Saturday, December 28, 2013

#10 !!!!!!!

Sail number 10 today. This has us down to $50 per sail so far and there are 4 months still to go.  I think we may soon be entering a period when the water gets to cold and hard (ice) to sail thru, but today was great.  I didn't even wear a hat.
49'f and steady winds WSW
Taken by Tom Ersk on his Pearson Wanderer "TnT".
Thanks Tom.
She looks like a long 21 feet to me!?
I did have to motor thru some ice pancakes in order to get out of my berth.  My berth was clear of ice but just a boat length or so away it was about a quarter to a half an inch thick.  The hull shape had us push up on top of the ice and then the weight of the boat would break thru.  The little motor had a little bit more work to do but nothing significant.  Maybe I got some of the bottom scraped clean in the process!!!

At my return I went to the marina office and made arrangements to shift to a new slip as many others were closer to the marina entrance and had an ice free path out.  Now I walk a little further to get to the boat but I have to motor less to get out passed the breakwater and I might be able to get out a few more days when I might have been frozen in at the previous berth.

With the working jib and a reef in the main we had the lee rail in the water when the wind was strongest, but mostly it was just easy peasy lemon squeezy!

▶ 2013 sail #10 - YouTube

I am more and more impressed with this boat each time I sail her.  Today with the working jib and reefed main the helm was pretty close to balanced but the thing that is impressive is how quick she seems.  I think that all my time sailing full keeled displacement hulls was led me to be surprised by the lighter planing hulls and their quickness.

Well if I don't get out again for a while I can look back fondly on a good season thus far.  Averaging one sail a week is just fine for me.  I am hopeful that at the end of the spring time I will get more time out each week but considering that most boats have been put up for the season I feel pretty fortunate.  I will say that I was not alone out there today.  It was with great pleasure that I saw 3 other sail boats out, 2 under sail and one just drifting and motoring but enjoying the warmth the day offered.

It is a good way to end the year, and begin the new one.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

more OCH wisdom

Off Center Harbor is one of my latest and favorite internet finds.  It is a web site dedicated to things boats, not all things, just the best things.
Each time the home page comes up a different quote is presented.  Sometimes I just reload the page to read another quote.  Here is todays:

The cabin of a small yacht is a truly wonderful thing; not only will it shelter you from the tempest, but from the other troubles in life, it is a safe retreat.
- LF Herreshoff

It is sometimes just the right way to start the day, I check the world news, check the weather, then read a quote on my favorite topic.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Rainy day sail work

Heavy rains today so I decided to replace the plastic twisty hanks on the staysail jib with piston hanks.  I have spares that are a size to big maybe, but that won't hurt anything and it's no money out of pocket.  The hanks I have are maybe #1 and I need size #0.  The only down side is that if I want to use the jib as a staysail and fly it by it's luff wire, rather than setting a stay The hanks are heavy and large and might deform the sail, but I don't really plan on setting it as a staysail anytime soon.
I had to sew eyelets on the sail as the plastic hanks didn't need them because they have a large surface area that contacts the sail and a screw joins the two sides of the hank to grab the sail and the wire on the luff.
The eyelets I made were small but should work just fine.
1 of 5 hanks on this jib
Hand work on sails has become something standard for me.  I enjoy the time spent making my boat a little better with such simple and tested methods and tools.  I don't need any high tech equipment and that adds to the level of return on enjoyment from boats.
It is suppose to get cold again as of tonight so it might be a while till I get out again, we'll see.  I am glad to have had that last sail, it was a good one.

"All is Lost" Movies with boats.

Since learning of the upcoming movie, a few months ago, I have been looking forward to the chance to see it someday.  I saw a trailer for the movie on the internet and was less intrigued, but after reading a review in the BBC online news I am interested again.  BBC News - Why Robert Redford lost his voice in All is Lost
I mean really, how bad can it be, with and hour and a half of sailboat on film and one of the best popular actors of our time?

The trailer I saw made me worry that the movie would not get the sailing details correct or realistic.  I am good in the agreement between an artist and the audience in playing my part in the suspension of disbelief, but some times the artists can ask a bit much.  I was also concerned that the movie might just be a vehicle for Mr. Redford to be on screen.  Actually that was less of a concern because I don't really know of any roles he has played that I haven't enjoyed watching.  He and Paul Newman, his on screen partner a few times, have aged in roles and on screen more elegantly than most and retained their charm and charism thru out.  I miss Paul.

