Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tucked Away for Winter

Went out today to put the cover on the boat. Also took off the tiller, the handrails and the door panels to refinish over the winter. Will wait for spring to tackle the toerail and the bow cleat guides. On the way home we took a look at Great Lakes Marina for possibly mooring our boat next summer. Nice looking docks, plus much nicer amenities. We'll have to see how things are looking in a couple months, finance wise (plus we're also doing some shopping around for other marinas in Muskegon, Grand Haven, Holland and Whitehall).

Monday, October 10, 2011

Last Sail of the Year


A beautiful weekend, sunny, warm, with the fall colors in full bloom. Unfortunately, though, the wind was almost nonexistent. On Saturday, we opted for a long bike ride instead of a sail (which Terri still hasn't forgiven me for), but then on Sunday, we decided to drive out to Muskegon, and a) sail if we could b) go out to the beach if we couldn't and c) in any case, take off the sails, since the boat is scheduled for haul out in the next few weeks.
We got out there and saw several other boats out on the water, so we decided to give it a go. Once we got to the boat, however, we noticed that the last wind storm had once again beat up the boat pretty badly in this new slip. More damage to the teak work on the port side, extra lines tied up here and there on the boat, and it looks like the ones that were there were tightened up by someone (thanks to whomever it was who was keeping an eye out for us this year), and the anchor had obviously ran into the front of the slip at one point and got knocked off into the water. The tiller, which we had neglected to tie down had bumped and scraped against the cockpit seat to the point where it sustained some damage. We tidied up as best we could, threw off her lines and headed out to the lake.

Not much wind on Lake Muskegon, so we headed out to Lake Michigan under power. Once out there, we hoisted both sails, and sailed for about a half an hour or so, with Terri coaxing us up to our top speed of about 2 knots. Watched the ferry go out, and then when the wind had decided to die down to nothing, turned around and motored back home.
Sails came off without a hitch, and we did our best to tie up the boat for the remaining two weeks she'll have to survive in this 'slip of doom'. Next year looking into a slip at Harbortown or one of the other marinas nearby. Not going to put up with this nonsense for another year.
Not a good year for sailing. Am determined to do some major repair work this winter, repair all the damage that the slip did, and start fresh in 2012. I'm not throwing in the towel just yet.
Once I get the pictures off the camera, I'll post a few. Terri took several of the 'damage' variety yesterday evening that I'd like to catalog.




Sunday, September 25, 2011

Weekend Abort


We had grand plans for taking the boat out for an extended weekend, but we both came down with colds on Thursday, and the weatherman didn't cooperate with us and doled out a rather wet cold series of days. Nevertheless, we decided to take advantage of a brief window of sunshine on Saturday and headed out for an afternoon sail. The wind didn't look promising, but there was a slight breeze, and we thought we might be able to pick up a little better breeze out on the big lake, so we quickly untied and headed out. We motored all the way out, stopping for a fuel up at harbortown, and once we got out on Lake Michigan headed north on a close reach (wind was out of the Northwest). We only went a short distance north because the tack was so uncomfortable, and we seemed to be heading closer and closer to shore, so I headed due west on a close reach instead, where we stayed for most of the afternoon. The weather was very strange, drizzling rain one minute, sunshine the next, with fog to the north, and dark storm clouds and rain to the south. After a while, I began to think to myself that it would be good conditions to see a rainbow somewhere out here, and sure enough, looking back at the channel we could see a double bow arching over the channel, with one end of it hitting the lighthouse. Terri was a bit disappointed, because she had opted to leave the good camera at home, so we had to make due with the cell phone for the shot above.
We got pretty good speed on a minimum of wind that afternoon, and eventually turned to the south on a run so we could prepare for a comfortable beam reach back to the channel, but by the time we made the turn back for home, the storm clouds to the south were intensifying, and occasional peals of thunder were making us a little nervous, so we turned on the engine and motorsailed back, eventually dousing the headsail as the winds picked up.
By the time we were in the channel, the rain had started in earnest, and Terri and Lady spent a great deal of the time down below keeping dry while I put on the rain slicker that we got from the Kroes' two years previous. Once back in Lake Muskegon, we shut down the engine and drifted so we could put away the main sail (raining pretty hard at this point, and we got soaked to the skin), and with the lightning flashing more and more often, it was a little nerve wracking. Back to the marina, tied up in a hurry and scurried to our car for a damp ride home (after a quick dinner at Russ' with some hot coffee). The rest of the weekend is looking pretty nasty, maybe we can get out one more time in October, before haul out.
(battery 2)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Lake Muskegon September Sail


