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2009 Maintenance Log

5/29/09 | 5/30/09 | 5/31/09 | 7/18/09 | 9/30/09 | 10/10/09 | 10/11/09


5/29/09

The boat had been more or less ready to go for weeks.   During several weeks following my moving the boat outdoors after the winter 2008-2009 maintenance and refit program, I took care of myriad minor details, as much for something to do as for any specific need. 

Early in the month, I made arrangements with the boatyard to bring the boat up and prepare her for mast stepping and launching on May 18, but the day before I was to transport the boat up the yard owner, Ethan, called me to let me know that he had no room for me at the yard; it's a small yard with tight spaces, and he said that he just hadn't launched enough boats yet to allow sufficient room for me.  While this was understandable, it was frustrating to me because I just wanted to get the boat in the water and ready to go; the pre-launch routine has worn thin over the years, and more and more I feel like just having the boat magically appear on the mooring for be to step aboard at whim.

This delayed the proposed launching for a couple weeks, compounded by a stretch of really lousy, miserable weather and other conflicts, but finally I was able to bring the boat up to the yard on Friday, May 29th--yet another miserable, cold, drizzly, rainy day.  But that didn't matter, because I was anxious to get the boat out of the yard and to move on to the next steps in the pre-season process.

The delays didn't really bother me in terms of not having the boat in the water, or not being able to use her; the weather was lousy, and it was early anyway.  What bothered me was that the whole process was pending during this time, with no firm dates set and the whole thing hanging over my head and looming inconveniently over my upcoming schedule for the coming weeks.  So I was relieved to move the process forward in any event.

At the yard, I unloaded the boat onto blocks and stands where Ethan directed me, and then, in a soaking-wet drizzle, hurried to unstrap the mast, raise the radar pole, and install various masthead implements to prepare her for the imminent mast stepping, likely to occur the next day (in my absence).

    

5/30/09

Launch day!  I got a call around noon from Ethan saying that the mast was up, and they were planning to launch the boat on the high tide around 1600.  This was good news, and the weather seemed favorable for me to get the boat right around to her mooring at Buck's Harbor, about 14 miles (by water) away.

I arrived at the yard around 1530 to find the boat in the slings and ready to go, so shortly thereafter they dropped her in and I motored the boat out to a mooring so that I could square away a few things:  install the backstay, install the roller furling genoa so that I'd have some form of sail ready, install the boom to get it off the deck, and install the dodger just because I thought with the unseasonably cool temperatures and lateness of hour I'd be grateful for its protection during the delivery.  There was a little wind from the SW, but not enough to consider sailing into and still be able to complete the trip before dark.  Plus the boat wasn't ready to sail, and if I took the time to rig her up properly it would take far too much time.  Getting the boat around to her mooring was the priority for now:  all business.

I headed off the mooring at about 1630 into a bright and beautiful day.  Soon, though, some clouds to the west, which had appeared benign as I started, suddenly took on a very dangerous appearance.  I hemmed and hawed about what to do while I watched the still-distant clouds for a bit; I'd only made it about a mile or so into the trip at this point.  Eventually, though, I determined that these clouds did represent an immediate threat, and I saw no reason to push on when the relative security of a good mooring was only a short distance back.  So with great reluctance, but knowing it was the right thing, I turned around and headed back to the mooring to wait out the storm.  Even then I knew it was likely that my chances of making the trip this day were slim, as I'd simply run out of time to make the trip before dark.  I really didn't want to arrive in full darkness; twilight would have been fine.  With a contrary current, I knew that I could only count on making good about 4.5 knots, which would have made the trip tight enough even on my original schedule.  As I turned, though, I could see some fog, which had been dangling well offshore during my initial attempt, moving in quickly to engulf the bay ahead, so this made the turn-around easier to swallow.

    

In any event, I made it back to the mooring before the storm hit.  I was glad I had returned.  The cloud formations were quite dramatic:  very distinct, flat-bottomed-curved-leading-edged clouds forming a distinct squall line.  Within minutes of my return to the mooring, the wind shifted and quickly built to an observed high of 29 knots on my new wind instruments (more on this in a moment), though the strongest winds only lasted perhaps a minute before settling back to a non-event 15-20 max.  The heavy rain followed shortly thereafter, making its appearance known beforehand with a white blankness to the waters ahead of me.

         



    

As with most summer (sort of) storms of this nature, the event quickly passed, leaving in its wake flat calm conditions and perfectly bright, clear skies.  By about 1815, I was extremely tempted to head out on the delivery.  My finger wavered over the engine's start button.  In the end, though, caution won out.  All along, I had kept the possible contingency of simply staying on the boat overnight and heading out in the morning in mind, and with what seemed to be a favorable forecast for the next day I elected to wait.

