"There is nothing more pleasant than cruising on a boat with the whole family."
Letter from Empress Catherine the Great

Sunday, June 24, 2018

June 2 - 10 -- Alaska, Part One -- The Cruise

Our first day was in Vancouver, Canada, a big modern city with lots of its old buildings spared from urban renewal -- so far. We visited The Royal Vancouver Yacht Club in Stanley Park, with the city behind and the cruiseships a white blur at the left side background.
And we visited Granville Island which is an artisanal shopping mecca, surrounded by marinas. We somehow skipped Vancouver's maritime museum but we saw lots of boats.

The next eight days, seven nights were aboard the Crystal Symphony. This was our tenth cruise and a much more luxurious experience than we have ever had in the past. (Two in the Eastern Caribbean, one Western Caribbean, and one each in the Sea of  Cortez, L.A. - Acapulco, New York - St. John's Newfoundland, Athens - Istanbul, a river boat on the Danube and Amsterdam - St. Petersberg.)

This was a much smaller ship than most, a max of 922 passengers (we sailed with less) as contrasted to up to 3500.  A sense of spaciousness was everywhere and no lines. Our cabin had a big picture window but no balcony -- it's Alaska after all. We found we liked the main dining room (come when you want and no lines) better than the four specialty restaurants: Japanese, Chinese, Brazilian and Italian, but they were very good too. So much redundancy to delight passengers! Plus the Lido Deck buffet and another small coffee bar with lots of food. One afternoon, they pulled together a few of their 20 entertainers to serenade us with Mozart during which a huge Viennese table was kept full by the wait staff, dressed in period clothing. It killed off appetites for dinner but we ate anyway -- late. One hundred of the 550 crew are involved in cooking and baking.  It was my Birthday so they said to have the "Special Breakfast".
I did not order this stuff but kept coming including caviar in this course and steak and eggs in the next! When we got back to new York after two weeks away I found that I had gained nine pounds, though most of it is off already. They had specialty wines at $100 per bottle but all other beverages were included as were the tips. I found that I was drinking two glasses of excellent, to my taste, wines with most lunches and dinners, as well as having deserts, which I usually skip. As you walk around or sit in any of the spacious seating areas, entertainment venues or lobbies, waiters come around offering whatever you want. Everything about this experience was first rate.

Two examples. I tried to sign up with the concierge for a tour of the bridge. "I'm sorry sir, since 9/11 we are not allowed to to them any longer." I expressed disappointment; "I'm a sailor and interested in such things". Two days later: "Please don't tell anyone but it is arranged for four this afternoon." Lene is in the Captain's chair wearing Conrad's hat. Crystal has a saying: "Once you have been Crystalized, you will never ride another line." They are right!
Symphony was built in Finland in 1995 and extensively renovated recently. Length 781', beam 99' and draft 25'. Diesel electric power turn the conventional shafts that drive the boat. Speed is controlled not to increasing the rpm but by varying the pitch of the props. Max speed is 21 knots but she cruises at 15, or slower when the distance/time/speed formula permits. She has a full set of paper charts and it must be immense because she cruises around the world, but the two large display chart plotters in the bridge were what they used. There are always two officers on deck while underway in addition to a lookout and the Captain, when he chooses to appear. The first officer announces his decisions as to all course and speed changes but they are not executed until the second officer concurs. Two heads are better than one is the reason.

The other special experience was Friday night religious services. They followed shortly after a Mass, led by a priest who was very friendly to us, comes from  Westchester and is invited for a sail on ILENE. The ship not only announced the venue in the daily newspaper (in the motion picture theater) but provided prayer books, two electric sabbath candles, yarmulkas, good red and white wine, two ship-baked braided challah breads and a plate of gefilte fish with hard boiled eggs and horse raddish!

One of the best features of the trip was getting to know Chris and Tom, who we shared many moments with. They are Aussies and while we may not go "down under" to visit them, they travel a lot and we will see them in New York.

The entertainment was excellent and imaginative and we played trivial pursuit during the three at sea days, taking one first place and two seconds. I worked out in the gym most days and partook of the sauna, though the steam room was shut down due to a broken part.

