Hi everyone, I spoke with Alan yesterday briefly and because he will have no access to the internet for at least 8-10 more days he asked me to just give everyone a brief note.
When they left Patras it was in a wild 42 knot wind. Why did they leave you might well ask? The only answer I can give is they were so sick of being in Greece (42 days!!) and they are all crazy. That is all I know. At any rate, the crossing between Patras and Italy was indeed very wild. Alan said the wind and the waves were just like in the movies.
They came through relatively unscathed but had some water on board because of a leak and they lost two small pieces of equipment to breakage. So they have been stopped in a small marina on the very toe of the boot of Italy since Saturday afternoon to get repairs made, leaks fixed and purchases made. All of that was being accomplished while we were sleeping last night and mid day today they hoped to be underway again.
They figure they are doing about 150 miles per day so I was calculating with Sarah (Alex’s partner) last night and we think they will be in Gibraltar in about 7-10 days give or take the wind.
He did say that the coast that they see is spectacular and that when they were approaching Mt Etna it was snow covered and beautiful.
Their route after that is not altogether clear as it depends somewhat on whether the prevailing winds shift but at this point it looks like Gibraltar- Canary Islands- Antigua.
If I receive more news I will update again later but Alan will definitely put a more detailed account when next in port. I hope you are all well where ever you are. Jane
Back in the day when I was young and actually listened to wise older people my father said something that I never understood. He was describing a wooden ship that sank in the St. Lawrence River in heavy seas by saying she had “opened up” and sank. Opened up? How could a boat just open up?
I nodded sagely at the time, of course, not wanting to reveal my ignorance but now, (just 50 years later!) I understand. The ribs broke! How did I figure that out? Readers of this column (if any) will recall that just about a year ago I told the harrowing tale of having to replace the stem in my gracefully aging 77 year old sailboat. If you recall, I succeeded in getting the stem back together in time for the launch, only to suffer a near sinking because a very serious leak “opened up” in another part of the boat. An adrenaline-fueled beaching took place on the conveniently falling tide, and I discovered a three foot seam between two planks was not firmly closed as it was supposed to be, but gaping almost a quarter of an inch wide. In small boat terms that’s an enormous floodgate of a leak, (in maritime hyperbole, big enough for a whale to raise its young in), and the cause of considerable excitement among the Marina membership. The leak was right in the middle of the boat about 4″ on the wrong side of the waterline at what we call “the turn of the bilge” which is where the curvature of the hull is at its most extreme. So I caulked it full of space age putty and had a very pleasant summer after all.
In October, however, the boats go back to the dry-dock for their winter sleep and it was then that I could tell that the hull shape wasn’t quite right. I pulled off one of the offending planks to find out what lies beneath, and what lay beneath was how a boat “opens up.” Four ribs in a row were all broken right along the plank seam at the most extreme curvature of the hull. If they could talk I’m sure the one in charge would have said, “You’ve retired. We’ve retired. Any questions?”
As a matter of fact I did have a few questions: How did that happen? How am I going to fix it? Is it worth fixing? (No, of course not, but when has that ever stopped me?) And the scariest one: is the other side the same? Happily some exploratory surgery revealed that the other side was fine, and in fact, aside from those four ribs, things all round did look to be pretty solid, structurally. So with my new-found knowledge of what it means for a boat to “open up” I optimistically promoted the ribs from “problem” to “interesting wood-working project.” Then I set about finding some white oak which is famous as a boat-building wood for situations where steam-bending is required, and is what all the ribs in my boat are made of as well as other structural members.
As a warm-up though, I also found a little rot on the other side of the boat and replaced a little piece of plank to remind myself how, and to get that smaller item off the list.
It was spring before I’d figured out how to do this little project and had the required materials. I made a steam-box and cleared away much of the interior around the ribs to be repaired. Then came the steam-bending and rib replacement.
