Friday, December 21, 2012

Remember what I said ...

... about the Army Corps of Engineers? Not last time, but the time before. Maybe I was right. Rumors were falling thick upon the ground so Deb decided to just call them and ask, "What the what, over?" (Now why didn't I think of that?) The Gospel straight from the Commandant? 443. Normal winter pool. Kintala will not end up leaning on her toe rail after all. Plus some might have noticed that a big winter storm blew its way over a good chunk of the country, indiscriminately tossing rain and snow around, just like the good 'ol days. The need to get Kintala out of the water, right now, has faded. The want to get going however, is worse.

Deb was at the boat alone last weekend finishing up the dodger. I didn't get to see it until this morning. Pictures don't come close to doing justice for the job she did. Sitting at the top of the companionway, untouched by the 25 kt winds playing in the rigging, snug as the proverbial bug in a custom fitted, heavy duty rug (dodger)... no kid ever had a fort to play in that is as cool as the one I got. And it sits on top of a 42 foot sailboat! We aren't gone yet, but today I was struck by how far we have come and how close we are getting. There are a few big hurdles left to clear; selling the house, gathering up the last of the funds we need to live, and moving the boat off of Carlyle. (The gathering of funds is partly dependant on how bad a mauling we take selling the house.) Only one big boat job remains undone before I think she is ready for big water ... installing self steering gear. (There are lots of jobs to do; wind vain, solar panels, interior work, storm sails, RADAR, some real navigation gear ... but we can start out without those. And who knows, we might still get a couple of those done before shoving off.)

We may not be in the starting blocks yet, be we are surly out on the track and warming up.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Dodger Phase Complete :)

We had one more project to complete on the dodger to call it complete. Since we don't have the money to do a complete cockpit enclosure right now, we decided to add a panel across the back of the dodger to close it off in cold weather so we can open the companionway slider and let both light and air in. The span across the dodger is completely flat, though a bit oddly shaped, but seemed easy enough. Easy??? Did that word actually come out of my mouth as related to a sailboat? It turned out to be the most complicated bit of work that I have done on Kintala to date. Now, I'm the first to admit that it became complicated because I wanted it designed a certain way, but as I thought about the design I had decided I wanted an opening door with screen in it and a roll-up plastic window, a system of zippers similar to the ones you find on a tent where the door opens whether it's just the screen part or the total screen and tent part zipped together. It was a mind-bending assembly of 9 zippers in multiple layers and I'm very very glad it's done!

From inside

From inside


Remember what I said about the Army Corps of Engineers? It looks like I was wrong. They are going to start releasing water from the lake in the next couple of weeks and are seriously talking about going below 440 by a foot or more. They admit that this will do a lot of damage to the marinas at the lake though they don't mention damage to boats. I guess they think there is room for everyone on the hard. (There isn't - nor are there enough stands and cradles since many people share, pulling their boats every other year.) This also leaves very little water in the lake to support irrigation through next summer's growing season and puts the water level within a couple of feet of the intake which provides drinking water to the town. It is also doubtful any of the marinas can survive a season of drastically reduced income. They, like hundreds of other small business owners in the area, may well be bankrupt before the lake level is allowed to rise back to normal once again.

In return for all of this potential for disaster, the barge companies get six more inches of water in the Mississippi for (according to one report) 5 or 6 days. Who ever is making this decision is nothing less than certifiable.

But there is no use getting angry over it. Crazy people are a rouge force of nature, like a hurricane, tornado, or forest fire. All one can hope is having enough warning to get out of the way. If we are going to live the life of live-a-board sailors, altering plans and adapting to changing conditions is all part of the gig. Lake Carlyle, as much as we love the place, and as big a part as it has played in our journey so far, is being rendered untenable by an unrelenting drought multiplied by the lunacy of politics.

So we are shifting plans, figuring out what we need to do to get Kintala out of the water. We have until the level gets to 444, the shallowest level that a 5 foot draft can get into the lift across the lake. (The only one on the lake that can take Kintala's weight.) Just before or just after she gets dry, the mast has to come down. Stepping it was a near disaster so - will the jinn pole get the job done before we lift the boat, or will we have to bring in a crane after the boat is on the hard? Can the lift lift her with the mast still up? Decisions.

Once the boat is in the lift do we put her down in Carlyle? To do so means taking up residence in a different marina, buying stands to hold her up, (stands we will have no use for after this one episode) and face being up out of the water for an unknowable number of months. The up side is Boulder isn't that far away and we can do a lot of work on the boat while Deb and I both have incomes. Big deal that, since we still need bottom paint, self-steering gear installed, through-hull inspections, a cutlass bearing, maybe a new drive shaft, and a new drip less seal installed.

Another option is to put the boat on a truck rather than stands, and send it to big water. Maybe east, maybe to Kentucky lake. Kentucky lake is a three hour drive, a bit far for weekends. But it is on the Ten-Tom and big salt water is just a couple of weeks of river travel away. Get the boat ready to go and, from there, just go. That has some serious appeal to it. And there is still the thought of a Mississippi marina somewhere not far from the Central West End, though how well river marinas will endure the drought is any one's guess.

Or the house can sell and we just go ... east probably. Find a marina to be on the hard for a few weeks, do we we have to do, shove off. Each choice plays off the variable of lake level, policy, rain, and the housing market. If I knew what was going to happen in any of these areas I wouldn't have to work and could probably afford a $2,000,000 brand new Catamaran to boot. (Not saying I would live on a $2,000,000 Catamaran even if I could, but not saying I wouldn't either.)


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What Inspires You?

I was reading a blog post by Andy Schell on Sailfeed where he asks the question "What inspires you?". His own answer is:

"What inspires you? What inspires me is the constant feeling of something missing, of never being satisfied. I'm happy - just not satisfied. I'll never be. Or I might as well give it all up."  

This is 28-year-old Andy writing reflections on the last 8 years of his life. It's a good question, and one that gave me pause. This is, after all, the age of vanishing heroes - fallen role models in sports teams, priests and generals accused and convicted of sex abuse, absent parents. The mysterious is banished to Google's few keystrokes, the awesome has become contrived by "the making of" videos, wonder and amazement are left to the few 2-year-olds that have not learned to use their opposing thumbs to text.

I thought about Andy's statement that he will never be satisfied and realized that there was a time that I felt that way, a few years back. Some say it's what motivates our plan to retire onto a sailboat - that desire to move and see and travel and the hunger for something more, something greater than oneself of which Andy speaks. But sitting in the warm shelter of my newly finished dodger last weekend looking into the cool, foggy mist, listening to the primordial screech of the great blue herons with the fragrant steam of my coffee tickling my nose, I realized that at 56, I'm not only happy, I am satisfied.What inspires me? I'm inspired by this fabric of life of which I am a single thread. I'm inspired by the greatness all around me, the greatness that I was searching for with the fervor of youth.  It is, after all, the responsibility of youth to be driven - to push, to explore, to create, to move - and the privilege of age to be able to sit quietly and be amazed and awed and inspired by the greatness all around, the greatness that was there all along.

