The America’s Cup

When Rick heard that the America’s Cup would be held in the San Francisco Bay he decided he would see it from the water.

When we purchased the sailboat Rick had given himself a deadline that we’d have enough done to be able to be out on the water for the America’s Cup.  At the time, the race was a year and a half away, plenty of time!  But we barely made it.

Being fed up with the old motor (purchased second hand anyway, screw being frugal) Rick went to the Oakland outboard shop and purchased a branch new 15 horse Mercury kicker motor – called a kicker because it is specifically designed with high torque pushing a heavy boat using a small engine.  Hmmm, maybe it should be called a ‘pusher’ instead?

We installed it using all the same hookups as the old Merc had but now it was New and Dependable!

Rick and I took it out sailing a few times to get a feel for the boat, how it handled in chop and how it floundered around when there’s no breeze (give up and motor, already!)

America’s Cup was in September so Rick invited some family members, including his parents to come along with us.  Rick’s mom loves sailing and insisted on dragging Dad with her.  We headed out.  We motored around to the City side of Treasure Island and decided that now was not a good time to try to sail.  The crush of boats was incredible.  We all had the same idea.  Even ski boats were out there trying to catch some of the race.  We motored over to the Turn 2 buoy (southeast of Alcatraz Island) … where we puttered around very slowly like every other boat in the crowd, trying to avoid each other while staying in position.  Well, most of us tried to avoid the rest of us.

DSC_0013_2497.JPG

DSC_0048_2532.JPG

Our best example of a close call was when a 50’ plus sailboat under full sail, UNDER FULL SAIL!, going about 10 knots sailed through the spectator fleet expecting everyone to get out of his way because we are “under power” and he is “sailing”.  He missed other boats by maybe 5’ with all the other captains screaming and honking at him as he went by – and he barely looked in our direction!  (This happened again when we went out to see the Blue Angels – tons of boats, all motoring at the slowest speed possible, basically staying in one spot’ish and some jerk sails through us.  Keep in mind we were hunkered out of the way as close to the sea walls as we could be and he has to be sailing right there…where we are…jerk…)

 

This is how qualified that guy was to hold a steering wheel in his hand!

Chick in a pot.jpg

Side note:  Look how cool the Blue Angels look against the Golden Gate Bridge!

DSC_0052_2536.JPG

 

All in all it was great fun to watch those big America’s Cup boats come flying around the Number 2 buoy, staying up on their hydrofoils around the turn going as fast as an offshore power boat.  You can see the guys on board leaning into the turn like they’re in a sports car.  Wow.

It was one of those once in a lifetime events that we were glad to be able to see in person.

Rick can check off another item on his Bucket List 😉

DSC_0067_2551.JPG

Napa to Alameda and Murphy’s Law

I wave goodbye to Rick and he’s off!  Motoring from the marina in Napa, where the boat had been dry docked, to Fortman Marina in the Alameda Island Estuary where our little boat will have its forever home, as they say.  It’s about an hour from our office/apartment.

The trip was going to take most of the day, so I drove back home to await Rick’s call when he got close to the Estuary.  At that point, I’d drive to the Alameda marina and we’d drive back home.

SF bay snip.jpg

So here is Rick’s story: (I’ve added little notes here and there)

Took a day off work and we headed up to Napa.  Holly dropped me off at the marina in the morning so I’d have all day to get the boat to its new home in Alameda.

Although my son, Austin, had joined me for the trip up the river, he was now out of town and I’d have to go down the river to Alameda on my own.

Our little outboard was running good, had plenty of fuel in the tank and the plan was to motor all the way to the new marina. (Note: in the interest of being frugal, we purchased a second-hand outboard)

The weather forecast was that it would be overcast in the afternoon with winds expected to pick up to about 15 mph.

To be on the safe side, I brought my toolbox and sails on board.  (Note: this guy always has his toolbox with him, good thing, too, as you will soon see)  I installed the mainsail back on the boom but didn’t hank on the jib as I didn’t have a containment bag for it on deck.

