Thursday, October 31, 2013

Mast Update

Good news to report - the new mast is in!! It's been a long few weeks, filled with more moments of frustration than of joy; but it was a great feeling, yesterday, to come home and see the new mast stepped! Tango looks awesome with her new rig, or at least most of her new rig.  Icing on the cake is that all the rigging that J replaced two years ago fits!! We don't have to modify the rest of them (we know we have to do the headstay). Shortening the standing rigging beyond the capacity of the turnbuckles is NOT a fun, nor easy undertaking, so we're relieved everything fit as well as it did. 

So with one small (but major) victory, we move on to the next. The boom, which we treated for corrosion and repainted to match the new mast, is still curing. The mast and rigging will need a few days to settle in before we do a final tune and install the Spartite. In the meantime J and I have to build up the lazy jacks, splice the halyards (maybe, still debating that one), start reinstalling some hardware, and get our sails back on. We've decided to get our headsail (genoa) inspected and cleaned so we'll sail home with our new-to-us Yankee. We're anxious to try it out as it's been in the bag since we bought it from the M's last year. 

If all goes according to plan the boom will be installed early next week and then it will be time to work on the reefing system. We're trying to follow the example of the M's reefing, which runs through sheaves at the boom end to jammers internal to the boom, just aft of the gooseneck. J's phoned and emailed Forespar, the makers of the mast and boom, to find out if they still produce the jammers, but still no luck. If it doesn't work, we'll just run them through cheek blocks forward to external clutches on the boom. With any luck, we may be able to sail home late next week or, at the latest, the following week. Here's hoping! 


Here's an update of where we stand:


Remove sails from old mast DONE
Bring to local sail loft to be inspected and cleaned
Wire anemometer and masthead light DONE
Install trysail track DONE
Fill radar holes and other holes not used DONE
Touch up paint on mast DONE
Treat/paint corrosion DONE
Remove/install winches DONE
Remove/install radar reflector DONE
Replace masthead sheave pin NOT RQRD
Replace masthead sheaves NOT RQRD
Swap best lights DONE
Measure/adjust (as RQRD) standing rigging DONE
Shorten headstay 
Lubricate sail track and whisker pole track DONE
Install whisker pole track fittings DONE
Install reef lines
Check cleats/clutches for halyards (ensure sufficient) DONE
Fill mast step holes DONE
Install mast step DONE
Silicone cotter pins on mast DONE
Swap over rigging DONE
Silicone mast head holes/wiring DONE
Safety wire shrounds to spreaders DONE
Reinstall spreader boots DONE
Install secondary VHF antenna and coaxial connector DONE
Install/run halyards (splice all new halyards)
Install new cleat
Polish all stainless hardware


Replace outhaul with messenger line DONE
Remove outhaul track DONE
Remove all fittings DONE
Remove paint DONE
Treat corrosion DONE
Paint (Awlgrip Eggshell White to match the new mast) DONE
Install lazy jack tie down points
Install reef points
Build up lazy jacks
Install clew reef line clutches
Replace boom sheave pin NOT RQRD
Replace boom sheaves NOT RQRD
Lubricate outhaul track
Replace spacers with sheaves at end of boom NOT RQRD
Install jammers on boom
Polish all stainless 
Install outhaul track
Install all hardware 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Mast Progress

After the boat show we sailed Tango over to Solomon's where we had the new (to us) mast shipped.  It was a long and not so fun sail.  What should have taken us 6hrs ended up taking 11hrs.  As usual, the weather was not what had been predicted.  NOTE: I am taking a meteorology class and hope that once I am done and we have our pactor modem all set up that I can do a better job of verifying/predicting weather.  Seems our weathermen lately are more weather guessers...  Anyway, I digress...  I was getting over a head cold and still had some head conjestion which unfortunatly messed with my equilibrium and caused me to be sick for the entire way (very green, didn't actually get sick).  Not fun!  Thankfully ASSWOP was ready to step in and take my place. She did awesome!!!  I have to admit she kept a course better than we do!  It is amazing technology!  We had winds over 20 knots and she loved it!  She'd fall off 5 or so degrees and then counter to get back on course.  Heavy gusts she'd get blown off maybe 10 degrees but would immediatley correct.  It was so cool to sit back and watch her work.  She will be awesome during those long offshore passages.  

