Tag Archives: Madsu

Sizzling September

It’s been a weird summer in the Lower Mainland.

But forget all that.  September is smokin’.

Record high temperatures, and sun sun sun.

EB and I finally managed to get away for a few hours on the boat this afternoon. Most of the homeward bound sailboats were motoring up the Sound back to Vancouver, but we had a leisurely sail in the light southerly coming in from the Straight.

Howe Sound in all its glory.


Madsu’s New Navigation Lights

Catalina 22’s of Madsu’s vintage had very awkwardly sighted navigation lights.

The bow light is actually behind the forestay and stem head fitting – not the best for visiblity.  And if I happen to have dropped the foresail on the deck, the light would usually get covered up. (See if you can even find the bow light in this picture of Madsu at the dock)

The stern light was a bit better, though mounted on the deck port-side, and not always visible.  While legal, these old lights have always made me nervous, particularly because I love night sailing.

So, before putting Madsu in the water this year I wanted to install new fore and aft nav lights, up on the pulpit/pushpit where they’d be seen.

Finding lights at Steveston Marine was easy – I got some nice Perko lights on sale – but mounting them on Madsu’s 1 inch pulpit and pushpit rails would be the challenge.

Catalina Direct sells a pulpit mount for over 30.00 dollars, and given the shipping and brokerage, it seemed like a crazy amount of money to spend.  So I decided to make my own (and spend a crazy amount of time to save a few bucks).

A few years ago I had purchased some stainless rail mount brackets (for a the traveler setup), and still had a few extra.

What I needed was some sort of plate to mount the lights on.  So, out came the jig saw and a piece of aluminum plate I had bought when I made the backing plates for the new winches.

I cut the plates, thinking I’d use 2 rail mounts on the bow light – but later opted to simplify with one (a good choice).  A little work with a grinder, then a file, then my Dremel tool, and the plates came out looking pretty great.

Next, I tapped holes for mounting the lights, and for securing the plate to the rail mounts.  I (and others) like to sit on the pulpit on a nice summer day, and with the mounting screws tapped, there’ll be no bolts protruding.

I wasn’t really up for drilling holes in the rail tubing and trying to chase the wiring through – I ran the wiring externally and secured it with self-amalgamating (rigging) tape.  If it turns out to be a nuisance, I’ll chase the wires inside the tubing next year.

Now I’ve got an additional level of comfort sailing at night, knowing that Madsu’s bow and stern light are visible.

Go With The Flow

Howe Sound is a true delight at this time of year, as daytime heating affects the air flow up the narrow sound.20090519_howesound

The pattern lately has been outflow (northerly) winds in the morning, with the wind going light near noon, then a complete reversal in the afternoon to an inflow (southerly) building through the afternoon.

Over the long weekend it was almost like clockwork – on both Friday and Saturday I managed to sail downwind for a few hours, only to turn around and sail downwind home.

I’ve been getting lots of use out of my North Sails G-3 gennaker (cruising chute). I’m getting a lot faster setting the running rigging for the sail, so I’m using it a lot more.


On Friday I spent most of the morning getting my gybes down.

I had a distinct lack of confidence with the inside gybe – that’s where the clew passes ahead of the forestay but inside the tack, rather than bringing the clew all the way forward and around the tack. I know the theory but just couldn’t seem to get the sail around cleanly – a lot of it is timing.

The G-3 is very forgiving – fortunate for me – but after 4 or 5 ‘proper’ gybes I finally got the hang of it and now feel a lot better about having to do them quickly or in heavier air. The sail is so much fun to use, partly because Madsu behaves like a completely different boat off the wind when I’m using the cruising chute.


On Sunday the whole family was on board to enjoy the sun. We broad-reached north with the gennaker, then doused the chute and hoisted the 150 genoa for a leisurely beat home.

The wind piped up to about 15 knots and we had a fabulous trip home.

On a starboard tack with no-one below us, we cruised home at a lively 5 knots without a single tack. The only time I touched the jib sheet was to douse it when we arrived at Horseshoe Bay !
View Madsu in Howe Sound on Sunday in a larger map

In A Mood


Sitting in Madsu’s cockpit patching a few small dents in the gelcoat on the cockpit lockers, I can’t help notice Howe Sound’s dramatic sky.