Well it's a day like today that makes all the headaches from the rest of the year worth it. Got a call on Friday that our diesel was repaired, so we planned on going out on Sunday, weather permitting. Woke up Sunday morning with the radio telling us that wind gusts were up to 30 mph and the waves were 5-8 ft, which put a damper on our enthusiasm, but when I went out to check the weather.com site and the noa near shore forcast, there was nothing of the sort posted at either site. Just looking out the window made me wonder if there was any wind at all out there, dead calm and sunny. We decided to take a chance and headed out after our sunday morning rituals (newspaper and coffee and sitting around the front porch).

We got there around 1ish, and swung by the big lake to check the conditions before heading to the marina. Lake Michigan was covered in a dense fog (you couldn't even see the shoreline from the road), and there seemed to be a brisk wind (though not 30 mph gusts by any stretch of the imagination). Once we were over the dunes, and back to the marina, there was clear blue skies, a light but steady breeze, and many many boats out on Lake Muskegon. We decided to join them.

Did a little maintenance and straightening up below before leaving (the engine kill switch has still been giving us troubles this year and I wanted to address the problem before we left). We exited the slip in a rather undignified manner, but turned ourselves around and headed out to the lake, where we raised both sails and spent the next two hours tacking back and forth across Lake Muskegon with what we counted as 52 other sailboats that afternoon. Some good speed (never bothered to break out the GPS today, but I'm guessing we were probably doing a steady 5 or 6 knots most of the day based on the heel and the bow waves we were kicking up). It was Lady's first trip out all year, and she got a little whiney, but mostly just rested on the cushions all afternoon, looking for shade. Originally, I planned on sailing to the far end of Lake Muskegon, so we headed east past the Great Lakes Marina to about the point of the 'green marker island', but then decided to stay in the main part of the lake instead, because it was becoming clear that a sail downtown would require a 'run' down there and an uncomfortable series of 'beats' and short tacks to get back. We ended up tacking back and forth on Lake Muskegon about 3 times before dousing the sails and heading back to our slip. A beautiful day, and not a single mechanical mishap (a first for the year). Hoping to still get out for at least one overnight sail this year (Terri's going to take off a couple of Mondays this month and next so we can take an extended weekend).

(battery one)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fixed

Got a call today from Torresen Marine's Repair shop and the diesel has been fixed. We might try to get out this weekend. Turns out that the screw that normally resides in the 'fuel line bleed point' worked itself loose and came out, resulting in the problems we had on our aborted sunset cruise last month. And we've been waiting for 'parts on order' (this would be the screw and washer) for almost but not quite a month.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cleaning

Never did get back to that salesman at Torresen's about the interest in our boat. I was surprised at my reaction, which was relief and happiness at first, but then a gradual creeping dread at the whole idea. As much trouble as this boat has seemed this year, due to our deteriorating financial situation, and total lack of free time to enjoy the boat, on top of the mounting physical deterioration of the boat and the punishment it has taken in this horrible boat slip, I'm still pretty attached to it, and hold out hope that it will get more use by us in the future. I'd hate to give it up without ever having realized my goals of sailing north to the Manitou islands, or to taking it across the lake to Chicago or Wisconsin.

