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

Monday, January 13, 2020

Dec 13, 2019 to January 13, 2020 -- YIKES!!! A Whole Month!

And very little in a boating way accomplished. Two dinners with long time boating friends Bennett and Harriet, and one with new boating friends, David and Debra. Their boat is next to mine in the yard at the Huguenot YC and we got to talking. I invited Dave to join my Book Group, thereby finally shedding my rookie status after 27 years. They want to cruise and so he was interested in our experiences, though my local knowledge on the Caribbean is now at least eight years old. The fond memories remain though.
Also, I have finally gotten started (inertia is such a strong force) on writing up a talk on the US Navy Hydrographic Office Charts 1870 to 1950, in the NY Public Library. I cataloged them, over 4000 charts, as a volunteer, during the period 2006 -2013 and have had writer's block about preparing the talk until now. Here is a detail of a tiny section of a 4' x 8'  1878 chart of the coast Newport RI to Beaufort NC. The fragment shows the extent that Manhattan Island was undeveloped at that time. and also says "Fog T." (Fog Tower?) at the north end of what we now call Hart Island.
I did visit the boat twice, but for a total of only four hours of work.
+Pumping the bilge. The water comes in through the top around the mast. I did it manually because the electric bilge pump burned up when I tried to run it with ice in it. Another project.
+Charging up the batteries.
+I'm trying to refurbish the rope clutches on the coach roof because, believe it or not, the friction of the lines they hold has worn down the metal teeth in the bar that, when engaged, holds the lines in place under tension. First step is identifying the manufacturer so I can ask about the process. ILENE's  clutches are unlike those in today's catalogues, an older vintage -- from 1999. For one thing, unlike the current models, the levers lift up at their aft ends. The littlest project take a while and there is a lot of winter left to get this done. One idea I had was to cross the lines so that those used the most would be slotted in clutches that have fresh teeth and those hardly ever used would be where the teeth are worn. Any readers with ideas, please comment. I used the flashlight for lighting.

+The new canvas bag covering the teak table in the cockpit is being fabricated as I write.
+I've measured, and using Pythagoreas' theorem, calculated the length of the hypotenuse to figure out how long the new 1/4" replacement whisker pole uphaul line should be.
+More stainless steel hardware is needed to reattach the MOM-8 life saving module.
+But the biggest project this winter will be getting new and improved fuel tanks to replace the current ones that are 20 year old. One of them has sprung a tiny leak which will stink up the boat if not fixed. Most of the other Saga owners have replaced the tanks by now. The new ones will be made of thicker stronger metal and will last 40 years, at least! In this regard I am very lucky that two other owners have offered me design drawings that I can take to a shop that welds metal tanks.  Less lucky is that to get to the existing tanks so I can measure their dimensions very precisely, I have to remove the cabin sole boards. Alas, my next task, in order to get the largest board up, will be to drill out one stubborn wood screw and then, probably, repair the hole I will end up making in the floor.
And so it goes!

Sunday, December 8, 2019

November 23 to December 12 -- Two Very Short Work Days (6.5 Hours for a Dozen Small Tasks) and two Other Days

During a five day visit in San Diego with Lene's family for Thanksgiving, I got to the Art museum while they went to the Zoo. A good museum with well trained guards who know the collection, but on the first of the two floors, the only one that I roamed, there was no material boat art except this one,

an oil by Stuart Davis in 1932 called Composition with Boats. The placard said the Gloucester shoreline is in the picture. Really? But it is pretty as an abstraction.

Another intriguing sculpture was constructed of bent ash wood boards and I had to explain to the docent how a steambox works and that the screws were under the bungs.
The second Other day was a meeting of the New York Map Society. It was what they call a "Show and Tell" in which members bring in and speak for six minutes (well many presentations took  a bit longer) on maps of their choosing. Included was a book showing the route of the Third Avenue El, heavily illustrated with 1950's color photos of the buildings in the neighborhoods it passed through; a 1600's map of Lithuania; one from the same period of England's Sherwood Forest (home of Robin Hood); maps drawn by Aaron Burr's brother; one from 1871 showing the extent of the German intrusion into France in the Franco-Prussian war; one outlining parks and major roads of Jersey City which was filled in by many residents marking the places where they lived worked and played; a map of Manhattan showing the location of the sports bars where fans of each particular NFL team could cheer for their team on TV; one showing the location and layout of the various Burning Man Festivals out west; and my contribution: a chart of Turks and Caicos 2004, showing our track across that island nation in March-April 2012 (as described in this blog). I'm apparently the only member who neither collects, sells nor creates charts and described myself as a "lover and user," and they liked my presentation.