The day was a round-robin of sun, rain, thunder, and little squals.

Perfect really.

The patching I’m doing is really fixing old patches that have fallen apart. They aren’t big, maybe half the size of a dime. I can’t quite figure out how they were caused in the first place, a 30 year old boat has a lot of secrets to tell. Probably a dropped wrench or some other heavy tool. One or two of them look like they might have been from the boom, maybe dropping the main without the topping lift (my boom kicker avoids that altogether).

The wind’s howling again.

I’m wishing I was heading out instead of sitting here with a putty knife and sandpaper. I’ve got a couple of new jibs coming from Dave and Marcia at North Sails for this type of weather, and I console myself with the thought that it would be a rough ride today with my bagged out #2.

Patches done, I head up to the foredeck to soak up some of the late afternoon sun, the smell of salt water and sounds of the harbour surround me.

Perfect really.

Sailing with a Porpoise


The boys and I had an awesome day sailing in Howe Sound.

The overcast sky occasionally spit out of a few drops, but we managed to avoid the real rain until we got back to the dock around 4pm, pure luck that one.

The wind was a steady inflow with some lovely gusts that put Madsu’s rail down a few times – I kept debating whether to reef the main as I’d already gone to a smaller jib, but the puffs didn’t materialize into anything. We kept a steady 5 knots to windward with maybe 3 other sailboats in sight the entire afternoon.

On the way back, while beam reaching, two Dall’s porpoises surfaced twice off the port beam while we were on starboard tack. They were tracking straight towards the beam, and I’m pretty sure they went straight under the boat. They’re always a thrill to see and I headed up hoping they’d come and ride the bow wave, but they went on their way and we didn’t see them again.

Just as we tied Madsu up in her slip at Sewell’s, the rain started, and we managed to pack up and head home before getting too wet (for once).


The Ducks Were Having None of It


I was stealthy, but to no avail.

I thought I’d sneak up and get some photos, and even though I was all silent-running-like, the ducks were on to me.

The day threatened to turn from grey to drizzle, but never did. Madsu hummed along on a steady outflow in Howe Sound.

It’s always a delight to balance the boat – then set the tiller extender into the lock box and head up to the foredeck while Madsu sails herself


Sitting on the foredeck, I’m quickly reminded that it’s April. The wind blowing down from the local mountains, through Howe Sound, is chilly. It’s not surprising considering how much snow is still up there. Even in the height of summer, the catabatic winds in Howe Sound can be cold. I’m in shorts but I wish I’d brought my toque.


The new rope clutches and deck organizers I installed have worked out even better than I’d hope for. The double Spinlock clutches fit the cabin top just right. (Oddly, even though they are doubles, the drill template that came with them was for a single – and useless)

I like their size and mechanism, and Steveston Marine gave me a better than advertised price on them after I did some comparison shopping online.



The line organizers were a bit of a struggle. Almost everything I looked at was much too big to fit just forward of the pop-top. I finally settled on some simple aluminum doubles from Barton. I made a bit of a mess with the sealant when I installed them, but I should be able to clean it up ok.


It may not be warm, but it’s not raining. BC’s got some mighty impressive shades of grey when the sun isn’t shining.

Madsu’s sailing herself nicely on a close reach.


It’s great to be out sailing again.

Even if I didn’t have much luck with the ducks.


Launch Into Spring

It’s a sure sign of spring. Madsu made the move from her off-season storage next to the house, to her salt-water moorage at Sewell’s in Horseshoe Bay.

She’s got an “I can see myself in this shine” buff on her fiberglass – it wasn’t nearly as much work this year as last – proof that buffing up the gelcoat is worth it if you do it every year. Catalina really put these boats together well – that’s 30 year old fiberglass shining like it just came out of the mold.


Before hauling the boat down to the marina, I gave the non-skid on the deck a work-over with our powerwasher, packed in all the interior cushions, loaded sails, safety gear, charts, and the most essential item – a coffee pot.

A rental F-150 truck, a few miles down the road later, MB and I step the mast in the Thunderbird Marina parking loft, and the next thing you know, Madsu’s on the lift. The guys in the yard at Thunderbird are totally awesome – I highly recommend them. Madsu looks rather elegant hanging out on the Travelift!

