All Shook Down

Newport sucks! It’s not that Newport’s a particularly bad American city or anything, it’s just that there are so many opportunities for people like Dena and I (James) in Newport that it tends to suck… me… in. That sucks ‘cuz we’re not doing that right now. We have an ocean to cross and an ever narrower weather window to get ‘er done. We’d expected to be gone by now but storms have been interrupting our plans. Anyway… The newly rebuilt sailing rig performed flawlessly on the broad reach from Wickford to the gap between Connanicut and Prudence Island, right down to having a safe and pleasurable amount of weather helm, but those are truly ideal circumstances in every sense. Once we turned upwind, the lee helm we’ve had too much of returned and we had a hard time getting through a tack. We realized that we really had changed the dynamic of the sailing vessel with ballast and that was a bit disconcerting. The fact is we added a structure on the back of the boat, plus we’ve never had this boat as loaded down as we do now that we are ready for an ocean crossing. So we got to move all our shit around in Newport. We’ll fix the remaining helm balance issue with the fine-tuning of the rig. I did an early morning diagnostic on the solar array in Bristol (a complete loss of a visit, since we weren’t able to provision after all even though we’d paid for a mooring) and the news was all bad. For some reason we weren’t making any power on the starboard (sun-facing) solar panel. The bluetooth diagnostic gave us all kinds on conflicting information, so we had to pull everything apart step-by-step. It seemed like the solar controller had gone[…]

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What?!

We showed up at 0630 on day three and dove into the project like a couple of giddy school kids. In our recap of the mast project the night before we both decided we were going to take our time on day three. Really dig in and get everything done to perfection. Take lots of pictures relax and enjoy ourselves. I (Dena) told my dad that we had about a half-day’s work left and a full day to do it in. Luxurious. …this was not to be! The grumpy old dude in the green golf cart pulled up a little after we got our work site in order and asked if we were ready to put the mast back in the boat. We told him we were not quite done with the project but we’d be fully ready by the next morning. He said “no”. We said “no what?” “No, your mast has to go back in right now, where’s your boat? You said it would only take a day or two, it’s been three days!” No, it hadn’t and no, we didn’t. I (James) reminded him that we said it was a project of discovery and if we discovered any big issues it could take up to a week. I tried to continue by telling him about our roller furling discoveries and repairs but he cut me off, said I’d never said a week and we were in the way of his fuel delivery. I looked at the guy standing next to him and he appeared to be completely embarrassed. Just before I asked him if he was calling me a liar to my face and brought the whole stupid situation to a new level of regret, Dena jumped in and asked how long we had. What was the[…]

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Mast unstepped

On Monday, nice and early, we pulled into the empty slip almost directly in front of the crane. A salty long-haired guy caught the bow line and somehow managed to help us into the slip without being irritating. (Usually we refuse all assistance.) He seemed surprised to see us, an impression made stronger when a workboat towed a mastless cat boat into the same (rather large) slip we were in. They angled us as deep in as they could and pulled that cat boat very close behind in order to put their mast in before they pulled ours out. Now, I don’t want to go on and on about this, but I’m pretty sure that the guy from the office (who incidentally also operated the crane) forgot us…or didn’t believe we would actually arrive…or who knows what. After all our prep, it was a mighty relief to have that same guy who met us at the slip start talking about how he would go about pulling our mast. And away it went. Then we took Cetacea and Beluga Greyfinger back out on the hook. And thus it began. A project almost four years in the making. We spent the first day taking everything apart that we could and walking endless inspection circles around the mast. We pulled the masthead fitting and all the rigging and laid them aside as gently as possible while touching and inspecting every single fitting as much as we could. The yankee foil looked like a broken marionette so we slowly and ever so meticulously took the entire furler system apart, piece by tiny confusing piece, laying it out on on the gravel pit that was our work bench. Our roller furling systems (above) are some seriously smart-monkey shit, and I do mean put together like[…]

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Finally the mast!

After searching for over three months to find a shipyard that could and would pull our mast, we were almost desperate and getting turned down was starting to get infuriating. Of course we tried all the locals when we were in the City-O-Sin but no one wanted to interrupt the mad rush to launch boats to do that finicky work. We tried again in Onset and they just kind of blankly stared and said something along the lines of …do what? So it was time get serious about finding a place that could do the job and then sailing there forthwith! While still at anchor in East Greenwich Bay we rented a car and went on the hunt. We’d mapped out a set of five marinas worth trying in person (none had responded to emails) but hoped that we’d be able to avoid driving to (and then boating to) Connecticut. Much to our relief the answer presented itself just a few miles down the road in Wickford, Rhode Island, at the Wickford Shipyard. The old guy in the office listened to us with a weird look on his face and his silence increased the feeling that we were making a pitch: please do what it says on the sign and be a shipyard! The conversation went so strangely that we really didn’t know what we’d be in for once we arrived at their marina Monday morning. The rest of the rental car period was devoted to fetching the bicycles and grocery shopping. After dropping the bikes off at Wickford Shipyard, we returned to Cetacea that evening in a heavily weighted dinghy. We sailed from Greenwich Bay to Wickford, a short trip but nice enough, and then began pulling our boat apart right there at anchor in front of the town’s[…]

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Getting up to date

We’ve been in a strange holding-pattern slash striving-for-progress kind of time. While waiting for our engine parts in Onset, we tried setting up the Monitor only to find out that the Dyneema line we’d chosen slides off the blocks because it’s too thin. Rolling with the punches, we just installed the wheel adapter (what a good deal we got!) and drank more than usual (or maybe just stared at shit) through the holiday weekend. We wouldn’t have wanted to be sailing on Memorial Day weekend anyway (retch), and we were lulled into complacency by the idea that the corporatized Texas monster of a marina had ordered our engine parts, to be delivered on Tuesday. When we arrived by dinghy, a respectful time after they opened, to ask when to expect the delivery to arrive, the newly-back-from-(motherfucking)-Vegas parts manager shifted into the retail version of panic mode. That, of course, set off my (Dena’s) sympathy mode because, yeah, been there. She said she’d call when the person I’d talked to got back in. I called her about 1pm and she admitted both that the parts had never been ordered and that the other person had been wrong about a 1-day delivery. Incensed and now delayed by five fucking days for no fucking reason, we left on the next day’s outgoing tide. Yeah, that’s right we said it was a “Safe Harbor” marina. What ‘ev’s. New Bedford‘s Niemic Marine had the parts, except the actual broken bolt. We decided that was good enough but bellyached mightily about the harbor full of empty moorings where we would have been happy to anchor. We paid, we ate, we showered. We also got the parts and fixed the engine. And then we went sailing to the Narragansett. And here’s where I let go of the[…]

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