Above: J making some minor adjustments to ASSWOP while she does all the "heavy lifting" :)  

We've been in Solomons for about two weeks now and as with any major project it never really feelsl ike your making progress becuase the list is just so long.  Add to that our work and personal lives are very busy right now with training, travel, events and we're BOTH taking classes.  I am taking two classes and J is taking three.  Life right now is wake up, go to work-work, come home change and report to the other work (mast), work until sunset, make a quick bite to eat, do 1.5-2hrs of school work, crash for the night...  Rinse, Repeat...  

This weekend we have a lot we want to accomplish on the mast as we hope to step the mast early this week.  We'll be out of town next weekend for a wedding and the following weekend we'll be in Port Townsend, WA for a sail repair seminar so we're running out of time.  I'll post some pictures of our progress but here's our list of things we needed to do on the mast and where we currently stand.  


Remove sails from old mast (bring to local sail loft to be inspected and cleaned)
Wire anemometer and masthead light
Install trysail track
Fill radar holes and other holes not used
Touch up paint on mast
Treat/paint corrosion
Remove/install winches
Remove/install radar deflector
Replace masthead sheave pin
Replace masthead sheaves
Swap best lights
Measure/adjust standing rigging (shorten headstay)
Lubricate sail track and whisker pole track
Install whisker pole track fittings
Install reef lines
Check cleats/clutches for halyards (ensure sufficient)
Fill mast step holes
Install mast step
Silicone cotter pins
Swap over rigging
Silicone mast head holes/wiring
Safety wire shrounds to spreaders
Reinstall spreader boots
Install secondary VHF antenna and coaxial connector
Install/run halyards (splice all new halyards)
Install new cleat
Polish all stainless hardware


Replace outhaul with messenger line
Remove outhaul track
Remove all fittings
Remove paint
Treat corrosion
Paint (Awlgrip Eggshell White to match the new mast)
Install lazy jack tie down points
Install reef points
Build up lazy jacks
Install clew reef line clutches
Replace boom sheave pin
Replace boom sheaves
Lubricate outhaul track
Replace spacers with sheaves at end of boom
Install jammers on boom
Polish all stainless hardware

Our girl, looking naked without her mast and boom.  

HOW could we forget?!?!?

So yesterday I was going through some pictures and came across our wedding photos. Such a wonderful day ( just wish it hadn't gone by so quickly!).  As I was going through them I realized that we failed to share, on our sailing blog, what we felt was one of the coolest parts of our wedding - the cake!!!! For those familiar with The Food Network you'll recognize the name "Charm City Cakes".  The show on Food network is Ace of Cakes. We went back and forth about this during our wedding planning but seeing as how we're relatively close to Baltimore, where their cake shop is, and we had some extra money in our budget from other cost savings we decided to go for it. We were not disappointed!  We wanted a 3D replica of our Tango, underway, complete with all the details, and with J and I at the helm. It was crazy how accurate it was!! 

They captured detail on our mainsail, our solar and radar, the dorades.... 

While J has a bit more gray here than he actually has (hehe) they did a really good job capturing everything even down to our attire. 

It was very hard to cut the cake as you can see by J's expression in this pic, and mine in the next photo. 

It was SO good!!! It was a blueberry and lemon curd cake - absolutely delicious! We had expected approx 75 people at the wedding but asked for a cake to feed 100 (hey, we like cake and it was so good during our tasting, we knew we'd want leftovers). Well we had 67 people show up and there were no leftovers!!! Guess it wasn't only us that thought it was so good ;) 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sailboat Show - The Booty

So an update from our visit to the Annapolis boat show...

It was a LONG couple of days at the boat show but as usual, we really enjoyed attending. 

This year there seemed to be less vendors which was upsetting, especially since some of them we had planned on visiting. We heard from the M's, who attended the Newport Show, that the same has happened there as well.  Hopefully this year was just a fluke...

