Tuesday 30 October 2012

Last Sail for the Lost Boys

"And now, the end is here..."
                -Frank Sinatra

I shoulda figured that the solitary freakishly pleasant day last week foreshadowed more freakish but decidedly less pleasant weather to come.

But, it was my day off and October was running on fumes and I was sailing, and I have learned not to try to predict the future while enjoying the present.

  The Dock is looking sparse.

    In fact, the whole marina is tapping out:

      It's days like this that are the reason why we stay in the water as long as possible.  It's the last week of October, the Bay is mirror smooth, the sun is shining, and we are sailing in our shirtsleeves.

  The foliage is still vibrant, if you can see it behind the seagulls strafing the fish tug below:

      And construction on the new Stately Jones Manor proceeds at a steady clip.  Who says you can't get rich by blogging?

     Just kidding.  This property has been the subject of numerous rumours, the latest being that it has been purchased by a flamboyant British pianist who has made a significant fortune writing songs about dead blondes.

  The haze on the water seems more appropriate for June than October.  If you can squint and ignore the falling leaves, you might convince yourself that the season isn't coming to an end.  The haze also plays havoc with the auto-focus on my camera.

     Hilary  Jack and Melanie  and I decided to raft up and meet the newest, as yet nameless, new crew:

    Baasje's spiritual sucessor seems to be right at home.

  As the sun started to set, we cut loose and reluctantly turned for home.

Returning into the marina, I noticed that he water was exceptionally clear.  In fact, I could see bottom. It dawned on me that the water was not only exceptionally clear, but exceptionally SHALLOW.  As I passed the light at the end of the breakwall, I started noting the depth:
So far, so good...



   Silent self-congratulations on having the foresight to sail a vessel that draws less than 3 1/2'.
   Ed and his classic Bertram glide through the marina at sunset one last time, before hauling her for the season.

    Our last sail of the season over, we return to the Dock to enjoy one last cockpit pot- luck, toast the departed canine crew,  meet James and Brooke's new crew, Rosie, and generally  wring as much enjoyment out of the last sail as possible.
The one bad thing about great days is that they have to come to an end.
It's pretty much all winter from here.

"Talk the Dock!"

Friday 26 October 2012

Breakfast With Wally

"Everybody's going there, and I'm going, too."
                                             -Billy Murray

  Friday morning I climb into the cockpit after swallowing my two-aspirin breakfast and spy a curious sight:

  Not the tin fishing boat trailing behind the sailboat, or the Oscar Meyer weiner of a fender, or..

   Okay, there was a whole mess of curious sights to spy, but what caught my attention was a)  the boat wasn't there when I  fell into bed after midnight and b)  the fuel dock closed for the season almost two weeks ago.   Hmm, looks like you ain't from around here, is ya?

That boat also looks a little familiar...

Curious about the curious sight, I snagged Hilary and we wandered over and hailed the boat.   An obviously wrung-out  head poked out of the companionway.
"Are you Wally?"  I asked.
"Yeah, how'd you know?"
"I recognized your boat from pictures on your blog.  Want a coffee?"
 A cup of Timmy's later we got acquainted.

 I briefly met Wally Moran at the Toronto Boat Show last winter, but neither of us had time for anything more than a grip-and-grin. I have been following his blog , his posts on Sailnet and his writing in Sail magazine for a couple of years, and enjoyed the opportunity to chat.  He's been there and done that, usually more than once, from the North Channel to Cuba.  Heading South again after summering on Georgian Bay, Wally and his crazy Cuban canine companion Aduana (seen below snarfing down a biscuit  she snatched from Hilary's truck) pulled into Port Dover at 4:30 am to have the mast pulled on his 34 footer, Gypsy Wind, after a frustrating, mainsail shredding slog along the coast of Lake Erie from Windsor.

Since Hilary and I were taking our boats in the same direction, and Wally had never been to Port Dover before, we decided to convoy out and hit the hourly lift bridge opening together, get tied up at the Bridge Yachts yard,  get Wally set up with some scrap lumber to build the cribbing to carry his mast on deck, then find some badly need breakfast, er, brunch,  at the Dover Dairy Bar.

Wally has more than 30 000 nautical cruising miles under his feet, and 30 000 breakfasts worth of stories to tell.  We all had a good time, talking about the weather, the state of Canadian politics, Cuba, the ICW, and just generally shooting the shit while Aduana slumbered under the table.  As soon as the weather clears, Wally is off, heading to Buffalo, the Erie Canal and warmer points farther south.  Fair winds,Wally-catch you next spring on the return leg.

"Talk the Dock!"

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Low-Buck Long Term Review: Hits and Misses, Part 1

"Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose."
                                   -Carole King

    I don't like only getting half the story.

    In today's society of 24 hour news cycles, instant information, infotainment and  in for a dime, in for a dollar infomercials shilling miracles for four easy payments, we are all easily enticed by the claims....

....but the results?  That's the other half of the story we rarely get.

   And I have been just as guilty as Ron Popeil.

   See, I've merrily bragged informed you of all of the low-buck work that I have done and the low-buck gear that I have purchased...

....  but, largely,  didn't let you know how well the aforementioned has performed.