The delay meant that I could spend the rest of the evening getting the boat squared away.  I really didn't relish the prospect of heading down the bay with a partially put-together boat, with only one sail rigged, but earlier I'd been willing to accept this given the conditions, etc.  Now, however, I rigged up the mainsail, boom vang, and the myriad other post-launch tasks that are required each season, and which take several hours to complete. 


I noticed that some idiot installed the new masthead wind sensors upside down.  How annoying!  The installer must have been rushing to install the masthead units after a long road delivery in the rain, and obviously got turned around somehow when standing at the tiptop of a ladder screwing the thing into place when the mast was horizontal and lying on the deck.

The masthead might as well be on Mars to me, as it's just as feasible for me to get to Mars as for me to get to the masthead.  Perhaps I'll locate some small person who is anxious to be hoisted up my mast to fix this irritating problem, but in any event the wind speed, at least, seemed to work despite the cups being upside down and at a weird angle.  The direction was reversed on the display, however.  Plus, the masthead unit contains solar cells on its (supposed) top side to power it; these cells were now facing more or less downward, so I thought it'd be interesting to see if they got enough juice for the season.


Afterwards, I settled in to enjoy the calm, golden sunset and my first--if unexpected--night on the boat this season.  It was a perfectly still, calm, cold night, and I looked forward to a dawn start in the morning to get the delivery done and get home to accomplish some other tasks.

         


5/31/09

Overnight, I awoke to the foghorn on the nearby Cape Jellison lighthouse, right across the river from where I was moored.  Yup:  thick o' fog.  Somehow, I knew all along that this was a distinct possibility this night, but there had been no mention in the NOAA weather radio forecast.  (That should have been a virtual guarantee of fog right there, shouldn't it've...)

I hoped it'd be one of those temporary fogs that would either clear overnight, or soon after dawn.  But at 0500, it was extremely dense, so with little else to do but wait it out, I began my vigil.

0600:  dense fog.  Where is the shoreline, anyway?  I wasn't even sure if I could dinghy ashore if I had to, with few or nonexistent references visible in the thick fog--there were only a couple other boats on moorings in this cove, and I couldn't even see them.

0700:  dense fog.

0800:  dense fog.

0900:  dense fog.  Blue sky above--it was one of those low-hanging fogs that forms just over the water.

1000:  dense fog.  Some hope, but man, this was taking forever.

1050:  Finally clear enough to depart.  I raised the main and tucked in the first reef, even though there was only a little wind at this time, but somehow I just knew the wind was going to end up being fairly strong, even though NOAA was predicting something like 5-10.  Since when have they ever been remotely correct in wind prediction anyway?  I usually double their predictions.  Do they think they're doing people a favor by underestimating wind strengths so routinely?  I hate NOAA for their poor forecasts, but it's all we have.


Almost immediately, the wind built, and I unrolled the genoa and had the beginnings of a great sail down the mouth of the river and into the bay.  At first, things were pleasant:  the wind, while fairly strong, was at least steady, and the boat was doing pretty well under reefed main and partially reefed genoa.  Soon, I even unrolled the genoa the rest of the way; the wind was 15-20 apparent.  The direction of the wind and the character of the waterway through which I sailed was such that I could take long tacks in both directions, but it wasn't clear that one tack or the other was remotely favored:  the wind could hardly have been more from where I was going.
 
Of course, the lateness of my departure meant that the flooding tide was against me the whole way, reducing my speed towards destination by 1-2 knots, meaning that I was seeing SOG in the 4-5 knot range, mostly towards the lower end.  The reduction in over-ground speed was one thing, but as I sailed into the top part of Penobscot Bay proper, leaving the Penobscot River behind, the sea conditions became unpleasant--mostly in terms of speed reduction and lack of progress, not from a safety or discomfort perspective.  There were many moments of intense frustration with the situation, between the headwind that meant that both tacks seemed to take me away from the destination rather than obviously closer to it, and especially the short, steep chop and opposing current that had developed.  There seemed to be nowhere that was really clear from this current, so all I could do was keep tacking back and forth across the bay.  Mostly, it was OK, but there were a few times where the hobby-horsing of the boat really affected forward progress.  This is a trait that I find intensely frustrating about this boat.  I know that there is too much weight in the ends, but where else am I to keep anchors and all the other stuff?  There are few options.

Whining aside, I'd say that I enjoyed 80% of the day's sailing.  I didn't enjoy the hours of pending and waiting for the fog to clear, and I didn't enjoy sitting in wave troughs going 2 knots after a tack.  I also didn't enjoy the idiotic pirate-ship thing (actually, more like Slocum's Spray in appearance and size) that was powering sail-less down the bay on a collision course with me and showing no signs of giving way; what is it with these jerks?  This happens several times a season, and it makes me see red.  Rather than fuss around, I tacked away before the situation became critical, but I didn't want to, and shouldn't have had to either.

