Thursday, December 5, 2013

Drippy Windows

Leaky windows, or I suppose the correct nautical term is "port lights". No matter, they still leak when I last visited Corleto for her aforementioned Two Day Oil Change.

With the monsoon season bearing down on Coastal BC, leaky windows were something that was going to have to be dealt with. My experience with anything glass has usually ended in complete disaster.

There was the time I was just playing road hockey as a lad in the school yard when an errant shot found it's way through my classroom window. Cost me cash, detention and I never did get my road hockey ball back. There was the time in my 20's at some party enjoying a cold stubby bottle of brew that I could not seem to hang onto- I have the scars on my thumb to remind me of that encounter with silica fragments. And there was that chard of green wine bottle glass that was finally removed from my left foot after more than 25 years back in the late '90's. So you see my trepidation with all things GLASS.

When I had bought Corleto, the port lights were watertight. We picked her up in a driving rain and there was no leakage into the cabin. That would soon change as at some point during our first summer together she developed a drip coming in from her starboard middle window. It wasn't particularly bad but I had been told that all boats eventually leak though their ports, often the culprit was a seal between the cabin wall and the frames of the "port lights". It was not long before a second drip manifest itself on the port side middle window. My mission now was to remedy this before the heavy rains of winter.

I researched what i could find on the web about "port lights" and windows on Catalina's . The usual suspects at our marina offered what they could about potential solutions. Things like ordering from Catalina Direct a window replacement kit, to retro fitting with frameless windows, to simple solutions of replacing the old seals and re-bedding with butyl tape.

Having never done anything like this before I was certain that I would royally muck this up. I was convinced that once I got into this and removed the frame from the cabin walls, it would leave a hole so big and a project so complex that it would take me months to repair.

"Murman, you gotta chill the hell out. Take a breath, it's not as complicated as you think"- Corleto

The gentle prying to begin with my puddy knife

Here goes nothin', I got my tools together and began to disassemble the port frame from the inside. All the while being careful with my screwdriver so as not to slip and crack the glass. When that was completed and all the screws were in a secure place, I went topside to begin to pry the frame free of the cabin. Patience was the order of the day and surprisingly, given my impatient nature, I took it slowly. Once the frame was free and the old butyl tape removed, I was delighted to see that no moisture had penetrated the core of the cabin walls. This led me to believe the leaky problem was in fact a seal between the glass and the aluminum frame. This turned out to be the case for both port and starboard sides. I decided that a simple re caulking of the windows would do the trick.

I took the frame home to perform the task as light was beginning to fade. Also with temps dipping and early morning dew expected, I figured having the sealant cure at room temp at home would be better in the long run.  I sealed the gapping holes with plastic and duct tape and prayed it would not rain overnight.
Applying a bead of caulking, less on me and more where it is meant to be.

My experience with all things made of glass, as briefly described earlier, pales in comparison to my experience with a caulking gun. Caulking usually ends up everywhere EXCEPT the very place I am trying to apply it. Sealing my first port light would be no different, got it on my shirt, on my pants but managed to spare my hair, but I did manage to successfully reseal glass to frame. Port light number 2 would be some what easier learning from the lessons oozing sealant that found its way to the correct crevice.
Trying to keep it neat.

After an over night of curing, it was back to Corleto for the install. I lined the frame with butyl tape and then gingerly shoved the frame back into place. Gently using my closed fist to "bump" it into its cabin hole. I was delighted that my make shift patch had kept any moisture out of the cabin structure. After a couple of choice nautical F-bombs, the frame settled into its correct position. Returning inside I assembled the inboard frame collar and screwed it tight. This sealed the butyl taped outside frame to the super structure of the cabin. A brief smile and the satisfaction of NOT breaking the glass during the process had me feeling pretty good about my window repair.

Now the true test will be when the driving rains begin. Confidence is High.

After the masking tape is removed, it looks ok. Tidier than I expected.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The One Hour Oil Change Pt.2

I retired from my "one hour" turned into entire afternoon, oil change a bit miffed at myself. How could I not complete the most elementary of tasks- the oil change. Yes I was holding my engine maintenance manhood cheap at that moment. All because I was too impatient.

On my way home I stopped into the local supermarket and picked up some tin foil baking trays. My thought was I could shape these to fit underneath the oil pan of Corleto's rather cramped diesel.
The idea then would be to remove the plug bolt and drain the over flowing engine oil in a more traditional way. Most marine engine spaces do not allow for a catch basin underneath, hence the many varieties of oil sucking devices out there on the market.

I carefully shaped my tin foil fix and carefully slid it underneath the oil pan. I did this a couple of times, practicing the removal technique as once the pan was full of oil,  I did not want to spill any and have a major mess to deal with. I double check to make sure that the 3 oil drop cloths are placed correctly so as to prevent any potential spillage from finding its way to the bilge.

My home made drain pan that I shaped into place to fit underneath the engine.

With everything in place, I take a deep breath, and begin to loosen the plug bolt. It puts up a stiff fight, but brawn overcomes the plug bolt's resistance. The flow of draining black engine oil begins to fill the makeshift catch basin. The level rising so fast that I decide to put the plug bolt back into place to stop the flow. The oil level dangerously close to overflowing in the basin. My right forearm now as black as coal, covered in old 15W40. I gingerly slide the near full tin foil pan, spilling a couple of drops onto the super absorbent cloths I had beneath the pan. Once out, I placed pan number 1 in the cockpit surrounded with more drop cloths. I then slid into place a second pan underneath to collect the remaining waste oil. It's been messy for my arm, but none found its way onto the floor or into the bilge. I smiled at that small victory.

It took several minutes for the engine to finish draining. The second pan had less than half of its available volume used. I removed pan #2 with little effort and no spillage, after replacing the plug bolt. I smiled and said under my breath, "That wasn't so bad."

New oil filter in place. 

I funnelled the oil oil in the pans into an old oil container and capped it tightly. This oil would go to the recyclers. Now I could begin to fill to the correct dipstick mark, new clean 15W40. I carefully measured out 3 litres and funnelled it into my little Universal 5411.
After a 15 minute engine run, I rechecked the level, down 1/2 litre. I made note of that on the log. Added another 1/2 and just like that my One Hour Oil Change had turned into a two day adventure.

I'll know better next time.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The One Hour Oil Change part 1.

My new Skipper has really impressed me. I was a little worried at first, but in April when he went to that diesel self help class, I knew then he was committed to me. -Corleto

The weather had cooled off from those balmy days of September and early October and I knew it was time to get my hands dirty and perform some engine maintenance. My first foray into this dark and mystical world of mechanics would be the OIL CHANGE with a replacement of the OIL FILTER. Keep in mind, until earlier this year, I had no idea what a diesel engine even looked like.

After my trip to NAPA to stock up on the right filters for my engine

After checking my notes from my April class, I made a list of supplies that had to be picked up. There was a fuel filter that the PO left for me. As it happens- its not the right one. So a trip to the local NAPA store fixed that. Confidence was high as my friend Aaron skipper of the Rosa Marie and all round boating and diesel engine Yoda was also scheduling his oil change on that same day. He had offered his electric oil pump to assist in this potentially messy task.

