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