Monday, 17 November 2014

Gin Pole Upgrade

An upgrade was made to the gin pole to more securely attach it to the mast. I had to lower the mast myself, and didn't want any surprises.

I used a ratchet strap which broke a while ago. It was screwed it onto the pole in a way that didn't allow too much movement, but still let the ratchet work normally. This holds it much more securely to the mast than the straps and ropes I had tried before.

I used the jib sheets attached to the end of the gin pole, and positioned through the track blocks just aft of the spreaders to keep it stabilized.

There was a light crosswind, so I also added a safety line from the mast down to the toe rail on the windward side, just in case a gust came at a bad time.

Everything went according to plan, and Serenity is now safely home in my driveway.

There are still some more improvements I can make, but the system I have now works well and makes it possible for one person to safely raise and lower the mast.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Serenity Ashore!

Serenity finally came out of the water this morning, with help from Peter W., Jim, Rod, Peter B., Ross, and a couple other people. The tongue extension and guides worked great! What didn't work was my truck.

We had the boat almost on the trailer and just needed to back everything out into a little deeper water. That's when the brake line broke, and we didn't want to risk going backwards down the ramp any further. The boat could pull the truck under.

The tide was almost up, so we waited to see if it would float the boat enough, but it was to close to the top of the cycle, and we only gained a couple inches closer to the stop.

Another guy was waiting in line to get his sailboat out, and volunteered his truck. This meant tying lines ashore from both the boat and the trailer, uncoupling the extension, carefully moving my truck out of the way, and then attaching the borrowed truck.

With a functional tow vehicle, it only took a couple minutes to properly seat Serenity, and haul it out. I then hooked my truck back on to the trailer and very slowly moved my boat out of the way, so the other guy could get at his boat.

There used to be 2 ramps at the marina, but we lost one with the expansion last year. There can be lineups until a new one can be built in a couple years in another phase.

Being so late in the year, all the water in the marina was off and drained, so there was no way to pressure wash the hull. That will have to wait until I get the boat home. Getting the boat home will require borrowing a truck, since it is now the weekend, and my mechanic doesn't have an opening until probably Thursday. At least the boat is out of the water. We are expecting some high winds again next week.

Some lessons were learned for next year. One is to drop the trailer all the way down on the jack. I shifted the boat forward about a foot on the trailer this afternoon, and the u-bolt is well above the v-stop when the boat is properly positioned. It was about the same level when the boat came up.

Another one is to get Serenity out before the end of October. Not only was there was no water, but I was also lucky that winter has been holding off. Last year this time we had lots of snow.

I still have to drop the mast, get the boat home, and tarp it for the winter, but that is the most challenging part of the season end procedures done.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Tongue Extension

Getting Serenity in and out of the water has always been a challenge. The tow vehicle cannot get far enough out into the water to float the boat, so a length of rope has been employed. I was afraid that someone was going to get hurt, or the boat damaged.

Also, it can take over an hour to complete with the trailer and boat both floating around over the ramp. We had to give up on it one time because it got dark before the boat was on the trailer. It also means that I am tying up the ramp for an excessive period. I needed lots of help too.

It used to look something like this, with the trailer wondering all over the place and not much control over anything. It was also dangerous taking the trailer off the ball at the bottom of the ramp.

For this project I have picked up the following parts:
  • Receiver: 12" of 2.5" x 2.5"  square tube
  • Extension: 24' of 2" x 2" square tube (on order)
  • Coupler: 2" x 2" for 2" ball
  • U-Bolts: 3" x 8" with nuts and lock washers
  • Hitch pin
  • associated fasteners and drill bits

I'm basing it on the one I found here:

The existing trailer tongue.

The parts.

The jack and tire were shifted back to make room, then I drilled the holes and tried a test fit of the receiver.

I picked up the 24 foot long tube and brought it to my father-in-law's shed to use his drill press. The hitch ball coupler was attached and a hole drilled for the pin. It has to be painted yet, but at least I can use it at this point.

The final assembly and test fit of everything. The receiver and tube both have two coats of paint now.

It is a long way to the truck.

