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

Friday, March 9, 2018

February Is Gone Allready!

And at its end, a few warm days, in the 50's to encourage us to hang in for summer. So bits of warm weather, sailing magazines and the blog Sail Pandora (currently in the Caribbean) are keeping me warm these winter days.
Five days at the boat; 19.5 hours  This was mostly on the cabin sole. I ran out of 1/2 and 1/4 inch diameter teak bungs and those I used were noticeably darker than the teak, leaving a random dotted effect, not polka dots because those are both in an even pattern and all the same size. I kind of like our cabin sole; it has "character" and is smooth, shiny and well protected by polyurethane. Once it is done, all I have to do is remember to remind myself and guests to not put heavy things on surfaces from which they can fall. So, with no teak bungs, I bought two dowels of light colored hard wood at a local art supply store, cut lengths of them, rounded the bottom edge to ease insertion, applied glue, pounded them in and after the glue dried, sanded the tops even with the existing sole, creating a "grain" like effect in them with the sandpaper (because the dowels present end grain, which means no grain). Then I stained them darker with my existing cherry stain "pen". And I got two coats of polyurethane on the boards now but need a third. A third can't hurt, but is needed in this case because when I tried to rough up the first coat, it was not quite dry enough, leaving the sanded surface just a bit sticky. But in a few more days, the second coat I put on over the first will be bone dry, and easily sanded lightly for the third coat.

I also pulled out the first reef line, which had had its outer cover shredded by its thumb cleat, leaving a messenger line in place to pull the new one through, back into place. 

More significantly, I finally figured out the most efficient way (and put it in place) to prevent the thumb cleat from ruining the future reefing line. There are actually four such thumb cleats hanging in a row from a rod near the bottom of the front end of the boom. You are supposed to pull down on the line with all your weight and might, and then push the little lever up of the thumb cleat up, with its ridges grabbing the line and holding it in place. But all of our lines now run past the thumb cleats to the cockpit, where the coach roof winches can pull them tighter and clutches hold them better. But with the bounding main, the thumb cleat had accidentally grabbed the reeling line and the power of the winch shredded its red cover.  The major part of the strength of the line is it its white core, but it was not as strong as it was with the cover and it looked ratty.
But how to prevent recurrence was the issue. First, I thought I could pound out the rod that holds the thumb cleats, from the side. This made a racket but did not budge the rod. Second, well we will drill it out; also abandoned. Third, two small holes, one through each side of the four inch wide boom, and a four plus inch very thin bolt through both holes, with a nut on the other side to hold the tails of the light weight thumb cleats out of the way. But how to line up the two holes, four inches apart so that the bolt could go through both holes? Fourth, and finally, a length if simple 1/8" line, from a piece of the "small stuff" (short pieces of line) that are always laying around. I fed it through both holes, with a knot in each end on the outside. I must confess that I'm a bit to pleased with myself for the elegant simplicity of this current, and I hope, final answer.

I also participated at an open house at the Club, designed to attract new members where I met some nice folks. Some seemed impressed with what we have to offer and the free wine and cheese were good. I also gave $50 to the Commodore that I collected, ten from each participant in the Winter Art Cruise. I told him to credit it to the Cruise Committee budget line, which was a joke because there has never been such a budget line.

John, former a Harlemite, now living on Maryland's Eastern Shore has appeared in this blog several times, mostly when we cruised in the Chesapeake, 2006, 2011, 2014 and 2015. He has been a big help in getting things fixed and installed. And he sailed with me from the Chesapeake to the Harlem in 2016, and lent me the Fostner bits used to drill the bung holes.

He was our guest for two days which gave me the chance to give him what he can't get in Maryland. A master class taught in public by the chief violist of the Met Opera orchestra to three talented NYU students, an organ recital at Grace Church, a performance of Tchaikovsky's Pathetique Symphony by the orchestra of The New School University and a performance of "The Amateurs" at the Vineyard Theater. Each an average of five blocks from our apartment and the first three free. And in the same two days: dinners at a new Vegan Restaurant and a Greek one with grilled octopus salad after breakfasts of omelets and mango/blueberry/sweet potato pancakes fried in coconut oil with maple syrup.

