Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Did you know?

Our friends in Canada have gone all out to regulate boating; not only to make it safe, but a little too far in my opinion.

Here is a quote from their official site at

Anyone who uses a VHF radio must follow the procedures described in the VHF Radiotelephone Practices and Procedures Regulations. Currently, all VHF radio operators are required to have a Restricted Operator's Certificate (ROC) with maritime qualifications. Canada recognizes the American Certificate."

This has been tried in the U.S., and failed miserably. It would take an army to try to enforce this regulation. Granted, there are those nuts on the VHF radio that think it is CB radio, but on the most part, they are boaters communicating to other boaters in plain English. What if the government required all cell phone users to have a license?

Does the USA have a similar requirement? Ask 100 people and you might get 95 that say "no". Well, there is actually an FCC rule requiring an operators license for VHF marine radio. It says A marine radiotelephone license isn't required for vessels on inland waterways. However, if you visit a foreign port (CANADA), it is required.

I believe that a marine VHF radio plays a very important part in boating safety. We now have DSC (Digital Select Calling) which allows automatic Mayday calls with your current location (if you have a GPS receiver connected to your radio). Most folks however, use the VHF for chatting about fishing, weather conditions, what your plans are, and how is Aunt Sue doing?

If you can't beat them, join them. I hope that the Canadian rules for VHD radio operations are in the books just so they can say they have rules. If they are not followed or investigated by the Coast Guard, what difference does it make?

What do you think?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Great holiday weekend

Ruth, Ernie (the dog), and I set sail for Brockport Yacht Club at a leisurely 10 AM departure. The winds were less then 10 knots from the south-east, just as NOAA predicted. We were joined by Paul and Sue Nielsen aboard Moonstruck. This was a great opportunity for me to once again try running with the spinnaker. Up it went, a red, orange, and yellow sail that just makes you want to sit back and smile. Paul flew his spinnaker also. We were able to go the entire trip of 13.5 nm just sitting back and enjoying the ride.

The folks at BPYC were preparing for a wine-tasting charity event for one of their members that recently passed away. Everybody brought a dish to pass and the club grilled up some yummy chicken wings. It was quite a party, lasting into the evening. My thanks go to the BPYC members for their generous hospitality.

As we left Brockport and Sandy Creek, we wondered how the sailing would be with the winds still out of the SE. Moonstruck and Water Colors both set sail with Water Colors heading a bit to the NE to get further out into the lake. We ended up tacking a couple times, and by the time we had Rochester in site we were sailing along at 5+ knots. Once again, we sailed the entire trip with no assist from the engine.

We have decided to use the temporary jib until we are ready to haul in mid-October. I will take the mast down and store it at the club, and install my new roller furling in the spring. We still have a few weeks of sailing if the weather holds out. Maybe this weekend.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Roller Furling Has Arrived

A package was waiting for me Friday when I returned from my part-time job. My much awaited roller furling had finally arrived! I took a quick peek inside the main box and found the installation instructions. I tried digesting them Saturday morning when I was nice and fresh, but stumbled over the copied sheets and photos on a CD. The mast would have to come down again to do this job since it is a fractional rig and I would not be able to disconnect the headstay while the mast is up. My thoughts are to bring the mast back down when I am ready to haul and store it at the club facility. In the spring I can do the work and install the furling as I step the mast.

On the other hand... I am also going to look into hiring the job out to more experienced people. Ruth and I will have to talk about that possibility.

Today we are heading out to Brockport Yacht Club, a close-by port. They are having a wine-tasting party and charity event. A few of us GYC members hope to leave this morning. Yesterday was the annual clam bake at GYC and it went off very well. The weather was great and a good turn-out.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Stepped the mast yesterday

I just couldn't stand waiting any longer for my new Roller Furling. I asked around GYC, and Tom said that he had a hank-on 110 jib from his Hunter 30 that should work for me. So, my buddies Paul and Doug and Ken helped raise the mast with my new headstay. The job went pretty well with nothing broken or lost.

Having a tall mast with 2-pair of spreaders is a challenge because the center of gravity lift point is between the spreaders. There are a couple ways of rigging the gin pole, and we chose the one where the strap is held in place by a line tied off near the base of the mast to keep it from sliding up. Doug convinced me to also tie a line around the upper spreader so that the strap couldn't slide down. Anyway, it took an extension ladder to remove the strap from the mast once it was stepped and secure.

I motored back to Shumway to finish putting everything back together when it started to rain. I finished for the day and went home to take a couple Tylenol to help with the aching muscles.

Today it looks like rain all morning with some clearing in the afternoon. I hope so. Then I can finish getting the boat back to normal and see if the jib fits my headstay.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hurry up and wait

That used to be the motto of the US Air Force, "Hurry Up and Wait". I think the world still revolves around those words.

The repair to my boat has been going well; to a point. I had a new headstay built by the rigger at Shumway Marine. He fit the task in between a vacation and personal time off, and came up with one that looks great, and over $100 less then the Buffalo quote.

Getting in a new roller furling is another story. I thought it would be shipped within a week from Florida, but when I called yesterday to inquire, I was told that parts were on back-order. I hate those words. It seems that they always tell you what you want to hear, not what the truth really is. Anyway, they were very kind to me and offered to sell me the top of the line furling unit rather then the one I ordered, for only $120 more. The new one however, has a lifetime warranty, is heavy duty, and normally sells for $2550. My price: $1000. How could I say no?

Now that I am expecting my new furling unit sometime next week, I find that the winch used to raise my mast at the club is down for repair.