The trailer jack will have to be kept down to allow the wheel to take some of the weight. There is too much flex in the tube at this length without it. The tube will be at about the same height as the rope used to be, so there should be no clearance problems as it goes down the ramp.

While I was at the trailer, I thought of a way to put some guides on it to help with positioning the boat.

Parts List:
  • 2 x 5' sections of 1 1/2" ABS pipe
  • 2 x 10" sections of 2 x 4
  • Miscellaneous screws

This would be easier to do with the boat on the trailer, so I had to estimate the length of the pipe required. Also the wooden block was positioned at the outside edge of the fender to help protect it from being struck. That, along with the 1/2" space to the hole, means that the pipes are not quite 8' apart at the bottom. I'm assuming that the boat is exactly 8' wide at the beam, but there should be enough flexibility at the top of the pipe to allow for that.

A 2" hole was drilled in the 2x4 for the ABS pipe. 2 holes were drilled through the fender support to allow a couple of screws to go up into the wood. 1 3" screw goes through the pipe, but that should be replaced with something a little longer. The pipe hole is over the edge of the fender support, which will allow any water in the pipe to drain out.

When Serenity was hauled out, the tongue extension and guides worked great! What didn't work was my truck. We had the boat almost on the trailer and just needed to back the trailer out into a little deeper water. That's when a brake line broke, and we didn't want to risk going backwards down the ramp any further. The boat could pull the truck under.

The tide was almost up, so we waited to see if  there was enough rise left float the boat, but it was to close to the top of the cycle, and we only gained a little. Another guy was waiting in line to get his sailboat out, and volunteered his truck. This meant tying lines ashore from both the boat and the trailer, uncoupling the extension, carefully moving my truck out of the way, and then attaching the borrowed truck.

With a functional tow vehicle, it only took a couple minutes to properly seat Serenity, and haul it out. I then hooked my truck back on and very slowly moved my boat out of the way, so the other guy could get at his boat. There used to be 2 ramps at the marina, but we lost one with the expansion last year. There can be long lineups until the new one is built in a couple years in another marina development phase.

Being so late in the year, all the water at the marina was off and drained, so there was no way to pressure wash the hull. That had to wait until I got the boat home, and getting the boat home required borrowing another truck. My mechanic didn't have an opening for a few days. At least the boat is out of the water.

With all that was going on with the truck, I didn't notice exactly how much of the tube was required to float the boat, but it was at least 12 feet. I may be able to cut a lot off. Perhaps I can make up a second one from the remainder to sell. People seemed to like what I had done.

Another modification has to be made to the trailer. There should be a support under the bow. There is a roller there now, but it does not come close to touching anything. I should also raise the height of the winch. I had a line lead back to a cockpit winch, but that came close to breaking the 2x4s while trying to force the boat the last few inches.

It may now be possible to launch and haul out Serenity with just one or two people. The switch over to the extension can be done on flat, level ground rather than the ramp. And the entire process should be faster and safer.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Serenity's Little Sister

I am still thinking about selling the PY23, but not giving up sailing. When a deal fell into my lap for an old, but very usable 12 foot dinghy, I grabbed it. The boat in question is a Petrel, made of aluminum as commissioned by Alcan in the late 1960s. This particular one was probably made in the mid 1970s.

The boat blelonged to the Lewisporte Yacht Club, but had been neglected for years until I got it back into working order in 2013. You can read more about that at

My first sail aboard the Petrel in 2013. Note Serenity with the blue tarp up.

The Petrel will probably get a proper trailer, and mostly be used on fresh water from now on. My dinghy experience is very limited, so I'd rather spend some time on warmer waters until I'm more comfortable in one.

Lloyd sailing the Petrel in 2014.

The boat was used only a couple of times in 2014, even though it spent the summer in the water at the marina. Mostly I just bailed it out many, many times.

Bringing the Petrel home on 2014-11-09.

Even if Serenity finds a new owner, I'll have no trouble finding boats to crew aboard, and with the Petrel, I can still go sailing whenever I want. It is a whole lot cheaper to operate and maintain too.

The Petrel put away for the winter on 2014-11-13.