With Saturday upon us and the weather too messy for a sail, I confidently set out for the Marina to perform this vital operation. As I am driving along it suddenly occurred to me that I may not have enough oil aboard to effect a successful out come.

No matter, I would just stop off at the Canadian Tire and budda boom, oil shortage averted. But wait what the hell was the viscosity number?? A quick text to Yoda Aaron and boom- he sends me a photo of the oil he is using.

Now you would think that in a Canadian Tire superstore, one that has an entire wall from one end of the building to the other, dedicated to ENGINE OIL, I would find what I was looking for. Nope. It appears that they are not "More than just tires".
Yoda directs me to the closest Lordco which is just a couple of blocks away. There I find a 4 litre bottle of the very finest Alberta 15W40. By now I am over an hour behind.

Arriving at the dock and dropping off my bag of engine goodies, I went to check on Aaron. He was just finishing up his Oil change and we chatted for a few minutes. He briefed me on the operation of the electric oil pump and told me to run the engine before I begin extracting the old engine oil.

The tiny engine compartment 

I went to Corleto, started her up and ran the engine for about 15 minutes.

I hooked up the oil pump to a battery and prepared to begin. The beauty of these little pumps is there is no spillage, something that is very important to a marine environment. I figure I should be about an hour and I would be done. I inserted the tube down the dipstick shaft and started the extractor.
A wave of unbelievable well being came upon me over the drone of the little pump.

The extractor hose down the dipstick well. 

Not so fast Murman-

There's a knock on the hull, Aaron has come to check on his apprentice Oil Changer.
"How you making out?" he asks
"Good, I have been going at this for about 45 minutes" I said.
He reached in and felt the tube.
"It's not very warm, how long did you run the engine?"
"15 minutes or so" I replied.

He explains that he ran his for 45 minutes and that cooler oil will take some time to extract. He is on his way for a bite and invites me to join him. I decline opting instead to wait for the pump to finish its task.

Another hour elapses and I figure most if not all of the oil is now out of the oil pan. It is beginning to get dark as the day wares on. I remove the tube, check the dipstick, and begin to add the new liquid gold into my engine. This is not an easy task as there is very little room. I use a flexible funnel and pour carefully. The PO's notes indicate I only need 3 quarts. I measure and pour.

This takes a bit of time, but after 3 litres, I check the dip stick.

Its almost to the top of the stick, well over the high oil mark on the stick.


I decide to retire for the evening, I will have to plan a different method for day 2.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

October - ONN Weekend

This past 8 months have been a wonderful ride. Corleto has taught me more than I can possibly write down in this short post. And she still is teaching me little lessons each time I visit her at the dock. For the cash I laid down for her, she has been excellent value.

As some of you may remember, a fellow by the name David Kincaid (Kinc) helped me get her to Canadian waters back in Feb. Well Kinc extended an invitation to me to join a fall flotilla with 3 other boats set for the weekend after Canadian Thanksgiving. This fall sail had become a tradition for those involved. Up until this season, I had only heard stories of this fabled gathering. This year the Commodore had made room for one more boat. Corleto had been invited to the dance.

Being a newbie Skipper to the big weekend, Kinc offered his advice and his services to join the crew aboard Corleto. An offer which I cheerfully and graciously accepted.

Kinc and Murman aboard Corleto during the ONN Weekend

The whole idea of this weekend came about some years ago, to leave the first mates ashore, recruit some crew and head out into the "off" seasonal winds and tear ass around the bays and waterways of southern BC, under sail, boat healing, waves crashing over the bow becoming salty sailors each and everyone.

Well that was the idea. The reality was FOG and light wind. It was still a blast and I met some new faces and got reacquainted with some others. It was just great to get out there and have some fun.

Corleto showed herself well on day 1. Light winds in the fog, the group decided to race to the Bell Buoy and then to Snug Cove. After about 45 minutes- the race was called due to light or no winds- Corleto with her drifter sail had been the closest to the mark. I figured the Commodore called it off to prevent the "new" girl showing up the veterans. No matter, Kinc and I claimed victory and we'll just leave it at that.

Andy and Gord of the Sonoran Sol as the sail by Corleto

As the "camera" ship for this event we had mounted a series of GoPro cameras on various parts of the boat. On day two we mounted one on the Sonoran Sol, the Commodore's boat. We came back with some nice pics. Like any gathering, the ONN (Ongoing Nautical Nightmare) group had a ton of fun swapping sea stories and other tall tales over a celebratory "pop" or two when we all arrived at our berths both on Snug Cove and in Gibsons. The food was good and the company was better.

Kinc making sure his credit is good at Corleto's Casino deck

The casino aboard Corleto featured the blood sport of Backgammon. Just ask Kinc who's blood was all over the table,  the Skipper prefers his dice- "Loaded".

Indeed it was great fun, even if the "winds of November" didn't come early. I look forward as does Corleto to doing it all over again next October. Here's the Video- Enjoy

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What's in the Bags?

It has been a pretty good summer for me and Corleto to get acquainted. She has tested, teased and taught me much. She reveals herself in bits and pieces, she likes to be sailed, she likes to be clean and she enjoys to be pampered. What boat doesn't?

She has rewarded me with the ultimate in escapism- that great place we all seek- refuge from our daily lives, a place to recharge and reload my mental batteries. Even if I do not get out on the water and hoist the sails, just sitting at the dock, putzing around, fiddling with wiring or messing around with rigging, there is a satisfaction and a peace that is hard to describe. I am a lucky man.

When I bought her back in February, she came with a full sail inventory. A Main, working Jib, a storm Jib, a Spinnaker and a sail called a Drifter. I believe when Corleto was a younger girl, she raced. One of her previous Skippers likely loved the competition. 

I did not buy her to race, I bought her to learn and to cruise. The majority of my time aboard her we have flown her jib and main. And you know, that was fine getting to know her and how she handles at different points of sail. 

But me being me, I gotta know what's in the rest of the sail bags. I had never flown a spinny. I don't even know how they are supposed to be rigged. I figured I would save that one for next season, perhaps take a Spinnaker Clinic at Coopers in the spring. But what really intrigued the hell out of me was this head sail called a "Drifter". 

I set out on the info web to find out. You know the folks who contribute to the Sailnet forum, they know their stuff. Several told me what I could expect from a "drifter" and come to find out it is a perfect light wind sail. 
Heading out for another beautiful day on the water

Well I could hardly wait to get back to the boat and fly this beauty. But every time we left the dock, the winds were too strong for the drifter. Then one afternoon while Charlene and I were out enjoying our day, the wind seemed to disappear. Both of us had been enjoying the quiet that comes with sails and a silent engine. I decided that this would be the day that the drifter would come out of the bag. 

The Drifter
I was astonished at just how big a sail it was. Once hoisted, Corleto reacted nicely. She liked the drifter. The hull began to glide through the water with barely a breath of wind filling this newly discovered beauty. 
We put it through most points of sail and enjoyed the ride. Before I knew it as the day began to turn to evening, the wind began to pick up. I turned the helm and put Corleto into a run. Wow. We surfed for a bit as we headed back to Horseshoe Bay, the wind picking up all the way. 