The article gives a description of the movie that contains this quote from it's director, and it is what has won me over again and got me looking forward to seeing the movie when I can:

"The thing that drove me to write this is that it's a meditation on mortality," he says.
"If you don't embrace that every day is a gift, you can find yourself a 75-year-old not quite having felt like you've lived every day."
This is a sentiment that has deep roots in my mind and is fed almost daily by the actions and directions of most men.  Not only do I think we need to better embrace each day as a gift, but we also need to embrace our own death, and that of others, as fact, real, but as the filter by which we are allowed to realize the beauty of this life.
All is not lost.  Remember, where ever your at, that's where you are.

Still have my doubts about the sailing aspect of the movie but I guess that I will just have to wait and see.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Some days

All the potential for a great sail including snow capped cliffs along the shore
Oh well.
Getting aboard a sail boat is not something to be done without real consideration.  Once aboard and the lines have been thrown off it is not as simple as pulling over to get off the boat, should the experience go badly.

I have been at sea, off shore, and been in the situation such that all I could think about was getting off ship.  In that case, when the vessel touched the dock, I had my seabag on my shoulder and I was off as soon as lines were tied and the boat safe, my commitment complete, I was gone.  Sadly, years latter, that boat was latter lost at sea, fortunately the crew was rescued.

Bad situations like that one are usually not about the sea, the boat, or sailing.  In my case, they have always been about people and the different attitudes we have about what it is to go sailing and what it is to do it responsibly.  Even a large boat can seem very small if people are at odds.

I like to sail, love to sail.  I don't care for a motor and just find it a required tool in todays society. Because marina's are so crowded and those crowds are usually in a hurry and think of boats responding and handling like their cars I use a motor to get me out of the marina and then shut it down as soon as I can.  I also hate the noise of an engine, and the smell too.  Sailing starts almost immediately with this method.

Down wind, beam reach, or close hauled it is all sailing to me and part of the joy of the thing is getting the boat and the wind and tide to take me where I want to go, no matter what their state.  Setting up a vessel so that it can handle most all conditions and get us out and then back is an interesting challenge to me.  It is a never ending puzzle, or game, and always can use some refinement.

Some people want only to sail off the wind, no tacking, as little healing as possible.  Wouldn't want to spill their beer!  Those points of sail are fine, but motoring to get to wind that suits a point of sail, for recreation especially, is not my idea of fine or fun.  One of the greatest things about sail boats is how "clean" it is.  By that I mean that once the boat is built it doesn't really have to pollute thru waste or noise or even by leaving a trail in the water, yet it has more accommodation than any land or air based transport.

The bow cuts into a wave and spray flies thru the air, over the coach roof and into the cockpit.  Water runs along the deck and out the scuppers to mix with the gurgling wave that closes up after the boat leaves it and in moments the sea looks as if we were never there.

The wind shapes the surface of the water, makes the waves.  It pushes on the sails and runs over their surface.  In the rigging it sounds like a violin or harp and accompanies the percussion sounds of the hardware and the creaking of the hull or the shifting of gear down below.  Once the wind is past the boat it is just as strong as it was before it touched her sails, undiminished.

Even I am little taxed by the work the boat does.  I mind the tiller but can set it and walk about or sit and ponder the sea and sky, all the while the little boat travels on carrying my bed, my stove, my books, most all the comforts I could need.  Even under oars or a pole a boat can make the power of a single man move otherwise impossible loads and suspend them above the ocean floor.

I sometimes need to remind myself of why I don't invite just anybody aboard my boat and why I don't accept offers to sail on most other boats.  We are all different in our wants, priorities and comfort levels.  We all sail for different reasons.  It isn't really a bad thing, but rather, a thing to be given honest consideration so that each sailor can get what he wants from his sail, can go where he wants, and the way he wants, and in a happy ship.

Sail #9, #9,#9.....

