Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Daggerboard Painting

I received the new daggerboard Friday but didn't get a chance to begin work until Monday night.  With the boat staying in the water, I needed to put some anti-fouling paint on it to prevent marine growth.  The board is 69.5" long.  I figured getting the bottom 3' covered in paint would be a good start.  I routinely leave anywhere from 6" - 12" of board protruding when I navigate the canals.  That plus the 18" draft still leaves me an additional 6" of paint should I do something silly like not raise the board high enough.

 Taped off at the 3 foot mark, I used a half full 5 gallon bucket of paint to weigh down one end while I worked on the other. I sanded with 220 grit sandpaper to rough it up so that the paint would adhere better.  Next time I would go a bit courser next time, maybe 180 grit.

A 1/3rd of a quart was enough to put two coats on.  I would have liked to do another coat but it was already getting late by the time I got the second coat on.  The board had to be ready for transport Tuesday and installation on Wednesday.  The hydrocoat was previously for the rest of the boat.  I'll get to see which lasts longer and works better.

The completed project along with a Captain & Coke reward.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Bad Weather, Good Service, and Camping

The weather was nasty Saturday.  It started raining around 10:00 AM and wasn't projected to stop until sometime the next day.  A little rain and a light breeze would probably still tempt me, but noooo.  Big gushing thunderstorms, some lightning and over 1.5" of rain projected along with 40 mph gusts.  I figured it was best I stayed out of the water.

The only thing boat related I did was snap a quick picture of the solar panel and charger I installed the previous weekend.  I then edited and included the two photos in my blog post Pulling the Dagger board and Installing Some Toys.

On the plus side my new Dagger board arrived from Boats 4 Sail on Friday.  Talk about exemplary customer service!  I was thrilled that it arrived so quickly, Things are looking like I still might get to head out during my vacation next week.  My dog Maggie decided she wanted to be in the photo.

I still need to grab another quart of bottom paint.  Seems a shame to scruff up a perfectly good board but it beats getting barnacles.

That's it.  Not much going on boat related.  I can only imagine how difficult this blog will be to keep up in the winter time.  I don't know if I mentioned it previously, but I camp as well.  Well, "glamp" (Glamour Camping) is probably more accurate.  The camper is only 25 minutes from the boat so I easily bounce back and forth.

Friday night before the storm came, we were at the camper. Drinking is boating related so here's a picture of me and some friends doing a shot of apple cider moonshine.  I'm the big guy on the left.

We also met a wonderful couple from Canada, William and Audrey who were on a 10 day vacation.  They were working their way down the east coast visiting New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.   We met them on day 14!  Apparently they were having so much fun they didn't want to go back.  All that in nothing but a tent, small car, couple of lawn chairs, and a cooler! Must be a blast to travel like that.  I can't help but think to the similarities of some of the cruisers out there exploring the world with their boat.

Any blurriness in the drinking photos may be attributed to the unintended consequences of imbibing the aforementioned alcohol.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father’s Day!  I spent a great day at home with friends and family.  You just can’t beat swimming, barbecuing, and beer!  I had posted my dagger board photo and was soon after contacted by Bill from Boats 4 Sail.  He offered me a new board for $500 including shipping.  A couple more emails later and I dropped the check in the mail Monday afternoon.  Due to some major sailing plans for 1 & 2 July, I asked Bill he if could mail me the board ASAP.  He said he would try to get it out Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest.  Thanks Bill!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Pulling the Dagger Board and Installing Some Toys

Saturday 20 June 2015

All work and no play today.  First I had to take apart the mast and lower it (again).  It’s the only way to get to the dagger board slot.  Pulled out the old dagger board to assess the damage.  I’m thinking this thing is beyond my capability at the moment.  Still, me and Keith throw out a few ideas as to how I might try rebuilding it.  Regardless, I’ll post pics of it on the MacGregor forum and solicit their advice when I get home.

Second project of the day was to install my Garmin 547xs chart plotter/gps.  It’s truly the first time I have ever drilled a hole in my boat.  The install itself was relatively painless.  I have an old junky depth finder that never gave a reading when I needed one; it would just read “- -“.  I left the unit installed on the pedestal for now as I don’t have any way to cover the hole.  I did use the power wire from it to wire into the new gps and noticed what appeared to be a rat’s nest of wiring.  One of the wires looks like something from a lamp cord.  I see a future re-wiring project coming up sometime.  In the meantime, reusing the same circuit allows me to keep everything on the same fuse.  I don’t have any spares, so along with rewiring everything, I’ll also be installing another fuse panel.  Everything lights up and the gps pinpoints me within 30 seconds. 