Engine fired up nicely and I headed down the river.  I had my Humminbird 5” chart plotter on the steering pedestal working great.  I knew I needed the depth sounder as there are lots of shallow spots coming down the Napa River and the channel gets fairly narrow in places.

I used my cell phone to call the Mare Island Causeway bridge operator.  He was very polite and opened it for me and another boat.

mi_bridge.png

 

 

(Note: This isn’t a photo of the front of our sailboat…I’d kill for roller furling!)

Then I headed down to the Carquinez Straight and took a right turn into San Pablo Bay.

As I motored along at about 5 knots I noticed a sailboat behind me about .5 mile going in the same direction.  (Note: I’m not sure why Rick mentions this since the other boat doesn’t figure into the story at all, but whatever, it’s his story) When I was about 4 or 5 miles down the bay, about 1 mile off shore, my little engine began to sputter badly and then just gave up completely.  The wind had built and there was now an 18” chop that I had been bouncing through nicely.  But what it did was stir up garbage in the old fuel tank.  Even though I had a spiffy new spin-on fuel filter, it had clogged the filter enough to starve the engine for fuel. (Note: Rick didn’t say ‘spiffy’ he said ‘nice’ but he’d said ‘nice’ previously so I wanted to use a different word)

I had a spare filter on board so I went down to spin the clogged one off and it would not budge, I pushed, pulled, cajoled but it wouldn’t budge.  I went looking for my filter wrench but I realized it was not on board.

I wasn’t interested in hammering a big screwdriver through the filter to use it as a handle to rotate it off (even though this is a trick for oil filters) because I didn’t want gasoline leaking out all over the bilge of the boat!

Realizing this engine wasn’t going to start, I was glad I brought along a sail, after all it is a sailboat.  So, as I bounced around in San Pablo Bay, I started bringing up the mainsail.  As most sailors know, a sailboat bobbing around like a cork in water always turns beam to the wind.  In this position, it’s rather difficult to raise a mainsail.  (Note: The pressure from the wind on the sail makes it hard going to crank it up. PLUS Rick is standing on the deck by the mast while the boat is bouncing up and down in the chop.)

When the sail was halfway up I heard a loud bang and realized that I had forgotten to lock the steering well at the pedestal and the boat ‘backed down’, which slammed the rudder all the way to one side and popped the chain off the steering sprocket. (Note: Blankety-blank steering sprocket was installed upside down by previous owner and it’s a blankety-blank to rectify that)

 

I finished getting the mainsail up and secured it with the main sheet which brought the boat nose to the wind at which point I had no steering whatsoever.

I don’t care how many years you’ve been sailing, you can still be stuck in really stupid situations.

So, the first thing I did was go below to get my emergency tiller.

Guess, what?  I forgot to bring the emergency tiller on board. (Note: it’s in our office basement, lovingly given about a hunnerd coats of finish to make it glossy and shiny)

Now what, I’m scratching my head to find something I can use as an emergency tiller.

Looking through my toolbox, the biggest thing I had in there was an 18” crowbar, one of the reasons the darn toolbox is so heavy. (Note: I love a good crowbar, don’t you?)

crowbar.jpg

I was able to hook the edge of the crowbar sort-of into the edge of the emergency rudder post and managed to get some steering. (Note: Think about it…most sailboats have large steering wheels or a 3 foot long tiller.  Rick was using an 18” crowbar, so his leverage was minimal and he had to hold on tight and manhandle it.)

One of the things about sailing in the bay area, no matter where you are, north bay, south bay, east bay, the wind is always coming from the Golden Gate, which means I was nose to the wind to slog my way south to Alameda. (Note: Rick used a different word than ‘slog’ but ‘slog’ is so descriptive, don’t you think?)

