Author: Chris

First Sail of the Season!

We had a great weekend with the boat, culminating in our first sail of the season on Sunday!

Saturday

We had a social event with our sailing club on Saturday.  It’s really nice to meet so many energetic, friendly sailors in one place.  We are super awkward, but still managed to make friends.  We even got to hang out with a couple families we met last season.  After the group dinner, Lauren and I went back down to the dock to see if the wind died down enough to put the mast up.  Seemed like it had, so we had to work up the courage to ask some people to help.  A couple kids from the club walked up and asked if we were putting up our mast.  I said we ‘are thinking about it’, and before I could finish my sentence they were yelling to their dad, “Dad, these guys are trying to get their mast up, bring a couple big guys to help!”  Five minutes later and it was up and set.  Sailors are so helpful!

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Enzo got excited when another dog came running up on the dock, and decided to back into the water (fortunately before we were putting the mast up).  He doesn’t usually like to swim (though he does like playing in water), but he certainly can!  It was cold (~50F) that day so we brought him to the car to warm up.  I don’t think he will do that again!

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Sunday

We had some good friends come with us on Sunday for our first sail of the season.  It was blowing about 10-15 knots, and was 55F.  There was some sun, which provided a nice break from the cold.  Despite the cold, the sailing turned out great!

We put the boom and sails on first.  No issues there, but the little things take a while. We changed the position of the boom vang after taking this picture to help better trim the sails on a run.

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The trolling motor pushed us out of the harbor with no problems, even thought we were going directly into the 10-15 knot breeze. When we got out, we sailed with the main only for a while.  I was just getting used to how the boat felt in this much wind. By the end of the sail, we were much more comfortable again, and had a good heel on.  I think Sunday was the fastest we have ever sailed the boat (we don’t have a knotmeter, so I can’t confirm).

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That’s all for now. Until next time!

Spring Boat Projects

Hey again!  Sorry it’s been so long since we’ve posted.  Things got busy, I left for Singapore for three months, etc etc…   Before we put the boat back in the water this spring, we wanted to get a few things done.  Our boat project list is crazy long, so we decided to start with things to do while the boat was out of the water.  Here is what we’ve gotten done in no particular order:

Gelcoat Refresh

The gelcoat on the hull is pretty oxidized.  It is thick, though, so I felt free to sand off the top layer.  I tried to wet sand and polish it last year, but I just didn’t have enough time, and I was doing it by hand.  This spring I used my DA buffer to sand and polish.  The results were much better!

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You can see the difference!  The oxidation seems to whiten and ‘speckle’ the gelcoat.  You can see a bit of it is left over in this after picture:

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It is much shinier! The shine should help protect it from UV a bit better as it reflects more light.  You can see another before and after shot below (along with me specked with blue gelcoat) below.

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I realized that the sandpaper I used this year was too fine (1200 grit) and left some oxidation ‘speckles’; next year I’ll use a two stage process with a coarser grit first. Overall, however, the boat looks much better! Next year we will sand and repaint the waterline. It should look great then!

Sand/Varnish the Tiller

Another cosmetic project was the tiller.  The wood on the tiller was still in good condition, but the varnish was flaking in many spots.

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I used a heat gun and a paint scraper and the varnish came off easily.  I then sanded the tiller with 220 grit sandpaper to even out the grain and finish.

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I varnished and sanded 6 times.  You can still see a bit a grain, but it was nice and smooth to the touch and should protect the wood for years to come.