So we continue with our plans to cruise, readying the boat and trying to sell the house for our cruising kitty, not because something is missing for which we are searching, but because our little lake already gives me the satisfaction of being just where I belong in the plan of things. And Andy, I hope I'm still around to hear what your 56-year-old self has to say about your 28-year-old reflections. Since I'm sure I'll be too old to sail, I'll be the cantankerous old lady in the liveaboard houseboat at the end of the last dock. You know, the one with the rocker on the front porch...

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Foggy thoughts

It rained last night. There was even a little thunder during one particularly hard burst. Come this morning the rain had departed to our east and the fog moved in to blanket the lake. The marina is mostly abandoned, with only 4 or 5 of the true die-hards around, and none were out and about early. So I took my cup of coffee and settled under the dodger to enjoy the morning. It is one of my favorite things to do. Thoughts drift though one's mind like vague shadows do through the fog, coming from that quiet place in our heads that we usually ignore. Some are not even thoughts but misty impressions that leave just a faint trace as they pass.

Though usually positive this morning started with a distinct unease. It is December 9. But here I am sitting comfortably under the dodger in a jacket and hat in 50 degrees - on the back side of a cold front. This is not normal and through the fog passed the understanding that something is afoot. Living light and mobile on a boat may turn out to be one of the smarter things a person can chose to do.

Of course that choice comes with the need to do a lot of work. I did some yesterday, pulling the valve cover to try and get the worst of the oil leaks fixed. While under there setting the valves seemed a good idea since there is no telling when it got done last. Easy, right? Ah, but this is Kintala where, in spite of her name, nothing comes easy. There is a bracket bolted to the top of a long nut which, in turn, is the nut at the top of a stud that holds the head on the block. The bracket blocks the valve cover from coming free. I know you see what is about to happen, and it did. The bolt sheared off cleanly when I tried to move the bracket out of the way.

So I set the valves and replaced the gasket, bolting the cover back down before scattering metal shards around while drilling out the sheared bolt. A job that I was going to do today.

Except I was sitting in the fog where nothing gave any indication of even thinking about moving. The fog seeped into my bones, and I'm not going to do much moving today either. I think a may adopt a new winter time schedule ... work on the boat Saturday ... loaf on the boat Sunday.

I like foggy mornings.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Ups and downs .... and ups

The lake level debate goes on while official statements (usually taken from news papers) and rumors (which seem to appear like magic with no discernible origin) vie for attention. As of this moment the official version is that dropping the lake to normal winter pool of 445 is a surety, 443 likely, and 440 a real possibility. This would be bad with a worst possible outcome being Kintala basically laying on her side in a foot or so of water.

Rumor has it 445 is a surety and 443 possible. But draining Carlyle, which after all isn't a very big lake and would support the shipping depth in the Mississippi for less than a week, is a move too irrational for even the Army Corps of Engineers. This would be good news, but the anarchist streak that runs deep in my soul chuckles at the idea of rationality on the part of any government body. It happens, but betting on it is a bad idea.

Also, the city of Carlyle is a small place in the middle of IL. It is supported by the fishermen, sailors and campers looking for some recreation (and a handful of some-day-cruisers using the lake as a fitting out and gearing up starting point). All of the above depend on the lake. Set against them is the money interests of international shipping companies, the mega-agricultural conglomerates, power plants and heavy equipment manufacturers. All of them depend on the river.

Guess which side has the most expensive lobbyists and a Rolodex full of Congress critter, Senator, and Governor's private cell-phone numbers?

Fortunately a drought is a bit like flood in that both tend to be slow moving disasters. The lake is still at 447+ and the official word right now is that nothing will happen for at least two weeks. It might rain or lakes up river might release some water. So the Corps is, for the moment, waiting and hoping that Mother nature lets them off the hook. (I'm rooting for Mother Nature as well.) We have some time yet to figure out what, if anything, we need to do go keep the Retirement Project out of the mud.

An idea that has come up is moving Kintala to the Mississippi river. (Follow the water my Son, follow the water.) We can still work and live on her on the weekends and, when the time comes, just head south. The down side is leaving Boulder, living on the river, and eventually having to sail down The Big Muddy. I have no real desire to be a river sailor. In fact, after more than a decade of flying up and down the Mississippi, once we head out I don't really want to see this river again. (Well, except when we are visiting Daughters and Sons-in-Law and Grand kids.) Of course the Mississippi is only about 9 feet deep itself - hence the call for Carlyle water. Nine feet is about what we are floating in even as I type.  Moving to the river might not gain us anything, so to speak.

Or the house could sell soon. Which would put money in the bank to move the boat to big water. Which is the whole idea anyway.

That would be the best.

Or maybe it will be raining when we sell the house?

Now that would really be the best.

BREAKING NEWS: It has just been reported that the Corps will not be releasing water from the flood control lakes to support shipping on the Mississippi. So...

My heartfelt apology for suggesting that they would surely go where the money demanded, and...

I still hope it starts raining soon!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Having a plan

Airplane drivers like to have a plan.  We like to have another plan for when the first plan goes bad. Then we want a third plan for when the second plan doesn't fix the problem that popped up when the first plan when off the rails. Truth is, if you have ever sat in the back of an airplane wondering what the two up front were doing while boring easy holes through the sky on a crystal clear day, auto pilot engaged and cup of coffee in hand, they were probably making small talk with a small part of their brains. But a big chunk of their brains were constantly churning through plans based on, "what if...?" It is how young airplane drivers stay alive long enough to become old airplane drivers, and it gets to be a habit.

This weekend was a short stay on Kintala. Sunday saw Daughter Youngest moving ... again. Parents everywhere know what that means. Still, I had a plan to get a couple of easy jobs done. Putting the winter floor back down in the cabin was easier than easy, and done in just a few minutes. We also replaced the chain gypsy on the windlass, which required that Deb climb into the locker to reach the back side of the mount nuts so I could raise the windless high enough to get the gypsy off past the chain backlash guard. (I volunteered to climb into the locker for the dirty, cramped, smelly end of the job. Really. I did.) The plan is that the new gypsy will keep the chain from jumping free about every third link when dragging the anchor up from the bottom. We will see, but it is a good looking piece of shiny new bronze ... I'll give it that much.

Then we heard a nasty rumor that has the potential for throwing a giant wrench into the big plan. It seems the Mississippi river is running out of water. (Actually, I spend a lot of time flying up and down the Mississippi river and have seen with my own eyes that it is, in fact, running out of water.) Barge owners are demanding that the Army Corps of Engineers use what ever resources are available to keep the river traffic moving. So are farmers who grow the stuff that fills the barges, marketers who sell that stuff, and people who eat that stuff. Power plant operators who need coal to burn want the barges running as well, as do other people who like to turn the lights on in their homes and keep the heaters running through the winter. One has to admit they all have a point.

