Thursday, June 30, 2011


Social media, Twitter and Facebook to be specific, don't interest me much. But since I like to pretend to pay attention to what is going on in the world, (at least a little bit) and these are kind of ground zero in a rapidly evolving social revolution of sorts, it seemed reasonable to poke around in the cyber-hood.

There may be places where people are starting up real revolutions that involve teargas, bullets and toppling tyrants; but I haven't found anything near so interesting. For the most part it seems a place of mundane exchanges, a bit of fun, occasional humor, and the odd inside joke. There is one little twist though; everyone, it seems, thinks they are an expert on whatever subject strikes their fancy.

An assumption that can't possibly be true. In a society as complex and fractured as is this one, the fact is most of us are not expert in anything. Usually we manage to be quasi-competent in some more-or-less routine task; then we trade hours doing that task for a modest income. In cyber-space though, everyone seems to know all there is to know about foreign policy, military tactics, economics, history, philosophy...and managing sports teams. It is all harmless really, except when someone parlays talk into gaining a position or assuming a responsibility that actually requires some expertise.

Maybe that's why I like flying, motorcycle riding, and now sailing, as much as I do. Anyone can claim to be an expert in these disciplines, but if the claim doesn't match the ability it is likely the claimant will suffer a quick and completely natural demise. One need not be expert one's self to spot the posers, they are the dead ones.

Of course true experts do come a cropper while flying, riding and sailing. There are real risks involved in taking on sky, sea, and gravity, and on any given day anyone can run out of the thing we call "luck". But the faker with a pocket full of boast tends to come up empty handed in very short order, thus relieving the rest of us from having to suffer their nonsense for long.

Too bad economics and politics don't work the same way.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Looking for The Real World

Deb and I live in dramatically different places. Part of the week we are inner-city dwellers, noise and motion and lots to do all within an easy walk; restaurants, gym, movies, bars, parks; and the occasional siren, gunshot and petty crime. Our house, uncounted square feet of 3 bedroom - two 1/2 baths - back yard + 3 car garage - is full of love and laughter and storybooks read at bedtime; and crying and winning and temper tantrums of the 4 and 2 and 18 month old kind. We generate dirty dishes and dirty laundry by the mountain and chew through electricity at an alarming (read "expensive") rate. Most days I pack up and head off to work, which often includes an overnight or two somewhere that I reach by flowing literally hundreds of gallons of fuel through twin tailpipes. It is all very urban, very American, very much a "modern" life, and I am very fond of it.

Part of the week we live on the lake, a 20 minute drive from the nearest, and rather small, town. We hear Blue Herons and gulls and cormorants, the closest thing to a siren is the whistle of a passing train. There is the occasional gunshot which we assume comes from hunters working nearby farmland. The most serious crime is when someone spills a drink; otherwise known as alcohol abuse. Our "house" is about 400 ft/sq of Tartan running, when at the dock, on a 30 amp feed. Out on the lake we live off a couple of batteries and a gallon or so of diesel. Our days are filled with manual labor and refining the ancient skill of making a boat move with the wind. There is nothing urban about it, modern shows up mostly in the tools that we use, the fiberglass of the hull, and the Dacron in the sails. It isn't even particularly American. Communities of the like minded, helping each other, working and playing together, are older than homo sapiens and predate any nation-state by eons. And anyway our marina has Germans, Russians, a family from Poland, friends from China, liberals, Republicans, atheists, - hell - we even have a redneck or two on pontoon boats. All are equally welcome and share in the fun. (A decidedly un-American trait at the moment, sure to get worse now that another election is about to assault [insult?] us.)

It is tempting to argue which is the "real" world, city dwelling or boat life? City dwelling is certainly the most contrived, resting on layer upon layer of infrastructure, taxes, politics, policies, police, committees, parking tickets, trash trucks, a dance so intricate that no one person can hope to grasp all the motion involved. Built as it is out of concrete and steal and millions of miles of piping and cable, it strikes me as incredibly fragile. The city relies entirely on human effort and sometimes I wonder if it will last long enough for my kids and grand kids to live there.

