14 May 2015

Overnight to Newport

The Volvo Ocean Race is in America and right next door in Newport RI.  We took off at 14:00 from Boston with a plan to hit the Canal by 23:00.  At first the winds were pretty brisk and right behind us.  We considered whether or not to reef the main at first.  And every sailor knows - if you're considering... just do it.  We didn't.  As soon as we turned a little upwind in Presidents Roads, we got knocked over very handily in some 30+ gusts.

Then we reefed and sailed with no jib for a while.

As we got around Hull and were able to turn more downwind we eventually put up the full main and the Jib.  The wind softened a bit and so we traded the jib for the reacher.  Now, we had a nice long stretch of 8.5kt sailing with about 14kts coming over the beam.

Once we got a few miles south of Plymouth, the wind pretty suddenly died. We motored the rest of the way to the canal.


We hit the canal about 21:30 right at peak current and flew through it at 10.5kts.  Once on the other side, there was no wind so we just kept motoring.  Good news is that buzzards was nice and flat.

Around 02:00, we got a little breeze. With 24 miles to go to Newport, we put up the main and reacher and tried to sail for a while.  We were mostly in the low 3's which would have gotten us to Newport later than we wanted.

We gave up and started motoring again and Linda took over watch.

And Sunrise

Linda woke me up about 06:30 as we pulled into Newport Harbor.  As we passed Fort Adams, we did a drive-by of the Volvo boats

10 May 2015

Software Development on the High Seas

Adam at the helm

After party back at the dock. 

Off for our first regular season day sail today with some Marina Neighbors. Also testing Bob's new realtime track andrdoid app.  Unfortunately, it stopped recording while going around Spectacle Island. Bob has some work to do.

25 December 2014

Winter project II - adding another lighting circuit

Tartan is great for putting all these lighting fixtures in the engine compartment and in the aft compartment where the steering is. The problem is that they hung them on the "Lights 3" circuit which is also shared with the aft cabin and the refrigerator light.

Since they are in difficult-to-access areas, one wants to leave the switches on and then control them from the breaker panel. Doing this means that we don't get a refrigerator light because we would have to turn on the breaker whenever we wanted to open the fridge door and then remember to turn it off.  (We would usually forget the turning OFF part and leave the engine room lit without us knowing it).

Fortunately, there are plenty of spare breakers on the panel so it is possible to run another circuit for these work-area lights.  The electrical part is not rocket science (or even boat science).  The difficulty is in physically running the new wire along the existing wiring harnesses (and to do it in a way that looks Tartan-quality).

From the breaker panel, there are a few "raceways" that the wire must run through. Then it runs through a long pvc pipe into the aft steering compartment. From there it has to get over to the port side to a terminal block. It required forty-some feet of wire.

New yellow #12 wire in the bundle and fed into the raceway
I used a household wire snake to pull the wire through the conduit to the aft compartment. From there, getting over to the port side was the slow/difficult part because the wire had to be run through existing plastic wire "hose". This was slow going.
Wire snake emerging from the PVC conduit into the area behind the breaker panel

new yellow almost pulled through

new yellow still taped to the wire snake pulled through the PVC conduit into the aft steering compartment

new yellow terminated at a spare terminal on the main distribution block on the port side. I'm sitting in the sail locker. My legs are in the engine compartment and to the right is the aft steering compartment
Ready to test

Once the new yellow wire was terminated at the block, I moved what I thought would be just the engine room light wire from the "LT3" terminal down to where my new wire was terminated. With everything wired up, I went over to the breaker and turned on the new spare breaker. I was all ready to see just the engine room light up and congratulate myself. But to my surprise, the refrigerator light ALSO came on.  Well, that was a sub-optimal result. Somehow the fridge light is still branched from the engine room lights.

After pulling some of the sound-proofing insulation down over the engine, I found where they spliced in the fridge light. It was just forward of the middle engine room light fixture.

Here is where the fridge light is branching off from the engine room light circuit
Finally a working fridge light
After tearing up enough of the metalic HVAC tape on the engine room insulation, I as able to splice on a new length of blue #14 to the fridge light feed and get that on the Light-3 circuit. 

23 November 2014

Winter Projects

Argon is sitting in a parking lot in East Boston these days.  We have a few projects planned for the winter and I finally got round to finishing up one.