Lake Carlyle is one of those resources and as of midnight last the lake level was at 447.63 feet above sea level.

445.00 is normal pool.

Kintala sits on the bottom at her pier at 443.

The rumor is the Corps may drop the lake to 440, which means Kintala would be "floating" in water about as deep as a baby pool. Clearly that plan will not work.

The obvious plan #2 would be to put the boat up on the hard with all the other boats.  The problem is there is no good way for us to get Kintala out of the water. The plan was that she comes out only once, (at about $1000 a lift) goes on a truck and ends up near big salt water. We have no stands to put her on here in Carlyle, our marina can't even lift her (we go across the lake for that) and at 443 their lift pool is too shallow for Kintala to get in anyway.

Plan 3 would be to anchor her out in a deep part of the lake and hope that:
1) She doesn't get iced in,
2) No bad guys see her sitting out there and decided she is easy pickings,
3) She doesn't spring a leak, have the bilge pumps run the batteries dry and end up on the bottom, (shallow or not) and,
4) Doesn't drag in a big winter blow and end up against the shore.

Plan number 3 doesn't seem like a very good plan.

Plan number 4 (suggested by the peanut gallery) was to dig a hole under her where she sits at the dock, floating in her own little pond until it rains again. That plan did not include any suggestion of how such a hole might be dug, how much it would cost, or who could do the work.

Plan number 4 was dismissed without much ado.

Plan number 5 is to move the boat to a pier that supposedly has a couple of feet more water next to it. Kintala shouldn't hit bottom until 441, maybe even 440. Then her scheel keel will squish into the mud bottom a foot or more, leaving her stuck but floating at 440, maybe even down to 339 or 8. (Giving us a little leeway on the rumored Corps plan.)

Right now it looks like plan #5 will have to do.

Keeping one's boat off the bottom is a constant concern with sailors, but that usually means not letting the boat sink to the bottom or not running the boat off the edge of the water into the land.  Making a plan for when the water drains away from under the boat?

Man I wish we were in big blue water now.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Minimalists

It seems we're not the only ones waking up to the realization that the media is attempting to pump us full of the need for "stuff". You can see an interesting interview on minimalism with On Point Radio here, but be warned that it could be dangerous to watch it if you're not already on board with the concepts.

You can also read some of my older posts on the subject:

Stuff and Such

Small Spaces


This Holiday Season I really challenge you to be daring - buck the trend. Do something to help others instead of buying junk you don't need with money you don't have for people who don't want it and in fact most of the time don't care. Be brave and you just might find the holidays are actually enjoyable instead of stressful.

More resources:

Nano houses

12 Reasons why you would be happier in a smaller house

The Tiny House

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Truly Black Friday

As Tim said earlier, we've been visiting family in PA, family that has television. For those of you who might not have followed this blog for a long time, we don't have television. We haven't had TV for nearly 11 years now, so being exposed to it for 18 hours a day for a four-day visit is...well...trying. Add to that the fact that it happens to be  Thanksgiving weekend, and you have added 500 repetitions of various Black Friday commercials, the Most.Annoying.Black.Friday.Commercial award going without any doubt to K-Mart for "the lights the lights the lights..." ad nauseum. This morning, the Black Friday commercial marathon was followed by Fox News' coverage of the Wally World Boxing Match, including incredible video of customers defining the Reason for the Season as beating someone to death over a flat screen.

I got an email from a friend today who said that the consumerism this year was "making her skin crawl". While looking for a way to describe my feelings I realized I couldn't describe them any better than that. I've been without the dulling effect of TV for so long that I was shocked by the lack of caring, the greed, the inability for even basic civility during the holiday season. If not then, what hope do we have for January second? I was relieved that my children agreed to forgo gift giving this year except for a Dollar Store grab bag drawing between the kids. I was feeling a little smug, happy to be headed off the grid, until I saw the Black Friday ad for West Marine. West Marine?  Really??

I guess as long as I'm buying parts for the boat I can't be totally off the grid, but as the holiday progresses, I will reluctantly make my contribution to consumerism by buying the next boat part to finish the boat only so we can get out of Dodge (sorry watching too many old Westerns on the AMC Black Friday Western Marathon), and my goal is to exhibit kindness and civility in all my purchasing transactions, smile broadly at all sales people no matter how rude they are to me, and donate routinely to the red kettles.

Happy Holidays!

Thanksgiving muse

Deb and I navigated east for the holiday weekend to join with millions of others spending time visiting extended family who have wandered far away. (In our case extended family are where they have always been, it is Deb and I who have wandered.) Our family gathering echos that of most I guess, sometimes loud, often boisterous, rooms packed with family who, while not strangers, are not very well known either, with lots of laughter and a grimace or two thrown in for good measure. Of all of our holidays Thanksgiving is the one that reflects human kind's family / tribal roots most dramatically.

As usual there were questions about our cruising plans and the work going on with the boat. Not very detailed questions since boats in our family history are usually simple platforms from which one hunts fish. Spending a night aboard one would mean someone didn't plan very well. It isn't likely many of our clan will be joining us for a visit on Kintala once we get to big, salt water.

Which is where we hope to be one of these Thanksgiving days. My guess is the first one will feel a bit strange with those family / tribal roots noticeably missing.

This Thanksgiving kind of ran right into Christmas, though the latter is still 30 days away. I have to admit to loosing my appetite for Christmas many years ago ... looking at it as nothing more than a shallow celebration of some of the worst traits of our society. (Those being a really childish greed, paying interest on money used to buy things no one needs or even really wants, accumulating waste, and worshiping the idea that a pile of things equals being happy.) Seeing Christmas consumer insanity oozing onto Thanksgiving day just doesn't seem like a positive sign that we are learning anything. But then I'm pretty sure the people who run Madison Ave and Wall Street don't care too much about what one wanna-be sailboat cruiser / off-the-grid wanderer thinks of their efforts. Given that millions of my fellow Americans joined the national mall skirmish of shoving through doors and fighting over bargains, it is clear they don't care much about what I think either.

Which is okay. I feel much the same way about what they think.

So this Thanksgiving I'm pretty happy to be with family. Having a boat at a marina like Boulder is a thing so good that its hard not to feel a little smug. But working toward living in a way that fits so well with my view of the world; to not seeing TV commercials, hearing about Black Friday, or having wads of coupons stuffing my mailbox and cluttering my porch?


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mirror Mirror...

on the lake...

Since winterizing the boat we're back to having to trudge up the dock to the restroom instead of using the head on the boat. Given my 56-year-old bladder, this happens to me frequently and at inopportune moments, such as when I'm completely buried under piles of quilts in the V-berth on a morning that I don't have to get up. A big pain for sure, but there have been many moments like this morning that I would have completely missed if I had not gotten up to trudge up to the bath house.