The work was only 6.5 hours, half at home and half on the boat: I checked and pumped the bilge after having been away for two weeks, put a bit more charge in the batteries, found a cat comb that Lene wanted, checked the anti chafing padding, took a picture of the rod where the cockpit table hangs
amidst several emails refining the design of the new canvas bag to cover the cockpit table, located and removed the brackets holding the MOM-8 to the rail so I could get a replacement for the one that broke (frustrated that Landfall Navigation will only sell me a set of eight of them but they gave me the number of Switlik, the manufacturer, and if they won't please their customer, I'll get it used),

measured the diameter of the blue spinnaker halyard for replacement, sanded the teak and gathered the varnish, brush and thinner needed to finish the pieces, used the Dremel to grind a point of the stub of the broken marlinspike, bought a new ice pick and better indoor portable LED boat lighting.

All just little things that need to get done and by starting early ILENE should be ready for spring.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

November 8 to 22 -- Slowing Down After The End Of The Pre-Winter Rush

Three "Other" days, evenings, really, two for theater with sailing friends and the last for the final Membership Meeting of the year and of the current Commodore's second and last year in office. The meeting lasted longer than usual because of all the fully justified  congratulating and thanking that the board members did to each other for the progress the Club has made during the last two years.

And four Work days, three of them at home, total of sixteen hours. One hour was with Ed Spallina at the Club, during which we got the "lower unit" of the outboard engine winterized and I learned how to do it (and wrote it down in terms I can understand) so I can do it myself in future years. I find that a task done only once per year or two is lost to me if not written down. It involves changing the special  oil that is in the lower unit to keep water out of it.

The rest of the time was all at home with paperwork and studying and writing up my list of winter projects and shopping list. The list includes three lines including a new single heavy duty double braid mooring bridle and a spnnaker halyard. I am waiting a return call from Jeff Lazar, rigger extraordinaire, about what size lines I need. I think the boat came with over-sized lines which are, of course, a lot more expensive than thinner ones. I whipped a lot of new ends caused by cutting bad pieces out of old lines so the good parts can be used for other purposes. I have also asked him to reeve the line through the triple blocks with becket and cam cleat that are used to hoist the aft end of the dinghy to the port side of its davit bar. I spent a lot of time finding a detailed description on the net of how to do this, but following the instructions as best I could I still ended up with the friction causing twists I was trying to get rid of.

I have also researched, determined the need for and purchased for the ridiculous price of $79, a longer bar to attach to the existing bars which attach the MOM-8 man overboard box to the rails of the stern pulpit. This shows the horizontal rails from inside the winter cover.
The MOM-8  was mounted on the stern rails to port but it operates, in an emergency, by dropping its load into the water when released, and the dinghy, trussed up against the stern pulpit would block that action. So it will be attached to the starboard side rails of the stern cockpit. The only problem is that there is no vertical rail available on the side (as there is on the stern) and the two horizontal rails are 14" apart while the built-in bars on the module are only 11" long. Hence the need for the extension bar. It has arrived and all I now need do is to figure out how to attach it. Switlik must have instructions. Keep looking, Roger.

The other man-overboard device is the Lifesling 2. This is low tech device: one end remains tied to the boat, the rest to be dumped in the water from its bag on the port side of the stern pulpit rail. It is dragged in the water to the person overboard and then used to pull him or her to the boat. It works fine, remains buoyant, has never been used and needs so periodic recharging.
The only problem was that after fourteen years, its white oilcloth container bag has rotted away to extreme ugliness. I figured the manufacturer would sell replacement covers and while it does, in the process I discovered a woman out in Washington State, Misty McColgan of Standout Yacht Fittings, who sells replacement bags made of Sunbrella (the canvas of the dodger and bimini) with better fasteners and which should be looking good for years. I'll let you know how it turns out.

And then I looked at the big beautiful solid teak cockpit table and saw that the varnish of its top nine inches (when stowed in the vertical position), having been exposed to the elements because the hand made Sunbrella storage bag that came with the boat is nine inches too short and has no top cover, I sent it to Washington too, to be improved.
Sanding, preparing for painting the bottom and waxing the top and freeboard, repainting the stripes on the anchor chain are all on my list.

The fun part of the list is this item: Plan itinerary for Newfoundland cruise from July 1 to
September 15, 2020; discuss with potential buddy boats to synchronize; buy the charts needed.

