Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Salted Woo …

Family and Friends who live in these parts face winter challenges that us Tropic Types have forgotten, one of the prime reasons for becoming a Tropic Type. Among those challenges are aches, pains, coughs, illness, and various pathogens that all seem to thrive as temperatures dip. People spend hours indoors and huddled together, seeking light and warmth while offering bugs and viruses of every stripe easy access to plenty of new hosts. The crew of Kintala were resigned to sharing some of the misery, an acceptable trade for time with Family Most Important and Friends Closest. But, so far, we have escaped with just a touch of the cough that plagues the area this year.

Normally I would cope using the simple edict, “Better living through applied pharmaceuticals” and reach for the nearest cough syrup. Those of us who entered this world's stage in the mid 1950s are generally not shy of drugs. In addition to the more traditional reasons for taking such, like being sick or suffering from injury, in our youth we ingested various chemical compounds for fun, adventure, altered perceptions, enlightenment, and … well, just for the hell of it. For those who survived such excess basically unscathed, washing down various colored pills for “whatever ails ya” garners no second thoughts. Nowadays said pills come in government approved bottles. The advertisement claims of some of the world's largest and most trusted corporations endlessly attests to the effectiveness and safety of their products. Drop by any store and peruse aisle upon aisle of the best meds money can buy, with each box boasting a detailed list of every component contained within. (Never mind that most of us have no idea what a leukotriene inhibitor might actually be inhibiting.) Mix and match as required, wash down with a cold one, and enjoy near instant relief. Who would protest such a blessing offered to a long suffering human kind?

Yet, somehow, the generation after mine latched onto a nearly opposite opinion. They suspect government does as instructed by the large pharmaceutical companies. They actually believe Honorable elected officials will put a seal of approval on nearly any OTC or prescription medicine likely to generate large enough profits, all in exchange for something as base as a few campaign dollars or the promise of a cushy job at some point in the future. In addition this next generation imagines these large pharmaceuticals, aided and abetted by insurance companies, are mostly interested in continuously providing drugs and treatments to the chronically ill. According to the young adults, curing or encouraging healthy life styles that require no drugs for maintenance will never be part of the any drug or insurance company's mission statement. Keeping people sick and making it easier for them share a sickness with family, friends, and co-workers, is good for the bottom line. Curing them cuts into the profit potential.

I'm not exactly sure how this next generation grew into such a skeptical lot, but they did. As a result they turn to more holistic and ancient paths to health rather than reaching for scientifically researched and supported medical elixirs. Some such paths do appear intuitively sane with a long history of benefits, like better eating and regular exercise. Other such paths seem less sane but still boast a long history of people claiming health benefits. Acupuncture comes to mind, as does herbal medicine and chiropractic therapy. But, to be totally honest, most such paths look to plunge deeply into the very heart of the Land of Woo. Here find the crystals, chants, healing energies, potions, magic spells, and conspiracy theories of the alternative medicine fanatic.

Daughter Middle is not an alternative medicine fanatic, but does shy away from ingesting high dosages of non-naturally occurring elixirs, scientifically researched and supported or no. A shyness reinforced by the caring and feeding of month old Grand Daughter Youngest and years spent dealing with the adverse reactions of her children to much of the food and medicine offered in the USA of today. However, with her entire family suffering from the aforementioned cough for getting on several months now, some sort of more direct intervention was needed.

Image courtesy of mysaltspa.com
And so it came to pass that a van transporting Daughter Middle, Grand Kids (five), and Grampy T pulled to the curb in front of the St. Louis Salt Room. Here we would find a path to “sustainable, effective respiratory wellness” one opened to the good people of St. Louis since 2010. A few minutes later the kids were playing in a layer of pure sea salt that covered the floor of our Salt Therapy Room, the larger of two Salt Cabins housed in the facility. (Four kids, one baby, and two adults take up a bit of space.) Not only was the floor piled deep enough with white stuff to be mistaken for a beach, the walls and ceiling also glistened with their own thick layers of NaCl. Once the door was closed, minute particles of sodium chloride were periodically injected into the room's atmosphere so the healing could be breathed deep into the furthest reaches of every infected lung.

