Before May 7th of this year, Judy and I had two fine grandsons. Jonas is 16 months old and Carson 5 (going on 23). On May 7th our first granddaughter was born. Stella Grace was almost 8 lbs and 21 inches with beautiful dark hair. Both mother and baby are doing very well. Big brother Carson is ok with the little sister thing but has had to make adjustments. If you ever wonder what you can give the man who has everything, the answer is a grandchild because you can never have too many.
We had been sticking close to home for about a month before because there was a possibility that Stella Grace could arrive early and we certainly would not want to be away when she was born. We were to be present to help take care of Carson during the birth. We stayed home last weekend because I didn't want to be too far away in case we were needed to help with either Carson or Stella Grace.
The weekend weather looked good early in the week, so I decided to take a vacation day and go to the coast. We have more than a few folks that we plan to invite to go sailing this season but I want the boat to be in as close to Bristol condition as she can be, before we invite guests. Last time I was down I did most of the heavy stuff. I did the spring maintenance and scrubbed off as much diesel exhaust grime as I could. Since the exhaust leak had only been for a matter of an hour or less, the grime was limited to the engine compartment and adjoining cabinets.
Thursday May 17, 2012
I checked the weather on Thursday morning and it was looking good. There was a chance of rain for the weekend but only your average 20 to 30% possibility. I had packed the pressure washer (again) and lots of cleaning supplies. Judy had plenty of good healthy food so I was looking forward to a weekend that would be productive and enjoyable. I checked the weather again just after noon and could not believe how much it had changed. There were terms like "small craft advisory" and "15 to 20kt with frequent gusts to 25" with high precipitation percentages and other nastiness. Oh well, plans were made and the car was packed so we left on schedule. We stopped at the American Road House Restaurant in Asheboro and got an adequate meal. I didn't want to wait for grilled fish so I had some sort of chicken and Judy had fried fish. Food and service were ok but nothing to write home about. It was overcast when we left home but by the time we got to Goldsboro it was raining steadily. It seemed to get worse as we continued east. We got to the boat a little after 10 and luckily it was not raining. We were able to unload the car without getting soaked. Our friends Ken and Jan had arrived earlier in the afternoon. They were also a bit disappointed in the turn the weather had taken. I set the rain fly over the companionway and we slept comfortably, although a bit damp, with the fan running.
Friday May 18, 2012
We woke early and had our usual coffee and cereal. We had a lot planned so we got started. Judy's goal was to clean the inside of the boat and mine was to pressure wash the outside deck and cockpit. I have a light duty electric pressure washer that would not work well for any heavy cleaning task like mildewed house siding or wooden deck but it is a must-have accessory for cleaning the deck of a sailboat. In the past it was a bucket of soapy water and a brush applied with lots of elbow grease which by the way seems to cost more and more each year. There are dozens of obstacles to dodge and nooks and crannies to scrub. The wand of the pressure washer eliminates the need for any other tool. It just blows the grime away. Even with the right tool, a 30 foot sailboat never seems so big as when her decks or topsides need cleaning. Judy and I both worked until mid afternoon. I ran to town to get a few essentials. Ken and Jan were busy all day with the installation of a new traveler on their Catalina 30. The weather stayed cool and overcast but it never did rain enough to interrupt the projects on either of the sister ships.
Clean Cabin and New Oriental Rug
We had agreed earlier in the day that we would all go out to eat in town at dinner time. We decided on the Broad Street Grill but found it closed. I am not sure whether it is a permanent closure or temporary but they were not serving dinner. We went to the Silos instead. They serve a good variety but they tend toward Italian food. We all ordered veggie pizza and a salad. The salad was fine, nothing special. The dressing tasted homemade and was better than the salad. The pizza was good. I was very hungry and that does make a difference. The meal arrived quickly (for pizza) and the service was good but could have been better. Thus endeth the restaurant review.
Back an Ensign Harbor the four of us met in the Cockpit but all were so tired we didn't stay long. We turned in and slept well under a blanket.
Saturday May 19, 2012
The weather was not promising. We had accomplished our goal on Friday but I really wanted to get away from the dock. I wanted to make sure the engine repair was up to par when we were running under a full load away from the dock. I also wanted to put up the sails for a least a little while. The prospects of that did not look good. The forecast was for high winds and a chance of rain. Our choice was to go home or stay. I didn't want to go home so we decided to stay and just do little jobs around the boat and relax in the afternoon. By mid morning the weather started to clear and dock mates began to arrive. It was just like old times. By noon we had Bill and Susan, Richard and Frances, Art, Robert, Stefan and Joey and Dorothy. We were glad we stayed.
