The week between Christmas and New Years is traditionally our time to winterize boats. The wait until Spring was once an eternity. Now, it rushes by, and yet I easily recall cradling my baby girl as steered our Pearson “Emily” from a leeward position. Oh, how her blue lights scanned the view. Now that she has a choice, I’m glad she’ll still come along. Hopefully Wednesday wasn’t this year’s last opportunity …, but we know the window is closing. Our wonderful picnic sail is one I’ll long treasure and savor until warmth returns. Here’s a short minute of the day.
There is no love lost between sailors and powerboaters (forget jet skeeters). And so I know this post will be met with some derision by the purists. I get it, but how much sailing do they enjoy from their armchairs anyway?
UNA has been, and remains, my favorite boat. So little air moves her. Still, there are slick calm periods that can take the shine off a cruise. Long distances can become infinite when the wind quits. Perhaps my oars aren’t as optimal as they could be. I suspect I didn’t slim the shafts down for enough flex. That can be corrected. To date my average rowing speed for any length of time been sub 2 knots. UNA is a sailboat first. Most of those I sail with have motors, are determined to get to “point B” and relying on a cordial tow when the wind quits can try all involved. I either lose friends, find some pure sail-and-oar guys or find a compromise.
You see where this is going? Yep, I designed and built a motor mount for UNA. The plans showed a motor well. I elected not to build that early on. What started as a sketch melded into a plywood prototype that was adjusted and trimmed. A final piece was tooled in teak (I was confident in the solution).
Last week’s test run worked flawlessly.
Advantages: there’s no well taking up storage aft or creating turbulence to an otherwise smooth bottom. This engine “strut” follows the curve of the hull and can be stored against it in the gap outboard of the side seat or under the seat itself. Also, the engine can remain on the strut when anchored without interfering with my tent. And, once removed the threaded inserts do not snag anything. Leather pads under the thread protect the gunnel finish.
Disadvantages: a well keeps the prop in the water at all times. A good wake can create enough roll to lift the prop out of the water with the strut. To be used primarily in light to no wind conditions, this rarely is a problem.
Here’s the end result at 1/2 throttle and 5 knots. Nice and easy.
A couple years ago I watched UNA’s foremast roll off the boat and land heel first on the concrete garage floor. There was a, “Crack”. Never good. Initial examination revealed nothing. I secured the pole back on the trailer. Not long thereafter when putting the boat away, I heard a rattle when I set the mast down before setting, I hear a rattle. This time I discovered a 18″ split between 2 of the staves where the mast was solid. At the time I decided to monitor it and ordered a fiberglass sock to repair the damage, but didn’t.
Many sails later, I found myself holding onto UNA with two-reefs and needing a third. We were bashing against wind, current and seas to gain shelter in Pulpit Harbor on Deer Island. That split was front and center in my thoughts. Thankfully UNA came through, but I had haunting doubts next time. I needed to fix the mast.
Once home, it was obvious the crack had lengthened. Another problem was the mast would swell and stick in the step on occasion demanding wrestling and wiggling to unstep. Putting a plastic bag on the foot had solved that hassle for too long. So, I hand planed the heel and sanded the problem section with the ROS and 80 grit to 16″ above the deck. The stick was then saturated the wood with straight epoxy and 2 layers of the fiberglass sock were snugged on. Epoxy splashed everywhere. The 90 degree heat rapidly accelerated the epoxy’s flash point. I panicked and ran for packaging tape and saran wrap to hold the works in check.
After an overnight set, I cut and peeled the plastic off. Some had doubled onto itself and became embedded in the epoxy. There were also a few air bubble craters.
Alternating stints with the belt and ROS sanders got things back smooth, though I questioned how presentable the fix would be.
Glad I donned a mask. Dust was everywhere. Wish I had worn long sleeves. The itching began. After wet sanding (kept dust down), the results improved. I thought I’d have to paint the mast.
Some of the outside layer of fiberglass was sanded off, but only slightly. Most of the dust was resin. One more coat of epoxy, a quick light sanding and 3 coats of varnish gets us whole again. Glad to cross this one off the list and now I have more confidence in UNA’s defense against the next blow.
A Thursday afternoon drive to Frederick, MD, dinner, quick nap and we were on the road by 1:00am. By 11:30 am boats were rigged at Rockland, Maine’s public ramp located in the easternmost range of the harbor.
Weather was perfect, sunny, 80 and 10-12 mph winds. However, once past the mouth of the harbor, the fog rolled in. Visibility was reduced to 50 yards and then, nothing. Lobster boats could be heard, but not seen. The horn of the ferry warranted multiple replies. Wind lessened and incoming tide caused us to forgo Hurricane Sound for Fox Island Thoroughfare.
Ports of call: Rockland Harbor, Fox Island Thoroughfare, Perry Creek, Pulpit Harbor, Bucks Harbor, Benjamin River, Center Harbor on Eggemoggin Reach, Casco Passage, Bass Harbor, Frenchboro, Burnt Cote Harbor, Center Harbor, Pulpit Harbor back to Rockland.
After last week in Maine, this Virginia summer has been hard to take. However, each time I sail UNA, I always come back with lessons and frequently a few more things I’d like to fix/change. None of these things concern the design. They are generally tweaks of detail. One lingering item on the list regards the floor boards. Varnished douglas fir is treacherous. Sprinkling salt in the last coat eliminated the slip, but the floors always felt damp despite repeated scrubbing. The salt was expected to dissolve away. Since I lucked into some teak (can’t beat free), I thickness planed some boards, cut them to shape and routed their edges to replace those existing.
I like the results and they feel great under bare feet. The center bilge access boards remain. They look fine and I didn’t want to fix them yet. Too stinking hot!
Also, my previous anchor bag, a modified cotton laundry hamper, never dried out. Found a good practical substitute. As a bonus, it can double as a lobster pen on the next trip north! $5 a lobster was awesome.
I’ve loads of photos and videos to make sense of from our trip north so, stay tuned.