Thursday, June 23, 2011

Line and Knives

No More Old Halyards!

Somehow I imagine Joan Crawford saying that.

Brigadoon now has all new running rigging, sheets to halyards.

These filthy, fuzzy, moldy old halyards had to go.   So...

I replaced them all with some really nice XLS Extra.  The stuff has a Dyneema core and polyester cover.  It should last me a decade.  It better.  Even off the clearance rack in the rigging department, the total cost of all the running rigging approached a grand.

I also received my Hook Knife.

It's for clearing lines/rope off the prop shaft or prop.  Yeah...that's exactly what it's for.  It's for safety.  Yeah.

And in the artistic yet functional department...

My old French Country knife, with a square sennet lanyard.

I feel accomplished.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Visiting Deep Playa

We went down to Shilshole to visit our friends Dawn and Patrick on S/V Deep Playa last night.  They were kind enough to invite us over to see the progress they have been making on their Pearson 424.  Kerry followed Dawn around learning about cabinetry (Dawn is awesome at this), while Patrick showed me a lot of the boat's electrical and electronics systems.

And then we shared stories of composting heads, electrical systems, cruising, over a glass of wine.

One of the great things about boaters is how willing they are to share what they are doing.  I've learned more by looking at real world examples than by reading books or blogs.

So, go visit their site and learn about what it takes to refit a boat.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Global, er, Vashon circumnavigation...

Yes, Brigadoon is capable of going around the world. Maybe she will one day, with Kerry and me at the helm.  But for now, we are content to get to know our boat, out in the salt water again, on our planned 80 mile, two day, circumnavigation of Vashon Island.

We planned this trip for a few weeks. We were to leave early Sunday morning and return early enough on Tuesday to beat the bridge closures between 4:00 and 6:00 PM.  It was to give us more time out on salt water, including more practice of trip planning, navigation, decision making, and to get some helmsmen time for Kerry.

I started the weekend by single-handing Brigadoon off our dock in heavy southerly winds (they pin her to the dock) and motoring down to Duke's Chowder House to pick Kerry up from work.  We spent some time under the main'sl as Kerry practiced sailing her close hauled and drove some tacks while I handed the sheets. Aside from having to dodge out of the way of a Kenmore Air plane on taxi, it was a calm and fun sail.

Leaving on Sunday, instead of Saturday, was a brilliant move.  We were able to attend Folklife on Saturday and, in addition, we missed the chaos and mayhem that can be the locks on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.

The original plan was to sail to Dockton on Vashon, or Tacoma and spend the night.  There was also a  possibility of another night in Gig Harbour.  Over the course of the weekend the plans changed to suit conditions.  This is what happens -- you plan, you change your plans.  Having to make a destination at a certain time leads to "get-there-itis" and bad decisions.  This has killed pilots and sailors for decades. Our plan was to have contingencies, alternatives, and to enjoy our time on the water, knowing we had alternatives.  This trip was an excellent opportunity for that.

Our second outbound trip through the locks went spectacularly well. Soon we were entering Shilshole Bay and raising Brigadoon's sails.  The winds were out of the south so we ended up beating our way southward in a series of long tacks (see the map).  That's how you head into the wind when you choose to sail. You have to sneak up on it in 45 degree tacks.

Kerry got to exercise her new sailing skills. She was at the helm the whole way south and steered Brigadoon for every tack, from Shilshole towards Des Moines, until I took over around the east shore of Vashon.  It was at this time that we changed our destination for the night.  Instead of overnighting in Dockton or Tacoma and visiting the museums and restaurants of Dock Street, we chose to head to Des Moines instead.

I spent some time at the helm as we sailed into quieter and quieter air towards Vashon.  Eventually, I dropped sails and started the engine.  The sea was dead calm at this point. The Sound was a quiet surface of ripples.

Des Moines is a lovely marina. It's very modern, and the people running the place are first class.  The only issue we had was one redneck powerboater who, as we were headed towards our assignedslip, cut us off, docked at that slip to unload some people. Then, on the way out, as he was looking at the dock and saying goodbye, he tried to hit Brigadoon as we were maneuvering towards an alternative slip.  I have this feeling that 22,000 lbs of Brigadoon would have made short work of his little 12' power skiff.  If he hadn't heard us yelling at him that he should look where he is going as he leaves his dock, the likely worse damage to us would have been a scuff on the hull and a few tossed life rings in his direction. With the help of the marina staff, were soon tied up. We spent a very quiet evening at the dock, having walked to dinner in town.

The next day we were treated to breakfast on Brigadoon! Some friends who live in the area visited the boat and brought us french toast and all the fixins.  This traveling thing is working out to our advantage.

Casting off at very low tide we headed west into the sound and, discovering no wind and accepted the fact that we would have to motor to our next destination: Blake Island.

