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The Write Byte's Log.  September 1 - December 31, 2000

Highlights of this log
2000 Deal Island
Bilge fun
Bread and Cheese
Fuel fun
Finally, a sail
Choptank Cup
Fall Sailing at its best
Winter Projects

Friday September 30, 2000 2300 ED 4335  BP 30.8

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After working all day upside down in the bilge, I decided I needed a sail. I called Terry and told her I wouldn't be home. After going to the store for a loaf of Italian bread and a hunk of cheese, (I already had a nice bottle of merlot in a locker) it was dusk when I got back to the boat.

By the time I left the piers, it was fully dark. But clear, it's going to be a grand sail.

The wind was a little fresh, perhaps 15 kts NE. Since I was already tired and only heading to LaTrappe, I was lazy and only rolled out the jib. I don't mind raising and lowering the main, but as tired as I was, I didn't feel like having to flake the sail after only an hour.
Going down the Choptank, I was on a run and thinking of it now, the wind must have been higher than 15.  Even in the protection of the Choptank, it was beginning to roll a bit. So much so, that there was actually a little surfing sound as the boat powered down each wave. A check on the GyPSy showed I was doing 5.5 kts! Outstanding under just the jib.  Lovely night sail.  As I roared along, I imagined it was colonial times and I was heading out to scout some new properties.
At the turn at 19a, we (my boat and I) went from a run to a close reach up to the big old black #1 for LaTrappe's mouth. The murkiness of the tree covered shores were a sharp contrast to the sharp inky blackness of the sky with its pinprick of the brightest stars, punctuated by the little shimmer of the less powerful stars just beginning to show as my night vision finally started to work well.
The remoteness of the area enhanced my little mini fantasy as I imagined I was entering LaTrappe for perhaps the second time, having been up here before, but not having had time to fully explore it. The turn at red two, put me nearly close hauled. As I flew along just yards from the beach point, the sea grasses and driftwood poking out and looming up made it seem a much more substantial property than it appears in daylight. I kept thinking I was going to get too close as I edged closer, still showing 15' of water. Noting with wry humor that mine is a boat truly ahead of its colonial times.

My little fantasy was nearly ruined when there were not one, but four boats in the little cove behind the beach, and none of them showing an anchor light. I had planned to just fall off at the mouth of the cove, roll in the jib and drift downwind until I decided to drop the hook. Suddenly I had to worry about getting more to windward.  With as many bozos as visit LaTrappe, I have a strict rule that I don't anchor in that first cove unless there is less than one boat.  I have no need to get dragged on, again.  I guess it's not late enough in the season yet. Too many people about.

So, I tightened her up and started clawing my way to windward so as to get into the next cove on the right. As I cleared the point marking the opening to that cove, there appeared to be a boat in there as well, also without lights. I sailed deep into that cove, and dropped the hook.

As I dropped the hook, I habitually glanced at the timer on my sounder/log. I'd been underway 1:10. By the time the boat was put to bed, it was ten o'clock when I sat down with my much anticipated supper. Glancing at the barometer, I noticed the pressure was as high as I'd ever seen it since getting the barometer. That doesn't bode well for tomorrow's sailing. I'll have to get up early if I want to catch any wind.

Saturday October 1, 2000 1800 ED 4345 BP 30.7

Got up at 0730. Slept late, but I was really sore this morning after yesterday's gymnastics with the bilge pump. (dog hair in the strainer, had to clear it five times while cycling clean water through the bilge, removed a total of a wad about the size of a softball.  sigh)
At first I thought that wasn't so bad, considering this is our 4th season.  But when I remembered we only took the dogs out about a dozen times in that period, I cringed at the thought of them aboard for weeks on end.

But today was a delight.  After a quick repeat of last night's supper, substituting Iced Tea for the wine, I sailed off the hook and headed out the creek under just the main.  The other boat was a Catalina 26 and its owner was up and watching me.  I waved to him and he shouted, "She's a lovely boat."  What a thrill that is for me every time it happens.  The Bristol 40 is a boat so lovely that other boat owners make the effort to shout across an anchorage.  I always feel like saying, "Thank you, but Ted Hood designed her.  And a fine job of it, he did.  She's a good old boat, she is."  Instead I shouted back, "Thank you kind sir.  And top of the morning to you.  She's a beauty day she is."

