Monday, May 02, 2011

A reliable diesel?

Three weekends in a row. Yes, that's what I said -- three weekends! Three times out to the bay and back with no mechanical issues on the boat. And this week, I kept the GPS system running to track our speed and found that we were motoring at 5.5 knots even with a heavy headwind. I'm still missing a knot somewhere, but I don't want to push the diesel too hard until I get the temperature gauge working again.

I checked my transmission fluid before firing things up this week, and it was holding steady. The engine mounts are also staying tight. The alternator is charging. There's no smoke in the exhaust. I'm scared to say it, but I think we've finally got all the kinks worked out of the system. I THINK we've finally got ourselves a reliable propulsion system.

I really had every intention of fixing the fuel gauge last Saturday, but motivation was lacking. It had been a very long week, and I spent most of the morning lying in a hammock drinking coffee with a dog on my stomach.

Then when I finally made it down to the marina, my motivation didn't get any stronger. I found out I was playing guitars with Chris at Texas Hippy Connection from 9:30 p.m. - 1:30 a.m. That was quite the interesting news since I hadn't played guitar for more than an hour since, I don't know, 2007? Not only was I questioning my vocal and strumming endurance, but I was pretty sure I didn't have four hours of songs left in the memory banks. Instead of doing any boat work Saturday afternoon, I practiced a few songs and took a nap. The Texas Hippy Connection musical experience is a tale for another blog post, but it's definitely getting a chapter in the book.

The boat was looking good, though. Chris and Rachel gave it an anti-mold scrub down. She had turned a bit green since the previous summer.

Sunday morning arrived with wind gusts that were shaking the boat in the slip in a way I'd never experienced before. Stephanie was already on her way down to the marina, so I figured heading out in the wind was either going to be really scary or really fun, but either way, it was going to be an adventure.

As we motored out, the wind was blowing so hard across Clear Lake that the boat was heeled at least 20 degrees just from the force broad-siding the hull. However, as I mentioned before, I was thrilled to see the motor was still pushing us along at 5.5 knots. The boom was bouncing around like crazy.
It was at this point I looked at the thin, camouflage nylon camping twine I'd used to "temporarily" rig the topping lift at least a year ago. I thought to myself, I wonder if that's going to hold.

It was about 30 seconds into raising the main sail that a loud crash gave me the answer. The end of the boom was now sitting on the deck with the loose main flapping wildly in the wind while the topping lift swayed about.

I bungeed the main, and we spent a few minutes sailing with just the jib, but decided to call it a day.

This weekend, it was just as windy, but with a proper yacht braid line on the topping lift, we had no problems. That's not to say the day wasn't without excitement.

I took my new girlfriend and her roommate out Saturday, neither of which had any sailing experience. While the Starwind performed admirably, the conditions were a bit advanced for me, much less my crew, so there were some tense moments of extreme heeling from time to time.

I thought I'd reef down the main to deal with the high winds, but I found that while my reefing lines would pull out of the boom just fine, I couldn't get them to cinch down into the boom. It looks like I'll be re-rigging them for the third time this weekend in hopes of finally getting them working correctly.

The only downer of the weekend was that after brewing up the coffee Saturday morning, I dumped the last bit of coffee out overboard and the Lexan percolator dome flew off the lid of the coffee pot and into the depths of the waters of Marina Del Sol. I was pretty sad about that considering a new percolator was $45. However, I found replacement percolator domes at Campor.com for $2.99 ($9.98 after shipping), so I ordered one. Hopefully it will fit.

I talked to a guy from Kemah Canvas about a bimini, but he hasn't had time to stop by the marina yet. A little shade would be incredibly nice with summer on its way.
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