Boat Journal

Chronicling a love affair with sailing

Category: Stories and ‘Fish’ Stories

What Do You Do With an Old Boat?

I bought a new boat a year ago. We’re still trying to figure each other out. In the meantime, I still have my old boat. I’ve tried selling her, but had no luck so far. Problem is, so I’m told, there are a lot of old boats out there, so it’s a buyer’s market. But I don’t want to donate her and risk having her scrapped for parts. She’s in too good a shape for that!

So this past year, I’ve been renting her out. It’s worked out fairly well. Most of the folks who have taken her out have absolutely loved her. They come back with stories of what a wonderful time they had aboard.

There’s the two doctors who decided they’d take their Wednesday off to go sailing. They came back and told me what a great boat she was. There’s the man, now taking part in the Clipper Round the World Race Who wanted to take his nephew out and introduce him to the sport. It was pretty breezy that day, but they went anyway. The nephew came back hooked on the sport. There’s the two young men who are trying to get their captain’s licenses and have been out a couple of times, trying to build their hours.

But keeping two boats means keeping up maintenance on two boats. And that can get expensive. Renting has covered 1/2 the slip fees, but not any of the other expenses. And, like an old house, an old boat has to be kept up to avoid bigger problems.

So, again, I’ll try to sell her. And again, I’ll hope to find her a good home. But if I can’t, I’ll keep her around another year and see how it goes.

Changing Themes

This blog is about to take a slightly different turn. I’ve finally gone and done it. I bought a new boat. The new girl is a 1996 Jeanneau 36.2. And that’s why, at this writing, there’s a link to a page to try to sell the old one. Much as I love her, I’m realistic enough to realize I can’t afford 2 boats.

So, time to put a few repairs into the old one and to get to know the new one.

But what do I write about the old one? Well, not much to hide; anyone who reads this blog can find all the good and bad about the CAL in these ‘pages’. So let’s see what I’ll be doing, and have done.

Well, first the upper lifelines had to be replaced. I’d already replaced the lower ones last year. But the upper ones were worn, too. I also replaced the harness line that went near the toe rail. Unfortunately, I misjudged the size. So now I need to find someone to shorten it. Ah well!

And this winter was *wet*! That led to mildew inside, which I hadn’t seen in quite awhile! So I scrubbed and scraped the inside and painted it. This time, too, I removed all the wood trim. It’s in the backyard, has been stripped, and is now getting a new coat of varnish.

But what else will help it to sell? I’ve got the price set at about $4K below what I’ve seen comparable boats selling for. Hopefully, that will incentivize someone to take her home. But we’ll see. I’m waiting until I get the wood back in before I put it on the market.

And that’s the other thing. Where to sell it? I figure Good Old Boat is a good place, since folks reading that magazine are lovers of older sailboats. Others have suggested putting it on Craig’s List. Since it’s free, I might as well. But my guess it those are going to be folks looking for a bargain, that don’t necessarily know sailboats. But who knows. I could be wrong. Another place I’ve found is Sailboat Data. I didn’t realize it, but when I was looking for information on my current boat for listing and boats I was looking at to purchase, I saw that they have listings for boats as well. Worth a try!

But it’s selling a prize possession. You want to make sure it gets a good home. Hmmmm…. wonder if the prospective buyer will allow me to do a background check. What experience do they have? What courses have they taken? Where will they keep the boat? Will they keep her maintained as she should be?

Well, I’ll just have to see…..


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.


The Weather I Missed!


I spend alot of time sharing stories of sailing in adverse weather conditions. Thought I’d share one of the storm I missed!

As I’m now working about an hour from home for a supervisor who doesn’t understand why I might want to leave work by about 2 or 3 in afternoon in order to sail in these races, I’ve had to skip the last of the summer races and all of the fall series. So I was looking forward to the Frostbite series, since they’re held on on Sundays.

The Frostbite series is our late fall series. There’s just one class since few boats participate. But, as I said, I was glad to get a chance to go out and race again.

I’ve been using a water cooler this season, to avoid the bagful of plastic water bottles I usually pull off the vessel. I filled one up to bring along. I also filled up a couple of thermoses with hot water. I tried bringing coffee last year. But that wasn’t as popular as the hot chocolate for the crew. I do have some Starbuck’s Via on board, in case there’s a change in tastes.

I left about an hour early so I would have time to pick up gas for the engine (we’re using the outboard now – more on that later) and some more provisions at the store: gingersnaps, ice, and beef jerkey. As I was getting out of the car at the store, Erik called. He said there was a message on the phone from someone. He thought the race was cancelled,  but he wasn’t sure. Well, I wasn’t sure if I’d have any crew, since I’d only gotten regrets from two people, and no confirmations, and it was a bit late to call anyone (and who would I call?) to cancel, so I finished getting provisions and headed over to the boat. Besides, I missed her and had to let her know I still loved her.

I got to the boat and started unloading things. When I was finished, the fire department had shown up with a rig and a power boat. I heard their radio chattering and paused to listen. Something about a cat or sailboat that had flipped and crew in the water. Remarks about trying to turn it upright.

Just about then, the crew from 3Stooges showed. They asked if I knew what was happening. I explained that the race might be cancelled due to lack of interest and that it seemed I had no crew anyway. They spoke about thinking they’d already signed up (insert good comedy routine to fit the boat name, without the violence). After some discussion, they decided to go out and try sailing a bit anyway.

Pause now. The weather: small craft advisory, 15 – 25 mph winds, 4′ waves in the lower bay.  It was raining at the time. That doesn’t mean that it was that bad in the York River. But there was a craft capsized out there already.