When I cleared #1, I rolled out the jib and headed for Oxford.  Sailing strong on a beam reach at 6.2 kts we powered along getting a boost from the tide, too.  My plan was to sail with the tide till it turned, then turn back, if the wind held.

The wind didn't hold. About 9:30, I felt the first softening of the breeze, indicating we'd get our mid day calms, again. I was only off the mouth of Broad Creek, sigh. So, I turned back and sailed against the tide through Castle Haven.  Against the tide in a dying wind.  That's always a treat, but it was such a beautiful day, I wasn't about to motor.

By 1100, I was becalmed in the river off the mouth of LaTrappe Creek. Still unwilling to motor, but unwilling to sit trying to sail the boat with the sails flogging, I wondered what I'd do if I was 1,000 miles offshore.  I'd work, I guess.  So I lowered the sail to the first reef and started whipping the reefing lines.  I'd neglected to do that when I put the sail up this spring, and one of the taped ends came off and the three strand unwound.  After replacing that line and whipping the lines on both reefs, the wind was starting to pick up again.  In fact, all through whipping the lines on the second reef, I'd been under sail.  I'd had to go to the helm and adjust my heading in between whips, since the rig was out of balance with the main just sort of hanging there at the second  reef.

After finishing, it was about 1500 and I sailed in a light breeze till 1800 before relenting and coming in.  A spectacular day with my boat.  But, there are things to do at home.  Babies to play with and wives to chase around the kitchen...

sigh, gotta get to it.

October 6, 2000, 2300, ED 4358 BP 30.4
Top October 8, 2000; 1926;  ED 4368;  BP 30.6

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I've got four days to myself, so it's no surprise I suppose, that I am on the boat.  I arrived this morning.  After provisioning, picking up some dinghy motor fuel and a few assorted sundries, it was 1300 by the time I left the dock.  with a NW breeze, about 6 kts, I was soon doing 5.5 kts on a beat.  Unfortunately, the motor gave signs of being fuel starved before I shut it down.  Given what happened Labor Day weekend, that worried me.  So, I turned around and headed for Cambridge.  The wind of course, died.  I managed to get into Cambridge Creek and lost steerage and any semblance of control within 100 yds of the fuel dock.  It was my intention to change the Racor and empty out what little fuel was in the tank.  Not having anything to empty it into, I simply filled the tank.  2.5 hrs. later, I got the engine running.  Good news, I bled the lines myself and got the engine running.  Bad news, the offending gunk is still in the tank.

While bleeding the fuel lines, there was a frontal passage and the wind came up.  When I left the fuel dock and headed out Cambridge Creek, it seemed to have quieted down.  On clearing the mouth of the creek, it was obvious it hadn't, yet.  Still, I headed back to the marina so I could spend the night on the charger.  I'd used up a lot of battery trying to start the engine.  John and Debbie, (Brits who are visiting for a month) and Serdar helped me get the boat into the slip.  Otherwise, I'd have had to go back outside and swing on the hook.  It was kind of nasty doing it myself.  Winds about 22 kts, directly across the slip.

So now it's time to hit the rack.  Brian said he'd be happy to let me use a pump to clear out the gunk from the fuel.  Hopefully we can take care of that tomorrow so I can be confident in using the boat, again.  This is very frustrating not feeling confident in the boat.

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Yesterday was a nasty day.  I spent all day working on the fuel system.  Brian was no where to be found in the morning, so I went to the hardware store and picked up some tubing and fittings to work with the drill pump I'd purchased earlier this summer.   I also picked up a bunch of fuel cans so I could empty the tank.  The last can, I emptied and poured it back into the tank 6 times through a cheese cloth filter.  By the sixth time, there was no gunk showing on the cheese cloth, so I poured the rest of the cans in through a fresh cheese cloth filter.  No gunk from any of the cans.  The bad news, the wind blew 15-20 kts all day.  sigh.  Sitting there working in the cockpit in that wind, I got chilled before I thought to put a heavier shirt on.  Tired and cold, I hit the rack at 2000.