Our route: We departed from Vancouver on a glorious sunny afternoon and, after stops in
Ketchican, Juneau and Skagway, and three days at sea, disembarked at Whittier for the start of our land adventure. See Alaska, Part Two, to be published soon. We took tours from Ketchican (a totem pole park, paddling an Indian canoe and visiting a salmon hatchery)

And visited the Mendenhall Glacier, which is right next to a waterfall so you have both a frozen and a liquid river side by side. Yes it rained that day.

In Skagway, (which translates to Windy Place -- and it is) we took a free tour with the National Parks Service ranger, followed by a hike uphill to woodland fresh water Lake Dewey. Here is a view of Symphony, dwarfed behind the larger Holland American boat.
The shore experiences, however, were not the most impressive part of this cruise. Two of the "at sea" days involved getting the very large boat inland through huge fjords with high waterfalls

and glaciers that came down to the sea (as compared to the Rocky mountain glaciers, which end on land).

s/v ILENE's binoculars got us a closer view of the glacial faces.
 Some of the icebergs were black from earth and rocks that covered them, those solids will fall to the bottom as the ice melts. One such black spot moved! A seal, sunning on it who lifted his or her head to give a wary eye to the behemoth nearby. The landscapes are so big that the sense of scale is distorted.
I was amazed that they brought Symphony in through waters filled with small iceberg to within three miles of the glacier faces.

Look at the tiny whitish dot to the right side of the narrow entrance through which we entered.

Not such a tiny dot afterall, but a Disney boat larger than ours.

Friday, June 22, 2018

May 29 - June 1 -- Three Work Days Arranged Around The First Old Salts Sail

Sorry that this posting is so very lately publishhed. It's because it was not ready before we left on our recently completed Alaskan adventure (not aboard ILENE but largely waterborn, so subject of future posts).

So the work days: A lot of arranging with Mars Metals of Ontario Canada (for the castng and shipping) and with the Great Island Boatyard in Casco Bay Bay, Maine (for the installation, by lag bolts and epoxy) of an 1100 pound lead slab under the flat bottom of ILENE's keel. I also spent some time arranging  for storage of ILENE at a dock at Minneford's during the Alaskan trip -- more protected from storms than the mooring. But this had to be abandoned at the last minute when I learned that the slip in question, though it berthed a sailboat last summer, was not deep enough at low tide for ILENE. To paraphase George Orwell: "All sailboats are not equal."

But most of the work invovled wiring up the new Raymarine electronics -- which process is not yet complete. Each problem, when resolved with the help of ever helpful Ed Spallina and the Raymarine tech reps, led to the next. The white cable from the new Ray 70 radio mounted at the side of the binacle, to a white socket in the new five socket "bus" junction panel we mounted under the cockpit sole, was not long enough. That connection is needed to get AIS data from the radio, on which it is received, to the Axiom Multi Funchion Display (MFD), formerly known as the chart plotter, on which the AIS data is displayed. No problem, the Raymarine tech admitted at last: That cable just has three wires in it, so just cut it in half and splice in a five foot length of three strand of adequade guage, available from any store, between the halves and plug the lower end into the five way bus. Next came the cable from the MFD itself, also at the binnacle, to the same bus. The unit came with two wires that connect to make one that is long enough. The problem here was that the two wires connect in a metal screw-in connector that is about three inches long, rigid and hence incapable of fitting through the hole in the side of the one inch diameter stainless steel tube that holds up the instrument pod and leads down to the bus. Next day the Raymarine tech rep again said "No problem: put the white end of the wire into the white end of a white-to-blue plastic connector and a three meter blue cable from the blue end of the white-to-blue, connector." The three meters is long enough so i will have to coil  the excess below. I stow the plastic connector in the ever more crowded instument pod and insert the lower end of the blue cable, which does fit easily through the hole, into one of the two blue sockets in the bus, rather than into a white socket. That's intuitive, isnt it? NO IT IS NOT!!! Why color code them if the color does not matter. Am I geting angry?  Any way, though frustrating, we are getting closer.

But the Old Salts sail was a pleasure. My only fault was that in trying to "organize" it and knowing that most of the other boats were unavailable so far in this season, I actually told a few folks that there was no room for them, which turned out to be false. All I  can do is apologize to them. In the end, with a few late cancellations and two small boats coming forward, there would have been room for all. Six sailed on ILENE, all of whose smiling faces have been seen in these posts before. Three more came over for the apres sail liabations. I have noticed over the past few years that with an increase in the percentage of female Old Salts, possibly a side effect of the change of the group's name from "Old Fa_ts", we have migrated from Gin and Tonic toward wine and the solid offerings have improved both quantitatively and qualitatively.