I gave Madsu’s steel swing keel a fresh coat of rust paint – I’m not using anti-fouling paint at all since the boat comes out yearly. You can see the large sacrificial anode bolted 2/3rds of the way forward on the keel.


With Madsu on the lift, you also get a really good idea of how little surface area is actually in the water – with her keel up like this, Madsu only draws about 2 feet.


We had some other things to do, so MB and I made haste for our moorage at Horseshoe Bay. I couldn’t help but notice the snowline on the North Shore mountains, and smiled knowing that while we were sailing, loads of folks were boarding and skiing just a few miles away.


An hour later and we were back at our dock – set for another season of sailing out of Sewell’s at Horseshoe Bay.


Buffing with Aretha


Being able to trailer our sailboat Madsu is a tremendous advantage.

For one, she spends the stormy winter months parked next to our house, under a full Sumbrella cover.

But the real bonus comes in the spring, when it’s time to get the boat ready for another sailing season.

Now that my seasonal moorage at Horseshoe Bay is available again, spring time prep is just steps out the door.

Today Madsu got buff. With Aretha Franklin on the MP3 player, the hatches open and the sun shining, I spent the day buffing and polishing with a variety of 3M products.

Its such a delight to see the glimmer come back to the hull and cockpit and I find it amazing how 30 year old fiberglass can look brand new with a little elbow grease and rubbing compound.

In the next couple of days I’ll get the mast out of its winter home (hung under the roof overhand in our backyard), put the spreaders back in place, and load Madsu up for the short trip down to the water and a lift back into the salt chuck.

I did loads of work on the boat last spring, so I get a bit of a ‘buy’ this year – not much to do other than clean things up.

I spend a bit of time re-affixing the electrical conduit in the huge port locker, replaced the corroded connectors on the solar panel and attached a new sacrificial anode to the keel. Since all the cabin cushions spend the winter inside, they’re fresh as a daisy. I’ll give the inside of the cabin good cleaning and then we should be good to go. And not one bit of it feels like work.

Especially with Aretha helping out.

Sixty Three Days

20090127_madsu_63But who’s counting.

My little sailboat Madsu will be back in the water in 63 days.

I was in Horseshoe Bay on other business today and took a walk down the dock. It’s a very different feel this time of year, the docks deserted and today, wet from a light snow fall.

Yet as soon as I walked down the ramp, I immediately felt that thing I feel every time I go down to the boat. Its impossible to describe – a connection of some kind that can’t really be articulated.

In sixty three days I won’t need to try to articulate it – I can simply go – and be.


How Long Is Summer ?

The answer is simple.

Cruising with Madsu on a typical BC summer day.

It’s possible it gets better than this, but I doubt it

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

A little reminder of what to expect (again) in just a few months.  And really just an excuse for me to futz with Final Cut Studio 2 which arrived this week.

Hot Moon Cruise

Some of my fondest memories of sailing the west coast were as crew on board a Spencer 51 owned by brothers Ian and Colin Morse.

We did a lot of night sailing and those cruises under the full moon in the Straight of Georgia will be etched in my mind for a long time. They were magic, and I learned a lot on those trips. Inviting me along was a gift I’ll never forget, and for which I’ll always be thankful to ‘the boys’.

There’s nothing quite like sailing under a full moon, especially when the wake is streamed with bioluminescence. About the only thing that comes close, for me, is seeing the Northern Lights.

With the full moon on Wednesday this week, I’m hoping the clouds clear so we can take Madsu out for a night cruise.

According to the Farmers’ Almanac, this month’s FM is known as Full Strawberry Moon, Rose Moon, or Hot Moon.

Full moons fall mid month throughout the summer and fall and we’re planning night sails for as many as we can get.

Friday the 13th Sail

Managed to get through another Friday the 13th without incident.  To celebrate, we ordered some pizza and headed down to the boat for an evening sail.

It was a beautiful evening, and we zipped over to Bowen Island and back in no time at all.  EB was on the helm and managed to top 6 knots smg at one point.

We managed to see all three ferries – Bowen, Langdale and Nanaimo – and even though I’ve been sailing out here for years I still like the sight of a ferry steaming by like we’re standing still.  It sparks memories of every single ferry ride across the Straight when I was on the inside,  looking longingly out at boats under sail, wishing I was there, too.

