The good news is we didn't have a storm for the Edlu. The bad news is we had light and variable conditions for a few hours. I couldn't help but scream in agony as we auto-tacked time after time approaching the turning mark at Eaton's Neck. The buoy was sitting in the middle of the convergence zone between a Northeasterly breeze on the Connecticut side and a South-southwesterly breeze on the Long Island side. We could see we were sailing close hauled on port tack headed for the mark and could see boats a few hundred yards south of us on the exact same course flying a spinnaker on starboard gybe.
The breeze filled in just as we rounded the mark and we had a port tack fetch all the way home. At the end of the race, we were 1 second ahead of the next boat in our class on corrected time. We won!
The victory is all the sweeter for knowing that we were still assembling the boat during the race. We got the instrument pod on the mast on the way to the course but didn't have time to hook it up before the start. Once we had the kite set and we were headed in the right direction, I gave the helm to Duncan and went below to continue with wiring. The stereo was working fine, though—David Bowie's "best of bowie" was playing most of the race.
In other news, the first Wednesday night race results were posted over the weekend. Our 1st win is official. Only 18 more races to go!
Well, here we are back in the racing season. After slogging through a staggering number of repair and upgrade projects with the absolute best crew in the world, we were able to launch the boat on Monday and make it to the starting line Wednesday night for the first race. Attaching the boom half an hour before the start just adds to the excitement, right?
It was with quite a bit of relief that the weather forecast for Wednesday night called for light winds. There's an awful lot you can get away with in terms of rigging (or lack thereof) in 5-10kts that would be unthinkable in 15+kts. In any case, we had five boats in our division for the first race and ended up having a great duel with Peregrina as we took turns finding the few patches of breeze that persisted at sunset. At the finish line, they were ahead of us by about 48 seconds, which is significantly less than what they owe us on handicap. Still no results posted, so nothing official other than that we had a GREAT time!
This Saturday is the Edlu race (32nm from Larchmont to Eaton's Neck and back), which Duncan and I will do double-handed (as well as the NYAC Stratford Shoal Race next Saturday. Hopefully we don't have storm conditions like last year. That was painful!
A few of the highlights from our efforts:
- Replaced exhaust hose between mixing elbow and silencer
- Replaced engine water pump impeller
- Replaced engine sacrificial zinc anode
- Removed badly corroded engine raw water strainer
- Replaced hose from raw water strainer to water pump
- Installed Garmin 441 GPS
- Removed cabin top winch mounting rings
- Removed bow and stern pulpits
- Removed two damaged stanchions
- Installed port halyard deck organizer
There's quite a lot of work left before launching, but I've got a great crew helping me and we're making steady progress. Tempus fugit!
Brian and I went up to check on Thin Man's cover on Saturday following yet another frontal passage with strong gusts (50+kts). I was not prepared for what we discovered when we arrived.
Shocking! The cover and frame required no new reassembly or repair.
So as not to make the drive to City Island a wasted effort, I replaced the mixing elbow on the engine. Diesel engines produce quite a bit of carbon soot that accumulates in the pipe and reduces the flow of exhaust gases. Also of concern is the hose to the silencer, clearly past its "Best By" date.
Saturday was an extremely windy day with winds of 20-30kts and gusts well over 50kts. Colin and I checked on the cover, reattached a few displaced sections of the PVC frame and added a couple of pieces of duct tape to reinforce the patches I made after the last snowstorm (when the cover was wet). All in all, the cover was in good shape.
Once we were satisfied with the cover, it was time to move on to the stuffing box. As a reminder, I put too much flax packing in the stuffing box last Spring before launch and over-tightened it (didn't want the boat to sink right after it was launched!). Getting the stuffing out was a painful chore with access to the work area requiring extended periods of bodily contortions. Fortunately I was able to fit a long sheetrock screw in the gap between the stuffing box nut and the propeller shaft. The screw grabbed the flax cord well enough to pull a piece within reach of the bent-nose pliers. All told, I put in six strips of 3/16" flax last year and I pulled out six strips this year. I think I'll be a bit gentler with the repacking this year.
Of course, this is Mother Nature's most entertaining Winter in recorded history, and what would Winter be without another snowfall? We got only a few inches Sunday night, but I felt like I should check on the boat on Monday since it was a holiday and I had the time. Sure enough the snow was piled up on the cover and the frame looked ready to pack it in.
I pushed off the snow from the inside, reassembled a couple of displaced joints and called it a day.
This has been a remarkably brutal winter. First we had the post-Christmas blizzard which flattened the cover frame. Version 2 of the frame has shown much more promise. We received an additional foot of snow that did minimal damage, followed shortly after by an icy/snowy/rainy storm that left ice and slush collected in the sagging cover and cutting through the cover in places. I went to the boat yesterday to work on unstuffing the stuffing box and ended up spending a couple of hours patching holes in the cover and adding to the frame's structure. The net result is pretty solid and likely to survive the winter.
Another storm or two and I might not need the ladder to get aboard.
Storm #2 loaded up the panels on the port side. The ice storm did a number on the starboard side.
Patching the holes and tears in the cover is a bit like suturing with duct tape.
The frame received a few new strategic trusses and an additional 1" cross-bar.
A last-minute thought for reinforcing the "ribs" was to bow an extra pair of ribs across the top of the spine at 45° angles to the existing ribs and tape the ends of the new ribs to the middle of the old ribs.
The net result is a very strong frame. For the record, Mother Nature is (much) stronger.
While tending to the cover took most of the afternoon, I did steal a few minutes to pick away at the stuffing box.
The dental pick's tips broke off pretty quickly, but the combination of the stubs that remained and the bent-nose pliers allowed me to get out the first two rings of stuffing.
Happy New Year! Sadly I must admit that version 1 of the cover frame did not survive the Christmas blizzard. The 1/2" PVC tubing was too flexible, but most importantly the frame did not include enough triangles to provide stability.
Version 2 came into existence today with the able assistance of Duncan and Brian (and a substantial quantity of 1" and 1.25" PVC tubes).
The top spine is now 1.25" PVC, and the tripod supports are 1" PVC. We were able to salvage the cover with judicious application of Gorilla Snow & Ice duct tape. The new frame stands a bit higher to maximize the slope of the "roof". With luck, this should allow most of the snow to slide off rather than accumulate. With a bit more luck, we won't have a blizzard to test the new design. The remnants of the original frame hold the sides of the cover away from the stanchions and lifelines but otherwise serve no critical purpose.