Such injection was accompanied by the continuous flow of Hindu sounding New Age music wafting gently through the softly lit room. Who am I to suggest that such music isn't likely to enhance the healing powers of natural sea salt being wedged into my lungs? Though I suspect a little ZZ Top would have been just as effective while falling easier on my rock-n-roll ear. Such opinion is not likely shared by Daughter Middle. She is no more a fan of ZZ Top than she is a fan of Hindu Sounding New Age music. We compromised by having Grampy T read Dr. Seuss stories to the young ones for most of the session. Though you may not realize it, Grampy T is a world class reader of Dr. Seuss stories; one who can easily get through Fox in Socks with nary a stumble. Better yet, even a half-assed rendition of any Dr. Seuss story will easily overpower the discomfort inflicted by having Hindu sounding New Age music bounced off one's eardrum.

New Age Music and wooish ambiance aside, I really am a big fan of salt. When it comes to making the unpalatable edible, salt is even more powerful than cheese. But sodium and chloride are not two chemicals that immediately come to mind in response to the word “healthy”. (Come to think of it, neither is the word "cheese".)

Sodium is a highly reactive element that, when mixed properly with other chemicals, will blow just about anything somewhere deep into next week. Chloride is often a component of stuff that is, quite simply, lethal. More apropos perhaps, all sailors are intimately familiar with sea salt. It will eat just about anything on a boat; stanchions, rigging, leather, and fasteners of all types included. What chance soft human tissue set against an acid that can melt steel and dissolve an aluminum hull? Is there any sailor who hasn't read of the agony suffered by those who survived a sinking only to be sentenced to days or weeks sitting in the salt water of their life raft? That stuff starts shredding skin within hours of exposure, additional woe being piled on anyone with an open wound. And yet …

After our allotted 45 minutes of sitting in the Salt Box everyone seemed to be breathing a little easier, something that held true throughout the rest of the day. Some lingering improvement might even have lasted into the evening as everyone seemed to fall asleep with less of the hacking-up-a-lung sounds we have come to expect. I still suspect the Salt Box is more woo than not. Any health benefit could easily be matched simply by living near, or on, the ocean. But the ocean is far away, and a little woo is an acceptable trade to feel salt on my skin and its tang in my nose. It reminds me of home.

Maybe that's why I feel better.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Cruising Intermission

When you're getting ready to cast off the dock lines, there's always that one point at which you realize it's a done deal, and you are instantly filled with doubt. It might be the day that your grandmother's china cabinet sells and is carried out the door. It might be the day that the for sale sign goes up in the yard. It might be the first day you walk to the grocery store because your Sunset Orange Nissan 350Z drove through the dealer's doors never to be seen again. Doubts plague you through the early months. Did you make the right choice? Are you capable of succeeding? Will you run out of money? Will you embarrass yourself? And the hardest, what if the reality of cruising doesn't live up to the dream of cruising?

When we boarded the plane to St. Louis to visit the kids for Christmas, it had been 423 days since we left the dock at Oak Harbor Marina. 423 days since I had been away from the boat, and the first time ever that we had both been away from the boat. It was not lost on me that we would be returning to our old stomping grounds, seeing old friends, and having an opportunity to evaluate our cruising life from a vantage point far away.

A couple days after we arrived we met with 30 of our dearest friends from our former yacht club and, without any doubt, the first question out of everyone's mouth was some version of "Are you glad you did it?" It came in the form of, "Are you happy?" and "Do you like it?" and "Is it hard?" but any way you slice it, they wanted to know if, after more than a year, were we going to be one of the many that quit and return to land, or one of the few that continue on.

There are very few statistics about liveaboards and cruisers in general, and even fewer about the sailing portion of that community. We're such a small number that we are statistically insignificant, so it's very hard to get a handle on how many people truly do succeed and how many people quit, and when. From our experience and conversations along the way, a significant amount of people who leave to go cruising never make it past the first year. I get that. The first year was not in any way what we expected or planned for. It was difficult, it was challenging. It was an unbelievably steep learning curve.