We made some progress on our list, did lots of research and price comparison, and even walked away with a few items not on the list (shocking, that never happens). Here's where we stand:
  • New Screens for the Port Lights
  • FX-37 Fortress Anchor - DONE
  • Offshore Foul Weather Gear - DONE (and they rock! So much better than our current gear. They are breathable and super comfy)
  • Boom Vang (we have one but not sure if we are going to replace it or repair it)
  • Replacement Reading Light for the Saloon
  • Breeze Booster (we have one for the port light and LOVE it! We want another)
  • Solar Panels (we want two more to add to our existing two)
  • Blue Sky Solar Regulator
  • Wall Thermometer
  • P4 Dragon Pactor Modem
  • Sea Anchor
  • Drogue
  • Wind Generator
  • New Batteries
  • Hatch Refurbishment
  • Filter Boss Commander
  • Swim Ladder
  • Piston Arm for Main Hatch
  • Handheld VHF - DONE
  • Chain Stopper
J in his new offshore gear (please ignore the mess - this was taken just as we got home and were unpacking from our weekend at the show.)

The items which we left with that were not on our original list:
  • ATN Mast climber (just the ascenders, we already have a bosuns chair)
  • Chain markers for our anchor rode (we tried using rescue tape to mark the chain in 25ft increments.  While it withstands being in the water, when it is deployed/brought in the windlass tears it apart. Time to look for alternatives, maybe what we got at the show will work).
  • Snatch Block for Sea Anchor (we LOVE Garhauer.  If you ever need any sort of block, tackle or stainless work done, definitely check them out.  
  • Lifeproof waterproof iPad cover 
  • SSCA membership

We had a wonderful time meeting with other Mason owners. We met 4 other couples and had an opportunity to share storeies about our cruising adventures, future plans and of course boat projects.  Turns out two of the couples are in the same area as we are!   We look forward to seeing them out on the water in the coming years.  

Volunteering was a blast - the folks at Good Old Boat are awesome, nuff said!  We had the last shift of the day so the boat show traffic had started to die down a bit (the rain didn't help either) but that didn't stop us from bringing in some renewals as well as new subscribers.  It really is a great magazine.  We're planning to volunteer again next year as well.  

Thursday, October 10, 2013

One of our favorite weekends of the year!

Birthday??  Christmas??  Beer Festival?? (That's a close one!)

No, it's the Annapolis Sailboat Show! 

Unfortunately this year the weather is not cooperating with us.  Looks like it will be in the mid-to-lower 60's (loving the temps!) but will be raining for the two days we'll be there. 

This year we are heading up with a longer list than in previous years.  Some must buys, some hope to buys and some things we need to research. 

Here goes:
  • New Screens for the Port Lights
  • FX-37 Fortress Anchor
  • Offshore Foul Weather Gear
  • Boom Vang (we have one but not sure if we are going to replace it or repair it)
  • Replacement Reading Light for the Saloon
  • Breeze Booster (we have one for the port light and LOVE it! We want another)
  • Solar Panels (we want two more to add to our existing two)
  • Blue Sky Solar Regulator
  • Wall Thermometer
  • P4 Dragon Pactor Modem
  • Sea Anchor
  • Drogue
  • Wind Generator
  • New Batteries
  • Hatch Refurbishment
  • Filter Boss Commander
  • Swim Ladder
  • Piston Arm for Main Hatch
  • Handheld VHF
  • Chain Stopper

So yah, it's a SERIOUS list!!

To make this year even better we've got two exciting events.  First we are going to be volunteering with Good Old Boat on Saturday.  This magazine is awesome and more than once we've been able to use their articles to help us with our own projects.  We always look forward to getting our copy in the mailbox!  Second, we'll be meeting up with 4 other couples who are also Mason owners.  We've met one couple (the M's) but are very excited to meet others!  Can't wait to share stories, lessons learned, cruising plans and future adventures with them!

While the weather has been less than ideal the last couple of days, the sunsets at the dock have been spectacular! 
Wednesday Evening

Tuesday Evening

Brain Break... Sort Of

Things have been busy aboard S/V Last Tango since our last post.  We're continuing to make progress on our refit/offshore/long term cruising prep (more detailed posts on those projects to follow) and I think we've got a good 6 or 7 lists in work: things to buy at the boat show, projects to complete now, projects in work, must do before we leave the dock, must do before we cross an ocean, things to do when we have time, aka the nice to haves and so on...