Soon the water will be turned back on and work on the hull, not much this year, can begin.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

First Half of February: Four "Other" Days and Three Work Days

The "other" days:
One restaurant and theater night with Bennett and Harriett.
Another dinner party at Sheila's house with Bennett, Harriet, Marcy, Christine and Heather. All six in addition to Lene and I are connected to us through diverse ways, and have sailed aboard ILENE. All but two have cruised overnight with us.
An exhibit at the Parsons School which is part of The New School, a quarter mile from home. The subject was "The Ocean After Nature."
It sounded promising or at least relevant, but the concept and execution were both sadly junk: very politicized video displays of  the effect of humankind upon the sea. Sorry, but I have to give it low marks. But the free wine and foods after were good; I called Lene to tell her not to prepare dinner for me. During the noshing I was speaking about my connection to the sea with a stranger. He said he knew a guy who was gay and who wrote a book about his sailing with his partner. I said "Do you mean Gene Kahn? He was a member and on the board of our Club and I sailed with him aboard his boat "Bevel"! I read his book, "Deep Water", and he was quite a good sailor and writer." Sadly AIDS caught up with him maybe ten or more years ago and he is no longer with us. But what a coincidence!
And the last of the four Other days was the Club's visit to the J. Russell Jinishian Gallery of contemporary nautical art in Fairfield CT. Mr. Jinishian, an expert at sailing as well as art, gave us a lot of his time and expertise.

I had checked this gallery out last year (when we went to the Met) and the advantage was that in Fairfield CT we did not have to run all over the huge museum to see the pieces from around the world. In Fairfield the beautiful and expensive pieces of art were all in one jam packed room.
The art did not disappoint but the attendance, only five people, was disappointing. Oh well, as they used to say in Brooklyn: "Wait till next year!" A nice tappas lunch followed at Taberna Restaurant in Fairfield.
                                      Gene, Lene, Rhoda, Lloyd and Roger
And the three work days (11.5 hours total):
The first was at home where I cut and scraped the old elkhide cover off  of the top quadrant of the boat's wheel, sewed on the new, stronger and thicker elkhide replacement and created two black leather rings to cover the seams between old and new. The old had lasted twelve seasons and the other three quarters of it, where my hands were on it less often, seem like they will go for another twelve.
The other two work days were devoted to putting the marine toilets back together again. My instructions had been to tap on the hard white plastic piston rings with a hammer to expand the outside diameter of those rings, where the piston rubs against the cylinder wall, to get a tighter fit. (Unlike an auto engine, which runs hot, we are talking about seawater here so plastic will not burn or melt.) I think I did too good a job because I could not get the cylinder back in with the rings on it. So I used new rings. Another problem: The 5/16" threaded rod I fabricated by cutting the head off a bolt with the Dremmel tool was perfectly adequate for removal of the piston, but not long enough for the reinstallation. So I had to to buy a longer bolt and decapitate it too. The forward head is completely put together, though untested as to leaks. This acid test will take place once the boat is launched. And further work on the reinstallation of the aft head requires that the broken bolt be drilled out.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

