Waiting to sail away

03 May 2013 | Kemah, TX.
01 May 2013 | KCI airport

Drams dont always come true

04 May 2015 | Lake Rathbun
Gene/No one knows
It’s the day of launch. The boat is polished and shines, much like I do as the boat trailer slips in the water. The key turns and the motor that Amy and I have put so much work into turns over back to life after a long winter. We motor around to our slip and enjoy a celebratory toast as the start of our sailing season has begun…….Yeah that would have been nice!

The above description was the rose colored glasses version of a dream I had the night before we launched, but reality was much different. We arrived to the lake, and people could hardly recognize the boat with its shiny hull and new bottom paint. And as we slipped in the water and turned the key the motor tried to start, tried with everything it had, but it just wouldn’t fire to life. After pulling the boat back out and a quick ride to PT storage, Howe thinks the starter is bad, and suggested that we change the starter. Problem is the motor has been out of production for 25 years and few if any parts are available. Howe’s suggestion, “put on an outboard and don’t worry about this big piece of shit!”

That being said, I’m stubborn and I find a new (used) starter. I purchase it and the marina owner who has repaired these antiquated motors comes to help. New starter in and the motor is back to turning over, but no spark. Doug and I decide let it charge for the night and test the starter voltage, the cylinode, coil packs, and the power packs in the morning. My hands greasy, I have been in the belly of our boat for the entirety of the day, and I am ready for bed. This is starting to not end up a relaxing weekend.

The next morning Doug arrives and helps me test the above mention systems with the addition of the compression chamber. We pulled the plugs and inspected them for water. Now, this motor needs water in the block, just like a car to stay cool, but if water is getting into the compression chamber than there is no chance the motor has of creating enough compression to form the fuel/oxygen mix to allow it to fire and turn the prop. The plugs look wet with water. We turn the motor over and water splatters all over the engine compartment. At this point Doug suggests, “I would buy an out board!” Well Shit! Outboards can cost up to 2500.00 for an older used one.

I decided to close the boat up and sit with my head in my hands a watch as my season comes to an end the first day my S/V is in the water. Amy on the other hand picks up the slack and won’t give up, when I am so close to giving up. She takes a walk with our friend, neighbor, and dock mate Barbie and head up to the Yacht Club. She tells members of our trials and tribulations, and two members, Mark and Merrill, offer us an option that could save our season.

Merrill has a 10 hp Mercury outboard that he isn’t using and hasn’t used for several years. He says, “use this motor, have Howe put a drop down bracket and get to sailing.” Well, that’s what we decided to do. We ordered the parts, Howe is going to install and make sure that it’s functional and esthetically pleasing, and we are going to get sailing. Hope that the next blog will have fun sailing stories involved.

Almost ready!!

29 April 2015 | Iowa
Gene/Getting Warmer
This Spring has been a busy on, with much boat, constantly changing weather, and to many delays. As I have posted in past bloggings, the ignition was replaced, a new blower installed, the bilge pump was reseated and working like a champ, and due to my own lack of electrical knowledge (read stupidity) I have installed a new battery selector switch. Amy has been a huge help with the cosmetic work for the upcoming season. Amy and I sanded all the Teak trim (bright work) and varnished to keep the wood looking great! Then winter decided to have one last go at us. We lost a week worth of work time and delayed our splashing into May. That being said, We hit it hard last week and this week. The Hull was washed with hull cleaner, an acid that strips away all the oxidation from the previous year. We applied two coats of wax, and completed our first attempt at bottom painting our sailboat. We would not of been so successful, without the experience of our neighbor Karl. I would also not be covered in "water resistant" paint that doesn't come off easily. I have given myself several abrasions with an SOS pad, trying not to look like a Dalmatian walking on two legs. We plan on launching early Saturday morning and putting up the mast once I fix and replace the mast lights. These will be needed to identify ourselves while anchored in coves overnight.

ASA 104- bareboat chartering

26 March 2015 | Galveston Bay
Gene/Sunny 15 knot winds SSE
We woke this morning with a new level of confidence and several new bruises on Amy's legs. Amy and I took turns at the shower house. When amy returned a look of pure anger draped her face. Know I have been married long enough to know when a women looks pissed off that much, a man should dock and find cover. I asked, "what I did, and I'm sorry?" Yep, I'm that trained. She said nothing, I dropped my phone in the lake. Well, that would make us even for me dunking my phone in a pool after jumping in to save my daughter from drowning last year. Time for class we will deal with it later.

