Dog Days

What was to be an enjoyable week of sailing north simply went bust. The journey was to include St. Michaels, MD’s  Mid Atlantic Small Craft Festival. Last week, this week was a perfect forecast. However, by Sunday this week, the realization that the weathermen may have been mistaken was settling in. The new week’s predictions of 3-4 days of rain and thunderstorms botched our cruise plans. Mildly put, I was bummed. Short term forecasts are often wrong. These opinions of “experts”, if accepted, could have prevented many wonderful days on the water. And so, with characteristic denial, I grabbed my pup Huckleberry, a week’s load of goods and drove to Mobjack. After an hour and a half prep, LUNA was ready to depart. We set off for our adventure. Sunday’s sail was fantastic: a downriver run into Mobjack, a close reach across the Bay, a port beat just north of Cape Charles and finally a starboard tack to Gwynn Island for the night. As the sun was dipping, we chose to motor through the Hole in the Wall. This is a meandering entry through barrier sand spits which can be tricky. We clear it. Once in Milford Haven, we anchor behind Point Breeze. Huck was rowed ashore for dog business. Not one to wait, he jumps ship twice en route. The second time I make him swim the final 100 yards to a small piece of beach. He didn’t seem to mind. The pup takes 20 minutes to run his willies out. We then returned to LUNA for a light cockpit served dinner under lantern and sky. The air was dry and cool. I sleep below. The pooch under stars. A slight notion occurred that he may be AWOL come morning, but he’s still aboard next morning. We take an early dinghy ride. This time I keep him on a short leash. Yet, he still has enough slack to hang himself and does as he leaps over anyway. Our four legged tug begins towing the dinghy to the beach. Accepting his spirit, but questioning his stamina, I land the little tuna. He is an exceptional nut ashore, biting small waves, pulling at reed grass and racing all over the marsh. After 30 minutes he regains his sanity. We row home, eat a breakfast of coffee and biscuits, and listen with hope to the forecast. Predictions are worse. Tuesday through Thursday are now rainy with northerly winds. Not good for heading north quickly, especially when mixed with a wet dog. So, we weigh anchor, motor back through the Hole and beat against the day’s southerlies back home. The sailing is very fine despite our “retreat”. And so, we make the best of both days. They were “perfect”. Here’s 3 minutes to show their flavor:

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Just One Night

Monday afternoon I visited Luna. She has new sails. I wanted to see them raised. Sadly, the slides on both mizzen and main were too large (I had measured and relayed the info, but …). Bummer. Replacements have since been mailed.

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After adding a couple of bronze eye straps for securing the boat cover, I hanked on the new jib and went out into the river to anchor briefly  and scrub the bottom. The slime wasn’t bad, but you could tell it was there. Luna just wasn’t as fast. And she is. A few barnacles were on the base of her keel. I probably forgot to hit that portion which rested on blocking at haul out. Getting back into the boat turned out to be a bear. The webbed loop ladder used for UNA twists too much. Those chin up routines from age 13 are wearing out. I’ve some ideas on a better homemade solution. After raising anchor, we had a delightful beat out into Mobjack under full sail. Luna collected a few compliments from other boaters as the two of us slid along. Once out we did an about face and reached back up the river a good ways before returning downstream. The evening was near perfect. I decided to stay. The hook was dropped and cocktails offered as the sun set with music playing low. Too lazy to fix dinner, I opted for cake. A great diet. Recommended.

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One favorite tune shuffled after another. Dare I say it? It was mostly Spotify. Somehow it doesn’t seem like my music. I’m sure some take self-righteous exception to its use, but I like it and mute the ads. I will say the site’s “related artist” button has radically expanded my music library. Oh, I still buy CD’s. However, now many are discoveries from Spotify. So, what kind of attitude is that? Archaic? Hypocritical? Confused throw back? Fine. I’m anchored in my favorite place on earth, just watching the world spin.

At 22:00 I’m done. With no bedroll or pillow, I throw on extra shirts and sleep comfortably through the night. At 05:00 the “night” ended as the watermen went to work. The rumble of their engines and gentle waves nudge Luna for an hour or so before I move to see the day. It was cool, sunny, and otherwise quiet and glassy.

