Blog for Monday 2nd of June & Tuesday 3rd of June.
Happy birthday to Aiona, first off. My friend in Texas who I’ve sailed with aboard her boat had a birthday today, and also shared in the good news of the day… and what a day it was!
I awoke around 4:30am to the sounds of Lava attempting to tear into the bag of catfood that I keep in the starboardside cupboard, and so I had to get up to feed Lava and Elvira breakfast.. once I was up, I was up. My preliminary plans were to shower and then get started on some of the other projects including replenishing some of the liquid stores I’d exhausted, such as Newcastle Brown Ale and Coca Cola. I planned to stop by a pharmacy at Wal-Mart in Falmouth and buy a bottle of Dramamine, before going back to their sporting goods department and buying a couple more seven gallon H2O containers to replace the two that I destroyed last night when they fell overboard and onto the hard ground as I intended to lift them over my head… I feel very weak, so perhaps Muscular Dystrophy is starting… I’ve had a hard time of late in that regard, but perhaps it’s all in my head.
After my shower I drove up to a little city park that overlooks the Bay from the top of a hill, I think it’s named after a little Fort that looks like it’s Civil War era, kind of like the one you see when you’re crossing over to Maryland’s Eastern shore via the Bridge out of Annapolis.. I’m pretty sure that’s a Civil War fort too. So anyway, a few gulls were flying around, and one landed on the bonnet of my Bronco, and the peculiar thing is, he only had one foot! He stayed there for quite a while, eating the bread that I through to him, and it almost seemed like he wanted the position of being the only friend I have in Portland.. but soon he flew off… turned my XM to 202 and listened to O&A for a little while.. they were broadcasting from Boston and it occurred to me that it was only an hour away, and that I could go down and maybe watch the show, too much to do though…and an hour later I then drove back down to Portland Yacht Services and took a walk out to the statute of XXGeorge XXCleeves, who came over from England in the late 1600s and founded the city. There is a bench behind him that faces the harbour, and I took a pew and began to think about the voyage ahead of me.
Then a man came up who worked for PYS and asked me if I was “Mr.” Johnson, a title I’m not used to. I told him I was anyway, and then he asked if I’d like to launch today. He went on to explain that they’d do it right away if I was ready, frankly, I wasn’t, but I told him I was, and went off to make sure that fenders were hanging over the side of my boat, and dock lines were laid about the decks in strategic places, although I had no idea which side of the boat would be dockside. In preparation for having the mast put up, I inserted all of the pins into the turnbuckles and chainplates that are on deck, whch is eight, since there are two stays and six shrouds.
A few moments after I was finished getting the boat ready, they backed an old Ford cabover towing a hydraulic boat lift up to the bow of s/v William Bligh. I climbed down and took some picture as they picked the sailboat up off its stands and moved it to the boat ramp. Would she float, leak like a sieve, or would she be fine? I had no way of knowing since I’d never had the boat in the water before. The hydraulic lifts lowered and William Bligh bobbed up and down slightly in the harbour in the small waves, before a small motorboat tugged it away and around to the dock where she would have her mast stepped via a 15 ton crane. As I was walking down the dock to the place where s/v Bligh was going to be tied to, a man walked up to me and handed me a half a bottle of Champagne. He introduced himself as Ty, and he had just launched his Choy Lee 33 ketch, and was also waiting to have his masts stepped. He told me to pour the Champagne on the bow of the William Bligh, and was very complimentary of the way that the East Wind looked, saying “she has really beautiful lines.”
I talked with Ty on and off, but soon he left to attend to his masts, as the riggers were preparing to begin the step work on his. My eyes went to the Honda 9.9 Four stroke, which is mounted to the transom of my boat. I connected the fuel line and the cut off switch, and squeezed the pump from the fuel tank to prime the line. Then I stood up at the aft end of the cockpit and gave the flywheel a turn by pulling its cord. Nothing. I pulled the choke out, and tried again, and it the motor whirred to life, even as I turned the throttle down slightly. A few minutes later I pushed the choke back in and was amazed that the little outboard ran so smoothly after such neglect for a what I imagine must be a couple of years. A man walking by that worked for PYS commented that as far as he was concerned, the Hondas were the Cadillacs of outboards. I turned the motorbike style throttle down to zero and it actually hesitated, like it didn’t want to turn off.
