Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Deja vu...

...all over again. In Ft. Lauderdale, due to be in Gulfport in a couple of hours. Plane full of VIPs including VPs, people waiting, meetings all scheduled to keep the corporate world going around, reach for the #1 starter ZoomZoom. The mechanic side of my brain shifts into top gear, fingers fly around the circuit panels and switches trying this and re-routing that; but I know it is a waste of time. Zee jet is Kaput.

I think the jet and Kintala have been talking with each other.

When you work as a mechanic broken things are good things, they keep the paychecks coming in, give a person a sense of place. Often people with letters like PhD behind their names are completely mystified by the magic that flows from a good mechanics fingers. But for every happy mechanic there is an unhappy operator. At least I don't have to pay for the parts.

We dragged the jet over to a good mechanic. I'm a good mechanic, but I don't fly around with a box full of tools. (Those are mostly at Kintala these days anyway.) Having had this problem just a few months ago there was a solid suspicion of where the problem lay; but it is always good to verify before ordering expensive bits. Plug in this for that, find a power cart...yep, another GPU bit the dust. (At better than a grand I'm really glad I don't have to pay for this part.)

The VIPs hopped an airliner home. They should be there by now. We are hunting an overhaul / exchange GPU and hope to be home sometime late tomorrow. The rest of the trip will be rescheduled for another day, another try. (For those curious we don't usually buy new parts for airplanes, particularly airplanes that are a couple of decades old. The parts just keep going around and around; off the jet - to the overhaul shop - back on another jet until it breaks again.)

My paychecks come from flying the jet, not working on it. And while working on Kintala is fun (most of the time anyway) sailing it is more fun, and living on it is the goal. For now though, I hope the jet gets fixed in time for me to spend the weekend working on the boat.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Same Project, New Look

To be quite honest, my eyes were getting tired of looking at white print on blue background so I decided to change up the page a bit.  Hope you all like it!  Please comment one way or the other.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Tired of being a new-be

Friend Barry of Juno fame dropped by the lake this week. Barry has been spending so much time sailing a Jeanneau 51 around the Caribbean this season that Juno remains high and dry, up on the hard with her stick lashed firmly to her deck. He had heard about Kintala and wanted to see our new boat, so he dropped by Saturday afternoon. We sailed around the lake, ended up in Coles Creek for another night free of carp chomping on our hull, then sailed around the lake again on Sunday in decent, if not exciting, winds.

Barry is to sailboats what I am to airplanes, a life long enthusiast who can make a reasonable claim at being pretty close to an expert. Sailboats are not airplanes though, and after a couple of days with Barry on board it is clear I am a new-be still. We were headed down wind. Barry allowed as putting up the whisker pole would be a good idea, asked me to keep the jib flogging a little, walked forward and rigged it up. Done. (Last time I tried that I came near to getting skewered and put the pole away for another day.) I paid attention and managed the next deployment with a lot less risk to cabin top, mast, pole and me.

We flew the big reacher. I thought we had been doing a pretty good job of trimming the thing. Except, well, we had the blocks about two feet too far forward. Also, turns out they call it a reacher for a reason. Hard to wind we really need to put on a different head sail. I did try to impress Barry with how well Kintala will point with the cutter rig up. He might have been more impressed had I realized we were hanking on the wrong sail and running the sheets inside the stays wouldn't work. Oops. But hey, I did learn that, when the wind picks up, we can roll up the head sail, fly the bigger sail on the inner forestay, stand the boat up a little and still go hull speed. (I keep telling myself I would have figured that out...eventually.) I also learned that it is quite possible to furl the head sail going upwind as well as down, and doing it that way is a good idea if downwind points one right at the nearby shore. (I was planning on rolling up the sail really, really fast!) And guess what; keeping the sheet tight, back winding the sail just a bit, and popping the clutch will drop a stay sail right on the foredeck. No fuss, no muss.

