Sunday, 15 October 2006

All Good Things

By the middle of October the time had come to haul Serenity out of the water and start preparing the boat for the oncoming winter. Getting it back on the trailer was a challenge, but we eventually managed it. Using the same rope method devised at launching, we pulled it out of the water.

The boat was going to need some work, like a new outboard bracket, and some rust protection for the keel, which was looking pretty bad.

The mast had to be lowered before towing the boat home, so I set about to get everything ready.

I had two friends coming by to help me lower the mast. Since one of them was the owner of the tow vehicle, none was hooked up. Since the boat was going home, all my blocks were there. This meant that the boat was just resting on two wheels and the jack.

It was quite a surprise when just as the mast was about halfway down the bow tipped up and the stern dropped down, driving the outboard and propeller in to the dirt. I started to move forward to rebalance the boat, but it was too late. In the commotion, the mast got dropped the last couple of feet, breaking the main halyard winch, and damaging the companionway slider. The outboard and bracket were also damaged. The propeller and bracket arms were bent.

There was an important lesson to carry over the winter. Always have the boat trailer properly secured before attempting to raise or lower the mast. At least no people were hurt, and the boat made it home with no further incidents. The next warm day it was to be covered over, winterized, and set aside until spring.

Sunday, 3 September 2006

Nearing the End of the First Season

Now into September, the sailing days remaining for the season are few, and those we have are becoming shorter and cooler. This is when you have to appreciate the times of good weather, and spend some quality time with your boat. This sunny Sunday was such a day.

During the afternoon the boat was opened up to air out, and the big down sleeping bag was hung over the boom to have the dust beaten out of it. You can see the narrow channel I have to do a 180 turn in. It is much easier for the little 19.5' Matilda sailboat in front of me.

In this picture you can see a few of Serenity's upgrades. The split backstay has a new block and line. A solar panel charges the battery. There is a new outboard motor, new block and line on the topping lift, new dock lines and a propane barbecue. The wood has been sanded and coated in Cetol. The boat is looking pretty good.

Another item I added the jib. It has a reefing point, so I can reduce the size without changing sails, without having furling.

A tiller extension makes it easier and more comfortable to steer from various locations.

The view of the shoreline on the NW side of the harbour.

One of my favourite places to hangout on a boat is the bow. It is away from the noises and commotion of the cockpit, so it is usually just you and the sound of water passing along the hull.

By 7:30 in the evening the sun was already starting to set, so we decided to head in. Other boats were also making for the marina, so there was lots of rocking from their wakes.

Before the light totally faded, we used the camera's timer to take a shot of the both of us.

As we were about to enter the marina, the Coast Guard's FRC zipped around us.

One last shot, here are some town lights reflecting in the water.

A nice time on the water for what might be the last time for the year.

Sunday, 20 August 2006

Sivier Island Weekend

If you are looking for a sheltered harbour, close to Lewisporte, then give Western Harbour on Sivier Island a try. It is a little tricky to access, since you must be especially cautious of the rock in the middle of the entrance. Many a boat has found out it was there the hard way. There are two LYC moorings in the inner cove, and we were heading for one.

Twice a summer, the provincial government opens up a recreational cod fishery. You are allowed to take 5 fish per person per day, and a total of 15 per boat per day. We used to participate fairly often when we had the speedboat, and thought we would give it a shot from the sailboat, using Sivier Island as our base.

On Friday evening we sailed for roughly an hour to get to Western Harbour, and picked up a mooring on the NE end. It was a calm evening, which was good for the mosquitoes. Roxanne and Cheri lit coils and smashed any that got aboard.

It was such a lovely night that I spent much of it up on deck watching the sunset, and then all the stars as they began filling the sky.

Even Roxanne popped her head out once in a while to take in the scenery.

The next day we headed out to the northern side of Sivier Island, near Camel Island, to do some fishing. There are a couple of good grounds there, and it was somewhat sheltered so that we did not drift too fast.

