Monday, November 1, 2004

End of the season

September 12 - While Terri spent a week in New York with Candy, Me and Keenan took the boat out for an afternoon cruise. Weather was sunny but very hazy, winds light to variable. Got to the boat around 11:30 & headed out of the Marina with Keenan at the helm, sailed Lake Muskegon for a while, then headed out to Lake Michigan. Beautiful sailing, managed a fairly decent speed & small heel for such light winds. About the time that we lost sight of Muskegon channel (due to the haze), a new boat guest joined us. A small yellow bird, of a species I didn't recognize (this photo I found on the internet seems pretty close, if memory serves, but the blog I borrowed it from didn't seem to know the species either) landed on the cockpit wall and stayed with us, eating bugs & hopping around on deck. Looked kind of tired from flying, and seemed quite relaxed around us. Stuck with us through a tack, riding on the windward headsail sheet as we came about, and then once we got in sight of land again, took off. We named the bird 'Bird-noolie', and wonder how long she would have stayed with us, had we kept on our original heading. We tried sailing down the channel (a frequent goal of Tim's for some reason), and nearly made it, but the wind died, as it usually does, right around the submarine dock. At one point, we were moving so slowly, that a kayaker passed us to starboard and hollered up to us "need a tow?". A smooth docking job, a beautiful last sail of the year, but DAMN there is still water in the bilge - where is it coming from?

November 1 - The boat was pulled out and winterized (bilge pumps, engine & head) - a short summer. A few conclusions - Oiling the teak wasn't the best solution, it quickly turns black and ugly if you don't constantly maintain it. Will try varnish next summer. We have one winch that needs some attention, it sometimes gets very squeaky and noisy when under heavy use - should look into greasing it somehow. Still the persistent bilge water problems - is it from the rain running down the mast? some other source? Perhaps replace some of the dock lines and headsail sheets next year. Around November 15 we returned to put a tarp on the boat. We bought a few plastic tarps from Meijer and tied them down as best we could, and then checked back around December 9 to see how it was holding up - not good, some of the areas of the tarp are becoming quite ripped up from chafe. Perhaps look into a nice canvas tarp next season.

Some closing thoughts on the 2004 season from the 'sailing diary':

It has been a strange summer. Sailing-wise, we did a lot less sailing than we hoped to do, due to unforseen circumstances beyond our control - and even on our planned excursions, we would find the weather didn't conform to our plans, or that the boat's needs superceded our scheduled expectations - we should try and take a lesson from these experiences this year, and strive to better 'go with the flow' instead of always trying to force things.
We took 2 major trips this summer, 100 miles to the south as far as South Haven, and a similar distance north to Pentwater. We faced some extreme weather situations on a few of our excursions, mostly because of having to try and 'be somewhere' at a preordained time, and the hell with the weather. Then the 'Dad' situation arose, putting a big monkey wrench in all of our plans. We did manage to anchor out a few times, once even completely leaving the boat alone at anchor while we spent an afternoon ashore. Tied up to 4 unfamiliar marinas, even backing into one slip with the help of the dockhands. Got some experience approaching fuel docks, filling up our diesel & pumping out our holding tank.
Some goals for the coming year: Try some light air sailing, figure out how to use our Spinnaker. Try to anchor out more and rely less on Marinas. Sail a little further afield, would love to go as far north as the Manitou islands someday. Get more confident and comfortable with higher speeds and more heel (at least, Tim, anyways). Work on the teak a bit more, trying a varnish approach next year. Paint the interior, tackle more repairs, track down the bilge leak. Learn more about the engine.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

North to Pentwater

(photo, left) a map showing our route for this multiple day destination cruise, showing where we picked up Keenan in Whitehall for the first night and our trip north to Pentwater.

Our second multi-day 'destination cruise' of 2004, and probably our last major trip of the season. Dad's girlfriend Sheila kindly agreed to watch over him for a short spell, and we would be keeping in contact with our cell phone throughout the trip. Our plan is to pick up Keenan in Whitehall, who is staying with his friend Burton at their family cabin compound, and head north from there to Pentwater, uncharted territory for us.

August 18 - Tim and Terri fueled up in Harbortown Marina and left at 11:25, beautiful sailing, a little foggy and hazy at first, but eventually cleared up. Was able to make good speed on a beam reach almost all the way north, sailing all the way for once. Once we arrived at the White Lake entrance channel did a series of 'goofs' take place (and just in time for an audience, as the Kroes' powerboat came out to meet us). For some reason we had taken the 'stopper knot' out of the main sheet and with our boom all the way out to the starboard side, the main sheet ran out and ended up dragging in the water, which we finally managed to retrieve, but then while feeding it back through the tackle, we mistakenly wrapped it around one of the stanchions, then while wrestling with fixing that, the roller furling got fouled, so by the time the Kroes boat shows up to escort us to their cabin, we have Tim wrestling and cursing with the main sheet, and Terri wrestling and cursing with the furling line and the boat spinning this way and that, barely under control. 'Doh!' -- the only time on the entire northward trip where we look like complete boobs.

We doused the sails, flipped on the engine, entered the channel, and then when we reached White Lake, put up the sails again for the trip to the cabins. We anchored in front of their cabin compound for an afternoon repast of wine and conversation - our first time anchoring the boat, and leaving it unattended. Tim kept one eye on the boat the entire time, worried that it was drifting away (did I put out enough anchor rode? has the wind shifted?). We then motored to Whitehall/Montague with Keenan and got a slip in the Municipal Marina for the night. We walked to a little restaurant/bar in Montague where we were waited on by a waitress with a plunging neckline and a huge tattoo on her ample chest ("what are you staring at, bub?") - checked out the town of Montague, a little bookstore downtown, ice cream stand where we ate dessert. Got some rain overnight, but not the big thunderstorms that were predicted. We ended up losing our anchor overboard yet again today, need to secure that better, plus we still seem to be taking on water in the bilge - where in the heck is it coming from??