January 2018 - A Slow Start

Two trips to the boat, but with only five hours work. The first trip was to remove the heavy snow fall from the top of the canvas cover; but the wind had done this for me so it was only a matter of taking things from home via car to boat and others in the other direction.
The second trip involved getting ice out of the bilge by chopping a hole through the top inch with the marlinspike and using the dink bailing pump to suck out about four gallons of the water blow. I checked out the new end stopper for the small jib sheet traveler to make sure it fits and composed a text to my friend, Ed Spallina, my helper for tough tasks. I will employ him to get frozen bolts out and to fix the arm that guides the chain from the windlass to the hawse pipe.
I finally found the solution to the hand held end of the dinghy oar that lost its rubber cap. I found a large cork which, with glue, will do the job.
And I figured out a better way to keep the thumb cleats hanging inside the forward end of the boom from continuing to chew up the lines that run past them. Plan one had been to drill them out but this would be and would leave a mess. So I figured I could drill the smallest diameter holes through the sides of the boom and put in a bolt that would hold the thumb cleats up and out of the way. The problem with this solution was aligning the two holes which are 4.5 inches apart. The final solution avoids the need for alignment and involves even less weight: I will drill two holes but run a thin line through both of them with a knot on the outside of each end. The line will support the ounce of troublesome weight and solve the problem elegantly. I'll post a picture when it is done.
I also sanded down all surfaces of the largest remaining cabin sole board, and inserted a piece of wood at the bottom of the companionway ladder with a pit I drilled into it to support and lock the ladder into place.

And it was not all boat work. The first membership meeting of the year was followed by my favorite Club party: International Night. The meeting was run very efficiently, democratically and with good cheer by incoming Commodore Peter Trumfio. No rancorous issues, no dues increases or assessments and last year's income exceeded revenues by a few thousand dollars for the third year in a row. If the economy ever comes back and we get back over 100 active members like we had in 2008, we will really be sitting pretty, with funds for new improvements. 
International Night is an organized pot luck with a cash bar and a $15 cash contribution. My food contribution was a large sweet brisket, the recipe I cook for Passover seders; and it was gobbled up which is satisfying too. Lots of delicious food.
Another January evening a group of six Corinthians met for dinner in a Greenwitch Village restaurant to eat and talk about our boating adventures
I was not as lazy in January as it might seem. Six days, two of them for going and coming back, were consumed on a trip to Carlsbad CA, perhaps 30 miles north of San Diego, to visit Lene's brother and his wife.  We could have chartered a boat in San Diego for a few hours, but they declined my offer to do so. We did visit an inlet from the sea where migratory birds rest up, walked along the town beach and visited an organization run by the zoo where we saw two 65 pound tiger cubs playing gleefully. A restful little family vacation.

Monday, January 22, 2018

"At Sea in the City" by William Kornblum and "Manhattan Beach" by Jennifer Egan

I can't sail when it is this cold and the boat is winterized and on the hard, but I can read about the waters. Both of these are very well written with poetic figures of speech.

The first of them was lent to me by sailing friend Bennett. He thought I would like it and he was right. Mr. Kornblum is a professor of sociology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He lives on Long Island's south shore where he kept his boat, "Tradition" a 24 foot Crosby catboat built in 1910 and restored by him and his family. Quite a diametrically different craft from "ILENE," her lower boom extends aft of her stern and holds the bottom of her single quadrilateral tanbark sail. Her mast is only 26 feet high and even with a metal fixed keel that was added by a prior owner, her draft is only four feet. So she can go in shallower water and under lower fixed bridges as compared to my boat.
The book describes Tradition's last multi-day one-way cruise from the south shore, in Jamaica Bay, through New York Harbor, up the East River and out into Long Island Sound. This was at the end of her 17 years of service to his family. Some days of this cruise he was alone, while on others he was joined by, e.g., his wife, friends, and dogs. Each chapter describes a passage of the cruise and begins with a sketch chart of the area. Each contains bits of the history of New York and his personal memories of prior experiences in that place. Two of my favorites of his stops were (1) off Manhattan at 21st Street in the East River, where he worked at the cement plant located there during his summers while a Cornell undergraduate and where he anchored in ten feet of water for a late second breakfast, and (2) at Hallett's Cove, off Astoria Queens., where he anchored and dinked in to get his dogs. I had not known of either of these anchorages and believe they may be worth a try, though perhaps not suitable for an overnight stop with the changing of the tides.
Tradition suffered an engine failure and had to sail up through Hells Gate. This passage ended, when the tide changed, at a dock on North Brother Island. ILENE also suffered from an engine failure in these water, see blog posting in June 2016; neither boat suffered any damage.
I looked up the author and invited him for a sail: "your boat or mine"; it looks like I will have the pleasure of his company in May on ILENE.  Any New York based cruising sailor, or even one who does not sail here, will enjoy this book.