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Miscellaneous Other Projects

  •  The caulking around the companion way hatch cover was long overdue to be replaced. I replaced this with some silicon caulk, but might have to go back and use a marine grade clear caulk.
  • The port outer side stay needed a piece of the turnbuckle replaced. It was bent, though not sure why.
  • I wet sanded and polished the Plexiglas windows. They look much better now. You can actually see through them!IMG_0650
  • We got a 55lbs trolling motor to use as propulsion. The diesel still doesn’t work, and is a project for this season. If I can get it running while the boat is in the water, great!  Otherwise I’m contemplating taking it out and rebuilding it in our basement over the winter. We will put together another post on the trolling motor as this isn’t something I’ve seen many others do and it works great!
  • I got a new piece for the starboard side lifeline turnbuckle. The old piece snapped off as I was tightening it. We are contemplating replacing the lifelines with dacron line as the vinyl coated stainless is starting to rust.
  • I repainted the Maireholm plaques on each side of the boat. A nice, little touch that makes the boat look a bit better.

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That’s all for now.  Look for more sailing updates this season!

Sweden

Lauren and I just got back from another adventure…. to Sweden!  We visited with a very good friend who has family there.  What a wonderful country, and a great trip (and sailing, too)!

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This was the last time we saw a real sunset for the week.  It doesn’t really get dark in Sweden in the summer.  You can seriously read a book outside at 2am.

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Went on a beautiful hike up a forest covered hill to an overlook.  The lake is studded with rocky islands, and makes for a wonderful sail (but you need to pay attention to the tiller).  The hill sides are covered in small blueberry plants, unfortunately we were a couple weeks early for them, though.

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Our friend’s family has a Shipman 28 that we spent four out our seven days on.  Very nice boat, quite a bit more spacious than the Marieholm (except in the cockpit)!  It definitely felt like a ‘bigger’ boat.  Being my first real ‘big’ boat experience, I fell in love.  Scary to heel that much boat over to 30 degrees, but I got used to it.

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Speaking of a ‘bigger’ boat, we visited the Vasa Museum in Stockholm.  This was a very well done museum, but it felt sort of funny.  The Vasa was built by the Swedish in 1628, sailed 1500 meters and promptly fell over and sank.  This was mainly due to the lack of proper ballast in the keel, and that the boat was too tall for its own good (blame the politicians for adding too many cannons).  It was recovered in 1961, and is preserved quite well.  It is quite impressive to see most of a HUGE tall ship sitting inside a building, and there is some great naval history on display.

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Lauren found a Citroen 2CV!  Really I found it, and she snuck in the picture.

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Stockholm was a very unique city, with great architecture.  We only spent one day here, but we could have easily spent the whole week.

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We took two days to sail to Strängnäs, a beautiful, small town about 25NM away.  We got some clouds and rain on the way, but they passed quickly.  It was warm enough, with very little wind, that we could stand outside, get wet, and watch the wonderful patterns on the water.

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Strängnäs is a gorgeous little town with lots of old red buildings.  The ‘Falu red’ wood finish is seen all over Sweden and comes from a byproduct of a local copper mine.  It has worked it’s way into Swedish tradition.  Very pretty with the black roofs.

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We spent the night in the Strängnäs harbor.  Beautiful ‘sunset’, and a nice place to tie up.  My first night on a boat, and I slept like a rock!

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Sweden is full of great sailing spots, and we can’t wait to return on our own boat.

On our way home, we had the opportunity to either a) spend the night in the Paris airport during our 12 hour layover, or b) get out and explore the city in the middle of the night. As you can see, we chose option b!

We visited the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, and Notre Dame Cathedral. It was kind of eerie having the city (almost) to ourselves, but we had a great time.

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All in all, a great trip. It’s good to be back, but we’re already planning our next sailing adventure.

Float Day!

While we went on a quick paddle with my family when we put the boat in the water, Lauren and I got to go for a real maiden sail the next day.  The 8-10 mph of wind made for a great first sail!

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We were pretty nervous, but Enzo LOVES sailing!  While it took him a couple times, he hops on the boat himself (jumping the 12″ gap), and even walks to the bow.  Fortunately he hasn’t jumped off (yet), but that’s what the life jacket is for.  He’s not much for swimming anyways, so I think we are safe.

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Here’s where we left her, snugged up in her slip.  Now to get the diesel started…..

 

Into the Water it Goes!