You’ll be astounded to hear it didn’t go smoothly. The first problem was that most of the ribs have very important structural members (called floors) on top of them so the ribs can’t be removed without them coming out too. Envision a very wide but short isoceles triangle mounted pointy side down going across the boat. The point is actually flattened and rests on the keel and the two angled sides run up on opposite ribs to hold the two sides of the boat together. I had put in several of these over the years, bolting them right through the boat, and I didn’t want to remove them. This meant that I would have to put the new ribs beside the old, instead of in place of the old. The one floor I had not previously replaced was a tad rotten and came out in about 27 pieces, large and small. (I later jigsaw puzzled it back together to make a pattern for a new one!)
Problem two: The first rib to be bent got halfway there and then snapped like a dry twig. The next bent beautifully but I discovered it couldn’t fit in the boat. There’s a vital longitudinal stringer in the interior of the boat over the ribs which any new rib has to slide under. The curvature is extreme in that location and I simply could not get the end of the rib to pass under it and slide up into position.
Plan B meant ripping the new ribs lengthwise to make them thinner, steaming them, and sliding them in so that one thin rib lay on top of the other to make one thick rib. After they had been clamped in place long enough to take the shape and dry out, they could then be epoxied together to make one laminated rib. This actually worked very well, and went quite quickly. So there was a thin layer of sealant on the planking followed by a thin rib painted out with epoxy, then a second thin rib also sealed in epoxy, all then jammed and clamped in place so that it could be screwed in from outside the planking to secure it once and for all. I sometimes wonder how many holes I have drilled through this boat all in a contradictory effort to convince it to float!
All the screws are counter-sunk deeply enough into the planking to get plugs over them later. The new wood in this picture is just temporary to protect the planking from being bruised by the clamps. After their removal you can see the new ribs in place alongside the old, retired guys. The right hand
one is sistered. The next replaced the old rib and got a new floor on top. The middle one is sistered, and the next looks to be doubled but I had to do the top end on one side of it and the bottom on the other side because of interior obstructions (a deck knee at one side and a butt block at the other.) The left hand rib was still good and didn’t need repair.
Finally, three days before launch, I got the new plank in place. I didn’t get a great picture of it till I already had it painted which is this lower picture without the waterline in place.
And from the inside after the launch:
The less interesting task was installing the new floor timber which is that two inch thick hunk of oak that is bolted right through the hull. This is one reason I’m a little more confident this year about the structural integrity of the hull.
Did everything go smoothly at the launch this year? Well. First the water came in in a mighty torrent and one of the bilge pumps worked fine, then stopped working, then worked again. I still don’t know why. We’d installed a new shift linkage and discovered we got it backwards so that now when you put the motor in forward it goes in reverse and vice versa. Then as we made our triumphant way to the dry dock gates the engine quit! That just turned out to be an airlock, but then halfway to the marina the engine quit a second time. (It agreed to carry on after I promised it an oil change and better diesel fuel.) The next day we successfully stepped the masts . . . and then it snowed!
BUT when Jane and I took her out for the first sail of the season she romped across the bay with the confident feel of the classic she is. Maybe all this work is worth it after all. And the only thing that “opened up” was the boating season! (So far…)
Update on my last blog item. The Famille Dufour made it from Tadoussac to Halifax in four days being towed by the tugboat Point Vim arriving just before midnight on January 9th. They must have had calm weather because the tug took a straight line between Gaspé and Cape Breton right across the middle of the Gulf. I was surprised to see they avoided the harbour and tied up at a yacht club across the city in the Northwest Arm that happens to be right across from my old theology school. It reminded me of the days I would make a point of sitting on the northeast side of the classroom so that I would have the view across that body of water at a wooden schooner that was anchored off the club. There I was with all those future clergy and little did they know I was spending the class quietly breaking the 10th Commandment!
For any boat owners and sometime navigators out there, this one’s for you.
I’m sure you’ve had many delightful days on the river and that’s what keeps us coming back, but I’m going to hazard a guess that most of us have had days afloat when everything seemed to go wrong. Whatever the reason, be it motor trouble, weather, a knockdown, man overboard, dog overboard, or stuff getting wet that shouldn’t get wet, I’m betting your worst day wasn’t as bad as these guys’ whole month of December!
