Trailer trashed

by Chuck February 7, 2004

I hauled Odyssey to Marysville today to pick up the trailer that I ordered from Boatland during the boat show. The guy on the phone wouldn't promise anything, but he was fairly sure that he could move Odyssey to the new trailer and send her home the same day.

It was a rainy, dreary day when I went out in the morning to hook the old trailer up to the truck. I spent an unpleasant few minutes in the damp, hooking up the trailer and tying the mast to the boat. On the bright side, the new dock lines (also from the boat show) worked a treat to tie the mast down with. I can't wait to use them to tie up to a dock.

By the time I got out the door about an hour later the sun had come out and the trip to Boatland was pleasant. As I drove to Marysville, I realized that this was the first time that I've pulled the boat trailer by myself, without someone following me in the car or riding shotgun in the truck. Kind of a heady feeling, like I'm a grown up or something.

The drive to Marysville was uneventful, except for the part of I-5 by Dagmar's Landing. I looked down at the the speedometer and realized that 75 mph was probably too fast for the old wreck of a trailer bouncing along behind me. I pulled my foot off the gas and slowed down, letting the other cars around me speed ahead.

Downtown Marysville is under construction, State street is torn up and traffic is nightmarish under the best of circumstances, and pulling a 22-foot boat is not the best of circumstances. Fortunately, Boatland is just off the main drag, so getting there was fairly easy, all things considered. I pulled into the Boatland parking lot, and Matt (or was it Dave) said "Park it over there by that trailer. Your trailer, as a matter of fact."

I left Odyssey the capable hands of the Boatland crew and left to shop for a new clothes dryer (the old one having given up the ghost the weekend before). Lunch, two mochas, and $200 worth of home appliances later Odyssey was on her new trailer and ready to go home.

The old trailer stayed at Boatland. They gave me a minimal amount in trade, and frankly, anything was more than it was worth. Matt (or Dave) said it wasn't the worst trailer he'd ever seen, but it was close. With the old trailer parked in the back lot and the Odyssey nestled snuggly in her professionally fitted new trailer, we headed back to Monroe.

Now we just need to wait for sailing season to start so we can try hauling Odyssey to some new destinations. It looks like a good summer for sailing already.



Boat show bargains

by Chuck January 18, 2004

My father-in-law, Ron, took me to the Seattle Boat Show today. Ron likes to look at the fishing boats, preferable aluminum boats that need next to no upkeep. I had three purchases in mind, and the boat show was the perfect place to look.

First, Odyssey needs a new trailer. The old one is rusted, bent, and falling apart. I started looking for one last year at the boat show, and decided on the one I wanted (RoadRunner 2500B). I saved up the money last fall, and so I ordered a new trailer right there at the show. It should come in sometime around the end of the month, and Odyssey will have a new resting place going into this year's boating season.

Next, I wanted to find some new dock lines. Last year I'd seen a place called TopKnot, and liked the look of their lines. But I didn't go back and buy the lines on my way out the door like I'd planned (fed-up wife, cranky kids) so I waited until this year. I bought two 20-foot 7/16-inch lines to replace the 5/8 three-strand lines that were jammed on Odyssey's cleats. If you'd like to take a look at TopKnot's products, they're on the web at

And last but not least, I wanted to get a tide and current book from Cap'n Jack's (see the description at their Web site). I used one of these when I went out with Arthur on his 38-footer a couple of years ago and really liked it. Knowing the current at any given time is essential when sailing a small sailboat like Odyssey. Planning a trip to take advantage of the currents can make a huge difference. Tidal currents in Puget Sound can be 3-4 knots. Getting the curents right in a boat that can only make 4.5 knots at hull speed and you double your speed over the ground. Get them wrong and you might as well throw out the anchor.

Unfortunately, the tide guide wasn't in yet. The guy I talked to said 3 weeks, so I'll call them at the beginning of February for an update.

And of course we saw boats. Lots and lots of boats. I particularly liked the Beneteau 311, and the cabin layout of the new Catalina 34 was nice. But mostly, I remember looking at beautiful boats that I will never be able to afford, but appreciating the people that build these beautiful boats.



Sailing away

by Chuck July 5, 2003

We picked a brilliant day to head out for what turned out to be the first sail of the year. Temperatures in the 70's, wind variable from calm to around 15 knots.

And the best part is we actually got away from the dock.



The sailing season (almost) begins

by Chuck June 20, 2003

Updated July 1, 2003

I finally got to start my sailing season on Father's Day (June 15th). Well, not really the sailing season...

