Wednesday 22 August 2012

A Plug for Quality Canvaswork

              "Are the details in the fabric?"
                                      -Jason Mraz

The admiral of Tempus Fugit, Yvonne, has been honing her seamstress chops and has gone public this season, fabricating and repairing canvaswork, cushions and sails.

Tired of hearing horror stories about boat projects that have come in over budget, over time, with under impressive results?

Then listen up- here is how our experience with Yvonne went:

Whiskeyjack's main sail cover was in a bad way, with a growing tear on the port side.  Saturday morning, Andy and Yvonne stroll down the Dock, pick up our sail cover and the NEXT MORNING deliver the mended cover.

Oh yeah, and while she was sewing in the patch seen above, she added a matching patch on the starboard side (for symmetry purposes) AND restitched all the seams.

    All for less than the cost of a case of quality beer.

    Hilary needed cushions for his C&C.  Yvonne came to his boat and measured,  discussed options with Hilary, told him it would take about three weeks, and exactly three weeks later, new cushions appeared, all under budget.

Last winter, Yvonne put her skills to the test on a big project- sewing a new main sail for Tempus Fugit  from a Sailrite kit.  The result?

  The mainsail has been entered in a contest on  The winner gets bragging rights and a Sailrite gift card.  Please help someone  who goes above and beyond, and click on the link below, and vote for Yvonne's sail.

Need some work done?  You can reach her at ayjeea at

Speaking of Tempus Fugit, I have to note the very cool tiller steering this fine boat. It is not often that I admire another man's tiller, but it is a beautiful piece of woodwork.

"Talk the Dock!"

Monday 20 August 2012


         "There's no sun up in the sky..."
                                  -Ethel Waters

    The last couple of weeks have seen some weather, a refreshing change from the hot humid and dry days we saw in June and July.   Storms didn't last long, but dumped precipitation at a prodigious rate.  Two or three times a week I pumped 4-6" of water out of the dinghies after another furious half hour storm.

The skies made for some great pictures.

   The clarity of the stormlines was cool to see. 

     The cloud formations were unusually dramatic for our region as well this summer.

     Marco was fortunate enough to shoot a waterspout forming Southeast of the Marina.   Although more common on the open lake, waterspouts are a rare sight on the Bay.

"Talk the Dock!"

Friday 17 August 2012

OPB Files: If It's Thursday, It Must Be Tanzer Day.

                      "I've been first and last, look at how the time goes past..."
                                                                                 -Neil Young


   The downside of my new retail-day-job schedule:  I'm punching the clock on most Saturdays and Sundays.   

   The upside of my new retail-day-job schedule:  I get to sail with folks I wouldn't be able to sail with otherwise.

   This week I was off on Wednesday and Thursday.  I spent Wednesday working on sourcing and installing a new solar panel (review in an upcoming post, )  and with SWMBO working 9-5 Mon-Fri at her day job and then busting hump at a part-time gig at an undisclosed location (which makes her sound like a cross between a superhero and Dick Cheney...  which ain't far off the mark.  Imagine Wonderwoman,  halfway through the second book in the Fifty Shades trilogy.  It may very well take the pathologist several hours to remove the grin from my face.)

((I am in sooooo much trouble.))

(((Sometimes, I'm better off just shutting up, y'know?)))

Anybeating, I finally had the opportunity to finally sail with Len on his Tanzer 7.5, Cholita.  I emphasize "finally," because the skippers of Cholita and Whiskeyjack have shared the dock for five seasons, and we have waved at each other, shared seat-of-the-pants weather forecasts, shot the shi, er crap, but have never sailed together.

That changed this week, and it was a hell of a lot of fun.

Ed was down, ostensibly to play with the mainsheet rigging on his Siren, but it didn't take much coaxing to get him to join Len, and I was ahead of schedule on the day's maintenance punchlist, so Len had quickly pressed himself a crew.  The wind was sporty, too fresh to stay on the dock. We weren't the only ones who felt that way, The other two Tanzer pilots on the dock were also out on the bay,

Will in his Tanzer 22, a smaller version of Cholita...

and Bruce and guests aboard Prolific.

