Thursday, November 11, 2010

Covered for Winter

Went down yesterday to tuck Fanny in for the winter. Went a bit faster than usual this year due to us writing down on the canvas cover which end was 'port', 'starboard' 'bow' and 'stern'. Although we had accidentally threw away the bag of stanchion pads we've been using for years, so we had to cut up a flannel blanket to use as makeshift pads. Beautiful weather for it, sunny and warm, and we both came home with numerous 'boat bites' on our fingers. Brought home the cockpit doors to refinish them over the winter (and maybe make some 'screened doors' for next summer). See you in the spring.

Friday, October 29, 2010

End of the Season

Our plans for getting in some October sailing didn't pan out due to weather and a nasty flu bug that kicked our ass for most of the month. We went out this afternoon to take the sails down. One more trip out in November to put on the canvas boat cover, and make plans for winter projects. I think I'll work on refinishing the door panels and reworking the interior table/cupboard situation, and Terri is talking about perhaps adjusting and cleaning the sail cover.

We talked about maybe taking a full month-long trip on the boat next summer, which will need to incorporate a dinghy of some sort, and it will depend on Tim's music schedule (maybe I can plan a series of 'lakeshore' gigs for one month during that period), and of course, a lot will depend on how finances will be next summer. My original 'five year plan' for moving out 'onto the boat permanently' seems to have fallen by the wayside, and at this point, I'm not really sure what the future brings. I wouldn't mind doing some sailing up around the Beaver Island & Mackinaw archipelagos, and the North shore of Lake Huron, and I'd still like to tackle a 'lake crossing' at some point. Whether that means moving closer to the water, or something even more drastic, only time will tell.

Friday, October 8, 2010

October Fall Sail

Been beautiful fall weather all this week, but since Tim has been down with the flu the past two weeks, there hasn't been much opportunity to go out to the lake. Feeling a little better today (although still not 100%), Terri and Tim drove out for an afternoon sail. The breeze was fairly light when we started out around 2, so we motored over to the marina for a fuel fill up (Terri at the tiller at both the exit from the slip all the way over to the marina), and then we headed out to the big lake to see what the sailing was like.

The swells were pretty large at times, but not unmanageable, and we managed to get probably 4 knots on a beam reach as we headed west/northwest out into the lake. After a while, we turned around and headed back, and the sailing was much more comfortable and fast paced on the return trip, with not having to fight the waves to make forward progress. We also managed to sail all the way down the channel (although the last 100 yards were at a snails pace). Once back on Lake Muskegon, the breezes were pretty steady at about 20 mph, which in Tim's weakened state felt like a bit much to handle, so after a quick reach half way across the lake, we doused the sails and motored back to our slip to call it a day.

Hoping to get one more trip in before taking off the sails for the year.

(battery 1)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sunday Sail

After foiled attempts to go sailing on Friday and Saturday, and the prognosis not looking good for Sunday, we decided to drive out to Muskegon Sunday afternoon to finish up the cradle pads project that we started in the spring, and sail if the weather looked promising.
The waves on the big lake looked bouncy but manageable, and it looked like a lot of folks were enjoying a sail on the little lake, so, after completing the installation of the cradle pads, and a lunch at G&L, we took the boat out for a spin in the late afternoon sunshine. Wind was from the SW at about 10-15 knots, and we had a fun jaunt on Lake Muskegon, back and forth on mostly a beam to close reach, getting some pretty good speeds (about 6.5 knots), and even doing a bit of heeling now and again, much to Terri's chagrin. At one point, we even practiced a 'heave to' maneuver, since we hadn't even tried doing that in several years and wondered if we even remembered how.
The boat is looking awful sad and neglected though. We need to go out and spend a weekend just sprucing her up, working on woodwork, painting and cleaning the interior, washing the decks, etc etc. Looks like we might also need to replace the dock lines, as it looks like we are getting a little chaffing on those rusty metal cleats on the dock.

We also discovered when we got to the boat, that we had left the keys in the ignition the last time we were out here. *Doh*
(battery 2)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Grand Haven

Tried to pack an entire summer's worth of sailing into a single day on Thursday this week. The original plan was to do an overnight sail from Wednesday until Friday afternoon, but the weather gods weren't cooperating, with Small Craft Advisories issued by NOA on Wednesday (although I think he was crying wolf that day), and Friday's outlook looking bad on the other extreme (no wind at all). So we revised our plans, and decided to take a day trip down to Grand Haven in the afternoon, take my mom and her husband out for a sunset sail, and then head back to Muskegon after dark (since we had seen a big harvest moon out the night before, and thought it might be fun to try a night sail with a full moon shining down on us). We decided also, to leave the dog behind, since she might be in the way for a lot of the planned activities.

