Monday, 16 July 2007

out and about

We weren't ready in any way, but I made a goal, and I was determined to stick to it. July 8th was the day of the local Volkswagen show at Gyro Park. We were putting Betsy, our '68 Beetle in the show and I wanted to sail there and anchor off the beach.

Kyra and I have been working on the boat whenever we can. I have the foundation of the electrical system completed with the engine, charging system, shore power, A/C and D/C distribution all done. Now all I have to do is actually run the wires and do the terminations. The simple part, but it will take a lot of time.

Anyway, the time came, and I put things together in preparation for sailing. I was so busy getting things ready, that I didn't get a commitment from anyone to go with me. Last minute phone calls failed to bear fruit. It seems that people have things to do sunny Saturdays in July.

Crew or not, here I come. Determined to follow the plan, even without a crew, I made preparations to cast off. Kyra was concerned about my singlehanding our boat. After all, we had only been out on it once before (so we weren't familiar with her) and I had never singlehanded before. I promised to be careful and Kyra went off to work.

I spent the morning stowing all of the partly started and partially complete refit projects and at twenty after twelve, I did the hard part, I radioed the bridge requesting a lift. I think getting on the VHF is the scariest part of sailing. After talking to the bridge operator, I cast off and headed out into the harbour. It takes twenty to thirty minutes to transit the harbour. It is a long entry. Of course, motoring is easy, just stand there and steer.

Once I got out into open water, I put the engine into neutral and cast off the furling line on the genoa. The wind was light as I hauled on the sheet and set the sail. Well, half the sail.
 The furling gear didn't seem to be cooperating. It seemed to be a little stuck. I checked my heading then clipped in and went forward. The collar around the furling drum was trying to follow the line around the forestay. I hadn't left any tension on the furling line, and it was filling all of the space available under the collar. So, I did what any guy would do, I forced it. [Editor's note: Rick knows better than to do that now.]

It took two trip to the bow, but within a minute, I was under sail. I killed the engine and enjoyed the real sound of a sailboat. This was the first time we had set the genoa and it was looking fine. I had decided that I would only set the foresail, as this was my first solo run. If I got into any trouble, I could douse it easily from the cockpit.

It was an easy reach down past Trial Island, a gybe, and then another reach up to Oak Bay. Outside Oak Bay there are a number of small islands and reefs. This was my first time through, so I started the engine and took in the sail. I motored through the hazards with one eye on the chart and then motored over to Cadboro Bay. There were more boats at anchor than I had expected. I made a slow pass through the anchorage and picked my spot, far from everyone else. Dropping the hook felt pretty routine. The was hardly any wind. That helped. It was a pretty casual affair. I backed down on the anchor and it grabbed right away. All there was left to do was grab a beer and relax.

By the time the awning was up and the beer was empty, I was sure that there was a better spot a lot closer to shore. So, I started the engine and moved. It was routine again. All of that anchoring in the Med last summer paid off. I kicked back and relaxed (with another beer), waiting for Kyra to drive to the park, so I could meet her on the beach.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

on dust and power

So much work... but oh so exciting! I'm beginning to enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes with doing the refit of our boat. Rick is miles ahead of me in the learning curve, but I'm enthusiastically trudging behind. The cabin was a disaster area when I arrived - Rick had been busy tearing things apart, I went into serious cleaning mode - so for a brief time, it is newly organized compliments of yours truly!

I then proceeded to fill the cabin with dust, as I spent the rest of the evening sanding up a storm in the head. Nothing like gettin' rid of old peeling paint!

Rick joined me later, after his work at Gartside. He focused on prepping the starboard cockpit locker to run shore power to it. We enjoyed working together yet on our own projects - checking on each other's progress - dreaming of the day we move aboard... sigh.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007


We have ambition when it comes to our electrical system. We want something simple to use, safe, reliable, and something that will take care of the boat. With that in mind, we decided to update things a bit. We opted for a 2000 watt pure sine wave inverter/charger with a built in echo charger for keeping the start battery happy. This will let us run any piece of electrical gear we might use at home on the boat (for as long as the batteries hold out).

We aren't sure what our live aboard or off shore needs will be, so we opted for something a little over the top.

So with running water, after getting our foot pumps installed in both the galley and the head, I needed another job to do. The weather was not friendly for an outside job, so I decided to mount the new inverter.