The water was as still as I've ever seen it. No ripples from someone stepping off their boat, no small silver fish flipping out of the water, no breeze whatsoever. There was sparkling crystals all over the boat and the canvas from the night's heavy frost, glittering in the sunlight as it just peeked over the treeline to the East.

It was a stunning morning after a wonderful evening spent with friends, followed by a quiet sail in the afternoon and topped off by this sunset -

It was the weekend everyone hopes they'll have every weekend, and I hope you all had one as well.


It was the club's Thanksgiving dinner celebration this weekend, perhaps my favorite "party" of the year. As usual things went off without a hitch, lots of good food found its way onto our plates, and lots of good friends gathered over the course of the weekend for many a good conversation. One though, stood out.

A good friend and very experienced sailor, someone whose opinion I value and who has taught Deb and I a lot about sailing, was pretty blunt in suggesting that we are nowhere near ready to go off adventuring in Kintala. He points out, and quite correctly, that I have never been even nominally in charge when picking up a mooring ball, setting the hook in a busy, blue water anchorage, entering a strange port, checking in with a new harbor master, plotting a multi-day run, docking in a strange marina, navigating a busy shipping lane, or mastering any of a dozen other skills necessary to keep out of harm's (or just other sailor's) way. My guess is there have been a few debates among our friends at the marina over just how much experience is enough.

Those doing the debating are seasoned charter customers. Just off hand the places I know they have explored, often many times, include Greece and other ports in the Med, the BVIs, SVIs, Bahamas, Keys, Puerto Rico, most of the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, San Fransisco Bay, and parts of the Oregon and Washington coasts. And this just from the stories they tell. Some of these folks go pretty far afield two and three times a year and there always seems to be a trip in the works. In fact, there are at least two being planned in the next couple of months.

These are not wanna-be lake sailors hoping to be cruisers.  They are seasoned wanderers who happen to live and work in and around central IL, where little Lake Carlyle is the only place they can go play when not off getting soaked in salt spray. They have earned the right to have opinions worth listening to.  (A rare treasure in our world today.)

Of course Deb and I are regularly invited to go along ... and we would love to do just that. There is, however, one huge problem. We own a 42 foot sailboat that needs to be readied for blue water sailing. Pretty much every spare dime we have ends up in the boat. (Not to mention every extra minute.) We could take a week long charter to the BVI, or we could buy a self steering system. We could go on another Bahama's Bash, (friend Joel is heading out on one in a couple of weeks) or we could buy a wind generator.

Others are a bit less critical of our lack of experience.  They know of the trip around Long Island, the week spent on a Cat in Pensacola, and the Bahama Bash that took us on a night passage across a playful Gulf Stream, twice. They have watched us go from complete newbies, people to look out for, to capable lake sailors. They watched us go out to learn in Nomad when others were coming in to escape the building winds and waves. And, most critical to least, they approve of our choice of Kintala and the work we are putting into her.

So I don't know. We are in too deep really, to back up now. We took the trips we could to see if this was a real thing we wanted to do and then to narrow down the choice of a boat. The boat is on the lake. The work has to be done (and paid for). The house is for sale. Down sizing our life to fit on a Tartan 42 continues. Though launch day will never be set in stone, (too much an airplane driver to think that is a good idea ... ever) each day is a day closer.

How much of what I don't know can hurt me? I don't know.


Some of which happened with Kintala on an easy reach in light winds, ghosting across a mirror-like lake. Pam, Bill, Spero and Al joined us for what may be the last sail of the season. They watched Deb and I get Kintala off the pier, willing to help but accepting that we like to practice when ever we can. They approve of our change of plan to start out on the East Coast and slowly work our way into blue water sailing while field (or water) testing our work on the boat. (There must be newbies that start out in salt and never spend any time inland, right?) They would like to see us get some more supervised blue water experience, but also suggest that, sooner or later if one is going to go cruising, one just has to go. Cruising is different from chartering, living aboard different than going on vacation.

Lots of good conversations on what was a breathtakingly beautiful weekend in central IL, getting late in November.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Windy weekend

When we sat in Kintala in Chicago trying to decide if she was The.Boat, one of the things we discussed was whether we could get her on Carlyle Lake safely so that we could work on her while we still had jobs and learn to sail her where we knew how to sail. For the most part this has worked well for us. With the exception of the mast raising debacle and the occasional low water levels on the lake, this plan has worked for us. The only time we really can't sail safely is when the wind is howling like this weekend - 35 sustained gusting to 45 - because the space we're on at the dock doesn't allow enough engine speed to get steerage before one hits another finger pier or other people's boats, making it impossible to get off the dock. Once out we would have no problem, but a 42ft boat in a 30ft marina makes for some tricky departures. We've had a lot of success with using various dock lines to maneuver the boat into position with dock cleats, but depending on the wind direction and speed, this process can sometimes take 2-4 people on the dock to help with lines and this weekend everyone was too busy taking advantage of the warm temps to do their winterization, so we decided to follow suit.

Saturday we spent doing the engine degreasing project that Tim has wanted to finish so he could chase down a couple oil leaks, a more involved project than one would think because of having to dispose of the wastewater up the hill (good) rather than pumping it through the bilge pump into the water (bad). Many trips later the engine is as clean as old paint can possibly look, and the major oil leak is located as spewing from under the valve cover, the gasket of which will need to be changed soon. The pan underneath as well as the bilge in general were all cleaned out and new oilsorb mats installed under the engine.

Today, after a lazy morning of coffee and conversation with The Assembled at the clubhouse we tackled the winterizing. Three water tanks, one holding tank, one air conditioner and one engine later, we finished dousing our Beloved with the Dreaded Pink Stuff. Have I ever said before how much I really hate this stuff? We finished just in time for the cold front to move through, bringing with it a healthy drop in temps and the promise of snow after midnight. Yesterday we were lounging in the cockpit in 73° and tonight we have snow. You gotta love the Midwest...

We did also manage to cross another item off Tim's list. Ever since we bought the boat he's been hitting his head on the oil lamp that someone with a twisted sense of humor thought to hang directly over the engine compartment access panel in the aft cabin. After the 100th time of hitting it again, down it came today prior to winterizing the engine. It's a beautiful oil lamp but we just couldn't find a place to put it so it's going to start a new life on a friend's boat.

All in all it was a good weekend. Projects crossed off the list, some good time spent with friends, some lounging in the cockpit and enjoying the unseasonably warm weather. And as clich├ęs often go, this one is too true - any day on the boat is better than a day at work.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Autumn sailing

Kintala stayed at the dock the weekend.  With the north wind whispering along at no better than 5 knots she would have had a tough time finding any traction.  At least that seemed like as good an excuse as any to spend Saturday lounging around the boat and finishing up on some reading.  With the club's Halloween party later as well Deb had the inside of the boat filled up making goodies.  An excuse to keep me away from the to-do list even while spending a day at the dock.  In fact, except for doing some dishes for the party clean-up crew, I didn't manage to be of much use at all, all weekend.