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I woke late this morning, about 0800.  After making and consuming my usual going sailing breakfast of 3 eggs, hash browns, a half dozen maple links and some OJ; I sat down on the settee to listen to the rest of St. Paul Sunday.  That probably wasn't the right thing to do, since I fell asleep and didn't wake till 1100.  Realizing it was late, I hurried and left the dock.  I've got to get some sailing in this weekend.
The wind was on the nose for heading down the Choptank, about 13-15 kts.  Perfect.  I saw a sailboat in the distance that had left the marina while I was getting ready.  So, I did my usual when the wind is on the nose and motored the mile to nun 24 before hoisting sail... This allows one to get past Hambrook light without doing 4 tacks, especially when the tide was against us, like today.  As it turned out, the sailboat I'd noticed was a Hunter 330 or 320. I couldn't see clearly.  It was sailing with a single reef and possibly had the jib rolled in a bit.  It tacked two times while I motored to 24 and ended up tacking right behind me when I hoisted sail.  In 13-15 kts, I'm in perfect conditions and poor little reefed Hunter was soon nearly a mile behind.
Sigh, but then the wind started dying.  Minute by minute as I went slower and slower against the tide, that Hunter was catching me.  (Still reefed, I couldn't believe it.)  It was getting very frustrating, so at Castle Haven I turned around and headed for LaTrappe.  With the wind and tide behind me, I made a wee bit better time.  Moments after I turned around the Hunter turned around, too.  I noticed he finally shook out his reef after he turned around.  Too bad I slept through the great winds, this morning. I could have flown to St. Michaels in that breeze.  Still, it's a beautiful day and I was able to sail up LaTrappe on a beam reach.  I dropped the hook at 1530 in LaTrappe.
  A big part of why cruising is fun for me, is cooking aboard.  Tonight's feast is my one of my specialties:  Butter fried potatoes with Mushrooms and Onions.  Topped off with a Lamb steak and a (large) glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.  Superb.  After dinner, I took the dinghy out to take some pictures of the boat.  Until now I had no pics of the boat with the new bimini and dodger at anchor.  Beautiful day, perfect time to get some pics and play with my "new" 1971 British Seagull.  What a little workhorse that motor is.

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I may have not gotten to the Scanlon's Open Boat, the Boat show or GOTRP, but this doesn't suck, either.  Another beautiful evening in a beautiful anchorage, aboard a beautiful boat..  Ain't life grand?

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October 21, 2000, 1900, ED 4395,  BP 30.7.

Just finished the Choptank Cup 2000.  I was committee boat.  Too little wind to bother racing poor overweight TWB.  I did sail with the fleet to Choptank Light.  Turned around when the wind started to die out even more.  A beautiful Day on the water.
October 22, 2000, 1830, ED 4395,  BP 30.6.
Spent the day using the dremel to remove spilled varnish from near toe rail.  10 hrs. work and it's still not done.  That should teach me the value of taking a few minutes to mask, eh?  Dumb ass.  Always in a hurry.
October 28, 2000, 1830, ED 4431,  BP 30.9.
With the forecast of 5-10 from the north west, building to 35 from the northwest, my friend Bruce and I were pretty excited about taking our boats out for a race to Sharp's Island Light and back.  With the wind heading directly up the Choptank, we expected a rousing beat out, followed by a Nantucket sail ride back in.

We managed to find crew and with one crew each set out just as the front passed.  With the winds stiffly climbing, Hemisphere Dancer (Dickerson 41 Ketch) blew out her jib.  Bruce decided to head back in and we followed to pick him up after he slipped his boat.  Thankfully, there was a lot of help in the marina as the winds pushed through 30 kts crosswind while Bruce was trying to slip into his berth.  While he was doing that, we hung a bow line off the T Pier and  changed from a single reef to a double reef.

When everyone was ready to go, we managed to snag another crew.  Dallas, a friend across the slipway in a Cherubini? designed Hunter 37 Cutter hopped on board to join the adventure.

As we cleared the piers, the Chop on the Choptank was pushing over 2 feet already.  Not bad, with only 2 miles of fetch.  It took us a little bit to get the right amount of jib out to balance up the double reefed main.  First we had too much weather helm, then it was lee helm.  Finally, we had a balanced helm and flew.  By this time it was 12:30 and we were an hour into the incoming tide.  Still, GyPSy showed us doing as much as 6.5 kts ground speed against the tide and against the wind.