The boat was at the lake, safe on its trailer – but there was still lots to do before we could put it in the water!

Replacing the Halyard

The Marieholm had a wire to rope main halyard with two (yes TWO) splices in it to different size lines.  It seems most halyards are all rope now.  30 years ago, rope technology wasn’t good enough to produce a rope that wouldn’t stretch, but we can now!  That said, I replaced the wire to 3/8″ line to 3/16″ line to more 3/16″ line with a single, new 3/16″ line.  Works great, and is now very smooth.

I had the mast down while doing this.  There is very little chance I could have done it with the mast up.  I spliced the new line to the end of the old line with some heat, Dacron thread, and a finish wrap of duct tape.  I was nervous, but it worked great!  See here for the top of the mast:

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You can see the back stay (bottom left) in this picture.  The halyard had that type and size of end ‘loop’ with the 3/8″ line looping through the other way.  I ended up taking the top sheave out, and twisting/pulling the two loops through.  Nerve wracking, but effective!

Polishing the Gelcoat

The Marieholm had been sitting for a while; the gelcoat above waterline was still good, but needed a heavy wet sand, polish and sealant.  I started to do this with pretty dramatic results, but just didn’t have time to finish it.  I wanted to sail!  That’s a project for the fall.

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The left side is untouched, and the right side had a 1500 grit wet sand, two step polish with my DA polisher, and a coat of sealant.  Come fall, I’m going to hit the whole boat with an 800 grit wet sand (it really needed more oomph), the two step polish, and a sealant.

Stepping the Mast

When we took the mast down in Naples it was an uncoordinated, stressful event.  The crane operator didn’t communicate with us on the boat what was happening, so it all happened quicker than we expected.  The roller furling headsail split into its four separate pieces (fortunately no damage!), and the mast popped out of its step pretty violently.  Needless to say, I wanted to make sure putting it up was more coordinated.  Despite the fact that we had no idea how to use the mast hoist at the lake, and it took us 15-20 minutes of lifting/untangling the crane, we got the mast up.    I looked up, and realized we forgot a line up top that tied the headsail to the mast in transport.  D’oh!  Down comes the mast, off comes the line, and up goes the mast.  We are pros by this point!

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Here we are working as a team to get the mast up (and keep the roller furling straight).

So the mast is up, and the time for my appointment at the jib hoist comes.  We tow the boat over to the hoist, and the friendly DNR guy looks at the boat and says “Yeah, I’m not going to be able to put the boat in the water with the mast up”.  My heart sinks.  We tow the boat back over to the mast hoist, lower the mast (in about 2-3 minutes!) and head back over to the jib hoist.  He pops the boat in the water, and we paddle over to our slip.  At this point I have no idea how the mast is going back up.  My only option is to pay a company ($275!!) to bring a bucket truck to the lake to lift it up.  Hmm….

The day we were doing all of this, there was a big event that the lake’s sailing club (of which we are members) was putting on.  As we talked with people throughout the day, it seemed like they were all cheering us to get in the water and sailing.  We must have looked new!  As I’m standing on the dock next to the boat (with the mast still down), the club president walks by to say hi.  I get to talking with him about the days events, and he says “You know, if you have a block, we can get that mast up in ten minutes.”  Four other club members come over to help, and we get the mast up in right about 10 minutes.  How awesome!  I can’t thank them enough!

There was very little wind, but we decided to take my family out for a quick ‘sail’ anyways.  We had six adults, three kids, and a dog, and we fit pretty well!  That is a testament to how large the cockpit is.  There really wasn’t much wind, so we just paddled out and paddled back.  It was fun though!

In Which Chris Travels with a 1 Year Old Across the US to Tow a Boat

How do we get the Marieholm from Florida to Cincinnati, and pick up a trailer on the way(while owning a Honda civic and a small hatchback)?  My sister to the rescue!  Her v8 Toyota 4Runner did the job nicely, and she and my 20 month old nephew tagged along! Our plan was two days there, two days back, and a day to work on the logistics in Naples (and we stuck to it!).

