The Lonnnnnnnnnnng Winter
15 May 2014 | Duluth
Our winter in Duluth was long, cold, and snowy. Lake Superior froze over nearly completely, which helps to drop the temps even more. Oh well.
Our boat is at Shumway Maine at Rochester, NY (Lake Ontario.) We're going to get back to on May 19th (driving from Duluth.) The car is jammed!
We spent our time getting our lives in order, ordering and fabricating components, and gathering guidebooks & Canadian charts, and reinsuring the boat. We also spoke with a bunch of folks, and are most grateful to Jim Hawkins who has cruised Nova Scotia and Newfoundland for many seasons.
Our plan is to sail out the St. Lawrence Seaway, round the Gaspe, spend the summer in the Maritimes, jump to the US East Coast, and end up in the Chesapeake by mid-September. We'll go back to Minnesota for a month and then back to the boat, heading to the Bahamas for the winter. Oh boy!
Here's a quick list of the components and accomplishments this winter:
-Fabricated a combination outboard motor lift/wind generator mast
-A new Viking liferaft
-Gathered CHS charts (thanks Bob Bruce) and some portfolios of DMA charts. We have nearly complete paper coverage to compliment or 2 chart plotters.
-Bought more fishing gear to catch BIG ONES in the ocean
-Made an agreement with Doug Aertz to house sit for the next year. Whew!
-Made lists, lists, lists.
-A new Hurth transmission. The original one seemed noisy, so we decided just to replace it. The new one feels a lot tighter.
-Amy and I gave eachother Kindles for our 20th wedding anniversary.
So now we need to launch, outfit, provision, clean, rig, fix, stow, repair, polish, wash, etc.
We plan to leave Rochester around Memorial Day weekend. More to come!
SUNORA and the North Shore
27 October 2013
In early August we joined the annual SUNORA (Superior North Shore Race) which is a Thunder Bay Yacht Club event. The idea is to race/cruise some of the North Shore of Lake Superior, starting just outside Thunder Bay at Tee Harbour.) The pace is leasurely, and while it's a "race," there are provisiions for motoring (which we did every day.) The event works its way east to either the Nipigon area or Rossport. Typically there are around 15 boat involved, going for about a week.
We had a mix of weather including one foggy day, a windy day when we all stayed in the anchorage, but mostly sunny weather.
An exciting experience came when we crossed north of the 49th parallel, going into Nipigon, which is the northern most port on Lake Superior. The locals make a big deal out of it, and I have to say, it was kinda cool.
Going into Nipigon was a hoot. The government built a very substantial public dock that we all could use. The city is very active in promoting itself and really rolled out the red carpet. On the outer end of the dock were two of the city council women dressed as blueberryies. Including stem hats. A sight to behold. We were also warmly greeted by His Worship (yup) the mayor (an experienced sailor). We hung out with him quite late into the evening and learned that he is running for the equivalent of our congress. He said that in poling, he was performing about as well as the marijuana party. I think that's a good thing.....
Our first night at anchor was in Loon Harbour. It's a small harbour and the tendency is to raft. We invited a 26 footer to tie onto us, and hoped that we wouldn't drag (again-we did last year.) The main clique rafted 5 boats wide on 2 anchors. I'd always heard and thought that there could (would) be problems in doing that. Well, turns out, I was right. We missed it, having been up earlier in the night resetting the anchor, but we understand the raft rotated and fouled both rodes, while tangling in a keel or two. Rats, missed it. Oh well.
Painting the Deck-Done!
05 June 2013
The gelcoat on the deck has become so porous that it's really hard to keep clean. Spilled red wine looks like a goat has been sacrificed. After long deliberation and consultation with fellow wizzards, we decided to repaint only the non-non skid portions of the deck and cabin house. Our non skid is in good condition, we are satisfied with its performance, and were not willing to risk compromising it. We chose Awlgrip Insignia White.
This has not been a fun project. As I am writing this I am in my 3rd week of waiting for warmer weather so we can get started on the painting. Awlgrip states we should not try to cure the paint in temps cooler than 55. HA! We are still freezing at night sometimes. Every week I say "next week should be a good painting week." Oh well, we'll get there eventually.
So far Amy and I have prepped, sanded, and primed the deck forward of the cockpit. Soon we will have prepped and primed the remaining surfaces. Then more sanding and waiting for weather.
Now it's July and the deck painting project is (almost) done. Some of it (mostly parts that show) came out great, but there are some spots we just don't look at. Benign myopia. I have some touchup to do. The overall effect is much better that the old gel coat. I noticed that sections of paint I had sanded looked better than the old gel coat. A good job to have behind us.
Postscript: We were out all summer with Ranger and are very happy with the paint job. The boat is a LOT easier to take care of and does look OK.
Perkins Oil Seal Repair
05 June 2013
We're still "living the dream!" One of our major gripes with the boat has been a leaky rear main seal. (It's a Perkins, which means there are always leaks.) We put it off long enough.
However, there is a god (and he likes me...) On the Morgan 38 Owners' Group web site I found an illustrated 28 page manual on how to make the repair. It was exactly like our boat too, so I gained a lot of confidence in the repair.
The repair is almost complete and went well. It was just a matter of disassembling the components, cleaning everything, putting in a new split seal and rear gasket, and assembling everything again. Nothing was hard, but it's awkward reaching in thru the side of the quarter berth to reach everything. My ribcage is still sore from laying over the opening. The only drama would come when I would need to get my shoulders thru the opening. I'd do the work, get cought, panic, and calm my self down, and then pull out. What great fun...
As part of the repair I replaced the 4 engine mounts, which means that the coupling needs to be realigned. I'm close, but haven't fine tuned it yet. Soon.
