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2015-10-20

Unsticking and other season-ending events

Bye, bye, summer!
Some might see our efforts to put up Alchemy's mast in August only to take it down in mid-October as fruitless or even silly labour. Clearly, we disagree. The exercise was very useful (and was also good exercise) in determining where and how best to run sheets and halyards, to do the small repairs due to the long hibernation of the mast in the club's racks, and, of course, to get the mainsail measured in preparation for a new one with an improved batten car setup.
Blurry, but repaired, jib topsail in full effect.

Next season's head start also included a new and seemingly effective installations of a VHF antenna and a blindingly bright tri-colour/anchor light/strobe, and the afore-mentioned halyard replacements. We also marked on our solar arch the location of the passage of the twin backstays, meaning that particular bit of custom work can be altered to accommodate all four panels as designed.

Once more unsticked.
But the real benefit of getting in a few actual Alchemy sails in was of course to crew morale. A great deal of the last few years has been spent either research in front of a computer screen, designing things in front of the same screen, drilling and bending things in a garage or installing things in an often cold, dark and cramped area of the boat. To actually use the thing was a great joy to myself and Mrs. Alchemy, and provided a real boost to further off-season labour in the cold and dark, which is less dim and miserable a prospect when lit by memories of  late summer's sailing. We learned a lot, and even if the semi-symbolic nature of an August "start" can be justified by the better state of prep next spring, it's been a blast this year to even drive about staring at a mast base.
It needn't be complex. It needs to be on the outside helm binnacle.
The sail control lines are working well, but I do want to install a third pair of winches for speed, and will do so after I install a new traveller this winter. The rehabbed Lewmar 44s I picked up some time ago should do nicely. Once again, it's been a case of me springing on a deal of sorts well before it ends up being installed. Revealed over the last two months were the rather pressing need to install a second throttle/shifter at the outside helm, as my ability to see the dock is assumed rather than actual from the middle of the pilothouse, causing either a sudden backing down or calls to "go around again; you're six feet off". Luckily, the shifter, engine and four-bladed prop are working very well, and I fancy people think I have a bow thruster, given the tight maneuvering we are capable of. So...that's promising, but I need to dock from outside.

Not seen: the 35 knot gust that happened while this massive ramp was briefly 10 feet in the air on a club forklift that impressed me by not falling into the lake. I was handling the tiny yellow rope in the foreground.
Amidst personal boat stuff, there is the club preparation for the months of not-sailing. Above is the dinghy ramp, sturdy enough to have a trailer and not necessarily lightweight boats on it, plus any number of kids learning to sail. It would be damaged were it to stay in all winter, so out it must come. The wind was constantly over 20 knots yesterday, and often crested 30 (I checked with the nearby airport weather info site for pilots) and it was a cheek-reddening sort of day.
It got even wavier (two to three metres) later.
I'm on the Mooring Committee, as I've mentioned before, and we seem to do (without exaggeration, I think) a lot of the tougher jobs, such as keeping the moorings serviced, moving disabled boats, and lifting heavy things up and down. Yesterday we discovered, while looking for a boat reported missing, a second boat which had chewed through one of its two mooring lines.
Speed was in this case of the essence, so we took the water taxi instead of the heavier, more powerful work boat.
It's no joke to re-reeve a mooring line on a boat and a water taxi that are both in motion of differing periods. Pictures don't do justice to just how much of the lake was sloshing over the sea wall, but that spouting wave hitting the end of the airport runway gives an impression.
Thar she blows!
After securing the boat above, we went to the far end of the basin, where an old Shark monohull was chewing its topsides on the eastern seawall. A quick tow to safety and too much time trying to push a line through an abandoned fender later, and the owner should buy us a beer.
 
Two hundred-odd kilos of get you offshore, fit to be tied.
The same mates from the Mooring Committee were kind enough to help when Alchemy's now extracted (at sunset the previous, less windy, day) stick needed to be racked for the winter. Friday and Saturday are "Haulout", a melancholy, if in these parts necessary, duty.
While a more complete paint-job will happen in spring when I can get underneath it, Alchemy's cradle got some Tremclad love today.