It was also rewarding. It was exhilarating. It was a life worth living.

Cruising intermissions are valuable to the cruising life. They give you time to step away from the difficult portions and see that it is, in fact, a worthwhile endeavor. This one has given me time to cuddle with my grandkids, to share boat stories with them, to listen to their laughter, to help them build towers and ships with blocks, to see the shine in their eyes as they decorate the Christmas tree. These are priceless memories I treasure. But I'm ready to go home and start the next chapter of our cruising life.



Am I glad we cast off the dock lines and went cruising? I wouldn't trade it for the world, and I hope someday soon that these bright, excited kids will come spend some extended time with us on the boat, finding out just why their DeMa and Grampy T have chosen this unconventional way to live out their golden years. Cruising intermissions are truly wonderful for reflection and new perspectives, but we hope to return you to your regularly scheduled programming
soon.













Sunday, December 21, 2014

Things to remember, and things not to know ...

It takes some effort to get a cruising boat ready to sit on its own for a couple of weeks. The day before departure we did all we could to close this and put away that, but the morning of was still an early roll out and busy couple of hours. Kintala secured and the dink safe on deck, the shuttle got us to shore. Good Friend Ann then got us to the airport. And Southwest Airlines … eventually … got us to St. Louis. There we were met by Daughter Youngest and Grand Daughter, a happy occasion that lit the passenger pick-up area with smiles and hugs that have yet to abate, even these several days later.

An afternoon or two ago I met an old Friend and flying partner for some coffee, catching up on what happens when one pilot calls it a day and another takes his years of experience into the airline instructing world. Word has it some parts of the regional airline arena are so hurting for airplane drivers that I might could find me a seat if I looked hard enough. Pretty sure there isn't enough money around to make that happen, even if the industry went back to paying pilots a real salary and treating them like valuable members of the team. Since that isn't likely to happen in what is left of my lifetime, Kintala's helm will fit my hands just fine.

Later that same day Deb and I went to a local eatery not far from Daughter Middle's home, where we are staying. Daughter Middle's home is also home to a handful (really, five) of Grand Kids, including the newest. Heading out meant letting go of Grand Daughter Youngest, not an easy thing for Grampy T and DeMa. But at the eatery we met 30 some odd of our closest friends, who make up a good portion of the Boulder Yacht Club. Said Club was ground zero for our basic training and then launch into the cruising world. It was a loud and happy celebration of one of their own getting “out there”. We are not the first, will surely not be the last, but are the latest. It was also an excuse for them to get together in the middle of the off season, so double celebrations ruled the night. This is the group of people who helped make it possible for us to be counted among the tribe of cruisers, and their importance in our life is simply impossible to overstate. It isn't often one gets to spend such an evening.

Still, even with Family Most Important and Friends Dearest close at hand, we are back on land. Land, which is not our home anymore. Each time I get behind the wheel, it feels foreign, like I'm forgetting things. And it turns out I usually am. Things like looking in the rear view mirror, staying in the middle of my lane, not taking long looks to the side to check out something interesting passing by, and moving along somewhere near the speed limit. Not like in my old life where the legal limit was usually some number far down the dial from where the needle rested on the GSXR. No. Now that limit is often some 10 to 15 numbers up the dial from that showing on the old Saturn. (The one we bought nearly two decades ago, that has 240,000 + miles on it, and that now belongs to Daughter Youngest.) It turns out, when one is traveling I-70, 170, or 40 in St. Louis at 45 to 50 mph, many St. Louisans will find that annoying, or even take it as some kind of personal insult. Really, none was intended. I'm just not used to helming at speeds much quicker than walking, and I'm not really in a hurry to get anywhere. Its getting better though. By the time we head back to the airport I'll be buzzing along just like the rest. If not, Daughter Youngest will be glad to do it for me. She drives like I used to, which is probably how I taught her, and now has me riding along with my eyes closed.