Crazy warm weather.  It's December 22 and it's 70'F!!!
Rain, Wind clouds
Note the tiller lashed with bungee cord to keep
course while I walk forward!  Love that.
I decided to get out before the strong weather came in and hoped that I could have a nice sail.  I had a great sail.
The sun cutting thru the clouds occasionally made the rain seem friendly and the warm air made me think of Adisto Island in South Carolina last year.
The wind was strong enough to fly just the small stay sail, on the forestay as  I don't have a staysail stay rigged.  The boat had the slightest bit of lee helm but mostly it was balanced.  What ever the wind force was we were doing anywhere from 3 to 5 knots, I'd guess.
I tried flying the main but it wasn't much fun and the gusts had us rail under even with the reef in.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Milder weather

We have a batch of warm weather for a few days and I hope to make some good use of it.  Today I went to the boat and installed the new table.  It is completed but for the varnish and I am just going to wait to do that.  For now it is in and I can use it and find out how well it works
completed table.
Folds up for use of bunk.
I took a few minutes to shovel the snow off the decks in hopes of a sail in the next few days.  I made the hinge that connects the legs to the table from some wood and some bronze spikes and roves.  The hinge that attaches the 2 legs to each other is a brass hinge that was handy.  The hole rig can be lifted up and kept out of the way should the bunk below be needed for sleeping, or what ever.  Out board of the table I made a tray to hold what ever needs holding.  Right now it keeps a battery powered led tea light.
The cabin is a long way from being inviting but it is a start and I am in no rush.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Better than most

If a man is to be obsessed with something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most.
- E.B. White

Saturday, December 7, 2013

#8-Great Sail!

Sail number 8 for the season.  That gets us down to under $70/sail.  Still a bit much but today's sail was worth much more.

When I set out the temps were in the low 30's f, but got up to the high 30's by the end.  I have great gear so I was warm and dry.  Highly recommend Patagonia's foul weather sailing gear. Even though the company really specializes in climbing and hiking and skiing gear, they do great job with these "foulies".  I have worn them on deliveries in the Atlantic in early December and they kept me comfortable.  The designers at Patagonia know how to cut a jacket so that it keeps the elements out but allows one to move about freely.  I dread the day that they wear out and I have to replace them because I don't think I could afford them any longer.

The wind was force 4 or 5 and against the current for most of the sail.  Made for nice white caps and bumpy water.

I decided to try flying only the jib, as my friend who used to own a Venture said he did most often.  This made the helm much more balanced and sailing down wind was surprisingly easy.

Sailing to windward in the short choppy seas the boat got pushed over in the gusts so that the rail was usually awash and occasionally the leeward seats in the cockpit were filled with water.  The first time it happened it was concerning then I realized that the boat hardened up and didn't want to go any further over than that.  I found that pinching into the wind I could lessen the amount of pounding we did when we bounced off the tops of waves.  From the cockpit I could see hull down in the cabin flexing each time we jumped off a wave top.  This boat is not made like my Bristol!  Still, it did just fine and didn't get pushed of the waves, but rather sailed thru them.

I found that if I sailed thru the first wave we came off it fast but not with a thump.  It was the second wave that we'd drop off of and shake the whole boat and watch the hull flex.  So on the second wave I would head up into the wind just a bit so as to stand the boat up as the wind got on the leeward side of the jib.  This had the affect of bringing the boat down on the centerline, or the V of the hull and that was a much softer entry than landing flat on the port or starboard flat of the boats bottom.  In this way we made a little serpentine coarse that still made our coarse heading, and very quickly.

I know that I enjoy sailing a boat in a way that most recreational sailors don't seem to.  I enjoy the "heavy weather" feeling when the boat is heeled and I have to duck waves that come all the way down the boat from the bow into the cockpit.  I like that water is sloshing around in the cockpit.  I like being able to hear a change in the wind strength in the rigging.  It must be a disease.

 I was only able to shoot video during the downwind segment and that doesn't give any sense of what it was like sailing to windward but if you sail, you understand the difference.

Trying to return to the marina I realized that I couldn't sail into the basin because it was dead to windward and I didn't trust short tacking with just the jib up.  I started the outboard and I promptly got the rudder lift line caught in the prop!  The good news is that the prop just cut the line and spat it out.  No harm no foul.  I had been worried that this might happen since the first time I sailed the boat, but figured that it must work ok because it had been that way.  I should always trust my suspicions, they seemed to be mostly justified.

My other suspicions are about the rigging on this boat.  During the summer haul out and maintenance I plan to upgrade the rigging and chainplate attachments.  There are many nico pressed fittings and I just don't trust that they were done well.