Project three was my new solar panel installation.  I have shore power available on the boat and my batteries recharge whenever I’m connected.  However Keith has been so kind as to give me free dockage that I certainly don’t want to mooch power from him as well.  So for Father’s Day my wife let me buy a 100 watt solar kit from Amazon.

I choose the sliding hatch to place the panel.  I know some folks think that the boom and sails get in the way but I disagree with them.  When docked, even though the panel isn’t getting hit at 100%, there’s enough to keep the batteries completely topped off for my weekly excursions.  While sailing, I seem to be turning one way or another all the time so it seems like there’s always sunlight on my cabin top.  I guess if I ever get some kind of enclosure, I’ll have to move the panel.  For now, it’s a good spot.

The install again went smoothly.  I mounted the controller unit outside of the battery compartment, just below the bottom step.  Keeps it out of the way but allows me to monitor the status.  A 7/8 whole was drilled to allow the cabling to pass thru to the batteries.  The panel cabling was zip tied to the back of the stair rail, along the cabin roof using 3M Commander strips, and finally through a small hole on the lip of the hatchboard.  The panel itself was mounted to the sliding hatch using a 1/8th bit with a ¼” long screw set in 5200.  I’ll get to see if there are any leaks next week.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Coming Up With a Name

Thursday 18 June 2015

I have pondered several names over the past few weeks.  I thought of naming the boat “Oarfin” due to the status of the boat in the sailing community.  The boat is kind of an orphan in that she is a MacGregor 26M.  She’s a hybrid.  Part sailing, part motoring, all fun.  Sailors say she isn’t a real sailboat because she has a non traditional hull design and a 50 hp motor on the back.  I have a mast, a main sail, a genoa, rudders, keel, and all the parts that make up a sailboat.  Yes, she is not the fastest sailor in the water, but she still sails great and brings smiles to my friends and families faces.  I can haul ass across the bay like a powerboat when I need to get somewhere faster, or leisure around with a breeze and just enjoy the day going nowhere in particular.

I discovered the only folks that seem to dislike the MacGregor are the ones that have never sailed her.  I find it hard to respect their opinion.  What I discovered instead was a fantastic, fanatical group of sailors that owned, and loved these boats.  Not only that but this same group of folks are out there sailing and not just talking.  Without a doubt the folks at macgregorsailors.com are some of the most knowledgeable and friendliest folks I've never met.  They are visiting amazing locations, exploring new anchorages, and just having a fantastic time of it all.  The Facebook folks are just as great with cool stories, lots and lots of photos, and some videos as well.  I didn’t just buy myself a neat sailboat, but I bought myself into a fantastic group of folks that will bend over backwards to give you good advice or show you a better way of doing things.  This boat is no orphan!

A couple of other names came and went, we tried combing the names of my wife and two daughters, we tried nicknames, we tried silly puns.  Nothing seemed to quite fit.  It was when I brought my wife out that she exclaimed that it was a bit tipsy.  It just kind of stuck.  I tried looking up the name in a few different forms and settled on “Tipsea”.  It just feels right, comfortable and snug, perfect for my new boat.  Best of all, it’s not on any top 10 or even top 100 list of boat names.  I want to have a name that is nearly unique as the boat.

Ordered Boat name “Tipsea” from BoatUS.  8” height, Harrington Font, Shadow to the right x2 (name on each side) for $119.39

edit: I received it the following Wednesday, 24 June 2015.

Monday, June 15, 2015

I Bring my Wife; What Could Go Wrong?

Saturday 13 June 2015

My wife, Theresa, who has no interest in boating and doesn’t care for the ocean, decided that Joe and I had too much fun last weekend and she was going to join us on this trip.  Now of course I want my wife to enjoy the experience.  It’s all I’ve talked about for the last few years.  I’d spent years reading, months prepping, and a whole day (insert sarcasm) of actual sailing.  I dutifully informed her that I’m still learning and very inexperienced.  Again, the experiences of Joe and I from the previous weekend were brought up and she wanted to go anyway.
I did my best to explain the concept of heeling, that the initial 20 degrees were quite tender, and that the boat would handle more than any of us ever could.  She had permission to scream or squeal at anything beyond that and I would do my best to reduce the heeling.  I was bound and determined to show my wonderful wife of 29 years that sailing was fun, exhilarating, adventurous, and something to look forward to.  I wanted her to have the best experience I could give her so that she would want to join me again.  “Besides,” I joked, “Barnegat Bay is so shallow that if you fall out, all you have to do is stand up!”

Barnegat Bay is shallow.  In some places it’s really shallow.  I’m just pointing this out now because I know it’s shallow, I’m letting you know it’s shallow, and it’s about to play a part in today’s story.  Keep in mind last week I headed out about 3 hours before high tide to about 2 hours after.  Never had an issue and definitely sailed all over the place outside of any channels.

