24 October, 2016 — Annapolis, MD
As we prepare to untie the dock lines tomorrow morning and begin this year’s journey south we sit here wondering where the summer went.
Admittedly we didn’t do all that we were hoping to do this past summer, and thus there were fewer blog posts. So, what did we do and where did the time go?
While the first summer was our time to get familiar with the boat, this past summer was doing things to make it easier for us to use the boat and sail and also make it more ready to go off shore.
We bought a new life raft that easily stores in the cockpit table. It is amazingly small when it is all packed up but accommodates 4 people should the need arise. We also outfitted our ditch bag with emergency flares, signaling devices, lights, provisions, communications (VHF radio, EPIRB) and clothes so if for some reason we need to abandon ship we should be able to survive until we are picked up. This meant alot of money was spent on things we hope to never need to use.
Christina took a 2 day docking class so she would become more comfortable and skilled at maneuvering the boat in close quarters and docking in a variety of scenarios, conditions, and slip configurations. It was a great experience for her, and she has been able to practice her new skills at the helm a few times since then.
Most of our dockmates have in-mast furling main sails. This means that when they want to sail, rather than having to deal with the hassle of removing the sail cover, and raising the sail (and having it get caught up on the lazy jacks (lines designed to keep the sail neatly on the boom when it is dropped), they just have to pull a line and the sail easily rolls or unrolls from within the mast. We have had a bit of envy of the apparent ease of this set up. But, we are more traditionalists and didn’t consider this system when we had the refit done. The fact that at least 3 of the boats on our dock had their sails get stuck more than once this summer and they could not get the sail in or out without someone going up the mast to get the sail unstuck convinced us we want to keep some things simple and still don’t want that system.
But, raising the sail sometimes seems to be more trouble than it is worth. What could we do to make it easier? We decided to replace the traditional, and tight fitting, sail cover and the current lazy jacks set up (which did more to hinder the sail going up and not so great catching of the sail going down) and replace it with a sail pack with retractable lazy jacks. So now, it should be a simpler process of unzipping the sail pack zipper, and retracting the lazy jacks to raise the sail unhindered. Raising the lazy jacks again once the sail is up will create a cradle to catch the sail as it comes down, and allow it to neatly land in the open sail pack. This means no more need to painstakingly flake the sail as we lowered it so it would fit in the previously tight sail cover. Just a simple zip of the zipper and the sail is now stowed and protected from UV.
Although there were no apparent issues with the standing rigging (the cables that hold up the mast and bowsprit), the rigging was over 15 years old. For piece of mind, we decided to have it all replaced.
A trip back to Annapolis to get the hydronic heater working again, yielded more frustration and no results, so we ordered a new one knowing we would need to return to Annapolis to be installed. This would hopefully ensure that we would be able to stay warm while underway on those cold days we knew we would have again.
Marine service technicians are always busy during the summer season so getting work scheduled can be a challenge. We knew what we wanted done early in the summer, and found service providers to do the work for us. Coordinating around their schedules for the necessary measurements and eventual installation, meant 4 trips to Annapolis. (We thoroughly enjoyed the many different happy hour food/drink offerings at the different restaurants while there each time.) We planned for all the work to be done by the middle of September. But the weather didn’t cooperate with all the schedules and here we sit two weeks later than when we were hoping to start our journey, and still waiting for the final tuning of the rigging.
We have been staying in a safe quiet marina nestled up a creek in Annapolis where we were able to sit out the gale force winds over the past weekend….so we are really not complaining.
With confidence in our rigging, a sail system that should be easier to go up and down, emergency equipment in case of emergency off shore, a new oil pressure sending unit so we can be confident in readings on the gauge, confirmation that the new hum from our prop is due to new paint and not a problem, and a working heater so we can stay warm as the temperatures continue to drop, we are looking forward to untying the dock lines and heading south.
We look forward to sharing our adventure with you again…