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chamonix 06-28-2010 10:50 AM

The story so far
 
Hi to all on sailnet. So here's the story so far. When I was younger I used to do a lot of fishing. Found out that I enjoyed being on the water as much as I liked fishing. Two kids later we entered the great Canadian tradition of preparing the kids to play in the NHL. Nine years latter and countless thousands of dollars we found out that while the kids were good they were not good enough. The kids are now finnished with hockey and school, time for the wife and myself to find an activity to take up our time and keep the economy moving by spending our hard earned money( on something other than hockey). Looking back on my fishing days, getting back on the water seemed just the ticket.
So having decided to get back on the water I was thinking of power boats, but spending all that money on gas was sticking in my craw, plus liked the idea of doing some long distance boat travel. Started looking into sailing and liked the idea, liked the challange, and liked that there would always be something to learn. All I had to do is talk the wife into it. Was surprised to discover that it didn't take much talking. Don't have the perfect marriage but I've got to admit that I lucked out when I married that woman.
The plan was to take a bunch of sailing lessons, do as much sailing as we could, retire, then buy a sailboat and do some traveling. Didn't work out that way. Talked to a guy at work who sails and he advised that if we take lessons, then at least buy somekind of boat to practice on lest our skills get rusty. This made sense, and since the economy is bad the prices would probably be a low as we are going to see for a while. Both the wife and myself are government workers. That means we do not make great money but it is a steady reliable income. When the economy is good it feels like we're poor, when the economy is bad we're as good as rich. So my feeling was that if we were going to buy a boat, now was the time to do it.
So the revised plan was to buy a small boat, take lessons and get out there sailing. Didn't work out that way. While we wanted a small boat we also wanted something we could spend some time on. To make a long story slightly less long, we ended up buying a 30' boat. In this case it was a Canadian Sailcraft CS30. I spent a lot of time on sailnet gathering information and opinion. At this point in the story I would like to thank all the people in the sailnet community who's time and effort have made it such a valuable resource, my hat goes off to you.
So now we have a nice 30' sailboat with larger payments than planned for. A nice slip in a marina on Georgian Bay, lake Huron that cost more money that planned for and very little money left to learn how to sail. Luckily we found a very nice man who would at least teach us how to put the sails on the mast and take us out a couple of times to show us the ropes and this is where it gets intresting. At this point I should mention that I have done a great deal of research on all things sailing but it is all just theory.
The first day we motor out to the lake put up the sails and of we don't go. There is hardly any wind at all, and while were moving, its so slow that it isn't even registering on the knot log. After about an hour of this (and learning a great deal ) we decide to motor further out in the lake in search of some wind. Next thing you know the boat lurches forward and were aground. I'm no expert on marine navigation but have had a lot of experiance in navigation in general. I still can't figure out what we ran aground on, I picked that location to start on because there didn't seem to be anything on the chart that could cause us problems. Luckily it was sand and not a rock so we got off easily. Motored back to the marina with the engine making a strange thunka thunka vibration when pushed over 2300 RPM but not a lot of water in the bilge thank god. Did a terrible job of docking the boat but got it tied up eventualy. When I removed the engine cover I found the engine sump filled with water and thought the boat was sinking. Had the manager and assistant manager of Bay Moorings Marina going through the entire bottom of the boat to reassure me that the boat was fine. Came away a little shaken but at least happy in the choice of marinas.
A week later we we out for our secound try. A nice 10 to 15 knot wind blowing so sails up and of we go on a run to Midland Bay. The wifes steering and doing a great job as were wing on wing, one accidental jibe but thats to be expected. Once in Midland bay we turn around to return only to notice that the wind has picked up to about 18 gusting to 25 knots with whitecaps. I take over the steering as we tack back and forth trying to get back. The boat is heeling good now, hard to tell how much but I figure at least 30 degrees and more on gusts. Time to reef, so we reef in the genoa a bit, but we havn't got the mainsail reefing set up yet, bit of a mistake there! Still I'm enjoying it, lots of spray, getting lots of experiance tacking and getting lots of confidance in the boat. Its healing but only so far despite our many mistakes. I lost control a few times but the boat never did. The wife happens to look down into the cabin and reports that there is water all over the cabin floor. With a cry of "what the ...." down into the cabin I go. Sure enough the bilge is full and there is water all over the cabin floor." Why isn't the bilge pump working" I'm thinking, but when I check I had not turned it to automatic. I turn it on and up to the cockpit I go. Within a few minutes the pump had got rid of most of the water, however I'm still worried that the grounding the week before had damaged the keel/hull and for me all the enjoyment of the day disapeared. On goes the motor and down comes the sails with a great deal of struggle in the wind. To make matters worse the genoa will not furl all the way in. Not enough rope on the drum and the genoa is still only 3/4 furlled and flogging like hell as we motor into the wind. I still swear there was enough rope on the drum when we set it up, but what the hell do I know? Now were motoring but still have to tack back and forth to keep the genoa from flogging. We finaly make it to the lee of some land and get the genoa rolled in by hand then motor the rest of the way back to the marina with the engine making the thunka thunka vibration over 2300RPM agian( It didn't make the vibration on the way out as I checked that). Another crap job docking the boat, and agian the engine sump filled with water. "Never mind the glass honey, just pass me that bottle of scotch", say I to the wife.
So thats the story so far. Whe're going back out in a couple of days and may God have mercy on our souls. I could make this story even longer by going over our experiance buying the boat, but I'll leave that for another day.
To end this epic here's a big hallo from Judi and Steve on Chamonix, if your on Georgian Bay we may run into you, so you've been warned.

P.S. Sorry about the grammer, I did say I was a government worker.
P.S.S. We did not close any of the through hull valves the secound time out. I think thats where all the water came from.

cb32863 06-28-2010 01:06 PM

Welcome to you both, stay on track and you will get there. Don't get discouraged. As they say, practice makes....... decent... I had to try twice to get in the slip yesterday as we had a stiff cross wind. Good luck! :cool:

bljones 06-28-2010 02:33 PM

Welcome aboard! It's good to see more Great Lakes sailors here. A few years ago, my wife and I were at the same point that you and your wife are at now- trying to run before we learned how to crawl, and breaking things in the process. I got some great advice here, which i will pass on to you:
Learn how to reef and how to dock before you worry about learning how to sail.
Next time you go up to the boat, spend the first few hours doing docking drills- leave, return, leave, return and analyze what you are doing right and what is giving you trouble. If you haven't done so already, rig a spring line as an "arrestor hook" to help keep you from bouncing off the dock when you come into your slip.
When you have an hour or so of no wind, take the time to set up your reefing gear, and practice reefing at the dock. Learn how to reef before you NEED to reef.

Create a "departure checklist." Go through the steps necessary to depart the dock, write them down, and when you head out, work from the list. It works for pilots, and it will work for you to keep you from pulling shorepower cords out, forgetting to take the sailcover off, forgetting to open/close seacocks.


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