Sunday, September 11, 2005

Late Summer/Fall Excursions

We finally broke down and had Torreson check our batteries. We had been struggling with battery one all summer, and it ended up being our own damn fault for installing them ourselves this past winter. The connections were loose and dirty. Cost us $60 to find out, but now everything seems to be working smoothly. I think we'll just have the marina handle our batteries from now on.

August 23 - Overnight trip to either Grand Haven or Whitehall, and we'll let the wind determine which one when we get on the lake. Tim, Terri, Keenan and Lady along for the ride. Cast off at 3:10, after giving the boat a bath and killing many a spider. Filled up with diesel at Harbortown and once we got on the lake, headed for Grand Haven. Got a call from one of my WSJ clients with a rush job while underway, but we brought Keenan's laptop with us, and hopefully we can find a wi-fi connection in Grand Haven to send the files. Arrived at Grand Haven at 6:30, made good time today, sailing most of the way. Used 'robo-sailor' and played eucre to pass the time. Got a slip at the GH Municipal, and ordered a pizza from a nearby restaurant and ate in the park. Walked down the pier, listened to a big band concert and watched the cheesy 'musical fountain' at dusk until it bored us to tears.

August 24 - Tim & Keenan played a game of putt-putt nearby in the morning. Tim walked downtown and sent some sketches at a local coffee shop with wi-fi. Check out was at noon and we left there right on the button with a flawless departure. Not much of a trip north. No wind, tried to sail for a while, until the wind completely died. Stopped for a swim, but then goofed up and forgot to bring up the swim ladder before getting underway again, and the ladder fell overboard and sunk like a stone. Dang, that was a handy piece of equipment and not sure if I can replace it all too easily. Back to Muskegon by 3:30, motored most of the way back (from about PJ Hoffmaster Park). Played more eucre on the way back. Already starting to think of winter storage, need to order a canvas boat cover.

August 27 - Tim & Terri came out to clean and work on the brightwork. Got the toerail completely refinished this summer all the way around the boat, putting on 3 coats of prep varnish in varying degrees of mix with mineral spirits, and then a few coats of pure varnish over the top. Looks beautiful, now thinking of moving on to the cabin side rails and the frame for the cabin hatch. I may bring home the hatch pieces and the tiller over the winter to refinish them.

September 11 - Tim Terri and Lady showed up for a late season ride. Been a long time since we've been out to visit the boat. Lots of wind today, and the water looks low. Fanny is stuck in her slip, got some advice from Captain Jim across the way on the student boat as to getting her out. We rocked the boat back and forth, hanging on the extended boom to work her loose from the bottom. Finally managed to get her out. We sailed all the way to the end of Lake Muskegon over by the power plants with just a reefed headsail, but then when we tried to sail back, we had to make so many tacks back and forth that we eventually switched to the motor for the return trip. Came back and did some more work on the teak work. Very hot weather in the 90s. Thinking of when we'll need to schedule the haul out for this season, but thinking we may have another month of sailing yet available.

October 2 - Stuck in the slip again! Lots of rocking and rolling to get it unstuck to get out. Nice day in the 80s, couldn't get back all the way into the slip due to the shallow draft, and had to adjust our docking lines accordingly. Need to bring this up with the marina if we have the same slip next year. Spiders everywhere.

October 15(?) - Terri and Keenan both working lots of hours at the Civic theater, hard to get them to come out to the boat this fall. Talked Candy into accompanying me for a duo boat ride, and to take down the sails for the season. Wind was a little gusty, we sailed for a short while on Lake Muskegon, and got up a good head of steam (so much so that it made Tim nervous). We got the sails down and stored below. Going to leave them aboard the boat this winter (we stowed them in the office at home last season).

Late October/November - Had a custom canvas cover made for winter storage of the boat. Kind of expensive, but from what we've heard, it is worth the investment, as they tend to last a good long time. We had Torreson do the initial covering and tie down as part of our haul out package this fall, and we figured we could go out and take notes on how to do it ourselves the following season. We also had the marina store our batteries this winter and winterize all the the equipment for us.

2005 Overview: Felt like a very short season this year. The initial enthusiasm of that first season, where we were out to the lake almost every single weekend we had a chance, has worn off a bit. Have a hard time convincing Keenan to come with us, unless we force the point. We did a lot more 'afternoon visits' as opposed to 'spending the weekend'. Some big accomplishments this year nonetheless. First overnight sail which was quite the adventure. Learned to use the AutoHelm, which is a big step forward in efficiency, and cuts down on fatigue on long trips. Introduced a new crew member, Lady. Visited a few new ports of call. Made some progress on the brightwork that seems to be holding up a bit better than the 'teak oil' of the previous season. Purchased a canvas cover for winter. Replaced the nav lights, the topping lift and furling line. On the downside, we still haven't solved the 'traveller stop' hardware issue, which I think I'll break down and give to Torreson to fix, we lost our swim ladder, which I am personally going to miss a great deal.