There are no such concerns about the water. Lakes and oceans are completely unaware of human effort and will be around long after the cities are gone. Nature takes care of policing up the stupid and inept, policy is determined by wind and wave and tide. Maybe the lake is the more "real" world after all? Maybe that's why most of us flock to the city?

And maybe, just maybe, that's why some of us want to go in the other direction?

Monday, June 27, 2011


...and we are still on the boat. There is no good reason for us to still be on the boat. It is raining - again. The rain is teasing me by dripping through the hatches, reminding me that fixing the leaks is at the top of my "to-do" list while preventing me from actually getting the work done. Usually the only thing that keeps work from being done on the boat is the boat being out sailing. Clearly that is not going to happen this Monday either. Like I said, there is no good reason for us to still be on the boat.

Except, well, we like being on the boat. It is (mostly) dry and comfortable in the salon. The barely perceptible rocking motion lulls in a sense of well-being, and of sense of being in a good place. The thunder and lightning from the dark night have passed harmlessly by and all is well in our small, if a bit soggy, world; a welcome change from the norm. As a culture we are not a very "content" people. There is always something that has to be done, somewhere we need to go, some problem we have to fix, some enemy that must to be vanquished, some group that has to be put in their place, someone, somewhere, who is doing something of which we don't approve, and (for some reason) we are compelled to correct.

We will rejoin that world in a few hours. There will be trips to get done as safely as possible in the weather that prevails, plans to make for the coming holiday weekend, running here and scurrying there. There will be outrage at the idiocy of some political type who is sure god is on his or her side, sadness by yet another bombing where children blow up children at the urging of some demented old lunatic who is out to destroy anything good, and joy from grand children who have yet to be touched by the madness - toddling and climbing, playing games of hide-n-seek and generally getting on their Mother's nerves with an incessant display of energy.

In a few hours...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Yeeee Hawwwww!

14 knots apparent, 6 knots boat speed on the gennie, the cutter rig staysail, and the main.  Those in attendance, me, Tim, our marina manager Schmidty, and a good friend Kacey.




Saturday, June 25, 2011

Speaking of ports...

...Kintala has 13 of them. I did 12, leaving the one in the head opaque. With a stack that high it seemed a good idea to abandon elbow grease and opt for power tools. 1500 wet/dry and a palm sander, followed by polishing compound and an electric buffer, turned out to be the ticket. Each port took approximately 1/2 hour. With replacement parts listed right at $40 per I was "earning" just shy of $80 an hour. I'll take that job any day. Admittedly they are not quite new looking, but from across the salon I can't see any difference. Of course some 6 hours of labor later Kintala isn't any more seaworthy, will not go any faster to wind, nor will she take any larger waves than she would have before. That's okay though, the engine room (box actually) is near the top of the "do this next" list. In there lay mysteries that will make a difference; odd-ball squealing noises, (belt or pump, your guess is as good as mine) water hoses to nowhere, a bedlam of wiring that would make Medusa think she was having a bad hair day; no casual observer is ever going to see the work that goes on in there.

And speaking of seaworthy...there is a ship wreck just outside of the marina entrance. It is a small wreck, a 20-there-abouts something that used to be tied to a dock near Kintala. But she is a wreck none the less; grounded with her inverted hull just out of the water, rudder and skeg ripped away, mast gone. A crew of two took her out sailing last Wednesday, something they did every week. A serious wind came up, (we have had a lot of that lately) boat and crew were overwhelmed and ended up getting pounded on, and eventually skewered by, a tree sunk under the flooded lake. A Corps crew went out to take the crew off so one one got hurt. Some days later the corpse was dragged off the tree and into the shallows near the entrance, we can see the hull from our dock. Word is they (not sure who is "they") are going to pull her over to the travel lift and put her into a cradle.