I took the picture below early on in my journey, before I hit the frustrating parts.  There was neither time nor inclination for further action photos during the remainder of the day.


Finally, I made it to a point where my tack would allow me to lay the end of Cape Rosier; I intentionally overstood on the other tack so that I could finally have a more enjoyable point of sail.  Of course, as soon as I passed the cape, and got inside the islands just outside, what was going to be a nice close reach suddenly ended, as the wind became light and fluky within the shelter of the islands.  My speed dropped to 3 knots; I was getting close to Buck's, and Heidi was supposed to pick me up at 1600, and I was tired, and wanted to get in, so I rolled in the jib and powered the rest of the way (perhaps 3 miles).  A copout perhaps, but enough was enough:  time to get in.  Later, after I cleared some of the islands, the wind picked up again (more from the SE in this area of the bay), but by then I was nearly there, and didn't bother sailing again.

I picked up my mooring at 1515 and put the boat to bed, having sailed about 20 miles (OK, 20.15 exactly, if you must know) to cover the 13.5 mile rhumb line, plus 3.35 miles from yesterday's aborted attempt. I obviously hadn't properly prepared the interior for sea, as there was lots of stuff on the cabin sole that had come from the berths (understandable) and even one of the side lockers, which had a catch that didn't work.  I dinghied ashore just in time for my ride and happy to have the boat in the water, on her real mooring, and ready for the season.  I even beat the rain, which arrived not long after we began the car ride home.


7/18/09

Almost immediately after being pressed into service, the new sump pump for the galley sink drain started to act up.  I found that the pump wasn't shutting itself off the way it should have, forcing me to use a manual switch located in one of the galley lockers.  From the beginning, I suspected the pump's sealed, non-mercury automatic switch.
 
In attempting to troubleshoot the pump and switch, my first step was to check the basic operation of the pump.  I disconnected the discharge line from the pump chamber in the bilge, and then pumped some water into the sink and allowed it to drain into the chamber.  Eventually, the auto switch caused the pump to come on, authoritatively discharging the chamber's contents into the bilge and then shutting off properly.  This performance led me to consider whether the long, downhill slope of the discharge line, which ran to the transom, was back-draining enough to prevent the switch from properly sensing that the level had dropped sufficiently.

My first attempt at a fix, therefore, was to install a bronze check valve in the discharge line, just downstream of the pump and chamber.  I located a suitable valve, one with a low activation pressure, and installed it a week or two later when I was back at the boat.  It didn't work.   (The water looks particularly nasty in the bilge because it contains the contents of the sump chamber, which I'd necessarily discharged into the bilge.

With good weather and sailing time so precious this particular year, I didn't spend much more time on the problem at that point.  But when I came aboard for our week-long cruise, the problem quickly became untenable:  the pump was running, but seemed to not even want to pump.  This led the chamber to overflow before I became aware of the magnitude of the problem.  Again, removing the discharge line allowed the pump to work properly. 

As soon as I could, I set to work on the pump to get everything to work, since not having the sump working properly was a serious problem; short term, I'd simply allowed the dumb thing to pump into the bilge, so the bilge pump could take care of it, but this obviously wasn't acceptable as anything other than a stopgap.  So with rain on the first day of my cruise, I spent part of the morning fixing it.

Thinking ahead, much earlier in the season I'd brought aboard the old sump pump and automatic float switch from my old sump chamber, which I'd saved since they worked fine (I'd disposed of the old plastic chamber because the top was broken and didn't seal properly).  I clipped the wiring connections and removed the sump chamber from the bilge so I would work more easily on it.  I removed the pump and switch, and cleaned up the chamber.


I decided to replace the sealed switch with my old-fashioned (and functional) float switch, which was straightforward enough.  The float switch was rather large, but fortunately there was enough room in the chamber for it to fit properly and allow proper operation.  I secured it with one screw into one of the molded screw holes left over from the original switch's installation, and then reinstalled everything in the bilge--stopping just short of making the installation final at this point, till I could test the "new" switch.

Sure enough, the pump worked flawlessly with the regular float switch, and continued to work flawlessly throughout the week. While I was pleased that the simple fix worked, I was annoyed at the poor performance of the switch that came with the unit in the first place.


9/30/09

Another brief season came to its end.  But it was a pleasant end.

Weatherwise, the season had been sort of all or nothing:  for June and July, the weather was atrocious--colder than normal, rainy, and just not nice.  August and September, however, were beautiful months, and as time allowed I managed a number of enjoyable daysails and a very pleasant long weekend over Labor Day.

