Winds of Change

Winds of Change

Somewhere, back in the deep, dark recesses of my mind I knew a change was coming.  I was listening to the news, I was seeing the election coming the following year, but honestly, I was dead set on getting my new – old boat prepared for spring, and myself ready for classes or something. Anything. I wasn’t sure yet.  Life was coming at us fast and furiously, and we were meeting it, parrying quickly, and the occasional riposte would drive back whatever evil we were facing.  Not that we face evil often, but sometimes you know it lurks in the dark, deep and foreboding night time just beyond your vision.  But then, as usual, I am getting a bit ahead of myself.JoAnne and I sat down and studied out books and when I had time on the weekends, when it wasn’t bloody, bone chillingly cold, I’d climb up on our new-old boat and remove stuff, clean it up and do things that made me grimace.  For instance one day I removed all the old wood from the boat.  The more I removed, the ugly things got.  I realized I’d have to removed the tabernacle that held the mast, so I did.  Along with the brace beneath. So I did.  Yuk.

Massive and horrible damage under the tabernacle was evident – for the uninitiated that is the bracket that the mast mounts too and stands upon when raised upward to the sky.  If you know anything about physics, you will realize that a 40-50 pound weight, roughly what the mast weighs isn’t much spread out, but if you stand it up on end, all that weight is pressing down on one, little, narrow, tiny spot on the deck.  Under that is a bracket, braced underneath by a four by four piece of wood, which is, in turn mounted to the sole of the interior, and some wooden framing inside the boat.

Damage under the tabernacle – Ouch

In short, had I brought that mast up to vertical and raised the sails in a strong wind, the boat would have disintegrated, the mast fallen over and the whole day, not to mention my head, the boat and any crew aboard would be ruined.  Therefore, I continued to remove everything I saw.  I dug deep into the bowels of the bilge (ok on this boat, it’s not much to speak of but a bilge it has) and I surveyed the hull carefully.  The hull, thankfully was not only intact, she’s sound.  Solid and sound.  Over the next few days I removed the old wood, bought some nicer stuff and replaced it, piece by piece.  I learned quickly how to do fiberglass work. I’m not the best in the world to do it, but I accomplished the mission, re-braced the overhead, and the upper deck and remounted all the hardware (after a paint job).  The boat was in better shape now than she was before at least.

I constructed a gin pole and some rigging to raise the mast, tested it, then tested it twice.  Finally I called a buddy and my wife out to raise the mast.  We did so one afternoon with no problems.  Everyone was happy, including the boat.  Some guy named “Barack Obama” a newbie Senator declared he was running for office.  A chill, chill wind was blowing from the north.


The gin pole up and ready to raise the mast               Rick and Steve setting the rigging in place

Over the rest of the winter, I removed most of the electrical system, replaced the bow light, replaced the mast light socket, lamp and the lamp in the stern light.  None of them worked.  I removed the stereo in the hopes I could reinstall it next season, next winter.  I wouldn’t need a stereo on the water.  I would need a functional boat, one with a rudder that worked, and some decent lines.  Colorado lakes are a Tempest-in-a-Teapot arrangement – but I only had the slightest inkling of what sort of wind and waves I’d be experiencing.  I just wanted a boat I could cross the lake in, and get back alive.  So far I was accomplishing that and learning more about boats than I thought possible.

Somewhere around Christmas time we decided to dig heavily into courses.  We had read a lot and knew the physics of sailing, although we had many questions.  We contacted several schools, both here in Colorado and later in Florida and California.  I wasn’t impressed with the local schools in Colorado.  Something about being short with me on the phone tends to turn me off.  When I ask a “Noob Question” I don’t like being treated like a “Boob”.  Instead I figured, if I am going to go to a school, why the HELL do I want to do it in COLORADO?  I want an ocean, I want a big boat, no damned dinghies for me.