Jane and I returned from the west on December 16th fully expecting that the only boats left in the water would be our two faithful ferries, so we were a little surprised to see the Famille Dufour II tied up at the wharf. You’ll remember this craft, a space age looking catamaran that used to do the run between Quebec City and Tadoussac almost daily. I guess that route stopped paying so I heard it was doing a similar run between Montreal and Quebec for a while, and then became a local Montreal tour boat, hence the words “Le Montrealaise” now adorning its upper works.
I dropped down for a look one day but there was no sign of life beyond the distant hum of a generator. Rumors began to fly as rumors do in small towns so I dropped over again a few days after Christmas and got the harrowing tale. Two men were just coming off the gang-plank so I said “Bonjour” in my most convincing Québécois accent and one of them immediately said, “Do you speak English?” Swallowing the insult (one I’m rather used to) I replied, “Yes, rather well, actually.” It turned out he was Australian and wasn’t sure what “bonjour” meant (so it wasn’t my accent after all), and his company was managing the boat. He was not the captain but described himself as the “owner’s representative.” If I were he, by now I think I’d likely be wanting to strangle the owner.
He said the boat had been bought by an outfit that wanted to use it as a passenger ferry between Victoria and Vancouver, B.C.. Plan A had been to motor down the river in November, around the Maritimes and on down the Eastern Seaboard to Panama, and then up the other side. The generators were operating to provide power for the onboard systems that included freezers that contained $7,000 worth of food for the voyage. Trouble was, Transport Canada announced that the motors were not up to the required standard and they were not permitted to proceed under their own power. They tied the boat up in Tadoussac on December 2nd. Then the wait began. This boat, of course, has no insulation in it at all so they were sleeping at Motel Chant-Martin and spending their days on the boat cleaning up condensation and trying to keep the interior both ventilated and warm. One of them had to be aboard around the clock in case of fire or generator trouble. (Some Christmas.)
I dropped back on December 30th and at that point they had decided to be towed to Halifax for the winter. The hope was to fix the engines there, and carry on under their own steam starting in March, but Les (one of the Australians) allowed as how they might also be faced with lifting it onto a freighter for the rest of the trip. Late on the 31st a tug arrived (from Newfoundland) and secured the vessel. However, the insurance people had to inspect the tug, the mooring lines, the mooring bitts, and the boat, to be sure they would maintain their insurance, and they didn’t show up till the late afternoon of January 3rd. And for over a week ice had been forming. Finally cleared to leave the dock after over a month of waiting and wading through paperwork and detail, in rolled a typical January southwest howler filling the big river with waves that they didn’t want to try taking a tow out in. As you can imagine, between two big boats if a tow-line becomes slack as the tow is pushed forward by a wave, it will then snap taut when the wave passes under the tow and slows it down, which eventually could cause dangerous damage.
Today, January 4th, the dock is empty at last. A look on the Live Ships website (www.marinetraffic.com) showed the “Point Vim” (that’s the name of the tug) making 10 knots down off Rimouski so they are finally on their way!
All of which is to say, the next time it rains on your picnic, or you have to bang back to Tad against a northeast chop, or smoke starts coming out of the engine, just say to yourself, “At least I’m not being towed to Halifax in January!”
About a month ago Parks Canada launched an invitation to anyone who might like to spend a half day on L’Alliance, their research vessel. Alan and I were lucky enough to get two spots on the second day and yesterday spent a fascinating afternoon on board with the Parks marine biologists.
After everything was secured we headed out into the river to conduct two types of surveys. The boat itself is so impressive. Alan asked and there are two 330 HP engines.