Which I am actually kind of pleased with, though this will have to be my last weekend of loafing.  Work will slow due to the onslaught of winter, but I have to get back at it.  The list is long, wind vane, SSB, solar / wind gen / gas or diesel gen - what ever combination we decide to go with, RADAR, oil leaks and engine clean-up, rebuild of aft cabin area, lights in the cockpit, (bought 'em months ago, not sure where they are now) hatch leaks ... I really need to get back at it. 

And though Kintala stayed at the pier, Deb and I went sailing with James and Marc on James' Hunter.  At the start there was enough wind to keep us moving with enough sun (on one tack anyway) to keep the chill at bay.  By the end both sun and breeze had been swallowed up by the overcast.  Eventually James gave in and started the motor, but a new and rather alarming vibration kept the speed at barely 2 knots.  We took a good look at the engine so see if anything obvious was amiss but nothing caught our eye.  Best guess is that an injector is fouled, but real troubleshooting will have to wait until next week.  And, since it isn't my boat, that gets added to someone else's to-do list rather than mine.  In any case, by the time we made it back to the dock the whole crew was noticing a drop in core temperature.  Autumn sailing is pretty, but it is also chilly.

I wonder...

...what the view from the rich people's front porch looks like ?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Interesting article if you dare to read it

BBC had an article this week by Manuel Castells in which he talks about the rise of alternative economic cultures. The parallel to full-time cruisers is remarkable and it's worth a read.

Manuel Castells on Alternate Economic Cultures

Yummy stuff over at Cruising Comforts...

Hmmmmm little piece of on the Cruising Comforts tab for the recipe and enjoy!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I wish ...

I knew what I was doing.

Last week was recurrent training week. Usually a bit of a bummer but the place was Long Beach, CA. Hard to have a bad week in Long Beach, CA - particularly when one hails from St. Louis, MO. Sessions in the sim were the usual mix of problem added to disaster. One of the more interesting scenarios involved a night departure into icy skies. The airspeed system failed in a subtle way that has lead to many a crash, but we caught it in time and applied one of the fundamental truths in aviation; Pitch + Power = Performance. Just as we got that settled both the engines flamed; pumps and ignition came on as per the memory items. The checklist recommends 200 knots to help refire the expired power plants but we had two problems with that. One, the airspeed indicator had already shot craps; 200 knots was anyone's guess. Two, pushing the nose over to 200 knots meant giving away altitude we needed to return to the departure airport. Pitch went to the best glide Angle of Attack, we declared an emergency (again) and turned back, nursing altitude until we broke out of the overcast with the airport in sight. Then all we had to do was manage the energy in order to arrive at the end of a runway, manually extend and lock the gear, finesse a "no-flap" landing, ignore the rest of the instrument panel that went dark in the flair due to the main battery having been depleted of electrons during the glide, and get the airplane stopped before running out of concrete by using the emergency brake handle.

Just another day in the office.

Compare that with today's attempt at sailing. Winds out of the north were 15 gusting to 20+. Kintala is tied in her slip facing north. No problem. I'll just back across to the empty slip, turn slightly, let the wind push the bow out into the alleyway, and we will motor out onto the lake just like I know what I am doing. Except ...

The stern stepped smartly to port as I powered back. The wind caught the wrong side of the bow and shoved it toward the dock. I backed away harder. The wind swung the bow all the way from North through East, grabbed the rest of the now exposed hull, and off we went, sideways and South. Unfortunately south lay another finger pier with a friends 33 foot boat poking out. Bump. Not a bad bump, but Kintala has a scratch or two she didn't have this morning.

Friends man handled our wayward selves, managed to corral bow and stern, pulled us back into the slip, (us having performed an ugly 180) and held fast while Deb fed a line to another pier to pull the bow the correct way, and eventually we motored out onto the lake, just like I knew what I was doing.

On the lake we flew a reef in the main and the small staysail. A perfect combination when the winds were better than 15 knots, gusting past 20. But this is Carlyle. Those same winds were often 8 gusting to 10, or a steady 20, or maybe a fading 5. Anything less than 15 and the small staysail might well have stayed in the bag. It simply didn't provide enough motivation for us to tack, something we usually need to do every few minutes on our little lake, particularly when the season's biggest race is underway and the water is full of boat going as fast as they can, often barely under control. We do our best to stay out of their way but that means tacking which, today, often meant putting Kintala in irons, wallowing around like a fat man in a baby pool, falling off, and then trying again. Somehow during this day we also managed to get the jib sheets tangled up so we couldn't get it deployed when we needed it and wore inflatable life vests all day that had never been armed. More ugly.

And cold. (Loves me some dodger!) After several hours of mal-practicing the art of sailing we were heading back. Getting on the dock was only slightly less a show than getting off but eventually Kintala was settled in. Bringing order to our disheveled deck took a little longer than normal and I'm not sure that I have warmed up completely yet, even several hours later.

It is a bit weird. In the aviation world, which I hope to leave one of these day, I am actually pretty good at doing what I do. No matter how bad things get, no matter what I am facing in the course of a flight, I never run out of ideas and there is never a time when I can't make the airplane do what I need it to do.

In the sailing world, which I hope to join one of these days, it is just the opposite. Things happen I didn't foresee and when they do I often don't have an answer right at my fingertips. While I'm trying to figure it out the boat heads off on its own merry way with me more passenger than Captain. I can put a 16,000 pound airplane moving at 200 knots to within inches of where it needs to be. I can't get Kinala, moving at 2 knots, anywhere near where I want her sometimes.

Weird. And today, a bit discouraging.

Maybe I should go back to just fixing the thing?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dodger Phase III Complete

I finished the side curtains on the dodger which now completes Phase III. The side curtains zip off easy so we can take them off when we sail as they are in the way of the winch handle when they're attached. The next phase is to make an enclosure between the side curtains and the top edge so that the companionway can be closed off in the winter. Eventually we want to have a bridge between the bimini and the dodger and a full enclosure for the cockpit, but those are going to wait for awhile.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Rules for Reliability

I read a post recently titled “40 rules for a reliable sailboat”. It was a good read that sparked some musings of my own. Most would probably not consider me an expert, but we are getting closer to pulling the trigger on this thing and having a boat I can trust is an issue that lies close to my heart. So, expert or not, here are some of the things I think I know after two boats and five years into The Retirement Project.

