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

Sunday, December 16, 2018

November 20 -- December 16 -- Only Four Work Days and Three Other Day Activities

It has been so long since the last post that I'm writing even though not much has gone on since then. I could write up a few of my thrilling golden oldie adventures from the days before this blog started in 2010, but have resisted that impulse -- so far.

I visited the US Merchant Marine Museum at the US Merchant Marine Academy on Kings Point, Great Neck, Long Island--  across the Sound from the Club. This to familiarize myself a bit with where I'm taking the 2019 Winter Land Cruise. The museum is not open on weekends forcing a weekday visit so I solicited opinion about whether that would be offensive and it was not. A theater night with sailing friends. The annual Interim Board Meeting of the Club, to which I get invited as Fleet Captain, an appointed position, which I am publicly willing to relinquish if I or the Commodore can ever find a successor to replace me. It is a nice dinner with friends at which the Commodore, Peter, a loquacious lad, thanked and celebrated each person in attendance for his or her contributions. A warm and friendly group. As an "outsider" to the Board (I do not attend meetings) and an old timer at the Club, I thanked them for inviting me to the dinner and for the progress they have made since my early days at the Club, about 28 years ago, not just in improving the plant and the finances but also improving the cheerful comraderie of the Club -- since the divisive factionalism that soured the Club back then.

The four work days totalled only ten hours. One of the days was at home sanding some of the woodwork I have taken off the boat to varnish and soliciting more expert opinion om my brain trust on how to do the repair jobs. The other three days were the warmest in the period and at the boat. More padding at chafe points under the cover, removing all cushions, the wheel and the salon table to the pullman compartment, clearing the salon for work, emptying the bilge and constructing a plastic shield around the bare mast in the cabin to hopefully direct the leak from the mast partners into the bilge instead of everywhere else, closing up the fresh water system in the big lazarette to be ready for spring, vacuuming the salon, cleaning the freezer and starting the repairs by taking up the first of the floor boards and removing the door to the aft head to measure the maximum size of the new larger and longer brass wood screws that will hopefully keep the lowest hinge in place. I also bought a new random orbital polisher to replace one of two I use each spring to compound and wax the freeboard after the old one had finally given up the ghost after many years of use.
Winter is here and there is lots to be done.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

October 28 - November 19 -- Six Work Days and Four Fun Events

The work days were all related to winterization which is complete except for padding the hard points under the canvas cover to prevent them from chaffing through and putting back together the things that were torn apart inside the cabin to gain access for the winterization.
Twenty three and a half hours of work by me plus 1.5 hours of work by JP of Headsync, who helped me winterize the Spectra Ventura watermaker, 1.5 hours by Ed Spallina helping me get the last few systems winterized (during which I learned that I need a longer, i.e., taller, hose through which to pour the pink stuff through the engine) and 5.5 hours of Mendy's help it lifting the headsails to the locker, taking the main to Doyle Sails for repairs and putting on the winter cover. Total man hours so far this fall: 32.
This was the eleventh time I have installed the canvas cover, but the first time I did it during strong winds from deep on the port quarter. Wrestling the big sheets of ungainly stiff canvas in the wind gave me a wee taste of the much more difficult and dangerous was work of the iron men who manned the old square rigged wooden ships, They did it in the rain and snow while hanging off the spars of boats that were picthing and rolling in storms while at sea! But after perhaps four hours of preparation in taking out the stanchions and lifelines and positioning and attaching the whisker pole forward and the wooden poles aft, and snuging the halyards around the mast and shrouds so they would n0ot slap against t hem all winter, Mendy and I did it, with only one false start (with the aft section of the cover backwards) we got it done in near record time and without breaking zippers, or, more importantly: falling off the boat. I also took off the cockpit table and two pieces of molding at the top of the port side of the companionway which had been weathered and need to be sanded and repolyurethaned this winter,mwith more woodwork to come.
I had a nice lunch one day at the Club which finished up my chits. I only need to spend $600 per year in the restaurant, but being away for ten weeks meant I had a bit left to be spent. I visited with two parties were being catered, one celebrating the retirement of a local man and the other a commemmeration of a person who had died twenty years ago. A third such group was not catered but  a la carte. A group of black power boaters who had out a chart kit on the table. They were palaning a cruise to Block Island for next summer. I could not help them with their question: "Which is the best marina?"  having never stayed at any of them, but provised distance and taught them to look up the tide at the race. That was fun.
I had a theater date with Bennett and Harriet; Lene would have been there too except for her broken bones which are mending quite well, thank you. A Club membership meeting was a pleasure, even though I had to leave a bit early. The Officers and Board members presented their reports with well deserved self satisfied glee. Both financially and physically, things are looking up at the Club, due our leaders' countless hours of volunteer hard work over the years.
I attended  a presentation by a professor at the CUNY Graduate Center on a new book he had written about the New York City waterfront during the past 410 years.  How deep water to the edge of land gave New York an advantage over other cities. How the water rights were given by the city to private persons who built the first docks, wjhich were later landfilled and bought back by the City. How the cooperation of four ship owners created Black Ball Lines, the first packet shipping company, which could never guarantee arrival times but did guarantee a departure from New york to Liverpool on a fixed date each month. How the corruption of the waterfront shapeup system worked against the longshoremen (with a plug for the Brando-Kazan-Bernstein-Malden and Eva Marie Saint film "On the Waterfront"  -- which I watched for the first time the next day). How containerization severely curtailed the corruption but required the relocation of longshoreing to New Jersey which had land available for the trailers. And how public-private financing is developing the waterfront today with parks for the people balanced against privileges for the wealthy. Very informative.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

