Boat Journal

Chronicling a love affair with sailing

Category: Learning My Lessons

Saying Goodbye

I loaded the car with all the supplies that we had removed for sailing season: the extra screws and other hardware; the wires, connectors, and fuses; the extra bilge pump and paint. I drove over to the marina, pulled down a cart, and loaded everything in. I wheeled over to her slip.

The breeze was bright that day. The temperature was good. She was straining at the lines, ready to take me sailing. I explained that I was only there to drop off supplies; there would be no sailing that day. She eventually settled down as I tightened the lines to make it easier to load everything.

I talked to her as I moved everything aft, so as to be out of the way. She had a new owner. The new owner loved her now, and would to love her even more as she sailed her. I was just dropping off supplies that day. But I’d be back for a couple of last minute repairs. And I’d be helping sail her down to her new home.

She rocked as I left, saying goodbye to me.

The next day, I came back. I was meeting Paul there to put in a new gauge that would better show the state of the engine batteries. It was raining miserably. I thought I’d plugged all the leaks; the bilge pump hadn’t need to run much lately. But that day, a couple of new leaks appeared. Was she crying?

This evening, I finished the gauge installation. I straightened up all the materials again. I had the title with me to mail off to the new owner, along with some receipts I’d found for work done on her and a couple of books to help the new owner with learning to handle her new boat. She had sent me a cashier’s check for the balance. I was still going to wait until it cleared to mail off the title. But then I thought, “that’s silly! I just don’t want to admit that she’s sold and that she’s now owned by someone else.”

I stopped by the post office and mailed the title.

This is just au revoire and not goodbye, since I will be helping to take her down to North Carolina, part of the way, if not all. But still it’s sad. It’s like leaving a good friend that you may not see again. There is a loss to make it through. Hopefully, by the time we say our final farewells, it will be better.

Committee Boat Duty and Spring Squalls

After a first week with so little wind no one finished in time to make it official, the racers out for the Wednesday night York River sailboat races were hoping for a bit more wind. But it seems too much energy was going into that thought. What they ended up with was a squall which, at one point measured 40 mph.

The weather report earlier in the day was a bit iffy. Winds were to die down, but it wasn’t certain whether they would die down enough by the start of the race. The prediction, however, showed winds out of the southwest. So what would come in might be strong, but the waves should be minimal.

4 Degrees was the committee boat for the race. Arriving at the start of the course, we put down 2 anchors, just in case. Winds were strong, but nothing that the fleet couldn’t handle. The course was set to send the boats down to quick flash, back to R-24, then around the marks again.

Boats on the Course

The majority of both fleets crossed the starting line without a hitch and we commenced to relax. Jeff watched the boats the water. I started dinner prep, and Paul commenced to make drinks.  But Paul and I didn’t get too far.

Jeff was keeping an eye on one craft that was starting late. And once over the starting line, they began to have difficulties maneuvering. Their mainsail appeared to be too tight and weather helm was kicking them. They finally were able to release their jib. But it tossed itself into the water and had to be retrieved.

Boat in the Squall

About that time on the committee boat, the waves started picking up. Whitecaps were forming outside. The olive oil brought to saute vegetables dropped and broke in the cabin, spilling olive oil throughout. While Grant and I worked on cleaning up the mess, the other two reported that the boats near the first mark were heeled over quite a bit. About then, a call was received on the radio asking if the race would be cancelled. It was a hard call to make. It appeared that the water on the other side of the Coleman Bridge was calmer, but it was hard to tell. And there had already been one great gust with a calm afterwards. Would the same thing happen? Would it be worse?

The race was called. The participants worked their way home. And, of course, about that time, the weather calmed down to where we had hoped it would be when we started.

Calling the race is often a difficult decision. Yes, if conditions deteriorate to something dangerous, of course it is cancelled. But with grey areas, it’s hard to tell. Do you call the race to find that conditions improve after you do, as it did that night. Or do you ride it out, hoping they’ll improve to have them turn worse?

This race was followed by a disastrous situation in the Gulf, not days afterwards. Having faced something similar, but not quite as deadly, in this race, it’s easy to see why the folks were riding out what turned worse, not better for them.

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Drunks and Fools

The old saying goes that God always helps fools, lovers and drunkards. Well, someone was watching over me last night and this morning.

As scheduled, we towed the boat back home about 2 a.m. As we were motoring out there, the tow boat operator was suggesting that I might want to haul the boat out and take a look at the keel. It would also be good to call my insurance company, in case they wanted to have a surveyor look at it.

I did call them this morning and they added to the towing report the possibility of damage to the keel. They did ask that the repair work being done show the parts and labor separately. Apparently it would help increase what I might have covered.

