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

Thursday, December 31, 2015

December 25 -31 -- Final Work Day and 2015 ROUNDUP -- A Great Year!

I had planned on more than one final work day before the end of the year, what with such good warm weather so late this year but a wrenched back put the end to that. The last work day was devoted to the cabin sole. I want to check out how good the pieces I have done look, before committing to do the rest. I have been doing the bottom side of this flooring to encapsulate the wood in plastic to avoid a softer surface on which mildew could potentially grow, not that mildew has been a problem for ILENE.

Another non-boat day for calling Dave to make an appointment for January to work with me on cleaning and lubricating the winches and steering gear and fixing some pesky wires that no longer transmit sound to the cockpit speakers, etc. And then I had to figure out what parts and supplies I need for these jobs which involves a lot of calling and computer searching before ordering. But the non-boat water relatedday involved some play too: While my two favorite ladies, ILENE the boat and Lene, her mate, are thoroughly land locked on the hard in New York in late December, I had fun with Dames at Sea:

And while laid up resting the lumbar-sacral region I have been reading this month's selection of my book group (all right, it was my suggestion): Jules Verne's "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea". So avid readers may expect another book report soon.

So what can I say about 2015. I sure got a grand dose of sailing and boating related activities - a lot of water under our keel. It was a very satisfying year, the year that my beloved Lene finally lost her ability to continue to claim "I'm really not a sailor.".
We began the year in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to which we returned on March 5, after a lovely multi-stop visit to Key West Florida and 20 miles past that. Next were a lot of great passages and ports until we got back to the Harlem on May 26, the 146th day of this calendar year. Also: a two day trip down to Gravesend Bay to sail with L'Hermione, 17 days on the Club Cruise to Block Island, five days with Bob on s/v Pandora from The Connecticut River around Montauk Point to Hampton Virginia and 22 additional days of day sailing from our mooring and back for a total of 190 sailing or living days. My career high total, and possibly a number that what with aging, may never be equaled or exceeded. And as they say in the infomercials: "But wait, there's more! Add on 21 days involving the water that are not related to living, sailing or working on a sailboat, and 25 work days on ILENE. (Or course, many of the cruising or living days also involved some boat maintenance and repair, but those are not counted as lowly work days.) So the grand total this year was 236! A goodly percentage of the 365 available. I have nothing to complain about.

The way I have looked at it, sailing is a social activity with much of the fun coming from sailing on other peoples' boats and inviting them onto ours. Most of the sailing days, including the first 146, were aboard ILENE. But 5 were on Pandora, 4 on Deuce of Hearts, 2 on Ohana and 1 on Pas de Deux, totaling 12 -- 178 out of the 190 were aboard ILENE.

Continuing my lifelong desire to share my boat with present and future friends, a total of 38 different people in addition to Lene sailed with me on ILENE, at least once day this year. Some sailed multiple times and others, not counted among the 38, did not sail, but came aboard for meals. Friends of mine, of Lene, from the Yacht Club, from our Synagogue, and from our condo.

And 2016, with a three month cruise to Nova Scotia as a goal, starts in a few hours. Before Nova Scotia comes after both a week with Bennett and Harriet (in whose home we will celebrate the New Year's arrival) on s/v On Eagles Wings in the Virgins in early April and a week with Lene's family on a cruise liner from Galveston Texas in the Gulf of Mexico in early June.

On the macro level, the world may be going to hell in a hand basket with democracy threatened by big money at home, climate change destroying the world, gun nuts (both domestic and foreign) running amuck, a certain redheaded egomaniacal reality show star trying to move us from love toward hate, educational standards low and sliding, etc. But all I can say is that focusing in on the micro level I am blessed to have such a great life. And I recognize and am very grateful for the bounty bestowed upon me and my family.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Deember 8-24 -- Slow Steady Progress But There Is a Lot Left To Do