It is amazing to me that such a great sailing day can be had when most of the boats have been put away for the season.  I know most people don't want to be out in the cold, and the truth is I don't want 'em out there anyway.  I feel like the river and these bays are all mine to use as I want.  That ain't so bad.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Simplicity afloat

One of the reasons that I think I chose to build the first three boats that I did was because of their simplicity.  That desire for simplicity was not just to accommodate my limited experience as a builder, but also, and more so, to get at the foundation of what building a boat was about.  The boats were simple in design.  The materials were simple and accessible, common, not exotic and not expensive, and mostly left over scrap or reclaimed, even the sail.

By limiting the complexity of the boats it became easier to see what the essentials of any boat was.  By some apparent law of nature it seems that the simpler and most basic brings the greater and longer lasting fulfillment.

The row in the marina basin just the other day reminded me of how pleasing that simple act can be.  I didn't want to get out of the little boat, but I didn't need to be doing much at all in it.  It was enough to just be in it, upon the water.

As I listen to, and watch people around me struggle and grumble with the complex systems of their boats, and their lives, I am reminded of why I have made the choices that I have about what boats, what systems on those boats, and how I keep them.  My goal, ultimately, is to be upon the water in a boat, being happy.  This can be attained by being in my largest boat, with all it's accommodations or in the smallest of my boats with all it's limitations and because none of my boats is so filled with complex and expensive systems I can manage to keep quite a few boats, each with it's own unique application and qualities.

"Simplicity afloat is the surest guarantee of happiness." L. Francis Herreshoff

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Folding Table for the Venture, sail # 7

Test fitted the table for the Venture 21 today.  My table is capable of folding up and out of the way so that the berth below it can be used, or it can be unbolted from the flange that is glassed into the hull.
salon table for Ventura.
It is yet to have the finish work done.
The angle of the table leg allows for more people leg room.

The leg is yet to receive it's locking brace, but I was just getting the final dimensions for it today.  The sea rails are glued in place with Gorilla Glue.  The box against the hull is glued too.

The table had an immediate affect on the feeling of the space down below.  It filled up the space in a good way and makes me eager to get the other details built for the cabin.  I am allowing myself to do the galley area shelf area this winter,but that will be it so that I can work on other boats.  This boat doesn't need any thing else and it's main priority is to be sailing as much as possible.

Today we went out for sail number 7 of the season.  Not much of a sail really as the wind was not to be felt.  It seemed to die off as I was getting out on to the river and the clouds came in from the west to join the sun as it set in that direction.
Still, I got to raise the genny for the first time, not that it filled much, and I got to test out the modifications on the upper most batten on the mainsail.  Even though the tidal current had us sailing backwards, down river, we were able to sail across the tide and out toward the channel.
Even with out much sailing it was good just to get out and work the boat.  It was a really warm day.

Tartlet goes for a ride

It's December and in the 50's f!  I had to get out on the water, but there was no wind.  So a row can be good.  I decided to take Tartlet out for a row in the marina basin.  The other water access points were iced up so Tartlet seemed to be the only boat I could easily carry thru the gates of the marina and down to the water.
After rowing around for a while I remembered how nice it is to have a good little rowing boat that is light weight and handy to put in and take out of the water.  I rediscovered how decent a rower this little boat is even though she is very narrow, and very short.
My oars tend to hit or touch each other at their inboard ends during each stroke, but that kind of adds to the rhythm of rowing.  I did not install braces for my feet to push against but as the boat is so light it is almost unnoticeable.
An added feature that I discovered is that Tartlet's diminutive size allows me to store her on the foredeck of Ventura, and thus leave her at the marina, ready to use.  Now I have 2 boats at the water, ready to use, one for sailing, one for rowing.

"Tartlet" onboard "Ventura"
This isn't an arrangement I'd think to use while sailing Ventura, but in this application it works just fine.  Tartlet could be towed behind Ventura just fine I am sure.
I rowed over to watch a friend working on his boat.  I shifted the oars and put my feet up on the transom of Tartlet and stretched out to take a nap in the bottom of the boat.  This is what I like about a rowing boat over most kayaks, the ability to lie down and stare at the sky or the inside of my eyelids.  I am sure I looked as if I was lying in a coffin I had made for myself, she is just about the right size and shape for that.
I may add a sculling notch to Tartlet at some point.  I am not sure why I didn't put one in to begin with.