The second selection is a very enjoyable and easy to read novel by a prize winning author that my book group selected. Though not about sailing as such, it has a very New York water theme. Set in the late depression of the 1930's and WWII, its spunky heroine becomes a diver. This was before scuba, when the suit weighed over 200 pounds and air had to be pumped down by a grinder above. She worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and the book has 101 characters, several of them major characters. Egan takes the reader to much of New York and tells a story about the Irish mafia of that time period. How do such diverse elements fit into the same novel? If you read it, you will enjoy finding out.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Last Two Weeks of 2017 and Recap

It took me three half days of work to take apart the two heads to solve the flowback problem (brown water, when fully pumped out, becomes tan water rather than pure clean sea water). On the first day of this project I removed the porcelain bowls that are fastened with gaskets, each atop a pump. Each bowl is held in place with four brass bolts and I broke two of the eight: One needed me to use vise grips to screw it out and as a result, the soft bronze hex head is too chewed up to be reused. The other broke off flush in the threaded hole through the top of  the pump. It will have to be drilled out -- a spring project for my trusty expert friend Ed Spallina. Then the flowback, according to Groco's expert, Patrick, is caused because the two white plastic piston rings that fit into grooves on the outside of the each piston are letting fluids back in. Solution: remove them, hammer gently on the top side of each to flatten them out a bit, thereby increasing their outside diameter to get a flusher fit against the inside of the cylinder in which they ride and reinstall. I broke one ring with the hammering (not gentle enough) but the replacements have already arrived. Removing and reinstalling the pistons that are held in place with a bolt through their center into the rod that pushes them up and down when the pump's handle is used, is quite an ingenious trick involving a threaded rod. I used a bolt of the correct diameter and thread that I had on hand to pull them up and out but I will have to cut off the bolt's head to get the pistons back in. So I'm continuing to learn. Groco should do a video showing how this is to be done. If anyone wants to know more (and assuming I can get it to work) let me know and I'll try to help. When It gets warm again, I'll put them back together and hope for the best.

Rounding out the year were two delicious dinners at the home of Bennett and Harriet. For New Year's Eve they also invited, among others, Sheila, so it was five sailors in attendance and, by the way, we were all happy to end the party, though it was great fun, before midnight.

And the recap of 2017
I've divided the year into three parts and looked at my boating participation of various kinds, in each of these segments: PART ONE, Before the May 8 launch; PART TWO, May 8 to hauling on October 15; and PART THREE, October 16 to Year End.

(Some definitions are needed to understand the table below. Any day on which I sailed on any boat and/or lived on ILENE is characterized as a "sailing day", even if I worked part or all of the day as well. Any day which is not a sailing day is called a work day if I worked aboard (or, at home, for) the boat, even if part of the day was a social day with fellow boaters, a club function or a boating museum experience.

                               Part One            Part Two         Part Three            Total

Total Days in
This Segment             129                   159                     77                    360

Work Days                   39                     16                     15                      70

"Other" Days                21                     13                     06                     40

Sail and/or
"Liveaboard" Days        0                    118                      01                   118

Total Boat
Days                             60                    147                     21                    228

Non Boating
Related Days               69                      12                      56                    132

What this shows is rather obvious: That boating activity during the part of the year in which the boat floats is wonderfully intense compared to the early and late parts of the year when it is more work and no play except for the "Other"

Drilling down to the fun part of the year, the 118 sailing days, these included the 87 days of the Nova Scotia cruise plus 11 days before it started and 20 after we got back.

How many of the 118 were days of actual underway sailing as compared to mere living aboard while attached by the dock lines, anchor or mooring? Alas, only 78: ten before the cruise started, 63 during the cruise, and five more after we returned.

