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Old 11-12-2009, 18:01   #1
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Sea Trial # 1

As the proud new owner of a steel Herreshof 28 ketch, after a week of shore-work and preparations I finally was ready for sea trail # 1. I must apologise that the nautical explanations in this post might not be as tight as the writings of Joseph Conrad. While I have done a lot of professional fishing, surfing and diving, I am new to this sailing game. As such, I will attempt to describe my experience in fairly plain English.

So it was a blustery arvo and I was going a bit stir crazy sitting at dock in the relentless tropical heat with the islands of the Whitsunday’s a cannon shot away; time for sea trail # 1. I first had the 2 genoa out, but decided with the cloud mounting to the south and the variable winds I would go with a smaller staysail and first reef in the main. Being maintenance conscious I gave the clips on the sails a bit of lannox to keep them functioning. When finished, I gently tossed the bottle of lannox onto some ropes on the bow. Unfortunately the screw on the pump bottle was cross threaded and around 300 ml leaked out onto the deck.

By 1600 hours I had left the tender behind and was heading east out of Abel Point toward Hook Island. That was at least until such time as I decided to get the auto pilot on and set the sails. The sea was up a bit and joggly. As soon as I get half way up the boat to the bow I realised the whole deck is coated in a thin film of lannox – the type sold as lubricant/protectant – and is about as user friendly as trying to ice skate on a pushbike. My instant thought was of how charming it would be to go overboard and have my boat sail away without me leaving me to swim back to shore through the jellyfish. I note, some poor bloke jumped off a charter boat near here last week wearing a stinger suit and still got stung on the face. After he nearly stopped breathing he got to spend the rest of the week in the local hospitals intensive care unit.

Before leaving port I did try to untangle and neatly arrange the ropes to the sails that were twisted around the fore mast. Of course, by the time I was about a nautical mile out to sea they had mysteriously managed to tangle again. Other than having a lot of fun on the slip and slid deck, my next lesson was not to try to pull the mainsail down while the rope is twisted toward the front of the mast. There is a reason the winch is too the side and if you attempt to do so the pulley thing WILL catch over the steaming light and send it crashing to the deck, as it did!

A few 360 pirouettes and some time heading in the wrong direction accompanied with a bit of weaving between the day boats returning for the evening, I finally got to sit back and enjoy the view. With the sun setting I decided to go below and get my camera and snap a few shot of the momentous occasion. As I did I observed that under sail the small trickle of water leaking from the stern gland wanted to avoid going straight down the bilge and egressed up the cabin floor. Shocked that my beautiful teak fit out might get wet I decided to fit a couple of bit of timber that would direct the salt water in the correct direction. To do so I had to remove the engine hatch. For the last week I had been saturating the boat in lannox, salt neutralising spays and a concoction of other rust preventatives. The atmosphere in the engine bay was thick with the burnt overspray causing near instant nausea. Somehow I narrowly avoided a violent fit of vomiting and decided to complete the task at dock.

Back on deck I set the mizzen and actually spent a few moments enjoying sailing. Naturally the wind stayed a constant 15 knots then backed off slightly (as predicted in the weather report that I did check before setting out), so the 2 genoa would have been perfect. Nevertheless, I did discover that the unlit boats moored outside Airlie Beach came up a lot quicker than I expected. As I did the slip and slide dance bringing in the sails thought flashed through my mind of my little steel yacht with extended bow sprit could gracefully ram one of these more expensive boats and send them straight to the bottom. Some where in the process, the rope to the mizzen boom tangled in the stern light sending it to the same place.

Back at the dock, after noting my tender had broken free and was boobing merrily around the pen, I navigated perfectly into the dock. Well that was short lived as I discovered the throttle needs adjustment and just does not want to sit in neutral. So I back out narrowly catching my stern rigging on the boat parked next to me. With no real damage albeit a lot of violent gear changes I head back down the marina to chase the tender which had now decided to set to sea. All this was complicated by the fact the beautiful wooden tiller had decided to develop some play that made fine feats a navigation a near impossibility.