I'm also not used to the quiet at night, being indoors for most of the day, needing this many layers of clothing to be comfortable, or shoes. Each day it all feels a little more “normal” and, come to think of it, it is kind of odd that it feels so odd. We have only been on the boat since July of last year, and a good bit of that time has been spent on the hard or a dock. I spent six weeks of the summer in Pittsburgh. So how did this land living thing get so strange so fast?

And how, pray tell, does anyone who has lived the life of a cruiser for years upon years, ever make it back on land? Better yet, don't tell. I'm not sure I want to know.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Sow's ear purse ...

Folk lore is adamant about sow's ears and silk purses, and I suppose it has some merit. What the lore fails to mention is that sow's ears are perfectly suited for the purpose of allowing sows to hear things. It is trying to turn them into something else that causes all the trouble. Still, though I am far from expert in all things bovine porcine, my guess is one could make a perfectly serviceable pouch out of a sow's ears, perhaps even a attractive accessory that looks like fine leather.

I suspect that because much of a cruising life seems to be spent taking things that were intended for one purpose and pressing them into some other service. Money is always in short supply, so getting a work order written up to get it done just isn't an option. Besides, given our experience - and the constant horror stories we hear from other cruisers who have used marine contractors - I'm not even sure where I would start to look for someone to do this kind of project. For the same reason (money) just tossing out all the old, hacked up bits and starting from scratch with shiny new bits of silk is also not much of an option. But we do have time, and trouble is an every day companion. No sow's ear is safe in a mooring field or achorage full of curisers.

Today was day nine of turning Kintala's hap-hazard, limp, and ugly sow's ear of a bimini / frame into something that would support solar panels while still keeping the sun and rain at least tolerable. (I am beginning to wonder why any of us buy a boat that has an outside steering station only.) Nine ugly, stressful, gouged up hands and short tempered days of trouble.

Yesterday was the worst, a day at least as bad as the one back in Oriental when I discovered fuel barfing out of the WesterBeast's injection pump. Though the bimini frame was securely mounted to new hard points on the coaming, getting the frame, fabric, and ridged solar panel to play nice together was just not happening. I fell into the berth last night exhausted, battered, discouraged, and wondering if I simply didn't have the skills to make this sow's ear into anything more useful. Sleep was fitful, filled with weird dreams of long ago bosses and places of employment all mashed together in some surreal tale of things going wrong. But as often happens, the sub-conscious starts mulling over the problem as well. Sometime in the wee hours of the morning I woke up with a new idea of measuring spans and aligning bows with strings and yardsticks, making sure it all stayed put under any reasonable load with rivets and a few braces.

Today was a tough day as well. It turned out the aligning was a really good idea... that should have been done first... not after a bunch of holes had been drilled in the stainless steal tubing. (Note to self – when one's tool room is lacking drill wax, a bar of soap will work well as a stand in.) Nor was the day helped any by the constant swell augmented by weekend power boater wake hits. Yet tonight ye 'ol Tartanic sports a bimini that is (mostly) straight and true, taunt, flat, and overlaid by solar panels incorporated as part of the frame. Not a silk purse, but a perfectly acceptable rig. It is mostly straight because I couldn't figure out a way around the funky bend in the aft-most bow, courtesy of some anonymous putz from the past. In the end Deb pulled off some Sail Rite magic to get us over that final hurdle, and it will take a good eye to spot the funk.

Of course I have yet to run a single wire or give much consideration to things like a permanent home for the control panel. So I suspect this job isn't even half done. I'm going to blame some of the slow progress on the short days. Assuming any reasonable morning routine, buy the time work commences there is barely eight hours of daylight left.

That, and working with sow's ears just takes a lot of effort.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Hacking away

Kintala and her crew are back in full project mode. By the end of the day there is just enough energy left for a quick shower, dinner, and sometimes a movie. A $3 sale bin of CDs doubled our movie library. Since we haven't had a fast enough Net connection to download or stream anything since we returned to the US, having something new to nod off to is a treat. Movie nights have been taking place below since FL weather has dropped evening temps into the low 50s. Yes, cold weather lovers will groan at our tender skins, but we be tropical dwellers now.  Fifty is too cool for sitting outside taking in a flick. But it is perfect for being in full project mode.