We left Muskegon around 1, motoring all the way out to the big lake, since it looked as if the light winds were directly down the channel, and hoped that the breeze was a bit fresher out on Lake Michigan. Once out of the channel, we hoisted both sails and took advantage of what little wind there was and headed south for Grand Haven. For the first hour or so, we were going at a pretty slow to medium pace, hovering between 3.5 and 4 knots, but the waves were low and the ride was pretty comfortable, and we were in no big hurry, so we just stretched out and enjoyed the quiet. Hardly any other boats on the lake, being a weekday, and the weather wasn't overbearingly hot either, with blue skies and puffy clouds (which gave us a false sense of security regarding sunscreen, which we would discover later).

Around 2, the breeze started picking up a bit, and the boat took off, and we got in some of the best sailing of the summer, with speeds up around 6.5 at times, with a moderate comfortable heel, and made up for lost time, pulling into Grand Haven sometime around 3:30. We tied up to the seawall this time, instead of the city marina, our first time trying this method, and it seemed to work pretty well. We took a walk into town to browse the shops, and had an ice cream on the way down to the State Park beach. Taking in the scenery and slowly coming to the realization that we had both burned ourselves pretty good on the way down (Terri luckily in long pants and only really burning her face and lower arms, but I had worn shorts and a short sleeved shirt). Down on the beach we stumbled upon a fun 'sand castle' (photo above of the 'beach scenery'), and then walked back to the boat to play a little gin and drink a beer before my Mom and Al showed up around 7.

We offered them the option of a) going out for a sunset cruise and then dropping them back at their car in Grand Haven, or b) riding with us up to Muskegon after dark, where we would then drive them back to their car in our VW, and they opted for b).
Not many clouds out by this time, and the wind had dropped considerably. Wind was directly from the north, so we were only able to sail close hauled on a NW or NE direction, and were only able to get about 3 knots tops (but mostly hovering around 2.5, and then eventually 1). The water was smooth with gentle swells, so again, it was a comfy ride, but not really exciting.
After the sunset (not real dramatic, but nice and orange), we popped on the engine and headed north for Muskegon.

About the time we were even with PJ Hoffmaster State Park, the moon rose in the east, and it was a nice spectacular orange one, and lit up the night dramatically (our previous night sails had been moonless and quite dark), with Venus shining brightly on the opposite horizon. At one point, once the stars had come out, we saw the space station fly overhead (at least that's what we think it was). We got into Muskegon channel around 10ish and tied up by 10:30. Dropped them off at Grand Haven pier, and headed for home, tired and happy.

Summer went way too fast this year. Hopefully the sailing season isn't over and we can find some time to get out in the fall several more times.

(battery 2)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Friday Afternoon Sail

After a long work week, we finally got a chance to go out for a brief evening sail on Friday around 5:30. We hit the water around 6:20. The winds were about 16-17 mph from the south, and it looked like most of the boats out on the water were only using either the headsail or the main alone, so we decided to play it safe and just sail with the headsail today. The waves on the big lake were rumored to be about 2-4 feet, so once we got to the channel entrance, and the wind switched direction to come straight down the channel, we opted to sail around on Lake Muskegon instead of going to the trouble of switching on the engine again. Sailing to the north side of the lake was a piece of cake, getting up to speeds of about 5 knots on a run, but once we started trying sailing on a beam or close reach on the north side of the lake it became a bit more of a chore. We sailed towards the east, skirting the edges of the shallows until we got around by the museum boat across from the green channel marker, where we did a series of coming about maneuvers trying to get back to the less gusty side of the lake. We tacked back and forth across the lake a couple times getting in position to work our way back to the marina, and eventually tied up around eight pm. On the threshhold of being too much wind to be comfortable, we get a little nervous when the boat heels a lot, and we did our fair share of that today, but we'll take what we can get. Flawless exit and entry out of the slip today, and the new kill switch worked like a charm.

(battery 2)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Kill Switch Saga Concluded

Me and Terri drove out to Muskegon this afternoon to finish up the 'kill switch repair' that has been plaguing us for most of the season this year (it originally failed on us last fall, and we've been messing with it off and on since then). The installation of the teak switch cover went quite smoothly and we were able to fix it in place and connect it to the engine with no major problems (aside from forgetting to bring a power drill from home, assuming there was one already on the boat, so we had to run up to Home Depot to pick up one), and it works like a charm.
While we were there we also gave Fannie a much needed deck washing and flushed out the bilges a bit (boy those squished spider guts sure stain the deck and require a lot of elbow grease to clean up). We'll hopefully find some time to get out and actually go sailing next week, since this coming weekend is already pretty packed with activities.

