A Travellerspoint blog

January 2011

We Made It!

sunny 70 °F

Well, we got underway from Brunswick on Thursday. It was cold, maybe 35~36, and dark when we left. But we were not the first boat out. That was the Bug Catcher, a small shrimper. The good thing about the marina in the East River is that you can go a mile or two without paying too much attention to navigation marks while you wait for the sun to rise. We caught the tide as planned everything was going great until the glass panels of the newly enclosed cockpit started to fog up. We, of course, didn't think about the defroster option. So Carol wiped and I squinted as we headed for open water.

The trip was interesting .... either too much or too little wind, not at all what the weather forecasts indicated. I had thought that we would sail the whole way; in the event the motor ran the whole way and the sails provided an occasional modest assist. Both nights for about six hours it blew, 20~30 knots. The thing that was strange to me was the sea's surface. With that much wind I expected to see lots of whitecaps and foaming water; there was very little and I would not have believed the anemometer save for the way the boat was behaving. The first night these heavy winds were on the stern corner, almost, but not quite, from behind. This is a difficult wind to sail because unless you're really good, you can get an accidental jibe where the boom swings rapidly from one side to the other causing all sorts of damage; our boom has a scar to prove it. The wind had the boat pitching, fore and aft, as well as wallowing side to side. If Carol and I had not used the seasickness patches it could have been a really ugly, messy night. No amusement park rides can capture that particular sensation, and why would they want to? The next night the winds were even worse, but on the beam. It was so rough that with the sails up, first the auto-pilot, then Carol and finally I was unable to manage the weather helm. We'd get the boat on course, say 160 degrees, and in a nonce we would be headed 270 degrees, straight into the wind. Both nights we quit trying and took in the sails. Lessons learned and remembered .... our auto pilot cannot handle winds much above 15 knots and, apparently, neither can the captain or crew.

The only tense moment of the trip came on Friday night during the very high winds. We heard a strange noise coming from an area where there was nothing to make noise. Then it dawned on me that I had the wind generator on in anticipation of sailing, not motoring. This was majorly not too bright. It was going so fast and vibrating so much that if it didn't rip free from the boat, then we were going to fly rather than sail. My first thought was to shut it off; so, I crawled out of the cockpit and hung on to the pulpit to get it turned off. Even then it sounded bad. So once more into the breach .... I climbed out and up the stanchion and got it physically stopped and then used a piece of velcro to secure a blade. It worked. This was a pale attenuation of what it must have been like in the rigging of canvas powered ships, but it was more than enough excitement for me. And I did have a safety harness and life jacket on.

Other than the first morning with the condensation, the canvas surround was great. The first night was cold; I had on everything warm that I owned, pajamas mixed with polar fleece, without regard to Carol's sensitivity to color and style. All I needed was another day without showering or shaving and Carol would have thrown all my stuff into a three wheeled grocery cart and sent out onto the street to live.The next day broke warm with clear skies and the solarium did its trick ... a tee shirt was good enough. It was so nice that I may start a Sailing Naked Club. That could make for some interesting blog posts and Facebook updates of sailors baring all.

This was a good shakedown cruise. In the main, though, if I could have had Scotty beam the boat and us down to Ft. Pierce, I would gladly have done it. Barring that, I-95 would have been faster and the bathrooms are bigger. So, we got to check out a bunch of stuff to see how well we did.

  • The engine ran for more than 50 hours straight and didn't quit. So maybe the new starter did the trick.
  • There was some pretty rough weather; the davits and the dinghy came through without an issue.
  • The enclosure was great. But it changed things, e.g. all the hand holds we had used are now outside the canvas. We will have to adapt to it.
  • The dripless shaft seal? I checked the engine after every watch and everything was always dry. Somewhere in the last few hours we got some water on board, not much, and I'm not sure how.