I’d been reading all these obnoxious, opinionated sailorly sites and they kept saying things like “If you really want to learn to sail, do it in a dinghie”.  Somehow, that neither sounded sailorly, nor did it sound scholarly. In fact, applying my vast knowledge of everything except sailing, including teaching, it came to me in a brilliant flash of insight that “If I want to learn to sail MY boat, I want to learn to sail on a boat LIKE my boat….”

Duh…. brilliant.

I contacted the San Diego Sailing Academy and spoke to Nick, one of the owners and as it turns out, the father of the man who was later to instruct us in sailing.  Or rather beat me over the head with my own stupidity and give my wife the confidence she needed to turn a boat inside a tiny, crowded marina at Shelter Island.  Damn it, getting ahead of myself again… sorry.

To go on we set up courses through Nick and Mike for the American Sailing Association’s basic keelboat, coastal cruising and bare boat for April of 2009.  We had not yet put our own boat in the water, because, frankly it was cold, and icy and I didn’t want to ice surf, I wanted to sail!  We were chomping at the bit by the time April came around.  A few days later, the new President, Barack Obama was sworn into office on this tidal wave of passion and stupidity called “Hope and Change”.

The “Winds of Change” were blowing cold, windy and freezing rain and snow was falling in Colorado in January.  I was beginning to regret the name we had chosen for the boat.


Painting, cleaning, doing things

posted Feb 8, 2010, 8:04 AM by Rick Donaldson

01/25/2010 15:37:14If, when I get home this afternoon it’s still relatively sunny on the side of the house (it won’t be, I’m sure) I’ve still got a bit of work to do on the boat.

She needs the rest of the cockpit finished (been painting it).

The trailer needs painting and I really need to find and cut some carpet for the runners on the trailer.  The old stuff is disintegrating and needs replacement next time I drop the boat into the water.

I also have to do the port side, polish and wax.  Then I get to start on the deck.  Yuk.  It collects dirt and there is this weird, strange mildew or something that likes to “grow” on the deck.  I don’t know what it is, little black spots that appear.  It cleans off and might just be dirt, but, I’m betting it’s not edible… 🙂

I think I mentioned last time I re-wired the stereo back in, and replaced the car speakers with some small wall mounted speakers.  It sounded good.  The solar panel I have on the boat keeps the battery topped off and seems to work pretty well.  It’s only on a temporary mount, and I might do something with that as well this week.

“The Plan”

Looking over “the Plan” – to start cruising is looking good.  Appointments this week at the doctor for a physical for myself – to make sure I’m in as good of shape as I think I am and also tomorrow a financial adviser to help us go over our current savings, and the various retirement stuff we’ve set up.

I’m going to explain exactly what we want to do and for how long and then go over our finances, including what our home is worth, our Jeeps and other belongings and figure out what our “bottom line” is.

If my last calculations were right, selling my house alone will give me enough money to leave for the next 6 or 7 years.  Six for sure, even with emergency funding and some yearly trips home (flying) from where ever we are.  That doesn’t touch our real savings, and retirement money at all.

That puts us saving for two years, subtracting our bills (Oh, like those damned credit cards everyone used to love, and of course, the ever-present student loans my wife and I have incurred over the years).

Fortunately, we will have all of that gone very shortly and the “two years” is to make sure to cover what we use up getting rid of the bills.

I’m hoping that we will be putting around an extra 1000 in the kitty a month now, starting at the beginning of February.  That’s “extra money” and an emergency fund!

We chose two years to make sure the money is where we want it to be with NO PROBLEMS.

Reading, Education, Learning and… more reading

I’ve read a dozen or so books in the last few months about cruising, working on boats, choosing boats, and of course coastal and celestial navigation.  I’ve not become an expert on anything – but, like everything else in my life, I have a ‘working knowledge’ now.

The only thing I’m an “Expert” on is radio theory, electronics and physics. I hope those things help me figure out which way to point a boat.

I think at this point we intend to get a used boat, bought outright (after a good survey of course) about a year or eighteen months from now.  At that point we’ll have our house fixed up to sell and get it on the market and hope we can sell it within the time frame we want.