Seventy three of those 78 underway days were aboard ILENE with the remaining five on other peoples' boats: two on Ohana, and one each on Deuce of Hearts, Leeds the Way and Jazz Sail.

And how many friends sailed aboard ILENE on her 73 different sailing days?
Well four of the days were Old Salt sails, (plus three other Old Salt sails on other peoples' boats, and the folks who I sailed with on other peoples' boats are not included in this next statistic unless they also sailed aboard ILENE. Including my loyal mate, who was with me the entire 87 days of the Nova Scotia cruise plus three of the fifteen day sails, 37 different souls entrusted their lives to my hand, several of them two or three times.
So all told, another great year of sailing though only 5.3 months long.

If you conclude that I have a bit of compulsive obsessive disorder. and this posting is your evidence, well, you are right. But it is harmless, right?

Friday, December 15, 2017

November 16 -- December 15 Not Much Going On In A Month

We had two "other" days during this period: One was going to see Ilene, the actress, in two of the eight original one act plays staged by the Wednesday Repertory Company. I went with our sailing friends, Bennett and Harriet. Ilene was amazing, playing two quite different characters in the two plays.
First, an angry, red-faced, born again, Bible thumper and quoter, whose two daughters kill her, at the end, by getting her increasingly angry, above the threshold that her coronary condition can tolerate by cursing at each other.
In the second play Lene played Roberta, nee Robert, who has to work with her brother, Richard to write their Mom's obituary. Richard does not accept her trans status but she wins him over at the end; a very sweet story with lots of humor about siblings being reconciled. 
We also enjoyed a weekend in Pine Bush N.Y. at the home of Tom and Marie, friends we met out west in September 2015. They are not sailors --YET -- but that will be fixed this summer. The water experience which qualifies our weekend with them as an "O" day (OK, I admit its a stretch) was a very nice hike past the lake and to the falls in Lake Minnewaska State Park near New Paltz N.Y.
Only two work days in the month, only ten hours. I'm really getting lazy.
+Opened the viewing ports in the fresh water tanks pumped out about six gallons of water from their bottoms and put about a pint of rotgut vodka in each.
+Charged up the batteries.
+Disassembled one of the two remaining cabin sole boards to bung out the dings in them and received the Fostner bits from John to do that job.
+Replaced the zinc in the refrigeration unit.
+Scraped and sanded down the prop and shaft.
+Took a lot of time figuring out the right size for a bolt and nut to replace a missing one that helps hold the reading lamp in place in the aft cabin.
+Took measurements for the physical installation of the Standard Horizon AIS radio and called Raymarine who advised that because their chart plotter was built in 1999, before AIS was invented, their chart plotter will not display the AIS data. While I can connect the AIS to the Chartplotter via its receptacle for an NMEA plug, the chart plotter that will not cause the chartplotter to display the AIS data. So the two screens will be adjacent to each other and the Chart plotter screen will not got clouded over with AIS data. And good news from Standard Horizon: the same plugs that feed the electricity and the signal from the antenna to the existing Standard Horizon radio will feed the same items to the new AIS radio. I guess that's what they mean by "plug and play!"
+I cut bigger pieces of old carpet and figured out a new way to attach them so that the corners of the solar panels will not chafe through the winter cover.
+I got a phone tutorial from Groco on how to stop "flowback" in the two heads: The white plastic piston rings need to be given a slightly larger outside diameter (to press closer against the cylinder walls, by removing them and tapping them, top and bottom, with a hammer so they bulge out at the sides.

I started to work on the slide show to be given at the Harlem about our Nova Scotia cruise and another slide show about developments in Nautical Charts during 1850 to 1950, for the Library and the Map Society.

