Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Winter’s Retreat and New Kit for Gardens

Second week of March and winter has begun its retreat… mid-30s for two days, 40s today and tomorrow, with the promise of 60s on Thursday… Hope springs eternal…

My knees are recovered enough to let be get out to the shop… unfortunately, the frozen snow drifts across the barn entrances won’t let me in! So, rather than actually build a few items, I’m left to thinking and drawing sketches for a No. 2 Camp Box; a Day Box for misc gear (GPS, VHF, Binocs, etc); a Battery Box; attachment points for those low-profile fenders; and a Compass Box.

The barn needs attention, too. One roller on a large (unused) slider door came off its track in last week’s wind storm. The door is hanging by one roller and has opened a decent sized hole in the south side of the barn - directly behind Gardens!



Gardens is well covered with tarps and the tools were stowed in tubbies but I need to get out there soon for a temporary fix to the door.

In other news… UPS and USPS have been busy delivering more bits for Gardens’ kit:
  • 12 lbs Danforth Anchor
  • Air Horn
  • First Aid Kit
  • Low Profile Fenders
  • Hardware and Line for Lazy Jacks
  • Hardware for Grab Lines along side decks …and more
And, there is more shopping to do…

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Creating A Bucket List

I haven’t really ever had a Bucket List. I think that is so because when I hear the term ‘Bucket List,’ my mind interprets it as ‘Epic Adventures Mere Mortals Cannot Accomplish.’ And I, being a Mere Mortal, cannot accomplish epic adventures… Recently, however, I began to realize that the idea of a List isn’t limited to Epic Adventures.

Perhaps now is the time to create my Bucket List! Nothing too epic - well, maybe one. No particular order. No particular timeframe.

My Bucket List:

Dinghy Delta Ditch Sailing Event. Sacramento Delta, California. This is a 30-mile downwind small boat race from Rio Vista, California up the Deep Water Channel to Sacramento, California. It is hosted by the Lake Washington Sailing Club in Sacramento and takes place each year in mid-August. I became aware of this event nine or ten years ago when I was building my Goat Island Skiff in Sacramento. Life lead me away from the West Coast before my GIS was completed but now I look forward to sailing the event in Gardens.

Sailing Gardens on each of the Great Lakes. The state of Michigan touches four of the five Great Lakes and it seems like an obvious endeavor to sail on all five. What I have in mind is not just poking out into each lake for a few minutes and then scampering back to shore. Michigan, Huron, Erie and Superior each have islands that are easily reachable for a daysail or a camping weekend. I’ll have to explore the charts for Lake Ontario to see if there are similar opportunities there.

Sailing across Lake Michigan. It is roughly 70 straight-line miles across - and, of course, more than that when sailing. This is the Most Epic item on my List. Originally can to mind earlier this winter so planning for this has begun. Outfitting Gardens this spring will be done with this adventure in mind, which will of course benefit the other sailing adventures on the List.

MS Buckeye Breakaway Bicycle Ride. Following two knee replacement surgeries last year, this two-day 150-mile bicycle fundraiser ride, from Brunswick, Ohio to Ashland, Ohio and back, is on the list (yes, I’ve completed this ride before but with the new knees, I need a fitness goal).

Community Boat Building and Sailing. Using Mik Storer’s OZ Goose box-boat as a platform and based on the Philippine model of community boat building, sail training and racing, I’d like to introduce people to boatbuilding and sailing. I have an OZ Goose kit waiting to be assembled and a set of templates to facilitate subsequent builds.

So, that’s it. I’ll add more as I think of them but I suspect my list will involve sailing, biking, and travel more than anything else. I’ll provide details as each of these comes to fruition.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Rigging a Balanced Lug Sail and Other Tips

A You Tube video by Gig Harbor Boat Works, detailing the rigging of a SCAMP, showed up on the John Welsford Small Craft Design FB page this week.



The FB discussion focused on the rigging of a balanced lug sail but there were other useful (to me) tips.

I’ve long understood the utility of lazy-jacks but never quite understood how they are rigged. The Gif Harbor video cleared up most of the mystery for me. Lazy-jacks have been added to Gardens’ to-do list.

Another tip concerned the rigging of the kick-up rudder up-haul and down-haul. Gardens’ rudder is currently rigged with two separate lines that tie off on cleats at the top of the rudder head. This involves leaning over the transom to raise and lower the rudder. In the video, the up/down haul is a single line - one end serves as the up-haul, the other end serves as the down-haul. The bight of the line passes through the transom and leads to cleats on the side of the tiller. This arrangement keeps the adjustment inside the cockpit. I’ll see if this modification can be incorporated on Gardens.

As to the rigging of the sail itself, a loop in the halyard fits over the end of the yard - rather than being fed through the yard and tied off - and is captured by a fitting on the yard. Tension on the halyard keeps it in place. I’ll check the yard to see if a small cleat would work to capture the looped halyard and, if so, will make that change as well.

The knees are healing well. If the weather were a bit more hospitable, work on Gardens might be possible. As it is, I’ll have to wait a couple of months for the weather to cooperate.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Planning

I'm in a winter planning mode trying to figure out how to best prepare for a possible voyage across Lake Michigan next summer.

I'm reading charts, looking at weather history (wind speed/direction for seasonal trends, not guarantees), talking with sailors who have done (albeit in races on larger boats) what I want to do, and learning Garmin's Homeport application and my new Garmin GPSMap 78sc.

