Archive for June, 2011

Jun 28

Two sails

A week ago, we spent the weekend scrubbing down the boat.  We ‘wasted’ two full days of beautiful weather cleaning instead of sailing so we took a break and went on our first sunset sail.

Sunsets are easy to find on Lake Huron so here are a couple quick photos… not the best as I was shooting one-handed with the ol’ Canon P&S camera.  Even the dogs, our Rossi and friend Oliver, enjoyed the trip out and back.

Just this past weekend, we met with my Aunt Cathy and Uncle Scott for a late breakfast and afternoon sail.  It was Cathy’s first time being on a sail boat and, as far as I could tell, we had a good and interesting time.  She wasn’t keen on heeling at first but grew more comfortable as we sailed.   Beautiful weather but unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures.


Jun 28

Preparations almost complete…

I’ve neglected writing over the past month and although I’ve been busy with a whirl wind of preparations, the real reason was that I forgot that I had started this journal.  I guess writing isn’t as high on my priority list as making sure the engine and sails are in working order…

Let me bring you up to speed from my last entry.

First off, the biggest worry was our newly acquired boat had a bad engine;  The problem was “low oil pressure” and after much discussion with lots of people and knowledgeable mechanics, we discovered that our oil pressure was running around 10psi at idle and 15-18psi at full RPM.  The manual stated that it should be minimum of 7psi at idle and 23psi at full RPM but the company’s website claimed the minimum should be “1.8 bar”… right, that’s 26psi.  I had to look it up.  We decided the manual was correct and discovered that the low oil pressure light began blinking at 18psi and became solid at 15psi.  So all of this worry was for not!  It turns out that for all of this hassle, we had never been in a critical situation… this improper warning light was warning us for no reason.

Having said that, the oil pressure was still below our target values and so I worked with the previous owner to rebuild the front have of the engine and add a new oil pressure pump.  All went well, until we realized he hadn’t connected the fuel injector pump to the throttle… d’oh.  We had to rip the engine out of the boat and I let the previous owner make a second attempt at it on his own time.  Sure enough, it worked like a champ.  Our diesel is now running with the proper oil pressure. …. but now the temperature sensor may be off and I haven’t confirmed that the oil pressure/temperature warning lights are working.

Moving right along… We pulled out our sail inventory and brought them to the loft for inspection.  It turns out that instead of the advertised 100% jib, and 2 x 120% genoa’s, we ended up with a 100% jib (with hanks), 130% genoa (with hanks) and a 155% genoa (furler)!  Well, no wonder the previous owner’s wife had problems in the Atlantic while using a 155% genoa!!  Wow.  I decided to have the 100% jib re-cut to add the proper luff tape for our furler and I wish I had done the same for the 130% genoa… but alas, one thing at a time.  Our backup main sail turns out to be a somewhat mildewed mizzen sail from some random boat…  I left it with the loft to see if they could sell it on consignment.  The 155% genoa is in surprisingly good condition so it went back on the boat as-is.

I went over all of the systems;

Waste system has an empty tank, new hoses and a new-ish head.  Once I primed the pump we were good to go.  Literally.

The water system wasn’t so good… the tank was partially filled with glycol antifreeze and the inside of the tank was (and is) pretty fouled with dark spots (mildew?) and crusty/film (hard water deposits?).  The access hatch does not permit me to wipe it down and I spent a long while crammed under the foredeck pumping out sediment, antifreeze and murky water.   At this point, hose water and javex will have to do and we just won’t use that water for drinking.

Further to the above water problem, the kitchen Whale pump worked like a charm… only the seals had gone on the faucet.  Upon further inspection, the previous owner had not replaced the seals with correct seals… he had hand-carved a cork!  A new pump is $75-85 and the maintenance/rebuild kits are $30+/- for a few washers.  That was way over the top for 3 rubber washers so I did some experimenting with $0.30 washers from the hardware store and we’re back in business.  The faucet doesn’t leak, but now we notice the pump handle has a tiny leak.  No matter, a little water in the boat won’t hurt us.

We scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed.  I did some big-brush scrubbing of the deck, Feng did a huge amount of little brush scrubbing on the deck and then she began scrubbing the boat lockers, v-berth and head.  We’re making progress and she’s starting to feel comfortable.

We managed to test out the electronics; radios, GPS, autohelm and radar all appear to be in working order.  We’ve got a dead light-bulb which I am not looking forward to replacing as it is up the mast about 20 feet or so.  Needs to be done.

We began testing the inflatable dinghy, and she inflates and holds air well but the dinghy motor, which is spic&span like-new, did not want to run for more than about 30 seconds.  I pulled it apart;  Air flow is fine but the spark plug is fouled.  I couldn’t remove the fuel line ‘filter’ (screen) so I brought it in to a mechanic to look at… I’m still waiting.