August 19 - Cast off at 11:30, spent an hour crossing White Lake - nearly running aground in the shallows when Tim missed a red buoy and wandered where we weren't supposed to be. Lots of tacks back and forth across the lake, waved goodbye to Jason Kroes as he followed us in his dinghy. Then out the channel and we headed north for Pentwater. Light wind from the North/NE, tried sailing for an hour and a half, making very little headway and eventually switched to motor sailing on a close reach before we ended up getting lapped by a motoring schooner/ketch twosome also heading north.
Long trip, eventually took us about 6 hours to get up to Pentwater. Interesting lakefront homes on the way. The Little Sable Point Lighthouse was quite scenic as were the dunes at Silver Lake with all the little dune buggies buzzing up and down them. The waves increased in size as we rounded the point, and Keenan ended up getting kind of woozy. The wind was very confused and we couldn't find a decent point of sail all day. Got into Pentwater around 7:00. The Municipal Marina was full up, so we ended up at Snug Harbor for the night, sharing a dock stern to stern with another sailboat. Going to hang around Pentwater the following day. Lots of Chicago/Wisconsin boats here. Kind of expensive and crowded here at this Marina. Nearby shops and laundromat though, convenient to downtown.

August 20 - Spent the day exploring Pentwater & shopping and playing mini golf, eating ice cream and hiking to the beach. Came back to the boat to find we were surrounded by huge powerboats coming in for the weekend. Feels like we are in the bottom of a deep canyon. Tim did a little investigating on the bilge leak again, and found a substantial leakage from the galley sink drain and tightened up the fittings to stop it. The bilge stayed dry for quite a while after that, so that I thought I had finally found the problem. Not sure I like how much they pack-em-in here at Snug Harbor, a little too Snug, feels like being at a crowded trailer campground. Everybody standing around admiring each others big boats. "how much fuel do you hold?" "how fast did you make the trip across the lake?" etc etc.

August 21 - Interesting exit from the dock this morning. Surrounded on 3 sides by huge powerboats, and they didn't want to have to move, so they helped us squeeze between them (about a foot and half clearance to either side of us - yikes, like I really wanted my old beater scratching up their multi hundred thousand dollar boats) - Left Pentwater around 9:30 am, planning on making the trip south to Muskegon in one long haul. Wind was again quite capricious so we ended up motoring most of the way with both sails up. Sailing experimentally off and on throughout the day. Beautiful day however. Waves less than a foot, wind 5-15 from the west/nw. Came into Muskegon around 5ish to a huge sailboat regatta going on out in the big lake, with plenty of colorful spinnakers flying.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Sailing Therapy

The summer and fall of 2004 was a tough time for us, emotionally as well as in terms of spare time to devote to sailing. With the onset of my Father's illness and near-incapacitation, I volunteered to be the primary care-giver for the duration of the chemo treatments, which spanned late summer through the end of the year, where I was posted in South Haven. We were able to make occassional escapes, a weekend here and there, and we managed one more 'destination' trip late in the summer, but the days of simply 'shooting over to the boat when the weather looks good' were out of the question for the rest of 2004.

July 25 - Arrived late Saturday night from South Haven, After 2 weeks of 'medical stress', it is a welcome break to relax out on the lake. Sunday is absolutely beautiful. Sirrus clouds, blue sky, calm lake and just enough wind for a relaxing sail. 3-4 knots if we get our mojo straightened out with Mr. Bernoulli. Saw the Lake Express ferry & a big white freighter heading in the channel this morning. A ton of motor boats out on the lake in the early morning. (fishing? or heading out for a peek at the Chi-Mac race schedule for this weekend). Pulling out of the slip was a bit undignified thanks to choppy waves & weird wind from the east. Played Rack-o with Keenan & Terri last night, & Keenan got to sleep in the V-berth for a change of pace. A large sailboat tried to cut us off as we were leaving the channel, but we shortly thereafter left him in our wake thanks to our superior sailing mojo. On our return, a large freighter was coming out of the channel, and Tim got a little nervous and waited in the anchorage area until he cleared the channel, Terri thought I was being a weinie, and I probably was, there was more than likely enough room for both of us. We did a decent job of docking back at the marina with the exception of a pair of 'split crotch cargo pants' that Tim found himself suddenly wearing after doing a stretch for a dock line. The onboard 'knot meter' didn't work the entire time we were under sail today, but seemed to work fine while we were motoring. Very strange (zebra mussel buildup?)

July 30 - Another weekend escape, got here around 11, the weather was a bit overcast, but it improved by later in the day. Nice breeze, 10-20 knots, medium waves 2-4 ft. We did numerous boat chores today, fixed drawer rails in the v berth, replaced the track slider that broke with a new one that didn't quite fit right, cleaned the deck, scrubbed out the interior, dried out the bilge again & fixed a leaky head sink drain (source of bilge water?), tomorrow will do some more teak work. Cate & Brian and kids came by around 3pm in spite of my poor directions. The weather cleared up and the boat seemed tickled to have some company aboard, as she put on a rollicking good show for the guests. Good speed under sail & hopped and frolicked through the waves much to the delight of Cate & Josie, but didn't seem to do much for Brian or Jake. Had a nice 2 or 3 hour sail & finished up with Coronas in the cockpit and a trip down to the beach to eat at 'Sneaky Pete's'. One other exciting aspect of the day: we saw another Chris Craft Cherokee as we were returning down the channel. Couldn't figure out why they were hooting and hollering at us and waving at first, but soon worked it out. First time seeing another boat of our pedigree - named "Sea Hawk" -- Beautiful day.