Three visits to ILENE for a total of 14 hours during this period.  I lowered the chain from the boat to the ground, loaded it into a yard cart, and from there to a cardboard box in the cargo area of our mini SUV. An estimated 200 pounds, but easily movable, a few feet of links at a time. A few days later I drove to Jersey City and located Nicholas Galvanizing, in a thoroughly industrial area by the Hackensack River. Its staff slid the box off the back of my vehicle onto a wooden pallet to be moved by fork lift. The chain should be nice and shiny and protected for another 16 years soon after 2016 starts. While in Jersey I enjoyed a delicious, leisurely, Thai lunch in Berkely Heights with Jim, formerly of s/v "Aria", who is now sadly too disabled to sail. He gave me three excellent sailing books including Nigel Calder's maintenance bible.
On the first of my three boat visits I also took most of the three bladed feathering propeller off its shaft, to be sent to its manufacturer, PYI, on the west coast, for refurbishment. Before going, I watched PYI's how-to video -- four times -- took notes and called the company to speak to the demonstrator, three times. But he demonstrated the disassembly of a shiny new prop and the video left out some pre and post steps. The parts are held together with ten Allen Head bolts. These are locked in place with tiny cut-off half length cotter pins inserted through holes in the sides of their heads, which pins were encrusted in place with layers of paint. By use of the scraper, ice pick and needle nose pliers, the pins came out. Also, I knew that unlike his model, my prop was loaded with heavy grease because I had pumped it in each year through zirc fittings. So I had a lot of rags and paper towels and Fantastic to get the grease off and into a plastic bag. And after the end of the video, the prop's central hub has to be removed by first removing two rods that hold a locking bolt on the tail end of the shaft in place, unscrewing that bolt, which required no tools, and then sliding the hub aft, off the shaft. The bolt removal was accomplished during my second visit, and that is when I ran into a problem for want of a tool that costs several hundred dollars but that I needed to use only once: a prop puller. But I met with Fernando at the boat to plan a big job that he will do with me: sanding off and spraying on primer and two coats of Awlgrip paint to renew the dark blue decorative boot stripes around the boat, just above the water line. Fernando did excellent work in repairing ILENE's stainless steel and fiberglass which were damaged by a hit and run at the mooring one night in the fall of 2013. In addition to telling me that the bottom is not ready for barrier coating but requires thorough sanding, a lot of sanding, he put me onto the man who does the diving work and other work for many folks at the Huguenot, Brian McCauley, who was present and who has a prop puller. The job will take only ten minutes and of course I was prepared to pay for his services, but he said he would just leave the tool under ILENE, so I could do the job myself and would pick up his tool later -- at no cost! Thanks Brian!
On my third trip the tool was there but I had to loosen the Spurs line cutter to fit the forward end of this tool at the forward end of the hub. This required a spraying of penetrant and then heat from the heat gun, but was accomplished and then the puller did its job, easily. Here are the pieces of the prop, except the bolt, at home, awaiting shipping.
I have also taken out four of the smallest pieces of the cabin sole, and done two of them, the ones that collar the mast. I sanded them down on the sides to make them a bit smaller so they will fit better, let them dry thoroughly and applied two coats of spray-on low-gloss polyurethane to their sides and bottoms, to seal out water, which drips from the mast boot, making this a damp area, and finally, lightly sanded their top surfaces, and applied the plastic paint. It looks good, so I can now do the rest of the cabin sole, piece by piece.
Also, the new teak flagpole, to which I had previously applied many coats of varnish, is finally complete: I got a 5/16th inch Phillips head bolt and after first using the Dremel tool to grind a flat spot on the side of the chrome plated brass base into which that bolt goes to hold the pole in it, I drilled a hole through the base at that flat spot,  and into the wood. A snug fit resulted, but removable, so that the new flag will not get torn to shreds in storms. And pole and flag will not be blown away again, as the combination did during a windstorm in Fort Lauderdale last winter.

I had two other ashore days in addition to the day of the drive to New Jersey. One consisted of about six hours at home on the computer and phone. In addition to learning from PYI about the prop disassembly, I called three potential sites for this winter's Harlem winter excursion. The US Merchant Marine Academy's Museum at Kings Point, directly across Long Island Sound is not available this year. The other two candidates were the National Lighthouse Museum, a short walk from the ferry terminal, and the Noble Maritime Collection at the Sailor's Snug Harbor, about a ten minute bus ride from that terminal on Staten Island. After reading as much as I could and talking with all three places, I spent a day on Staten Island checking out both sites for that I have now called "The Harlem Yacht Club's Fifth Annual-ish Dead-of-Winter, Out-of-Clubhouse, Salt Watery/Maritime Learning/Social/Dining Excursion".  The Lighthouse Museum is planning a major expansion over the next couple of years so I decided to wait until it is complete. For 2016 The Noble Maritime Collection is the winner and the event is being offered with an additional attraction -- two optional free boat rides -- on the Staten Island Ferry! For those who prefer to drive, it requires getting to Long Island and then crossing the Verranzano Bridge with its $15 toll, though parking is free.
The Noble Maritime Collection is a little gem of a museum located on the site of the Sailors' Snug Harbor, formerly an old age home for destitute, family-less, worn-out seamen. The Snugs, as residents were called, were offered a comfortable somewhat spartan free ride. I have characterized it as a way station on their route from their life at sea to Fiddlers Green. Ciro, the Associate Director, opened the place for me on a weekday, when it is normally closed, so I could scope it out to describe it to the Harlemites. More on this place after Sunday, February 21, when the excursion is now scheduled. Ciro also put me onto Blue, a nice waterside (to the Kill van Kull) restaurant less than a quarter mile away, where the dining portion of our excursion will take place, at prices that are comparable to those at the Club's dining room.
I checked out my friend Bob's blog: SailPandora. When I left him in Hampton, VA he was excitedly planning his cruise to the Caribbean. But a delayed start due to weather and then possible mechanical problems early on the route to Tortola forced him to divert to Beaufort NC; he had lost the availability of his crew and the good weather and was compelled to change his destination to Florida and the Bahamas, where he has been the past two seasons. He did find friends to help him jump the boat from Beaufort to Florida and is now back in CT with Brenda and family before rejoining Pandora in the first days of 2016. As a man of my own passions, he likes to have new horizons in his sights. Currently he has an application pending with the US Government for a permit to visit Cuba. He is applying under the journalism category and has submitted his blog as the journal in question with the hope that the government reviewer of his application has a sense of humor, because he injects a lot of humor in his postings; would that I could be so witty. He also hopes that the reviewer is a sailor who can understand the difference between beating into the wind and letting it push you from behind; due to the prevailing winds being almost always from the east, he prefers a clockwise circumnavigation of Cuba, departing from the Bahamas and returning to Key West. However, the regulations seem to suggest that at a U.S. registered boat he can only visit Cuba leaving directly from a U.S. port, without a stop in another nation. I sure hope Bob's plans work out.

