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Into the Clouds

Took the boat out this weekend for a day sail, and like every other trip, our departure was delayed by last minute upgrades and mods. I have to admit, some of this was fueled by a West Marine shopping binge that only happened when I went in to replace a broken windvane, but then bought a whole bunch of small stuff.

The approaching squall line. (Note, I'm using the term "squall"rather loosely here.)

The approaching squall line. (Note, I’m using the term “squall”rather loosely here.)

One of the first things I had to do was come up with a battery strap to hold the battery in place when the boat heeled over. This battery was bigger than the original battery, and I also moved it closer to the centerline (but still under the sink.) Since the original battery strap would not work, I came up with my own. I also removed the switch panel in preparation to wire up a relay to power up the AC inverter. Unfortunately, this is still a weak area as I didn’t have time to  actually hook up the relay; the power outlet is always on as a result, requiring me to unplug the inverter from the outlet whenever it is not being used.

By now the trailer has all new wiring, new lights, a spare tire and holder, and a new jack since the old jack wheel wouldn't swivel. Here I remove the old welded on jack assembly.

By now the trailer has all new wiring, new lights, a spare tire and holder, and a new jack since the old jack wheel wouldn’t swivel. Here I remove the old welded on jack assembly.

I also did some portapotty upkeep with the new holding tank chemical we got.

But the biggest thing I did was come up with a jib downhaul and run the line aft. Admittedly, I cheaped out and got lesser cleats, but overall the, system worked for this sail outing, and showed me how to improve and do a better job of running all of the lines aft. Dealing with the jib is the most challenging aspect of the whole sail, so I wanted to tackle that first. What has happened is that the wind picks up or there is some other problem, and the only way to fix the jib is to run up, uncleat the halyard, then run up even further to wrestle the jib down. Of course, it doesn’t want to stay down so it has to be stuffed into the bag or shoved under the railing, and by then the halyard is just hanging out the breeze.  Meanwhile, Susan has been steering while I hold on to the pitching deck and work my way back to the cockpit to wrestle with the main.

Overall, good weather for a sail.

Overall, good weather for a sail.

Motoring out of the harbor.

Motoring out of the harbor.

The halyard was fairly easy to manage with a single block at the base of the mast held on with a aluminum bit bolted to the mast using an existing hole. It all worked out very nicely. A check block then ran that back to a jam cleat. Originally the cleat had a fairlead, but I discovered this added a lot of friction when pulling the jib down. The downhaul was tied to the top hank, then routed through the tack ring at the base of the jib, around the life line posts and back to another jam cleat. It worked.

We need to clean the sails.

We need to clean the sails.

On the day of the sail, I was concerned about the wind as this was supposed to be a fun family sail, not some sort of wild ball buster with the boys from work. We set off with only a reefed main, then threw up the jib, and finally shook the reef out of the main, only the reef it again a bit later. We were taking it very easy. Forces on the tiller were very light this trip overall. Susan actually went down to take a nap. Finally, during a tack I lost both of the jib sheets and the whole jib was flapping in the wind. In the past this would have required all hands on deck, but this time I was able use my hand dandy new downhaul to pull the jib down. With that out of the way, it was much easier for me to grab the sheets and reset them, this time with stopper knots!

A view of the clouds.

A view of the clouds.

Another sky shot under bare poles.

Another sky shot under bare poles.

I raised the jib again, and then sailed until the wind picked up some more due to some minor rain squalls that were passing through. I dropped the jib singlehandedly again, then sailed on the reefed main alone for a bit. When Susan finally got up it was time to call it a day. I pulled the main down while thinking about how great it would be to lead these lines aft as well. Within minutes, another squall arrived with a drenching downpour, higher winds and a considerable increase in the waves. We were overtaken by nearly everyone making a dash into the harbor. Thankfully, this rain stopped as suddenly as it had begun, allowing us to ready the boat for the drive home under dry conditions.

Next outing probably will not be for 3-4 weeks as we’ll be trying to do some other weekend things for the next few weeks, and this will give me time to finish up the partially completed mods, and do some others.

Motoring back to the harbor after dropping the sails.

Motoring back to the harbor after dropping the sails.

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