The first set of surveys that we observed was a machine taking Echo soundings off the bank where we were (off the large dunes for those who know the area). Other research vessels had seen large schools of fish and large schools of krill in recent days. Parks Canada likes to monitor the schools and determine where they are and when and what types (2 types of krill and 3 types of fish), as this will determine where the whales and other wildlife are feeding and moving in the St.Lawrence. They lowered the Echo scanner (this is not the proper name but I can’t remember it .) into the water and it can emit 3 levels of echo sound. We were looking primarily at 38Hz and 120Hz as these are the ones that pick up the krill and the fish.
Although not so easy to see in this picture, we were watching for the red lines at the top of the right hand screen and the green stripe at the top of the left hand screen which were evidence of a large school of fish.
Everyone immediately started searching for whales and other wildlife and of course found them easily – minkes, fins and lots of sea birds. Everyone was madly scanning and trying to capture as many pics as possible. Each whale is marked by photo if possible – although they were in the distance – and by longitude and latitude. The minkes were as close to Tad as the sand dunes so they are getting closer to us. (In fact later that evening Christianne Stairs and her friends saw the first ones off Point Islet). The biologists said that it was not unusual to have the minkes come so late when the winter has been so harsh and everything else is late. Everything is all connected and temperature, currents, tides, weather all have impacts on the movement of the whales and the birds. The researchers told us it is a good sign that these schools of fish are staying in this area as it will encourage the whales. The schools may move at any time depending on the currents the winds etc.
The second survey was to find the climate and environmental data to go with the sonar data. A Laboratory column was lowered into the water to take temperature, salinity, oxygen levels, etc. across the areas where the sonar data had been collected. This is then coupled with the sonar images to make a more thorough analysis of the environment .
We were lucky as the day was spectacular and as a last gift on the way home we were followed by a very large pod of beluga. We asked about the research and the concerns related to the belugas in particular, but the whales and whale watchers as well.
It was a tough discourse as the biologist told us that while they were confident in 2010 that the population had stabilized they are not so secure now. The population is continuing to decline and is now below the 900 that they were keeping as their hopeful target. There are several hypotheses as to why but the two main ones are related to climate change and contamination in the waters (increasing levels of hormones in particular). In terms of climate change the seasons are changing. The winters are less severe, and then more severe, and the summers are longer and hotter. This effects the calving and the early development of the babies.
What they are also observing is that the “nouveau-né” (newborns) are dying and that the mothers of the young are also dying. This is leading them to question the horomonal imbalances that may be occurring in the whales themselves or how the females may be being impacted by the horomonal increases in the waters. In 2010 the number of young (1-2 yrs)within the population was 10%. It has now fallen to 3-5% and this is worrying in terms of longevity of the group.
A third and difficult reason for the decline relates to us as the human contacts. There has been a steady increase in pleasure boat activity over the last 5 years in our area. They are desperately trying to balance a need to have people see and understand the whale environment with the need for little to no stimulation during the calving season, and as little disruption of the natural whale habitat as possible in these crucial summer months of July and August. We asked about the regulations that are in place for belugas and for other whale groups.
For the belugas 400metres is the minimum. I said that often the belugas are curious and come towards us and they were very quick to say that we need to be vigilant in taking evasive action at all times to avoid any disruption of the pods particularly with young. They are attempting to reinforce very strongly the zone d’exclusion around the Rivière Ste. Marguerite as this is the breeding, calving and nursery region. They have observed from their site at the Marguerite that when a beluga calves she separates herself from the pod for a period of a couple of hours before and several hours after the birth. It is clear over many observations that disruption to these patterns may interfere with the maternal child bond in those early hours at a bare minimum and potentially increase the death rate.
For the other whale groups, I mentioned how it is difficult to watch a group of 6 or 7 boats surrounding one whale and seemingly tagging along and following it where ever it goes. Is this harassment? The biologist said that the regulations are that boats must be 1-200 meters away from all whales (belugas excepted as above). She also noted that all captains receive information and follow the rule that if there are already 4 boats and a 5th arrives that all must recede away from the whale. If it is a solitary whale there is a 1 hour watch limit then they must go elsewhere. She also noted that the captains have become real allies in their work as it is their livelihood as well. She mentioned that often the captains are reporting boaters that do not follow the rules and are constantly sending them observations, updates and pics of the whales for their records.