Carol deserves some credit. She always fixes a meal for dinner, not fancy but substantial. Many a time we have both eaten straight form the pot in which something was cooked, dirtying only two forks. But, sometimes, it seems to me that she grocery shops in thrift stores for army surplus WWI MRE's. She always has a great reason for the choice, "Well, the doughboys in the A.E.F. spoke very highly of it and it was quick to prepare." At times like these we need Wile E eliminate the point of contention.

We covered a fair amount of territory spending most of our time 20~25 miles off shore. And not once, in the whole trip, were we in water deeper that 95 feet.

We have followed Dawn's injunction that after any overnight cruise of any duration, you should stop someplace where they are no security issues, e.g. anchors dragging. So, Carol and I are, once again, at the Ft. Pierce City Marina, where I stayed month while Carol looked after Joan in 2009. Dawn's advice was good; we both slept about 12 hours after having slept a total of 4~5 hours in the two previous nights.

If there are 100 boats in this marina, there are no more than ten sailboats. They put us on a transient dock, not much used, I guess, because the layer of Pelican poop was deep and crusty except for the top layer which was very fresh. I actually hosed down the dock first so that we would not track said P.P. back onto the boat, a first at any marina at which we have stayed.
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In this marina, our little boat is like a Yugo hatchback at a Cadillac convention. About half the boats here seem to be for off shore charter fishing; the rest seem to be boy's toys, markers in the testosterone driven belief that size really does matter, at least in boats. The marina's saving grace is a great location and that every Saturday they have a high end farmer's market and craft fair. There are several little restaurants within walking distance, including a Greek joint that we much enjoy.

Ziveli in repose.

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Posted by sailziveli 09:47 Archived in USA Tagged boating Comments (0)

Liftoff 2011

sunny 36 °F

The boat went back into the water a week ago. We have been working to try to get ready to get underway and to ensure that the boat is ready to do so. It seems strange. A couple of years ago we knew bupkis about the boat and boating and had no trepidations about leaving; we were dumb and happy. Now, having two years of cruising experience and having learned lots about all aspects of boating, it's harder to pull the trigger. We are more aware of the issues and fail points and what could go wrong. It's a boat so there are no guarantees; it may not go but it won't sink, we hope.

Anyway, we've been running the boat and checking things out. The problems that we have found have been minor. A small oil leak ... time to tighten a few bolts on the oil pan. The fuel gauge did not work .... we checked with Beneteau to see if switched sender wires could be the problem (it could) and that there would not be an explosion if that was not the problem (the system is low voltage). Changing the wires worked and the boat didn't blow up. The shower drain would not work. It took a few hours to trace the problem: about 10-pounds of red dog hair at a narrow junction point. Wile E will be part of this boat long after the call has come for the sea to give up its dead.

Two new things to add to the worry list: the transmission has made very strange sounds a couple of times when moving into reverse; we seem to have a very small cooling system leak near the water heater. I think that it has been there a long time but worry that the drop a day could become a gusher.

So now the most pressing things to do prior to leaving are to (1) remember to return the library books and (2) convince Carol that the boat is not a democracy, where everyone has free speech and gets a vote, and it's not the book club where everyone's feelings matter. She still struggles with the captain/crew roles. The other day she informed me that the thing that I least wanted to happen had, in fact, happened. On the boat the phrase, the thing that I least wanted to happen, covers a lot of territory and encompasses a lot of serious downside. In this case it meant that Carol continued to keep her cosmetics in the head, above the toilet. She had ignored my admonition to keep the lid closed, imagine that, and a tube of lipstick had gone into the toilet, down and around the corner. It was small enough to slide down easily; it was big enough that it could not be retrieved. So, the net result was a full day devoted to disassembling the toilet and, while I was at it, doing a complete rebuild.

We've been enjoying the new canvas around the cockpit. Carol has insisted on dinner up there several times; we had folks over for drinks one night, a sort of memorial for Ed; he would have approved. Ray and Susan came over the other day. He looks pretty good; he's put on a little weight; he's half-way through chemo. We're pulling for him, but not to worry; he's a former recon marine and they're way tougher than cancer.

