The cold snap has ended my dreams for a last sail of the year. I'm off this weekend but I don't expect the temperatures to break 30 degrees. For winter sailing I like to have full sun, wind around 10 mph and a temperature approaching 50 degrees. There will be plenty of sun this weekend, too much wind and not enough degrees.
Looking back through the log I see I made a couple of sails just before Christmas last year. The next sails were January 31 (a sail that produced one of my favorite photos) and February 1. This year I suspect my first sail might not come until late February. I've got some maintenance to do on SPARTINA and her trailer, plus the sails need to be washed.
My oldest daughter gifted me with a card for REI, perfect for buying some cruising supplies. I went to their online site to buy some more freeze-dried meals and came across Omeals. At first I thought they were freeze-dried camp meals but then realized they were in fact self-heating fully cooked meals. The foil packet contains both a heating element and a second pouch with the meal inside. Adding water to the foil pocket sets off the heating element. A few minutes later there is a hot meal waiting to be enjoyed. I bought four of the meals, dinners that will be tucked away for those 12 hour sailing days or rainy evenings. A quick hot meal in a few minutes without breaking out the cook kit or jet boil. Sounds good to me.
Some more nice imagery from Barry in his video "Winter Harbor ~ The Island East." The video is a very nice collection of still, or almost still images, well composed with the movement, sometimes as little movement as gentle waves rolling up on the beach, occurring within that frame. Peaceful and calm, viewing The Island East is a nice way to start the winter. Thanks, Barry.
Got an early and unexpected Christmas present yesterday from Kevin B., the celebrated sailor and owner of the Navigator SLIP JIG, center in the photo below. I had assumed Kevin put the calendar together but an email from Santa (aka Kevin ) tells me it was put together by Andy Slavinskas of the Delaware River TSCA. So much thanks to both Andy and Kevin. I can see the calendar now just a couple feet away in my corporate-designated work space and it is brightening up a cool grey day. Merry Christmas
It felt odd to back SPARTINA down the ramp with the masts and sails lying in the hull. I didn't have time to go sailing, and even if I did there wasn't much in the way of a breeze. But I wanted to know if I had fixed the leak at the centerboard pin.
I took my usual approach to repairs: Thinking about it and worrying about it for a couple of days, then 15 minutes to do the actual repair itself. Total cost was $1.29 for a roll of teflon tape (in an earlier post I had incorrectly called it silicone tape which is different but might have also been useful). Lock nut and nut loosened, I put several wraps around the bolt that serves as the cb pin, then tightened the bolts to get a nice "squeeze" from the tape to seal the leak.
A cold day, it was quiet at the ramp Backed SPARTINA down, tied her to the dock on Scuffletown Creek. No leak. Took a walk, came back, no leak. Ran off to get a burger and fries, read the paper, returned to find no leak. Not a drop.
I will add the roll of teflon tape to my onboard repair kit.
Got a call late Thursday afternoon with an invite to visit an aircraft carrier operating off the Virginia capes. Sounded good to me. Out at the base yesterday before 6 a.m. to catch a ride to the helicopter squadron hangar. This time of year the ocean is cold so that means wearing an exposure suit for the flight. It's been a while since I have made a cold-season flight and back then it meant wearing what was less-than-affectionately known as a gumby suit. That was a very loose fitting neoprene survival suit that left one looking like, well, Gumby. This time we were issued what seemed to be brand new drysuit, a military version very similar to the Stohlquist AMP drysuit I've been looking at.
Not the easiest thing to put on the first time around, I needed help. Second time around, for the flight home, it went on very easily. It was comfortable and lightweight. I was issued a large, the only size they had, though from the Stohlquist size chart I would wear a medium, yet the suit seemed to work just fine. And the universal-fit booties, something I had concerns about with the AMP, fit very well. It was a good test drive for a drysuit. The Stohlquist suit, layered over good thermals, seems like it would be perfect for winter sailing. I'll try to fit it in next year's budget.
As for the day with the Navy, it was a treat. That's our crew chief, above, leading the way out to the helicopter. Nice guy, very professional, very friendly. Depending on the mission, he told me, he can serve as a crew chief, a door gunner or a rescue swimmer. Got to feel safe with someone like that leading the way.
We took off and headed out over Willoughby Spit, Ocean View, Cape Henry and then out over the Atlantic.
The destination was the Gerald R. Ford, our newest aircraft carrier, about 80 miles offshore. She was out for a couple weeks of training and testing, just having been commissioned last July. It will be about four more years of work before she is ready to deploy. The amazing thing about aircraft carriers - we're talking floating nuclear reactors that catch fighters jets and catapult them back into the air - is that the crew is made up of men and women with an average age of 21. A lot of them are kids. But very well trained kids. Then were just wonderful people to be around.
It was just a short visit, then time to put on the drysuit a second time (much, much easier) then the flight back home. Nice way to spend a day.
Advantages of launching when it is 37 degrees: There is no one else at the ramp, no waiting in line, no looking for a parking spot.
It was a bit chilly. The hard part was rigging SPARTINA. With fittings and knots I could not wear gloves. Cold fingers are clumsy fingers. But once the boat was rigged and in the water, with my Ice Breaker thermals, jacket, Helly Hansen pants and gloves I was very comfortable. The wind was light but steady. Not a cloud in the sky. A fine day on the water.