It's a beauty when its full, the drifter in about 4 kts of SE wind
Dousing the drifter with a steady wind was a bit of a challenge, but with Charlene on the helm keeping Corleto dead into the wind, I managed to get this beauty down without getting it wet. 
As we motored back to our slip, there were smiles all around. We had done something we had never done before, sailed with some speed with the drifter. 

Smiles all around

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Shields Up!

When I was a boy, I used to love camping- what young lad didn't- Be it camping with my family or going to Scout camp, yes even my summer in the Military, I loved the experience of camping. But the one thing about the camping experience, that always was an annoyance of mine was,,,,,,,,, MOSQUITO'S!

These blood sucking MO FO's always found me and seemed to prefer filling up on some premium O Negative rather than dine on anyone nearby. And when settling down for the night, lights off and eyes closed, tucked away in my sleeping bag, there was always that one little SOB who could find their way near my ear and wake me from near sleep with their buzzing little wings.

Boating, call it camping on the water, surely would be different. Well that depends I suppose where you anchor or tie up. We found that even at Horseshoe Bay the little buggers like to come out just about the time you want to sit down and enjoy a meal or drink as you watch day turn into night.

We needed a solution. Our man Richard told us that he closes up for the night and uses a cover to go over his companion way to keep the bugs out from the cabin below. But what about being on deck?

The crew of Corleto thought about this problem. We could I suppose get some mosquito netting at a camping or boat store with it's insane Recreation/ Marine markup or we could use traditional repellents and candles to try to combat the little pests.

As we drove home one Saturday from the dock, Charlene says out of the blue, "Lets stop at IKEA, I think they have a solution to our problem."
I'm thinking, well when last I checked IKEA did not have a Marine section, I don't think they sell a FLURG sail or a POYNG anchor or a dingy that can only be assembled with an Alan key.
But I humour her and turn into the parking lot and in we go. And damn, don't you know my Chief Engineer heads right to the bedroom section and bam, she chucks a hooped thing into the basket, lets get two. Two hooped things into the basket. We head to the checkout and we are on our way.

A day or so later we are headed back to the boat with a new MAGMA BBQ and our magic IKEA hoops. We decide to enjoy our first BBQ on our boat when our day on the water is over. The evening is perfect. But wait, the smell of the grill and the fading daylight bring out those little buzzing insects and it is then I see the brilliance of Charlene's hoops of wonder. As we hang one from the boom over top of the Cockpit.

The magic hoop as it hangs from Corleto's boom

We sit down and enjoy a nice meal with zero bug interference. 
It is when we are away on our Schooner Cove trip that the icing on the cake comes when a number of boaters who see us with Mosquito canopy deployed, complement Charlene with what a clever idea it is. Some ask, "What marine store did you find it?"- Charlene answers "IKEA - 9 bucks." For a couple of boating noobs, we are pretty proud of our Mosquito Shield.

Chief Engineer and Idea Lady Charlene preparing to enjoy her morning Coffee under the protection of the SHIELD 

You can enjoy a bite free book, and a relaxing beverage under the SHIELD

So now whenever we settle down for the evening to enjoy some time on Corleto's decks with a nice meal and a glass of wine or a nice cold one, we put the Shield Up and sit back and enjoy our bug free evening.
Bug free and lovin' it.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Whale of a Tale

Every weekend on the boat had brought us to a new learning level, be it chores around the dock, sail skills on the water, or how we could better interact as a crew,  we both learned something new each and every time. This growth was pointing us toward our first longer cruise. Up until now 4 hours on the water seemed to be the limit of Charlene's tolerance. No matter how I planned the best case for this trip would take about 6.5 hours to transit from our dock at Horseshoe Bay to Schooner Cove on Vancouver Island. This would test us both. For her, endurance. For me, patience and being able to confidently pilot Corleto into a strange and new harbour.

We were making the trip to visit one of Charlene's friends, who had recently moved to the Island. I chose Schooner Cove as it was close to our final destination. The entrance into the harbour looked fairly straight forward and for my first "cruise" it appeared to be a good destination.

All we needed now was a good weather window to align with my vacation time and we would be off. For a week prior, I watched the weather and predicted winds. I was hoping for a steady breeze that would not be hitting me dead on the nose as we made our crossing.

We set our sails on the morning of Monday July 22. The reports called for diminishing winds later in the day. I was ok with that as there were no wind warnings in effect for our part of the Straight. I set up a couple of GoPro cameras to record our adventure.

On our way for our first crossing of the Straight

The wind filled our sails as we set our course toward a point on the charts just off Cape Roger Curtis. I wanted to use this passage to work on my Charting skills and kept busy making notes and recording fixes and GPS coordinates and comparing and plotting them on my chart.
Charlene kept watch, read her book and enjoyed all that surrounded her.

"Wouldn't it be nice to see a whale? " I said to her
"That would be fantastic." She answered.

We had seen dolphin on a previous sail within the confines of Howe Sound. But had never encountered a whale.

We were making decent speed as we headed int the Straight, Cape Roger Curtis now abeam of us. Charlene spots a curious seal checking us out just off our starboard bow. I make note of the GPS and time of the sighting. The temperature is rising as the sun gets higher in the sky. This is going to be a warm one.

Round about 11:00 the winds die right off, so much so that the sails struggle to capture it. I decide to take the headsail down, but keep the main up. It's helping us along but barely. If anything the main acts as a shade. Its shadow a welcomed post for Charlene as she keeps a sharp eye, on the lookout for wayward logs or if we're lucky a spout from a surfacing whale.

Charlene under the shade of the main- her favorite spot on the boat.

Corleto's Universal engine is pushing us along at about 4.5 kts. By now the Vancouver side is looking smaller, and Vancouver Island is getting bigger. We are definitely making progress toward our destination.
I glance at my watch, it is time to make another plot on my chart. I go below to extrapolate the numbers in my notebook and plot them on the Chart.

Suddenly, "Murray get up here quick!" screams Charlene her voice pitch nearly giving me a heart attack.
I scramble up to the helm. She's pointing to a dark object with a dorsal fin less than 25 meters directly in front of my bow! Its a WHALE!
"Oh my God, it's wonderful!" Charlene still in an excited voice marvelling at the encounter.

I immediately grab the helm and bear the boat off in a 90 degree turn to port and slow the engine down to almost an idle to avoid the great beast. It's shadow I can clearly see off our starboard beam as it swims around and away from us. I went below to grab my camera, but when I returned it was gone.
Charlene saw it surface twice, I only saw it arch its back and dorsal fin and its shadow.
I quickly made note of the GPS and wrote it down.
We both strained our eyes to see if we could spot it again. It did not show itself to us again, and just like that the encounter was over.

I was kicking myself for not having any of the cameras rolling at that moment. There simply was no time. Not even a shot on the iPhone. I now have to hold my News Photographer manhood cheap, not even a single shot, I suck.

But the encounter was the high light of the crossing. It brought a nice boost to the crew during what could have been the dullest part of the day. It brought smiles and a realization that we are only guests on the oceans and it reinforced the notion that we must take care of these waterways.

