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

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.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

October 26 to November 15 -- ILENE Is Totally Ready for Winter

Seven Work days, including final completion of preparation for winter on November 7, just in time for the first solid frost of the winter season two nights later. A total of 28.5 hours, plus almost four hours with Lene one day and one hour with Ed Spalina on another.

Two of the days were not at the boat. One of them was at the Club, getting the outboard off of the dink, cleaned up and transported to Al and John's Marine in New Rochelle for service and storage. I could have saved $100 (the storage part after it was winterized) by storing it in my crowded locker. But that would have required lugging it up a nasty flight of stairs, and back down in the spring. I'm getting too old for such heavy stuff. Getting the dinghy itself up there (it is lighter than the motor but very bulky and need to go through a small space) after washing, deflating. and trussing it up like a Thanksgiving turkey took the help of Sheige and Pat. Thanks guys.

The other non-boat Work day was at home with computer, phone and credit card. 1. I created the winter project work list; now lets see it I can get it all done.
2. I contacted Mars Metals in Canada and Great Island Boatyard in Maine to organize the ordering, paying for, delivery and installation of the new lead "sole" to be fastened under the flat bottom of her keel to add weight at the lowest point which should reduce heeling and let ILENE fly a bit faster when close to the wind. The upshot of all this is that I have to wait until May to get this started; the good news is that the price of lead should be lower by then.
3. Tried to fix my DeWalt cordless electric drill and failing that, found a newer and better one at Home Depot for $99. More powerful (20V vs. 14.4V), with a light that shines on the bit, lighter weight with Lion instead of Nicad batteries that do not discharge as fast in storage and recharge faster, and in a bag that will fit more easily in its space on the boat.
4. Ordered a replacement impeller, from Bridge Marine on City Island. The business is run by a man and his twin adult sons. For years I thought that they were a power-boat store and did not use them. But over the last ten tears I have come to admire their friendly and knowledgeable service and decent prices.
5. After much time reading, and subject to answers from the manufacturer and Raymarine (to which this is supposed to hook up), I tentativelyselected Standard Horizon's Matrix AIS GX2200 (less than $350 at Defender in next spring's warehouse sale). This will make it easy to identify other ships by name and give me their size, course and speed, from the display of a VHF radio unit to replace the existing one at the helm.

The other five Work days were spent at the boat.
+Tied off all the running rigging lines so they would not interfere with the installation of the winter cover nor slap against the mast all winter.
+Cleaned out the raw water strainer and attached three funnels through which to pour antifreeze to all systems needing it -- the fourth one, for air conditioner, was not needed because that device was not used this year.
+Drained the hot water tank, bypassed it and pumped out all of the water it discharged.
+Lowered the two cockpit antennae so the winter cover would fit.
+Winterized the fresh water system, with Lene controlling the electric pump switch and the 12 faucets while I poured in the pink stuff.
+Another of Lene's tasks was to help me put on the winter cover, which also involves "trussing" -- at the bow -- though I have finally learned that the zipper at the stern has to be done before the trussing at the bow.
+The engine and salt water deck wash pump could not be winterized the day Lene was there to help me because problems prevented these machines from pushing the pink fluid through themselves. I took off the cover for the engine's water pump's impeller but could not get the impeller out. The special "impeller puller tool" did not work. My great mechanic, Ed Spalina, came a few days later and charged me only one of his under-priced hours to pull it, install the new impeller that I had on hand, and replace the cover. Note to self: though the location is damned near impossible to reach, use needle nose pliers and brute strength to out the old -- and dish soap to slide the new one in -- and don't forget the O-ring. With regard to the salt water washdown, the problem was that I forgot to remind Lene to de-kink the hose; once de-kinked the pump pushed the pink stuff straight through the hose.
+Poured the two gallons of gas from the dink's tank, via a boat funnel, into the car's tank.
+Put half a gallon of distilled water into the 24 cells of the seven lead acid batteries.
+Put padding between all the chafe points on the boat and the winter cover.

And it wasn't all work either. We had two Other days, theater and dinner parties with Bennett and Harriet of "Ohana".

So only nine boat related days in the 21 days of this period. Thus boating related activity has slowed down a lot. But we are not in hibernation because there will be some work and other days throughout the winter.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

October 6 to 25 -- Hauling on October 10

Yes, the season has come to its end. The blue object just below ILENE's deck line and just aft of her mast is a fender being used to protect the boat from the two roller furler drums at the foot of their fore stays. The stays are hanging off the port side so that the boat could fit, lengthwise, into the travel lift.