Additional Spinlock Rope Clutches

Tartan installed most of the deck hardware to support a Spinnaker. There are various blocks and bullseyes to guide the spin tack line toward the cockpit. However they left us short on deck organizer blocks and a rope clutch for the tack line.

We got even shorter with rope clutches because we redid the "German" sheeting on the main and brought the main sheet to the port side cabin-house winch.

The short version is that we need more rope clutches on the port side.  The starboard side had two triple clutches, but the port side was fitted with two dual clutches.  So I added another dual.

The surface for the spinlocks has a glassed-in aluminum backing plate. On Tartans, everything is tapped into these integral backing plates.  So I had to buy a 5/16-18 Tap, A drill bit for the tap size for 5/16-18 (in aluminum) and a bigger tap handle than I had.  According to the interwebs, an "F" sized drill bit was what I wanted.

So I started by drilling small pilot holes all the way through the glass and the backing plates

Initial pilot holes drilled. Spinlock does not provide a drill guide so you have to use the clutch itself to mark the hole locations.

Then drilled the "F" sized tap holes through the glass and Aluminum.  Then 5/16" clearance holes through the glass just down to the backing plate.

Ready for tapping. There is a good 3/4" of glass above the backing plate. Pretty strong boat.

Tapping - trying very hard not to break the tap inside the hole.  I only had WD-40 to use as tapping oil.

We love that the Tartans have removable headliners. I could have done this blind, but almost certainly would have drilled and tapped right through this bundle of wires!  Removing the headliner also allowed me to not have aluminum chips bouncing around above the ceiling forever.

The backing plate is glassed in just above this area

Headliner panel hanging

A little Life-Calk and the new spinlock is mounted

Now we can have the spinnaker tack line come back to the cockpit.  We can also shift the main sheet over so it lines up better with the winch.

Another bit missing for the spinnaker tack line was that there was no room in any of the deck organizer blocks for this line. This I fixed by adding a second level to the organizers on the port side
Upper level deck organizer added. Now room for two more lines

The Winter Cover

Not really my project, but Argon got a nice new winter cover from Kinder Industries in Bristol, RI

The Frame: 14 ribs, and 4 spine sections plus various supports

This frame works with mast up or down

07 September 2014

Nostalgia: Manchester-by-the-Sea and Peddocks Island

It was fitting that we completed our LASVA at two of our favorite local places:  Manchester-by-the-Sea was where we did our very first overnight sail out of Boston Sailing Center on a J24 thus it has special meaning to us.  In addition, it is an absolutely beautiful and protected harbor that funnels in to this very quaint town.  Peddocks Island is one of the Boston Harbor Islands which we frequent when we have only an afternoon or late evening often dropping the hook and hanging out for a few hours or overnight.

PTown to Manchester-by-the-Sea:  In Search of Whales
We leave PTown Harbor promptly at 07:00 Friday morning to catch a positive current around Race Point and, more importantly, to provide ample time to get to Manchester-by-the-Sea via an extended arch along Stellwagen Banks, a national marine sanctuary and a popular feeding ground for whales and the target area of the whale watching tour boats out of northeast harbors.
Linda is determined to see whales today.  We stayed along the western edge of Stellwagen Banks which proved to be a mistake as we could see only with our binoculars that the whale watching tour boats were quite successful several miles away on the eastern edge instead.

At the northwest tip of the Banks we were fortunate to spot these two whales swimming in our opposite direction.  Interestingly, we were also visited by a whale right in PTown Harbor both of our two prior days anchored there.

After sailing about 9 hours with main and genoa most of the way, then main and spinnaker the last leg, we approach the rocky NE coast and dots of islands prior to the harbor of Manchester-by-the-Sea

