08/01/2009, Fort Lauderdale
We made it to Lake Sylvia after a mostly problem-free setup and launch. The ICW traffic was sparse and we are now surrounded by several rafting parties. Stella's sealegs are still functional as she spent most of the cruise here pacing Annabel Lee like a sentry. Lexi, on the other hand, has stayed below and has yet to emerge. More to come...
06/29/2009, Ft. Lauderdale
We moved our blog to "Sail Blogs"...more appropriate, don't you think?
06/26/2009, Fort Lauderdale
Statistically, more boats sink at the dock than anywhere else. Too much rain gets in the bilge, the water rises up and shorts out the battery, and it's goodbye bilge pump. A hose connected to the dock's water supply breaks. A seacock gives out. Some of the things that sink boats are about as un-dramatic as you could ever imagine (for more about what kind of stuff sinks boats, Bob Adriance's book Seaworthy, a collection of stories and lessons learned from the Boat US insurance files, is awesome....one of my all-time favorite nautical books...pick it up at Bluewater Books & Charts).
So you would think that the benefit of having a trailerable sailboat is that you don't have to worry about things like that...which is true. It would be kind of hard for a boat to sink while it's sitting on the trailer. Short of an earthquake, quicksand or a sinkhole, I'm not sure what could cause a boat on a trailer to sink. But about a week after we bought Annabel Lee, we started noticing that there was water in the bilge.
We mopped it out, but all it took was a light rain for the bilge to start filling up again. Basically, the boat was leaking like a sieve (doesn't get any more cliché than that, does it?) from everywhere- the base of each stanchion, the portholes, the cockpit drains (which were a bigger problem when the boat was in the water than when it was out...). I tried to explain to Will that this was normal- that old boats just leak a lot, but he wasn't buying it and I really wasn't either. Sure, old boats may leak a lot, but this was a little ridiculous. My old boat, Short Story, leaked a little around the portholes, but I had been able to keep the leaks under control with caulking. I pointed out to Will that even my parents' boat leaks a little.
But I'm still having trouble accepting all the leaks. It's going to be interesting dealing with them. The first time we put the boat in the water, we barely made it out of the Dania Cutoff Canal before we had to turn around and try to figure out where all the water was coming from...it was pouring through where the caulking around the cockpit drains had dried and cracked loose.
We have since caulked and re-caulked everything, and there's still water coming in, even when the darn boat it sitting high and dry in the driveway. It's not as bad as it was right at the beginning, but it's still unnerving. For right now, I think we're just going to have to deal with a few leaks. As long as they're slow ones we should be okay...
06/22/2009, Fort Lauderdale
It was inevitable that the day would come when I would be called upon to captain the Annabel Lee without Melanie's assistance. I figured it would be well into the future, after I had become the proverbial "Old Man and the Sea," equipped with a peg-leg and a ragged gray beard. But when my family decided to visit Fort Lauderdale a few weeks ago, I was suddenly charged with a responsibility that I could not have foreseen.
My sister, Morgan, and my brother-in-law, Robert, had brought my mom into town the weekend before their wedding. The original plan was for the five of us to go sailing offshore, but as things were put into focus, it became apparent that Melanie's work schedule was not going to cooperate.
"You can handle it," Melanie said to me in a reassuring tone, and after a bit of cajoling, she had not only convinced me, but my family too.
So on a Saturday morning, we took off from Harbour Towne Marina in Dania, after stepping the mast in record time (4 people, what a luxury!). Motoring up the ICW was a piece of cake, and our first destination was Bahia Cabana, where we were to meet Melanie for lunch. It was a relatively smooth ride and I felt confident about our afternoon sail. My crew, who collectively had more sea time than I, began to show signs of respect for their captain-of-the-day.
After a cheeseburger and fries, we said good-bye to Melanie and climbed aboard Annabel Lee for our journey offshore. I started rehearsing the scenario over and over in my mind. Melanie had reminded me to put the main sail up as we began to enter the Port Everglades Inlet, and I could feel my heartbeat go into overdrive as we cleared the 17th Street Causeway Bridge.
I yelled out,"OK. We're going to put the main up after we turn into the inlet."
"Oh, Will, let's wait until we get out. There are too many boats in here!" my mom retorted.
I knew better, but I complied. My mom had been a sailboat gal once upon a time, but she had never been through Port Everglades Inlet. She was right about the boats, but she didn't realize what we were about to face. Our 19 footer began to be walloped by the huge wakes expelled by the countless powerboats that were flying by us, and having the main up would have offered some stabalization.
We held on and I made the decision to turn south, thinking it would be less congested. Once we were clear of the inlet, I told Robert to man the tiller, and I climbed up to the mast to raise the main. We were getting all of the "2ft or less seas" NOAA had forecasted that day, and I was struggling to hold on. I had not fastened the halyard during our prelaunch routine, and now I was fighting the latch on the shackle. Finally I got it, but as I started to raise the main, something happened and the sail was no longer moving. I looked up and to my horror, the halyard was 3/4 of the way up the mast. I had not latched the shackle completely and now my halyard was swinging freely and out of my reach. Defeated, I called down to my crew.
"Let's take her back in. We won't be sailing today."
Thankfully my father had not come down early for the wedding with my mom, so I was spared the ridicule I would have received while the halyard coiled and uncoiled itself around the stays. Besides, I was already taking it pretty hard since I had made such a rookie mistake.
Later that evening, Melanie and I did a post-mortem, and I began to feel a little better about myself. As all people should do in situations like this, I learned a few lessons.
First of all, I should have probably fastened the halyard before we left Harbour Towne. That would have ensured a calm surrounding with less distractions. Secondly, I should have listened to myself and put the main up in the inlet. Being in charge of the boat means everyone should listen to you. And finally, I should have made sure the shackle was fastened all the way down before I raised the main.