Anyway, we were underway for about 2.5 hours with near perfect winds of 10 to 15 knots under main and small jib. We zigged and zagged: through the channel off Kings Point, to the bridge and back, north of Stepping Stones. Only one of the crew, Peggy, wanted the helm and she steered about 95 percent of the time, and well, autopilot not yet reconnected. There was an unusual occurence for the early afternoon on the waters of western Long Island Sound: fog, though not less than a quarter mile of visibility. Yet we were "out of sight of land", rare for most of our crew. And the fact that we do not have electronics required me to be more watchful too. Best sail of the still young season.

Two mishaps. The first was discovered early in the sail and fixed easily, instantly, on the spot. I had led the port side sheet (barberhauler) for the small jib aft, but NOT through the forward block!The second problem was the result of 19 long seasons of extensive use: the braided outer cover of the double braid main sheet chafed through at the point where the clutch holds it under pressure when the sail is up. The inner core is strong enough to hold up the sail, but due to a narrower diameter at the chafed spot, the main slid down about six inches when sailing and lowering it proved a slight problem of pasing out through the clutch until I cut away the ragged part and taped it to get a decent taper. This can be fixed by application of the "green poultice", about $150 for a new line. The next problem, or let's call it an opportunity, will be to learn to use a fid to splice it around the halyard shackle. The drawback to this plan, and I could practice on lots of small pieces of old line, is that if I managed to learn the new skill, I would surely forget it during the next 19 years. So I may get the job done by a pro.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

May 25 - 28 -- Memorial Day Weekend With Two Sets of Guests

We planned three sail dates for the holiday weekend. But before the fun, a work day. Only three hours, and the plan was to wire up the new electronics but it failed. I had all the parts but still didn't know how to put them together. I have to get back to Raymarine's Tech Support to get it figured out in an "idiot proof" way: exactly what gets plugged into what?
But while there, I made up our bed, pumped the bilge, Ed crimped the connector so that now one has to tug at the starter solenoid wire to get it off. Because Ed did not complete the electronics job, he charged me nothing for his time.

I spent the last hour connecting with Gene, and visiting his metalwork guy, Roger (another Roger), of Mil and Mir Steel Products in the Bronx. He put the required ninety degree bend in our new hook and eye, near the hook, so it can hold the door to the aft head open for the width of one cat.
Saturday Lene and I sailed with three of her fellow acting students. none of them had ever sailed before. We did this without autopilot so each guest took the helm for an extended period of time and all of them handled the boat quite well. We were underway for 5.5 hours, using the small jib into Manhasset Bay and then with the Genoa on the long port tack to the eastern end of New Rochelle, and tacking several times while beating back to past Execution Rocks when we switched to the jib for tacking back through Hart Island Sound. we went slowly 2 - 4.5 knots for most of the day but as it wore on we went faster, even against the tide, averaging 5.5 knots and hitting 6.5 several times and 7 once.
Here I'm steering by foot and Lene is her favorite duty station. You can see how cloudy the day became.
The friends experienced the full gamut of the sailing experience. Rain had been predicted for 9 pm, but I watched the skies for those big black dangerous thunderheads. Though none of them appeared, while near Minnefords Marina we got walloped by a passing front with winds gusting to 50 knots (for less than five minutes) and rain that came at once, quickly grew torrential and then subsided before we got to our mooring. I sent the guests below during the rain with their electronic phones, papers, etc. Without autopilot, on which we so rely, I called Lene up to the cockpit to steer both while I furled the sails and when we approached the mooring. Dinner at the Club where we were joined by Mendy who had worked on Ohana that day until the rain put an end to that.
Here are Michael, Natalie and Cesar at dinner.
Sunday's group had to take rain checks until September, a total rainout.
Monday, three other actresses from The Wednesday Repertory Company accompanied Lene and me. (The Company will be staging a one act play that Lene wrote in its late June showcase. Another of the eight one act plays is called Execution Rocks, inspired by its author's sail past there on ILENE. Contact me for tickets.)
Sacha has sailed with us before.

