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Old 06-10-2013, 11:05   #1
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Does a first sail ever go as planned?

As I heard once, "a plan is a list of stuff that ain't going to happen." The reason behind this quote is that you can plan all you want but when you start to DO your plan, sometimes you are just reacting to the situation you are given.

I've had my boat since April last year. For just over a year, it was sitting on a trailer while I worked on getting it ready to go with some necessary projects. Since it's been in the water at the marina, I've still had some work to do along the way. Previous sailing was a Colgate 26 for ASA101.

Yesterday, I decided instead of getting ready to sail, I wanted to actually GO sailing. I loaded up some things on the boat (food/tools) and took a garden hose and cleaned off a mess from spider webs. I looked over the engine to make sure the fuel lines were bled to remove any air.

While I could have done plenty at the dock, I decided to go sailing for once. I checked the weather the day before and saw it was supposed to storm but everything looked fine anyway. There was a couple down pours earlier in the morning but started cleaning up and I thought this was my chance.

Took the sail cover off the mainsail and stored that in the lazarette and untied the starboard dock lines. I started the engine and let it run a few min to make sure it was running well. Then I untied the port dock lines, put the engine in reverse and proceeded out of the marina.

The boat is on Lake Barkley in KY. There is a canal that connects to another lake, Kentucky Lake. I motored down to the canal and went through to Kentucky Lake. The day was nice, there were about 20-30 other sailboats out on the lake and shortly after I got to the other side of the canal, I decided it would be a good time to raise the sail.

There wasn't a whole lot of wind but there was enough to sail slowly around the lake. The sail went up fine, I turned off the engine and started to catch a little bit of air.

I was having a great time. I left the dock! I was excited and nervous to see how things would go. This was the first time sailing MY own boat.

In almost no time that the sail was up, the bilge alarm sounded. I jumped down into the cabin, lifted the floor board saw it almost full of water. I had the bilge pump off and turned it on. I jumped back up to the cockpit, looked around to make sure I was still heading out toward the lake. Of course I wasn't, the tiller was turned and I was going around toward the shore line so I redirected course, I jumped back down to the cabin, saw the water was pumped out, and saw water was FLOWING into the bilge. "What the heck!"

I jumped back into the cock pit and again, the tiller was turned... Basically, I was going in slow circles. No one around, no chance of collision with anyone else, and far enough away from shore.

Back in the cabin. I heard water flowing in from behind the engine. I looked back there with a light and saw it was coming from the stuffing box. Again "What the heck!"

Back on deck. Dropped sail. No one around.

Back in the cabin. Still trying to figure out why water was coming from the stuffing box.

Back on deck. I decided I would immediately head back to the marina to fix this. I turned the engine back on and headed back to the marina with the engine running a little faster than the trip out. The entire time, the bilge alarm was going off every few seconds. Annoying but effective.

I later looked online that I had motored a few miles just to get out to where I raised the sail so I had to motor all the way back. As I get to the marina, a guy in dinghy with his son was behind me and asked if my boat was a Pacific Seacraft. I just replied "No, it's a Nor'sea".

As soon as I got to the dock, I quickly tied the port dock lines, jumped back into the cockpit and emptied the lazarette.

Again, jumped down into the cabin. I grabbed some tools, tossed them (and myself) into the cockpit and I climbed down into the lazarette.

Looking at the stuffing box, I found out the large nut holding the packing material wasn't even on the threaded part. It was just sitting against it. I moved the locking nut farther down the threads, got the packing nut tight on the threads with the tools and used the locking nut to compress the two together. This stopped the leak.

I could have tried going back out on the lake but at this point, I thought I would try taking care of other things around the boat, cleaning/organizing, calming down from freaking out over the water flow. From leaving the dock to getting the leak fixed, altogether took 2 hours.

I was trying to figure out why the packing nut was off the threads but wasn't sure. I redid the stuffing material last year while it was still on the hard so I knew I tightened it up. Then, I realized, when I dropped off the boat at the yard to get it ready for splashing into the water, I remembered they were going to do some work on the cutlass bearing.

Shortly after the boat was in the water, I found a tool was left by the yard under the prop shaft/engine, that I returned a few weeks later. Apparently, it would seem that they did the work, but they didn't tighten the stuffing box back up. This is the only thing I could think of because I haven't heard of the nuts on the stuffing box working itself loose. I'll do follow up check as I use the boat more.

Overall, I thought it was still a good day. (some learning points below)

1. The stuffing box leaked while I was at the boat so I could fix it.
2. The boat didn't leak while I was away causing the boat to sit on the bottom.
3. Need to be sure to check the weather right up to leaving the dock. (I had checked the day prior, calling for storms but turned out to be a nice day)
4. I realized I could/should have dropped anchor and fixed it out on the lake then enjoy the day a little more out on the water.
5. Be sure to check every place the boat yard could have accessed/modified during any work they did. This issue could have cost me my boat.
6. My boat still floats
7. I finally left the dock!


This picture was while motoring out of the marina.
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Old 06-10-2013, 11:28   #2
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Re: Does a first sail ever go as planned?

You went out on the water, learned about your boat, and didn't endanger yourself or anyone else. You had some problems and solved them. That's about 100x more than most boat owners do on any given day.