We met more of our moorage neighbours when we returned to Sewell’s, including the folks right next to us who were heading out for the weekend.

Howe Sound Perfection

I’m really liking having Madsu moored at Sewell’s in Horseshoe Bay. The downside is that the slip is tight and there’s ferry wash, but its not really a big deal. An extra spring line seems to be handling the turbulent wash all right, and a tight slip is just good practice.

The great thing is that the docks are buzzing with activity. Sewell’s is famous for its power boat rentals, but they also run Sea Safari Zodiak eco tours and I love seeing the participants waddling down the dock in their red cruiser suits ready for a zoom around the Sound. The dock staff are young and friendly (and cute) and there’s a constant stream of tourists checking out the boats.

I had 2 different couples, also with boats on the finger I’m on, come over and introduce themselves in the short time I spent getting Madsu set for a sail. There’s a scuba boat just up the dock that picks up and drops off on a regular basis. Sewell’s also have a boat launch which is surprisingly busy, both with launches and recoveries, but also is used for small barges hauling all sorts of things.

As much as I love the hubbub dockside, the trip out under power is super short – just a few minutes and I’m under sail is marvelous Howe Sound.

I had a spirited sail over to Bowen – Madsu’s never been so speedy thanks to new sails from North Sails. I popped a reef in part way across and still managed to hit 7 knots in the puffs. It was a classic inflow and with very little chop, it was an awesome sail over. After the outbound Bowen Ferry left Snug Cove, I tacked over and played in the puffs for a few hours.

And those new Andersen self-tailers I installed ? Worth Every Penny.

Casino Sailing

We finally put Madsu in the water yesterday and sailed from West Vancouver’s Fisherman’s Cove over to the North Arm of the Fraser, and then up river to Skyline Marina.

We had about 20 minutes to kill while we waiting for the Midarm swing bridge to be available for a swing so we stopped by the River Rock Casino to check things out.

You gotta love having a casino within a short sail away…

Looking forward to exploring the river and making friends with all the working boats.

Masthead Good to Go

Another crappy weather day, so no painting today, but I did work inside on bits and pieces of Madsu’s gear.

The masthead is done and ready to go. Yesterday I discovered that the new sheaves I got to replace the old wire sheaves didn’t actually fit.

I spent a bit of quality time with my Makita sander and the aluminum plate that acts as a spacer between the port and starboard pair of sheaves.

In the photo you can see the aft pair of sheaves – and the arrow points to the spacer that runs fore and aft and keeps the starboard side sheaves apart from the port side.

I didn’t want to sand too much since the sheaves just run free – there’s no bearings – the plastic sheave just runs on the pin – so I don’t want too much play in there.

The fit is perfect now – amazing what a little sandpaper on aluminum can do

With a new spin crane, a ridiculously expensive block for the spinnaker halyard, new anchor light post, Windex, and new sheaves for the all line halyards, Madsu’s sad little masthead has been transformed.

To keep me inspired while I’m working on this stuff, I’m reading There By No Dragons: How to Cross a Big Ocean in a Small Sailboat by Reese Palley.

(if you’re wondering what the hell that thing is sticking out of the TOP of the windvane, it’s the new ‘bird spike’ meant to keep freeloaders of the avian variety off the vane).

I should say that we sailed all last summer without the benefit of a masthead Windex. Instead we used Newport shroud telltales which were great, and we’ll keep them on board again this year.

Madsu Masthead

A lot of rain kept me from getting top coat on Madsu’s spars today. So I turned my attention to the masthead, where I’m adding an anchor light and a windvane.

Since I was installing a post for the light, which means tapping 2 holes in the mast head, I figured there must be a way to use the same machine screws to attach a bracket of some sort on which I’ll mount the shaft of the windvane. I had ordered a ‘special’ bracket from Catalina Direct that uses the upper shroud tang, but like a few things I’ve ordered, it doesn’t actually fit the hardware on my mast. When a boat’s 30 years old, who knows what kind of mods have been one to the rig, so it’s not a huge surprise, but a little disappointing since I can’t return it ;-(

After cutting a short length of aluminum plate, I bent it into a bracket using a vice and a ballpeen hammer – low tech but it worked out ok. It’s too long but I’ll cut and soften up the edges now that I know it’s all going to fit together.