Remember that old saying "A bad day on the water is better than a good day in the office"? I put that to the test on the 15th. I put Odyssey in the water, went nowhere, then pulled her out again.

On the plus side, we looked good. Dana and I remembered how to work together to put the mast up and rig the sails, the kids were actually helpful, and Duncan, our dog, seemed to enjoy his first trip on the boat.

On the minus side, the motor that I had tested only three days before, the motor that had started on the second pull after being in storage for 8 months, the motor that had never failed me before -- decided not to start. Even after a couple of hours of pulling on the cord, after re-gapping the plugs, drying them, choke, no choke, throttle, no throttle. Nothing.

And the worst part? If I could have made 100 yards I could have sailed. But considering the current and the traffic at the Everett boat dock there was no way I could scull, rock, or paddle that 100 yards without bouncing off another boat, or the dock, or both.

Sheepishly, I took Odyssey back home. The next Saturday I got the motor out, changed the plugs, changed the gas and tried again. Nothing. Went in a told Dana it looked like we needed to take the motor in to have it fixed.

Then, yesterday, my father-in-law Ron came by to have a look. He got the motor out, hooked it up to the hose and the gas, pulled the starter, and ... it started right up.

He told Dana, "Sorry."

Dana: "What happened?"

Ron: "It started."

Dana: "What did you do to it?"

Ron: "Nothing."

After I go home (a whole other fiasco involving my daughter, missed e-mails, getting out late from a meeting and the fact that a payphone call now costs $1.00, at least at the Target in Woodinville) I gave the ol' outboard a try. It fired right up.

So, with motor problems seemingly vanishing behind me, maybe this week Odyssey will get to go sailing. That is if I can convince her to be a motor boat first.


I posted this story on the SailNet Laguna list. Here's the response I got from Randy Urich:

Hey Chuck,

Sounds like you just got the motor loaded up--the two-stroke version of getting flooded. I worked on motorcycles for 25 years, so I have a lot of experience in this area.

The piston-cylinder-port system-crankcase of a two-stroke outboard acts as a pump, sucking in the gas-air mixture with every turn of the crankshaft. It goes into the crankcase first, then the piston coming down forces the mixture up thru the ports to the combustion chamber. Every turn of the crankshaft draws in another charge, and the excess tends to accumulate in the crankcase.

When the engine doesn't start after the first half-dozen pulls, it is likely getting loaded up. This is the point at which you should hold the throttle WIDE OPEN (choke open too, of course) while pulling the starter rope. If this doesn't get it started in the next 6-12 pulls, then you need to take the plugs out and dry them, crank the engine without the plugs to clear the excess gas, and just LET IT SIT with the plugs out for 10-15 minutes for some of the accumulated gas to evaporate.

When you try it next, if it doesn't start on the first or second pull, hold the throttle wide open again and leave it there till it starts.

Sometimes this routine may need to be repeated if it's really loaded up. The plugs continue to get wet.

Old gas especially will aggravate the situation, old plugs don't help. You having spark but wet plugs is the traditional symptom for a loaded up (flooded) engine. The excess coming out the exhaust confirms the situation.

I hope this helps. This proceedure is especially useful if it fails to start out on the water. Carry spare plugs.

Good luck,
the "!Oye Maricela!" '83 Laguna 22

Another Addendum

Patrick Wesley asked Randy if the note about loading up a two-stroke engine applied to four-stroke engines. Here's Randy's reply to that one:

Hi Patrick,

Not so much with 4-strokes, as the combustion mixture is confined to the cylinder amd combustion chamber. 4-strokes are pretty efficient at pushing the gas/air mixture out the exhaust valve, therefore not so prone to flooding.

However, the principle is the same: when the mixture in the combustion chamber doesn't ignite, the fuel tends to collect on the surfaces and the air gets expelled out the exhaust. This continues to upset the optimum 15:1 air to fuel ratio, and the richer it gets, the harder it is for the spark to ignite it. The plugs also get wet with the unburnt mixture, adding to the difficulty in igniting the charge.

The solution for both two- and four-strokes that are flooded or loaded up is to induce more air through the wide open carburator throttle bore. This also diminishes the venturi effect, thus sucking less fuel in with the air as it passes over the throttle jet.

Again, old gas is one of the worst culprits in both types of engines being difficult to start. Also, if left in the carb over the winter it can gum up the jets. Of course, this will cause the plugs to be dry when you inspect them.