“Reliable sailboat” needs a careful definition. If a reliable sailboat means a hull that will float, can be moved considerable distance by the wind, can be steered to some useful degree, and is not easily destroyed by big winds and waves, then there is hope of finding such a thing. Hope. The friend’s C & C that sank recently while sitting at the dock speaks to how vain that hope can be. All indications are that the culprit was a valve on the head left in the wrong position. Are you kidding me? In my world (aviation) such a poor design would likely be considered criminal and would surly lead to someone being sued out of business. (Though it is unlikely such a stupid idea would pass the certification process in the first place.) Kintala has 5 holes in the hull below the waterline. Five places where a hack maintenance job or valve failure will sink the boat. Chain plates? Standing rigging? Running rigging? Steering failures? Just floating and moving under wind power is far from being a given “reliable” when it comes to a sailboat.

Now define a reliable sailboat as a hull that will float, move with and without wind, provide heat and light, keep one dry in all conditions, cook food, store and dispose of waste, generate DC and AC power for electronics, toys and refrigeration, steer itself, carry enough stores to keep a crew alive for weeks or months, and maybe provide hydraulic power for the hardware needed to control the sails and the autopilot. If I can keep most of that stuff working on Kintala most of the time I think I am doing pretty well. (Remember, I am a life a life-long aircraft mechanic. Fixing stuff is about the only thing where I can make some claim of knowing what I am doing.)

My experience is that sailboats are simply too poorly designed, constructed, and maintained to ever be considered “reliable” in the normal sense of the word. No. At best a reliable boat is one that it will keep us alive in most conditions while not making us so miserable as to take all the fun out of living.

With that rather low bar set, here are some of my rules for keeping a boat “reliable”

There is an old adage in aviation, “Never trust your life to an engine.” Not always possible but a worthy pursuit. It is the same with a sailboat. To trust one’s life to an engine is to trust in luck. To stack the luck in your favor try to keep the engine as perfect as feasible knowing full well it isn’t possible. Even one modest engine will require so much routine maintenance on oil, fuel, cooling, exhaust, starting and mounting systems as to be a nearly full time job all by itself. Do the best you can, but never count on the thing.

Even old, worn out sails will keep the boat moving right up to the moment they disintegrate. A brandy new racing sail is a thing of beauty, but a re-sewn, well-used but sturdy sail will move the boat at hull speed in any reasonable wind. Kintala may well head out with one main sail, two headsails, two stay sails, and two storm sails for a total of 7. None will be new when we leave but they will get the job done for a long, long time. And they don’t take a lot of maintenance. I wish we didn’t need engines.

Sails are more reliable than the rigging from which they fly. Standing rigging is a pain but it simply must be inspected regularly and repaired as required. Must. There is no getting out of it. I admit to being a slacker on the lake, but once we head out trips up the mast will become a regular thing, with a magnifying glass and a rag to rub over the wires. There is simply no other way to ensure that the mast will stay standing. Forced with a choice between fixing an oil leak or inspecting the rigging, inspect the rigging. I’m thinking if I’m not up the mast at least once a month once we go, I can’t possibly be on a reliable sailboat.

Electrical systems make the difference between living comfortably and living miserably, and do it on a sliding scale. The more elaborate the system, the more capable, the better the living. If installed properly they don’t take near the effort of engines, but that “installed properly” is the catch. The electrical systems on boats, particularly older boats, are a hacked together mash of inexpert efforts, poor planning, and even poorer execution. Getting the electrics up to speed will be the bane of your existence…but then it will get better. (Getting Kintala’s batteries, wiring, electrics and generating capacity up to speed looms over me like a doom yet to fall…and it has to be done soon. Worse, I know I’ll never get it where I want to be. To get there I would have to strip the boat and start from scratch. I’m neither young enough nor rich enough for that.)

The living quarters have to be dry, at least most of the time in most conditions. The boat simply cannot leak. It is somewhat depressing that hatches and ports were clearly not designed with that requirement in mind. But the effort to keep the boat dry inside is worth it.

The head system has to work or you can’t live there.

It is entirely possible to polish a turd to a high sheen, and a complete waste of time. On the other hand, if a boat looks like a turd, it probably is. Polishing metal and finishing wood helps keep them from corroding and rotting, respectively. Keeping ports clean and clear lets the light shine in. Everyone gets to decide for themselves how much polishing is necessity, and how much is vanity.

To live on a boat is to live on a machine, one operating in a hostile environment, often far from support, designed by people whose real goal was to make a buck selling boats to the charter market, and built by the lowest bidder cutting every corner that could be cut. Keeping it working has to be part of the fun or you need to move back into a house. Which brings me to another adage in aviation. A good pilot should never, ever, be surprised by an airplane. Disappointed maybe, but never surprised.

If Kintala never surprises me I'll consider her a "reliable sailboat."

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sea Legs

As Tim mentioned in the previous post, the wind was howling pretty much all weekend at the lake, and being as he was tied up with a marina motorcycle ride, I decided to work on the side curtains for the dodger. I finished only one side as the project turned out to be a little more time-consuming than I thought it would be (there's a surprise - a boat project taking longer than expected?), but I had a good time anyway, with Crosby Stills Nash and Young on Pandora in the background. It was warm enough to leave all the ports and the hatches and companionway open and we didn't even need the screens since the mud daubers seem to have gone to ground for the winter and all the flies have dizzily fallen to the deck. I sewed away while the boat heeled 15° in the 30+ knot winds, climbing up and down the companionway steps a hundred times to fit, cut, fit, sew, fit, sew, and after cleaning everything up at the end of the day and beginning to cook dinner, it occurred to me that this was likely what a mooring or anchorage was going to be like in the ocean and that I had managed to work all day without any difficulty. It felt pretty good to have my sea legs, even though it was only on our little lake. Of course, even on our little lake the 2 foot waves were enough to toss a small Hunter so badly that they launched their anchor off the boat and tore up their anchor bracket and sent them flying back in the channel so fast that they missed the turn the first time and had to do it again. Even though there wasn't any sailing going on, it was a good weekend. But then...any weekend on the boat is a most excellent weekend.

Hard week

I spent a couple of extra days at the boat again this week, trying to get the project list under control.  At the top of the list was sealing the toe rail to the deck.  It got done, but it didn't go particularly well.  The sealer we used must have come straight from the tool box of DE devil; it couldn't be worked after it came out of the tube, if it got somewhere it shouldn't it stuck and smeared and was nearly impossible to clean. At one point, working to get a good tape line around stanchions and fittings and such, I started to wonder, "When can I retire from retiring onto a boat?"

The day promised to be another that would end with sore joints, aching bones, and a dog-tired climb into the V-berth. I like working on things. I like working on this thing. But sometimes it is just relentless hard work and not a lot of fun. Still, the efforts of Thursday and Friday seemed to pay off and the inboard deck-to-toe-rail seam, both port and starboard, should now be water tight. So I took Saturday off and went for a motorcycle ride.

