Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Brigadoon as Art

I did some walking about pointing a camera at stuff last weekend...

My home is beautiful.

My boat is haunted

Last Sunday we went out for a day sail on Lake Union.  A friend came along and brought with her, Kai; a seven year old boy.

Standing below, Kai was very impressed.

"This looks like a pirate ship?  Do you have any treasure?"

I told him I did indeed have treasure and, if he didn't tell anyone where I hid it, I'd show it to him.  He agreed and got out a bag of necklaces, watches, rings, jewelry.  He looked at it in awe and proclaimed, "Wow!  You do have treasure!  Mommy, he has treasure."

Then we went out on a very windy and choppy Lake Union to try out a few things.  I had an experienced crew with me; Kerry and Thor.  So, with that, we decided to sail away from the dock instead of motoring. Since the wind was coming from the north, as soon as we got the lines off, Brigadoon drifted right out into the lake.  Pulling up the staysail got us going downwind in short order, at around 4.5kts.

We decided to try just the staysail (the smallest of the three, the small jib closest to the mast).  It worked great downwind in 20kts.  Going to weather?  Not so much.  With the center pressure on the boat ahead of the mast caused a nasty lee helm (where the boat wants to fall off away from the wind).  So, we decided to play with that, with just the staysail, and see just how controllable the boat was.  It was -- just barely.  We were able to make headway to windward, just barely.  The surprising thing is that we were actually able to get her to tack almost every time.

Why didn't we raise the main?  We decided not to because it would need a reef for sure.  I'm not familiar enough with reefing the main to try to learn it in 20-25 kt winds with guests aboard.  That will be for another day, after I've had some practice with it on a calm day at the dock.

During the sail, Kai was quite pleased. He was very excited to be on a real sailboat and begged to go forward.  So we sent him there, with his mom and Thor's son Julian.  Kai didn't last long.  He said he was cold but, really, I think being "out there" on the foredeck was a little scary for him.

So, we put Kai down in the pilot house.  That is the great thing about Brigadoon.  Guests can go below and still enjoy the sail from the safety and great view afforded by the pilot house.

So Kai was sitting here, in front of the wheel enjoying himself when, suddenly, we heard him shout, "I can't sit here!  There's a ghost in this seat!  There is a ghost on this boat!  It's haunted!!!"

Looking below I saw him pointing at the wheel, as it concert with my own efforts at the wheel in the cockpit.  A little bit of reassurance on my part, showing Kai how I moved my wheel, and this one moved too, and everything was OK.

Returning to the dock was challenging. Since the wind was blowing hard from the north, that meant getting blown *away* from the end dock mooring.  We decided to take a first, "no way are we going to dock even if it's sitting perfectly along the pier" pass to see what it was like.

First pass...not so bad and here we go drifting away from the dock.

Second pass...maybe dock this dice as I came in too steep.

Third time?  That was the charm.  I brought the bow up, Thor stepped off with the bow line.  He secured it and I used the reverse and prop walk to port to back Brigadoon right up to the dock.  Not bad at all.

All in all a good day in really gusty winds, good solid chop, docking in less than optimum conditions and an encouragement to learn how to reef my mainsail on my schedule before the weather sets the schedule for me.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Stuff: for a boat now

Warning: long somewhat poseur philosophical rambling follows.

As I look at the systems on Brigadoon and my plans on going places in this boat, I have thought a lot about systems that I have, which ones need an upgrade, which ones I need to obtain, and which I need to junk.

I mean, I could load the boat up with the latest in chartplotter/radar/AIS/VHF/depth/fishfinder/watermaker/inverter/tv/vcr/dvd/blueray/blender/microwave/hot tub/etc/etc/etc

I could spend a fortune loading the boat with gadgets. I could also have to quadruple my battery bank to support them. I could get ridiculous with it. Or not...

So I'm looking at what is really necessary, what can be re-purposed, what can be used for dual purposes. In this I'm examining *if* I really need to get an outboard (which requires a place to stow, a lock so it won't get stolen, gasoline, gas/oil mix if it's a two stroke) for the dink. The thing is, as you add one capability, you have to take into account the infrastructure to support it and then, maybe those things need additional infrastructure, etc, etc, etc....

It can be a long and winding road of this thing, supporting that system, requiring an upgrade of another and pretty soon you are so surrounded by what you *have to have* to support something maybe you really didn't need in the first place.

I understand this is blasphemy the manufacturers out there, who want us to consume their "marine grade" pens, pencils, log books, and toasters that they are very very proud of -- just look at the co$t. Well, I don't have to buy all their stuff just because it is shiny and new, because it was reviewed in the latest issue of SAIL, or I think I have to keep up with the Joneses when at anchor.  Frankly I don't care what the Joneses think.  All I care about is whether I have what I need on Brigadoon.

So every purchase is backed up by some questions.

Do I really need this?

Can this capability I'm acquiring be done another way -- especially one that is less costly?

Do I need additional infrastructure to support the shiny new thing and, how much is that going to cost?

What are the unintended con$equences (costs) of the addional infrastructure?

For example, I have looked at a really nice little Honda outboard for my dink. Before I buy that, though, I'm going to get the thing off the davits and row it around for a while before I shell out the money for an outboard. I may find out I don't need it. If I find I do, then at lease I've asked and answered the right questions about it.