 We have completed the ASA103-Basic Costal Cruising and now have ASA 104-Bareboat Chartering. This class is more about how to self captain charter boats in far of destinations. We met Captain Ken, and sailor with more then 35000 nautical miles delivering boats from South America. Captain Ken has a funny personality. He was drafted to the Army during the Vietnam War. He figured he either got married and started having kids, or go get shot at. He felt that getting shot at was the safer choice. Told ya, funny guy. We worked on navigation and chart plotting in the class room, where suprisingly, he taught me some new tips and tricks even though I learned navigation in the military. To say he was able to "dumb it down" further then the military is saying something. We went out and sailed courses, and learned more seamenship  skills ( Captain Adel taught the book, Captain Ken taught from experience and practical application). Captain Ken really increased Amy's confidence and even had her dock our 35 foot vessel again. When Amy has the conviction to look at me and say, "we can do this", the money spent on sailing classes was well spent.

We arrived back to the marina and decided that the Bar/Restaurant Cabo would be our last supper in Kemah, Texas, we where not let down by its reputation for interesting people watching. We met nice people, rude people, and most interesting drunk people. After watching a drunk "upper middle-class" young business man do his best to pick up a dirty bar hag, we decided to leave and head back to the boat to pack and sleep.

Amy and I woke the next morning and Amy decided to use the showers, even though we had a room reserved. I told her I was going to wait for her on the boat. I didn't have to wait long, Amy was back shortly saying that she would wait. When asked why, she said she had met the state bird of texas , the Coach roach. Know these are not the little coach roach of the north, these bad boys are over 2 inches long and don't scare easily from Amy's report. We decided to head out and see what else Houston had to offer. We have dinner plans with my uncle Alex who still lives in the area, and a date with a regular hotel room, a king size mattress, and a hot shower.

This is the last blog for this trip. Our sailing is done and we are spent. Time to head home

ASA 103-Basic Costal Cruising: day 2

25 March 2015 | Galveston Bay
Boy, what a day! Amy and I were in desperate need of caffine. I could settle for a cup of coffee from the hotel attached to the marina, bit amy needed a "pop" as Midwesterners would say, but down in texas it's a "Coke". You want a Dew, ask for a coke. Want a Dr. Pepper, ask for a coke. People than ask, "what kind?" So we walked to the nearest gas station. To get amy a coke, an actual Coke. On the way we met speed walkers, who dance in the middle of an intersection, saw makers showing how high Hurricane Ike rose the water level (about 6ft), and found many interesting and old buildings. We returned to the boat and prepared to set off. On the way out we were escorted out by more dolphins. Captain Adel told us that we wouldn't see anymore when we return to the upper bay, "the dolphins only come up there when they are calving."

Unlike the previous day the wind was now at our back pushing us, a fact that would of been in our favor, if the winds were not 2 knots and just enough to fill the sails. The only fact that kept the diesel off was the current. I checked the tide times and was shown how to interpret them to find the current. With low tide in Galveston channel being earlier in the morning than that of Clear Lake, the water is moving that way. So we sailed on a Run (sailing with the wind at your back) wing on wing (the jib on one side and the main on the other. I will add a pic to explain) at 4 knots from current alone. We made it back to the Houston shipping channel and to the exit point (day marker 62) with little pressure from shipping traffic. The channel was closed for some reason. We found ourselves back near the entrance of Clear lake, when Capt Adel came up with her own form of torture, at least in Amy's opinion. We had to single handedly sail this 35 foot boat through all points of sail, that means tacking (moving the bow of the boat across the wind, and moving the boom and jib to the otherside) and jibing  (moving the aft, or ass end of the boat across the wind and moving the jib and main to the otherside of the boat) with the winds now at 15 knts. This is a difficult task for two novice sailors, but single handedly? Amy looked at Adel and said, "are you serious?" She was, and we did. Amy elected me to go first, and I epically failed to the point Adel wanted me to watch her and than go again.