(the photo above is of the completed repair, but before we cleaned the decks)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Kill Switch Continued

Got up this morning and drove out to the boat, with a new scheme for the kill switch problem. My idea was to build a teak cover to go over the two previous holes with a new hole for the swich in between. I thought that if I made the hole just a snug enough fit, that the plastic housing for the cable wouldn't need reinforcing from behind. I also had a plan of driving my 'scheme' down to South Haven to pick the brains of my Dad, the resident mechanical genius in our family. On the drive down from Muskegon to South Haven I also had another brainstorm that I could make the switch cover in such a way that the switch could be angled in an upward direction instead of the 45 degree angle it currently resides in (and frequently gets tripped over in the 'out position').

Turns out my Dad, after inspecting the parts that I brought down to him, had a beautiful and elegantly simple solution that hadn't occurred to me. A small hose clamp tightened on the cable behind the wall, would effectively keep the housing from slipping out and firmly place the apparatus in the hole. I continued with my 'teak cover' solution, along with the 'angled hole' idea, and I also got some help on cleaning up the end of the cable to make it easier to thread into the toggle arm atop the diesel.

While we were there, we also did some building of the cradle pads that we need to replace before haul out. Next, I'll be driving out to Muskegon to install my new switch, and I have every confidence that we will have finally completed a mechanical boat project ourselves, at minimum cost (aside from the driving, gas and labor time) without resorting to calling in the repairmen at Torreson. I feel like celebrating. Now let's get out there on the water this month!

(once I get it installed, I'll be sure and post pictures)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

July 4th Weekend

"We were WONDERING if anyone owned this boat."

A comment the boat slip neighbors made to us as we showed up Saturday evening for a sunset cruise. Completely missed the month of June in getting out on the water. We are still struggling with the 'kill switch' situation. The repairs we tried to make over the last two visits seems to be completely for naught, and my idea of 'filling with epoxy from behind' was a total washout. We did manage to get it hooked up and working (sort of), and took the boat out for a 3 hour evening sail on the big lake, using just our headsail and getting probably about 3 miles offshore and returning back to our slip in the dark (and a good chance to see if our running lights were still working - they were).

Battery 1 - Terri and Candy and Tim along for the ride. Pictures to come (we did get some nice sunset pics this time).

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Kill Switch

Ok, went out to the boat today to see if we A) couldn't try and fix the 'kill switch', and B) try to sail if the weather and permitted time allowed. We stopped at West Marine first to see if we couldn't find a replacement 'kit' that might make our lives easier (a pipe dream as it turned out), but while we were there we did get a lead from a man who was there from 'Lats and Atts' on a supplier for a good boat ladder, so it wasn't a complete waste of time.

Got to the boat and I disassembled the kill switch assembly and took it up to the store to see what we could find to fix it. As we had left it before, we were unable to pull the knob out because it seemed to be glued shut, but oddly enough when I went to demonstrate this fact in the store, it worked just fine, so at this point we started looking around to see if we couldn't just use the existing assembly but find some sort of attachment device to make it work as is. After digging around in the 'spare parts' garage we came across a nut that would fit the grooves on the housing, and picked up a couple of stainless steel washers to help seat it in place. At 55 cents it was proving to be the cheapest boat repair yet, but I was celebrating too soon, as we discovered when we got back to the boat to put it all together.

It turns out the 'hole' for the kill switch goes through a thickness of cored fiberglass just thick enough for the threads to not be sticking through enough to capture the nut that we want to use to hold it in place (I think in the past, before it broke, it was just glued in place). We weighed our options -- either drilling another hole somewhere else to mount the switch where the fiberglass isn't so thick, or trying to use a dremel tool to dig out the backside of the existing hole so that it could accomodate the washers and nut we bought. I didn't like the idea of drilling new holes in the boat, so after Terri found that she could get around to the backside of the hole through the sail locker, we decided to come back later and dig out the hole a bit to see if we couldn't fix it that way.

A couple boats out on the water, but by the time we finished monkeying around with the repairs it was getting too late, so we opted out of sailing today after all, and contented ourselves with the fact that we had gone out to visit the boat after the recent storms, and she seems none the worse for wear. Been a long time between sails so far this year, thanks to busy schedules and a couple of big work projects, hopefully next month will be better.

