Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Mast, revisited…

After hundreds of back and forth over what we should do – do we get the mast, do we not – we have decided to wait a year.  The mast in RI is in great shape and the M’s are offering a great deal however, the deal isn’t exactly cheap when you factor in transportation costs, the mainsail, modifying our boom to be able to work with the new mast, reconditioning the boom (may as well when its being modified), destepping/stepping the mast, and installing an additional winch.  This change would not be inexpensive by any means.  All those costs, on top of the money currently and unexpectedly being shelled out on a rental property J still owns in Pensacola, FL (he secretly hopes for a well-placed and freakishly isolated tornado), make the new-to-us mast not very feasible at this time.
While we have reservations about taking an in-mast furling mainsail offshore, we haven’t even given it a chance yet. While we had sailed Knotty (with a Selden in-mast furler) without so much as a hiccup, we’ve sailed Tango (with an older Forespar in-mast furler) only once and feel it is a bit impulsive if we jump into this without at least giving it a try.  After all, Tango has had this mast for 17yrs and she’s been across the pond and back at least once, that we know of, so it can’t be all bad. Plus, many boats nowadays do offshore work with in mast furlers, including S/V Bright Angel, one of Tango’s sister ships that is currently cruising the South Pacific with in-mast furling.  Seems silly to make such an investment at a time when the kitty is being depleted and in something that we may not need.
We have other projects that require the savings that we are certain we want to do with Tango, such as a new composting toilet and a Monitor wind vane – both of which we are planning to purchase at this year’s United States Sailboat Show in Annapolis.  So after much discussion and loss of sleep (more for J) we are going to wait until at least next season to determine if the in-mast furling is staying or going.  This should give us some time to get to know Tango a bit better, do some fall sailing in the Bay and hopefully some offshore cruising in the spring to get more comfortable with all her systems, but especially the anxiety inducing furling mainsail.  Maybe a small investment in replacing worn sheaves and bearings, instead of the larger one required replacing the mast, and some quality time with her out on the water will eliminate our hesitation and fears of taking her offshore with her current mast. More to follow… 

She's SOLD!!

After bringing Tango home we got serious with trying to sell Knotty.  We had her listed for a couple of months and had a couple of inquiries, but nothing really serious – at least we hadn’t had anyone come and look at her.  We were considering sailing her up to Annapolis, where we felt she would get more visibility from potential buyers. The only downside with that is that we’d have to list her with a broker and we were hoping to avoid doing that.  It would benefit the buyer more, as they could get  her for a better price than going through a broker, but it would also help us because then we wouldn’t have to sail her to Annapolis.  Logistically, it was just easier.  We finally got a call from a couple in PA, who, after a few emails/calls back and forth with J, said they wanted to come see her in person – YAY!! 
So a couple of weeks before the 4th of July, J and I spend a few days getting the last few things moved off of Knotty and cleaning her up for her big day!  It was pretty bizarre, to see her go from being our home, to looking (and even smelling) like the day we bought her.  The weekend before the 4th, S&C came to see Knotty.  Immediately, J and I both really liked them.  There was just something about them and after talking with them and showing them the boat, we felt like we had known them for years.  C is very much like me when it comes to sailing (don’t care for the 20 degree plus angle of heel) as well as a few other little idiosyncrasies (which was nice to find in someone else, hah!) and S is very much like J –  prefers to do his own maintenance, tracks it meticulously, and, when out sailing, won’t turn on the iron genny unless he absolutely has to J  The showing went very well and while we knew they would be looking at other boats that weekend as well, we really hoped we’d get a call back on Knotty. 
Now fast forward a week or so, J had touched base with S on our way up to Maine.  Just wanted to see how things went and let him know that we really enjoyed meeting them and if they were still interested, to let us know.  We really liked them and felt that if they bought Knotty that that she would be going to a really great home and, laugh all you want, but that was really important to us.  It’s funny sometimes to think how attached you can become to an inanimate object, but Knotty was our home and she kept us safe and, more so for me, if it wasn’t for this boat, I wouldn’t love this lifestyle and I wouldn’t be looking to sail around the world in a few years.  She was a great boat and part of my heartbreak of selling her was the uncertainty of who would be her new owners.  We wanted someone who would sail her like she should be sailed - not keep her in the slip solely for use as a floating condo and to have sundowners once in a while - and who would maintain her as she should be maintained. 
After a couple of weeks and emails back and forth, Knotty was at the top of their list, but her price was just a little too high for their budget. After some discussion, we decided J would offer S the same price as we would have given our friends, P&S (they too were considering buying her but it wasn’t the right time for them).  Funny, the email back said “you have a deal”.  Talk about a huge relief!!  Not only relief, but a sense of contentment – contentment in knowing she was going to a good home.  We had offered two prices, one to take her as she is or another for us to haul her, paint her bottom, wax and buff her sides, replace her zincs and install a replacement fan for her main salon.   They chose the latter, so after getting back from Maine, we had a busy week and weekend ahead of us.  
We hauled her out and were extremely pleased with the condition of her bottom. She had been in the water almost two years, and looking at the remaining paint and minimal growth – you’d have never guessed. 

22months and paint looked better than we expected!

We had some barnacles, but not nearly as bad as we thought they would be. The paint was still holding up well and we definitely could have gotten another year out of it.  Just goes to show that diving on her a couple of times a year really does make a difference.  The paint we used, and used on her again this time as well, was Interlux Micron Extra.  It is an ablative paint in order to stay “active”, old paint must slough off showing new copper rich paint underneath.  Sailing her helped, but we think the real difference in the condition of the paint was J diving on her.  Come time to paint Tango, depending on how well the Pettit Trinidad SR works out (a hard paint), we may go back to using the Interlux Micron Extra.  
We cleaned and prepped her bottom, then put on two coats of paint, J waxed and buffed her top sides. We treated her waterline with ON/OFF, which, while toxic stuff, definitely gets rid of the slime mustache.  It didn’t help as much on the areas with built up scum, so I had to go back and treat that with some bleach, but she looks great!! 