Unfortunately, Terri dropped the halyard overboard as we were putting away the sails in the channel this afternoon, so it looks like we will be visiting the ship's store. After the visitors left, me and Terri were heading back from the 'imperial procedure hut' when we noticed a sailboat coming into the marina under tow from a powerboat. Asked if they needed help and it turns out their engine died out on the lake and needed help getting pulled towards their slip. We climbed over different boat transoms and around docks trying to help guide them around the marina, until Terri suggested a good idea for them to use their tiller as a 'scupper', moving it back and forth to give them some forward momentum, which worked like a charm, slowly but surely guiding them towards their slip. "Lobo" finally made it back home, thanks to the help of half of the marina. Nice to see everybody pitching in like that, gives you kind of a secure feeling that if something does go wrong, you won't be in want of a helping hand.

August 14 - Maintenance visit from Tim & Terri while Keenan is staying at the Kroes compound in Whitehall. Did some teak work. More bilge water to soak up - where the heck is it coming from?? Replaced the halyard shackle, fixed a hose, and the latch on the engine cover. Planning a final summer 'destination cruise' this coming weekend, will pick up Keenan in White Lake and continue north to Pentwater.

Sunday, July 4, 2004

Fireworks in South Haven

Our plan is to take a multiple night destination trip to South Haven, where my sister and her husband have a summer home. We hope to be in South Haven for the friday fireworks display on the lakeshore. At this point in the narrative we switch completely over to the 'Ship's Log', and on this trip we kept a running tally of GPS coordinates and small observations during the day. I'll spare you the dull coordinates, and try to flesh out the shorthand comments.

July 1 - Cast off at noon, Keenan took us out of the slip flawlessly, and we are on our way. Beautiful hot weather, light variable winds. Bugs and biting flies are a bit of a nuisance on this trip, and we don't make much progress at first with the sails up. At 2:30 we have a small emergency, when the boom becomes disattached from the mast due to a failed cotter pin. Tim quickly jury rigs a replacement out of spare parts that seems to do the trick for the time being. By 3:00 we are still only about as far south as P.J. Hoffmaster Park and shortly thereafter the wind dies down completely. We switch to the motor for a while. Pass Grand Haven around 4:30. The water is smooth as a mirror, with no wind at all, and even the 'apparent wind' from our forward motion with the engine only provides a slight breeze. Would like a small breeze to pick up if only just to shoo the flies away.
By 6:00 we are just past Port Sheldon, wind has picked up a little bit, we open the mainsail to get a little help from the wind and smooth out the motion/steering. Another breakdown occurs, we have been using the head on the way down, and even though we supposedly had it pumped out in Whitehall two weeks ago, it is overflowing out the air intake and backing up the outtake pipe onto the deck. Yikes what a mess - we use a bucket attached to a dock line to wash off the deck, and resolve to look into it when we get to South Haven. (we would discover later that instead of pumping out our holding tank in White Hall, the girl at the dock actually filled it with water in order to get better suction, but then forgot to pump out all the water - so luckily the mess on the deck was a lot less messy than it COULD have been, being very dilluted).

We arrive at Holland around 7:00, call Eldean Marina for a slip for the night. Our VHS still doesn't seem to be working properly, so we end up using our cell phone which works just fine. Eldean is quite a fancy place, pool & hot tubs, nice showers & restrooms, but expensive as well, almost twice as much as the Whitehall Municipal Marina. The downside to this Marina, is that it is nowhere near shopping or a convenient walk to the beach. We feel trapped in an affluent subdivision.

July 2 - Cast off this morning with the help of a salty old man around 10 am after fixing the boom attachment with a part from the Marina store. Saw a BIG freighter pulling into Lake Mackatawa just as we were leaving. LOUD horn. Wind wasn't bad for the trip down to Saugatuck, but then died suddenly just past the Saugatuck channel entrance. Sometime before noon we were startled to find ourselves buzzed by a squadron of antique WW2 fighter planes flying in formation rather low to the lake. Wished we could have captured a photo of it, but they came through so very fast. Very exciting, 4 passed to starboard and 3 passed to port. Possibly (probably) heading north to the Muskegon Air Show.
We headed further offshore to try and find some wind (the waves out there looked a bit more choppy and promising), and eventually found some and sailed for some time quite nicely on a run. Tim rigged up a preventer out of dock lines so that we could set the sails wing on wing and sit back and enjoy the ride. Keenan made us some sandwiches for lunch around 1. Around 2:15 we found some nice wind and switched to a beam reach where we got our speed up to 5.6/7 knots.

Wind eventually died down around 3 and we switched back to motor sailing, and we pulled into South Haven around 3:30-4, and got a slip at the Municipal Marina on the South side of the river. Beautiful sunny afternoon, hot and pleasant. Called up my sister and got a ride up to their house for the afternoon, and then returned in the evening to the boat to watch the fireworks from the back of the boat, visible over the beach, followed by a long parade of boats heading back upriver to their slips for hours afterwards.

(photo left) a map of our route to South Haven with the stops along the way. On the return trip, we make the entire distance in a single day, approximately taking 12 hours to do so.

July 3 - Took Denise out for a ride. The weather was a bit breezy and the waves were choppy, hit a new speed record cruising around the harbor entrance. Came in just as it was beginning to rain. We did an expert job of exiting and entering the slip, starting to feel like we are really getting the hang of that particular skill. Denise thinks sailing is boring.