It would be trying, hacking away on the boat while the cruising tribe sails in and out of the mooring field and form up mini-flotillas on the morning nets. Every weather window sees a bunch of boats heading out the channel to take aim at the Islands. Particularly since the opportunities for crossing the Stream have been rare these past few weeks. It would be trying, but the visit to family glows on the horizon. The promise of stories, hugs, and the smiles of little ones has added a gentle glow of anticipation to our days. The Islands will be there come January.

All of said hacking has been taking place in the cockpit. Kintala's bimini mount was always a cheesy kind of thing, with the mounting points far too weenie for the size of the cover. It was that way so it could be folded up, something that makes little sense on a cruising boat. One hardly ever sees the sun cover folded away. Chasing the sun is the whole idea, but sub-tropical rays will scorch one's hide clear to the bone.  Basking in such radiation is best done in small doses.  On those days were there is rain instead, folding up the rain cover would be just as silly. Big time, “here comes a hurricane” weather is best avoided. On the rare occurrence that the frame must come down, it will lift out of the solid mounts to be put away.

In addition the physical mounting of the weenie hinge fittings added a second layer of weenie to be undone, no surprise there. The core under 3 of the four mounts had been soaked because of poor sealing and flexing; the forward port mount sporting wood screws splintering their way through the fiberglass. So, as is normal for ex-airplane mechanics, the new mount holes were over sized, back filled with thickened resin, re-drilled, and through-bolted utilizing ½ inch starboard backing plates that were slightly larger, footprint wise, than the new mounts. (That is a bit of overkill, even for an ex-airplane type. But 0.5 inch is what the store had in stock.)

Kintala always seemed a bit awkward with its bimini sticking up four to six inches higher than the dodger. No only did it look like a bad after-thought, the cathedral ceiling cover reduced the amount of rain and sun protection. Not only is the bimini now lower but, with the mounts moved outboard as far as possible, if feels a bit more roomy on the back porch as well. Given the already minuscule acreage of that primary living space, even the illusion of more space is a good thing. And there actually is a little more hip room when going aft around the helm.

Most importantly, the hope is the new frame mounting will support a couple of solar panels that were donated to a good cause by friends Mizzy and Brian (Thanks again guys!) There is some question as to the solar panel install being completed before heading northwest to cold country, and movie nights might slow things up a bit more. But we didn't come this way to do nothing but work on the boat.

Though, sometimes, it sure feels that way.

Dinner Key Mooring field with the moon rise and South Beach in the background.

Please....

...if you're a planning cruiser, please practice NOT doing this at the dinghy dock. We have enough trouble keeping our dinghies inflated without having them cut by a prop.



Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Housekeeping

When we were land dwellers, a schedule ruled our lives. Because I had to be at work early Monday morning, any cleaning I had to do was done on the weekends. Cleaning, laundry, shopping, yard work, and considering that it's holiday season, I would have been doing the shopping and baking and decorating thing as well. All on weekends.


Now that we're not land dwellers, a schedule doesn't rule our lives, at least not very often. We still have the occasion that we're meeting someone or we have to provision the boat for a departure but, for the most part, the days sort of blend together. Laundry gets done when it needs to get done, same with shopping and water hauling and gasoline buying. Now cleaning? That's another thing altogether. Cleaning gets done whenever we get tired of looking at it. Since you're in such a small space, you get to look at it up close and personal. A lot. Even with it in your face all the time, sometimes it's hard to get motivated.


Today while Tim slaved away trying to make some progress on the strengthening of the bimini mounting so we can install the solar panels, I decided to make myself useful as well and tackled my list of small, routine jobs.