YIKES! I may not have a chance to sail the rest of the season. Of course, I am a Capricorn, and I must worry about those things... it's in my genes.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sailing & Repairing

The summer has been flying by (all two days of it). You all know what I mean, with the coldest July in Rochester recorded weather history. Probably the wettest too!

Anyway, to make a long story short, Ruth, Ernie (the dog), and I went on our annual 2 week cruise in July. We combined a Genesee Yacht Club cruise with a visit to the annual Lake Ontario Hunter Sailing Association Rendezvous in Port Credit, Ontario.

We found out that if you wanted to avoid the rain, you had to leave early and arrive early afternoon. Doing that, we managed to stay fairly dry while exposed to the elements out on the lake. Saturday at the rendezvous was a wet afternoon. The scheduled race was canceled, so Ruth and I decided to do some shopping in Toronto.

We had instructions on how to take the GO Train, then the Subway, and even a Trolley Car to get to where Ruth wanted to visit. The rain started when we arrived in Toronto, and continued for the rest of the afternoon. I had brought our large umbrella, so we kept fairly dry, walking between stores that sell buttons and bows and what-not. Going back to the marina, we decided to take a taxi after the GO Train to keep from getting soaked.

It was a FUN adventure, even though it had nothing to do with boating.

There were new places we sailed to. One was the Whitby Marina. On the way there, we had to motor/sail because lack of wind. We heard a "clank", then a horrible sound like like a chain or something dragging across the hull. We decided that the sound was indeed coming from somewhere "outside" the boat, so we had it hauled the next morning. We found that the zinc clamped to the propeller shaft had loosened, and slipped against the prop strut, causing the terrible noise. No damage done, thank goodness, and we were off again after replacing the zinc.

Towards the end of our trip, sailing into Oak Orchard, I discovered that the jib was hard to pull in. Further investigated looked to be a problem with the headstay, inside the roller furling. (For those not familiar with these terms; Headstay is the 1/4 inch wire rope that is attached to the bow of the boat to the top part of the mast. This keeps the mast up, like a "guy wire" on an antenna mast. The roller furling is a device that rolls the sail in and out like a window shade).

We motored back to Rochester, not wanting to put any strain on the mast. Besides, there wasn't much wind to start with anyway. Last Thursday, the GYC guys and I took the mast down, and discovered that 9 strands of wire had broken at the connection point. This left precious little to actually hold the mast up. WE WERE VERY LUCKY that the mast didn't fall down on us during the trip.

So, I am having a new headstay built, and purchased a new roller furling. Let's see... If I add all that with the haul-out at Whitby, the total is over $1400 for repairs this trip. YIKES!

Now all I need to do is finish the roller furling installation and get that mast back up so that we can take another wonderful trip to Canada.

Monday, July 13, 2009

July... What a crazy month

I cannot remember a July as wet as this one. Wet and cold. Most years we have started our 2 to 3 week cruise by now, but this year things are beginning a little later. Wet and cold is still forecast, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

Talking about crazy... last week Ruth and I went out for a short day-sail; kind of a check on the systems before launch. That is when the GPS receiver started reading over twice our speed as shown on the knotmeter. The heading also shifted some 45 degrees to the west. What the heck??? I have never heard of a GPS failing like that. I did the obvious troubleshooting, such as disconnecting from the data cable to the VHF radio and taking the GPS off of boat 12 VDC power system. Same results.

I tried the unit in the car after the sail, and it appeared to work OK. I asked the question on the Hunter Owners website and received some interesting theories, but nobody had ever experienced the same thing I had. I tried to call Magellan Support, and was told by a recording that they no longer offer phone service for my 5 year old handheld unit. I went to their website and was able to send an e-mail explaining my problems, but no answer yet. Come on Magellan; too much time troubleshooting those fancy car GPS units?

Yesterday was the first opportunity to get it back on the boat and try again. Guess what? It worked! Everything from lat-long data to the VHF radio to direction compared to the compass. My only explanation is that it was an anomaly as we used to call it in the radio service biz.

My ST-60 Wind Instrument had also gone crazy that day, but that's another story. It also worked yesterday after a reset to manufacturer defalts

So, it looks like we are ready to start that cruise to Canada with everything working... for now!

Smooth Sailing..... Ken

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Looking forward to May

The week of May 4th is the magic week for me. I now have a deadline to finish all of my dry-dock work before launch. One thing haunting me is the way Shumway stored the boats this winter. They squeezed a Beneteau to my port side with no more than three inches space at the widest part of the beam. There is certainly no room to get a ladder up for my spring-time application of Polly Glow. I talked with Mic at Shumway, and she said that they would look into it. I hope that they do it before the weather starts to warm up.

I have a huge problem with scheduling cruising this coming summer. I am now back to work full time, and being a "new hire", I have no vacation time for one year. I will be working 10 hour days starting in June, with a 3-day weekend every week. That is what is what they are thinking now, but business is so good at Harris RF Communications, I would be surprised if they don't require more working hours this summer. Here it is, my first week at work, and I put in a 6 day week. They want more, but I figure that since I am new to the position, I wouldn't be able to offer enough for that overtime.

There are also things to do at home. Free time is going to be a little scarce this year. That is a good thing though. The economy is the reason for starting back to work. We are affected like so many others, and the retirement funds are disappearing much faster than they should. Believe me, we have even talked about trying to sell the boat. OMG as they say... I hope it doesn't get that bad. The boat is the reason we worked those many years. I hope jobs open up for the unemployed and things pick up on the stock market.

I will try to do some more postings on the blog with pictures once we get back to sailing.