Second Sailing

by Chuck July 2, 2011

Dana’s parents went out on Saturday to take advantage of the short crabbing season that we’re having here, so Dana and I decided to take our boat out and meet them on the water – hoping that a crab or two might fall off their boat and into ours.

Originally we thought that we would take our kids with us, but they decided to go with Ron and Sue on the Salty Lady. Dana I ended up taking Odyssey out by ourselves again.

It was almost a pleasant day out on the water, except for the lack of wind. Mostly we drifted around, running the motor whenever we needed to dodge a crab pot that the current was setting us toward. We did stop for  a while to talk to Ron and Sue and the kids.

Here’s today’s complaint – people who run at speed past boats at anchor. Three or four times while we were tied up to Salty Lady some jerk came spinning by at speed only a 10 or 20 yards away. Odyssey and the Lady would bob like corks, trying to tangle their railings, and Dana and I would be fending off with both feet and a hand to keep us from smashing together. Just because you can run your boat fast anywhere you want doesn’t mean that you should…

We pottered about, heading in about 5:00 p.m. The current was running fast up river; I had to try three times before I could get us close enough to the dock for Dana to get out. Made a few people nervous, but didn’t hit anyone.

On the way home we swung by the marina where the kids were and dropped off a cool chest. Two crabs came home with Joe and Kate. Made a great dinner with fresh greens from the garden.



Sailing Sunday

by Chuck June 13, 2011

Dana and I went sailing for the first time this year on Sunday. It was quiet, relaxing, exhilarating, and exhausting -- just like a day on the water should be.

It was just Dana and I again, Katie had a bad head cold and Joey had some homework that he wanted to work on, though he did help me put the lines on the boat again. He's downright useful a that sort of thing nowadays. Load, pack, hook up, and go took about an hour, but I wasn't hurrying.

Towing the boat is remarkably stressful since it jumped off the hitch last year. Everytime I go over a bump I glance in the rearview mirror to make sure that Odyssey is still with us. The leaf springs on the trailer have a loud squeak in them, that didn't help to hear as the trailer settled back down after a bump.

The toughest challenge to overcome this trip was figuring out how to pay for launching and parking. We thought we had to pay for launching and parking ($11), but it turns out we only had to pay for launching ($8), the first 24 hours of parking are included. Unfortunately, we didn't bring change for $8.00, and the machine doesn't give change. Through fits and starts, we finally managed to give the machine the $8.00 we needed to for our launching ticket, after we managed to give it (and lose) $10.00.

In we went, and off sailing we went. The wind was, as usual, fluky. Stiff, soft, and non-existent by turns. It always pleasant though, out on the water, so we had a good time.



Wet sanding

by Chuck March 31, 2011

One of the problems with storing Odyssey outside and uncovered during the winter is that the deck gets covered in dirt and green gooky stuff – and when it rains that gunk flows down the side of the boat. I’m not sure why, but the stuff running down the sides of the boat leaves streaks, streaks that don’t wash off in the spring.

Today I went out to start cleaning the hull. I made up a bucket of my favorite washing soap (Purple Power) and got out a scrub brush. I started at the stern on the port side and worked my way forward and around, scrubbing the bulwark and rubrail with the brush to remove the caked on gunk, and then working my way down the side to the waterline (I don’t go below the waterline, Odyssey still has a layer of ablative anti-fouling paint that I don’t want to scrub away). The gunk came off, but no matter how hard I scrubbed I couldn’t get those streaks to come away.

Most years it isn’t a big deal, Odyssey isn’t the prettiest sailboat out there, and a few streaks on her side don’t make her any less fun to sail. But today the streaks were bothering me – they were darker than usual, or there were more of them. Not sure, but it bothered me anyway.

Up in the den I have a copy of Don Casey’s Sailboat Hull and Deck Repair, and the chapter “Restoring the Gloss” answered my questions. Compounding the boat, or, more aggressively, sanding the gel coat. Out in the barn I found a package of 320-grit wet sand sandpaper. A plan was born.

Right in the middle of the worst streaks on the port side I started wet sanding the hull. A couple of minutes later I found, much to the dismay of my elbow, back and shoulder, that it worked. The streaks were gone, the gel coat was shiny, and I had the rest of the boat to finish.