Friday, August 5, 2005

First Overnight Sail to South Haven

August 2 - The day of our proposed 'overnight adventure', we came early to replace a few 'iffy' lines and fill up with diesel & check on all systems. Battery #1 is dead again, started up with #2 and switched over to idle for a while and hopefully charge it back up. Replaced the topping lift line & the furling line & Terri is checking on the 'traveller stop' that also broke once again on our last trip out. Weather permitting, we will be leaving Muskegon tonight around 10ish. Filled the diesel & pumped out the holding tank in the afternoon.

Cast off lines at 10:40 pm. Very light wind and hazy. Tried to sail when we got out on the big lake, but the wind was right in our faces for the direction we wanted to travel. Ended up motoring all the way to Saugatuck. Sunrise just before we got to the Saugatuck channel at around 7:30 am. The night was mostly overcast and hazy, with occassional breaks to see stars. Tim at the helm most of the way with Terri taking over for potty breaks, caused by drinking a lot of cold coffee beverages to try and stay awake. Lady didn't like having to sleep on the boat. Beautiful seeing the sunrise on the boat, barely saw another boat all the way from Muskegon to Holland.

We pulled into Saugatuck channel at dawn. Wasn't really worth the long upriver trip. Expensive chachi shops, litte to no courtesy docking, so we tied up to a fuel dock, walked the dog around and then skipped town before they could put the squeeze on us for docking fees. Lady only did a few tinkles, hopefully she can hold off the rest of her business until we get to South Haven.

August 3 - Pulled into South Haven around 1 pm and docked at the Municipal Marina on the South side of the channel. While docking, Lady tried out her life vest when she slipped off the dock, 6 feet down to the water below. KERPLOOSH! The handles on the back of the 'fido float' came in quite handy as Tim pulled her back aboard, much to the delight of a growing crowd of 'doggie dive enthusiasts', Tim getting soaked in the process. I don't think Lady likes swimming. Grandpa met us down at the docks with his bike and we walked up to the South Haven house for an afternoon nap. TIRED TIRED TIRED. Long night. Later int he afternoon went swimming and had some ice creams. Saw the 'Friendship Goodwill' sailing down the channel, quite the impressive old boat.

August 4 - Big swells on the lake, rainy, poor weather, and hot. Spent the day running errands with Grandpa & tried out our wireless connection with the 'Marina-web'. First time using the computer aboard the boat for internet connections. Sent first sketch to a client aboard the boat & emailed to Tom at US Catholic. Lady spent the day around town being Pit Bull Awareness Puppy and Goodwill Ambassador. A lot of curious and apprehensive folks wondering 'what kind of dog is she?' ... oh. Long day for Lady, lots of walks and adoring fans. Tim washed the deck in the early morning, much nicer looking now without the spider guts and debris. Tried another sketch in the afternoon, but the wi-fi is being a bit finicky.

August 5 - Heading home - cast off at 10am, The 'Friendship Goodwill' miles ahead of us heading for the GH Coast Guard Festival. Our exit was only slightly comical. Wind from the north today ... so .. once again at cross purposes with the weather and our desired direction... motoring again.

We got out the autohelm which has been sitting idle in our belowdecks cupboards since we bought the boat, and tried to see if we couldn't figure out how it works. WOW - very easy to figure, it turns out. Why didn't we ever use this before? We have dubbed the device 'Robo-Sailer', and while it is not the sleekest looking bit of hardware, it does get the job done with a minimum of fuss. Much easier on the crew and captain and more efficient for long borign motoring treks. Still a few bugs to work out while sailing though. Tried sailing twice today, but had a hard time of it. Very light wind, with big slow swells. Pretty day though, hoping to stop in Holland for the night.

Made Holland and Lake Mackatawa by 3:15, called Bayshore Marine (on the north side of the lake this time) for a slip. Got a bit confused with our chart directions and ended up running the boat aground in the shallows, which was quite the jolt, but with clear heads, we managed to reverse back out of trouble and figure out where we went wrong in reading the buoys. Huge Marina, swimming pool, party store nearby, easy walk to the state park and beach down the road (and a disc golf course within walking distance we would discover the next year). Battery 1 still causing problems, dead after having run on it all day long. Have it on the charger and am not using #2 in order to keep it in reserve for emergency starts. Will have to have it checked by Torreson when we get back. Took a nap in the afternoon, then took a walk to the beach. Loud neighbors here at the 'Sprawl Marina' - music blaring from outdoor loudspeakers, lots of powerboats and drinking and dockside get-togethers.