It wasn't all Tanzers on the Bay, however.  Some were taking advantage of the wind...

  While others were riding it out...

  Cholita  has a unique rig, at least among Tanzer 7.5s- she has a club-footed jib, ie, the foresail has a boom.

  The boom and attendant tackle allow the jib to be tended with a single sheet.  This means that when you tack, you don't have to worry about letting out the sheet on one side of the boat and pulling the sheet in on the opposite side whilst tending to the helm and the mainsheet and maintaining situational awareness and...  in other words, it is a single-hander's dream.

As Len explained to us...

 ...While Ed got some time on the helm and got a crash course in tell-tales and  travelers and sail trim and...

...looking salty, apparently. 

 After sailing with Marco and Dee and Jordan, it's kinda unusual for me to be the youngest person aboard. 

We scooted southeast, then tacked back toward the beach, with Cholita happily sailing on her ear... 

...and spotted Will in his Tanzer, and the chase was on....

...but where was Bruce and Prolific?

  no matter, we were closing ground...  we slid past, and exchanged nods...

between Will and Len and Ed, I felt like I was finishing dead last in an Ernest Hemingway look-alike competition.

After passing Will, and with Prolific nowhere to be seen , and with the wind lessening,  we set off dead downwind back to the Marina.  This is the one point of sail that Cholita's club-footed jib didn't like.  Keeping the jib filled in the lightish wind we were seeing was difficult, but Ed pulled it off.

   We returned to the Dock without incident and discovered the fate of  Prolific.

    It turns out that Bruce had snagged his main halyard, but good, around his steaming light on the fore-side of the mast.  Unable to free the stubborn wire halyard, he was forced to return to the Dock to solve the problem, with the help of his greenhorn guest crew, a young man from Tanzania.

Who had never been on a boat before, let alone a sailboat.

 He acquitted himself admirably, assisting to retrieve the recalcitrant wayward halyard with the help of two duct-tape-bound boat hooks.

    Duct tape and friendship- that's how we roll.
Thanks to all for a great day!

"Talk the dock!"

Monday 13 August 2012

BOLO- Be On the Look Out

                      "Gone, gone, gone, she been gone so long..."

  An urgent request from a member over on Sailnet :

     "My friend needs help locating his boat which is adrift somewhere in eastern Lake Erie.The boat is a blue/grey C&C 115 with a white deck by the name of Blue Dog out of Rocky River Ohio. The boat was being delivered back to Rocky River on the evening (10pm) of the 11th after the Falcon Cup. The 2 crew delivering the boat ran into trouble about 2 miles off Mentor Ohio and were rescued by the Coast Guard. The CG did not secure the boat and allowed it drift. The wind and waves on Saturday evening were 15-25 out of the southwest with 6 foot waves. No sails were up. The wind on Sunday switched in the morning to about 290 degrees and then to 260 degrees. It subsided around 4:00pm. The boat is thought to have drifted towards Erie Pa at 2-3 knots. The CG did a search on Sunday with no success. "

If anyone knows anything about the whereabouts of Blue Dog  please get in touch with me or the Coasties.

"Talk the Dock!"

Saturday 11 August 2012

We're Gettin' All Crazy Convergent and Stuff

   "Build on a trust that we must stand on..."
                                  -Howard Jones

   When I started banging the keyboard a year and a half ago, I didn't have much of a vision of the future of the Dock Six Chronicles.

   Scratch that.  I had no damn vision.

  At all.

  I figured I'd simply punch out a running commentary on the comings and goings on the Dock and, by extension, the larger community around us.  I thought it might be a good way for all of us who sail off the ghetto dock  to keep in touch, maybe share tips and stories, or something like that.

Then the damn thing blew up.

We now have 50 followers.  Some are even legitimate.

We  have had more than 71 000 page views, and counting.

We have followers and readers on five continents.  Australia, freakin' Australia,  that big -ass island all the way around and under the planet from us,  fer Russell Crowe's sakes,  accounts for a sizable portion of our readership Thanks, mates!