We left around 10:30am with an expected low tide at 3:48pm.  So we motored out through the canal as usual, turned the corner to get out of the way of the inlet, and raised the sails.  Started sailing and watch her eyes get saucer sized when the first gust pushed us to the 20 degree mark.  It was exhilarating…. for five minutes.

The wind was puffing, the sails were full, but we just didn’t seem to be moving in relation to the land.  I tacked the boat to the other side and still nothing.  I figure we must be caught up on a crab trap or something at this point.  So I lower the sails and motor and fired her up.  I must have spent 10 minutes trying to just ease the boat out, I turned in the opposite direction, nothing, I turned around doing a complete 360, still nothing.  I zigged, nothing, I zagged, nothing. 

I looked at my wife’s face that I swore had this “so this is sailing, huh?” look on it.  I’m new at all this, Joe has 1 day’s experience, while I have 1 day and a bunch of research so only knew marginally more.  It was around this point that I realized I have a dagger board.  Totally retractable.  Duh! 

I tried pulling up the board.  Won’t budge.  I had Joe try to muscle it up with me.  No go.  Things are definitely getting worse.  I can only think that there’s some kind of chain, crab pot, cable, or something that must have cut into my dagger board and prevented me from raising it.  Probably wrapped around the whole thing.  Damn, somebody is going to have to go overboard.  I have no volunteers.  If I’m the captain, and go down with my ship, shouldn’t someone else have to be the first to go overboard?  Still no volunteers.  This is not looking good for the “impress the wife” meter.

I start climbing down the stern ladder expecting icy cold water and my boys shriveling down to the size of walnuts.  While the ocean was only reported to be 64 degrees, the bay seemed a little warmer.  I won’t say it was warm and cozy, but I didn’t turn blue, the boys stayed put, and I found my way to the bottom.

“Uh Oh, I think I found the problem”, I stated.  Theresa and Joe both looked at me quizzically and I released the ladder, while the water level was about mid chest high.  I’m 6’1”, with the dagger board down the boat draws 5’9” empty so I always call it 6’ to be safe and chest high water puts the level at around 4 ½ feet.  “This is bad” I thought.  I work myself completely around the boat and don’t bump into anything.  No chain, no cables, nothing.  I’m standing around in that real nasty mud that just keeps sucking you down.  Makes it impossible to stand in one spot for very long or you’ll feel like you have been encased in cement. 

I don’t have any snorkeling equipment.  No goggles, nothing.  I’m very much still learning what gear I need and don’t need for the boat.  Plus money is always a factor.  I don’t mind going in debt buying the boat, but I want all maintenance items and toys for it to remain strictly on a cash basis.  No more incurred debt.  Which in my twisted mind makes perfect sense.

There is nothing like diving under your boat in murky water (you can only see about 12 inches in New Jersey water) with your eyes screwed shut while imagining any number of horrors lurking beneath the waves.  Then there’s the occasional power boat going by making a wake, which rocks the boat, which bobs up and down, while I’m under it.  Oh joy! So I feel all along my dagger board.  There’s a huge chunk missing out the back, the bottom of it is buried in mud so thick that I can’t budge it, and I grab a splintered off piece of fiberglass and bring it up.  It’s about 14 inches long and 8 inches wide.  This is screwed.

I dive back under, working on feeding the board back up the slot while Joe hauls up on the line trying to get the board retracted.  I get the bright idea that it’s pretty breezy, maybe they should throw the anchor out just in case.  Joe throws the anchor over along with some chain and ties it off.  I go back under make sure none of the splinters are caught up underneath, preventing us from raising the board, and start rocking and pounding on it to break it free of the muck.  I feel it rattle loose, Joe pulls it up, and I come back up to breath a little.  Just in time to watch the boat start blowing away.

“Too little rode, you read about this” I thought as I started swimming back to the boat.  I used to be a fantastic swimmer.  Fast as hell.  That was about 20 years and 50 pounds ago.  I caught up to the boat quickly enough but I was tiring from the pace way too quickly for my comfort.  “Get the boat hook!” I hollered, trying to keep up with the boat which must have been barely slowed down by the anchor.

Joe is still holding onto the line that is holding my dagger board up.  My wife grabs the boat hook and extends it down to me.  Unfortunately my fat ass is way too much for her to haul back towards the boat and I see her tiring quickly just holding on.  The anchor grabs some purchase just enough for me to grab another handful of pole, finally putting me in range of grabbing a piece of boat hardware.  I work myself back around to the ladder and pull myself back into the boat.  “So?  How do you like sailing so far?” I say with a smirk.

