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.