We lost a few cod due to the high freeboard of the sailboat. Just as they would break the surface, they would let go of the hook. Bringing a net is a must for next time. We managed to haul a few on board, and even some mackerel.

Motoring through Birchy Tickle.

The women were not happy about spending several days crammed into a small boat, so we tied up to a wharf where we could get off and stretch our legs. A request was made for a dinghy, to make shore access possible from a mooring or while anchored.

This was also a good place for me to go ashore to clean the fish. The first one completed was rushed back to the boat to be prepared for supper. It was a very tasty meal, with the fish so fresh.

The next day we headed back. The weather was not quite as nice, being a little cooler, and the wind was picking up.

Cloud IX catches up and then passes us.
Cheri, and some items hung out to dry.

Once again we survived a weekend aboard Serenity with three people. I don't think I would want to do it with 4 adults, but we would have been fine with the two kids, when they were small. Now that we have the sailboat, we are not tied to just going to Exploits Islands. The entire bay is now available for us to explore.

Wednesday, 16 August 2006

Engine Upgrade

Serenity came with an old, regular shaft, 6 HP Mercury outboard. It could push the boat well enough, but it wasn't reliable. Several times, while idled down for docking, the engine would cut out. This left me with no propulsion just when I need it most. One time, while entering the marina, it gave out, and I was barely able to use the rudder to skull my way to an open floating dock.

Also, with it being so short, even when the mounting bracket was all the way down, the propeller would come out of the water if I went up the the bow, without sufficient weight in the cockpit. The local Mercury dealer wanted more than the outboard was worth to me to attempt to repair it, so the engine would have to be replaced.

I wanted a Honda, but they are expensive. Checking around, I found a 9.9 HP long-shaft Johnson. It was new, but had sat on a showroom floor for a couple of years, and the store wanted it gone. They gave me a very good price on it, such that an 8 HP Honda was about $300 more expensive. I was getting more for less with the Johnson, so this was what I bought.

Having done some research on which propeller to use with a sailboat, I went with a 4-blade, low pitch model. That would give me a lot of low end torque and pushing power. I only need it to move the boat at 5 knots. With inboard engines, you have to worry about the drag introduced by a large area of blades, but since my outboard could be lifted clear of the the water, this was not an issue.

One thing that is an issue with going from a 2-stroke 6 HP to a 4-stroke 9.9 HP is weight. the new engine weighed nearly twice as much, and the outboard bracket struggled with it. This was another item that had to be upgraded. Funny how things snowball.

On the evening of August 18, we took the boat out in the harbour to start the break-in procedure. Cheri was along, as usual, as was our son. A rather large sailboat from the US was in port, so we went by for a closer look. Here are some photos.

Parker and I. New engine by my left arm.

Parker and Cheri

Chris and Greg

Under sail in a light breeze

A large visitor

Heading back to the marina

Sunday, 6 August 2006

Floating Cottage

One of the nice things about a boat with a galley and beds, is that you can use it as your cottage. Why cook supper at home, when you can sit outside, overlooking the water, and have a meal with friends.

The Lewisporte marina is a nice place to hang out and socialize. Cockpit gatherings are quite common on warm summer evenings. Many a delicious meal has been prepared aboard Serenity.

You don't have to travel far, or even untie the docklines to enjoy your boat.

Friday, 4 August 2006

Adding Improvements

Owning a boat means having a never ending list of things to do. If you are not repairing or replacing something, you are adding new gear to make life aboard easier. Having the cabin floor taken care of relatively cheaply in both time and money, helped with the process of obtaining new gear.

Centreboard post and new floor.

The electric bilge pump which came with the boat was located in a position where you would already be getting your feet wet in the cabin before it was of much use getting the water out. A new bilge pump was required, and put in a location where it could do more good. A section of the lip holding up the bilge access cover had to be cut away for access, but that itself is covered up by the new floor. Being one of the lowest points on the boat, it is a much better location than under the cockpit, and the hose can be lead back trough the existing drain.