And I finally got out my letter to C-Map, the maker of the electronic charts of the Bra D'or Lakes that were so inadequate and hence unsafe -- see posting for Day 26 -- July 13 of this summer's cruise.
Its getting colder but I'll try to get more done next month.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Nova Scotia Summer Revisited

This posting is way late; we got home on September 12 and here is after Thanksgiving, ten weeks later. Part of the reason for this is that I have had a lot to do and the other part is that I had to recreate the manual spreadsheets which my communications officer threw out! I still love her though. The data in those spread sheet is extracted from the 61 posts in this blog covering the period of the cruise. Im a counter and find the patterns that emerge from data interesting.

We departed on June 18 and returned to our mooring at the Harlem on September 11. Elapsed time: 87 days and 86 nights.

How many of those 87 days were we underway, as compared to lay days?
We had 63 underway days (on 60 passages, because three of the passages were overnight, i.e., two day passages). So 72 percent of our days we were underway for various periods of time. And the remaining 24 days were lay days, of which 20 were planned or desired -- to enjoy the pleasures of the land -- and four were due to bad weather. That we had only four weather lay days is pretty good, I think, though there were five more when we should have stayed put or returned to port when high winds or fog confronted us.

How many ports/harbors/coves did we visit?
Forty nine, though with 60 passages, one would expect 60 ports, one at the end of each of them. The difference is that we entered several ports twice (both on the way up and back) and in the case of Baddeck NS, three times.

How many of the 49 different destinations we visited were "new" ports for us, into which we had never sailed before?
Twenty five, including all of the 20 in Nova Scotia and five in Maine that we had missed on our last three cruises to that state.

How much sailing did we enjoy during those sixty three passage days?
For this analysis I divided the underway days into three categories. We always use the engine when getting underway and when we attach the boat to the bottom or the dock so I divided the 63 days into three categories:
--Sailing days, during which the motor is off most of the time:         28, or 45%
--Days with the motor on (with sails up or not) about half the time: 13, or 21%
--Motoring days, when the engine was on 51 to 100% of the time:   21, or 34%
So a lot of sailing, with the cup half full. More sailing going out when the wind was aft the beam than on the way back when the winds were stronger and confronting us, or absent.

Total mileage: 1947 NM. Divided among the 60 passages this means we averaged  32.5 NM per passage. But this statistic is rather meaningless because it includes three overnight passages of as long as 272 NM with short passages of less than five miles. If you weigh a blueberry and a watermelon and divide by two you get an average fruit weight that doesn't mean much.

I have divided the cruise into six segments described below, in order:
                                                      Days    NM   Passages  NM/Passage
1. Home to landfall in NS                    9       464         5            93
2. In NS to the Bras D"or Lakes         14      287         7            41
3. In the Lakes                                    19      189        15           13
4. After the Lakes in NS to Maine      12     438          5           88     
5. In Maine                                          21     228        18           13
6. From Maine back to the Harlem     12     341        10           34
                                                             87   1947        60 

As you can see. the most time was spent in segments 2-5, at the destination areas of Nova Scotia and Maine, especially segments two and five, with less time and more miles getting there and back.

What about the 86 nights (the 87th was on our mooring at the Club)?
As noted, three were underway.
The remaining 83 were divided as follows:
Anchored:                 21,    25.3%
Moored:                    36,    43.4
At a Dock                 26,     31.3

In addition to the 21 anchoring nights we were provided free dockage over four nights and free moorings over five, bring the total of "no rent" nights to 30 of the 83 on which we were in port.

And we had the pleasure of dining in great places.
87 days times three squares per day means 261 meals, minus the last supper, back home, so the total was 260. All but five (6%) of our 87 breakfasts were aboard ILENE, as were all but seven (8%) of the 87 lunches. It was dinner that we most often ate out, 33 of 86 (38%). Seven of the 33 dinners "out" were on other peoples boats or in their homes.

What of course is missing from this statistical summary posting are the  memorable highlights and rough spots. I'm planning to get together a slide show including them and this framework to be delivered at the Harlem some night this winter. Even if you are not a Harlemite, I'm sure I can get you in.