Wednesday, August 24, 2016

First Sail

Yesterday Dawn and I got up early to put the newly reconditioned sails back on the boat while the wind was calm. It was a bit slower and a lot more frustrating than when we took them off a few weeks ago, but now that we have the system down it'll go a lot smoother next time. We actually had to put the yankee on twice as I completely screwed up my attachment method in a fairly boneheaded way the first time. The Neil Pryde backup mainsail used much smaller battens than the now-defunct Hood main so my first order of business was to cut the battens down, sand & wrap them. We then tried positioning the heavy main a few different ways on deck before deciding to feed it from the foredeck, which I think was probably a mistake. The problem is that you have to feed the clew into the front of the boom, but then once the foot's bolt rope is in the groove you need the luff of the sail near the front of the boom to feed the slugs into the sail track. In retrospect we should've put the main upside down along side the boom, pulled out the bottom ten feet or so and fed it forward between the mast and the "sissy bars," and then proceeded. We'll get better at this.

Oh, we did discover that the "spare staysail" which was in a bag labled staysail was actually a storm trisail, complete with slugs for the second mast track. I'm actually happy to have it, but we don't have a staysail on the boat for the time being until we get it back from North Sails. 

After the sails were on we took a lunch / West Marine shopping break, and then the rest of the day was occupied with various small putzy boat jobs including washing the cabin top, but we didn't get around to polishing the stainless steel & bronze portholes like I wanted. Next time. We grilled steaks for dinner, and right about the time we were splitting a piece of red velvet cake for desert, John and Beth Schwab paid us a visit. John is the broker that sold the boat for the Handley's and lives in the marina here; he and Beth are a really nice couple that loves to sail (they own a very nice Pacific Seacraft 34, which they use for crewed day charters), and we've enjoyed spending time with them over the last few months. We sat in Windbird's cockpit for a while talking and drinking beers, then we moved the party over to a 40' motor yacht kittycorner to Windbird where we met Charlie, Cathy, Charlie's brother Allen, and their 120 lb boat dog Duke. All four of them are a real hoot and our first R dock party was an enjoyable one.

We didn't let the party run too late as we were planning to take Windbird out for her first daysail today. First Leigh Jones met us at the boat at 8am to go over the list of equipment taken out by the lightning strike. He'll put together an estimate for our insurance. I've discovered a few extra things that might be dead; he suggested I leave the claim open as the nature of lightning strikes is such that problems may continue to crop up down the line. Ugh. I do suspect that Windbird took a direct hit since her "bottle brush" lightning dissipator at the masthead is now canted at a drunken angle and missing a few bristles.

Beth and John showed up around 9am and we soon had Windbird off the dock and headed north up the ICW. It's only about 6 miles to the Atlantic Ocean via Little River Inlet; we were planning to go offshore for a few hours of sailing and then anchor behind Bird Island for a bit on our return. However shortly before we got to the inlet the engine started momentarily losing power. It would just dip a few hundred RPM and come back. I went below, switched fuel tanks, and took a good hard look at the engine, particularly the fuel lines and Racor housing I just had apart on Monday. There was no sign of a fuel leak, collapsed line, or air entry into the system. Then it seemed to run ok until we started out the inlet. Suddenly it lost so much power I thought it was going to quit, and so we did an immediate 180. We had the mainsail up and could have made it back in if the engine actually quit, but decided it was best not to go offshore with an unreliable engine. John went below once we were safely inside the inlet and said he didn't see anything either. We dropped the mainsail, turned around, and headed to Bird Island. Along the way I remembered that there was a Racor vacuum gauge mounted under the companionway, so I checked it. Over 15 in. Hg, well into the red. Ah-hah.

After we were anchored at Bird Island - a really peaceful, beautiful anchorage that I'd like to spend more time at - I went down and changed the fuel filter again. The one I'd just put in was still clean, but it was a 10 micron filter, while Mark had been running 30 micron. This time I switched back to my spare 30 micron filter, and when we ran the engine the vacuum gauge was in the yellow band instead of the red. Maybe this engine doesn't like the 10 micron filter, maybe it's another problem that this only slightly improved. In any case the engine ran fine the whole way back to Lightkeeper's Marina, all the way up to 3000 rpms, with the vacuum gauge indicating 9-10 in. Hg. I'll have to ask Mark what it normally reads. I'd hate to call out a mechanic to diagnose an intermittent problem that might not resurface for him. We'll see.

So our first sail was kinda disappointing; we never got to actually sail. Actually that's not right, we had the mainsail up most of the way in, and on the way back we put out the yankee and were romping along at six knots with the engine in neutral for a while. Just a little taste to tide us over, I guess. From what I can tell she stands up well to her sails, tracks quite straight, is a bit heavy on the helm (look Ma, no autopilot! Zap!), and turns in close quarters like a Mack truck. I took her off the dock and brought her back on, and she definitely maneuvers a lot differently that the light, turn-on-a-dime Beneteaus I'm used to (to say nothing of 2-engine cats). Oh yeah, left-hand prop also requires a reversal of thinking about prop wash. But with some helpful hints from John it was actually a pretty decent approach and docking. It helps that the transmission shifts extremely smoothly, making it very easy to use judicious blips of forward and reverse power as needed.

We're leaving tomorrow morning and then I'll be back September 3rd, though Dawn will be staying back in MN. I just found out that my parents are coming out this way on their vacation about that time, so I'll likely get to introduce them to Windbird and perhaps even get off the dock for a night. But nobody rides for free - I'll put them to work on boat projects and make a dent in this growing refit list yet!

1 comment:

  1. I tried a post priorvtonthis but it evaporated
    My experience with small Isuzu diesels is air being sucked into the fuel supply lines through seals in the water filter housing and deteriorated fuel supply lines and through collapsed hoses and ineffective clamps
    Worth replacing fuel lines with diesel specific fuel lines
    Just my 2 cents