Things start to flow!

Pieces of Opus are starting to arrive. Yesterday the SmartPlug arrived. It should have been a fast job, but turned into an all-day affair as these things often do. The first thing was to turn off -everything- so that there was no chance of electricity going where it shouldn’t. Can’t be too careful when there are puddles on the deck from the rains!

After that was removal of the old electrical socket that is attached to the coaming. It came off easily. Too easily. I don’t think it was ever sealed to the coaming. Sealing isn’t actually required, there’s a gasket that should keep things watertight, but I tend not to trust just a gasket alone. Oh well, different strokes for different folks. I worked on the old socket trying to free the wires for a bit and then, in sheer frustration, just cut it off with a combination of box cutter and wire cutters. Later on I discovered I’d have to cut things anyway, so this wasn’t the bad move I thought it might be.

Unfortunately, the cord slipped from my hand, zipped right through the hole in the coaming and went… somewhere. So now the great hunt began to try to find where the wires are. Are they accessible in the port lazarette? Nope. How about the port stern berth? Nope. Ok, move everything from the berth (I’m using that for storage at the moment) and pull up the boards. Not there either. Hmmm, maybe the stern end of the lazarette is removable to provide access to that space? Nope, though studied that for a while.

It took me a while, but then the light dawned. It probably fell into the machinery space, aka “engine room”. To get there, you open the -starboard- thing that looks like a lazarette. Then you step into there and disappear into the bowels of the ship, work your way under the cockpit deck and… SUCCESS! There’s the line! Now how to feed it back up and… Nope, that’s not going to work. I can’t reach high enough and, being alone on the boat, I’m a little reluctant to get myself into a situation where I might need help getting back out.

I know! I drop a cord through the coaming hole down to here, tie the cord to the electrical cord, go back up to the cockpit and pull the electrical cord back up! I have some thin dyneema around, that should be good, but since I had moved everything around, I have to find THAT. Another hunt ensues.

Finding the dyneema, I tie one end to the ship’s wheel (so that it doesn’t fall completely down the hole too) and feed the other end through the hole for the electrical socket, down the hollow space and (hopefully) into the engine room. Then worm back down the starboard lazarette, underneath the deck, over to the electrical cord and look for the black dyneema which blends in with a lot of other things. Finally I find it, caught up on some things and out of reach. Back out, feed more dyneema down on the assumption that SOME loop would eventually make it to the machinery space floor, worm back down again and success, there’s the dyneema. Dyneema is slppery. Electrical cord sheathing is slippery. Use an old method of fastening fletching to arrows to attach the two together. Slither back out, reel in the dyneema and up comes the electrical cord. Tie off the dyneema to the wheel (a second time) so that there’s no way for the electrical cord to slip back down.

I start following the directions for the smartplug installation and one of the things they stress is to make sure that you’ve cut back the electrical cord far enough that you get clean, uncorroded, copper. Hmmm. Cut back some cord. Cut back some more. Cut back some more. Finally find clean copper (see, cutting off the old socket didn’t matter – I’d have had to cut anyway). Now that end is installed and I just have to install the socket into the coam… Oh, hell, the new socket is JUST SLIGHTLY too big for the old hole. Get out the dremel and I’ll sand away… ummm… power. Where to get power for the dremel? Sort that bit out and sand away some of the old outlet’s hole until, eventually, the new outlet fits. Drill a few holes for the… Drats, my cordless screwdriver battery is dead so I have to somehow get power to it so that I can recharge it. That done, I drilled new holes for the mounting screws and voila, done.

Now repeat the process for the end of the cord that runs from the socket to the electrical supply on the dock. Having done the socket already, I knew what I was in for, so this part of it went a bit faster as i took BIG pieces off the electrical cord until I got to clean copper.