Lava was looking a little ill at this point, and I was already getting the prevoyage naseau myself. West Marine had sold me some ginger gum which I had a couple of pieces of.. I’m not sure if it worked, or I just got used to the rolling motion of the endless wakes of Irving oil tankers, container ships, ferries, tugs, and motorboats that were going by like a parade, but I stopped feeling sick at some point, even below decks. Lava, as I mentioned, had started getting that glazed over look that he gets before he starts vomiting, which is something I’ve had to deal with since I first took him sailing on a lake in Arizona, five years ago, but it’s something he gets over in a day or two. Elvira, on the other hand, looked just fine, although she slept most of the day up in the v-berth.
It took all morning for Ty’s boat to have its masts stepped and her rig tuned, and then it was our turn. It didn’t take them as long with my boat, not only for the fact that my boat only has one mast, but the decision I’d made earlier that morning by placing all the pins where they needed go. After the mast was up, the riggers did a static tune, which honestly, I just had them do for my own piece of mind, as it’s the same kind of tuning I do on my own anyway. They said they don’t measure in pounds unless the boat is going off to race or the owner specifically asks them to, regardless, everything was so slack that it saved me some work doing it all myself. After the riggers were finished I put the boom on, tied one end to the topping lift, and installed the mainsheet control on her traveler.
Dinner tonight is somewhat celebrartory, as it’ll be our first night in the water, albeit tied to the dock. So it’s dinner at Becky’s Diner on Hobson’s Wharf: Italian Baked Haddock with tomatoes, basil, and olive oil, that was served with a salad, baked potato, and corn on the cob.
Tuesday began as a beautiful Summer morning. William Bligh rode the waves in the harbor while tied to the dock with ease. I had been awoken one time, a few hours earlier, when the cat litter box tipped upright after a large wave, possibly and most likely a wake from some ship coming in from Casco Bay caused.
After my morning shower I returned to the boat and disconnected and partially disassembled the goose-neck and gave her a proper inspection. Next I put the main sail up and replaced the missing baton in its sheath. Lastly I sat on the deck trying to fish out the trim line, which was stuck in the lowest section of the main, but as I sat in the Sun, I realized that my sunburn from yesterday was really not taking the morning light well.
Lava kept me company on deck and was very good for most of the morning, remaining on the deck and trying to scare some of the dogs that went by with their masters. Lava will meow at the approach and presence of a new person, mainly for attention, but also to let me know that somebody is around that might be a threat… at least this is my theory. Around 9:30 he decided to jump off the boat, however, and I had to chase him up into the boatyard and carry him back to the dock. I sat him down and he obediently returned to the sailboat, so I assume now he knows which one is ours… funny how quick both Lava and Elvira figured out what their new home was, and have both taken to it very quickly. Lava was then confined to the V-berth, which has a locking door, and which I refer to as, “The jail” when Lava is forced to stay in there. Elvira is more trust-worthy in that she won’t run off, and hates to leave her living quarters, so I’ve never had to chase her down.
It was around 10am when I was told I’d have to move to one of the slips, as they needed the dock space to put up some more masts. I started the Honda motor in preparation, and after letting her warm up, put her into forward gear. She produced a nice wash, and so I tried the reverse gear, which promptly knocked out the motor. I was annoyed, though she restarted on my first pull again. Again I tried reverse, and she died again. One of the PYS men came around in their little tug, and I told him that I was having issues with the motor, and that I’d likely need help getting her over to the slip, as I have yet to know how tight a turn William Bligh’s rudder will turn the boat. He tied onto the sailboat and towed her over to the new slip, where I secured her. After he I tried the reverse gear again, as I had left the Honda idling. She kicked back and up for some reason, but didn’t die.. Unfortunately, I noticed that the reason she’d kicked up, and remained up was because wooden outboard mount was broken. If you looked down on it from above, you would see a long crack running side to side, and an exposed support bolt. This was a heartbreaking turn of events, and I really didn’t know what to do, although I was glad that I’d tied a very large cable through the handle and up through one of the stern cleats. In the event that the mount had failed completely, it would have not slipped underwater. Still, I was mad… so I locked everything up and headed to Falmouth for the day to think, and see “Iron Man”, which I didn’t get to see the previous Saturday.