Our first stop was Sail Trailers in Georgia.  I had called them two months before and told them about the boat and situation.  They were great to work with, and built a wonderful trailer for us. Plugged in the brake controller, and on to Naples.

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Got to Naples on Saturday night.  The harbor said they couldn’t put the boat on the trailer until Monday.  That gave us some time to work on the boat, and take a break from driving.  I was thinking that it couldn’t take long to step the mast down, and put it on the trailer (I was wrong).  Lucky for us the yard was able to put it on the trailer on Sunday!  What a process, too.  Got to the yard around 9:30, left at 4.  We definitely wouldn’t have made it out of Naples on Monday!

First we towed the boat (the engine doesn’t run yet) to the yard just down the creek.  I had two dolphins follow me (that has to be a good sign, right?).

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Then we stepped the mast (harder than I expected, but I’ll cover that later):

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And just pop the boat out of the water!  This was scary….

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And……onto the trailer!

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See those nice, white, puffy clouds?  Just an hour later, while working on the mast support, it started raining.  Oh well, off to eat dinner and to drool over the boats at the Naples City Dock!

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If only the money was there….

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An Island Packet outfitted for cruising?  Yes, PLEASE!!

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What is this?  No idea.  Do I like it?  You betcha!

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Two more days of driving, another hotel, and here we are at the lake parking lot.  (That’s my nephew I’m holding)

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How did a 20 month old do in a car for 6 days, driving across the country?  Incredibly well!  He’s a trooper, and a happy kid.  Thanks to him and my sister, we are one step closer!

 

The Headache of Trailering a Keelboat Across the US

The Marieholm is in Florida.  We need it here in Ohio.  The trailer is being custom built in Georgia.  You see our problem.

Let’s start at the beginning.  We are inheriting the Marieholm from Lauren’s grandparents.  We could not be more overjoyed by this, as its a wonderful boat with great memories.  It sits in the brackish water of the intercoastal, and has never had a trailer.

Step one: Find a lake.

The first thing we needed was a lake.  The central Midwest is somewhat lacking in those.  Fortunately we found a 6000 acre lake (read: wide spot in the river with a dam) an hour from our house with a sailing club.  They even have a cheap (relatively), sailboat ONLY marina run by the DNR.  Called, went out, picked a dock, DONE.

Step two: Find a trailer.

Finding a trailer for a sailboat is much harder than I expected it to be.  We need a trailer to store the boat on during the winter, so shipping it without wasn’t an option.  Because of the relative scarcity of the Marieholm, and the fact that it pulls a 3′ draft with an 800lbs keel, there aren’t any used trailers to be found.  The trailer needs to be custom made for the boat, so there aren’t any new trailers either!  After calling 6+ places, I found a small shop in Georgia that was willing to make it for the right price.  The guy I talked with even knew of the Marieholm (he was the only one)!  Paid a deposit, schedule a pick up date, DONE.

Step three: Pick up the trailer/boat and bring it back to Ohio.

We don’t have a truck…  Luckily I have amazing family.  My sister and I are going this weekend to pick everything up.  Road trip!  Towing is more complicated than I expected.  I’ve bought a trailer brake controller(for the electronic brakes), and am looking into some type of sway control system.

I know that when we are sailing on our own boat, even if it is a small lake, it will all be worth it.  Looking forward to that moment.

I’ll update as we make more progress this weekend!

Current Condition of the Marieholm

Here she is, in all her glory.

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Here’s what she needs:

  • New bottom paint
  • Polish above waterline paint
  • Clean
  • New halyard
  • A couple other new lines
  • Engine work

She has an inboard Volvo Penta diesel that doesn’t currently start.  I think that is going to be our main issue.  Sails are in good shape, fiberglass is in good shape, and the interior looks great.

 

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Looks like I will be picking her up towards the end of May.  I have to get a custom trailer built first, and then head down to Florida!

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