On Monday, 01/24, we went for a test drive, a mile or so down the East River and back. Everything seemed to work really well. We've taken on the extra water and fuel in the jerry cans; everything is secured. So it's just a matter of weather. It's about 230 straight line nautical miles to Vero Beach; so, it will take something in the area of 48 hours to get to there. With transit time to and from the sea buoys .... three days, two nights on an ocean cruise. And, the tickets are free since we own the cruise line. What could be better than that!

The work/preparation was done Monday; Tuesday we got 40 days and nights of rain in about 12 hours; Wednesday it BLEW! ... 30~35 knots in the morning. So today, Thursday, is the day. We sail on the tide (I've always wanted to say that) at dawn's first light, about 0645. Actually, we'll motor for a few hours until we get to open water and then run out the sails. It's a bit of dramatic license but I feel like I've earned it.

Posted by sailziveli 05:39 Archived in USA Tagged boating Comments (0)

Beached Whale

It's deja vu, all over again.

  • Last year we got to the boat in early December. In January we still had not departed. Ditto that!
  • Last January, we had to have the boat hauled for work regarding the propeller shaft seal. Ditto that!
  • Last year our stay in Brunswick was bitterly cold. Ditto that!
  • Last year the cold weather precluded our starting south. Ditto that!
  • Last year Carol and I spent time at Joan's, broken ribs, this year, repairs. Ditto that!

Carol and I seem to be condemned to repeat the past despite not having forgotten it.

On Tuesday, 12/28/10 we had the boat towed to the yard and it was hauled.

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The repair was complicated, time consuming and will probably have cost more than the GDP of many small countries, e.g. Burkina Faso. I told Carol not to tell me what the bill was. Basically, everything from the transmission to the propeller was replaced: shaft, seals, bearings and all parts through which these traverse. If the repair was done well, not a given at this boatyard, there will be, maybe, a swallow of lemonade: a dripless shaft seal that really does not leak, something that we have not had during our ownership period; enough room on the propeller shaft to attach a large sacrificial zinc, which will need replacing less often than the present arrangement. And in the tearing the boat apart two other problems surfaced, one very serious, which were repaired.

Since Carol and I were not able to stay on the boat, we imposed on others for bed and board. We did go to see Mom over Christmas, very snowy, very cold. We have been at Carol's sister's, Joan, for almost three weeks. Fortunately, Joan is a very nice and gracious lady and didn't kick us out. The high point for the holidays was Carol infecting everyone with a wicked cold. The only possible relief would have been a quick trip to Afghanistan where some mad mullah would have performed an anodyne decapitation on an infidel. Unfortunately, we left our passports on the boat, so we stayed here and suffered.

Before the boat was hauled, I was in a dinghy doing some cleaning on the hull; the boat was bow in so the stern of the boat was visible. A guy, who was out rowing in his dinghy, rowed over and asked me if we spoke Serbo-Croation, having seen the boat's name, and being from the former Yugoslavian area. We allowed that our vocabulary was the single word: Ziveli. He told us that Ziveli is not a noun form, life, but a verb form, live, which I like even more. Regardless, we all agreed that Ziveli is a good injunction and a good name for a boat. This was made more poignant when we received the news that Ed, our boat neighbor and good friend, had died. He was my age; it was his heart. This was a mirror whose reflection was very uncomfortable. And, since Ed's boat is 5-ft. away, we look into that mirror many times a day.

On Tuesday, 01/18/11, the boat went back in the water, three weeks to the day. The engine has to aligned to the new propeller shaft, yet to be done, a final step which could be simple or not. We have to combobulate the boat, get supplies and all. Heading south ... who knows? The best case scenario is sometime the week of 01/23.

Posted by sailziveli 16:03 Comments (0)

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