And speaking of plans, I also spent some time learning more about ILENE's proposed summer cruise to the Bras D'or Lakes at the NE end of Nova Scotia. The SCCA's journals include one account of a voyage to Nova Scotia from Mount Desert Island, Maine, in 2002. Old, but while the shoreside amenities may have changed, the waters and rocks do not change that fast. The 18 foot tides of the Bay of Fundy, which we experienced on our voyage to Eastport, Maine in 2013, do not extend to the ocean or Atlantic side of that Province, where six foot tides, comparable to those at the Harlem, prevail, I am told. And  the distance from Northeast Harbor in Mt. Desert Island to the check-in town in Nova Scotia is 165 nautical miles, which I compute as about 24 hours at 6.5 knots. So an overnight sail is in order. With tidal currents running swiftly around Nova Scotia's SE cape, it's a passage that has to be carefully timed and on a good weather day. I think we can get nearly a month in Nova Scotia between our scheduled arrival in Maine in late June and the beginning of the Corinthian cruise in Mt. Desert Island starting July 25. My mate is not yet totally committed to this summer float plan
(the other two crew members do not have votes) but I am continuing to plan for Nova Scotia and my gal usually comes around once she can see the fully thought out plan with enough safety lay days to avoid problems. Wish us luck, both Pandora and ILENE.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

November 15 to December 7 -- Mostly About The Anchor Chain and Next Summer

Four trips to the boat but only eleven hours work, scraping rust off the anchor chain. It is hard work with a stiff paint scraper and I cut myself one day after which I wore heavy work gloves. The problem is that it takes almost an hour to do a foot of chain and and ILENE has 300 feet, over 100 feet of which are heavily rusted. The guys at the yard told me to buy new chain but I priced it at about $1300 plus tax and shipping. Wow. Keep scraping, Roger! Here are
rusted links draped over my denim clad knee, with "cleaned" links in the upper right. But another guy in the yard suggested a "hot dip" regalvanizing process that can be done by a firm in Jersey City. I checked it out and they will do the job for $350, first using acid to remove the rust and then dipping the chain in  molten zinc to get a good solid coating of it on the chain. So no more scraping for me.
I attended the Interim Board Meeting at the Harlem; a nice dinner as a way  the Club rewards its hard workers with good fellowship and a good meal "on the house!" And they gave out fire-engine-red fleece vests with the Club's logo. I felt a bit guilty because as outgoing Fleet Captain I did not do much work for the Club in 2015.  I have been searching out a locale for our annual dead-of-winter outing, to take place in February.  Another scraping day was followed by a good brunch at the Club before a visit to the City Island Maritime Museum.  Its collection has evolved a bit in the last couple of years but the highlight was a lecture by the unofficial"Official Historian" of City Island, who is a sail maker by profession. His knowledge of the numerous businesses, their owners and craftsmen and the boats that were built here over the past couple of hundred years is intense, with slides to illustrate most of it. Big names in the history of boat building and sail making worked here. I met two couples of Harlemites and there were about a dozen Corinthians, who invited me to join them for dinner after the lecture. But after brunch and refreshments at the museum, I went straight home and had an apple for dinner.
I renewed my Corinthians membership and signed up for their one week cruise in the Mt. Desert Island region of Maine next July and August. I also joined the Seven Seas Cruising Association, after Bob, of Pandora, had encouraged me to do so for years. It appears that I'm eligible for "Commodore" status based on the mileage I have logged off shore and the time spent aboard, but the third requirement for that status is that one be a member in the lesser class for a year. They do a lot of information sharing and I responded to two requests for information, about Angelfish Passage through the Florida Keys and about sailing in Turks and Caicos. I simply referred the questioners to the relevant posts in this blog. And I have spent some time trying to get the Nova Scotia portion of next summer's vacation organized. I asked the other members of the SSCA to share their experiences with me and called Landfall Navigation, an excellent chandlery in Stamford CT, who sent me information on the relevant paper charts, published by the Canadian government, that we will need, and cruising guides. And I selected the right electronic chart, but I will not buy charts until next spring; you want them to be as up to date as possible. And I contacted Fernando, who did stainless steel and fiberglass work two winters ago, to get him lined up to repaint the blue boot stripe when it gets warm enough next spring. So work is continuing apace.