Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Boat Projects (continued)

Ralph climbing Whispering Jesse's mast with the ATN Mastclimber
Of course, they never end, but I finally saw enough light at the end of the tunnel last week to cease with the boat projects and actually go sailing, for the first time since we sailed the boat up from Isla Mujeres at the end of May.

The final major project was the installation of the Doyle Cradle Cover I had ordered back in June. The cover has built-in lazy jacks, which we have missed since our original ones disappeared during the major refit in 2010. Rigging the new ones would require a trip up the mast in a bosun's chair, and that in turn requires two very strong people. I had thought to enlist our friend Pompeii, but I have not seen him for a few weeks. Talking with new members Ralph and Stacie Gleason at the Coconut Grove Sailing Club's hurricane preparedness class a little over a week ago revealed that they owned one of ATN's Mastclimbers, a system akin to a rock climber's static rope ascenders and slings. Ralph told me he would be happy to help get the lazy jacks installed, and we met the following Saturday to get it done.

Ralph made short work of getting the Mastclimber rigged and moving up the mast. It turned out that there were still pad eyes on either side of the mast where we had intended to install new ones, but they were riveted to the mast instead of screwed, which presented a small problem with attaching the small blocks that would lead the lazy jacks up to the mast and then down to cleats near the deck where they could be adjusted. Ralph suggested some small shackles, and I scavenged a couple from the boat's junk box. We used a messenger line to run them up to him and then followed them with the lazy jacks themselves. When I tightened them from below, the cover lifted off the boom and took on a nice, sleek shape. While he was up there, Ralph removed the rubber boots from the ends of the spreaders, where they had been slowly deteriorating for the last few years. Replacing them, if ever, is a project for a later date.

Drilling and tapping the holes for the forward pad eyes to attach the Doyle Cradle CoverRalph and I took the water taxi back to the Sailing Club and ate some lunch before heading out to where his boat, a Beneteau First 35.5 named Lasata, was moored. He was trying to get his two Honda 2000i generators working, after over a year in storage, so he could fire up his boat's central air conditioning. It has been seriously hot and humid in Miami this summer, much too hot to try to sleep on a boat without air conditioning. I watched as Ralph took apart one of the carburetors and cleaned it with Gumout. Old gasoline had formed some serious gunk that was preventing fuel from reaching the engine. It finally took some major cleaning of the carburetor's jets the next day to get the generators running again. I filed away what I had seen for when I someday have my own generator and need to maintain it.

Nan and I made a few trips to the boat last week to finish the Cradle Cover installation. I found that the included "self-tapping" screws would not tap into the steel mast and made a trip to Home Depot for an actual tap. Ralph suggested using WD-40 to lubricate the tap as it cut into the pilot holes I had drilled, and that made a big difference. I was then able to secure the pad eyes for hoisting up the forward end of the cover and the cleats for adjusting the lazy jacks. Some rolling hitches on the topping lift to hoist the aft end of the cover almost completed the job.

A view of the new Doyle Cradle Cover, with Mark seeking shade under Whispering Jesse's dodger
This past Saturday morning, after our routine long walk with Scout, I texted Ralph to see if he wanted to join us for a sail. He agreed, if he could bring his son Mark with him. We met at the Sailing Club, spent a little time rerunning the reefing lines through the cover, though they are not yet perfect, and motored out into Biscayne Bay. I noticed that though I was pushing the throttle forward, we were not gaining any speed beyond three knots. Ralph went below to check on the engine and discovered a leak in one of the fuel lines. It was spitting diesel fuel instead of feeding it to the engine, limiting how fast we could go. Once we had cleared the "number one" green marker at the far end of Dinner Key Channel and easily hoisted the mainsail on its new TideTrack, we shut off the engine and sailed south with a nice ten- to twelve-knot southeasterly wind. We soon forgot about the fuel leak as we tacked and jibed around the Bay.

It felt wonderful to be out sailing again, but I suspect our suspiciously slow speeds under sail may have been due to the growth that has accumulated on the hull since arriving in Miami. We'll need to get it cleaned soon, and add some new zincs to the propeller shaft. That, and the engine issue, should put us squarely into our next round of boat projects.