Odd, one wouldn't normally think of near mortal consequences when sailing on our postage sized bit of a lake. But so far this season 3 boats have come to grief, one heavily damaged on the rocks just a few hundred yards up the channel, another damaged on different (and apparently slightly softer) rocks down the lake a bit, and now one battered to death on a tree. And people give me a hard time about riding a motorcycle...


Since today's radar seems to be the weekend norm:

we've been doing more projects than sailing.  I installed a new light fixture in the head yesterday when we got here since the old flourescent fixture ballast decided that 30 years was enough and installing a new ballast in a 30 year old rusty fixture didn't seem to make much sense.  When the flourescent bulbs wear out we'll get the LED drop-in replacements for it and that should mean that the whole boat interior is converted to LED.  We'll convert the exterior when we step the mast the next time or if one of them burns out but it's not worth a trip up the mast just to do that.
   The foot pump water faucet in the galley sink has a slow weeping leak around the point where it comes through the counter and in the process of taking it apart and cleaning the seals and reassembling it and looking for leaks I discovered that there was a leak at one of the clamps on another hose and in the process of tightening that clamp I discovered that the filter basket for the cold water intake line to the pressure pump was completely clogged with crap and in the process of getting that off and cleaned I discovered that the drain line clamp from the sink was leaking and needed taken apart and cleaned in order to get a good seal...  Ahhh the way of boat projects...
   Today's projects for Tim included finishing the rest of the port lens polishing and I have to say that it's one of the most unbelievable improvements we've made.  It makes the interior of the boat look dramatically newer and decidedly brighter.  Can't run around naked inside the boat anymore though since we're on the main dock and you can actually see through them now...
   The rain continues to fall on the deck so I busied myself with scraping off the brittle glue left on the frame of the companionway from the hideous velcro screen the previous owners used to use.  Not perfect, but it's not worth a complete sand and refinish of the frame. I don't intend to insult any of you that are currently using velcro screens.  They just aren't for me.  This is my liveaboard home and I dont' want it to feel like camping.  By the way, I do have to once again plug one of my favorite products, Goo Be Gone.  Wonderful stuff there. Softened the brittle glue up just enough to scrape it off without damaging the wood.
   The lightning is crashing around the boat once again and the rain is washing off the Corps Bug residue so I guess I'm off to find another interior project for the afternoon.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Nomad's New Home

Nomad's new owner was kind enough to send us this picture of Nomad on her new lake in Idaho.  She made her land journey safely and now has a 10-hour sail to get to her new marina on the lake.  It looks like she'll be quite happy there and we're very pleased to have someone take her that will care for her as well as we have.

Bon Voyage!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Nomad hits the road...

... a figure of speech of course; at least I hope it turns out to be a figure of speech. The rig she left town on didn't look quite up to the task of hauling 6500 pounds of sailboat some 1700 miles to the northwest; but then I don't know too much about trailering boats. Should she make it unscathed she will find a glassier lake some 70 miles on one leg by 30 miles on the other, 1500 feet deep in places, as her new playground. A bit more room to roam than Carlyle.

Last night yet another round of serious weather pounded the lake, hanging around well into the morning hours. Since Nomad's new owner was on a tight schedule we crawled into foulies to start pulling rigging, sails, and what-not from the deck, the occasional lightning bolt dancing along the bottoms of the clouds as we labored. (It was far from the smartest thing I have done lately.) With just a stick left standing the new owner asked if I would motor his boat across the lake to the waiting travel lift while he drove the truck and trailer around the long way. Doing so would save him an hour. (Schmitty is in the BVI somewhere with a goodly number of the normally assembled. Not only does that make for a quiet weekend here in Boulder, it means there is no one around to operate our travel lift.) I was glad to do it so long as he understood that, when it comes to a certain Com-Pac 27/2, I am not the one insured any longer. Such details covered Mark and Bill jumped aboard with me and little Nomad motored out of Boulder for the last time. As we moved out onto the lake the clouds finally gave way to some sunshine, and we had the place all to ourselves. Not a bad way to bid a fond "fare-thee-well" to a good boat.