Sailing a 30’ boat upwind means it won’t point very high. It also means it’s going to take a looong time to go the several miles I needed to go to civilization. (Note: Why didn’t he call the tow company?  He doesn’t really know, he just thought he could do it himself)

The nearest port of call to my position was Richmond and the nearest marina was the Richmond Yacht Club.  It took all afternoon for me to make it to the yacht club and I got in just before sunset. (Note: I don’t want to contemplate how hard this would have been to do in the dark.  In fact, I don’t want to contemplate much of this episode, I can’t imagine being out there like that.  I’ve married MacGyver!)

MacGyver.jpg

I sailed in past the breakwater past the boat docks to the guest dock at the yacht club where there was a bit more maneuvering space. (Note: not all marinas have this kind of space to maneuver!)  When the people on the dock, who were tending to small dinghies saw me coming in they let me know this was a private yacht club.  I waved at them with my emergency tiller – a crowbar – and yelled, “I got no steering, guys!”

My first pass, I missed the dock, so I did a 360 in the turning area and came in again letting the mainsail go in time to drift into the dock.  Everyone grabbed the boat since I had no fenders or lines out and I jumped up across the cockpit to let the main-sheet go in order to depower the boat.

Ah, safe at last.  I picked up my cell phone to have the wife come and rescue me.  (Note: I got there way after dark since the car’s nav system didn’t realize the fastest way to the marina was via a tunnel that was closed.  Rick immediately fell asleep in the car, he was exhausted)

I realized the boat would have to be there overnight, to which the yacht club was amenable.  (Note: In fact, the next day he was a minor celebrity coming into the harbor ‘hot’ like that and not crashing into anything!)

Rick at the helm.jpg

Even though I was able to replace the fuel filter, the motor still refused to start.  Evidently the bad fuel had gotten all the way into the engine and clogged things up.  I took a look at the steering and realized fixing it would be a chore because I had to release tension in the cable in one of the pulleys to get enough slack to get the chain up and over the sprocket.  (Note: this stupid steering issue was a continual problem until we, I mean Rick, figured out how to fix it)

The next morning, after being sufficiently frustrated that I wouldn’t be able to fix it in a couple hours, I called BoatUS and got towed all the way to our Alameda Estuary berth.  Evidently an ego adjustment was necessary. (Note: Honestly, this guy has no ego about anything, he’s so laid back about everything!  I, on the other hand, tend to get nervous easily, which I hate!  And try to fight since I, as you can tell, married MacGyver! If you have to be in an emergency situation, Rick is the guy to be with.)

My triumphant entry into Fortman Marina was at the end of a tow line and I could see my wife standing on the shore taking pictures and having a good laugh. (Note: I wasn’t really laughing that hard, more of a snicker and even then just a little one.  If boats are for fun, we’re having some fun now 😉

th.jpg

 

 

 

 

Back in the water!

The outside of the boat is DONE – sanded, primered, caulked, refinished, painted.  The mast is back on with a fresh coat of paint, too.

We are ready to put ‘er back in the water.

Launching has to be timed perfectly.  There are 4 important factors to consider:

  1. Schedule at Rick’s work
  2. Schedule at the Napa marina
  3. Schedule of the tides
  4. Schedule of the wife, me

Rick needed to plan the boat launch so that he could move WITH the tide, not against it—primarily because the outboard motor is wimpy with a capital W.  No sense in making the trip harder, right?

The Marina’s launch truck had to be available, Rick had to plan his work schedule about 2 weeks ahead so he could be off work AND I needed to drive him up there and then pick him up after docking at the Fortman Marina on Alameda Island.

Putting the boat back in the water is a simple process.  The specialized trailer slips between the dry dock supports.

The trailer slips right into place.

The trailer slips right into place.

IMG_0023_3675

The rig.   Oooh, look at our paint job!

Then the trailer’s supports lift the boat from the spindly ground supports.  The package then maneuvers around and backs onto and down the ramp.

Backing down...

Backing down…

Slowly being lowered into the water...

Slowly being lowered into the water…

She's floating!

She’s floating!

...empty slip...

…empty slip…

We get the boat gassed up at the Napa marina’s floating gas station and I wave to him as he motors down the river.  Bye, Rick!  See you in Alameda.  😉

The dingy little dinghy is launched!