The day the house sells is the day we pack up and move.  If we haven’t quit our jobs yet, we will give them reasonable notice and perhaps help train folks if requested.  Otherwise, I would say within less than a month even without a boat, we will be headed to the East Coast, most likely Florida somewhere to get acquainted with the climate and learn to breathe air at sea level again.

Remember, we live at about 7000 feet above sea level now.

Once in Florida, if we have not already found a suitable vessel we will search in earnest.  I’ll be bringing cash, tools, and a few things from our “former lives” to keep to use to repair, rebuild or fix up anything that needs fixin’ up.

At that point we decide how long we need, what needs doing, and chose the stuff that is critical to keep the boat afloat, safe but in sailing condition.  Once we’re sure the boat floats, and can sail, we’ll be doing some short cruises to get used to the vessel, and the area and work to get ready for a one day passage somewhere.

Later, a two day passage… and so on, until we’re comfortable with the boat, our ability to sail and eventually our willingness to finally “join the cruising crowd”.

Well, that’s the rest of the plan.  I hope I remember it next week….



posted Feb 8, 2010, 7:59 AM by Rick Donaldson

I’ve deliberately not been writing here for some time due to work, sailing this past season, work on the boat and preparations for a vacation coming up.Vacation

We’re leaving in the later Spring time for a bareboat cruise around the British Virgin Islands (BVI).  After a lot of planning, consideration and sailing practice this year we made the decision to do a bare boat cruise around BVI.

BVI was chosen and most of you will probably already know to get us some simple, easy “ocean going” practice away from the inland waters of Colorado.  While this is obviously not going to be real “ocean travel” we do plan to do a route to Anegada over the course of a couple of days.  One day up, one day visit, one day back.

The Crew consists of myself, JoAnne, one of my sons and two close friends.  The crew has minimal sailing experience but will be joining us this Spring on our boat for some “Deck Hand” training.

We’re working out our supplies and everything is ready to roll.  Perhaps we’ll see some of you down there.

Our Boat

She’s back home, and out of the water for now. It’s winter here and chilly to bloody-hell-cold.  I’ve been cleaning her up, and doing something that hasn’t apparently been done to the boat for several years.  Polishing.  I used a rubbing compound to bring out the shine and then waxed one side.

I left one side to be able to compare the stark differences in a clean, shiny boat and a boat that hasn’t had any tender care in a long, long time.  The change is absolutely amazing, striking and to an extent makes me mad to see that she wasn’t cared for well in her previous life.

I’ll be finishing up the other side as soon as it is warm enough to spend a few hours rubbing the boat out.  It took me about six or seven hours of hard work, sore muscles and a lot sweat in chilly weather the other day to get as far as I got.

The cockpit is partially repainted now, doing a little at a time.

And I’ve reinstalled the stereo with new speakers that I removed last year.  It works very nicely.  The solar panel is semi-installed and is keeping the battery charged, using a charge controller.  I’ve not completed the electrical panel for the boat yet, but working on that as well.  I hope to have that done in a couple of months, installed and rewired for lighting, radio, depth finder, navigational and mast lighting as well as a couple of miscellaneous items.

The Plan

I believe I’ve noted here before that our primary purpose is to prepare to become full-time cruisers.  Originally we decided “two years” as a random number.  We’ve spent just over a year and and a half now learning to sail, practicing and learning all we can about “The Cruising life”.

There’s still a lot to learn.

But, the plan is now written out, like a business plan.  It includes working out where we want to visit, how long, and how much money we will need.  This plan includes the creation of our “Cruising Kitty”, and a way to sustain money in the funds.

The plan includes the eventual selling of our house and nearly all of our personal belongings to fund the liquid cash fund and purchase of the boat.  The rest of our savings, that which already exists as well as our long-term retirement funding is in place and we’re pushing for a deep, hard cut in spending, paying off a f couple of bills we have left and the next two years will be used to fix up anything in our home that needs fixing, shoving every extra penny into the Kitty to give us a leg up, and to prepare ourselves for a more austere lifestyle.