On approach

It was not long before we were entering the barrier Islands as we approached the entrance to Schooner Cove. The islands were a nice change as their features made for a nice contrast from dark waters.
Before we knew it we were tied up, without incident and our first crossing was now in the log book.

Here is the video of our crossing. Please enjoy.

Sunday, July 28, 2013


"With each weekend, each chore, my skipper is gaining confidence. I am growing fond of his crew mate, she makes great suggestions and keeps my new skipper in line. I think we could be sisters"- Corleto

With the summer cruising season upon us, I am anxious to get out on an extended cruise. But there is still so much to do. That "List" never seems to get shorter. But the last few weeks it feels like progress has been made with the completion of the "holding tank" problem and the addition of the Magma BBQ. Each of the last several weekends, the trip to the Marina involved work and no play.

The second weekend in July promised to be no different, until my newly promoted Chief Engineer suggested as we got to the dock- "Why don't we just sail today."

Music to my ears!

Corleto and her crew as she heads out into Howe Sound 

We cast off and set sail for waters nearby. This would act as an occasion to exercise the crew. We practiced our tacks and gybes. Otto worked flawlessly as we tested him with both motor and sail. We worked on our communication and did not play ourselves out. Both days were glorious and good for the soul. This is what I had visions of when I bought Corleto back in February.

Things that were so difficult on those early cruises, like sail trimming, keeping a steady helm, hoisting and dousing sails were becoming more relaxed and efficient.

Charlene on the helm in English Bay

Charlene was gaining confidence up on the bow. It was becoming her preferred position on the deck.
On that Sunday, in a stiff wind and bumpy chop, she scurried up to the bow and had that working jib down and secured so fast, you would have thought she had crewed an America's Cup boat. You could not wipe the look of pride off of my face after seeing that.
Coming into the dock, again her skill impresses me. She keeps those eyes sharp and anticipates the boat well. Stepping off the "fat" part of the boat and onto the dock she has that break line cleated in seconds. As couples go, we are not the "show".

After the engine is shut off and my stern line secured, we engage in a congratulatory embrace. The exchange celebrating how far we have come, in today's outing, and on our greater cruising journey. There is still much for us to learn together and we know it will be all in good time. For now we accept our boating victory- a good daysail, time on the water, together. This is our end of voyage ritual, one we borrowed from a more experienced couple we observed weeks ago. It is one we will carry into our voyages of the future, no matter how long or how short.

With Corleto snug in her berth, we treated ourselves to a nice hot meal prepared on our new marine grill. We sat back, enjoyed the view and enjoyed the trappings of boat ownership. With our first trans Straight of Georgia passage on the horizon, it was good to have crew moral at a high.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Pumps and Prayers

I am going to forgo photos for this post as I believe the Theatre of the Mind is really all you need.

The weekend that I had been dreading was now upon me. I had asked for prayers, sought any information I could glean from any source. My man Richard (the mast climber) had given me some pointers and suggestions, but now it was up to me to cure Corleto of her bowel trouble. Yes I was about to tackle the nastiest of boat chores, the fixing of the holding tank system.

I had discovered that Corleto had a bit of leakage around a discharge pump every time we used the head. It would not manifest itself for several hours, but the tell tale sign of moisture and that distinctive odour suggested that all was not right with Coleleto's digestive system. Surgery would be required. But would it be a simple fix? Or a complete reconstruction of the system, only way to tell was to get in there and get'er done.
My first task was to steam off all of the build up around the pump. I used a hand steamer to do this. That is when I discovered cracks on the santi pipe around the pump. If I was lucky all it would be is a simple replacement of the cracked pipes and we would be done. I began with removal of the pipe from the thru hull to the pump, working backwards toward the holding tank itself.
That first section of hose came off with a bit of coaxing and only made a minor mess in the little compartment.
I could now inspect inside of the pump. This was not good as it was totally blocked by the crystals that had formed over the years. The pump would have to be removed and replaced. It too came off with a bit of coaxing and a couple of F-bombs. Now I had a bit of spillage of a darker, nastier nature. More F-Bombs. I had to cut a section of pipe to remove the cracks. I cut it just a bit short.  More spillage, even more F-Bombs. I quickly plugged the open pipe with a bung.

It was indeed fortunate that the spillage was contained within the small compartment and did not escape into the rest of the boat. I made a quick clean up and disinfected the area right away. Once everything was dry and clean I could perform the next test.
I needed to make sure that this pipe/pump was in fact, the problem. So I pumped some seawater into the system via the marine head. Provided nothing came out of the holding tank at the bottom and all other junctions and pipe joints did not weep, we could simply replace what had been removed. Simple. It only dripped by the bung. EURIKA! We have found the problem.

I decided that for this season, I would not replace the thru hull which was locked shut and was pretty much useless in this system. It would wait until next years haul out. I figured the pump would be replaced at that point as well so I decided that all I would have to do is join the old pipe with a section of new pipe which would connect to the closed thru hull and DING DING DING, I would have a closed system.

I discussed my solution with my crew. She suggested running it by more experienced owners nearby. It seemed like a good plan and a good fix.
Off to the Marine Supply store to pick up a section of santi pipe. I was kinda proud of myself. This difficult dreaded job seemed to be over.

Returning to the dock with a spring in my step and new santi hose in hand, I figured another 15 minutes and it would be done. Now all I had to do was attach the new pipe to both the old one and bridge the gap to the thru haul. Easy, peezy.

When I removed the bung,,,,, Remember, I had asked for prayers,,,,,,,, those prayers were not enough.

A fountain of the foulest, nastiest stuff you could possibly imagine came flying out of the old pipe. I dropped the bung and grabbed another to stem the torrent. I was now looking at an environmental disaster. Surely the Feds would need to send an emergency response team to save the wee turtles.

You see I did not expect, that is, I mistakenly thought, the holding tank was empty. I figured that the earlier spillage was just residual matter. I had been sold a boat full of someone else's ,,,,,,,, stuff.

I gave up for the day.  An early morning voyage to Snug Cove to a pump out station was now a priority.
The staff there were very helpful. Pump out was the first thing I should have done but overlooked before the project had even begun. It was fast and easy, And the killer, the pump out was only 10 bucks.

Meanwhile back at our dock I still had a hose to attach. Even that little task would fight me. Remember that short pipe? Well a big mans hands cannot get a decent grip and the heating method (my hand steamer) is not doing the job. I was frustrated to no end and was beginning to think that my boat hated me.

And that is when those prayers were answered- my crew- Charlene suggested that she help and suggested that I use boiling water to soften the pipe. She of course was right. And she has been promptly promoted to Chief Engineer.

What should have been a 3 hour project had turned into a 2 day boat enema.

Yippy Ky Yay- It's done!

Now Lets go Cruising!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Acquisitions and Installations

June brought little sailing for my crew. There was the first weekend outing that ended in sea sickness and the "Father's Day" voyage that only involved a brief engine run to Bowen. But it was nice to finally meet the Skipper's kids even though it was only for an afternoon.- Corleto

The month of June had been a bit disappointing as far as sailing the boat was concerned. There was poor weather, lack of crew and of course the always present "list of things to do". But I did manage to get out briefly on Father's Day with the kids. Their first time aboard- I really enjoyed that.

