top of page

Aannsha’s Blog #64 – Storm Lines, Red Dust and Drips

Securing storm lines

Harbour street flooded!

After last week’s huge wind where we relocated to the marina for four nights, and then seeing on Windy and Predict Wind apps that more wind was coming this week, I got a little nervous. I still clearly remembered the state of the harbour and how waves had turned the harbour road into a rubble-strewn river. If that was going to happen again with this blow, I didn’t want to be around. I also didn’t particularly want to spend another 340TL (AUD85) a night at the marina. It all adds up.

Baz went and had a chat with the harbour master who assured him that as the wind was going to be blowing from the east, there wouldn’t be too much fetch into the harbour itself, and our boat would be safe. So we decided to stay put. But not without securing A B Sea as best as we could.

Barry had noticed that the two stern lines which had only been looped around the rings on the dock before being tied to A B Sea were showing signs of wear where they’d been rubbing, so he decided to put bowlines in the ends and loop those through the iron dock rings before securing them on the cleats. He also thought it would be best to swap the two midship lines out for ones that made less creaking noises. Most importantly, he wanted to tighten up the lazy line (slime line) that was holding the front of A B Sea secure. Baz had noticed that the front of our yacht had been swinging a little too much from side to side and that was something he wanted to avoid when the wind increased.

As Baz has nominated me “Aannsha of the Incredible Knot Tying Skills Department”, I was the one to go on shore, tie the bowlines and throw the lines back to him so he could secure them back at the boat. Obviously we did this for all four lines (2 x stern, 2 x midships) and that went off without a hitch, if you’ll pardon the pun.

The final job was to tighten the lazy line. What’s a lazy line?

Slime line

This is a big fat sucker of a rope that is tied to a huge, secure chain that runs along the length of the harbour bottom. When you reverse (stern to moor) to the dock, someone on land passes you the end of the lazy line that’s attached to the dock. You then grab it with your boat hook and walk up to the bow of the boat, sliding the boat hook along the length of the lazy line until you’re at the forward cleat (the thing that you secure lines to on the deck of the yacht).

Why’s it called a slime line?

When you get to the part of the line that you secure to the cleat, you’ll see that it’s been lying at the sludgy bottom of the harbour in salt water for so long that it is all slimy. Nice. You can do a good job of getting brown silty stains on the boat and your clothes when you do this job. Ask Baz.

So that morning, obviously the slime line was already attached to the port cleat. Now as I’ve said, it’s a huge rope attached to a secure chain and our boat weights around 10 tonnes. Pulling up more of that slime line that was already under tension couldn’t be done by human alone. Human needed mechanical assistance.

Enter trusty winch. We have four of these on A B Sea and they help pull in lines.

But how to get the slime line that was attached to the cleat onto the winch? If we released it directly from the cleat, we might lose it back to the harbour bottom, and besides, the winch was towards the back of the cockpit. So how would we attach it to the winch?

Enter a helping line.

This line was slimmer than the lazy line. It was also long enough to pass around to the starboard cleat and back to the winch. So how would we attach this line to the lazy line so it wouldn’t slip?

Enter the rolling hitch knot that Baz lovingly called a “slip knot of some kind” … kind of makes you realise why I’m designated “Aannsha of the Incredible Knot Tying Skills Department” lol.

Rolling hitch knot

Holding the rolling hitch line, I shuffled down onto my belly and hung out over the side of the boat. As I’d done a speedy refresher on how to tie said rolling hitch, so it would be facing the correct way (because it slips in one direction and grabs in the other), I managed to tie it to the lazy line. Baz pushed it down the lazy line as far as he could and then we fed the line up through the fairlead (the metal bit opening on the side of the toe rail by the cleat), across and around the starboard cleat and back to the winch. He then winched it tight until it had pulled the slime line up further and we were able to tie the extra length onto the cleat, effectively stopping the sideways movement of the bow.

I then easily untied the rolling hitch and we stowed the extra line.

Knots never fail to impress me.

Mooring line tied to stern cleat

Red Desert Dust

The harbour master was correct and while the boat got a bit rocky that night, and the gullet on our starboard side swung over so we thought the two boats would make a dinghy-baby, we were safe. All the lines did their job and despite a fairly sleepless night – you can never really sleep well when there’s a storm … just in case – when we awoke, our beautiful A B Sea was intact and the sun was trying to shine.

Going up on deck Baz called down to me in surprise. He’d expected to see a nice clean deck after the rain, but instead it had a rusty brown covering.

Not only that, but despite the sun, the air was misty and everything in the mid, to far distance was hazy. But it wasn’t fog. Closer inspection of the fine red covering on the boat proved to be red dust, and we realised that was what was suspended in the atmosphere! Asking around, people told us it was from Libya, and apparently about twice a year, this dust can even blow as far north as Germany!

Baz muttered something about praying for rain again to clean the boat. This did surprise me as he’d been praying for dry weather for weeks because, apart from it being depressing, he was suffering from condensation.

Condensation drips bother Baz

Well, when I say Baz was suffering from condensation, he didn’t actually have it himself, but the boat itself was. And because of how it works, Baz was too.

Why? When it rains and is cold, we close up all the hatches. Now, while this does make for a warmer environment and stops the rain from coming in, it does mean that excess moisture from cooking, boiling the kettle and predominantly, breathing, ends up inside of the boat. At night time during winter when the temperature drops considerably outside, it causes the aluminium hatch surrounds to cool. When this happens, the moisture in the air inside A B Sea condenses and forms drops of water along all of the hatch frames. Eventually, these little drops pool together and then gravity takes hold.

Sometimes these drops will land on our computer equipment, and most mornings Baz would be woken up by the hatch above his head relieving itself of big drops of water that splashed onto his forehead! So one of our morning routines is to go around all the hatches wiping off the excess water with a cloth.

Actually, it’s not just the hatches that collect moisture. As the sides of the boat are only about 4cm thick, the walls that aren’t covered by cupboards also get damp and I’ve noticed water trickling down the walls of my Princess suite and in the aft cabins as well. Obviously these get a wipe with a dry cloth too, and we also have to ensure that clothes that are on shelves touching the walls get pulled away and dried out. Otherwise the next problem is mildew.

Talking of mildew, every few months I wipe the walls with a mix of white vinegar and water in a 1:1 ratio with a few drops of Tea Tree oil added. This kills mould and prevents it from returning for a decent amount of time. I used to use it in Australia as Queensland summers are hot and humid with lots of rain and we used to be constantly fighting mould. It was actually nice to experience the familiar tangy tea tree smell from ‘home’ on our boat as well.

I’d be interested though, what do you use to keep mildew at bay?

bottom of page