Neither of us have any trepidation about our coming lifestyle.  We came from not-so-well-to-do families, we’ve been there ourselves, and we’ve spent many years of our lives living with much less than most people live on, or with anyway.

At this point, we have read and are reading a lot of information – weeding through, if you will, those who’ve “Gone Before”.

I find it amazing and funny the number of “opinions” out there on the current sailing forums about what to do, and how to do it, the types of boats you should or shouldn’t use, and the glaring, obviously opinionated groups of people who will side against ANYTHING someone says, simply because they have a different opinion.

One group will say, “That boat sucks, it sails like a dog” while another group speaking of the same boat will say exactly the opposite.

When it comes to “How To”, no two people have the same information, or opinions.  It makes me wonder how, if there are so many WRONG ways to do things that they get done!

But, what I have learned over the last few months is important.  I will do things my way.  I’ll listen to, but not take ANY advice from anyone else unless and until I check their advice out for myself.  I will not offer one bit of advice to another sailor on anything, unless they ask.  And then I will freely give MY opinion on what I consider right and wrong.

I believe that this is only fair, since the advice up until now I’ve received has mixed reviews.  I’ve gotten a lot of good advice, in very small doses from nearly anyone I’ve asked.  But those same people give bad advice in great quantities at the same time.

The other thing I’ve learned is that sailors, in person are the nicest people you ever want to meet.  Unless you’re racing them.  If they can cut your rigging down to win, they will, and pat you on the back for losing your rig and buy you a beer after! 🙂

At the same time, talking to power boat drivers on the lake shore, they are nice people too. Helpful, though unable to either tie a knot or understand the simplicity of sailing along under wind power alone when they can “GO FAST”… but put those same people in their vessels and set sail out near them and they becomes the scariest creature in the water or on land.

They cut you off, run along side ripping three foot wakes over your cockpit and smiling and waving, with nary a care or understanding of the danger they put sailboats into when they do this.

They will cut in front of you 50 feet away, dragging screaming children on towed flotation, skipping across the waves while losing children along the way… in front of a sailboat moving toward them at 4-5 knots.

I haven’t hit anyone, but have had to pull up into the wind to avoid the prospect of doing so.  And found myself on the receiving end of a bitter, spitting, curse-word-infested tirade for “Putting my children in danger”.

Apologizing for being in front of them when they crossed my bow I would tack off and leave them to find their squealing youngsters.

I don’t relish the idea of going back to the lake this season to sail around power boaters, but at the moment, I have little choice unless I give up until I buy my cruising boat or I sell my boat.  I’m not going to do either of those things.

So – we continue with “The Plan”.  It’s in the works and unless something drastic occurs this year, sometime a few months after the end of this year we will be living that dream, the one that many of you are dreaming now, some are going through and some will merely continue to dream about in the years to come.

We’re making it happen, through careful planning, training and education.  Those of you who are not – I suggest you start writing down your goals, and then meet them.

Fair winds and Following Seas!

Pictures and things

posted Feb 8, 2010, 7:57 AM by Rick Donaldson

05/19/2009 14:15:16Stayed home today, came home early yesterday. Some kind of flu hit us all pretty hard.  The grandkids have it, and by default we caught it.  JoAnne and I have been pretty much laid up since the weekend.  Went to work yesterday but was miserable.

Feeling a bit better after being up for a few hours, but nothing like “normal” for me. Yuk – I hate being sick.

I posted some images up on Photobucket.  Here’s the link if anyone wants to see them.

Sailing Pueblo

posted Feb 8, 2010, 7:56 AM by Rick Donaldson

04/30/2009 11:14:18Last weekend… it wasn’t warm.  We had plans to get up early, take our boat down to Pueblo Colorado – about a 60 mile drive.  The weather wasn’t looking too good, chilly, some rain and perhaps snow in the air.

