Tuesday, September 19, 2006

General Log, September - December 2006

October 29 - Began refit work on Spindrift, which will lay her up into next year. See maintenance log.

October 21-22 -
Went on the EYC's Commodore's Cruise-out to the San Rafael Yacht Club. Departed at 08:30 on Saturday and filled up on diesel fuel at the Jack London Fuel Dock (24.003 gallons for $70.30). Expected no wind, so left the mainsail cover on and the jib sheets bagged at the foredeck. As it turned out a nice 10+ knot offshore breeze came up about the time we came to the east end of Angel Island. Some of the other boats in our fleet rolled out their jibs, but we motored the entire way up. It was probably the most beautiful clear day on the bay we've ever experienced. The offshore breeze was warm, making it all seem like we were in the Caribbean.

We arrived at the mouth of Santa Rosa Creek with the high tide, and motored up to the yacht club. The docks were already filling up with the 24 boats from EYC. We tried to back into a med-tie spot on the docks, but with the wind, current, and our strong prop walk, we just couldn't get her lined up. I thought we'd mastered this, but clearly we've got to go out a practice backing in order to get more control. So, we took a spot on the side docks, and became the anchor boat for about eight more who med-tied along with us.

It was a great weekend, although the heat got to me and I suffered a bit of heat exhaustion Saturday afternoon and again Sunday midday - it took until Tuesday morning to really recover. Lots of partying, enjoying Margaritas on the docks, and then a great Tex-Mex dinner cooked up by our Commodore, his commodorable, and friends. We slept well that night, and the next day I mixed fizzes and Bloody Marys for our traditional morning party. By noon we were all heading out, just as the high tide was coming in. We motored down to below Red Rock, and then put our sails up and had a nice sail all the way home.

Photos of the weekend

October 7 - With steering repairs completed, we took friends Batu and Mariska along with Mariska's mom, Jan, and Batu's friend, Karem, out for a sail on Spindrift. This is Fleet Week weekend, which means the Blue Angels air show and a very crowded bay. Nevertheless, we tacked across the bay to the west end of Raccoon Strait, and then drifted eastward past Tiburon on the port and Ayala Cove on Angel Island to starboard while having a lovely lunch. We rounded Angel Island and emerged into the slot under shortened sails just at 3 pm, when the Blue Angels show was scheduled to start. We were not disappointed, and sailed slowly down to the Bay Bridge ducking as the naval airplanes buzzed the masts of the hundreds of boats on the bay.

The wakes left by scores on scores of powerboats - we're sure many of them only go out once or twice a year and have no sense of etiquette on the water - made the return trip from the bridge to the estuary and down to Jack London Square very roily, but we made it back safely, washed down the boat, and had a fine dinner at our Encincal Yacht Club.

September 18-19 - What with traveling in August and spiffying up Spindrift for Caltopia, the San Francisco Bay Cal Boat Rendezvous, I haven't sailed her much. Also been busy trying to determine whether to put a bunch of upgrades into her which involves looking at boats and talking with riggers and electronics folks. It turns out that it's no contest, but it has eaten up the time spent at the marina.

Saturday was windy and cold, but Sunday turned out to be the best that Indian Summer can bring. Sailed across the bay toward Sausalito and then back to the city front, where Deborah navigated her way through some of the racers in the big boat series. Spindrift averaged 6-8 knots over ground, never heeling more than 15 degrees in 15-18 knots of wind thanks to one reef in the main and perhaps a third of the jib out. As we coasted into the south bay, we shook out the reef in the main and let out the full jib, and flew south and then back north to the Oakland Estuary on a beam reach. We finally drifted down to the Encinal Yacht Club under only a full main. It was like a day in the Caribbean, with ideal winds, generally flat water, and a warm breeze.

Monday morning, I cleaned off the teak and started putting on the canvas. I was about 1/3 through, when Deborah proclaimed that since it was another gorgeous day, we should go sailing. Off went the canvas, and we pushed off for the day with Tiburon as our destination. We went across the slot to the east side of Angel Island. Along the way we split our way through an outgoing tanker and an outgoing tug pulling a barge. As usual, I pushed the envelope a bit further than I should have, and Deb used the radio to contact the tug to insure we would cross its bow safely - the first time she'd really used the radio except to chat with friends, but it would turn out to be not the last for the day. The tug skipper clearly didn't like my pushing things, but was nice about saying so. Another lesson for me to learn from.