Dana came out to talk to me while I worked, so I wasn’t completely absorbed in the sanding, but she went back inside as the rain started to come down harder. For a time I didn’t need to run water on the hull as I sanded, the rain provided all the flow I needed to keep sanding.

After an hour or so of work I was able to step back and admire hull that looked remarkably good. Not perfect by any measure, but a whole heck of a lot better.

Unfortunately, now that I’ve sanded the hull I need to get some wax on it to protect if from additional staining. And with the weather forecast to keep raining for days, I’m not sure when I’ll get a chance.



Long haul

by Chuck July 9, 2010

This year Dana convinced me that we needed to take a real vacation in the summer, a vacation where we packed the kids and dogs up and headed out of town for a week. A vacation where we took the boat along for the ride and dropped it in the water and I got to sail as much as I wanted. A vacation in July to Lake Chelan.


I spent my evenings during the week loading up Odyssey and making sure that I had everything that I thought I would need for a trip like this one. The one change that I made was to add a jib downhaul. I’ve never used one, but from what I read it made recovering the genoa easier when you were single handing. Since part of the plan for the week was to learn how to single hand, it seemed like a good idea.

Thursday night and Friday morning I loaded up the truck and tied everything down. We needed to be in Chelan around 4:00 p.m., so we figured we needed to be on the road by noon. In defiance of every other trip we’ve made, we were pulling out onto the road at noon.

Joe was riding with me, and as I headed down the hill I felt a funny “thunk” from behind. I stopped in the two-way left hand turn lane on Chain Lake to make sure that everything looked OK. Brakes plugged in. Safety chains on. Hitch closed tight. Everything seemed to be great.

Why does he bring this up? Think of this as Checkhov’s Trailer Hitch. That was a long digression at that wiki.

Joey and I headed out of town ahead of Katie, Dana, and Kurt in the Sonata, with Katie driving. We headed up the pass, then just as we were going through Baring I hit a bump – and the trailer jumped off the hitch.

Dana was texting me when it happened because one of my lights wasn’t working. All of a sudden there are sparks flying and smoke rising and flames shooting out I’m moving over to the side. Katie thought I’d blown a tire, Dana thought the axle had come off, and Kurt thought the trailer bunks had given out and the keel was rubbing.

Fortunately, the safety chains held and the whole works came to a stop when the truck did. And also, fortunately, there was a shoulder where we were for me to pull over on. Later on we passed an RV that had lost a wheel – they were in a spot with no shoulder and were blocking traffic.

Anyway, back to the shoulder of the road in Baring. We all stopped. Katie and I were shaking a bit – me because I’d almost lost the boat and Katie because she’d been driving behind a boat spitting flames and sparks.

After walking off a bit of the shakes, I checked the trailer. There is a little triangular foot on the bottom of the hitch, that had rubbed almost off – that’s where the sparks came from.

The smoke came from the spare tire. It was on the road and helped support the trailer after it came off the hitch. There was  long streak of rubber back up the highway.

The flames – well the flames came from the handle on the jack. For whatever reason the plastic handle ended up on the road, and the plastic caught fire while it dragged. Once we stopped, the fire went out.

Putting the trailer back on the hitch was straight forward. I had the kids hang on the back of the boat and Dana and I picked up the tongue and set it back on the hitch. After I secured the lock, I put my head underneath and made sure it was locked.

As far as I can tell, one of the wires on the light cable was under the lock plate, and that kept the hitch from locking fully. The reason why the light wasn’t working was because there was a short between the frame and wire under the hitch plate. When I hit the bump it through the tongue up and off we went.

Back on the road we were only a mile or so along when we came across the RV that I mentioned earlier. An I thought I was having a bad day. When we got to Skykomish I stopped to make sure everything was still working (it was), so we kept on keeping on. We didn’t have any more problems on the trip. Well, besides trying to get into and out of a parking lot that was too small, and almost going through a speed trap too fast. Normal things.



Lazy day

by Chuck May 16, 2010

We got the boat out for our first sail this weekend. We didn’t have much wind so it turned out to be a perfect day for getting the new motor in the water and getting started breaking it in.