But between life (read: schoolwork and work-work) and some fun landlubber trips to play tourist and visit family we've been trying to get away from the dock when we can.  It can't be all work and no play!  

A few weeks ago we threw off the lines and headed to one our favorite spots up the St. Mary's River and anchored out for a night.  We got there early enough on Friday that we got some down time but sadly had to head back the next day.    Our dock mates and very good friends aboard S/V Doggie Paddle joined us.  It was a wonderful weekend, but as usual, all to short!  This is a pic, captured by A aboard Doggie Paddle - Thanks A!


Then the following weekend, with the weather working in our favor, we headed back to St. Mary's but this time we'd have a couple of nights on the hook - yay!  A few hours after dropping the hook, our friends on Doggie Paddle (unexpectedly) pulled into the creek as well - a great surprise!  That night we met for sundowners and decided to meet up again in the morning for a potluck breakfast.   This is one of the things we love about boat life - impromptu gatherings.

S/V Doggie Paddle in the background and the S's on their way over for breakfast!
J took the dink over to the college to pick up our friend P for breakfast. Love that we can pick up our land friends while we're on the hook!

The weather couldn't have been better, cool temps and a light breeze. We had two days in the river and while it was a much needed brain break from "normal life" it was a rather productive break.  J did some work on our electrical system and battery charger (more from him on that, I'm sure), he troubleshot and fixed our solar (seemed as though they were not working but turns out it was just a bad connection).  We've applied a Band-Aid for now until we can find better electrical connectors for them.   WM only carries one brand, the same ones that we currently (which we don't like, they broke after a few short years) so more researching on those will be needed before we can fully be done with that project.  We are swapping out our mast (post will be done soon on that topic) and were able to find a great deal on a used winch (we needed one more) on eBay so I spent a couple of hours servicing the "new to us" winch.  Also I knocked out some polishing and rust/corrosion treatment and was able to finish a couple of school projects.

I don't know if other boaters feel this way but boat work for us always feels cathartic, especially when being done on the hook.  You're outside, away from it all - just you, the water slapping on the hull and the project at hand...  

The Mast - revisited, again...

So we've posted about this before.  Last year we stopped in Connecticut on our way home from visiting family in Maine to check out a fellow Mason owners used mast.  The M's decided to swap theirs a few years ago and their used mast is in great shape.  At the time we were seriously considering buying it, see post here but since we hadn't had many opportunities to sail Tango with her in mast furling, we felt we needed to give it a chance and see if we really wanted to swap them out (not an inexpensive endeavor).

We had an in mast furling main on our previous boat and never had an issue.  It was super simple and we really liked it.  However, the system on Tango never seemed to work as well.  Over the last year we've done research, talked with other Mason owners with in mast furling mains, tried every scenario (seems all things need to be just right in order for it to come out/in smoothly) and still have issues on a more often than not basis.  After many discussions and back and forth we've decided that we don't want to take off on our extended cruising with an in mast furling system.  We've chosen to swap over to a traditional rig.  

So we've purchased the mast from the M's, it's been shipped down from CT to MD where the swap and work will be done.  We've got a lot to do in order to transition it over.   Everything on our current mast needs to be removed and placed on the new one, the wiring needs to be modified, the boom will need to be modified and we'll have to install the reef points.  We also bought the mainsail from the M's which we'll use until such time we get our new sail. So a lot of work left to do with regards to the mast but we're definitely looking forward to having them swapped out!



Badass Ground Tackle

Once we take off cruising we don't plan on spending nights on the dock.  We won't have the money to be able to and we prefer being on the hook anyway.  Since we'll be spending so much time on the hook, our anchor and ground tackle is our life insurance policy.  When rough weather hits we need to know we can hunker down and ride it out. We like to call it, "The Shiznit"...

We replaced our primary anchor with a Rocna 44....


Our chain was replaced with 300ft of 3/8" high test chain...

Then we added an additional 200ft of 1" three strand line...


And this, friends, is why we call it "The Shiznit"...

P.S. With this new setup J no longer wakes up every couple of hours to check our position.  We sleep like babies!