Now Amy's turn. She did great till she accidentally dropped the winch handle in the bay. She looked right at me, and I shrugged it off. Now this same thing happened to amy two years ago on Lake Red Rock, and I will admit that I may have flipped at that time. Since then, a good buddy of mine Steve Shaw gave me some advice, "never, ever yell at your wife on a boat, she will eventually hate it and you on it." My father-in-law would offer slightly different advice, "never, ever yell at my little girl." I don't very often, and am working to make it even less. Amy's eyes start to tear up until Adel and I encourage her to keep going and hand her a spare winch handle. I need to remember to get another one, just in case. Amy finishes the circle, and we go back to sailing. We decided to head in to finish the course requirements of docking. Adel explains that we will be docking in forwards and reverse. Now it was my turn to say, "are you serious?" She was and we did. Amy and I docked well forward, but Amy did much better in reverse than I. You could see the increased in her confidence in her smile alone.

We tied up our vessel and jumped in the car. We where headed to the boat resale shop for a replacement of the winch handle that was lost. We grabbed some dinner and figured we would stop at the Target down the street and buy some items that we could have used the night before (i.e. 2 pillows and a blanket, the school didn't mention that on the packing list).

Through my time dreaming of sailing away, I have read blogs of people who are currently living the dream. They talk about far away lands, blue waters, and the early hour of their sundowners  (night cap drinks with other yacht friends). I always thought that these sundowners occurred so early because they wanted to get up early for the next adventure. That is not the case. They drink early, because they are dead tired. Amy and I's  head hit the pillow and we were out. Hope tomorrow goes well and will up date the blog in the morning.

ASA 103-Basic Costal Cruising

24 March 2015 | Galveston Bay
Gene/Sunny winds S at 5-10
We woke this morning freezing. No, not from the cold weather found in iowa, but because someone has to run the AC on full blast whenever they stay at a hotel. That someone is me. We quickly got cleaned up, repacked and were on the way for our first of two sailing courses. First stop, the grocery store for provisions and than on to the school. Of course our instructor was running late like last time, but at least she told us the boat and we could load up. We completed paperwork and was soon on the way in "Gratitude" a 1985 35' O'Day. A big sister to our own boat.

Amy was first to take the helm. She maneuvered us out of Clear Lake, and on to Galveston Bay. The only problem, the north winds predicted by mister weather man shifted to the south, the direction we are going. I can now understand to a point the frustrations with weather "people" (don't want to be sexist) that other sailblogers on this site have described. We enter the Houston shipping channel, and immediately are surrounded by huge tankers, cargo ships, and large tug boats. All moving at speeds that seem impossible for such large vessels, but the wake they produce proves just how fast they can move. Frequently we find ourselves riding up and down waves 6 feet high. I was careful to watch Amy for any signs of sea sickness, not wanting her to have a bad experience. She handled it with ease. Several hours later we motored pass an old concrete WWII shipwreck. I have been told in the past that this wreck is a great spot to catch Redfish and Trout of the speckled variety. We continue to motor towards Galveston with the hopes of sailing with the next tack. Capt. Adel gives the word and we tack close to the shore of Galveston's north Shore and we watch our sails fill. We cut the engine, and finally have the quiet that makes sailing so enjoyable. As we are heading past the south jetties (found on the northern tip of Galveston, but the south side of the shipping channel) the wind picks up, we gain a little speed and start to heel. Not a great amount of heel; no more than what we would experience on our home lake, but heeling all the same. The problem though is we took so long to get here, and we had to head to our transient slip rented for the night in Galveston. On the way back were are greeted by several pods of dolphins who seem to follow us and watch us practice anchoring. With some amusement I imagine as we set our anchor in reverse and then retrieve it. We head to our slip, dock without issue, and head out to explore for a place to have dinner.

We spent a great day on the water, learning and laughing without any yelling. All anyone can ask for. Amy got her crab and jalapeño stuffed shrimp wrapped in bacon, I caved and had a crawfish po boy, and Adel joined us for dinner.

Hope the trip home involves more sailing and less motoring, but it beats being at work.

24 March 2015
Dolphin family
Vessel Name: Clair de lune
Vessel Make/Model: 1982 25' O'Day s/v
Hailing Port: Indianola, Iowa
Crew: Amy and Gene
About: We are beginning our journey from land based people to sailors. We are starting our blog as a way to share our story (which was inspired by many other bloggers on this site) and measure our own progress.
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Clair de lune's Photos -

sailors in training

Who: Amy and Gene
Port: Indianola, Iowa