Even Romania accounts for a few hundred views.

And, perhaps the coolest accomplishment of all, we have an acronym.  A follower has dubbed us "D6C".

We have been approached by a handful of internet-based enterprises (perhaps maybe more correctly known as "etherprises" when one examines the depth, breadth and density of the entity, or lack of the aforementioned thereof,) offering a "partnership'" or a "synergy" or a "merging of resources"...

when asked what they bring to our party, the response is largely as substance free as the suitor-organization.
  In other words, they want our content and readership, while offering nothing in return...
Not even a bottle of rum or a six pack of cheap beer.

THAT pisses me off.

 I will happily work cheap, but I won't work free, and I won't sell out the tales from the Dock.

Then, a funny thing happened.  I confronted this dude in the parking lot of the local grocery store.

Let me back up.

Over the last couple of years, I have enjoyed reading an upstart, free, local, alternative newspaper, The Silo . An eclectic mix of local art news, reviews, fun articles, comics, and just plain life, The Silo is a breath of fresh air, filling a niche neglected by the rest of the local media.
Hell, they might not even know this niche exists.  An artsy free paper/website/arts booster here in the land of retirees and farmers?  Yeah, THAT ain't gonna work.
But it has, although not without seriously constant ass-busting by a small and feisty staff who works a hell of a lot harder than any bunch of slackers should.  Coming up with the idea to launch the kind of multimedia  outlet you want to interact with  is easy.
Making it fly takes some serious hard work.  And some fun.

 This summer, for example, the braintrust at the paper came up with a novel idea to get their rag more noticed- they distributed googly-eyeball festooned "pet rocks" at all of their distribution points as paperweights/marketing tools/conversation pieces.

Like this:

It's a low-buck, effective, clever idea that turns a problem (newspapers blowing around their businesses do not make distributors happy, and noone reads a mangled freebie) into an opportunity-( now people talk about the rocks, pick up the paper, etc.)
As a sales and marketing guy, when I saw a car with "The Silo" emblazoned on the side, I wanted to compliment the guy driving on the idea.  He was tight for time, I was tight for time, we just sort of acknowledged each other, I go the e-mail address to fire off a line and...
 I decided to shamelessly plug the blog.
And to invite the publisher, Jarrod, to come on down and join us for a drink.
That was a couple of weeks ago.
This week I submitted the first Dock Six article to The Silo.  We're gonna play this by ear and see how and where we fit together.  it may be a regular gig, it may be an occasional filler article- it goes as it goes.  I'm cool with that.
Turns out Jarrod has ties to the marina, having spent some serious time down here a few years back.  He digs the vibe, and likes what we have going on enough that he wants to share it with his readership.  he thinks we have something to offer.
I think it's kind of cool to bring our burgeoning international success back home on the local level, and explore new audiences.
This is gonna be fun.
So,  thanks to Jarrod and the gang at The Silo for welcoming us aboard. We'll try not to break anything or piss off the neighbours.

In the meantime, thanks to everyone for hanging with us.

"Talk the Dock!"

Thursday 9 August 2012

Low-buck Project of the Week #82- Kickin' It.

                       "I look around, unsatisfied..."

                  In the spring of 2010 I installed Harken outboard stanchion blocks to run our furling line outside of the stanchions.  It has proven to be a great improvement, eliminating obstructions on the already- too- narrow port deck of Whiskeyjack.    However, true to Jones's 12th Law of Boat Maintenance (Any change, modification or improvement will require additional unexpected and/or unintended modifications, changes or improvements to other parts of the boat.)  I now had a new problem to solve.

          The realignment of the furling line and installation of a new cleat meant that the furling line now leads over the coaming, which wasn't good for either the furling line or the coaming.

With the furling line slack, you can see that the gelcoat has been worn  away.  I gotta do something.

    I went to one of my favourite local non-chandery chandleries, Stoney's  Home Hardware  and bought a stainless steel door kick plate, like this:

I cut off a piece, drilled some holes, radiused the corners and sanded the edges, then bent it to fit with the help of a couple of dock tread boards and some persuasion of the Topsider-clad foot kind.