Inevitably, it became time to end the season, however.  I made plans to bring the boat up to a mooring at the boatyard on Saturday, September 26.

As luck would have it, this was a beautiful day, though it dawned quite cold.  With my sister along for the ride, we motored the boat the 14.3 miles to the boatyard into a light northerly headwind, though the wind died after an hour or so, leaving a glassy calm. 

    

Once we arrived, right around 1120, I stripped the boat of sails, boom, dodger, and whatever else needed to come off before haulout.  I'd always rather have a gorgeous day when it comes time to end the season; though it's sad to strip the boat down, and always seems a shame to waste a nice day on this task, it is nicer to do it in pleasant weather than the alternative.

    

I had thought the yard was planning to haul the boat on Saturday's late afternoon high tide--there was no one around at the yard in mid-afternoon when we departed--but for some reason I just had a feeling it wasn't going to happen.  Sunday was a lousy, rainy day with strong winds (fortunately from the SE, which was a protected direction at Morse Cove), and I didn't really worry about the boat, hoping she was out (though somehow knowing she was still on the mooring).

As it turned out, the boat wasn't hauled till Tuesday morning; the yard unstepped the mast and let me know the boat was ready to pick up, so I drove up early Wednesday morning, spent an hour and a half strapping down the mast, preparing the boat, and loading her on the trailer, and then drove home, arriving back at the shop just at noon.

I didn't have much of a work list for boat during the off-season, and with other plans for my personal side of the shop, I set the boat up on stands and blocks outdoors once more, where she'd spend most of the winter.  I anticipated bringing her in for seasonal maintenance in early spring, and would probably take care of some minor jobs in the meantime.  More on that later.

    

10/10/09

I spent the day unloading the boat and winterizing.  Once again, I was amazed at the volume of stuff that I removed--how does it all fit in this tiny boat?

I removed most of the stuff from the lockers so that I could once again sort through and cull out what was not needed before reloading in the spring.  For the moment, my goal was to clear out the boat, so I didn't waste time or energy on any semblance of unloading organization as I threw things into plastic storage containers that I had left over from something. 

In the past, I'd stored most of the boat stuff for the winter up in the attic in my shop--2 flights of stairs up.  This was exhausting and annoying in both fall and spring, so this year I decided to bring most of the stuff up to the house and store it in the basement, where I'd be able to go through it in the coming days to sort out what wasn't needed and to pack away what I'd put back aboard in the spring.  Since I could back my truck right up to the basement door, this would save a lot of labor both ways.

It took most of the morning to remove everything; the boat was still fully loaded from the season, with food, drink, clothing, and all the other necessities of life aboard.  Finally, I cleared away all the excess, leaving me with an empty boat in which to work.

I dug my old mast sawhorses out of the trees and made some minor repairs to help see them through another winter; I really needed to build some new ones, as these original ones, built in 2001, were well-aged and becoming rotten--but that wasn't going to happen now.  I removed all the rigging from the mast for storage, and then lifted the mast up onto the storage horses on deck.

Next, I winterized the engine, water system, and head--nothing new or exciting here.  I was already wishing that I could put the boat back in the shop for the winter, as I noticed all sorts of things that I wanted to do--high on the list was my desire to remove the engine so that I could fully renew the engine room, engine hoses, replace the engine mounts (before they need it, not because they need it yet) and the like (just because).  But with no critical--or even non-critical--need to do so, that would have to wait for another time.  Clearly, I need a bigger shop.  Or fewer boats.  Or something.

It took so long to do all this that I was unable to complete all the winter storage tasks that I'd hoped to do.  Still ahead I'd need to remove the lifelines and stanchions, give the hull and deck a good washing, and put on the winter cover.  I was hoping to do that tomorrow, as I was anxious to get her buttoned up so that I could concentrate on other things during my off-time.

I didn't have much of a work list for Glissando this winter, with the ever-present list of wishes but few actual requirements, thanks to last winter's spa time indoors.  Surely things would crop up as I had more time to think about it, but for now it looked like mostly regular maintenance (varnish, cleaning, inspections) would be the extent of the winter/spring work list.


10/11/09

I finished up the winter preparations by removing the coamings, lifelines, and stanchions and taking care of some final cleaning (inside and out, hull and deck).  Then, I installed my usual winter frame after wrapping chafe points in foam and covering  the mast in cotton sheets to protect the paint and minimize chafe on the cover.  Finally, I installed the same silver tarp I'd used every year since 2001, except for two years that the boat was indoors during the winter(2003-4 and 2008-9).

    


 

 


Glissando, Pearson  Triton #381
www.triton381.com 

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