As always when working with electricity, there is that feeling of “Please let me have done this right” as I turn on the power to the boat. I’m just waiting to hear the sparks and stuff. This time, nothing exciting, so all’s well except that there’s still caulking to do. I sourced some caulk and this morning got it. I left the socket protected by a tarp overnight in case it rained even though the installation SHOULD be watertight regardless. Silicone calk arouund the edge of it this morning and the whole thing is A-number-1 done.

Since I had caulk in hand, I went and caulked the joint between the kitchen counter tops and the vertical surfaces, so that’s another job done. next job is measuring the luff of the foresail for a genoa cover and, if the weather holds, paying out the anchor chain to make sure that the rhode is attached to it.

Ok, here we go!

At the docks

Today is the first slightly nice day since Opus arrived at the marina. I actually see some baby blue poking its nose out from between the clouds. That means I can open up the engine room and start surveying what needs to be done (Access to the main part of the engine room is through the lazarette outside – a miserable proposition when it’s raining!)

There’s still not a LOT I can do before tomorrow. I don’t want to start disassembling things without means to replace them as I put them back together. That means waiting for tomorrow for the chandlery to open (they are closed Sundays and Mondays). Organization is the key for today – organizing the supplies I DO have and the tools. I also plan on tearing up the sole of the cabin to start making a diagram of where all the through-holes and plumbing and such go. I might even start on wire brushing the corrosion off the engine so I can see what might be causing it. If the organization is done and the aft double berth cleared off, I’ll also look into what I need to do to secure the batteries.

Tomorrow I plan on putting in an order for the dyneema and fittings I need to replace the line lines, new fenders (the current ones are undersized in my opinion) as well as (potentially) some new dock lines. I’m currently tied to the dock using lines that aren’t really right for it, but I’ve doubled them up, so they should take the strain until I can get better ones on.

Hardware-wise I’ll be ordering a new solenoid system and pressure regulator for the propane, complete with gas sensor, plus caulking for the galley and head cabinetry. I’ll probably be ordering even more once I get into the machinery spaces and see what I need to get done.

I’ll also stop by the office to get the secret to accessing the internet and to drop off the bribe… I mean present for the office staff that were so nice to me.

Physically, I’ve recovered from the trip down. I’m surprised how much it took out of me. I’m hoping it was just the cold and wet and not having eaten properly, but exercise is going to be part of my morning routine!

Taking her home

Today was the day to bring Opus home. Sure, she had a home, but once she was sold to me, she really couldn’t stay where she was – a member’s only yacht club dock. Even if I had joined the yacht club, I still wouldn’t have been able to keep her there. I would have had zero seniority and there’s a waiting list.

Instead, she’s berthed elsewhere. Unfortunately, it’s in the U.S., which meant I had to cross the border. I don’t know if it’s because I have U.S. (as well as Canadian) citizenship, whether it’s because I have a NEXUS card, or whether it’s because I’ve have my first jab of vaccination, isolated for more than 2 weeks before the trip, or that I had a negative COVID test 3 days, but it was easier to import ME to the U.S. than it was to import the yacht.

Anyway, I’m bushed after a day that started at 2:30 in the morning so I’ll write more another time.

Tomorrow’s the big day!

I take full command of Opus tomorrow. So today is running around like crazy getting the last minute things done in preparation for being gone for a while. I had to get a copy of my COVID vaccination report, results of my COVID test, a few bits and bobs, order some stuff for the boat (that will be delivered at my new berth, but needed to order now before a cash back offer expired), pull together the last minute things, go get the truck that we’ll use to bring sails home, etc.

The former owner has been really gracious so that I won’t have to night over in False Creek. I really wasn’t looking forward to doing that, though I did make a reservation just in case. Anchoring at night, in a boat that I’m unfamiliar with, in a busy, congested, area like False creek, and then trying to sleep while worried, and with no good way to prepare meals, didn’t sound like a good idea to me, but if it was the only way, then c’est la vie, take it as a challenge and do one’s best.