Had a quick breakfast of yogurt and oranges slices. Coffee would have been good, but the night’s laziness lingered. That ended as I motored to the pier to work on cleaning up last Fall’s electrical renovations. I had replaced the 12v panel for reading lights and 12v outlets (P & S) to charge gadgets and run Caframo fans. The contortions needed to access some of this was ridiculous. Maybe it is age. Anyhow, that task can be scratched from the list. By noon the heat was coming on. I covered Luna and left. Worth the drive. Here’s some video proof-

Floored

A very gracious friend gave me a dozen teak boards of random width that he had inherited. If there is one wood I save every scrap of, it is this, especially the real article, Burmese. Retail now demands $28 a board foot. The gift was significantly weathered and 1″ thickness netted 3/4″ once run through the planer, but then looked good as new. 3/4″ duplicates Luna’s oak cockpit floor dimension. Rough use by this owner warranted either a ton of sanding and varnish, or better yet, replacement. Alternating and changing the width of the slats has made it more comfortable on the feet. Raw teak offers great traction and … no varnish. Functionally this is a big improvement and the appearance certainly satisfies my eye.

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Before

 

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C

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Wet and almost complete. Note leather “beer” straps between frames above seat.
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the improved result

I salvaged the bronze screws from the originals which I’ve kept in tact, but with steel screws. Last night I tested their psychological impact. Dragging the anchor chain across them didn’t bother me one little bit. I call that value added. Success.

Ducker Preparations

In order to proceed with the Ducker hull, I need more room in the garage. So, last month I added a small addition to the backyard shed we built 10 years ago. All of our gasoline equipment, tools, cans, etc. are now housed there. I wagged an estimate of $650 in materials to complete the space. It ended up more like $800. That’s $14.25 a SF. If you threw in my free labor in there I guess you could triple the cost. The worst of the project required digging 2 holes for the outboard post footings. Nothing but hard clay and rock (lots of rocks). Thankfully I had my 18 yr old son and his buddy to sweat the digging with me.

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The low slope roof just sneaks under the existing gable window. 30# felts are under the shingles. The Hardi Plank siding was nasty to cut with circular saw or jig. Finally, I discovered that 3 scores with a utility knife on both sides allowed for a clean enough break without all the dust. Some policing of the adjoining grade still needs to be done. Also, the soffit vents are still missing, but we can move on now.

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In the interim, LUNA’s hatch has been repaired, again, and both the boat hook and bilge pump handle have been stripped and varnished.

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Next up: can we make UNA a boat cover out of Emily’s 2 awnings? Solving that will allow UNA to stay outdoors temporarily while the Ducker hull takes shape. I may begin with the spars and other parts before that.

Mobjack Pursuits

Just out off the marina, we hoist and flattened LUNA’s mizzen. A CS 36 passes on a beat  downriver. We raise the main, then jib and give chase. Within a mile we close the +/- 100 yard gap, duck just to leeward of the chase, pass and reach off across Mobjack. Not bad for an old wooden boat. Maybe the CS wasn’t racing, but we were. He certainly messed with his sails as we bore on. “We” being my pal Huck and me.

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in pursuit
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crew “off watch”

 

Catastrophe Averted

After loosing the main halyard up the mast weeks ago, the state of the varnish on the main mast troubled me. Last week I had the mast pulled, hauled the 34′ stick on my 19′ F-150 home, stripped the spreaders, added 2 coats of epoxy and finished with 3 coats of Brightsides paint. The mainsail track was removed and the entire mast given 3 fresh coats of Petit’s Z-Spar Flagship varnish. Last Friday I returned to the boatyard (name withheld for reasons soon to be clear), painted Luna’s bottom, wax ringed the opened seams, and reinstalled the mast the following day without event. However, the removal of the mast was nearly a literal bust. Thankfully many hands were available. This video was taken by a new friend, Tim, as held one of the control lines. It is the only record I have of the work. Wish I had taken a photo of the mast travelling contraption I used, perhaps next time. Hauling the long stick upwards of 70 mph for 75 miles took some consideration.


Anyway, many hands averted what could have been a tragedy. For the record, I had remarked that the block and tackle looked to be from Magellan’s Victoria. I was assured that there was at least one more lift in it. Little did I know how close to the truth I was.