About the only thing I did do right all weekend was to get on and off the pump out dock. Of course then I botched the approach onto the pier and had to make a second run at it. Good thing they write me checks for driving airplanes, not boats.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

How do you spell relief?


With all the work needing to be done on the boat, and the incredibly well functioning air conditioning unit on her, we'd gotten out of the habit of coving out at Cole's Creek, mostly because we were so tired after the long days of work that it just didn't seem worth it to sail down there and then sail right back in the morning to work again.  We had headed out to the marina a day early this week because we had so much catching up to do, and after a sleepless night Thursday thanks to our fishy friends constant tapping and scraping, we plodded through our work list.  Come evening, I told Tim I just couldn't go through another night like that and we headed down there enjoying the setting sun.

We watched the sun set, had a good meal, and turned in to the V-berth.  As I closed my eyes I nearly thought I'd gone deaf.  It was utterly, completely silent, save for the occasional hoot of the owl in the woods off Cole's Creek.   It was such blessed relief that we went back there again last night.  We woke to the first sighting of the white pelicans for this season enjoying the thermal off the nearby fields, and a fantastic display of nature in the form of a huge hawk diving the lake for its breakfast.  It was wonderful to be reminded why it is we're doing this.  We decided then and there that no matter how much work we have to do to the boat in the marina during the day, we're heading to Cole's Creek for the evening.  Now, can anyone of you entrepreneur types come up with some creative way to use about 10 million marina-dwelling carp so we can work in peace?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Roll the Rope

From my Eldest Daughter:

"Christopher is out helping Brian take clothes off of our clothes line. Christopher to Brian (overheard through the window): "I need to roll up the rope like Granpa T does."

I like to tell people that I started working on airplanes when I was 13, flying when I was 15, and never amounted to much after that. Hard to tell what my life would have been was there a marina as close to my growing up place as there was an FBO. I suppose I would be worth about the same either way. Start them young, that's what I say.

Monday is supposed to be day 1 of a 4 day, 8 leg, 2500NM run south to the coast, east to the coast, back to the south coast, and home. That big nasty of a hurricane should be well north of where the passengers want to be when they want to be there and shouldn't pose a problem. At least not to me, and not this trip. It does give one pause though. In the not too distant future this is just about the time of year Deb and I hope to be poking around that piece of the world, say the upper third of the Chesapeake or maybe a bit further north like Long Island sound. One of the reasons to be that far north is to avoid things like hurricanes. Where are all the sailboats going to go to hide from this one? Where is the nearest "hurricane hole" to Boston or the Big Apple? Given the track of this thing it seems likely to beat up more cruising sailboats than has any other storm in the history of the world.

With the Monday departure and still being tender from the dental work we decided to head to the lake a day early. I admit to feeling a bit of pressure from the to-do list, having missed getting much accomplished in the last month. I hope to make a furious flog the next couple of days. Odd how little it takes to make the world look a lot better. We are at the boat, there are projects to tackle, "how much will I hurt today" is no longer the first thought of the morning, and my grandson wants to roll up the rope, just like Grandpa T.

I really do want to get Kintala into big water, and run away from hurricanes if I have to.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Looking for a corner

After the work on my jaw Monday my week went into a slow, but steady, decline. Each night sleep was a little more elusive, each morning the jaw hurt a little more, each afternoon I hoped the next day would turn the corner. By the time we got to the boat Friday any real thought of making a dent in the to-do list was abandoned; no corner yet but there was hope for the weekend. It looked like it might work out. Yesterday the crew from Paradise invited us along for a really nice sail. Realizing I was not up to par they made me designated cockpit ballast - I sat and watched everyone else do the work. By the time we got back to the marina I was feeling good enough to actually join in the games surrounding our big club dinner. (We have a lot of those.) Turning a corner is a good thing.

Part of getting there is doing all the "post surgery" stuff on the list...including taking the meds. Ops. Unknown to me "hydrocodone" is actually generic vicodin; vicodin and I are not friends. This morning, after nearly a week of that stuff accumulating, my system reached overload and crashed.