The day's efforts to get Nomad on her way left Kintala mostly looking out for herself. Translation? Not a lot of work got done and we didn't get to go sailing. Since, starting tomorrow, trips of the high-altitude sort will fill the rest of the week, Kintala will be a few days before she gets under sail for a second time. Even as we hope to sail more, items needing the "laying on of hands" continue to accumulate. The relentless rain was apparently too much for the main hatch over the saloon table. Moving about to start my day the boat heeled over in the wind and a big dollop of cold water spilled off the corner and right onto my sleepy bald head, landing re-bedding the hatch at the very top of the "do this next" list.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Odd thoughts

We pulled the old name off of Kintala's flanks last weekend. It seems a pretty minor issue given all the serious (and expensive) work that has been done. Yet it had a pronounced effect on my connection to the boat. Encore is no more. Kintala is home. (And no, we haven't done the prescribed rituals that are supposed to go along with renaming a boat. We will certainly have a pretty good party one of these days, but I am no more concerned with sailing superstitions than I am with social or religious ones.)

Managing a perfect docking is as satisfying as getting a squeaker of a landing in the jet.

We had a chat with our investment guru last week. (Nice guy but a small time guru; we are, after all, small time investors.) The good news is that we are actually gaining on the goal of heading out without being dirt poor. Much as I love the idea of a cruising lifestyle, I have no interest in living in poverty. Been there - done that - not again. When we go is still a bit of a question. The house has been on the market for several weeks without a single serious, or even casual, inquiry. My guess on where the economy is headed is no better than yours.

While talking with the guru I realized that our vision of cruising has changed somewhat. There is no more talk of having a land-place somewhere to store a few things, and a motorcycle or two. (It does help that my all-time favorite motorcycle got totaled out from under me. Parting with the GSXR would have been hard. Actually, now that I think of it, it was hard. Selling it would have been easier.) If it doesn't fit on the boat we don't want our name on it. When the urge to ride (or just to get off the boat for a while) gets too much we will rent or borrow some bikes and remember what its like to be landlubbers again.

I loaded the picture of us sailing Kintala; sails flying and all heeled over, as my computer background. Every time I see it I wish we were gone; that the brown water of the lake was the blue water of the Atlantic; that there was no land to see on the horizon.

We will have to start learning the tricks to short-handed sailing on this thing.

I need to get out of the hangar and on my way to the lake.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

How does she sail?

Yesterday was a work then party day. Things got done; most notably the V-berth was converted from a work shop back to a master berth. The inside of a boat looks like a boat now, not a project / work shop. Just in time too, since last night was the club "open boat" bash. Everyone who came aboard had nice things to say, and they all wanted to know when we were going to take her out. "Tomorrow," we said, "We are going sailing tomorrow."

Morning came. Long suffering friends climbed aboard, life-vests were counted ("Yes Mr. Coast Guard man, we have 7 adult floaties, one for each.") the life-sling was mounted, cold drinks and snacks were loaded in the 'fridge and, 128 days from when we first set eyes on her, we were ready to loose Kintala from the dock. I twisted the key... and the ignition switch broke off in my hand. I'm sure I stared at it with a dumb look on my face for a few seconds then,"Ladies and gentlemen, the Captain has informed us that there will be a slight delay..."

Long suffering friends headed off to their own boats to go sailing; it was just too nice a day to miss. All asked if Deb and I wanted to join, but I was already pulling stuff out of the lazarette. I would not have been very good company anyway.

But a trip to town, some poking around various auto parts stores, a little rewiring and two new switches later, (A separate, push-button switch for the pre-heater had to be added.) found Kintala making engine noises and spitting water like nothing had happened. Pam, Bill and Spero were still around having just closed up Paradise after a nice sail of their own. They were headed home but decided (like all good sailors) that a chance to go out again on such a nice day shouldn't be missed.

Once on the lake proper the new main went up without a hitch. A few minutes later and the head sail unwound just like it should. We fell off the wind a little, shut down the engine, and I can finally state, "The Tartan 42 is a VERY nice sailing boat."