 I’m pretty bummed out at this point and think about heading home.  In a flash of inspiration I recall that sailboats can be sailed downwind without a dagger board.  We tidy up the main and put it away, unfurl just the jib and start sailing. 

Over the course of the next few hours I relax, enjoy the hot sun, and sip an occasional cold one.  I let my wife take the helm and immediately see her enjoy herself.  I figured if I could get her in the driver’s seat that she would enjoy it more than just being a passenger.  Other times she simply laid back on the seat and soaked up some sun.  Hard to tell which she liked best.  This part of the day was exactly what I had planned to begin with.  Nice weather, cool breeze at about 8-10 knots, and the bliss of gliding over the water with nothing but the wind and the water rushing by.

Around 3:30 we decide to head back so my wife can prepare dinner.  I fire up the motor and we head back.  I play around a bit and open it up wide-open throttle (WOT) a few times, splashing her and myself in the process.  We’re all enjoying ourselves and it looks like the day may not be a complete dud.

My friend Keith, who’s dock I’m using all summer, warned me to stay to the right side when entering the mouth of the canals.  He just didn’t mention how far right I should have gone.  As I’m beginning to enter, I’m about 2/3rds of the way over.  I look behind me and all I see is me churning up mud.  The boat then comes to a stop.  I put her in neutral, look over the side, and see that we are in about 12 inches of water.  The boat needs 18.  “Isn’t boating fun honey?”

It doesn’t take long and another boat comes in hugging the piers and boats along the North shore.  Okay, so the extreme right during low tide.  Got it now.  His wake rocks me and I manage to get the boat unstuck.  I start motoring up the canal, hugging the extreme right side now, when the motor sputters.

“Hell”, I thought, “I just checked to make sure the motor was peeing okay!”.  A quick glance behind me and the motor is indeed streaming out water the way it should be.  Another sputter and the engine dies completely.  Damn it!  How in the hell am I supposed to show my wife how wonderful sailing is when I have all this shit going wrong!

I tell Joe to keep us off of all the very expensive boats while I figure out the problem.  Thankfully the light breeze is gently pushing us away from the very expensive boats.  On impulse I toe my starboard gas tank.  Empty!  I pull the quick disconnect, connect up to my port tank, and fire the engine.  It sputters to life, and I remember to prime the bulb a bit.  Two quick squeezes and the engine is purring smoothly.  I get us back on track and the rest of the time is uneventful  while we putter through the canals and crack open a celebratory cold one.

In spite of all the difficulties, my wife informs me she had a good time and would go out again.  All right, so I didn’t show her the best day ever, but we managed to pass through a few hiccups, kept our cool, and still managed to have a good day on the water.  My confidence level has ratcheted up several times due to managing these various issues.

Lesson Learned;  Shit happens.  Deal with it and move on.  You’ll be Okay.

Motored 12nm, sailed 6 nm for a total of 18 nm today.

Total distance this year is 48 nm.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

First Sail

Saturday 6 June 2015

It was raining and breezy when Joe and I arrived at the boat.  The project for today was to install the head sail onto the roller furling.  I had again spent some considerable google foo to make the process as painless as possible.  First problem… I attached the roller furling unit backwards.  The line that spools in and out was facing toward the bow.  Ooops.  All in all it took about an hour to lower the main, turn things around, and slowly feed the sail up the slot.  Now I know why you shouldn’t store the fore-stay curled up.  It was tough getting the sail worked up.

After that we motored out to the bay.  Powerboat came up and said he wanted to watch us put up our sails and see how long it would take.  I had to explain that this was not only my first time raising a sail, but my first time on a sailboat.  Joe had never stepped foot on a sailboat either.  We probably wouldn’t be a good example to go by.  It took us about ten minutes to lower rudders and dagger board, raise the main sail, and start gliding off. I kept getting the main halyard hung up on a protruding bolt or something up on the mast.  The power boater got bored of watching us and wandered off.

There is no way I could have captured the expression on our faces when I stopped the motor and we started heading downwind with the main sail only.  I can imagine it’s the same expression every sailor has had the first time they’ve gone out.  I’m 49 and was giggling and laughing like a little kid. 

We experimented a lot, learned some tacking, did an accidental jibe, maneuvered through crab pots, got locked in irons, and basically laughed and had an incredibly great time for the next four or five hours.  Managed to sail back to the same spot we originally put our sails up at and motored back through the canal.

First day ever on a sailboat and loved it. 

Lesson learned.  I absolutely love sailing!

Motored 4nm, sailed 12nm for a total of 16nm today.

Total distance 30nm.