This list of possible side effects for vicodin include nausea, confusion, light-handedness, hallucinations, fear, unusual thoughts, and convulsions. Yeah Baby! Now we're having some fun. I didn't quite make it to the convulsions stage, but Deb tells me I was within a minute or two of getting a ride in an ambulance. Apparently, just before she started to dial 9-1-1, I started to settle down and eventually fell asleep.

My boss let me take another couple of days to make sure I am actually on the mend, so no flying again for me this week. (Who would have thought a tooth could end up causing so much trouble?) This night I am glad to have really turned the corner.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

In Stitches

Having accumulated a couple of hundred of them over the years, it is my conclusion that stitches are rarely a good thing. Sometimes just a minor irritation, like the 5 needed to attach a bit of flap on a finger. (That E.R. Doc must have been paid by the stitch.) Other times they herald bigger issues, but good? Not likely.

My first stint at being a pin cushion came after tumbling off the swing set my Dad had just set up. (Yep, I started young.) It left a faint scar that still lurks under my goatee. Other bits of .05 handiwork have been needed to re-attach the bottom of my left ear, close an ugly gash over an eye, and seal various access holes needed to install, and later remove, a rod in a badly broken leg. (One of those is high up on my left butt cheek. Calling me a "double-barreled asshole" is really more a statement of fact than it is an insult.) Having gathered up what I think is my fair share, I was kind of hoping to get through the rest of my life without needing any more needlework.

Alas, dental sugary required a couple of stitches to close the hole needed to grind infected bone out of my jaw. Did you know it was possible to mess up a root-canal in such a way as to require that someone drill a hole in your jaw? It was news to me. For the next week or so there will be a bit of thread hanging in just such a way as to tickle my tongue. Odd that, and a bit annoying. But it could be worse.

Anyway, instead of being out flogging the jet to places south or working on Kintala's to-do list, I am crashed in my chair enjoying the effects of serious pain meds. (Actually, I don't really like this feeling at all; which is why I leave "drinking like a sailor" to the experts.) To pass the time and try to ignore the little men hammering on the side of my face I have been reading sailing blogs. One of my favorites states that a successful cruiser should have a concrete objective for the cruise.

Our only "concrete objective" is to get the boat ready and go. After that the plan is to be north of the hurricanes and south of the Nor'easters. I hope that is concrete enough to be "successful."

Oh, and try to avoid getting any more stitches.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ignoring the To-Do list

Guests on board yesterday included a dog and two young ladies who were more interested in swimming than sailing. Good timing that. Even with her big reacher searching for wind Kintala couldn't come up with enough speed to steer. We motored to Coles Creek where the girls and the dog took happily to the water.

Since yesterday was a play day today was scheduled to be a work day. (Last week's parts finally arrived.) That was before last night's cold front brought perfect temperatures and stiff winds flowing out of the north. A steady parade of sailboats filed out of the marina to hoist sails and go screaming across a rumbled up lake...Kintala among them.

As good fortune would have it a host of friends joined us. Once out on the lake Kintala's acting Captain (that would be me) decided that she could easily handle having the full main and reacher deployed in the forecast 10 kts worth of wind. And I'm sure she could have. 20+ worth? That was a bit more exciting. We went honking off across the lake like a boat possessed, nearly dragging a rail, spray flying over the deck, and me wrestling with a massive amount of weather helm. Who knew being so seriously over-canvased could be so much fun? But eventually the helm ran completely against the stop. Kintala didn't round up, didn't bite, didn't even bark very loud. She was laboring to do what I asked, but I was clearly pushing the edge way too hard. The good fortune? Several of the friends on board were serious, accomplished, life long sailors. With their help we managed to douse a good bit of the head sail and get a reef in the main - all without resorting to starting the motor or hurting anything or anyone. It took a good effort by all on board and we spent the rest of the day blasting around the lake under much better control.