The electonics that I ordered is an AIS transceiver. Some may say that a sailboat really doesn’t need one. It’s not like we’re all that fast, so people have plenty of time to see us, and that’s true, but I would also like to see others coming up on me and have some idea of where they’re going. That only requires a (cheaper) receiver, but the thought of them seeing me in low visibility such as fog is comforting.

So soon the ship will be sporting a Vesper Cortex M1/VHF unit, the first of the electronics upgrades I want to do (next is either sensors such as wind sensors and water speed sensors, or a new chartplotter… we’ll see what is required when I have a better opportunity to exercise the electronics. Heck, it might be a new radar system).

The “Oh my god, what have I done” is starting to take a back seat to the excitement and anticipation – though there’s still a LOT of work to do before the anticipation can be turned into reality.

OMG I own a yacht!

Normally when things do not go according to plan, it usually means that things have gone in the worse direction. Delays push off closing dates for houses. Storms arrive sooner than expected and before you’re prepared. We were intending on closing on our new (to us) yacht on Thursday. Then the closing date got moved to Tuesday. Except that it happened yesterday (Monday).

So now I’m an owner of a sailing yacht.

It hasn’t sunk in yet.

What HAS sunk in is that I’ve taken on a huge chunk of responsibility. The clock has started ticking and I have 30 days to bring the yacht into compliance with the suggestions made by the marine surveyor. This is to satisfy the insurance company that they haven’t made a mistake insuring us. If we aren’t in compliance within 30 days, the insurance company reserves the right to cancel our insurance — which would be disasterous.

In these current days, with COVID, this may well be a challenge. There’s a list of stuff that needs to get done. Getting parts is not so easy now. I can’t just run to the marine parts store to get something since the boat is (will be) on one side of the border and I live on the other, and the border is closed to all “non-essential” traffic. I doubt that they will agree that changing the safety lines on my yacht is an essential thing. It might be to me, but my definitions don’t count.

So, instead, each time I discover a part that needs to be ordered, I have to order it and then wait for it to be delivered, install it, discover I need some other adapter or something and order THAT. Of course, that gives me time to actually investigate and plan rather than just bodge something together. In the long run, this is a good thing.

So what will I be doing if I am roadblocked waiting for parts to appear, assuming that all jobs are stonewalled at the same time?

Well, I plan on bringing my captain’s license materials with me to study. I plan on working on my sailing software for the Raspberry Pi. I plan on working on my crocheting. I plan on reading. I plan on walking and bicycling. I plan on sleeping. And, assuming that the boat is in a state where it’s reasonable to take it out sailing, I’ll even do some sailing, though there are definitely some projects that I want to complete before taking her out too much – not because the previous owner is giving me an unsafe boat, but because I don’t want the insurance company mad at me.

I finally figured out that although there are rules and regulations for boating, we are likely far more governed by what the insurance companies require in order to provide insurance than the actual rules and regulations. It’s almost like they’re a shadow legislature. It’s not shady or a conspiracy. They want to protect their investment. I get that, but it’s still an interesting way to look at things.

Today I head up to the yacht brokers’ office to pick up the _actual_ paperwork. They already emailed to me PDFs of the paperwork so that I could start the licensing and insurance stuff, but today I get my hands on the actual sheets of paper. After that it’s down to the boat to meet the previous owner and start onloading and offloading of things as well as gain the beenfit of his experience and knowledge. That process will, hopefully, continue for the rest of this week culminating in a last trip on Friday where Anne will drop me off and I’ll take her from where her previous owner kept her to her new home.

It might well be a 2 day trip with a very short hop off the docks to an anchorage, then the longer trip the next day. This is due to, potentially, getting off the docks rather late in the afternoon and my not wanting to end up on a new boat to a new harbour with me fuzzy-brained from a full day, late at night. That’s a no-good combination, for sure.

Stay tuned for more on how the trip went!

Running around like crazy

If you’ve been watching the countdown timer, you’ll know that it’s not long before we take ownership of our new yacht. Things happen quickly since she will no longer be able to stay at her current berth. We have a new berth, but, still, there’s a lot of things to do. So today was running around on errands to get the things we could for the 30-ish mile journey from her current berth to her new one, where she’ll be as we deal with all the things required by insurance and coast guard and us. Only once those things are dealt with will she be moved again for fun sailing.