It was a wonderful afternoon and as we headed back in to the marina I had an interesting discussion with one of the other guests. She was enjoying the atmosphere, the beauty and the learning that had taken place and when she found out that we actually lived here year round she said “You must feel like the luckiest person?” An easy question for me to answer – “Absolutely every day!!”
Readers of my Boat Troubles post (who know too much) have been clamoring for the rest of the story. As a kindness to my readers (if any) I decided to leave my previous post with a happy ending but those in the know want to be able to read the sad details of the day after.
I apologize for the dearth of pictures in this section (please stop reading now!) but as you will see if you read on I was in no mood to record what followed.
After the stem repair, which was documented in my first Boat Troubles section, we had the launch on May 17th and, as I wrote earlier, the stem didn’t leak. The rest of the boat, however, did. A lot. This is not a huge surprise as wooden boats always leak when they first go in the water until the planks swell up and close off the cracks between them. Old Trillium though, was outdoing any and all previous records to the extent that when we puttered out of the gates at 1.30 am to the aforementioned cheers of those still hard aground we kept it to a sedate three knots. The hull was leaking badly and I didn’t want to add any strain by speeding up to our usual break-neck speed of, well, six knots.
I was confident we wouldn’t sink because I have equipped Trillium with two electric pumps on independent float switches and backed up by two batteries, although they are on a switch. You can use one or the other or both. We got to the marina and monitored the situation. The pumps were both doing their job, the system was on battery one, the smaller pump was able to handle the influx by itself, so I was quite confident. A friend at the marina was charged with the duty of staying till all the boats were docked which would be after 3 am, so I asked him if he would move the switch to battery number 2 before he left. This he did. Two pumps, two float switches, a fresh battery taking over at 3 am, me returning at about 6.30 am, it all seemed safe at the time… A sensible, sane, responsible, careful and thoughtful person would have curled up in a forward bunk just to be sure. Apparently I am not that person!
I awoke around 5.30 and thought I’d doze for a few more minutes, then got up PDQ at 7.30. Arriving at the marina I had never seen the boat so low in the water. The water inside was an inch or two ABOVE the level of the bunks! It was halfway up my newly (and expensively) restored engine. Floorboards and hatches were floating aimlessly about the cabin. Not a favorite maritime memory.
Reminding myself that the best bilge pump in the world was said to be a scared man and a bucket, I decided to test the theory, and grabbed a bucket. The trouble was when there is that much water it is difficult to tell if you are making any progress. I decided there had to be an easier way and went to get the battery out of my car, but the pumps wouldn’t work.
People with the intelligence to have slept aboard their boats were starting to surface. I now realized that I was bucket bailing with my favorite massothérapiste looking at me like I was obviously ruining what was left of my back for all time. (Things weren’t improving but at least they were starting to get funny!) And I still didn’t know if the water was going out faster or coming in faster because I didn’t know why it was leaking so badly.
The poor guy that stuck his head out of his cabin in the closest boat to me got pressed into service. The only sure solution was to beach the boat and for that I needed help. There was still an hour and a half of falling tide so I grabbed him and together we pushed, paddled and wished the boat onto the beach near the Zodiac docks. I have legs to keep the boat upright and now it couldn’t sink. I needed an anchor to be sure the boat wouldn’t slip back so when we ran aground I went forward, stripped down to my boxers and went over the side, carrying the bow anchor up the beach. A leg on each side, an anchor forward, the boat was secure.
