Several months ago when our grandson Jonas was riding with us, I heard a small voice in the back seat say "I want to go fishing with Papa again". I had taken him and his cousin Carson fishing once many years ago on Lake Norman. Jonas could not have been more than 2 years old at the time but he remembered the experience. You'd think I would get used to being amazed by my grandchildren but I haven't yet and it happens quite often. Jonas and his dad Matthew had expressed a keen interest in spending some time on the boat with us. Jonas's mom had planned a well deserved getaway with her girl friends on Memorial Day weekend and it proved the perfect opportunity for the boys to go on a sailing / fishing adventure. The night before we left, I got a call from Jonas. He wanted to know what kind of fish he could "expect" to catch while at the boat. Red Snapper and Salmon were mentioned in the conversation and he had obviously been researching the subject. I tried to let him down easy by telling him if he caught ANYTHING it would be a miracle.
We had been concerned about the weather for a week. We were ready to abandon the boat trip and invite our boys to our house for the weekend. The forecast was not good earlier in the week but seemed to improve as the weekend got closer. The wild card was a tropical disturbance in the gulf that seemed to be headed our way. The question was, when?
Thursday may 17, 2018
On Thursday morning the forecast was for nice weather the whole weekend so we decided the trip was a "GO". There was a lot of boat work to do. No surprise there. I had not been able to find a new galley faucet locally last time when I discovered ours had frozen and was leaking, so I had to order one on line. We periodically flush the fresh water tanks on the boat to get rid of the floating mystery particles in the water. We don't use tank water for drinking or cooking so it's not a health issue, only one of not clogging the water pump. My wet/dry shop vacuum makes a dandy high speed sump pump for getting the water out of the tanks. We use the quarter berth (under the starboard cockpit) for storage when it is just the two of us, but it would be used as intended for Matthew for the weekend. The quarter berth bed cushions reside at our house so we needed to transport them along with the portable boat air conditioner and the shop vacuum. Getting all this "stuff" to the boat would require the use of our utility trailer.
We had done some of the packing before Thursday morning, but there was still plenty to do. We had a light breakfast and left at about 9 am. The trip was uneventful with a few stops including a fast food lunch. We were anxious to know if we had won the battle of the critters. Before we left last time we pulled out all the stops as far as vermin riddance is concerned. We used an electronic rodent repelling machine, mouse traps, poison and several boxes of moth balls placed all around the cabin. As a finishing touch, we set off a "bug bomb" as we stepped off for the last time. As soon as we arrived Judy headed for the boat to see how we did. The smell of moth balls was so strong it would almost stop a clock but there was no evidence of further infestation. All hatches were opened and fans started to air out the cabin. Moth balls and other equipment were gathered, bagged and carried to a dry spot under the bathhouse. I started my dreaded faucet replacement plumbing task as soon as I could just to get it over with. In a stroke of blind luck the project was completed without a hitch. The new faucet is very similar to the old one and seems to be of reasonable quality. There was a lot of equipment shifting in the afternoon. Cushions had to be shipped and extraneous boat stuff had to be unshipped. Dinner was light snacks after the heavy fast food lunch.
Friday May 25, 2018
Matthew and Jonas were to arrive late in the afternoon. They would leave Cary as soon as the school day was over. After a light breakfast and multiple coffees, we started the tank flushing process. The shop vacuum worked great getting every last bit of water out of the tanks. I pumped the forward tank until it filled the vacuum with water. My thinking was that I would simply carry the vacuum up to the deck and dump it. The part I neglected to calculate was just how heavy and awkward 14 gallons of water in a vacuum cleaner can be. Oh well, I figured I'd just dump it in the bilge and let the bilge pump do the work for me. I did and the pump didn't. This was not good. I had to use the manual bilge pump to get the water overboard. Bilge pumps are generally high volume, low pressure pumps that are quite efficient. The manual pump dispatched the bilge water very quickly. I was however faced with another problem. There are many systems on a boat, and some are more important than others. Having a working automatic bilge pump on a modern sailboat that remains largely unattended is not an option. The bilge pump had to be fixed and right away. A few minutes of troubleshooting confirmed what I suspected. It was not the pump itself, but the float switch. I have replaced that switch at least 3 times before. I wondered if they are cheaper by the dozen when I saw a price that was north of 50 bucks at the Provision Company in Oriental. You can expect to pay two prices for anything "marine" related. Luckily I had brought my electrical tool box complete with soldering iron and heat shrink tubing. The project was no more aggravating this time than last time I did it. Returning to the original project, we filled the tanks a couple of times and sucked it out with the vacuum. Judy ran a lot of water through the plumbing system paying special attention to the water heater.