We did get in one last Old Salts sail, aboard ILENE with eight others plus me. All are regulars except Frank, our new Rear Commodore, an amazingly able engineer, who we enticed to join us. Everyone who wanted to had a hand at the helm. We motored at both ends within the mooring field but sailed all the rest of the way --  into Little Neck Bay, out to near under the Throggs Neck Bridge, back to Kings Point and then a beat home. Using main and only the small jib, and with her bottom very dirty, she achieved 6.5 knots.

We spent a day having a delicious lunch that Jim and Cate served to us in Chatham NJ. Jim has retired from sailing. I miss him as a sailing companion aboard ILENE and his Aria.

The fall work party was well attended with a good breakfast and lunch. Does the phrase: "I work for food" apply? I "policed the yard" picking up bits and butts, and then helped drag a lot of junk to a large dumpster and joined the crew cutting the expensive new wood that is being formed into a strong and decorative railing for the sides of the elevated dock and fastening the pieces to each other and to the posts. a whole lot of power tools were in use. I was Third Assistant to the Helper but contributed. I helped strip Jazz Sail's sails and showed Lloyd and Rhoda how to fold them on the ballroom floor -- so tiny. At the membership meeting that night the issues were rainwater drainage from the new gargantuan catering hall being erected six inches from the back of our locker house and storage of masts of J-24s, which, when laid fore and aft atop the boats, make them a lot longer than 24 feet.

And the annual Going Out of Commission was the next week. during that day I stripped off the two head sails so that their stays would be more manageable, folded the small jib on the boat, took both sails ashore and put the small one in the locker and stuffed the genoa in the trunk of our mini-SUV because the ballroom folding floor was set for the night's party, precluding proper folding. Then showered and changed into party clothes, met up with Lene and attended the affair. I was honored to have been selected by the adult children of Josh and Leticia (they had scattered their parents ashes from ILENE in the fall of 2015) to place the paving brick commemorating their parents' names in the patio surrounding the flagpole during the ceremony. The food was unusually good and typically plentiful during the cocktail hour, the dinner and the desert hour. This was the 134th such annual party and they are all the same but this one seemed better. The weather cooperated.

Aong and following the one Sail date and the three Other dates during the time period of this post were four Work days (23.5 hours). I set up the license plate number stencils and those for the dink's name ,"ROJAY", and bought a very cheap tiny artists paint brush. But the instructions said that I should use the stencils only to trace the pattern and then paint them in freestyle, to prevent the paint running under the stencil and making a mess. Well from less than a yard  away the lettering looks rough, but further away it looks quite acceptably neat. Now the test of time will be how well this expensive specialized paint adheres to the hypalon surface. The back door to the swim platform is finally secure again and the job looks good. I want to remove the hex nuts, fill them with blue Locktite and reattach. One minor problem is that the latch at the starboard side of the door no longer is well aligned now that the hinges at its port side are tight. So the plan is to close this latch before the final reattachment and tightening of the hinge bolts.
I managed to get the genoa up to the empty ballroom, and properly folded and carried to the upstairs locker.   Less success with the mainsail once it was removed. I needed help navigating the locker house stairs and Harry was there to help me out. Thanks, Harry!

Hauling day was a long one, leaving the house at 6:45, taking the dink to ILENE (it was before launch service started)  attaching the dink to the mooring bridle and motoring the five miles to the Huguenot YC. There the crew detached  the headstays, hauled the boat. power washed it (pretty good condition though in need of a slight abrasive scrub and two coats of ablative bottom paint) and set it down on a large piece of paper so I could trace the bottom of the keel as a template to be sent to Mars Metals in Canada for its new lead "sole". Then two buses back to City Island  to get the car and drive home. A long hard day.

ILENE is blocked in almost the same spot as last winter, her headstays reattached and tightened up, her wheel and removable side stanchions and lifelines removed and stowed, twelve gallons of diesel poured into the fuel tank we had been using since Clinton, CT. The only things needed to be done before it gets very cold is the winter cover installed and the water systems winterized. I have an appointment with Lene to come up and help me with this next week after we spend a weekend with Lianne in the Berkshires.

And oh yes, I had the pleasure of spending a week with my granddaughter, left, and daughter, right, in Portland Oregon. Nothing watery about that trip except for the frequent rain, but they are great kids, if I do say so myself.