July 4 - Thunderstorms predicted. Very windy & huge waves, so we decide to hang around South Haven for an extra day and make the trip in one long shot the next day. Catch the 4th parade and went to a movie in the local theater ('Spiderman 2') plus did a little shopping in the little chachi shops downtown.

July 5 - Got our head pumped out properly this time, and it is functioning fine again. Yay! Filled the diesel & headed out by 9 am. Waves look even bigger than the day before, even right in the channel. No idea how big these waves are, very nerve wracking (yet oddly thrilling - Tim yelling 'Yee-Hah!' as we crest each wave, standing up gripping the tiller with both hands) trying to navigate and make any headway into them. Keenan tried sleeping in the V-berth, but found the ride intolerable and very quickly came above with us. Around 11 we were almost even with Glenn (not very far at all) when our anchor worked its way out of its attachment and went overboard, banging into the bottom of the boat. We weren't sure what the noise was at first (bang BANG bang bang) - Terri worked her way forward on the wildly pitching boat to pull the anchor chain back aboard and secure the anchor to the deck. We nearly lost her overboard in the process. Amazing how she jumped right out there to take care of it on pure adrenaline.
At 1 we made the Saugatuck channel, and skies finally cleared up, but the waves are still quite big. At 3 we were at Holland and the wind and waves were almost managable, so we put up the sails and got some good speed for a couple of hours. Tim thinks he saw a waterspout out on the horizon of the lake, and there were quite a few sailboats out enjoying the day around the Holland channel. At 5 we were at Port Sheldon and the wind died down, so we switched back to motor-sailing. Sunset just about the time we reached Muskegon around 9/10, and it was very nearly dusk when we finally pulled into our slip at Torreson's, the water smooth as glass yet again. Very tiring day. We've learned that you really can't count on the weather to cooperate when you have a destination in mind, and you are lucky if you can sail 30% of the time. We probably should have waited out another day and not braved those waves this morning, but we found ourselves having to get home with no leeway in our schedule. Quite a few little breakdowns on the way, the boom cotter pin, the dining table broke at one point (repaired it in South Haven before leaving), the anchor attachment needs to be strengthened, Traveller clamp broke on our return trip (eventually fixed by Torreson, after we tried jury rigging a newer part, and repairing ourselves), the latch on the sail locker broke (still not repaired), and the VHF still doesn't seem to work (eventually purchased a hand held VHF which worked much better than the one attached to the boat).

Shortly after this trip, Tim made a trip to Arizona to check on Dad, who seemed to be having some medical problems recently, and it ended up being much worse than he was letting on, eventually being diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma and undergoing chemo treatments over the summer, and this situation ended up overshadowing much of the remaining 2004 season, although we did manage to sneak out on the boat a few more times, for weekend getaways and one additional 'destination trip'.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Global Positioning

June 27 - Arrived late Sunday around 4:30. Weather clear, warm with light winds. Motored out the channel, then sailed down to about P.J. Hoffmaster State Park to the south. We had just gotten a hand held GPS tracker the previous week, and it seems to be a good investment. Terri seems to enjoy tracking our position, and speed, and it may come in handy on our upcoming trip to South Haven over the Fourth of July Weekend. Our Slip's Global Coordinates are: N 43 13.077' WO 86 19.192'. We can either set it for MPH or Nautical Miles. Had a nice pleasant sail this afternoon, the waves were much calmer, wind light but steady. Also did a nice job pulling in and pulling out of the slip this time. Perhaps we are getting the hang of this after all. Best of all, no fights broke out.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Destination: Whitehall

June 19 - Father's Day Weekend - Our plan is to take our boat up to White Lake, and then cross White Lake to the towns of Whitehall & Montague, our first 'destination' cruise with Fandango. We arrived Saturday afternoon, the weather was a bit on the cold and blustery side, so we decided to not go sailing quite yet, and went on a long walk to the new Ferry Dock and 'Harborfront Shopping District' that had popped up like mushrooms since the Ferry Service was opened. When we got back, it was starting to look quite a bit nicer, but we decided to wait until Sunday to go out. Took a drive up to the lake for a sunset. Thinking to the future, and how we may have to get up the nerve to sail out to see the sunset and return after dark using our nav. lights.

June 20 - Headed for White Lake around 10 am. Lake Michigan was pretty bouncy, but with very light, flukey winds. Took 2 & 1/2 hours to get to white lake, then an additional hour to cross White Lake to Whitehall, we sailed across White Lake just using our headsail, and circled past our friends the 'Kroes's camp compound to see if we could see them out in the yard (we thought we saw the boys, but they didn't notice us.
Pulled up in Whitehall to top off the diesel & pump out the holding tank. Asked if we could tie up to their courtesy dock to venture into town for lunch. Had lunch at a nearby bowling alley/restaurant called 'Pin Pals' - very slow service, and then when we returned to the dock, an additional boat had tied up behind us, and we had an undignified exit from the marina to a big audience, which probably put us all in a tense mood for the return trip. Tim & Terri had some 'words' while trying to sail in an increasingly crowded White Lake (the second time we blew up at each other on this trip, the first of which is chronicled below), in which we were forced to tack back and forth due to the wind direction, without making any apparent forward motion, until we huffed and puffed, doused the sails, gave up on sailing the lake and motored out to Lake Michigan. Going back to Muskegon was almost head-to-wind, so after another abortive attempt at sailing with both sails, we gave in and flipped on the motor for the return trip. Got in around 7, a long day on the boat, frazzled nerves, a somewhat seasick Keenan (from trying to spend the return trip down below - we would later learn that this is the WORST place to try and ride out a bouncy boat ride). Crew seems ready to mutiny, perhaps a frosty cove ice cream cone will chill their fiery tempers and sooth Keenan's heaving stomach.

