Spring Cleaning 2018
02 May 2018 | Whortonsville, NC
As I write this log entry I realize that I have not written one since December. I did make the trip once in February 2018 but it was only an overnighter. I just wanted to check on the boat and crank the engine. It was way too cold for anything else although the weather was nice for February. We use a small ceramic heater on cool nights but when I got to the boat and tried to find it I discovered it was still at home. Luckily I had a sleeping bag and sweatshirt. I prepared for departure before I turned in and needless to say, I wasted no time getting to the heated car and heading for home. Our winter was uneventful for the most part. With the first mate working most Saturdays during tax season, there was no opportunity for us to come to the boat together. Both grandsons have expressed an interest in sailing with us this season. We are thrilled with that. We are planning to have Jonas, our 7 year old, and his dad sometime during the Memorial Day weekend. Carson, the 11 year old says he is going to come without his dad this time. We always look forward to time with our children and grandchildren.
Saturday April 28, 2018
We were going to leave on Friday but just had too many other irons in the fire. It worked out great because we were able to schedule a late breakfast at IHOP with Amber and Jonas. Most of the rest of the day was spent traveling. On arrival, Judy’s first act was to check for mice. Judy has a zero tolerance for mice. Unfortunately even after all the traps and poison she still saw evidence. More detail later. We had a nice dinner at M&M in Oriental and turned in early.
Sunday April 29, 2018
We were up at the usual time. The weather was spectacular. We both really enjoy a leisurely breakfast and multiple cups of coffee. The main goal of the day and in fact the whole trip was spring boat cleaning. There is always a layer of grime, pollen and the ever present mildew when the boat sits all winter. We also had to put the sails back on. I started my day by replacing the broken stanchion on the port side. I had ordered a new one months ago and had my butyl tape at the ready. This appeared to be a simple task but as with most tasks it grew into a project. I had to take the lifelines off and remove the old stanchion as well as the big glob of silicone caulk that had been applied as a sealer. I hate silicone caulk. With the old one removed and cleaned up I used the butyl tape to seal the bolt holes and enlisted the help of the first mate to hold the deck screws in place while I tightened the bolts down below. This project actually went pretty well as boat projects go. They always take about twice as long as expected. We had a quick lunch and continued our work. My plan was to clean the decks and topsides (as much as I could). This took the rest of the afternoon. Judy continued inside and I scrubbed the decks. Judy had put chicken in the crock pot so dinner was easy, at least for me. We were both exhausted but were determined to stay up until at least 9 pm so we would not wake up too early in the morning. We almost made it. I clocked out at 8:45.
Monday April 30, 2018
The task for today was to get the sails back on the boat. After breakfast, we started with the headsail. When dealing with the sails on deck it seems like there must be at least enough cloth to cover an acre of ground. The mainsail is not as difficult to install but it takes more time because of dealing with lazy jacks and jiffy reefing. We finished with the sails earlier than I figured. Imagine that! We finished at about noon and the weather again was simply perfect. I suggested that we go for a sail. What a novel idea huh? Out on the lower Neuse, the conditions were excellent but the little voyage was not without incident. We were traveling a line between Broad Creek mark #1 and the Piney Point mark. We were close hauled and my plan was to get to the Piney Point mark before I tacked to go up river. I neglected one of the piloting rules which tells me that I need to watch behind the boat as well as ahead. The Piney Point mark was still slightly to port but being close hauled we had crabbed to leeward enough to get into shallow water. The boat lurched… We were aground. Not hard aground but on the bottom nonetheless. Luckily at that moment the wind was very light. I cranked the engine and did a full throttle reverse. I managed to turn the boat around so she was headed back to deeper water, then we picked up another bit of luck when a motorboat wake lifted us up a few inches, four or five times. This lift and the little diesel churning with all it’s mite was enough to make the scary small numbers on the depth sounder get larger. We have been hard aground once before and had to call the towboat. This was not serious and as I understand it, you don’t consider it a grounding if you don’t have to call the towboat. Even