Friday, October 28, 2011

Back At The Dock

You know that feeling when you got your first car and the freedom it provided....welcome to Kala's world!!  She LOVES the dinghy.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


For those who are unfamiliar with how a boat gets put in the water - here is a demonstration starring Stella Blue.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Last Thursday, we planned to sail to Oriental, NC (about a 4 hour sail/30 min drive) and haul out at Sailcraft Services which would give us an opportunity to replace our cutlass bearing, but when we turned the key to start the engine, nothing happened.  All was not lost thanks to our handy Honda 2000 generator.  We jump started it and cast off.  As we sailed, we left the engine running in neutral just in case it didn't want to start again.  Getting into Whittaker Creek without an engine would be nearly impossible considering the depths outside the narrow channel.  We arrived and tied up at the dock for the night all set for the haul out the next morning.  Little did we know that when we turned the engine off - that was all she wrote for those batteries.

The next morning we pulled the boat to the well (around some pricey new boats which made us slightly nervous) and moved her onto the hard.  Our list of things we needed to do during the haul out increased exponentially each day.

Allen and the whole crew at Sailcraft have been great and tremendously helpful - there have even been times when we have considered hanging out here for a bit.  We love working on boats, as long as ours is working and we aren't spending money.

After a week in the yard, here are the things we have accomplished and at this point we are ready to go back in the water:
* New inverter/charger
* New remote monitoring system
* New AGM batteries, including removing the old ones all weighing in about 70 lbs each.
* Acid washed hull and 2 coats of ablative bottom paint
* Waxed and buffed top sides
* Bleached, rinsed and cleaned fresh water tanks.
* Installed chart plotter
* Installed VHF with AIS and remote cockpit mic
* Integrated the AIS to the chart plotter, including wiring under cockpit
* Removed old radar dome (Yep, Molly can winch Baxter up the mast without a self-tailer)
* Sanded prop and applied treatment and hard-bottom paint
* Removed old radar display
* Removed old Loran and covered insert in Nav station with Lexan
* Added new zincs
* Mounted new radar dome plate (to be installed on mast back at the marina)
* Oh yeah, new cutlass bearing

In the well.

Acid washing the hull.

The prop - before sanding and the shaft without zincs.

Nav station with Loran pulled out.

All put back together.

Ready for new cutlass bearing

Battery compartment on bottom left with sink plumbing pulled out.

Battery compartment from inside hull looking forward.

Wiring comprised of inside binnacle (center left next to white pedestal)

Kala not happy about the rain (picture taken around 11 a.m.)
New chart plotter that works brings big grins!
Baxter taking down the 65lb radar dome (he was cleated off while I took the pic)
Prop ready to get splashed with new zincs and pretty hard bottom paint.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Main Event

When we bought the boat, it came with, I think, 7 sails - if not more.  Since the boat is almost 30 years old, they were all in various shapes and conditions.  We removed the jib and took all the others, with the exception of the current main, to be checked out.  It turned out we threw away everything except the jib (which needed to have the Sunbrella sun protector sewn), the 135 genoa, and the staysail.  Of course, the main was still on the boat.  After this summer, we decided that the main needed to be replaced for safety's sake.  We didn't want to be in a squall with a blown out main and no back up.

So, we called Paul at Omar Sailmakers who set us up with a full-battened loose-footed main with a third reef ring, as well as a Strong track for easier raising and dropping.  Of course, when it came time to install the Strong track, our storm trysail track got in the way and Baxter went up the mast to move it over.  Oh yeah, it also happened to be pouring rain, lightning and thundering, but that only caused a minor delay.

We sailed from New Bern to Oriental and put it to the test.  It was pretty exciting to be doing 7.4 knots in a 17 knot wind!

Old main that came with the boat.

Baxter and Paul installing the Strong Track.  The storm trysail track is the metal strip on the right.

The beautiful new main with full battens and third reef ring.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Mosquitoville, NC

Arriving in New Bern put us one step closer to setting sail.  It also put us in the middle of mosquito central. Apparently, there have been estimates of almost 200 mosquito landings in one minute per person.  I haven't personally counted but I know that when we take Kala out - we come back with no less than 15 bites.  I even have some on my face.  Today, I ate one.  One of the most unpleasant experiences, ever.  Taught me that I shouldn't talk to Kala when we're outside.    They are not expected to go away until the first frost and we plan to be in Georgia or Florida by then.

So - when we aren't outside playing with mosquitos, we are inside working on the boat.  The other day Baxter opened the cabinet under the sink and a pipe broke.  That's just an example of how you can be focused on getting things working and moving along when a pipe just spontaneously breaks and now you can do nothing else until that works.
Cutter vs. Mosquito
Corroded sink pipe
Preparing to clean the water tanks and bleed air from the fresh water pump.

Monday, October 10, 2011


We left Utah Tuesday headed to Annapolis for the U.S. Sailboat Show, one of the largest in the states. We have done hours of research during our sabbatical this summer and there are plenty of "things" Stella Blue could use before we cast off. The trip back east was great! When we have driven to Atlanta or NC in the past, it has usually been one of two routes, north or south depending on snow conditions. This time we stayed even further north and hit some places we'd never seen as well as about $30 in tolls we'd never seen.

Annapolis was everything we expected and much more. The show had so many exhibitors and a million and one things for boats - things you never thought you needed but could be talked into buying. One of the best parts was going on a Gunboat (70 ft catamaran) and an Oyster 655. Nothing can really describe them other than "WOW!". If only we could win one as a door prize.

After the show Saturday, we picked Kala up from Camp Bow Wow (dogs not allowed at the boat show) and left Annapolis headed for the Outer Banks. We arrived in Nags Head about 10pm, pitched a tent and camped right on the beach. Kala had never slept in a tent and like always she just figured out how it worked and everything fell into place. She is such a smart and sweet dog - a true adventurer. The next morning included waking up to a beautiful sunrise, followed by a visit to the Wright Brothers Memorial. It was pretty amazing to stand in the very place that changed the world forever and so glad we took the time to go. The last stop out of town was the Outer Banks Boarding Company to scope out the options for future surfing adventures.

It was only a 2 1/2 hour drive to New Bern that afternoon and we were excited to see Stella Blue after her battle with Hurricane Irene. Thanks to Bud, Dawn and Paul at Nortwest Creek Marina for their diligence. If you're in NC and looking for a safe haven, this is the place to be.

We are unpacking and making the boat a home again. It's more work than most people would expect and you have to be motivated to make it happen so we push through and know that once we raise the sails it will all be worth it.

Baxter in front of the 70 ft Gunboat.
The U.S. Sailboat Show - Annapolis, MD.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Having a great time on the beach!

Sunrise in the OBX.
Bodie Island Lighthouse.
The memorial on Kill Devil Hill.