Happy Father's Day - my daughter Sarah and son Ben

Of course the replacement of Old Otto was a big one to scratch off the "list". Now when at sea a steady course could be maintained while attending to matters away from the helm. That was a big one. Trying to douse sails  into the wind with someone not confident with the tiller could be an adventure. Otto steers steady and eliminates the angst of going forward.

Then there was the matter of the Windex, not the glass cleaner, but the wind vane that sits atop of the mast. Corleto's had been broken, but at the time of sale her former skipper made sure a new one was included. It just had to be installed. That would require a climb up the mast for the installation. 

Now anyone who knows me, can imagine my 240 plus frame being winched high above the deck to effect the installation. What could possibly go wrong. Lots. 
Lucky for me I had been introduced some weeks ago to a fellow who not only has forgotten more than I will ever know about boating, but he was once a Lineman and had spent his professional life climbing utility poles. He had offered to scale my mast and install this vital piece of equipment. Meet Richard and his first mate Pat -owners and crew of the pleasure sailboat Habu.  These folks always have suggestions to the many conundrums that come with owning a sailboat. They have cruised all over this wonderful coast and are making ready for a 3 month voyage up north. 

He came over one afternoon, taking a break from painting his decks, knocking on Corleto's hull. I was deep into the bowels of the boat, searching for a weeping leak of all things,,, the holding tank system- not pleasant. I was more than happy to postpone my task with the nasty plumbing to take Richard up on his offer. 

Before long Richard attached the halyard to his bosans chair, Pat and I began winching him skyward. Once aloft he quickly installed the Windex and checked on all things at the top of the mast. On his decent, which speaking from my perspective on the winch, was a whole lot easier than the trip up, he inspected standing rigging, lights and spreaders. It was a relief when he landed back on the deck to report that all was good aloft. 

Richard aloft installing Corleto's new Windex

It was great to have that task off the "to do list".

In one of the many conversations we have had with Richard and Pat as well with our slip neighbour  Aaron, it was suggested that a boat tender or dingy might be something to look into. I hadn't really thought too much of it except to add that to the "I wants" list for maybe next season. But the more people spoke of just how handy a tender is when at anchor, I decided to begin to look. It wasn't long before I found one. But was it too big for my 27 Catalina? I went to check it out. It sure looked big. I took my measuring tape and jotted numbers down, returned to the boat and began to fill in those numbers with actual fore deck size. It would be a tight squeeze. I pulled the trigger and now have acquired a dingy tender a full year ahead of plan. Oh boy, the dollars just keep flying out of my pocket.
But the upside is we have one now and are able to explore a bit when at anchor. We just need to get out there.

The dingy- and not the guy waving to the camera

Now the final issue- the holding tank. I found the weep. It was from the old santi pipes, they have developed a couple of cracks. So full replacement of the piping from the tank to the thru hull and to the deck pump out is required. Thats a job for the first Saturday in July.

Pray for me.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Bastard Son of Otto

It is with some regret that I must announce the passing of Crew member "Otto" the Autohelm.
Otto was an original member of Corletto's crew and accepted the new Skipper with the respect and enthusiasm of any professional mariner. He was an old salt and helped guide Corleto on many adventures. His final voyage he kept a steady course as he helped guide Corleto's new crew north to Point Roberts and beyond.
But as many old salts, time has a way to creep up on him, and ol' Otto collapsed at his post, his grip firmly on the tiller, heading north to Vancouver on a rainy and cold February day. The skipper tried to revive him but all efforts failed and now ol' Otto will be buried at sea.

Otto the Autohelm laying in state aboard Corleto

And while I am sad about Otto's passing, we are celebrating the addition to the crew of New Digital Otto. I had hoped that Otto Jr would simply plug into his dad's two pronged socket, but no, that would be too easy. It seemed that when ol' Otto was at sea, Mrs. Otto was gettin' her digital freak on with some Engineer at Raymarine. Junior has a socket with six input leads. No matter, I need to put those new marine wiring skills to use sooner or later and install the Bastard Son of Otto onto Corleto.

The new socket receptacle for Junior

The install operation went very well, except for the fact I could not find my precision screw driver set that I always keep in my car. Thank god for dollar stores, as I found a set for 2 bucks. Perhaps the most inexpensive tools in the Corleto tool box.

With what, I felt was, the skill of a surgeon, I drilled and connected wires of the new socket mount. Carefully installing it to the engine panel. I was pretty pleased- until I discovered that I had overlooked a rather important detail- that of a rubber gasket to keep the water out of the electrical panel.

After the appropriate F-Bomb, I got to work to reopen the wound and do some corrective surgery.

"Ratchet Screw Driver,,"
Mumble, mumble,,,
"Precision standard,,,,"
Mumble, mumble,,,
"Ok close the patient,,,,,,"
"Diet Pepsi,,,,,"

Now the moment of truth, would Otto respond?

Turn power on,,,,,
"beep, beep, beep"

We have a heart beat. We have brought to life the newest member of Corleto's crew, Otto Jr. the new Autohelm. He would be a welcome addition and I am sure make his namesake proud.

Otto Jr- on sea trials- performing like a pro.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Weekend on the Water

The May long weekend. I have no words, but I do have VIDEO. Please enjoy.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Words I Wanted to Hear

I know it has been a bit since pounding out thoughts to words on this Blog. Perhaps it has taken me that long to recover from my last adventure on the "high seas". Let's set the "way back" machine to two  Sunday's ago and the scene, a perfect sunny Howe Sound day.

I had been feeling very good about Corleto's recent marine survey and my tires had been pumped by many about my docking prowess. This sailboat skipper thing was really beginning to grow on me. We had met a fine fellow that has a berth next to ours at the marina. He sails his boat single handed and is always looking to have others join him on the water. 
After a day of cleaning, our neighbour Aaron, invited us to join him with Corleto out on Howe Sound/ English Bay for an afternoon of having some fun in the wind. It sounded great. The weather forecast was for light winds, a perfect day on the water with sails full and land based troubles far far away. 

Charlene and I cast off just before 11 am and motored our way out into the Sound. Aaron with his 29 foot sailboat Serenity Now was not far behind. The sun was out and the winds were very light about 4 kts. 
I hoisted the main, and the jib and both filled with the breeze and just like that Corleto came to life as I set a course toward Bowen Island. 
Amazing how the sounds of the rigging and the sails take you to that happy place that defines nirvana.

A look behind us, and Aaron on Serenity Now, putting out his laundry and filling his sails. A scan ahead off our port bow, a club outing from Bowen Island. The fleet all heading toward the entrance to English Bay. We adjusted our course to parallel the Bowen Fleet, keeping a sharp eye out for ferries in and out of Horseshoe Bay as we made way. All was right with the world. The name Serenity Now seemed very appropriate, for that is what were were feeling serenity, now.