But your experience with a conventional packing gland is one reason they're still popular: when they go bad it's slow, easy to fix, and non-dramatic. You could rip a pillow apart and fill the gland with stuffing if you had to.

It's not practical to put everything that can go wrong on a boat into a pre-departure checklist, but maybe something normal like tugging your docklines in forward for 30 minutes would have exposed the packing leak. A lot of the pre-departure checklists are a direct result of problems people have personally dealt with previously.

Nice boat by the way.
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Old 06-10-2013, 11:42   #3
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Re: Does a first sail ever go as planned?

Daniel,

anything that does not cause major damage goes down under "gaining experience". I disagree with your idea about dropping anchor - if you weren't sure about the exact nature of the problem, heading into a marina where you have electricity and, if necessary, help from others was the best option.

We have by now about 3,000 miles under our belt and we fondly remember many occasions where our inexperience went straight against the solid nature of our boat, and our boat won. Yes, we also had a few scratches to repair in the gelcoat (never believe a harbormaster when he tells you you'll fit between these poles...) but our last 1,000 miles out into the Atlantic went without a hitch. As long as you keep your enthusiasm you will get over the beginner's phase...

Oliver
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Old 06-10-2013, 11:50   #4
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Re: Does a first sail ever go as planned?

Thanks for the comments, Eric. I really enjoy every bit of time I get on my boat.

Oliver, I was thinking the same thing about going to the marina. I knew there was help if needed somewhere nearby.

Overall, I'm happy with how the day went despite the setback.

I happened to take some video too.
Part 1 with the motoring out right up to the bilge alarm sounding.

Part 2 showing the leak/fix.
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Old 06-10-2013, 12:49   #5
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Re: Does a first sail ever go as planned?

Daniel,

Thank you for documenting your first sailing experience with your new boat and sharing with us. You kept a cool head, made good decisions, and gained experience. I hope your next outing is all positive and you document it like this one and share with us right on this thread.

The Nor'sea 27 is probably the most capable offshore cruiser for its size. A friend had one and he and his wife and 10 year son sailed to the S of C and we met up there with my Cal 40. Very strong little boat you have there, I'm sure you will get a lot of use from it over the years.
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Old 06-10-2013, 13:53   #6
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Re: Does a first sail ever go as planned?

Quote:
Originally Posted by deckofficer View Post
Daniel,

Thank you for documenting your first sailing experience with your new boat and sharing with us. You kept a cool head, made good decisions, and gained experience. I hope your next outing is all positive and you document it like this one and share with us right on this thread.

The Nor'sea 27 is probably the most capable offshore cruiser for its size. A friend had one and he and his wife and 10 year son sailed to the S of C and we met up there with my Cal 40. Very strong little boat you have there, I'm sure you will get a lot of use from it over the years.
Thanks. I'll be sure to make sure the GoPro is charged too. Didn't get much footage out of it.

I love my boat. It's been loads of fun. I'll try posting again the next time I try going out. I've been told before that I did good choosing a Nor'sea for my first (only?) boat and I agree. I'm looking forward to many years of sailing this boat.

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Old 06-10-2013, 14:17   #7
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Re: Does a first sail ever go as planned?

How about this for a nut loosening scenario?

The work is done on the gland packing but the nut isn't tightened sufficiently.
You start the motor and put the prop shaft in reverse, this motion causes the nut to unwind further till the threads are not engaged.

This would be my guess as to why it was not leaking at rest.
Good to see you got out and all went well.
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Old 20-10-2013, 22:33   #8
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I Sailed!

Today started of cold. I look out the window of the house and see frost on the grass and car. It seemed to be a good day to stay home. Instead, I decided to get out of the house and head to the boat. It was clear today without a cloud in the sky. There was also a nice breeze blowing.

I went to the boat thinking I could do some cleaning, maybe winterize but something told me to try sailing again. Winterizing will wait.

Like the previous attempt and the videos I took before, I motored out and through the canal to the other lake. There was hardly anyone out. There was a few speedboats with guys going fishing. There was maybe 5 or 6 sailboats near the canal and maybe a few more farther down. I don't know how strong the wind blew but it was more than the last time.

Sailing went well. While looking at the GPS, I would say my average speed was around 3-3.5 knots. I was able to get the boat up to 5-5.5 knots but that also involved the boat leaning over 25-30 degrees from the healing gauge mounted by the companionway.

I had the main and jib out and did a couple tacks. After an hour or so, I dropped sails and floated while I went down below and picked up all the stuff that got thrown around all over the place while heeled over. I raised only the mainsail and sailed back to the canal and motored the rest of the way back to the marina. I was sailing for about an hour and a half so it wasn't long but I still enjoyed myself very much.

Now, I just need to work on sail trim.

Finally Sailing 1 - YouTube

Finally Sailing 2 - YouTube
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Old 26-12-2015, 15:28   #9
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Re: Does a first sail ever go as planned?

I find this online textbook very explanatory when it comes to basic sailing. It explains heeling and how to balance the boat. It seems you should be able to go a bit faster without heeling too much, for example by twisting the mainsail. I' m a novice myself, though.

http://www.jesterinfo.org/selfsteeri...lingcraft.html
http://www.jesterinfo.org/selfsteeri...lingcraft.html


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