  • Cleaned out the sump box (I truly hate this job. It reeks.)
  • Cleaned out the sump pump filter (This may be worse.)
  • Cleaned out my pot and pan cupboard.
  • Put new seal on the fridge lids.
  • Defrosted the fridge.
  • Put away the bunch of supplies we just got in from Amazon (filters, water purifier, etc. etc.)
  • Started soaking our shop rags (we can't wash them in a machine anywhere since they're greasy).
  • Did a trash run.


Might not seem like much but in a small space all this took 8 hours. And on a Tuesday, no less.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Once a Drummer …

A long, long, long time ago I was a drummer; High School Band, Orchestra, Marching Band, a stint in a Drum and Baton parade group, and various garage bands of wanna-be rock-n-rollers. Back then the trap set of a drummer's dream was a Mother of Pearl single base Ludwig set with two mounted tom-toms, two floor toms, snare, and at least 3 Zildjian cymbals in addition to the Hi-hat. Mine was a no-name wood set that sometimes elicited rude comments from the occasional lead guitar player of other groups, at least one of which paid for his opinion with a split lip and a black eye. That particular confrontation led to a kind of free-for-all between the two groups. Not only were mine the better musicians, we were better in a brawl as well.

If I had known then what I know now, that set would have been disassembled, each drum wet sanded and refinished – inside and out - with at least 10 coats hand rubbed clear. Then each would have been fitted with the finest Aquarian head and tuned to perfection. Those natural wood shells would have thundered with a clean voice that needed no name. Alas, such insights were far beyond the teenaged me. Soon after the sky caught my attention and the world of chasing the perfect rhythm was traded for a lifetime of chasing clouds. Oh, there was always a pair of drumsticks in our home somewhere. In fact there is a pair on Kintala even now, along with a practice skin that sounds like someone is banging on a soup can. But it had been near 40 years since the last time I pounded out a riff with another person.

Until tonight.

It seems that Coconut Grove has a kind of underground drum circle that meets every full moon. (Really, full moon? Some kind of Esbat pagan rite in Coconut Grove maybe?) Such information came via Friend Katrina of s/v Happy Dance. I didn't actually know what a “drum circle” was, figuring that it was simply a group of people playing together. Ex-drummer that I am, I like listening to others play. It turns out that isn't what is meant by “drum circle”. There is a core group that does play together, but anyone wandering by can pick up one of the spare drums the group provides and join in. So what the hell? I picked up a spare drum and joined in.

It was as disorganized and seemingly hopeless an attempt at a group effort as it sounds … at first. I sat and tried to pick out a workable riff from the clash of noise, not sure how this was going to work out. Slowly, out of the din, floated the low rumble of a base line. The better players picked up on it and started fitting their own beats to match. Soon the novices got drawn in as well, following along and supporting the base notes of the self-assembling riff. Some of the better players started improvising, adding bits of breaking curls to the underlying waves of sound. It was basic, a bit crude, and magic, all at the same time. There was something primordial in it, a human rhythm as old as the first heartbeat. A flute joined in, adding a streak of high pitched light to the thunder. A dancer (clearly a regular with the group and certainly looking the part of a Pagan celebration) took to the center of the circle. The riffs would build, morph, then fall away with some kind of natural timing. A few minutes later a new one would start to grow, and the magic would work its way among us once again. This went on for nearly two hours. Never before have I experienced anything quite like it.

I don't know these people at all, will probably never see them again. There were a few middle aged white guys, women, minorities, a few dreadlocks, and a couple of kids. Yet, without practice or any kind of overt guidance, we found some common ground, some shared knowledge. Our efforts blended together and we filled the night with the sound of human joy. If one sent the music back 100,000 years in time, our ancestors would have known exactly what was going on and could have easily joined in the celebration.

We are all civilized now of course. Refined. As well as divided and angry and violent. It seems like we have lost the ability to find any common ground. Everyone is an enemy. Everyone is a threat. But it doesn't always have to be that way. A group of strangers, making music that was as basic and ancient as the full moon itself, defied that current state of affairs.

