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.

The faster I go, the behinder I get!

Took Opus out yesterday for a bit of a shakedown. I even single handed getting the sails up and taking them down again – and did some sailing. It was a bit of a circus act, jumping around from place to place to get stuff done but, at least in a light wind, I managed to do it – without the use of an autopilot to hold things steady. How was this done?

First note that Opus has a rolling furler on the foresail, which makes the foresail relatively easy to furl. Secondly note that a sailboat with the mainsail tightly sheeted displays “weather helm” meaning it wants to point its bow towards the wind.

So here was the process after removing all applicable sail ties and covers:

  1. Turn Opus into the wind and cut the motor into neutral.
  2. Run up to the mast and start raising the main sail.
  3. Run back to the helm and turn Opus back into the wind
  4. Run back to the mast and raise the sail a little further.
  5. Run back to the helm and turn Opus back into the wind.
  6. Stay at the helm and untangle the running backstays from the leech of the mainsail
  7. Turn Opus back into the wind
  8. Run back to the mast and raise the mainsail some more, untangling it from the lazy jacks where it caught.
  9. Finally the mainsail is raised enough to weathervane the boat into the wind and things get a bit easier.
  10. Finish raising the sail and go back to the cockpit.
  11. Let out the foresail and trim that approximately while still holding a reasonable course.
  12. trim the main sail approximately, while still holding a reasonable course.
  13. Trim the foresail closer to properly, while manually holding a course.
  14. Trim the mainsail closer to properly while manually holding a course.
  15. Say “Good enough”

Did I mention that I still have my bicycle, granny bars, and dinghy on the foredeck, all of which make great things for foresail sheets to get caught on?

However, the important thing is that I proved I can do it, at least in light winds.

Due to the lazy jacks and roller furling, dousing the sails was a bit easier, though still not easy. However, I deem it a success as I did manage to do some sailing and nothing went wrong.

After returning to the dock, I went to make myself some dinner – spaghetti – and tried to fill the pot with water. Doing this involves going to the navigation station and turning on the fresh water pump. The moment I did, I heard a strange noise and no water came from the faucet. Then I realized I was hearing a hissing – almost like something shorting, plus the sound of running water from somewhere. Immediately shutting off the power to the pump, I went to investigate. At the same time I noticed what seemed like smoke in the cabin.

After a bit of investigation, I found that a PVC conduit had slipped off a fitting even though it was fastned there with a hose clamp. Another important piece of data is that running the engine also gives us (some) hot water. In this case the pipe that had slipped off was the one carrying (very) hot water. Anyway, a few minutes with a screwdriver and the pipe was back in place, tightened down, and all things working.

Of course I did say a few choice words, and I could imagine the boat craning its (imaginary) head around to look at me with a bland and innocent expression as if to say, “What did you expect? I’m a boat.” with the unstated, “Of course something was going to go wrong.”

A day off?

It’s been a whirlwind of a week with making an offer, getting a mechanical inspection done, a Marine Survey complete, contemplating the results of those and whether we wanted to make a lower offer for the boat or not. The pace of things to do is only going to increase now as we need to do the Sea trial get an inventory of the bits and bobs that go along with the hull, procure insurance and a place to keep her.

So, today was sort of the “calm before the storm” day. We did some talking about things that need to be done, plans, work. Anne dreamed about how she wants to decorate. I did some trip planning. These are the things that will keep us motivated as we do the grind of fitting out the boat the way we wish it to be.

The boat is a cruiser-racer. As such, her interior is more austere than, say, a Hunter or Beneteau sailboat, or even the Hallberg-Rassy that I’ve crewed on. So, compromises need be made. If we were in a position to have two boats, I’d probably keep this one stripped down and ready for (comfortable!) racing. However, we don’t. Thus, it’s important that this boat be comfortable for extended periods of cruising – and comfortable by both our definitions of comfort. Because I’m into the sailing part of the adventure, I’m willing to put up with a bit less comfort because my reward is the sailing. Anne is not as much into the sailing, so the comfort needs to be higher. We’ll manage, though. She’s a trouper for sure.

We did do some catalog browsing though. The exciting thing to look at are fenders, fender covers, and fender racks, with a spot of research to figure out what size is appropriate. Ah, the glamorous life of a boat owner!

Marine Survey

Today was the Marine Survey. This is where you pay a person to convince you not to buy the boat. If they can’t convince you not to, then you’re pretty assured that you’ll buy it. Oh, and the report from the person is used, by you, to convince an insurance company not to insure you.

Ok, it’s not quite like that, but it sort of it. You’re paying a Marine Surveyor to go through the boat and find all the things that are wrong with it so that you can make an intelligent decision whether to go ahead with the purchase.

The boat has some deficiencies, but that’s not unexpected. It is, after all, 40 years old. At 40 years of age, I had a few dings and deficiencies myself, so I can hardly blame a boat for being in the same manner. However, in aggregate, there was nothing on the boat that gave us pause to say, “No, this isn’t the boat for us.”

The previous, mechanical inspection had us concerned about the engine. However, we have decided that the concerns were not sufficient to prevent us from buying the boat. Further, we think that the current owner’s good will and his continued involvement with the boat while we get to know her is invaluable. Thus, we are not going to try to renegotiate the deal.

There are only two more “speed bumps” remaining. The first is the sea trial. That’s where we take the boat out and put her through her paces. If something happens during the sea trial, we can still back out of the deal. The second is the inventory of sails and other bits and bobs. If those are not as advertised, then again we can back out of the deal. And, of course, if the condition of the boat materially changes for some reason (for example it catches on fire, or is involved in an accident) then we can back out of the deal.

Assuming none of those happen, we are going to be the owners of a boat some time this month!