Hukilau Sails the Sound

The End of the Road

16 October 2020
Mike Stern
With the boat scheduled to come out of the water the week of Oct. 19, I needed to get the sails down this week.

Thursday, Oct 15 was open for me and it was predicted to be a nice day, so I took the day off with the intention of using the time to take a last sail and button up Hukilau. But Patti got salmonella poisoning and was in no shape to help, so I asked Josh if we wanted to come. He was all in.

The weather was predicted to be breezy; turns out, it was very breezy indeed. There was a small craft advisory out, with winds predicted to be 20+ mph.

Josh met me at the boat at 11. Surprisingly, the winds at the marina were not too strong. They should have pushed us such that leaving the slip, we would be facing bow out to the river. But they weren't strong enough to fight the prop walk to port, so we backed out.

Once we got out into the harbor, the wind strength became more pronounced. The tide was going out and the wind was trying to push it back in. It was very choppy in the harbor. And after we passed the Mermaids, it was even choppier. I decided to raise sail in the harbor, so I looked up to check the Windex. Off flew my Florida cap. Damn. But Josh quickly grabbed the boat hook, and we turned around to rescue it. Josh grabbed it on the first try. Impressive.

We then pushed out into the Sound. Waves were a steady three feet, with some occasionally bigger. We raised up the main with a reef, and rolled out half of the genoa, heading off to the southeast, with the winds strongly out of the southwest.

Waves were breaking over Totocket Reef (Negro Heads), so we tacked to the west, and headed to New Haven. The sailing was magnificent. The ride was mostly dry and comfortable. But because the tide was going out, we made only about 2 or 3 knots over the ground.

At around 2 pm, I decided to turn around. The winds were predicted to increase over the afternoon, and I didn't want to wrestle the sails off the boat in high winds. We had very fast and fun ride back, hitting over 6 knots. The main came down, but it was so rough that I didn't want Josh to have to climb to the cabin top to pull it down all the way. So he just threw some sail ties on to keep it out of our way, and we motored back.

Back at the dock, we took the sails down. I thought we might have to pull the genoa down, but once I released the halyard, it practically fell onto the bow and dock. The main was a little trickier, but not much. We put both in a dock cart, hauled them up to the parking lot, laid them out, folded, and bagged them. "Got Wind" came down, and I took the new table off to bring home to varnish. All in all, a very satisfying day.

Hopefully, things will be more back to normal in the spring, and we can do more of what we want to on the water.

Projects for the spring: put in new batteries; make a "gate" for the transom; plumb the head sink to the toilet for fresh water rinsing of the intake.

The Curious Case of the Wayward Halyard

27 September 2020
Mike Stern
The days are getting short; so short that late afternoon sails are out. This past week, fall weather has been coming on. It's been in the thirties some nights, and in the fifties during the day. But starting on Wednesday, summer seems to be trying to hang on.
The temps went from the 50's to the 70's.

On Saturday (9/26), Patti and I decided that we would have date day/night on the boat as the weather was predicted to be partly cloudy and in the lower 70's.

We made lunch, and brought some reading material, thinking we would sail, then hang out at a mooring before going out to dinner. But politics and a hardware mishap interrupted.

First, when getting ready to leave the dock, we saw a number of power boats of all sizes with multiple Trump flags flying. There was one 50+ footer moving up river, flying at least four Trump flags, blasting music, with four or five women dancing on the foredeck, waving and hooting. Ugh. Patti preps the main by attaching the halyard to the sail, and removing the sail ties.

But we leave the dock (thanks for the help Marsh) and head out for our adventure. It's mostly cloudy with a nice but not too strong breeze. As we get close to the Mermaids, we see that there are about 10 boats on moorings, many rafted together, and yes, all flying Trump flags. Ugh.

Once we get out into the Sound, we go to raise the main. I'm at the helm and Patti is manning the halyard. Except I note that the sail isn't going up. I look through the window in the bimini and see the halyard hanging free about halfway up the mast, swinging around the topping lift and the backstay. Shit.

I try to reach the loose shackle with the boat hook, but I'm nowhere close. We have to go back to the dock. Patti feels terrible; she's sure she fastened it correctly.

We get back to the dock where my efforts to grab the halyard provide entertainment for many. I quickly figure out that the big boat hook isn't long enough, so I duct tape the shorter boat hook to the longer one. Oh so close! The Wind Song sailors offer their bosun's chair, but that's my only halyard, and I'm not going up there myself anyway. Patti suggests that we call the B&J folks, but I know they aren't going to come out right away anyway, so we keep on trying. Wind Song's neighbors offer to bring over their boat hook too so we can get even higher. In the meantime, I fashion a loop out of duct tape and try to snag the shackle with that. I grab it momentarily twice, but it doesn't hold.