I'm looking forward to the spring already!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Some Summer Projects

I didn't spend much time with Serenity this sailing season. There were some distractions, and a lot of bad weather. There were also about 5 good weeks, including all of July, but so many things to fit in that time. Here are a few projects that did get done over the summer.

The new sail cover from Michele Stevens.

3-arm towel holder.

 Coat hook on the door.

Hat hook on the closet.

Depth sounder in cockpit locker.

Topping lift adjuster

Still a box full of parts to complete a long list of projects, but that's what keeps it interesting. If all the work were done, I'd have nothing to do but go sailing.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Time to Part Ways?

It has now been over 4 weeks since I have been to the Lewisporte marina. A month without so much as checking on my sailboat, let alone going out on it. The boat has only been away from the dock 4 or 5 times this year. Certainly less than 20 hours of use all season.

The time might have come to hang a for sale sign. The costs of ownership are far greater than any use and enjoyment I get from the vessel, and I could sure use the money to do some repairs around the house.

I would keep the dinghy and small outboard, and I already have a canoe, so it is not like there would be no time spent on the water. I could also crew for someone, if I felt a need to do some sailing. It is probable that I have have spent more time on other boats than my own for the 9 seasons I have had it anyway.

The questions is, how much am I prepared to lose on the boat? I have spent far more money on it than I'll be able to get back from selling it. After such an investment, I might want to hang on to it a while longer. This all needs some more thought.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Race Night 2014-07-30

This was quite an unusual race night in that not only was there a good wind of 15 to 20 knots (force 4 to 5), but 7 boats were on the water for the race. That is the most I have seen. There were only 6 for the big Harbour Cup race in 2013.

I had Lloyd Kelly crewing with me, and it was the first time that we had raced together. It was actually only the second race ever for Serenity in her 9 seasons on the water with me. My racing experience is rather limited on any boat, and Lloyd has not done much more. It was to be a learning experience.

It is not really fair to call this a race. It was just 7 boats chasing each other around three buoys, 2 orange and one green. The official yellow buoys have not been put out yet. At the start, there are three orange buoys close together for the clubs moorings, and there was some confusion as to which we had to start from and round.

Some boats did not have their radios on, and of the ones that did, some were not on the correct channel, or were having problems with their radio. This led to a couple of the boats starting 10 minutes before the others. I was still raising sails when I noticed sailboats already well down the line to the first mark. We decided to track our own time, but I couldn't get the timer to work on my watch. Might have helped if I had the chance to put on some glasses to see how to use it.

My sail plan for the wind conditions was full main and working jib, but Lloyd and I quickly realized that the gusts were going to be too strong for that much sail in the little boat, and we popped a reef into the main. Even with that, we had to often employ a fisherman's reef (the act of quickly releasing the main sheet and letting the sail drop temporarily to leeward) to maintain a heading, and not be forced into rounding up.

Michael (Chrysler 22) about to be passed by his father, Mark (Mirage 35).

We knew at the beginning that this was not going to be a serious race, so we just set about to make it around the buoys as best we could. Starting well back in last place, there was some ground to make up. Eventually, we fell into somewhat of a rhythm, and mistakes became fewer. We played with the jib sheet runs for better sail shape. The boat began sailing better, and faster. We went from alone at the rear, to up with crowd. By the second lap we even managed to pass a boat, Moon Shadow, a Chrysler 22. On the third lap, however, one of the boats that left early, and the fastest one on the course, a Mirage 35 lapped us.

Wednesday, August 6 will be the annual Harbour Cup Race. It has been held for the past 3 or 4 years as part of the Lewisporte Mussel Bed Soiree. Tonight's race I consider to be just a training run for that one. It will be a bigger deal, with a committee boat, and hopefully the yellow buoys in the water. Trying to find the correct little orange ball, from across the harbour, while staring directly into the setting sun was not fun.

Overall, I'm pleased with how we did. Had all the boats started at the same time, once the handicaps had been applied, I think that we would have done quite well. Catching up to and then passing another boat, of similar class, is quite enjoyable. I think that Lloyd and I make a pretty good team. All the other boats had at least 3 people. I need to find another person to crew. Are you interested?