Judy went to the Piggly Wiggly in Oriental for last minute supplies and ice. The boat was finally ready for guests so we could both get showers and relax. Matthew and Jonas arrived at about 7 pm. The weather was holding and there was a very pleasant breeze. "Gram" had prepared spaghetti for dinner, so we stripped Jonas down to his shorts and let him dig in. By then it was late in the day and Jonas turns in early. Gram made the beds and read to Jonas until he fell asleep. He was very tired but also very excited about being there. The weather was still holding but I knew from experience that the wind would probably start light in the morning and build all day on Saturday. "Papa" made the command decision that sailing would be as early as possible on Saturday morning.
Saturday May 26, 2018
The weather was beautiful and the wind was light. There are never any problems with Jonas getting up early and this morning was no exception. We started getting the boat ready after a light breakfast. Jonas likes to understand technical things, so I started by having him help me check the engine oil. We went on to a discussion about what was going to happen when the engine was cranked and why there would be a loud "low oil pressure" buzzer just before the engine started. There was also the discussion about how the cooling system worked and why it was important that the boat "pee" all the time to keep the engine cool. Jonas got a kick out of that.
We were on the water by mid morning. There was a little more wind than we needed so only minimal sails were deployed. We were using a double reefed headsail alone, which is probably no more than 20% of our total canvas. Jonas did quite well for his first sail. He was tired because he had not slept all that well and sailing flat and level is not the most exciting thing for a 7 year old. He decided he wanted to go below and read. He reads in the back seat of a car all the time, but this proved a bit much for him to bear. He almost got seasick. Matthew brought him on deck where he quickly fell asleep on daddy's lap. I had not intended to be out very long and the decision was made when we spotted the typical little summertime squalls marching up the river. We headed for the barn. Jonas recovered quickly after lunch.
Fishing was next on the agenda, but first we had to unpack and assemble Jonas's brand new Zebco 202 fishing pole. The outfit included everything required for instant angling. Jonas did not warm up to the idea of baiting the hook so I helped him with that. I showed him how to operate the spinning reel and he caught on very quickly. Now came the part that I dreaded. I had seen people fish from our dock before but I had never seen much action. I didn't know how long he would last if he didn't catch something. Shortly after the bait sank, the bobber disappeared. What a hoot! Talk about an excited little fellow! He landed his 5 inch pan fish, probably a "spot", and you would have thought it was a 20 pound king mackerel. He caught several fish that afternoon and enjoyed the activity very much. I am sure fishing will be on the agenda on each trip to the water. I can tell Jonas is a true fisherman because of the tales he tells. He told the folks on the dock that he caught a record breaking fish. He neglected to mention that the record was his own from earlier in the afternoon. The adults had decided it needed to be an early evening so Jonas could get a good night's sleep. We headed for showers by late afternoon and drove over to Grantsboro for dinner at McDonalds. By then it was time for Jonas to settle in for the day. It had been a long day and he was tired.
Sunday May 27, 2018
On Sunday, Gram lit the alcohol stove and cooked pancakes with whipped cream and fresh strawberries for the crew. Jonas really likes pancakes. The weather was still looking good at least for the time being. We could have taken the boat out again but it was probably best that we didn't. I did not want to overdo things and I figured Jonas had had enough "underway" time. We did a little more fishing and I am sure broke some records in the morning. Gram packed a picnic lunch and we headed for Aurora to the fossil museum. Jonas is very curious and he loves museums. This one did not disappoint. It was only 30 minutes away and you even get to dig in the dirt for your own fossils. Earlier in the day, Matthew had a chat with Jonas about when they were going home. He knew the good weather was quickly coming to an end. Jonas was not receptive at all to leaving on Sunday. He wanted to spend another night. I think Matthew reasoned with him and told him that Gram and Papa would be leaving very early on Monday and it would probably be raining and he could not go fishing. We lit the ship's gas grill and cooked hot dogs while the boys showered and got Jonas's pajamas on. Shortly after dinner they headed for Cary so that they would not have to drive in the rain. I gave Jonas the "Good Old Boat" ball cap he had been wearing all weekend. I hope he will remember the experience every time he wears it. As far as I am concerned the weekend was a smashing success, and I think our boys enjoyed it as much as we did.
The weather was still lovely when we turned in on Sunday evening. It was cooler than it had been and we unshipped the portable air conditioner. We did all the packing we could do before dark and intended to leave before the rains came on Monday morning.
Monday May 28, 2018
We almost made it. The rain started at about 6:30. It was not heavy and since almost everything was done the night before, we were up and out quickly without getting soaked. To use Jonas' term, it was a record breaking departure time for us. We left about 8 am. We were knocking on the door of a Mexican restaurant in Cary by 11 am waiting for them to open. Judy did a lot of the driving so I could complete this log entry on top of everything else she did this weekend. There is a lot of logistics involved in any of these boat trips. Resources and especially space is very limited in both the car and the boat. You can take only what is needed. My hat is off to the first mate for doing such a great job and making a very enjoyable weekend for everyone involved.