Aaron, Skipper of Serenity Now in Howe Sound

Howe Sound is shaped much like a funnel and is flanked by mountains on each side. It a beautiful fjord  with winds that can race down from the glaciers of the Tantalus Mountains,  Mount Garibaldi and the backside of the mountains of Cypress Provincial Park. 

Just after noon, I noticed that Aaron, had changed course and was heading back toward Horseshoe Bay. He had been having some difficulty, or so I had thought. What he saw and what I missed was the katabatic wind that was about to make our day a whole lot more,,,,, interesting. 

Charlene first felt a cold kiss of air on her cheek and mentioned it to me. The winds began to pick up and all of a sudden, Corleto was accelerating to 6 kts. 
OK i thought this would be fun clipping along toward English Bay with some speed. We had this brisk winds coming from our port quarter and we were on a run towards Point Atkinson. The boat was surprisingly calm with this sudden wind burst. But the winds just kept picking up. I figured the wind speed went from 5 to 30 + kts in about 4 minutes. I had Charlene prepare for a Gybe as I wanted to put the wind to my Starboard quarter. I hardened the main sheet to bring the boom as close to center as possible, and Gybed. It seemed to go quite well, that is until both of my Jib sheets went flying through the blocks and began whipping around the front of the bow.

Shit, a rookie mistake, no stopper knots on the jib sheets. Now the jib was making an ungodly sound with sheets in and out of the water. 
I had Charlene take the tiller while I would scurry up front to get control of the wayward Jib. 
She could not seem to hold the course and the sudden weather helm forced her to turn the boat onto a beam reach. With a full main the boat healed over so far I thought she would put the rails into the water. Just at that moment I had grabbed the Jib. The sudden force of the now fully powered sail damn near threw me overboard. I simply let go of the sail and scurried back to the helm. All the while poor Charlene was fighting the helm. Corleto was doing circles at a rather fast speed. Fortunately there were no other boats close by.

Serenity now?,,,, more like Apocalypse Now!

I managed to get back to the helm.
By this time I could see that Charlene was completely spooked and shaken. I had to get this sail under control and get this Jib down. My mind was racing at light speed. I am sure my heart rate was doing the same. 
I maneuvered the boat in such a way as to have the way word jib sheets flip to the cockpit I managed to grab one. The boat gybed- I didn't plan that one- If that happened again I figured I would rip the boom  right off the mast. I managed to have Charlene take the helm one last time. My mission this time was to just get the jib down and secured to the pulpit. This time Charlene managed to keep her course, sort of, for the 2 minutes it took me to get the hanked sail down and a sheet tied to act as a tie down for the headsail.

I got back to the helm. 
Now as the winds and waves are increasing yet again, I had to come up with a plan to get what was an over powered Main down. I put the boat into a run and began to head to the mouth of the Sound with the plan to duck into the lee of Point Atkinson using the point as a wind break or to head to the lee side of one of those massive ships at anchor in English Bay. 
Of course what I should have done was just turn the boat into the wind and drop the sail, but again with the speed of thoughts flying through my brain, the thought scanners missed the most obvious course of action.

The other problem with my boat is, there is no topping lift rigged from the top of the mast. All Corleto has is a lift that hooks the boom on the center of the back stay. Completely useless to me in this situation. 

No matter. 
I had an over powered main, in a run, with a crew member that was shaken and worried about potentially loosing me overboard, and wanting to avoid crashing the boom onto the deck. 

I eased the main out. The boat was now a bit "happy-er". 
Then I worked on comforting and reassuring my crew. I told her of how proud I was of her for keeping her course while I got the headsail down. She became quiet. That worried me. But I spoke softly and reassured her that we were OK and that the boat was OK. 

I then hardened the main sheet and began to bring down the main. I placed the boom on the dodger. The main was finally down, the squall seemed to be over. but the seas were now very choppy. With the engine running and my crew calm, I turned the boat towards home and began the long slosh home to Horseshoe Bay. 

We both were silent as we headed home. I was just trying to get my heart rate back to non lethal levels. Charlene was now battling sea sickness.  Could this get any worse? 

We finally pulled into Horseshoe Bay. I slowed the engine. I tried to get fenders ready and at least one dock line ready. The boat was still being smacked by rough waves. 
I asked Charlene if she was able to get up on the bow with a dock line. She did. 
As I turned the corner into our Marina, I noticed a figure waiting at our berth. It was Aaron. He helped us tie up and had tea on his boat, something to help calm us all. It was an amazing gesture. One that I will not forget. 

Charlene got off the boat and collapsed into my arms and let it all out. I figured the next words out of her mouth were going to be "I'm never getting on this boat ever again". And just like that my sailing days would be over.

But she said- " Murray, I think I should take some sailing lessons"

I had her enrolled the next day.

Charlene- during her Crew Course at Cooper's 

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Haul Out Butterflies

It had been over a month since I became the owner of my first sailboat "Corleto" an 82 Catalina 27. It was bought sight on scene without the customary presale survey. It had been a gamble, but would it prove to be a costly mistake? This question would be answered whether I like it or not during the haul out and insurance survey that I had arranged to take place last week.

As the day approached, my mood and nerves were short. My stomach in knots, imagining all sorts of bad news coming from such an exercise. I read as much as I could about bottom painting, replacing anodes and the like. The best info I had was she hadn't been hauled for two seasons. What would be in store? Could I get finished what needed to be done in the 3 day window of the haul out? My head was spinning at an alarming rate. Perhaps I should wire up a tachometer to my head to see if I am red lining.

The weekend before the scheduled haul, I had booked myself into a marine diesel engine course at Cooper's Boating. Why not put more new information into an already melting down brain.
Turns out the course was perhaps the best investment to date as it pertains to looking after my new beauty. The parts that looked so intimidating to me when I bought her, now seemed to make sense. At least I could identify the parts and components. Being around other boat owners was good for me as well. We traded war stories of boat ownership. It was encouraging that I seemed to be doing OK compared to some. I took a bit of comfort in that.

It had been many years since I had been into the small harbour that is Thunderbird Marina, home of the travel lift and the yard that would serve as dry dock for Corleto. It was recommended I arrive around 13:30 as the tide would be rising and that would insure sufficient water under keel coming to the lift.

My friend Kinc had offered his services to come and help with the haul out and bottom work. He also drove my vehicle from our home Marina to Thunderbird while Charlene and I motored Corleto to the yard. It was a pleasant trip. But as we approached the entrance to the harbour, my stomach began to do back flips.

More like bats flying around inside.

I looked at my watch, we were early.
Was there enough water to have us motor on in? I decided to do several slow circles in the widest part of the harbour killing some time. At about 13:30 with Charlene up on the bow with dock line at the ready, I committed to the narrow channel into the travel lift.
Dead slow, there was no turning back.
My depth meter read 11 feet, 10 feet ,,, 8 feet.
This was the most tension I had ever felt when on a helm. Charlene kept a sharp eye on the water ahead, silently pointing potential rock hazards. She was fast becoming a good bowman, keeping the helmsman aware of what was ahead. Time seemed to stand still as we progressed. It seemed longer than I remembered with Kinc's boat all those years ago.
We came to the end of the channel where we had to make a sharp turn to port. As Corleto's bow came around there was Kinc on the dock. We had done it. We hadn't scraped the bottom or smacked ourself into another vessel.
A voice from the travel lift guided us the rest of the way. Steering the boat toward the cradle straps, Bob ( the Yard Boss) told me to cut the engine. And just like that Corleto was in the grips of the lift crew.

