Don't bring banana-flavoured oatmeal aboard...
Some of you may recall a list that I posted a while ago.
It is my first season launching my new/older boat by myself. The list was of things that needed to be done prior to, or shortly after launching.
Much of the below-the-water stuff has been done - including soda-blasting; new anti-fouling; hull repairs; replacing transducer and depth-sounder; etc.
The list, however is not getting any shorter. For everything that is accomplished I am finding two or three other things that need doing.
It seemed to take forever to get the hull done to get the boat in the water. This was finally done about two weeks ago. I then set about to step the mast. I had replaced the mast-head light with a combination tri-colour and all-around white light. I replaced the wiring in the mast as well as my main halyard. I put on new spreader boots and tidied up my flag halyard blocks. And the thing I was most looking forward to was I replaced the old wind vane that didn't spin as it was bent.
A couple of friends and I took over the crane at the marina and b.s.'d our way into stepping the mast. In retrospect I guess I really should have secured all of the dangling shrouds and stays... I'm sure we looked like a real bunch of winners to the old salts at the marina!
Anyhow, the mast went up; the foot was secured and all of the turn buckles tuned up. I motored over to my slip.
A few days later I looked up to admire my handy-work, and to make sure that my shiny, new wind vane was alligned with the others along the dock. It wasn't! It had got bent by the crane or something when I winched up the mast. Oh well. I guess I can keep relying on my shroud tell-tails until I take the mast down again.
The sails went up pretty easily - except the outhaul snapped when I was tensioning the sail. When I went to replace the outhaul I noticed that the block was in pretty rough shape so I replaced that as well.
After that the sails went up without a hitch.
So now, almost 2-weeks after getting wet we decided to go for a 3-day cruise.
The plan was to sail out to Hope Island and spend a day or two in the nice bay on the South-east side. There is a sandy bottom at about 8 - 10 feet and a long, curving white sand beach along the island. Last year when we were there the water was crystal-clear.
So off we set. The wind was perfect. I was able to go on a broad reach all the way up past the Outer Harbour at Penetanguishene, going at a constant 6.4 knots (that's about my top speed). Because it was mid-week, and because of the high gas prices, we pretty much had the Bay to ourselves.
We got to Hope after a few tacks under Giant's Tomb and saw that the bay was pretty choppy because the wind was coming in from the South East - straight into it. The wind was supposed to decline and shift to the North by the evening. We decided to sail over to the bay on the North side of Beckwith to wait for the wind to shift.
We got into Beckwith and planted the hook. We were alone in a bay that is wall-to-wall with stinkpots on any weekend.
We got lulled by the calmness of our anchorage and ended up hitting the sack where we were.
At about 5 am I woke up with the boat rocking quite heavily end-to-end.
I crawled out of my bunk and found my wife sitting in the salon looking tired. She said the wind had picked up at about 1 am and was now coming in from the North.
I suggested that we haul up the anchor and head over to our original destination which should now be calmer. She was up for that.
Getting the anchor up was a real chore as the waves were coming at us at over a metre. The wind was howling straight at us. I was hoping that my little 9.9 hp would have the guts to push us into the wind once the anchor was up and that the wind wouldn't drive us onto the rocks which looked really close to our port side.
After much heaving and timing my pulls with the rise and fall of the bow, I got the anchor up and stowed and my little Honda gave us a little headway into the howling wind.
We got out beyond the risk of hitting rocks. The waves were coming in at over 2 meters with some monsters getting closer to 3. Sharon is convinced that as we rode up the front of a couple of the big ones the boat was almost vertical. The challenge now was to turn through the waves and head down-wind to the shelter of Hope Island. The way the weather was going would put the the waves coming over our beam for most of the trip down between Beckwith and Hope Islands.
After some rolling and pitching (and probably a lot of yawing) we made the bay at Hope Island and, as expected, it was calm.
We dropped the hook in 8 feet and I put on a pot of coffee.
What does any of this have to do with banana-flavoured oatmeal?
Well, once things calmed down a bit and we'd had a bit of a nap, Sharon told me that the head wasn't drawing in any water for flushing. I had tried to get the weather off the VHF but couldn't get any signal.
Neither of these were a big deal, but they were both nuisances.
I was able to get a local FM station that had marine forecasts and we could haul in buckets of water to flush the head.
Sharon offered me breakfast which I gratefully accepted.
A few minutes later she placed a bowl of steaming banana-flavoured oatmeal in front of me. Banana! Doesn't she know not to bring bananas aboard?
I thought about all of the little things that had not gone as planned, all of the little mechanical failures, and realized that they were all because of the banana-flavoured oatmeal.
Epilogue: Once we returned to the marina I removed all traces of the offending cereal from the boat. I checked the head. It worked perfectly...
The VHF still doesn't work properly. I think I must have disconnected the plug at the mast-head when I stepped the mast.
At least now I have a reason to send someone aloft to check the connection, and, while they are there, fix my damned wind vane.
Does anyone have a spare bosun's chair?
1989 Hunter 30'
Southern Georgian Bay
The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever. - Jacques Yves Cousteau