After running around today and coming up short on a number of things, we (Anne and I) returned to a house that is upended as we organize what we’re moving onto Opus immediately for the refit: tools, supplies, etc. But today was a day to learn something new. After running errands, today was spent making a flag. Ok, not the most essential thing to do, but there isn’t a lot more that we can do until we can get onto the ship.

I’ve never really done sewing before, so this was an interesting experience. From knowing nothing, I had to engineer how I want the flag to behave. It was, fortunately, a fairly easy flag to design in terms of graphical elements.

The crazy thing is that this flag might never be needed by us. It’s flown at the starboard spreader to indicate you wish “free practique”. In essence, you fly it from the time you enter a foreign country’s waters, until such time as you are cleared through customs and into the country, at which time you remove the signal flag and hoist the courtesy ensign (flag) of the country you are visiting.

Flag etiquette has a long past and many traditions. The flag of the country in which your vessel is registered goes at the stern. The courtesy flag of the country you are visiting goes at the starboard spreader (unless that spot is taken by the “Quarantine” flag asking for entry). At the top of the mast goes your club’s burgee (basically your club’s flag). Other flags may go on the port spreader or underneath the courtesy flag, mostly, unless you’re fully dressing in which case there may be flags on the forestay, flacks on the aft stay, flags on the stern, flags at the masthead, flags on the starboard and port spreaders, etc.

Anyway, one of our stops was at a marine supply store where they had never heard of this flag stuff. It’s a little demoralizing to see. Meanwhile, in an online forum, there is an “instructor” who was insisting, incorrectly, about one of the rules for collision avoidance despite the rule stating quite literally the opposite. I realize that anyone can make a mistake, but afterwards the person basically retreated into, “well, that’s the way it SHOULD be.” He may be correct (though it’s debatable) about how it should be, but as an instructor it’s important to thoroughly know and teach the way that it is currently, especially when it comes to the basics of how to avoid hitting another boat.

I’ve also started putting together the organizing documents for the race team that I wish to put together for our new boat. That’s going to be a whole headache itself, and we’ll see if there are any people that are “takers” about it.


Wednesday we withdrew the money from our bank account and deposited it into the Broker’s account. The bank had told us that it can take up to 7 days for them to actually recognize the money, which is why we did it now. However, our yacht broker informed me today that the money had reached their account and would we like to push the deal through faster?

Uhhh, YEAH. Please?

So now the new day for the boat to change hands is this coming Tuesday. Unfortunately, due to logistics, I still won’t be sailing her until the 23rd, but she’ll be ours and we can start moving things onto/off of her which will make packing her on the trip day a lot faster.

We have decided on our insurer as well, and I’ve planned the route, all 35 nautical miles of it, over and over again, poring over the charts to make sure I have it right. It simply will not do to have an incident with our new yacht on the first day!

I’ve also started putting out the feelers for the Opus race team and drawing up documents. In fact, I probably should put that document up here on the website. What an idea! I think I’ll go do that now.

Another one bites the dust!

We got our first insurance quote back in. It is about twice the amount I was hoping for, but at least we know that we can get insurance. That’s a load off my mind. Really, the only concern left is whether the U.S. will let me in. They should. I’m a U.S. citizen, but these things are never guaranteed.

I’m doing all that I can to prepare for it. This past Friday I received my first shot of the two part Astra-Zeneca vaccine. I’ve paid for my COVID test to take within 3 days before entering the U.S., and I’m isolating myself as much as I possibly can right now.

Unfortunately, the COVID test requires a Doctor’s requisition even though I’m paying for it out of pocket — and my doctor wants to talk to me beforehand. Hopefully this is pro-for a stuff.