 Lu and Elaine were first timers.
Everyone had a good time and all took the helm.
We sailed off the mooring but it was apparent that the wind was too light to have fun under sail -- one knot of boat speed just doesn't cut it. So, while we left the main up throughout and often the jib as well, the motor was on the whole time after the first five minutes. Lene asked if we could head west through the City to the Battery and Eldridge's said it might work so we did it. We reversed course a few blocks south of the Williamsburg Bridge after a panic attack: "Roger, come up here quick, we are headed into a wall!" Ilene had gotten inattentive but fortunately we were still quite a ways from the wall. I turned away easily, but in that momentary disorientation we found ourselves headed north and just continued back, with the guests not wanting to be out too late. On the way south we had a lot of tidal assist. We fought a knot or two of resistance at the beginning of the return but the tide turned favorable. Lots of good munchies.
Here is the whole gang on the launch at the end of the day. I like the picture.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

May 19-24 -- Mostly With Our Haligonian Friends

Last summer, Greg and Wanda were perfect hosts in Halifax and we invited them to visit with us in New York. Well, they are perfect guests too, bringing Nova Scotian gifts with them, which was entirely uncalled for, buying groceries and wines and treating us to dinner at a nice Italian Restaurant.

I provided taxi service from and back to Newark Airport, and some entertainment though they are very self sufficient. One day we drove them around, including ground zero, over the Brooklyn Bridge, under the Verrazano, to Coney island for Nathan's hot dogs (not great but very New York), pastries at a Russian bakery/deli in Brighton Beach and back through Brooklyn and via the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. Another day we did the Circle Line's 2.5 hour circumnavigation of Manhattan.
A third full day was a sail on ILENE, which they most wanted to do. Before we could get underway, Greg, trying to be helpful, accidentally knocked his high quality shades off his head against the headsail sheets and into the water. Woe! But borrowing our wetsuit and flippers (though we could not find the mask) he dove while we remained on our mooring in seven feet of water at low tide. On his planned sixth and final attempt he emerged with a big smile holding the glasses.

Our departure was marked by fireworks:
The Police exploding a vast supply of confiscated stuff on Rodman's Neck. The verticality of the plume showed the only problem we had -- low wind -- though we did sail without engine for about two thirds of our four hours underway: through Hart Island Sound, to New Rochelle, across the Sound and back with a detour to Port Washington in Manhasset Bay. Greg and Wanda own a luxurious waterfront home on Bedford Basin at the north end of Halifax, though not as big as the mansions of the Gold Coast that we sailed past. On Broadway they saw "Come From Away" the musical celebrating Canadian hospitality and humanity toward the Americans stranded for a few days at Gander Newfoundland in the aftermath of 9-11. They walked a lot, including the Highline, and shopped -- Wanda is a shopper.

ILENE's deck was finally scrubbed, as well as her canvas and cockpit, though not as planned: on the first attempt, Mendy and I got a late start because Lene needed the car in the morning. And with traffic, a quick lunch, and the fact that I forgot to give Mendy the "magic erasers" that Bennett wanted him to use on Ohana's freeboard and had to make another trip back to the Morris YC from the Harlem. By the time I was about to get on the launch to get ILENE there was not enough time left before the 4 pm "Cinderella" deadline of last launch ride to accomplish the round trip launch ride, the round trip drive to the dock and back and the washing. So I took an afternoon of leisure and read in the library while Mendy worked on Ohana and came back the next time that the high was at a convenient time and did the job, including washing off some guano that birds had left on the boat.

On Saturday Night the 135th annual Going Into Commission dinner-dance was held. Much like all the others except that with the trip to Newark, we got there after the opening ceremony, but in time for most of the cocktail hour, in which excellent copious food was served. We had ordered the vegetarian option which was fine, for the sit down dinner. It is a great event for connecting with friends after a long winter apart.

New stuff on ILENE:
A shiny chromed 9 3/8" diameter Perko deckplate covering the emergency tiller opening (replacing the squishy old plastic one that leaked).

The new Lewmar block at the starboard end of the jib sheet track.
The instrument pad, open, with new VHF attached but electrical connections to the new electronics not yet made.

A new smallish fender to protect the boat from the launch.

