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.

Tuesday, 11 July 2006

Learning the Boat

Being the first summer with my first sailboat, I took it slow and easy, going out many evenings when the wind was light, to get used to how everything worked, and how the boat handled. It was also a good social time, and people often accompanied us.

Being that I was on a very tight budget, I opted for an inexpensive berth. The one I was assigned was off the main floating pier, between it and the breakwater. Turning the boat around in such a tight space was a challenge, even in light air.

The boat came with a jib from another boat, and it did not fit Serenity very well, so I had one made. Since the boat did not have furlingI also didn't want to be hanking and unhanking the jib all the time, so I also bought a deck bag for the jib. It worked out well, and looks good on the boat.

The main sail cover that came with the boat is not ideal, and a challenge to fit over the aft end of the sail. The finishing of the wood on board came out great. A bit of sanding and a couple coats of Cetol really improved the looks of the boat.

There is a split backstay, which means that some bend can be put into the mast. At this point it is only temporarily rigged.

Since there is no furling, I had reef a point put in the jib. The main looks old and baggy compared to the crisp new one.

The tiller extension was another good addition. It makes steering the boat comfortable from a variety of locations.

Many nights we enjoyed the sunset on the water, and it was dark before we headed back to the dock.

Saturday, 8 July 2006

Test Drive

The first Friday evening after the launching of Serenity, My daughter, wife, another couple and a friend took the boat out in the harbour for a quick spin.

Winds were light, so we didn't bother to use the sails with so many aboard, but just enjoyed being out on the water with the outboard providing the propulsion.

Monday, 3 July 2006

Making a Splash and Setting Spars

On July 2, the big day finally arrived. It had been over 6 weeks since I had bought my first sailboat, after many hours of work, and many hundreds of dollars in parts, it was finally going into the water.

I owned a small station wagon, so I had to get a friend with a truck to tow the boat down to the marina and help launch.

Backing Serenity down the ramp at the Lewisporte marina.

It was quickly discovered that the boat could not be backed out far enough to float, so we blocked the wheels, attached a long rope, and let gravity pull the boat and trailer out into deeper water.

Blocking the wheels and attaching a strong rope.

With a lines ashore, and someone at the trailer tongue, the boat slipped easily downhill, with the truck controlling the decent.

The rope keeps the truck well away from the salt water.

Things rarely go smoothly, and with being distracted by coming up with the rope solution, we all forgot to take off the straps. The boat was out in the water, floating, but still attached to the trailer. It was not going to sail very well with all that extra ballast.

Nearly afloat, but still secured to the trailer.

A nearby boat came to the rescue, and Serenity was freed from its straps.

A helping hand.

It was too late in the day to step the mast before dark, so we had to move the boat clear of the launch for the night.

Tied up by the mast crane.

The next day the weather was overcast, but winds were light enough to use the mast crane, however, there was some work to be done to prepare the boat first.

The next day at the fuel dock opposite the mast crane.

Once Serenity was organized, we could move it back to the mast crane area and lift the big spar into place.

Tidied up and ready to be moved back over to the mast crane.

With the mast all secured, Serenity was starting to look like a sailboat.

All standing rigging in place. Time to head to the berth.

Now all that remained was tuning the rigging, adding the sails, attaching the standing rigging, and moving gear aboard.

Saturday, 1 July 2006

A Month of Hard Labour

The list of things to do was long, and the sailing season short, so every spare moment in June was spent getting the boat ready to launch.

One of the first jobs I took on was the tiller and rudder. I didn't like the look of them, and wanted to make sure they would not give me trouble down the road. My concerns were confirmed when I removed the connecting bracket from the tiller and discovered that he wood was beginning to break up. I had to rebuild the area with epoxy to ensure that it would not fail me some windy day.

While sanding and finishing, a problem was found with the tiller.
The 900 pound iron keep was getting rusty, so I cleaned it off and applies some rust paint as a temporary measure to get through the season.

The rusty keel rest on a solid plank taking most of the weight on the trailer.
The holes were drilled through the hull for the marine toilet. That was a scary process. I don't like putting holes in an otherwise good boat.

The intake for the head, and sender for the knotmeter.
A coat of anti-fouling paint had to be applied. That was another protector for the keel, I hoped.

A freshly coated bottom.
There was a deep scratch in the gelcoat, but I knew about that before I bought the boat. I found a repair kit, and that took care if it, as well as some other wear marks from lines in the cockpit.

The repair was initially much whiter than the surrounding hull.

The wood was all sanded down, and given a coat of Cetol.

All wood cleaned, sanded and coated.
A new deep cycle marine battery was installed and a solar panel attached to it for charging.

New battery secured.
The hatch had no adjuster, so I put on on using existing holes, but it is not the best angle for it. Eventually, I may change it, but it is better than none now.

The hatch can now stay open.

The compass will need a cover before the sun totally ruins it. The boat looks like it once had a spinnaker, but none of that gear came with it. All the superfluous hardware was removed.

No compass cover, and a clam cleat removed.

One of the bigger projects was making a new sole for the cabin. Proper repair of the soft spots would keep the boat out of the water for an extended period, and maybe all season. After weighing various options, I decided to just lay some 3/8 plywood down on top of it. If it worked, I at least had something temporary, if it didn't then I had some plywood for another project. The results were promising.

3 sections of 3/8, good one side exterior plywood

I wanted to do it in two pieces, but I could not get the port section to drop into place, so it was cut in half. Now all three sections are easy to drop in and take out for access to the bilge. I didn't do any finishing at this point, since I wanted to make sure it still fit after the boat was in the water.

There were a few jobs I was even able to get my wife to help out with.

Making the anchor look better. Speedboat is in the water.

The marine toilet I installed, had been in a boat that burned, so it only cost me $10. It was an old Brydon unit, however, so I could not track down any new parts for it. If there are every any serious problems with it, an entire new head will have to be purchased.

Much better than a porta-potty, even if it is an obsolete brand.

One of my last pre-launch projects was the rudder. It was ugly, and didn't kick up, like it was supposed to.

Mostly apart

It was taken completely apart, sanded, coated with epoxy, covered in Cetol, and put back together.


A tiller extension was added to make steering more comfortable.

Back on the boat and mated with the tiller.

Serenity was starting to look like a boat. It was time to get her wet.

Wood coated, new compass cover. Getting shipshape.