The husband of my back repair gal, Charles, had run all the way around and was now at the end of the Zodiac dock asking if he could help. Knowing how people want to help in these situations I asked if he could get a dinghy to take my press-ganged crew member ashore so he wouldn’t have to get wet or wait for the tide to go out. Before he could move my worthy crew said not to worry, he’d just go over the side like I did. (My guess is he couldn’t get off the boat fast enough.) But when I turned around I realized that he hadn’t stopped at his boxers and was taking care, in the middle of a waking village, that his clothes stayed high and dry. I thought, “Aren’t I a prude,” for having stayed somewhat decent but then noticed Charles’s wife and two small children who had followed him to the dock beating a hasty retreat in the opposite direction from this way too early in the morning sight drip drying on the edge of the beach!
The dropping tide revealed an open seam about three feet long just at the turn of the bilge on the starboard side and water actually started pouring out of it as the tide fell. As I tried to temporarily caulk it, thigh deep in water, a whole crew of whale watchers showed up and their captain was giving them the instructions they needed before going out. I was half-listening and when they all burst out laughing I rapidly tried to remember what had just been said. Translating furiously I realized that he’d said “Don’t worry. We’re not going out in that guy’s boat over there!” By the time I figured it out the moment was past so I missed my chance for an enraged sounding “J’AI ENTENDU CA!!!”
The boat at that time was just off the end of the dock in the right of the photo above as that was as high as we could get it. With the next rising tide I moved the boat up to the above position where I could caulk it properly.
When I finally got the water out I discovered the problem(s). The first pump, in spite of a screen around its base, had eaten a sliver of wood, jammed, and died. The second pump had taken over as it should but its float switch, in spite of being properly oriented, had remained open. The pump drained the boat, didn’t turn off, drained the battery, and then the pump had no power and the boat filled.
My mechanic expert cousin visited the boat and gave the engine a clean bill of health (Grace à Dieu) but there was evidence of some pretty interesting electrolysis that had taken place in the few hours the batteries had been submerged. One battery cable end (the kind that attaches with a butterfly nut) that I had disconnected when trying to get my car battery to work had dissolved completely off the end of the cable. Below also are two bolts that held cables to one battery. They were both like the left one the night before. They had been under water (salt water) five or six hours.
The next day at noon Trillium was back in the marina leaking very little and behaving properly. After the stem crisis it was an exhausting little marathon but she’s back on track and sailing well.
Now I know some people will condescendingly ask: “Now Al, what did you learn from all this?”
One of the joys of spring is getting the boat ready for the water but this year provided more than the usual sanding, scraping and painting. When I took the covers off there was a disturbing crack in the stem where the stay from the bowsprit connects. I pulled on the stay and it opened wider. Once I had removed the fitting it became clear that nearly the whole stem was rotten. That’s bad. When they build a boat they lay the keel, then attach the stem and transom, and then attach everything to those. The stem is so integral to the boat I wasn’t even sure I could replace it.
In 2004 I had found rot in the top of the stem and cut it out down to where there was good wood and replaced the top 14 inches with a new piece. Now the rest was gone right down to where it attaches to the keel. And the keel, even though in contact with the stem, was fine.
It is at times like these when sensible people can be forgiven for saying that the boat is not worth the work, and that’s when a chainsaw takes center stage and the resulting rubble is hauled to the dump.
It’s hard to make that choice when much of the boat is in good shape, and when, having been built in 1939, you know that if this boat is trashed there will never be another like it.
I had to at least try. When my old school closed its wood-working shop I had bought all the leftover wood and had some lovely pieces of 2″ mahogany. The upper stem I had replaced in White Oak but Mahogany is at least as good. The curving bevels for this part were far more complex so I made a pattern out of scrap and had a go. With no plan except the boat the only way forward is to carve a little and fit it in, carve and fit.
The drag is that with every bit of carving you have more invested in the timber you’re cutting, and with every fitting there is the possibility you’ve cut out too much and have to start all over again.
Add to that there is an interior piece which the ends of the planks screw into, and then there is an exterior piece which covers the cut off at the plank ends and that becomes the front of the boat.
Where this would have been one big piece in the original plan, it had to be five pieces here, three to fit in the interior and two mirror image pieces side by side to make the exterior of the stem.