There is still work to do, but the season is underway!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

May 16 -18 -- Committee Boat Service and Not Much Else Useful

At the work party, PC Jeep asked if I would use ILENE as the committee boat for the race of the fleet of J-24s on Wednesday night.  I did not figure on the rain and said yes. And racers do not let rain cancel their plans. Jeep and the other three members of the crew of Jeepers came on board and wined and dined themselves and me -- generously -- once the flag for the starting line and ILENE's anchor were both set. They knew what they were doing and once situated, I had only to observe, learn, eat, drink and enjoy their company and the compliments they gave to ILENE. Three matched competitors (no need to calculate  handicaps!) sailed two races and then it was time to pick up the flag floating at the other end of the start/finish line and head back to the mooring.

That's when the trouble set in. When I turned the key, instead of the gentle hum of the engine there was nothing but a click. I tried several times but no luck. Jeep helped me tear a lot of stuff out of the aft cabin so we could look down into the engine. This had happened seven years ago when we were leaving Boqueron, Puerto Rico. Then it was a loose wire to the starter. So I figured that was probably the problem again. But in the dark, in the rain and with a weak flashlight, I could not solve the problem and hence resolved to sail back to the mooring using main and small jib. We tried to pick up the flag before we left. And we did pick it up, but not in the manner intended. Rather, we missed it and saw, when we got back to our home and made some turns, that it then popped up. So we had dragged its small anchor for about a mile across Eastchester Bay. No wonder ILENE's performance was sluggish! We did sail and hence this little escapade goes into the books as a "sail" day. Near our mooring we realized that it was too dark for us to pick it out in the dark, at the beginning of the season, with its new neighbors not yet present. So we called the launch and were towed and dropped anchor in the field.

When I got to the boat Thursday, our launch operators had already moved ILENE onto her correct mooring ball, 30 yards away. I checked the engine drawings in the manual and using flashlight with freshly recharged batteries, quickly found the problem.
What you see here to the right is the port side of the engine. To its left, the larger, lower cylinder is the starter motor and the smaller higher one is the solenoid. The red, medium diameter wire with the yellow clip at its right end is the errant one. It was hanging loose. It had to be slid back onto the tang protruding from the forward end of the solenoid. Then the key's turn created the blissful hum immediately. For the future, though once per seven years may seem like it is not a big problem, I want to crimp the terminal more firmly so it applies more friction and is less likely to slide off.

Friday was scheduled for a work day: to scrub the dirt off ILENE's deck in anticipation of compounding and waxing it. But it turned out to be an "Other" day due to time. I took Mendy to work on Ohana's freeboard but Lene used the car in the morning and then Mendy was a bit late, traffic has unusually heavy we had a brown bag lunch and after dropping off Mendy at the Morris YC and driving back to the Harlem (less than ten minutes), I discovered that I had not given Mendy the magic erasers he needed and had to drive back to give them to him. By the time I was back at the Harlem and ready to go, there was not enough time before the launch stopped running at 4 pm to take a round trip launch ride, rig up the mooring lines and fenders, drive the boat to the dock and back and also to wash her at the dock. So I had the pleasure of a bit of goof of time on the island before picking up Mendy to head for home. The work will wait.

May 10-12 Including First Sail and HYC Work Party and Meeting

There has been a heck of a lot of rain the last week of so; the April showers came in May, dampening outdoor activities. We enjoyed another dinner theater evening with Harriet and Bennett.

The first sail was 3.5 hours with Gene, one of the two men who had gone to the Defender sale with me in late March.
His first ride aboard ILENE and it was a good sail. We used the small jib on the way out, to half way between Ex. Rocks and Matinacock, and the genoa on the way back when the winds got lighter. We had a few totally dead spots and eventually furled the sails and  motored back. Gene is an experienced sailor and had the helm the entire time. I did the trimming and all sails worked well; no kinky errors in mounting them. I had not seen the depth meter turn on during the motor transit from ILENE's winter berth to the Harlem, but I tried again and the switch for the Autopilot (which is not connected) is linked with the wind, depth and speed displays and came on. But we turned them off and sailed like Columbus did, except he was going where no European had gone before while we were in our home waters.

And Saturday was the Club's work party followed, after an hour's respite during which I read in the local branch of the public library, by a membership meeting. Because Lene had driven to her friend's home in the Berkshires for the weekend, I took public transportation to the Club and Mark gave me a ride back to the Pelham Station for the subway ride home at the end of the day.