UPDATE: JUNE 29: Went back to work on the switch again, spent a lot of time in the sail locker with the dremel tool and goggles and facemask trying to open up the back side of the switch hole, and when we finally got it big enough to fit the nut in, it turned out that it didn't fit the switch quite as snugly as we thought, and so we ended up setting it in there with some bondo and we plan on going back with some strong epoxy to pack in from the backside to help hold it in place (man I hate half assed improvised fixes, but what else are we gonna do? we can't seem to find a replacement for this part) -- anyways, while Terri was down in the sail locker, she noticed that the hose that should attach from the engine cooling system to the overflow tank was broken off. We aren't sure if it has always been that way, or if perhaps we kicked it while working down there this afternoon, but it might explain why the engine was overheating last summer and why we keep seeing a little bit of coolant in the bilge. So we fixed that problem at least. Maybe going back later in the week to finish up our switch repair, and if things work out all right, maybe go sailing later in the week (another beautiful looking day on the lake this afternoon)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day Sail

Drove down to South Haven on Saturday to take in a 'Vintage Baseball Game' that my brother in law Alex was playing in, and it was played right at the park on the bluff by the South Haven beach, so I was tantalized by all the sailboats out on the water all during the game, and when I mentioned to Terri and Keenan that I really wanted to get out on the lake, they surprised me by suggesting we go out the next day.

We got out to the boat by around 1 on Sunday, and the weather was looking beautiful. Blue skies, hot and sunny with a steady 10 mph wind from the south. I almost wussed out when I discovered the 'engine kill switch' was inoperable (it looks as though the boat yard 'tried' to fix at launch, but ended up merely cementing the thing together and ruining it for good), but after some debate, we figured we could still kill the engine manually, and as it was, it really wasn't all that big of a problem (just took a little more foresight in delegating tasks for the crew).

A perfect exit from the slip, and then once out in the water, we raised the headsail for the trip over to the channel, but the flukey winds coming through the channel didn't allow us to sail it out, so we flipped the engine back on until we reached the big lake. Lots and lots of sailboats out on Lake Michigan today, and the wind was a little less than it was on Lake Muskegon, but once we got both sails up and adjusted, we had a beautiful calm sail on a close reach straight west from the channel.
I stated a goal of sailing until we were the furthest boat out into the lake, but once we got about 5 or so miles from shore, the wind started dying a bit, and with the dying of the wind, the flies started coming out, so we ended up turning around once we were one of the 5 furthest out. The ride back was a little more brisk once we caught the wind again, and we got to watch the Lake Express Ferry come from behind us and beat us to the channel, and then once we reached the channel, we were able to sail all the way through to Lake Muskegon (although the wind died a bit near the end and we were reduced to a snails pace for a while).

Keenan took over the tiller once we were in Lake Muskegon and he managed to get us to our top speeds of the day (according to the physical knot meter, which is rarely accurate, he got up to about 6 knots, which makes me think we were closer to 7 or 8) and got in a bit of the old exciting 'heeling' which he seems to enjoy. Once we got back near the marina, we flaked and hauled in the headsail and motored back to our slip for a neat and tidy return home. A beautiful day on the water, and now to see about getting that 'kill switch' taken care of.

(battery 1)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Early Heat Wave

This week we got an early dose of summer temperatures, and on Sunday I wasted a perfectly good sailing day by taking a road trip up to Ludington instead to go house hunting and by the time we swung back by Muskegon, it was getting late and we were very tired from a long day in the car. We did see a sailboat cruising around Pentwater Lake when we drove through that town, and the winds were very favorable that afternoon, but the gusty winds would have made putting on the headsail a bit problematic we thought.

The next day, Monday, we headed down there for a possible Sunset cruise after dinner, but the winds today were so nonexistent that the lake was like a sheet of glass, which made putting the headsail on quite easy this year. We decided to instead drive down to the lake and take a long walk on the beach to cool off (temperatures in the 90s today).