After months of sanding and painting and sanding and staining and polyurethaning and painting and sanding, the dinghy is done!

Image

Look how nicely it fit in the back of the truck…notice how dingy it is…blechhh…

 

Image

Doesn’t it look like a raggedy mess?

Image

Here it is during its makeover.  Wood sanded, stained and polyurethaned, bottom primered.

The dinghy is finished but the sailboat isn’t, not quite.  Rick decided to bring the dinghy to our place in Discovery Bay, where we can at least we can go rowing in the Delta.  Its either that or store it in our backyard/parking lot.

Back in the truck it goes, with Rick whining all the way ‘its getting scuffed!’.  And us praying that it doesn’t slide out when we go over hill and dale to its temporary home.

After grunting and groaning it out of the truck and down the side of the house…

Image

…and up these steps…

 

Image

…and over the handrails, somehow…across the deck and then down a whole flight of stairs and a ramp to the dock.

…which didn’t happen.  The whole flight of stairs, that is.  Not that day, with only Rick and me to do the deed.

We ended up waiting about a month, when we knew some strapping young men would be to our house for Superbowl Sunday (no comments about how long it takes me to write a blog post, thank you very much).

There is nothing like a bunch of young men to traipse a dinghy down a flight of stairs.Image

They made short work of it.

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Image

Ta-da!!   😉

From ugly duckling to beautiful swan…mostly…

ugly duckling

Ugly duckling

Painting the exterior of a boat is difficult.  Well, maybe ‘difficult’ isn’t the right word.  Expensive is a good word … awkward is another one.

First comes all the sanding.  What a messy job.  Rick rented a sander from the marina and it had an attachment that keeps all the dust from blowing around.  Marine paint isn’t environmentally-friendly.

Since we are on a budget – as you may have noticed – we had to do the painting ourselves.  Primer, then sand, then primer, then sand, then paint and paint and paint again!

The process involves scaffolding, which involves scrounging around the yard looking for A-frame scaffolds and long wide planks which go between the scaffolds and upon which we stand.   I’m a klutz so standing on a plank that’s about a foot wide?  Hey, there’s a reason I didn’t do the balance beam in gymnastics!

The paint is expensive and we pour in an additive to make it more fluid so we don’t get unsightly brush streaks.

Which leads me to the real difficult part.

Boats are glossy and shiny,  In order to get glossy and shiny boats, we must paint the boat (after 3 coats of primer) standing side-by-side; 1 of us rolling on the gorgeous blue paint and the other doing something called ‘tipping’, which doesn’t involve money.

You take a sponge-brush and, tilting the brush about 45 degrees, lightly, lightly!! wipe the paint that has just been applied, first in one direction then in another.  Horizontally then vertically, then horizontally…  The point of that is to keep the paint from having obvious brush strokes and visible lines separating sections of rollered-on paint.

Tipping is an art which my husband is good at and me, not so much.  So I got to roll on the paint.  I mustn’t roll it on too fast nor too slow, I must just keep ahead of the tipper, trying not to paint over each others’ hands as we go, trying not the step in the paint tray or step off the plank and trying not to get my hair in the paint.

Its windy, its hot and its dusty from people driving by on the gravel road…aargh.

Also, its surprising how many bugs love fresh paint.

We had to keep spraying and taping up tiny holes to discourage wasps – yet, they built large hives anyway!

Rick and I enjoy ourselves, despite the heat and the mess and the mess and the heat.  A boat owner came by and she said she had wondered if a husband/wife team could actually work well together on a project like this, but when she heard us laughing all the time, she figured we were doing OK!

By the time we got to the last coat on the last quarter of the boat, it was looking pretty good!

Swan!

Swan!