The day started off normally. I got the boat ready to go while Dana and the kids did chores around the farm and packed the food and drinks. Joey helped me rig the halyards and the topping lift, he’s getting good at leading the lines through the maze of standing rigging that’s on the deck when the mast is down.

After getting the truck and the boat loaded up we headed down to Everett. As we left Monroe we fell in behind 40-ish foot boat that was being hauled by a semi, complete with a lead car and a follow car. Traffic was backed up considerably behind us, and we laughed about how the people who were passing us were going to be surprised when they found out that the sail boat was not the cause of the backup.

We made it down to the waterfront in good order and stopped at West Marine to pick up a new PFD for Dana. Her old one got damp over the winter and ended up with mildew all over it. She picked up a new pair of sun glasses too.

We headed back to the 12th street launch to rig and launch the boat. The economy is hitting the state’s recreation services pretty hard – with revenue down the state is putting as much money into the parks, so the launch fees were up, and they’ve added a parking fee to the facility as well. Last year it was $5.00 to launch and park, this year it was $11.00 to launch and park on the weekend. It’s only $8.00 on weekdays, but since I’ve only sailed on a weekday once, I’m not sure that’s going to be much benefit to me.

Once we were at the launch ramps we found out that we had hit the ramps at the bottom of a –2.6 tide. The trailer was off the end of the concrete ramp before Odyssey floated free. On the next ramp over a man was launching a 26-foot fishing boat, his truck was off the end of the ramp before the boat floated free – luckily he had 4-wheel drive and could pull himself back up the ramp. Katie helped me bend on the sails and then we headed out into the river, puttering along with the new motor.

We headed out into the river and headed upstream to give the motor some running time. Typically it takes around 15 minutes to get from the boat launch to the mouth of the river, I wanted to have the engine run for 30 minutes or so this first time so I could give it a chance to warm up and start the break-in. As we left the launch I had Joey lower the keel, he had it about 2/3 of the way down when we suddenly stopped – the water level was so low we had less then 5 feet of water under the keel. Joe cranked the keel up and I backed us out ‘til we were free, then I ran straight across the river to the channel before heading upstream again.

We drug the keel across the bottom one other time while we were motoring in the river. I’ve never run aground before, and I managed to do it twice in one day on this trip. Of course, “run aground” is a relative term on Odyssey. We draw 5 1/2 feet with the keel down, but only 18 inches with the keel up. If I hit the bottom we just crank the keel up ‘til we’re free, then head for deeper water.

And usually we don’t worry about running aground at all. Out on Possession Sound there is 75 to 100 fathoms of water under the boat most of the time. It’s only in the river that we need to worry about the depth.

Anyway, the trip out was uneventful. There was so little wind and so little traffic that the mouth of the river, normally a washing machine of chop, was almost flat. We motored out a ways and raised the sails. At first we had enough wind to move the boat along at about 3 knots, but pretty soon it fell to nothing and we were going nowhere at all.

I fired up the motor and we chugged over toward the flats off Jetty Island. Along there we found a bit of breeze and Dana sailed us a couple of miles north along the flat. When we tacked around we ran out of breeze again, so I started the motor one more time and we motored around ‘til it was time to come in.

The weather was fluky all day. There were clouds moving over head but they kept going to the east until they pushed up against the foothills. To the west it was a warm, sunny day – to the east it was dark grey and forbidding.

Around 3:00 the weather took a turn for the worse so I turned us around and started in. By the time we got into the river it was starting to rain, so I struck the sails and the halyards as we cruised up the river – by the time we were at the boat launch we were ready to go on the trailer as soon as the motor ran the fuel out of the carburetor and the rudder was out of the water.

After that we got the boat ready to head home and drove back to Monroe. The closer we got to home the worse the weather became until we ran into Monroe in a thunderstorm.

Not a bad first sail, and I think the first time we’ve been in the water before the end of May. Looking ahead on the calendar there’s not a lot of free weekends, but I’m sure we’ll get at least one more chance to sail before we head over the Lake Chelan.




by Chuck April 10, 2010

Somehow I managed to lose the sail track stop for the main mast’s sail track last year. I’m not sure when it happened, but I do know that when Dana and I took the boat out by ourselves last summer the stop was no longer on the boat.

I’m actually surprised that it took so long for the old stop to disappear. It just rides in the sail track all the time, eventually it was going to fall out either when I was towing the boat or when I was putting the mast up and down.