By the time I arrived up and parked at the Regal cinema along Route 1 in Falmouth, I knew that I’d better call Portland Yacht Services and let them know what had happened earlier regarding the motor. The manager said that he’d send someone down to take a look.
“Iron Man” was excellent, and I really enjoyed the time that I had to NOT think about my current problems. I’d checked my bank account and I’d had a pretty good pay cheque desposited, so I was okay I thought.
When I got back to the marina I had intended to immediately install the Zodiac and get the Evinrude 4 Horse up and running, the motor that I knew would be very temperamental after a couple of years of not running. Before doing this, however, I stopped by the office and got a shock that the work to fix the mount would be nearly three-hundred dollars, and that didn’t include removal and reinstallation of the motor, which the manager suggest I try to do myself. Despite my mal-feelings at that moment toward the guy who had sold me the boat a year before, I was again grateful that the problem had been discovered prior to departure. So I signed the work order and departed for the boat, grabbing a dock boy on the way down to help. The motor is heavy, some say over a hundred pounds, but it’s more awkward than anything else, and is well clear of the transom. I tied a large rope to the front handle and led it up over the stern pulpet, and back to a tacking winch and cleat. I then made a smaller rope that acted as a handle, but that was about two feet long, so I wouldn’t have to bend down as far. I grabbed the hold on the back of the motor, and the little rope on the front, and had the dock boy pull the larger winched rope as I lifted the motor straight up, this way if I dropped it, or slipped and went into the drink, the dockboy would still have the motor at the end of the other rope, and could simply cleat it. All went smoothly with my plan, and we lay the outboard down in the cockpit.
I was still rather depressed, and didn’t want to do the Zodiac, even though I knew it had to be done on this or the next day at the latest. Inside the cabin I finished wiring up the VHF.
“Vessel Bligh requesting Radio Check on One-Six.”
I waited about ten seconds, not knowing if anyone had heard me. Then… from God knows where came a reply, “Vessel Bligh, we hear you loud and clear.”
“Thank you, Bligh Clear and Out.”
Wow, I had actually accomplished something. I took the transducer out of it’s box and began looking at it, but there is still somethingI can’t figure out as to its installation, perhaps how to measure the angle that it wants down inside the bilge…
I finally decided to walk back up to the Bronco at low tide and grab the Zodiac and some other gear that I wanted to move down to the boat. The reason I mention the tide is that Portland has some pretty severe tides… and I’m going to estimate that the gangplank down to the dock at low tide probably goes up or down at least 10+ feet on average, making the control of a dock cart very precarious when you’re trying to move 200+ lbs of gear down it when the harbour is that low.
When I finally reached the William Bligh I was drenched in sweat, as it had become very, very muggy. My sunburn stung, and so did my eyes as the perspiration leaked down from my soaked beanie. I left the boxed Zodiac in its box on the dock and went inside and opened up the hatches and sat in the shade in the salon, cursing, and feeling very unhappy. Lava didn’t help as he kept jumping up through the front hatch and then, after sitting on one gunwale or another would jump to the dock and begin the long walk to the gangway. I eventually just started throwing water at him when he jumped up and through the hatch, to the extent that all I had to do was lift a water bottle up and he’d return down below.
The Sun went away a few times behind clouds, but every time I came out to even think about assembling the dinghy, it would emerge and my skin would burn.
Around 7pm I finally outside and assembled the dinghy, using corn starch on the floor boards, which seemed to slip in just fine. I had just applied the Nebraska registration stickers and was about to put the license number on the bench, when it began to rain heavily. A dock worker helped me carry the Zodiac to the dinghy dock, where she is still tied up, until tomorrow, when Fletcher will have her first maiden voyage around the harbour. As for Bligh, well she’ll just have to wait until the motor mount is fixed, which is a real shame.
Here are some pictured from Mon and Tue, all of them have the description above the link or image. Sorry there are no pix of Fletcher yet, but I will post them soon.
The one footed sea gull.
Ford Cabover pulling hydraulic lift.
Launch (3) of the William Bligh
She floats! (It floats with reeves behind… and toggle best bligh)
Christening 1 and 2
Ty, on Port side of his Choy Lee 33, helping with his vessel’s mizzen step.
The motor works!
A Loony under the mast.
The mast is up!