With puffs of wind in the 10 to 12 knot range, we touched 7; pure joy! Having 3 extra sets of experienced hands was a good thing. It will take us a little while to get used to this boat. She is big(er than Nomad) with a complicated rig; so think ahead and mind the boom. (Oh, and drop the whisker pole ring all the way to the bottom of the track; else the jib sheets will catch it on every tack.) After barely 2 hours - and going across the lake and back 4 times - we headed in. Kintala might have been a little embarrassed by the morning ignition switch episode, she eased into the dock for a landing so perfect it drew comments from the peanut gallery, making me look much better than I am. (Thank you baby, all is forgiven.)

It was a bumpy start to the day, but sitting here now, inside of the boat all cleaned, food prep under way, cold drink in hand, and the first sail done? We got off the dock, and that pretty much says it all.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Weekend Pictures

Tim in the bosun's chair running the new halyards

Nice clean headsail - the infamous Carlyle corps bugs haven't gotten to it yet!

Finally a system on the boat that worked without repairing it first - the air conditioning shot out a blessedly consistent stream of cooling water.

The UK Halsey new fully battened mainsail.  These folks are definitely worth dealing with and we would buy another sail from them in a heartbeat.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

If it was easy...

Hot. Real hot. Triple digits kind of hot. Sun that will flay the seared flesh right off your bones - kind of hot. Humidity that fills the air so full of water that the sweat running off your nose has no where to go but to drip in your lap - that kind of hot.

Work on Kintala continued anyway, and she showed her appreciation by taking good care of us this weekend. "How", one might ask? One flip of a switch and the Air Conditioning cranked right up! Yeah Baby - just when the conditions were about to overwhelm a body Kintala would welcome us below with cool, open arms and a 'fridge full of cold beverage. I think we are finally getting friendly, this boat and I. (It helps that, finally, there was one system that worked without it needing to have something fixed or replaced first.)

Items are still be added to the discrepancy list quicker than they are being cleared, but some good things got done this weekend. After more than an hour hanging in a Boson's chair nearly 60 feet off the deck, all the halyards are strung. Fred and Gary helped Deb drag my posterior up the stick and handle a spaghetti nest of feeder strings and lines; all the while keeping tension on the lines that really mattered. (Those holding my afore mentioned posterior aloft.)

With halyards installed we could hoist both a jib and the main sail, so we did. It only took 3 tries to get the jib furler right and 2 to get the new main sail installed. (Here's a surprise, there were no sheets for the furling jib on the boat anywhere. Our rigging inspector has to be a true wonder of the world, able to clamber all over a boat and mast, with his head planted firmly up his ass. They should sell tickets to the show when this guy goes to work.) Money spent on the Tides Marine track system was money well spent. UK Halsey did us a first-class job on both workmanship and recommendations. The reefing lines were run and strung and the lazy jacks were lazy jacking. I was on a roll. Sadly though, I finished rolling about the time that the the wind, which at times had touched 17 kts, finished blowing. According to those who did venture forth, hoards of Corps bugs filled in where the wind had been. We will wait until next weekend to trash our brandy new, pretty white main sail with smashed Corps bug juice.

While I flogged rigging all day Deb got the water system fully functional. She would have had it done even quicker except for taking my advice on installing the sump switch; then she had to do it over. I kept my advice to myself on the re-do.

We spent an extra night on the boat, leaving for the city this morning (Monday). As we headed out I realized that Kintala is almost the boat we thought we had purchased. She has a standing mast, rigging, sails, and most of the major systems now function. (We are still waiting for legal gas bottles for the stove and don't sniff too close while in the head.) For any who may be thinking of joining the cruising community, repairs and equipment purchases for Kintala have already added 12% to the purchase price, and we haven't really sailed her yet. This does not include survey / rigging / mechanical inspections (total waste of $$) or shipping the boat from Chicago.

I have no guess as to how many hours of labor have been invested, and there is a long way to go, in both effort and dollars, before she is ready for salt water.

If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.