We sailed across the river to get to the windward shore looking for as smooth a ride as possible.  On reaching the shore and switching to Starboard tack, we set in a layline for the next major shoal, at 19A.  The wind was really gusty and while most of the time, we simply flew, big gusts would still overpower us and we kept a guy on the mainsheet to spill when necessary.  This was the first time I'd been in winds this big with decent amount of crew and I had time to start learning some things about the boat in these wind speeds.

One thing I noticed was that the boat was stiffer as boat speed increased.  When I pinched too much and lost boat speed, the gusts would knock us down, whereas if I had boat speed already, gusts translated into acceleration.  What an exciting ride it was!

Our delay in waiting for Bruce to berth his Dickerson had gotten us quite a late start.  And, with the winds as high as they were, we knew we'd be facing a punishing beat at the mouth of the Choptank, so we elected to sail around in the comfort of the now 3.5' chop in the river.  As usual, there was a steady stream of boats headed for the Mouth of LaTrappe creek.  As we sailed deep into LeCompte Bay, there were no less than six sailboats in sight, all making a beeline for LaTrappe.  AND NOT ONE OF THEM WAS SAILING, on what would have been a delightful Port reach.  I couldn't believe it.

So, we decided to sail to the head of LaTrappe and visit the Dickerson yard as the wind was perfect for that.  Approaching green 1 at the of LaTrappe, we over took a Catalina 47 motoring into the mouth.  Seeing us storming up on them, they did a 360 to let us pass, though I had been prepared to simply pass them on the inside, there was plenty of room.

We went flying up the creek, an then once in the protection of all those trees, the winds got fluky.  After leaving the Catalina nearly half a mile behind us, they caught us while we were trying to negotiate the horseshoe bend by Sawmill Cove.  After signaling to them we were going to do a 360 to come in behind them, we did just that and ended up on a better angle to negotiate the curve.  The Catalina dropped the hook and watched us sail away up the river.

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By the time we were in sight of the Dickerson yard, the winds had all but been destroyed by the cover and it was difficult to make headway, or even maintain steerage.  Just when you'd get moving again, a 90 degree wind switch would backwind the jib and push you toward the edge of the narrow channel.  So, we gave up and turned around.  I turned the helm over to Lee, who was on his first ever sail and was having a blast.  It was a lovely run down the creek and at the mouth, we popped the jib all the way out for that long awaited Nantucket sleigh ride.  He was having fun coming down the river, but as the forces increased on that big sail and speeds leaped toward 8.5 and ultimately peaked at 8.8 kts, he expressed reservations about staying at the helm.  We assured him he was doing great and if he got in trouble, we could quickly spill air from the sails or all he had to do was turn it upwind and we'd stop.   Only partially comforted he hung on and we all went for a ride with him.  And what a ride it was!  With speeds hovering right around 8.2 kts, our run back to the marina was over all too soon!  We went deep into the windward shore, dropped the main, swung around and headed for the piers.  As we stormed the piers, we rolled in the jib and started the motor.

With all that experienced help, berthing the boat in those nasty crosswinds was anticlimactic.  We topped off our adventure with a spectacular supper of barbecued chicken, Onion fried potatoes and baked beans with plenty of rum and wine to wash it down.  Just another shitty day in paradise.  We all agreed to Bruce's saying:  "If we were having any more fun, we'd have to hire someone to help us."

November 4, 2000 0520, BP 30.5  ED 4431

It's my Dad's birthday.  Dad would have  been 68 if he had lived.  Instead, my dear father died 15 1/2 years ago.  One of the weird things about losing a parent when they are young is that you don't have a concept of them aging.  I wonder what he would have been like as a grandfather of big kids.  Dad sure doted on Sean, when he was little.  If I die at 52, Rebecca will only be 9.  That sucks.  Every girl I've known who's dad died young was, to be politic, a bit messed up.

No miles traveled since last weekend, except in the car.  I've been staying on the boat the latter part of this week to shorten a 225 mile round trip to my new job.  New job is good.  Being on the boat is good.  Missing my wife and daughter is not good.