 It's time to pull back the curtain and write the other half of the story.  In no particular order, here's the low-buck low-down.

Quack's  floor:



   The retrofitted plywood floor started to delaminate at the edges within two months of  it's May installation.  By the end of September, it was seriously compromised.  I can't fault the materials however- this miss is strictly user error.  I rushed and cut corners and, as it always does, it bit me in the butt.  I scrimped on the epoxy coating, and then scrimped again on the varnish topcoat schedule, and then further scrimped by not properly drilling and potting the hardware.  This winter, I will find the time to do it right.

   Moral of the story:  If you haven't got the time and/or money to do it right, you will have to make the time and/or money to do it again.

Cockpit table:


   Five seasons on, it is still doing it's job, with no deterioration of function and only mild weathering of appearance.  The table has only needed to be revarnished once, while the brackets have been recoated twice.

V-berth hatch awning:

(qualified) HIT

     It has faded, and needed some restitching, but the hatch tent has done it's job in all weather.  Preventing this project from being an unqualified hit is the stitching failure, but, again, this is a human error issue not a material problem.  The solution is to restitch with better, UV-resistant, outdoor type, thread.

Cockpit grate:

Big HIT.

   It has darkened, but has not failed. No broken slats, no peeling finish, no issues at all.  Has been revarnished once in four seasons.

$2 PV LED insect trap:

    Unbloggable MISS

  This thing was so useless I didn't even bother writing about it.  Allegedly an  LED insect trap powered by a photovoltaic cell, it failed to attract more than a handful of insects on both Whiskeyjack  and Ed's Siren, after I passed it onto him, thinking he may have better luck. It was only a $2 investment, but that's $2 that would have been better spent on citronella candles or mosquito coils.




  Three seasons on, the davits show no delamination, no failure, and are happy supporting the new solar panel in high fall winds.

Saloon, v-berth and galley upgrades:

The flurry of woodworking documented in  low-buck Sunday  has held up well over two seasons, even if one project was repurposed.

The spice rack became a binocular rack instead, and has performed admirably in it's unintended role.

    The dinghy, Chirp:


Four seasons on, she has weathered, but not failed.  As seen above, she will finally need some significant refinishing this winter, but considering the materials used and the inexperience of the builder, I am pleased that she has held up as well as she has.  Unfortunately, although Chirp met and even exceeded her design brief, she proved to be unsuitable as a Dock and swim-ladder- boarded dinghy.  Chirp proved to be an excellent straight tracking beach-launched rowing and light outboard  dory, but she was a handful to board otherwise, prone to tipping would-be occupants into the drink.

More to come.

"Talk the Dock!"

Thursday 18 October 2012

The Pack, Diminished

"May you always be courageous, stand upright and be strong."
                                                                 -Bob Dylan

 Sad news.

Jack's loyal steadfast crew, and constant companion, Baasje, has crossed the bar.

He will be greatly missed.

Fair winds, friend.

Friday 12 October 2012

Hey, hey, HEY!

"It was always summer ..."

    Note to self:  Be careful of Hilary-  he's not afraid to recreate The Battle of Erie.  I'm glad he doesn't have cannon.

"Talk the Dock!"

Sailing the Shoulder

"...and I don't want to go home..."
                     -David Lee Roth

    Lemme lay some philosophibabble on you:

    Summer ain't endless.

     The idyllic days of balmy breezes and warm water inevitably give way to autumn, the shoulder season before winter rears it's ugly cold head.  The harbingers of autumn-aborning are like a clock ticking, ominously marking the hours and days remaining until haul-out, and that insufferably long season on the hard.

The countdown to haulout started early this season.

August 27th:  First tree starting to turn colour.

  I suppose everyone has their own waypoints marking the turn of the seasons, but the first sign of surrendering foliage is my personal annual reminder that Mother Nature ain't offering a mulligan.

  June, July and August are pretty predictable on Lake Erie.  September and October?...

   ...not so much.

Compare and contrast:
   Mid-September, 2011:

  Mid-September, 2012:

    Thanksgiving Weekend, 2011:

    Thanksgiving Weekend, 2012:

    Everything is lower this fall- temperatures, number of boats still in the water, and, notably, the water level.

      The water level at the Dock is the lowest we have seen in our five seasons, easily a foot and a half lower than last year.  Lake Erie is SO low this fall that it has caught the attention of the big city media .

image courtesy of Toronto Star

     At this writing, the ferry connecting Pelee Island with the rest of Ontario, the Jiimaan,  is currently aground  in the channel.

    Yeah, that low.

     Anydepth, we're still here and still sailing.

   (Just ignore the hanging fenders.  Just. Ignore. Them.)

 As are Hilary and Jack and Will, and Ed, Eric and After School and 20th Hole and Wheelin' and a handful of other hardy optimists here on the Dock.   Solantics  and  CYClone (that name has gots to go, Andy) are still holding down Dock 2.

   Another sure sign of fall-  The first shredded jib:

    Jack has gotten all seasonal:

Yes, that is a pumpkin lashed to his bow.

  Will is sailing his Tanzer 22 at least 2 or 3 days a week, sporting typical South Coast foul weather fashion:

   As another season draws to a close, we're gonna do our damnedest to sail out the clock.

"Talk the Dock!"