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Family Exploits Voyage 2014

The resettled community of Exploits in Notre Dame Bay, consists of two islands, Exploits (western island) and Burnt (eastern island), and two main harbours, Upper (southeast side) and Lower (northwest side), between them. The population was near 1000 people around 1900, but the Newfoundland government relocated the residents of many outports from the mid fifties to the mid seventies, including Exploits. It has since become a popular location for summer cottages, and visiting boaters. My mother's family has roots there going back to the early 1800s.

My sister and niece are visiting from Ontario, and over the weekend we went out to Exploits Islands for two nights. There were 5 of us and the dog, Lucy, aboard the PY23 while travelling, but only my wife and I, and the dog, sleeping aboard. The others stayed in the house my mother grew up in; constructed about 81 years ago. Mom is 84 and took the tiller for part of the way out. The voyage was about 4.5 hours each way from our home port of Lewisporte.

Rachael, Roxanne, Nancy, Margaret

One of my favourite spots on the boat.

Birchy Tickle ahead. Winds were too variable for sailing so we just motored out.

The dog, Lucy, seemed to be enjoying the boat too.

Most of the way the waves and wind were somewhat behind us, but variable in both speed and direction. After a while, we gave up trying to sail, and just motored out. After clearing Swan Island it was a different experience. That final stretch of water had the wind and waves on our port bow. It was cooler with the northwest breeze, and chilly spray kept washing those of us who remained in the cockpit. It was a rough crossing, but nothing the boat couldn't handle easily.

Once we arrived at Exploits, and the boat was docked, we had to transport all the food, bedding, and so on to the cottage, and open it up for the season. This meant doing a bit of a tidy, and hooking up the water line, propane range, and fridge. I sold the cabin back in 2006 to finance the purchase of my sailboat, but since it has remained in the family, we still get the use of it. Best of both worlds, I think.

At the dock and unloaded

Following supper, Nancy, Rachael and I decided to see if we could get some ice from the chunks breaking off the icebergs. We saw several about the size of a kitchen table floating past the entrance to Upper Harbour as we had approached Exploits. Using the tender, we took the opportunity to also tour the harbour. With no small ice to be seen on the south side, we headed for Lower Harbour. At first we didn't see anything, but after a turn around the cove, we spotted a piece.

It was far too big to get into the little boat, but it had an anvil shaped section that a rope could be put around, so we tried towing it. The little 2.3hp Honda, however, was not up to the task, and we had to try plan B. I had brought along an axe, and was able to chop off a few pieces we could scoop into the boat. Once we had enough to help keep the coolers cool, as well as our drinks, we headed back and relaxed for the rest of the night.

On Saturday morning we all went for a hike down to Lower Harbour. Along the way, Rachael and I climbed up a hill while the others waited below. We had a great view of Upper Harbour, and across "The Run" to Swan Island. Even though there were a couple of icebergs out that way, we could not see them from here.

Rachael on a lookout. The cottage is left of the little island, in the field.

The narrows between the harbours where bridges used to be.

One of the reasons for this climb was to find Rachael's first Geocache. There are two on Burnt Island, and this was the closest to us. With the ups and downs, and trees in the way, it took a while to make our way, but it was there. Mission successful!

Rachael near the cache. Note the icebergs on the horizon.

With the first find under our belts, we hurried down and met up with the other three on the trail. We briefly stopped by my cousin Rosemary's place, and admired the new deck, and continued on to the breakwater. This structure is probably over 100 years old, and built without the assistance of any heavy machinery. It was made to stop storm surges from coming through a narrow gap in the hills into Lower Harbour.

The breakwater is just left of the white building and cottage under construction.

Grounded iceberg background left, with part of breakwater foreground right.

The beach beyond the breakwater is a fun place to explore and see what is among the flotsam. For those who know how to do it, there are many potential whistles there. Rachael didn't quite master it.

From there we went through the old cemetery, past the headstones of my 3x great-grandparents (James Wells b.1790 - d.1871), and on up to the lookout. This vantage point offers views of the North Atlantic where the next landfall is Greenland. That is where all these icebergs are coming from.