It is why we came this way, living lighter, simpler, closer to the natural rhythms of the world. The weather rules our life out here. Tides, waves and wind dictate what we do and how we do it. It is, in its own way, an ancient kind of living reflected in an equally ancient ritual. Deep inside we are all children of distant drummers offering human made thunder to dance with the full moon. It wouldn't hurt us to remember that more often.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A good day ...

The intention was to spend most of this month sailing around Biscayne Bay. Not to be too blunt, I need the practice. Even after 2000 nm Kintala still gives hints that she isn't always happy with the way she is being handled. But Sister Sky had different ideas about the things that might go on during November this year in southern Fl. So, instead of sailing, our old Tartan collected bottom barnacles in Middle River, Miami Stadium, and then in No Name Harbor. After weeks of constant F5 winds we finally left No Name this morning and got in a good day … in steady F5 winds. (In addition No Name has a 2 week limit per visit. Don't tell anyone but today was day 13 for us. I like No Name, but it was time to move on.)

It is about 5 miles from No Name to the Dinner Key mooring field. Kintala covered a bit more than 20 today. We were having so much fun out romping that we kind of went the long way around. We practiced different sail sets, hove to, and generally tried to get a little better at making the boat go. One thing we pretty much verified is that, often, we simply don't drive the boat hard enough. With the jib alone we were doing a solid 5+ in mid teens winds with gusts in the low 20s. Going south we found a bit more wind and decided to roll up the jib and fly the stay sail. Kintala did not approve. Speed fell to the high 3s as the boat wallowed around and generally misbehaved. The stay sail was rolled back in and about two-thirds of the jib went back out. The speed picked up to the mid to high 5s and flirted with 6. The boat danced happily through the waves. Lesson learned. When the winds blow, fly enough canvas to keep the speed well above 5, but not so much as to set the boat on its ear.


Somewhere in all of our tacking and jibing the jib leach line tore out and the sumbrella got a couple of rips in it. Not sure how that happened but, it must be admitted, Kintala's suit of sails is a bit weary. The only real party dress she has in her closet is the nearly new main sail. To keep from doing any more damage, the jib got benched and the stay sail went back in play. That is not enough horsepower on a broad reach unless the wind is flat howling. Force 5 is short of howling so we put up a double reefed main in an attempt to balance the boat with the small head sail. It worked pretty well. This was the first time we flew two reefs with a purpose and getting all the rigging squared away took the deck monkey a few tries. The top batten got caught in the lazy jacks and, being on a reach rather than close hauled, the leeward running back was in the way. (Tight on the wind - which is when we usually fly the stay sail - we normally leave both the running backs set as the boom never gets that far from the center of the boat.)

Adding to the fun, just when we were set to drop the main and enter the channel into the marina and on to the mooring field, a sneaky little storm slapped us with heavy rains and wind gusts into the 30s. Visibility went into the dumpster and, soaking wet in the cold wind, so did the crew body temperatures. It was a busy couple of uncomfortable minutes but the main fell cleanly into the lazy jacks, the stay sail went - not so cleanly - onto its furler, and the WesterBeast picked up the traces. Once in the mooring field Deb made a perfect pass at the ball but I missed the catch, forcing her to go around through the clutch of boats to give me another shot. This with more rain and the winds gusting into the 20s again. One of the reasons we get along so well is that she never makes much of my mistakes. I will do the same as soon as she makes one.

Photo courtesy of Leave Happier Photography
So we have joined the rest of the crowd getting bounced around in the mooring field this evening. Winds are still a solid F5 running to F6 when the storms pass nearby. There is still some deck work to do and the dink needs launched, but it will have to wait until morning. The constant work of the day has set my forearms on fire, though a cold Coke & Vodka is helping to damp the flames. (Kintala is suffering a lack of Rum at the moment … not sure how I let that happen.) Tomorrow we go into full project mode and in a couple of weeks we will make the trip to meet New Grand Daughter Edie and see family not hugged for more than a year.

Since Kintala will not move again until we stage for the Islands, it was good to get this day of sailing in; rain, wind, torn sail, and all.