Current projects

by Chuck March 2, 2003

Replacing the running rigging: Sailnet had a great sale on rope last month, so I bought 130 feet of StaSetX to replace the 3-strand nylon main and jib halyards that came with the boat. I'm hoping that the new halyards will make it easier to get a good hoist on the sails and improve performance.

Replacing galvanized bolts on the lifeline stanchions: At some point the stainless steel lifeline stanchions were removed and put back on with galvanized bolts. Rust streaks down the sides of the hull are the most visible result, but I've always been terrified that one of my kids would come up against the lifelines and the bolts would give way. After I removed the stanchions, I also found they had been bedded with silicone, which is a leak waiting to happen. I cleaned the old bedding off, cleaned the rust stains off the stanchions, and bedded everything again with Life Caulk and put in stainless bolts, washers and nuts.

Cleaning up the stern: The previous owner put two drop-down outboard motor mounts on her stern, I removed the extra one. The one I wanted to keep was held on with two stainless bolts and two galvanized bolts, so I took it off too to renew the bedding and bolts. There were also a pair of corroded and bent bow eyes on the stern, several mounting holes for antennas filled with silicone caulk, and I noticed that the three bolts holding on the bottom rudder gudgeon were corroding. When I pulled the port motor mount, I discovered the transom was delaminating underneath the mount. Black, foul smelling liquid started running out when I pulled the bottom rudder gudgeon. The starboard side of the transom is basically a big osmotic blister. Which leads me to my next project...

Reparing the transom of the boat: The easy part will be filling all the extra holes in the stern. That's just filling the holes with epoxy putty. The hard part is deciding what to do with the delaminated section of the transom. I can either shoot epoxy into the void and hope it holds, or I can take the delaminated section off, dig out any bad core, and re-build the whole thing with fiberglass.



Early winter blues

by Chuck November 4, 2002

October on Puget Sound is a funny time of the year. The air is typically cold, but the sun shines most days. If you're in the shade, you'll be cold, but out in the sun you're warm and the gold and reds of the fall leaves glow against the dark greens and greys of the firs.

It's a beautiful time for being out in the open, but it's also the time that I have to get our hobby farm ready for the winter. Instead of sails and sheets I have to worry about hog fuel and drain lines, stacking hay and cleaning gutters.

And all this time Odyssey sits at the end of the driveway, nestled up beside the shop. I know it's just my imagination, just me projecting how I feel onto Odyssey, but she seems a little depressed, a little sad about the fact that we won't be heading out onto Possession Sound until next year.

On the other hand, yesterday afternoon when I got home from work I walked down the driveway after shutting the gate, and I looked at my sailboat sitting on her trailer, and I thought "I own a sailboat. How cool is that?"



Tearing down for the winter

by Chuck October 4, 2002

Fall weather has arrived here on Puget Sound. Mornings are socked in fog, days are damp and rainy, and nights are cold and wet. I don't want to stop sailing, but it's time to put the gear away and plan for the winter's work.

I spent an hour throwing gear over the side of the boat then hauling it into the shop. I helped Dana clear off a gardening shelf so that I had a place to put the gear coming off the Odyssey.

Here's the things I hauled out:

  • Sails, sail bags, and sail covers.
  • Safety gear (life jackets, throwable float, safety harnesses, flares, horn, manual bilge pump, oar).
  • Galley gear (a plastic box of cups, plates, baby wipes, and towels).
  • Extra clothes, towels, hats.
  • The battery. (A 5Ah battery out of the horse trailer. I'm legal, but not for long.)
  • The boom, main sheet and blocks, and boom vang.
  • Main and jib halyard, topping lift.
  • The whisker pole.
  • Ground tackle (anchor, bent on rode, spare rode from under the seat).
  • Miscellaneous stuff (the garbage bucket, the earring for the mainsail, a cracker with cheese and salami stuck to it).

Now I just need to cover her up with a tarp and we're good for the winter.



Ice cream in Langley

by Chuck August 30, 2002

The kids keep saying that "we never go anywhere" when we're sailing. They're right, we just go 'round and 'round, usually getting around Hat Island is a good day trip for us. But Odyssey isn't a fast boat, and there aren't any short jaunts from the Everett boat launch.