The amount of “stuff” I’ll be bringing aboard is growing daily. Normally I wouldn’t have so much even for an extended cruise, but since I’m there to work on the boat, and I can’t come home if I need something, it feels like I’m moving almost everything I own there.

Yesterday we checked with the banks to see how long it takes to move money from my bank to the bank where funds will be disbursed, sort of like escrow. My bank can do the transfer in a few hours. Unfortunately, Bank of Montreal says that it can take them 7 days to process it at their end. It was an interesting conversation that went something like this:

Me: 7 days? Even with a bank draft?

Them: yes, it can take us 7 days.

Me: but I thought a bank draft was the same as cash.

Them: it is.

So, if it’s the same as cash, doesn’t that mean it is treated the same way? So if I showed up with the same amount in bills, it might take as long as 7 days to credit their account? That’s crazy.

Lists, Lists, and more Lists

Anne, the wonderful organized person that she is, has about 40 million lists going. We have a list for each day. We have a list of tasks to do now. We have a list of tasks to do later. We have lists of things to buy, one list per store/vendor/supplier. Somewhere, I’m sure, she has a list of the lists that we have.

Right now I’m concentrating on what do I need in order to safely bring the boat from where she is to our berth where I’ll be able to work on her, plus the things I’ll need to live on her until the sooner of:

  • All the tasks are complete
  • I can’t go any further on the tasks due to a lack of skill/tools/knowledge on my part
  • they’ll let me shuttle back and forth across the international border
  • the marina kicks me out

That means thinking almost like I’m planning a long-distance cruise. What clothes do I want? How do I store them? Food and water. What tools do I bring? What supplies of parts? Bedding? Transportation? Where does this stuff get stowed?

Admittedly, that’s a small part of a long-distance cruise because I’ll be tied up in a marina and have access to thing slike grocery stores, take-out food, a boat yard, a chandlery, and even delivery service from amazon, west marine, steveston marine, etc. I’ll have access to internet too.

Communication is another thing to think about. Because I’ll be in the U.S., I don’t want my cell phone to be active, incurring international roaming charges. So how will I communicate? Fortunately, there’s this thing called the internet. I have to find a hotspot that I can use, and then I get Skype or Zoom, as well as emails. however, when away from the wifi hotspot, how to talk to folks? For that, there’s inreach, which I just reactivated. That will allow me to get short text message, send short text messages.

Transportation around town when I need to go shopping for food – we’ve decided I’ll bring my bike. It’s not that the grocery is so very far away, it’s that the bike can carry more “stuff” in paniers than I can in my hands. Plus there’s the question of how to get home from the boat. According to Google, it’s a bit over a 2 hour bike ride, so that’s what I’ll do. I’ll come home on my bike.

Meanwhile we’re also accumulating ‘stuff’ to bring onto the boat. Bedding, tools, rags, warm gear, rain gear, things to heat the boat with (at least until I’ve repaired the boat heater — but, tied up to the dock, I’m not sure I’d want to use a diesel-powered heater when I have elctricity right there).

Well, tomorrow the tasks begin (again) that require businesses that are open and can take phone calls. It’s good training for being on a boat where there’s ALWAYS something to do!

We have a plan!

The big stumbling block was always where to keep our boat. The COVID epidemic and our various responses to it has made finding a berth difficult – which is not meant as condemnation of those actions.

there is a Marina (actually, two of them) nearby. The difficult thing is that they are on the U.S. side of the international border, and we are on the Canadian side, as is the boat. However, we have hatched a plan that, we hope, will allow us to put the boat into one. Considering that Marina is the only one that has space available AND can accommodate our length AND isn’t hidden behind some bridges too low for us, it’s really our only choice.

Today will be nailing that down, which will leave only two more obstacles – insurance and the windlass repair. I trust that the windlass will be working, so that isn’t a worry. Insurance is a bit more worrisome. They seem to want 2-3 years of boat ownership, which begs the question of how does one get 2-3 years of boat ownership if you won’t insure me for that time?

oh well, we’ll figure it out!