While I had the transmission, etc. out, I decided to paint (Bilge Coat Gray) under the engine. It looks great! I also found that the coolant hoses that run from the engine to the water heater were getting sticky(?!) so I am now working on changing them. Not hard other than finding the route under the sole in the galley. Once the system if filled with antifreeze, I can start the engine and check for leaks. Fingers crossed.
Ham Radio On Board
02 February 2013
I have recently been bitten by the ham radio bug, bought a rig for home, and am busily chasing DX. When we bought Ranger we installed an iCom M710 SSB radio system, which was the gold standard at the time. It still is good, but the iCom M802 offers some mounting advantages. While I have not used this radio much (but will soon), but it did go with Eric Thomas a few years ago on his Olson 30, racing solo from San Franscisco to Hawaii.
My radio was purchased "opened up" to the ham bands, and I am an Extra Class licensed amateur, call sign W0LGS (Let's Go Sailing!) I tried the iCom on ham bands this winter at home, and the rig is definitely NOT user friendly, as it is very tedious to shift frequencies. The idea is to use the radio to pursue my ham hobbie. The marine channels will be used for checking into the various nets, downloading weather, SailMail, etc. I have already made a contact in Hallifax, NS, and have an invitation to meet him if we ever get there (we should.) That contact opened my eyes to the possibilities of making contacts thru the very friendly and generous ham community. This winter Amy passed the Technician Class test too!
I found a few references to custom software that would run on our PC to control the radio from the PC. I've not found a freeware version that I can figure out, so I think I will have to purchase a software package called Marine Radio Ops which seems like it will do what I want. The objection is the price of $160. See: http://www.cssincorp.com/Marine_Radio_Ops.html
They do offer a free trial, and I think I'll try to get it running this winter at home.
I also got an inkling from somewhere on the 'net that the Airmail software I use with the Pactor moden can be made to control the radio, but I can't get anything to work without the modem connected (I'm not going to bring it off the boat.) I'll try it this spring before I invest in MRO.
I'd appreciate any sage advice....
I've attached a photo of Harvey his first fall on the boat, apparently just having placed a call "home" to the puppy farm via the high seas operator. You can see the SSB radio on the far left, lower corner of the shot. BTW, dogs typically need assistance when working with the microphone due to their lack of opposable thumbs. A BOM (bark operated mic) would be a good option.
Also, we located our Pactor modem in the panel in the bulkhead behind Harvey. It is just above the blue binoculars and white fan outboard of H's right ear. There is a large space behind the lower part of this panel, which is 1/4" plywood. The modem doesn't require any real attention during operation. It just has flashing lights, as it is controlled (incl. on-off) by the laptop/radio system. The hardest part of the installation was to run the connecting cables from the modem to the SSB. Just a long path behind and thru tight spaces. Typical of all boat projects.
31 January 2013 | On the hard at BIM
Our preparations for extended cruise and "offshore" sailing continue. An end is in sight. Here's what we've gotten done or added in the last coupla years:
-North C1 light wind sail
-Sliding bow sprit for the C1 and Gennaker
-130W Solar panel mounted on the original Bimini frame
-Racna 45# anchor (replacing the 35# CQR). Backed with 200' of 5/16" chain, this is now our main anchor
-Monitor self steering with a Simrad tiller pilot
-Pactor 4 modem (p4 Dragon-the little guy works great but the occasional fireballs are annoying.) We now have email and weather forecast downloads from anywhere! BTW, this product is made in Europe and I found a much cheaper source (SailCom Marine) in the UK. They set it up and shipped it to me in 5 days. It was truly plug and play.
-Garmin 640 Chartplotter with AIS transceiver.
-Converted the (never used) 20 gallon bladder holding tank to a diesel tank. With a couple of jerry jugs on deck, Ranger can carry ~60 gallons of diesel. The bladder also provides a completely separate fuel tank (which would be useful if the main tank became fouled.) It is set up to gravity drain into the main tank or the engine can draw off it directly.
-"Stackpack-like" mainsail cover. Boy has this made a difference in managing the mainsail. Pull up the lazy jacks attached to the cover, drop the sail, making sure it flakes well into the cover, and zip it closed.
We are now making decisions and prepartions pertaining to our plan to paint the deck in the spring of 2013. Big job, but something we can do ourselves (with guidance from Eric Thomas at BIM.) Our non-skid is in good condition and we have no complaints about its performance. Painting non-skid is a BIG hassle we understand; it's difficult to achieve the non-skid properties using some kind of entrained grit. It is still a big job, but somewhat easier with this decision. To aid in keeping especially the non-skid clean, we will upgrade our washdown pump to one with higher pressure and volume. That will improve anchor washdown as well (seems we need to was the anchor more than 1/2 the time we use it.)
In 2013, in addition to painting the deck, we plan to add:
-Replacement batteries (the original set lasted 10 years.) We probably will go with AGM technology for greater capacity and faster charging, but with a shorter life expectancy.
-(Re)connect the head for overboard discharge. The Y-valve and sea cock are in place; it's just a matter of adding a vented loop and some hose.
-Install a mascerator pump in the head pump out hose, as well as a 1" seacock (another chance to saw a hole in the boat. Makes me happy the hull is NOT cored, but solid 'glass.)
-We will purchase a liferaft around the time of the fall Annapolis Sailboat show when they are on sale. We will arrange spring 2014 delivery.
-We will be going over the engine, correcting several oil and antifreeze leaks, as well as rerouting/replacing the AF hoses connected to the water heater. The only serious leak is the rear main seal (typical Perkins thing.) I will be pulling the transmission this spring and will consult with BIM on the seal replacement. Oh boy! I'll be I could do this job in < 1 hour if the engine/transmission was sitting on a stand in front of me. It's going to take a bit longer in-situo......