As we disembarked, it began to rain. The motors of the travel lift began to whine. Corleto whether she liked it or not was about to show us her nether regions. The crew went to work to spray her bottom and remove any growth, before settling her into her blocks.

Corleto showing off her bottom

I was astonished at what I saw. The bottom looked in great shape.  It was determined that I would not need to paint the hull this season. A look at the prop and shaft, and it too was is great condition. The zincs would need changing, no big deal.

The Marine Surveyor was quick to hop aboard and begin his work. When it was done, he found a couple of minor things that could be looked at, but all in all he said to me that she was a great boat for her age and that I got a great deal. He shook my hand, gave me a valuation and you could not wipe the smile off my face. It appears the gamble had paid off in spades. I had a good boat and she will serve us well as a coastal cruiser.
Sitting proudly on her blocks

Keeping in mind this was my first experience as an owner with a boat on the hard. The Yard crew made us feel very welcome and told us that no question was too stupid. They were simply amazing. One fellow providing tips on the use of Muriatic Acid. Another stopping by from time to time to inspect my work. He would tell Charlene what he thought of our work and make the odd suggestion if we were headed in the wrong direction. They made us feel right at home. And their thoughts and expertise were truly appreciated.

New Zincs on the prop shaft

When it was time to relaunch, the Boss took one more walk around to inspect the prop, and hull. He reinforced the sentiments of the Marine Surveyor with "You got yourself a good little boat, it should give you allot of fun this summer."

One more walk around before relaunch

We hopped aboard after they set Corleto gently into the water. I started the engine, engaged the transmission and with a salute from Bob (the Yard Boss) "You look like a Skipper Murray. Have fun, sail safe."

We headed back to Horseshoe Bay. This time the butterflies were gone.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Putting out the Laundry

With the weather in all its glorious splendor this past Easter weekend, it was the perfect time to begin to whittle down that long list of "to do's" aboard Corleto. We arrived at the dock early with the intent of perhaps firing up the engine and heading out into Howe Sound to put up the sails. I was reminded that today was the day we were hosting some friends at the house, so the "sail" part of the day was quickly written off. But with a long list of cleaning tasks, staying tied up was to be the order of the day.

Corleto as she sits at her berth in the Horseshoe Sun- Notice the dodger windows

Seeing the extent of the job to do, took the wind out of Charlene's sails. She retired to find more coffee in the village. In the meantime I got to work on hooking up the batteries to the charger that Kinc and I could not get to work when we brought Corleto from Bellingham. We had run the batteries down while  tied up at the dock stateside, figuring that our batteries were being charged by the charger hooked to shore power. It had not, and after a rather exhausting trouble shoot we figured we had a corrosion issue with the leads to the charger. The solution at the time to get the engine started was to get a boost or buy a new battery. The new battery got us on our way.

Getting the charger fixed or replaced was high on my priority list when Corleto finally arrived at her berth in Horseshoe Bay. I had spent a couple of lunch hours throughout the week cleaning up the leads to a shinny patina. I thought that would do it. But when I hooked up the shinny new cable ends, the charger still did not come to life.
It was then I began to feel around the frame of the charger, something both Kinc and I did while at dock in Bellingham weeks before. I felt what I thought was a button. Perhaps a reset button. No.
What the hell was it? I then decided to take a photo with my trusty iPhone of the bottom of this stubborn box. To my astonishment, my surprise, and embarrassment- the photo showed an "on off" switch. Nowhere in the manual of this piece of equipment was this information mentioned.
Corleto was laughing her ass off at this one. And rightly so.

The elusive "on/off" switch

The next thing on that sunny Easter weekend was to do a bit of cleaning. I began with the cockpit. Charlene had still not returned with her coffee yet. I feared she had already abandoned ship and I had lost my crew. But when she returned she had seen the difference between the clean side of the deck and the great unwashed section. She seemed encouraged, and went to work on the dodger windows armed with her research on how to make them transparent again.
When she was done, they looked like new. And to me that in itself was the biggest victory so far. Corleto smiled and gleamed. She liked Charlene for her care of the windows.

Notice the clean windows on the dodger

Easter Sunday brought us back to the dock. Instead of cleaning we elected to take Corleto out and get her sails up. It was magic when we got out there.
We only tooled around for 3 hours or so, but Corleto loved the workout. She performed wonderfully and the laundry was finally in the wind. All this on the last weekend in March.

A happy couple on the water Easter Sunday

Corleto wasn't done with me. As we were returning to Horseshoe Bay, with the wind at our stern, I decided to douse the main and just sail with the jib. This is where in my euphoria I made a rookie mistake. Forgetting to tension and attach the topping lift, I began to drop the main. The boom came crashing down onto the Dodger frame. Just missing my head by about 6 inches.
Excitement ensued for about 45 seconds. I quickly got Charlene on the helm and I got to work on fixing my error. When it was said and done, there was no dammage except for my sailor's ego. Again I could hear Corleto chuckling at her Keystone Skipper. I won't do that again.
It was the only hic up of an otherwise perfect day. And I am sure there are more of them to come in the very near future.

Life is good on the water

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The List - Its Long

 "I am afraid that my new fella is going to be so very disappointed with me. He wants to get his sail freak on, but I'm just not ready for that yet,,," - Corleto

I was able to manage to get a couple of days of rest after returning to Vancouver with my new pride and joy, "Corleto" a 27 foot Catalina. The foul weather of late Feb finally broke on the last day of the weekend and I was able to get the engine running and cast off with little incident, leaving the dock at False Creek YC and finally heading to Horseshoe Bay.

A confident skipper

We headed out into English Bay, tide running against us- what else is new, with a course that would take us round Point Atkinson into Howe Sound and then a turn into Horseshoe Bay. I had a brand new sailing mate with me. She and I have been many places, but on a sailboat together was not one of them. Her sailing experience was that of a "Galley Slave" on a cruise that her and her friends took some years ago in the tranquil waters of Greece. I had been warned by her that she knew not of sheets and halyards, tacking or gybing or any other nautical skill. But what she had was a great attitude and a smile that has always made the troubles of the world just fade to insignificance. I looked forward to her learning, and joining me on this wonderful adventure.

Point Atkinson Light House in the distance.

I had her take the tiller for a brief time. I told her she needed to "feel" the boat under power from those 11 raging horses coming from Corleto's Universal Engine. It was a pleasant experience. Sun in our faces, seas that had a bit of a chop and smiles all around. This would be but a taste of what would await when sailing season finally arrives.

As we approached the entrance to the marina, I slowed the engine. I began to explain what I needed from my new crew member as we would dock. She seemed at the ready, and I remembered my docking instruction from many years ago. "Don't be the SHOW" our instructor would say.

We weren't.