So, we abide by the 20/20 rule.  If you are 20 feet away, going 20 miles per hour, the boat looks pretty good.  Even if we do say so ourselves 😉

One little letter makes a BIG difference…

Today’s post is about wenches, no wait, that’s not right!  This is a wench:

 tavern_wench_deluxe_dirndl_costume_oktoberfest_90201_r

Today’s post is about winches!  These are winches:

Little winch, big winch

Little winch, big winch

Winches are used to help pull the sails taut.  The ropes, I mean lines and sheets, wrap around the winch to reduce the load (pressure, strain) so that your average non-Popeye can haul sails up or trim them.  If sails are ‘luffing’, kind of billowing along the edges and make a flapping noise, then they aren’t being efficient.

 My dining room table was covered with winch parts!  Rick took them apart to get them working again.  Some of these babies cost over a hundred bucks!  Apiece!  But, since this is a ‘budget’ yacht, we don’t just slap down hundred dollar bills willy-nilly!  No!  We try to fix them first.  And by we I mean Rick.

20130321_224652

Amazingly enough, Rick was able to get them all working again!  One of them had small organic bits in it, like seeds, that were keeping the action from turning (I say ‘action’ because I have no idea what to call it really.  Rick kept putting oil on it and finally in exasperation took it into the back and pounded on it mercilessly until it gave in.

...a preponderance of winches and pulleys...

…a preponderance of winches and pulleys…

All the winches from the boat.

All the winches from the boat.

The mechanism is simple.  The wench rotates around a gear on a spindle – or maybe it’s the other way round.  You pull on the rope and the wench turns and the sail tightens.  As the wench turns a sticky-outy thing called a pawl is pulled over each notch but it will slip back into the notch stopping the wench from rotating the other direction.  It’s sort of like the gears in a watch, you remember those old-fashioned wind-up kind?

Here’s a picture of a type of winch used to pull boats onto trailers, it might give you a better idea than my sad description of the thing.

The gears make it easier to pull up the boat, hey, physics works!

The gears make it easier to pull up the boat.  Yay, physics works!

Once you have the sail or boom or whatever where you want it, you secure (tie off) the line.

Part of Rick’s dilemma is that he’d really like all the winches to match, be from the same manufacturer.  You and I may not care but it niggles at him that they aren’t all matchy-matchy.  He can’t see dropping money for a part that works perfectly well, though, so he’ll put the non-matching winches on the mast, where they aren’t as visible.

Look again at the pic above to see the size difference of these winches.  And this is nuthin’ compared to those on bigger boats!

Rick spends hours wandering around the internet looking for parts.  He found some at Lowe’s.  What is Lowe’s doing selling boat parts?  It seems they only sell stainless steel items near marinas, so if you know of a Lowe’s near water, you can go online and see if they carry what you’re looking for.  So Rick saved about 70% buying stuff there.

 Rick feels  guilty every time he spends money on the boat – its a cheap little thing and so easy to put more money into it that its worth, but honestly he pours over catalogs and online sites to find the best deal and he really knows how to pinch a penny!  The boat needs to be serviceable and that’s about it.  Plus, not only is Rick the ‘gotta educate myself about things before I make a move’ kind of person, we just lived through a horrible, horrible few years of ‘economic downturn’, which is political-speak for economic hell.  We were fortunate (our accountant says we are the poster-children for doing things right and managing our company through the ordeal) but I don’t think we will ever think frivolously about money again.

I was at our niece’s grad college party on Saturday (YAY RONI!).

Congrats to Roni!

Congrats to Roni!

A friend, Shelly, and I were talking about how we no longer feel we need a 4000 sf house and she said something that resonated with me.

She said that the crash really ‘knocked the ugly out of us’.  Shelly is right.   We relearned what is important.

During those years, I’d tell people:  We have a roof over our heads, food in the fridge, gas in our cars and our kids are doing great.  What more do we need?

And ain’t it the truth?

Except I keep flashing back to that hilarious Steve Martin movie ‘The Jerk’.

I don’t need anything…

…except this lamp…

…and this chair…

😉

thejerk_cover_1114478176-1101306_640w

The story of throughputs.

They’re called ‘throughputs’.