I thoroughly enjoyed the day. Despite some rain a whole lot of folks showed up and formed into large teams to accomplish many tasks. Many guys brought their very heavy duty power tools and everyone tried to help as much as possible in a cooperative manner.
+ The Adirondack chairs on the front porch were sanded repaired where needed and given a fresh coat of white paint.
+ Ten more new ones were delivered to be at the sides of the new and larger cupola, half way out on the dock. It had been rebuilt, larger and stronger, using donated funds and volunteer labor after the old one got blown away in hurricane Sandy. (Side rails not up yet.)

+ Another team installed a large "dollhouse"-like structure on top of it, with an ornamental but working wind vane at the peak. It is lighted from the inside with the light shining out of its windows. Classy! With the HYC burgee's emblem, in brass, on the pennant if you look closely.

+ I finished reattaching the sign at the end of the dock and washed it. Next time, lets wash it before putting it up so we need not so so while standing on a ladder rocking as waves hit the dock. And we have solar powered lights for the sign that I reattached.

+  One  big project was moving one of the floating docks to the railroad car and hauling it out to attach a large black plastic rectangular air filled float so it will be level again and then towing it back to where it goes.
+ Another team drilled holes for metal fittings at the landward end of the floating dock with a piece of chain, run through a set of short PVC collars and shackled tightly at both ends around the piling located there to secure the dock to the piling. My sneaker appears so you can see how hefty the metal fittings are.
+ The trophies in their case had their annual taste of silver polish.

Both the bagels and coffee breakfast and the very ample and tasty lunch were provided for us worker bees by the Club.

The spirit of teamwork and good will was so strong -- I was proud of my Club.

And the same spirit continued during the membership meeting. It is true that no divisive issues were up for decision, but sadly, a few decades ago that would not stop some members from putting each other (and the board members) down with snotty questions. A lot of good projects and improvements are underway to preserve and strengthen the Club, all worked on by our volunteer leaders. Dues would have to be much higher if we had to pay for all the work that gets done, and they folks enjoyed the work, the comradeship and getting to know each other.

Friday, May 18, 2018

All April And To The Ninth of May; ILENE Is LAUNCHED and On Her Mooring!

Great sadness! Forty days without a post, due to the inaccessibility of my computer. I hope some of my loyal readers have remained faithful during the drought. And while I hope that I'm now back to posting, some of Blogspot's functionality is still not restored.

The compression of so much time into one report may have a silver lining; while a lot of work got done on a lot of days, it is mostly the same old boatwork that needs be done every season, and less exciting than in other posts.

Twenty work days, two of them at home doing paperwork and derusting and waxing the swim ladder. I put in a total of 86.5 work hours: slightly better than four per day, but that only counts my time and I had help. Ten hours with Ed Spallina on two days and 33.5 hours on seven days with my nephew, Mendy. He did the heavy lifting of the winter covers to be folded and carried upstairs to the locker and the sails from the locker to the boat and hauling them twelve feet up to the deck and helped with the mounting them as well as scouring and painting the bottom and cleaning and waxing the freeboard. Without him these tasks would have been nigh impossible for me or at least taken me a lot longer. So all told, 130 hours of work to get ready.

Ed was a big help with his many power tools and carpentry knowledge of how to use them. We, well he, really, with my "help," created a mounting plate to cover the hole in the instrument pod where the old RL70C chart plotter used to sit, with a different hole in it for the new Axion 9 Multi Function Display. We also thought through what wires we will need to run to get connectivity of power and signal to the new units. I did the mechanical installation of the new Ray 70 VHF radio, much where the old Standard Horizon had been and Ed did the wiring for that unit. It was hard getting the old radar dome down from its swinging platform above the arch and we found that the new bolts that Raymarine supplied with the larger, lighter new digital one were too long so I bought new ones and that is up in place now too. I called Raymarine four times to ask what wires and connectors we would need to order from Defender and got different answers each time. In the end I got eight such pieces and will return those we don't use back to Defender for a refund.

