Two weeks ago, I made another trip out east to check on the progress being made on Little Walk's refit at Spring Cove Marina in Solomons, Maryland. It was also an opportunity to attend the Annapolis Boat Show and to spend some more time with my friend Curt and his family in Falls Church. I arrived at Curt's on Friday evening and tried to muster some interest in the boat show, but there were no takers.
I went to the boat show by myself but met up with my friend Kevin Harrison, who helped me sail Little Walk from Baltimore to Solomons, and his girlfriend Beth. The three of us walked around together on some impressive new sailboats late in the afternoon. Before that, I attended a seminar on marine electrical systems and gathered information on some of the items I need to buy for the boat, like an inflatable dinghy and outboard. I also met with Scott from Handcraft Mattress Company to firm up an order for a new mattress for the aft berth, and talked with Collin from Chesapeake Rigging about his progress on rerigging the boat.
On the way back to Curt's, I called and found out that the family was at his son Pete's flag football game, so I joined them there. I learned that the rules have changed dramatically since we played it in gym class growing up, when the only difference between flag football and regular football was that you grabbed a flag instead of tackling. On Sunday, Curt, Pete and I attended the real deal, the Green Bay Packers versus the Washington Redskins game at Fedex Field. Like true Packer fans, we tailgated before the game, grilling brats, drinking beer and tossing the football around. Our seats in the end zone were better than expected, and we cheered as the Packers ran up an early lead, only to watch it evaporate in the second half, when a last-minute field goal attempt that would have won the game instead "doinked" off the upright right next to where we were sitting. The Packers lost to the Redskins in overtime.
I drove down to Spring Cove Marina the next morning. Alan, one of the boatyard's managers, saw me in the parking lot and directed me to the paint shed, where Little Walk was waiting. Her new hull paint was dazzling, snow white with royal blue stripes. It made the rest of the boat look old and tired by comparison. I climbed up the ladder and noticed that the deck's traveler structure had been removed for the installation of new Harken traveler equipment by Chesapeake Rigging. I went below and saw that all the chainplates had been removed and that the water-damaged chainplate knee on the port side had been repaired. I went back down the ladder and saw that the boom had been painted but was covered with masking paper and resting on supports next to the boat. The mast was out back, having just been painted. It looked good, the same snow white as the hull, but the new sleeving that will reinforce its base had not been installed yet. I took a look at the masthead, which was missing its windvane and anemometer, and tried to figure out how to place a Windex as an analog backup to the electronic wind instruments.
John Kretschmer, our frequent sailing companion, was conducting a celestial navigation seminar in the marina's lounge, so I walked over there to say hello. Jan, from our Bocas del Toro to Isla Mujeres trip this past spring, was there as well. We agreed to meet later, after the seminar was over, to look at Little Walk together. I left to go check in to the same hotel I stayed at the last time and try to catch up on some real-world work. When I returned late in the afternoon, Jan was gone but I found John talking with one of his seminar students, John Simonton, who is originally from Denver but is now living aboard his 37-foot sailboat in the marina. The three of us walked over to the boatyard for another look at Little Walk.
At this point in the refit process, the Little Walk name has been removed from the hull, so I feel it is appropriate to start referring to the boat by its new name, Whispering Jesse, even though it will be a few more months before the new name is affixed to the hull.
After the boat walkaround, John K. left to meet his sister Liz and brother-in-law Trevor, who are partners in Spring Cove Marina. John S. and I walked out to look at his boat and stood chatting on the dock next to it, agreeing to meet for dinner the following evening.
The next morning, I met with Don, the boatyard manager, to discuss the work on Whispering Jesse, what had been done and how to proceed. I mentioned that I had talked with the Beta Marine people at the boat show about a new engine and he proposed the idea of a remanufactured Perkins instead. It would greatly simplify the repowering process since it would be a like-for-like swap, and it would be less expensive since it would negate the need for new stringers and engine mounts. He called the dealer and they quoted him a price over the phone, which he added to his list of work items. We walked over to the paint shed together to look at the work in progress and figure out the best plan for future work. With the boat out of the weather in the paint shed, it would make sense to address the deck work, which will involve sanding down and applying Cetol to all the teak, and repairing, refinishing and repainting the deck fiberglass. This would also be the time to remove any attached equipment that will be replaced, like the manual windlass, dodger and bimini, or eliminated, like the wooden dinghy chocks and cable TV/phone hookup. I asked about bottom repair and painting, and Don recommended that we save that until just before the boat goes back into the water next spring.
As we were leaving the paint shed, I mentioned to Don that I wanted to meet with his recommended canvas people. He pulled out his phone to set up a meeting with Steve from Creative Canvas Designs. Steve and I met at the boat at nine o'clock the next morning and spent about an hour talking about a new dodger and bimini, a new sail cover, new hatch covers, and new interior cushions. We agreed to meet again the next day at his shop in Solomons to look at fabrics and foam. At that meeting, on a rainy Thursday morning, Steve showed me some Sunbrella samples in various shades of beige, which Don recommended for the exterior canvas because it reflects heat better and does not fade as quickly as darker colors. For the interior canvas, we're going to go with a bright royal blue to brighten the look of the dark wood paneling.
On my final day there, I met one last time with Don. He thought they would have the engine pulled within a week or two. They then would be able to paint the engine room, in anticipation of installing a new engine at the beginning of the new year. They would also continue work on the exterior wood and fiberglass. If it's at all possible, I would like to try to get out to see Whispering Jesse one more time before Christmas to check on progress. I'll keep you posted.
This blog is an account of the pursuit of a dream, to sail around the world. It is named after the sailboat that will fulfill that dream one day, Whispering Jesse. If you share the dream, please join me and we'll take the journey together.
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