But we packed up the boat, made ready and headed out.  Once there we looked at rigging the boat – since we’d made arrangements the week before to store the boat in a dry storage on the trailer, rather than in a slip.  We figure it’s ok to launch and retrieve the boat this summer and save some cash instead of keeping her ready and in a slip.

Perhaps we’ll rent a slip next season – not sure yet.

We spent the better part of an hour trying to make a decision based on the weather.  Some other sailors were setting up for a race and promised it would “warm up”.  It actually didn’t until the next day, Sunday… but in the meantime, we decided not to try and didn’t even raise the rigging and step the mast.

So – THIS Saturday, we’re headed down again and will step the mast and try to get things ready to go.  However, it’s threatening rain and thunderstorms – though the chances are low.  We’ll see.

I don’t want to be in the water, in Colorado, at 8000 feet above sea level in a Colorado Thunderstorm.  Call me chicken, but one of my other hobbies is Storm chasing and I really don’t want to be the one being chased!

We will see.


Learning to Sail

posted Feb 8, 2010, 7:47 AM by Rick Donaldson

04/17/2009 10:52:40On Sunday the 5th of April, my wife JoAnne and I left Colorado Springs and the bitter, blowing cold and snow and headed for sunny, warm, breezy San Diego – and our sailing course.

We spent the next seven days aboard a 30′ yacht called “Karena Del Mar”. The boat belongs to the San Diego Sailing Academy. We were picked up by Nick and delivered to the boat to check it out, inventory things and decide on our week of provisioning. We were “on our own” to do all of that. My wife and I raised five children and used to cook for all the kids and most of the neighborhood over the years had no problem with that part. (So we ate well during the week, and supplemented our food with various restaurants during the week.)

We met our instructor, Mike, on Sunday afternoon.

Over the course of the week we sailed most days, studied and tested for the ASA courses. By the end of the week we had passed all our tests, and sailed solo a few times.

But, on Friday morning we had asked Mike to come back and run through a few things with us. He had already signed off on our certifications by then and told us to sail out, have some fun, anchor out one evening (near by) and then we could sail or whatever on Saturday.

The instruction on Friday morning was during rather calm breezes and the day was supposed to remain pretty calm – so we were confident when Mike finished with us that we were going to do just fine.

So we motored out of the Kona Kai Marina and out to the bay, raised our sails and noted that from the time we left to the time we got in a location we could safely raise sails and be clear of the shoals near by, the winds had changed and we’d be sailing on a run.

So – run we did. It was great. We sailed for about an hour into the bay and decided we were pretty tired from most of the work that week and wanted to just relax so we turned around and started tacking back.

Then the wind started getting shifty and pretty soon I was doing my best to keep the sails in the right position while she drove the boat. At one point we got caught trying to drive upwind – and of course, we stalled out.

Then the winds changed, quickly. From one direction to another and we saw others having trouble as well. Several start dropping sails – and we weren’t in a good position to do much at that point so started trying to turn to tack back, but the wind was gusty and I couldn’t get control of the main.

Suddenly the wind whipped the boom from one side to the other – I looked up at the windex thinking it was coming from behind – but it wasn’t. Before I could sheet in the main, it shifted off port and the boom whipped wildly to the starboard side ripping the mainsheet out of my hand. Before I knew what happened a loud explosion rocked our senses.

JoAnne let out a yell and I struggled to recover the main sheet as it headed over the side of the boat, along with the block and tackle which had ripped loose from the traveler. I yelled to JoAnne to point the boat into the wind at that point as best she could. She was trying. I grabbed the line and shoved it through the big ring on the traveler and cinched it down to a winch to be able to hold it until we got the boat under control.

About that time – the strangest thing happened. A dolphin leaped out of the water well above my head, off the starboard side a few feet away. JoAnne calmed down and I heard her say, “OoooooooOo!”

I thought, “Cool! But, not time for that now!”