Some highlights:
+  Reattachment of the aft head; neither of them leak and both work much more efficiently than before with their new piston rings! This picture with the bowl off and before extensive cleanup of the entire area.
+  I wasted a lot of time looking for stuff: I did not find the Allen wrenches until after I had bought new ones, that I've now taken home. The paper charts of Nova Scotia are still among the missing.
+ I'm pleased with what Mendy has been learning including reinserting and attaching the stanchions and lifelines. In fact, I helped broker a deal, no commission, in which Mendy is doing the bottom and freeboard on Ohana, Bennett's boat. Good deal for Bennett with the free use of my roller, pan, buffer, tarp, etc. But having gotten Mendy an hourly rate, I thereafter felt compelled to pay him the same rate for his work on ILENE, but not retroactively.
+  Two of the mainsail's battens have been a problem for some time, being a bit too long, protruding a bit aft of the leech, causing the sail to get hung up on the lazy jacks while being hoisted. So I sawed off the last inch, smoothed the edges with the boat's file and voila: problem apparently solved.
+  But that was too easy and I also ended up getting the main stuck on the port prong at the gooseneck, putting a tiny hole in it at the leech, about two feet above the tack. I will patch it with tape this season and perhaps let Doyle do a more professional job next winter.
+  I picked up the cockpit cushions from the shop in Norwalk. The old "open cell foam" plastic cellular structure had deteriorated to a yellow dust since the cushions were placed into service in October 2011. The new foam seems thicker than the original. So good seating is restored and it might be good for another seven years, which might be longer than I can continue to sail such a big boat.

We have had some non-work boating-related activities as well:
+A good dinner with Mendy at Bennett and Harriet's home; another one with them near Broadway before theater; two great buffet lunches at the Club during my work days with Mendy.
+Attended a meeting of the Club Cruise Committee, of which I remain nominally the Chair as Fleet Captain, but only until someone else is willing to take the job.  I cannot take ILENE on the cruise of about ten days that the four boat present elected to plan because she will be in Maine for eight to ten weeks including those days. But the folks who attended, mostly PC Bruce, came up with  a nice itinerary with lay days at the furthest point, Watch Hill on the Connecticut-Rhode Island border.

And as I mentiuioned: WE LAUNCHED!  And a day of excitement it was. High tide presented a window from 1:30 to 5:30 that afternoon, May 4.  I asked, for my planning purposes, what time they planned to launch ILENE. "3:30 it will be."  I know that plans go astray, but we had a target and Mendy and I were ready. Well it was 5:30 before they got to me. And once in the water the engine started right up like it did last fall. But we are launched at the Huguenot stern first into an inlet with rocky riprap to starboard and the dock to port, so the boat has to be attached to the dock during the time that the headstays are reattached. Well they were not there to take the bow lines or spring lines so while the stern was near the dock, the bow was very near the rocks. Saved by a small workboat in the nick of time!  It was not very windy and there were no big waves, but going on the rocks is not a good way to start the first minute of the new season.

Once on the dock, engine off, waiting for Orlando and Gus to reattach the two headstays, I checked and noticed water in the bilge. I checked the engine under the ladder between the cabin and the cockpit, because I had just reattached the raw water cooling hose there that morning and maybe I had screwed it up. But the water was coming from further aft. So I tore everything out of the aft cabin to look in there, thinking maybe I had screwed up when I put the new zinc in the refrigeration condenser during the winter. What I saw was a lot of water seemingly sprayed about in that compartment. First step: dry it all out so I can see where the water is coming from. But none was coming in with the engine off.  When  Mendy turned it on the problem was immediately obvious but easily fixable: there is a four inch diameter plastic elbow connecting the engine discharge system to the muffler which is held on by two four inch diameter hose clamps, two at each end.
The clamps were loose and the water sprayed out from the seams. So: engine off, tighten up the clamps, engine on and voila: no more water. I had never even thought about those clamps and figure I had nudged them while doing the work on the condenser zinc in there last fall.

Once the headstays were reattached we headed off at about 6 pm. I took Ilene's iPad for its InavX chart and we got through the western exit into the Sound. I thought I would have the depth instrument but it did not come on and, of course, no auto pilot until the electronics are rewired.

ILENE's mooring had been moved to deeper water to accommodate the extra two inches of draft she will get this summer in Maine. So finding the ball was not that easy but the bridles from our ball come out of its top which is an unusual feature makes it easier to spot, especially in a near empty mooring field. I took and educated guess which later turned out to be correct.

Next stop, the launch ride to the dock. But that afternoon the Docks Chairman had sent out an email that I had not yet read advising that as an economy measure launch service in this early part of the season ends at 4 p.m. long before our arrival. But the launch operator of the neighboring City Island YC heard my calls to the Harlem launch and told me we had no launch service. When I hailed him he came and got us and we had a nice dinner at Bistrot SK, with Mendy and two non-sailing friends who drove us back to the Huguenot after dinner so we could get our car.