So the to-do list is no shorter. In fact we added a bit to it with the topping lift failing half-way though the day. It popped when one of the crew inadvertently grabbed the end of the boom on a stumble; which is much better timing than having it let go when dropping the sail, and thus dropping the boom on some body's head. Here's a surprise, the plastic covered 1/8 cable appears to be badly corroded at the point of failure. Who decided that plastic covered cable was a good idea? In any case we had rigged an extra main halyard during the halyard disaster of a couple of months ago so we pressed it into service as a temporary topping lift.

We break 'em. We fix 'em. We break 'em again.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Bad Influence

We went sailing again today just to make sure I didn't fold and actually open a toolbox. With light winds and still being a bit sore from yesterday's tacking practice, we elected to fly just the screacher and main. Friend Lynn went along to see what it takes to make a big(er) sailboat go. She owns a powerboat and allowed, by the end of the day, that sailing looks like a lot of work.

The wind was pretty much behind us as we turned for home, so we dropped the main to let the big headsail get a full purchase. We thought about setting the whisker pole and made a half-hearted stab at rigging it. But things got out of hand pretty quickly so we put that thing away for another day. Near the inlet a friend went by going the other way, hard on the wind, and also flying just a big headsail. Deb went to the bow to get some pictures so I turned to give chase and hardened up the sheet.

I'm not a racer. After years of sailing on Nomad I am quite content to let other boats squirt past me like I'm sitting in the doldrums. But apparently Kintala has some thoroughbred in her and doesn't like looking at the stern of another boat. Within minutes I had to pick a side for passing, which is something I don't think I've ever had to think about before. I went low. It would take a truly evil person to go high, sweep past a friend's boat just feet away, and then rob him of his wind. Truly evil...but it was seriously tempting.

Kintala just might be a bad influence.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Truly bumming

No work got done on Kintala this weekend, none, nadda, not a single blessed thing was fixed, adjusted, repaired, replaced, sanded, stained or polished. We were bumming for sure. We told everyone that, after last weekend's flogging, we had decided to spend some quality time just enjoying what is, after all, a pretty neat boat. (The truth is the parts we had ordered for this weekend haven't come in yet. But we can keep that just between us.)

It was a late start for me heading out for the lake on Friday as there was a small brush-fire at the office that needed tamped down. Once at the boat it seemed proper to just hang around with the assembled and enjoy. Though it wasn't very late when we retired to the boat, for some people there are nights that bring sleep and other nights that don't. I'm one of those people and Friday night was one of those nights that don't. Around 4 am the prisms in the v-berth started flashing; a sure sign of weather inbound. A quick look at the RADAR suggested a short hit, which it was. But there was a ton of rain in it and the parts that didn't show up? That was the stuff needed to put a new gasket in the hatch over my side of the berth. Pressing towels and a plastic picnic table cover into service kept me from having to sleep in the wet spot. Strangely enough, in the midst of the storm I fell asleep...not to stir until nearly 10 in de morning. Still being a bum and loving it.

Deb was long moving by the time I groaned my way into the day. Good wind was blowing whitecaps onto the lake so off we went. Over the next 3 hours or so we tacked the boat 11 times, roughly once every 16.3 minutes. With winds gusting past 20 knots we started the day flying just part of the jib, a staysail on the cutter rig, and put a single reef in the main. Here's what it takes to tack Kintala with all that canvas grabbing wind:

Center the Main:
Take one turn off the loaded jib-sheet wench / put two turns on the lazy sheet:
Tack the boat past a beam reach to get the wind's help in getting the jib around the inner forestay: (This got even more important latter in the day - with dying winds we rolled the screacher all the way out and shook the reef out of the main.)

Get a rough trim on the jib:
Bring her head back up to the wind:
Throw the working sheet of the now back-winded staysail / get another rough trim:
Go forward to get the now windward baby stay and rig it aft:
Cross the boat / get the now leeward baby stay / rig it forward:
Trim the main:
Trim the jib:
Trim the staysail:
Watch the boat go like hell:
Run out of lake / do it all again.

Yep, bumming it for sure.