I was very proud of her for just how well we came in and quietly docked Corleto to her slip. You would have thought we had done it a hundred times before. I went home that day very satisfied and pleased that Corleto was finally tied up nicely at her berth. We would see the boat again on the next weekend.

Nicely tied up in Horseshoe Bay

There was still much to do. Cleaning- inside and out, replacing dock lines that were old and chaffed, I wanted to get the sails up so I could see just how all of the rigging came together. But when I arrived I noticed something was missing. One of the fenders was gone. The rope used to hold that fender in place was still there, but the brand new white fender was gone. I had flown over the Marina just 48 hours ago. They were all there then. The piss off was this one was located at the "fattest" part of the boat and Corleto had been rubbing the dock. There was scratches on the gel coat. The area affected was about the size of my hand. I was not happy about this turn of events.
We quickly got to work on cleaning the inside and I began to replace the dock lines. All the while muttering and grousing about the "new project" of repairing the gel coat. That would have to be another day. It would be added to the list, along with troubleshooting a problem with the Otto the Tiller Pilot, replacing an electrical receptacle cover and trying to get the battery charger to work.

I had wanted to take her out and put sails to wind, but alas it was not to be on that weekend. Funny how fast time flies when your having fun. So with the main salon cleaned and the smell of vinegar fresh below ( white vinegar and water is a remarkable cleaner and its green for the environment) we left for home.

During the work week I had made a point of checking in on Corleto. I did not want to return a week later to find more damage. Each time I visited, the fenders were secure and she was sitting pretty. I managed to replace the receptacle cover and sand shinny the leads from the battery charger.

That week it rained like a son of a bitch and when we came to the marina over this past weekend we discovered that we had a drip coming from one of the chainplates. This has a simple fix I am told, but it's time consuming.
I did manage to get the sails up at the dock and see that all of the blocks were in good order. The winds were gusty, so again we passed on a day sail and instead re installed the curtains and enjoyed our lunch conversing with our dock neighbour Aaron. He and his dog had just come in when we had arrived and he told us that his crossing had been cold. He gave me some good advice about where to find info about repairs. Who knew that Catalina Direct would become my new favorite web site.

So that brings me to this freakin' list that keeps growing.

Chain plate resealing,
Charger repair,
ignition replacement,
more cleaning,
haul out,
bottom paint,
marine survey,
deck cleaning,
ships compus replacement,
gel coat repair,
windex installation,
and there's more.

F%&$! The joys of sail boat ownership,
I just want to get out there and get the sails up.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Commin' Home, I'm Commin' Home

"His confidence grew with each nautical mile. I knew I had to do something to keep him just a bit off balance. But I didn't want to break him" -Corleto

With weather forecasts sounding bad we went to sleep in Point Roberts knowing that no matter what the weather, one way or the other we would be headed home tomorrow. Point Roberts being very close to home so a pick up of the crew by car "rescue" was indeed in play.

I awoke early, and dialed into the 24 Hour marine forecast. As the clock turned 7am the updated forecast began. Light winds, rain. We're a go. Kinc and I were both up and ready within 30 minutes. This day would go smoothly,,, or would it?

I just got back from brushing my teeth when Kinc said " Murman, where's the key?"
"Its in the drawer on the yellow float"
"You mean this broken key?" he shows me the key float with just the stub of the broken key ( it had been broken by the yacht broker a couple of weeks back)
"But where's the good key they were on the same ring" my heart sank and Corleto I know was having  her classic evil laugh as she had to be the author of this rather nasty practical joke.
I immediately began to search the only areas where the key had been.
Kinc grabbed the waste basket.

"Here it is!" Kinc holding the waste basket. "It must have pulled off the ring when I grabbed it out from the drawer."
We both had a nervous laugh and I went straight to the ignition and fired up the engine. It started. Day two would be a go and the key incident was just Corleto's good morning prank.

Before long we were bidding farewell to Point Roberts. The tide was running against us, but we were making way, this time towards Point Grey and Vancouver.

My goals today were, One: don't get run over by a ferry- The Tswassassin -Ferry terminal was just North of Point Roberts. Two: don't get run over by a freighter- we were transiting through the main sea lane in and out of Vancouver- Canada's busiest port. And Three: not to run aground getting by Sand Heads at the mouth of the Fraser River.

We managed to avoid the ferries although we were crossing their path around 9am, I can only assume that the 9 o'clock boat was delayed in classic BC Ferries fashion on that morning because we crossed without incident.
As we travelled, the rain began and the visibility became reduced. Our GPS kept trying to put us up and onto the Roberts Bank. I could just make out markers and decided to just keep to the seaward of those markers regardless of what the GPS wanted to do.
It turns out that was the right call.

A bit of an indication of just how moist it was on that day.

A freighter came up from behind us out of the grey. We were not on intersecting courses and we made sure we stayed well to the starboard of any overtaking traffic. We watched this massive beast overtake us on our port side about 1 -2 NM away. Objective 2 was successful. It appeared that the crew of the Corleto- Kink, Jacques, Murman and Otto (the autohelm) were proficient in ship avoidance. A good skill to have in these parts.

Kinc trying to stay out of the rain as the freighter over took us during our final leg.

My years flying in CTV Chopper 9 paid off as well on this leg. The mouth of the South Arm of the Fraser is a very confusing cluster of markers and buoys around the Sand Heads. If you decide to follow your GPS and I dare say one's instincts on the wrong tide, you will run yourself aground or hit the Steveston Jetty. I have flown over this area a hundred times or more, my guts were telling me to bear off to seaward even though it would add more distance.
It turned out to again be the right call.

By this time it was raining and we were both getting wet. Kinc went below to tune the AM radio into the Jim Rome Show. No doubt that listening in on the Jungle and getting some of that Jungle Karma would be good for the crew's spirits. It was.
The bilge was dry and we decided to take 40 minute shifts on the tiller. "Otto" the auto pilot developed a problem just as we were passing Sand Heads, so for the rest of the way we had to steer ourselves.

With the tide running against us, it seemed that we were not making good progress. The seas began to get choppy. I could hear approaching aircraft and once they were directly overhead, I knew we were just off zero 8 left at YVR. That was encouraging.

Low cloud on the North Shore Mountians- it was a welcomed sight.

But the trip to Point Grey and the entrance to English Bay seemed to take forever. Finally we made it to the marker at the tip of the Spanish Banks. We could see the Bell Buoy off to our port side. We guided Corleto into English Bay. The seas began to subside and the trip in was as smooth as we experienced during this leg.

The Skyline as we approached False Creek- we were home

Seeing the North Shore Mountains, the ships at anchor and the skyline of downtown Vancouver lifted our soaking wet spirits. As we motored in, we made calls to those who were worried about us. To let them know we were in the home stretch. I also called my Mom who has a place on Beach Ave and a balcony view of English Bay. She came out to give us our welcome home wave from her place.
All that was left to do now was to call Canada Border Services and clear customs. That took a bit longer than I had hoped, and that dashed any notion of making it to Horseshoe Bay before dark.
We tied Corleto up at the False Creek Yacht Club for the night.

We were home.