(photo above) a map showing the route of our first 'destination cruise'

We had a few communication breakdowns on this trip, which added to the stress. I really need to work on stowing my tendency towards biting sarcasm when underway, it really hurts morale and makes sailing less of a peaceful, fun family activity, and more of a living hell for everyone involved. And in most cases, these 'blow ups' are usually over the silliest mis-communications, an example of which from our 'sailing diary' to follow:

(from the diary) On the way north to White Lake on Lake Michigan, we attempted to sail for the first portion of the trip. The waves and the wind were at crossed purposes, however, and we found ourselves wallowing up and down the side of some rather uncomfortable choppy swells, while the wind merely served to fill and spill from the sails to the point where we were feeling like we were on a poorly designed carnival ride. The decision came to take down the sails and tie them down, made all the more exciting by the wallowing boat motions. Terri was put at the tiller, and Tim and Keenan worked their way forward to tie down the mainsail.

Now, the boom on our sailboat, where it attaches to the mast, is adjustable up and down, in order to adjust the sail shape. You tie it down to a cleat near the bottom of the mast. It's adjustable, it moves a certain amount up and down. Terri had never noticed this particular aspect of our boat until right in the middle of our attempt to tie down the mainsail on the wildly bouncing boat. I'm trying to tie down the sail as quickly as possible, and also secretly worried about Keenan holding on sufficiently, when Terri starts yelling.

"What??!!?" (Not comprehending, I mean, I'm holding on to the boom, aren't I?)

I'm bouncing around on the deck, holding on with one hand, tying knots with the other, and Terri is yelling what seems complete jibberish to me. When I finally figured out what she was so desperately trying to tell me, I slipped up and make some smart-ass comment. I don't remember what I said, it more than likely wasn't very nice, but the effect was instantaneous. The Silent Treatment Until Further Notice.

Another interesting incident occurred when Terri was backing us out of the slip and I was at the bow and was giving her a 'thumbs up' as a sign she was doing well, when she became confused by my 'hand signals' and started panicking and yelling "AAAAH - I DON'T UNDERSTAND! what do you want me to DO??!!" (would have been interesting to see what sort of maneuver she came up with as a way of interpreting my 'upward directions')

I really need to watch my mouth. I really want to share this adventure with my family, but I wouldn't blame them if they hate to get aboard the boat with 'Captain Sarcasm' in the future. The biggest problems seem to be heightened nerves and fear, with unfortunate ways of expressing them. We both need to understand that we are both learning as we go, and our fear is a good thing, because it keeps us alert and careful, and find some other way of letting off steam without snapping each other's heads off. The funny part of all this is, Terri is afraid of sinking and drowning, while Tim seems to be mostly afraid of doing something stupid in front of other boaters. Don't know if Keenan is fearful at all, he doesn't seem to be, and seems to handle all of our little emergencies with a cool clear head (blame it on his youth).

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Testing the Water

(photo above) a map showing where most of our early day sailing excursions took place. Most sails on Lake Muskegon take place on the western half of the lake, and we frequently travel the channel to sail around on Lake Michigan, usually in sight of the channel.

(still overlapping the 'sailing dairy' and 'ships log', editing and compiling the two accounts into one narrative)

May 28 - Beautiful weather - a stiff breeze around 16 knots, and not a cloud in the sky. We got here around 5ish after a late start due to Terri having some errands to run during the day, and Tim and Keenan sinking the canoe in the Grand River. The river was flooded to a record high this weekend due to all the rain, and the boys decided to explore the flooded backyards with the canoe. We got about 3 houses north, when we got stuck in some trees, the boat tipped and quickly filled with water and sank to the bottom. It was over our heads and we ended up swimming quite a distance to find shallower water (and then having to change clothes, and shower). Not a good omen to sink your canoe just prior to our first 'boating weekend'.

Got to the slip around 5ish, installed the reefing lines, took the boat out for a 'first sail' - headsail only this time, went a little ways into Muskegon Lake, very nervous and tense. Will it ever seem easy and relaxed? Still having trouble backing out of the slip. Upon returning, we misjudged entering the slip and put a gouge about 8 inches by 4 inches into the brand new paint job. Kind of sad, like that first ding you put into a new car.

May 29 - Saturday, the weather was overcast and chilly, still having problems exiting the slip, the tiller just doesn't seem to respond in that particular direction. We motored out to the big lake and raised both the sails. Quite fun, the boat seems to handle so much better under sail than with the motor. We tried setting our first and second reefs just for practice's sake (probably would have gotten much more speed without them, but I'm still feeling a bit tentative about the whole 'speed' thing. Headed quite a ways into the lake, then turned around and headed back to the channel entrance for lunch, Passed a big frieghter entering the channel (the 'Pier Marquette 41'), anchored out, had lunch (sandwiches and potato salad), then practiced 'reverse tiller' for a while, out where we had a little maneuvering space. On our return, we did a nice job tying up, and a nice fellah a few boats down gave us some advice on 'backing up'. Apparently we are experiencing something called 'prop walk', where the propeller is messing with the tiller, and what we need to do is start going straight back until we get some momentum, then put the motor in neutral, and the boat should handle much better.

May 30 - (Terri) Tim up early and walked down to Lake Michigan (about 30 minutes each way), The neighbors had gone out early and returned saying it was quite choppy out there. Tim thinks the big lake looks ok. Not sure if we should go out or not. A couple of the neighbors had the same problem pulling their boat out of the slip this morning, so we don't feel so dumb. Pandora, the school boat went out after tying in a few reefs. Based on the flags it looks as though it is 22-27 knots of wind. Lots of action in the marina. Many boaters here working on their boats. We filled the water tanks and tried to flush out the antifreeze.