Heck, I might have put it in my pocket when I was unbending the sail after going sailing and forgot where I put it when I was done.

Anyway, I managed to find the stop on the West Marine Web site. The stop is $9.00, and shipping is $9.00. Not so eager to make the purchase, frankly. The West Marine Web site has a neat feature, however, that shows you if your local store has the part in stock. If it doesn’t, you can have the part ordered to the local store for pickup and not have to pay shipping.

Turned out that our local West Marine had the stop in stock, however, so I was able to pick one up after a short drive to Everett. Joey and Duchess rode along – Joe is getting to be kind of fun to have around. He’s almost as big as I am (he’s bigger than Dana) and he has the same sense of humor as the rest of us.

Anyway, the new sail slug is sitting on top of my sailing gloves so hopefully I’ll remember to pick it up the next time I get a chance to head out.




by Chuck March 28, 2010

Repowered my sailboat today.

That certainly sounds like a complex undertaking. Most of the time that means lifting a big diesel engine out of the bilges of a sailboat with a crane, and then dropping a new one in with much sweating and swearing.

I went and bought a new outboard and hung it on the transom instead of getting the old one out of the garden shed.

We decided to take advantage of a cash windfall to finally buy our own outboard. I’ve been using my father-in-law’s for years -- I’ve always felt a little guilty about that. Now I can take his back to him (if I was a really good son-in-law I’d give him the new one, but he’s had this motor for years, knows how to work on it, and Dana isn’t sure he’d like to have the new one).

The old motor is an 8HP two-stroke Evinrude. The new one is a 6HP four-stroke Tohatsu. We typically used 3 or 4 gallons of gas a year in the Evinrude, from what I hear we’ll use even less with the Tohatsu. It runs a little rougher (it’s a single cylinder) but it’'ll have move torque and run quieter.

It also come with an alternator. It puts out 6 amps, not much, I’ll admit but enough for running lights and to keep a battery topped up. Maybe now I’ll actually put an electrical system on board. Or at least a battery…

I told Dana that I was looking forward to going out and motor boating. She said “have fun with that.” So yeah, the main reason I have a motor on the boat is to get from the launch to the place where we put up our sails. But there have been times when I just wanted to get out on the water and putter around. This might be my ticket.



Not gonna quit my day job

by Chuck March 26, 2010

Last weekend the family was out of town so I took advantage of the missing family to do some work on Odyssey. I pulled her into the barn and started cleaning out the stuff inside. Some things, like the towels, needed to be taken out and washed. Other things, like the cushions, just needed to be dried off and they were good to go.

I pulled the sails out of the sail bags and hung them up in the garage over night to make sure that they were dry, and I used the shop vac to pull 4 or 5 gallons of water out of the bilges. All in all, however, it was remarkably clean in there.

That weekend I pulled all the miscellaneous lines off the boat. I pulled the boom vang, the main boom downhaul, the main outhaul and the earring off and took them to West Marine to replace the lines.

I’m not sure what it is about the people at West Marine, but there are two kinds of people that work there. Good-natured people who don’t know anything about boats and unpleasant arrogant people who don’t know anything about boats but treat you like the problem is you, not them.

Of course, when I went in on Saturday there was one of each.

At one point I was doing the “I’m smiling because I don’t want to tell you exactly what I think about what you’ve just said to me.” I think they might have got the picture, ‘cause they backed way off.

Anyway, the good-natured guy helped me size and purchase new lines. I picked up a tide table and actually made it out of the store for only $21.

Yes, it was too good to be true.

I stopped on the way home and picked up a spool of waxed whipping twine at the other marine shop on the Everett water front (can’t think of the name. Typical.) because I didn’t want to go back to West Marine and try to explain to them what I wanted. Saturday night while I watched TV I whipped the end of all the lines.

The lines looked good, but when I went out to put them on the boat it turned out they were all a sixteenth too big. So I put Duchess in the car and headed back on Sunday morning.

The same two guys were working. They were standing in the exact same place they had been when I got there on Saturday. Worst nightmare ever. And it cost me another $17.

