December Sunshine

The view astern as we head into the marina after an afternoon’s sailing in Howe Sound.

December is offering up some glorious weather which means that I’ve been able to get some great photos and video footage for a couple of my clients AND some lovely days on the water.

Since I’m keeping Madsu in the water this winter, I’m looking forward to some double-deluxe days when I snowboard Cypress Mountain (overlooking Howe Sound) in the morning then spend the afternoon sailing in Howe Sound.

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.

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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.

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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

Anatomy of a Perfect Meeting

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I spent over an hour getting there, but who’s complaining. That hour was all sailing time, dock to dock, as I popped over to Bowen Island for a quick lunch meeting.

The great thing about sailing Madsu to a meeting ? Madsu is also the conference centre.

Its all room with a view.

There was loads of room at the Bowen government dock where I tied up shortly after noon. A few minutes later I was met by Bowen’s own James Glave, author of Almost Green and owner of the Eco-Shed.

We had a great hour long meeting sitting in the sun in Madsu’s cockpit.

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It was impossible to resist the steady breeze ,so the trip back took a bit longer. I just had to spend a bit of time tacking my way towards the Straight, all in the name of processing the topics discussed at the meeting, of course.

I did have to tuck a reef in the main and Madsu did a nice steady 5 knots to weather until the wind started to go lighter around 4, when I eased the sheets and reached my way back to Horseshoe Bay at a comfy 4.5 knots.

If every meeting could be like this one, I’d be booking a whole lot more of them…

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In A Mood

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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.

Mothers Day Sail

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EB and I spent a fabulous day sailing Howe Sound – my rather lame mother’s day gift to her.

The sound was picture perfect, with some high thin overcast causing a slight ring around the sun.

There was a sweet inflow that had us humming at 5.5 to 6 knots to weather, with Madsu right in the slot the boat was made for, heeled between 15 and 20 degrees, the 150 genoa driving us to weather with a nice steady motion through the chop.

We beat for about an hour and a half or so, tacking to follow the wind shifts, with hardly any traffic.  Lots of harbour seals were popping up so the feeding must be good.

On the way back I ran dead downwind for quite a long time, my back to the pushpit and my feet up.  I was pretty close to nodding off, as it warmed up considerably as was ran wing on wing.  Great was to spend the day.

Sailing with a Porpoise

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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).

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The Ducks Were Having None of It

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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It’s great to be out sailing again.

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

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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.

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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!
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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Buffing with Aretha

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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.

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Meanwhile Down Under

It’s white with snow all over the lower mainland, and that makes for a lovely break from the grey.

After a morning of snowboarding I started going through some photos I took in Sydney a few years ago.

Maybe because my sailboat Madsu is tucked away out of the water and undercover for the winter, two photos jumped out at me.

A couple of examples of the ultimate in waterfront living…

  • Steps to the ocean
  • Pool
  • Dry dock

Click the pics for larger versions, if you can stand it…

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It’s one thing to haul up that nice little runabout.

But get a load of this ketch.

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Gotta love those Sydneysiders.

Both of these were taken in November 2002.

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

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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.