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

Friday, May 18, 2018

All April And To The Ninth of May; ILENE Is LAUNCHED and On Her Mooring!

Great sadness! Forty days without a post, due to the inaccessibility of my computer. I hope some of my loyal readers have remained faithful during the drought. And while I hope that I'm now back to posting, some of Blogspot's functionality is still not restored.

The compression of so much time into one report may have a silver lining; while a lot of work got done on a lot of days, it is mostly the same old boatwork that needs be done every season, and less exciting than in other posts.

Twenty work days, two of them at home doing paperwork and derusting and waxing the swim ladder. I put in a total of 86.5 work hours: slightly better than four per day, but that only counts my time and I had help. Ten hours with Ed Spallina on two days and 33.5 hours on seven days with my nephew, Mendy. He did the heavy lifting of the winter covers to be folded and carried upstairs to the locker and the sails from the locker to the boat and hauling them twelve feet up to the deck and helped with the mounting them as well as scouring and painting the bottom and cleaning and waxing the freeboard. Without him these tasks would have been nigh impossible for me or at least taken me a lot longer. So all told, 130 hours of work to get ready.

Ed was a big help with his many power tools and carpentry knowledge of how to use them. We, well he, really, with my "help," created a mounting plate to cover the hole in the instrument pod where the old RL70C chart plotter used to sit, with a different hole in it for the new Axion 9 Multi Function Display. We also thought through what wires we will need to run to get connectivity of power and signal to the new units. I did the mechanical installation of the new Ray 70 VHF radio, much where the old Standard Horizon had been and Ed did the wiring for that unit. It was hard getting the old radar dome down from its swinging platform above the arch and we found that the new bolts that Raymarine supplied with the larger, lighter new digital one were too long so I bought new ones and that is up in place now too. I called Raymarine four times to ask what wires and connectors we would need to order from Defender and got different answers each time. In the end I got eight such pieces and will return those we don't use back to Defender for a refund.

Some highlights:
+  Reattachment of the aft head; neither of them leak and both work much more efficiently than before with their new piston rings! This picture with the bowl off and before extensive cleanup of the entire area.
+  I wasted a lot of time looking for stuff: I did not find the Allen wrenches until after I had bought new ones, that I've now taken home. The paper charts of Nova Scotia are still among the missing.
+ I'm pleased with what Mendy has been learning including reinserting and attaching the stanchions and lifelines. In fact, I helped broker a deal, no commission, in which Mendy is doing the bottom and freeboard on Ohana, Bennett's boat. Good deal for Bennett with the free use of my roller, pan, buffer, tarp, etc. But having gotten Mendy an hourly rate, I thereafter felt compelled to pay him the same rate for his work on ILENE, but not retroactively.
+  Two of the mainsail's battens have been a problem for some time, being a bit too long, protruding a bit aft of the leech, causing the sail to get hung up on the lazy jacks while being hoisted. So I sawed off the last inch, smoothed the edges with the boat's file and voila: problem apparently solved.
+  But that was too easy and I also ended up getting the main stuck on the port prong at the gooseneck, putting a tiny hole in it at the leech, about two feet above the tack. I will patch it with tape this season and perhaps let Doyle do a more professional job next winter.
+  I picked up the cockpit cushions from the shop in Norwalk. The old "open cell foam" plastic cellular structure had deteriorated to a yellow dust since the cushions were placed into service in October 2011. The new foam seems thicker than the original. So good seating is restored and it might be good for another seven years, which might be longer than I can continue to sail such a big boat.

We have had some non-work boating-related activities as well:
+A good dinner with Mendy at Bennett and Harriet's home; another one with them near Broadway before theater; two great buffet lunches at the Club during my work days with Mendy.
+Attended a meeting of the Club Cruise Committee, of which I remain nominally the Chair as Fleet Captain, but only until someone else is willing to take the job.  I cannot take ILENE on the cruise of about ten days that the four boat present elected to plan because she will be in Maine for eight to ten weeks including those days. But the folks who attended, mostly PC Bruce, came up with  a nice itinerary with lay days at the furthest point, Watch Hill on the Connecticut-Rhode Island border.

And as I mentiuioned: WE LAUNCHED!  And a day of excitement it was. High tide presented a window from 1:30 to 5:30 that afternoon, May 4.  I asked, for my planning purposes, what time they planned to launch ILENE. "3:30 it will be."  I know that plans go astray, but we had a target and Mendy and I were ready. Well it was 5:30 before they got to me. And once in the water the engine started right up like it did last fall. But we are launched at the Huguenot stern first into an inlet with rocky riprap to starboard and the dock to port, so the boat has to be attached to the dock during the time that the headstays are reattached. Well they were not there to take the bow lines or spring lines so while the stern was near the dock, the bow was very near the rocks. Saved by a small workboat in the nick of time!  It was not very windy and there were no big waves, but going on the rocks is not a good way to start the first minute of the new season.

Once on the dock, engine off, waiting for Orlando and Gus to reattach the two headstays, I checked and noticed water in the bilge. I checked the engine under the ladder between the cabin and the cockpit, because I had just reattached the raw water cooling hose there that morning and maybe I had screwed it up. But the water was coming from further aft. So I tore everything out of the aft cabin to look in there, thinking maybe I had screwed up when I put the new zinc in the refrigeration condenser during the winter. What I saw was a lot of water seemingly sprayed about in that compartment. First step: dry it all out so I can see where the water is coming from. But none was coming in with the engine off.  When  Mendy turned it on the problem was immediately obvious but easily fixable: there is a four inch diameter plastic elbow connecting the engine discharge system to the muffler which is held on by two four inch diameter hose clamps, two at each end.
The clamps were loose and the water sprayed out from the seams. So: engine off, tighten up the clamps, engine on and voila: no more water. I had never even thought about those clamps and figure I had nudged them while doing the work on the condenser zinc in there last fall.

Once the headstays were reattached we headed off at about 6 pm. I took Ilene's iPad for its InavX chart and we got through the western exit into the Sound. I thought I would have the depth instrument but it did not come on and, of course, no auto pilot until the electronics are rewired.

ILENE's mooring had been moved to deeper water to accommodate the extra two inches of draft she will get this summer in Maine. So finding the ball was not that easy but the bridles from our ball come out of its top which is an unusual feature makes it easier to spot, especially in a near empty mooring field. I took and educated guess which later turned out to be correct.

Next stop, the launch ride to the dock. But that afternoon the Docks Chairman had sent out an email that I had not yet read advising that as an economy measure launch service in this early part of the season ends at 4 p.m. long before our arrival. But the launch operator of the neighboring City Island YC heard my calls to the Harlem launch and told me we had no launch service. When I hailed him he came and got us and we had a nice dinner at Bistrot SK, with Mendy and two non-sailing friends who drove us back to the Huguenot after dinner so we could get our car.


  1. Wow-- You Have Some problems!!
    First Problem-- Your Help..

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