Okay, I’m done complaining about the snow. At least until the next time it snows this spring.
I have had the O’day 22 in the water for the past two summers. The mainsail is (I believe) the original. Which makes it older than me. But not by much. And in worse shape than me (I hope).
The luff (front edge that goes along the mast) is fraying and needs a new boltrope. I think I could probably replace the boltrope – a replacement is only $2.50/foot at Sailrite. It shouldn’t be too difficult to sew the rope in a straight line. But the last time I tried to sew something in a straight line it didn’t work as well as I though. And maybe the mainsail isn’t the best thing to learn on.
Even if I fixed the boltrope, the rest of the sail is a mess. One of the seams on the luff (trailing edge) is coming apart. One or two of the battens are missing. And overall the sail is tired and stretched out and my windward performance is terrible – though, honestly, that may be due to my lack of sailing ability.
It was time to replace the mainsail. It was time to replace it two years ago. But I finally placed an order this spring. I decided to go with Peak Sails North America. I placed an order with them because they were inexpensive and allow me to spread the costs of the sail over 4 months (the sails are made after the first payment). They also had mixed reviews about how long it took for them to make the sails and for their customer service. However, I figured that the price was right and that I would have some leverage with their sail payment plan, so I placed an order on Monday.
They were pretty quick to send me an email back and send me the first bill. I hadn’t heard from them by Friday to confirm the sail size and number, so I gave them a call. Chris Stevens (Peak Sails Customer Service) picked up on the 2nd or 3rd ring, and quickly looked up my order and took the information down (sail number). He said the sail would probably go to production this week and be delivered in 3-4 weeks. It was a much better response than I had expected.
Chris explained that the production line gets backed up in May and June and could take a lot longer – people get their boats in the water in May and June and when their sails fail it is a crisis to get new sails.
So far I’m happy with the customer service at Peak Sails. They may not be the most responsive by email – but they did answer the phone and answered my questions. Hopefully the sails show up promptly and this summer I will only be able to blame my lack of sailing skill (and the boats shallow keel) when I have poor windward performance.
Maybe a month ago I complained that we had hardly used the sailboat this season. It wasn’t any one person’s fault in particular. We just had a busy summer. However we have been out each of the past three weekends, with two overnight trips. Not a bad way to finish off the season. Hopefully next weekend I’ll get one more final sail in – the trip from Niantic River to the Thames where I will pull the boat out of the water. Maybe I’ll even raise a sail (or two) if the winds are favorable.
This weekend we did a quick overnight on Friday (after work and school). We had originally planned to go to Giants Neck again, but we got a late start, so we camped maybe a 1/4-mile south of the mooring on the Niantic River.
We had the boys and the dogs this time around. It was a little crowded. Okay, very crowded. We did get all six of us below for a period in the middle of the night, but Targa gave up and he slept in the cockpit most of the night. I got up about every hour because either one of the boys was up and about (going to the bathroom, or just hot) or the dogs were restless (because they are dogs and at times annoying).
I think next year if we all go camping again we will have to make some modifications to the boat. We need a little better storage, and it would be very nice to leave more supplies on the boat (such as plates and silverware).
Tomorrow is a ‘hang around the house and take it easy’ day! I can’t wait.
After work on Friday, Susanna, the dogs, and I headed down to the sailboat for a short overnight trip. We again loaded up gear and headed south down the Niantic River. We passed under the Amtrak bridge and raised the mainsail. We motor-sailed across the Niantic Bay and rounded Black Point and headed into the anchorage around Giants Neck Beach. We dropped anchor around dinner time in about 3-feet of water.
I rowed the dogs over to one of the many rock islands that inhabit the region and let them wander a bit and go to the bathroom. Susanna pulled out sushi and some red wine for dinner. We sat at anchor and watched the sun set over East Lyme. The swell picked up around 2 am, waking both of us and making it difficult to get back to sleep. Anyway, I think the v-berth bounces around a bit more than the rest of the boat. However a while later the sea calmed down and we both drifted back to sleep. I was up with the sun, again taking the dogs ashore and then making coffee for the drive back to Niantic. We were back on our mooring by 9 am and home 30 minutes later.
The goal for the night was to get some time away from the house together as well as see if we enjoyed camping on the sailboat. I think the trip was a success in both areas. Hopefully next time we won’t have commitments early the next day and I will be able to sleep in a bit.