August 6 - Quiet nights sleep surprisingly enough, once it got dark the parties started winding down. A little chilly, walked to the beach last night and watched boats coming and going in the channel, saw a real cute little boat that looked as if it were handmade, with a gaff rig sail. For some reason we didn't record much else of the return trip north to Muskegon. I'm assuming we made it home alright. If memory serves, it was a beautiful sunny ride home, with a stop for swimming near Grand Haven when the winds died down mid-day. The water was flat and calm, the sun was hot and the swim was quite refreshing. Terri once again declined, but we thought we'd try an experiment with the dog, thinking she might like swimming better when it was planned rather than 'falling in', so Terri dropped her over the side with me while I was paddling around, and she nearly drowned me trying to climb on top of me to get out of that accursed water. We managed to struggle her back aboard, and she seemed to forgive us after a brief sulking period. Then we continued on our way north. This was the last 'multiple night' trip of the year for us, although there would be one more overnight in Grand Haven and a few daytime excursions before the end of the season.

Lots of major steps forward on this trip. Lady's first multiple night trip, wi-fi connection with a bit of illustration work completed onboard, first time 'night sailing' (kind of strange, scary, sometimes confusing), first time using the Autohelm, first time running aground and getting ourselves out of trouble again, and tried out a new Marina in Holland. Still problems with the battery which is very vexing, still not happy with the traveller stop that we repaired ourselves.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Daysail, Repairs, Daysail, Repairs, etc

July 10 - Tim, Terri, Keenan & Grandma Carol out for an afternoon sail. Grandma took a turn at the tiller, we passed two freighters, sailed around for a while on Lake Michigan. Light winds, but enough to get a decent speed out of the sails. Returned back to the channel and anchored out in the lee of the breakwater. Tim & Keenan took a little dip in the lake, but the water was still very cold. Had a little lunch on the boat and then returned to the slip with Terri at the helm, pulling us in without a hitch. Sunny and warm, managed to use battery one this time although it was rough starting with it.

July 17 - Tim, Terri, Keenan & Lady out for an evening sail. Hot in the 90s and humid. Got here about 7:30 and stopped for KFC. Lady's first time wearing her 'fido float' life jacket. Battery 1 dead yet again. The shore power was unhooked when we got here. We motored out, stopped for a swim (just the boys, Terri don't like getting in the water), then ate our dinner at anchor. We were going to sail, but the weather was very hazy, with no good sunset likely, and powerboats all over the place. Got back in around 9:30 just getting to be dusk, and we have discovered that our starboard bow light isn't working. Fun to come out this evening for an impromptu sail, LOTS of spiders to kill.

July 21 - Tim & Terri came out to check on battery one after reading a distressing article in one of our boating manuals about how too much charging can actually be bad for the batteries. The engine started with battery 1 ok this time. Also took apart the starboard nav. light & found a replacement bulb & green plastic hood at the ship's store - still need to replace the gasket though, it is looking pretty raggedy and was probably the reason the bulb shorted out.

July 22 - Tim came out alone to try and fix the nav. light. Purchased a bunch of gasket material to cut a gasket, tried installing the new bulb & discovered that the bulb socket is faulty. Took apart the port light just to compare the one I was repairing with a 'functioning' light and discovered that the port light looks even worse that the starboard one, rusty, stripped screws. Damn it all, a wasted trip, a lot of supplies purchased, none of which did the trick, and absolutely nothing accomplished other than make things worse. Need to purchase completely new light assemblies now and replace the entire mess.

