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The broken gear that brought our Barlow winch to a grinding halt

It’s been fun cruising the Keys, but we’ve got unfinished business with the Bahamas. Chris Parker’s prediction has held true; tomorrow we’ll see 15-18 knots of wind coming from the southeast and 3-4 foot waves. It’s not an ideal direction for sailing, but we’ll manage a motor-sail without puking our brains out. Tomorrow we will cross the Gulf Stream.

Like clockwork, as soon as we had our crossing window settled, stuff started breaking on the boat. First, the faucets in the galley and heads stopped working, even though the water tanks were full. Then, the port side winch (device that allows us to haul on the lines that control the sails), responsible for carrying the load of our headsail, locked up when I went to trim it during our jaunt back to No Name Harbor. We pulled the winch apart and discovered that a solid bronze gear had split, rendering it completely useless.


Brian and Nico, listening to Chris Parker’s program on the portable SSB radio from the aft berth. The sun had not yet risen, but the moon was full and still up. We set our alarm daily to make sure we catch his broadcast whenever we are looking for a weather window.

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Spotted at West Marine – crackers and peg legs, Aisle 3?

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I’ve started collecting photos of nautical bathroom signs. These relics may prove confusing in our modern times

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Fun times aboard sv Sea Squirrel with our new friends Fiona and Chris, who we met through our friend Parker back in New York. We had such a good time hanging on their boat and getting to know them (and their kids, Parker’s childhood friends, who were visiting for the holidays). We’ll meet again in the Bahamas.

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Brian, installing the new water pump. We knew that the old pump was on borrowed time, and luckily we were carrying a spare aboard.

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Nico, testing out napping potential of the cockpit floor during our motor back to No Name Harbor. We were unable to sail (because of the broken winch) and the water was flat, so we allowed him to join us in the cockpit. I always put down blankets to make a cozy nest for him, but he prefers the bare floor grates.

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Attempting to fix the broken winch while underway

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We deconstructed the winch once we were anchored outside of No Name Harbor, and found the broken piece. The Barlow winch company went out of business years ago, so we’re looking for used Barlow winches at the moment, size 27 if you have any leads.

I appealed to the sailing community via Facebook, looking for leads on a replacement winch. We were overwhelmed by the generosity of people in the community, including a supportive phone call from Gerry O’Donoghue, and an offer from our friend Tom (you may remember Tom from the Jasaru crew during our Deltaville to Florida passage) to fabricate a new bronze gear for us, in exchange for me cooking some meals at anchor next time we’re together (sweet deal, if you ask me!) For now, we’ve figured out a work-around for sailing without the winch. Hopefully that’s all the boat has in store for us for now, and tomorrow we’ll be motor sailing and ringing in 2016 en route to Nassau by the light of the moon.