How Much Sailing In The 2018 Sailing Season?

Having launched ILENE on May 26 and hauled her on October 26, the sailing season lasted precisely 176 days this year -- not a record. And the first and last of those days are not counted as sailing days in my crazy system of mathematics -- they involved motoring between ILENE's winter the summer homes. Subtracing them leaves only 174 days.

Two weeks for our Alaska vacation in June and one week for the car tour to Quebec and Portland
during the Maine cruise (though most of these 21 days were water-related "Other " days, leaves 153 days for potential living aboard and or sailing.

The next subtraction is for ten Work days during the period ILENE was afloat but that I neither lived aboard nor sailed but worked on the boat, leaving 143 days for potential sailing.

We enjoyed 27 "Other" days during the period afloat, relating to sailing but off the boat. Subtracting them leaves only 116 days available for sailing.

Other fun activities unrelted to the water, obligations-- social and otherwise and bad weather took 24 days. This means we had  only 92 "sailing" days in 2018. adding back up the other way, only 24 of the 176 days of the season were unrelated to sailing, about one in seven. I like the high "utilization rate".

Dividing the thousands of dollars spent this year on maintenance, repairs, improvements, insurance,  summer storage and winter storage by 92 means that the cost per day of getting ILENE underway for a day was, let's just say: "a three figure number". Most boat owners, I believe, do not want to know that number -- too painful -- even more painful for many, who use their boats far less than we do.  But this per diem cost is a misguided way to look at things: one must add in all of the Work and Other days, for which boat ownership is the prerequisite, which lowers the per diem cost markedly. Still, our life style is out of reach for people without money.

On the other hand, we lived aboard without sailing during nineteen of the 92 days (eleven lay days during our cruise and eight after we returned from it).We love living aboard but while counted as sailing days, it is not actually sailing. Subtacting the nineteen from the 92 leaves only 73 days of being underway for sailing this season: 8 before the Maine cruise, 52 during it and 13 after we got back.

Four of those 73 days, were on other people's boats: two on Mark's "Deuce of Hearts" with the Old Salts and two with Rhoda on "Jazz Sail". I love sailing on other boats and learn from them but this means I actually got ILENE underway on sail days only 69 days this season.

We used 151 engine hours this year. Seventeen of them were for the refrigeration system during our seventeen "Live Aboard" days, leaving 134 engine hours for the 69 days of actual underway sailing aboard ILENE. This means an average of just about two engine hours per day which seems surprisingly low to me. But some of the sailing days we were underway only an hour and on the good days were up underway  to eight hours with only 1/4 hour of engine use at the ends of the passage.

Still only 151 hours is pretty good, in my opinion. Some folks say I should put in a new refrigeration system that would work off the batteries, to avoid "using up" the engine, because engines are admittedly very expensive to replace. Not for ILENE! Battery operated refrigeration for a boat like ours, that is rarely at the dock, would be a constant source of worry whether we were getting enough juice and would require that we runthe engine anyway, so its generator would charge the batteries or the addition of a wind generator or carbon powered generator which are themselves expensive and are noisy and complicated to install and maintain. Meanwhile, with only 3593.9 engine hours on her, our Yamnar 4JH2E diesel is still young, and at the rate of only 150 hours per year, the engine is likely to live longer than we will!

