the adventures of a girl, her dog, and two cats.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

all wrapped up

Mike and Jen helping fix the inside-out jib.
A little over a week ago I was planning a nice day cruise with friends. It would have to be shorter than usual due to the need to time the tides, and no one would want to go swimming in the 60 degree water, but it would still be a nice, crisp, sunny day for a sail. A lot of preparation was needed to get the boat ready to go, both because of loose items on deck and inside, and because the roller furler for the jib still needed to be rationalized. Mike, Jen, and I spent a good three hours getting her ready to go. I'd had a couple of experienced sailors not get the jib set up quite right, so we needed to unfurl it and figure out how to get the line to furl it in the right direction. It had kept wrapping inside-out. My jib has a wide blue border which when the sail is furled provides UV protection to extend the life of the sail. We needed to get enough line wrapped on the furling drum and then have the drum spin in the correct direction so that the cover would be on the outside. A few times unfurling and furling the jib and Jen used her geometry skills to figure it out for us. She may not be a sailor (yet), but she's smart and determined, which is exactly what we needed to fix the problem.

I had realized in an "a-ha!" moment back in September that the reason the jib wasn't trimming properly to sail upwind was that we were using the wrong blocks for the jib sheets. Prior trips out the jib sheets had been run through turning blocks just aft of the winches in the cockpit. To get a tighter angle on the sail to head upwind, we needed to first run the sheets through blocks farther forward. Those blocks have been shackled to some anchor chain up at the bow, likely for safe keeping when the prior owners traded her in. We shackled those blocks to cars on the jib tracks that run along the top of the toe rail on either side of the boat. I've heard that I can get horn cleats that will run on the jib track, which would be much easier for tying my spring lines rather than running the (very long) spring lines through the cars. I would also like to add cam cleats inside the cockpit below the winches as they will be easier for me to manage when singlehanding. The wish list never stops growing it seems.

The dinghy dock high and dry.
With the sails in order we secured the pets below and started the engine. In the cold fall weather it took a few tries to get her to turn over. In the summer she always started on the first go. Diesels just don't like the cold it seems. But we got her running. A couple of hours before high tide the depth sounder said 5 feet. I draw almost five, and the depth alarm beeps incessantly at 5.2 and below. We were now at high tide but when I turned the depth sounder back on we were in 4.4 feet of water. Three days of steady NW winds were blowing water out of the bay, so although the tide was coming in, the water level had continued to fall. We tried pulling her out of the slip on the lines. I tried gunning the engine, which probably just dug us deeper into the mud. After all that preparation, the sails finally in order, our day sail was hard aground. I repeatedly apologized to Mike and Jen but they were great sports and we just hung out in the cockpit and had drinks before strolling down to the pub for a late lunch.

The trip out wasn't only going to be a pleasure cruise, however. The harbormaster's pump out boat has been out of service awaiting a part and my holding tank was full. I also had no idea how much fuel was in the tank and it is best to keep the tank full over the winter to minimize condensation. I do have facilities at my marina and they are not far from my slip, but trust me when I tell you it isn't ideal to have to bundle up, climb up on the pier during a low tide, and run to the head at 3AM. Add rain or snow to the mix and it's even less fun. With the tank full that also means there is sewage sitting in the hoses; over time it will permeate the hose and make the boat very stinky. So, getting over to the fuel dock for a pump out was a priority.

My furry crew can't seem to handle a boat hook.
Midweek I popped by the pub for lunch to see if I might find someone willing to take a little cruise across the creek with me. I probably can handle taking her over by myself just fine, but because my docking situation is a little tight I am more comfortable having someone to help fend me off other boats or pilings while docking. I didn't manage to find anyone at lunchtime but went back about 3PM (circa high tide and the beginning of happy hour). The guy I asked for help initially chided me that I should be able to do it myself without help, but when I mentioned I had a cooler of beer aboard he agreed to come along for the ride. He's an old salt and knows his stuff, so he barked at me a bit for being trepidatious around other boats. He did give me some good tips though to keep moving between gears in short bursts to kick the boat in one direction or another and keep good control over her while docking or waiting to approach the fuel dock. I was surprised to only take 7.4 gallons of fuel. I put some cetane enhancer in before filling her up, but wish I had had stabilizer to add. Now I have the stabilizer, but might need to use up a little fuel to make room for it in the tank. This winter I really have to be diligent about starting the engine once a week to keep her happier, especially if I will have to take her out to find pump out facilities. The harbormaster's office said they will run the pump out boat on Saturdays through the winter, but I'm not exactly holding my breath since they don't even have the boat running at all right now.

