At anchor – follow-up

Conditions continued to deteriorate with winds getting up to 30 knots. The waves continued to get worse, topping 2-3 meters. English Bay was completely exposed, not a good situation. However, I have confidence in Opus and her anchor which turned out to be well-placed.

Other boaters, however…

About 11:30 or so I went upon deck to check the anchor set. “That boat looks closer than it did earlier this evening,” I thought. 1/2 an hour later it was definitely closer. A LOT closer and I realized it was dragging.

I immediately started preparations in case they hit me – which they did. Simple preparations such as putting a few more fenders over the side (a compromise since they can also cause entanglement), putting on a PFD and tether in case I needed to work on the pitching foredeck, getting a headlamp ready and making sure I had a knife and tools at hand in case I needed to drop the anchor.

Now they were dragging me along with them towards the shore. It’s times like these that single handing becomes really difficult as there was no one to helm while I pulled up the anchor and, as the anchor is pulled up, the drift accelerates. So now I had a few problems. First is deciding whether to pull up the anchor, cut it away, or hope that it would snag and hold. That last seemed like a bad idea — hope is not a plan. I decided to try bringing it up, but be prepared to cut it away.

with engine started, both to provide more power to the windlass and also so that once the anchor was free, we could maneuver, the next step was to bring up the anchor. During the process, I saw the only sailboat that was between me and the shore go by, and started thinking it was time to cut the anchor free… and then I saw chain coming up.

Opus has 40 feet of chain connected the anchor and then 160 feet of line. With the chain appearing, i knew I was close, though bringing more aboard meant I would no longer have the option of cutting it loose. A knife does very little good against anchor chain.

The drag from the other boat had me broadside to the waves and wind, also not making it easy.

I did, eventually, get the anchor free from the bottom and left it hanging while I piloted away from the danger zone, then rushed back up to the bow to finish bringing it aboard. During this time, I discovered I could only turn to starboard. Something was jamming my rudder.

So, in a lurching sort of manner, I made it into False Creek’s more protected waters and made for the point of safety I knew best – Granville public dock, arriving here cold, wet, barefoot, bedraggled, sweaty, and all together shaken. Though you’re only supposed to be here for a few hours, and certainly not over night, I feel that whatever financial penalty there might be is worth it.

I called into security and told them the situation and they okayed me staying at the dock overnight, asking that I call into the business five in the morning.

Today will be assessing damage and figuring out what to do now – after I have some breakfast.

Addendum

I’ve called the business office several times today to no answer. I’ll keep trying. Meanwhile I’ve been trying to find a diver to examine the prop, prop shaft, and rudder, plus find a better moorage for Opus.

I can, now, turn both ways as I was able to free a line that was wrapped around my rudder. I think Opus is ok, other than a scuff, but want her inspected before saying she is.

At anchor

We transported Opus to Vancouver this past Thursday. After a group dinner and bidding the, all goodnight and in the darkness of full night, I moved Opus out to the mouth of False Creek. I took an OK anchor spot because I didn’t really want to putt about the anchorage in the dark for fear of snagging some unmarked buoy. Setting anchor in 27 feet of water, I closed my eyes and to sleep.

Unfortunately, the predicted bad weather moved in. Between leaks in the deck hatches, a fluttering forestay, and a few nightmares, very little sleep was had. I was awake just about every hour to check the anchor. I knew I had set it well, but there is always the concern and trepidation of anchoring in a new place.

All day today it was gloomy and drizzly – the kind of weather that makes even a well-rested person tempted to put off chores. For one who is bleary with no chore being a “have to”, the temptation to doze the day away while doing just the inside housekeeping was overwhelming.

the sun did come out for a short time, but that was “the calm before the storm” so to speak. Tonight the wind is blowing over 20 knots, causing the forestay to vibrate like a guitar string. I’ve attempted to put a damper on it, but so far unsuccessfully. Meanwhile the chop is building and Opus is bouncing up and down and sailing on the anchor. It is going to be a long night again, I think.

First step taking Opus back to Canada

Yesterday I transported Opus from Point Roberts to Semiahmoo Marina. This is the first step in bringing Opus to Canada.

Why the jaunt to Semiahmoo instead of going direct from Point Roberts? I’m so glad you asked…

In order to come back into Canada from the United States, the following procedure has to be followed:

  • Have a sample taken for a COVID test. This must be done in the United States before crossing into Canada
  • Receive the results of the COVID test
  • File those results into an app called ArriveCanada. This must all be done before crossing into Canada
  • Within 72 hours of the COVID sample being taken (see step 1) cross into Canada.

What happens after that isn’t important. It’s that 72 hour deadline that is critical. If you don’t meet that, you have to start the process all over again. The last time I crossed from Point Roberts, the results of the COVID test were delayed (They came out negative for me), and I crossed into Canada with 10 minutes to spare before the test became invalid.