Another view: ILENE was new in 1999; she has completed 20 seasons, some of them quite long -- to the Caribbean. Average engine use: 179 hours per year.

I have noted before, sailing is one of the few life activities in which the more you give it away to others, the more enjoyment of it you derive. So I've taken a look at how much I have been able to give away this year.

Three of the   sails on ILENE were with the Old Salts, (plus the two days on Deuce of Hearts). Salts who sailed with me aboard ILENE at least once this year were Mike and Sandy, Morty and Clara, Peggy, Bennett and his new daughter in law, Claire and Virginia and Sarah: ten folks.

Lene sailed with me during the entire Maine Cruise plus seven day sails from the Harlem. Three of those seven were with a total of ten people from Wedrepco, her theater group. The other four day sails during which Lene graced me with her presence were with: (1) Greg and Wanda from Nova Scotia, (2) Tom and Marie, who we met touring the Rockies along with Roz and Bert from the gym in our building, (3) nephew Mendy with Christine and Heather of Westchester and (4) Sid, a former colleague in the law, and his wife Jan. Twenty one more folks.

And finally I had seven more day sails on our boat, without Lene or the Salts, with: Gene from the Harlem, four members of the J-24 Fleet of racers let by PC Jeep, four members of the New York Map Society, Bill, a retired professor who wrote a book about sailing his catboat through New York's waters,  Alison, Patrick and Ian from our Congregation, and Fred from our building. Fourteen guests.

Adding them all up, I sailed on ILENE with 45 different folks this season, 21 of them for the first time. A good year overall and the fall work season is now in effect through December 31.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

October 17 to 27 -- No More Sails This Year; ILENE Is Hauled

My sail with Fred described in the last post, as it turns out, was the final one of the year. There were two frustrating days during which I tried to winterize the Spectra Ventura Watermaker, with five calls to the installer, Headsync, in Newport RI, but he was not able to talk me through the problem and I will have to pay for a visit to get this done. Otherwise, a very expensive toy will be ruined by winter frost. On one of the days I dined with a rump caucus of the Old Salts, but did not go out with them.

And then a weekend with Lene's friend, Lianne, in the Berkshires which ended at the beginning when Lene fell down the stairs to the basement and broke many bones. (Were the sailing Gods punishing me for wasting perfectly good sailing says in the mountains?) The effect was that I became a private duty nurse instead of a sailor for the next week. The surgery to reconstruct Lene's right elbow was successfully accomplished. I did take off one day, October 26, during which our nephew, Mendy, who is very strong and a trained medical professional, took care of the patient.
That day I got a lot of the winter stuff down from the lockers and loaded aboard, and motored to the Huguenot YC. There, after stripping her headsails and tying them into bundles (that I will transport to the ballroom floor of the Harlem where the sails will be properly folded and then stored in the locker), ILENE was hauled. The professional crew there did a very good job of power washing her bottom, and she was blocked and secured with jack stands. I saw a few spots where I should have applied an additioal coat of bottom paint last spring. They were festooned with barnacles but by scraping them off on the spot, before they calcified, I saved a lot of time next year. Thanks to Dave, who sails with the Salts and lives by the Huguenot, who drove me back to the Harlem where my car was.
It is a good thing I got hauled on the 26th, during which almost zero wind made stripping the headsails easy. A Noreaster blew through on the 27th, blowing
the water into LI Sound and preventing the tide from going out. The water submerged the Harlem's dock!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

October 3-16 -- Fifth and Sixth Weeks after the Cruise

Five sail days of the fourteen, though one was for only an hour, during the longest day related to boating. That Saturday began at the Club at 9 a.m. for the Harlem's annual Fall Work Party. But work did not get underway until after coffee and bagels at, about ten. I attached myself to PC Bobby. Our team's primary job was attaching sheets of plastic, which Bobby had obtained and cut to size, around the dozen tall wooden columns that are at the second floor level of the Clubhouse and seem to hold up the its third floor. I remember scrapeing and painting the columns, a huge job, but that was maybe fifteen years ago and again they looked like hell.
This time the plastic was wrapped around, held in place temporarily with straps while the seam was caulked and then also held firmly with nails every three inches. After the tradional free lunch, we completed our team's second project for the day. This was creating racks for the oars of the Fordham women's crew team which practices from off our docks and gets off to their studies by 9 am, before most of us get to the Club. And they pay a good rental for the privilege.  There were concrete pilings on the north side of the house, where no one goes or sees. They hold up the air conditioning units. We placed two by fours against the concrete pilings by drilling holes in the wood and  placing threaded rods with washers and nuts on both ends through the holes which compressed the wood against the pilings.

