Saturday, August 13, 2016

We're Hers

I was originally going to title this post "She's Ours," but I think the opposite is just as true if not moreso. Either way, Dawn and I and Windbird have officially tied the knot! Earlier this week the Handleys were able to get the USCG Satisfaction of Mortgage form from their bank, which was the last remaining obstacle; our bank released the funds on Thursday, we overnighted the check to Triton Yacht Sales, and as of yesterday we are Windbird's official owners. It was an event that mostly passed without fanfare; Dawn packed for a weekend trip to visit high school girlfriends and I packed for my next work trip that reported at 1am this morning, and in between we refined our refit schedule and cruising budget. It didn't really quite hit me until I read Judy Handley's blog post last night, The End of a Chapter. I think the sale of Windbird is almost a bigger deal to the Handleys than it is to us because she took them around the world and has been their home for the last 13 years; they know exactly what they're giving up, while we don't know yet exactly what we're gaining. I sure am excited to find out, though.

Our next trip to the boat will be August 21st-25th. The Handleys are hoping to fly down to Myrtle Beach for 2-3 days to brief us more extensively on boat systems and go sailing with us, but it really depends on Mark's cancer treatment and how he's feeling, both of which have been quite in flux lately. Best case scenario, we'll spend two days exploring the Waccamaw River and Georgetown SC before sailing outside back to Little River the third day - but if the Handleys can't do this, we'll do it ourselves sometime in September. We expect to have the sails back on the boat August 22nd. I don't know if I mentioned this the other day, but the North Sails loft that inspected Windbird's sails declared the primary mainsail "dead on arrival" due to UV degradation, which I suspected might be the case. The good news is that Windbird came with a backup Neil Pryde mainsail that's still in decent shape, so we're having it reconditioned and will use it as our primary mainsail for the time being. In October or November we will have a new North Sails mainsail made and that will become our primary and the Neil Pryde will be our backup. The new mainsail will be a $4800 expenditure but should drastically improve Windbird's sailing performance. We're also looking at having a new stackpack made at the same time, which will run around $1600.

We'll continue to do the smaller, putzier bits of the refit in September, but in October comes the major yard work: replacing the chainplates, bow stem, gooseneck, and standing rigging, repairing the skeg, and repainting the bottom. We were thinking of doing this at Zimmerman Marine in Southport NC but they recently lost their rigger and were going to send us up the ICW to their other yard in Mathews, VA; now I'm thinking we'll do it at Charleston City Boatyard in Charleston, SC. We'll then have the new enclosure made in November or December, likely by Sunset Canvas in Little River. In the meantime I'll fit Windbird with an AIS transponder, a PC-based chartplotter system, and possibly a new radar.

Right now I'm frankly doubtful that all this will proceed on schedule and we'll be ready to take off for the Caribbean come January or February, and so we've been considering an alternate plan: just get enough done to take a 2-3 month shakedown cruise in the Abacos and Exumas in Feb-Apr, come back to the States to finish up the refit next summer, and then take off for real in the fall of November 2017. This was, after all, our original timeline. But we'll see. We don't want to launch into the rather remote southern Bahamas before we and the boat are ready, but at the same time are aware that a lot of boats languish on the dock way too long while the owners embark on the "ultimate refit." The main idea here is to make sure the sails, rigging and engine are up for the long windward slog to the Greater Antilles while addressing a few of the other things that have worn out during Windbird's epic trip around the globe and the five years since. And yes, we also need to get in some trips up and down the Carolina coast to better familiarize ourselves with Windbird's systems and maintenance.

One big part of our plan fell into place yesterday when I found out I'll be converted to an Atlanta base on October 1st. We recently had a vacancy bid in which I put in for and was awarded the transfer, but I wasn't sure when it would be effective. This is perfect as we'll be moving down to the boat permanently in late October. Piece by piece, it's all coming together.


  1. It's a sailbag that is integrated with lazyjacks so that the mainsail basically stacks itself when you drop it. Most of the charter boats I've sailed have one, it's much more convenient than flaking a sail across the boom, tieing it down and then putting on the sailbag (as on my previous boat). You usually have to toss in the reefing lines and neaten it up a bit, but generally within a minute of dropping the mainsail you're ready to zip it up. Windbird currently has a stackpack made by Doyle Sails but it's getting old, the seams/thread are starting to fail, and it's a different fabric than the one we'll be replacing the enclosure with, so it makes sense to replace the stackpack at the same time.

  2. I have been following your exploits in Flying.....
    What a wonderful adventure you both are embarking of Everthing....hope all goes well
    The only sailing I ever accomplished ( and not very good ) was a day sailer at Misawa Japan.
    Question.... What is the secret to get a Aircraft Maintenance artical published in Flying......I sent them one and got a " Snotty Reply".....we don't do that
    AL Dierdorf