  When I was happy with the shape and the fit, I peeled off the protective wrap...

    ... and screwed it into place.  Vwah-la, No more chafe and wear.  Please admire the shine, and ignore the overzealous wrap around the cleat.

Total cost: $22.
Total time invested:  1 hour.

"Talk the Dock!"

Tuesday 7 August 2012

I Remain, Sadly, An Idiot.

     "...everything isn't meant to be okay..."
                               -Green Day

             Sometimes, you just gotta acknowledge the ugly truth when it bites you in the ass.
             This is my turn.
             Don't go getting all smug, though, gentle reader...
             It might be your turn tomorrow.

             A funny thing happens when one endeavours to fill a blog with their exploits, opinions and adventures read by thousands hundreds scores a bored handful.  Some begin to think that, you know, the author might actually know what he is talking about, could be considered an expert of sorts, or at least more expert than some readers.


            Just in case any of you are so incredibly naive as to think that I indeed might actually know anything about this whole boating business, let me clarify my position.  Last year I divulged that yes, I am an idiot .
             A year, and 200+ blog posts later,
             I am still an idiot.
             A big, fat, happy, idiot.... but an idiot nonetheless.
             However, I am not a complete moron- I endeavour never to make the same mistake twice, but to always find new ways to screw up.
              This season has been rife with stupid sailor tricks.
             Enjoy the tales of my idiocy, and maybe you can learn something from my experiences.  I did.

                    I built Chirp in 2009, and she has weathered storms, been hauled onto and off docks, cartops, dock carts...

              and now the breakwall.

                         When I first launched her that first season, I tied the painter to the boweye and forgot about it.  Three seasons later, on a mild day with little wind, while tied on the lee side of the Dock,  while I was running errands ashore,  the knot finally worked free, and Chirp quietly, slowly floated across  and gently bumped against the rocks.
                        I got a text message from Ralph that she was adrift, 20th Hole Rick was kind enough to snap the photo above, and within the half hour it took me to return to the Dock, Jack and Melanie had snagged the wayward dinghy and returned her to her rightful place.

                   Lesson learned:  Check all knots daily- you never know when you might need something to stop you when you hit the end of your rope.

                People with too much time on their hands Faithful readers may remember the Solar Shower swan dive covered here last week.

               Lesson learned:  Stow it, or secure it, even if it seems like it doesn't need stowing or securing .  It does.

               Last weekend, SWMBO and I and the compact sportsdawg anchored off the beach for a swim.  When we prepared to return to the Dock, the standard protocol is that I put my bulging biceps and six pack abs to work retrieving the anchor while SWMBO (wo)mans the wheel and guides us toward deeper water and home.  We've never had a problem.

              Until last weekend.

              As I am hauling on the anchor rode, I notice that the anchor chain is no longer ahead of the boat. Rather, the boat seems to be circling the chain.  I yell request that the helmswoman straighten us out, then turn my attention back to getting the ground tackle off the ground and onto the boat.  I  make my way back to the cockpit, observing SWMBO spinning the wheel.  The helm on Whiskeyjack goes lock-to-lock in three turns.  In the time it took me to clamber from the bow back to the cockpit, I watched SWMBO turn the wheel approximately 347 times.

          Obviously, something is amiss.

           Sidling up the SWMBO at the pedestal, I chauvinistically muttered, "Let me try."
           I spun the wheel just as well as she did.

           In technical terms, we have no connection from the spinny wheel thingy on the deck of the boat to the flappy rudder thingy on the underside of the boat,
            In other words, we have no steering.