I’ll drop in 4 new sheaves for the main and jib halyards as soon as I shave down the spacing plate (the new sheaves from Catalina Direct are a bit too wide – easy fix if I trim the spacer a bit), I’m switching to all-line from line/wire. And of course, the new spin crane looks very inviting !

Mast Conduit and Primed

One last thing to do before I can paint Madsu’s mast, and that’s installing conduit for wiring inside the mast.

Madsu had no steaming or anchor light, and last season I got by with a portable LED that I’d hoist when needed. It worked ok but wasn’t great. When I redid the electrical system last month I installed enough circuits to incude a steaming light and masthead anchor light.

I debated whether it was worth the trouble of running conduit up the mast – but figure if I don’t I’ll be regretting it the first night an anchor as the wires clang away inside the mast.

I opted for 3/4 inch PVC conduit that will have more than enough room for the 3 wires I need to run – plus room for VHF coaxial should I decide to add a masthead antennae later. I got a laugh when I saw the label on the conduit – C22 for a C22. Nice.

Of course the conduit has to be secured, or it will bang around. This is easier said than done.

The conduit is riveted in place using a technique I read about online somewhere. Starting at the base of the mast I was able to hold the conduit in place while I drilled a hole in the mast and the conduit and popped in a rivet.

From there it’s a matter of drilling a hole 6 inches or so along, using a small Allen key to hook the conduit through the hole (in order to hold it in place), then drill another hole a further six inches along and pop a rivet in. After I was done, I filled all the extra holes and was ready to etch, condition and prime.

The mast got it’s first layer of base coat this afternoon – the boom got its 3rd and final coat of base. I should be able to get a couple more coats of base on the mast tomorrow, then on to the topcoat in a couple of days, assuming the weather holds.

Madsu Boom Mod

I’m getting set to paint the mast and boom on Madsu before putting her in the water this year.

But before I get there, I’ve got a few modifications to make, so I’ve commandeered the picnic table and set up for some serious mucking-about-time.

I started with the boom, stripping all the hardware so I can replace the self-tapping screws with tapped versions.

I’m also fixing the outhaul – the previous owner seemed to think a piece of line wrapped around a becket at the end of the boom was a proper outhaul. It drove me crazy last season, but since the main was pretty bagged, I put up with it.

Since I’ve got a brand new North Sail main for this season, and I was stripping the boom down anyway, I thought it was worth the trouble of making an internal outhaul system based on Gene Ferguson’s excellent 1997 design. Using Gene’s diagram, I ad-libbed a bit, using Harken 225 and 226 microblocks and New England V-100 1/4″ braid and sticking with wire for the 2nd block and exit out the thru-deck at the aft end of the boom to the clew.

Since the exit at the boom-end is wire, the thru-deck block is nice and small, and through the magic of the Dremel tool I’ve managed to cut a nice slot for the block. It sits in the foot channel and is just big enough to reach into the main section of the boom where the guts of the outhaul are hidden. Having a swaging tool makes working with wire a breeze – I picked up a hand tool at West Marine last year and have used it a lot more than I thought I would.

I’ll have more pictures soon – the outhaul is rigged and sitting in my cupboard with the new sail.

Searching for Moorage for Madsu

I’m on the hunt for moorage for Madsu, my 22 ft. Catalina swing keel sailboat.

I’m trying to find moorage on Vancouver’s north shore – either in West Vancouver or North Vancouver.

Last year I was in Thunderbird Marina and loved it there, but they’re doing a big reno to the docks there and aren’t optimistic they’ll have space – apparently they’re going to be short berths for some of their long term costumers. I’m on waiting list there and at Sewell’s in Horseshoe Bay, as well as at Burrard Civic in Vancouver.

If you have private moorage or access to moorage, let me know. I’m willing to pay market rates. We don’t need any fancy amenities.

Madsu is 22 feet, just a bit under 8 feet in the beam, and draws only 2 feet with the keel up so can tuck in to shallow moorage.

We’re quiet and neat. Email me if you know of anything. Thanks.



Madsu at anchor in the Secretary Islands