Here, appropos nothing, is a nice unusual night view of our boat docked at the low dock from from the high deck of the Housatonic Yacht Club taken in about July 2016. I had not been able to download until now. The white vertical line under the American Flag is the MOM-8 mounted improperly on the stern rail.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Update on Cruiser

Readers will recall that our new orange tomcat, Cruiser, showed some improvement in terms of his acceptance of human contact during our cruise to Rhode Island this past summer. He did not like to be petted and with ILENE thankfully devoid of mice, he was a rather useless addition to our crew. After all, what are cats useful for.
But the cause of Cruiser's anti-social activity was discovered during his visit to our veterinarian after the cruise. For one thing the expert said he is most likely 8-9 years old rather than the 5-6 we were told by the adoption agency. But there were two significant reasons why he did not favor humans rubbing their hands over the sides and top of his head and under his neck -- the erogenous zones of feline-human interactions.
He was suffering from ear mites and tooth decay; he had constant earache and toothache pain. I would not want anyone rubbing their hands on my head in these conditions either. These problems were fixed with feline dentistry and medicines. With the pain gone Cruiser is a much more social animal.
Of course he remains somewhat leery of humans due to abuse by them that he must have suffered in the streets, but he has become a much better cat and we look forward to sailing with him and his sister, Alfie, to Newfoundland in 2020.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

October 26 - November 8 -- End of the Season; Ten Work Days:ILENE Hauled and Winterized

Ten separate work days during this two week period, with a total of 45 hours, including almost two hours with Lene one day. This time  to do all of the separate steps to get ILENE loaded with her winter stuff, motored the five miles to New Rochelle, oil changed, all sails stripped and taken one at a time to City island, folded and stored in the upstairs locker (the main after minor repairs and refurbishment at Doyle Sails), hauling itself, all fresh water systems winterized and the canvas cover installed and secured. And just in time before the first frost of the winter. Here she is on the hard, with fenders over the side and headstays not yet reattached in photo by Dave from his apartment window.
The trickiest thing was winterizing the engine, which I finally learned after the twelfth year of doing this, how to do without a second person, Lene. Here are pictures of the top of the funnel-hose contraption tied to the D ring at the side of the companionway in the cockpit, followed by one of the bottom of the same hose, with its outside diameter enlarged by wraps of electrical tape, and then  inserted snugly into the big black hose taking seawater from the outlet of the raw water strainer to the engine. With this setup I can pour pink antifreeze into the funnel (some seen as pink in the hose near the bottom, turn the engine on and off and observe the outflow from the exhaust until it turned pink., all from the cockpit.

Now I have a lot of winter projects to think about and work on, but my baby is high and dry and safe.
One such issue is the status of the thick black hose. I saw a tiny leak at its side, probably caused by my effort with the heat gun and tools to get it off of the nipple of the raw water strainer. I'm thinking about whether that hole can be repaired with special tape held in place with another hose clamp of it I need to replace the whole hose, and if the latter, how will I get access to its other end, under the engine. Just one more thing to think about this winter.

Friday, November 1, 2019

The 2019 Sailing Season

The summer season during which ILENE floats (including any sailing on other boats near that season, also known as the "fun season"  has come to an end. So how did the 2019 sailing go?

Having launched on May 9 and hauled on October 29 (and adding the eleven days during late April and early May on a catamaran charter in St, Vincents and the Grenadines) my 2019 sailing season was 185 days, just a tad more than half a year.

Of those 185 days 91 were spent afloat, though 20 of those 91 were lay days on which I lived aboard without getting underway. I don't think this 91 was as many sailing days as I had in 2011 going to and from Grenada, but I had a goodly satisfying dose.

I have divided the 91 days into segments chronologically.
     A. St Vincents and the Grenadines the catamaran charter       11
    B.  From Bermuda to Halifax  on Russee de Jersey                 12    (incl  5 lay days in Bermuda)
    C. Day sails, before the summer cruise                                   17
    D. The summer Cruise to Rhode Island                                   41    A (incl 15 lay days in RI)
    E. Day sails, after the summer cruise                                      10

This analysis reveals that only 27 of the 91 days (segments C and E) were local near City Island, actually it only 26 because one day in segment E was on Athena I in Halifax.

How many of the 91 days were not aboard ILENE? Well, in addition to the total of 23 days for the Catamaran charter and the blue water passage from Bermuda to Halifax on a French aluminum sloop, (segments A and B) I also have to subtract the five following day sails.
     1 on Easy Living,          a Catalina,
     2 on Ohana,                   a Beneteau (twice),
     1 on Jazz Sail,               another Catalina and
     1 on Athena I                in Halifax, an Albin.
All except the last of these five were aboard boats of other members of the Old Salts. I sailed with them nine times, five of the nine aboard ILENE.

Adding these five days on other boats to the 23 of segments A and B means that 28 of the 91 sailing days were not aboard ILENE, leaving only 63 days spent on ILENE, and with fifteen of those being lay days, we only got ILENE underway only 48 times this summer.