Keeping that in mind, I didn’t want to be 2 hours away from a border crossing. Thus, I’m now positioned about 30-40 minutes from a border crossing.

So how was the trip from Point Roberts? An adventure, like always. Opus seemed sluggish. Considering that she’s been sitting in Point Roberts Marina for 3 months, I imagine the grown on her hull is slowing her down. I’ll have to dive her and see. It will be a good time to double check the zincs too.

Upon arriving and getting settled into her slip at Semiahmoo Marina, I found that the fresh water system doesn’t seem to be working. it was working yesterday morning, so that’s going to be my main focus today, along with cleaning off all the bird berry-poop from the decks (which I did a few days ago, but it’s back).

After that comes the usual boat tasks of cleaning up, plus it seems the catches on two cabinets have come loose and I need to fix those. So, plenty of things to keep my busy for now.

Working on the boat

I think next time I start a series of boat projects, I’ll bring JUST what I need for ONE project aboard, do that project, then go on to the next. Why? I seem to spend a lot of time moving all the stuff from HERE to over THERE so that I can get to THIS part, only to find that I have to move all the stuff from THERE to THAT OTHER PLACE so that I can get at one of the fittings, then move it all to HERE so that… etc. There’s just too darn much stuff aboard right now to get much of anything done.

Still, slowly, progress is made.

I had come back to a deflated dinghy. It took a while to find, but I think I have that fixed. I’ve also started to try to sort “stuff” into “things to keep aboard” and “things that are just taking up room at the moment” in an effort to pare down what’s aboard and actually try to get it into a shape that is usable.

Oh, yeah, and I scrubbed the decks.

And started repairs of the cap rail split. This is involving making a set of dams and then epoxying the cap rail down. After that’s done will come the sanding to smooth everything out. The dams are going to be made of painter’s tape and I’m hoping I don’t make a botch of it, getting epoxy all over the fibreglass, where I don’t want it, as it oozes out of the cap rail where I do want it.

I’ve also been working on the plumbing a bit, though as I alluded to above, it’s slow going as I keep having to move so much stuff around. The main thing I want to figure out is what the proper position of all the valves for the head are so that we can use the head and not run afoul of fouling a harbour.

Other than that, been helping another boat diagnose electrical problems with their GFI plugs, and apologizing to some other boaters. You see, the pedestal at my slip doesn’t seem to be supplying power. I didn’t expect anyone to be at our dock this weekend, so I simply plugged in to the pedestal for the slip on the other side. This, unfortunately, puts my power cord at about waist height. No big deal if there aren’t other people on the dock. Unfortuantely, 3 other boats came in. So now my electrical cord is in their way. Fortunately, they’ve been good sports about it, but probably tomorrow I’ll move the boat (or get the pedestal fixed) so that I’m not creating a hazard for others.

I have a whiteboard full of boat tasks to do, again. Once I clear these, I’m sure it will fill up again, but it does feel good to clear a whiteboard once in a while so that I feel like I’m making progress.

An unpleasant set of surprises

Last night was my first night back on Opus after needing to go home for a bit to deal with things like doctor appointments, renewing my driver’s license, and my birthday. UUpon returning to Opus a bit over a month later I found some unpleasant surprises.

The boat yard had not fixed the heater on the boat. Apparently, in the confusion of the boatyard changing ownership, that work had not been done. They had, however, moved my boat over to the dock closer to the boat yard. Unfortunately, when they plugged Opus into the dock suupply, they had not truly checked that power was coming into the boat. In their defense, the only way to truly know is either to try to run the microwave or, alternately, there is a single, small, LED on the panel that will tell you. instead, they looked at the battery voltage levvel, saw a high number, and assumed that the shore power was working.

It wasn’t.

So when I got onto the boat, the batteries were being slowly drained. They weren’t in terrible shape, but it could have been much worse. Considering they are brand new batteries, I don’t want to subject them to the abuse of overly discharging them. We caught it in time, fortunately.

It turns out that the shore power at my temporary slip isn’t working. Right now I have an electrical cord strung across the dock to an empty slip’s power, but that’s not a good solution. Also, at the moment, I’m not comfortable moving Opus by myself. It’s been a month and I hadn’t had that much practice with her beforehand. I want someone there to catch lines and right now there isn’t anyone.

It’s not a good situation as the power line is across the dock at about thigh level. It’s a danger, but I don’t have a lot of choice at the moment. I’ll have to hope that the dock continues to be deserted over the weekend.

Today was searching for the leak in the dinghy. No luck so far. The search continues. Also accomplished putting up the sail cover on the foresail, which has been exposed to the UV abuse all this time. Now it’s safe and secure inside its coccoon. I’ll have to work with the system a bit more before I can say that I’m “fluent” in the cover. however, once it was on, it cinched down nicely.