Anyhow, on Saturday we drove out to see if the engine had been repaired yet, and hopefully get in a sail if the weather was nice. The weather WAS beautiful, and there were a lot of boats out on the water, but we had a note from the repair shop telling us that parts were on order and that we weren't to start the engine. We consoled ourselves with giving the boat a thorough cleaning inside and out. (the head and v berth were suffering from a severe case of mildew), and we cleaned up all the spilt fuel beneath the engine and in the bilge. I left a note for the repairman asking if he could give us a call when he completes the work and perhaps let us know what the problem with the engine was. We both came home rather tired and wore out, and with lots of fresh 'boat bites' on our fingers and knees.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Phone Call

Got an interesting phone call from Torresen today. I originally thought it was going to be something about our diesel engine, but it turns out that the original owners of our Chris Craft Cherokee are interested in buying our boat. I'm a bit conflicted. The idea had crossed my mind more than once this year, what with the growing difficulties we've been having in keeping up with the maintenance and care of this boat, and with the problems we've been having in finding time to actually go sailing what with conflicting schedules and the rising price of gas for the car in making the one hour trip out to the marina. But on the other hand, I have a lot of good memories with this boat, and I've grown quite fond of her. I'm both relieved and saddened in about equal measure, and am not sure how to proceed. More on this later.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Brief Aborted Sunset Cruise

Invited my music partner Nate and his wife Beverly out for a sunset cruise on Tuesday evening. Me and Terri got there a little early to try and tidy up the boat a bit before they got there (this being Fanny's third visit of the year so far, and her first bath). Terri checked the oil, and we cast off all the lines and as we were backing out of our slip, the diesel engine started revving up uncontrollably for a brief spell. I quickly put it in neutral and it seemed to stop, then when I put it in reverse again, it revved up another time. I tried the forward gear, and it seemed to work fine from that point, the only thing we noticed wrong was that there seemed to be smoke coming out of the exhaust. Terri went below to check the engine, and there was diesel spraying out of the bleed access point (not good), and quite a bit of diesel in the holding pan below the engine. We shut down and drifted for a while to take a look at the engine, eventually deciding to plug the hole anyway we could, and putting up the sails.
There wasn't a heck of a lot of breeze on the lake, maybe 5-8 knots, but we did a short sail with just the headsail out into Lake Muskegon, but then I became concerned with the possible situation of what would happen if the breeze died down to nothing and we'd end up stranded out on the lake without an engine. I decided to turn back towards the marina and attempt to sail into our slip (the first time we've tried this particular maneuver). It took several tacks, being in a windward direction, but we eventually made our way into the slip, tied up, and drove out to the beach for our picnic repast of fruit wine and cheese. Nice sunset, and too bad we were too distracted to take any photos.

Called up Torresen's repair department this morning, and awaiting new$. I still smell like diesel fuel this morning. Lawnmower repair, bicycle repair, and now boat repair, been a heck of a week, and it's only wednesday.