July 29 - Keenan is at Blue Lake now, Tim & Terri & Lady came out in the afternoon to do some more work on the boat. Tim replaced both the nav lights. Hooray! Progress! The port & starboard nav. lights are now once again functioning. Tim did some work on the teak, Terri helping out a bit with the sanding & varnishing. Upper 70s today with big clouds. We hope to go out on a sail this afternoon, but changed our minds and decided to spend the night and go out tomorrow if weather permits. We will be picking up Keenan ont he 31st for 'middle sunday visit', but we didn't bring any food for tonight. Around 4:30 went out for a sail - beautiful light air sail on Lake Muskegon, almost able to sail down the channel until the winds got flukey in their usual spot. Got out on the big lake and the waves were very VERY bouncy and almost cancelled out whatever slight forward momentum we could generate with the wind. We decided to head back to the little lake when *SNAP*
Terri: "What was that?"
Tim: "I dunno, what WAS that?"
Oh dear, the topping lift broke on the boom, and after much cursing and scrambling around & trying to keep lady out of our way, we managed to surf down the big waves enough to minimize the rocking and rolling enough to lower & flake the main & get the topping lift re-tied in a jury rigged fashion. By this time we were quite a ways south of the channel and had to motor back in. Headed back in around 7, perfect docking to make up for the fact that our exit was so undignified, once again resorting to reversing all the way out of the marina. Contemplating a 'night sail' to South Haven next week, weather permitting, and if we manage to get everything repaired in time.

Saturday, July 2, 2005

Fourth of July Overnight to Whitehall

July 2 - Tim, Terri, Keenan & Lady. Battery number one is still having problems holding a charge. Not sure what the problem is. Heading to White Lake for an overnight sail. Used battery 2 to start up but then switched over to 1 to charge it up. Left the slip at 12 noon, clear sunny skies and 72 degrees with very light wind. Leaving the channel we passed a big freighter (The 'Fred D. White Jr.'), plus there were a lot of spinnakers out on the big lake. Wish we knew how to use ours, might've come in handy on the trip. Sailed all the way to the White Lake channel entrance, averaging about 5 knots, and then motored across White Lake to get to the Municipal Marina, hoping to charge up battery 1.

Put it on shore power once we were moored (a fair to good job of tying up at the dock). Spent some time over at the Kroes compound, drinking wine, and the boys playing with bottle rockets. Then at around 7:30 we had dinner at Dog n Suds. Lady did great on the trip up here, makes a nice boat dog with her regular bathroom stops. Got a wafting odor of 'contraband materials' from the powerboat moored next to us, but otherwise they weren't particularly obnoxious. Pleasant evening, tired from a busy day. Cribbage and then to our berths.

July 3 - Exit from the marina wasn't so smooth, the boat didn't seem to want to cooperate. Still having problems with battery 1 even though it was on the charger all night. Are we doing something wrong? Could the battery already need replacing after only one year?? The sail south to Muskegon was problematic, poor wind, tried tacking back and forth but gave up and motored when we couldn't make any forward progress. Very hot today, sunburns, seasickness, some very tired puppies when we eventually pulled into Muskegon Lake. Have left the battery on the charger when we left.

July 9 - Tim came out by himself, worked on the brightwork, switched the battery charger to #2. The teak is looking mighty nice. Very hot and dry weather this year. Hard working in this oppresive heat.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Early Summer Mini-Excursions

Memorial Day Weekend - Sunday, a beautiful day, light winds 5-10 knots. Practiced some 'Lake Muskegon Close Quarter Drills' back and forth across the little lake, Got a little cloudy by the end of the tour, overcast and chilly. A fun day for the parents, Terri estimates we did 4 round trips of the lake, and had to avoid a regatta going on in the middle of the lake, which made it kind of challenging. A smooth exit and entrance to the slip - it DOES seem to be getting easier this year. I had many nightmares this winter of completely forgetting everything we learned the previous summer. Keenan seems so very bored, lots of audible sighs, and its all we can do to coerce him into participating in anything other than staring glumly at the horizon.

June 4 - Saturday evening sail. 10-15 knot winds. Came out for a sunset cruise - 7-9:30ish. Beautiful sailing, 6 knots in speed and a pretty sunset. Big flock of swans (12-15?) in the channel. Sailed the big lake mostly on a beam reach out & back & out & back & out & back. We were worried because we couldn't find the GPS this spring either in our 'at home boat supplies' or on board Fanny, but we finally located it in one of the cupboards today.

June 10 - Convinced Grandpa to come out for an afternoon sail. Left the dock at 11:30am and sailed for 2 hours. Battery #1 was dead (or not working, or something), so used #2. Terri at the helm as we docked, and was a little rusty (or nervous in front of Dad) and had to abort and take an additional run at the slip, did fine on the 2nd attempt. (Need to give her more practice at that, I have a tendency to take over the helm, just like I monopolize driving the cars) Hot temps today, in the 80s, but a bit overcast. Got up to 5.5 knots a few times. Dad seemed to have a good time, and seems to notice the boats more down in South Haven (or mentions them to us more in conversation lately). The neighbor at the SH house has a boat that he takes out singlehanded, and has asked Dad if he wants to go out with him, but I don't think he will. Dad seemed to have a bit of trouble getting in and out of the boat, and once he was aboard, he pretty much stuck to one spot.

