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Remember, it's November: a late haulout and a near miss

Don't let the calm water fool you

I like to sail and pay a pretty penny...although not as much as a small econobox car driver on an annual basis...for the privilege of doing so. By sharing costs and balancing off "steel boat restoration" with "plastic boat fun" in my increasingly fume-addled mind, I've been able to justify sailing one boat while I try not to screw up the fitting out of another, beached one.

This is prologue to relating this year's other haulout (I participated in hauling my club three weeks ago), that of Valiente, my 33 foot sloop. Leaving distractedly late from my summer marina berth, I cadged free shelter at my club, although in a rather exposed spot (see above) from the prevailing and gusty mid-fall westerlies, which can swing into NW or even north with rapidity. The previous entry related my last sail of the season, but there was more "fun" in store in the following week.

I haul Valiente in as cheap and "unfacilitied" a location as I can find within reach of bicycle from my home. A glorified series of parking lots in Toronto's "Portlands" called Pier 35 fills the bill nicely...there's not even a washroom on site, no electricity or water can be easily accessed, and the place is overrun with feral cats fed by well-meaning if idiotic white people in nice cars. To top it off, it's downwind from a vast recycling plant. Do not power wash the's pointless unless you seal it in plastic afterwards.

Hauling here means having a tolerance for a little eccentricity on the part of the denizens and the staff. This is a boat boneyard, with several decaying examples of production and/or homebuilt boats that will likely never get as much sea under their hulls as they've had rain on their decks...sooty, sooty rain. One also must do for oneself: I bicycled out at the beginning of the week to erect and rebolt Valiente's somewhat rusty cradle.

Note: My name's not "Smith"
I brought the pads in the boat. I was supposed to be hauled on Wednesday, November 9th, late enough in my view to be courting frosty nights that would trouble my sleep with visions of ice-shattered engine blocks, but the boat yard's boss said that he was behind in hauling due to a crane breakdown, and I would be welcome to haul Thursday afternoon, and to tie up in the channel from which he hauled at any point.

Well, I didn't, because my sailing pal Jeff suggested it was an exposed channel, I thought it looked dodgy and unsafe (and didn't want cat poo on deck) to leave a boat unattended in that channel, and the wind looked strong and potentially very gusty. So I stayed put at my club and doubled my lines. I told Mr. Crane Operator I would be there 10 AM Friday and received permission to stay on our club wall until Friday.

The first thing I noticed, as one does, on a not quite windy but looking like it might get windier Friday morning was frost on the patch of grass the kids fold sails on. The second thing was that two of four fenders were missing. One had gone taking part of a shackle with it. There was slight damage to the rubrail. I was evidently at least partially in the line of fire, if fire was gusting November wind. Fun fact: Colder air is denser than warmer air. 40 knots of near zero will feel worse than 25C precisely because it is.

"Whew," I thought as I chugged off to the grubby, cat-infested place of stowage, "I'm glad I didn't stay tied to that wall. Might have scratched her up, but good".

Truer words...

This is or perhaps was (pending insurance adjuster verdicts) a 1989 Irwin 38 sloop. The colour is because it was in Caribbean charter, where the sun turns gelcoat into chalk. The damage is courtesy of being exactly where I planned to be, plus shredded fenders, plus parted lines and plus torn-out cleats. This boat came loose in only a little gale, bounced off a few concrete walls, hit a booze cruiser and generally got severely slapped about.

It's worse in person, actually. So is standing beside the owner, who was trying to remain stoic.

Anyway, because the poor thing might be so damaged as to collapse on its cradle, an insurance adjuster had to examine it not only for the usual "repair or scrap" verdict, but to determine if it was even safe to move with half its decks torn up and daylight coming out the transom. The yard boss decided in light of approaching high wind to haul me (mostly) out of the water and away from the wall. Suited me fine, even if I was inexplicably listing to port in the slings.
Prior to the 25-30 knot gusts
I may have spilled my drink at this point.

Note that if one's mast is either side of the yellow stripe on the crane frame, one's beverage may develop a leak. 

Also note that attention to detail in the anti-fouling painting area seems to have paid off...that's a pretty clean bottom for a boat in direct sunshine in a murky, weed-choked marina.

You can just make out the chunks missing from the stem of that steel ship off my stern. Done by the wrecked Irwin, alas

After much fuffing about and a somewhat unnervingly slow hoist and lowering occasioned by the newness of the Big Yellow Crane, we settled in for winter. I am leaving the mast in somewhat experimentally as it will greatly increase the speed of commissioning next spring.

Off we go. I always find the sight of either of our boats being moved on wheels a touch nerve-wracking and vaguely amusing. A sort of fish on bicycle image, I suppose.

Winterized the engine rapidly, and will apply selected tarps and charge, then disconnect, the batteries next week. Then, back to the world of steel.

What the world of steel will always feature: 93% zinc coatings


Anonymous said...

Any tiedowns for your boat while on the hard in the portlands? We clocked 47kts at the masthead during the winter of '03/04 in our slip in Marina Quay West.

Rhys said...

If you mean cradle tiedowns, no. I am keeping the mast up experimentally, with the stays slightly slackened, but I am just going to keep the cockpit and companionway tarped. I am going to see this week if I have a boat with more freeboard beside me. That would block the wind from most points of the windrose.

I can believe the 47 kts at MQW probably funnelled through the "slot" to the WNW!

Anonymous said...

It was the wind pressure on the mast that concerned me.The boat won't be able to heel with the wind as in the water. We tarped the cockpit on our Sandpiper 565 one year. Snow and ice loads killed it and we had a ton of ice in the cockpit which overwhelmed the companionway protection and flooded the boat with runoff. Only a closeknitted webbing of plastic coated clothesline wire will withstand the weight on that tarp. Rope will stretch and sag...allowing frozen winter products (snow & ice) to collect; both on and under the tarp. Freeze thaw activity on the side decks and foredeck may undo all of that careful calking under your deck fittings.
...Ken from Silverheels III

Rhys said...

I will be keeping an eye on this, Ken, and thanks for the advice. I have the option to bring some of the frame down to lash to the mast and give the tarp(s) some support. I may just drop all the staunchions, put up a "center ridge" pole, and more or less tent everything with two big tarps cable-tied to the toerail.

Overboard said...

It's worse in person, actually. So is standing beside the owner, who was trying to remain stoic.

He he he he.

Rhys said...

Well, the poor man. A friend of mine, observing the fairly worn out condition of the vessel, suggested...not very helpfully, I think...that the incident "had done [the owner] a favour, because now he could buy a nicer boat".