My huge, sturdy, lightweight IKEA bag is great for laundry.
After the little cruise across the creek I resigned myself to an evening of laundry. There is free parking at one of the local laundromats, but that one is definitely the kind of place I worry about someone stealing something. Although parking is a nightmare downtown, I still head to the laundromat on Maryland Avenue, which is clean, uncrowded, and I don't worry as much about someone stealing my panties. Although Galway Bay is a pricey watering hole, it is directly across the street from the laundromat so I generally have a pint there and just run across the street to put items in the dryer et cetera. I managed to knock out three loads of laundry in an hour and only drink one pint of Magner's Cider. When I first walked into Galway, a guy stopped me and asked "Was that your plan all along?" I looked at him quizzically. "Was it your plan to put your laundry in and then come here and drink while you wait?" he asked. They seemed to think that was a humorous, but sound, strategy. It does make the whole laundry day experience a little more pleasant, though I would still prefer to have laundry right at my marina.

I tried to get the dog to dress up for Halloween but she wanted nothing to do with it. Myself, I was a corpse bride. I think next year I will wear the gown but have day of the dead makeup. It'd be really nice to have a whole group in that theme or at least have a skeleton groom to complement my costume. The party at Davis' was fun and then I met up with friends for dinner at Vin 909. I had to work the next morning, so I couldn't make it a late night, but it was certainly better than last Halloween.

Winter aboard is here in full force. I definitely need to add a heated mattress pad for the v-berth. The oil-filled radiator is warm, but even with a couple of fans going I am not getting the heat evenly circulated throughout the boat and the salon remains much warmer--perhaps by ten degrees--than the stateroom. I don't really mind bundling up to sleep with flannels, thick socks, a sweatshirt, and hat, but that isn't exactly a sexy nightie and it isn't exactly romantic when an overnight guest is shivering. Now you know the secret to my youthful appearance: the meat-locker temperature of the stateroom is like being cryogenically preserved every night. Just kidding... it's that 45+ sunblock, being a non-smoker, chipmunk cheeks, and being young at heart.

Perhaps the mattress pad should be a reward if I ever manage to clean up the interior of the boat! I have had her in a pretty good state at points, but the last flurry of cleaning and organizing was interrupted half-way, so now piles of clothes, kitchenware, and tools are stacked in every available space. I pulled everything out so I could clean and organize storage lockers, but now I am just buried under stuff. Then came moving out of the office, so more stuff came aboard and my car is packed to the brim. I need to get groceries today but there is no where in the car to put a 30 lb. bag of dog food much less any of the other groceries. I have sold, thrown away, or given away probably 90% of my worldly possessions, but let's face it: I still have too much stuff!

I have been storing pots, pans, and food in the cubbies behind the settee and the dinette but am now rethinking that approach. Because dog hair seems to get everywhere in the boat (sigh), I end up having to re-wash all the items stored in those cubbies before I can use them. I also cannot use all the space in those cubbies because I need clearance to lift pots and pans in and out. I am considering using one of the cabinets that currently houses clothes and shoes for the pots and pans, and storing off-season clothing and extra bedding and towels in the cubbies. Then I can fill them all the way up and they will act as insulation against the hull. The problem is those cubbies are prone to terrible condensation because they are against the hull, though it is not as bad now that they are all lined with Reflectix insulation. So, if I put soft goods there instead of pans I have to protect them from the moisture lest they be soaking wet and moldy. I may get oodles of zip-lock bags and/or space bags so items will stay dry. I just have to buckle down, find a few days I can set aside, and tackle the organizing head on. I need to get to it before too long so I can have friends over for cozy dinners aboard and "special cocoa" with peppermint schnapps and baby marshmallows.

I'll leave you with this: Max thinks the top of the dodger is a groovy hammock. Silly cat.


  1. Nice photos! You know, everyone has trouble winding up the rolling furled jib the first few times, me included.

  2. Thanks, Phil! It's good to know it's not just me! I think perhaps I'm hard on myself when there are plenty of more seasoned sailors who still sail by the seat of their pants and make it up as they go. I should probably cut myself a little slack.

  3. At least your roller jib is attached...mine is in the storage locker under the starboard berth/seat. I still haven't braved enough to even open it up and look at it. Prior owner said it was in good condition, but who knows. And I don't even know how to install it.

    Stay warm!



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