Maiden Voyage

Things we learned during our first foray into yachting:

  1. Sailing is awesome
  2. Sailing is much more pleasant than motoring
  3. The motor is loud
  4. Docking is scary, but less scary with repetition
  5. The Genoa sheets go outside the stays and lifelines
  6. Close the mainsail track gate-thingy before lowering the mainsail

We had a wonderful first sail on Wednesday evening. We pulled “Firefly” out of her slip by hand with the mooring lines and motored out of the marina without mishap, although both of our nerves were running pretty high. It was a bit surreal to be blithely putt-putting about in this little boat that has been land locked all this time…

Are we still in line with that marker?

The boat handled great under power, of which the engine has plenty. I had the kicker just idling and it was pushing us along just fine. We made it out the channel, put her into the wind and hoisted sail!

Pearson Ariel #412 Rides Again!

Winds were light, but even with just the mainsail up we were moving along. Not fast mind you, but making progress against wind and tide. We were about to hoist the genoa, when I realized that I had led the sheets the wrong way around the stays, so given the waning daylight we gybed with just the mainsail and headed back towards the marina.

Our slip is at the far end of the fairway right against the bulkhead (aka the low-rent district) which makes docking challenging. That being said our second try (our first being on launch day) went much smoother than the first time around. It wasn’t exactly polished, however it was successful. And no crashes occurred. Next time will be even better.

During much of our jaunt I was so focused on keeping the boat in the channel, listening to the motor, diagnosing the feel of the rudder (great, bt-dubs) that I didn’t feel any great sense of this project being completed. (probably because the boat to-do list continues to grow) Afterwards though, I couldn’t get the feeling out of my head; the slight tug of the tiller, the soft curve of the sail, the gentle heeling of the boat, and the gurgle of water along the hull was completely and utterly intoxicating. Ryan and I have been texting each other all day, giddy. We can’t wait to go out again.

Also, we may have gone a little picture-crazy. Overboard if you will.

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At Long Last!

She swims!

And let me tell you, we are excited. It’s a bit hard to put into words how it felt to watch “Firefly” take to the water after almost 2 years of hard work. Pretty gorram awesome.

My family and Ryan’s mom came down a few days later to visit and help celebrate.

And I walked around saying nautical things, adjusting mooring lines, and obsessively checking the bilge for leaks until I finally accepted that my ‘glasswork held, and the boat is in the water! Hoo boy!

We have a few tales to tell about engine excitement and docking thrills, but I’ll save those for another post. Today I got the mast tuned up and worked a few kinks out of the motor, soon we’ll be sailing!

Chain of Fools

A little while back we were getting ready to purchase our halyards, and I was clicking about on the interwebs trying to find a good price on Sta-Set, which is fancy boat-rope. I found what I thought might have been an error on the West Marine website…they had 600′ spools on sale for the price of 1′ of line. If it had been any other retailer, I may have felt guilty about trying to exploit some poor programmer’s mistake. West Marine however, is worthy of no such sympathy. So I placed an order and waited. I figured worst case scenario, I would have a 1′ length of rope to check that I had the correct diameter, best case I would get an entire roll of the stuff. Predictably enough, the package arrived and contained a single 1 ft length of 3/8″ Sta-Set.

Cliche Lesson 1: There is no such thing as a free lunch.

Cliche Lesson Number 2: Cross yer t’s and dot yer i’s.

As related in the previous post, our first attempt at launching “Firefly” was stymied by a stuck thru-hull fitting. In the process of trying to unstuck said stuck fitting, I snapped the handle off the wrench which operates the thru-hull valve. Which brings me to our first bit of interior decorating in “Firefly,” our very own chain of fools.

Just a little reminder to ourselves not to get complacent. A less gruesome version of Ser Davos’ knuckle bones. (As if this blog doesn’t have enough nerdy references…)

With the thru-hulls out, everything glassed up and painted, we are ready to try again, one more time with feeling. I am extremely excited. Ryan is extremely excited. I am confident in the work we’ve done. We will sink or swim by our own devices (mostly sanders and grinders)(and cliches)(and puns)(perhaps even soliloquy at this point). We’ll keep our fingers crossed, knock on wood, and hope for a little luck from our new talisman. We’ll let you know how it goes.

The Good News, The Bad News

The good news is Firefly looks damn fine in her natural element.

The bad news is that she is not exactly 100% watertight. It would seem that one particular thru-hull was not quiiiiiiiiiiiiite all the way closed, and the valve had completely corroded into place. There was no turning it, no banging it, no coercing it to be anything other than slightly open and admitting water. So after about an hour we decided to haul back out and take care of it properly. Needless to say Ryan and I both were pretty bummed, but the guys at the marina were really helpful and cheered us up a bit.

After feeling pretty stupid about not checking this sort of thing a bit more thoroughly, I got to work pulling the old fittings and glassing over the holes. No sense in half measures at this point. A timeline in photos:

Taking out self-loathing on inanimate objects.

The other good news is that the only thing that leaked was the one recalcitrant fitting. The other holes I’ve patched and assorted glasswork I’ve done didn’t so much as weep a drop. Even so, we decided to take the other thru-hulls out as a precaution. Do I wish I had a little more foresight? Absolutely. Would I have rather been sailing this weekend instead of grinding fiberglass? You bet. That being said I will feel much more confident in the boat without 40 year old fittings below the waterline, and when Firefly does finally make it into the water, she’ll be better for it. Until then, dear reader…