So we hauled the boat out. And it looked fine. There was no damage to the keel.

Keel after grounding

Notice, though, that you can see how far it had sunk into the ground. Nevertheless, I came out lucky.

The fiberglass, however, will require repair:

Starboard bow cleat

That was the location of the starboard bow cleat.

I’m not sure how much the repair will be. But either my insurance or Tow Boat US will cover what my deductible doesn’t.

So, to save myself the cost of not hauling it out to clean it, I had to haul it out anyway.

Next time, I guess I’ll just rent a scuba tank.

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The Worst Mistakes Make the Best Stories

I needed to clean the bottom of my boat. I could see the green slime on it as it sat there in the water. And the prop was getting sluggish, so I knew it was getting covered in barnacles. But there’s several problems with trying to get the bottom clean: the marina is out of the way and I have yet to find a licensed, bonded diver willing to come there to do the work. I had an unlicensed friend who did it once for me, as a favor, and the owner threw a hissy fit. He said that, even though I wasn’t paying the person, he had to use a tank (he was using one of those shore air pumps) and there had to be a dive flag. Mind you, I’d seen folks do their boats before a race and no one seemed to be following those rules. But my friend was unwilling to take a chance after that.

There was the option of having the boat ‘quick pulled’, pulled out of the water long enough for me to clean it, then dropping it back in. But that was going to cost $145. If it’s not cold enough to warrant that (too cold to get in the water), I didn’t want the expense.

A friend at work suggested that what he’d done before was to beach his boat – purposely run it aground – west of the channel where it was sandy, then you could walk around the boat and clean it. That sounded like a splendid idea!

My daughter and son-in-law have just moved back to the area. And my son-in-law, anxious to get in the water around here, offered to give me a hand.

The smart way to do this, I figured, was to beach the boat during a rising tide. That way, there was more water when you were done, making it easier to leave.

There was a small problem with all of this: the kids had church in the morning, and high tide was at 2 p.m. No problem, I figured. We wouldn’t be in the water long enough to lose too much depth, so it should be ok.

So this afternoon, we headed out in the boat. I took a left turn out of the channel, as suggested, then went forward until I felt the keel stop us. Then we put out the anchor, just to be safe, put the swimming ladder on the back, and climbed out.

We used some lufas for the slime and scrapers for the barnacles. The paint is still working well and there wasn’t too much slime. But the prop was just as bad as I suspected it would be. We scraped and cleaned and I headed back on the boat. Junior, my son-in-law, wanted to swim a bit longer, so he did which I went aboard and changed out of my swimsuit. He followed shortly afterwards, we pulled up anchor and tried to move off the sand.

We seemed to be making progress. I could see us moving closer to the crab pots we’d passed on the way to our grounding. Then we stuck. The ground must have risen a bit, because we got to the point where we stopped moving. I had everyone move to one side of the boat and we tried again. We moved a bit, but not far. So we tried it on the other side. No good. After about 1/2 an hour of this, I gave up and called Tow Boat US.

Luckily, after my last experience of needing to be towed, which cost me about twice as much as the insurance would, I had towing insurance. So this was not going to cost me a thing.

The tow boat arrived about 45 minutes – 1 hour later. We tied on his line and he started pulling. At one point, the boat started to heel over a bit and I got nervous. But it didn’t go over too far, so no problem, I thought. Then there was a jerk! We were so stuck that the clean broke off the boat!

At that point, we gave up. The tow boat operator took us all back over to the marina.

We talked abou the next step. Next high tide is tomorrow at 2:30 a.m., meaning the following one will be tomorrow afternoon.

I’m home right now. I’m writing this, trying to stay awake until 12:30 a.m. At that point, I’ll drive back over to the marina. I’ll meet the tow boat operator, who’ll motor with me back over to my boat and we’ll try again.

Pictures to follow.

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Deconstructing the Race

We corrected to 4th on last week’s race and 4-1/5 minutes behind the guy ahead of us. We coulda’ been a contender. It was an interesting race.

We were behind the crowd after rounding the first mark. We flew double headsails towards the second and reached that mark with the rest of the crowd. We were port; they were starboard. But we were ahead enough of the other boats I thought the mark distance rules applied and we went around first. One boat called me on it. I wasn’t sure I’d done right. So when we were the starboard boat, I ‘kindly’ got out of everyone’s way and lost time.

Ah well!

Then everyone headed towards the channel and we kept to the more shallow water. They lost wind and the tide was against them, too, so we caught up again. Then the wind changed. Winds were taking us across the river, then switched and we were moving more southerly. The other boats made the correction for the mark better than we did and made up their time.

But it was exciting!

Not only that, the temperature was perfect and, except for that mess at the end, the winds were great, too.

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