Ted and Ed (I think) come over and we tape their long boat hook to my two. I still can't reach, but Ed (or was it Ted) who is taller comes aboard and is able to grab the halyard itself from higher up. Within a minute, I have the halyard untangled from the backstay and attached to the mainsail. Three cheers for Ed and Ted.

We're back out in a trice, this time raising the sails without a problem. I put a reef in the main as Patti was a bit nervous, but she realized it was no big deal, and we shook out the reef within a few minutes. Note to self: the line reefing line keeps getting hung up in the boom; work on that.

We set a course of south, put on the auto pilot, pull out the table and have lunch finally. It was a bit cloudy, but the winds were nice (about 10 knots), seas flat, and it was fairly warm. We agreed it was a beautiful sail. When the sun went behind the sails, it got a little cool Patti brought out her sweatshirt, and I put on my jacket.

We wound up somewhere off of East Haven and decided to head back. Winds were from a little south of east, so we had to tack back. Because we thought the Trumpies were probably still in the harbor, we decided to go back to the dock instead of picking up a mooring. I also wanted to stop at the fuel dock to make sure we had a full tank for the off season. This was my first trip to the fuel dock this year. According to the gauge, I had about half a tank.

The dock was open and empty, so docking was easy. I filled her up; the auto shut off worked, but got some overflow out of the tank vent, spilling a little fuel over the transom. Then back to the dock where we put the boat to rights and relaxed a bit before heading over the Nellie Green's for dinner.

I have the paperwork for winter storage to fill out; I think I'm going to have the yard remove the batteries and winterize the boat. On the plus side, the aft cabin leak has stopped; as before, it seems that when water gets in through the cockpit locker, it must pool up somewhere and needs to dry out before it will stop. And the area under the raw water strainer is dry too. So I think we're mostly ready for the year to end.

New table, old friends

13 September 2020
Mike Stern
I was hoping to go sailing one day this weekend, but Dan and Serena (who came up on Saturday to borrow a car) didn't want to go. And Sunday looked to be very breezy. It was.

But I decided that on Sunday, I would at least install my new teak cup/binoculars holder/cockpit table. I saw somewhere on one of my websites that someone had found this budget product on Amazon and had saved the link. I had always wanted one, but when I looked on line, the cheapest one was over $600, and they had models up to $1200. Crazy. Even the "kits", which didn't include the table itself, only the hardware, were over $250.

But this Amazon special, which had rave reviews, was $242. I dithered a bit, but decided to pull the trigger last week. It came on Thursday, and I installed it on Sunday. Unlike the Edson and other "official" tables, it doesn't fold up with locking brackets. It's basically a lovely teak tray that is loose. When not in use, it hangs from a teak cup/binoculars holder that is clamped to the binnacle. When you want to use the table, you take the tray out and fit the end between two bars on the holder. A pin makes sure it doesn't slide out. Simple.

It took about an hour to install, as the directions were less than clear. Nevertheless, I think it came out great.

And we got a chance to use it that day as David and Diane came on the boat for the first time this summer. It was breezy; I knew too breezy for Patti and probably too breezy for most of this crowd. So we decided to motor to the harbor and pick up a mooring. Ol' 210 was already taken (first time that's happened to us this summer), so we proceeded to another mooring with a whip. Only this whip wasn't attached to a line with a loop. So we proceeded to another mooring with a whip. I was watching the depth closely as this was an area I had never been in before and the chart showed 3.9 feet of depth. However, the wind and tide were both pushing more water into the harbor, so we were fine. We picked up the very gross line and shut down the engine.

Up goes the new table, and out comes the wine and beer. We sat, talked and drank for about an hour and a half before the low sun and a nasty looking cloud made us decide to go in and get dinner at Dockside.

Not too many more outings this year, but I'm determined to make the most of it.

As for the head: I took a page from Peggy the Headmistress, and pumped fresh water laced with vinegar through the head inlet. Then had the tank pumped out. If the smell is gone later this week, we'll have found the culprit. If not, then major plumbing surgery will be the next step. Fingers crossed.
Vessel Name: Hukilau
Vessel Make/Model: Catalina 28
Hailing Port: Branford, Conn.
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