At that point she’d gotten the engine started, in gear and pointed us to the wind giving me the chance to tighten down the boom, and I clambered up and dropped the mainsail. (I should mention at this point the jib was already down.)

JoAnne held the boat to the wind for the amount of time it took me to drop the mainsail and I tied everything down and then discovered that a shackle had practically exploded. Collected the pieces and we switched positions so I could drive the boat under power back.

We discussed for a minute whether we should go back and call it a day, or anchor out. She was in favor of going back and thought we’d “broken the boat”. I showed her the parts and said, “Check in side the lazeratte, I’ll bet there’s parts in there.”

Sure enough, she found a matching shackle and pin. So I made the decision for us.. Anchor out, fix the boat and let the instructor know what happened after we got settled in.

So – we did. We anchored out that nice in very ‘breezy conditions’ (needless to say) and our “anchor test” passed well. Held all night (even though I checked it throughout the night) and the boat swung through over 180 degrees through the night. Other boats did the same nearby us. We left a message for the instructor.

Next morning they met us at the slip as we pulled in and congratulated us on “being REAL sailors” and handling ourselves without problems….

We have the broken shackle and pin and I’m going to put it on our own boat and keep it as a “good luck charm”.

We want to thank Mike and Nick, our instructors, San Diego Sailing Academy and a nameless dolphin for all the instruction, advice and “help”.

So – we’re no longer “wannabe” sailors. We’re no longer “Sailors on Paper”.

We are sailors.

Rick and JoAnne Donaldson
Colorado Springs, CO
S/V Winds of Change

(A few pictures – and please if you’re reading here, and aren’t a member, join – great forum, great people!)

Hoisting the Sails

posted Feb 8, 2010, 7:43 AM by Rick Donaldson

03/24/2009 12:26:16It’s been chilly for a couple of days, but Sunday JoAnne and I were able to get out and clean out the interior of the boat.  We made ready the cushions and deck (carpet… ick, I like blue, but why put carpet in a boat? Haven’t figured that out yet….)

She did the vacuuming and I had cleaned the cushions, and their covers, and recovered them myself because, man that is some heavy foam they put in them.  Oh well…

I still have a table to build.  The old one was damaged, even broken.  It needs to serve as the flooring as well to form a bed area where you would normally sit to eat inside the boat.  So, probably this weekend, since I’d like to get it accomplished before we leave in April.

I haven’t written much lately, being busy with other things – but figured it was time to put a new entry into the blog.

So we head out on the first weekend of April for San Diego.  We chose the “San Diego Sailing Academy” – and though I couldn’t find much about them, and they were more expensive that pretty much everyone else I had heard a couple of good things and very little bad about them.

The one thing I liked it one instructor for two people, and they seem to specialize in couples so this suits my wife and I.  Being a former instructor I will be probably somewhat less ‘critical’ of certain things, but will be writing both a blog entry here, as well as a review of the school and training we receive.

Over the winter I’ve done quite a bit of ‘piddly things’ in the boat, removed the old overhead and painted instead of replacing it with wood (and carpet, yuk!).

I also replaced the bow running lights.  The old stuff simply fell apart when I started to examine it, so I replaced the front with LED lights.  I’ve picked up a 55 Watt solar panel and a 100 W charge controller and have all the parts to build a full, twelve circuit, fused electrical panel.  Probably a bit of overkill for this small boat, but I want to be able to add a few circuits, to include a couple of radios (Amateur) as well as control all the lights separately.  I’ve already drawn the schematics, and a layout in Visio, but have yet to start drilling the panel to mount switches.  Probably do that after we put the boat in the water for the first time.

We also raised our sails up and looked them over.  The jib needs repair.  There’s a torn ring.  I’m going to cut out the ring, sew in a patch and simply do without the ring that was there.  If we keep the boat more than two years, I’ll replace the sails.  Otherwise, they will be fine for a couple more seasons.

I also cleaned the bottom as best I can reach for now.  Doesn’t need paint, amazingly.