When we go out with Ron and Sue on Salty Lady we sometimes head over to Langley, a "cute town" on Whidbey Island. It's about 7 nautical miles straight line from the mouth of the river to Langley, with a little jog around Hat Island. Not a bad little trip in a boat that does 15 knots like the Lady, but I wasn't sure we could make the trip in a reasonable amount of time on Odyssey.

I checked the forecast (winds southwest 10-15) and the tides (reasonable) and spent some time with the chart and figured that Langley was about 4 hours each way from Everett. With the promise of ice cream in front of them, the kids were eager to go, so we loaded up and headed for the boat launch.

Everything went great until we hoisted the sails. We left the house at 11:00, left the dock at 12:30, and hoisted the sails at 12:45. And then -- nothing. The wind, forecast 10-15 knots, never showed up. We ghosted along for about a mile and when I looked at my watch I realized I was never going to make it to Langley at this rate.

Ah, but you see I'd planned for this. I realized we might need to motor more than usual, so I'd filled up the gas tank on the way to the boat launch, and what's more, I'd brought along an extra 3 gallons of gas in a spare tank. We struck the genoa, left the main up as a riding sail, fired up the outboard and headed off northwest.

It was a lovely trip across. Joey sat on the foredeck. "I'm the lookout," he said, and look out he did, though with the water flat calm and few boats out with us there wasn't much to look out for. Katie flitted from the foredeck to the cabin to the cockpit, took a trick or two on the tiller when I needed her, and generally played about the boat. Dana took the radio with the Cougar football game into the cabin and took a nap. I just drove, watched the scenery go by, and enjoyed a beautiful day on the water.

As we got closer to Langley we were passed by a double-ended motor lifeboat, a cabin cruiser, two runabouts, and a 36-foot sailboat motoring. I bring this up because the next part of the trip was somewhat frustrating. When we got to Langley all of those boats got slips, but there wasn't anything left for me. The dockmaster helped us find a bouy to tie up to and ferried us to the dock. Success. And it was only 4:00 p.m.

We spent about an hour in Langley. The kids got their ice cream, Dana got to look in a few cute shops, and I got to transfer gas from the backup tank to the primary. Actually, that's not fair. Katie transferred a lot of the gas while I ate a sandwich and drank a Pepsi.

The trip home took about 2 hours dock to dock because we didn't even pretend to sail. I fired up the outboard, took a heading on the compass, and held it. Joe was lookout again, Katie took a nap, and Dana and I talked.

Not a lot of sailing, but it was a great day on the water. And that's one of the things I like about a sailboat. If we need it, Odyssey can be a motor boat, but unlike Salty Lady, she doesn't have to be.



Greeting the (phantom) tall ships

by Chuck August 23, 2002

The morning papers show up (we subscribe to two; Dana and I were both journalism majors in college, we're still news junkies) and both are full of pictures of the tall ships that will be sailing into Everett on Wednesday afternoon. The small ones start arriving around 4:00, the fleet should be docked at the Everett Marina by 8:30. We check the tides (high at 10:30, low at 4:00, high again at 10:00) and the wind forcast (15 to 20 knots). We decide. Leave the house at 2:00, be in the water by 3:30, meet the big ships out on Possession Sound.

The first part of the plan worked great. We were loaded and ready to go on time, and with only one short delay to fill the horse's water trough, on the road. The trip to the boat launch was uneventful, even traffic through the construction zone on Hwy 2 was smooth.

We made a detour to the Everett marina to pick up a roll of film (200ASA, 36 exposure. The only roll of film on the Everett waterfront) and to stop by West Marine. Two cupholders, a flag, and a flag staff later we were back to the Odyssey and getting her ready to launch. The launch went smoothly, we bent on the sails and hung the rudder, and we were off down the river at 3:45.

Other than being on the water, that's the last thing that went as planned. The wind, rather than blowing 15 - 20 knots, was about 0 - 5 knots. We motored for a while hunting up a breeze, then found a northwest breeze blowing between Hat Island and Camano Head. We beat into it for a while, then reached across to the south tip of Hat Island. By now it was about 5:30, so we hove to in the lee of Hat Island and ate dinner. Still no tall ships, but a lovely little sail.