Working ashore

Part of the work to do in preparing for the racing season is to get a rating from one of the big origanizations – ORC or PHRF. Several members of the team got together to measure sails, which is part of the numbers that PHRF needs to set a handicap. The sail measurements coupled with measurements of the boat itself are run through a handicapping program that yields a theoretical speed for the boat. That is then used to decide the handicap.

The handicap is set so that boats of different design and lengths and sail plans can compete with each other. For instance, Opus could not hope to compete against an IMOCA or a foiling sailboat in a head-to-head race. Some of those boats will do over 40 knots in the right conditions whereas Opus is unlikely to break 10 or 12 knots. The handicap is expressed as a certain number of seconds per mile of race course that is subtracted from our elapsed time. So if a boat, say a foiling boat, is expected to finish a 100 mile course in about 4 hours, averaging a little bit less than 2 1/2 minutes per mile, Opus would be expected to cover that same course in about 12 1/2 hours, averaging 7.5 minutes per mile. Our handicap should be in the neighbourhood of 5 minutes per mile.

Of course, we all want to be the first over the finish line – what is called “Line Honours” in racing.

You may notice that there are two more timers running on the pages now. They are both estimates, but tell us how much time until our first “big” races – SwiftSure and Southern Straits. We may do some racing before then, but those are the first goals we’re really aimed at and training for. I’ll be firming up the timers once the race organizers announce the actual dates of the races.

Those are the two big races for us in 2022, though I have my eye on a few other ones such as Malaspina Straits. We’ll also be doing some long-duration sails on our own over weekends and perhaps even take a week to do a whirlwind circumnavigation of Vancouver Island.

Busy Days

Not everything that we do is related to fixing up the boat. Sometimes the vast majority of the work is not boat related. This has been the case since our last blog post.

Racing is, generally speaking, not a one-person sport. It’s a team competition in which the individual skills come together to make something better than each individual. However, these individuals must work and live together in a confined, uncomfortable, potentially rolling and pitching, potentially hazardous, environment. It’s important to get the right people.

Crew selection has been occupying my time – recruiting, interviewing, and vetting crew. Yes, there are people that, based on a simple interview, I’ve had to decide were not right for the crew. It might be some lack of skill, though those can often be corrected. More importantly is that they have to be the right kind of person.

What is the right kind of person?

They have to have primary qualities, the loss of either of which is an immediate disqualification. The first of these qualities is a respect and willingness to work with others. A racing boat is no place for someone who will be derogatory or negative about a team member. There is simply no way to get away from such a person other than to have left them on the shore. The second is a willingness to commit to the team — to work hard to improve themselves and the team. Racing is hard work. It alternates boredom, excitement, terror. Somewhere in there we also find it fun. Ok, I suppose that implies there’s a streak of masochism in us somewhere. I’ll leave that to the shrinks to figure out.

Since this is a multi-year campaign, we know at the outset that there will be people that will drop out of the team. Life circumstances change, interests change, we discover that what we thought we wanted to do isn’t what we actually want, we find that there’s something about the team that isn’t right for us. All of these are reasons to leave, and that’s OK. What it means, though, is that we have to start with a roster that’s bigger than what we expect to end up with. Partly this will cover the inevitable drop outs and partly this will cover the people who can’t make a particular race for one reason or another. For example, the Van Isle 360 and the Vic Maui races are long races, taking weeks to complete. People might not be able to take that amount of time off of work. It’s tough to tell your boss you need a month off to go sail racing. Not many bosses or customers are that understanding.

We now have a final list and I’d like to welcome the following people.

Alexis Baker, Alex Brydon, Kevin Diakiw, Wayne Foulds, Lee-Ann Hollander, Gunnar Jonsson, Kevin-Neil Klop, Cliff Lieuwen, Fraser Mah, Bruce McGarvie, John Mitchell, Nigel Phillips, Aren Tulchinsky, Ada Yim, Boris Zanic

In the days to come, I hope to be adding a bit of a biography of them to the website for them to shine!

A Tale of Two Cities

First, apologies for the delay in posting this. The internet has gotten a bit sketchy lately on Opus.

As with many buyers, before our purchase we saw a number of boats. Much like the three bears, some were too big, some were too small Some were too fat, some were too thin. etc. We did make an offer on two boats, only to have them rejected, so those were too expensive.

One of the boats we saw was a steel-hulled expedition-class sailboat, built to go through the northwest passage (thought it never did). At the time it was still “winterized” with tarps over the deck that we had to crawl through. Other people were interested in it as well and we were informed as we boarded for our inspection that a couple from Texas were very very interested in it and were going to be making an offer. After going through it, we decided that, though it was interesting and checked a large number of boxes, it wasn’t the right ship for us.

