Saturday, February 24, 2018

Another go

Kintala went back in the water the other day, drawing many a comment on how good she looks as the travel lift rumbled along. She does look pretty good. Even better is that the good is more than just skin deep. Her hull is buffed and polished. (Pay no attention to the battle scares on her starboard side, they are just cosmetic.) Her bottom is blemish free, barrier coated, and sporting new paint. A noticeable leak and weak point on the starboard toe rail is repaired. Cockpit wood and toe rails are protected with layers of hard finish. We know the rig is solid and some new running rigging is in place. (Replacing running rigging is an ongoing kind of thing. A traveler line here or running back blocks there. Wherever lines go on sale we tend to pick the oldest “something” and replace it.)

There are only two areas where the boat still lacks a bit. One is the WesterBeast. It runs okay but is old, tired, dirty, noisy and drips. To a mechanic an engine is like a bank account. There is only so much power saved up in those blocks, pistons, rods and bearings. Every time it runs some of that power is withdrawn and, one of these days, that 36 year old account will be empty. We try and stretch it out with meticulous maintenance and sailing as much as we can, even when it means going really slow rather than the sailboat normal slow. It helps that we really like sailing and don’t usually mind going slow.

Kintala’s other weak point is the auto-pilot. This old airplane driver longs for a fully integrated system with multiple modes and programable way-points. The wind vane is cool in a touchy feely “look at how natural and Mother Earth friendly we are” kind of way.

It is also a major pain in the ass even when it is working

The rest of the boat's "navigation suite" is modest, to say the least. We navigate on I-pads with an old Garmin 4 inch screen GPS at the helm for cross checking and reference. Which is the way we like it. I am a big fan of modern navigation insofar as it means instant knowledge of exact position, speed, and current track. But having that information shouldn't interfere with looking out and around for general position, changing weather, traffic conflicts, and channel information. Visibility from the the cockpit of a sailboat is poor enough without having some big screen chart plotter nesting in an obtuse instrument pod mounted over the helm, dominating an already compromised scan. 

Kintala and I have never had the kind of relationship that some people seem to have with their boats. For the most part I describe our time together as "dysfunctional". But I have to admit that, watching her settle into the water, the old girl is growing on me a little. She is a great sailing boat, but sailing is sailing. Pretty much any sailing boat will do for our purposes and this one is still soft in the bilges, too narrow aft, and lacking in storage space. But she is paid for, ours, and almost ready to go.

And that makes her pretty near to perfect.

The family in their sailing dinghy
We have been here a long time. It has been a good time with family nearby. (This will likely be the hardest of all the hard good-bys that are part and parcel of this life.) We have had the chance to get the boat up to speed once again. I have logged another year of boat tech work, expanding my own skill level to the point where I am pretty comfortable with the hardware/mechanical side of this world. 

On the operations side Deb and I will both be licensed Captains as soon as the paperwork works its way though the paperwork mill. Now, if I could just figure out how to make the boat go backwards with any kind of grace…

It has been10 years since we first started looking at living on a boat. Eight since we bought Ye ‘ol Tartan. Going on five since we first left Oak Harbor. So far our cruising life hasn’t had a lot of the “fair winds and following seas ” everyone wishes on you when you head out. But at this point it is hard to imagine living any other way. 

And it is near time to toss off the dock lines and give it another go.


Robert Sapp said...

Where to?

TJ said...

Robert, At the moment it looks like we will be heading to the Chesapeake Bay for the summer. We haven't been back there in several years. We have family and friends there we haven't seen in a while as well. Not sure though, since we really don't know exactly how much longer it will take to get on our way. In addition to a long list of little things that need done, there are still two bigger projects we would like to get done while here; a modification to the head system and a rigging glitch we have been living with for a while. As usual the list seems endless and, at some point, we are simply going to have to pack it up and go with what we have done, worry about the rest later. But we aren't there yet.