Friday, 30 January 2009

On the Move

Well, last week my job description changed drastically.  After putting the Buddy Boy down on a towel at the pool while I got changed, he decided that that was the perfect time to move... and took off across the filthy dirty changeroom floor.  Yuck.

Then two days ago, he crawled over to the couch and pulled himself up.  After pulling himself up, he did a "Look at me Mom!" pose, and clapped his hands, and therefore promplty fell.

Time to get the gates up!!

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

With all the attitude of a four year old.....

As I was feeding the Buddy Boy his dinner the other night, his sister looks at him and says "Buddy Boy, you have dinner on your nose!"

And even though he's only 9 months, he looked straight at her and said "NO"

Not that it was intentional, and that he knew what he was doing.... it was just the right sound & attitude at the right time.  And then he couldn't figure out why we were both laughing at him!!!

Friday, 16 January 2009

About Racing

Mostly Iris was raced last summer. We tried a week-long cruise on our lake, and mostly it went well, but to be honest, I think about 80% of the time spent aboard was racing. Thats great for me and LR, but not so much for Herself.

In racing you get be manly and push the boat hard. Often it is heeled over, crashing through and over the waves, making the best time possible. Iris is pretty good at this. Herself prefers cruising. In cruising things are a little more leisurely, and the boat can (often) be sailed upright, or at least with less heel.

LR likes racing Iris, and is a pretty good helper. She can guide the jib around the shrouds on tacks (often it gets hung up), and she can work the jib sheets and does a pretty good job of trimming. Plus she doesn't mind being out on the rails to help keep the boat sitting on her lines.

Since last season was our first with the boat, we were not seen as much of a threat in the races - in fact on our first two races, we couldn't even get the boat to the start line. Its not that sailing is hard, we just had no clue of what we were doing. On our third outing, we made it to the start, but promptly headed off in the wrong direction and couldn't find the first mark. We now had changed from Did Not Start (DNS) to Did Not Finish (DNF) in the standings, what an improvement!

On race 4, we actually made it about 2/3 of the way around the course before we headed to the wrong mark, another DNF, but we had made inroads. After that race I went out and bought a cheap GPS, and put all the race marks on the lake into it. Now I could chart the race.

From Race 4 to the end of the season, we never had another DNF and our standings steadily improved right through the summer. By the end of the season, we were the 4th fastest boat in our class on the lake. We even won a couple flags through the season.

For the coming season we will have to adjust our goals and try a little harder. The goal this year will have to be to at least get one first place. I doubt that this will happen in the mixed fleet at our home club. It is much harder for us to be competitive on a thursday night "Beer Can" race than it is on the Lake-wide series against the other clubs. This is because our club races only have one fleet, in which the boats all perform very differently, but the lake series has three fleets, broken up by hull performance.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Introductions All Around

Lets begin at the beginning. We started sailing with friends a couple years ago, and decided it was enough fun to get a boat of our own. In our search, we finally settled on the Catalina 25 as our boat of choice.

Our Crew

Iris is crewed by a family of 4, with friends stepping in to help with races and as guests from time to time. Our Family has two co-skippers - myself and my wife, and the crew - Little Raven and Buddy Boy (nomenclature will never be explained, just accept that as their names...). Little Raven (LR) is 11 and has her White Sail One with the Canadian Yachting Association. Buddy Boy (BB) is 9 months, and is sometimes referred to as "Moveable Ballast". Whenever we visit another Yacht Club, the first question we are asked is "where is the baby?" Everyone loves him.

Surprisingly, LR and BB have taken quite nicely to sailing. LR often comes along on race day, and provides a much needed extra pair of hands. She is also quite fearless when it comes to foredeck responsibilities. So far we have only raced White Sail (JAM) but if we ever go in the Spinnaker Fleet, I know she will be right up there on the bow.

BB Mostly sleeps on the boat. The worse the passage is, the more he sleeps. The motion of the boat just rocks him and he is happy to snuggle into his carseat (with his lifejacket on) and snooze for the whole trip. Now that he has started moving more, we wonder how this summer will go. A tether is definately in the cards for BB. We will also need to install a Bimini to protect his tender skin on long days out in the sun.

The Boat

Catalinas in general tend to be well built for production boats, there is a strong owners association ready to give tips and lend a hand, and parts for the boats are generally easy to find. Catalina 25's aren't offshore passagemakers, but they are adequate for the waters we sail, with enough room for the crew and gear, and generally they aren't too difficult to sail.

We found Iris at the Ford Yacht club in the Detroit area, and had her trucked to our home. Since then we have done some minor work on her like refurbishing the electronics, replacing the hatch board retaining bits, adding gas struts to the pop-top, replacing the radio and some rewiring. By spring we hope to install a mushroom vent someplace in the forward section of the boat, refinish all the above-decks teak, rebuild the lower section of the engine, establish a GPS-Radio link and apply for an MMSI number for the radio, and maybe get the sails looked at by a professional loft.

Projects On the Go

Right now a number of boat-related projects are in process.

Battery Wiring
I have mostly finished rewiring the battery compartment on the boat. We discovered that the Charger that came with the boat was draining the batteries whenever we weren't attached to shore power. This was distressing since our slip is not powered. In order to overcome this challenge, we have replaced the batteries, disconnected the shorepower, and rewired the battery compartment so that nothing can bypass the 1-2-Both switch that determines which of the batteries the boat is drawing from.

Off-Season Storage
In the winter, we strip Iris down to the bare minimums in order to prevent moisture related problems, and to get a good look at any maintenance issues that need to be addressed. Storing all those cusions, electronics, sails, equipment, dishes, lifejackets, fenders, stoves etc. etc. etc. takes up a load of space. In fact, about 1/3 of our basement is full of boat stuff. I built a storage bin that a lot of the bulky stuff can go into and a pegboard wall to help handle more stuff. Now the mess is more compact and manageable, but the space still needs some refining. (as does my judgement in buying yet MORE stuff).

Refinishing Teak
When we put Iris to bed this winter, I took all the exterior teak off her. Now I am in the process of stripping all the varnish off the teak. I plan on refinishing the teak with Cetol in the spring.

Truck Shopping

We had an Astrovan, and while it was inadequate to pull Iris, it was very handy for hauling stuff back and forth to the boat. The Astro met its end this winter, and now we are shopping for a vehicle that is up to the task of pulling the boat, as well as taking gear from the house to the marina. Everyone is full of ideas about which vehicle is best, but since we will rarely be using the truck, we are looking to keep it as cheap as possible. I may just get another Astro, and continue to pay someone else to move the boat.

I'll update as projects and plans take shape, thanks for reading this far along!