The other thing to do this week is replace the lettering for the state registration, and put my state sticker on the boat.

JoAnne has been working on figuring out how to ‘build a bed’.  So far, we don’t have a mat for the forward berth and not sure we will have one very soon. Foam is expensive…. so we will come up with something to get us through this first season with the boat.

We will be back from school after the second week of April.  The third week, I hope to put the boat in the water for her first sail since she came out of Blue Mesa.

We’re planning an “official, traditional naming ceremony” since the boat appears to have never been named on any forms, papers or by the three previous owners.  My family has been invited, as has the previous owner if he wishes to come, and a couple of friends.  If nothing else, my wife and I will have a nice quiet fun time of naming the boat, and sailing her that afternoon.

A couple other notes.

We purchased a new GPS unit.  Haven’t gotten it in the mail yet, but hope to have it before we depart for San Diego.  It’s a Garmin Colorado 400C and looks like a pretty good unit.  Has coastal charts and can add a memory card and other maps – so we will be adding some inland maps later on.

All in all, this has been interesting, learning as much as we can before we actually step aboard a boat and putting ourselves in the hands of a hopefully, competent instructor to give us the hands-on, on-the-job-training we’re going to need – basically giving us the confidence to take our own boat out on a lake (not the ocean yet!)….

Next entry should be when we get back.

Thanks for reading all!

Mast Stepping – the easy way

posted Feb 8, 2010, 7:41 AM by Rick Donaldson

11/24/2008 10:11:52Yesterday, it was sunny, warm and breezy, for a November day in Colorado.  The temperate was in the high 50s and low 60s most of the day.

JoAnne decided to run to the store to pick up some items for the Thanksgiving dinner at my daughter’s house on Thursday.

I, on the other hand, begged off of shopping and stood up the six foot ladder, and climbed aboard “Winds of Change” for some rope work.  Ok, well, Mast Work.

Over the course of the last week I manufactured a gin pole, found some good rope and prepped that, found some double pulley blocks, brackets and assorted hardware and have been assembling, drilling, and generally laying things out.

Yesterday, once aboard the boat, I turned on the radio to some country music (we don’t have a “Sailing Music All the time” FM station in Colorado Springs for some reason, and I just didn’t feel like dragging out the iPod and Jimmy Buffet right then…) and started putting things together.

After awhile, I was ready.  JoAnne was due back shortly, so I called my buddy Steve, whom I’ve known for about 25 years.  We worked together in Washington, DC many years ago during the Reagan and Bush years at the White House Communications Agency.  Steve lives a couple blocks away from me these days.

So, with the Admiral arriving with groceries, and me as the Skipper – and very shortly, the “First Mate” arrived and I gave Steve the most difficult job… sort of.

I asked him to pin the front stay when the mast was raised. He seemed disappointed when I told him JoAnne would be raising the mast, and I’d be ensuring nothing hung up, and the mast went straight into place.

So he positioned himself at the bow, I positioned myself under the mast to hold it in cast something “let go”, and JoAnne stood on the port side of the cockpit with line in-hand.  Once I double checked (for the fourth or fifth double-check of the day) all the shrouds, stays, connections, bolts…. I told her “Hoist away!”

She say “Aye!” and began to pull on the rope.  It moved easily, and rather quickly.  The mast raised into place and settled into position.

Steve had problems.  The forestay bracket was almost exactly one half and inch too short to make it to the front bracket.  He suggested laying the mast back down.  I told him to stand by a minute.

JoAnne tied off the line for the block and tackle and Steve remained there to hold the forestay to keep the mast in place.  I climbed down, surveyed the problem and realized that we were pulling on the mainsail halyard (used it to haul up the mast actually from the end of the gin pole).  I saw that the jib halyard pulley is about 3 inches above where the forestay connects to the mast. So, I told Steve to prepare to pin the bracket.