Today we took the final sail of the summer break. Susanna, the boys, and I loaded the dogs up and headed down the Niantic River and out to the sound. It was the first time that we have taken the dogs sailing, and they did better than I expected. Targa spent most of the time in the cockpit either sleeping or just watching. Tucker preferred to be below.
We headed out into Niantic Bay and took a right around Black Point and back up to Long Ledge and Griswold Island. We dropped anchor in about 15 feet of water and used the dinghy to row everyone (including the dogs) to Long Ledge. We all spent time exploring the rocks and swimming (the dogs needed a little “extra” encouragement to get in the water.
After a short swim (it wasn’t the warmest day) we rowed back to the boat and headed home. We were off the water just in time to catch a not-so-healthy dinner at McDonald’s on the way home.
I took a day of vacation on Friday to sail to Block Island, RI and meet some friends from work. They had sailed there on Thursday from Newport on a 44′ boat owned by Dick Lemish. They had a 24 mile journey and made it in 4 hours. I have a 22′ sailboat that can only do about half the speed and we had a 34 mile journey.
I decided not to sail alone, and one of the guys from my office, Adrian, took the day off to sail with me. I picked him up at 5:45 in the morning, and we were underway by 6:30. We had an early start to catch the tide right at Race Rock (by afternoon there would have been a 4-knot current against us at the race).
We headed out on a calm morning, motoring all the way to Race Rock. We put up sails as we passed Race Rock and sailed most of the remaining 18-miles to Block Island. The breeze picked up in the afternoon and soon we were flying towards the island at over 5-knots with just the main sail up and 6-foot swells from behind.
After a 9 hour, 34 mile sail, we arrived in time for afternoon drinks and a dinner of burgers and chips (and more beer). I was too tired to head into town with the rest, and fell asleep pretty early. I slept on my boat, and Adrian camped out in the cockpit of the larger boat. I finally made my 2014 goal of an overnight on the sailboat.
The next morning we departed for home about 8 in the morning. We had a good westerly breeze that pushed us most of the way across Block Island Sound. We turned at Misquamicut State Beach, RI and headed west (under sails and motor). We passed east of Fishers Island, NY and bounced through the choppy waters off of Napatree Point into Fishers Island Sound. The breeze picked up so we killed the outboard and sailed back and forth across Fishers Island sound towards Long Island Sound and Niantic. We motored a bit when the wind died down, but for the most part we sailed until past the Thames River.
At about 4:30 we decided to motor the remainder of the trip (past Milestone nuclear power station and up the Niantic River). We pulled into the mooring at about 6pm after a 10 hour and 37-mile journey home.
It wasn’t sunny or windy. But it wasn’t rainy or cold. So it was a perfect day to take the boat down the Niantic River and out into the Long Island Sound, raise the sails, decide there wasn’t any wind, lower the sails, catch a right and motor over towards Rocky Neck State Park. Which is what we did.
We anchored for a little while not too far from Griswold Island next to Long Ledge. Susanna decided to test out the cold waters of Long Island Sound for a very short swim. I didn’t bring my bathing suit, but I still jumped in. And it was cold.
The wind picked up after lunch and I again raised the sails. However it was a light wind and with the current in LIS heading west we were not making any progress towards home. I started the outboard and we motored home. Overall we covered 15 miles in about 4 hours and 30 minutes.
Yesterday, the boys and I picked up a used 10′ Achilles inflatable dinghy. It is an older model, and wasn’t in the best shape. But it was only $80 so it was difficult to pass up. The boat building project is going slowly, so I decided it would be worth picking up a functioning dinghy until I finish with the one I’m building. Or maybe I just like collecting things – I’m taking a break from collecting lumber, so maybe I’m starting with boats. Okay, not really, but I’m guessing that someone in this house wonders about that…
The dinghy had been kept in the water without any anti-fouling paint, and had barnacles on the bottom. Two of the air tubes also have slow leaks in them. It should be a quick project to paint the bottom and fix the slow leaks. Since the boys and I picked up bottom paint at the boat store yesterday and didn’t get the stuff to fix the leaks, today I’m painting the bottom. The air leaks will have to wait until later this week.
First step was to clean the boat and remove the barnacles. Last night I scrubbed the entire boat, and carefully used a putty knife to remove the barnacles. This morning I let the remains of the barnacles soak in vinegar and then rinsed and let the boat dry. After the boat was dry I sanded the bottom as smooth as I could without damaging the fabric. I again rinsed the boat off and then cleaned the bottom with a solvent (I used MEK because that is what I had – and it dries very quickly).