Bill and Susan are planning a trip to Ocracoke soon and wanted to take C'est La Vie out for a shakedown before the long trip. They had some trouble on their last outing with a clogged water intake filter so an engine test was very important. Bill was determined to go out even in the unfavorable conditions. With the opportunity to go out in the company of another boat, I wanted to go even if it was just out to Broad Creek marker # 1 and back. On the way out, Bill's engine was smoking a bit but it seemed to clear up. As my diesel mechanic had told me, Southern Star's little diesel was running like a "sewing machine". The conditions were not as bad on the lower Neuse as I had anticipated. The wind was strong, a solid 20 knots. There were a lot of white caps but not as much wave action as I was expecting. We got to see several dolphins playing near the entrance to Broad Creek. Both vessels left the marina with mainsails covered and no intention of uncovering them. Bill unfurled C'est La Vie's big headsail and started motor-sailing. We did the same. We were on a broad reach and I had no intention of trying anything closer to the 20 knot Nor'easter. We were using the inboard sail track, which works great most of the time but on a broad reach in a strong wind, the jib sheet was pushing down against the upper lifeline. The simple thing to do would have been to reroute the jib sheet but I wasn't about to allow the big headsail to luff in that wind while I rerouted a sheet. It was an uneasy sail. One of the reasons for going out was to make sure things were in working order. The sheet - lifeline thing was not an issue but I soon noticed the head sail was showing some ragged edges. It didn't take long to determine that there were several places where the sacrificial sunbrella sail cover had come unstitched. This is most likely due to the relentless ultraviolet rays to which the sail is always exposed. Under easy sailing conditions this would not be a huge issue but in the stiff breeze the number of broken stitches was growing by the second. Dousing the sail was a no brainer. We returned to the dock and landed without incident assisted by Art and a generous supply of water.
I could probably take the sail back to its maker and insist on a re-stitch but I doubt they would do it for free. The sacrificial sail cover is after all, sacrificial which means it takes the wear instead of the sail taking the wear. Since I have a sewing machine that is allegedly capable of sewing a sail, we removed it from the boat and loaded it in the car. It could really stand a cleaning anyway. I refer to the sail as "a big headsail" mostly because it is a 135% genoa which is "bigger" than a standard size working jib. When the sail is in its place on the roller furller, it does not look big at all. However, when it is pulled down to deck level it seems like an acre of cloth. Judy and I wrestled it off the boat and into a dock cart. Jeanette offered the use of her clean cement driveway to fold the sail. The three of us got it folded and back into a cart. It took a huge percentage of the cargo area in the Matrix even after I folded it over and tied it down. I am really glad we went out. Not only did we get in front of an issue that could only get worse, it felt good to be out on the water and feel the motion of the boat if only for a short time.
We got showers and Judy made dinner. We had homemade (frozen beforehand) spaghetti with fresh steamed asparagus and some whole grain bread form the little grocery in Oriental. It was simply delicious. About the time we were finishing dinner, long before dark, Richard stopped by and invited us over to their boat for refreshments. After a while we all migrated to the cockpit to see who was there. It was mostly the guys this time so Judy and Frances went back to the C-36 and Richard and I joined the bull session. Robert told us about his adventure charting a boat in the BVI. Sounds like a great time. Everybody was up way past bedtime. When I got back to the boat Judy was sound asleep. I fell into bed and slept like a stone.
Sunday May 20, 2012
We were up early again. Skies were overcast but the temperatures were pleasant. Frances, Richard and Stefan stopped by our boat for an early morning consult. It is really great to have friends stop by and chat. We are lucky to have so many good folks as friends.
With all the excitement around Stella Grace's arrival, we had not seen our grandson Jonas is several weeks. We wanted to stop by and see him and of course his parents and time our arrival in Raleigh after church and before Jonas' nap. It is always hard to leave Ensign Harbor. Judy accuses me of finding reasons to linger. We finally left at about 11am.
We stopped at Kings Barbecue in Kinston for lunch. Eastern NC restaurants are famous for great tasting cooked pig but not so much for healthy fare. We ordered baked chicken with coleslaw and potato salad. The food was good and the service above average. We arrived at Jonas' house around 2pm and had a nice visit. Jonas is developing and growing like wildfire. He is obviously extremely intelligent and has gone from baby to little boy in a matter of a few weeks. Where did baby Jonas go?
The rest of our trip home was uneventful. We were tired as always after climbing around on the boat all weekend but it was worth the trouble. We got to see many of our friends that we had not seen in quite some time. Hopefully, this is a preview of things to come with lots of activity around Ensign Harbor and big crowds in the cockpit after dark.