I climbed aboard, had JoAnne give us a tug on the block and tackle, I tied off one end of the jib halyard, grabbed the free end and pulled.  The mast bowed slightly in the middle, gave Steve the half inch and a bit more he needed, he bolted the pin into place and viola! We had mastage!

Ok, well, we’re all happy, it is the first time we’ve actually raised a mast on a boat and it demonstrates that any of the three of us could have accomplished this alone… something I needed to make sure I could do, or JoAnne could so.

The mast will remain in place for a couple of weeks in the yard while I check sails, pulleys (have checked them on the ground, but need to make sure it all works as it should).

I know there is at least one issue with my jib – and might have to replace it, we’ll see though. Perhaps it will be usable.

Anyway – we raised a cup of coffee since we didn’t have any wine handy at the time.  But, I’m very happy we were able to bring the mast up so easily.

I’ll add some pictures later today when I get home.


Some Changes

posted Feb 8, 2010, 7:40 AM by Rick Donaldson

11/22/2008 11:40:14Over the past couple of weeks I’ve not really had time to write here however I did work on the boat.

Finished up the deck, where the Mast Step is located, after removing all the hardware I re-glasses, sanded and painted the surface. I added a new overheard brace between the beam and the overhead, redrilled all the holes for the brackets on the mast step and then checked all the hardware on the shrouds, stays and so forth.

I have mounted a swivel bracket to the base of the mast, modified a long pole to become my gin pole and did a couple of tests.

I need a couple of good, solid, double-pulleys and about 150 feet of new rope for the block and tackle, then we can step the mast for the first time. Going to pick up the rope today and get some pictures of me raising the mast for the first time.

If I get this right, JoAnne will be able to easily raise the mast as well herself without any help from me.

I still need to build some kind of a roller assembly at the stern of the boat over which we can raise the mast to make it sit properly and at the right angle to put the step pin through.

Also, I need to build a good, solid bridle or harness to hold the gin pole as everything is coming up and into place.  Should, with luck and if the weather holds out, have that all working this weekend.

Cold in Colorado

posted Feb 8, 2010, 7:34 AM by Rick Donaldson

11/11/2008 13:52:52Been pretty busy and haven’t had time to add anything here, so just some quick updates.

We pulled all the old cushions out and checked them, washed the covers and will put them back together sometime soon.

Picked up a small, leather-bound note book to keep records and notes for myself. Called it “Captain’s Log” however presumptive that might be.

I have repaired the deck where the mounting for the mast goes.  Had to remove the hardware and then sanded it down to remove the surface paint, then reglassed the upper part under the mast housing.

The problem there was leaking from one of the bolts, which had rotted the inside overhead, the wood on the overhead and carpet.  The bracing beam was fine so I added a heavy piece of ply wood, pounded the beam back in place and remounted all the hardware.

We tried to step the mast this weekend but could not due to the boat being too far back in the back and the mast being long enough to prevent raising it.  The other problem was we couldn’t get the bottom of the mast raised enough and at the right angle to push the pin bolt through, so gave up for now.

All of the hardware on the rigging is in good shape.

Things I really need to do soon are:

1) Remove the motor and check it out and make sure it is prepared for winter.

2) Remove the flotation material and crawl back into the stern, remove the bolts and the wooden brace from the rudder area, measure and make a new wooden brace.

3) I need to look at replacing the overhead wood – but that’s not a big rush – if I don’t, I need to fill the bolt holes temporarily though.

4) Build a gin pole

5) and the list goes on.

I want to have the boat prepared by the end of March to put her in the water.  We’re going to probably have a sign shop make a name for her – but we’re also considering whether to register her with the Coast Guard because we want to sail her in the Mississippi and Missouri rivers sometime in the next two years.

I think that is all for the time being. I’ll post more when I have more time.

On top of the world – Literally

posted Feb 8, 2010, 7:32 AM by Rick Donaldson   [ updated Feb 8, 2010, 7:36 AM ]

10/28/2008 19:36:45

Here’s a picture of us in front of the boat at 11,000 feet above sea level.

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