This time I bought extra line for the boom vang. I wanted to try to splice an eye around the beckett on the vang’s fiddle block. On Wednesday I finally gave it a try. It took me 3 hours and two tries to put in one rather ugly splice, only saved by the long whip I put around the splice. I can have one done for me for $6. Couldn’t make a living doing that…

Anyway, I took the lines out to the boat – put the vang back on the boom and tied the outhaul and downhaul where they belong. Looks rather spiffy with the new lines.

So far so good. 



Afternoon sail

by Chuck August 16, 2009

Dana and I took Odyssey out this weekend even though the kids decided that they wanted to stay home and work on their posters and cages for the fair. It felt a little weird to take off to sail with the kids at home, but it turned out to be a nice trip for Dana and I.

Saturday morning was gray, so I wasn’t sure if we were going to have a comfortably warm day for being out on the water. We loaded up the boat with towels to use as blankets, sweatshirts, and wind breakers. Turned out once we were on the water that we didn’t need warm clothes, it was a beautiful sunny day out there.

The wind was blowing just about right – not too much to fly the genoa, but enough to make Odyssey lively. We consistently were hitting speeds of 4.5 to 5 knots over the ground most of the day. Dana and I, mostly Dana, pushed the boat harder than we have in the past. We found that we were pretty comfortable at 10 degrees of heel, and that as we got to 20 degrees things started flying across the cockpit. We mostly tried to stay under 20 degrees of heel.

The coolest part of the trip was seeing a gray whale only one or two hundred yards away. It would come to the surface, blow, then wave one pectoral fin in the air as it slipped back under water. We watched it for about half an hour as we sailed toward Port Susan. At one point we noticed we were on a slightly converging course so we tacked away. The whale looked like it was bigger than Odyssey, we didn’t want to be in its way – and that’s not including the whole marine mammals laws.

The trip from Hat Island back to the river was long and boring. It was downwind, so it was relatively calm even though we still made 3.5 to 4.5 knots over the ground most of the way. Downwind sailing isn’t the most exciting thing, and Dana took advantage of the calm to take a nap. I didn’t even have the VHF to keep me company – most of the charge was gone on the radio so I was saving it for emergencies.

Setting up and tearing down were almost trouble-free. We had a little trouble putting the mast up, one of the stays got stuck under the edge of a portlight and wouldn’t come free. Then once the mast was up it turned out the bolt we normally use to keep the forestay on was missing. We had to set the mast down and dig a replacement out of the cabin.

One the way in we were having trouble getting Odyssey onto the trailer. We needed it to move away from the pier, but every time I kicked the bow out the stern would swing in to the pier, and when Dana kicked the stern out it would pivot the other way. We couldn’t get the boat to move sideways through the water at all – until I realized that I hadn’t retracted the keel into the boat before we tried to put it on the trailer. Once I cranked the keel up we were fine.

The whole day was great, and Dana and I had a good time. I’m looking forward to more “adults only” trips out on the Sound.



Over the bounding main

by Chuck June 28, 2009

We went for the first sail of the year today. The wind was a little strong, but it was a great day on the water.

Katie and Joey helped me set up the boat, Joey is strong enough (and big enough) to help me lift the mast into position. Between the two of them Dana didn’t have to do anything but walk the dog. On this trip we did a lot more to get the boat ready before we put it in the water – bent on the sails, attached lines, etc. Once we were in we didn’t have to spend a lot of time on the dock getting ready

I had a brief scare when I put the boat into the water – I tried to lower the keel but there was a wrap around the outside of the winch drum and the keel wouldn’t go down. I put Odyssey back on the trailer and tried again to remove the wrap, this time it worked. I backed Odyssey back down the ramp and away we went.

The wind was strong enough that I didn’t put the jib up, we just sailed on the mainsail for the whole day. The kids steered us down the river and took the tiller while I put the sails up, but then I got to be the helmsman for most of the day. Dana would normally have done more, but Duchess wasn’t comfortable on the boat and spent the day on Dana’s lap.

On the way back we sailed up the channel, some of the best sailing of the day. We had a little trouble getting the sail down, there isn’t much room to turn into the wind when you’re in the river, but fortunately the keel got stuck in the bottom so we stopped drifting and I was able to get the sail down.

After I had the sail down I cranked the keel up off the bottom and we motored into the dock. We tore down and headed home.



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