The weather stayed crappy the rest of the weekend, so we headed home on Sunday afternoon.

June 4 - Tim & Terri came out to put on her name labels - beautiful day today, but couldn't stay because it was festival weekend and Keenan is due to perform with the Jazz band. Tim filled the hole we had gouged in her with 'repair goo' and sanded it down smooth. Need to look into some sort of awlgrip touch up kit or something to finish it off. Doesn't look too bad, but doesn't look as nice as it once did.

June 11 - Crappy weather continues. Windy, cold, rainy. Hoped to sail today, no such luck. Fixed the railing, sanded the plugs for the swim ladder mount. Terri measured for curtains & glued some knobs for attaching them. Came home rather depressed.

June 12, 13 - Weather looked great, so we just said the heck with it, and headed for Muskegon for an unplanned sailing excursion. Best two sailing days yet. Should have been working, which made it all the sweeter.Pulled out of the slip smoothly with our new 'exit maneuver'. Went out to Lake Michigan for a couple hours, but it was actually much better sailing on Lake Muskegon - got up to about 6 knots on the small lake, but the best we could do on the big lake was 2. We came back to the slip a little rough today, but thankfully there was nobody around to see it. We left a message for Candy to come down the next day for a ride... She showed up around 11ish, and we went out for about 3 hours, Lake Muskegon past the 'buoy', got up to 6 knots again with just the headsail, then out to the big lake where we could only get about 3, but it was still a pleasant ride. Beautiful day today, Tim still seems to get really nervous the faster we go and subsequently the more the boat heels over. Looking forward to possibly trying a 'destination trip' where we head for another port, possibly tie up somewhere, have lunch and then return.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Technical Difficulties

At this point our 'sailing diary' and our 'ships log' begin to overlap, so I'll be trying to compile our storyline with exerpts from both accounts. This overlap continues until about midway through the summer, when an event suddenly creeps up on us just after the fourth of July which puts a damper on all the maritime enthusiasm for a while.

May 19 - Got antsy and worried about whether or not the boat was sinking at her slip, so we headed out for a look mid-week for a couple hours. We installed the 'counter top rails', and tied up lines for the aft lazarettes, emptied three buckets of water from the bilge (after using disposable diapers to clean up the oil). We checked the fuses for the bilge pumps and they were both blown so we replaced them and they both immediately blew out again when tested. Must be a short somewhere. Another disturbing problem is the manual bilge pump doesn't seem to work either (we would later find out that this only works when the water reaches a certain level). I got curious about the engine, so started poking around looking for the oil dipstick. Couldn't find it anywhere on the engine. Finally found what I at first thought was a 'spare' dipstick in one of the drawers. Finally found out where the oil came from. Nobody had ever put the dipstick in the engine, and then when it ran, it simply sprayed out from the dipstick hole. Not sure how much escaped, so we topped it off a bit with some additional oil. Still no sign of the boatyard workers having done anything after our call on monday regarding the bilge pumps and furling gear. ... getting antsy to get her out SAILING.

May 22-23 - Tim & Keenan went ot to the boat late Saturday night. Weather is wet and rainy, with thunderstorms overnight. Did not take the boat out for a spin as the weather looked way too nasty. Got a pizza on the way and watched Futurama episodes on Keenan's laptop and played some cribbage before falling asleep. The ROLLER FURLING IS FIXED! Huzzah!. Sunday morning we used more disposable diapers to clean up the bilge, getting it 98% dry and cleaned out in the process. We also hanked on the headsail & rolled it up. Very difficult in the stiff breeze, the sail kept flopping around mercilously. 2 objectives met. It looks as if someone were aboard inspecting the bilge pumps. There are new fuses in the pump switches (didn't test them, they look like the wrong kind?) We should try to get some help with our rigging before this weekend. Maybe we can sail on Memorial Day weekend - wonder how crowded it will be on the lake? We drove home, where Terri had come home from Traverse City in the early afternoon. The day started to look really promising in the afternoon, so we headed back out to the lake. But foiled again, the weather turned crappy again on our way over, and damn it all the bilge was full again. Got more diapers, soaked up more oil. Keenan put on the headsail sheets, Tim hooked up the mast lights, the spreader lights seem to work, but the anchor light does not. The VHF antennae perhaps needs replacing as the radio doesn't seem to work either. Tim tightened up the thru hull in the head and slowed down the leak a bit. Noticed a bit of a leak over the aft quarter berth from the cracking on the deck, especially after last nights thunderstorms. Could this be the source of the water? It sure seems to be a lot of water for a little roof leak - down the mast perhaps when it rains? 2 weeks in the water now and we haven't had the sails up yet. But it does feel like we are making SOME progress, and let's face it, the weather has been damn crappy this spring RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN.

May 27 - Tim came down alone to get a tutorial on the sail rigging from Peter the salesman. There was a repair dude there working on the boat at the time, working on the bilge pumps and other misc. work items. Kind of bracing ourselves for the 'BILL'. Learned how to tie the outhaul, how to rig the sheets, where to stow the extra halyards. He seems to effortlessly whip together elaborate knots to tie things down with - will we ever get that confident? Well, now that most of the major problems seem to be taken care of, for the most part, we may actually be ready to sail by Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

First Launch

We woke up bright and early at 5 am. The weather looks crappy, raining and overcast. We worked on the sail cover a little then headed for Muskegon a bit after 8 am. We checked at the 'Launch Area' but our boat wasn't out there yet so we went back to the warehouse. Right where we left her, so we installed the refinished & re-hardwared mess table and then took the new lock keys over to the 'dock office' and checked on our status. They were running a bit behind, still no sign of where our mast is yet.