Navigating in to Manchester Harbor
A quick boat maintenance  job needed attending:  the paddle wheel that measure STW (speed through water) has been hung up since leaving PTown Harbor.  We (Bob) normally dive under the boat to unclog the paddle wheel.  Linda, despite being a former PADI certified SCUBA diver, despises diving under the boat (gives her the eeby jeebies) but she did so reluctantly recently in Stongington Harbor.  However, there is a much easier way to unclog the paddle wheel - simply pull the unit out of the hull from the inside near the V berth and unclog the wheel (while staying warm and dry inside, and no eeby jeebies).  However, this entails willingly opening a two inch diameter hole in the hull of the boat under the water line through which water comes rushing in.  Given that this is the normal way to unclog a paddle wheel and "it's simple, everyone does it this way", it was time to try.
Linda successfully unclogged the paddle wheel from inside without letting Argon sink to the bottom of Manchester Harbor.  It was, as everyone says, easy.  No more diving under the boat to unclog the wheel.  Not too much water rushed in but it definitely feels better when that hole is closed up.
Linda's son, Joshua, and his girlfriend, Sharon, who are visiting here from Amsterdam join us again on our sailing trip - this time for dinner in Manchester-by-the-Sea.
Linda, Sharon, Josh and Bob on the dock at Manchester Marine
Saturday we began our trip home to Boston and our return to normal lives.  We have been rising by 0600 or 0700 each morning on our three week trip as we enjoy the early part of the day on the water.  We have "slept in" as late as maybe 07:30 perhaps only twice during this entire vacation.

The wind is directly on our nose at about 15kts so we motor a good part of the way.  Heavy thunderstorms are forecasted for the afternoon.

Leaving Manchester Harbor, coffee in hand

Large container ship en route to be unloaded at the docks in South Boston
The horizon is hazy and the temps are foretasted to be quite steamy at 90 on land so we decided to make a detour close to home and set anchor in Perry Cove at Peddocks Island, while keeping an eye on the weather and radar to ensure we return back to our marina before the thunderstorms arrive.  We relax and read for a couple of hours as the wind picks up to 15-20kts and gusts even higher.  Linda grumbles that the water is only 63 degrees and she is already missing the nice water temperatures we experienced most of our vacation.

View of home not too far away as we sit at anchor at Peddocks Island
Prairie Gold gives us a drive by while we are at Peddocks Island.  You can read more about Phill and Yolande's adventures at Treasures from Prairie Gold
Boston off Argon's bow as we head home with a reefed main in gusty 25kt winds

Winds sailing back in to Boston Harbor were variable in both intensity and direction.  Gusts were 25+kts but in the inner harbor would also fall to less than 10kts, and direction was sometimes S, sometimes SW, sometimes W.  Made for alert sailing on this final leg of our LASVA.
After cleaning up Argon, touching base with some dock friends, and hauling lots of dirty laundry and several computers back home, we close out our wonderful three week sail at our favorite local Arlington restaurant, Scutra.  A fitting end to a spectacular vacation.

Bob, Dieder (Scutra owner), Linda and Louis (Scutra GM, fantastic bartender and creator of Sailor Bob's Mule)
Stay tuned for Argon Voyages data and statistics up next!

04 September 2014

Cuttyhunk Fog, Red Brook Swimming and PTown Windswept Hair

Onward to Cuttyhunk
Midday Monday we said farewell to our Newport guests and headed to Cuttyhunk.  The wind had finally shifted to its normal SW direction and was swift as we initially motored out of Newport Harbor and then raised the sails and pointed to the southern tip of the Elizabeth Islands Cape Cod Massachusetts approximately 23 nm.

Entering Cuttyhunk

Mackerel skies
We have anchored in the majority of harbors this trip but for some reason passed up the opportunity to do so in Cuttyhunk.  The harbor was predictably sparse given that it is now officially off season. We grabbed a mooring instead and parsed out the $45 to the very friendly harbormaster. Then Linda anxiously awaited 1730 when she could radio for oysters.
VHF 72 to call for oysters from the Cuttyhunk Raw Bar
Linda has foregone oysters at every port during this trip waiting to be able to order from the Cuttyhunk Raw Bar.  It was worth the wait.

Bob strums and then some
Its no Taylor but still sounds lovely (not bad for a plastic guitar sez Bob)

Cuttyhunk at sunset
Good Morning Cuttyhunk
We have been extremely fortunate to have had spectacular weather this entire vacation. Almost every day has been sunny, warm and breezy.  Most evenings have been quite cool but Monday evening in Cuttyhunk was warm so we decided to lay out in the cockpit and watch the stars especially since there are no city lights anywhere nearby to dilute their brilliance. We both fell asleep in the cockpit (Bob way before Linda which is unusual) and awoke in the middle of the night to a layer of deep mist and heavy fog setting in. We were greeted Tuesday morning with a blanket of very thick fog.