This turned into one of those 'boat jobs'. There is only one place that the inverter fits and in order to mount it there, the shore power plug and AC breaker panel would have to move.

I disconnected shore power and pulled the breaker panel off the bulkhead. There was a 2 1/2" hole into the cockpit where the shore power plug had been. That had to be patched up and then the area behind where the inverter was to be mounted had to be primed, then there was the additional fasteners that had to be bought, and the special driver that was required to drive a screw in a space that was too narrow for a regular screwdriver. Did I mention that the inverter weighs 70lbs?

In and around the installation of the inverter, I started sorting through the old wiring. Fortunately, even though the boat is 50 years old, the oldest wiring seems to be from the 70s. There have obviously been several electrical 'upgrades' over the years. Old wiring has been added to by tacking a different coloured wire to the end of an old wire.

There was this crazy home made fuse panel tucked into the quarterberth. It actually had some things labeled, one or two were actually right. Most of the fuse panel and its many many wires didn't seem to do anything.

I decided to reconnect the bilge pump (didn't want the boat to sink, after all). The bilge pump was connected to a pos and neg bus bar. When I connected those to the house battery, almost the whole DC system was up and running again. There are no fuses, or breakers protecting any of it.

Somewhere in the mix, I have misplaced the alternator cable. It runs off to the instrument panel, but it doesn't seem to come back. Guess I better get back to it.

Monday, 14 May 2007

out at last

Yesterday we finally made it out sailing. We have been spending a lot of time working on various systems. Nothing is finished but many things have been started. It was getting to the point that actually getting the boat out on the water was seeming like a big deal. I was hoping that we would be sailing at least every week, but there is always one more thing to work on, one more thing to get ready before we cast off.

We picked up our friend Jonathan at 10:00am and got the boat ready to go. We got things squared away and started up the engine. Then I made
my first ever VHF transmission to the Johnson Street Bridge. (We are just upstream of the drawbridge, so we have to request a lift each time we go out or come back in.) I think that was what I was most nervous about. Anyway, the operator acknowledged my request, and the bridge began to open. We pulled out of our slip and we were on our way.

We had some challenges with the rig. The main sail is well sized for the boat, but we aren't sure if it is well cut for the boat. Farther research is required.

We were cruising along well in a 20-25 knot breeze under double reefed main, when we tried to set the Genoa. As with the sea-trial, the halyard wrapped the forestay, so we couldn't set more than a corner of the foresail. It was a known problem, but one I hadn't been able to really fix, since I hadn't had someone to crank me up the mast in the bosun's chair. I was hoping that the short term fix would work for one sail. Alas, it was not so.

About an hour and a half out, we decided to turn around and head back in the general direction of the harbour. Without
a headsail, we didn't have much luck getting the boat to go where we wanted to go, so we doused the sail and motored back.

There was a fair bit of wind an current against us, so going was slow. For most of the return trip we averaged less than 2 knots. That was a bit of a concern because the bridge operator goes off duty at 4:00pm. We had a deadline to meet, and deadlines are never a good thing to have when sailing.

As it turned out, we made it to the bridge with 15 minutes to spare. With Jonathan's help and advice, docking was relatively smooth and painless.

Once we were tied up and settled, I asked Jonathan to crank me up the mast so I could take care of our halyard problem. A few minutes at the masthead was all it took to install the fairlead block I bought 2 months ago. I took the camera up with me to take a couple of reference shots for future rigging and masthead electronics upgrades.

Saturday, 3 March 2007

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”  
Mark Twain

Thursday, 1 March 2007

our new (to us) boat!

We just bought a boat!
It's a 1958 Lapworth 36 sloop.
It's our first boat. Ever.

She's old and she has a wood hull. She's got character, (in good and bad ways,) and her name is "Nyon". So far, our research into the origin of her name has brought up the following: Nyon is a Roman town on Lake Geneva in Switzerland. It was the most important Roman colony in Switzerland back in the day. The "Nyon Agreement" was signed in Nyon on September 14,1937. It referred to acts of piracy in the Mediterranean.

This is our log.

It begins with us getting to know Nyon and fixing her up. Nyon will be our home. With her, we'll get to know the inside passage, and eventually we'll leave the Canadian shores and sail off into the sunset... read along!


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