            On a beach.
            With wind and waves picking up.
             And a depth finder reading of 2.9 feet.
             We draw 3 feet.
             Us short fat guys can move when our ass is on the line.  I raced to the bow, tossed the anchor toward deeper water and  hoped it set, then raced back to the cockpit, urged SWMBO to kill the engine, fell into the cabin to grab my tool bag and proceeded to trouble-shoot the problem. Jack, seeing our distress, clambered aboard and we worked it through, with only occasional disconcerting bumps as we bounced off the bottom with the deeper troughs between swells.Starting aft we determined that the rudder was still attached to the boat, the rudder shaft was still attached to the quadrant, the steering cables were still attached to the quadrant, so, for the first time since SWMBO and I became the boat's stewards, (bolding intentional- learn from my ignorance)  we took the compass off the top of the pedestal, and turned the wheel and saw that the wheel was the only thing turning.

          The wheel is secured to the shaft with two set screws.  One was missing and one was a turn or two from being missing.

     I tightened the remaining set screw and carefully nursed Whiskeyjack back to the Dock.

     Lesson learned:     If it worked last year, last month, last week, or in the last hour is no guarantee it will continue to work- inspect moving parts more often.  Ignorance is not bliss.  There should be no "first times" when it comes to systems inpsection, after five seasons of boat ownership

    Earlier that day, Gavin has asked me to take a look at his jib furler, which had decided to puke it's halyard.    The plan was to determine whether we could bring the mast down at the dock and solve the issue, so when Marco asked if we could use another pair of hands, I took him up on the offer.  We loaded into Quack and motored over to the Dock Six Annex.  The Yamaha OB banged and sputtered and quit a couple of times, but I figured it was just weeds hung up in the prop.  After sagely examining the mast, the forestay, the furler, the boat across the dock from Sol Antics, wind direction and intensity and Gavin's insurance policy, the decision was made to find another solution.  With that decision made, Marco and I embarked on the return trip.

    Which sputtered to a halt as we entered the main fairway.  Weeds around the prop?  Nope, no weeds around the prop.
Also no gas.

    Quack  is a small lightweight inflatable that is easy to tow and easy to one person.

     With two aboard it is comedy and humiliation.

     Marco bent to the oars,as I tried to stay out of the way, (only because he was already facing aft- I'm not making the newbie a galley slave.  beside, he volunteered.) hauled us across the fairway, and into an empty slip on the Dock, at which point I urged him to flee while I flapped and splashed Quack the rest of the way home...
     But not before Julie managed to get a picture.

     On the bright side, here is photographic proof  I own more than one shirt!

    Lesson learned:  Always top up tank before departure- I'm less likely to get in trouble with a full tank than an empty one.

     Which brings us to yesterday, another day at the beach.  When we anchored the water was calm, but as the afternoon progressed, the wind picked up and the waves followed suit.  By mid-afternoon it was distinctly choppy, with waves of  3-5'.  Most of the boats around us decided to pack it in and head for the safety of sheltered slips.  We, on the other hand, decided that it made more sense to wait it out- usually the wind dies by 6 o'clock, making for a less harried departure, and more relaxed foredeck work.  No point in leaving a secure anchorage if you don't have to, we figured.  We retired to the v-berth to read, and I listened to the reassuring gentle groaning and squeaking  of the anchor rode, pulling against the cleat over my head.

     A few minutes later, the deck noises ceased.

     A quick glance through the forward hatch confirmed the bad news.

     Our anchor rode had snapped.

     Before I went below, I had checked the rode for fraying and chafe where it passed through the cleat, and it was fine.  Now, it quite clearly, emphatically, was not.


     On the upside, this makes our get-the-hell-off-the-beach-right-now procedure much simpler. None of that anchor hauling stuff needed.   Start engine, point offshore, go.

      Except the engine won't start.


     Okay, diagnose it later, let's move to Plan B.  We quickly unfurled the genoa, and sailed ourselves out of trouble.  For now.
      See, we're now off the beach, but to get back to the Dock the wind is going to be on our bow.  Not good. Whiskeyjack is a solid, steadfast, comfortable boat, but she's more of a setter than a pointer.  Getting into the marina is going to mean several tacks across a busy channel. Not a great plan.  Better get the engine running.  A quick seat-of-the-pants diagnosis is lack of fuel.  I usually change the fuel filter every spring, but had put it off this season for no good reason.  It appears that that decision has now come back to haunt me.  With some cranking and cracking the fuel filter bowl to drain the crap in there and more cranking we managed to convince our little Yanmar to run, and we returned to the Dock with no further excitement.