Eventually with the aid of a well humoured onlooker I ended up tied up at the dock. A bit later I met the bloke who owned the boat next door and politely explained to him that all the revving and me heading back down the marina after becoming tangled in the bow of his million dollar cat had nothing to do with me wanting to do a runner after causing extensive carnage. It was just that I had neglected to tie the tender securely and these throttle and tiller problems had caused me a bit of grief. He was a nice chap and took my word, not even bothering running to the bow of his boat to check for damage.

The last blow was when I was unclipping the main and the weight of the pulley system sent the wire to the top of the mast. Miraculously the half the shackle that was torn out of my hand managed to land on the deck. No great drama as I already needed to learn how to use a bosun chair when replacing the steaming light. All good too as I sat back to a Corona and lemon and filled the results of sea trail # 1 into my log book. Hopefully this kind of thing is exactly what sea trials are about?

(Better get too work on those problems. Sorry if I don’t post many replies as I am still working out how to recharge my mobile broadband connection)

Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats. - Voltaire
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Old 11-12-2009, 18:57   #2
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Aloha Shane,
Another beautiful day/evening of sailing!!!
Very good story. The line that raises/lowers the sails is a halyard. The line that pulls the sail in taught and lets it out is a sheet.
Reminds me a little of the time that my forward/reverse cable came free from my transmission and when putting it in reverse and giving it some serious throttle the boat shot forward faster. Ooops!
I nearly bought a wood H-28 about 30 years ago. It was a beauty.

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Old 11-12-2009, 19:04   #3
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My uncle who I blame for infecting me with the boating bug had a wood h28. In junior high my odd hobby was laying out lines from tables of offsets. My memorable success's were the h28 and a double Enders I think was Atkins design named Annie. So I have a soft spot for the h28.
Sounds like you had a good shake down. My first run with the Peterson was rough. I had done batchs of work. New engine, wiring, cochpit sole etc... I thought I knew the boat was master. After launch and a few days of waiting for lesser winds I set out in 30 knots with gusts ugh more then I wanted. I motored out of the creek flipped on the auto pilot hoping auto would hold her into the winds while hauled up the main. Auto failed me boom came around and damn near fractured my arm. At one point I think I was hanging onto the boom while being shook like a rag doll and the hull doing a piroutte thing below. It took a little while but now sabray and I have an understanding. I don't try to bully her around. She doesn't like me to assume my mastery. She prefers if I am attentive and listen to her. I don't assume anything will work but I understand better now how she likes things to work. So far we haven't crossed hairs like that since. After she kicked my butt we had a beautiful sail down the bay. I fixed the auto pilot and a bit more. Were a good fit. Wasn't my proudest moment sailing but from the start we understand some rules. I work to keep her in shape. I sail with her as often as I can. She set the rules on that first sail.
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Old 11-12-2009, 21:05   #4
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This sounds like the beginning of a beautiful story about a man and his boat Great story, especially with your humor weaved through out.
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Old 12-12-2009, 02:44   #5
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Thanks People,

I have recovered the halyard, fixed the stern light, throttle, water egress and play in the tiller. I also now understand the benefits of life ropes and have placed my harness in an easy to reach position.

Now lets see what adventures/mishaps tomorrow brings!
Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats. - Voltaire
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Old 12-12-2009, 04:19   #6
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Par for the course on a sea trial, Shane. Actually you came out pretty well! I enjoy your writing style--looking forward to the next installment.
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Old 13-12-2009, 15:04   #7
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Sea Trial # 2

The good news!

Excepting a small tear already in the jib and the loss of one shackle after the mandatory battle getting the auto pilot in sync sea trial # 2 went without incident. In fact, it turned into a leisurely sail to Hayman Island about 30 km from Abel Point Marina. I anchored at Blue Pearl Bay and had my first snorkel of the trip. The water had that characteristic milkiness you get around the Whitsundays’, however there was some excellent coral and heaps of brilliant coloured little fish in the cove which is a dedicated marine park.

I must have been having fun because I did not get back to dock to just on midnight! Got the ship (must remember the Tardis is Australian registered therefore a real “Ship”) into the pen perfect first go. It was like all those great moments I had had professional fishing came flooding back and the ship made me feel secure at sea.