Test fitting the new bilge pump.

With the addition of a new block and some nicer line, the backstay adjuster is looking much better.

When sailing solo, it is important to be able to let go of the tiller for a minute or two for raising and lowering the sails, etc. Adding a Tiller Tamer it like having another crew member.

You have to enjoy working on a boat almost as much as sailing it, because you are going to be spending a lot of time and money on it when you are not out enjoying it.

Sunday, 30 July 2006

Exploits Islands

By the end of July, I was comfortable enough with the boat to head off on our first weekend adventure. My cousin, Michael, had come from California to have his baby christened at his family's summer home on Exploits Islands.

Sailing to Exploits

This was a great excuse to see what it was like to live aboard Serenity for a few days, and with a guest. Our friend, Cheri, likes boats and camping, and often accompanied us on our little adventures. She also had family with a summer home at Exploits. It would be tight quarters, but manageable.


Exploits Islands are about 20 NM from Lewisporte. It is a resettled community which once had a population approaching 900 people, but after the government's resettlement program of the 1960s, only two people called the place home all year, another cousin, Richard Wells, and his partner Lydia Budgell.

My mother was born and raised at Exploits, and for a couple of decades, my family looked after the old Wells family home. Selling of the properly a few months earlier was actually what made it possible to buy the sailboat. Heading there was something I had done so many times since being a child, that I could almost do it with my eyes closed. I had also made the trip aboard other people's sailboats, so it should not present much of a challenge.

The weather on that Friday evening was good for our trip. A SW wind of under 15 kts made for fairly comfortable conditions, and we made good time. We had in mind that we would put into a sheltered harbour on one of the islands, if it didn't look like we would be able to make it all the way before dark, but everything was working in our favour.

Arriving safely was simple enough, but finding a place to dock was a challenge. Exploits Islands is a pretty popular place, and with the added draw of the christening, dock space was hard to come by. Without a dinghy, I needed to be on a wharf on the eastern island. We got permission to tie up to a converted fishing vessel owned by Cheri's father-in-law on a wharf also used by by next door neighbour in Lewisporte.

The next day it was raining. Serenity does not have a dodger, so I had to rig up an 8'x10' tarp over the boom to help keep us dry. It did not extend over the BBQ, so cooking on that appliance still required a rain jacket.

For most of Saturday afternoon and evening, Roxanne and I were off to the ceremony and visiting with family. Cheri stayed aboard the tiny boat and read, while listening to the rain tap on the cabin.

On Sunday, the weather cleared, and patches of blue sky could be seen.

Serenity rafted up with Penney's Luck

Time for a quick look around the harbour before making ready, and sailing back to Lewisporte.

Looking NW from Squid Cove

With my old speedboat, I could make the trip from Lewisporte to Exploits in less than an hour. In a sailboat, the same trip takes 3 to 4 hours. With the speedboat, we needed a place to stay once we got there, which had to be maintained, and the fast boat burned about $25/hour in fuel, meaning a weekend could cost $75, if you used the boat much while there. With the sailboat, we are comfortable wherever we tie up, and $75 in fuel would probably last a season or three.

Tuesday, 25 July 2006

A New Sole

In an earlier blog post I talked abot how the cabin floor (sole) was weak and cracked. In another one I showed the plywood sections I laid over it. The wood was not finished at that time, because I wanted to make sure that the pieces still fit after the boat was in the water, and that I was happy with the solution.

Some fine tuning was required, and the boards made several trips to and from home, until I was satisfied. When done, the plywood worked better than I expected, so I decided to make it the permanent cabin flooring, and not just a temporary fix until I could re-core the fibreglass.

The wood was given a couple coats of epoxy to seal it against the hash environment, and then given a couple coats of Cetol to protect the epoxy from UV and make it look better.

The result was a really nice looking cabin sole, that everyone makes good comments about. It feels solid, and I still have easy access to the bilge.