The joy of this nonsense was that of course all the other boat owners were getting their boats ready and they all noticed the rather desperate efforts going on under my boat. Many came to discuss it and see what I was doing and several made it a point to drop by every day to see the progress.
I was relieved that they kept their assessment of my probable sanity to themselves and they were very encouraging about my efforts. One or two are sons of schooner captains from way back and had a pretty good understanding of what I was up to.
As mentioned in an earlier blog this is a tidal dry-dock so you can’t just tell the man in charge that you’re going to delay your launch a week or two. In reality, the tide is in charge, and the rule is that the biggest tide in May is the launch and everyone must go. There’s nothing like a deadline to keep you working hard.
Part of the inside of the exterior stem had to be flat to meet the interior stem pieces. One good way to flatten it when a plane can’t work on an inside curve is to clamp flat wood (2 x 4s in this case) on either side and ride a router along two flat boards to get a very flat surface. Below are all the five pieces enjoying a photo op before installation.
One of the annoying parts for someone with a bad back is crawling right in to the forepeak inside to fit pieces and install bolts to hold the exterior stem on.
Fortunately this led to my meeting Tadoussac’s very capable Massothérapiste who worked wonders reassembling me. She and her husband happened to own the next boat to mine so she had seen the unergonomic way I had been working and knew just what kind of pain to inflict to put me back together.
The other good news is that I had no time to get the varnishing done (of which there is a great deal.) Jane took over that job and it turns out she does a better job than I usually do anyway!
Interior stem installed. Modern epoxies and sealants were used liberally and with no shame in an effort to make up for any and all amateurish carpentry bobos. I did have to caulk a little with traditional cotton to fill gaps but in the end it all came together.
It seems a shame to cut off all the excess wood because it is magnificent mahogany but a boat is supposed to be pointed at the front end and this certainly looks brutally ugly untrimmed!
It planed down much more easily than I feared. There’s a metal strip that gets screwed on from the very top down past where the stem connects to the keel so it will be protected.
In the end it looked pretty good and, although it went about 4″ below the waterline, it hasn’t leaked.
It reminds me of an article I once read about someone who had done a much more extensive restoration of an old boat. After detailing everything he’d done someone asked if it had all been worth it now that the boat was operational. He said, “No!”
For me this was worth it, even though most of the marina members now think I’m crazy. But the question is always out there: What’s next and at what point does it stop being worth the effort?
It bears mentioning that every year on launch night the tide floats my boat first because mine is the smallest and shallowest. Every year there is a cheer from the other boat owners when I start my engine and head for the gates. This year they were waiting for it, and the cheer was a whole lot louder and longer than usual!
Taking an inboard engine out of a boat is supposed to be a rare event but this is becoming annual. The only good thing about that is we’re getting good at it. The motor weighs about 160 lbs and my back is not even close to being up for that. Simple mechanics (simple enough even for me) saved the day. Fortunately it is light enough to slide sideways on the horizontal quite easily.
And if it doesn’t run any better next spring it can look forward to a new career as the number one anchor!
The last 6 years the dry-docking of the boat has involved a marathon work week-end coming down here after work the day before and trying to get everything done in two or three days. Then hammering on home late to be ready for work the next day. Those days are gone. This year the process has been very leisurely starting with pulling up the moorings.
Lowering the mast has transformed from terrifying experiments in amatuerish physics to the current highly evolved, and reasonably safe, method. That’s a chain-hoist on the end of a steel brace hooked on the top rung of a wharf ladder and all tied down firmly. Low tide gives us enough height. Jane operates the hoist and I encourage the mast to land where we want.
Every year the marina asks for volunteers to tow the docks around to the dry-dock but in recent years the Coast Guard has held a training session at the right time so they get to have all the fun. Finally I was available to help and all I got to do was tell Phil when they were leaving on the VHF radio.
The dry-dock is wonderful. Open the gates at low tide. The boats all float in at high tide. Shut the gates again at low tide, and we’re dry for the winter.