So I went to 4 Degrees. I patched the small (about the size of a nickel) hole topside that was causing water to pour into the cabin. Not sure if I mixed the stuff right. But if it didn’t harden, it would at least keep the water out until I could put something better on. I got out the naval jelly that I’d purchased and scrubbed the rust off the sink in the galley and off the stove. I sprayed some Rustoleum on both to keep them from rusting again. I poured myself a rum and coke, started the Kindle on my ‘Droid, and read and watched the rain fall outside the cabin door.

About an hour an a half after they left, 3Stooges returned. I asked them how it was out there. They said they did get the mainsail up – for about 15 minutes. So I guess it was pretty nasty out there.

For a change then, I got to enjoy the inclement weather, from my dry cabin in the marina.

Oh, they did get the sailboat righted, and the crew was ok. I still don’t know who was out there.


Dead Fish

Another race this past summer. From about 1/2 mile into the race, throughout the whole course, we kept seeing dead croakers floating by us. Not just a few fish, but hundreds of them. Here’s the email trail I have from the incident. I’ve removed the names, since I didn’t ask the parties involved if I could reprint them:

[Fellow Racer]
Does anyone know why there were so many dead fish on the York River last night?  They all seemed to be the same species.
Is there any ‘normal” reason for it?  …like the 103 degree air temperature?  The water temp was reported to be 82.2 degrees yesterday.  Could that be the reason?
…just curious!
[Fellow Racer]

They were mostly croaker, 6 “ FL or better and they were more dense out past G19 (effect of the current?) than further in the river.
[Virginia Dept of Environmental Quality]
Most of the York splits between PRO and TRO between Gloucester (PRO)  and James City/York Co (TRO).  I have not heard of any fresh croaker kills, but a few years ago there were major species-specific croaker kills.  I think Roger or Wick can tell you more on those.
[Virginia Institute of Marine Science Professor]
We are collecting water samples to see if there is an indication of large numbers of a HAB organism in the area.  This could, however, be a low DO event or a “dump”.   Anyone have some other ideas?  Also, if someone is actually out in a boat today in the area can you please collect a water sample, if possible.  Thanks.

We will let you know if we see anything interesting in the water sample collected from the boat basin.

We ran through a patch of dead fish like those described yesterday morning just off the mouth of Mobjack Bay. Might have been that same patch seen later near green 19, ~4 miles away. Looked to me like a haul seine cull.

Thank you, two.

I would tend to agree with [name withheld] but the numbers were incredible – would you expect that from a net dump?

They appeared to be floating individually up the York and rafting out past Tue Marsh. They were in good shape (no visual lesions or discolorations), as could be seen from the deck of a sailboat, except for a bitten piece missing on the occasional carcass. Also, some had eyes that appeared sunken and some had eyes that were bulging and all had bloated abdomens.
Does this extra observation help?

On July 1 the lower York River (below the Coleman Bridge) had DO measurements of 1.5, 2.1, and 2.3 mg/L at three different locations.

[name withheld] reference to HAB’s is Harmful Algal Blooms.  (But the fish kill was size and species specific, not typical of a toxic bloom.)  The DO is Dissolved Oxygen and the values listed below are very low indeed. But those are probably surface values.  Croakers are benthic (bottom) carnivores and the DO values are going to be higher in cooler waters near the bottom…unless there is an anoxic (essentially no dissolved oxygen)  layer that appears in mid summer in the middle of the Bay.  But fish are capable of avoiding such a hostile environment.

It would appear that a mega-school of age specific croaker were thrown out of a net haul.  I’ll send this information to [name withheld] of the VMRC for his “FYI”.
Thanks to all who responded to this email. I gleaned a lot from the discussions and I appreciate your time.

On Saturday morning there was a dump by a gill net fisherman as witnessed by Hamish Small just above Tue Marsh. Evidently, even though there is a market for croaker, this practice of dumping and sometimes in very large numbers is not unheard of (thanks Larry H.). So, even though the DO levels have been low in areas of the river and temps high (numerous observations) it appears that for whatever reason, a massive number of croaker became by-catch to a local fisherman.
And lastly. Not sure if this was the same fish kill, although the high numbers suggest it would be. The thing is, though, that those dead fish were carried about 20 nm if it is the same one.

Omega Protein, a Texas-based fishing industry that operates a plant in Reedville, has taken full responsibility of cleaning up thousands of dead menhaden fish that washed ashore at Fort Monroe last evening and into the early morning hours.  During a transfer of menhaden from their net to a processing ship on Monday, the net was damaged causing a tear, thus releasing approximately 50,000 to 75,000 fish into the Chesapeake Bay, according to Ben Landry, a spokesperson for Omega Protein.  The fish died and sank to the bottom, then later floated to the water’s surface.  Tides carried an estimated 20,000 fish that came ashore along a 5-mile stretch of shoreline, including Monroe’s beaches and Hampton’s Buckroe Beach.

Omega Protein subcontracted IMS/HEPACO, an environmental and emergency response company, to clean up Monroe’s beachfront today.  Monroe’s Directorate of Public Works initially responded last night at approximately 6:30 and worked until 11 recovering thousands of dead fish on Monroe’s shoreline.  DPW turned over efforts to IMS/HEPACO at 10:30 this morning.

IMS/HEPACO started on the Southside Beach near the Bay Breeze Community Center on Fenwick Road and will work north to Dog Beach.  IMS/HEPACO also deployed spotter planes and skimmer boats to search the waters.  IMS/HEPACO has previously performed spill response work for Monroe’s Directorate of Public Works.   As a precaution, Fort Monroe closed its historic moat’s sluice gates from Mill Creek.