Oh yeah, here's another tip: DON'T use gasolline with ethanol (alcohol) in it in 2-strokes, because it has a tendancy to cause the oil and gas to separate, AND it attracts water to the gasoline.

I hope this helps, good luck,



The Father's Day Fiasco

by Chuck June 14, 2003

We went sailing on Father's day. Or at least we tried. I'm too depressed to tell you the whole story right now. See the next entry.



Waiting to sail

by Chuck June 5, 2003

There's this moment, right after you hoist the sails and turn off the motor, when the wind fills the sails and the boat starts to heel. The motor falls silent, and you can hear the water splashing past the bow and gurgling past the transom.

Pull the tiller up a little, and the bow falls off and the sails fill and the a little spray kicks up over the deck and you're off across the water. Playing the tiller and the sheets, feeling the wind and the waves.

That moment you connect with generations of sailors heading back into history and forward into eternity. For an hour, a day, a week you use man's skill to harness the power of the Mother, not to impose our will on Nature as we so often do in this day, but to cooperate with the world we find around us to move us where we want or need to go.

It's been a long time coming this year. Odyssey's transom was more work than I anticipated. Little League seemed to expand to take over our lives. The farm needed more work than ever to get under control this spring. Cats and dogs and chickens and children and deadlines at work seemed to pile up an endless screaming demand for more and more and more of my time...

But last night I put the last of the gear aboard Odyssey. The anchor is stored below. The tiller and the rudder are waiting on the cabin seat ready to be shipped. The safety equipment and flares and ropes and fenders and cushions and all the many things that need to be aboard are stowed in their places on board. I tied the halyard shackles to the new halyards. I spread the sails out on the lawn and refolded them to ease the strains of being packed into sail bags for the winter.

Soon. A day. A week. Maybe two. And then we'll be out on the water and the motor will be off and I'll pull the tiller up and the sails will fill and the only sound will be wind and the soft gurgle of the water closing behind Odyssey as we rejoin the sailors.



Almost ready

by Chuck May 14, 2003

The first weekend in May is the official opening day here on Puget Sound, with a big parade of boats through the Montlake Cut, crew races, and much drinking of the grog. Not that I was waiting for opening day, or anything, but now that the season is on, I want to be sailing.

I've got most of the way through the pre-launch check list. The only things left are to:

  • Start the motor and make sure it'll run.
  • Tie the halyards onto the headboard shackles.
  • Load the cushions and other gear into the boat.

I'm putting some things off for later. The lifelines still need to be replaced, someday I might write down the fiasco trying to replace them turned out to be. And I'll put off building a mast crutch and putting on a jib downhaul 'til later when I may actually get a chance to single-hand.

It's getting to be time to take Odyssey out. By this time next month I should have a couple of trips to share.



Spit and polish

by Chuck March 23, 2003

Odyssey sat outside all winter, and she is showing the results: her entire hull is covered with a dingy greyish green coat of scum. There are pine cones in the cockpit, needles in the scuppers, and in one place there is actually a tiny little tree growing in the rub rail. Clearly, it's time to clean up.

On the 23rd, Joey and I pulled Odyssey out of the barn and hauled her over by the arena where there is a hose bib and a slope so the dirty water runs away. We got out the scrub brushes, the hose, and some rags and went to work, using a scrub brush over her entire hull and deck.

It was a typical early spring day in Pugetopolis. The sun was shining when I started, but in the hour and a half we washed on the boat, we had: Sun. Rain. Hail. Wind. Clouds. At times we had all 5 at once.

When we were done, Odyssey looked a lot nicer. Gone was the dingy green look, replaced with white and blue that looked like someone cared. There are a few places that I missed, like the inside of the cockpit, but overall it's a big improvement.

The best part of the whole afternoon was working with Joey. He's reaching that point in a child's life where they stop being a drag and actually start becoming helpful little workers. He worked for almost an hour before getting bored and distracted, and even when he stopped scrubbing he didn't make the job harder.

With all the grime washed off, I put Odyssey back into the barn so she'd stay clean. Next, it's time to shine her up.



That @&%^ transom

by Chuck March 8, 2003

The big project on Odyssey this weekend was filling the holes on the port side of her transom. This is the first time that I've repaired holes in fiberglass with epoxy putty, so all in all it's a learning experience.

I bought an epoxy kit from West Marine, it comes with 5 or 6 packets of pre-measured epoxy, some fillers (microballons and colloidal sillica), pots, stirring sticks, etc. I look over the directions, but there's no mention of which filler to use in which situation, so I'm on my own. I know that microballoons are for sanding, so I decide to use the sillica.

