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.