As I’ve been on Opus, I’ve been using the shore facilities such as bathrooms. As such, I walk the length of the dock several times per day. Lately there’s been a boat that’s caught my eye. A pretty boat, blue hull, ketch rigged (two masts instead of the more common single-mast sloop rig). Saturday night there were, for the first time, some people on it and, even more importantly, dogs. So I went to say hello to the dog… um… people.

We got to talking a bit and I found that they were new owners as well. Since I’m a new owner on my boat, there was a bit of instant cameraderie and we got to telling each other the story about how we had come to own the boats that we did.

They had bought Alioth unseen — which is a very brave thing to do, especially as they don’t have any sailing experience. That’s a lot of trust in the broker, so I was naturally curious about who their broker is. They mentioned a name and I was surprised and pleased – they used the same broker I had.

Meanwhile something began jangling in the back of my head.

They described how they had pretty much settled on Alioth and were paniced when the broker informed them that another couple was coming out to see the boat and might be offering on it. They had a heart to heart discussion amongst themselves and made an offer that night.

You probably have guessed by now. Alioth is the steel-hulled, expedition-class sailboat that I had gone to inspect, and these were the couple that were “highly interested” in it. Now, here they were, docked 5 slips down from where I am.

It can sometimes be an amazingly small world. So tomorrow (the 7th) we’re going to take Alioth out and do some exercises to start teaching them how to work Alioth.

In other news, I finally got my COVID test and will be able to cross the border and go home on Wednesday!

Windy night

Last night was a bit windy. There have been other windy nights, but last night was different.

Every boat “talks” to you. It has its own vocabulary of squeaks, grunts, bangs, creaks and ticks that she uses to tell you what’s going on. Unfortunately, each boat’s vocabulary is quite different than another’s, and it takes a while to get to know how your, particular, boat talks. Last night was a long, dreary, lesson in that vocabulary.

It started out with the “bang! bang! bang!” that is also known as halyard slap. That one is pretty common on sailboats and is caused by the wind making a halyard flap in the wind, kind of like a finger across a guitar string. Since halyards lie against the mast, for the most part, they bang the mast as they flap. The cure to that is either to take the end of the halyard and fasten it well away from the mast or, if that’s not possible, to use a bungee cord around the halyard and one of the side stays, thereby pulling the center of the halyard away from the mast.

Because of how the sail cover is done, refastening the halyard was not going to be feasible in the dark. It would involve taking two covers off, moving a halyard, and then putting the two covers back on, requiring two precarious partial climbs of the mast (because the covers extend higher than I can reach from the deck). So I went with the bungee – which only required one precarious partial climb of the mast so I could place the bungee higher than the sail cover.

I suppose I could have waited for the morning, but there is no sleeping through halyard slap.

I had just dropped off to sleep when I was woken by a “creak.. ick ick ick creeeeeeeaaaak ick.” sound, which is new to me. I got up and moved to the center of the cabin to try to isolate the sound. It sounded like it was coming from forward, so I took a step that way. Now it was sounding like it was coming from the stern, so I took a bunch of steps that way. Further towards the stern.. another step. Towards the bow… move that way… this chase of the sound went on for about two hours until I figured out that it was the boom that was moving side to side in the wind. This, in turn, was pulling on the main sheet, which is fastened to a metal beam running across the boat midships. So why wasn’t the sound coming from there?

Because in making the beam vibrate, it was making the whole cabin roof into one sounding board, so the sound was coming from everywhere.

The solution was to go outside and lash the very end of the boom to the far sides of the boat, like making a triangle. That stopped the wiggling of the boom back and forth, and back to sleep.

To be woken up by more sounds, which get located and silenced, and back to sleep. To be woken up again by sounds, which get located and silenced, and back to sleep.

You get the idea.

So today was a really lazy day as I was groggy from sleeping in 2 hour increments. Tonight should be better so that’s where I’m going – to allow myself to be rocked to sleep tonight and hope that Opus is done talking in her sleep too, at least for tonight.

Oh, and remember my previous post regarding eagles? Well, found some more pieces of the wind instrument on my deck. I’m going to have to replace those instruments, but first I need to figure out a better way to keep the eagles from breaking them before I spend a thousand dollars on replacements.

Addendum, June 2

Eagles, as a symbol of the United States, are majestic, awe inspiring, birds.

Real life, though, not so much.

Although my wind instruments weren’t actually sending information to my chart plotter and other displays, there was always the windex up there – the simple windvane-like device that told you the apparent wind direction. I could rely on that at the very least.

Until today, when an eagle broke it off and then, as if to add a final “F_ you”, dropped it onto the deck right next to the helm.

Gee, thanks, eagle.