Susanna and I moved the boat into the shade to make it more pleasant to paint, and to make sure that the bottom paint didn’t dry too quickly. I finished the first coat, and will let it sit for 4 hours and then apply a second coat this afternoon. I may apply a third coat, because I think there will be enough for a third coat in the can, and I may as well use it up (though maybe I can store it in the basement and get try to get another coat out of the quart next season).
The sailboat was a good addition for last summer, even if we only had it in the water for two months. I won’t mention how many (10+) years it sat in the yard or garage over the summer, unused, prior to last summer. But it is done now. Or rather, done enough to keep in the water.
We are keeping the boat in the water the whole summer. We have a mooring on the Niantic River, a venue change from the muddy Thames River last summer (and the inconvenience of staying on the navy base).
Today we went out to enjoy the sun. We tied the boys’ kayaks behind the boat and motored a bit and anchored. When we were bored with that spot, we lifted anchor and moved downriver a little more. The boys explored the coast while Susanna and I enjoyed the perfect weather.
We aren’t able to put the sails up again until Susanna and I un-step the mast and I reattach the spreader that fell on the trip over from the Thames River. Hopefully I can talk her into helping with the mast next weekend. But maybe we will just enjoy the river again next weekend.
We also picked up a 10′ Achilles inflatable boat off of Craigslist. It was a steal at $80, and will make life with the mooring much easier. I’m still working on a wooden dinghy, but the going is slow on that project, and I’d rather take my time with the boat and make it look nice. Tomorrow is project day (including cleaning up the dinghy and applying bottom paint).
I had a great Father’s Day. I had been planning on putting the sailboat in the water today, but it was a long sail from the launch in the Thames River to the mooring up the Niantic River. I didn’t expect the boys to want to go, so I had originally planned to either do the trip by myself or have a friend along. But last weekend, Will and Ben decided they wanted to go for the trip. I warned them that it would be a 4 hour trip. And they still wanted to go.
This morning, Mark Matkovich helped me launch the boat and step the mast. The boys and I headed into Long Island Sound. The wind was blowing so we set up the mainsail and wandered west past New London, Ocean Beach, and then past Millstone nuclear power plant into Niantic Bay.
In the bay the wind dropped a bit and our speed slowed to under 3 knots. We decided to put up the jib and as the breeze picked up we made over 5 knots with the rail almost in the water. The boys (and I) were a little nervous with the stronger gusts, but after a while we got more used to the sailing (yes, on an old O’Day 22, the headsail makes all the difference – I think in later years they modified the design to carry a bigger mainsail and smaller headsail).
In the bay, one of the spreaders came loose and fell down. We quickly dropped both sails and started the motor.
The Niantic Bridge (Amtrak Bascule Bridge) was already up (lots of traffic on the river on the weekend) and we can squeeze under the Rt. 156 bridge without needing it to raise.
We motored up the river to the mooring where Susanna was waiting for us. It only took three tries for Ben, Will and I to catch the mooring pendant after unloading at the dock. The entire sail took 5 hours and the planned route was 12 miles, so I’m guessing we sailed 13-14 miles (with tacking).
Susanna and I will have to step the mast one of these days to repair the spreader before we go sailing again. However, we should be all set to motor around the river to let the boys go swimming. Now I just have to finish the dinghy to make use of the mooring easier.
We had a busy morning. The town of Preston was offering a bus tour of the former Norwich State Hospital, Will and Ben wanted friends over, and I want to get the boat ready to get in the water next weekend.
We picked up Will’s friend, Tyler, on the way to the hospital tour, and the boys were surprisingly well-behaved for the 40 minute bus tour, even though they probably got a little bored by the end. However, they all took lots of pictures and will probably post some on their blogs later today (I think Ben took well over 100 pictures during the tour).
After we came home, I moved the boat and mowed the grass under it. Then the boys helped me paint the bottom of the boat (second coat) – so all I have to do is jack up the boat to paint where the rollers touch, get the outboard running, and finish varnishing the tiller handle – not too much to do in a week.
The boys are out running through the sprinkler enjoying the sunny warm day while I try to get green paint spots out of my hair, write in my blog and make lunch.. It is nice to have a kind of odds-and-ends sort of day.