Sunday, November 8, 2009

21 days to go...or so...

Albert Einstein was right on the money with the Theory of Relativity. You might ask what in the world that has to do with me, Spook and Arden. Believe me, everything. I made this amazing discovery this afternoon: the speed at which the hands on the clock move is directly relative to whether it is a weekend or a workday. Just a few moments ago it was Friday afternoon, I was sick as a dog (sorry Spook, its true) and I couldn't imagine how I was going to get anything done this weekend. Now it is Sunday nite, the sun has set, and another work week begins in a few short hours. Now I am no science whiz, and it is beyond me just what E=MC2 really means, but I really am tired of it screwing up my weekend.

All that bellyaching aside, it was a good weekend. I fought the sniffles and a killer sinus headache (its time for a word from our sponsor, Tylenol Cold and Flu) but I managed to get a good bit done. For starters, my son Mike and his friend Neil came up Saturday. I haven't seen Mike since I sailed down to Norfolk in May the last time he was on leave. If you don't already know it, Mike is a member of the United States Coast Guard, and he is stationed all the way across the country in San Diego, aboard the USCGC Hamilton. Mike and Neil came up to cart the junk that is not making the cruise back down to Va Beach. Now mind you, we did more than clean out a storage unit - I gave them a tour of my little town, had a great cookout, and of course, got them to give me a hand working on Arden. It was a great visit, and it reminded me just how much I miss having him around. To continue with our theme tonight, just how quickly time passes...May was just a little bit ago, just over a year ago he helped me finish up Arden prior to moving her, his bootcamp and high school graduation seem like yesterday, and I still remember taking off of work to put his butt on the school bus for the first time when we lived at Chick's Beach in Va Beach.

Thanks to Mike and Neil's help, Arden now has a stern pulpit. It is, I suppose, a prototype, being bolted together with fittings from West Marine, but it is a sturdy barrier between me and Davy Jones, and once I haul out next year, I will have it welded up and made as one piece. I have a few design ideas that will have the wind vane, the boom kin, and the stern pulpit all merged into one welded stainless steel unit. I was also able to get the auxiliary water tank installed today, at the sacrifice of some of the aft storage area. I'm not sure how I am going to address the lost space, the tank would not go where I had originally wanted to put it, so it ended up taking some of the space where I was storing tools and some of my spare gear. However, it gives me another 39 gallons of water that will not only help Spook and I survive out on the open ocean*, but will also serve to balance Arden out a bit. If I haven't mentioned it before, when Arden has a full load of water aboard, with her original tank only, she is down by the bow by about 2 inches. The water tank is all the way fo'ard against the stem, and at 45 gallons, that puts a ton of weight (360 lbs to be exact) way up where there is little buoyancy. Now she is just riding low all over, but, as long as both tanks drain at the same rate, she will remain better balanced, and I hope that will make her sail on her own a bit better. During my sail to St. Michaels with Liz, Arden was so well balanced - I suppose the wind was right, the sail set was right, and the Gods were with us - that by using my tiller lock she sailed herself for about 6 hours.

Touching briefly on the windvane steering unit: Last spring I downloaded Walt Muir's plans for the 20/20 windvane unit. I really liked the idea of having the wind steer the boat as well as power it, and being a notorious tightwad, I just couldn't see spending $4500.00 on a Monitor, Aries or Navik unit. So I found this website, and made one. And it works. Really works. On the big "Sail Up The Bay" the windvane did about 80% of the steering.

The Windvane Unit is the gizmo right behind the rudder.

I have found that when close hauled, I can sail tighter to the wind by about 4 or 5 points - the windvane is at its best then, and, it reacts much faster to gusts and wind shifts than I ever could. I am beefing the unit up a bit before sailing south, replacing some of the original parts with stronger ones, even though it did fine in a N'or Easter on the way up the bay, I am concerned with its durability on an extended passage. I think it is one of those things I will continue to tinker with as time passes, until I get it where I want it. I think all told, I have under $150 dollars tied up in it now. Here is a brief video of the windvane at work:

And finally for the night, when I was working on the water tank, I replaced the old seawater hoses for the cooling system since I had enough 3/4 inch hose, and, the hoses were right there where I was working. I started the engine to check for leaks, and that was when I discovered that the coolant pump is going bad. Its not leaking - yet - but it is making noise, and the bearing is obviously bad. Better to find that out now, than out on the water, where it would undoubtedly fail just when I need it most. One more project for the list..
As of today I have about 21 days to go. I am counting on leaving the weekend after Thanksgiving, give or take a few days waiting on a good weather window.
*Normally at dockside, giving no thought to water conservation, rationing, or how wasteful I am, Arden's 45 gallons of fresh water lasted about 3 weeks, 4 on a stretch. I am not sure how long that would have lasted at sea when that water would have supplied bathing water as well as water for cooking and such. I will touch back on this at some point during the cruise and update just how long 84 gallons of water lasts us.

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