(battery 2)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tacking Practice


A heat wave has descended on the midwest, and we've been experiencing temps in the high nineties all week, so me and Terri escaped out to the boat to cool down on a rare schedule-free Wednesday afternoon (Terri starts her new job on Monday, so midweek sails will have to be confined to sunset cruises for the foreseeable future). A little nervous about the engine after our last outing, but we kept an eye on her temperature gauges all afternoon, and she seemed perfectly fine. Lake Muskegon seemed a bit choppy and gusty (and still pretty damned hot), so we decided to wring out the engine and motor out to the big lake in search of cooler temperatures.
Out on Lake Michigan the breeze was steady from the southwest at about 15 knots, with waves about 2 to 3 feet from the same direction. We set up for a beam reach and headed out into the lake at a steady 5-6 knot speed. Fairly comfortable sailing, with an occasional big wave to keep the thrill level high enough. Very hazy conditions today, and not very many other boats on the water. On our way out, we noticed another sailboat on the return trip, and I was marveling at how close hauled they were, heeled way over, and seemingly struggling to find a good tack (and I should have seen it as a warning).
We didn't quite make the same distance outbound that we did on our last sail, but turned around after about an hour (maybe 4 and a half miles out?). The return tack was a bit more difficult, with the wind and waves conspiring to push us northward off our course, and we ended up tacking back and forth 3 times (and taking twice the time to return at a much reduced speed) to get back to the channel. Close hauled, and sometimes heeling over enough to cause a squawk of alarm from Terri. We also had to avoid close encounters with both the sightseeing boat out for a dinner cruise, and the Lake Express Ferry both returning to and leaving from the channel (when it was leaving I had a jolt of adrenaline as it looked like we were right in the way of their intended path - but they managed to avoid us, and I quick snapped a picture with our cell phone -- and it felt a lot closer than it looks here).
We made some record speeds down the channel under sail, at least as far as the submarine dock, when the wind died and we ended up motoring the rest of the way back to our slip. A minor mishap on the way across Lake Muskegon, when we were adjusting the headsail furling, and one of the headsail sheets came unshackled (I had visions of the same problem we ran into in the Virgin Islands, with the sheet wrapping around the prop), but we managed to cut the engine in time and retrieve the line. Nice re-entry into the slip this time, and after a few minor repairs we were on our way to enjoy a very hot and sweaty hour or two at the Berlin County Fair, seeing a friend's band play, and checking out the livestock.

(battery one)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sailing ... at long last


A beautiful day, and after Terri got back from her 'marketing seminar' we drove out to Muskegon to try our first time taking the boat out of her new slip. Got there around 5ish, and managed to untangle the web of security lines that Fanny's been draped with since her last run-in with this 'dock of doom', and the engine started up on the first try, and we got her out of her berth in almost a dignified fashion. Thought I'd wring out the engine a bit after a long winter, so I motored all the way out to Lake Michigan before hoisting the sails. Once out on the lake, the sails went up smoothly, and we had a beautiful westerly sail for about three hours on the big lake, about 8 miles out, and back again, with our top speed registering at 6.5 knots, but mostly hanging around 5 knots on average.
When we got a long ways out, I got curious to see how far we'd come, so I had Terri try and plot our position using the GPS coordinates and our old beat up chart. We had just passed a buoy, which we guessed might be the '5 mile' marker, but Terri's estimates only put us as 3 miles out. But just before we turned around to head back, I had her write down the coordinates again, so I could check it with 'Google Maps' when we got home. Turns out we were about 8 miles out, which makes more sense considering our speed and time on the water, dead-reckoning-wise.
Sights of note: A blimp that was circling the beach and Muskegon, we're guessing for the waterfront festival or something, and there was a flotilla of about 30 boats that looked like they were doing a gathering of some sort outside of the channel, and then, en-masse headed west around sunset (maybe safety in numbers for crossing the big lake? maybe we ought to look into that sort of thing ourselves for our first crossing).
On the way back in, we managed to sail about halfway down the channel before the wind cut out, so we doused the sails and turned on the motor. Almost to the end of the channel and the engine overheating signal came on. Killed the engine and tried sailing again, but the wind had died to complete dead calm conditions. We then went into our 'engine overheat play book' and tried every solution we could think of: checking the filter, checking the coolant, and I was close to taking apart the impeller. We tried turning on the engine again, and it overheated after travelling about another 500 yards, so we turned it off again and tried a few other solutions. After the third time, it seemed to fix itself, and went back to its normal temperature readings and was fine the rest of the way back to the slip, where we had an another semi-dignified docking maneuver.
I can only guess that maybe we had something stuck to the outside intake entrance that was stopping the water from coming into the engine, and it worked itself loose on its own, or maybe there was something fouling the prop and causing undue strain on the engine. But I don't feel like calling Torreson and paying another service charge for them to tell me that there is nothing wrong with the engine again (we had a similar problem last year). But at least we aren't completely in the dark about the situation, which we would have been four years ago.