June 24 - Tim came out alone to work on the woodwork, charge up the batteries and pick up the camera - Hot sunny day, worked from 2-5:30. Have given up on the Teak Oil, and am now taking the wood back down to bare and starting again with a 3-4 step varnish treatment. Looking pretty nice so far, and seems to hold up a little better than the oil. The bilge doesn't seem to be filling as quickly and as often as it was last year, I wonder if the relatively dryer spring this year has anything to do with it. Perhaps the water was coming down the mast whenever we had a heavy rainfall? Wish I had the nerve to single hand sail, but the wind looks a bit gusty. Perhaps I can convince the crew to join me tomorrow.

June 25 - Tim Terri and Keenan arrived around 1 with a new crewmember. We had gotten a new dog this month, an american pit bull terrier named 'Lady' and this would be her first introduction to the boat. I swore up and down I wouldn't be getting another dog, but I've really grown attached this pooch in a short time, and we're going to try and incorporate her into our plans. A few problems though are her fair skin which can sunburn easily, and the fact that she doesn't seem to like water at all, doesn't like getting her feet wet, even when the grass is dewy in the front yard.
Lady whimpered a lot on her innaugural sail. We sailed across Lake Muskegon then motored out to the big lake to sail out there a little. Lady did not care for the Jet Skis around the channel one bit. Extremely hot weather. Doing a few coats of varnish on the toe rail before we go. Used battery 2 again, when we would have tried to use 1 after I charged it yesterday, oh well, be sure and use it next time.

Some thoughts have been running through my head this spring regarding our original motivations for jumping into the 'boating life'. Family health concerns and Keenan entering his teenage years have planted a few seeds of doubt and given me pause to think. Dad's multiple myeloma is now in remission for the time being, but could resurface again in 5-7 years according to the doctor (an average mind you, could be shorter, could be longer). Mom's health is holding steady for the time being, but she's got heart problems that could go south with little prior notice. I don't know how these things will effect our ability to sail off into the sunset, but they are certainly weighing heavily on my mind.

Keenan, with the onset of the 2005 season, seems less and less interested in joining us out on the boat. I really probably should have seen it coming, he's getting to the age where hanging out with the " 'rents " is dullsville to the extreme and the boat doubly so. He'd much rather spend time with his friends, and has spent a lot of our early summer excursions moping around on deck, barely connecting with us, heaving great sighs and sulking. Not really that big of a problem with regards to mine and Terri's future retirement plans, but a bit sad to see his early enthusiasms wane. Compared to girls & friends, I imagine it IS pretty boring. I'd be happy to bring friends of his along for rides, but he just dismisses the suggestion whenever I bring it up. We'll still probably force him along on a few trips, but we may also make a few more trips with just me and Terri while he is occupied elsewhere this summer.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Spring Preparations

April 16 - First visit of the year, to check up on our Winter storage job. Yikes! The tarp is completely shredded and looks as if it barely protected the boat at all over the winter. We cleaned up the tie-downs & and remnants of the tarps and looked the boat over for what needs to be done this spring. The woodwork looks quite bad, I think I'm going to start over again with a varnish technique that I have been reading about in Don Casey's boat books. We installed the batteries ourselves (we had stored them at home all winter this off-season). The keel has quite a few rust spots on her, looks like I'm going to need to sand & prime quite a few areas before we put on the VC-17. Launch is scheduled for May 16th this year.

April 17 - Tim & Terri came by to sand & prime the keel with 'Interprotect 2000' - will return later to bottom paint.

April 30th - Tim Terri & Keenan came by to put the VC-17 on the boat. Used two full quarts and left one in reserve for next year. Word is that they do not keep if you open them up and mix in the copper shavings. Started out overcast and threatened rain, but was sunny by the afternoon and we got the entire job done.

May 7 - Tim & Terri arrived to clean the topsides and on the next day Tim & Keenan came by to seal & wax the awlgrip.

May 16 - The boat was launched sometime this week. We did not come down to supervise this time.

May 26 - Tim & Terri arrived early in the morning to put the sails on. Started to rain but we just got it completed before the rain started in earnest. We had the headsail nearly halfway up, before we realized that we had it on upside down. Now getting a lot of jokes and ribbing from the marina staff, oh well. Another new season of stuff to learn and remember. Tim tied up the outhaul & the reef lines, now he's out in the rain washing the deck, and will be in for a wet ride home. Ready for sailing now.