  1. I should have taken a picture of the racks but here is one of larger team installing the diagonal supports so the rails of the dock do not get blown away in the next hurricane. And the good looking columns make the gutters above them look like they need to be painted, come spring.

After the work ended I accepted Rhoda's invitation for a sail aboard "Jazz Sail". We only had an hour underway but it was great to be out on the water, with good wind. We used only the genoa. Next, back to back, was a lecture on how we must wash and scrape our boats' bottoms to comply with the environmental rules followed by a Club membership meeting. A very constructive meeting, without rancor. The Club is getting by financially, holding its own,  and bylaw changes were read reorganizing the duties of several board members as was the nominating committee's slate for 2019. Peter, a very hard worker is moving up to the Rear Commodore slot and one of the new trustees will be Claire, a frequent old Salt. The acrimony that existed during my early years at the club have receeded, almost out of memory; I need no longer bring along WD40 to spray upon the roiled waters.
The final event of the day (I told you it was a long one) was Octoberfest, featuring a profusion of German foods. Our Caterer, Anne, did a great job, but I have to say it was not as good as Mom used to make. I seated myself with Claire, Ginny and Ginny's friend John. I was home by 10, fourteen hours after I had left.
The day sails:
1) The Wednesday before the work party, the Old Salts sailed: seven folks on ILENE and five more on Dave's boat, "Lady Cat". Dave invites strangers who want a free ride with the hope that some of them will want to become members. When we got back to the moorings after about 2.5 hours tho,se wi)h other committments had to leave, and there were nine folks on ILENE for refreshments. I missed the next outing with this group caused my a stiff neck that laid me up for a few days with muscle relaxants.

2) I enjoyed sailing with Alison, Patrick and their younger son, Ian.

They belong to my Congregation and I tried to do this in the spring of 2017, only to embarrass myself by running over the pickup stick and needing to replace the bridle. No such problems this time. We were underway for 5.5 hours with light westerly winds to start and it got us to six knots over ground. Ian has a keen interest in airplanes so we headed west, tacking under the two bridges. I made a long detour south, to sail in waters where I had never been before: The channel past the east side of Rikers and LaGuardia all the way in to CitiField, home of the Mets.
This was to honor Ian's keen interest in airplanes and my interest in going into new places. It is hard for me to imagine that I have been sailing these waters for over 25 years but never into this long wide channel. Retracing our track north, out of that channel, we continued west to The Brothers Islands, the northern one of which held the still visible ruined sanitorium where Typhoid Mary was confined over a hundred years ago. We broad reached back from the Bothers as the wind got lighter and lighter. Having a bit more time, we went through the channel off Kings Point before turning to port, around Stepping Stones Light to the mooring. At this time it was slack tide and the wind was zero. We lost steerage because we had no way on through the water for the rudder to bite. At that moment another result of my stupidity occurred. I had not filled the fuel tank since Portsmouth, New Hampshire and we ran out. I heard the engine sputtering and shut it off before it finally stopped, thereby avoiding the need to bleed the system. We had two gallons of diesel in the jerry can which proved more than enough to get us the two miles back to the mooring.
The next day I worked for about 2.5 hours on the boat: looking for and finding things to take home, cleaning, especially in the aft head (Lene had closed but not dogged down the ports in that head and during heavy rains water had seeped in), checking out the watermaker so I can service it next time, and pouring four more gallons of diesel into her tank that I bought at a shoreside gas station on my way. It made my neck worse.

3)A day sail with Bruce, Lene's acting teacher, his wife, Valerie, and gheir two sons, Gabe, age 7, and  Sam, twelve. Four hours making grooves and the wind picked up so they got to see what six knots felt like. Val grew up on the Chesapeake and was a good helmsperson. The rest of them had never sailed with us and little Gabe was an avid learner: He started sitting on a cushion on my lap but ended standing astride the helmsman's seat, where he could see where he was going. They had won the outing in an auction for the benefit of WEDREPCO, Lene's theater company. Gabe, himself an aspiring actor, learned his lines and called the launch to request our pickup.