Once things got moving, it was exciting to watch. Our boat came over on a trailer platform (first time seeing her in the sunlight, and the first time that I noticed that the deck color is a bit different in shade from the sides, more of a creamy 'off white' than the 'blue-white' of the topside paint job. She looks quite filthy, and badly in need of a wash on her decks - but still, it really took my breath away, she's quite a beauty) - they transferred her to a sling, painted her hull's 'bare patches' (where we couldn't reach while she was in her cradle), then moved her over the launching area and set her down.

The 'leprauchans' (to use a phrase that one of the marina workers used) started jumping aboard and began checking for leaks & found a few. The sink thru hull in the head had a steady trickly and there seemed to be a leak in the 'packing' around the propeller (which would prove to be a major problem for us a few years later). After a bit of 'tightening up' we head out to lunch around noon.

When we came back, the motor was chugging away, new batteries had been installed and they were just about ready to step the mast, shrouds and stays. Peter, the Torreson salesman, took us out then for a brief 'shakedown cruise' to familiarize us with the motor & gave us a brief 'tie up' lesson. Then - TA-DA - we are now on our own.

This weekend we plan on giving Fannie a thorough cleaning and try to figure out the sails & take her out for our first solo run & perhaps spend the night on saturday.

(Keenan from diary) May 15, 2004 - Baseball ALL morning (well, for me...) We LOST but Dad was geeked to go to the boat. HEAD FOR THE EXITS (courtesy of 'beetle adventure racing', a nintendo game we've been playing a lot lately - and a phrase which is rapidly becoming our battle cry every saturday morning). I can't believe how pretty she looks in the water. She looks good, feels good inside and after a short romp int he water we found out she rides well too. My only little problem is the tiller, it doesn't seem to go where I want it. OH WELL, I guess I'll have to get used to it. Its a choice between tiller and .... tiller. We discovered it can get QUITE cold in the evening. I'm a bit sniffly. WE HAVE A BOAT!

(tim) We arrived for our first weekend 'aboard' around 5ish - a late start finishing up the sail cover and picking up supplies at meijer. We got out the soap suds and cleaning gear and gave the boat a thorough scrubbing while keenan read & stored gear below. It made a big difference. She looks much nicer on deck, though there are still a lot of blemishes on this old girl.

Down below is a disquieting situation though - the bilge had quite a bit of water in her, and the bilge pumps don't appear to work. We had Keenan 'the bilge rat' empty them into a bucket and Dad dumped them over the side (as Keenan put it "at least I have job security").

After everything had been stowed, we took her out of the slip for a little "tiller practice". A bit tricky getting out of the slip the first time, handling lines and trying to back out figuring out the tiller in reverse (which doesn't seem to respond either direction). We did an undignified complete 'reverse gear' maneuver out the marina (glad there were very few people around to see it). We motored over past the 'Milwaukee Clipper" and the 'Channel Buoy' towards downtown Muskegon, then turned around and came back. Re-entering the slip went much smoother than the exit.

But disturbingly the bilge seems to be refilling. I decided to check the thru hulls. The 'leaky' thru hull in the head that was discovered at launch is still dripping. Then was alarmed to discover that the engine compartment under the sink in the galley next to the engine has oil spattered all over it, and the bilge water now is black with oil. Did we blow a gasket or hose? We should have checked the oil before leaving, and make a habit of it. But now how to dispose of the bilge water, as we can't dump it in the lake now with all this contamination? A blessing now that the automatic bilge pumps aren't working I suppose. Then when we went to hank on the headsail, we discovered another problem - they had installed the rollerfurler backwards so it points towards the bow of the boat instead of back to the cockpit. Welcome to boat ownership, like home ownership, only with the added stress of the possibility of sinking.

Next morning, Keenan reported a good night's sleep, but complained of Dad's snoring. Terri was cold. Dad has a bad case of hemorrhoids and doesn't remember sleeping at all, perhaps they were confusing snores with whimpering and crying from pain. After breakfast we decided to try and hank on the mainsail. Not bad. It needs a little reinforcing to some of the 'hanks' and we weren't 100% sure of how to tie the outhaul rig. Cleaned up, measured the space for the boat name & headed home. Spent all our time working on the boat and ended up missing a beautiful day for sailing on Sunday.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Launch Preparations

With the purchase of our boat, we spent that first spring over in that dark warehouse nearly every weekend. We had scheduled an inspection prior to making our down payment, March 27th, and on the 28th we received the following phone call from Mel the 'survey guy':

"Very very nice boat - nothing serious wrong with her - a few small things, which considering all the pluses make for very minor problems. A little higher than normal moisture readings on the port deck near the 2nd to last stanchion near the tiller. Some cracks on deck. A few safety things, cloudy compass, broken antenae bracket, remove wire nuts from wiring... " - and then the phone call got cut off - so we waited for the full report. Not much more than that - a few minor cosmetic issues, but structurally sound.

Visited the boat again on April 1, this time bringing Keenan with us. Put a down payment on the boat and spent some time poking around the boat, cupboards, sail lockers etc, familiarizing ourself with what needs to be done. Found the antique winch handles, brass, simple to use, sturdy - found a butane grill, an autohelm, a small wet vac, a sail cover with the name 'Radiance' stitched on it in huge letters. Figured out where the 6th bunk was (a mystery to us previously after reading the specs) which slides out into the middle of the floor on rails. We met a few guys from the service department, John & Phil who took a look at the boat for us and gave us a few recommendations regarding items on the survey.