We landed at Sam's Anchor Cafe, Deb doing a perfect docking, me using a midship line to stop us on a dime, and then we had a nice lunch on the deck. At about 14:30 we decided to leave, and with Deb and the helm, I let go the lines. We had to back out to starboard, and when I saw Deb drifting more port, I "yelled" at her to turn the other way. Oops! We all know men have a problem with yelling on the boat, and I must say it's a hard thing to get under control. I didn't mean it that way, but my voice was raised, Deb was startled, let loose on the wheel, and it slammed around (which happens in reverse, if your not careful).

Well, now a silly thing that both of us were responsible for evolved. Our storage habits in the cockpit locker have been a bit sloppy, and we had stowed a light-weight polishing mop with a long handle haphazardly, so that it slipped on a heel to a position resting almost on the port steering sheave. When the wheel spun out of control, the cable passing through the sheave "sucked up" the mop head, which jammed between the sheave and the cable. Because we were in tight quarters in the middle of the little harbor and not able to go back into the spot we had just left, we had to go forward and out. We managed to move the wheel enough to get out of the harbor and a hundred yards past the ferry landing. The shoreline was to our north and east, the harbor to our west, and Raccoon Strait to our south.

Deb maneuvered as best she could to keep us in one spot, while I cleaned everything out of the cockpit locker (several fenders, lines, a horseshoe flotation device) and crawled down under to assess the problem. I discovered the mop wedged in the sheave and set out to try and remove it. I had to pop up a couple of times for tools (which solidified my decision to find a better location for our tool kit, now at the bottom of a hanging locker), while Deb made contact with Vessel Assist on the radio and then by cell phone. I finally got the mop head out, but the cable jumped the sheave, and the tension was simply too much for me to get it back on. I came topside, bringing up the emergency tiller. By this time, however, it was clear we'd better anchor.

I went forward to drop the anchor. I had to ask Deb four or five times what the depth was (she was on the phone with Vessel Assist and later said she was too occupied to know why I wanted to know the depth if we were drifting toward shore). Finally, when she told me 16 feet, I dropped about 50 feet of chain out and signaled her to back up. She asked which way to steer, and I replied: "It doesn't matter." The anchor set, holding us about 150 feet from the shoreline, and Deb killed the engine. Later that night, at dinner, when we were talking over our adventure, I told her that we'd had no steering from the time I climbed on deck with the emergency tiller and then went forward to set anchor. She really had to laugh, because only then did she realize what I meant: "It doesn't matter."

Deb got a lot of experience on the radio, using channels 16, 72, 14 (traffic control), and 13 (commercial ship-to-ship). After Vessel Assist, it was the Blue & Gold ferry Zelinski coming into the Tiburon ferry landing, and she warned the skipper that we were anchored and that he should be cautious. He offered assistance, but she advised him we had Vessel Assist on the way. By that time, I also had our emergency tiller in place, but we decided since it's turning range was limited, we'd just go ahead and get a tow from Vessel Assist.

The tow boat arrived by 16:30, and quickly we were under tow. The ride down Raccoon Strait and across the slot past Treasure Island and to the Oakland Estuary was pretty uneventful. It would have been a gorgeous beam-reach sail in about 15 knots of wind, which was sort of sad. But Deb manned the emergency tiller the whole way, discovering the tiller was not easy to steer with, but doable. An hour later we arrived at the estuary, and once we got down it, Deb decided to try maneuvering with the emergency tiller to see if she felt she could bring Spindrift into her slip without Vessel Assist having to side tie to us. She decided to try bringing her in, and we slowly went toward the slip, the tow boat standing astern to lend assistance if needed. Deb saw a friend on the docks and shouted to her to lend a hand with lines; we guess several others heard her, for we had several willing hands at the slip when Deb made what everyone would have to agree was a perfect entrance.

What a day! I called my best boat buddy, Rob Bastress, to see if he could help with repairs, and the next day met with him at the boat to discover we probably should replace one of the cables and replace one small sheave mount. Perhaps Spindrift will be back in service in a week or so. But it is a boat, so who knows.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Spindrift wins top honors at Caltopia...

At the first annual Caltopia, a San Francisco Bay rendezvous for Jensen Marine's Cal boats, Spindrift took top honors in the Concours d'Elegance as well as walked away with the award for the "Best Cal 39." The only thing nicer was the tremendous pleasure every Cal boater there had in meeting and exchanging stories and ideas with other Cal boaters. We can hardly wait until next year.

Click here for the whole Caltopia story.