with my stupidity attack it was a lovely sail. We had a nice lunch out on the water and found that the old girl had not forgotten how to sail. This little boat is a pleasure to sail. She has no bad habits and I can depend on her to do exactly what I tell her to do. The weather was just perfect although shorts and a T-shirt were not quite enough to ward off the chill in the breeze. We stayed out several hours just sailing around on the wide lower Neuse, with no particular destination in mind. Sailors understand that on a sailboat the destination is irrelevant. HOW you get there that is the important thing. The return trip proved quite interesting. We sailed back toward Broad Creek and positioned the boat to take the sails down. Channels in coastal Carolina are notoriously narrow and shallow for sailing. We got into trouble once in this same channel when we tried it with the sails up. Now the rule is, we always lower the sails and motor in any channel. After dousing the furling headsail, Judy took the helm and headed the boat into the breeze. I went up on deck to tame the main. We have done this a hundred times and it all went as expected. After I got the main under control I came down and took the wheel to head to the “barn” so to speak. When you have steered a particular boat as many hours as I have, you notice any little difference. The boat was now difficult to steer. The wheel turned hard and she did not respond readily to her helm. Not only that, she was not even close to her cruising speed of 5 knots. Something was definitely amiss. I knew we didn’t hit the bottom hard enough earlier to do any damage. I would be surprised if the rudder ever even touched the bottom. Then the thought of the crab pots we had been dodging all afternoon crossed my mind. I stopped the boat and shifted into reverse for a few seconds. Sure enough, a crab pot float popped up to our stern. I did not dare put the transmission in gear for fear of getting the line wound around the prop. We just sat there and waited for a minute or so. The wind was on our stern and the wind blew us forward. Slowly the distance between the boat and the float grew and we could continue on our way. That was a close call. Having a crab pot line wrapped up the prop shaft is one of the most common reasons for calling the towboat. Later we decided that we must have picked it up when we were taking the sails down and both of us were distracted with those duties. We motored the rest of the way in and landed with no blood on the deck or dock, which is always a good thing.
Dining choices are slim in Oriental on Monday so it was back to M&M for a big burger. Neither of us are used to that much activity in one day but we did manage to stay awake a little past 9.
Tuesday May 1, 2018
I mentioned our mouse problem earlier. We had set traps and put out poison before and Judy still saw evidence of mice. I had done some Internet research on getting rid of the critters and found the only real cure is to seal all entry ways and catch the ones left inside with traps. This worked great in the past for our camper but the companionway of a Catalina 30 is almost impossible to seal. I found as many methods as authors on the Internet so we decided to pull out all the stops. We went to Lowes an bought an electronic device that puts out a sound that mice supposedly can’t tolerate. We bought new mouse traps and commercial mouse bait. In addition we bought moth balls and dryer sheets for the rodent’s olfactory pleasure. As a finishing touch, we picked up a “Raid” bug bomb to set off as we left. We also tried to remedy our dripping galley faucet but with dozens of choices for valves in the plumbing department, nothing was even close. I will be ordering a new faucet this week.
We had a Mexican lunch in New Bern and headed back to the boat for a relaxing afternoon. Judy caught up on her reading and I set up my low power amateur radio transceiver. I was not able to hear anyone well enough to make contact but I learned a lot about the radio. It was a nice afternoon. Someone on the dock dubbed it “Probably the best week all season” and they could be right. We managed to stay up a little longer but still turned in a little early.
Wednesday May 2, 2018
We were up early and immediately went into rodent control mode. We looked everywhere we had not looked and have yet to see a nest. Everything was pulled out and inspected with very little result. As Judy said, “At least the boat is nice and clean now”. After the car was loaded we proceeded to deploy moth balls and dryer sheets and plugged in the rodent control device. By the time we were through the smell in the cabin was almost overwhelming and that is just what we intended.
This was a great trip with lovely weather. Our next adventure will be with Jonas and Matthew. Depending on the timing, I may make a special trip to deal with the galley faucet before then.