Sunday, July 28, 2013


"With each weekend, each chore, my skipper is gaining confidence. I am growing fond of his crew mate, she makes great suggestions and keeps my new skipper in line. I think we could be sisters"- Corleto

With the summer cruising season upon us, I am anxious to get out on an extended cruise. But there is still so much to do. That "List" never seems to get shorter. But the last few weeks it feels like progress has been made with the completion of the "holding tank" problem and the addition of the Magma BBQ. Each of the last several weekends, the trip to the Marina involved work and no play.

The second weekend in July promised to be no different, until my newly promoted Chief Engineer suggested as we got to the dock- "Why don't we just sail today."

Music to my ears!

Corleto and her crew as she heads out into Howe Sound 

We cast off and set sail for waters nearby. This would act as an occasion to exercise the crew. We practiced our tacks and gybes. Otto worked flawlessly as we tested him with both motor and sail. We worked on our communication and did not play ourselves out. Both days were glorious and good for the soul. This is what I had visions of when I bought Corleto back in February.

Things that were so difficult on those early cruises, like sail trimming, keeping a steady helm, hoisting and dousing sails were becoming more relaxed and efficient.

Charlene on the helm in English Bay

Charlene was gaining confidence up on the bow. It was becoming her preferred position on the deck.
On that Sunday, in a stiff wind and bumpy chop, she scurried up to the bow and had that working jib down and secured so fast, you would have thought she had crewed an America's Cup boat. You could not wipe the look of pride off of my face after seeing that.
Coming into the dock, again her skill impresses me. She keeps those eyes sharp and anticipates the boat well. Stepping off the "fat" part of the boat and onto the dock she has that break line cleated in seconds. As couples go, we are not the "show".

After the engine is shut off and my stern line secured, we engage in a congratulatory embrace. The exchange celebrating how far we have come, in today's outing, and on our greater cruising journey. There is still much for us to learn together and we know it will be all in good time. For now we accept our boating victory- a good daysail, time on the water, together. This is our end of voyage ritual, one we borrowed from a more experienced couple we observed weeks ago. It is one we will carry into our voyages of the future, no matter how long or how short.

With Corleto snug in her berth, we treated ourselves to a nice hot meal prepared on our new marine grill. We sat back, enjoyed the view and enjoyed the trappings of boat ownership. With our first trans Straight of Georgia passage on the horizon, it was good to have crew moral at a high.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Pumps and Prayers

I am going to forgo photos for this post as I believe the Theatre of the Mind is really all you need.

The weekend that I had been dreading was now upon me. I had asked for prayers, sought any information I could glean from any source. My man Richard (the mast climber) had given me some pointers and suggestions, but now it was up to me to cure Corleto of her bowel trouble. Yes I was about to tackle the nastiest of boat chores, the fixing of the holding tank system.

I had discovered that Corleto had a bit of leakage around a discharge pump every time we used the head. It would not manifest itself for several hours, but the tell tale sign of moisture and that distinctive odour suggested that all was not right with Coleleto's digestive system. Surgery would be required. But would it be a simple fix? Or a complete reconstruction of the system, only way to tell was to get in there and get'er done.
My first task was to steam off all of the build up around the pump. I used a hand steamer to do this. That is when I discovered cracks on the santi pipe around the pump. If I was lucky all it would be is a simple replacement of the cracked pipes and we would be done. I began with removal of the pipe from the thru hull to the pump, working backwards toward the holding tank itself.
That first section of hose came off with a bit of coaxing and only made a minor mess in the little compartment.
I could now inspect inside of the pump. This was not good as it was totally blocked by the crystals that had formed over the years. The pump would have to be removed and replaced. It too came off with a bit of coaxing and a couple of F-bombs. Now I had a bit of spillage of a darker, nastier nature. More F-Bombs. I had to cut a section of pipe to remove the cracks. I cut it just a bit short.  More spillage, even more F-Bombs. I quickly plugged the open pipe with a bung.

It was indeed fortunate that the spillage was contained within the small compartment and did not escape into the rest of the boat. I made a quick clean up and disinfected the area right away. Once everything was dry and clean I could perform the next test.
I needed to make sure that this pipe/pump was in fact, the problem. So I pumped some seawater into the system via the marine head. Provided nothing came out of the holding tank at the bottom and all other junctions and pipe joints did not weep, we could simply replace what had been removed. Simple. It only dripped by the bung. EURIKA! We have found the problem.

I decided that for this season, I would not replace the thru hull which was locked shut and was pretty much useless in this system. It would wait until next years haul out. I figured the pump would be replaced at that point as well so I decided that all I would have to do is join the old pipe with a section of new pipe which would connect to the closed thru hull and DING DING DING, I would have a closed system.

I discussed my solution with my crew. She suggested running it by more experienced owners nearby. It seemed like a good plan and a good fix.
Off to the Marine Supply store to pick up a section of santi pipe. I was kinda proud of myself. This difficult dreaded job seemed to be over.