4) I also sailed for four hours with Fred of our Coop. He had sailed with me in September 2017 and belongs to a sailing club that uses J-24s from a marina in the Hudson at the World Trade Center. About four hours out to near Mamaroneck and back, passing on both sides of Execution Rocks and through the channel off Great Neck's King's Point. A problem when a sudden wind shift occurred as we were rounding The Blauses, with the big genoa that takes time to tack. We were close to being blown onto the rocks but we used the engine for about one minute to avoid the problem. Again the wind got stronger as the day wore on and when it was time to beat back, we used the small jib and still achieved six knots.
Hauling to occur soon.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

September 26 - October 2 -- Fourth Post Cruise Week

Only two sailing dates this week. The first seemed like a gift from God. It was Wednesday afternoon and hence the appointed time for the Old Salts. But all week the weather guessers had forcast severe storms starting at 4 pm. These were likely to get us wet and spoil the apres sail libations. But I has said i'd be there and seven of the ten who had lunch at the Club came out on ILENE. And the wind was strong enough to move the boat at about six knots and we got further than usual, to about 1/3 of the way from Execution rocks to Matinecock, on a beam to broad port reach, before beating back to the mooring and enjoying the party. The rain did not come until after we were all back home.

The other sail date was on Sunday with Sid and Jan, who have sailed with us aout once a year since before I met Lene back in 1997. Mendy also came along and he is so strong at grinding and is "learning the ropes".  Sid worked with me and is an expert on the legal nuances of software license agereements, now retired. We had a wonderful timLENE up to 4.4 knots for the first half hour but then it died and we motored slowly the remainder of the four hours we were underway.
e catching up with each other even though the sailing itself was punky. We had a gentle breeze getting I
And The day before was a fundraiser baebecue for the Club run by volunteer members with food and beverage contributions and a big crowd. Tthe weather cooperated and it was scheduled at high tide. Mendy was there and Jerry, who was former member but now spends most of his time in Florida and enjoyed meeting old friends.
And there was also a large family party was run by our caterer upstairs so: "a full house".

Thursday, September 27, 2018

September 19 - 25 -- Third Week After the Cruise

One day was for the annual atonement for my sins. And the fast was broken, in a very non-traditional way - boiled lobsters - at Bennett and Harriet's house. They live near where I pray. Another couple of days were devoted to the care of my mate who had surgery; Lene's mostly OK now.

Two sails. The first with Bill, the author of a book about his multi-day sail, aboard his catboat, in New York City waters. He left from Jamaica Bay on the south shore of Long Island, up the East River and into Long Island Sound, with many memories of past experiences that occurred to him during this multiday voyage. I had borrowed the book from Bennett and wrote to Bill and offered him a ride on ILENE, which is as sleek and modern as his catboat's look is classic. He teaches Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center; a new friend.

The other sail was with Morty and Clara on ILENE. They are "Old Salts" and I was not sure who I would be sailing with that day, the primary mission of which was to put away the dink. But I only worked an hour on it, pulling it up onto the dock, inverting it and using a brush and lots of fresh water to scrape off the marine growths that covered its bottom and lower transom, before stowing it again on the dock. I had planned to pull it up to the top of the seawall but the tide had gone too far down for that.  So I sailed, a nice couple of hours, going very deeply into Manhasset Bay, to the ten foot water line, before heading out. While there we passed "Thai Hot" while Bob was setting her anchor for the raft-up for those staying late for the Harlem's "Full Moon Rendezvous". These autumn sails are wonderful.

Next day was not a sail but a work day, though it took only an hour, near high tide, to float the dink, tow it to the seawall, get it up and fully deflate it before inverting it and using a yard cart to get it over to the "farm", the storage area across the street from the Club's driveway entrance. Then to place it atop another hard dink on the top level of a three shelf dinghy storage rack. There is a crew of men who are always working for the benefit of our Club. We could not exist without their near constant volunteer help. They had the Club's forklift running, which made the lift easy. It will be hard to steal the dink from its perch, without a forklift, and the lock on the chain will make that much more difficult.
With a little luck we have another two or three weeks before it is time to haul for the season.