Saturday, July 30, 2011

Nan's first encounter with Whispering Jesse

Nan and I were out in Solomons, Maryland for a long weekend last week to check the progress with the refit project on Whispering Jesse. Though we have owned the boat for over a year, it was the first time that Nan had ever seen it, and I was nervous about what she would think. Fortunately, the boatyard's mechanic, Chaz, had heard that it would be my wife's first look, and he took the time to clean up some of the mess that I saw when I was last out there over Memorial Day weekend. It paid off. Nan was favorably impressed when we entered the paint shed on Friday morning. She carefully climbed up the ladder and then down into the cabin to check on accommodations. When I asked what she thought, she said the boat definitely had potential. I took that as a good sign and showed her the berths, the head, the galley, the nav station and everything else, including the newly repainted engine room and the new stainless steel portlights. We couldn't spend too much time down below because it was like a sauna down there. In fact, the weather all weekend was like a sauna. I've never experienced that level of heat and humidity before.

We had purchased a Zodiac inflatable dinghy at Washington Marina in D.C. the evening before, and Kevin from the boatyard helped me move it out of the rental car and into the shed. Then Nan helped me haul all the sails off the boat and we were off to see Clarke at Quantum Sails to see if they could be cleaned and mended as necessary. I haven't heard back yet, but I'm hoping for good news because new sails are not in the budget. Since we were in the neighborhood, we stopped by Creative Canvas Design to see if we could talk with Steve, the owner, about the dodger and bimini he is making for the boat and to show Nan the interior cushions he has already made. He wasn't there, and his seamstress didn't want us going upstairs to see the cushions, so we wrote Steve a quick message and left.

Back at the boatyard, we took a look at the new engine, a remanufactured 50-horsepower Perkins 4-108, which was sitting in the garage next to the paint shed. Chaz walked in and introduced himself to us. I commented about the improved condition of the boat and he said that he had cleaned it up. When I thanked him, he smiled and said, "Hey, I have a wife, too!" He walked with us into the paint shed to show us a problem with the JRC radar antenna, which is called a radome. At some point, the antenna's pole had been left in its hinged position and rain had collected inside, corroding the sensors. Chaz said it was ruined and that I should see if I could find a replacement on the Internet. He also showed us how he had cleaned up the folding two-blade propeller. He said he didn't recommend replacing it with a new Max Prop because the shaft had been tapered to fit the existing propeller and would need to be replaced for a new one.

Nan and I next went over to the local West Marine to check out boat accessories. I looked at expensive fenders while Nan looked at discounted sandals. For the heck of it, I wandered over to the electronics area and struck up a conversation with sales associate Bob S. about radar, chart plotters, AIS and radomes. He told me that all that equipment is matched by the manufacturers and that it would not be possible for me to replace the JRC radome with a new Garmin one, for instance, if I couldn't find a replacement online. When I asked how much a complete rig would be, he estimated it at about $6000, plus installation. So that isn't going to happen anytime soon.

Back at the boatyard once more, Nan and I met with Don, the boatyard manager, to discuss the timeline for finishing up the refit and what remained to be done. In addition to the current projects, we agreed that the bottom needs to be repainted, the manual toilet needs to be rebuilt, the stove problem needs to be fixed and the electrical system needs a good going-over. Don didn't think any of this would delay getting the boat into the water, getting the mast stepped and getting all the new standing and running rigging in place before I return on September 3. That's when my friend Mike Young and I will be arriving to get the boat into final shape for a September 8 departure for Savannah, Georgia. Another friend, Kurt Beereboom, will be flying in on September 7 to join us. There will be much more about our plans for this sailing adventure in future posts.

During our forays around the boatyard, Nan and I ran into John Simonton, who has been living on his boat at the marina, and chatted with him briefly in the cool of the marina's upstairs lounge. He mentioned that he was thinking of sailing south to Charleston for the winter, and I told him my crew and I would be sailing that way in early September. He said he would give it some thought and let me know if he would consider forming a two-boat flotilla for the trip.

Before we headed out to Solomons, I ordered sets of vinyl letters from BoatU.S. that spell out "Whispering Jesse" and "Savannah, Georgia", our boat's name and hailing port. I had intended to apply them myself while we were out there, but Don talked me out of it. He said they had a person on staff, Marty, who used to own a sign company and could probably do a much better job of it--aligned straight and without any bubbles--so I entrusted the letters to Marty's capable hands. We'll need to plan some kind of a christening party at some point before we sail away in September.

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