues. Two superyachts have had fires on board, one had their forepeak hatch flood completely and two others have had engine trouble (one requiring a week stopover in Bermuda).

And as for us? So far our only major problem has been a line which has firmly wedged itself into our propeller. Due to the relatively large sea swells, we cannot send someone to dive under the hull and cut it loose.

I don’t mean to exacerbate the age-old debate about motor versus sailing yachts, but this instance seems to clearly highlight the superiority of the latter. We are now under sail with our genoa and mainsail happily filled with wind, doing things ‘the old fashioned way’ on a highly modern yacht, and making good time despite this loss of diesel power.

This relatively untroubled trip (thus far) comes as a complete dichotomy to the one from Connecticut to Antigua at the beginning of December last year. The preceding month had been incredibly cold which consequently put a large amount of strain on the decks and hull. Superyachts are definitely NOT meant for cold climates. Thus, once we started out to sea, every system, engine and generator began to fail, much to the extreme consternation of our new chief engineer. Still learning the ins and outs of an extremely technically complex vessel, he was perpetually on the phone to Holland shipbuilders, American companies and British advisors; he had a total of about six hours of sleep in our first four days at sea. For him it was a vexing inauguration indeed.

Another slightly more scatologically humorous instance occurred on our way from the Bahamas to Fort Lauderdale. The engineers are in a habit of releasing the refuse in our grey water tanks (after being treated) into the water when we are far out at sea. Before being treated it has to be pumped through another system. On this one infamous day, the engineers were a bit over zealous with the pressure exerted within the tank. Consequently, it backfired; the contents of the tank were forced back through the pipes and came blasting out of the toilets. The poor engineers were mortified, and spent the next few hours quarantining off the crew section of the boat and scrubbing, Lysol-ing, and otherwise eradicating all traces of scent and physical manifestations of their mishap. To this day, we colloquially refer to this as the “shit cannon” incident. As with most embarrassing situations, this one has only recently become humorous to the engineers…

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