     Lessons learned:  Oversized rode is better than rode that is just big enough, chafe gear is a good idea even if you are anchoring on a sunny day for an afternoon swim, and maintenance deferred is disaster awaiting.

   Tomorrow is my day off, and rather than sailing, I am declaring a maintenance day.  Whiskeyjack and Chirp and Quack and Legacy deserve some attention.  My barrel of luck might be running dry, and my cup of experience is nowhere near filled yet.

"Talk the Dock!"

Wednesday 1 August 2012

New Crew Review

     "I haven't yet, but there's still a chance I might..."
                              -The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

     When dirt-folks discover that I am a sailor, I often hear, "Oh, I have always wanted to sail! I'd like to sail sometime!  How do I get started sailing?"
    I mean, nobody ever asks, "How do I get started golfing?"  or "How do I get started jogging?"  You just show up.

    So, in an effort to get more folks like us involved, I'm going to let everyone in on the secret.


    Come on down the Dock.  
    Or any dock where you see masts.
    Bring rum.
   You're in.

   Nobody is more happy to show off their boat or have new crew than sailors. 
   Especially me.  
   See, greenhorns have no idea  how a boat is supposed to sail or look  or what proper sail shape looks like, so they have no idea just what a hack I am.

   (It occasionally drives SWMBO nuts when I press-gang strays without notice, but she is great at rolling with the punches, and finding a way to stretch a half box of crackers and a stick of cheese into snacks for four.)

  The month started off with an afternoon aboard with SWMBO's bosses, Lyn and Leigh.  This is the first time I had spent any time with them...
.... and the first time they had spent any time with me.
I admire my wife for having the courage to throw her career prospects to the winds.
(Hey, it's that or wonder WTF she was thinking.)

It was a rough day, rougher than we'd like for sailing with newbies, so we simply soaked up the atmosphere on the Dock, and  talked about boats and sailing and life in general and met some of the other characters, and generally proselytized like boat missionaries.

Gavin and Sylvia made a guest appearance and added a couple of hallelujahs and amens.

  It worked.  Lyn and Leigh spent the next few days scouring the classified ads looking for boats, and the next weekend they inspected a Bayfield 25 for sale here in the Marina...  and brought dinner.  And rum.
And we brought Jack and Melanie to further sink the hook.

  Lyn and Leigh will be hull-wet by the beginning of next season.

A couple of weeks later Leigh came out for a sail, and we shanghai'd Ed into joining us.  The wind wasn't heavy but the Bay was choppy.  So choppy that we managed to break some of our high quality polycarbonate  dinnerware.  Yes, Virginia, you can break stuff at 3 knots.

A  couple of weeks ago I bought a solar shower to test and review.  Basically it is a black 5 gallon bag of water with a hose.  To use, you fill the bag with water, leave it in direct sunlight and a few hours later, you have warmish water.  The best only place on Whiskeyjack  to lay a solar shower is atop the cabin.  
What does this have to do with newbies?

Last weekend Marco and Dee came aboard.  Neither had sailed before, but both were enthusiastic.  The wind was optimal, so we  set out.   With detailed instruction, the newbs hoisted main and unfurled the genoa and trimmed the sails and we were moving!
As we heeled to 30 degrees, I realized that the forgotten solar shower  had been neither stowed nor secured. It walked across the cabin top like a water-filled slinky, flip, flip, flip, and then FLOP! jumped over the side.

Retrieval was a non-starter as it was quickly lost to sight in our wake.

That was the only mishap of the afternoon and we had a great sail.  Marco enjoyed himself and really "got it."...

   ...but Dee is well and truly HOOKED.  Marco and Dee are apparently going to be sailboat shopping soon.

  So, how do you start sailing?  Go where the masts are.  Bring rum.  Soon you'll be grinning too.

And "Talk the Dock!"