Been watching the conditions, but while the temperatures have been unseasonably warm this week, the winds have been dead calm. Maybe we'll be able to take a cruise later in the week once I get more caught up on work here at the office.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

In the Water

Boat got launched on Thursday the 13th and we came out on Saturday the 15th to check the mooring lines and put on the sails. The weather looked promising when we left, hardly any breeze to speak of and sunny and beautiful, but by the time we got to Muskegon, the skies were overcast and the wind had picked up considerably. We managed to get the main on but we decided to wait on the headsail for a day with less wind.
There were several boats out on the water on both Lake Muskegon and Lake Michigan but we decided against taking her out. We also tracked down our cradle because we were informed by Torreson that the pads on the cradle had disintegrated and we would need to replace them. We grabbed a couple of them for template purposes and took them home to build some new ones.
We also managed to remember to put our registration stickers on this time, so we can avoid a ticket like we got two years ago.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Painted the bottom with VC17 today - the usual 3 cans (2 isn't enough, and 3 is almost too much). Very windy and chilly out there today. Need to come out one more time before launch to clean the topsides and wax and buff, and perhaps straighten up the inside a bit. Getting close to launch date in a few weeks.

May 1 - Came out for a few hours and worked on the interior -- pulled out the rest of the ceiling in the quarter berth, cleaned up the mess that I had made, straightened up the overall clutter inside and fixed a few broken moldings here and there. Still need to come out and wash the topsides and seal up the leaks inside next week.

May 6 - Came out and reattached the two stanchions -- Terri got a book on correctly fixing those leaks which it looks like we'll have to work on this summer while the boat is in the water. I washed up the topsides, but didn't get around to waxing and buffing this year (the sides look a little streaky, but oh well, at least the green gunk is washed off). Boat goes in the water next week. Once again forgot to bring out the new registration stickers -- no sailing without them this time, don't want another ticket.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Makin' a Mess

Went out today to reconnect the scupper plumbing, and, like any plumbing project, it took two trips to the store to successfully complete. I first picked up the proper tubing from West Marine, and after wrestling with the connections for a couple hours, came to the conclusion that I had the wrong size 'connectors', which would explain why the whole thing was so difficult to disconnect in the first place. So another trip to West Marine to pick up the proper size "L" and "T" joints, which made the whole thing much easier to put together. I adjusted the angles of the drainage system so that the water should flow much easier.
While I was in there, I took down the ceiling to the quarter berth, which last time, we discovered was a waterlogged piece of plywood. This made quite the mess, which I am content to clean up on our next visit. I also picked up three cans of VC-17 for our next scheduled maintenance project, painting the bottom.
Cold and windy out at the lake today, but there were a few sailboats actually out on the water, and more boats in their slips than last time. Getting closer.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spring into Action

Went down on wednesday with Terri to take the cover off the boat. Went pretty fast this time around. One little glitch though, I got all the way to G&L before I realized that I had left the key to the ladder padlock at home when I grabbed the wrong keyring (drove over in the Cruiser this time, which I don't have a key for on my regular ring). So rather than give up and go home, and since our old wooden ladder is getting pretty old and rickety, we bought a nice folding ladder at Home Depot to finish up the job. The keys to the boat were also on that other keyring, so we didn't end up going inside at any point in the afternoon, but there was really no need at this point.
Beautiful afternoon, and Torreson is starting to put the mooring balls out in the mooring field, and it also looks as if they are working on some dockage remodeling projects (not sure if we'll end up with a new dock this season, but it would be sweet if it were true). With new docks, and new showers and bathrooms, this place is almost starting to get swanky, we may not be able to afford docking here much longer (what's next, a hot tub and swimming pool?).
Anyhow, a cursory inspection of the hull shows that I may need to do some minimal sanding and slapping on a bit of Innerprotect on a few spots on the hull and keel. I planned on repainting the bottom with VC-17 this season, since I skipped last year on the advice of an old 'boatyard neighbor' a couple years ago who said I only needed to do it every three years or so.
Also, the usual springtime washing and waxing and buffing of the topsides. A couple other items on the wish list and 'work list' this spring. Need to clear out the port stern scupper which got clogged last year, which will involve taking it apart since I can't get the rotorooter through it. Looking at the main halyard and some chaffing I've noticed near the spreaders might mean we should look into replacing that line (and maybe rethink how it comes down the mast to avoid that in the future). I'd like to replace the throwable lifebuoy, as the one we've got is starting to look pretty crappy (and who knows if it still floats, as old as it is). And of course, the continuing battle with the brightwork on deck. I'm thinking of continuing with my sanding and just let most of it go grey as bare wood, as I've not been able to keep up with the varnish or the teak oil (then maybe just varnish the door panels and the tiller). Last year it was recommended that we replace the spreaders, but I'm not sure if we'll be able to swing that expense and it may get put off another year.

Looking forward to launch date around May 10, which means I've got about 3 weekends to get her ready.