It seems to me that my first effort on big water should be short, so that first trip will be a bit more than 10 miles along the Lake Michigan shore from Muskegon Lake to White Lake. (I'm still figuring out Homeport so the detail of this image is not very good.) The magenta line represents a track from Muskegon Lake northward to White Lake. The plan is to sail to White Lake, raft up with another boat for the night and return to Muskegon the next day. I'd like to do this trip as early in May as possible, and do longer day-sails as conditions allow throughout May.

Another trip I am looking forward to is crossing Lake Huron's Saginaw Bay. I'm thinking from Caseville, MI to Tawas City, MI in early June. Tawas City hosts a festival in June with a "traditional boat" gathering the first weekend of the month. The trip across Saginaw Bay is about 20 miles, give or take depending on wind speed and direction.

The Saginaw Bay trip would involve the sail across, two nights (maybe three) in Tawas City (probably in the State marina), and sail back to Caseville (weather permitting).

Discussing a Lake Michigan crossing with more experienced sailors has been encouraging. None of them said, "Don't do it." Several suggested other trips - not necessarily using Sheboygan, WI as the destination - that will be worth looking into for later in the summer. (Sheboygan is my destination as that is where a Welsford Boats get-together is tentatively planned for sometime in July.)

So, I continue to study, plan and add to Gardens' kit, fully aware that planning on paper in the cold, dark months of winter is not the same as getting out there and sailing!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Additions to the Kit

Gardens needs a lot of gear, accessories, and trinkets. The list is pretty long and seems to grow faster than I can cross items off.

So, here are recent additions to the Kit:
Garmin GPSMAP 78sc West Marine had it on sale for $100 off, so how could I resist?

Anemometer This one was very inexpensive but it works and will help me re-learn to gauge wind speeds.

Michigan’s BEST LAKES Fishing Maps Guide Book Not what one might normally find in a sailboat kit, but it lists 90+ inland lakes over 1000 acres (there are thousands of smaller lakes in Michigan). While the maps are “not to be used for navigation,” they provide depth contours, launch ramp locations, and other information that will be useful for planning day-sails or camp outings.

Another tool I’ve added to the “planning kit” is the Midwestern Region Climate Center’s cli-MATE Database that can be searched for local historic weather data and patterns. Of particular interest and use to sailors is the Wind Rose tool which can create illustrations of wind speed and direction for specific locations. While it is a good tool, it took me a bit of practice to pull out the data I think is useful. You do need to register as a user (no charge). There is a Product Guide to help.

No photo but here is the link to Midwestern Regional Climate Center’s cli-Mate Database

How much is enough?

Discussions on John Welsford Small Craft Designs FB page re battery life and power needs of handheld VHF radios opened the door to what I’ll call “Supplemental Power Supplies.” Small, particularly open, boats do not often, usually, have a ship’s power system - primarily because such small craft do not carry much in the way of electronics. (Yes, I know I am painting with a large brush and that last statement is a sweeping generality. And, yes, given what I am contemplating for Gardens may mean I should consider some elaborate ship’s power…)

What came up in the discussion were portable car jump start batteries. Twelve or fourteen years ago I used one of these to power a GPS, fish finder, and VHF radio on my 24’ Columbia Challenger sailboat in the California Delta. That device was about the size of a shoe box and would provide power for a long weekend of long days on the water. How I managed to forget about that device is a mystery to me…

A comment in the FB discussion stated that jump starters come as small as a couple decks of cards and provide enough power to charge handheld radios, smartphones, cameras and other small electronics. Obviously, the technology has evolved over the last 14 years or so.

Research, beginning with “car jump starters,” has taken me down a rabbit hole - there are so many such devices (car jump starters, booster batteries, battery packs, power banks, and more) ranging in size from toaster-sized jump starters with air compressors to cigarette lighter-size (think Zippo lighters) external batteries for cell phones and other small electronics. Of course, the capacity of these devices covers a wide range as well - as do the prices.

Another complication came about with responses to the question, “How to figure out how much battery capacity is needed?” Do a power budget - listing all the planned electronics and how much current they draw, was one approach. Find the largest battery you’re willing to haul in and out of the boat and plan your electronics around that, was another. A third was, Duration. How long you need power will color all other decision re electronics. So, more than one way to skin a cat…

In short, I am overwhelmed with the choices… On top of which, I don’t know much about electricity, 12V or otherwise. So, back to studying the basics… Maybe then I'll be able to answer, "How much is enough?"

Friday, November 9, 2018

What I don’t know…

I recently asked a “What if…” question on the John Welsford Small Craft Designs FB page:

“What if… I wanted to sail my Pathfinder across Lake Michigan… (70-ish straight-line miles)… sometime in July…?”

That question generated a good discussion, the consensus of which was: uncertainty of the weather will be the biggest issue. But there are many other issues to consider.

Planning an open water crossing involves many elements of small boat sailing that just are not contemplated when setting off for a pleasant day sail. While researching gear, studying weather patterns, talking with veterans of sailing across Lake Michigan and asking lots of questions - particularly on the John Welsford Small Craft Design FB page - I’m realizing I don’t know how much I don’t know…

Almost a week ago I asked for suggestions and comments for handheld VHF radios. That prompted a good discussion with several radios suggested/recommended, some comments re issues with some models. And of course, several models had fans and detractors… Another result was discussion of compact car emergency jump start units as possible solutions to recharging/powering handheld electronic devices.

I spent nearly a week researching 11 handheld VHF radios, creating a spreadsheet comparing the features, and figuring out how to share the spreadsheet. That spreadsheet is now in the Files section of the John Welsford Small Craft Design page on Face Book.

There will be more questions… because I don’t know how much I don’t know.