Party today.  The Wharf Rats are deep frying a turkey.  Bring a covered dish and let's have a send off to another boating season.  Surprisingly, there are still a lot of boats in the marina.  Most years by this time, the marina is almost empty.  It's been a strange year all the way around, so what's one more oddity?  I'm up so early because I've been up all week, getting ready for the long trip to Lanham.  I guess my body clock has shifted, already.

November 22, 2000, BP 30.3, ED 4431
My new work situation has me staying on the boat during the week.  This is a struggle and a blessing at the same time.  On one hand, I miss my lovely wife and daughter during the week.  But on the other, I get gobs of guilt free time on the boat MID WEEK!  YEAYH!

Since I banned television from the boat and I'm too keyed up after the commute to read, I've been doing projects in the evenings.  I'm happy to say, I'm almost half done with my winter projects, already!

Project 1:

Battery Bank 3, build box to fit in quarter berth and purchase batteries, assorted cables, etc.  Done.  I bought 40' of 00 cable and a box of lugs and made my own cables to length.  (Ouch) That worked so well, I'm considering replacing the other banks' store bought cables with my own custom sized cables.  Very nice to have cable exactly the right length.  I now have 8 T105s for a house bank, and two High cranking amps 6 volters for an engine bank.  That ought to hold us for a week or so...

Cost:  Total Cost $360.  $180 for Batteries, $100 for Cabling, $80 for plywood, glass and paint for box.

Supplies: 4X8 sheet of 1/2" plywood.  Gallon of resin and appropriate amount of glass cloth, Quart of primer, quart of paint. 40' of 00 cable with box of appropriately sized lugs.

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Lessons learned:  The $90 8D battery box at WM and BoatUS is worth it.  It cost $80 in parts to build a glass lined plywood box and paint it.  My time had to be worth more than $.50 an hour for the 20 hrs. I put into it.

Benefit of the lesson:  The box I made holds 4 T105s, the store bought one only holds 3.  I may make a box for the other bank, too.  Since I only used half the sheet of plywood and half the glass, I could cut my cost in half as well.

Compromise:  Had to sacrifice the Quarter Berth.  I had been planning on doing this anyway, but it came sooner than I expected.  Which of course, opens up the next project, building  a nice back rest, etc. for the nav station.

Project 2:

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Jack Tylerize my fridge.  My good friend Jack Tyler lined his fridge with foam and PVC sheet last winter.  It is beautiful.  Aside from improving insulation he also cut down the volume which improved the effect of the chiller.  Jack as usual, did a spectacular job and I lusted after his skills as much as the improvement he made to his beautiful boat, Whoosh.

My cooler was 8.5 cu ft previous to this project.  To keep some mass in it, I normally kept 4 cases of soda and a case of beer inside.  On a 5 day trip with full racing crew, I'd add another case of beer and food for the weekend!  The roof of the cooler was the counter top.  There was not even an attempt to insulate it.  Needless to say, It was a project worth doing.  Especially since the Adler Barbour is sized for a max 9 cu ft and works hard keeping up with the heat loss to the counter.

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Current Status:  Foam is cut, sized and in place.  The lids are done.  Awaiting installation of PVC Sheet to finish.

Supplies:  Two 24x96" sheets of 2" foam from Home Depot.  5 sheets of 24X36" PVC Sheet from McMasters Carr.  PVC Cement, Piano hinge for the lid and weather stripping.

Costs: $140.00  ($100 of which is for the PVC Sheet, ouch.)

Lessons Learned:  Do this before you put in the Adler Barbour!  It would have been much easier if the evaporator wasn't hanging in the way all the time.

No benefit to the lesson.

Still to come this winter:

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Project 3:

Install two 120 watt solar panels on top of Bimini.  Included in this project will be a Trace battery monitor and a Portawatz 1000 inverter.  Total est. cost $1,500.  When it is finished, I anticipate being energy self sufficient without needing to run the engine to keep the batteries charged.

Project 4:

Replace head.  I'm sick of rebuilding the old one, I'm replacing the ancient Raritan with a new Wilcox Crittendon for little more than the cost to rebuild the old.  Hopefully it will last longer than the 20 months the rebuilds have been lasting.  Est cost $139.00

Since the projects are moving along so smartly, does that mean it's almost spring, yet?

Oops, sorry I blew up.

Unskilled and Unaware

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