This was the perfect opportunity to try out our hammock.  Crusing along at a brisk 5 kts (you all can jog that fast), Kerry got to ride above the deck as we motored over wake induced swells.  Sure, I could have steered the boat over the swells better, but it was more fun to hear her squeal as the hammock swing from side to side, attached between the mast and the stays'l.  Astute readers will note that Kerry is still wearing a PFD and a safety harness, which is attached to the gray jacklines installed after our last adventure on the Sound.

Soon we were docked at Blake Island State Park and having dinner (soy sauce noodles and veggies in the cockpit).  A well fed crew is a happy crew.  I like it when Kerry is happy.

The place is crawling with young bucks at sunset.  They were having dinner too.

And we were told that we may find a fuzzy visitor or two on deck late at night.  However, we found no evidence of bandits on board.

The next day was spent motoring through no wind but plenty of rain. This gave us valuable experience navigating the shipping channel. We got practice using our nav software, radar and GPS to make our way in 3 miles, or less, of visibility.  Here is Kerry, my trusted navigator, calling out radar targets, the large screen in the middle, while I pick them up visually in the lousy weather outside.  Though our radar is very old, it seems to work pretty well.  The ferries are nice big targets.

There are also the bouys and their attendants to ensure we stay on course.  This one was slightly bored but seemed to enjoy a short conversation as we passed by.

Our wait at the locks was pretty long but, from what I heard, nothing like the insanity of the previous day (Monday, Memorial Day).  After a little fiddling about in the outflow current, we were finally invited into the locks.  A lesson learned here is that we will, next time, tie up on the wall. An Argosy cruise boat got to cut in front of us and three other waiting boats.  I guess "commercial traffic" includes tour boats showing tourists what the locks look like from the floaty side.  It was a bit of work keeping Brigadoon in place.  Also, were we to have an engine outage, we would have been screwed as there is the railroad bridge downstream of our position.  Next time we tie up on the wall.

"Blowing the bridges" was a snap as we followed another sailboat.  All we had to do was stay on their tail. We cleared the Ballard and Fremont bridges and, in short order, were tied up on our dock.

Welcomed by our Canadian contingent, I was able to sit on my tired ass, sip a beer and watch the Duck Dodge.

It was a great trip for us.  We accomplished some important goals.  Those included; getting some helm time in for Kerry, finding some new destinations, practicing our navigation, including motoring in really lousy weather and continuing to get a good sense of what a great boat we have.

Thanks, Bob Perry, for designing her and to Bob Berg for building her.  We love traveling in our home on the water.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Into Hell

Who installs a new wiring harness to replace a failed one and simply leaves the old one in place?

Who uses five different types of zip ties, electrical tape, duct tape, to secure wire runs?

Who weaves single wires around hoses, throttle cables, in order to secure them?

Who can possibly install four butt splices in a twelve inch wire run?

Who usedsin line butt splices as cap splices?

Who uses a god damn *extension cord* to wire the bildge pump in Brigadoon, twisting the wires together, and wrapping it with electrical tape?

Who did this?

The previous owner of Brigadoon, that's who.

Why?  I'd love to ask him. I really would.

My story happens in this hole.

I was curled up in a little teeny ball, in the aft compartment, under the cockpit, trying to fit over the bilge, next to the muffler, pushing spare hoses out of the way, and trying not to break anything. I was cursing, just a little.  As I cut zip tie after zip tie, with wires randomly attached to hoses, other wires, even random wires in the same bundle, I was cursing under my breath.  As I stuffed cut zip tie after cut zip tie in to my pockets so as not to clutter up the bilge, I really wanted to have a talk with the previous owner.

Today, after a good nights sleep, I think I have a theory as to why he did what he did.

Any time spent working on a boat is time you aren't sailing her.  Now, I live on Brigadoon.  I don't have to go down to the boat to work on her.  I'm already there.  Last night, we decided not to go out, so I started wrecking out a small section of dead wiring left in place.  That piece of dead wiring led me into the aft compartment. It's a lousy crawl into a tiny space but, I was able to wreck out all the stuff in a couple hours and then sit in the cabin and have Kerry read me Maiden Voyage, by Tania Aebi.  You see, I wasn't losing any time on Brigoon.  I didn't have to pack up my tools and head home. I was home.

He didn't live on her.  He likely had a land house and a land job.  He did spend a lot of time on her.  I know he loved this boat.  He kept her for sixteen years, sailing her all over the northwest and into Canada.  I bet he spent all his spare time out on the boat.  Therein lies the rub.  He wanted to sail her, not fix her.

The previous owner wanted to sail Brigadoon and I think that, in his quest to get out there, in his desire to just solve the problem, he just fixed stuff.  He just got it going.  He just made it work.  One more butt splice doesn't matter when the fix is in and the wind is in your sails, right?  Right?

This does concern me a little but, as  long as he only did this kind of stuff with electrical systems (which is what I've found so far) it's all relatively simple so solve.  The boat isn't dangerous but, it is a wiring mess.

So, I'll still curse the previous owner, just a little.  At the same time I understand that he cursed when he found a problem the day he was planning on heading to the San Juans or the Inside Passage to Alaska.

He still owes me a damn drink, though.