The cockpit cushions were in a sorry, sad state and needed to be replaced.  New ones are now being made nd should be finished today or tomorrow.

I took inventory of our anchors and found the chain to be woefully thin.  I must go buy longer, heavier chain today.

New binoculars arrive in the mail by end of day tomorrow.  And a whole list of new items have already been purchased; $85 for winch handles was a good deal from their original price of $145, a new rigging knife for Feng, jerry cans, tools, toolbox and the list goes on and on… at least 3 pages in my notebook.  I should be complete with the purchasing today or tomorrow!

We’re now in our final stage of planning.  Feng is working on provisioning, I’m working on route planning and we’re beginning to watch the weather forecasts as they unfold.  So far, we’re on a tight schedule but think we can keep to our planned Saturday departure.



Jun 03

The Delivery

I lie here on the starboard berth, looking through the keyhole companion way at the blue sky with a few puffy clouds.  What a difference a week makes to my stress level.

One week ago on Friday, our Contessa passed it’s mechanical inspection.  Looked good, sounded good but had not been tested on an extended cruise.

Saturday, we met with a marine surveyor who helped us with a sea trial… The sea trial was short and I feel that the surveyor did not do a thorough job, but there it was.  A passing recommendation.

Having completed the main survey, the mechanical inspection and sea trial without major problems so we decided to finalize our boat purchase and celebrate!  By the time we had completed the paperwork, payment and so-on the weather had deteriorated further and the wind was at 18knots and increasing.  The forecast called for thunder showers and we, prudently, decided not to set sail Saturday evening.  Instead, we had a tasty dinner at the dockside restaurant and spend our first night on the boat.

The Saturday night forecast for Sunday was for an overcast day, blowing 10 knots from the southeast with no rain until very late in the afternoon or evening.  This would be ideal for our first sail since we were travelling a mere 13NM north to Goderich.  However, weather forecasts are not to be trusted.  Sunday morning arrived with calm conditions, forecasted for 4 knots or less from the north and fog.  We packed up, had breakfast at 09:00 and departed around 10:30.  We initially raised the sails when we hit open water, but the wind was already lightening from 4 knots and we knew it would take us all day with the very light winds against us.  Rolling up the sails, the engine took a moment to start.  Strange behaviour that, it had started first time every time before.  We ran the engine for about 45minutes to one hour at about 3/4 throttle making about 4.5 knots SOG until we noticed that the oil light popped on!  Oh no.  This was the *same* problem that was occurring from the previous owner.  I must admit, I said a few “sailor words”.

So there we were, with no engine, about 1/3 of the way between Bayfield and Goderich and a few nautical miles off the coast – barely visible through the foggy/hazy conditions.  Fortunately, the wind has picked up a bit so we said, “AHA!  We don’t need an engine, we’re a *sail*boat.”  As mother nature and Murphy intend, the wind always happens to be from the exact direction you wish to travel.  We sailed for about an hour with the wind peaking around 7 knots and then falling back to zero.  I think our peak spead was about 3.1 knots SOG but ost of the time was only about 1-2 knots SOG.  After an hour, we were back to glassy calm waters, no wind, no engine and perhaps in trouble as we heard the coast guard send out securite warnings for squalls that were approaching from the south.

Our only choice was to use the engine;  We discovered that we could use the engine for about 10 minutes if we let it rest for 15-20.  We limped all the way to Goderich in 10 minute bursts.  At one point, we were dead in the water right off the mouth of the commercial harbour channel, looking at a freighter that was just firing up its engines!  That was a tense 20 minutes.  We didn’t have enough time, in one burst, to make it up the channel to the inner marina so we called ahead to find a spot in the outer marina.  They told us we could dock temporarily on G-dock and let the engine cool down.  *phew* A life saver.  Just as pulled into the inner marina, the engine quit again and we went from full-throttle to coasting as we entered the harbour.  Yes, I docked under no sails, no power, on a new boat in a strange harbour.  It was a mixture of relief, pride and happiness when I docked perfectly under the eyes of all those other boaters.  An hour later, the engine had cooled and oil pressure was increased enough that we were able to move into the inner harbour.  We found our dock and tied up just in time to beat the massive thunder storms moving in.

The 13NM trip, that should have taken us 2.5 hours took us over 8.

… now to settle the issue with the previous owner.

p.s. A thank you to all that helped us.  Ron @ Bayfield Marine Services, Uta @ Mailtland Valley Marina and my Aunt and Uncle who helped shuttle us back to Bayfield.