(I will post some photos soon!)
Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats. - Voltaire
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Old 16-12-2009, 05:02   #8
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Surfer Shane...
Surfer Shane...
Let me share that moment of joy traduced by calamity.
I bought my Martzcraft 35 ketch about 3 years ago. The motor was stuffed (a technical term known to many) and the hull had suffered many years of neglect. I replaced the motor and had the hull taken back to gelcoat and I thought all was well in paradise. Though the sails were technically described as ‘tired’ in the surveyor’s report they could function.

After many weeks waiting in anticipation I was finally given the all clear to take her out on Pittwater. Now Pittwater is not my normal playground although I had sailed there from Sydney many times. I picked the boat up not far from the Newport Arms Hotel (a fantastic place for anyone arriving in Pittwater) and used the new motor to motor out towards Scotland Island. With a mate at the helm I raised the sails and we motor sailed for a bit to get a feel of the boat. Fantastic….

And then… the motor stopped. I tried to start it several times but to no avail. I went below and with my limited knowledge of the motor managed to bleed the fuel lines and get it going again….. for about a minute. Tried a second time…. About a minute… and so it continued.

There were several races going on in Pittwater that lovely fine day and we managed to navigate through the competitive ones rather successfully considering this was the first time we had sailed the boat. So I thought… as one does … we will sail her back to the mooring in that narrow channel leading to the Newport Arms Hotel. We tacked a few times and felt quite confident about being able to get to the mooring, particularly when we were on the last port tack that would take us to within a few metres of the mooring so that we could turn into the wind and pick it up. Brilliant… well it was until we heard a rather stern voice yell ‘Starboard!!!!!’ We could not see a boat! ‘Starboard!!!!!!’ the voice screamed. I leaned over the starboard side to see a small sailing boat, one of those sailed by, and in this instance, raced by sailors with disabilities, being very ably sailed and demanding his right of passage. We let go the sails and veered away to port losing that moment of possibility but letting the bloke have his right of way.

We tried again, moving back out into more open waters to tack our way back only to have almost exactly the same thing happen again at the same point. I tried the motor again, bleeding the fuel lines but no real success. Again we got to within about 50 metres to have our path obstructed by another boat on starboard tack only this time we pleaded with a passing run-about whose skipper mercifully towed us the last fifty metres to the mooring.

The new motor functioned well but the $3 clamp on the fuel line had not been tightened enough and it was sucking air but that was almost impossible to diagnose in a state of panic. I did make a call to the bloke who installed the engine the next morning (all this took place on a Sunday) and let him know of my concerns and since that time the motor has not missed a beat.
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Old 16-12-2009, 17:13   #9
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Ah yes. I remember it well. The look on the face of the nice French Canadian gentleman with the fancy race boat in St. Pierre as I came to raft up to him.

"My boat, my boat, it is light fiberglass. Your boat, steel! She is too heavy. You will kill me!"

Perhaps he would have been less shocked had the Harbor Master given him a heads up that I was coming over.

Of course he was over reacting. My bowsprit would clearly have missed the hull and his life lines would certainly slow my advance.

Those Frenchmen, they are SO excitable.
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Old 16-12-2009, 18:01   #10
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Great stories Shane - Keep 'em coming.

Relax Lah! kept breaking things for about 3 months after we got her. What I learned was replace things in a systematic manner for less trouble down the road.

1 - Genny stand-up block failed - relplaced them all
2 - Mainsheet block failed - replaced upper and lower with new
3 - Head failed - replaced head, through hulls, seacocks and all hoses.

Have fun - It's the dream! Eventually you will know her every weakness and strength and be able to predict what she needs next.

Be careful with that steaming light - ours is a stupid design with a sharp-edged bracket. We tore a genny when someone was "pulling" the genny through with the sheet. We now make sure we let the wind carry the genny through the tack.
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Old 16-12-2009, 19:15   #11
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SurferShane: Great post! Where's the photos? I'm sure everyone here would love to see a few of them.

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