By the time we finished eating the wind had died to nothing and we motored east toward Jetty Island where we could see wind ruffs and some sailboats with full sails. We motored across until the new flag started fluttering, then turned off the motor and reached back and forth across the wind for a while.

About 6:30ish I saw one of the smaller ships coming down Saratoga Passage. Finally, about 7:30 North Star, one of the smaller ships in the fleet motored by. Way off down Saratoga Passage I could see another coming our way under sail, but there was no way we were waiting for another 2 hours for her to show up.

At 7:45 we doused the sails (important note: Take the genoa down first. Otherwise the genoa halyard ends up inside the main cover) and motored back to the boat launch.

Docking wasn't quite as pretty as it usually is, the current swept us away from the dock we chose instead of into it, but a little extra motor got the bow near the dock and Dana pulled the stern close enough for me to step off.

We left the boat launch about 9:10, and got home at 9:45. I flushed the motor and parked the boat and got into the house about 10:15.

The next day the papers had pictures of the people waiting for the ships to come in. According to the Herald, the main fleet was in Everett by 9:30. Where they came from, I'll never know.



Privacy in the cabin

by Chuck August 10, 2002

When Odyssey came home after we bought her the forward starboard bulkhead was loose on the v-berth. At some point one of her previous owners had removed it.

Unfortunately, this bulkhead provided two things, privacy for the person using the head, and support for the wiring going up to the mast step. My two women on board wanted the privacy when using the head, and I wanted the support for the wires back. (Joey and I can use the privacy too, I suppose.)

Putting the bulkhead back in was simple enough, I grabbed four of the screws and trim rings I have laying in my spares box and just screwed it back in. Katie helped out by putting the wire ties back around the mast wires, and in about 15 minutes the whole job was done.



Fixing a mistake

by Chuck August 6, 2002

I had a little time this afternoon before we went off to get the kid's pictures taken, so I did a little puttering on the boat.

When I replaced the through deck plug for the mast wiring, I wasn't 100% sure I connected the masthead light so it would work. The plug has a large pin for an index, and I used that one for the ground, but I've never been sure that I connected the positive wire so that the light would come on. I've never used the lights, but I'd like to have them in case I ever need them.

Today I pulled the deck fitting and the plug apart and moved the white wire for the masthead light to the pin opposite the fat pin. There's only one of those, and I'm pretty sure I got it on right. Tonight after dark I'll go out and turn it on and make sure it works.



Maintenance and little dreaming

by Chuck August 4, 2002

After a long day at work I needed to spend some time relaxing, so I grabbed the portable radio, my West Marine catalog, and a Diet Pepsi and headed out to the boat for some sailboat therapy.

I tried tuning in the local classical station, but they were playing something with way too many violins, so I switched to the jazz station, popped the top on the Pepsi, and started to putter.

One of the first things Dana bought me for the boat was a little whisk broom and a dust pan. I used it to clean up the pine needles that had migrated into the cabin, and pick up a few Fruit Loops that had snuck out of the kid's treat bags and under the seat cushions. That only took a couple minutes, so I swept the pine needles out of the cockpit too. There is always a little condensation in the runner trough for the sliding galley, so I toweled that out.

20 minutes or so, and the clean up work was done.

I stretched out on the port cabin seat and pulled out the West Marine catalog. I want to put "yachty" cabin lights in, instead of the cheap RV-style lights that were one of the first things I pulled out of the cabin when the boat came home.

The first time I told Dana that, Katie asked "What does 'yachty' mean?"

"Expensive." Dana is quick.

There are a few surface mount lights I think would look great. I'd like to get aimable halogen lights to make the most use of the electricity they take. I also want to get one candle or oil light to hang on the forward bulkhead when I put it back in. I'm a romantic, and I don't think there is anything more soothing than the light of a candle on a boat at night. (Yes, I know it's an open flame. People used them for years before electricity.)

Joe came out to help me hang out on the boat. He sat, mostly quietly, and looked at the catalog with me. He had a few questions, but surprisingly few given how talkative he normally is.

