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2012-10-29

Storm prep and mast commutation


The Perfect Squirrel?

The same attributes that make October pleasant for sailing can also provoke concern. The former hurricane known as "Sandy", which as a father is a name I absurdly associate with an aquatic squirrel from a cartoon, is sending gales our way, and has delayed my scheduled haulout.


Not relevant to my haulout plans.


Last week...in fact precisely seven days ago, my wife, a friend, and myself bobbed in near dead calms off the shore. It was warm, well...warmish, quite sunny and windy like the tomb.

Note the gravity-driven sail
The best part was that the water was so wavelet-free, and the work of the plankton-munching mussels so thorough, that we could see the bottom of Lake Ontario some 20 feet down.

Should I break out the spinnaker or just try to find the rum?


For those of you in warmer climes, this may mean little, but Lake Ontario is where murk goes to die, usually after wrapping itself in swamp-coloured muslin.

The yearly boat retirement commenced after this pleasant if nautically underwhelming couple of hours adrift with the hauling of Valiente's mast. This was an exciting exercise conducted with the wrong crane on the wrong day, and ended up with me buying a group of resourceful fellows a round of pints.

I must have been moved near to tears.

With the mast thrillingly untangled from the crane and resembling somewhat less a robot's death spear, I was free to stow it beside Project Number 1.

This game is rigged: Note the arising Temple of R-Boat Repair to starboard.
Even though Alchemy fixing is rarely far from my thoughts and increasingly chewed-up hands, I determined that if the classic plastic Valiente was to turn 40 years in 2013, it would not be with her original standing rigging. Yes, my SS wire, terminals, tangs, pins, buckles and plates are all original. I am replacing the swage terminals and the wire this winter. In order to do that, I have to remove the old stuff, which looks remarkably, if not suspiciously, still in good condition. But as the Botox and implants can defer and yet not defeat the march of time for the vain Hollywood star, so my antique rigging must be relegated to the role of "emergency spares". Also, I got a good deal on rigging. Parsimony and prudence, together again.

Ground Zero for "The World Encompassed" could use some tidying up,
I believe that most of the rest of the mast gear is still OK, but I'll know more when I disassemble the various pinned nuts and tangy bits. I will also redo the sheaves and (sigh) pop for new halyards that aren't the colour of grandpa's jock. The point being two-fold: I have to do this stuff to keep it safe for me sailing, which will be at least another season. But that said, it wouldn't hurt to make the boat more attractive and structurally "refreshed" for whoever buys or babysits her.

Besides, it's good practice for the steel boat.

Speaking of which, the aforementioned Hurricane Sandy is producing sandy gales outside, making me happy I put on a third layer of tarp on the "lid" of Alchemy today and added some racheting tie-downs.

I'm more "function" than "form", as can be seen here.
Poor Valiente was turned away from the inn, or rather boatyard, until a calmer day. This led to sudden arrangements that saw her randomly docked at my club and trussed like a sea chicken to various points that I hope are not moving very much.
Dirty, but serviceable: When the wind blows 50 knots, you can't have too many
Doubled bow lines and improvised chafe gear. My bike-riding habit produces a good supply of rags.
Spring time in the fall! This better work.
If the boat survives the night and tomorrow, the wind should drop enough to attempt to haul out on Wednesday. The gales are N to NE and there's a convenient screen of condos, etc. in that direction, plus the bow of Valiente is aimed more or less into the wind. We'll see if the low profile of That '70s Boat preserves her to sail in 2013 with the same number of dents and dings as she sported this morning.

UPDATE, October 30:  Despite some harrowing winds approaching...but not quite reaching...the forecast 50 knots last night, the boat appeared undamaged today. Tomorrow, Hallowe'en, I'm skedded to have a scary haulout in rain and light wind at Pier 35.

If mere 50 knot gusts do this, no wonder the U.S. Northeast is half-wrecked.

The wind was enough to tear down trees in the park behind my house. I feel both like I prepared and got lucky with the wind direction.

UPDATE, October 31: Got hauled without (much) incident. After the defunct hurricane's wind wrath, the waters were still and the wind wouldn't heel an Opti driven by an infant.

Old, stripped and dirty, jus the way I like 'em
This was somewhat surprising given the very Hallowe'en cast to the skies:
One does not just walk into the Bank of Mordor

Where I haul is lacking in charm, but also in high fees
Fitful dribbles of rain came and went, but no real wind, for which I was quite appreciative to Boreas and his wind god chums.

Not bad for turning 40, is she? Not her best side, however.
After some fiddling/manly pushing, we got the keel settled. Must remember to replace the wood pad on the cradle as it is looking worse for wear.

I will never get used to this sight, frankly. Seems...unnatural
And we're off to our winter berth. Toot, toot.

Like cleaning the hull and coiling down the dozen or so Sandy-inspired spring lines.


And so to bed. Time for a new tarp, maybe? Maybe.

Upside: Plenty of fresh air.


Last and not least, I finally got all the shrouds and stays off the mast and they are going to be replaced over the winter. Took some chunks off my hands, but at least the tangs and pins look good and probably OK to keep. Bless you, fresh water! You save me money!

Stays: Just a little bit longer.

The old 'uns look good enough to be spares, or perhaps bits of anchor bridle for future use.

Now it's back to Alchemy until spring. First off, the rudder!

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