A bit of a strange one I admit, even for me. It started with a 100 mile run to meet the other riders. (All friends from the marina. We were starting 100 miles away because that's where the good roads are.) Mounted up we rode about 50 miles with 4 stops for a "break" along the way, one of which included lunch. After lunch I rode back to the marina for a total day of about 270 miles. The other riders were all on cruisers with me on an all out sport bike. It was a slow ride, but a lot of fun.  (I did scoot off ahead for one short bust of strafing corners at, shall we say, "extra-legal" speeds. But I played nice for most of the day.)

Deb worked on the side curtains for the dodger, but I wouldn't have accomplished much had I stayed around. Winds this weekend have consistently gusted past 35 knots and it rained all of last night. Kintala has been dancing on her lines and banging against the fenders with a lot of enthusiasm for a boat that weighs some 25,000 pounds. It will be interesting riding out big winds on a hook or mooring ball somewhere, with no dock or snug clubhouse around in which to sit out the blow. Maybe that's when I'll have retired from retiring onto a boat?

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Rebel Heart

Anyone who has followed this blog for awhile knows that I have about 20 blogs that I follow (with the help of Google Reader), all for various reasons that apply to our preparing for The Retirement Project. One of the blogs in there now is The Rebel Heart, a couple of folks much younger than we are and a bit ahead of our schedule. Eric recently wrote a post called "16 Days until we leave the country" in which he listed the things he has dealt with while in the last throes of their departure planning. He eloquently put into words a lot of things that I have been thinking about, things that I have not been able to adequately explain to our non-sailing friends and family, things that I have sometimes given a back seat to while dealing with The Project List, and rather than try to struggle putting it in my own words, I asked him if I could share it with you here. He graciously gave permission, so here is an excerpt from the full post which you can read at the above link if you'd like:

Who would have thought sailing a boat around the world would be so expensive?

There are people sailing the world's oceans on the cheap but if you look at even a meager vessel (I'd put us in that category), it costs a lot of money. Just routine engine work and rigging, nothing fancy and not repairing anything that was necessarily broken, will top out around $10,000. Bottom paint, thru hulls, seacocks, basic electronics, and some used sails bring the refit costs up around $20,000 - $30,000. That's a lot of money. Granted, we saved up for this trip for years, but it's pretty impressive watching that much cash slip through your fingers. Even more impressive is knowing that you could hit a rock and sink the whole damn boat, making it a really fancy artificial reef. Money is relative of course. To one person $10,000 is pocket change, to someone else it's a life-altering sum of money.

I'm really glad we're doing this.

Believe me, there have been some challenges, and in a lot of ways our biggest challenges have yet to show up. Even with that, it just feels right. We spend more time together as a family than ever before. Cora grows up around adults doing things right in front of her. Ask anyone with children and they'll tell you how fast time goes. I heard an expression that in parenting the days never end and the years fly by. It's true and although I'm not an old man (yet) I'm in my mid 30's and time is zipping by faster than ever. There will be a point in our lives, hopefully not for a very long time, where we simply won't be physically able to sail a boat around the world. 

I really had no idea what the heck I was getting us into.

Any event in life that's so big that it is truly transformative simply cannot be fully prepared for. No one is ready to have children, no one is ready to be married, no one is ready for a loved one to die. You can think about them a bit, run some thoughts through your head, and then you go back your normal thinking. A transformative event is one that's so different and consuming that it forces you to change the very nature of your cognition and the way you perceive the world. Anything you can wrap your head around in advance, by definition, is not transformative. 

Your life isn't as delicate as you think.

The really bad stuff in life that can ruin you is outside your control. Asteroids, revolution, global pandemics, horrible car accidents, death of loved ones, etc: you can't control those. People think they have way more control over their lives than they really do. If you play it close to your chest your whole life, you'll never really know what you can accomplish. This wouldn't be so much of a problem if it wasn't for the fact that you're going to be dead. Sooner than you'd like to think. Don't spend your life managing to over extend yourself as little as possible. 

Work, in and of itself, has value.

Taking pride in something can only happen, or should only happen, if you've done something good enough to warrant it. Because you're not really taking pride in the object, you're taking pride in your work. When you see someone working hard on something, you're drawn to it. You want to help people who are busting their ass: we respect hard work and the people who do it. People who work hard motivate us and help to clear mental obstacles. 

Never (or rarely) back up and look at the whole thing.

Years ago I walked into my then-boss' office and had a minor meltdown, freaking out about all the work I had to do. He sort of laughed at me and said, "What a second, you actually looked at everything you need to do? Don't ever do that man, it will blow your mind!" It might sound weird, but it's true. You want to check out the big picture every now and then to make sure that what you're doing lines up with it, but the only way things get done is by breaking them into small pieces. Not only do you need to make huge projects manageable, but often there's enough complexity in the small individual steps that they will require your total focus and you can't really spend a lot of time thinking about everything else. 
Thanks Eric for your insightful thoughts on the subject. I couldn't have said it better.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Change of seasons

Fall fell on us with a thud. It seems just a week ago that the days topped out at near 110 degrees with swarms of bugs to harass every step taken outdoors and the lake so low that Kintala was sitting on the bottom in her slip. This weekend night time temps dipped into the 30s, hot buttered rum was the drink of choice, the heater appeared in the center of the salon once again while jeans and sweatshirts and watch caps were all back in fashion. I love it but clearly this sailing season is coming to a close.

Deck Monkey finally gets a break
Deb and I agree that the dodger ranks at the very top of the "good things we have done to the boat" list. We got off the dock for a couple of hours today. Out on the lake it bordered on "cold" rather than "cool", but snug behind the dodger the deck monkey was toasty and comfortable. It was easy to imagine anchor watches passing much easier on a cool and windy night or spray being shouldered aside on a lumpy passage. A few metal pipes, some plastic and canvas stitched together, and almost by magic Kintala has taken on a much more purposeful air.

Hmmm...all I need is a remote control for an autopilot...

For reasons not particularly clear we thought today would be a good day to fly a staysail. We haven't set the rig that way for a while ... and it showed.  We picked the bigger of our two staysails and by day's end had decided it would spend most of its time in the bag. Still, Kintala is a happy boat with a staysail in the wind and it looks like the smaller of our jibs (which is what we have on the furler now) along with the smaller of the staysails and the main with appropriate reefs, will be our normal working set when out on big water. It is good to be closing in on the boat in this way. Ever since the V-drive went tango-uniform the to-do list has been the focus of our efforts. Getting the boat squared away was one of the reasons for buying one that we could move to the lake. But the other reason was to get comfortable with sailing and living on the thing, and that side of the equation has taken a back seat this season. So even though today was a short day on the water, it was a good day for learning.