Returning to the dock with a spring in my step and new santi hose in hand, I figured another 15 minutes and it would be done. Now all I had to do was attach the new pipe to both the old one and bridge the gap to the thru haul. Easy, peezy.

When I removed the bung,,,,, Remember, I had asked for prayers,,,,,,,, those prayers were not enough.

A fountain of the foulest, nastiest stuff you could possibly imagine came flying out of the old pipe. I dropped the bung and grabbed another to stem the torrent. I was now looking at an environmental disaster. Surely the Feds would need to send an emergency response team to save the wee turtles.

You see I did not expect, that is, I mistakenly thought, the holding tank was empty. I figured that the earlier spillage was just residual matter. I had been sold a boat full of someone else's ,,,,,,,, stuff.

I gave up for the day.  An early morning voyage to Snug Cove to a pump out station was now a priority.
The staff there were very helpful. Pump out was the first thing I should have done but overlooked before the project had even begun. It was fast and easy, And the killer, the pump out was only 10 bucks.

Meanwhile back at our dock I still had a hose to attach. Even that little task would fight me. Remember that short pipe? Well a big mans hands cannot get a decent grip and the heating method (my hand steamer) is not doing the job. I was frustrated to no end and was beginning to think that my boat hated me.

And that is when those prayers were answered- my crew- Charlene suggested that she help and suggested that I use boiling water to soften the pipe. She of course was right. And she has been promptly promoted to Chief Engineer.

What should have been a 3 hour project had turned into a 2 day boat enema.

Yippy Ky Yay- It's done!

Now Lets go Cruising!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Acquisitions and Installations

June brought little sailing for my crew. There was the first weekend outing that ended in sea sickness and the "Father's Day" voyage that only involved a brief engine run to Bowen. But it was nice to finally meet the Skipper's kids even though it was only for an afternoon.- Corleto

The month of June had been a bit disappointing as far as sailing the boat was concerned. There was poor weather, lack of crew and of course the always present "list of things to do". But I did manage to get out briefly on Father's Day with the kids. Their first time aboard- I really enjoyed that.

Happy Father's Day - my daughter Sarah and son Ben

Of course the replacement of Old Otto was a big one to scratch off the "list". Now when at sea a steady course could be maintained while attending to matters away from the helm. That was a big one. Trying to douse sails  into the wind with someone not confident with the tiller could be an adventure. Otto steers steady and eliminates the angst of going forward.

Then there was the matter of the Windex, not the glass cleaner, but the wind vane that sits atop of the mast. Corleto's had been broken, but at the time of sale her former skipper made sure a new one was included. It just had to be installed. That would require a climb up the mast for the installation. 

Now anyone who knows me, can imagine my 240 plus frame being winched high above the deck to effect the installation. What could possibly go wrong. Lots. 
Lucky for me I had been introduced some weeks ago to a fellow who not only has forgotten more than I will ever know about boating, but he was once a Lineman and had spent his professional life climbing utility poles. He had offered to scale my mast and install this vital piece of equipment. Meet Richard and his first mate Pat -owners and crew of the pleasure sailboat Habu.  These folks always have suggestions to the many conundrums that come with owning a sailboat. They have cruised all over this wonderful coast and are making ready for a 3 month voyage up north. 

He came over one afternoon, taking a break from painting his decks, knocking on Corleto's hull. I was deep into the bowels of the boat, searching for a weeping leak of all things,,, the holding tank system- not pleasant. I was more than happy to postpone my task with the nasty plumbing to take Richard up on his offer. 

Before long Richard attached the halyard to his bosans chair, Pat and I began winching him skyward. Once aloft he quickly installed the Windex and checked on all things at the top of the mast. On his decent, which speaking from my perspective on the winch, was a whole lot easier than the trip up, he inspected standing rigging, lights and spreaders. It was a relief when he landed back on the deck to report that all was good aloft. 

Richard aloft installing Corleto's new Windex

It was great to have that task off the "to do list".

In one of the many conversations we have had with Richard and Pat as well with our slip neighbour  Aaron, it was suggested that a boat tender or dingy might be something to look into. I hadn't really thought too much of it except to add that to the "I wants" list for maybe next season. But the more people spoke of just how handy a tender is when at anchor, I decided to begin to look. It wasn't long before I found one. But was it too big for my 27 Catalina? I went to check it out. It sure looked big. I took my measuring tape and jotted numbers down, returned to the boat and began to fill in those numbers with actual fore deck size. It would be a tight squeeze. I pulled the trigger and now have acquired a dingy tender a full year ahead of plan. Oh boy, the dollars just keep flying out of my pocket.
But the upside is we have one now and are able to explore a bit when at anchor. We just need to get out there.

The dingy- and not the guy waving to the camera

Now the final issue- the holding tank. I found the weep. It was from the old santi pipes, they have developed a couple of cracks. So full replacement of the piping from the tank to the thru hull and to the deck pump out is required. Thats a job for the first Saturday in July.

Pray for me.