Jun 112012
 

Here Iain and I are at the Franz Josef Glacier. We just walked up a decent sized hill to a viewing platform where we got our first real look at the glacier proper. I was so excited upon first glance to see that brilliant icey blue that I let out an audible cry of delight…much to the suprise (and I hope amusement) of the group of Japanese tourists that were just around the corner. :) You can’t quite make out the immensity of the glacier in the photo since the great majority is shrouded in cloud, and a bit over-exposed in the distance.

First glimpse of the glacier

We had to get a little higher for a proper look…

The glacier road, view from a helicoptor

Stay tuned for more…

Jun 092012
 

Well Iain and I just got back from a quick trip to New Zealand to renew my visa, and I am here to tell all of you that if you have the chance to visit NZ, DO IT! This was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

Because of time limits (we only had four days, including travel!) we were only able to tour a small part of the South Island, but it was well worth it. We flew into Christchurch, and drove up to Hokatika on the West Coast where we only got a glimpse of the Pacific before forging on to the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. This was the highlight of the trip, and where we spent the bulk of our time.

New Zealand is one of the only places in the world that has temperate rain forests skirting its glaciers. As you might expect, the walk to the glacier is brilliantly green and lush, with plenty of singing birds and budding flowers, even in the Autumn. But once you get a little closer, the vegetation shrinks to lichens and sparse ground-cover, and the scene is dominated by rocky cliffs and fallen boulders. Seeing the glacier for the first time was a moment to remember for the rest of my life…that spectacular icey blue like a glowing diamond peering out from the clouds hanging at the mountaintops just makes you want to get a little closer…

So we did, in a helicoptor! Some of you may know that, though my work regularly takes me 100 feet in the air to the tops of masts, I actually am a bit afraid of heights. It’s a little running joke of my life that I always seem to get myself into situations that involve serious heights without remembering my fear until it’s too late, like when I see the ground falling away beneath the chopper. Iain got some good shots of me with my “brave face”on, but within a few minutes, I’d gotten myself under control and was fully enjoying the magical experience.

It’s hard to imagine that there might be a more breath-taking view than the top of a glacier covered mountain, but on our drive back to Christchurch we stopped at Lake Pukaki, a huge glacial lake that reflects New Zealand’s highest peak, Mount Cook. This was another keeper for the memory bank. Words cannot describe, so you’ll just have to check out the photo.

All in all it was a fabulous trip with just enough airport drama to keep things interesting. Now I just need to get back to see the rest of the country, and sit a little while longer at the shore of Lake Pukaki, the most beautiful lake in the world.

Right, so I’ll be posting a pic every few days or so for a while. Time to get posting again, so hopefully this will get me back into it. This first one is of Lake Pukaki, with Mount Cook visible in the background.

Feb 182012
 

It’s amazing how time flies. We have worked our way through our 10 day maintenance period, and finally have a couple of days off. Yay! As promised, here is a little explanation about what we’ve been doing to our yard and foot-ropes over the last several days.

The yard extends from both sides of the mast, with a foot-rope hanging from each "arm"The yard extends from both sides of the mast; a foot-rope hangs from each “arm”

First off, a yard is a horizontal piece of wood that holds up a square-sail, and a foot-rope is a piece of steel cable that is attached at both ends of the yard, and hangs down from it. While sailors work aloft, we “stand” and balance on the foot-ropes.

As you might guess, that steel cable could become vulnerable to oxidation, being out in the elements all of the time. In order to prevent them from rusting, sailors have been worming, parceling and serving those cables (which also happen to be used for shrouds, stays and other standing rigging) for generations.

Down-rigged foot-ropes with intact servingsDown-rigged foot-ropes with intact servings

For this project, we did not worm, which is the process of laying tarred nylon line into the grooves between strands for the length of the cable in order to keep out moisture. We did, however, parcel and serve. Parceling is simply tightly wrapping the cable in greased cloth, again, to keep out moisture. The next (and funnest!) step is servicing. The end result of servicing is a steel cable with twine so tightly wrapped around it that it creates a barrier to the elements.

Our process, from beginning to end, went like this (some repeat photos in here):

1. Unwind old serving and parceling1. Unwind the old, brittle serving, and remove the dried out denzo tape (parceling) to expose the cable
Greasy denzo tape (used for parceling) and tarred nylon line is removed to expose the cable, which is inspected for rust and cleaned with a wire brush2. Inspect the cable for rust and clean it with a wire brush
3. Wrap the cable with greasy denzo tape. Be sure to wrap with the lay of the cable, and overlap each round by a third.3. Wrap the cable with greasy denzo tape. Be sure to wrap with the lay of the cable, and overlap each round by a third.
A "serving mallet" is used to aid the process of winding the twine as tightly as possible. The mallet is bound to the cable by the serving twine, and regulates tension as it rotates around the cable, paying out twine as it goes..4. Serve. A “serving mallet” is used to aid the process of winding the twine as tightly as possible. The mallet is bound to the cable by the serving twine, and regulates tension as it rotates around the cable, paying out twine as it goes.
"Worm and parcel with the lay; turn and serve the other way"“Worm and parcel with the lay; turn and serve the other way”
The mallet can be rotated by hand, or if you're good, you can get it to turn itself by swinging the cable like a jump-rope!The mallet can be rotated by hand, or if you’re good, you can get it to turn itself by swinging the cable like a jump-rope!
Fully served and ready to tarFully served and ready to tar
5. Paint the serving with a mixture of roofing tar, black paint and varnish5. Paint the serving with a mixture of roofing tar, black paint and varnish
6. Allow one day for the tar to dry and apply a second coat. Enjoy your newly parceled, served and tarred foot-ropes!6. Allow one day for the tar to dry and apply a second coat. Enjoy your newly parceled, served and tarred foot-ropes!

Check out these posts for more photos and explanations:
http://www.shesails.net/2012/02/parcel-and-serve-in-photos/
http://www.shesails.net/2012/02/detail-of-a-yard-in-photos/
http://www.shesails.net/2012/02/down-rigging-a-yard/

 

Feb 162012
 

Maintenance has been such a busy time, I’ve been too busy and tired to do much writing. Thank god for the camera! It’s another bunch of photos today, and I promise soon I’ll explain all of the terms I’m using: mousing, foot-rope, flemish horse, parcel, serve, serving mallet, chafe gear, servicing. Until then, enjoy some more photos of one of yesterday’s projects: parceling and serving the lower topsail foot-rope.

Re-parceling and serving the port foot rope

Re-parceling and serving the port foot rope

Discarded denzo tape, used to parcel

Discarded denzo tape, used to parcel

Peeling away worn parceling and serving

Peeling away worn parceling and serving

The steel cable beneath our feet

The steel cable beneath our feet

David serving the parceled foot-rope

David serving the parceled foot-rope

The final product

The final product