Heavy fog the next morning as it is starting to lift.

Leaving Cuttyhunk Harbor in what we thought was lifting fog only to be hit by a heavy wall a few minutes later.

Sounding our one prolonged blast every couple of minutes as we motor carefully through the heavy fog keeping a good lookout as well as a close eye on the radar.  Then, after we raise sails and kill the motor, we sound one prolonged and two short blasts as good Captains do.
 Fog Begins to Lift - Time to Rig the Spinnaker

Fog lifts and winds were out of the south at 7-10kts - perfect for flying the spinnaker up Buzzards Bay en route to Red Brook

Poof!  Starboard tack 

Port tack now (Bill - We keep the tack line shorter now)

Narrow and shallow channel in to Red Brook Harbor in Pocasset MA

An unexpected and welcome lunch with fellow sailor and dear friend, Greg.  Check out Greg's adventures aboard his O'Day 23 Paio at Ruf Seas 
The Anchorage
The Anchorage at Red Brook is a strip that is parallel to Basset Island which is between 7 and 13 ft deep (Argon has a 6 foot draft). At low tide that night, we were swinging over a 7.1ft spot. On a full or new moon, this might have been a little tight and even resting on the bottom.

Leaving Red Brook
Low tide was at 08:00 and we wanted to hit the Canal for slack current at 10:30. So we planned our departure for 10:00. The depths were about the same as when we arrived the day before. We never saw anything lower than 8.5ft on the way out.
Examining the currents and tides 

A bit of work before pulling anchor.  Not a bad office, eh?

More beautiful skies

Sailing with only the jib as we enter the Cape Cod Canal

We let this rather sizeable rig pass us in the canal entrance channel

Under the Cape Cod Canal RR Lift Bridge
On to Provincetown
Our GRIB file readers showed that wind should have been north-west as we crossed the bay to Provincetown.We were expecting to be on a nice beam reach but instead were greeted with a north and pretty light wind that had us sailing as high as possible and still not quite on the course we wanted. As the trip went on, the wind built a little and lifted us to a better course so for most of the 23 nm, we had a fantastic sail. Then about 3 miles out, we were seeing true wind speed of 3kt. Not enough, so we made more hot water and electricity (ran the diesel).  We found a nice spot to Anchor in about 25ft of water near the Coast Guard Pier.

"Did You Just Get Off A Boat?"
Asked a girl named Suzan at the bar in 9 Ryder Restaurant when she looked at Linda's hair.  "Why, yes we did as a matter of fact".  Unfortunately we don't have any photos of this fashion faux pas. We had a nice dinner on land and walked around a relatively quiet (post-season/mid-week) Provincetown. Wind forecast was for zilch the next day so we planned to just stay put.  The next morning, we did some work (as in Job) and also attacked some mail and backed up paperwork that we brought along from home. We ventured in to town at near low tide and tied up at Flyer's dinghy dock.  At low tide, there is not enough room for the outboard to hang down as you reach the dock here.  So someone has to get out and pull the boat in.

No sense in both of us getting our feet wet.  Chivalry is dead.
Low tide in Provincetown. (not even an especially low one either)
The West End
Most people who visit Provincetown hang out in the busy town center. If you keep walking west to the wee numbers of Commercial Ave past the Coast Guard station, there is a whole nuther part that you shouldn't miss. There are some beautiful homes and a few Inns and Restaurants. But, there is also the huge salt marsh, jetty and you can begin to see the dunes. This is also the start of a great bike loop if you care to rent bikes for the day (and you should).
The Jetty and the salt marsh

After an invigorating walk and an awesome slice of pizza (Spiritus), we ventured back to Argon to swim in the warm waters and relax for the afternoon.  We are trying very hard to not think too much about this being Thursday of our last week of vacation.  Boy, has it been spectacular.
Linda's $5 floatie (and $2 gin and tonic)
After a final evening in PTown, we will do an extra long arch to Manchester-by-the-Sea tomorrow to pass through Stellwagen Bank and try to catch glimpses of whales.  We look forward to meeting up again with Josh and Sharon Friday night.