Knotty with a freshly painted bottom - we LOVED the dark blue!
The last few things to be done (install the new fan, change out zincs, pull and clean the prop, and replace the impeller) is all being done this week to get ready Knotty’s final departure from our Marina on Friday.  S & C will be down to finalize the paper work and then be back on Friday when they and J will sail Knotty up the Chesapeake to her new home in Rock Hall, MD.  I had to be in San Diego this week, so I’ll meet them on Sunday for a celebratory dinner and what I hope (for me) won’t be too hard of a goodbye.

Fast forward and this is J, with S&C sailing Knotty into the Severn River ...  This is when, standing on USNA grounds, that I said a tearful goodbye...  Later, they took the H2O taxi into Ego Alley where I met them for lunch.

Additions to the Inventory

We chose to take advantage of our road trip up to Maine by stopping in RI on the way home to check out the used Mason 44 mast (previously mentioned HERE).  More on the mast later, but in addition the owners, we’ll call them the M’s, were also selling an almost full inventory of sails (main, #2 Genoa and a #3 Yankee) as well as a whisker pole.  So, after checking out the mast (which was in great shape), we hopped on the ferry (actually three, to be precise) to head over to the south fork of Long Island to check out the other items. 
We met the M’s through the PAE Mason Owners Group website.  It was really nice to actually meet them, and being fellow Mason owners, we couldn’t help but like them J.    First we took a look at the whisker pole which was in great condition and it didn’t take us long to decide we definitely wanted it.  Based on what we saw with the mast and whisker pole, we could only assume the sails were well cared for as well – we weren’t disappointed.  At their marina we unfolded the sails one by one.  The main, was in decent condition but until we make a decision on the mast, that one will have to wait.  The Genoa and Yankee both need a little bit of work, but nothing I can’t do with my Sailrite sewing machine and a little sweat equity.  A couple of the chafe protection strips need to be replaced and there are a few thin areas but again, nothing I can’t do and the Genoa is in better condition than the one we have now. The Yankee is new to our inventory, and we’re both anxious to try it out. 
Before getting back on the road, the M’s offered to show us their Mason 44, S/V Mast Transit. They’ve had her since 1991 and have done some really amazing things to her - she looks like she just came from the boat yard.  Her topside had recently been repainted (a dark green, very similar to Tango’s), her toe rail had been stripped and re-varnished, they had their teak decks reconditioned, and that was just a few of the upgrades.  A couple of years ago, they replaced her mast with a carbon fiber mast and replaced her sails, which worked out very well for us!  Down below was much like above decks and she certainly didn’t look her age.  It was hard not to notice the recently redone teak and holly floors – they looked great!  We admired the boat for a bit, the M’s shared some good lessons learned and advice with regards to their Mason and after some discussion between J and me, we decided we’d take both sails and the whisker pole.  So, we loaded the pole on top of J’s Pathfinder, cinched it down, and threw the sails in the back (actually strategically Tetris’d them around the Maine lobster we were bringing home for the next day’s feast with our friends).

A couple of pics from our trip to Maine...

Lobstah dinnah at the camp in Maine

Miss Gracie - Corn Hole Mascot

Summer on the docks…

Summer on the docks in the Chesapeake is just that – on the docks. We don’t do much sailing in the summer because there isn’t enough wind and it’s too hot!  Tango needs at least 10+ knots of wind to sail well and, not only that, but if there isn’t enough wind the heat is just sweltering.  Instead of baking in the hot sun while ghosting along at 2 knots, we’ve found the summers are better suited for hanging out below decks with the air conditioner cranking and getting projects done so that the weekends can be spent doing what any good Chesapeake Bay liveaboard does, catching crabs off the docks, of course! 
Last year we were able to use a couple of crab pots from Trigger, our neighbor who he has since moved on to another marina, so this year we went old school – hand line, chicken scraps, and a net. 
Key components

Tie a piece of chicken, any piece (it doesn’t’ have to be the neck, just whatever is cheap…crabs aren’t picky eaters), on the end of some small line, and tie the other end to the dock. Toss it out and in a few minutes you’ll see the line start to walk away.  Slowly bring the line in while the other person stands by with the net; then, with a swift flick of the wrist, you’ve got yourself a crab!!! 


This little guy went back in the drink, to be eaten another day :)

We’ve had great luck so far, catching anywhere from 12-20 crabs in a matter of a couple hours.  We let them soak for a bit as we walk up and down the docks – it makes for a fun afternoon and a very tasty dinner! 
We’ve found that using our pressure cooker to steam them works really well.  Our secret, pour a bottle of beer (we prefer lager) in the bottom with equal parts water and copious amount of Old Bay.  Place a steaming rack in the bottom so that there is space between the crabs and the liquid (don’t want them to be submerged in it or they will get soggy) and start stacking the crabs on top.  The crabs are often pretty feisty by the time we’re ready to put them in the pot, but laying them on their back seems to work well to calm them, then be sure to sprinkle more Old Bay over each layer…kind of a crab bath salt.  Ensure a tight seal on the pressure cooker, bring it up to pressure and let it cook for about 3 minutes.  From there, do the cold water method to depressurize and voila, you’ve got delicious and incredibly fresh crabs!!  Bon appetit!

Where does the time go??

Again, I'm here to apologize for the lack of activity on this blog... Seems lately, life is just busy and there is a little time to get online and post.  However, I've been taking notes of our adventures and am here to finally share!  Some of these are a bit dated, seeing as how it's been over 2 months from our last post, BUT better late than never :)