Nancy and Rachael look out over the ocean.

From there we went after the second Geocache. This one was on a trail I can't remember being on before. That is the great thing about Geocaching. We had no trouble finding it, but the contents were wet, and the log impossible to sign.

Rachael finds her second Geocache.

In the afternoon, I borrowed a boat and taught Rachael how to row. We stayed in the sheltered waters created by the high tide. Rowing is one of my favourite things to do in a boat. As a kid I would take my grandfather's little wooden punt on the same route.

Rachael and I out for a row

As it was getting later in the afternoon, we were wondering where our expected friends were, so Rachael and I went to the mouth of the harbour to have a look for them. There was a sailboat over by Swan Island that might be them, and it looked to be about an hour away. We stopped for brief chats with people on boats, and Rachael got the chance to drive a boat with an outboard engine.

Rachael and I go looking for Shelby Lynn.

Eventually they arrived. Steve and Joanne have a Challenger 24 (aka Challenger 7.4), and this was Joanne's first trip out this far from the marina. They were accompanied by Lloyd, a visitor from Ireland, who is working in Lewisporte for just the summer, and then heading back home following a cross-Canada adventure. After we had them snugged down on the next wharf, we set about to make supper.

Shelby Lynn docked at Exploits

Once the supper dishes were cleared away, it was decided to go for a walk to Lower Harbour, and be back before dark. It was the first time there for both Joanne and Lloyd. We didn't have time to take in too much, but it was a nice stroll.

As the sun sets, with Lloyd, Steve, Joanne, Roxanne and Lucy

Sunday morning, after a good breakfast, we went off to explore most of Burnt Island. We first climbed up to the nearest look out, back to where the cache was hidden, and then headed south as far as the trail goes. It ends at a house that no one has lived in for a long time, and it has recently collapsed. A sad end to a familiar sight at the harbour entrance.

Lloyd and Steve taking in the view.

An abandoned house finally succumbs to disuse and old age.

Upper Harbour through some trees.

After lunch we loaded up the boat, and prepared for the sail to Lewisporte. There were many things left that we could have done, like walk through Taylor's Nose, and hike out to the lighthouse, but those are thing to look forward to on the next visit.

Preparing to leave. (Photo by Lloyd Kelly)

Shelby Lynn took a different route back which offered a closer pass by the icebergs.

Shelby Lynn taking the western route back.

This was the first time my wife has been away from the dock in our boat since 2006, when she nearly fell overboard because of a wet deck and slippery boots. The intention was to make it as comfortable as possible for her, so that she might go out again in less than 8 years. The trip can be done in under 4 hours, but I didn't push the boat over 5 knots, or use very much sail. Roxanne even took the helm for a good portion of the return voyage.

Rachael, Roxanne

This has been an exceptional summer for both weather and icebergs. You can be enjoying 30ÂșC temperatures while watching huge chunks of ice drift by, or go aground and break up.

2 icebergs on the west side of Long Island.

Iceberg photo by Lloyd Kelly

Icebergs are not formed locally. They break off (calve) from the glaciers in Greenland and float down our way over a couple of years. They are quite a bit smaller by the time they reach us, and some are still gigantic.You have to be very careful around them, since they are prone to collapse without warning, followed by some big waves, as demonstrated by this YouTube video taken near where we were boating.

An Auto-Awesome Google made.

We motored across The Run, and put up a reefed main to motor sail as far as Tinker Island. This is where we dropped hooks over the side and attempted to catch a cod. It was not an ideal spot, but I didn't know how the boat was going to drift with the dinghy in tow. By the time I was satisfied that it would work fine, the women were tired of fishing and requested that we carry on home empty handed.

Passengers down below were relaxed enough to sleep.

While passing the eastern side of Sivier Island we raised the full main in the diminishing airs, and made the final push back to Lewisporte. It had been a very full weekend with much time spent on both the land and the water. Nancy and Rachael are looking forward to another visit to Newfoundland, and Roxanne might even go out in boat again.

Heading into Lewisporte Harbour

Red - route out, Green - route back