The leak at the cb pin is down to a tiny drop. I think can eliminate that with some silicon tape wrapped around the pin.
Speaking of the cold, I've started looking at a kayak-style dry suits. The one that has caught my eye is the Stohlquist AMP drysuit. They retail for $600 but can easily be found on the web for $450. Won't fit in my budget for this year, but maybe next fall. I think a drysuit over good quality thermals would keep me comfortably warm during during winter sailing. Should I end up in the water a drysuit could well be a life saver. I kind of like the mango color.
Fourteen degrees is the forecast low for this coming Sunday. Too cold too early. I have a couple days off and hoped to sail. Best chance will be Monday when it should get up to 45 degrees with light wind out of the southwest. We'll see. The photograph below is for warmer times, a July sail a couple of years ago on the Pasquotank River.
This time of year is always a good time to think about maintenance. I've got three areas I need to work on: hull, sails and trailer.
The main effort on the hull will be adding bottom paint. I made some waterline marks on the fall sail plus Kevin B of Slip Jig fame has offered to loan me a laser level to strike the line. The hull will need touch up paint as always, but the bunk flat and cockpit sole that will require some epoxy work. Lots of wear and tear on those grey decks the last couple of years. I won't know until I sail again if I have fixed the leaked at the cb trunk. I hope I have stopped the trickle, if not I will have to disassemble and repair.
Sails need some cleaning. I have read that using water, a little vinegar and woolite is one way to go. I experimented with this with my sailing duffle bag which is made out of sail material and it did clean the duffle but did not remove the tiny specks of mildew, which I see on both the duffle and the sails. I have come across another way to deal with mildew which I will paste below. I'm open to advice from anyone who has experience in this area. There is not much in the way of mildew on the sails, just tiny specks. But figure I should deal with it now.
1. Fill a tub or tank with water. It should be large enough that the sail you intend to wash can be fully immersed.
2. Add Clorox or other chlorine bleach to the water, in a ratio of approximately 30 to one. 'Clorox' is sodium hypochlorite in a 5.25% solution, so the resultant wash solution is slightly weaker than 0.2% (two parts per 1000) of sodium hypochlorite in water. The exact solution does not matter, however. We suspect that one part per 1000 is adequate, and we know that five parts per 1000 (10 to one Clorox in water) will not cause any damage.
3. Place the sail in the bath for at least 48 hours (and cover the tank since the chlorine likes to evaporate). Longer is probably better, for stubborn and very serious cases. Make sure the sail is fully submerged. Stack rocks or bricks on it if necessary, to keep it from floating. Force out as many air pockets as possible and make sure the sail is fully wet out. You might want to stir it every now and then, or shift it around.
4. Take the sail out of the sodium hypochlorite solution and check it. If it is not sufficiently clean, put it back in the bath for another day. When done, rinse it thoroughly with fresh water. Hang it to dry.
At the end of this, the sail should be almost completely clean and any remaining mildew will be absolutely dead, so lingering stains should fade fairly quickly when the sail is used. Exceptions will likely be under corner patches, under insignia cloth, and maybe inside a seam, though these spots should be greatly improved. More time in the solution will improve them.
The broken axle was a wake-up call to keep up with trailer maintenance. I've got some U-bolts that need to be replace, plus a couple of brackets. My friends Michael and Sheila from Kantala showed me how to use lanolin on the threats of all bolts exposed to salt water, which I will do with all replacement pieces. Plus I have begun using a gel WD-40 to minimize future corrosion.
The maintenance won't be too difficult to accomplish. I will try to spread it out over the late winter early spring months with some sailing mixed in between. Wouldn't it be nice to have it all done before the spring sail in May?
There wasn't enough oil in the outboard, fuel was seeping into the cockpit and water was dripping in through the centerboard trunk. Maybe today wasn't the day for a sail after all.
After sailing a couple of days last week I had noticed there was some water, maybe a cup or so, under the bunk flat on the port side of the center board trunk. Only two places it could have come from - 1) maybe one of the gallon water bottles stored there had leaked or 2) it was seeping in through the centerboard pin. So when I backed SPARTINA down into the water this morning I opened the deck plate and saw the water dripping down from the cb pin. When I first launched SPARTINA about 10 years ago I had a drip there, quickly fixed by tightening the bolt. The following year there was a drip on the first launch of the season, again quickly fixed. And for the next eight years no leaks at all - until this week. I took out the tool kit, tightened the bolt about 3/4 turn.
Motoring away from the dock I thought to check the oil level. I had just changed it the day before, measuring the oil to the milliliter. I looked at the inspection port to see it was very low - though I still can't imagine why. Still with a nice day ahead of me I tied SPARTINA to the dock, drove home and returned with the oil and a funnel. Trying to put oil into the engine while it was mounted in the inboard well was difficult if not impossible. So I pulled the outboard and put in on its side in the cockpit. Starting to add the oil I noticed some water in the cockpit, or at least I thought it is water until I smelled fuel, realizing I had forgotten to close the gas cap vent on the outboard. I cleaned up the fuel, maybe half a cup or so, and decided to check the cb pin to see how it is doing. A tiny drop was coming down from the pin. So I didn't have enough oil where I needed it, and I had fuel and water where it was not supposed to be. D'oh! I realized it was not a day for sailing.
Home now. I think I've got the cb leak fixed but won't know until my next sail. Oil is up to the correct level. Fuel cleaned up. What's the forecast for next weekend??