We hope to have a few weekends of sailing left in the season to learn some more good things, but when we came back in we tied up starboard side to and bow north rather than the accustomed port side to and bow south. This seems a better way to ride out the winter winds while taking full advantage of the dodger so we decided to figure out the details of tying up this way today. There are more details than one would think and it took a while to get the boat secure in its new orientation. But it feels odd. The sun comes in the wrong ports at the wrong time of the day, people are visible on the wrong side while their voices come in from the wrong angle, and the boat actually looks bigger facing that way. (I know, I know! ... but it does.) I just hope I get used to it before heading to the head some dark winter night and stepping off the port side thinking there will be a pier under my foot.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Zen and relentless pounding

It is morning in the marina and I can actually hear the bristles of my brush as they flow across the toe rail, leaving a coat of shiny in their wake. Day two of a mid-week sojourn means the clear coat is going on. Four more hours, maybe five, and the exterior teak will be done. There is no way to hurry the process. Wipe three sections with thinner, block sand where necessary, coat two sections with deliberate care, slide down the deck taking tool bucket, brush and paint can along, wipe three sections. Repeat from bow to stern on the starboard side, from stern to bow on the port side; 42 feet and a little more each way. Same as yesterday.

There are few people in the marina at mid-week. Those who are around are mostly working just as hard on their own projects. Friend Donna has borrowed our little pressure washer to start the cleanup on her just-raised-off-the-bottom C&C. She is in a much better mood than I would be if our roles were reversed. Two mechanics are sweating over the C&C's little engine, flushing out the bad to bring it back to life. Friend Schmidty is struggling with a flat tire on the lift. Repeated blows with a sledge hammer evidence the fact that it has been many decades and uncounted dunkings since the the axle was last removed. Schmidty will eventually prevail, but the axle hangs on for nearly 6 hours before finally giving way. The lift will be back in service before next day's noon.

Bright work is the Zen of boat maintenance but also on my list this mid-week is a completely blocked sink drain. Experience suggests it will be the opposite of Zen, and I expect a frustrating repair on a hacked together, spooged-up, probably factory installed bit of ugly awaits. I am not disappointed. Said drain turns out to be a 60 inch length of engine exhaust hose clamped to pipe thread fitting on the through-hull end and squished-clamped onto the sink PVC at the other. The only way to get it out of the boat is to cut it in three pieces, side cutters brought into play to chop through the wire reinforcing. It turns out the cloth inside, designed to withstand hot exhaust gases not soak in sink scum, had rotted into sink plugging, scuzz collecting little bits. Thank you Mr. Tartan - it is a good thing your boats sail better than they work.

Clean cross section cut of the clog

What was dug out.
There were multiple hunks of fabric hose lining.

Also on the list was the window repair. Even as I type the scarfed in bit of trim is clamped in place, mondo-sticky stuff hardening into a perminate bond. With a little luck and careful choice of stain color, the cabin should be shed of duct tape by weekend's end.

I'm back in the city now with work work rather than boat work the focus of the rest of the week. But it was a good couple of days. Kintala feels more and more like a boat that is getting done rather than a project that has no end. Anything that is a machine will always need maintenance, but much like the axle on the lift, the big items are slowly giving way under relentless pounding. It is reported that a wise man once said those who win are not always the fastest or the strongest or the brightest, just the ones not smart enough to quit. I'm guessing I qualify.

(Of course another wise man once said the race doesn't always go to the swift, or the fight to the strong, but that is the way to bet! Still, I'm feeling like Kintala is coming my way, finally.)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Another perfect day ...

Not too bad a picture for a 3-yr old photographer!
... and this time Kintala went out to play with the rest of the fleet.  We had a couple of good excuses to skip working at the to-do list.  The best was having Daughter Eldest, much beloved Son in Law, and grand sons First and Third in town for the weekend for a family celebration.  (A celebration which included having Daughter Eldest's family gathered with Daughters Middle and Youngest, other much beloved Son in Law, grand sons Second and Newest, and grand daughters First, Second, and Third all under the same roof at the same time.)  Daughter Eldest and family are big supporters of "The Retirement Project" and so they took the opportunity to join us for a day sail to check out the sea (or lake) worthiness of the new dodger.  We didn't actually give it much of a test since the wind was light and the lake pretty flat, but making 2 or 3 knots in 5 or 6 of breeze, Kintala standing up straight and moving across the lake under a cloud of sail, almost finished teak glowing in the sunlight, grand son next-to-newest sleeping on Mama's arms while his older brother helped Grampa T with deck monkey duties?  Maybe, somewhere, some very lucky person had a day almost as perfect as ours ... maybe.

Dodger=perfect baby shelter from the cool breeze!

Chicago from 23,000 ft. at night
Of course a perfect day has to have some yang to go with the ying.  Deb and I managed a near perfect docking maneuver to finish the sail, then I had to run off for a pop-up flog of ye ol' jet northward to pick up a stranded band of company personnel.  I rolled back into the marina just shy of midnight and barely in time to toss a last few quips back and forth with the dwindling party still gathered around a fading bonfire.  Much of the day spent on the lake with family, several hours in the Z car, and a couple of more hours of night flogging in the flight levels?  Sleep was welcome and untroubled.

Photo courtesy of Kacey Kramer
We left the lake early today in order to gather under the aforementioned roof.  But we did miss some excitement.  Sadly, last week a new-to-them C&C 30 of friends sprung some kind of a leak.  During an evening dock walk by marina personnel the boat was floating on its lines.  Next morning the only thing not underwater was most of the mast and forestay.  The salvage team showed up this morning to lift the boat, but we had to head out before the deed was even started.  I've never seen a boat picked up off the bottom of a lake but I'll bet it was a show.

Of course having a friend's boat play submarine at the pier, just a few slips away from one's own, is slightly unnerving.  With Kintala floats untold hundreds of hours of labor, a big chunk of all of the money we have managed to accumulate over our lives, and the hopes of The Retirement Project.  I'll probably be checking the bilge a little more often for a while.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A perfect day for sailing

Saturday was a perfect day for sailing, perfect temperatures, perfect winds, perfect waves, even perfect blue water reflecting a perfect blue sky.  We know this because everyone who was out on the lake and who walked by Kintala after they came back in made it a point to tell us it was a perfect day for sailing.  But it was a perfect day for other things as well.  For example it was a perfect day for getting another coat of finish on the toe rail before winter sets in.

And it was a perfect day to finish the dodger project!  After an eleven hour thrash Deb zipped the starboard side into place and buttoned it to the deck.

It was a perfect fit.

I think you will agree that she did a pretty spectacular job.  In fact, in my humble opinion, the dodger project tops my V-drive travails as the job we have done on Kintala so far.  I just had to find good parts to bolt in the place of bad parts.  She pretty much had to make this thing up from scratch.  And with that Kintala looks a whole lot more like a cruiser's boat.  And I think, though there are still before-winter-gets-here projects that need to be done, I think we will go sailing next weekend if the weather holds and there is still water in the lake.  You know, just to test out the dodger.