We put only 97.2 hours on the diesel this year, about half the average of the prior nineteen seasons. and some of those hours were for refrigeration during lay days.   

How many different friends did I sail with aboard ILENE this summer?   Fifty!
In no logical order, each followed by the number of sails if more than one they are:
Bennett 3    Harriet    Mendy 3    Grace   Ilene  13    Rhoda  2   Lloyd 2  Morty  3  Clara 2  Mike 2  Sandy 2   Debbie  Virginia    Sheila    Babette    Jeff  2  Anthony   Heather  2  Christine  2   Pat    Don  Harry  Tom   Marie   Sacha   Irina   Sarah  Peggy  Devra   Vin   Dan   MaryJane  Ama  Sid  Jan  Linda  and  Joel   plus thirteen folks whose names I sadly do not recall: eight friends of Bennett and  five members of the New York Map Society.

And I sailed with Yves and Greg and Wanda on Canadian boats, so 53 souls, with them added.

While I did boat work on sailing days, I also enjoyed 27 Work Days on the boat during this summer's season - days on which I neither lived nor sailed, and 12  Other Days,spent off the boat at boating related activities. Adding these 39 to the 91 Sailing/Living days totals 130 days of the 185 in which I was engaged in some sort of boating related activities. But to be honest, not a day goes by without my thinking about the sea and perhaps writing for this blog or articles about sailing or reading about sailing. A very good sailing season indeed.
Here is a beautiful picture of the Fordham University Varsity Crew Team practicing in the early morning mist after launching from our club. I did not take this picture.
My winter work season began on October 29 and will last through next May's launch date, with less boat related activities, but they will be reported in this blog.


Friday, October 25, 2019

October 18 - 24 -- Oh Canada! -- Including One Bonus Sail in 2019

Family travel by car to visit Sabrina with Ken in Niagara Falls, Canada.
Last time here it was January and

we couldn't get near the falls. They are magnificent up close.

The second picture is Bridal Veil Falls, a tiny separate part of the US Falls. And we learned that 75% of the water in the Niagara River, which flows south to north along the US-Canadian border from Lake Erie which is higher, to Lake Ontario which is lower, has been diverted for making electricity. Hard to believe that four times as much water flowed over the Falls before the diversion.
Our B and B, Bedham House, was right across the street from the edge of the gorge and wonderfully warm, friendly, inexpensive and delicious (Eggs Benedict). We took the Hornblower boat ride
to the foot of both the American and Canadian falls (in pink) and the walked through a tunnel under the Canadian side (in yellow). The dark mark in the mist at the foot of the Canadian Falls is the Hornblower, with 500 folks aboard!

Toured wine country in Niagara On The Lake, a concert in St. Catherines and drove around the SW end of like Ontario to Toronto Airport for our flight to Halifax to visit Greg and Wanda.

This is my fifth visit to that city and the first not by boat. The first was aboard a cruise ship in the fall of 2005; we were watching Hurricane Katrina on the news. The next two were in 2017 on our way to and from the Bra D'or Lakes, and the fourth was at the end of the Bermuda to Halifax run on Russe de Jersey this spring with Yves and Greg.
Our hosts spent most of their summer fixing up their new Albin 37 sloop, Athena I, shown here on the dock.
The next picture is from near her bow, with Greg aboard, the dock house and the house.

We sailed her the afternoon of our arrival. She sails so beautifully with full keel -- no hands needed on the wheel once you aim her straight; she just goes straight, with out auto pilot.
We enjoyed 2.5 hours out on the Bedford Basin, tacking southward toward municipal Halifax and then broad reached back north to our hosts' dock. Before and after the one day of strong wind and rain Greg and I brought her out to her mooring, about 100 yards away, and dinked back to the dock and we reversed the process after the storm. A problem on the return: when almost to the dock we lost the ability to put her into forward or reverse gear. We got tied to the end of the dock and once Greg got out a long line which we ran from her stern to the shore end of the dock, we were able to pivot her around from the head of the dock to its side. Later experimentation showed that apparently the propeller fell off the shaft! A convenient time and place for this: the day after we left was her hauling day and Greg will tow her over to his Club, less than a quarter mile away, using his power boat. He uses the power boat for fishing and to get to the heart of town, 15 minutes away, where there is free docking for day stops.
We took a long drive over to Nova Scotia's wine country, Wolfville and the Minas Basin one day.
The Basin is maybe 20 by 50 miles of water off the NE corner of the Bay of Fundy into which very few people ever sail, bordered by large shallow red sand beaches. Very unusual. And we visited the Maritime Museum in downtown Halifax on the rainy day.

We are hoping that Greg and Wanda will visit NYC in June and we will see them next summer and join them on our planned cruise to Newfoundland.