All in all, a nice day on the water, hopefully we can get out and do it again soon.

(battery 2)

Our 'turn around' position according to Google Maps:

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Storm Damage

Well I actually said the words out loud today. "I wonder if ought to maybe just put the boat up for sale."

Went out there today to maybe sail if the conditions were favorable. A bit too choppy and windy, and it looked like the boats out on the water were few and far between, and the ones that were out there looked like they were struggling.
Meanwhile, we had a situation to take care of as far as the docklines were concerned. A couple extreme wind and tornado storms had come through in the past few weeks, and with our new slip and way it is situated with our stern hanging out open to the elements, and two snug old beat up docks on either side of us, it looked as if our boat had bounced around quite a bit in the slip, breaking two of the forward cleat guides (and the teak beneath them), some rubbing damage on the starboard side, and tearing apart a two foot section of the port side toerail. Some nice person had tried to tie up emergency dock lines all over the boat, so that it resembled a spiderweb when we first got there (thanks to them, or to the marina employees, in the unlikely event it was one of them who had done it). We spent most of the afternoon tying up new dock line arrangements, and trying to utilize some swimming noodles to minimize the amount of chafe.

It seems lately that we spend more time being guilty for not being able to get away from our at home responsibilities enough to actually go out and use the boat, and every time we go out there, the pile of maintenance issues seems to get higher and higher. The way our finances have been lately, it just seems like an added expense and obligation that we really can't afford anymore. The whole thing just has me depressed, lately.

I need to schedule some time to go out and spend a day or two just repairing things. It looks like there's a problem with the engine stop switch again, and I'll need to remove some of the toerail and refashion some replacement teak parts, and replace a few of the cleat hardware pieces.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sails on

Saturday, Bud and I drove out to Muskegon to put the sails on for the season. First impressions of the 'new slip' are that it looks a lot skinnier than the old one, and the docks themselves are quite wobbly (they seem ok as long as you don't move too quickly and set them in motion). Some of the dock lines were already chafing from the way the marina had tied it up, so I did some minor adjustments. The main sail went on without a hitch, but as usual, the headsail ended up being the one to give us the most trouble. Mostly a matter of trying to slide the edge of the sail into the groove on the furling forestay. The edges are getting quite frayed and worn, and it doesn't quite want to go in without a lot of cussing and monkeying around with it.
There were other boats out on the water, but by the time we got the sails on, the weather was quickly deteriorating, and we managed to get everything tucked away before the raindrops started. Hopefully, we can get out to sail this following weekend, but it might not be until after memorial day and festival weekend wind down.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Two Weeks to Launch

Crunch time, and we haven't had a chance to go out to the boat until this weekend, where we managed to get the topsides washed and polished, and delivered several items of gear back onto the boat from where it had been living in our garage the past winter. I'm hoping to get out next week/weekend and do some work on the brightwork, but it may end up having to wait until we're in the water. The marina is still looking like a 'work in progress', but hopefully it will be less of a mess in a few weeks when we are scheduled for launch.

(oh, and while going through our 'boat gear' in the garage, I located the 'stanchion pads' that I had thought previously lost, so we'll have some extras for next year)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Spring Thaw

Went down on a sunny Saturday afternoon to take the cover off the boat, and do a recon for whatever repairs, cleaning and spring chores might need to be done before launching in May. Not sure if we're going to paint the bottom this year, although there are a few rust spots on the keel. Looks like we're going to need to do some cosmetic work to the brightwork this season, it is looking mighty sad. We'll be moving to a new slip this year, since Torreson did a complete overhaul of the marina. We'll be over on the east side of the parking lot. We took a drive over to take a peek at the new slip (the dock feels a bit shaky, and we'll have to relearn our docking maneuvers it looks like. Should be interesting.