We are getting very excited, and becoming quite obsessive about anything to do with boat preparations - and I'm sure we are boring our family and friends to death with all our 'boat blather'. I lay awake at night worried that I've forgotten all the skills we learned last summer, trying to remember knots and how to raise the sails etc etc. Terri has made up a 'boat info folder' and filled it with whatever paperwork she can get her hands on, photos, plans, brochures etc etc. Keenan is excited about actually 'going sailing' in the spring, but looks upon all the preparations and hard work to come with a lot of 'heavy sighs'. Launch Date is scheduled for May 13. Bottom Scuffing and Painting is planned for April 24-25 and we will pay off the balance on April 6.

Eventually received the complete report from the inspector in the mail, the tanks are good, engine looks good, he liked the paint job, but would like to see the deck restored to as nice as the topsides & hull (not likely to happen anytime soon) - Need to purchase two batteries, flares, PDF type I, fire extinguishers. Tim plans on working on the teak work which is looking a little rough, not sure if he wants to go the 'teak oil' route or go with 'varnish'. Registration paperwork goes through on 4/6. Been doing a lot of shopping at Marine Stores, comparing prices. Shocked at the price of anti-fouling paint, and not sure how much to buy the first time, and have heard a few suggestions from neighboring boat owners about methods of applying it. Terri is planning on getting a 'sail cover kit' from a mail order company and sewing it herself (navy blue).

April 6 - Finalized the sale this morning. Spent all morning digging through all the cupboards and making a 'to do' list. Need to bring some honest to goodness tools & supplies next time we come, in order to start some of the projects. Dragged out that icky carpet that was covering the floor inside. Dragged home the spinnaker, the grill, the wet vac, organized the docklines, spring lines, sheets etc - will return the following weekend to start cleaning and scraping the deck brightwork. Registration numbers should arrive by mail soon, then we can put the numbers on the bow. Just over a month till launch.

April 10 -Visited the boat again, and took some supplies. Tim took off a lot of hardware from the stern toerail, then sanded and scraped, mostly the teak, but quite a bit of damage to his hands as well. The wood looks real nice once it is cleaned up. Terri unhooked the electric for the refrigeration, put bleach in the icebox. Big area inside there, need to trace the drain to see where it goes. Really want to clean with water and soap, but will have to wait until launch. We are wondering about a swim ladder, try to fix the metal one or look into a rope ladder? -- after taking down a lot of the deck hardware, am liking how much cleaner and less cluttered it looks without a lot of it, and am thinking of leaving off the stereo speakers, the loran mount. too much gizmos - we also sanded the cowl vents, we should figure out some sort of paint to clean those up a bit. Thinking of building some sort of 'line handling' storage solution for the sail locker - I saw something in one of the 'project' books of Terri's that looks doable.

April 18 - Candy visited the boat today for some 'voluntary scud work' as she dubbed it. We did more teak scraping, cowl sanding, general cleaning. Located a 'hull vent' for the methane hose from the holding tank & installed it (a major pain, very awkward moving around back behind the wall of the head). Terri and Candy did the taping and the scuffing in preparation for next week's antifouling project.

April 24 & 25 - Tired Tired Tired - all three of us painted on Saturday. Then just Tim & Terri on Sunday. Got the bottom painted with VC-17, some more scraping and sanding on the teak, Terri found a quarter under where the mast is stepped, so old you can't tell what year. Put some of the hardware back on the stern rails. Been working on a swim ladder mount made of teak for the port side. 18 more days til launch. Still a bit frustrating working in this dark & cold warehouse, want to get her out on the water so we can at least clean her up, it is so dirty and dingy in here. A little puzzled about the copper color of our 'blue bottom paint' - does it turn blue after being in the water (we would later discover the answer is 'yes it does')... Visited again on 5/1, on 5/8, 5/10, each time doing a little bit more on the boat, the swim ladder mount, waxing the sides, refinishing the galley table, a lot of unecessary projects. Don't even really know what needs to be done, but full of nervous energy and the need to 'do something even if is wrong'.

Friday, January 30, 2004

By Any Other Name

Our boat was once named 'Radiance', but we figured, with a new paint job, new owners, and her having been out of the water for quite some time, that she wouldn't mind getting christened with a new name. So we proceeded to brainstorm.

We had a number of 'musical' ideas: Mood Indigo, Sea Shanty, Time Out, Take Five, Largo, Foggy Dew, Harmonics, Ticket to Ride, Allegro, Allergetto, Slow Ride, Hornpipe, Troubador, Improvisation, Changes, D.C. Al Coda, Fermata, Harmony, Do Re Mi, Imagine, Kind of Blue, Happy Trails; Quite a few Spanish flavored names: Brisa Marana, Viento Bueno, Viaje, Barco de Vela, Adios Ave Negro, Cambiar, Que Milagro, Muchacho Frijol, Vida Bueno, Armonia, Corona, Toro, Improvisar, El Gato, Dulce, Juntos, Muy Loco, En Alguna Parte, Bonito Lindo, El Gato Negro; And some just plain random: Vega, Bessie, Escapade, Carolyn Kay, Michael J, Sandpiper, Whipporwill, Tutti Du Mari, Voila, Breezy, Fair Breeze, Tumbleweed, Mesquite, Nora B, Freeneasy, 3 of a Kind, Ship Happens, Ignatz, Illuminata, Breaking Wind, Happy Trails, Ace in the Hole, Patsy, Jackie Mae, Lulu, Scooter, La Dolce Vita

Keenan eventually came up with the winner; Fandango, which ended up incorporating a number of influences we wanted to capture; triple time dance to refer to the three of us, Spanish in flavor, Musical in nature, rolls nicely off the tongue, but the final definition in the dictionary clinched it: 'a foolish act', which we couldn't help but feel was right on the money. Tim sketched up a logo design for the name and we ordered the boat labels at a local sign shop for when we launched her in the spring.