The kit comes with a pair of surgical gloves, so I put them on. Joey asks me why I'm doing that, I tell him so I don't get any chemicals on my hands. Joey climbs into the loft of the barn, he doesn't want to have anything to do with chemicals.

My first challenge is mixing up a pot of putty. The wind is blowing through the barn and that darn filler is light and doesn't want to get out of the cup it came in and into my mixing cup. I move to the tack room and now it pours fine. I mix some filler in, then some more, until I have a putty that looks pretty good.

Back out to the boat. I use one of the stirring sticks to trowel the putty into the holes. It's too thin and starts to slump. I dig most of it back out, put it back in the pot and add some more filler. Now it's looking really thick. I trowel it and and it works. Maybe five minutes later all the holes that I'm filling in this session are done.

So, once I'm done, there is some extra filler outside the holes, smeared around the transom. I'm not looking forward to it hardening, so I think, "Hey, let's try acetone. That might clean it up." So I get out a rag and some acetone and try rubbing it on the extra filler. To my delight, it appears to be taking off the extra. I clean up all the extra filler on the transom. (While I'm doing this, Joey asks "What's the awful smell?" "Acetone" I reply. Joey climbs down from the loft and goes to play on the haystack where he can't smell the acetone.)

That's all for Saturday. I clean up the mess, tossing the used cups, stirrer, gloves (need to get more gloves) in a plastic bag and putting the plastic bag in the garbage.

On Sunday I walked out to check and see how things were going. I learned two new things:

  • Epoxy that goes off in 20 minutes at 70 degrees is still tacky after 12 hours at 38 degrees or less. Working in these cold conditions does wonders for the pot life of epoxy.
  • Cleaning up the overspill with acetone didn't work as well as I'd hoped. All the extra filler was gone, but the hull is now stained with an orange color that I can't figure out how to remove.

That's how things sit today. On Wednesday (the 12th) I got a chance to go out and poke the filler, it's hardened up now. (Why so long? The farm. The weather. Little League practice. 4H. I'm lucky to get an hour or so a week to play on Odyssey. Next I have to figure out how to take care of the delamination and how to get rid of the orange color on the transom.



Progress on projects

by Chuck March 7, 2003

The weather is crummy on Saturday afternoon, so instead of cleaning up the horse's paddock in the rain, I decided to put a little time in on Odyssey.

First, there is an old broken up block from the original main sheet system on the port side (the starboard one was gone before I got Odyssey). It's ugly, non-functional, and I want it gone. I don't want to unscrew the padeye it's connected to because I'm not sure how I'd get it back on, and the padeye will be useful if I ever install a tiller tamer. I try to use a hacksaw to cut the loop on the block, but the stainless steel block is stronger than the teeth of my hacksaw (need to remember to buy new hacksaw blades when I go to the hardware store).

Not one to daunted by mere details, I break out the power tools. Ron, my father-in-law, gave me an angle grinder for Christmas. He intended that I use it to clean up rust on my trailer and/or my keel, but he isn't around. About 10 minutes later (get the grinder out of the box, laugh at the fractured English instructions, put the grinding wheel on, get an extension cord, plug everything together, then start cutting) the block is bouncing into my trash bucket. Success.

Then I get Katie to help me rebed the bow fairleads. As usual with things put on by this person, the fairleads are bedded and have a backing plate. He just chose to use galvanized screws instead of stainless. I broke the bolts loose, cleaned up the deck and the fairlead, then re-bedded with Life Caulk and fastened with stainless screws. Having Katie to help makes this go much faster, she stays below and puts the washers and nuts on, I stay on deck and turn the screws.

Next, one of the mast base blocks for turning halyards back to the cockpit is on backwards. How the original installer missed that, I'll never know. The nuts are just finger tight(!), so I remove them below, then go on deck and pry the block off the deck. No bedding. Argh! There are two other base blocks and three turning blocks that match this one, so I check. No bedding there either. Turns out there was a person who used high-quality parts (Harken blocks), stainless bolts, etc. to put parts on Odyssey, but was too lazy to bed them properly. Disgusted, I tape the deck, bed the fitting in the right way, then tighten the nuts. Katie has had enough for now, so I put off bedding in the other blocks 'til later.

Finally, I decided to fill the holes in the port side of the transom, where it's still solid. But that's a whole other entry.



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