 But since removing them was frustrating, backbreaking work at the butt end of the boat, I’m more inclined to call them … well, you can guess…

Holes across the stern, just above water level.

Holes across the stern, just above water level.

There are five of them.  Four are brass and the fifth is plastic.  Throughputs are like casements for the actual hole that goes through the hull and are held in place with nuts that screw onto the end of them…which after years of neglect are practically welded to the throughputs >sigh<  Various pipes and hoses are hooked up to the throughputs for things like motor exhaust and bilge pump.

Rick is down in the lazarette (aka glory hole (?), on his side, trying to maneuver the wrench into place, while I am on the outside, trying to hold the darn throughput still – to keep it from turning as he turns the wrench.

Its at a goofy angle, but the top brightness is the open hatch of the lazarette and the dark is Rick's arm...he is a champ, I tell you!

Its at a goofy angle, but the top brightness is the open hatch of the lazarette and the dark is Rick’s arm…he is a champ, I tell you!

Utter failure.  The screwdriver I’m using just slips off.  I try a pipe wrench and learn from Rick how a pipe wrench works:  Something about angles of the teeth and starting at the top and rotating downwards, which side to use and way more info that I wanted to learn about pipe wrenches, which doesn’t work anyway because there simply isn’t enough of the throughput sticking out.  No way to grip it effectively.

Rick notices a wasp nest has been built in the lazarette of the boat.  Lovely.  He is watching two wasps watch him.  Tension builds.

you lookin' at me?

you lookin’ at me?

Very corroded, its gotta go!

Very corroded, its gotta go!

We have traded tools back and forth for about 30 minutes now, when a neighboring boat owner tells us that there is a special tool for removing throughputs.  Well, of course there is…  It’s kind of like a key, but heavy and pyramid-shaped.

He is gracious enough to loan his key to us, along with a huge wrench AND a pipe that slips onto the handle of the wrench so lengthen it and gain more torque.

So, now Rick is holding onto the nut on the throughput, on his side, watching the wasps watch him.  I place the wrench on the key and insert it into the throughput and pull down on the pipe wrench til its vertical, then push the pipe wrench upwards, down one side and up the other, like a pendulum going from 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock on a dial.  Then I have to pull off the wrench and replace it on the other side and do that again, 40 times per throughput, at least.

I am running into the rudder with the pipe handle which hinders my being fully effective at this job.  I’m whining about it and Rick tells me to push it out of the way…um, yeah, it’s a rudder, rotating is what it does for a living!  Now, I’m really able to get a good swing with the wrench.  Put in place, pull down, push up, pull off, put in place, pull down, push up, pull off.  Over and over and over and over and over.

On one of my pulling/pushing travels, I notice a price sticker on the tool – it cost $50.  Wow.

IMG-20130504-00078

2 down, 3 to go.  Roadblock.  The tool doesn’t fit the middle throughput!  This one looks different than the others and there is a different tool, for each brand of throughput.  Well, of course there is…

So we can’t get the middle one off.  It’s less corroded than the others.  In fact, it’s not corroded at all, just grimy and tarnished.  I’m all for saving it!  Just a little polishing up and it will look good as new!  I hope.

The other 3 come off just fine, although the plastic one had to be cut off.  It was easy to do.

Meanwhile much, much time has passed and reading a novel in my beach chair is not the long, lazy afternoon I planned but only about 20 minutes while Rick is making huge amounts of noise and dust with the saw, cutting off the plastic doohickey.  And I’m too tired to read, so I take a power nap.

But, the job is finally done and we are left with raw holes in the boat, so more wasps can find their way in and build nests!

It is interesting that you can leave something alone for less than a week and return to find spider webs and wasps’ nests and bird poop all over it.  Ah, nature 😉                                                                                          btw, Rick just read this post and told me they are called “through-hulls”.  Through-put must be a carry-over from my IT management days!

The deck isn't this bad...but birds sure are messy!

The deck isn’t this bad…but birds sure are messy!