After half an hour or so, it started to get too dark to read comfortably, so Joe and I closed the cabin up and headed inside. No water, but Joe and I got a few quiet minutes together anyway.



Showing off to Rich

by Chuck August 3, 2002

For years Rich and I have talked about getting boats: fishing boats, sail boats, wooden boats, plastic boats; it really didn't matter, we talked about boats. The second person (after my father-in-law) that I called to tell that I'd bought a boat was Rich. Showing her off was great.

While he was here, I had him help me raise the mast and we lifted the pop-top and put the cover on for the first time. I'm pleased with how much space there is inside the boat when the pop-top is up, and also with the amount of light and air that you get. One of our concerns about spending the night on the boat is how closed it would feel with the hatch boards in place, but with the pop-top up and the cover on, it doesn't feel close at all.

Of course, nothing like this goes unpunished. In order to snap the pop-top cover on, we had to remove the galvanized handle that was staining the back of the pop-top. The previous owner put it on so he had a secure handhold while motoring in heavy weather, but I wanted it gone. Not only was it ugly, rusting and staining the fiberglass, but I usually managed to catch my toe on it when going up on deck. Rich made short work of the bolts once we had the proper tools (two 10-inch Crescent wrenches). The bolts broke, the handle came off, and the whole works went over the side into the garbage can.

That was the bright side. On the down side, we found that several of the cover snaps were missing or not working, and that the zipper was corroded shut on one side. A little bit of coaxing got the zipper working, but the snaps will need to be replaced.

The scorecard for today:

Existing maintenance tasks completed:

  • Pop-top cover put on and tested.
  • Handle removed from back of cover.

New maintenance tasks added to the list:

  • New snaps needed for pop-top cover.
  • Remove rust stains from pop-top.
  • Find a lubricant for plastic zippers and use on pop-top cover zipper to keep it from corroding again.



Chasing Salty Lady

by Chuck July 23, 2002

Dana's sister Shelley told us she and the boys would be going out on Salty Lady with Ron and Sue to do some salmon fishing off Possession Head, and invited us to meet up with them so she could see our boat sailing. We agreed, and so we put the sailboat in the water about 2:00 p.m. Ron said he would be out until around 3:00 p.m., so we figured we'd meet them somewhere past Mukilteo.

We headed down the river and out into the Sound, then hoisted sails and tried to sail south toward Mukilteo. The water was quite rough, and we had quite a bit of trouble making headway. The wind was fitful, and when it died down the waves would pound us to a halt. Eventually, we started the motor and motor-sailed out to the middle of the sound where we picked up the wind.

Once we had some wind, we headed south on a broad reach. We made good progress, and even sailed quickly through the ferry lanes, a place where we usually lose the wind. Today though the wind held until we were about half way down the pass between Mukilteo and Whidbey Island, then died out. We decided to turn and head back toward Everett, motoring for a while then sailing whenever the wind came up.

The whole time we've been looking around for Salty Lady, but there's no sign of her. Katie was playing with the FRS radio, and said she thought she heard something, but we couldn't make anything out. Turns out Ron was trying to hail us, they were bottom fishing in the lee of Gedney (Hat) Island due west of Everett. Thanks to our blue genoa, they could see us, but Ron claims he couldn't catch us in the chop. I don't think he was trying too hard, since he has a 26-foot Tollycraft.

We tacked our way back up to the ferry lane, then turned on the motor and motor-sailed through the ferry lane and back to the mouth of the river. When we got into the calm water in the lee of Jetty Island, we turned off the motor and sailed under main alone back to the boat launch.

Dana was at the helm when we started into the docks, and I'm afraid I got a little short with her when she headed for a launching dock when we needed to be at a removal dock. It probably wouldn't have made any difference, but she just handed me the tiller and said "You do it." So I did. We turned, went back out of the docks, then turned and sailed under bare poles back to the removal dock. I turned the motor off in the calm area inside the boat launch docs and sailed her right up to the dock, then stepped out and made her fast. Ron was waiting for us, and helped us get the boat out of the water and on to the trailer.

We dropped the mast, tied the boat down, and headed back to Monroe. It was a rough trip, but the first time we'd tried to go somewhere and used sails and motor as needed to get there.



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